Making a Local Burger

Good morning!

First off, I’d just like to draw your attention again to our new “Favorites” page, found in the navigation bar at the top of the blog, just under the logo. We’re hoping this comes in handy on nights when you just don’t know what to make for dinner or what to bring to the office the next day for treat. As always, always feel free to let us know what you think and how we can make DC easier for you to use!


Now, if you follow our tweets, then you may have seen me mention that on Saturday I went to a really neat gourmet store/cafe in Charlottesville called Feast! Almost all the food is local. Feast’s mission connects “local farmers, artisan food producers and consumers by specifically sourcing and endorsing hand-made, local and seasonal foods that sustain the viability of farmland and family-owned food businesses.”


So Morgan and I allowed ourselves to indulge a little, and we bought some basil pesto, fancy cheese, & apples. This week I’ll be experimenting with using that cheese, called Red Dragon. Red Dragon is a creamy cheddar made from cow’s milk, containing Welsh brown ale and brown mustard seeds. There’s a bit of horseradish flavor to it; it’s definitely spicy with some good bite (read more about it here, here or here).


I’ve praised Ray’s Hell Burger in Northern Virginia here before – and what makes them stand out is the amazing quality of their ingredients. A burger is a simple thing, but quality beef, unique cheeses and a “just right” bun really makes a difference. Morgan and I used a few slices of the Red Dragon cheese we bought, as well as a pound of local ground chuck. The result was amazing.


We try not to be big beef eaters, so we figure if you’re going to make a burger, you may as well make it the best burger. I cut up some green pepper and onion, also bought at the farmer’s market – keeping with our local theme, and threw them into the patties. Check out some of your local markets soon, and get ready to taste an amazing burger!


Making a Local Burger

1 pound local ground chuck
1 medium-small farmer’s market green pepper
1 medium-small farmer’s market yellow onion
small block of local cheese (something with bite, like Red Dragon)
6 hamburger buns (gasp, we didn’t go local here!)
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon Nature’s Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
dash paprika

Heat a grill pan on medium heat (we don’t have an actual grill, so if you do – go for it!). Dice green pepper and onion and set aside. Add ground chuck to a medium size bowl and combine green pepper, onion, egg and spices. Mix thoroughly with hands. When spices are fully incorporated, form into 6 medium size patties.

Add a small amount of oil to the grill pan and add patties two at a time, cooking for 4-5 minutes on each side (8-10 minutes total), until desired doneness is reached. Enjoy!

Eastern Market is a bit of a cultural icon in the DC area; being one of the oldest farmers markets in the DC area. In 2007 it was ravaged by a 3-alarm fire; practically destroying the south hall, the only original building remaining. This was quite the loss for the community. Sure, there are plenty of markets in the area and they’re all great, but the Eastern Market is THE market of DC.

As the Saints Go Marching In

People have been hard at work to restore the building and this past weekend Eastern Market had its grand reopening. The old building was back in action with all the old vendors (and AC!) and was packed with people. I came out and enjoyed the festivities, picking up some fresh produce for the weekend’s meals.

Children and Bubbles

If you ask me, local in season tomatoes just taste better and when you have a simple recipe like this quality ingredients are important. This summer salad is not your conventional salad; no lettuce to be found here. It’s a nice variation.

Tomato and Onion Salad

Tomato and Onion Salad
Be sure to use fresh, high quality ingredients for this simple recipe.

4-5 small tomatoes
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon high quality vinegar (champagne, white wine vinegar, etc)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut your tomatoes into quarters and your onion twelfths. Combine all your ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine well. Serve with a grinding of black pepper and enjoy.

Crisp and Juicy Curry Chicken

We hope you all enjoyed Rainbow Week! It was a lot of fun for us to do. If you have suggestions about other themes you’d like to see, please let us know!


And now a confession – this is my new favorite dinner recipe. I can’t believe that there was actually was a time when I didn’t really like cumin or curry; now they’re some of my staple spices.

This dinner is so easy and delicious. I like having a bit of crispiness to my chicken, but of course without all the fat that comes with frying and using oil. I coat the chicken with a variety of Indian-style spices and a little bit of plain bread crumbs – it locks in the juiciness of the chicken and provides for some excellent flavors.

I like to serve it with couscous, but it would also go well with steamed rice. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Crisp and Juicy Curry Chicken

For couscous:
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup peas
1-2 cloves garlic
dash salt
whole wheat couscous

For chicken:
1 lb chicken breast, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red curry powder
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine spices for chicken in a small bowl and stir with a fork. Add chicken halves to a gallon Ziploc bag with a tablespoon of water. Add spices to bag and toss gently to coat the chicken (you could dredge the chicken to coat it, but I’ve found I get a much better coating when I use the Ziploc).

