Where’s the Beef? It’s Time to Make Choices.

Homemade Hamburger Buns and Bernaise Sauce Recipes

Two Favorite Beef Dish Recipes, Syrah Wine Pairing and a Rant About Choices

It’s now Week 1 of the, “we don’t have to stay-at-home anymore” order and my Week 11 at home. If it wasn’t for continuous rainy days, I think there’d be a lot more people outside enjoying all that South Florida has to offer. Before I get to the homemade hamburger buns and Béarnaise Sauce recipes, plus the Northern Rhône Syrah wine pairing, I thought I’d talk about making choices that we can or will make during the COVID_19 pandemic.

Where’s the Beef?

DYK the history of this slogan? It was part of a 1984 advertising campaign for Wendy’s. Ironically, this fast food chain recently announced that it was short of or had run out of beef at some of its restaurants. If you’re a marketing geek like me, you’ll find this story interesting and see how this catchy campaign set Wendy’s apart from its competitors.

Seems like everyone has something to say lately and our voices are amplified through social media because the reality is, no one can really hear you through a mask and we can’t get together like we used to. People reluctant to head to the beach or restaurants are called cowards (or much worse) by some, and the ones out frolicking around like immortals are named pillars of mass death by others. Yes, that is the extreme POV, but I’m not making it up – just check out the conversations on Facebook.

Filet Mignon with Roast Potatoes and Spring Mix with Pecans, Camembert Cheese & Apricots. © Author

Beef Choices

True to my Canadian nature, I’m more on the reserved side: quietly working and entertaining myself at home thinking that my stay-at-home actions are for the greater good. My biggest indulgences these days are a good meal and bottle of wine.

I love filet mignon, but at $13-$20 per pound, it’s a splurge meal. Rather than thinking that the cost of eating a prime cut is at least double the expense of at least one family meal, I put that rationale aside. I’m lucky to have this liberty, but If you prefer to stick to ‘Feeding Five Under 25 $,’ choose recipe one because there’s nothing better than a juicy hamburger to satisfy our craving for beef.

If you’re not interested in the recipes, be sure to scroll down and read about the ‘Que Syrah Syrah’ wine pairing and my conclusion about making choices.


Fast and Easy Hamburger Buns. © Author

Homemade Hamburger Buns (Original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.)

The recipe as stated worked best for sliders. If you want full size hamburger buns, double up the ingredients. Either make your own hamburger patties or buy prepared ones. I served the hamburgers with homemade guacamole and potato chips that I sliced whole potatoes with a mandolin.

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Preheat oven to 425°.

Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 8-12 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Filet Mignon with a Béarnaise Sauce and Smashed Potatoes (Both Recipes found on Food Wishes.)

Notes: While hamburgers don’t take long, both the Smash Potatoes and Béarnaise Sauce take quite a bit of time, so make this on a day with lots of free time. It’s a great opportunity to listen to a podcast since you shouldn’t take your eyes off of the Bernaise Sauce!


Béarnaise Sauce means lots of butter! © Author

Béarnaise Sauce

Compound Butter

  • 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Use a mortar and pestle to combine the ingredients. Wrap the compound butter in plastic wrap and refrigeration while you make the Tarragon Reduction.

Tarragon Reduction

  • 1 cup fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 rounded teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup water

Simmer the tarragon leaves and peppercorns (or ground pepper) in the liquids until you have about 3 tablespoons of reserved liquid. Gently squeeze all of the liquid through a strainer so you have a clear broth.

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar reduction
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon caper tarragon compound butter
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, optional

Add 2 egg yolks and tarragon reduction to a stainless steel bowl or pot and whisk until combined. Add all of the cold butter cubes and whisk together on medium heat. Keep whisking until the color lightens and it thickens.  Add the compound butter cut into cubes and keep whisking until combined. Remove from heat and add salt if desired.

Note: I seared the filet mignon (coated lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper) with a tbsp of butter and one of olive oil and then finished the meat in the oven set to 425 ° until medium. You can grill them too.

