Grilled Burgers with Troublemaker Wine Sauce + Blue Cheese

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Can we talk about TV? Specifically, can we talk about how goddamn amazing it is that Kristin Wiig plays young-Lucille on Arrested Development?! I think I shouted my approval at the TV, this happens when casting is just THAT good…or, you know, when the storyline throws me into a fit of tv-rage. Happens.

I, unabashedly, love TV and I will get sucked into a series and then re-watch it for eternity (i.e Arrested Development, the Office, Buffy, etc.)… Lucille Bluth was already pretty much my favorite character, Jessica Walter is ahhhh-mazing and Kristin Wiig just completes the character, full circle. I love it!

Maybe because I secretly have a sharp-tongued Lucille Bluth deep within me and maybe because the nice people at Jarvis Communications sent me some Troublemaker wine on behalf of their client, I made a wine-sauced burger. Though Lucille would never eat anything my thumb touched and to her this is probably considered pool-food, I’m pretty sure she’d ingest any booze-laced food item over anything non-boozed.

Enter this burger. That one, way up there…it was my dinner on Monday and it was amazing. Red wine and beef are known friends, and I just love ‘em together. I reduced the wine with some beef stock, sautéed shallots, a ton of coarse black pepper and spooned it over these serious grilled burgers. Rachel, from Jarvis, kindly included a special burger blend (including short rib, holla!), even though when we spoke on the phone I was a total spaz and apparently forgot how to be a human being. Wine AND phone skills beget major points from this girl…

ANYWAY, I’m not a patty-forming pro, as evidenced, but the flavor did not suffer! The rich beef paired with the lush wine sauce was perfection with a sprinkled of blue cheese.  I’m no wine aficionado  but I do love a dry, smooth wine anytime. Troublemaker is exactly the kind of red I’d want to sip with a beefy burger — it’s rich, yet smooth, with lots of fruit, but still dry. I’m not a sweet wine drinker, but I do love there to be some fruit in there and this wine delivered. I could totally see myself bringing this as a host’s gift, and it doesn’t hurt that the label is cool too…I’m a sucker for a good wine label!

*Jarvis Communications provided me with both the wine and beef to try at my leisure. I was not compensated for this post, and as always all opinions are honest and my own. I do not promote products I have not tried and do not love. Cheers!

Grilled Burgers with Wine Sauce

This wine sauce is inspired by a pan sauce I throw together anytime we have steaks–which is, like, once a year…on our anniversary. For a pan cooked burger, use the same pan to make the sauce–aka PAN SAUCE (duh!). It will rock your world, I promise. 

Makes enough wine sauce for several burgers. Refrigerate leftovers in a lidded container for 1 week.

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 shallots, sliced

1/4 cup beef stock

1 cup dry, red wine

1 Tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons butter

salt to taste

1 lb. ground beef

salt + pepper

3-4 split buns (I used store-bought brioche)

lettuce, tomato, crumbled blue cheese, sliced onions, or whatever other toppings you like.

In a skillet or saucepan over medium heat, sauté the shallots in the olive oil until tender and translucent  Add the beef stock, bring to a boil, and reduce until there is just a small amount of liquid left in the pan, add the wine, and bring back to a boil. Continue to cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the black pepper and dijon, then the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Season with salt to taste. Pour into a dish and set aside until ready to serve.

Heat your grill–I have a gas grill, but you could use charcoal or a grill pan indoors. Whatever works! I like to grill burgers on a screaming hot grill for maximum crusty-bits. While your grill heats, divide the beef into 3-4 equal parts, form into patties without compacting them too much, sprinkle liberally on each side with salt and pepper, and grill, flipping only once, for desired doneness. I am a fan of a medium-rare to medium burger — but do what you like/want/desire. Top the hot burgers with blue cheese and tent with foil while you toast the buns on the grill (be sure to watch them, as they will turn into charcoal in seconds). Assemble burgers however you like, topping with a generous spoonful of the wine sauce.

 

Irish Coffee Milkshake with Whiskey Caramel

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Yes, it’s another ice-cream-drink…and yeah, maybe it was lunch yesterday. I hope you don’t mind, I’m just in the mood for stripey straws and swift-sweet-tooth-satisfaction…plus, this one is different because of the BOOZE factor.

It’s no secret that this weekend is a BFD for lovers of all things green, and pinching, and Ireland, and Guinness,  and corned beef, and whiskey, and drunk-stumbling camaraderie. As a certifiable hermit, I’m not one for crazy, raucous partying, but I do like to get down with a festive, boozey, treat to share with my favorites (you all included!). Enter this milkshake. It’s dead-simple, I mean…I know we can all handle making a milkshake, so think of this as more of a suggestive guide, rather than a recipe.

