Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Recipe: How to Make a Hamburger

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

The basis of a hamburger is, of course, the ground beef from which you make the “patties.”

In preparing the patties, I have tried all sorts of “add-ins” to mix with the beef – everything from dried onion soup mix, to eggs, to bacon fat, to grated cheese . The absolute best to add is…nothing at all! Why dilute that pure beefy taste?

When making your own hamburgers, start with 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef with 20% fat content. This will be enough for four big patties.

Normally I buy a lesser fat content, but for really tasty burgers, get the 20%.

(Using clean hands!) Divide the beef into four sections. Gently form each section into a round “patty” shape. It’s not necessary to tightly pack the beef into shape. In fact, you should try to handle the beef as little as possible.

Each patty should measure approximately ¾ inches thick and 4 ½ inches across.

Wrap the extra patties in plastic wrap and freeze them for next week’s dinner.

Before you start cooking the hamburgers, toast the cut side of the rolls. (Untoasted rolls get soggy very quickly.) Lay the rolls out on a baking sheet with sides and put them under the broiler.

It will only take a minute or two, so don’t do anything but stand there with pot holder in your hand, ready to remove the rolls from the oven. (They go from beautifully toasted to burnt in the blink of an eye. Then the smoke alarm goes off and ….you know the rest!)

Preheat your fry pan (on medium- high temperature) by putting a few drops of water in the pan. By the time they have evaporated, your pan will be hot.

Make sure the fry pan you are using is large enough to hold your hamburgers without squishing them together.

Cook the hamburgers (on medium-high) on one side then flip them once, and then cook them on the other side.

Cooking times on each side:

  • 3 minutes for RARE (caution-see note below!)
  • 4 minutes for MEDIUM
  • 5 minutes for WELL DONE

If you want to make a cheeseburger, place a slice of cheese on the flip side about 1 minute before the burgers are done cooking. The heat from the hamburgers will melt the cheese.

Serve your hamburgers with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, a dollop of mayonnaise and some salt and pepper.

Add some variation to your hamburger recipes thanks to this Tex-Mex cheeseburger video!

Enjoy!

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Note:

Rare, medium or well done Hamburgers?

The USDA recommends that you always cook hamburgers so that the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which is well done.

A friend from Canada describes why:

“…one thing I’ve learned from working in the food service industry (McDonald’s in Canada, in my case) for over 15 years is that the only safe way to cook hamburgers is to make sure they are fully cooked, not rare. This eliminates the possibility of there being any harmful bacteria in the burger – in particular, E. coli.In fact, it is standard practice at McDonald’s in Canada to verify a safe internal temperature with the first run of the products from the grill, before anything gets served to the customers. In my area, the minimum safe temperature for cooked beef patties is 156 degrees F. It may vary in other locations – in some areas, the safe temperature is 160 degrees, for example.”

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How To Make Deviled Eggs

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Breakfast and Brunch, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

When I’m making deviled eggs for a buffet table, I sometimes think perhaps they are a bit old-fashioned and outdated. Then, when the party is over, the deviled egg platter is always empty!

To make deviled eggs, in addition to the eggs, you will need mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, and green olives stuffed with pimentos for flavor as well as garnish.

The first step is to hard-cook (what some people call boil) six eggs.

If you are unsure of how to boil an egg, check out my 30 second video for a quick review!

If you’ve just cooked the eggs, let them cool to room temperature before peeling them. Actually, cold, hard boiled eggs, just out of the refrigerator, are much easier to peel than just cooked eggs. If you are having trouble peeling the eggs, crack the shell at the ends of each egg and put them in a bowl of ice cold water. Let the eggs sit in the cold water about 10 minutes. This allows the water to seep in and make peeling much easier.

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Once all the eggs are peeled, slice them in half lengthwise.

Using a spoon or a fork, gently remove the yolks from the whites and place the all the yolks in a bowl. Set the whites on your serving dish.

I’m using my deviled egg dish which has grooves in it to hold the eggs in place for serving. If you do not have a deviled eggs dish you could put them on a bed of washed parsley so they not only look festive but the parsley will also prevent the eggs from sliding all over the place.

To make the filling, mix together the 6 yolks, add ¼ cup of mayonnaise, 1 ½ Tablespoons of mustard, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

(There are many variations to making deviled eggs including skipping the mustard and using horseradish OR curry powder OR even sweet relish.)

With a fork, mix all of this together until it’s smooth. Taste it to make sure it doesn’t need more salt.

Using two small spoons, fill the egg white shells with the yolk mixture. You’ll need one spoon to scoop up some yolk and the other to slide it off the spoon. (Or as Bill suggested in the comments section below, put the mixture into a small Ziploc bag, cut off a corner, and pipe it back into the whites.)

Sliced olives with red pimentos are a traditional garnish for deviled eggs – plus it’s a great flavor combination. A sprinkle of paprika, if you have some in your spice cupboard, is also a lovely garnish on deviled eggs!

Deviled eggs make a great appetizer and a perfect party dish.

Enjoy!

P.S. Once you have mastered making hard boiled eggs you might want to give an egg salad sandwich a try!

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How to Buy, Store and Boil Eggs

posted in Eggs by Kathy Maister

Today’s post is a little bit longer than normal, because I’m going to talk about three things – buying, storing, as well as how to boil an egg. If you just want to know about the boiling part, skip ahead.

Eggs are a staple food all over the world. Apparently, the average American eats about 250 eggs per person, per year, and the average hen lays about 250 eggs per year. So somewhere out there, there is one hen whose sole purpose is to provide you with your eggs. Fortunately, the grocery store acts as the middle man.

Buying Eggs

When buying eggs you get to choose which size and color you want. Size matters, color doesn’t. White, brown, or South American light blue and green eggs are all the same on the inside. Official sizes are Peewee, Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Jumbo. It is rare to see Peewee and Small eggs in grocery stores here in the USA.

Sometimes when you open a box of eggs one or two seem smaller than the rest. The cartons of eggs are actually sold by the total weight of the carton, not each individual egg. Most recipes nowadays use large eggs as the standard size.

Before putting a carton of eggs in your grocery cart, open the carton and make sure there are no cracked eggs. Move each egg slightly to make sure none are stuck to the carton. If any are stuck, choose a different carton.

Always buy eggs before the sell-by date on the carton. If stored properly in the refrigerator they should keep 3-5 weeks from the time you bring them home from the grocery store.

Here’s what to look for when you crack open an egg: If the sticky stuff surrounding the yellow yolk in the center, (known as “the white”), is somewhat cloudy, that means it’s a very fresh egg. A clear white means the egg is ageing, but still fine to use. If the white is pink or “iridescent” then the egg has probably gone off and should be thrown out.

Storing Eggs

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, by the time you get home from the grocery store, you end up with a cracked egg. It may have been cracked from the very beginning, and you just didn’t notice when you were checking them in the first place.

For whatever reason, just throw the cracked egg away. There is no point eating an egg that may have an unwelcome history of germs!

The only time it really is OK to eat a cracked egg is if it cracked while you were cooking the egg. That should present no problem.

Refrigerating Eggs:

Although virtually all refrigerators in the USA have egg-holders on the door, that’s not really the best place to store eggs. There is too much temperature fluctuation on the door shelves. Consequently, the best place to store eggs is in the original carton that you bought them in.

Buying and storing eggs is different through-out the world. My post “Born in the USA” explains why.

(Briefly “In the USA, government standards say all eggs must be washed and stored at temperatures no higher than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Washing the eggs is a good thing but it does leave the eggs without an outer coating and very susceptible to invasion by bacteria. Hence refrigeration of washed eggs is absolutely necessary.” Unwashed eggs do not need to be refrigerated)

Can Eggs be Frozen?

You can freeze eggs BUT it can be a bit more complicated than just popping them in an ice-cube tray. PLUS both the taste and texture will be compromised.

There are several very good sites that describe how to freeze eggs (if you must!) including oChef, the National Center for Home Preservation, What’s Cooking America.

Also the USDA has a great general information page on eggs.

Cooking Eggs

Very few cooks (or cookbooks) agree on how to cook an egg. In fact, the BBC News announced a foolproof way to cook eggs. A temperature-sensitive ink stamped on an egg lets you know if the egg is cooked by changing color as you cook the egg!

I don’t know why everyone uses the term soft boiled or hard boiled eggs. One should never ever boil an egg. In fact, you know when a “cooked” egg is overcooked by that green ring that you sometimes see around the yolk. It is perfectly fine to eat, but it doesn’t look great.

When hard cooking eggs it is best to use eggs that are at least one week old. You will find that they are much easier to peel.

OK, here we go!

Place the eggs tightly in a single layer in a saucepan. (One egg or 10 eggs will all take the same time to cook, as long as they are in a single layer.) Add one Tablespoon of salt to the water. (This will prevent the eggs from cracking.)

Then cover the eggs with water.

Place it on your stovetop on high heat.

Cover the pan.

Bring the water to a boil.

A lot of recipes will ask you to gently place the eggs in boiling water but I don’t like to do it that way. Too often while placing the egg in the water it has slipped, cracked and …well…hello poached egg!

After the water comes to a boil, immediately shut off the stove and let the pot of eggs just sit on the stove, covered, for 15 minutes for large eggs. Some people say to remove the pan from the stove top to avoid over cooking. All pans hold heat differently. Once you make the perfect hard cooked egg, try to use the same pan and timing to make all future hard cooked eggs.

After 3-5 minutes you will have a soft cooked egg.

A hard cooked extra large egg should sit for 18 minutes.

Drain the hot water from the saucepan and let cold water run over the eggs.

It’s best to peel the eggs right before you use them.

I know two ways to make the peeling easier. One is to crack the shell at the ends of each egg and return them to cold water. This allows the water to seep in.

Or after the eggs have cooled just put them in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cold eggs are much easier to peel.

A hard cooked egg should be put in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking and will keep in the refrigerator, unpeeled, about 1 week.

That’s it for eggs!

Cheers!

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