You can watch Chef John’s video for help.  I made the Compound Butter before the Tarragon Reduction. I suggest using room temperature eggs.


Smash Potatoes can be made ahead. © Author

Smashed Potatoes (All Recipes)

  • 3 ½ pounds medium yellow potatoes, washed
  • ⅓ cup kosher salt
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Infused Butter
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, or to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or to taste

Place potatoes into a 5-quart stockpot and cover with 3 quarts of cold water. Add kosher salt and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well. Let potatoes cool just until they’re safe to handle.

Transfer potatoes onto a sheet pan and continue cooling to room temperature. Make 4 or 5 shallow cuts down the sides of each potato, about every inch or so, to ensure the skin splits evenly when smashed. Refrigerate until completely chilled and ready to smash; 8 hours to overnight is best.

Combine butter, sliced garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and begins to bubble, and garlic softens and starts to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). Line 2 metal baking sheets with silicone baking mats (such as Silpat®) and generously brush on some of the infused melted butter.

Remove potatoes from the fridge and gently smash each between two pieces of plastic using a flat, heavy object until 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, being careful not to break potatoes up into small pieces. Transfer onto a sheet pan, being careful not to overlap potatoes. Very generously drizzle and brush most of the melted butter on top.

Bake potatoes in the preheated oven until well browned and crunchy around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the pan with the remaining garlic and herb butter back over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic starts to turn a very light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Carefully transfer potatoes onto a serving platter and scatter over the golden brown slices of garlic. Crumble the toasted herbs on top if desired. Serve immediately.


Que Syrah Syrah: Crozes-Hermitage Selection Silène 2017, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave | 100% Syrah

Every day I learn something new about wine. However, each day I also realize that I still know very little. If you’re a wine newbie like me,  I think that one of the first things you question is the high cost of certain wines and how to justify the expense. It’s a safe assumption that if you have an opportunity to pay more for a wine made by a top producer, you should. However, if you can’t, I am learning (thanks to Wine by the Bay) that some winemakers offer affordable choices that allow you to experience for example, a winemaker’s expression of a vineyard or grape variety; or a winemaking style. These offerings also don’t compromise quality for the sake of affordability.

You could say that today’s wine is like the hamburger substitute for filet mignon – multiplied exponentially! Domaine Jean-Louis Chave wines fetch anywhere from $20.00 to more than $8,000.00 per bottle! Needing to taste a Crozes-Hermitage for the WSET 2 class, I luckily found myself at the lower end of the price spectrum. However, this wine is fantastic and since I’m nowhere near being one who can judge, I suggest you rely on these recommendations by two reputable wine critics: Erik Asimov and Josh Raynolds.

Crozes-Hermitage Selection Silène 2017, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave | 100% Syrah © Author

Bright violet. Mineral-accented cherry, boysenberry and smoky bacon aromas are complicated by suggestions of olive and candied flowers. Energetic and focused for the vintage, offering concentrated bitter cherry, cassis and violet pastille flavors braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Closes sappy, smooth and quite long, with sneaky tannins and a lingering suggestion of juicy black and blue fruits. Drink date: 2022-2030. Score – 92. ~ Josh Raynolds


The Whatever Will Be, Will Be Philosophy Isn’t That Comforting

Freedom of choice, too many choices, making choices, and no choice. It’s just too easy and I think irresponsible to say, “Que Sera, Sera?” Whatever choice you make today may greatly affect what happens tomorrow.

Freedom of choice is also freedom to decide when you do not want to choose. ~ Simona Botti.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Taco Talk on Cinco de Mayo

Fast and Easy Homemade Taco Dinner Recipe

It’s Week 8 of the Florida stay-at-home order, although things are slowly starting to open up. However, if you take a look at traffic and social media, you’ll know that people are flocking to the marinas and any open recreational spaces – public beaches are still closed. We may have to redefine “slow.”

