Thursday, 18 December 2014

Beef Burgers

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:29 pm

Ever watched cartoon characters eat a burger? You know that perfect bite when they chomp into it and you wish all food was cartoon food. I'm not saying these are cartoon burgers but they're pretty close! Different elements make up this awesome burger which I'll outline in this blog. However what makes a good burger a great burger is the quality of ingredients. You don't need to be all organic and "granola" about it, but be mindful of the ingredients you're putting together and seek out the best you can.

Starting with the bun. It should be soft, not sugary and has some integrity so it doesn't just fall apart when sandwiching a bit of meat.

Moving onto the bacon, if you're using it. It must be smoked bacon. Remember, not all bacon is smoked. Some are cured by other means. Those you should avoid. In Australia, you'll find what they call "streaky bacon". This is the ideal bacon cut for burgers. Take your time with cooking this. Don't add oil to the pan when you're frying this as enough fat will come out of the bacon. Use medium heat and let is crisp up good.

Last but not least the beef. In the past we'd always use store bought mince. Those days are over. We now buy rump steaks and hand mince them. This way, you know what meat is actually in your mince (not offal, bones and cardboard). Remember to include a good ratio of fat to meat (20/80 is ideal). I find rump is a great cut, well priced with good fat ratio. And I hear you asking, "how do you hand mince meat". You don't need a meat grinder. You simply cut the meat fine. I also suggest separating the meat with the fat and cut those up separately then mix it together afterwards. Be sure not to overwork the meat, as in handle it too much. I truly believe home, hand minced beef is the secret to a great burger.

Other ingredients to consider include slowly sauteed onions and mushrooms. Opt for cos lettuce if you can. It has more of a crunch and less water content. Pick a melty cheese. Jack, colby or cheddar are good options.

I'm not going to outline every single step in assembling a burger as everyone has their own "style". Below is a recipe to flavouring of the patty and a few tips we've learnt. Note, the quantities are rough and largely "free pour". So trial and error with your flavours. Add more if you like more flavour, add less if you want to keep it simple.

Patty mix Ingredients
~500g Hand mince beef
1 egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
~ 2 Tbpsn tomato sauce/ketchup
~ 2 Tbpsn worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tspn dried (or fresh) parsley, (sometimes I put oregano and minced garlic too).
~ 1 tspn salt
pepper to desired quantities

Patty method
Mix all the above mentioned ingredients together in a large bowl until just combined. Allow to rest and flavours mature. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge or set aside for a few hours.

Portion patties appropriate size to the buns. Roll in balls then flatten. Following my visit to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, I "juicy lucy" -'ed these patties. I put a little piece of cheese in the middle of the patty before frying it.

Fry in a well greased, pan on medium to medium high heat. Tip here is to only flip once. When you flip, you can melt a slice of cheese while the patty is frying on the other side. Another tip: lately we've been frying the bacon first, then cooking the patties in the bacon fat. This definitely adds extra flavour. You could also BBQ the patties for that nice char-grilled flavour.

Construct burger, eat and enjoy!

White Chocolate Mousse with Stewed Raspberries and Macadamia Praline

Posted by Kim Fong On 8:25 pm

I came up with this recipe last year during my ambassadorship with Bulla Cream. I was asked to re-create George Calombaris' Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse with Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears with my own twist. I tried making this with olive oil and it tasted TERRIBLE!! Definitely had to put my own spin on this one. I didn't have any fancy servingware for these. I figured any glass, ramekin or bowl will do fine.

This is a light dessert. Great for those who are gluten free too!

½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water

Stewed Raspberry
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 cup caster sugar

100g white chocolate
2 large eggs, separated (room temp)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
300ml thickened cream

1. In a pot with a heavy base, place sugar and water. Over medium to high heat, allow sugar to boil. Swirl the pot to keep the syrup moving but don’t stir with spoon. This will cause it to crystalize. Keep simmering until about 165 C (use a candy thermometer). This syrup will be at “hard ball” stage (when you dunk some of the syrup on cold water it will be hard). The mixture will also start to turn a bit brown.

2. Spread nuts on a sheet of baking paper over a baking tray. Pour hot syrup over nuts. Set aside to cool and harden.

3. When harden, break pieces up with you hand. If you like the pieces fine, place pieces into a blender and whiz it up.

Stewed Raspberries
1. In a small pan add raspberries and sugar. Over low to medium heat, stew the raspberries until the sugar has melted and bubbles. You’ll find some water come out of the raspberries which is what you want.

