Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tex-Mex Burger with Homemade Guacamole

Tex-Mex Burger with Homemade Guacamole Spread

For the longest time, we are talking decades and decades, I could not handle the odd texture and near flavorless avocado. Because of that, there was not a guacamole that I could stomach, either.  I found a restaurant in Old Town San Diego, Cafe Coyote (please follow them on Twitter @CafeCoyote), whose guacamole changed my mind forever.  While I have not made it but two times, myself, I enjoy it very much with various ingredients.  But lime juice and zest, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper and a chile are a must. I'd had a hankering for a big burger, but with Mexican flavors and but Texas-sized, Tex-Mex Burger with Oaxaca cheese and homemade guacamole spread was born. 

Let's get to it, shall we?

My Guacamole Burger Spread
3 ripe avocados
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 Fresno chiles, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped
few sprigs fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
zest and juice of lime*

Everyone has their expert opinion about how to cut and seed an avocado and so my version is just a version and the end-all version.  I slice the avocado stem to stem, all the way round and pull the halves apart.  I whack the seed with my sharp culinary knife and twist the avocado and the seed slides out. Discard the seed, unless you want to grow a tree. That is a fun post for next spring. Now, I slice the avocado from stem to bottom like apple slices and then I slice them cross-ways, into little cubes.  I use a spoon to easily scrape the little cubes out, and place them into a larger bowl. I use three avocados for four-to-six burgers. 
I add all of the finely chopped herbs, chiles and aromatics, the salt and pepper, and use a fork to mash and mix all of the ingredients together.  *Now, I had purchased limes for this but when I cut them open, there was "damage", so I used lemon, and all was well, actually. I covered the guacamole with saran wrap and placed the bowl in the refrigerator.  


Now, time to get to the burger.  I am afraid I am obsessed with bacon and cannot make a burger without it, so if you are like me, start by baking or frying up bacon strips. I seasoned mine with my Mexican spice blend. 

Burger Ingredients
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
3/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 Fresno chiles, sliced into discs
2 tablespoons Taco spices or My Mexican Spice Mix
several sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped + some for burger greens
*I added a teaspoon fresh grated Turmeric (That's just me thing for health).
Oaxaca cheese, sliced

**My Mexican Spice Blend** 
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 rounded tablespoon chile molido or pasilla powder
1 rounded teaspoon granulated garlic
1 rounded teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves

Add the meat and ingredients to a large bowl.
Using your best kitchen tools, your hands, thoroughly mix the burger meat and ingredients together.  Do not overwork it; if the fat starts sticking to your hands, it is heating up too much and it is getting overworked. 

Score the meat into however many burgers you are making.  Make the patties and set them aside. 

Toast the burger buns if you are going to. 

Sear the Fresno chile discs in a little olive oil in a small skillet with garlic. 

Now, add three tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large skillet over high heat. (Or the bbq grill). When the oil ripples, add burgers.  Allow them to sear for a good four or five minutes before turning. Once the burgers have been turned, add two slices of Oaxaca cheese to each burger and reduce the heat to medium.  Add a foil tent to trap some of the heat in order to melt the cheese.  It melts beautifully, like a soft, flavorful blanket. 

Now, while the burgers are finishing, give the top bun a good helping of guacamole spread and some of the sauteed Fresno chiles.  Add your favorite complimentary condiment to the bottom bun and add some of the cilantro greens to that. Place the bacon wherever you like it (I like it atop the burger) and place the burger on the bottom and carefully place the top over the burger.

Serve with your favorite easy sides that you do not  mind getting a little messy. I added halved grape tomatoes. 

This was such a delicous burger and while I KNOW I did not invent it, by any means, this was a burger first for me, and I LOVED it!!!!  

Now, I Thank You ALL for your time and consideration, and I am always grateful for your visits, but I want you to get to your kitchen Right Now and Cook Something For Someone You Love!!!!

Now, Go!  Shoo!!!

In-House Cook

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Semi-Homemade Pasta Sauce with Fresh Herbs and Fettuccine

Meatless Semi-Homemade Pasta Sauce with Fettuccine

It is not often that I really want a meatless meal, let along a meatless pasta sauce.  I have made roasted red pepper sauces, brown butter sauces, sauceless pasta (with all fresh veg) and more.  We all know how much I love a hefty bolognese.  But last weekend, Labor Day weekend, I really needed something clean and light.  I decided to make my go-to semi-homemade tomato based pasta sauce.  

My basic sauce uses canned San Marzano or Plum tomatoes.  You could also make it with tomato puree, but I wanted to use actual steam peeled whole tomatoes I could manipulate. I could make them from scratch, using plum tomatoes, but as I said, this was semi-homemade.  I used fresh onion, fresh garlic, made my own Italian seasoning, and used fresh herbs (as well as dried, for a last flavor charge).  

This sauce can be served chunky or processes smooth.  

I chose chunky.  I like pasta sauces chunky, though for the sake of elegance, I have also processed some smooth. 

Let's get to this simple, flavorful pasta sauce, shall we?  

2 28-ounce cans San Marzano or Plum Tomatoes
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped thyme
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chiffonade cut
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbal seasoning
salt and pepper + salt for the pasta water
1 tablespoon of my Italian spice mix*

My Italian Spice Blend

3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon sage powder

Place the spices in a spice grinder and process.  Place in a covered container in a dark, cool location in the kitchen (not the refrigerator).  Will keep up to six weeks. 

My Italian Spice Blend.

Dried Italian seasoning. 

From here, the easy part begins!  In a pot drizzled with three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt.  The salt helps the onion "sweat", releasing its sugars. After sauteeing the onions for about three minutes, add the garlic.  Saute another three minutes, until the onion begins to become translucent.  Add the two cans of San Marzano peeled tomatoes.  Stir for a few minutes in order to soften the tomatoes further.  

Add two tablespoons of my spice blend and one tablespoon of the dry Italian seasoning and 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Use a potato masher or large fork to smash the now softened tomatoes.  Fold the seasonings into the mixture.  *I also added a little grated Turmeric for its fortifying substances. That is just what I like.  I would not expect everyone to understand and want to do that. 

Bring about four quarts of water to a roiling boil, liberally salt, and boil spaghetti or fettuccine or Your favorite pasta until al dente (just about done).  Strain the pasta. Now........

After all of the folding and mashing and stirring, add the fresh herbs and let them sit on top and simmer for thirty minutes, if you have time.  An hour would be ideal but not necessary.  After reducing, this is what your shiny, aromatic, flavorful sauce will look like.  Serve however you wish, tossing the pasta with the sauce or place the sauce over the pasta.  I chose to serve it sauce on the pasta, as that is how my mom like it.  

Garnish with basil and grated parmiggiano.

 Have seconds!  Have thirdsies!

As always, Thank You for your time and consideration, gentle readers. I am always in awe of your viewership, which really touches my heart. 

Now, Go Cook for Someone You Love!!!!!!!!

In-House Cook

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