Who’s making Margaritas? (Shutterstock)

It’s also May 5th or Cinco de Mayo. Typically, bars and restaurants are crowded with people who don’t mind invading each other’s personal space while downing Margaritas and Mexican-ish finger food. You’ll have to grab your Mexican food curbside this year and hopefully, bought your Margarita Mix and Tequila earlier than today. Since liquor sales are way up, you last-minute planners may find yourself drinking wine, like me!

May 5th

DYK that May 5th is the 126th day of the year since 2020 is a leap year? According to Wikipedia, this day marks the approximate midpoint of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the Southern Hemisphere. There are also 239 days left in the year. However, who’s counting because since the start of the pandemic, we’re just taking life one day at a time. And, even if you remember what day of the week it is, it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

Cinco de Mayo Parade in Chicago (Shutterstock)

Cinco de Mayo

I don’t know much about Cinco de Mayo other than it’s a day when people get drunk and eat tacos. So just in case you don’t know much more than me, I figured it’s time to dig a little into the history. First of all, it’s not Mexican Independence Day – that’s on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the anniversary of an early victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is not the anniversary of the defeat and expulsion of the French forces by the Mexicans, which occurred in 1867.

It’s also not a United States national holiday, but is meant to be a day to celebrate Mexican culture, plus the achievements and experiences of Mexican-Americans. So narrowing down the day from celebrating achievements and culture to a drunken, Tequila fest is really sad. However, not surprising: 💰kaching 💰.

Feeding Five Under 25 $: Making Soft Tacos/Tostadas from Scratch

Since this is a recipe blog post, I’m not going to go far into taco history. If you’d like to feed your food geekiness, I urge you to read this article by Smithsonian Magazine. Otherwise, I see tacos in this way: You can purchase a bag of Maseca® corn flour and chop up and season leftover meat, quickly feeding a lot of people for just a few dollars! So, that’s what I did.

Homemade Taco Seasoning © Lisa Morales

Taco Seasoning found on Gimme Delicious

Clean the tomatillos and cut in half. Place them half side down on a baking sheet along with the garlic cloves and peppers. Broil until charred.

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (I used smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
  • Add all the spices to a mason jar. Cover tightly and shake.

Tip: 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning is equivalent to 1 packet of store-bought taco seasoning.

Salsa Verde made with roasted green tomatoes. © Lisa Morales

Salsa Verde from Kitchn

  • 1 pound tomatillos (about 12 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium serrano or jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion (1/4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

Note: The original recipe says peel the garlic cloves, but I left them on and then removed them from the skins once broiled.

While the tomatillos, garlic and peppers cool, chop up the onion that has been rinsed under water.

Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend to the desired consistency.

Tostadas with chicken and sausage, served with white bean chili (recipe to be posted in a future blog.) © Lisa Morales

Soft Tacos/Tortillas/Tostadas (Found on Kitchn, but this recipe is also on the corn flour bag)

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water (hot tap water is fine)

Mix the flour and salt and then add the hot water. Stir until combined.

Knead the dough with your hands directly in the bowl. Add more water or masa (sparingly) to get the desired consistency: it should feel like playdough.

Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for 15 – 30 minutes. Note that it won’t rise like regular bread dough.

Roll a few tablespoons of the dough to make golf ball size balls.

Flatten with a tortilla press that is covered with plastic. ]

Note: I don’t own one so the bottom of a small pot worked and then I just tossed it by hand to thin it out a bit more. The plastic wrap separating both of the flattened ball helps.

Warm a cast iron skillet on medium heat until you can feel the heat an inch above the surface.

Cook the tacos on each side for about 2 minutes.

Remove and keep tacos warm in a dish towel.

The Filling

I’ve used, on two separate occasions, leftover beef and chicken combined with sausage as the filling. Gently warm the meat in a pan and add some of the homemade taco seasoning. Combine and add a few tablespoons of water and then simmer until the water evaporates. Remove from heat and cover the pan to keep the filling warm and moist.

Homemade Tacos with Salsa Verde, guacamole and toppings with a side of plantain chips. Use a mandolin to thinly slice green plantains. © Lisa Morales

Toppings

I used shredded cheese, homemade guacamole, salsa verde, tomatoes, sour cream and a dash of sriracha. However, choose your own and what you have on hand.

