Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Easy beef burgers

The open beef burger - Steph's Kitchen

I don't know about you, but I absolutely love burgers. They always tempt me when I go out, and I'm a sucker for a whopper from Hungry Jacks. Even though I get really sick later, I still do it.

I started my hunt to create a beef patty that tasted just like the ones I get when I eat out. I've always grown up the Aussie way with rissoles or beef patties on the BBQ, but it always had the chunks of onion and a different flavour to the patties I would enjoy out.

I first started simply grabbing store bought patties from the deli when I felt like a burger. I knew these were pretty close to the sort of patties on your usually take-out grill. Looking at how they were made and how they cooked I worked out that the reason why mine always taste different is all the binding ingredients I need to use, and the consistency is different because of the onion I add for flavour.

One day I thought 'Why not use my food processor for all my herbs like I do for my chicken stuffing?'

So I threw the onion and all my herbs in and blended it until the onion was finely chopped, then I added it to my mince. Doing this still didn't give me the exact flavour I wanted because I still had to add my breadcrumbs and egg to bind it all together.

I then had a light-bulb moment. Why not simply use the fat in the mince to bind everything together? So the next time I added mince into the food-processor with the blended herbs, followed by just a little bit of the usually binding ingredients I use. And it worked out exactly how I wanted. A smooth mince patty but with all the flavour I wanted from my traditional rissoles I make.

If you don't have a food processor, don't worry I have an option for you below also.

Beef and bacon burger - Steph's Kitchen

Beef patties for home-made beef burgers

Makes 6 medium sized patties, large enough for your average hamburger roll.

500g lean mince. You could use regular mince, but I don't like too much oil cooking out of them as I find them a little greasy.

2g fresh parsley (just the leaves)
2 tsps fruit chutney
1/2 medium onion, quartered
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg

If you don't have a food processor see my note below.

Beef patty mince in the food processorGrab your food processor and throw in your onion and parsley. Blend them together until the onion is finely diced. Next throw in your mince, breadcrumbs and crack in the egg - no need to whisk. To make sure you don't over-work the mince, which will make it grainy in texture once cooked, break up your mince into large chunks so that it is spread out around the processor and not just in one section. Now turn it onto the low setting and blend quickly until everything is combined - around 1 minute. Any longer then that and your mince will be grainy, and you don't want that. Trust me. If the onion hasn't blended into the mince very well simply grab it out and finish combining it together with your hands in a small bowl.

Divide the mince into six equal amounts, then roll each of them a ball and then flatten them to around 1 1/2 cms thick. I usually flatten each and then lay them on a plate or cutting board ready to go.

In a large frying pan or electric pan, heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil (I use rice oil, but you can use olive or vegetable oil also) on a medium heat until you can feel the heat radiating from the pan when you move your hand over the top. Once your oil is ready pop in as many of the patties as possible while still having space between them so that you can easily flip them.

Now, I don't time each side like I probably should because I'm always doing something else while things cook rather than waiting and looking at a clock. I'm pretty sure many of you are also like that. What I look for is when you can see the patty is slightly cooked around the very edge of the patty, then flip. If you flip and they aren't brown enough on that side simply leave it and then flip it again once the other side is cooked to get that little bit of extra colour. To work out if they are done I usually use my egg flip and press down on the patty. You want clear juice coming out. If you are still a little unsure, you want the patty to feel more firm then soft when you touch it.

Now your patties are ready to add it to your burger bun of choice with all the salads or extras you desire.

Some gourmet extras to make your burger extra awesome and a bit more gourmet

Add cheese on top of your patties

  • Fry up some onion with a little butter and oil. Cook them until they are soft and start to have a golden colour.
  • When you flip the burger the first time, allow the other side to get a little bit of colour and then add some cheese slices (and your onion if you are doing it) so that the cheese melts while the patty is cooking.
  • Toast up your burger buns before serving by spreading a generous amount of butter on the open side and frying them off until they have a little bit of colour. 
  • Cut the sides of a large red capsicum or pepper and then grill them in a pan or on the BBQ with a little bit of oil. Red peppers are sweeter than green, so it will turn a little sweet when grilled. Make sure you grill it until it has blackened in areas.
  • If you are going for a mock-up of a Hungry Jacks or Burger King burger: add cheese to the top of your patty, zap it in the microwave for 25 seconds, add it to your burger bun followed by a little tomato sauce or ketchup, tomato, onion slices (use white or brown onion), and shredded lettuce. Top it off with whole egg mayo on the top side of your bun, and you're done. Zap it again for 20 seconds so that your bun is slightly warm.

Note: What to do without a food processor. Grate your onion and finely dice your parsley. Then mix that through the mince, massaging it into the mince so that the fat in the mince starts to bind things. Then add the breadcrumbs followed by the lightly whisked egg, using your hands to mix everything together until smooth. Divide, roll and flatten as per recipe above. Cook as normal.

Steph xo

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Dijon mustard crumbed chicken

Dijon mustard crumbed chicken and chips - Steph's Kitchen

I never used to be a big mustard fan. I grew up with mild and hot English mustard like all good English children should, but other than that mustard was just another "sauce". Only in the last few years did I even have Amercian mustard on hot dogs, and even then it was only because Mr Steph likes it.

One day I bought Dijon mustard for a herb crusted lamb recipe I found. It was very delicious (which reminds me I should make it again!), but after I didn't really know what else to use it on. I started experimenting, using it in my potato salad instead of mild English mustard and also on sandwiches, then one day I decided to try it on some crumbed chicken I was making.

It was delicious.

"Mustard chicken", as it is commonly called at our house now, is a regular mid-week meal, especially in summer as you can enjoy it with a big salad or even veggies. Sometimes we are a bit naughty and have it simply with baked chips like in the photo above. No matter how you have it, I can assure you that you will not just make it the once and think 'Meh, I guess that was ok ...' It really is delicious. I made this just over Christmas for my visiting family and they loved it too, so it's not just me and Mr Steph approved!

You can bake the crumbed chicken, but we usually shallow fry them as they go that little bit more crispy. By double crumbing the chicken (which I'll explain later if you are not sure what that means) also gives you more of a crispy, thicker crumb on the chicken.

Dijon mustard crumbed chicken with baked chips - Steph's Kitchen

Dijon mustard crumbed chicken

Serves 4

2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup of Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups of bread crumbs
1 cup of milk or rice milk* (or 1/2 a cup of milk and 1/2 cup of water)

Firstly measure out your bread crumbs and milk in two separate bowls. Also measure our your mustard and set it aside. Now onto the chicken.

Cut your chicken breasts in half as evenly as you can. Of course you will have the fatter ends that will be thicker but that's ok. You can simply flatten them with a meat mallet quickly, but often I just let them cook a little longer later on. Once halved, cut each piece of chicken into two or three pieces. We usually cut it into three so that you have smaller, crispier pieces. You could even leave them as large pieces of chicken (with the whole half of the breast). It's entirely up to you and what you would like.

Arrange the chicken side by side on your cutting board and spread the Dijon mustard generously over one side of the chicken. Now coat the chicken pieces one by one in the bread crumbs, setting them back on the board once completely covered. As you are crumbing the chicken on the mustard side, gently push the bread crumbs into the mustard so that they stick. One by one dip the chicken carefully into the milk, and then back into the crumbs again. This is double crumbing, which gives your chicken that extra layer of crumbs. Once cooked this will make it extra crispy and give it this nice crunch of a crumb layer.

Double crumbing the chicken - Steph's Kitchen
Traditionally when you double crumb something you would dip it first in the milk (or an egg and milk mixture), then the crumbs, and then you repeat this again. As Mr Steph is slightly allergic to eggs I try to avoid cooking with them if I don't need to. In this recipe I am missing that first dip in the milk as you want to keep as much of the mustard on the chicken as possible. You can use this technique to crumb any sort of meat, such as steak (for crumbed steak or schnitzel), fish or even pork chops. I find that double crumbing it really gives it that proper fully-coated layer that you want.

In a large pan or electric pan add enough vegetable or rice oil (I use rice oil) to give around 1 cm in the bottom of the pan. Heat up your oil until you can wave your hand over the top and it feels warm. Turn down the heat to medium and add the chicken into the oil with tongs so that you don't accidentally get your fingers in the oil (which I have done far too many times!). The reason you want it to be on a medium heat and not too high is you don't want your crumbed coating to burn but the chicken not be cooked properly.

Cook the chicken until you can see around 1/2 cm of the edge of the chicken a different colour to the middle of the chicken, then turn over. I find this is the best judge of when you know it's safe to turn your chicken. This way you are not having to cut open your chicken to check if it's cooked and flipping the chicken a million times in the oil. The less you turn the chicken the more crispy it will be in the end.

Dijon mustard chicken just before serving - Steph's KitchenOnce your chicken is a golden brown on the other side remove the chicken to a plate with paper towel. This will soak up the oil before you put it on the plate - otherwise you'll be serving oily chicken!

Serve with salad and chips, or mashed potato and veggies.

Now you can deep fry or bake this recipe, but I prefer to shallow fry as it still gives you that crispy outside without me having to feel guilty about it sitting in all that oil! If you are baking simply back it in a moderate open for around 25-30 mins or until golden brown. Simply poke the chicken with a small knife or skewer and check that any juice that escapes is clear before serving.

Steph xo

* Use rice milk to make this recipe dairy free.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Apple and maple syrup cakes

Individual apple and maple syrup cakes - Steph's Kitchen

People that know me know that I love desserts - especially desserts with fruit of some kind! I've been playing around with individual desserts lately (individual self-saucing caramel puddings coming soon!). A couple of weeks ago I tried a new recipe: Apple and Maple Syrup cakes.

This was a recipe that I was going to post later in the year, but when I posted the pic on Facebook I had so many of you request the recipe. So I had to move it up in my calendar!

Now for those thinking 'I'm not much of a maple syrup fan!' it's ok - you only use a little bit of maple syrup while it bakes, and then later you can just drizzle as much as you'd like over the top. Mr Steph is the same and isn't a massive fan of maple syrup. One thing to remember with maple syrup is that it is better to spend that little bit more and get a good quality one. I always buy a Canadian maple syrup but you don't have to.

Just like an apple tea cake, where the sugar on the bottom makes a lovely almost caramel crust, the maple syrup cooks the apple and creates a little bit of a sticky "top". You layer your cakes just like an apple tea cake too, placing the apple on the bottom first followed by the syrup and then the batter.

Cakes ready for the oven - Steph's Kitchen

Apple and maple syrup cakes

Makes 6 Texas muffin sized cakes, which is great for one serve per person
Alternatively, it will make approx 8 normal sized muffins.

85g margarine or diary free spread
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups S.R. flour
1/2 cup of rice milk or milk (I used rice milk)
6 tsp maple syrup
1 large apple (I used Granny Smith, which is a little bit more bitter than a sweet red apple)

The batter is made just like any other cake. You'll need your mix master or electric beaters, or if you don't have either you can simply use a wooden spoon - it just takes a little bit more work, and you might not get your margarine quite as fluffy. I often use a wooden spoon and it's fine.

Before you go any further - turn on your fan forced oven to 170 C or 340 F.

Adding the apples for the cakes - Steph's Kitchen
Cream your margarine or spread until fluffy, then add your sugar and beat again for a couple of minutes. Next is your egg and vanilla extract. Add them to your butter and sugar mixture and beat until well combined. We want to alternate adding the flour and milk. Add 1/2 cup of flour at a time to your mixture, beating it into the mixture before adding a little bit of your milk. Continue this until your flour and milk has all been added.

Now that's your batter done; let's get started on making the base of the cakes.

Peel and core your apple, slicing half of it into thin-ish pieces and the other half into small cubes. Add the cubes into your batter, mixing it through so that you won't have one muffin with apple and then none in the others when you start scooping your mixture later.

Next grease your muffin tray or spray it with oil. Put two or three slices of apple on the bottom of each cup, trying to create the one layer without too much overlapping. Drizzle a teaspoon of maple syrup in each cup, followed by scoops of your batter. You want to try not to fill the cups past 3/4 full. I try to aim for a little over half. If you have more mixture, then you can add more. It will just mean that you have bigger muffins.

Once you've constructed your muffins pop them in the oven for 25 - 35 mins until your cakes are cooked through.

Drizzle with a little bit more maple syrup before serving with custard, cream or ice cream - or a bit of them all!

Steph xo

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