Mikey’s Monday this and that

Some random food thoughts for your Monday morning and to start June…..

I think I’ve had just about enough of the spring vegetables. I love asparagus, peas and various spring greens and herbs. But I think almost every stand at the Dane County Farmer’s Market on Saturday had asparagus. My pee is going to smell funny for a month. But anyway, I’m very ready for the summer onslaught–tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, melon, berries….let’s do this thing.

I made meat loaf last night, but not just any meat loaf….Bobby Flay’s Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf. I made it with 2/3 beef and 1/3 ground turkey and I suddenly remembered why I love this recipe so much. The balsamic vinegar/ketchup glaze on top is so good that it’s making my mouth water right now. Next time you are in the mood for meat loaf, you HAVE to try this recipe.

Two summer food shows have started their new seasons–Fox’s Masterchef and Food Network’s Food Network Star. Now, I have nothing against these shows, but sometimes they can be predictable. Masterchef is in Season 4 now, and the best part is that they didn’t drag out the audition part–basically there was maybe one or 1.5 episodes of auditions. And we have our cat fight–between Krissi and Natasha. Natasha is so full of herself but appears to be able to back it up with skills. Meanwhile, Krissi is also talented and she has that east coast “don’t mess with me” vibe. Meanwhile, Food Network Star began its eighth season last night. It’s kind of getting old and stale the way American Idol did. And they seem to pick the same contestants every year–I don’t mean literally, but there are demographics they follow–the tough guy, the Hispanic, the chatty blogger, the dude who can cook his ass off but has no on-camera talent. Oh and this year we have the Ellie Krieger look alike. Of course, I watch these shows like it’s my job, and I don’t see that changing this season.

Have you ever taken a bunch of ingredients and tried to make a meal out of them, sometimes using way more of what you have on hand than you should? I did that last week when I made this chicken dish with bacon and cheese, and somehow tried to incorporate spinach and mushrooms. But I wound up doing the spinach and mushrooms on the side. However, in what should have been a sauce for the chicken, I instead added white wine to the spinach/mushroom stir fry and didn’t cook it out…blech. But I also had an avocado sitting there that I almost used. Sometimes I wonder about myself. I can put cool things together much of the time, but sometimes have cooking slumps. Does this happen to you?

At some point recently, I saw a cooking show about pizza and it may have been one of those competitions between two purveyors of pizza in New York City. And I was struck by the fact that this one pizza chef used canned San Marzano tomatoes as the sauce on his pizza. Those are usually seasoned with a bit of salt and maybe basil and that’s about it. The tomato shines by itself. So I tried this the other night and it was delicious. I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like those garlicky sauces or commercial pizza sauces, but I think this was the best and most natural way to go.

Oh, speaking of pizza…..I have to give a shout out to Scott and Jen at La Fortuna Pizza. I have found great pizza in Madison, and it’s as good as any I’ve ever had. They have a food truck and one of their regular stops in the summer is at the Verona Farmer’s Market, five minutes away. Every Tuesday. And hey, tomorrow is Tuesday! Low carb what?


Peanut butter banana burger (and beer greens)

This was one that I posted last year on Grub for Guys and with grilling season just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to bring it back out. It’s sort of a tribute to Elvis, but mostly a tribute to those who like peanut butter and burgers and don’t mind trying them together. Enjoy!

Making a good burger is an art form. There are so many variations now, and so many different meats to use to make burgers, we could spend days talking about them. Well let’s stop talking and start grilling. Here is a unique Elvis-style burger that tasted better than I even expected it to.

Peanut Butter and Banana Burger
I’ve come to learn that peanut butter and bananas really do go well together. And while you might think putting them on a burger is weird, think again. The flavors complement each other to create something unique and if I do say, pretty awesome.

1 pound ground beef
4 good hamburger buns, sliced
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely diced pineapple
¼ cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
2 bananas

Slice bananas in half length-wise and spray or brush with vegetable or canola oil. Grill over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes per side. Cut into 2-3 inch slices. Combine beef with cilantro and pineapple, and form into four patties. Sprinkle with salt, and grill for 3-4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Toast buns on grill for 30 seconds or so if desired. To assemble, spread 1 Tbsp. peanut butter on both sides (1/2 Tbsp. per side) of buns. Lay banana slices on bottom half and place burger on top of bananas, and bun top over that. Hide the ketchup, because….well, it doesn’t really mix with peanut butter. Serves 4.

Beer Greens
Does the thought of making greens like collard greens, turnip greens, kale or chard scare you? It scared me too, but I learned how to do it and to flavor them the way a man should flavor his green vegetables—with beer. This recipe is a good side to any burger or chicken.

1 bunch greens, washed and coarsely chopped (kale works best for this recipe)
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 slices deli ham, diced (about 1/3 cup)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 12 oz. bottle of beer
Hot sauce to taste
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When you feel the heat if you place your hand about three inches from the pan, add onion and garlic. Sautee until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add ham and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add greens and stir until they cook down, about 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, then beer. Lower heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add hot sauce to taste and more salt and pepper if necessary, and serve. Serves 4.


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