Super Bowl Food: Cheeseburger Filo Squares

Cathy from Noble Pig was craving a Big Mac. Sauce included. But she wanted a lighter version of the real thing and she also wanted it to be more of an appetizer. This recipe is the result. It was fun to make and fun to eat. But is it lighter than a Big Mac? Hmmmm. Not at all sure about that. There's a whole lot of cheese and butter in there! 

The filo crust instead of a bun is genius, no question. And her sauce is fabulous. Maybe better than the real thing. Perfect for Super Bowl snacking, isn't it? The thing is, you do have to serve it right away; it can't sit around waiting. 

Cheeseburger Filo Squares with Copycat Big Mac Sauce

From Cathy at Noble Pig

7 sheets filo dough, thawed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded 
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-3/4 pound ground beef, (85/15 lean)
1 bag (16 oz) shredded iceberg lettuce
1-1/4 cups diced dill pickle
1 cup diced onion
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
salt and black pepper to taste
12 slices American cheese

Copycat Big Mac Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup hamburger relish (it's sweet-found next to the pickle relish)
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking tray (rimmed 11 x 17 works best) with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking-oil spray. 
Lay 1 sheet filo on paper and brush lightly with a little melted butter. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Repeat layering 5 more times (with filo, butter and cheddar), pressing each sheet firmly so it sticks to sheet below. Lay the last filo sheet on top, brush with remaining melted butter, and sprinkle on remaining cheddar cheese. Set aside. 
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, cook meat until just cooked. Remove from heat and stir in pickle, onion, lettuce and sesame seeds. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Stir mixture until lettuce wilts and then drain through a sieve. 
Place American cheese slices on top of dough. Leave a little edge. Place meat mixture on top of cheese and bake for 20 minutes until edges are golden brown.
While squares are baking combine all ingredients for the copycat Big Mac Sauce and place in a squeeze bottle.
Once filo is done baking, drizzle with sauce and cut into squares with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately.


Fresh Tomato Soup

Do you remember my mentioning my sister is the soup-maker of the family? She still is (as was my mother), but once in a while, I do make some myself. Not often, though. 
It really surprised me to see 13 soups listed in my blog recipes. While so many people love a cup of soup for lunch....my sister has one every day....it never seems to satisfy me. Perhaps if someone else was making it for me? :) Perhaps I find it bothersome making a pot just for one? Although most soups do freeze beautifully. But even years ago, in Michigan, I didn't make all that many soups for my family; the kids ate lunch at school and everyone wanted something more substantial for dinner. 

Tomato soup was a favorite of my father's but it's one soup I never remember my mother making from scratch; it was always a can of Campbell's tomato. (He also loved Mulligatawny.... one of the original 31 Campbell soups. It was discontinued in the 30's, but I remember him talking about it. Perhaps he thought the name was fun, he was like that....or perhaps he actually liked it so much my mother made it from scratch after it was discontinued. I just don't recall. And Pepper Pot was high on his soup list too, which is more difficult to find these days, but Campbells's does still make it.)

Anyway, I had a craving for tomato soup recently. There are endless recipes to choose from but I turned first to Ina Garten. Ina has several versions but I liked the sound of this particular one and it turned out to be a good choice. It was satisfying, flavorful and not one of those soups that takes 5 hours of simmering.

(I'm sure you'll notice the cheesy bacon bread sticking out of it....I'll have the recipe for that coming up soon.)

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup
From Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics"

3 tablespoons good olive oil 
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions) 
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped 
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) 
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large) 
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish 
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade 
1 tablespoon kosher salt 
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 
3/4 cup heavy cream 
Croutons, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender. 

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with basil leaves and/or croutons. 


Marion Cunningham's Angel Biscuits

Marion Cunningham's Breakfast Book is a breakfast bible as far as I'm concerned. It's been fun working my way through it and there hasn't been a single disappointment so far.

According to Marion, this recipe was probably developed in the nineteenth century because leavening agents back then were not always reliable. So cooks often used more than one leavening agent as insurance. Nowadays, yeast and baking powder are sure-proof, so there's no need to combine them. But when you do, as in this recipe, the result is light as air, therefore the name "Angel" biscuits. Also referred to as double-proof biscuits, you'll find them a snap to make, although they do require 8 hours in the fridge and another hour to rise, so plan ahead. 

