Decadent home-made hamburgers

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Everyone likes to indulge in junk food from time to time. The trick is to do it less often than not, and of course, to stay away from all those deep fried goodies. I thus trick myself into believing that I can make a healthy-ish hamburger (cutting out all those numbered preservatives is a goods start!), and by knowing what it is that goes into that burger patty.  I also rather use whole-wheat bread rolls rather than white rolls and include lots of salad and fresh tomato. If I do serve it with a side of chips, I rather bake potato wedges with the skin on, tossed in olive oil and covered with a sprinkle of crushed black pepper and salt. This recipe tells you how to make the burger patty. The garnish, cheese, pickles and onions are up to you and what you have available in your cupboard or fridge. Awesome combinations include caramelized onion and Brie as topping or butter fried brown mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.  The hamburger shown here included mayonnaise, mustard, pickled cucumber (which I think is the same as a pickled gherkin), fresh, chopped salad, sliced tomato, and topped with a slice of white Gouda, fried onion and fresh rocket.

For the hamburger patties (makes 3 medium sized patties, double the recipe if needed)

200 g lean beef mince

1 table spoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 cup fresh,chopped parsley

2 tablespoons Worcester sauce

1-2 tablespoons chutney (Mrs. Ball’s of course if you are in South Africa!)

salt and black pepper to taste

1 egg

1/2 cup to 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Place you mince in a mixing bowl together with your herbs and spices, Worcester sauce, chutney and egg. Mix everything together very well either using a spoon, food processor or your hands.  The mixture will be runny.  Now slowly add your bread crumbs and mix well after each addition.  The breadcrumbs will bind everything together but do not add to much bread crumbs, because it can result in very dry patties. Once your meat mixture has come together and you can form patties without it falling apart, they are ready to be fried.  Heat a little oil in a pan over moderate heat, and place your patties in the pan.  I try to turn my patties only once during the cooking process and place a lid on the pan to make sure they cook through.  Give each side 5-8 minutes but be sure not to burn them!  Cook until done.  If you want to add cheese, do so in the last three minutes and watch the cheese melt. Once your patties are done, remove them from the heat and place them on your prepared bread buns.  I do not eat margarine, but do indulge in a little mayonnaise on my bread bun. I then add my salad and tomato (and pickles in this case!), followed by the patty and fried onions. Top with what you have available and serve your healthy-ish burger!

Cinnamony moussaka

I usually make this recipe if I want to impress someone. Although it takes some time to make, it’s not difficult and once prepared can be left to set until you are ready to bake it. Moussaka has rich cinnamon flavours which is complimented by the red wine in the mince sauce. The dish comprises of three parts- the cinnamon mince, layers of grilled aubergine (eggplant) and a think white sauce.

Traditionally aubergine is prepared by cutting it length-wise in thick slices, salting it and letting it stand, allowing the bitter taste, associated with the vegetable, to withdraw.  You then rinse the slices and grill or fry the aubergine. I skip this step, first of all to minimise the amount of salt that I use, and secondly, my aubergine has never tasted bitter to me. This might be personal choice, and as I mention on my home page- I firmly believe that recipes serve as guidelines and ideas, that can be changed and modified according to your taste and what you have available. Cooking is about having fun, being creative and sharing!

Back to the recipe:

3 medium sized, firm and fresh aubergines, thickly (0.5 cm-1 cm) cut

I grill them without any dressing in a sandwich press, but you can also rub them with olive oil and grill them in a oven at 180 degrees Celsius until they turn golden or are done (usually about 15 min)

Once grilled, keep aside

For the mince:

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

2 tablespoon olive oil

400 gram lean mince

70 grams tomato paste (1 small tin)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

3/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over moderate heat in a pan. Sauté the onions and garlic for 5-8 minutes, then add the mince. Brown the mince, and add the tomato paste. Mix well, and add the cinnamon. Again, mix well, add the wine and water, put a lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  The fluid should evaporate. Add the parsley, salt and pepper to taste and set aside

For the white sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 heaped normal dessert spoons cake flour

1 1/2 cup milk

salt to taste

handful of cheese to flavour the sauce if so desired

Cheese to top the dish for baking

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour.  Stir (or whisk) continuously whilst slowly adding the milk, and allow to thicken between each addition.   Add salt and cheese to taste once sauce has thickened and set aside. If the sauce is to thick, you can always add more milk if you wish to have a thinner sauce.

Assembly of the moussaka:

Grease a medium-sized oven casserole ( I used a 20 cm X 20 cm dish). First place a layer of grilled aubergine, followed by a layer of mince. End with a layer of aubergine at the top (I get 3 layers aubergine, and 2 mince layers). Cover the top layer of aubergine with white sauce and cheese and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the dish to stand for 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.

Perfectly scrambled cheesy eggs

There are few things as nice as lazing around over the weekend and actually having time to make and eat breakfast. Weekend breakfast is the one meal that I really try to concentrate on the carbs present, because we cheat throughout the week with quick muesli or rusks on the run. Also not being the greatest fan of bread, I generally try to serve my breakfast without having to rely on filling up on bread.  Here is a recipe for perfectly scrambled, herby cheesy eggs that can be served on rye, or with fresh tomatoes and some cold meats or other veggies if preferred. This serves 2

3 fresh eggs

1/2 cup of milk

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter

1 spring onion

3-4 leaves fresh basil

2 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

1/2 cup grated Gouda or cheddar

1 tablespoon grated Gruyère or parmesan (optional)

Melt the butter in a pan over moderate heat.  In the meantime, whisk your eggs, milk, salt and pepper and parsley together together.  Chop you spring onion and fry for 2 minutes in the pan, then add you egg mixture. Cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook through and solidify like an omelette, and add your chopped basil and cheese. Now try to flip over as much of the egg as possible (again like an omelette) to cover the cheese, close the lid and give another 2-3 minutes. remove the lid, mix through with a spatula and serve! I topped mine with parmesan and freshly chopped chives.

Easiest Macaroni cheese ever

This is a staple for me when I’m home alone and want to make something that is really fast, but still sort of nutritious. This recipe makes a very large portion for one or two smaller portion for 2 and all depends on the amount of pasta you add. Double everything up if you are cooking for a larger crowd. You can of course also add things like tomato, bacon, other herbs and spices. It really is a bit of a blank canvas recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup macaroni,

tablespoon oil, salt and boiling water.

Add salt, oil and water in pot, bring to boil and cook your macaroni for 7-10 minutes until al dente. Once done, decant and put macaroni in an oven-proof dish.

For the bachamel sauce (creamy white sauce):

1 heaped tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated cheese such as gouda (which is what I use) or cheddar

1/2 spring onion, chopped

Switch the grill on in your oven. In the same pot that you’ve just cooked your pasta in, add the butter and allow to melt on the stove. Now add your flour. It should still be runny when mixed in-if it is a bit dry add a touch more butter.  Now slowly add you milk, whisking well between each addition.  Also allow it to thicken a bit between additions.  Once your sauce has reached the correct consistency (if it is too thick, add a bit more milk), add half your cheese, salt to taste and spring onion.  Now through your pasta back in the pot, mix through, and place the pasta back in greased oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese, place under the grill and allow to brown. The whole process from starting to cook the macaroni to dishing it up shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. Dinner is served! Enjoy!