Mediterranean lamb burger

I was totally not thinking about putting this on my blog. But when my husband said it was so good that in a restaurant he would pay 30 bucks for it…… I thought oh well, others might like it too.

Since I was not thinking about sharing this, I will  have measurements only for the patties and  instructions on how to do the rest. This is a lamb burger and the components bring you the taste of summer and the Mediterranean.

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For the patties I used minced lamb. I bought it from a farmer and I am pretty sure the meat actually made a tremendous amount of difference to this burger. Managed to keep the patty juicy, full of flavor and at the same time the lamb taste was not overpowering.

For 6 small or 4 big patties I used

  • 1 medium size red onion sauteed in 2 T olive oil (add the olive oil to the mix too)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 lb of minced lamb,
  • 1 egg
  • 2T crumbled feta cheese
  • 1T breadcrumb
  • 1/2t dried oregano
  • 1t mix of sweet paprika, ground cumin and ground coriander
  • salt, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper

……..you can play with the spices, if you like hot and spicy you can add more cayenne and if you like the cumin-coriander taste you can increase that too……

The other components in the burger:

  • Roasted red and orange sweet pepper. Cut the peppers in half, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place them in a roasting pan or dish cut side up. Roast in the oven at 440F until skin is charred. Alternatively you can also grill them in whole, turning to grill on each side. Once they are done wrap them in cling film, it will make peeling easy. Once it is cooled, peel the skin off and slice them, drizzle with olive oil and some fresh oregano. You can roast as much as you want, because the leftover can be kept in a jar with oil for later use for a week. You can use it on salads, sandwiches.
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grilled pepper
  • Tomato ceviche. This has to be acidic to compensate for the sweetness of the roasted veggies in the burger!  Slice heirloom or other big, juicy, meaty, tasty, yummy tomatoes into medium slices with same size slices of red onion. Mix some water, lemon juice, little bit of vinegar (any type), sugar, chopped fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. You need just as much liquid to just cover the tomatoes.    (taste the liquid and adjust to your liking)     Marinate the tomatoes and onion in the liquid. They are ready in 30 minutes. If you leave them too long, for hours, they will be falling into parts. It is not a problem, but a bit difficult to handle.
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heirloom tomatoes
  • I also made a roasted tomato-preserved lemon ketchup. If this is too much work for you replace it with some store bought, special, tasty ketchup. Do not ruin your burger with some generic, artificial one! I roasted the halved tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and onions cut in quarters at 440F for only 30 minutes. Once done, blended them and cooked the puree with 1 chopped preserved lemon, cayenne pepper, lots of salt, a little bit of dark brown sugar.
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home made preserved meyer lemon

To assemble the burger I used more fresh red onion slices, more crumbled feta, micro greens and olives.

ENJOY!

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Smoky tomato gazpacho with condiments

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This soup was one of my entries to the easy summer eats. I love soups. And even more so I love tomatoes. When I was a kid I was really into tomato soup. My grandma made the most amazing one. Then one day she came up with this crazy idea that she would make it into a “lecso” soup. Lecso is a Hungarian vegetable stew made with onions, tomatoes and white Hungarian pepper. My answer was a firm NOOOOO. Peppers in my tomato soup? No way. But my grandma thought who cares what this little pumpkin wants. And she made her version anyway. But she didn’t tell me it had peppers in it. Until I finished with my soup, eating it all.

So don’t be afraid. The soup will only taste better with peppers in there. 🙂

This is a cold, no cooking, gazpacho soup. For that exact reason your ingredients have to be top notch. You can not get away with mediocre, bland produce here…. All the flavor will come from your vegetables, mainly the tomatoes.

Just add all the ingredients in the blender, blend it to a consistency you want. Towards the end add your seasoning and it is done. Tomatoes need lots of salt so don’t be shy. Buy some good quality salt which is good for you. I use pink himalayan. Remember without salt your food will have no taste. You don’t want to taste salt but flavors. Salt helps flavors to shine. It is imperative with tomatoes! I added pimento paprika, which is a smoked Spanish paprika. This will give the soup the smoky flavor I really enjoyed. If you use any other kinds, your soup will simply taste different. Go and get that smoked paprika! From the photo below I used those red tomatoes, the red pepper, the jalapeño and half of that big onion in the middle. If you can’t eat spicy, hot, just leave the jalapeño out.

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To make it a full meal I served it “Barcelona style”. Jamon iberico, spanish olives, marcona almonds and boiled egg as condiments. To make the perfect boiled egg you need to put your room temperature eggs in boiling water and cook uncovered for exactly 12 minutes.

Also toasted some bread, rubbed them with some garlic and drizzled with olive oil.  ENJOY!

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Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 5 big juicy tomatoes
  • 1 big red california pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 T dark cane sugar
  • 2-3 T sherry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of olive oils
  • salt, ground pepper, pimento paprika
  • grated manchego cheese and chopped parsley for serving

And for the condiments

  • jamon iberico
  • spanish olives
  • chopped boiled eggs
  • marcona almonds
  • bread
  • 1 garlic clove to rub the bread once it is toasted
  • olive oil

 

 

 

Summer salad

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This salad celebrates some great summer fruits peach and watermelon. The sweet watermelon and the tart and sweet peach need some contrast in the salad. So I added crispy prosciutto and a hard, salty cheese ricotta salata. It is a variation of ricotta and it is dried and salted. For the vinaigrette I used the juice of a peach, added some lemon and lots of lemon basil. Lemon basil is a lovely, fragrant variation of the basils. If you don’t have it, use basil and mint.

