Saturday, June 30, 2012

How To: Homemade Soda (Lacto-Fermentation)

For her fifth wedding, the bride wore black and carried a scotch and soda. – Phyllis Battelle 

Unpromising is an understatement. But I'm sure it will come alive!!
I’m starting out on a multi week adventure today. My companion list is quite short and select: me, a jar, sugar and ginger.

You see, I’m embarking on the adventure of making my own soda. Lacto-fermented no less…

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while, sort of waiting for the local fruit to begin showing up on store shelves. Strawberries already have and I hear raspberries will be soon.

Making your own soda sounds like a very unusual practice, akin to magic. What I’ve done so far is put some water, sugar and ginger in a jar. From there I am to add a little more sugar and ginger every day for 1 week.

At the end of what I will call the “Starter” I will have a soda culture that I can then carry forward to flavour (some call this second stage the Wort, like when you make beer). From there you let it carbonate, and finally enjoy your labours.

These 2 ingredients, some water and a jar. That's all the
starter takes. And about 1 week to culture.
Homemade Soda Starter
Time 1 week
1 L Mason jar
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp sugar*

Every day maitenance:
2 tsp ginger, grated
2 tsp sugar

Fill the mason jar 3/4 full with spring water. Add the ginger and sugar and shake well. 

Every 24 hours add the additional ginger and sugar. Taste it too. It should be slightly sweet and slightly gingery. What is happening is the ginger and water are using the sugar and converting it to culture. The amounts are approximate for maintenance and can be adjusted.

At the end of the week you will have soda culture which can be flavoured. It may take a shorter or longer time for this. The starter is ready when you can see bubbles at the edge of the liquid in the jar when it’s sitting on the counter.

After flavouring, it ferments again to carbonate. So you’ll have to come back to find out how.

From your starter you can make strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, ginger, etc sodas.

* Don’t substitute honey. Honey has anti-bacterial properties that will inhibit the growth of the bacteria you need to lacto-ferment the liquid.

It’s funny to think that soda actually started out as health tonic sold at soda fountains in pharmacies. Originally sodas were a way of extracting the vitamins and minerals stored in fruit, plant matter or roots.
Lacto-fermentation adds an additional dimension to homemade soda because the process of fermenting adds healthy micro-organisms that help our bodies absorb nutrients from food.

So right now I have a jar sitting on my counter looking very un-promising. I’m not worried though. I have done more than passing lacto-fermentation in the past and know what all those invisible organisms can do.

I expect great things. I’ll keep you posted – literally!

If you google lacto-fermented soda you get quite a few links with some very interesting information. 


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Friday, June 29, 2012

Foraging: Red Clover's A' Blooming

What a miserable thing life is: you're living in clover, only the clover isn't good enough. – Bertolt Brecht

A real, honest-to-goodness Nova Scotia red clover blossom.
Photo: meddygarnet, Flickr ccl
I must have been a misery to my parents as a child. It seems like everything wants to go in my mouth – still – even as an adult.

I dropped my car off at the garage a couple days ago and as I walked to work chanced upon a stand of red clover in full bloom in a fallow lot. The bees were very busy around them.

I quickly bent down to pick a blossom and then in my mouth it went… Mmmmmm….

I remember eating the flower blossoms when I was a child. Like the bees, the sweet honey taste of the nectar was a real attractant to me. Chewing on the flower also made me think about how common it is as a forage item.

Red clover tea. Photo: Carly & Art, Flickr ccl
About red clover
Trifolium pratense is a species of clover, native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalized in many other regions, including North America. In fact, it’s so naturalized I always thought of it as a wild flower, which technically it now is in Nova Scotia..

Red clover is an herbaceous perennial growing from 1-2 feet tall. The leaves are trifoliate (three leaflets), each leaflet being green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half. 

The flowers are dark pink with a paler base and grow in an inflorescence (that means in a bunch). What we think of as a clover flower is actually an assemblage of many small tubes that make up the characteristic flower shape.

