So I found these fries at Trader Joe’s earlier this week and decided that I needed to make a meal around them. I thought to myself “Self, what’s more classic with fries than burgers?” Since the fries had a Mexican/Southwest flavor to them, I figured I’d echo that with the burgers. I also got a meat grinder attachment for Christmas and hadn’t used it yet. I should have photographed the meat grinding process, but got sidetracked with figuring out techniques, and my hands were covered with semi-ground chuck.
On thursday morning I made ciabatta rolls based on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe from The Bread Bible, and roasted a couple poblanos and a yellow bell pepper.
I have some leftover Irish Cream that I made for Christmas and figured I’d make a killer icing out of it, and had to come up with something to put said killer icing on. I was going to do stout/chocolate cupcakes but figured an Irish Coffee theme might be tastier, so I took a plain chocolate cake recipe and added a few teaspoons of instant coffee granules to the mix, and baked it up as cupcakes. The icing was some softened butter that I whisked with some powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of the Irish Cream. I know that my frosting skills leave quite a bit to be desired. I like to think of the cupcakes as “rustic.” The cupcakes are dense, moist, and amazing, and the top is slightly caramelized. The icing complements them perfectly!
I made a garlic/roasted poblano aioli for the burgers as well. It was good, but I made too much and in retrospect, I’d only put it on the bottom of the bun, not the top as well, the flavor was a little overwhelming. It was also my first time making an aioli though, so I was pretty pleased.
I cooked up the bacon, sliced and toasted the buns, topped them with aioli, the top bun with some fresh avocado salsa (shockingly similar to my guac recipe, I just used bigger chunks 😉 ), and some cilantro. I grilled my freshly ground, loosely packed burgers, flipped them, added sliced roasted yellow bell pepper and topped that with cheese, then assembled everything. It was a delicious meal.
So I decided that just for kicks, I’d do every part of this burger hoopla from scratch. Last night I made a ciabatta biga, and this morning baked 4 ciabatta rolls, then roasted a couple poblano and 1 bell pepper. I’m making a poblano aioli as a sauce for the burgers, and figured I’d top them with sweet roasted yellow bell pepper.
When we moved into the house, I threw this exciting housewarming shindig in an attempt to get our family and friends to see the house, plus to acquire stuff we’d need for the home. Mairead at work was unable to make it, but gave Craig and I a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond, then a few days later, my Dad and Kim gave me another gift card to the same place, so I went on a bit of a shopping spree.
When we moved into the house it had this hideous(but truly fantastic) avocado Frigidaire stove that was original to the house (1973). While it worked fine, it wasn’t going to be in the kitchen long-term, so when we went to the Sears scratch/dent warehouse to get a washing machine, we also bought a white flat-top ceramic range. I wish we had gas run to our house, but paying to have it run plus a good new gas stove was out of the question, so we stuck with the ceramic cooktop. This made the majority of my collection of vintage cast iron useless, as it has a “heat ring” on the bottom which elevates the bottom of the pan about 2mm from the cooking surface. It works fine with traditional coil-type electric, or gas ranges, but not with a flat-top, which requires a super-flat bottom. It also means that my cheap nonstick pan wouldn’t work, as the bottom wasn’t perfectly flat. I only had 1 skillet (thank god it’s cast iron) that was of any nominal size, but needed something that I can cook acidic stuff in, as it’s not cast iron’s favorite, and I occasionally find myself needing 2 skillets/sauté pans when making an elaborate dish.
When wandering through BB&B, I decided that I needed a Stainless omelet/sauté pan and was doing some serious hemming and hawing between the $100 Tri-Ply SS Calphalon and the $140 All-Clad. After spending probably 15 minutes cuddling with both of them, I called Craig for guidance, and he told me to buy what I thought I needed. Great, thanks for that. I finally decided that even though the All-Clad was SO MUCH nicer, I probably wouldn’t notice the difference in my day-to-day cooking, and I haven’t used All-Clad, so I wouldn’t know that I was missing. I bought the Calphalon.
Fast forward a few months, after 2 stir fries and searing a batch of chicken breasts, the bottom of the pan seems to have become convex. I’m pretty disappointed with Calphalon regarding this issue and made the time to call their customer service line this morning. I ended up talking to a gay guy that was a total bitch! He basically told me that I was cooking incorrectly and that I should never need to preheat over high heat. I pointed out that when stir-frying, and searing, you need a screaming, smoking hot pan. Regardless, we got into an argument, and he pointed out that the manual that comes with it suggests that you don’t need to preheat over more than medium heat. (oh, ok, thanks for that) Then he told me that if I were to send it back to Calphalon (on my dime) for a warranty issue, and they determined that I used it improperly, they wouldn’t replace it. I told him that I expected my $100 pan to be able to take high heat, and it’s ridiculous that after so little use, it warped. The little bitch had the audacity to say “Well, you know it has nothing to do with how much the cookware costs, ma’am.” (No shit?!)So much for a lifetime warranty on a pan with a good name.
I decided to throw a housewarming party for Craig and I, so all of our friends and family could make time to see the house, and maybe even give us housewarming gifts, like Home Depot and BB&B gift cards. It was to take place on a saturday night a few weeks after closing, so the final week was a rush to the finish line, and we spent probably 7 hours the day of the party installing new outlets, and light switches, vacuuming, putting furniture where it belonged, clearing out room in the garage to park the Corvettes, and baking furiously to feed our guests. After a few minor electrocutions, some burned bread pudding and several pints of beer, we made it, and were able to air out the house, relax, and ultimately drink too much and bullshit with a house full of some of the greatest people in existence. Here’s the house the following day. Sometimes when I get drunk and we’re having people over I go crazy washing dishes and cleaning after we eat and the evening’s winding down. It’s pretty awesome if you ask me, I love waking up to a kitchen that isn’t at total disaster. This was one of those nights.
So this is the house when we first moved in. The house was built in 1973 by an old couple with no children when they retired… they were like 95 when they died, and while they took fantastic care of the house, I don’t think they ever replaced anything, with the exception of the master bath shower, the refrigerator, the kitchen faucet, and the dishwasher…. really. We have our work cut out for us, but we got a decent deal and nothing’s damaged, it’s just… really oldschool.