The Bourdain Burger

For years, I have been trying to cook and assemble the perfect burger. I’d experiment with different seasonings in the patty, adding finely diced onion, chilli, herbs and even blue cheese on occasion. The number and combinations of toppings, and sauces, are endless, and everyone has their own favourite. Often, my experiments resulted in interesting and great tasting burgers, sometimes the combinations were not so great. However, the more “creative” I got, the more I felt I was moving away from the basic simplicity and flavour of what a burger should be. I then came across a video of the late (and great) Anthony Bourdain where he shares his views on what makes a great burger (you can watch it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZwyLVUAS5Y ). My burger recipe below includes a lot of his suggestions (and I include his name in my version, as a small tribute to the great man). I prefer to use cubed beef chuck for the patty, and grind it myself, as I find the meat to fat ratio perfect for a burger. Of course, you are entirely free to include whatever toppings and sauces you wish. Personally, I think the simplicity of the toppings and sauces I use in my version, allow for the full beefy flavour of the patty to really shine through. But ultimately, the choice is yours. Whilst many people label the burger as  “junk food”, I prefer the term “fun food”, as one really should enjoy the process of cooking, building and eating this iconic food.

Ingredients

  • 720g Beef Chuck, cubed
  • 4 large round burger buns. I use sesame seed covered ones but again, this is your choice
  • Pickled Gherkins – sliced lengthways or into rounds
  • 4 processed cheese slices
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lettuce
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Grind the meat using the course grinding wheel. If you don’t have your own meat grinder, simply ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • Divide the meat into four 180g portions
  • Shape each portion into a burger patty, taking care not to compress the meat too much. The patty should resemble an ice hockey puck.
  • Season the patty’s well with good sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a pan, over a high heat, until just starting to smoke
  • Add the burger patty’s making sure not to crowd the pan. You can cook them in two batches if necessary.
  • Fry the burger patty’s for approximately 3 minutes on one side, turn over and fry for a further 2 minutes on the other side. This timing will produce a burger which is med-rare to medium. However, you can cook longer if you prefer yours more well-done.
  • You are looking for the burger patty to have a nice crust on the outside but take care not to burn.
  • Remove burger patties from the pan, lay a slice of processed cheese on each, and set aside, resting whilst you prepare the buns. The cheese will melt from the residual heat
  • Cut each bun in half, and lightly toast.
  • Put a thin layer of mayonnaise on the base of a bun.
  • Add the sliced pickled gherkin
  • If you like extra cheese (as I do) you can add another slice on top of the gherkins
  • Add a burger patty, topped with some lettuce and tomato sauce.
  • Top with the other half of the bun and get stuck in!!!

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Salted Macadamia Buttercrunch

Ingredients

  • 250g raw unsalted Macadamia nuts
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 45g light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 114g salted butter cut into pieces
  • A big pinch of good salt, such as Maldon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g Dark or milk chocolate, chopped
  • Additional flaky sea salt (optional)

Method

  • Toast the macadamia nuts in a large frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes taking care not to burn them.
  • Remove from pan, allow to cool and chop somewhere between finely and coarsely
  • Form half the nuts into a rectangle about 20 x 25 cm on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat mat.
  • In a medium, heavy-duty saucepan, heat the water, butter, salt, and white and brown sugars.
  • Cook, stirring gently if necessary, until a sugar thermometer reads 150ºC degrees.
  • Remove from heat and immediately stir in the baking soda and vanilla.
  • Quickly pour the mixture over the nuts on the baking sheet. Using a small offset spatula, or similar utensil, spread the warm mixture over the nuts. (If you want to sprinkle additional sea salt over the buttercrunch mixture, do it at this point.)
  • Let set for about a minute or two
  • Sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the top and let stand 2 minutes. The residual heat in the caramel will melt the chocolate.
  • Spread the chocolate in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the chocolate and gently press them in with your hands, or a spatula.
  • Cool completely and break into pieces to serve.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Thai Green Curry

You could make your own green curry paste for this recipe. Personally, I think life is too short for that. Besides, in my opinion, you can get great curry pastes at virtually any supermarket these days. You could substitute this with a red or yellow paste if you so wish.

Ingredients

  • 750g firm white fish fillets (monkfish, dory, swordfish, yellowtail), cubed
  • 500g green beans chopped
  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 250g fresh shitake mushrooms sliced
  • 2-3 Tblsp green Thai curry paste
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 can full cream coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tblsp oil
  • Fresh coriander

Method

  • Heat the oil and gently sauté the onion until golden and soft
  • add the curry paste and fry gently for a minute or so.
  • add the mushrooms, green beans, coconut milk, stock and fish sauce and simmer gently until the beans are cooked to your liking (I prefer them with a bit of crunch)
  • Season the fish pieces, add to the sauce.
  • Poach gently until the fish is nearly cooked all the way through (approx. 2-3 minutes)
  • Taste, and season if required
  • remove from the heat, add a handful of fresh chopped coriander and stir through

serve in bowls on top of steamed rice (Jasmine or basmati works)

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Smoked Duck with Spicy Litchi and Szechuan pepper sauce

This recipe involves lightly smoking the duck breast after it has come out of the oven and is resting. Do not worry if you don’t have a smoking gun to smoke the duck, as the dish will still be delicious.

