Cooky Jason’s September Recipe – Lamb Burgers

010115_mediterranean-lamb-burger-recipe_largeWell the end of summer draws nigh. But that’s OK. Soon we’ll all be drinking/eating pumpkin-spice EVERYthing. And football is gearing up which brings its own genre of cookout favorites (as long as weather permits, of course) as mainstays such as hearty chili and beef stews have the dust brushed off their recipe pages. Until then, however, it’s time for one last summer hurrah…

You can’t go wrong with burgers at the campsite, right? The combination of beef and lamb here along with the magical basil sauce make these a bit unique, yet still easy to make, and guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Serve with watermelon wedges and a nice summer ale or fresh lemon-limeade and enjoy the last 3 weeks of summer while you can!

Major players

  • 1lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of salt and pepper

Magical Basil Sauce

  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Juice and zest from 1 large lemon

For the burgers:

OK, let’s do this. Using 2 different meats really adds a lot of depth profile in the flavor. If you can’t get ground lamb just use ground pork. Using your hands, thoroughly combine the beef and lamb in a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil and salt and pepper and combine. You’ll get 6 to 7 burgers out of this, depending on how big you make them. Start by forming a giant meatball. Then slowly compress your hands while rolling it between your palms until a patty is formed. Then use your thumb to press an indent into the middle. If you’re taking these to the campsite, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or wax paper and keep chilled until ready. You can also freeze them if it makes them easier to transport for you.

Cook on grill over medium-high heat about 3 ½ minutes per side. About a minute before removing from grill, add a slice of your chosen cheese. Mozzarella loves basil…

Serve on toasted sesame seed or ciabatta buns. Using good bread here really makes a hug difference, so it’s worth it to choose a higher quality bun to go with all the love that just went into the burgers themselves, don’t you think?

Magical Basil Sauce:

Blend all ingredients until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust by adding salt and pepper if needed. You can do this several days ahead of time if you like. Just make sure it’s plenty chilled while transporting. Spoon over burgers and finish off with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc… Or leave them veggie-less and let the lamb really be the star. Perfection.

This is our last newsletter recipe of the summer and we’ve had a truly fantastic summer and I hope all of you did, too! Feel free to share/email me pictures of our recipes when you try them.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Cooky Jason’s June Recipe – Quesadillas

Quickin’ Quesadillas

As far as quick snacks go, you can’t get much simpler than the awesome quesadilla. In its most basic form it’s only two ingredients: a tortilla shell and cheese. And it takes about 3 minutes to make and costs less than a dollar. But obviously, we can’t just leave it at that. So let’s check out some simple variations. We’ll start with the simple version and go from there.quesadilla2

Major Players

One soft tortilla shell: You can pick up a package of these for only a few bucks. (Get the blue corn ones if you can find them. Trust me…)

Shredded cheese: Use ¾ cup for a standard size tortilla shell, 1 cup for a large one. I like to use sharp cheddar and shred my own because it’s cheaper. But sometimes buying shredded cheese is worth the convenience.

Heat a skillet over very low heat and lay in your tortilla. (Or heat the grill up to medium. Lightly coat each side of a tortilla shell with olive oil and salt.) Sprinkle in your cheese on only one half of the tortilla. Salt and pepper to taste and add a few pinches of garlic powder. Or scratch the regular salt and use garlic salt instead. Fold over the other half of the tortilla to make a half-circle. Give it about a minute per side and you’re in business.

Game Changer

Sautee ½ cup onions with ½ cup sliced mushrooms in 2 Tbsps olive oil. Also add in one finely diced dehydrated chipotle pepper (dried smoked jalapeño) with the seeds removed. You can find these at most grocery stores these days. They are not spicy-hot and have an amazing smoky flavor. Also add 2 Tbsps water to your skillet to help soften the chipotle. Let this go for about 4 minutes and remove from heat. When you add your cheese to the tortilla, add only half of it. Then spread your onion/mushroom/chipotle mixture evenly on top of the cheese, then add the other half of the cheese and fold over the other half of the tortilla. Again, we only need to go about a minute per side.

Additionally, how can we forget a little poultry? Marinate 2 to 3 chicken breasts in the juice of 3 limes, a Tbsp of chili powder, and about a half cup of olive oil for a couple hours, up to overnight. Drain and grill over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes preside. Slice thinly and add to the tortillas between layers of cheese.

*Note: if you can’t find chipotles, feel free to use diced fresh jalapeño. There are endless variations you can do here. We can add tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh diced garlic, avocado slices, blah blah blah… You get the idea. You can even use store bought salsa or guacamole. The point is to get in there and try some things and find what you like. This whole process takes about 10 minutes for two quesadillas. These are perfect for that late night snack or serve them up at a party or at the campsite. Score.