Caprese Chicken Burgers. For Real.

I just spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to start this post.  Instead of any preamble, I’ll just get right to it.  Well, after a quick note to say this is a delicious summer burger choice.  Enjoy.

Caprese Chicken Burgers

  • 1 lb good quality ground white meat chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread or crackers crumbs
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 5-10 fresh basil leaves (depending on size)
  • 5 or 6 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches kosher salt

Finely mince the garlic.  Chiffonade the basil (stack the leaves, roll them into a cigar shape, thinly slice.)  Chop the tomatoes into small bits.  Mix the chicken with the egg and crumbs.  Mix in the remaining ingredients.  The resulting mix will be stickier than regular burger mix.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper (or plastic wrap or foil).  Make the meat mix into flat patties and place them, not touching nor overlapping, onto the cookie sheet.  You can make 4, 6, or 8, depending on how big you want them.  Place in the freezer for at least half an hour.  When you are ready to cook the burgers heat your grill.  Cook the burgers from frozen, this will keep them juicy.  When they start to look cooked around the edges, turn them once and finish cooking.  These are delicious on any kind of roll – focaccia, ciabbata, kaiser, egg, etc and a little good quality mayonnaise.

Really, Really, Really Good Coffee Cake

This recipe makes coffee cake that is everything it should be:  moist, delicious, not too sweet, easy to make.  You can use whatever filling/flavoring agent you like best (chocolate chips, fresh blueberries, sugar and spice, jam, nuts and cinnamon, etc) and it always turns out great.  The recipe makes 3 full Bundt cakes or 4 short Bundt cakes or 1 full hotel pan cake.  You can cut it in half and make 2 short Bundts or 1 half hotel pan cake.  Or whatever, experiment and see what you like best.

The Very Best Coffee Cake

  • 1 lb butter (you can use a butter substitute but in this case, butter is definitely better)
  • 3 scant cups sugar
  • 10 eggs
  • 1-2 Tbs vanilla extract (you can also use almond extract or lemon juice instead)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 8 cups flour (I suggest either unbleached white or half unbleached white and half white whole wheat)
  • 4 cups milk (the best combination here is 3 cups whole milk and 1 cup buttermilk but 4 cups regular milk is also lovely)
  • flavoring/filling (what you want – fresh berries, chocolate chips, sugar and spice, nuts, jam, etc)
  • butter or baking spray for greasing the pans

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Using a strong mixer (an upright one is better for this than a handheld) cream the butter and the sugar.  Add the eggs, beating, one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla then the baking soda and powder.  Add the flour and milk, alternating (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, etc).  Beat the batter thoroughly.  Well-grease the pans (I also like to use non-stick Bundt pans to start and then grease them.)  Evenly distribute half the batter among the pans.  Next put a layer of your flavoring/filling.  If you are using something sticky, like jam or nut paste make a small indent in the batter before putting the filling in and make sure the filling does not touch the sides of the pan (it will stick and break the cake coming out.)  I generally use 1/4 cup sugar ans spice (mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg) or 1 cup blueberries or raspberries or 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  Play around with the flavors you like best.  Try lemon zest and blueberries, chocolate chips and chopped walnuts, pecans with mixed spices and sugar, raspberry jam and chocolate chips, mashed ripe banana and nuts.  What you think will taste good here probably will.  Evenly distribute the remaining half of the batter among the pans, topping (or at least mostly topping) the filling.  Tap the pans gently flat on the counter to evenly distribute batter.  Bake at 350° F until edges are browning and cake is set.  You can check with a thin knife inserted into the cake, start checking after about half an hour – time will depend on thickness of cake, kind of pan, filling, and oven.  Remove cakes from oven, allow to cool at least half an hour before taking out of pan.  Turn pan over, onto a plate, and cake should slide right out.  If it looks like it is sticking, turn it back over very quickly and allow to cool and solidify a little longer.  This cake is great as dessert, for breakfast, as a snack, with coffee (thus the name), with whipped cream, with ice cream, plain, with fresh fruit, all ways.

 

 

Focaccia, Sweet and Fruity

Traditional focaccia is anything but sweet, usually rich with olive oil and topped with herbs.  This one is rich, slightly sweet, and topped with fruit and other sweet delights.  If you do it right, and luckily this is an easy dough to get right, this will be the most luscious dough you’ve ever handled.  And it tastes great when done, too.

 

Sweet Focaccia

To start the dough, put the following in a large bowl, stir and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

  • 1 cup hot water (half boiling, half cold – not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast)
  • 3 1/2 tsp live yeast
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c flour

Add in the following:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c softened butter or butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2-2 1/4 c flour (add by the half cupful till you’ve got the right texture)

Knead the dough in the bowl until it is uniformly smooth.  It should not be sticky at all, add flour slowly so it doesn’t end up being too stiff.  Put a small amount of a neutral oil (like sunflower or safflower) in the bowl, turn the dough over so it is coated.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rise.  After about an hour, knead the dough another 5 minutes, cover again and let it rise again.  Repeat this at least 3-4 hours.

To top the dough and bake it:

  • butter or butter substitute to grease pan and brush onto focaccia
  • (2 fresh pears, peeled and diced) or
  • (4 fresh plums, peeled and diced) or 
  • (2 small apples peeled and diced)
  • (almond paste) or 
  • (steusel [equal parts butter or butter substitute, sugar, and flour made into crumbs]) or
  • (ground almonds mixed with brown sugar)

Butter a large cookie sheet then shape dough onto sheet.  Brush with melted butter then top with fruit and whichever other topping you are using.  Brush again with butter.  You can sprinkle with baking sugar, if you want, but it isn’t necessary.  Allow to rise again for half an hour then bake at 350° F until it starts to brown around the edges and top.  Remove from oven, cool, eat.  Enjoy.