Ingredients

  • 4 duck breasts, skin lightly scored
  • Cherrywood chips
  • Salt and pepper
  • Frozen/fresh lotus root slices
  • 1 bunch bok choi
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Sauce

  • 1tsp Szeschuan pepper
  • 1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 lemongrass stem, white part only, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2cm piece of ginger peeled
  • 2 Tblsp chopped coriander stem
  • 1 Tblsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 525g tin litchis in Syrup
  • 2tsp Fish Sauce
  • 200 ml Chicken stock
  • 2 Tblsp lemon juice
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 2 Tblsp Peanut oil
  • Corn Starch

Rice

  • I cup white rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Water
  • Salt

Method

  • Turn oven on to 190deg C.
  • Begin by making the sauce.
  • Add Szechuan pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, chilli flakes, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, ginger, coriander stem and leaves, half of the tin of litchis and syrup, fish sauce and lemon juice to a food processor/blender and process for a few minutes until as smooth as possible.
  • Pass the sauce through a sieve to remove unprocessed pieces.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a pan and when hot add the sauce and fry for about a minute over a medium heat.
  • Add the rest of the litchi syrup, coconut milk and chicken stock and gently simmer the sauce until reduced by about half its volume – +/- 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Season (if necessary) and thicken sauce slightly with a little corn-starch added to a bit of water, and then stirred through the sauce.
  • Chop remaining litchis into chunks and add to sauce – heat through.
  • Set aside.

Lotus root

  • If frozen, thaw the lotus root and dry on kitchen towel.
  • Heat oil to 180deg C and fry lotus root in batches until golden brown.
  • Remove from oil.
  • Season with salt and set aside.

Rice

  • Cook the rice on the stove top or rice cooker, substituting the equivalent water, with the can of coconut milk.

Duck

  • Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat and brown the duck skin side down until well browned and fat has rendered out +/- 5- 7 minutes. Take care not to burn.
  • Turn duck over and briefly brown remaining sides.
  • Transfer duck to an oven friendly pan and cook in the oven for about 6-7 minutes  (this will produce duck which is still slightly pink in the middle). Cook longer if you want more well-done duck.
  • Remove duck and rest in a glass dish.
  • Cover dish with cling wrap and add Cherrywood smoke.
  • Seal dish and rest meat in the smoke for 3-4 minutes.

Bok Choi

  • Steam/boil Bok Choi until softened.
  • Set aside and keep warm.

To serve

  • Spoon warm sauce onto a plate.
  • Place bok choi leaves onto plate and top with coconut rice.
  • Slice the duck breast and lay on top of sauce
  • Top with crispy lotus root

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Gluten Free Almond Cake/Tart

This cake is absolutely delicious and extremely simple to make. It is really moist and has a great almond flavour.

Cake

Ingredients

  • 100g ground almonds
  • Pinch salt
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g regular sugar
  • 1 large egg – beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (55g), melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract or 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 80g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt

Glaze (optional) – Mix the ingredients below adding more or less sugar depending on the consistency you want

  • Icing sugar
  • Water
  • Almond extract
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line the base of a 6-inch (15cm) cake pan with parchment paper cut to fit and generously butter the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt and all sugars.
  • Add the beaten egg, melted butter, and almond extract to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. The batter should be quite thick.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.
  • Pour the glaze (if using) over the cooled cake and allow to set (approx. 20min). 

The almond cake will keep in an airtight container, or well wrapped in plastic wrap, for several days.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Clam Chowder

Ingredients

  • 400g cooked clam meat coarsely chopped
  • 4 rashers bacon finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion finely diced
  • 2 carrots finely diced
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 300ml cream
  • Handful of Italian parsley roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  • In a heavy based pan, fry the chopped bacon in a little olive oil until it is just starting to crisp and the bacon fat has all rendered out.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon leaving rendered bacon fat in the pan.
  • Add the onion and carrot and gently sautée stirring occasionally until starting to soften about 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and gently fry for about 1 minute
  • Add the diced potato, wine and enough stock to ensure the vegetables are totally covered by liquid.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are starting to break up.
  • Stir everything vigorously to break up a lot of the potato – (you are looking for a slightly chunky potato soup type consistency). A potato masher also works well. It is ok if the carrot doesn’t break up as easily as the potato.
  • Add all the clam meat and most of the bacon leaving some for the final garnish
  • Add the cream and bring everything back to a simmer.
  • Stir through the chopped parsley
  • Adjust seasoning

Serve in bowls with chunks of crispy bread

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Tuscan Chicken

This is a really tasty way to serve chicken breasts which can often be quite dry, if not cooked correctly. It is great served with steamed rice and serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken breasts, halved and slightly flattened
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250ml white wine
  • 300ml cream
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 1 handful of grated parmesan
  • 2 handfuls chopped baby spinach
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon mixed dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then gently fry the chicken breast in a little olive oil until nicely browned and nearly cooked through. Remove from pan.
  • Gently fry the onion in the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When soft, add the crushed garlic and fry for about 1 minute taking care not to burn the garlic
  • Add the wine, and reduce to about half then add the mixed herbs
  • Add the chicken stock and reduce a bit
  • Add the cream and simmer for a few minutes until the cream has reduced slightly
  • Add spinach and sundried tomatoes and gently cook until the spinach has wilted
  • Add parmesan and stir through.
  • Taste and season as required
  • Add chicken breasts back to the pan and cook gently until they are cooked through

Nice! and Tasty – Chris