June 19, 2011

Father's Day, Animal Style

A couple of weeks ago, my fantastic friends Ian and Shelley had me over to their house to make In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal-Style Burgers. The double-double has two patties and two slices of cheese, and animal style means that instead of an onion slice, you get a schmear of chopped onions caramelized to jelly texture, pickles, and the beef patties are topped with mustard before they're fried.

Even though In-N-Out finally came to Texas, I hadn't had an In-N-Out burger since 2007 in Las Vegas, and I hadn't eaten a California In-N-Out burger since the early 1990s. Wow, I'm getting old! But we followed a very scientific approach to recreate the burgers, spending hours caramelizing the onions, making a homemade sauce, weighing the beef and forming the patties, and so forth. I'm not sure if it was because I know how much love went into those burgers or because I had gotten hungry waiting to taste the final product, but those hamburgers were fantastic! No way can the In-N-Out burger be better than this homemade one.

Later that evening and the next couple of days, I still couldn't get the burger out of my mind. So I decided we needed to make them at my house for Father's Day.

I got up early Sunday morning and chopped onions, four big ones to be exact. I think I'm building up my resistance to onions. It used to be when I chopped onions that I cried like I'd just broken up with my first boyfriend. Now I cry like the old spinster I am, two tears and "I'll find another guy, er, onion." The chopped onions need to cook for a couple of hours to get the nice caramelization that you want. I should have started with a smaller dice and cooked the onions a little more slowly. They cooked down to a fraction of their original size as they should, but the texture was not quite right. Later that morning, I was standing by Katie and she said, "You smell like onions." Oops. Didn't have a chance to wash the onion scent out of my hair before church.

Father's Day Hamburgers Father's Day Hamburgers
Father's Day Hamburgers Father's Day Hamburgers

Next I made the special burger sauce with mayonnaise, ketchup, sweet relish, vinegar, and sugar. I formed the patties in the afternoon not long before we were going to eat. As for the beef, this part is important, you must use very fatty chuck steak. The guide we followed suggested the equivalent of 60/40 lean to fat. I asked them to grind it for me at United. Another important part of the process is to use a good old cast iron pan to grill on. At Ian and Shelley's and on Father's Day, we used a well-seasoned 10" Wagner Ware skillet that worked beautifully. I can't remember exactly how I inherited that piece, but thank you, thank you to my benefactor.

Place the patties in the skillet, and then squeeze a teaspoon or two of mustard on top. After you flip them, top patties with a slice of that old favorite, yellow American cheese, which bubbles and melts superbly.

Father's Day Hamburgers

The dads at the table got triple-triple burgers instead of double-double. We had fries and vanilla malts on the side, so this meal was not to be taken lightly!

Father's Day Hamburgers

After dinner, I think everyone except for Nancy and me took a nap. Nancy and I were playing and dancing to music. I said the beef made me strong. I don't know what happened to those others who were beaten by the beef.

Recipe here.

June 11, 2011

Boston Cream Pie, No, Cake!

I bugged Katie to tell me what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday party. She perused one of my cake cookbooks, Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, and chose Boston Cream Pie.

Boston Cream Pie and the famous Parker House rolls were invented at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, which has a plaque by their front door declaring it the longest continuously operating hotel in the United States. I passed it on the street last fall when I visited Boston.

Parker House Hotel

Here's the thing about Boston Cream Pie - it isn't a pie at all. This made for some funny conversations on the phone with Mom when we were talking about party plans.

Mom: So do you want to bring the pie out to my house to serve?
Kimberly: You mean the cake?
Mom: Oh, I thought you were making a pie.
Kimberly: No, I'm making a cake. A Boston Cream Pie.
Mom: So you are making a pie?
Kimberly: No, a cake.

Katie Birthday 2011

This particular version of the Boston Cream Pie had three layers of vanilla chiffon cake with vanilla custard filling, topped by a thick bittersweet chocolate ganache. Chiffon cake is somewhat similar to angel food cake, but it uses oil and egg yolks so it is more moist than angel food.

For dinner, we met at Abuelo's where Nancy hit the salsa pretty hard all night.

Katie Birthday 2011

Then back to my house for birthday cake/pie.

Katie Birthday 2011

The cake was pretty good. I think the chiffon cake recipe needs some tweaks. It was a little too dry. And the best part of a cream pie is the cream, so the custard to cake ratio needs to be increased. The chocolate was a tad too bitter for my taste. I think everyone liked it pretty well. Nancy had no problems diving in.

Katie Birthday 2011

I love living so close to my family. One of my favorite things to do is spend time with Katie and her little family. I couldn't ask for better siblings. I love them so much. As we've all gotten older, I'm most glad that we've become the best of friends. Happy birthday, Katie!

Happy Birthday