Inside Out Burger

inside out burger by The Culinary Chase America is considered the true home of the hamburger, but chopped beef had been a staple of Eastern European cuisines for centuries.  German immigrants from Hamburg arrived in America in the 19th century bringing their Hamburg-style beef with them.  Burgers are all about the toppings and this recipe focuses on the topping you can’t see.  The idea behind an inside out burger is to sandwich ingredients within the beef patty and when you take a bite, the stuffing is uncovered.  Talk about a taste sensation!

Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs. medium ground beef
1 onion, thinly sliced
cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (or any mixture of hard or semi-hard cheeses)
4 slices bacon, cooked
bread and butter pickles
hamburger buns

Divide beef into 4 even chunks.  Divide those chunks in half and form patties.  Using all fingers, grab a generous pinch of Gruyère cheese and place on one half of the patty. Place the other half on top. Using your fingers, crimp and seal the edges closed – you don’t want the cheese exposed. Repeat for remaining patties.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use.  Keeping the patties cold before cooking helps them to stay together and stay as juicy as possible.

In a frying pan over medium heat add a splash of olive oil and sauté onion until golden brown. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add a splash more olive oil and add mushrooms. Cook until light brown or to your liking. Remove and set aside.hamburger buns by The Culinary ChaseSeason patties with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and grill over medium-high heat (2 minutes per side for rare, 3 for medium-rare, 4 for medium, and 5 for well-done).  Resist the urge to press the burgers while they cook as this releases their natural juices (making for a drier patty) and the cheese will ooze out. IF USING A GRILL PAN: Heat pan over high heat on top of the stove. Cook the burgers the same as you would for the barbecue. Build the hamburger by placing one patty on the base of a hamburger bun followed by thinly sliced cheese (the heat from the burger will soften the cheese), pickles, bacon, mushrooms and onion.

inside-out hamburger by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: The first time I made an inside out burger was 2 years ago when we lived in NY and I haven’t made a regular burger since!  I like my burgers thick and use a pound of ground beef for the two of us.  Get creative and use other toppings to stuff your burger.  Enjoy!

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Minced Duck and Scallops on Pineapple

minced duck on pineapple by The Culinary ChaseThere’s nothing quite like a new recipe to try and plan a dinner menu around. Sometimes we’ll choose a wine and build a meal from that but most times it’s the former. I had originally thought of a Mediterranean-based meal for Saturday’s get together but wondered if this Thai-inspired dish would be out of sync. I pondered, then felt the minced duck and scallops on pineapple would be a cool appetizer to serve and the flavors from this would be a lovely introduction to the main meal.  I love it when things just flow and plates are scraped clean!

Serves 4
adapted from Coast

1 1/2 cups minced duck meat (cooked)
sea scallops, pat dry
peanut oil, for frying
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 coriander roots, finely chopped
red chili, chopped
4 tablespoons palm sugar, dissolved in a bit of warm water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
pineapple slices

  • Deep-fry the shallots until light golden, drain on paper towel.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok over medium heat.  Stir-fry garlic, coriander root, chili until fragrant (don’t let garlic burn).  Add duck meat and fry until heated through then add sugar and fish sauce. Stir until combined and sauce has reduced a bit. Add half the coriander leaves and lime juice – mix well and keep warm.
  • Divide pineapple slices among 4 plates and top with a spoonful of duck. In a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add a little oil and sear the scallops (2 minutes each side). This should produce a golden crust about 1/4-inch thick on both sides and the center will be translucent. Remove immediately and place a scallop on top of each pineapple. Garnish with coriander leaves and shallots.

table setting by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  Use pineapple wedges and you can stretch this to feed about 16 people – perfect finger food for your next soirée.  Our friends devoured it…that’s all she wrote! Enjoy!

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40 Minute Hamburger Buns

40 minute hamburger buns by The Culinary ChaseThe night before, John and I were watching Eat Street and hamburgers were being made in one of the food trucks. They looked so good and appetizing John said why don’t we have hamburgers for dinner.  It’s finally starting to feel like Spring and although we do use our bbq all year round, yesterday was full of sunshine and inspired me to make, for the very first time, my own hamburger buns.  Surfing the web I found a recipe to make a hamburger bun in 40 minutes.  Full of doubt, I read the recipe through and afterward thought I’d give it a bash.  What could go wrong I heard myself saying.  I’m not a proficient bread maker in the first place but something about this recipe said it could work and even if didn’t, I could easily pop into the grocery store…

Makes 8 to 12 buns
adapted from Taste of Home

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon melted butter (to brush over the tops of the buns)

hamburger dough collage by The Culinary Chase

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough (start with 3 cups as you may not need the 1/2 cup of flour).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Space apart on greased baking sheets.

hamburger bread dough

  • Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks to cool.

hamburger buns by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: WOW! These were incredibly easy to make and I was skeptical homemade bread could be done in 40 minutes and taste good, too. It took me 45 minutes from start to pulling these puppies out of the oven.  These will also make a delicious dinner roll.  Yep, I’ll be making these again. Enjoy!

