Friday, March 16, 2012

"Barbecuing the Weber Covered Way" & "The Book of Salads" - California Burgers & Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

Date I made these recipes: March 14, 2012

Barbecuing the Weber® Covered Way, edited by Carol D. Brent and Betty A. Huges
Published for the Weber-Stephen Products Company by trp (Tested Recipes Publishers, Inc.)
© 1972
Recipe: California Burgers – p. 33

The Book of Salads by Sonia Uvezian
Published by: 101 Productions
© 1977 – ISBN: 0-89286-126-6 495
Recipe: Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad – p. 39 with Garlic French Dressing – p. 138

Kids, we are living in an alternate weather universe. At this time of year, the general weather “MO” is snow (and more snow), or snow and slush, or snow and ice but most certainly not sun and 68 degree temperatures! Not that I’m complaining but this blast of weather good fortune means that I had to put away my usual and customary soup, stew and crockpot cookbooks and start digging for springtime and summertime fun recipes.

Enter Barbecuing the Weber® Covered Way and the succinctly named The Book of Salads, because if anything signals the arrival of warm weather it is barbecuing and fresh vegetables. (That said, just because it’s “Springtime in the Rockies” doesn’t mean that truly fresh vegetables are forthcoming but you get my drift).

Now, truth be told, we don’t have a Weber® Kettle grill, covered or otherwise, but the book is nice enough to tell us how to grill with gas. Of course, the intention was that we would use a Webe®r Kettle gas grill but details, details. (By the way, the current equivalent of a gas round-top Weber® Kettle – the Q 300 Series – kind of resembles Rosie the robot from the TV show, The Jetsons. Just put an apron on that puppy and….)

Since my man is the grill-master in this house, I handed him the cookbook and told him to have at it with the recipe selection. He wisely chose the California Burgers, topped with fresh guacamole. Both recipes were easy to make and fun to eat! Note that we could have made an entire roast suckling pig, but oh darn, our grill isn’t big enough to hold such a thing and so we downgraded to burgers.

As to the salad selection, this book is pretty comprehensive with recipes for green salads, vegetable salads (including potato salad and cole slaw), fruit salads, meat salads and even – be still my heart – molded salads. But I was stuck on making a green salad and the one that I liked the best used avocados and so why not kill two birds with one stone?

So burgers and salad it was and we enjoyed munching on both on a spectacular sunny and warm day in March. This gives new meaning to the term “March Madness,” no?

By the way, both of today’s cookbooks were purchased from one of my favorite stores in the Twin Cities – Arc’s Value Village (in four locations!). Arc Greater Twin Cities is an organization that provides advocacy and support for individuals with developmental disabilities and the Value Village thrift stores generate much-needed revenue to support programs and services for these individuals. And woo-hoo for me, their stores consistently stock cool and inexpensive cookbooks to add to my collection. The last time I went to a store, it was a 50% off day and yours truly walked about with 12 cookbooks. Score!

California burgers – Yield: 6 to 8 burgers
2 pounds ground sirloin or ground beef (I bought just over a pound and it made 4 burgers)
1 avocado
¼ cup finely diced fresh tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used a little less)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare burgers. The authors suggested using their basic recipe for either Steak Burgers or Budget Burgers (p. 32). The Steak Burger recipe calls for 2 pounds ground chuck, round or sirloin tip, 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion, 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. The Budget burgers recipe calls for all of the above plus ¾ cup uncooked rolled oats and ½ cup tomato juice or milk. We decided to keep it simple and just season our burgers with salt and pepper.

Cook burgers to desire doneness; suggested times are 3 minutes per side for rare, 4 minutes per side for medium and 5 minutes per side for well done.

In the meantime, peel and mash ½ avocado; fold in ¼ cup finely diced fresh tomato, 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. (Ann’s note: I recommend adding the lemon juice to taste as well.). Slice remaining avocado crosswise. Place patties on bottoms of toasted buns; top with avocado mixture. Garnish each burger with an avocado slice; cover with bun top.

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad with Garlic French Dressing – serves 6
½ head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
½ head escarole, torn into bite-size pieces
1 16-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and cut crosswise into thin slices
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced, including 2 inches of the green tops
¼ cup pimiento-stuffed olives
Pimiento strips
Hard-cooked egg slices (optional)
½ cup Garlic French Dressing, page 138
¼ teaspoon crushed dried tarragon

Garlic French Dressing (Vinaigrette) – makes about ½ cup
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 to 8 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic, crushed

For the salad:
Place the greens in a salad bowl and toss together. Arrange all the remaining ingredients except the dressing and tarragon in a decorative pattern over the greens. (Ann’s note: Yeah, right.) Combine the dressing and tarragon and pour over the salad. Toss at table.

To make the dressing:
Place all the ingredients in a covered jar and shake vigorously until blended. Or combine the vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir well to dissolve the salt, then gradually beat in the oil. Add the crushed garlic clove (if desired – I didn’t).

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