Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden Burger

I'm not sure if this was the best burger I have ever had . . . but it was definitely the best burger I have ever had at home! The texture of the burger was perfect (Ken did a great job grilling), and the toppings were full of flavor. It's that time of year where I'm constantly looking for ways to incorporate zucchini into our meals, so I decided to put some on top of my burger. I also had some really great Thai Basil Jack cheese from the farmers market . . . zucchini, basil . . . one topping led to another and I ended up with a garden burger.


Burger - 1 pkg. of ground beef (from our freezer; about 1 lb.) plus 1 egg, approximately 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and shape into patties. Make an indention in the center so patty is thicker on edges than in the middle (kind of like a doughnut but don't actually make a hole). Grill. Add cheese during last 1-2 minutes of grilling.

While burgers are grilling, saute zucchini in olive oil with salt and pepper. Remove zucchini to plate, add more olive oil and saute Swiss chard and finely chopped garlic in same skillet (1 to 2 minutes, just enough to wilt Swiss chard). Slice red pepper and cucumber. Toast bun.

To assemble: Bun - top with wilted Swiss chard - place burger on top of Swiss chard - place zucchini on top of burger - top with red pepper and cucumbers.

I considered adding guacamole, but ultimately decided against it because I was afraid its flavor would be overwhelming. Mayonnaise with fresh herbs might be a good addition - although this burger really did not need any extra moisture. I think I'm ready for a burger throwdown with Bobby Flay!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Did you know that gazpacho makes the perfect summer dinner? No, you didn't know that? Don't worry - I didn't know either, until I made it . . . and then ate it for dinner three consecutive nights in a row. It was easy the first night - chop vegetables, dump them in a food processor, whisk in a couple of additional ingredients . . . but nights 2 and 3 were even better - just take it out of the refrigerator and pour into a soup bowl. No cooking involved - which is great, considering the horrible heat and humidity!

If you haven't tried gazpacho, it is a cold tomato and vegetable soup. The best way I could describe it is that it's kind of like a cross between tomato soup and salsa. I made gazpacho this week because Meryl chose it for the second June Barefoot Bloggers recipe (Barefoot Bloggers are food bloggers who cook recipes from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa). Anyway, if you haven't tried gazpacho, you should . . . it's a nice antidote to the summer heat.

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately throw all the chopped vegetables and onion into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped - or until mixture reaches desired consistency.

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Vegetable Harvest

I've been using the garden as an excuse not to cook (planting, mulching, pulling weeds . . . all takes time). However, now that I have vegetables ready to eat - I guess I'll have to cook! Tonight I picked the first two vegetables of the season (not counting lettuce and spinach) - one cucumber and one zucchini. When I bought the zucchini plants at a local garden center, I thought I was getting 8-ball zucchini - but clearly I did not! Oh well . . . I'm still excited for vegetable season to begin!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curried Couscous

Recipes with curry are like an annoying relative you have to endure once a year . . . kind of familiar, kind of strange, and dreaded just a little bit. Or maybe I just feel that way because I associate curry with a dreaded part of our Thanksgiving dinner. No, I don't dread seeing the relatives. It's a curried fruit dish that is always on the table . . . to be honest, I never even try it, choosing instead to roll my eyes as I pass it to the next person. Anyway . . .

The first Barefoot Bloggers recipe for the month of June was Curried Couscous, chosen by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester. Despite my reluctance to purchase and use curry spice, I actually kind of liked this dish. The textures and flavors of all the add-ins help take the focus off the curry. Ken even ate it, despite saying that the "spices are weird" and "so is the texture." I think I will make this again, but I might tweak the spices and try some new additions. My only advice is NOT to skip the raisins (or currants, cranberries, whatever) - because that sweetness really balances the other flavors.

Curried Couscous

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten, via