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Pad Thai

Pad Thai by The Culinary ChaseLiving overseas provided us with an opportunity for our palates to mature and enjoy food we never would have tried back home either because it wasn’t being offered or the ingredients weren’t available (that was 15 years ago). I was never a big fan of spicy foods but that changed over time and I now seek out foods with heat, not over-the-top fiery heat, but ones that generate a bit of sweat.  Our first real Pad Thai experience was in Singapore in a hawker center.  These centers are typically outdoor food places where you can experience Singapore’s rich heritage of food dishes consisting of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai influences.   Pad Thai originated with street vendors in open air markets.  Thai food has four fundamental taste senses in each dish: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.  Thai dishes are served with a spoon and fork.  The use of fork and spoon were introduced by King Chulalongorn after his return from a tour of Europe in 1897.  The fork, held in the left hand, is used to push food into the spoon. The spoon is then brought to the mouth.  Traditionally Thai people ate with their right hand just like the people of India and therefore chopsticks were never used and still aren’t.  I’ve incorporated spaghetti squash in lieu of rice noodles and this dish is about as close to the real deal as you’ll get.

Serves 2
inspired from Bon Appétit

1 small spaghetti squash, cut in half (seeds removed)
vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
8 medium shrimp, peeled (optional)
small container of pressed or firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 to 2 cups mung bean sprouts
5 tablespoons tamarind water, or tamarind paste mixed with 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1  tablespoons simple syrup (palm sugar or brown sugar)
4 chives, chopped
crushed red chili peppers
chopped roasted cashews (or peanuts)
lime wedges
Pad Thai ingredients by The Culinary Chase

  1. Cook squash in a covered microwavable dish 5 to 8 minutes. Fluff and easily remove the strands with a fork; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until they turn pink. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add tofu and cook until slightly browned – remove from wok and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil if wok is dry and stir in egg.  Cook until it is the consistency of a wet scrambled egg. Add spaghetti squash strands and cook until heated through. Add sprouts, tamarind water, fish sauce, and simple syrup and stir-fry until sauce is coats the spaghetti squash. Toss in chopped chives, pinch of crushed chili peppers and 1 tablespoon cashews and toss well.
  3. To plate, garnish with crushed red chili peppers, cashews, and lime wedges (squeeze this over the top).  *The traditional way to serve Pad Thai is with all the seasonings ON THE SIDE, together with more fresh bean sprouts and chives.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Use traditional rice noodles (8 oz.) if you’re not a fan of spaghetti squash.   If you can’t find tamarind paste, use lime juice mixed with an equal quantity of brown sugar (omit simple syrup).  Omit the shrimp and it becomes a delicious vegetarian option.  Enjoy!

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Cardamom Sugar Cookies

cardamom sugar cookies by The Culinary ChaseWho isn’t drawn to a pretty, delicate-looking cookie? I’m a sucker for this sort of thing and with Spring here and Easter just around the corner, I was inspired to make these sugar cookies. The cardamom sugar cookie recipe hails from Williams-Sonoma, border icing from The Kitchn and flood icing from Every Day Occasions. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices. Its flavor is subjective according to individual palates and for me it exudes a spicy, herbal, citrusy character.  It can be the predominant spice or as a background note.  Cardamom goes well with cinnamon, ginger, clove combinations and is the third-most expensive spice in the world after saffron and vanilla.  It is known as The Queen of Spices (The King of Spices is black pepper) and belongs to the ginger family.

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

For the border icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring extract
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
Food coloring, optional

For the flood icing:
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
3-4 cups of icing sugar

To make the cookies, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom; set aside. In a bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix until just combined. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

cardamom sugar cookie collage by The Culinary ChasePreheat an oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat nonstick liners or parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, and bake until just golden around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies from the pans and let cool completely.

cardamom cookie by The Culinary ChaseTo make the border icing, mix together icing sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk or water using a spoon or a fork. The border icing should be just thick enough to pour easily.

To make the flood icing, in a microwave-proof mixing bowl, heat butter and milk together in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until butter is melted. Mix in corn syrup and icing sugar and whisk until smooth. Add more icing sugar or milk to achieve the correct consistency. This icing is a slightly thinner version of the border icing. It should flow until it fills the entire cookie.

cookie collageArrange cookies on wax paper.  Using the border icing first, trace the outline of the cookie using a disposable pastry bag or squeeze bottle (I prefer this).  Next, use the flood icing to fill in the area.  Allow icing to dry – about 10 minutes.

Easter cookies by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: I won’t kid you, these do take a bit longer to decorate but it’s not a difficult task.  Bake the cookies one day and decorate the next.  Enjoy!

