Lamb, Feta, and Mint Burgers with Sweet Potato Hummus

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These scrumptious burgers are brought to you by none other than CSA share numero cinco – particularly, the ground lamb, the fresh mint, and the bonita sweet potatoes. I got a little carried away with the fixings: sweet potato hummus, tzatziki, and kalamata olive & sun-dried tomato tapenade. Because the burgers were so flavorful on their own, I paired them with only the hummus, spring mix, and tomato to keep them relatively simple. The tzatziki and tapenade, on the other hand, were enjoyed with pita chips. This meal was the bomb dot com and made for a unique twist on a Mediterranean feast.

Note: The hummus recipe yields a significant amount of hummus, i.e. plenty leftover for snacking. The burger recipe yields two patties, but it can be easily multiplied to suit your needs.

PART 1: THE HUMMUS

What you’ll need:

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Himalayan salt to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and microwave for 3 minutes, or until tender
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth

PART 2: THE BURGERS

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb. ground lamb
  • 3/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 a shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Desired amount of cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup spring mix
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 hamburger buns (the wheat brioche hamburger buns from Whole Foods are so yum)

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the grill on medium heat; meanwhile, combine the ground lamb, feta, mint, shallot, egg, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl; when thoroughly mixed, form into two equal-sized patties
  • Once the grill is heated, lightly oil the grate; grill the burgers for approximately 10 minutes on each side, or until the meat is cooked through
  • Place the burgers onto the buns, spread a generous amount of hummus on top; layer on the spring mix and tomato

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Prosciutto, Brussels Sprouts, and Truffle Oil Flatbread with Balsamic Glaze

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It’s been far too long since I’ve featured a flatbread. However, it’s key to point out that since my last flatbread-related post, I’ve invested in a pizza stone and am so happy that I did. If you’re into crispy, perfectly golden-brown crust, I highly recommend getting one yourself.

Anyway, this flatbread in particular is a shining example of balanced flavors. The saltiness of the prosciutto combined with the bitterness of the Brussels sprouts combined with the sweetness of the balsamic glaze really make this thing work.  And, I think it goes without saying that truffle oil is almost always perfect for adding that extra something, something. Buon appetito!

PART 1: THE DOUGH

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. pure cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. grape seed oil

What you’ll do:

  • Combine warm water and yeast in a small bowl; stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; mix together with a whisk
  • Add yeast mixture and grape seed oil to the large bowl; mix with a hand mixer until the dough forms
  • On a well-floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary
  • Form the dough into the shape of a disk; place in a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth; allow to rise for at least 2 hours

Note: If you’re using a pizza stone, be sure to preheat the stone in the oven for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling out the dough.

PART 2: THE FLATBREAD

What you’ll need:

  • Dough
  • 1 tbsp. truffle oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 4 slices prosciutto, torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
  • Balsamic glaze (To make, bring 2 cups of balsamic vinegar to a boil. Then, turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until thickened to the consistency of syrup. Pour into a squeeze bottle, and voila! I assure you, you’ll use it for just about everything.)

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 ºF; meanwhile, roll the dough onto a baking sheet
  • Next, brush the truffle oil onto the dough
  • Then, sprinkle the mozzarella over the truffle oil, and sprinkle the chopped brussels over the mozzarella
  • Lastly, arrange the prosciutto as pictured
  • Cook in the oven for approximately 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown
  • Drizzle desired amount of balsamic glaze over the flatbread just prior to serving

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Simple Pleasures Sunday, Part IV

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36 Hours. This series is phenomenal. Barbara Ireland, once a travel editor for The New York Times, chronicles the best way to spend long weekends (hence the title 36 Hours) in various cities around the globe. As a plus, they make for lovely decor and are beautifully illustrated. There are several volumes, including Asia & Oceania, Latin America & The Caribbean, and Europe. However, as long weekends in the USA & Canada are most practical for me given my locale, that is the volume that I started with. I’m hooked and can’t wait to collect them all.

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Meyer Lemons. Oh, Meyer lemon season. How I love thee. If you use fresh lemon juice regularly and haven’t acquainted yourself with Meyer lemons, do it. Now. Native to China, this delectable fruit is thought to be a cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges. As such, they are more sweet and juicy than your typical lemon. Meyer lemon season spans from December to May, so be sure to try them while you can. They’re perfect for adding some flair to salad dressings, cocktails, and hot tea. But really, the options are endless. I’m thinking that Meyer lemon dessert bars are in my future.

