Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fast Food Night: Bison Burgers & Sweet Tater Fries

So we miss fast food. We don't miss the gross after eating it feeling but I really miss a huge burger and fries. When Hubs was diagnosed, we got really good at making burgers at home. A friend introduced us to home made sweet potato fries and it was a perfect addition to burger night. Now with no gluten it's impossible to find a good burger bun and I'm still trying recipes. Mostly the best thing to do is make a top 1/2 and bottom 1/2 of a bun rather than try and bake something to be cut in half. Since I'm allergic to beef we use bison.

First I chopped up several raw sweet potatoes. I like the skin on so I don't peel them, I just wash them off and chop them. The sit and dry while the oil heats (they are also good in the oven, baked rather than fried but for fast food night frying is a must).

While the oil gets hot I mix buns. I used a grain free recipe this time that was butter, almond flour, an egg and a little salt. They mix up quickly and go into the oven right before I put in the first batch of sweet taters, and mix the bison. I use 2 pounds because when you're going to make burgers you may as well have leftovers. They freeze well if they make it that long.

Hubs came in and dug out some bacon and beans too. In the bison I mix finely chopped onion, garlic powder and home made chili powder mix. Also an egg to help it stay together. I mix it all well and make four large burgers and two smaller ones - sometimes David will eat two burgers but even he can't do a pound of meat in addition to sides...

The first batch of fries is done before everything else and usually gets eaten before the rest of the food is done. Kind of like an appetizer. Just as we are done with the rest of the food and load up our plates the second batch of fries is complete. The third batch cooks as we eat.... and usually we eat some off the pan like dessert.... They reheat well in the toaster oven so we try not to eat them all.

Hubs made navy beans with a little of this and that. He's getting more creative in the kitchen and likes to throw everything in. It's usually how I cook, but for him it's very new - he's a recipe guy. The beans had kick which he likes.

Oh and don't forget some delicious cheese.... a chunk of grilled onion, some tomato, lettuce and some homemade BBQ sauce for the top....

We didn't get any plated pictures because we ate so fast. And it was amazing. I love good food. I should be a huge person but thankfully I'm not (thank you 24 hour fitness).

Home Made BBQ Sauce
1 cup tomato sauce (I use an organic olive oil, basil & garlic)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup + 2TBSP vinegar (I use Bragg's Apple Cider)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I use an organic brown sugar)
3 TBSP olive oil (I use about 1.5 TBSP b/c my sauce I use has olive oil in it)
2 TBSP Paprika
1 TBSP Home made Chili powder
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp cayenne

So the original directions say to heat the oil and saute the garlic first then add everything and simmer 15 mins but I just dump all of the above into a sauce pan and simmer it, stirring occasionally until it thickens. Which is usually more like an hour of simmering but only because I like a thicker sauce. The apple cider vinegar is a natural preservative so it keeps in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for a month or more. Usually we eat it in less than 6 weeks so I'm not sure how long it'd actually last.

Ethiopian Food

We love food from all over the world. Prior to discovery of all our allergies we would go out for Indian food, Ethiopian food, French food and more. With our myriad of allergies we are very limited in our dining out. At home we primarily eat organic foods, so even if we can find a restaurant we can both eat in, the food is sometimes difficult to digest when it's conventional.

I meal plan a few months in advance and do one big monthly grocery shopping trip then pick up fresh fish, fruits and veggies as needed on Fridays. This helps us stay within our food budget and keeps me from getting bored with cooking. I incorporated several labor intensive dishes for weekends when I have more time to cook.

One night last weekend was Ethiopian night. I started the Injera a few days early so it would have time to sour. The link is to the recipe I'm going to use next time. The recipe I used last weekend didn't have me feed it and then keep some for later like a sour dough bread. It was more like using just a starter - which made for a very flavorful bread.

I also mixed Berbere, their traditional spice mix. I omitted the spices we are unable to use (ginger for instance) and I made my own Chili Powder for adding to some of the dishes while cooking. (Chili powder is a mix of spices/herbs that nearly always has an additive to prevent clumping or caking. It's usually corn based.)

The morning of our Ethiopian dinner I made Niter Kebbeh (scroll down about 1/2 way), the traditional Ethiopian butter. It's clarified and flavored with herbs and spices.

A few of the steps in this T'ibs recipe is making a mock Niter Kebbeh of sorts. Rather than follow that portion I used a Tablespoon of the Niter Kebbeh I'd made that morning.

The afternoon before I cooked, I set the lamb for T'ibs (lamb stew) to marinate and I chopped all the vegetables I would need for all of my recipes.

I organized the recipes by the length of time it would take them to cook. I made Yemiser W'et (spicy lentil stew) which required lentils to be cooked prior to seasoning. I put a pot of lentils on to boil while I had Hubs sear the lamb.

I also made Yetakelt W'et (spicy mixed vegetable stew). But since all the veggies were chopped this took minimal work.

Once everything was to the simmering for flavor point I got out my huge pan and started cooking Injera. I made about 6 pieces. We didn't have a platter large enough to serve it traditionally with one communal plate so I served it on two plates. Basically when everything is cooked you put down Injera then servings of each dish on top. It's served with extra Injera and everything is eaten with one hand scooping up servings in pieces of Injera torn into chunks. I made three dishes because traditionally there would be a selection of dishes. Injera doesn't store well. It requires that one eats it at the meal for which it is cooked. For the left overs I made a large pot of rice and we ate the dishes with rice in lieu of Injera.

The dishes were delicious. The Injera will be better when I make it over the course of a few days and use it as intended, like a starter. Also I was completely grossed out because there was a bit of mold on it one day. Upon research, I discovered this is (mostly) normal and the mold should be scooped out of the starter and the starter should be fed and stirred well. I scooped it out but since I wasn't doing the starter method it wasn't fed and what not. This effected my enjoyment of the Injera though and next time I'll keep a closer eye on it and do the starter method.

The recipes were very easy to modify for our allergies. Teff flour is naturally gluten free and I simply omitted the spices we were allergic to and made our own mixes. Next month I'm doing Ethi night again but I'm going to try Doro Wat (Ethiopian chicken stewed in red pepper paste) rather than the lamb. The lamb was delicious but I can't see making two meat based dishes for two people.