Turducken Smashburgers

January 22, 2014

Turkey burgers have a bad reputation, deservedly so, I think. I swore I would not waste another burger on turkey. But I ran across a tip this week that adding miso to the mixture makes a pretty good turkey burger. I have a handy bottle of Miso and Easy liquid miso which I bought at Cost Plus World Market. So I decided to give turkey burgers another chance. To hedge my bets, I decided to top it with a fried egg. And what can’t be improved with some duck fat?

If you happen to have some leftover poultry gravy like I did, throw in a couple of tablespoons; however that is something I’m not usually going to have on hand.

Turducken Smashburger

1 pound ground turkey breast
2 Tbsp. Miso & Easy (or 2 Tbsp. miso paste mixed with 2 Tbsp. water)
3-4 Tbsp. duck fat
4 eggs fried in olive oil (yolk to your liking, but the runnier the better for me)
4 slices cheese*
salt and pepper
4 buns, buttered and toasted

*My current burger favorites all hail from Wisconsin:
Meister Cheese Co. Wild Morel & Leek Jack
Harmony Dairy Abergele Portabella and Chive Cheese
Harmony Dairy Ale Caerphilly Cheese)


Mix the miso into the turkey breast. Divide the mixture into 4 portions; form into balls.

Heat a large, well-seasoned heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium-high heat until almost smoking (If you want to multi-task, you can toast the buns in the heating skillet).

Add the duck fat to melt. When the duck fat is spitting hot, carefully place the turkey balls into the skillet. Cook 1 minute and then flip and smash to about 1/2-3/4″ thick with a spatula. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, until nicely crusted. Flip again. Season with salt and pepper and top with cheese. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until the burger is cooked through (but not overcooked) and the cheese is mostly melted. Top with the egg. Place on a bun.

Serves 4

Lasagne . . . Soup? Short rib and sausage lasagna soup with cheese

April 19, 2013

I originally made this back in April on a cold rainy day, but never got around to posting it.  I thought I’d missed my chance to publish it for this year.  But here we are, almost June 1, and it’s still cold and rainy.  And what tastes better than soup on a cold and dreary day.  This soup tastes amazing on the second day, if you can wait that long.

Lasagne soup with short ribs, sausage and cheese
Adapted from seriouseats.com

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 pound Boneless Short Ribs
Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
½ pound Hot Or Sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 medium Onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 medium Cloves Of Garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon
1 ½ cups Dry Red Wine
1 (28-ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes With Juice
6 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 Tbsp Dried Italian Seasoning Mix
¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 Bay Leaves
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
8 sheets Lasagne Noodles, (do not use no-boil) wrapped in a towel and broken against a counter edge
½ cup Ricotta Cheese
⅓ cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
¼ cup Shredded Asiago Cheese
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (About 5 Ounces)
1 tsp Grated Zest From 1 Lemon
Pitted green olives (optional)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300°F.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, oven-safe stockpot or Dutch oven. Generously season short ribs with salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering, brown short ribs on all sides until golden brown, about 6 minutes total. Remove meat and transfer to a platter.

Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking up into little bits, until nearly cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper and garlic to pan and sauté, stirring periodically, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Return short ribs to pan. Add wine, tomatoes, chicken stock, fennel seed, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, bay leaves and thyme. Season with about ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven to cook until meat is fork tender, about 2 ½ hours.

Remove from oven and transfer pot to stovetop. Shred short ribs using two forks. Remove and discard bay leaves and thyme springs. At this point you could refrigerate until the next day.

When ready to serve, return the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until still slightly firm. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, mozzarella, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove soup from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Spoon into individual bowls, top with a generous dollop of cheese mixture and garnish with olives and serve.

Buttercream and Cheese Asian Sweet Bun

February 28, 2013

Butter Cream/Cheese Sweet Bun from Satay-2-Go by aharste
Butter Cream/Cheese Sweet Bun from Satay-2-Go, a photo by aharste on Flickr.

I’ve raved before on this blog about how much I love Corrina’s curry puffs and buns from Satay-2-Go in Apple Valley. She makes some of the best Asian pastries you will ever taste! They are baked from scratch every morning.

This morning I was in the area so I stopped by to pick up some pork bbq buns and chicken curry puffs for dinner. They have a deal when you buy 10 buns you get one free, so I asked the woman at the counter to give me her favorite sweet bun as the bonus.

She gave me this buttercream and cheese sweet bun, still warm from the oven. As I was driving away I took a bite, and it was so good that I stopped the car and ran back in to tell them how delicious it was.

A pillowy soft, light-as-air bun topped with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese is sliced horizontally and spread with silky vanilla buttercream. And I mean real buttercream! This was honestly better than a slice of cake, which is pretty much my favorite food.

Her pastries are available daily until they’re gone and if you arrive around 11 a.m. they should still be warm from the oven.

Brown sugar yogurt

February 19, 2013

yogurt by aharste

I love to make and use plain yogurt, but I want to be able to make sweetened yogurts too.

Sweetened yogurts are trickier to make than plain. The sugar content can prevent the yogurt from setting. The best way to make a sweetened yogurt is in the controlled environment of an electric yogurt maker.

Recipes for sweetened yogurt are not easy to find. The two I found were from Vietnam and India. I tried making a Vietnamese recipe using sweetened condensed milk, which, while delicious, did not set for me, even in the electric yogurt maker.

The Indian recipe calls for jagggery, a date palm sugar, and the addition of powdered milk for stability. I don’t always have jaggery on hand so I decided to make it with brown sugar.

The result was a lusciously creamy, sweet and slightly tangy yogurt.

Brown Sugar Yogurt

2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt, at room temperature
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder

Place the evaporated milk, extract and sweetener in a small saucepan, and bring almost to a boil, stirring constantly. When the milk foams, but hasn’t boiled (180F), remove pan immediately from the heat and put in a sink or bowl containing cold water and cool the mixture to about 115F.

While waiting for the milk to cool, stir the plain yogurt and milk powder together until smooth; stir this into the cooled milk. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean yogurt maker inserts.

Proceed according to the manufacturer’s directions. Incubate for 4-6 hours without disturbing (or overnight), then check to see if it has set. If it has not set, keep checking every hour until set. When it has set, refrigerate immediately and use within 2-3 days.

If it doesn’t set, it makes a pretty tasty pour-over for cereal, granola, or fruit.

The one in which I learn to clean and fillet a Brook Trout

February 14, 2013

My brother-in-law is an avid fisherman. Recently, on the Trout Opener, he caught his first Brook Trout. He gifted his prize to me to learn how to clean and fillet a fish and I enthusiastically accepted this little Brookie.

Brook trout are beautiful. Those little spots on her side were hot pink and the skin was as smooth and slippery as glass. And she was very small. I was getting very nervous that I had taken this on.


This feels pretty close to actual size. Actually, she was about 8 inches long.

To fillet a fish you need a really sharp fillet knife and you need to be really careful. I have a thirty-year-old scar on my left index finger when the fillet knife I was using to open a box slipped. The knife was so sharp I didn’t even feel it cut, but it ended up requiring stitches. I’m a firm believer that a fillet glove is a good investment because it protects the hand holding the fish and it helps you hold on to the fish (A dry piece of paper towel also helps to hold onto the fish).

So, since I’d already proven I’m not very good at filleting cardboard boxes, and I’d never filleted a fish, the first thing I did was look for a video. I needed all the help I could get so that I wouldn’t be left with a shredded fish. Fortunately, I found this video: “How to Fillet a Trout.” I was very nervous watching his knife angles, but it added some suspense to watching.

I’m not squeamish, so gutting her wasn’t a problem for me. I saved the innards as a treat for a family of crows that visits our yard.


The filleting was not easy. The first side was a nightmare. The fish was so small that I felt like I was doing microsurgery. I was sure I had ruined the fish. But the second side went smoother. My brother-in-law told me later that that’s always the way, even when you know what you’re doing. It’s pretty easy to see in the photo which is the bad side. I’m looking forward to buying the giant-sized trout they sell at Costco. Those should be a piece of cake.


I decided the best way to prepare it was quickly and simply. I browned some butter, patted back together some of the shredded fish on the bad side, and quickly sauteed it. It was ready in just a couple of minutes. There were four of us, so we each took a fork and had a couple of mouthfuls each. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. What an awesome treat!


My brother-in-law tells me Crappies are next. I think I’m ready.