2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.


1. In a double boiler melt chocolate until smooth.

2. Using whisk, stir in egg yolks, one at a time until smooth.

3. Using a cake mixer, beat egg whites with sugar and a pinch of salt to form soft peaks.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form.

5. Alternating between egg whites and cream, spoon about a third into the chocolate mixture, starting and finishing with the cream. Carefully stir, not to over mix as to keep the air in the mixture.

1. Line the bottom of 4 serving bowls with stewed raspberries.

2. Spoon the mousse over the raspberries and top with praline. Serve with extra macadamia nuts (if you have any spare).

Clam-less Chowder

Posted by Kim Fong On 8:24 pm

Once upon a time I had a shellfish allergy. During the winter months, the thought of a nice creamy seafood chowder was so delectable! Feeling disappointed every time, OG made me this chowder minus the seafood. Mmm it was delicious! I'm glad that now I can have it with clams, but I wouldn't hesitate to recreate this soup. 

150 g streaky bacon, diced
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 onion, diced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 large stick of celery, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 tblspn parsley
1 tsp dill
5 average sized mushrooms
3 tsp corn starch, dissolved in about 1/4 cup water
100 ml milk (as desired)

Salt & pepper to taste
100ml cooking cream (regular cream that doesn't split when cooking)

1. On high heat, fry bacon and set aside leaving residual fat in pan. 

2. Return pan to heat and fry onions until translucent, add celery and garlic, stir to combine. Add dried herbs and potatoes. Stir. 

3. Add stock, and bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until potatoes are soft (the longer you leave cooking the more the potatoes break down and the thicker your soup gets). This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes (time dependant on how big your potato cubes are). Add mushrooms when potatoes are partly cooked. 

4. Stir in prepared corn starch and water. This will help to thicken the broth.

5. Reduce heat to low. Add bacon, cream and milk, and stir to combine. Season to taste (add more milk to reduce to salt level). Serve with crispy toast.

Mac n' Cheese with Smokey Bacon

Posted by Kim Fong On 8:08 pm

Growing up, if someone offered me "mac n’ cheese", I would get a highly processed, neon orange dish that came out of a blue packet. The smell of that instantly turned me off. 

While travelling in the US, mac n' cheese was on offer almost everywhere. From street cart vendors to family restaurants. At first I had my suspicions, but surely queues of people to just one mac ‘n’ cheese store cannot be all bad!

So as the saying goes “when it Rome…”, in this case “when in America…” you eat mac ‘n’ cheese. I have to say, man was I wrong.  I mean if I really thought about it, it’s just pasta and cheese but there is something about it that’s just so tasty! I understand the queues now. With Mac n’ cheese, there are different blends of cheeses and a variety of other toppings. When someone gets the mix right, you’ll be sure there will be people lining up for a taste. 

Feeling a bit travel-sick (as in missing my travelling days), I wanted to have the ol' mac n' cheese of the US. So OG made me this and it was DELICIOUS! A little different to the "traditional" macaroni and cheese, where he added bacon, mushroom and broccoli. Feel free to add your own favourites or just leave them out. If you decide to use mushroom, be sure to put them on top. That nice roasted style leaving a shrivelled fungi yet rich mushroom flavour is awesome!

500g pasta - I used the shell pasta, but elbows, macaroni, penne are good to hold this dish
200g bacon, diced
~300g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
Milk, enough to make a sauce 1 to 4 cups
~200g grated cheese - cheddar, colby, gouda is good as it melts nicely
 ~1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets 
~100g parmesan, grated

1. Boil pasta as per in packet instructions. Grease a large baking dish with butter. Preheat oven to 180C. 

2. In a large pot, on high heat, fry bacon until crispy. Remove from pan. 

3. Saute mushroom (minus a handful for the top) and garlic in bacon fat, add butter add a tablespoon of flour. Coating the mushrooms with the flour and cook flour down. The premise here is to make a roux. 

4. Reduce heat and add milk, add cheese, and milk and keep mixing. Return bacon, add breadcrumbs and pasta. Stir well.

5. Add pasta mixture to prepared baking dish. Coat the top with a bit more breadcrumbs for that extra crunch. scatter the broccoli florets and push them in. Coat with parmesan and mushrooms. Bake until cheese is melted and browned and mushrooms have shrivelled. About 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot!

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