Friday, June 29, 2007

Caramelized Onion and Poblano Enchiladas

I was in a sharing mood today, so I thought I'd drop by and offer up another recipe. I just typed this one up for a friend, and thought it warranted a posting. This recipe isn't anything new from our repertoire. But it is a recipe that we come back to, time and time again. Everyone who samples these enchiladas loves them. And they appeal as well to the carnivorous crowd as they do to veggie lovers.

Caramelized Onion and Poblano Enchiladas
Inspired by a recipe by Jack Bishop
Serving Size: 4 as a main course

1 tablespoon canola or corn oil
1 pound onions (about 3 medium) -- halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese –- shredded (about 2 cups)
4 oz. Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
3 poblano peppers
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves -- chopped
10 6-inch corn tortillas
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 can/jar of your favorite enchilada/red sauce

Preheat the broiler. Place poblano peppers on a cookie sheet and place about 4 inches beneath the broiler. Allow all sides of the poblano skins to blister and blacken, turning about every 7 minutes or so. When poblanos are well spotted, put them in a brown lunch bag and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes. When poblanos have cooled slightly, peel the skin from each, running under water as necessary to remove blackened bits. Slice open and remove stem and seeds. Slice into thin ribbons.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, sugar and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned deeply and very soft, about 15 minutes. Scrape the onions into a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, mix thoroughly, and allow to cool. When mixture is close to room temperature, add the sliced poblanos, about half of the cheese and the cilantro to the bowl with the onions and toss to combine.

Move the oven racks to the lower-middle and the upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 300°F. Divide the tortillas among 2 large rimmed baking sheets and generously spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray. Bake the tortillas for 3 minutes, or until pliable to roll easily. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

Spread half of the chile sauce evenly across the bottom of a 13" x 9" glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange the heated tortillas on a work surface. Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon about ¼ cup of the onion filling across the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla very tightly (the ends will be open) and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Spoon the remaining sauce over the filled tortillas, making sure the sauce coats each tortilla from end to end. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup (2 ounces) of cheese over the filled tortillas. Cover the baking dish with foil and place it on the upper-middle rack of the oven. Bake until the enchiladas are hot, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and uncover the pan. Serve.

We love this served with some freshly made guacamole and sour cream.

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©BURP! Where Food Happens

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lamb burgers with succulent fresh figs

So, we've been busy here in the kitchen of BURP!

It all started with a trip to the grocery store on Monday, when we spied the first fresh mission figs of the season. The deep purple beauties were absolutely perfect -- ripe and succulent, with little sign of bruising. This is a relative rarity here in Wisconsin -- which is far from the growing regions of the fabulous fig. So, we were enthralled, and decided that we HAD to buy them. Lo remembered something about a lamb recipe she'd run across that used fresh figs, so we picked up a pound of ground lamb as well -- figuring we'd put our heads together and think of something for dinner that evening.

After much discussion, Peef and Lo decided to make lamb burgers. What to do with the figs? Well, why not chop them finely and add them to the patties? Despite any of the trepidation we first felt about the fruit/meat combo, it turned out that this was a brilliant plan.

These babies are our favorite lamb burgers so far! They are juicy and flavorful. And the figs, paired with a bit of bleu cheese, provide a great sweet-salty contrast that takes them over the top. YUM.

Lamb burgers with fresh figs
1 lb ground lamb
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt black pepper - to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar
4-5 fresh figs, chopped

crusty rolls
bleu cheese (we used buttermilk bleu)

Combine all but figs in a medium bowl and work lamb with your hands to combine. Add the figs and mix gently until well incorporated. Form ground lamb into four patties, and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat grill pan or charcoal grill to medium-high. Grill burgers for 4-5 minutes/side (medium to medium rare) -- or until cooked to your liking.

Serve burgers on a nice, crusty roll topped with crumbled bleu cheese.

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©BURP! Where Food Happens

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Story of Burp! The Imaginary Restaurant

So, how does the notion of an imaginary restaurant get started?
Well... the idea has been percolating for a long, long, time.

For as long as we can recall, Peef has wanted his own coffee shop. Throughout high school, he collected ashtrays and coffee cups as preparation for his grande plan — a wild, bohemian place filled with black coffee and beautiful women. A place of beat poets and jam sessions. A dirty little corner affair that stayed open late in the evening and catered to an artsy fartsy college crowd. But alas, the days of the coffee house grew tired. And the Seattle coffee craze became a trend of the past. And Paul gave up his cappuccino dreams ...

BUT THEN, in the spring of 2003, a restaurant went up for sale in Peef and Lo's neighborhood. Peef's eyes lit up in dayglow, and he began to chatter endlessly about the possibilities. They would quit their jobs. And start a restaurant. It would be fabulous.

As he put it to Lo — “It would be SO cool. We could have a restaurant SLASH coffee and jazz bar. During the week we would just serve appetizers and drinks and coffee. And we’d feature little live quartets and ensembles for entertainment. And on weekends, we would have a full-blown gourmet menu.”

He even started analyzing our daily meals — to see which of the entrees might be WORTHY to appear on the regular menu. The turkey-apple meatloaf that Lo discovered one night made it onto the menu. As did the fried calimari with aioli from New Year’s Eve. Lo’s “Mexican” tiramisu (served in oversized coffee cups) also made a big impression.

THEN came the discussion of NAMING the place. Peef and Lo went through any number of names before deciding on something very simple… “How about BURP! ?” The name evoked a sense of dietary satisfaction. It was a bit rough — but definitely not too derogatory. And it definitely didn’t make the place sound stuffy.

We could establish BURP! as a place for GOOD food, GOOD times, and free thinking. It was an excellent plan. And best of all — we could use the visage of a BABY for our namesake. It would be cute. Hip. And very cute.

So -- to make a long story short, the idea of BURP! really came up as kind of a joke — a random musing on a dull night. But somehow, the dream has stuck. And it won’t go away. So, I guess we’re somewhat obligated to cultivate it.

The way we have it figured, staying home and thinking about menu items will keep us from any number of other self-deprecating activities. It’s kind of like our anti-drug, so to speak. So, I think there could be a real future in this pastime.

I mean, come on — an imaginary restaurant. There are weirder things…. Right?

Ultimately, we're just two hopeless food geeks who harbor a genuine love for delicious (sustainable) edibles. We're not fancy, or fussy. But, we do love to create new and wonderful things in the kitchen. We keep the dream of BURP! alive through daily experimentation, and we share our successes (and failures) with you.

Email us at peefandlo(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

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©BURP! Where Food Happens