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I also added some interesting herbs and edible flowers in the salad, it is a great experience to come across a bite of different flavor while eating the salad. Feel free to experiment with whatever you have.

Ingredients

salad ingredients

  • mixed salad leaves (young spinach, young kale and arugula works best)
  • sliced peach
  • watermelon cubes
  • prosciutto pieces crispened in olive oil
  • crumbled ricotta salata (you have to have it at room temp to be able to crumble it)
  • sliced scallions or chopped red onion
  • lemon basil leaves
  • anise hyssop leaves
  • borage flowers
  • radish flowers

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vinaigrette: 

  • 1/2 chopped shallot
  • juice of 1 peach
  • lemon juice
  • light olive oil – at least twice as much as the peach and lemon juice (extra virgin would have a very dominant taste)
  • salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste
  • at least 1T of chopped lemon basil

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Sumac spiced goat cheese pasta with sweet corn and blistered tomatoes

So here we are. SUMMER. Almost. The produce at the market definitely has changed and the summer staples are slowly popping up. Lucky me. I decided to come up with a few summer eats for a contest, but I was surely not prepared to buy some imported, bland tomatoes or watermelon. Because for me these two are the dearest and their taste when in season and you buy local, can not be compared to their available counterparts in December….So I took the clue from the market, as usual, and came up with the ideas while strolling, making sure not buying anything and everything just because “oh I might need those….”

Summer at the market looks so much like the one in Hungary. Tomato, pepper, melon, watermelon, peach, apricot, plum, corn. So let’s see what we are going to cook shall we?

Who likes pasta? I am pretty sure all of us. But you might have gluten intolerance or you might be on a diet? Don’t worry. I personally don’t buy white flour pasta anymore. For me it is a health choice and we eat it rarely so I will always go for a whole grain type. They have an earthier flavor and definitely crunchier texture which is only good when it comes to pasta. You can also buy pasta that is made with rice flour, quinoa or seeds, the choice is endless today. But if you want to avoid the carbs fully you know what you have to do? Buy a few courgettes and make them into spaghetti with the clever help of a vegetable spiralizer.

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Creamy goat cheese pasta with sweet corn and blistered cherry tomatoes

The great thing with this pasta is that you can have it warm when ready and if you have some leftover, it is great as a cold pasta salad too.  This pasta has an unusual spice, sumac. Sumac berry bushes are native to the Middle East and the ground berries has a bright acidity. It is a great spice to use when you want some tartness without the lemon. I also used aleppo chili flakes which has the same geographic origin, but you can add any kinds/heat level chili flake or ground chili. You will only blister the tomatoes, do not cook them down. When you get to eating you can smash some of them on your plate, adding some juice to the sauce.

I will start with the instructions and if you need guidance on amounts, it will follow.

How To

  1. Get everything ready so you can start making the sauce while the pasta is cooking, so all components will be ready at the same time.
  2. Cook the corn and cut off the kernels.
  3. Chop the shallot, parsley and scallion and mince the garlic.
  4. Mix the chèvre, creme fraiche and buttermilk in a bowl and season well with salt, black pepper, sumac and chili flakes or cayenne pepper.
  5. Start cooking the sauce.
  6. Heat olive oil in a pan.
  7. When oil is hot add tomatoes.
  8. When they are blistered, add chopped shallot.
  9. Sautee a few minutes longer, stirring continously, not burning the onion.
  10. Add garlic, sauté for a few seconds and add the chèvre – creme fraiche mix and corn.
  11. Taste and season if needed. It should be a little bit tart, enough salt, and a bit of heat.
  12. Drain pasta and add it to the sauce thoroughly covering in the sauce.
  13. Plate with generous amount of chopped parsley and scallion.

 

DSC_5229Ingredients for 4 persons

  • your choice of pasta or courgette spirals
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 T room temperature chèvre
  • 2 T creme fraiche
  • splash of buttermilk or cream, just enough to mix ingredients
  • salt, ground black pepper, sumac
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, smaller the better and different varieties
  • 2 corn cobs
  • parsley and scallion

 

 

Vanilla rice pudding, balsamic strawberry sauce and strawberry nectarine salad

How to make this yummy balsamic strawberry sauce?

Chop 1 pound of strawberries and cook it on low heat with about 1/2 cup of white cane sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon,  1 T very good quality, thick balsamic vinegar and approx. 1/3 cup of water.  Feel free to adjust, you have to end up with a sweet, thick sauce. Cook it until you achieve a thick consistency, the strawberries are falling apart but you still have some big pieces.

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And the fruit salad that will be sweet and fragrant?

Chop strawberries and white nectarines into similar size. (I chopped them small, bigger one is good, but not too big) Mix it with chopped lemon verbena and anise hyssop. In case you don’t have access to these herbs you can use mint and lemon zest. Finish off with finger lime caviars, or if you don’t have this fun fruit just squeeze some lime juice on it.

Vanilla rice pudding

Cook 1C of risotto rice in an equal mixture of water and full fat milk, pinch of salt and the seeds of a vanilla pod. You need to cook it as with a risotto, continuously adding small amount and stirring. When you feel the rice is cooked add a good 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream and keep stirring on low heat until all the cream soaked in. Add 1-2 T white cane sugar. Taste. It shouldn’t be very sweet because you will have a really sweet strawberry sauce to go with it!!!

 

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And what is that beautiful blue flower on top?

I decorated the pot with tiny anise hyssop and lemon verbena leaves, borage flower and bachelor button petals.

This is borage. Its flower is used for decoration, it has a sweet, fresh taste, really special. The leaves can be used in tea and cooked as stinging nettle!

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