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Serial. If you haven’t heard about Serial, download and listen immediately. If you’ve heard about Serial and are resistant to the idea of a podcast (as I once was), download and listen immediately. I’m convinced that Serial has forever changed the world of podcasting. It’s compelling from start to finish, and so much so that listening without having an accompanying visual becomes more than tolerable. I listened over three days – on the bus, while running errands, as I was falling asleep at night. I couldn’t get enough. It’s free to download on iTunes and free to stream on serialpodcast.org. I’m already stoked for Season 2, set to air by the end of 2015.

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Mongo Kiss Lip Balm. Thank goodness I found this visual so that I don’t need to type out the countless ways in which this lip balm is superiorly made. In addition to being organic, fair trade, etc., with ingredients like cocoa butter and mongongo oil, it works  – even amidst harsh winter weather. The best part: it can be purchased for a mere $1.99 at Whole Foods.

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Spotify Premium. You’re probably thinking, “Duh. Everyone’s heard of Spotify by now.” And I get that. But for me, Spotify Premium has been a game changer. I used to agonize over keeping my iTunes library up-to-date and organized. Furthermore, when it got to the point that I had to start deleting albums from my devices due to lack of space, it was straight up frustrating. I started building my music library in 9th grade and was suddenly forced to kiss part of my collection goodbye. It was rough. Luckily, my cousin Mike, a fellow music junkie, talked some sense into me and convinced me to make the switch to Spotify premium. Leaving only my absolute favorite albums behind, the majority of my iTunes library was trashed. While it was gut-wrenching, I simply followed the artists on Spotify as I deleted them on iTunes. Now I can stream and download nearly everything I want to on a whim without having to deal with the stress of not having enough space on my devices. Totes worth the extra $9.99 per month.

Stuffed Cabbage with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Consistent with recent posts, this dish was inspired by my latest CSA share – particularly, the cabbage. and more specifically, the Late Flat Dutch cabbage. I rarely buy cabbage, so I was at somewhat of a loss as to what I should do with it. Then, I remembered my mom making stuffed cabbage once upon a time and loving it. Problem solved. However, having no idea where to start, I read through countless recipes until I crafted one of my own.

Ironically enough, it wasn’t until I was eating my stuffed cabbage that I learned the origin of this dish. On two separate occasions, a roommate and a coworker questioned what I was eating. When I replied, “stuffed cabbage,” they replied, “halupki?!” Uh, maybe? As it turns out, yes. Halupki is the traditional word for stuffed cabbage, which is a traditional Polish dish. I always joke that I’m a grandma; now, we’ll stick to babushka, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, in the middle of cooking, I was so nervous that I was burning the sauce, yet I had to allow for ample cooking time to ensure that the meat and rice were cooked through. Luckily, I kicked my nerves to the curb and cooked the dish as planned. After tasting the sauce, I realized that the sauce had caramelized instead of burned. The result was a nutty, mildly sweet flavor that complimented the bitterness of the cabbage and the savoriness of the meat so well. This, ladies and gents, is why I love experimental cooking. Rest assured, the meat and rice were cooked perfectly, too.

I must say, this dish was super yummy. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I hate leftovers, so the fact that I ate stuffed cabbage for lunch four days in a row certainly says something. While stuffed cabbage is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, I did without them. To me, two cabbage rolls were extremely fulfilling on their own.

Note: This recipe makes four servings, as one serving consists of two cabbage rolls.

PART 1: THE SAUCE

What you’ll need:

  • 28 oz. fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. pure cane sugar
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot
  • Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for one hour

PART 2: THE STUFFED CABBAGE

What you’ll need:

  • 8 green cabbage leaves
  • 1 lb. ground meat (I went with lamb, but any meat will do)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain brown rice
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt as desired

What you’ll do:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil; meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water; blanch the cabbage leaves in the boiling water for one minute; then, immediately place the blanched leaves in ice water; once cooled, drain and pat dry
  • Combine the meat, egg, onion, rice, pepper, and salt in a mixing bowl; divide into eight equally-sized cylinders
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F; meanwhile, place one of the cylinders near the bottom of a cabbage leaf, fold the sides up, and roll into a neat bundle; repeat this process seven more times
  • Add a generous layer of sauce to the bottom of a glass baking dish; next, add the stuffed cabbage, seam facing downward; cover the cabbage rolls with the remaining sauce
  • Bake for two hours, rotating the baking dish halfway through

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