Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Homemade Big Mac Recipe

This shot is so sucky, I even tried to Instagram it to no avail.
Got a hankering for a burger? Try this one on for size. It's everything that makes the Big Mac so tasty, but it's 100% homemade.

Since I am in that phase of the cookbook writing process where I just had to have something that did not come from a slow cooker, I whipped up this little burger and was happy again. It's a recipe that I posted a couple of years ago, so it might look familiar, but it's still a winner, so if you feel like firing up the grill, I hope you'll give this one a try.
You could always just make a regular burger, too.
Just remember, no frozen patties here (yuck). Only ground beef pressed by hand (that's at least 15 percent fat since that has the most flavor). Also, I love to make burgers with ground chuck, a personal preference. And, for the sauce? That's homemade, too (meaning, no cheating with Thousand Island dressing, although there is a wee bit in the recipe as you'll note).

Finally, when you grill or fry your burgers, resist the urge to press down on the meat with a spatula. I see people doing this all the time and it makes me bonkers because it's the fastest way to lose all those precious meat juices.

So, grill up. Have fun, and if you make this recipe, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.

In the meantime, I'll be back to slow cooking.

Homemade Big Mac Recipe

Very Special Burger Sauce

¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix all together and refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble Very Special Burgers
Makes one burger

2 thin hamburger patties
Salt and pepper
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large sesame seed buns
One slice American cheese
2 tablespoon finely minced onion
½ cup finely shredded lettuce
3 slices dill pickles

Heat a grill pan or griddle to medium high.

Lightly salt and pepper hamburger patties. Add vegetable oil to pan and cook each burger until the juices run clean (you can also grill them). Remove burgers and set aside.

Take one of the buns, open it, and place each bun face down on the griddle or grill. Take the other bun and remove the heel (bottom part of the bun) and place it face down on the grill (save top part of bun for another burger).  Toast each bun well, letting them soak up a little of the leftover burger grease.

To assemble, spread one tablespoon of the Very Special Burger Sauce on the bottom bun and top with one tablespoon minced onions and some shredded lettuce. Top with the slice of cheese and then one of the burger patties.  Next add the remaining bottom bun.  Spread it with more dressing, minced onion, shredded lettuce, pickle slices and then add the second burger. Top with the remaining top bun.

©2012 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Cloth Bologna: What the Heck is It?

My dear husband, who often works long hours on the road in rural parts of Virginia (he is in sales) snapped this gem of a photo while touring the back roads of Grottoes, Virginia, which is not far from Weyers Cave (pronounced Weeerz not Wirez FYI), and is home to the fabulous Grand Caverns a.k.a. "America's Oldest Show Cave" (who knew?) and I just had to share it. You see...this sign spoke to me, and not just because it has a whole mess of hammy goodness drawn all over it (and cabbage for .44 cents a pound), but because they sell cloth bologna.
Image credit: Northern VA Daily
So, what the heck is cloth bologna? Basically, cloth bologna it bologna (a.k.a. various pieces parts, and let me emphasis the word "parts" here) all smushed up together and stored in a cloth bag instead of a more traditional casing (as in the red plastic stuff) with the argument being that the cloth bag lets in more air so all the pieces parts can "breathe" (this, and the fact that cloth bologna is homemade all the way).

Personally, I never grew up eating the stuff, mainly because it wasn't readily available where I lived, but I am seeing it offered more and more at produce stands throughout Virginia, so it has piqued my interest. I dig nothing more than a bologna sandwich on soft white bread (with just a squeeze of yellow mustard) and I figure a slice of the homemade stuff will make the perfect addition. Total, awesome kid food.

With a little assistance from the interwebs, I did find this article from Northern Virginia Daily featuring Crabill's Meats out of Toms Brook, Virginia, who apparently make a pretty fine version of cloth bologna that they boast isn't "junk bologna" (slaughter room floor goodies). Instead, they've "upped the quality" by using the same meats they use for making homemade sausages. I'm curious to check this place out, and the next time my husband passes through Grottoes, I'm gonna send him with a $20 bill to pick me up some of the good stuff

Have you tried cloth bologna? I'd love to know what you think and where you found it.

