Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

10 Twists on the Classic Burger

posted in Main Dishes, Recipes by Kathy Maister

The weather is great, and we’re grilling like mad!  Once you’ve bought or thawed some ground beef (go for the kind with 20 per cent fat), make up some delicious hamburger patties! Even if you’ve got a super recipe for hamburger patties, it’s nice to go beyond the basic cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, or pattie-lettuce-and-tomato combination. Try some of these variations on the classic burger.

  1. Instead of topping your burger with goodies, try stuffing it! This deceptively easy technique will definitely wow your friends and make you look like a gourmet chef. Try a blue cheese burger filled with a seasoned cream cheese/blue cheese mixture.
  2. Sliders (mini burgers) are everyone’s favorite way to indulge in a decadent two bite burger. Chipotle mayonnaise kicks up the heat with Bobby Flay’s recipe, Noble Pig does everything great and these sliders are made with surprising ingredients, and Macheesmo’s Veggie Slider will please all the non-meat eaters in the crowd!
  3. Make the real deal at home with these Fake Shake Shake burgers from Smitten Kitchen.
  4. These Pepperoni Pizza Burgers are perfect for pizza lovers an utterly delicious!
  5. Try these Tex-Mex cheeseburgers. The meat is loaded with flavor (and cheese!) and the recipe includes a delicious green chili pepper sauce.http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_2623.JPG
  6. Grill some southwest-style turkey burgers and top them with pepper jack cheese, avocado slices, and jalapeño peppers.
  7. Look no further when trying to please a finicky 3 year old, Giada de Laurentiis makes a Mini Meatball Sandie that kids absolutely love.
  8. This Greek Turkey Burger, filled with spinach, feta, is great with yogurt sauce.
  9. Mix teriyaki sauce (and some water chestnuts) into your meat before cooking your hamburgers for a an Asian flair.
  10. At your next barbecue have a tray of toppings for your guest to add to their own burgers. Caramelized onions, crispy bacon, sliced pineapple, and sauteed mushrooms are always a bit hit!


P.S. Did you know that the month of May is National hamburger month?

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Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

Bottled vinaigrette salad dressing is great to have on hand to add to a vegetable salad, pasta salad or even for marinating chicken. But knowing how to make your own vinaigrette is a lot less complicated than you would think.

At its most basic level, vinaigrette is just a combination of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Adding mustard is the secret ingredient that will help bind (emulsify) everything together.

To make a basic vinaigrette you need to combine:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • A few grinds of fresh pepper

Mix these four ingredients together and then slowly add:

  • ¾ cup of olive oil

This will make enough for about 6 servings of salad dressing. As long as you haven’t added any fresh herbs, it should keep for about 3 weeks, stored in a jar in the refrigerator. (You will need to give it a good shake before you use it!)

The Equipment

As a first step, you have to decide how you want to go about blending these ingredients together. You could use a bowl and a whisk, a jar, or a blender.

The (clean!) jar method is probably the simplest. Put the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a jar and just shake it up. Add the oil in 3 stages and shake it well after each addition. This will help it stay blended together.

The blender method is basically the same. Put the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in the blender and mix it up really well. Then drizzle in the oil in a slow steady stream. You can remove the inner plug on the blender cover to drizzle in the oil. Some blenders will “spit” back at you when you remove the inner plug. You may have to hold your other hand over the hole leaving just a tiny space open to drizzle in the oil.

If you are making vinaigrette in a bowl with a whisk, you need to make sure the bowl doesn’t slide all over the counter top while you are slowly adding the oil. Unless you have three hands, the solution is to make a collar for the bowl out of a dish towel. Fold a damp dish towel into a log and then into a circle. Sit the bowl on the top of the circle to hold it steady.

Now one hand can hold the whisk while the other hand drizzles in the oil!

The Ingredients

The Mustard: use a nice – preferably French – mustard. A grainy mustard would work just fine as well. (Bright yellow mustard, which is great on Hot Dogs, would work but not taste as good as a French mustard.)

The Vinegar: Red wine vinegar would be the classic choice. You could also try fruit vinegars or herb-infused vinegar. White vinegar would give your vinaigrette too harsh of a flavor. Malt vinegar is never used for a vinaigrette. You can substitute lemon, lime or orange juice for the vinegar.

The Oil: Olive oil would be the preferred choice.

Many people add shallots, dried or fresh herbs, and even poppy seeds to their vinaigrette. Just remember that if you have added shallots or fresh herbs your vinaigrette should be used with in a few days of making it. Cheers!

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Pasta with Lemon and Garlic

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

One of my favorite ways to serve pasta is with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and lemons — and, of course, fresh parsley — which I put on just about everything!

You should always have a few boxes of pasta in the cupboard. It keeps for a long time, and is always good for an emergency meal when you can’t think of anything else to make!

Stock up on pasta when it goes on sale and buy all different shapes and sizes. Be sure to always have some olive oil on hand as well.

For this recipe you really need to use fresh garlic and fresh lemons and fresh parsley. Garlic powder, dried parsley and lemon juice from a jar just won’t cut it in this recipe.

Start cooking your pasta according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking you need to do 5 things:

Peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic.

Grate about 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.

Wash 2 lemons. Before juicing the lemons, we need to remove tiny shreds off the peel of the lemon. This is known as lemon zest. You can use a grater or a knife and just cut the zest into really tiny bits.

Be sure to only use the yellow part of the lemon peel. The white part tastes bitter.

Now juice the lemon. We actually need 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice.

Then chop about 1/2 cup of fresh parsley.

Once the pasta is cooked, remove one cup of the cooking water.

Then drain the pasta.

(After we add the other ingredients, the pasta may be too dry. You can add some of the cooking water to help moisten it.)

Using the pot you cooked the pasta in, heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the garlic to the oil and fry it, until you can smell it cooking, about 15 seconds.

Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and zest to the pot.

Then add the pasta to the garlic and oil.

Add the chopped parsley.

With a pair of tongs or two spoons toss everything together. If it seems too dry, pour on some of the reserved pasta water.

Serve with lots of parmesan cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper. And of course, garnish with fresh chopped parsley!


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