The End

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you are planning to make your Cinco de Mayo just a little more authentic and before you get drunk, think about the great things that Mexican-Americans have contributed to the US.

Mexican actor and director Gael Garcia Bernal on red carpet at the closing ceremony during the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival at Berlinale Palast.
(Shutterstock)

Mexican food is far more varied than people think. It changes like dialects. ~ Gael Garcia Bernal

Recommend Reading: Gael García Bernal: ‘The pandemic has taught me that I need something to say.’ Or, if you don’t have time to read this article, give his statement some thought: There’s something more straightforward now in how we see things – it’s stronger, more elemental and pulsating. We’re so emotionally charged. Artistic expression can affect us for the better, making us feel we’re all in this questioning together.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Tag me in your taco photos on Instagram! 👍🏻

Catch Me If I Fall

Catch Me If I Fall

If you are fortunate to live somewhere in the tropics like me, it’s wrong to complain about the weather. However, we do and I’m going to right now. It’s October and the sun’s position says fall back, but it feels like July with no cool breeze to be felt.

I’m originally from the north, so at this time of the year my biological or more likely, my psychological clock says, store the cotton/linens and bring out the knits. My stomach says, stop grilling and eating salad and start slow cooking.

Or rather, Cook Slow

As a child I loved to go apple picking and have fond memories of tractor rides, ladders and picking apples off the ground. Yes, you don’t need a ladder to pick apples off the ground. My mother was a practical woman and she knew that windfalls were cheaper and could be stewed and the ones we could climb up the ladder to pick would be packed into lunches. Oh the smell, of stewed apples and cinnamon!

Here’s some more ways to not let windfalls go to waste.

Fall in the Pot

This evening’s recipeCider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onions is a tribute to my apple picking memories. There are many versions to be found and plenty of video tutorials too. Choose the one you like best. I tried to find the origin of this recipe and although there are Italian, German and French versions, I’d like to conclude that my dinner is American and the hard cider that I chose is, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple.

True to my practical roots, I am choosing the cheapest cut, pork shoulder. You could do chops or tenderloin, but if you are cooking slow, there’s no need to spend a lot.

From just five simple ingredients, a sumptuous autumn aroma will permeate your house!

Au gratin potatoes; roast turnips; and apple cider braised pork.

Why Riesling and Why Not Red?

Once again, I gave into #TheWineTherapist’s recommendation. I’ve always preferred red over white, but according to Stefano, I’ve been cheating my taste buds by not choosing any good ones. The conclusion is, listen to your wine consultant!

On my door step with enough time to be chilled, was the 2009 Peter Jakob Kühn Quarzit Riesling Trocken. I took enough German in high school to pronounce it correctly (I hope), but not enough to understand the website, so finding information was a challenge. Here’s one review and some tasting notes on this 89 Point wine (Wine Advocate) can be found here.

Riesling is the 18th most planted varietal  in the world and 20% of all grapes are planted in Germany. The one that I’m drinking today is from the Rheingau region. Do you know what distinguishes Riesling from the Rheingau and Mosel regions apart from other areas in the world?  Hint: Slope, south, sun.

Catch Me If I Fall

This week I became a member of the Society of Wine Educators and am enrolled in the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) course. I have a year to get through a large textbook, participate in online tutorials, take notes and complete exercises in preparation for the certification exam that consists of 100 questions. Of course, theory must be supplemented with practice and I’ll be tasting my way through regions and vineyards from around the world!

I’m an art enthusiast and not a critic; love to cook, but not a chef; a wine enthusiast, but not a sommelier. When I write about art or wine, my goal is to be easily understood and, hopefully, enjoyed by many.

As I embark on this wine adventure, if my approach ever becomes unapproachable, “catch me if I fall” and send me your feedback.

We first taste to enjoy and the joy of tasting allows us to tap into our memories or create new ones.

Until next time, remember that seasons are a state of mind. While you may have to wait before wearing the sweater, nothing stops you from Fall-ing in the pot.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

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