Angel Biscuits

From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
5 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk

Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir with a fork to mix. Add the shortening and cut in with a pastry cutter, or use your fingertips, which is what I did. The mixture should look irregular and crumbly.

Add the baking soda to the buttermilk and add to the flour. Stir. Add the yeast mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 8 hours. (I left it in overnight.)
Turn the dough out on a floured board and knead a dozen times. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 2 inch cutter. Place them 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet (I used Pam). Cover and let rise 1 hour.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until browned. Serve hot.


Mushroom, Leek and Fontina Gratin

Gratins are one of my favorite things to make. Any vegetable with a bread crumb topping is a delicious side dish for meat or fish and they are fairly simple to make. Great for entertaining and you can assemble ahead of time, ready to pop in the oven when you need it.

This mushroom gratin is slightly more involved than some gratin recipes, but I love the rye bread in the topping and the fontina and leeks are delicious additions.

Mushroom, Leek, and Fontina Gratin
From Fine Cooking Magazine by Liz Pearson

2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more at room temperature for the dish 
1-1/2 lb. medium to large white mushrooms, quartered (8-1/2 cups) 
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 lb. mixed “wild” mushrooms (such as oyster and shiitake), trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (7 cups) 
1-1/2 cups coarse fresh rye breadcrumbs 
4 oz. coarsely grated fontina (1 cup) 
3 medium to large leeks, trimmed, white and light-green parts only, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 2 cups), and rinsed well 
1/2 cup dry vermouth 
1 cup heavy cream 
4 sprigs fresh sage, plus 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage leaves 

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Butter a 9x13-inch (or similar) baking dish.

In a large bowl, toss the white mushrooms with 2 Tbs. of the oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Spread the white mushrooms evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss the “wild” mushrooms with the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in the bowl and spread on a second large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring the mushrooms and rotating the baking sheets once, until golden-brown and any liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter and pour into a medium bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and fontina and toss well.

In a 12-inch skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring often with a wooden spatula, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the vermouth and boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, sage sprigs, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring just to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes to infuse. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the sage sprigs.

Add the mushrooms and chopped sage to the leek mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared dish. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake in the top third of the oven until the breadcrumbs are golden-brown, about 30 minutes.

Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.


More NYC Restaurants: Blue Hill

I'm going to start off the new year with a bit of old business: another restaurant my daughter treated me to while in NYC: Blue HillBlue Hill restaurant opened in 2000 and is located in Greenwich Village. Hidden three steps below street level, the restaurant was once a "speakeasy" just off of Washington Square Park. Chef/partner Dan Barber is a locavore pioneer. 

Barber has written about creating a consciousness re the effects of everyday food choices and food sustainability. His efforts are brought to Blue Hill, where seasonal produce grown and raised on-site is grilled over wood fuel from the nearby forests. Blue Hill also uses i
ngredients from nearby farms and has a wine list whose producers respect artisanal techniques. If you'd like to see the menu, click HERE.

In 2002, Barber was named one of the Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine. He has received several James Beard Foundation awards, including the 2006 award for Best Chef, New York City and the 2009 award for Outstanding Chef. The James Beard Foundation also named him the top chef in America in 2009. Also in 2009, he was named one of the world’s most influential people in Time Magazine's annual Time 100.

A wonderful article, with fabulous food photos (A much better photo of veggies on a fence than I took with my iPhone.) can be read on this SITE.

As a snack with our wine, we shared Vegetables on a Fence: (Wine and delicious bread sticks in the background)

For starters, Tracy had the brussel sprouts with bresaola and homemade mustard and I had 
the pig liver and venison terrine with greens and cocoa nibs.

For some reason, I didn't take photos of our main courses, but Tracy had braised hake with brussel sprouts, Jerusalem artichokes, pears and hazelnuts; I loved my Raven and Boar's pig with savoy cabbage, sweet potatoes, bacon and caraway.

Desserts? Of course! Tracy's cheese tray:

And my chocolate bread pudding with bourbon ice cream.

The meal was pricey, but worth every penny. As you can see if you clicked on the menu, the offerings are unusual and the veggies all local and fresh. The meal was well thought out, presented beautifully, the wait staff attentive and helpful. Because of the price, I'd label this a special occasion restaurant. It's small (definitely make reservations if you have the opportunity to go) and intimate. 


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