Monthly Archives: January 2012

Have I Arrived?: Nacho Burgers…that’s right NACHO Burgers

Kind of Offensive Yet Utterly Delicious.

The stinking coolest thing happened the other day. “What?” you ask? Okay, okay I’ll tell you.

I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when this email came along to inviting me (ME!) to an “intimate dinner of about 12-15 Seattle food bloggers and local food media at Spur Gastropub“. I nearly fell out of my chair…and then, being the sarcastic, hardened woman that I am, assumed it was a scam.

Turns out…it wasn’t. TexaSweet, a group that promotes assorted citrus fruits from Texas was doing a four-course chef’s dinner highlighting the versatility of grapefruit and was getting together Seattle’s food writers whose blog/cooking philosophy indicated they might enjoy Texas grapefruit. I’m pretty sure I was probably a B-List addition, but I didn’t care. Had I finally arrived so as to be considered a Seattle Food Writer? The thought was nearly too much to bear. Sadly, I couldn’t attend the event since I was going to Cavalia (which incidentally everyone who can must, must, must go see) but then this morning FedEx arrived delivering the MOST fun box of grapefruits and goodies I’ve ever seen.

Have you ever seen anything so cute?!?

Clearly figuring out something to make with grapefruit was in order

I’ll admit, I don’t normally consume a lot of grapefruit and when I asked Matt his position on the whole thing he emphatically told me in no uncertain terms that he does NOT eat grape fruit. (Apparently there was an incident when he was in his late teens and quite hungover and for whatever reason thought inhaling an entire grapefruit would help cure his Irish Flu. Turns out…it did not, unless you call full blown regurgitation of everything he’d eaten in the last 24 hours help.)

Alas, I digress. It became quickly clear that the grapefruit adventure was going to be up to me. I had some frozen rhubarb saved from this summer, so I set about to create a Grapefruit Rhubarb Martini.  The first step is creating a rhubarb syrup, which comes from slow cooking the rhubarb for hours. It’s currently on the stove, so I’d settled in for a delicious morning of reading and red wine, but lunch was quickly becoming a necessity.

Those of you that know me, know that I LOVE nachos. Seriously…I would eat them every day if I could. Even better if served with a really cold flute (okay bottle) of Veuve Clicquot. So, when I was flipping through a past issue of Food & Wine and saw they had a Nacho Burger I knew I needed to look no further. I was feeling lazy today (pants have just got put on, pretty sure I still haven’t brushed my teeth, and I’m definitely not motivated enough to put on a bra yet) so I did store bought salsa and leftover garlic mayo from those Cubanos of the other day, but holy damn, is this good.  Make it. That’s really all I can say.

And stay tuned for Grapefruit Rhubarb Martinis (unless they’re terrible and then I’ll pretend I was going to make something else all along).

Nacho Burgers –

Putting the Final Touches on the Goodness

Lifted verbatim from, but I did make a few changes in the addition of garlic mayo and caramelized onions, and copping out with the store bought mayo.


  1. 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  2. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  3. 1 chipotle chile in adobo, seeded and minced
  4. 3 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  5. 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
  6. 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  7. Salt

Cheese Sauce

  1. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  2. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  3. 1 1/2 cups milk
  4. 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  5. 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
  2. Vegetable oil, for brushing
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  5. Sliced pickled jalapeños and blue corn tortilla chips, for topping

MAKE THE SALSA In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt.

MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook over moderate heat for 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until smooth and thickened, 5 minutes. Stir in the Jack cheese until melted, then stir in the pecorino; season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool until it is very thick and spreadable.

MAKE THE BURGERS Light a grill. Form the beef into 4 patties and brush with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until browned outside and medium within, about 4 minutes per side.

Place the burgers on the buns. Top with the cheese sauce, salsa, pickled jalapeños and chips. Close the burgers and serve.


Filed under Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Uncategorized

Paseo Pork Cubano Sandwich with Garlic Mayo, Carmelized Onions, Cilantro, and Jalapenos

Even better than it looks

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. Perhaps it was the visit to Ipswich to my childhood home, sleeping in my old twin bed with my feet tucked just so to escape the cold winter air that clamors and claws to get in. Or maybe it was the most recent Seattle snowstorm that brought our little neighborhood six inches, and brought the city to its knees. Whatever the reason…I’ve been feeling oddly unsettled as though something is missing but I can’t seem to remember what it was.

Whenever this happens I inevitably find myself in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, and usually inviting dear friends (who won’t care that the house is messy with puppy paw prints) to come over and enjoy it.

The Cuban sandwich from Paseo‘s is utterly epic in Seattle, but since they are on the north end of the town, and I the south, I seldom get to enjoy it anymore. (see?? There I go again with the nostalgia)

So I did what any amateur cook and aspiring food blogger would do. I set out to recreate it for myself. And I called all our neighborhood friends to come enjoy the yummy, messy, utter deliciousness that is this sandwich.

My oh so helpful (and loud!) assistants

This is how it went…

Paseo Pork Cubano Sandwich with Garlic Mayo, Carmelized Onions, Cilantro, and Jalapenos
Based on a few recipes (including Use Real Butter) and good ‘ol fashioned trial and error
Serves 10-12, invite all your friends. You will be more popular after they eat this.