©2012 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fresh Figs with Feta and Black Pepper Honey Recipe

The figs have arrived! The figs have arrived! This is my sentiment when our little tree that we planted a mere 3 years ago actually produced and the tree rats didn't get to them first. Can you tell I am just a wee bit excited?
A few days ago, I climbed up under our baby fig tree and harvested these buggers with abandon, glancing behind me from time to time to make sure the squirrels weren't stalking me (and I know they were, because I could feel their furry, flea-bitten presence) and I picked my little figgies in a state of pure bliss. It was a beautiful thing, and a true first around here because we get nothing, I tell you-- no plums from the 50 year old plum tree, nary a strawberry from the garden, and this year, yard critters ate off all of our zucchini flowers and all of our Meyer lemon tree flowers, so zilcho is coming from either of those. I'm getting a BB gun and a wrist rocket, I tell you, and I'm going to park my butt on the roof and start firing away at will. Heck, even this guy can't help me, and knocking off squirrels is ingrained into his genetic code.
Hankdog gets dirty, a lot.
Much of our fig explosion I can thank our neighbors for, since they have the biggest, most immense fig tree I have ever seen. It literally towers over their house, and there's no question it was planted when the house was built over 50 years ago, and this thing is LOADED with huge, gorgeous figs that said neighbors never touch. We would ask them if we could harvest a handful or two, but they're not really around too often and, while they seem like nice people, we don't really have much interaction other than the distant neighbor wave (ya'll know what I'm talking about). Ravaging their tree late night was a consideration until they adopted a very yard protective pit bull, and while I love me some figs, I don't need to lose a leg over a tarte tatin.
Fresh figs over vanilla yogurt. Simple. Perfection.
So there the neighbor's fig tree sits filled with birds, squirrels and crows who spend a full month enjoying a high fiber snack party of epic proportions while we helplessly watch in horror and disbelief. Yet, how does this benefit me, you ask? It goes like this: when the squirrels and birds have 10,000 bigger, juicier, seemingly unending figs to eat, they leave our tree alone. Survival of the fittest in its purest form, at least for those of us who actually like to eat figs. Their tree gets uselessly pilfered while our tree rises to its fruity purpose by being turned into sugary desserts, honey-laden little bites, and savory entrees, and somewhere amidst this summery goodness Darwin is smiling and probably getting hungry.
Slow cooker pork roast with figs, balsamic, vanilla, rosemary jam and onions.
Heck, I even developed a pork recipe for The Southern Slow Cooker cookbook that I'm in the process of writing for publication next summer (behold the shameless plug). In addition, I whipped up a super easy appetizer modeled after this cool recipe I found from Bon Appetit. Since I didn't have goat cheese on hand, only feta, I subbed that and it was killer.

Fresh Figs with Feta and Black Pepper Honey

*Barely adapted from Bon Appetit* Remember food bloggers, changing one ingredient does NOT make your recipe original. Always link to the original and offer full credit or get written permission if that's the site's policy. Recipe thieves make me mad.

12-14 fresh figs (I used brown turkey figs) cut into quarters, but not through the bottom (see above photo)
1/4 cup wildflower honey (tastes best)
Lots and lots of freshly ground pepper
Nice chunk of good Greek or Bulgarian feta, drained well

Place split-open figs on a serving plate. In a small saucepan add the honey and a good amount of black pepper, to taste. Bring up to medium-low and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Stuff each fig with a chunk of feta and drizzle the honey over the figs and onto the plate (it's pretty!).

Serve with a dry rosé like Barboursville Vintage Rosé which was the perfect pairing for the slightly salty cheese, sweet figs and spicy pepper.

©2012 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beans and Cornbread Recipe


©2012 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

3 Things You Should Never Do on Television

So, I just finished shooting my 9th episode of "The Heart of the Home" for the Virginia Farm Bureau's award-winning monthly television show "Real Virginia". Seriously, I cannot believe we already bagged nine episodes this year. It's been tough but rewarding work, and it's definitely been a learning curve for this novice cooking show host, so I thought in good fun I would share a little advice for any of you hoping to break into the wild, wonderful world of televised cooking. Here are 3 things you should never do when making food on TV:

1. Do not touch your face, especially your nose. Ok, I got allergies, so it's not my fault, but sometimes I get a hankering to wipe my nose. Who doesn't? Theoretically, dotting your nose with a handkerchief or a tissue is a normal occurrence UNTIL YOU DO IT ON CAMERA WHEN MAKING FOOD. Then, it's just plain gross, and in addition to advertising to the world that you've got a deviated septum, you've now contaminated everything on the table. Take a Claritin.

2. Do not leave your mike on when using the ladies room. You don't want to drop this pricey item in the toilet, so it should not be on your body to begin with, but if you do happen to leave it on when hitting the loo (not that I did this or anything) make sure it is turned off, because you definitely don't want your visit recorded.

3. Do not drink 2 double espressos just before shooting. Initially, I thought shooting back to two giant espressos before my first shoot was a good idea. Coffee is good for the brain, makes one sharper and even increases memory. What better way to ensure my pithy snippets (as I deftly chop up an onion) are both hilarious and entertaining? Plus, overly-ebullient enthusiasm apparently gets you multiple Food Network shows as evidenced here:
From Food Network Humor
Sadly, after that first coffee-infused shoot, I can say with certainty that the Food Network ain't gonna be a callin' since, instead of engaging my viewers with a bounty culinary wit and wisdom, my performance ended up more like this:

I guess it's best to keep those cups of coffee (or in the case with this kiddo those buckets of pixie sticks) to a minimum.

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