Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cooking on the Farm, Part One: Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries and Grilled Caesar Salad

One minute I'm in the city, singing along with Bono at the U2 concert and a few days later I'm in the country, cuddling 2 week old kittens.  What a life I lead!  My cousin Brian and his wife Leanne, invited me and Denise (Brian's sister) to their farm two hours away, for a cooking/eating extravaganza weekend.  All I can say is thank God for stretchy pants!  Everything was awesome....the food, yes, but being in the company of cousins, that was the best part.  And ok, I kind of loved this teeny grey kitten, and no I didn't take him home with me.  Not yet, anyway.

So what the heck did we make?  Brian and Leanne have 4 really great kids, so I wanted to make something they would inhale too - and what kid doesn't like turkey burgers?  Sweet potato fries are the perfect side, especially with a sweet and smokey honey chipotle dip to dunk the fries in.  We slathered this dip on everything...and it was divine.  Leanne makes a killer grilled Caesar salad - my first time trying it, and now there is no going back.  Seriously...grilling romaine is sensational!  There were roasted vegetables, perfectly done in foil pans on the BBQ.  Denise brought an insanely delicious artichoke dip - a variation of this one here, which is one of my favourite things to eat in the whole world.  But my absolute favourite were Leanne's homemade perogies, baked with onions and bacon in a dill cream sauce.  Oh yeah baby.  My camera kind of goofed up when taking a shot of the perogies, so you'll just have to take my word for how awesome they were.  (If ever you find yourself in the Luseland, Sask. area, she sells them at the Farmer's Market, and they go like crazy.)  And I haven't even talked about the desserts yet!  I'm saving that bit of deliciousness for the next post, but I promise it will be worth waiting for.   

Turkey Burgers with Fried Leeks and Cranberry Sauce

Frying a few leeks in butter adds a little sophistication to this burger, and the cran sauce is the perfect foil for the turkey.  I got the recipe from the latest issue of "O" magazine, but made a few changes, which I think will make an even awesomer burger.  Oh, and the kids loved the leeks too. 

3 tbsp butter
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed very well and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh, finely chopped)
1/2 tsp dried sage (or 2 tsp fresh, finely chopped)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 3/4 pounds (787 grams) ground turkey, preferably a mix of both light and dark meat
canola oil, for greasing grill
aged white cheddar, sliced
bacon, cooked
lettuce leaves, tomato slices
4 hamburger buns, sliced
mayo, grainy mustard, whole berry cranberry sauce

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium and fry leeks until golden and bright.  Set aside.  Add the rest of the butter and cook the onions and garlic until translucent.  In a large bowl, add the turkey meat.  Add the cooked onion and garlic mixture to this, along with the herbs, salt and pepper, and Dijon.  Form into 4 patties.  Place on preheated grill and cook, flipping once, until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.  During the last few minutes, top burger with cheese, and toast buns until lightly golden. 
Top the burgers with the fried leeks, bacon, cranberry sauce, mayo and mustard.  Lettuce and tomato too if you like. Serves 4.  

Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Chipotle Dip

This one is easy.  Take some sweet potatoes, say 2 large.  Peel and slice into "fries" or wedges.  Drizzle with olive oil, coarse salt, and fresh pepper.  Place on a parchment lined bake sheet in a preheated 375* oven, on the lowest rack, and cook until crisp, flipping a few times so they are evenly brown.  Takes about 30 minutes.  Good like that, or try this:  mix good quality mayo (I like the Hellman's Olive Oil kind), with a few dashes of Chipotle Tabasco sauce, and a little honey.  We didn't really measure, so just use your discretion.  If you like it spicy, add more Tabasco; need more sweet?  Add more honey.  We loved this with chips, too.  And it's delicious on a burger. It's mayo and it makes me happy. 

Grilled Caesar Salad

Take 2 heads romaine.  Slice in half lengthwise.  Drizzle with olive oil, cracked pepper and salt.  Place on a preheated grill and cook until slightly charred and wilted.  Chop immediately and place in a salad bowl.  Add chopped cooked bacon, croutons, fresh Parmesan, and drizzle with your favourite Caesar salad dressing.  Denise made a killer one of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, anchovy paste, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, Tabasco, Worcestershire,and Parmesan cheese all shook up in a jar.  So good.   It's warm and wilty, but super super delicious with the grilled romaine.  Go ahead and try it!!! Serves 4.

For the roasted veg, take an assortment of your favourites, toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, your favourite herbs, place in a foil pan, and place on the BBQ or oven to roast until done.  Cherry tomatoes and broccoli are super good when roasted.  And red onions.  Must have those. 

Did someone want to see the kittens?



  1. That burger looks incredible - I love fried leeks! My next Caesar salad will be the grilled kind. Looks cool!

  2. A suggestion for the grilled Caesar, try adding fried capers - a lovely salty crispy addition!

  3. OMG this looks INSANELY good!! Need to try the grilled caesar salad!!

  4. I'm with all of the comments. Can't wait to try, all of it and (im)patiently waiting for the dessert that you made. Getting together with cousins rocks!!

  5. Thanks, Ruth! Candus, thanks for the tip :), Stacy, I KNOW you'll love the salad, and Jean, you are so right - getting together with cousins rocks!

  6. Hello!

    I just read your recipe for the Caesar salad dressing- do you happen to know the exact proportions of the ingredients? It sounds so delicious. :-)

  7. Hey Anon, I don't know the exact recipe for the salad dressing as my cousin threw it together, but take the ingredients listed and play around a little until you find what you like :)


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