It was a food cart that introduced to the idea of a stuffed burger. For fifty years The Burger was a basic, can't-go-wrong, entree. But somebody wanted to reinvent the wheel, and they did. The new wheel, is the stuffed burger. Rather like an eclair or jelly filled donut, extra goodies are hidden inside the burger patty. At the food cart where we were introduced to the stuffed burger, Burger Guild, there was only cheese inside. But I decided to take it to the next level. In addition to cheese, our burgers have mushrooms and olives inside. With bits of cheese poking out the corner, you can't wait to eat them.
As with any burgers, by the time you've started, you've also finished.
The burgers were excellent, though the stuffed aspect wasn't as exciting as at the cart. The cheese stuffed did taste like a cheeseburger though. For dessert we had grilled, home grown plums (our tree is finally producing) with ice cream. It may be fall, but summer is still here in spirit.
It's been exactly a year since we made a certain Sunday Dinner staple. No doubt, the landscape of Sunday Dinner would be different if we hadn't had this one dish. It seems impossible that it's been a year, but the last time we made pirogi was September 19, 2010. Now that cold, rainy weather has returned to Portland, it was the first thing Cy wanted to make. So with a weak winter sun coming in the window, Cyrus and Dad are rolling the cheese/butter/potato balls. While the dough for the pirogi rests, Cyrus is practicing his trumpet. He's been playing his trumpet for about a year-and-a-half, and he was just accepted into Sellwood Middle School's prestigious Jazz Band. He's the only sixth grader to get in in a number of years, and he's understandably excited. But right now he's more excited about dinner. The dough is getting rolled out, a plate of stuffed pirogi sits next to the bounty of a delayed summer, waiting to be cooked. Scout, a visiting Corgi, is playing with a laser pointer. It's been awhile (a year!) since we've cooked pirogi, but I remember the smell. The onions, the sausage, the pirogi, it creates a delectable aroma that you can't forget. The steam rising from the numerous pots on the stove creates an unforgettable image to go with the unforgettable aroma. Pirogi are really special.
Dried tomatoes from our garden
The pirogi, as always, were tasty. We put them next to Otto's sausage and Mom's home pickled beets. With sauerkraut and sour cream to top off the plate, we had a flavor-bomb. Now if only we had something good to do with all those tomatoes.
You would have to live under a rock to not know that entomophagy (the consumption of insects as food) is the food topic of the summer. Respectable publications, from The New Yorker to The Atlantic, The New York Times, and countless others, have published articles on the subject. Entomophagy proponents say that world war three will be over food, and the societies that can adapt to eat insects will win. They promote insects as being high in protein, which, in the case of crickets contain three times as much protein as beef. To top it off, insects, from crickets and cicadas to mealworms, thrive in the filthy, crowded conditions that humans are so good at creating. But the real question is do crickets taste good?
The first stop on our dinner shopping trip was Petsmart.
"What kind of animal are you feeding," asked the lady behind the cricket counter? We glanced at each other.
"Humans," We replied. The rest of the time she spent gathering our three dozen small crickets we were treated as slightly crazy.
"Be careful, or dinner will escape"
Once we got home we put the crickets in the fridge so that when we put them in the frying pan they wouldn't be able to jump out. In addition to the sauteed crickets we'll be having roasted tomato halves, summer has finally come to Oregon and with a whole summer's worth of ripe tomatoes. We'll sauteé the crickets on the grill, to keep the heat outside, with scallions, garlic, and butter, a no frills recipe from insectsarefood.com.
First up on the grill is flank steak for tomorrow night's dinner. (Dad is obsessive about getting multiple uses out of a hot grill.) When the flank steak is done, we're going to start the crickets as an appetizer. They've been in the fridge for the past two hours, so they shouldn't jump around to much. I'm crossing my fingers. Apparently almost three hours in the fridge doesn't slow them down! Almost immediately they started jumping every which way, luckily only one escaped and they are all in the freezer. It's so much easier when your food is already dead.
Turns out all the crickets needed was a few seconds in the freezer and they were out cold. Then we dropped them into the hot skillet with garlic and scallions, and a few minutes later they were done. We drained off the extra butter, and seasoned them in three separate batches. On the first we used plain salt, the second we used Trinidad Lemon Garlic Marinade from the Chicago Spice House and West Indies Barbeque Seasoning (also from the Chicago Spice House). Every option tasted great. The crickets were crunchy, and a number of ideas for their use came leaping out. You could throw them over pasta, eat them like potato chips or use them as beer nuts. Imagine that America, alongside your Superbowl guacamole, chex mix, and peanuts: fried crickets, fried, salty crickets.
The rest of the meal was rather boring in comparison, it was all new recipes and it was all grilled. Grilled veggies with mint, grilled tomatoes stuffed with breadcrumbs and parmesan, grilled kale with coconut milk dressing. An excellent meal, but one that will only be remembered for a single reason...insects
Summer is coming to an end. It seems like yesterday that I got back Costa Rica, yesterday that Mustefa left, yesterday that we were swimming at Lakeside Pool, yesterday that we hiked 14 miles in the Gorge. Wait, that was yesterday! Anyway, Cy and I go back to school on Tuesday and the past week has been a last blast of Summer, among other things, we went on the jet boats (we stepped away wind-blown and soaked to the skin) and we hiked 14 miles in the Gorge (by the time we got back to the car we were ready for the hour long car ride).
Cyrus, as you've probably noticed by now, doesn't care what season it is, he'll cook anything, anytime. Today, end of summer, 87ºF, Cyrus is making Fish and Chips. Luckily he's plugging in the fryer outside, which will spare from both the heat and the smell of deep frying.
While the oil heats up, Cy and Dad have prepared fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce so when the time comes, we'll be eating in a few minutes. The fish and fries are done, albeit with a light covering of oil on the deck. the frier was overfilled, and when a batch of wet potatoes hit the hot oil it promptly boiled over leaving half of our a slightly deeper wood color.