Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blue Cheese Burger with a Whiskey Cherry Sauce

I'm not sure if I'll be able to eat a burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles again without missing this one.  Last week my husband had a craving for burgers.  I had gone to Central Market this year for grill week and tried a burger that had a grilled peach on it.  I loved it and immediately made a note to try this the next time we have burgers.  As I was getting out all the typical burger condiments, I realized we had some leftover cherry sauce that I had made to go on top of pork chops earlier that week, lavender mustard I had brought back from Paris a while ago, spinach that was starting to look droopy, and some leftover blue cheese from a wine and cheese party I hosted for my girlfriends.  Thus, the perfect burger was born!! 

Immediately after my first bite I had to text two of my friends right away to tell them how wonderful it was and beg them to make something similar SOON!  Below is how I made my burger.  Of course my husband ended up topping his burger with and egg and wouldn't come near mine with the blue cheese, so the amounts listed below are for 1 burger, except the cherry sauce (which would probably be good for about 4 burgers).  The burger ended up being opened faced because I wasn't terribly hungry, and we were out of hamburger buns so I made it on some whole grain bread we had.  I'm not sure if this would be a good pick up and eat burger anyway, so it worked out well. 

Ground beef, formed into patties
whole grain bread, toasted
lavender mustard, or some other kind of good mustard
2 cups spinach
1/2 peach, sliced
blue cheese
Whiskey Cherry Sauce:
1 tsp oil
1 shallot
1 cup cherries, pitted
1/4 cup whiskey
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs honey
4 Tbs water, divided
1 tsp cornstarch
salt & pepper


Whiskey Cherry Sauce:

In a small sauce pan heat oil over medium heat and saute shallot until soft. 

Add the cherries, whiskey, vinegar, mustard, thyme, honey, 2 Tbs water, and a pinch of salt. 

Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes, slightly mashing the cherries a bit with a spoon. 

Separately make a slurry with the cornstarch and water and add to the cherry mixture and stir constantly until thickened.


Grill your burgers to the doneness that you like.

Slice your peach and grill for 3-4 min per side.

Add about 1/4 of the cherry sauce, and 2 cups of spinach to a saute pan and saute until the spinach is wilted.

When the burger is almost done, I like to top it with the blue cheese before I take it off the grill so the cheese gets a little melty.  Then I top it with the grilled peach slices before placing it on a toasted slice of bread with the lavender mustard (or any other type of mustard you prefer)

Finish the burger off with the spinach and cherry sauce saute and get ready for pure bliss!

Even though I am not a huge meat/burger person, I think we will be having burgers again sometime very soon so I can make this again.  :)

Please excuse the quality of the pictures.  Someone (being myself) had all the camera's elsewhere as I made this burger so I grabbed my husband's Iphone and made do.  :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

The BEST chocolate cake ever!

Last weekend was a family filled weekend.  On Saturday, my newest nephew was baptised and I got to make a cake for that celebration. 

After the baptism, I got to watch my niece get soo excited about eating broccoli.  She is only nine months old and rejected the broccoli that had cheese sauce on it, and loved the plane broccoli!!!!!!!  Her parents are obviously teaching her good eating habits. :-)

On Sunday we had a book signing party for my grandmother and I got to make a cake for it.  My aunt has worked tirelessly for the past 4 or 5 YEARS writing up my grandmother's memoirs, finally finished, and had them put into a book. 

My grandmother is definitely someone who I think if we grew up together we would be inseparable.  She is hilarious!  She enjoys movies like "Dumb and Dumber", and "Legally Blonde". She taught me how to play London bridges, backgammon, and bake bread.  When my parents went out of town, we would get to spend the weekend at her house, I would get to sleep in this huge room with a California King size bed, and thick curtains that didn't let an ounce of light in.  My grandparents would let me sleep in as long as I wanted, and then when I got up, my grandpa would always treat us to donuts for breakfast from the local bakery.  I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house growing up, especially when we moved to the country and they lived in town.  I would go to their house after school in between all my extra-curricular activities.  Teaching my grandmother the new slang was ALWAYS entertaining.  I remember one time I was whining to her about going to work and having this one annoying guy hit on me.  She was absolutely appalled and told me that I should punch him back!  She thought he was literally hitting me!
This cake has appeared in many forms. If I ever have an occasion where a chocolate cake is requested this is the one I make.  The first time I made this was for my cousin's birthday years ago. 

Her father, lets just call him uncle chef, complimented me on it, so I knew I had a winner. 

Over the years, every time I make it, it never lets me down.  It's graced many birthday tables:

A baby shower:

...and most recently, my grandmothers book signing:

For the occasion, I chose the most solid recipe I have. It is the Hershey's chocolate cake recipe that I have only very slightly modified to make my own. The first couple of times I made it, I thought I had messed it up, but it ends up turning out perfectly moist every single time! 


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp instant coffee


Preheat oven to 350-F.  Line two 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and then grease and flour them.

Mix all the dry ingredients except for the instant coffee.

Add the eggs, milk, and oil to the dry ingredients and beat for about 2 minutes.

Separately add instant coffee to the boiling water.  Mix the boiling water into the rest of the batter.  (Note that the batter will be really thin.)

Pour batter into prepared cake pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes until done.  Cool 10 minutes in pan, and then place on wire racks.  Once cakes are completely cool, ice them and enjoy.  Though I want to throw out the fact that this cake is moist enough that it's just as tasting with no icing and some powdered sugar sprinkled over it for presentation.

Once you try this cake you will understand why I have no desire to try making any other chocolate cake recipes. It is so easy to put together and it comes out perfect EVERY time!

Happy Baking!

Amanda's Tips:
Most recipes tell you to bake cakes until the toothpick comes out clean.  Though that's a way to make sure the cake is done, the problem with that is it usually means it's slightly overdone.  The cake will continue to cook just a bit once you pull it out of the oven, so it's best to pull it out when there is just a tad left on the toothpick.