Bake chicken for 20 minutes until cooked through. While chicken is baking, saute onions in a small pan for 5 minutes until transcluscent. Cook couscous according to package instructions, toss lightly and add onions, peas, garlic and salt. Cover and keep warm until chicken is ready.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves – Cooking with Winter Vegetables

My husband got me a really interesting new cookbook for Christmas called In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruits by Sarah Raven. I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about ways to cook using vegetables that are in season; a better description of my style would be haphazard or erratic (and let’s face it, I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about vegetables, period). But this is a beautiful book with a lot of great ideas.


For January and February cooking, the book recommends cabbages, chicories, citrus, evergreen herbs and winter salad greens. I decided to try a stuffed cabbage recipe.

rice onions turkey bacon and pork

Back in November, Edwin posted a quasi-Indian style vegetarian cabbage roll dish. This one is pretty different from that (the original recipe author is from Hungary). The recipe in the book called for a lot of things – bacon, ground beef, chopped mixed herbs and sauerkraut. It was my goal to pare it down a bit. I also tried to make it a little healthier, eliminating the bacon for turkey bacon and holding off on the ground beef completely.

cabbage rolls

This was my first dish from this book, and I was a little disappointed at the way the instructions are written. A few of the steps seem to leave a great deal to the imagination. For example, Edwin’s cabbage recipe calls for boiling the cabbage head until the leaves begin separating. My recipe didn’t mention anything about that, and so I found it very difficult to peel off the leaves in one piece. I probably pulled off about 6 large, fat leaves and the rest were moderately ripped and shredded in the process. Hopefully it was just a fluke for this recipe.

I think this turned out well and I will likely make it again. What do you put in your cabbage rolls?

cabbage rolls ready

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
adapted from In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruits
(yields about 20 rolls, total prep and cook time is approx. 1 1/2 hours)

1 cabbage
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup (6 ounces) turkey bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon marjoram, thyme and dill
salt and pepper (dash)
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup cooked long-grain white rice
1 egg, beaten
1 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350F.

(I’ve inserted Edwin’s instructions here for peeling the leaves so that you don’t have the same problem I did) – Core the hard part of the cabbage (the stem mostly) from the base. Boil in a large pot of boiling, salted water. In about 5-10 minutes, when the leaves begin separating, remove from the pot. Let cool.

Remove the thickest part of the cabbage leaves to make them easier to roll.

Fry the turkey bacon in a shallow pan and set aside. In the same pan, add onion, garlic, marjoram, thyme, dill, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper on low heat so as not to burn it.

In a large skillet, combine raw pork, cooked rice, cooked turkey bacon and onion mixture. Add the beaten egg to bind the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Stir occassionally until cooked.

When cooked, place approximately two spoonfuls of the mixture on a cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf, starting from the stem and and tuck in the edges. Place the rolls, seam down, in a shallow baking or casserole dish. Pour brother over the leaves and add bay leaf and a dash of dill. Cook, covered, for approximately one hour.

Think back to the past few weeks in the kitchen and ask yourself which vegetable was used most often. Chances are it was the onion. These suckers are the fundamentals of many recipes, adding a subtle but crucial flavoring to much of what we eat. Plenty of dishes start with the sauteing of onion, celery and carrots, forming what is called by its French term “mirepoix.” Yes, I have worked with many an onion in my time and look forward to many more in the future. Thank you onion, for your awesomeness.

Hollow Red Onion

As amazing and functional as the onion is, it’s often not the star of the show. The onion serves as the background, the ingredient that helps other ingredients shine. In some meals people may not even know the onion is there. There are cases, however, in which the onion does take center stage, and these roasted stuffed onions are a perfect example.

Vegetarian Roasted Stuffed Onions

Vegetarian Roasted Stuffed Onions
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6 large red and yellow onions
2 celery ribs; chopped
2 garlic cloves; minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
8 ounces baby spinach; coarsely chopped
2 cups italian bread; cut in 1/2 inch cubes and lightly toasted (croutons work in a pinch)
8oz can of lima beans; drained (optional)
1/2 stick of butter; melted
1/2 stock of any kind (turkey, perhaps?) or water

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Onion shells: Cut 1/2 inch off the top of each onion and just enough from the bottom so it stands upright. Hollow out the onions using a melon baller; leaving all but 2 or 3 layers. I find the easiest way to do that is scooping out a bit from the center then working out to the edge. Once you’ve got the proper diameter, dig down a bit more and work out again. Repeat until near the bottom.

Place the onions in a glass baking ban with 1/2 cup of water, tightly covered with foil. Roast until the onions are tender, 25-30 minutes. Remove and let cool

Stuffing: While the onions are roasting, take about 2 cups of the scooped out onion and coarsely chop. Saute in a large pan over medium heat with oil, garlic, celery, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes; until soft. Combine with lima beans, butter and stock in a mixing bowl. Let cool enough to handle.

Remove the onions from the baking pan and pour out any excess water. Stuff the onions with your filling until it is heaped up on the top. Take any leftover stuffing and place in the baking pan as “bedding.” Trust me, it’ll still be delicious. Bake onions for about 20 minutes or less, until heated through.