2 French baguettes like used in Banh Mi sandwiches (Vietnamese markets, like Q Bakery, sell these for a dollar or two a piece and they are the best…you want something so crusty that when you cut it you make a big mess)
garlic mayo (see below)
roast pork (see below)
2 large yellow onions
olive oil
pickled jalapeño peppers

roast pork
3 cups orange juice
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of
2 tbsps garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 oz. rum
4 – 5 lb. pork shoulder (bone in)

garlic mayo
1 bulb garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of

  1. Make the pork
    1. Combine the orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and rum in a large bowl.
    2. Add the pork and marinate in the fridge for 3 – 24 hours, flipping occasionally. Obviously the longer it marinates the better.

      Marinating Pork..the longer the better.

    3. Once marinating is complete, pull the pork from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 1-2 hours. (don’t discard the marinade!)
    4. In a large lightly greased skillet or cast iron pan, sear the meat on all sides until nicely browned.
    5. Remove the meat (don’t wash the pan!) and add to a slow cooker along with the marinade and cook on high for 4-6 hours, turning each hour, or until fork tender and literally falling off the bone. (Thanks Katie from Oregon for the inspiration to try this in the slow-cooker!)
    6. Remove from marinade, shred with two forks, and keep warm.
  1. Make the garlic mayonnaise
    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
    2. Slice the top off the garlic bulb and place it in a small baking dish or on a piece of foil that has been pulled up at the edges (to form a bowl).

      Garlic ready for roasting.

    3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the garlic is soft.
    4. Peel the skins off the garlic cloves and mash the garlic into a paste.
    5. Combine the garlic with mayonnaise, olive oil, and lime juice. Stir until blended.

      Oooey Gooey Yummy Garlic Mayo

  1. Caramelize the onions
    1. Peel and slice the onions into 1/4-inch strips.
    2. Heat a little olive oil on medium flame in the same pan you used to sear the pork.
    3. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
    4. Remove from heat when the onions are caramelized.

      So delicious

  1. Assemble the goodness
    1. Cut an 8-inch long piece of a baguette
    2. Slice it in half, lengthwise.
    3. Spread garlic mayonnaise on both pieces of bread and bake or toast in a 350 degree oven until the mayonnaise starts to bubble and puff.
    4. Remove from the oven.
    5. Layer the pork, onions, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and more garlic mayonnaise on one piece of the bread.
    6. Top with the other half of the bread and evolve into culinary bliss.

      Perfect with a bottle of bubbly


Filed under Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Uncategorized

Winter Musings: Old English Toffee

When you grow up in a small New England town, simple pleasures become the events around which life exists. In the summer, the options are endless; building bonfires on the beach, skinny dipping, and watching the sun rise, meeting at the barn for midnight bareback races through the fields, and simple suppers out on the boat where even the most basic of meals taste delicious.

In the winter…the options are decidedly less endless…particularly when you’re young, broke, and your car only starts with a 50% probability rating. Once the sledding hill had been exhausted, and Meghan had kicked all our butts skating on the pond, I often ventured back inside to see what trouble we could get into in the kitchen.

This past weekend I jetted home for a whirlwind visit complete with high school basketball games, lobster multiple days in a row, beach walks, late night talks, and lots of huddling by fires. The most impressive fire of all was the Newbury bonfire where nearly 500 Christmas trees had been gathered and lit in a celebration of winter and, as my brother Ben put it, “because, really, what else is there to do around here in January?”

Big Ben and his Favorite Sister and Mother. All photos courtesy of

Oddly pagan if you ask me.

Drinking hot cider and rum to try and stay warm.

Me and my Mama.

This toffee is the ultimate winter dessert and also makes lovely gifts. You’re going to see in the directions it says “Don’t panic” and you’ll probably think, “That’s ridiculous, who would ever panic while making toffee?” Well, rest assured you probably will because there’s going to be a moment when you’ll be convinced you’ve wasted $20 worth of chocolate and who knows how much of almonds…but I promise you, it will come back together and be worth every second of anxiety.

Old English Toffee

They make beautiful, and coveted, gifts.

1 lb butter

1 lb finely chopped almonds, toasted

1 lb semi sweet chocolate (I like Ghirardelli )

2 cups sugar

Candy Thermometer (this is critical)

  1. Toast nuts at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet about 5 minutes, until brown on the edges. Don’t allow to burn!
  2. Combine butter and sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan until sugar melts, over medium heat.
  3. Add 1/2 the nuts and cook to 310 Degrees Fahrenheit, stirring constantly. Pending on how high your heat is this could take up to 20 minutes. During this time it’s likely that your butter and sugar will separate. DON’T PANIC. Turn up the heat, keep stirring, and they will combine again.  Note: The candy turns quickly near the end, so be careful not to burn. Will be a caramel color.
  4. Pour into a cookie sheet, spread to desired thickness and cool at room temperature.
  5. Melt chocolate in double broiler or microwave. Spread over cooked caramel, sprinkle with nuts, and allow to cool completely before breaking up and bagging.


Filed under Desserts, Entertaining, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized