Tag Archives: garlic

Caprese Burgers

2 Sep

So the boyfriend and I desperately needed a night out.  The solution?  The Counter, a fantastic build-your-own-burger joint, has the best Tuesday night dinner around.  For the price of one of their normal burgers, you get 4 mini burgers designed specially by the chef and 4 mini beer pairings.  The fact that you don’t have to choose just one meal and get 4 very different burgers AND 4 different beers is just phenomenal.  This week the chef created a bacon cheeseburger with potato chips (as a burger topping) and stone ground mustard, a burger with blue cheese, celery slices and buffalo sauce, a southwest burger with corn & black bean salsa, chipotle aioli and fried jalapeno slices and….a caprese burger.

I carefully took only one bite of burger and one sip of the matching beer before moving on to the next, moving in a slow circle around the plate.  And even though I enjoyed all of the burgers immensely, this caprese burger was something special.  It was one of those things where you hit yourself over the head and say “why didn’t I think of this?!”  It was so good, in fact, that after only one bite, I borrowed the boyfriend’s fancy phone to email myself the list of ingredients.  It was so good that the very next day I found myself hungrily craving a full size caprese burger and, let me tell you, when I get a craving like this, it HAUNTS me.  So there was nothing else to do but recreate the burger at home and have caprese burgers two nights in a row.  These are so easy to throw together yet look so impressive that I can’t wait to make them for friends–great for this weekend’s last ditch effort at holding on to summer, Labor Day!  So with out further ado…

Caprese Burgers
Serves 4
Inspired by a Mix-It-Up special from The Counter

  • 4 burger patties
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • arugula
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped (I used heirloom tomatoes, since it’s just barely still summertime)
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices (will come in a single ball the size of a baseball)
  • 1 recipe balsamic reduction (see below)
  • 1 recipe pesto spread (see below)

Balsamic Reduction

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pesto Spread

  • 2-3 packed cups fresh basil leaves (1 large box of basil from Trader Joes is only $1.99 and is the perfect amount!)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  1. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan.  Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and let it continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.  Turn heat off to let it cool until your burgers are ready.  The vinegar will turn very thick and should coat the back of a spoon.
  2. In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, salt and olive oil and pulse until you have a fine paste.  Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Turn your oven on to 500 degrees and place the hamburger bun halves face-down in the oven to toast while preparing your burgers.
  4. Grill or fry the burgers in your preferred method.  I found I didn’t even have to season them due to the strong flavors in the balsamic reduction and the pesto.
  5. Stack your burger: Bottom half of bun, burger patty, arugula, mozzarella slice, chopped tomatoes.  Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the tomatoes.  Spread a thick layer of the pesto on the top bun and drop it on top of the burger.  Voila!

It seems that everyone’s tastes are different when it comes to this burger–the boyfriend literally brought the pot of balsamic reduction to the table so he could keep slathering it on his burger while I couldn’t get enough pesto and would spread a little extra on each bite of burger.  The roommate happily ate hers without any extra additions at all.  So that means the solution is just to bring all the sauces to the table to let everyone choose for themselves!

Garlic Corn on the Cob

3 Aug

For those of you who didn’t see my ecstatic posts on Facebook this weekend (follow A Gilt Nutmeg on Facebook here!), I was at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA last weekend.  The boyfriend and I can actually eat garlic raw and were disappointed with the lack of garlic at the entirely garlic-centric menu at “The Stinking Rose.”  So finally we were going to get a proper dose of garlic!  And proper dose we did: garlic bread, garlic tamales, deep fried garlic, garlic pesto, garlic ice cream (which is actually one of my favorite flavors of ice cream ever)…but one of the best things we ate was garlic corn on the cob.

Daniel and our friend, Rhianan, enjoying their corn.  I was digging into the deep fried garlic at the time, but I snuck bites of Daniel’s corn whenever he wasn’t looking.

