Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

In which I become the Burger-Meister

Posted: April 19th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 27 Comments »

So I’ve been having burger troubles lately. Maybe this is because my choice of cooking medium is not ideal. Maybe it’s because I’m adding egg when really, since I’m using 85% lean beef, I don’t actually have to use an egg. Either way, they’re not browning, and they’re falling apart and sticking to my beautiful ridged on one side, flat on the other Lodge Cast-Iron Griddle pan. So last night, I went back to basics. On the burgers, at least. Ground beef, a third of an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper. No funny stuff, no herbs, no egg.

I made the rolls.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in New York, high seventies, cloudless sky, beautiful sunshine, so I spent an hour after work sitting in Hudson River Park, watching the river and generally being calm and collecting freckles. I didn’t want to come home, but I knew that I needed to make the rolls, so I had to come home and start things. Especially since Jesse was at NerdHerd ‘08 and the reason I’d said I’d make the rolls was because I had time, since he was going to be there until close of day (8pm).

So reluctantly, I shirked the sunshine, shouldered my bag, and abandoned my bench to head home. Once there, I opened a bottle of the Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager we’d bought for the purpose, mixed it with the yeast and sugar, and set to making bread. (Sidenote: you can find the recipe for the bread here . To make it beer bread, just mix the yeast with a cup of beer instead of a cup of water, and pour the rest of the beer in when mixing the yeast mixture into the flour, and then add tepid water to compensate for the rest of the liquid in the dough.)

THe beer was lovely — once you swallowed it, you could totally taste strawberries, not beer, and it was just so light and beautiful. I took a sip before I started, to make sure it was a good choice. I love making bread with fruity beers, because you get this lovely yeasty/wheaty taste, with just a hint of sweetness from the fruit. It’s gorgeous.

In a rare moment, I got everything to happen at exactly the same time. The burgers were done and sitting wtih the lid on, off the heat to melt the cheese, when the rolls were finished. Kristin, my roommate, gave me the great tip that since the best way to know if bread is done is to thump the bottom and see if it sounds hollow, if it sounds the same at the middle as at the outside with a couple minutes left in baking, you’re pretty set. Everything was great. The burgers stayed together, the pepper-jack was just right, and the onions that I’d caramelized cooked a little quicker than I figured (my stove doesn’t have a low enough setting for caramelizing…. they cook too quickly. I need a heat diffuser. or a a better stove) but they were still nice and sweet and not browned.

It was great.

And it really made me feel good about burgers again. I’d been feeling pretty badly about mine, since they always tasted nice, but never really looked good, since they’d fall apart or stick to the griddle. Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t use the egg. Also, probably I need to do some research and season my griddle, on both sides, so that it doesn’t have the sticking problem anymore. Sunflower oil alone is not enough. So, things to do, things to do. Always.

Tonight I don’t really have a plan for dinner, because Jesse may not be home, and because Kristin may be out, and because I had the luxury of knowing these things far enough in advance to decide that I’ll just make myself some scrambled eggs and sauteed spinach, or something akin to this, for dinner tonight. Or whatever else I feel like. Maybe I’ll buy a slice of pizza. Who knows.

Tomorrow night, though, I’ve got slated a recipe for Food and Wine for Meyer Lemon Gnocchi. My nanny boss advised me not to waste money on Meyer lemons in a situation like this, where you wouldn’t really appreciate the flavor and the essential oils produced. She said that regular lemons would work just fine, and while sometimes she’s a jerk, I trust her on food, at least when it comes to actually saving money. They’re splashy spenders, so if she says to save my money, I’ll take her word. She also mentioned that I don’t need a potato ricer, as long as I’ve got a sieve or a food mill. I’ll have to pick up another sieve, since mine is actually a flour sifter. But no biggie, they’re not expensive.

Plus, tomorrow morning I’ll be out and about, because one of my friends is entered in the NYC Run for the Parks tomorrow, and after that a bunch of us are going somewhere (I’m not sure where) for a $20 all you can eat (and drink) brunch consisting of (hopefully) lots and lots of mimosas/bloody marys. We will be worshipping at the Temple of St. Debauch, and all who are so inclined are invited to join in our worship, regardless of location. Heh.

After that, Kristin and I are going to walk across the Williamsburg bridge, so she can bust out her shnazzy camera that hasn’t seen nearly enough daylight this year, and take photos. Maybe she’ll even photograph the gnocchi prep as it goes on.

Also, one of my friends suggested I post pictures of my cooking. In all honesty, I would if not for 2 factors, one pressing and one just kind of a fact. THe first factor is the fact that neither I nor Jesse have a camera that actually works and is charged. This puts a damper on food photography, as well as photography of other kinds.
I could use my roommate’s camera – she’s just offered it, but this kind of brings us to the second factor. My food isn’t beautiful. For reasons on which I’m not 100% clear, I’m way more interested in the process of creating food than I am in the actual presentation or even the eating of the food. I mean, I want others to eat it, and I desperately want them to enjoy it as deeply as possible but for me, the enjoyment is all in the preparation. (Obviously I like to eat, but I much prefer to cook. Is this weird? I need a ruling on the field.)

So, I’m not sure what benefit photography would serve, since I’ve know photos of food to actually put people off their appetites. Although honestly, my breads are ready for their closeups, and the steaks I made last week deserved some face time as well. SO, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll start posting photos.

I AM the Burger-Meister, Meister-Burger. Heh!!!

Ok, till next time,
In which everything is Gnocchi-Dokie!! (I hope)


27 Comments on “In which I become the Burger-Meister”

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