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Bread and Butter Pickles

bread & butter pickles by The Culinary ChaseIf you were to come to my home with a hostess gift of homemade pickles in tow, I’d be the happiest chick in town! I used to make my own but our family size has shrunk (empty nesters) and I really don’t want to have to store jars and jars of preserves and condiments. This recipe for bread and butter pickles needs no special canning tools or ingredients. And, the quantity is just the right size for us!  I’ve always wondered where did the term bread and butter pickles come from?  After surfing the internet, two plausible answers emerge.  One, it seems, originated during the Depression years when there was little in the cupboard (they were used as a filling for a sandwich) and another came from a man who sold pickles at a roadside stand and the income produced from the sales was his bread and butter (apocryphal).  Even if none of these explanations are true, one thing that is true is that these pickles are super easy to make and taste delicious!

Makes 4 cups
adapted from Recipe Girl

1 lb. little cucumbers, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

mini cucumbers by The Culinary ChaseCombine cucumber slices and salt in a bowl; cover and chill 1 1/2 hours.  Toss cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to a bowl.

Add sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate 24 hours before consuming (if you can wait that long!).

The Culinary Chase’s Note: These were just what I needed and I didn’t need to wait until Fall to make them.  Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.  Enjoy!

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Chocolate Avocado Pudding

chocolate avocado puddingFood blogging for me is always a new adventure and while it’s generally been fun there’s a tiny percentage when it isn’t.  There are times when a recipe never gets published because it just didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to and couldn’t be salvaged or because I lost my zeal and couldn’t be asked to take photos.  I don’t have a schedule as to what I’ll post this week or next week…a lot of it depends on how I’m feeling that particular day.  And, I never know what will inspire me to write a post.  The inspiration for this post comes from a text my sister sent asking what to do with avocados before they spoiled.  I sent her the usual suspects such as avocado soup, deep-fried avocado wedges, incorporating them in a salad, baked with an egg, avocado smoothie and so on.  I also did a quick scan on the web and stumbled across a slew of avocado pudding recipes.  Chocolate avocado pudding definitely caught my eye.  Avocados are naturally rich and creamy making them a perfect ingredient in a pudding.  But how would it taste?  I was, to say the least, a bit leery but felt the combination should be fine.

Serves 2

3 to 4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 half cup milk

IMG_4183 by The Culinary Chase

  1. In a food processor combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Do a taste test and adjust according to taste.
  2. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

IMG_4185The Culinary Chase’s Note: Leaving the pudding in the fridge allows the flavors to intensify.  Decorate with fresh fruit such as raspberries, chopped strawberries (my favorite), chopped bananas and a sprig of mint.  Enjoy!

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Shrimp on Polenta Rounds with Sun-Dried Tomato Relish

It was one of those days. I needed some sort of dinner inspiration (read nudge) and feeling too lazy to leave the house (I had already been out), I leaned forward to inspect the contents of the fridge and noticed a jar of sun-dried tomatoes right at the back.  I usually keep these sort of condiments closer to the front…things in the back tend to get lost or worse, have gone past their expiry and start growing some interesting fungus within!   I had shrimp in the freezer and polenta (cornmeal) in the pantry.  These would go perfectly with sun-dried tomatoes but I needed to ‘spice’ up the tomatoes – just a bit.  Sun-dried tomato relish, of sorts, sprang to mind.  After surveying the contents of the refrigerator, I finally felt I had enough ingredients to pull it all together.

shrimp on polenta rounds with sun-dried tomato relish by The Culinary ChaseAs tempting as it might be to pick up store-bought polenta, consider making your own.  It is easily made and takes 20 to 30 minutes to cook.  When its finished, add butter, chopped herbs and cheese for optimum flavoring.  Pour polenta onto a greased plate and let cool.  When it’s cool, it’s ready and can be used as a base for pizza, cut into polenta fries, grilled etc.  Once you make it you’ll find it difficult to go back ready-made.  For more home made polenta recipes, click here.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side

8 to 12 medium-sized  shrimp, peeled and sautéed until pink and golden (keep warm)
firm polenta (already cooked), cut into rounds
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed), drained and chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
splash of olive oil
small shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

  1. In a bowl combine relish ingredients. Allow to sit 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
  2. Preheat broiler.
  3. Cut polenta into 3-inch rounds using a cookie cutter or the top of a glass. Spray olive oil on the top and bottom of each polenta round. Place on a baking tray and broil until tops are bubbling and starting to brown. Remove from Oven.
  4. Arrange a spoonful or so of sun-dried tomato relish on top of the polenta round topped with shrimp.  Drizzle with juice, if any, from the relish.

shrimp on polenta rounds by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  The relish ingredients are easily tweaked to suit your own palate.   Enjoy!

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