In the medicine cabinet
Red clover is a wild plant of the legume family that is quite common on grazing land. It has also been used medicinally to treat a number of conditions. Traditional uses included cancer, whooping cough, respiratory problems, and skin inflammations, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Jelly!!! Photo: ohthecuteness, Flickr ccl
Scientific studies show that red clover contains isoflavones, plant based chemicals that cause estrogen-like effects to the body. In lab studies, isoflavones have shown potential in the treatment of menopausal hot flashes, cardiovascular concerns, and osteoporosis although the actual evidence isn’t completely conclusive.

The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones  may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone in both men and women..

In the kitchen
The leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots of clovers are all edible. Red clover is a source of calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. So that’s a good start for thinking about eating the stuff.

Young leaves, before flowering, can be eaten raw in salads. The dried leaves supposedly add a vanilla-like flavor to baked goods.
The flowers and seeds are of greatest interest to foragers. The flowers are popular for making teas, wines, jellies and jams. I have been thinking myself about strawberry clover jam. If I can make up a recipe you may see it posted.

Both the flowers and seeds can be dried and ground into flour.

Red clover has so many, many uses in the kitchen so it was a bit difficult to narrow down what I wanted to show you. Here’s a summertime themed one. I hop you like it.

Photo:, Flickr ccl
Red Clover Lemonade
You could “spike” this with booze if you wanted… just sayin’
3 cups fresh blossoms (no green), plus some for decoration
8 cups water
1-1/2 cups white sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Place the cleaned blossoms, water and sugar in a pot and simmer for 10-12 minutes. 

Cover and let the mixture steep for at least 8 hours (overnight is good). Strain the mixture and then add the lemon juice. This is your base lemonade. What you add to it after this is up to your own devices…

Serve over ice. 

Fresh blossoms or individual flowers can be added to drinks for that oh-so-over-the-top look!.

For “bonus” clover recipes, including an interesting sounding Rose and Clover Jelly, look here:


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Recipe: Musakhan Chicken Wraps

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. – James Madison

Before I start I want to draw your attention to today’s quote. I went looking for something about "foreign". In case you don’t know, it was spoken by the 4th President of the USA. Mr. Madison lived from 1751-1836. Interesting how 200 years later his words have a sad, prophetic ring to them...

Wraps actually are a good choice for weekend outdoor buffet dining. Just line up
the ingredients and let people assemble their own.
But back to today’s topic. There’s two things you shouldn’t try to figure out. 

First… what’s with this weather? Tuesday was a misery of rain and we were told by none other than Cindy Day the weather girl to expect the same until Sunday. So what’s today? It’s so hot that I decided I didn’t really want to heat the kitchen by cooking.

Sumac. Photo: Wiki CC
Second, don’t try to figure out where my recipe choices come from. I gave up a long time ago. Most times I haven’t got a clue. Yesterday I did a recipe that was about as Nova Scotia traditional as you can get – beef pot pie.

Today – not so traditional – unless you’re a Nova Scotian with Palestinian roots. Then it’s every bit as traditional as biscuits with beef.

That’s because in Palestine, musakhan is a dish of the countryside. It is simple to make and the ingredients are easily obtainable at very little cost. Many of the ingredients used are widely grown in Palestine and frequently found in their cuisine.

One of the strangest ingredients – from our standpoint – is sumac. That’s because Nova Scotia has a native species of sumac—staghorn— that can be used for forage in several interesting ways. But I digress.

Sumac is a common spice in the Middle East and is easily found in Halal markets here in Nova Scotia. It is the ground berry of the Rhus bush and is used to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. 

Sumac spiced chicken.
If you can't get your hands on sumac, use 3 tablespoons of paprika and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Not the same, but will do…

There are as many recipes for musakhan chicken as there are cooks. Some layer it with bread and bake while others bake it directly IN bread (not sure how that works…).

Most of the time musakhan is served on lavash (flatbread) and eaten with the fingers. And it always is chicken with sumac and caramelized onions. By the way, I should have made my own bread. Live and learn...

Using the bread as a utensil is a bit messy for my kitchen right now so I opted for wraps. To make a “complete meal” I added some extra ingredients.

The difference was the inclusion of tomato,cucumber and garlic sauce. These are very good. The sumac and caramelization add a depth that is different from many other wraps. Of course, you can omit the tomato and cucumber and serve with lavash or pitas in the traditional way.