So home we went, stopping on the way for those amazing strawberries from Monday’s post and fresh picked corn, 6 for $1.  Is there any need to guess what my plans for the corn were?  It was my mission to try to recreate the amazing clean, clear butter-garlic flavor on the sweet fresh corn we ate the day before.

One of the cooking tricks I pulled out of the hat for this one was something called “blooming”.  As spices get older, they lose flavor and heat (if they’re spicy).  The remedy for this is to “bloom” the spices by heating them in oil or butter for a minute or so.  It magically brings back all the flavorful oils in them and your taste buds will thank you!  I’ve also discovered that clarifying your butter really set the garlic and sweet corn flavors off the best–I’m never going back to slapping a cold pat of butter onto my corn again.

Aim for farmers markets or farm stands for your corn.  Dad taught me long ago that there are few things better than fresh farm corn–he used to drive all the way to New Jersey to get fresh corn from the farm stands.

Garlic Corn on the Cob

  • fresh ears of corn, stripped of leaves and “silk” (the stringy bits)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of butter per ear of corn
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
  • high quality salt
  1. Set a large pot of water boiling and toss in approx 2 sliced cloves of garlic.  Set ears of corn into boiling water and boil for approx 15 minutes or to desired doneness.  I remember growing up we just turned off the burner and left the corn in the pot of hot water until we went back for seconds, so I don’t think there’s really a danger of overcooking it.
  2. In the meantime, gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.  After it’s completely melted, tilt the pot forward and carefully use a spoon to remove just the white floaty bits–these are called the milk solids.  Voila, clarified butter!  You’re ready for lobster…or really amazing corn.
  3. Add the rest of the sliced garlic plus the garlic powder to the butter and stir.  Remove from heat after a few minutes and brush the butter over the ears of corn.  I leave the garlic slices behind, but if you want to brush them over the corn as well, be my guest–there’s really never too much garlic in my book!  You’ll probably want them minced instead of just sliced if you plan on doing this, so the garlic bits can stick to the ears of corn.
  4. Sprinkle with some good salt and get ready for a delicious treat!  On one final note: I mentioned that there is never enough garlic for me.  This recipe will give you a delicate, even garlic flavor for your corn.  I absolutely kicked it up an extra notch by sprinkling additional garlic powder directly on the corn as well, but that level of garlic is not for everybody 🙂

Tomato Mozzarella Avocado Salad

20 Jul

It is a decided fact that you cannot take a good photo of beautiful, snow white mozzarella once it’s been tossed with balsamic vinegar.  The good news is, this salad is DELICIOUS.  It’s what got me eating avocado finally after a good two years of living in California and turning my nose up the stuff.  It also got my roommate eating tomatoes, so I’m pretty sure this salad has secret magic in it.

Best of all, it can be thrown together in the miniscule time it takes you to chop up 4 little ingredients.  I was so hungry when I got home from yoga last night that I was literally was “throwing” the salad together.  It was as if there was a race between me and my stomach–if I win, I get fed, if my stomach wins, I die of starvation.

That all said, this is delicious Californian start to any meal or a meal in itself and shows off the best of California summer produce.

Tomato Mozzarella Avocado Salad
serves 2-4 as a side

  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 golf ball sized fresh bocconcini or a handful of smaller sized mozzarella balls, the kind found in a container of water
  • 3 cloves of raw garlic (this will make for a spicy salad, which is delicious, but you can adjust to your own taste)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

…I’m not sure instructions can get any easier than this….

  1. Chop tomato and avocado; toss into bowl (for full disclosure…I get rid of the tomato seeds…they’re a culinary pet peeve of mine)
  2. Chop bocconcini into bite sized pieces, if using small mozzarella balls, slice in half; toss into bowl
  3. Finely chop garlic cloves; toss into bowl
  4. Drizzle contents of bowl with 2 parts balsamic vinegar and 1 part olive oil
  5. Salt & pepper to taste
  6. Enjoy!
%d bloggers like this: