Home made burgers

This week has been manic – normal work, extra work in the evenings to help a friend for a fortnight, man flu and local flooding have all played their part. So far we are 2 out of 4 on the meal planning front. One quick and easy recipe to fall back on is burgers. We had take away chips from the pub and shop bought buns to keep things simple.
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Chilli con Carne

I doubt this recipe has any authenticity to it but it is a dish we enjoy, comfort food in one of its best forms. There was also enough leftovers to turn into a pasta bake the next day.

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Bolognese with mac n cheese

We needed comfort food that used up some mince, I didn’t fancy burgers or meatballs. Bolognese is always a winner but for a change I decided to do something along the lines of the Other Half’s mother’s mince and macaroni.
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Bolognese is something the Other Half usually does, not least of all as his tastes a lot better than mine. Probably because I do things like forget to put in garlic and herbs whilst I’m running round the kitchen not looking at a recipe. Tonight’s was OK and, due to the macaroni in cheese sauce on top, tasted more like lasagne than our normal bolognese. He had two helpings and the child had three so it certainly seems like a dish that went down well.

Ingredients

Onion, diced
Leek, finely sliced
Carrot, diced
500g mince
Worcestershire sauce, dash
Soy sauce, dash
50ml red wine
Tinned tomatoes
Tomato soup
Macaroni
Tbsp butter
Tbsp plain flour
1 pint milk
150g cheese

Fry onion, leek and carrot until softened, if you don’t forget to include garlic then add a chopped clove or two at this point. Dry mixed herbs are also a good addition or add fresh basil at the end. Add the mince and stir until browned. Stir in the wine and sauces until bubbling then add the tinned tomatoes and soup. Bring to the boil and then simmer. Normally I would simmer for 20 minutes covered and 10 uncovered but we went to visit friends so it got abandoned on the woodburner for an hour or so instead.

Whilst the bolognese is bubbling away, cook the macaroni, drain and place to one side. As I don’t like washing up, I rinsed the pan and then used it for a cheese sauce. Melt the butter, whisk in flour, cook off for a minute then whisk in milk slowly until all incorporated. Let this heat up for 5 minutes or so (without boiling) and then stir in half the cheese. Cook off for another few minutes before stirring in the pasta.
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I used an enamel pot so I could transfer straight from hob to oven which I meant I could pile the pasta straight on top of the sauce, otherwise empty the bolognese into an oven dish, top with pasta. Either way, add extra cheese before putting in a pre warmed oven on roughly Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes.
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It’s all (meat)balls!

The Other Half is out so a relatively quick and definitely easy dinner is required for me and the small person. Meatballs it is then! This is the same recipe I use to make burgers (fry 4 minutes each side) which are also super quick.

Ingredients

For the meatballs:
500g minced beef
1 mushroom
1 rasher bacon
1 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp red onion marmalade
1 dash Soy Sauce
1 dash Worcestershire Sauce
Black pepper

For the sauce:
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp golden syrup
1 tbsp double cream (optional)
100ml red wine

Fry and chop the rasher of bacon then mix all of the meatball ingredients, how many you make depends on the size of the ball, I got 14 out of the mix this time. I also prefer to get my hands in as I find mixing by hand incorporates everything together better.

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Put this to one side to rest and start on the sauce. Fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and after a minute add the red wine. Once this has reduced (by at least half) throw in the chopped tomatoes. As I wanted extra sauce I used a large onion and 2 tins of tomato, otherwise 1 is more than enough. Allow to warm through. As tomatoes can be a little bitter, I usually add a splodge of Golden Syrup, but if I don’t have any a teaspoon of sugar will do. If you want the extra sauce, you could even use tomato soup in place of the second tin of tomatoes.

Decant this into a bowl, clean the frying pan and blend the sauce. You could brown off the meatballs before the wine and tomatoes are added and not bother with this step, but I prefer the look and texture of the blended sauce.

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Brown the meatballs (gently turning once as they fall apart fairly easily) then add the sauce back in and simmer for around 10 minutes until done. Serve with pasta of your choice, we have linguine rather than spaghetti.

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If you use this mix to make burgers rather than meatballs, forming the burger around a ball of cheese like mozzarella keeps the burger nice and moist. If you’ve used good, fresh mince don’t be afraid to serve the burger medium rare either, it’s usually a nicer flavour!

Less cooking and not many more cars

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5 days. I feel like I’ve abandoned my blog but it’s only been 5 days. I can understand the comment made on an earlier blog about feeling like you are having an affair with WordPress (although I have told my other half that I blog now.)

Part of the reason for the lack of blogging is that since the last one, we’ve eaten at the local pub or I’ve been away playing with cars, more about that later.

We did manage to spend one night at home so I cooked mince beef enchiladas as we had some wraps and mince beef in the fridge.

500g mince beef
4-5 wraps (depending on the size of your oven dish)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tins of tomatoes
100g cheese
Onion, chopped
Handful of chopped mushroom
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Red Pepper
Oil

Gently fry the onion in the oil until it starts to soften, then add the pepper, garlic and mushrooms. Once that’s all starting to soften too, add the mince, increase the heat slightly and fry until brown. Mix in the spices then add one of the tin of tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. You could also add a splash of red wine before the tomatoes or some Dark Soy Sauce with the tomatoes.

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Once the sauce is ready, put roughly a ladleful in the middle of a wrap and parcel it up. The wraps have a habit of sticking to the bottom of tray so I also spread a small ladleful of mixture in the bottom of the tray. Once you have filled a tray in a single layer, pour another tin of tomatoes over the top (I prefer these blended but you can leave them as normal or use passata instead) then cover with as much cheese as you want. Put into a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 6 for about 15 minutes by which point the cheese should be starting to brown. Stick under the grill to crisp up some more, if needed, then serve.

One experiment the Other Half and I were talking about trying is using wraps instead of pasta sheets next time we make lasagne but that will wait a month or two!

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And the car bit….yesterday I went to a sprint at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) and its a slightly odd place. Its great for drivers as the bit we use for the sprint has a super grippy surface, but there’s no spectators and cameras are banned. We get a nifty little blue sticker to cover the lens for phone cameras. Saturday was more modern machinery and not really my favourite place or spectacle. Next weekend is the British Hillclimb Championship round locally so should provide a little more entertainment.