It has to be good if it has caramelized onions...
Musakhan Chicken Wraps
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 15 min  |  Serves 4
1 tbsp dried sumac
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup water
1 large onion, sliced into rings
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
pitas, warmed
tomato, diced
cucumber, diced

Mix together the sumac, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small dish. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken on both sides until done. While cooking, sprinkle with 1/2 of the spice mixture. Remove the chicken to a plate and drizzle with 1/2 of the lemon juice. Slice.

Place the water in the frying pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Then add the onions and spices. Sauté over medium heat until caramelized, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To serve, open a pita into a pocket and add the chicken, onions, tomato, cucumber amd garlic sauce (recipe below).

Garlic Yogurt Sauce
1 cup thick plain yogurt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sumac
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Purée and refrigerate until ready to use.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Old Time: Biscuit-topped Beef Pot Pie

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg 

An old time favourite, and easy to make.
Cold, damp days call for drastic measures. By drastic measures I mean one must dust off old cookbooks, or the cobwebby corners of one’s mind.

This makes enough for 4 hungry people. 2 biscuits each.
It’s days like this that beg for recipes from the past – those comfort foods that bring back memories of when we were young, and safe and protected.

That’s what good comfort food recipes conjure. Memories of safety and protection. Times when we didn’t have to worry about things. For a few shining moments we can cast off our worry and just feel “good.”

Some parts of the province received nearly 100 mm of rain on Tuesday – and as I write it isn’t over. I remember meals like this wafting their aromas through the house on days just like this. Foul days – chilly, damp and sunless.

Did you know you can find rays of sunshine inside a pot?

I remember two versions of this dish: beef and chicken. When I went to the grocery store I already had some leftover chicken in the refrigerator. But I saw beef on sale yesterday so things changed. (You know me and a sale…)

I won’t belabour this post talking about memories from when I grew up and my home village. You get enough of that in other posts. I’ll just get to the recipe, with three further comments.

First, if using chicken, use the same amount of meat (cubed) but substitute chicken stock for the beef stock. You can also do half chicken stock and half milk. I wouldn’t recommend the milk substitution if using beef.

In a pinch you can cut fat into pastry using two dinner knives.
Second, the biscuits. I was quite impressed with them. They were very flavourful and flaky. That says a lot especially because they are cooked on top of bubbling liquid. You would expect them to be wetter.

These were not. The secret? Never overwork your biscuit dough. Just bring it together and no more. You could substitute shortening for the lard if you wished, but I find lard always works better in pastry.

Third – I’ve been packing. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know that I am in the process of getting ready to sell my house. Ergo, I’ve been putting stuff in storage. One thing I packed away was the pastry cutter. I needed it for the biscuits. Then I remembered an alternate way my Dad showed me.

You just take two dinner knives and drag them across each other (and through the lard or shortening). It actually doesn’t take long to cut in the lard in this way. I had almost forgotten you could do it. Old time trick for an old time recipe. A perfect way to end my blather.

And now, the two recipes.

This round dish held 8 biscuits. A square 9x9 will hold 9.
Biscuit-topped Beef Pot Pie
Prep: 20 min  |  Bake: 25 min  |  Serves 4
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/3 cup butter
1 pound beef, cubed
1 medium onion
1 cup frozen green peas
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups beef broth
Parsley biscuit topping (see below)

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into 1/2" pieces. Place in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add some salt and let boil until cooked, about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cube the beef into 1" pieces. Melt the butter in a wide saucepan and add the onion and beef. Add salt and all the pepper. Sauté until the beef is no longer pink. Sprinkle with the flour and mix well.

Add the drained vegetables and peas. Then add the beef broth.

Place the beef mixture in an oven proof dish, about 9” wide – either round or square.

Make the parsley biscuit dough and divide into 8-9 flat patties (depending on the shape of your pan). Eight will top a round pan, nine will top a square pan (3 rows of 3).

Bake for 25-30  minutes, or until the biscuit topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

These were good biscuits...
Parsley biscuits
Prep: 10 min
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix well. Cut in the lard until the mixture resembles peas. Then add the parsley and toss to combine.

Beat the egg with the milk and pour over the flour and lard. Mix together with a fork until the liquid is no longer visible. Then knead with your hands until just brought together – not a second more. The dough will be very soft and shaggy.

