It’s terribly difficult to believe that yesterday was Labour Day, even if half the schools here have already begun and the fall season is writ large upon the sales floor at work. I’m not ready to put my linen, seersucker, and white bucks into mothballs when it’s still in the mid to high 80s here, but the gods of fashion and Beverly Sutfin dictate that I do so. I worked today (ironic, isn’t it?) and hadn’t the energy to cook much.
I curbed my fear of the pink slime (more on that in another post) and picked up some ground meat at Whole Foods: it was hamburger time! I was too lazy even to make my usual hamburgers a la Julia, with sautéed shallots, minced thyme, and an egg blended in. I simply tossed the ground meat in Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and black pepper, formed them into patties and let them settle in the refrigerator. Just before putting the burgers on the grill, I splashed some of my brother-in-law’s secret ingredient on them.
Grill them 3 minutes on 1 side, turn them, grill another 3 minutes, turn again, and top with cheese, if you’re making a cheeseburger–and is there any other kind?–and let the cheese melt. Remember, never, ever, ever press the burger. It’s not a panini. You’ll drain it of juice if you press it. Just don’t.
I’ve begun favouring lightly toasted English Muffins. The nooks and crannies soak up the juice from the meat quite nicely. Bacon is de rigueur on a hamburger, as far as I’m concerned, along with red onion, pickle and lettuce. I do not favour iceberg lettuce for a hamburger, but Boston, Red, or even Arugula are quite nice. Far too lazy to make French Fries, as interesting as Joel Robuchon’s recipe in the latest Bon Appetit sounds, but my Creole Potato Salad is perfectly simple. Simply take a pound or two of baby Yukon Gold potatoes, rinse, half, and boil them till just tender. While doing this, make the dressing: mince a shallot or two, and blend with whole grain, Creole, and Dijon mustards, about a tablespoon of each. Add, to taste, Creole seasoning and Louisiana Hot Sauce, black pepper, a little sugar, and red wine vinegar. Whisk to blend, then dribble in the best extra virgin olive oil, whisking until it’s perfectly delicious. Drain the potatoes, and immediately toss with the dressing, the potatoes will soak it up! Just before serving, toss in some minced chives, parsley or scallions. A sliced cucumber salad is also refreshing; slice a hothouse cucumber (peeled and seeded if you care to) as thin as you possibly can (a mandoline is useful for this,) and toss with a little salt and sugar. Let it macerate for about 30 minutes, while you slice a red onion as thin as you possibly can (see mandoline.) Toss onions with the cucumber (some juice should have oozed from them by now) and add an acid (citrus juice or any good vinegar you have to hand, rice vinegar works well if you want to give it an Asian flavour) a little pepper, and if you’re going Asian, a few drops of sesame oil. Olives always make a lovely garnish.
And for dessert, a simple plate of strawberries with creme fraiche (or sour cream) and brown sugar is always delightfully easy.
So summer’s at an end, my cabanawear and capris have survived another season, and it’s probably time to start preparing Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. But like I said, it’s still in the 80s here, so I’ll probably be wearing shorts on my day off. Just don’t tell Beverly.