Mom’s kind of burger

Classic American burger.

Just a quick post today. The burgers I made would make my mom’s mouth water. Rare, lean beef. Toasted buns. Lots of veggies. (Cheese on James’s, but not on mine. I don’t usually do cheese on burgers.)

SO delicious. The kind of food I grew up on. Just a quarter pound of lean ground beef for each burger, sprinkled with salt/pepper/garlic and seared in a hot pan. Served with oven fries (from fresh russets, tossed in oil and roasted in a single layer in a 400°F oven) and plenty of ketchup to dip the fries in.

cheeseburger, oven fries, ketchup


Dad’s Easy Nacho Night

Comfort food from Kombucha’s dad

[Note from Serene: Please welcome our new contributor, Kombucha! She has graciously agreed to tell us about her own Dad Food, and I’m happily anticipating hearing more from her.]

Our family ate dinner every night together while I was growing up, and my mom cooked 99.9 percent of those meals. This percentage is probably not entirely mathematically accurate. I can count on my fingers the number of times my dad cooked for us as kids. He had one meal that he could make, and we had to help him out lest he forget one of the ingredients.

dad's nachos as tostadas

My mom worked full time in addition to raising my brother and me, and what was so comforting to me about those few instances that my dad cooked was not just the meal that he made — an easy layered nacho recipe that can also be turned into a great burrito filling and be adapted for vegetarians (just leave out the meat) — but knowing that she was going to be able to relax a little when she got home. My parents worked extremely hard to provide a good life for us, and eating fresh healthy good food was always part of that. I always felt guilty that my mom had to cook a meal after working a full day at her demanding retail job.

This is not a healthful recipe, but it is easy, quick, and a crowd-pleaser. I’ve made it for many friends over the years who have raved about it. I always think of my dad when I do.

sauteed pecans and onions

In the photos, you can see this version I made with spinach and pecans cooked with onions and green chiles. I am a vegetarian now, so I try to find creative ways to recreate the recipes I used to like with meat!
layering beans with veggies and cheese

Easy Layered Nachos (or baked burritos)
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • ½ pound ground turkey or ground beef
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar, pepper Jack, or Mexican blend, or any combination totaling 1 cup)
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole, optional
  • Tortilla chips, taco shells, or flour tortillas
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Sauté meat and onion with salt and pepper until the meat is completely cooked.
  3. In an 8"-by-8" square baking dish, layer the beans, meat, chiles, and cheese.
  4. Bake 25 minutes.
  5. Serve with tortillas for dipping, or use taco shells or flour tortillas to create warm tacos or burritos. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Add guacamole if you have fresh avocados.
  6. Side dishes: Rice or salad.

layered casserole after baking

Kombucha is a contributing writer for RENTCafe,  where she writes about home design, entertaining, and other lifestyle topics on the RENTCafe blog.

Korean-style braised beef

Korean braised beef stew. So good!

The starting point was Maangchi‘s recipe for Doejibulgogi, or spicy stir-fried pork.

I used a pound of chuck, and since chuck prefers a slow braise, I put the ingredients (minus the green peppers, which I didn’t have handy) into a cast-iron Dutch oven instead. I browned the beef first, then added the remaining ingredients and about a half cup of water, then cooked on low heat for about an hour and a half.

It’s not too spicy, but it’s got a little zing to it. It’s very very rich and delicious.

Korean beef braise

Two bad photos equal a good one, right? This stuff was far more tasty than it looks here.

Korean braised beef stew

FFwD: Cafe Salle Pleyel Burger

My family is very fond of Dorie today. Because of her, they got HUGE burgers for dinner.

Though I think of myself as a good cook, and can find my way around the kitchen pretty well, what I like about things like French Fridays is the opportunity to make foods that are entirely outside of the realm of things I would normally tinker with. Capers and tarragon and parsley in a hamburger? With Parmesan on top? Are you serious?

burger on a square plate, open-faced so you can see parmesan strips on top, next to a caesar salad

She was serious.

This recipe was surprisingly non-fussy, considering all the ingredients, and I think you’ll agree that it makes an attractive burger.

Dorie wrote about this burger in 2008, if you want to read more.

I thought it was okay, but I’m not a huge fan of tarragon. The kid, who is usually suspicious of leafy green things in her food, decided to take a photo to tell you all what she thought of it.

the kid giving thumbs up in front of the plate of food

Since I had three (and only three) gorgeous Asiago buns to use for this dinner, I made three burgers out of what was supposed to make four. These were HUMONGOUS burgers. Again, the kid was vocal in her approval of this move. I left half of mine in the fridge for later. Some elves or something must have come in the night and taken it off my hands.

The burger may have only gotten a 67% approval rate, but the onion marmalade was an unqualified hit. Silky, delicate, with a lovely texture. I’ll do it again.

I’m happy to be back in the French Fridays saddle. If you want to see other folks’ treatment of this burger recipe, check out the Leave Your Link post.

Pot roast and caramelized onions

Pot roast and gravy. Heaven on a plate.

It’s been a rough time in our family lately. Sickness and sadness are pretty constant companions, and some days, my natural cheerfulness is a little hard to locate.

One thing that can perk up a difficult day is to fill the house with the smell of my mother’s cooking, which usually means meat and/or onions and/or garlic.

This dinner has all those things in spades.

Pot roast, potatoes, carrots, caramelized onions

It’s an easy dish to make, and there’s nothing in my life that can’t be made better by a little gravy.

Thanks, mom. Comfort food for the win, again!

[If you want a detailed recipe, I’d be happy to type one out, but the basics are these: Brown some chuck roast. Put in a pot with plenty of garlic, a teaspoon of salt, and a half teaspoon of pepper. Add two cups of liquid—I usually just use water, but any combination of wine, stock, and water would be fine. Pressure-cook for 45 minutes or simmer for a couple hours. Add potatoes and carrots and simmer until tender. Thicken gravy with cornstarch slurry. Serve alongside a pile of onions that have been caramelized in butter/salt/pepper.]