Divide into 8-9 balls (depending on your dish size) and flatten each into a patty. Arrange on top of the beef pot pie.

Alternately, the dough could be patted into a flat and rounds cut out and baked without the pie. I would suggest 450°F for about 20-30 minutes. Check at 20.


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Reno Wednesday: Painting Your House

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream. – Vincent Van Gogh 

Paint, rollers, brushes, drywall touch-up compound...
I’ve been dreaming of painting lately, but not like M. Van Gogh. Mine's a little more like nightmares.

I was trying to resist doing this, but I’ve given in. I’m going to post about a few of our renovations in preparation for putting our house on the market. First up: paint. There’s a lot more to paint than I can say here, but at least this gives you some highlight information.

Painting is one of the easiest – and most dramatic – things you can do to change your home. It is also one of the least expensive. Sadly, it’s also the first thing people see when they enter your home.

I say sadly because when you watch these “real estate” shows on TV people continually complain “ooh, I don’t like that colour.” So what. You’re buying the walls, fixtures, roof and foundation. Paint you can change, idiot… That’s what I yell at the TV.

Anyone who can’t see the potential of a house beyond the eggplant walls doesn’t deserve to own a home.

"Neutralizing" your colour scheme does make some sense.
This room now looks like the lights are always on.
Wall colours
So back to “sadly.” Sadly… it can have a significant bearing on how your home is perceived by potential purchasers. Dark colours can be dramatic but make a large room look smaller, or less well lit; garish, bright colours are, well, garish and ugly to some people. 

If a potential purchaser thinks there’s a lot of work ahead on a property they may go for a property that has less work ahead, unless the price is right. Even though they probably will paint it within a year to make it “their own”…

So we’re neutralizing our interior at the moment. We weren’t too garish, but better safe than sorry. Our living and dining rooms are  now a lovely bright beige with off-white woodwork. It has actually made the rooms look bigger, and I’ve commented several times I thought a light was on when it wasn’t.

So painting the interior makes your home look “fresh” and also brighter and larger.

Types of paint
Oil, Alkyd, Acrylic, Latex… what’s the difference? There are two main types of paint on the market  (oil and latex) with variants in each category, and each have their use.

Oil/Alkyd: Oil-based paint is exactly that, a paint that uses oil derivatives as its suspension medium. The solvents commonly used in oil-based paints include mineral spirits (naphtha), toluene, xylene, and other petroleum distillates. Oil-based paints are sometimes called Alkyd paints. 

Oil-based paints need solvents for clean-up of brushes and rollers. Then you have the problem of disposing of the cleaner safely. Oil paints will soon be no longer sold in Canada so it’s best not to purchase them now.

Latex and Acrylic Latex: Both these paints have water clean-up so are better for the environment, but there is a difference. Latex paint is water-based, while acrylic latex has a chemical base. The chemicals give the acrylic latex more elasticity. That makes acrylic more suitable for exterior uses where expansion and contraction are more of an asset than on interior surfaces.

Finishes: flat, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss, kitchen and bath, gloss… These are just a few of the choices you face when purchasing paint. The finish you choose needs to correlate to the area you will be painting.

The order I have them listed above go (for the most part) from least shiny to most shiny and some terms are interchangeable – or named differently for the same finish – depending on brand.

The most important thing to remember is that the shinier the surface usually the more easy it is to wash marks off your walls and trim.

Areas that get a lot of "touching", like a hand rail,
need semi-gloss or gloss paint.
What to use where
The paint you purchase is entirely dependent on where it will be applied, or it should be.

Woodwork should be semi-gloss or gloss. Those paints are the easiest to remove dirt, finger marks, etc from by wiping the surface. Annoyingly, they also show every ripple and inconsistency on the surface. 

If you paint a wall with semi-gloss or gloss you will see every little irregularity, dip, chip, mar and imperfection. Therefore people usually choose eggshell, pearl or satin for walls. If you have extremely poor walls, choose flat. But be warned. Just look sideways at a flat painted wall and it will mark.

High traffic areas, or kitchens/bathrooms are also usually painted semi-gloss although there are special paints with mildew suppressants that are used for these moist areas of the house. Unless you have very special circumstances, special paint is just a money racket in my opinion…

Brushes and preparing to work
Brushes: Don’t cheap out on brushes and rollers and keep them clean. Good brushes are not inexpensive but will last a long time if you clean them properly. 

A “sash” brush will be your best friend. It’s the one that is angled. It makes cutting in so much easier (see painting tape, below).

Wet brushes and rollers/roller pans can be stored “wet” by placing in grocery bags (for the brushes) and garbage bags (roller and roller pan). But this should only be done for a couple days – not a week. Any longer and your tools need to be washed and stored.

A trick I learned from an old “ex” was to condition the brushes with a little dish soap after they were washed out. Just a few drops of detergent and a final wash will keep your brushes in good shape.

Drawers, mouldings, spindles, etc will slow down
your progress.
Surface Prep: All the good quality painting in the world won’t hide a bad surface. If scraping needs to be done, do it. If holes need to be filled, fill them. It’s a shame to expend all that effort in painting just to not be as happy as you could be with the finished result.

Drop cloths: You can purchase drop cloths, or better yet, use old sheets. Everyone has old sheets. I’ve been using the same sheet as a drop cloth for years and years.

If you don’t use some sort of covering for your floors and anything else you’ve left in the room expect it to be splattered with paint. Even the most careful of us make mistakes.

Ceilings are the worst. It’s almost impossible to not have small drips come down from roller or brush onto whatever is below. Make sure it’s a drop cloth, and not your favorite chair…

Painting tape: I believe, for the most part, painting tape is nothing but a big money racket. People painted for, shall I guess, millennia without painting tape, but now it seems you aren’t doing a good job unless you tape everything up before you work.

Balderdash. This is where the angled sash brush comes in. They are an excellent choice for doing what is called “cutting in.” That’s when you carefully paint up to the junction of two colours or two paint surfaces, like your wall and ceiling. From there the main surface of the wall is usually rolled on.

An angled brush gives you great control in tight or “fiddly” areas. Even if you have to go a little slower it still saves you the time of putting up all that tape, and touching up any resultant marks from the tape adhesive.

I inadvertently left some painting tape up for too long around window glass and the adhesive is now all over the panes. To get it off I’ll probably have to use something harsh enough that it marks the painted window frame that I wanted protected in the first place…

The big lie: Latex over Oil
Contrary to popular belief, you can paint over oil/alkyd paint with latex paint. You just have to prepare the surface first. 

Make sure your surface is clean and painted with a high adhesive primer. Then just paint with latex. 

To test to see if your current paint is oil or latex use some gas line antifreeze (methyl hydrate)  or non-acetone nail polish remover, and a Q-tip. Rub a small part of the wall with the wetted Q-tip. 

If the paint comes off it’s latex. If nothing happens it’s oil.

Hours and hours of work? No.
There is no reason on earth that the ordinary person, or couple, can't paint a room or two, or three exceedingly quickly and easily. It saves money (no painting contractor) if you have the time.

As far as time goes, one person should be able to paint the walls on a 12'x12' room in the morning, do another coat in the evening and move everything back into position the next day. Usually two coats of good paint will cover most existing colours. So that's 24 hours to change your room. 

If you're doing the trim add a little more time for two coats on that. And factor in any wall preparation (fixing holes) you may have to do.

Give it a try. It's a great way to change how you feel about a room.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recipe: Fra Diavolo Pasta Sauce

A politician is the devil's quilted anvil; He fashions all sins on him, and the blows are never heard. – John Webster 

Always a delicious meal.
This sauce never ceases to amaze me. It's one of the simplest to put together and delivers taste quite unlike any other sauce. It's name? Fra Diavolo (in English, Brother Devil).

Slow simmering brings out the best in the few ingredients.
This sauce is for seafood and seafood alone. It wouldn’t really go with anything else. It’s slightly sweet and complements seafood wonderfully. Perhaps the onion is to blame…

This recipe may have an Italian name but from what I have read it is an American creation rarely seen in Italy. Interestingly some famous Italian-American chefs have this recipe in their repertoire – ones that I would have thought stayed closer to their traditional roots.

No matter. It’s still delicious.

I have served variations of this sauce with shrimp, scallops, lobster, squid, clams and mussels. All at the same time, too. My two favourites are lobster fra diavolo and shrimp/scallop fra diavolo

There’s something about the richness in those particular ingredients that marry unbelievably well with the spicy sauce.

If you have the time, homemade pugliese
goes extremely well with this dish.
I remember one time (decades ago) when we had pugliese bread in the oven, this sauce on the stove, company coming and 3 feet of snow coming down outside. We had a wonderful evening.

This recipe (I do have others for it) uses two rather non-standard ingredients, jalapeno pepper and oregano. It is far more common to find red chilli flakes and basil in a fra diavolo.

The changes were more than acceptable. This dish, if spiced properly, imparts a slight warmth and slight warmth only. Remember you still want to taste the seafood.

My directions include 1 large jalapeno, and also some cayenne. Use the cayenne to fine-tune the heat, if you so desire. That way you can have delicate heat, or blistering – your choice.

If you like spicy food this recipe should make it in to your recipe rotation. It’s delicious.

Add whatever seafood you are using just at the
end of the cook time.
Fra Diavolo Pasta Sauce
Prep: 10 min  |  Simmer: 30 min  |  Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb shrimp, scallops, pre-cooked lobster or a combination
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 cup red wine
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: cayenne to taste
parmesan cheese
spaghetti for 4 (or linguine)

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeno for about 5 minutes. Then add the red wine, tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. The sauce will be quite thick and chunky.

At the end of the 25-30 min time add the seafood and cook just until done. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust.

Serve the sauce on top of the pasta, sprinkled with parmesan cheese to taste.


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Monday, June 25, 2012

Oregano Feta Burgers with Black Olive Spread

I still love making hamburgers on the grill. I guess whenever I eat them childhood memories come up for me. – Bobby Flay 

Flavourings add interest to this standard backyard staple.
It’s been increasingly difficult for the past several weeks to write posts for this blog.

It’s not that I’m losing interest in sharing with all of you the things I have discovered. It’s that we’re in the process of getting our house ready to sell. It’s a lot of work, and takes a lot of time. More time than I bargained for.

So that’s my reason. Please bear with me over the next several weeks. Once we hit the market things may actually get back to normal a little bit. Then it will just be the waiting to sell. And then probably some missed post days when we actually move.

I’m hoping the move will add more interest to my posts. We plan on moving somewhere yet to be determined, but definitely to the country. Yep. Out of the city. Big air. Big skies. Big dreams. Maybe even big ocean.

It’s about time too. I have lived in Halifax since the late 1980s and that’s long enough. The things that attracted me to city life just don’t appeal to me anymore. Hopefully they will appeal to someone interested in buying a house…

The white flecks are chunks of feta.
But back to the purpose of my blog: stuff for you to maybe use.

This recipe is one that you may want to think about for this upcoming weekend. July 1is Canada Day, the celebration of our nation’s birthday. We are 145 years young. July 4 is Independence Day in the United States. So it will be a busy two weekends.

One thing’s for certain, everyone will be in their backyards, beer (or other libation) in hand, waiting for the burgers to come off the barbecue.

I posted blue cheese burger patties about 1 week ago. This one has Greek influences: feta and Oregano. Lots of oregano. I also made a chopped spread out of onion, black olives and more oregano.

Burgers are easy to mix and just take a few ingredients. They actually are more than just ground beef. Usually those extra ingredients are egg, mustard, salt and pepper (and sometimes bread crumbs or rolled oats).

That was the starting point for these patties. Feel free to experiment. Take the basic burger recipe, decide on complimentary “additions” and go for it.

In no time at all you’ll have custom flavoured burgers to amaze your friends.

Just remember, in the case of feta do not add salt. The feta has more than enough.

Oregano Feta Burgers with Black Olive Spread
Makes 8 patties
1 lb hamburger
120 g feta, crumbled
1 egg
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
1 piece dry toast, rubbed through your fingers
(no salt)

Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Refrigerate for about 1/2 hour before shaping into patties. Divide into 8 equal portions and flatten between waxed paper. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

tomato slices

Black Olive Spread
For 8 burgers
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced black olives
2 tbsp chopped oregano
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp mustard

Combine the onion, black olives and chop finely until it reaches your desired consistency. This can be anywhere from rough to fairly fine.

Add the remaining ingredients and let sit for 1/2 hour for the flavours to develop.


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