Archive for August, 2010

I probably haven’t yet mentioned how much I like Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home. This is one of the few cookbooks I have seen where I feel drawn to make nearly every single recipe. The picture of this salad in the book stood out to me since I got the book last Christmas, so I finally made it as an accompaniment to bison New York strip steaks for a special dinner. This salad would be great with any simple grilled meat, and it really got me excited about burrata cheese. I had heard a lot about burrata, but I am not sure I’d ever had it before making this recipe. Burrata is a soft type of mozzarella with a creamy, almost-liquid center. Whole Foods makes it in-store, so it’s pretty easy to find. The only downside is that because it’s so soft, you have to buy a whole round – it’s not sold by the pound. This can get pricey, but if you’ve never had it before, it’s definitely worth trying. Mine came wrapped in banana leaves and plastic wrap, and I was really interested to see what it would be like inside. It’s delicious, and I am now on the hunt for other good recipes using it.

In all, this salad proves why Thomas Keller is widely considered America’s best chef. It’s composed of fairly simple ingredients, but each one gets special attention, and it’s a perfect combination of different flavors and textures. The original includes shaved red onion, but I don’t like raw onion, so I skipped that.

Broccolini and Burrata Salad

Source: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller (adapted slightly)


  • 1 pound broccolini,  thick ends removed and remaining stems peeled slightly, as in photo above
  • 3 large cremini mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup black Cerignola olives (it’s pretty important to get this particular kind because they are milder than most other olives. Whole Foods carries them on the olive bar.)
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • Burrata cheese (the smallest round you can find, but you will definitely have leftovers)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sherry vinaigrette (see recipe below)


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously before adding broccolini. While water is coming to a boil, prepare a large bowl of ice water. When water boils, add the broccolini and blanch until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Submerge broccolini in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Cut the mushroom caps into paper-thin slices. I used a sharp paring knife, but the book suggests that a Japanese mandoline also works well. Place in a small bowl.

3. Cut all 4 sides of each olive away from the pit in flat slices. Lay the slices flat-side-down and cut into thin slices, as seen in photo above.

4. Lay the broccolini in a single layer on a plate and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette (see recipe below). Toss with your hands to coat. Sprinkle with additional salt or pepper if desired. Add 1 Tbsp. vinaigrette to the bowl with the mushrooms, and toss to coat, adding a bit more if needed. Move broccolini to serving platter and top with marinated mushrooms, then sliced olives.

5. Place the burrata in a small serving bowl. Using kitchen shears, cut a small X in the top of the burrata to expose the creamy center. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Add the bowl of burrata to the serving platter. Serve salad with tongs and a spoon for the burrata. Each person can top their own serving with the burrata.

Sherry vinaigrette

Whisk together 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar and 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Stream in about 1/2 cup olive oil (the dressing will still look slightly broken – do not emulsify completely), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in more olive oil if dressing is too tart. Unused dressing for the recipe above will save in the fridge.


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There is something so summery about a homemade burger and fries. Plus, I recently came around to liking sweet potatoes. I never liked them in the typical sweet, marshmallow-y preparations, but it turns out that I love them made into oven fries and dipped in spicy ketchup (which I make by simply combining ketchup and Sriracha). The sweet-spicy combination is addictive, so I am always looking for new burger and sandwich ideas to serve with sweet potato oven fries. When I saw these fig-glazed burgers with caramelized onions on The Bitten Word, I added them to my menu plan for the next week right away.

My main deviation from the original recipe was to use turkey instead of beef. We no longer purchase standard commercial beef, plus I just think that poultry lends itself especially well to fruit accents. I also used sweet onion instead of red onion because I happened to be shopping at Trader Joe’s, and they only had red onions in bulk bags that week. Either would be equally tasty, but the red onions in the original are a little prettier. By the way, I thought Trader Joe’s would be a prime place to find fig preserves, but they did not have this item. I had to go to the regular grocery store, where I found it in Bonne Maman brand. I apologize for the low light in this picture – this was a late night dinner for us, so there was no natural light left. This recipe was just too good not to share, though. It’s just a great combination of flavors on a burger. If you’re looking for an unusual spin on a burger, try this one!

Fig-Glazed Turkey Burgers with Onion Jam

Adapted from: The Bitten Word, originally from Southern Living


Onion Jam

  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  •  1/2 tsp. dried thyme


  •  Cooking spray
  •  3/4  pound  ground turkey
  •  1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  •  salt and pepper
  •  1/4  tsp.  garlic powder
  •  1 ½ Tbsp.  fig preserves
  • 2 Muenster cheese slices
  • 2  hamburger buns, toasted


1. First, prepare onion jam: Heat olive oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once shimmering, add onions, sprinkle with salt, and saute about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. Reduce heat to low; stir in sugar, vinegar, and thyme. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until onion is very tender. If onions become too dry at any point, add a little water. Set aside, covered.

2. While onions are simmering on low, prepare burgers: Spray grill pan or grill with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.  Form turkey into 2 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.

3. Grill patties. On my cast-iron grill pan indoors, they take about 7-8 minutes per side, or 15 minutes total. They would probably cook a little faster on an outdoor grill. Once the patties are cooked through with no trace of pink, use a basting brush to brush them with the fig preserves. Let cook about 30 seconds, then top with cheese; cover and grill 1-2 more minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve burgers on buns with onion jam. I also added a little bit of mayonnaise to the bottom buns, but this is totally optional.

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