Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dave Giffin’s Killer Jalapeno Bacon Hamburgers

It is finally warming up here in the Northwest and I’m loving it! Time to dust off my favorite summer recipes, shut up the house, and do all my cooking on the grill. Summer, in my mind, is the time for hamburgers—freshly cooked, outside, with bits of charcoal mixing with the juiciness of the burger. If you add in baked beans and some potato salad…what could be better?

For years, I made my burgers pretty much the same way every year—burger, a bit of finely chopped onion, salt and ground pepper, and sometimes a little garlic powder. Then I met Dave and it goes without saying that my burgers will never be the same again!

Before I share his recipe, which he graciously gave me permission to do, let me tell you a bit about him. Dave is one of those extraordinary individuals, people like me dream of meeting. A kitchen kindred spirit…a dump cook…a guy who dreams up recipes and rattles them off the top of his head…a little bit of this and a bit of that, and...VoilĂ ! Magic! Every time I see him, he has some new recipe he is perfecting, and he’s not afraid to try things in combinations that an ordinary person wouldn’t dream of.

The following recipe yields, in my opinion, the best, most favorable burger I’ve ever tasted. Feel free to be creative with the proportions. For those of you worried about the jalapeno…don’t be. In this recipe, it adds flavor, not heat. Enjoy!

One last thing...thinking of family traditions and hamburgers, I'm reminded that my grandfather ate peanut butter on his burgers. I'm curious, what's the strangest thing you've ever eaten on a hamburger?

Dave Giffin’s Killer Jalapeno Bacon Hamburgers

2-4 jalapeno peppers—seeded and deveined
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 lbs burger (your choice of kind, [grins] living in N. Idaho, we use ½ elk-½ beef)
1-2 lbs of bacon—cooked crisp
½-1 onion
salt and pepper

Pulse peppers, garlic, bacon, and onion in a food processor until you have a fine dice. Mix into burger, and add salt and pepper. Form into patties and grill. Serve with the usual hamburger condiments of buns, lettuce, tomato, relish, ketchup, and mustard.

Variation: If you like cheese with your burgers, try adding 1+ cup of sharp cheddar, jack, or crumbled blue cheese to burger before forming into patties.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quick and Easy Gourmet Espresso Brownies

Pressed for time? Have an unexpected invitation to dinner or a potluck and don’t know what dish to bring? Need a quick dessert that is easy and made with things you probably have in your kitchen?

Well, if you’re like me, you have this problem on a regular basis.

This week at work, we held a going away party for a colleague who is leaving and because I work 12-hour shifts, I had very little time to prepare anything elaborate. Enter my trusty standby—Cheater Brownies—box base with a few gourmet additions. This classic dump-cooking favorite is versatile and virtually fool proof… and not only that, it gets rave review from young and old alike. Enjoy!

Gourmet Espresso Brownies
(makes 12-16 brownies)

1 box Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 egg
1/3 C oil
1/3 C water
½ package chocolate chips
2 Tbs espresso powder (buy or grind your own from whole beans)
Chocolate covered espresso beans
Powdered sugar
Hot Fudge (Mrs. Richardson’s Hot fudge is my favorite)

Kitchen notes: I use the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix and best quality milk-chocolate chips (Ghirardelli or Guittard), because I’ve had great results and because Ghirardelli and Guittard products are given high marks by the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen. In a pinch, use whatever you have handy.

Instructions: Mix brownies as per instructions on the back of the package. Add in the extra ingredients before adding the liquids. Line baking dish with parchment paper to allow lifting the brownies from the pan when cool. Bake according to directions on package. Cool in pan until completely cool (overnight, covered with a tea towel, is good). Lift from pan and cut into squares. Garnish with powdered sugar sprinkled through a sieve or shaker. Pipe a dot of hot fudge onto the middle of each brownie and top with chocolate covered espresso bean.

Variations: If espresso brownies aren't your thing, here are a couple of other ideas. Leave out the espresso powder and try these substitutions instead.

Minty—add ½ teaspoon peppermint flavoring to batter or substitute 2 T of peppermint schnapps, for 2 T of water. Garnish with crushed peppermint candies, or mint leaves and a mint flavored Hershey’s Kiss.

Caramel—substitute 2 T of spiced rum, for 2 T of water. Garnish with melted caramels drizzled over the brownies.

Alternatively, if you just want a pretty brownie, consider these garnishes.
·         Fresh berries
·         White chocolate curls
·         Candied nuts
·         Whipped cream with a cherry
·         Candied Sprinkles
·         Andes Mint Curls
·         Candied Fruit
Go here for a cool website with lots of other ideas for garnishing.

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