We’re blending together store-bought coffee ice cream, a little milk mixed with a little espresso powder, some whiskey (if I had any shame, I’d be real and use certifiable Irish whiskey…but I didn’t), and a boozed-up homemade caramel sauce. This shake has some of my favorite flavors ever–I mean, whiskey and caramel should just be BFF’s, right? plus, coffee? Get out. This shake is a quick indulgence for one, but can be easily adapted to make a batch of impressive, crowd-pleasing treats. Pop in a straw and knock one back!

Irish Coffee Milkshake

Makes 1 milkshake. 

I’m sure you guys know what a milkshake is all about and exactly how you like them, so ratios below are just a suggestion. Shake it up, add mix-ins, do yo’ thing. 

2 hefty scoops of your favorite coffee ice cream

2-4 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 ounce (or as much as you want) whiskey

whiskey caramel sauce (recipe below)

whipped cream to garnish

Begin by dissolving the espresso powder in the milk, add to a blender canister along with the ice cream, whiskey, and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce. Blend it up! Drizzle the inside of your glass with more caramel, pour in the shake, top with whipped cream and more caramel if desired. Cheers!

Whiskey Caramel Sauce:

adapted from THIS recipe.

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 Tablespoon golden syrup (or corn syrup)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 ounce whiskey

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, water, and golden syrup, gently combine. Heat over medium-high until the mixture becomes a syrup and comes to a boil. Continue to boil until the syrup becomes a deep golden, brown caramel color–as dark as you dare before it burns. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the butter, cream, and salt, until smooth. Return to heat if needed to create a smooth sauce. Whisk in the whiskey to combine. Pour into a heatproof jar and cool. Can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for a week.

 

Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Guys, these are DANGER and I’m crushin’ hard.

I mean, they’re so savory, so crisp, so irresistible…I can’t stop thinking about them!

For that crisp, shattering exterior, I use the super-thin spring roll wrappers found in the freezer section of an Asian market. I’m a texture girl and those super thin edges are the money bits. For reals. Most of vegetables are quickly stir-fried to retain some texture in the finished roll…except for the mushrooms, which are cooked down to nutty perfection. Ginger, soy, and fish sauce make an appearance, as well. The dipping sauce is an easy mixture of sriracha, maple syrup, and a teeny bit of fish sauce. These would be perfect for the upcoming game-day, but you might want to make a double batch or more as, in my experience, I never seem to make enough when I share these spring rolls with anyone.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Makes 2 dozen mini spring rolls. 

There is a great Asian market not far from where I live that stocks fresh/frozen/pantry items from all over Asia. It’s pretty much amazing. I urge you to seek out a market in your area if you haven’t already…there are so many fun ingredients to be found! I used a mini wrapper that they stock, but you could use the regular size. Just use 2-3 times more of the filling per roll. These wrappers are not the translucent rice ones, or the thicker, wonton-like ones. You are looking for the ones that are square and look like the thinnest of crepes. They come frozen, so just leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to defrost. While the wrappers can be delicate to peel apart, they do have some stretch. 

1 quart of oil (I used canola), for frying, plus 2 teaspoons

8 ounces (about 4 loosely packed cups) shredded cabbage

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned or grated coarsely

4 ounces cleaned mushrooms, stems and caps, diced

1/4 large onion, sliced thin

2 loosely packed cups spinach

1 Tablespoon grated, fresh ginger

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

24 mini spring roll wrappers (or 12 if using regular sized ones)

water for sealing

Dipping Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Sriracha

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon fish sauce, or to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a very hot wok or large skillet, stir fry the cabbage, carrots, onion, and spinach with 1 teaspoon of oil until the vegetables are just starting to soften and some of the edges start to brown. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt to help release the liquid. Continue to cook the mushrooms until they turn golden brown. Scrape into the bowl with the vegetable mixture. Stir the ginger-soy mixture into the filling mixture to combine. Allow the filling to cool to room temperature before beginning the wrapping process. You can do this step the day before and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If the filling is wet after refrigerating, just drain the liquid so the spring rolls don’t become soggy. 

Whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Place a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface so that it looks like a diamond, keep the rest of the wrappers covered by a damp tea towel. Place about a tablespoon of filling  on the lower 1/3 of the wrapper, fold the bottom point over the filling and roll 2/3 of the way up. Fold in sides, wet the final point lightly with the water, seal, and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

Heat 1 quart of oil (4 cups) in a high-sided pan (I like to use a wide saucepan with tallish sides), you will know it’s hot enough when you stick a skewer or chopstick into the oil and bubbles immediately form on the stick. Fry the spring rolls in batches until golden and crisp, anywhere from 3-4 minutes. Drain spring rolls on paper towels and serve hot and crisp with the dipping sauce.