Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Homemade Burgers and Wellington on a Plate

One of the reasons Mr Cake and I were resolute in our mission to reach Dunedin last Monday was that we had been promised homemade burgers for dinner. It was Sister Cake's birthday (okay, that was an important part of our resolve too) and that was her chosen birthday dinner. I was keen to have them as I hadn't for a while, but when we were growing up it was one of my favourite meals. Mum would make and cook the patties and toast the buns, and prepare the other fillings, then everything (pineapple, lettuce, tomato, tomato sauce, cheese, beetroot, onion) would be put on the table and we'd make our own. Oh, the freedom of being able to make your burger exactly the way you wanted! Exhilarating!


Now that I get to choose what goes on my dinner plate most days I guess that aspect doesn't have quite the same thrill, but it's still fun to build a burger to your own specifications, and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner with Sister Cake and her family. And I learnt a great new trick - one of those little hacks that, once you're aware of makes you wonder why you haven't always done it that way, because it makes so much sense. This special trick? Adding grated carrot and courgette to the patties. This is excellent in every dimension; it keeps the patties from drying out, so they taste better; it makes the meal cheaper, since the meat goes a bit further; and it adds a bit more veggie content to the meal, helping nudge you closer to your 5+ a day.



Sister Cake is very organised in her meal planning, and knows out what's for dinner two to three weeks in advance. See her nifty fridge calendar (she made the pretty meal magnets herself) - I have no hope of ever doing this effectively, but at least that meant we were then able to decide on the night before to have our own burgers. (we do a bit of planning, along the lines of having a discussion when we're building the weekly shopping list, thinking of three or four meals (as we make double and eat leftovers half the time) and getting what we'll need to make those)

You could go ultra-homemade and make your own bread, which would be delicious but is not something that fits into our weekday calendar, so we bought bread rolls - and if you do that this is actually a pretty quick meal to prepare - 15-20 minutes all up.


Step one is making the patties - they'll take a while to cook (though this will be faster if you have a sandwich press), and you can customise these to suit - add herbs and spices to your taste, use whatever mince you prefer (lamb and rosemary patties would be great, or pork and apple). We stuck with beef mince (about 500g made 6 patties), and in addition to the grated veg seasoned with salt and pepper and added a bit of chilli powder and cumin as well. Really you can do whatever works for you. Egg will help bind them and breadcrumbs will pad them out further - but we didn't use these, so they work fine without too.

Because our buns were long and skinny I made oval patties, just smushed together by hand. You want to make them a bit bigger than the bun because they will shrink a smidge as they cook.

I prefer my onion cooked (though many people prefer raw in burgers) so I threw that in the pan with my patty, and once the onion began to soften I threw in some mushroom too.


We did buy two tomatoes, even though they're out of season - I really like tomato and sliced thinly a little goes a long way. Definitely not essential, though. As well as that we had mixed salad greens, cheese (just boring old colby, though you could posh it up if you prefer) and a bit of tomato sauce and mustard. Not super flash, but very tasty, easy, reasonably balanced and pretty inexpensive.

This looked extra appealing at 7.30pm after a hard aerobics class!
If you're in Wellington and keen to experience some more refined burger options, we are now only a couple of days away from the commencement of Wellington on a Plate and that means Burger Wellington! I loved St Johns' burger last year and followed Greer McDonald's Burgers She Wrote eagerly (whenever I'm not eating I like to be living vicariously through the eating of others!), so am keen to try a burger or two - homemade is pretty good but there's definitely room in my life for the creations of others as well.

I've also got quite a few other Wellington on a Plate events lined up - that's my personal favourite part, the all-out crazy one-night-only affairs (like last year's White, White, Baby). Ruth Pretty is doing some special classes - Saute, Sip and Savour looks amazing - and there are tons of dinners, classes - all sorts of things! If you haven't done so already check out the Wellington on a Plate website - there is a lot happening (103 restaurants participating in Dine - that's a lot of food potential!) so prepare your bellies.

So tell me, what would your ideal homemade burger contain? And have you got plans for Wellington on a Plate?


Homemade Burgers
Ingredients
6 bread rolls of your choice
500g mince
1 carrot
1 courgette
1/2 - 1 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
1 egg (optional, though required if you use breadcrumbs) 
3 onions
herbs and spices to taste (we used chilli and cumin)
salt and pepper
sauce, cheese, salad and other fillings to your liking

Grate the carrot and courgette and add to the mince. Add breadcrumbs and egg, if using, and one chopped onion, and season to taste (you can test cook a small bit if you're not sure how it'll taste). Mix together and shape into six patties. Preheat a frypan or cafe sandwich press. Cook the patties until mostly brown (I don't like my meat overcooked but err on the side of caution with mince).

While the patties are cooking chop remaining onions and any other fillings. If you want anything cooked (e.g. the onion, mushrooms, etc) add it to the frypan (if there's room - or use another!). Slice the buns and toast for a few minutes under a hot grill.

Place all ingredients on the table and let everyone build their burger! Serves 6.

7 comments:

  1. OMG that fridge calendar is so cute, I am not a planner at all and very adhoc but I could definitely force more organization into dinner with one of those beauties, she might have a business idea there!

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  2. My mum used to do exactly the same as yours, and my brother and I loved assembling our own burgers. She'd even cook eggs in egg rings to order if we wanted the traditional kiwi burgers. My mum is ace!!

    I've signed up for a couple of Wellington on a Plate events. Can't wait.

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  3. Mrs Cake's MotherAugust 3, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Ha - we had home-made burgers tonight and 'sister cake' made the buns too. No courgettes or tomatoes in the garden and the snow has flattened the carrot tops. Threw some leftover gravy in the mince mix - these patties are brilliant for using up food scraps.

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  4. wow! that burger is simply heaven! Everytime I try to make my own burger, it would turn out looking not like a burger. I am going to try your recipe this time. Thanks for your recipe ans wish me luck!

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  5. If I were at sister cake's house, I would be sorely tempted to mix that little calendar up... (Nooo! Not quiche on the 10th or casserole on the 23rd!!!)
    Really I am impressed that Ms Sister Cake has so many choices on there!

    Homemade burgers are great... At the moment, we are doing them as open burgers (i.e. breadless to cut down on wheat), and just having a patty and salad with little extras. I've been melting cheese onto the beef patty, warming pineapple rings, and making a beetroot relish (yes! First time I ate beetroot! Cooked with enough sugar it isn't too bad!) to put on top. Husband's favourite meal at present!

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  6. (and yes - a friend told me about the courgette and carrot trick last year. She uses it as a way of getting her kids to eat veges, but I find it is a great way to save money too. We use about 200g of mince per meal, which makes enough for leftovers the next day too. Yay for cheap meals!)

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  7. Pease Pudding, I'll let her know she should go into business! I think it's very cute, and surely even the less organised among us could make use of it to a degree!

    Kaz, classic, gotta love the eggs! Maybe see you at some WOAP events? ;-)

    Mum, I heard about your burgers already - word travels fast!

    CNA duties, good luck! Looks don't matter, anyway, it's all about taste. :-)

    Michelle, haha, how evil you are! Hilarious, though, imagine the riots which would ensue. Beetroot relish is great - probably the only way I'd want beetroot near my burger too!

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