This weekend was one of contrasts. On Friday, we went to a birthday party for my partner's yoga teacher / friend. Upon showing up, we were told to put on cat ears. I declined (I already have a cat tattoo) but still had a very fun time.
Saturday, though, we were exhausted from the party and our very long week. I spent the day playing games from my youth that were ported to the Nintendo Switch. I'm really enjoying playing Final Fantasy 9 for the 3rd time (the card game in it is so good) and the remake of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is very challenging (I don't know how I used to be good at this game!).
But on Sunday, I needed to kick some ass cooking to feel whole. I cannot be lazy all weekend and feel good about myself. So I quickly tossed together a menu and got cooking.
Veggie Burgers with Bacon Jam
It's the summer and all the cool kids are grilling burgers. But not us, our apartment has no outdoor space for a grill so we have to settle for the same kitchen we use for every meal. We're not complaining though, it's all about how you use it. Today, I want to introduce you to my favorite burger that you can only make in a pan, the Café Salle Pleyel Burger.
This recipe calls for sundried tomatoes, cornichon pickles, capers and parsley to be mixed into the meat. It also calls for fresh tarragon leaves in this mixture, but I forgot to pick those up so I tossed in some dried rosemary and Italian seasoning which is close enough in my book. I also tossed in a few cocktail onions and pickle juice from the cornichon jar as a little treat to myself. Blend that up and mix it into the meat with your hands.
The recipe calls for ground sirloin, which is juicer than ground meat. This is a perfectly acceptable meat, but I have found that this recipe is even better with Impossible Burger. I don't know why it tastes better, but once I did it, my partner and I agreed that this is the best burger we've ever made. We've also tried making these burgers with Beyond Meat and they turned out just okay, though a little too rich for my taste.
That said, mixing the vegetables into the Impossible Burger is weird. The way Impossible feels is gross and disconcerting, but such are the sacrifices we make to go to FlavorTown.
The nice thing about Impossible Burger is that you can cook it like a normal burger and get similar results. I cook my burgers like I would cook a steak in cast iron: heat the pan up on high for a few minutes, squirt some olive oil on and get it warm and then place the burger on the pan. Let this go for like 4 minutes and flip. You'll note in the photo above that a nice crispy crust has developed on the burger.
This recipe also calls for you to make a red onion jam. The first few times I made this, I didn't have time to make it (it takes around 30 minutes to boil down the onions) but I made it last time and wow did it make a huge difference. I was going to make it this time but remembered that I had some bacon in the fridge that I needed to use so I decided to make a freestyle bacon jam.
Bacon jam is pretty simple to make. Fry up some sliced bacon, remove once it gets crispy, dump in your diced onions and caramelize them in the bacon grease. Then you dump some cooking sherry in there to deglaze the pot and add some sweetness. And finally, you add some balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup before re-adding the bacon and simmering on low for about 10 minutes. I eyeballed and tasted my way to figure out if I had the right proportions, which was a fun improvisation.
Overall, this burger turned out great. The cook was medium / medium rare, which is right where I like it.
I'm a big fan of oven fries as a quick side dish with burgers. The best oven fries you can find are the Checker's / Rally's fries followed by Arby's curly fries. Sadly, I decided to branch out and get Alexia's Sweet Potato fries. What I want out of fries, above all else, is to be crispy. I've never had a crispy sweet potato fry and I hoped this experience would be different, but alas, it was not meant to be.
Sunday Cocktail: Not Quite Picon Bière
The New York Times Cooking section has this recipe for a French beer cocktail that I enjoy and want to share. It is a mixture of beer, Amaro, and orange liqueur. All those ingredients are somewhat fancy so I've dumbed it down for my palette. I obviously have Amaro, so I'm not that dumb. I have no idea if triple sec is orange liqueur, but the bottle has oranges on it so I'm going with it. And for the beer, I am using my beloved Miller High Life. Since this is a French cocktail, and High Life is the Champagne of Bottled Beers™️ and Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, this is the perfect combo.
Overall, it's a great summer cocktail that's perfect for a Sunday, 5 bags of popcorn.
As an aside, I'm a Reddit lurker BUT the only subreddit that I moderate is /r/MillerHighLife. I have no memory of this decision but I'm proud of it nonetheless.
Sweet Cherry Pie
I'm not going to dwell on this one too much because it's basically a shot for shot remake of the cherry slab pie I made a few weeks ago. Well, maybe not a shot for shot remake, I did make it in a traditional pie pan after all. But I did use Rainer cherries marinated in lemon juice so the flavor is very similar.
This time, though, I remembered to cut a slit in the pie so the steam could escape (it's a little heart because cooking is my love language) and remembered to put egg wash and demerara sugar on top. I also did a better job with the dough, it was much easier to roll out and fit in the pan than the last one I made. Maybe I added enough water, I'm not sure. I couldn't get the edge of the crust picture perfect, but that's life ain't it.
The pie turned out great! So good that my cat wanted a slice! That's all I have to say about that.