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.
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!
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.
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)
- 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
- In a large bowl, mix together sirloin and chorizo. Set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat and add chopped onion. Saute until tender.
- 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.
- Heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add remaining onions and brown sugar. Cook and stir 15 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.
- Form burger patties out of sirloin mixture, and cook over high heat, about 5 minutes on each side. Spread buns with butter and grill.
- Assemble burgers with caramelized onions, red pepper sauce, and cheese.