Birthday Burgers and Baked Alaska

One of my favorite things to do is cook birthday dinners.  I love cooking for people normally, of course, but birthdays are special occasions, which means that I can pull out all the stops.  A couple of years ago, I put together two multi-course spreads entirely from my “From Julia Child’s Kitchen” cookbook, including Beef Bourguignon, Beef Consomme with Miniature Buffalo Meatballs and Asparagus Tips, chocolate truffles, three kinds of sorbet, and a variety of other dishes.  That was for my parents’ birthdays, both of which fall in August.

This year, I opted for something a little bit simpler, in part because I had recently moved out of my parents’ place for good and was still setting up.  Still, I guess simpler is relative, because I opted to try out a few things I had never done before.

chorizo_burger

Now, I’ve made this burger before, a chorizo burger with a very delicious sauce and the most sumptuous details (recipe below), but this was the first time I had tried to make burger buns.  I used the recipe for brioche buns that I found at smitten kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/light-brioche-burger-buns/ As you can probably see, mine didn’t bake up quite as tall as Deb’s did, but for some reason I couldn’t get my hands on bread flour at our local market – imagine that!

tiramisu_loaf

This is, alas, the only picture I managed to get of a most rich and delicious tiramisu ice cream loaf.  Admittedly, the recipe was quite a production, layering coffee sponge cake, homemade coffee ice cream, and a homemade mascarpone rum cream.  For the cake and assembly instructions, please see Elinor Klivans’ fantastic book, Fearless Baking.

baked_alaska

I defy anyone to tell me what this is correctly on the first guess.  Anyone?  It’s my very first attempt at a baked alaska, something I’ve been intrigued by since I saw references to it in the binder-bound Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook we had when I was a kid.  This version is nothing more than homemade lemon pound cake, topped with a scoop of homemade coconut ice cream, surrounded with marshmallowy meringue, and broiled.  Alas, my meringue refused to whip to the hard peak stage, and I ended up with an extremely soft meringue prone to sliding.  But at least it was delicious.

Chorizo Burgers (4-5 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 lb. each ground sirloin and ground chorizo sausage (I usually make 1/4 lb. burgers, but if you prefer larger, get as much as you need)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper, quartered
  • 1 c. Ranch dressing
  • 1 pinch powdered saffron (optional)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4-5 soft egg or brioche buns
  • 1 tbsp. softened butter
  • 4-5 oz. manchego cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together sirloin and chorizo.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat and add chopped onion.  Saute until tender.
  3. Transfer onions to a blender (or food processor).  Add red pepper, Ranch dressing, saffron, and paprika.  Pulse until fairly smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Heat remaining oil over medium heat.  Add remaining onions and brown sugar.  Cook and stir 15 minutes, or until soft.  Set aside.
  5. Form burger patties out of sirloin mixture, and cook over high heat, about 5 minutes on each side.  Spread buns with butter and grill.
  6. Assemble burgers with caramelized onions, red pepper sauce, and cheese.
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