Large, umbrella-like lights filled the space where waitstaff would normally scurry, the cords creating their fair share of death traps. Cooking wine filled glasses that would normally contain a fine vintage. An eclectic group of “friends” and “family” gathered around a reclaimed-wood table and awaited instruction on how to hold their forks, glasses and napkins “naturally.”
The photographer and camera dangled precariously above the table. Meanwhile, I tweezered and plucked at the plates, fluffing, spritzing and making them ready for their moment in the spotlight. It was the makings of a restaurant ad.
That restaurant featured in the ad is one of my favorites. The chef, long before “local” was the trendy buzz word to list on a menu, sourced as locally as possible. Yet his octogenarian clientele showed more appreciation for the granite floors and decadent details passed down from restaurant past. The goal of the ad was to outstretch arms and welcome everyone to the restaurant, everyone including kids.
The child “actor/model” [ie: the art director’s son] was an astute nine-year-old with a palate for fine dining and artisan fermentation. Together, the nine-year-old and I stared at the shelves of house-made pickles in awe. The budding food critic extolled the virtues of that pickle wall and the restaurant’s menu. Being a loyal fan of the menu’s “fancy burger,” I asked for his review.
“Oh, I haven’t had their burger. It’s good?” he asked sincerely.
“Yeah, it’s one of my favorites in the city, and they rotate the toppings quite a bit,” I responded as if speaking to any foodie in my peer group.
His eyes lit up, and he had an epiphany, “Oooh, I know! What if instead of the ham in the hamburger, you used peaches?”
“Like, peaches in the burger, or grilled on top?”
“Yeah, in it. Instead of the ham.”
“I’m into it,” I said.
Despite eating a smoked blue fish pâté, pickled scapes and picking at a tartare, the kid had a ways to go in his understanding of hamburgers. However, he was onto something with his peach idea. I really was into it.
Hamburgers are practically a food group in my own personal pyramid. My stacks of ingredients never make it to the light of day, when photographing and recipe sharing come into play, but for this burger combo, I exercised forethought and willpower. I veered from the petite foodie’s idea of replacing “ham” with peaches. Instead, I opted to stretch the meat further by adding a coarse beet puree or beat meal because although I believe in eating meat from humanely-raised animals, I may still be guilty of eating too much meat.
The peaches still came into play, but in the form of a roasted peach and mint salsa topping, making this burger the main course in my Mint Themed Dinner on the Farm. Paired with blue cheese for a salty, creamy contrast, I dare say even the nine-year-old would be impressed!
p.s: Blue or Bleu? You decide.
Beet & Beef Burgers w/ Blue Cheese and Roasted Peach & Mint Salsa
About This Recipe: Adding beets to your burgers is a way to stretch the meat, eat more seasonal produce, and add a subtle sweetness. The texture is a little closer to a sloppy joe than a beef patty, so use foil when grilling to avoid any loss, or experiment with adding a binder such as eggs and breadcrumbs.
Roasted Peach & Mint Salsa
melted coconut oil for skillet
1 large red onion, cut in half
3 firm peaches, cut in wedges
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
2 small green peppers (chocolate?)
juice of 3 small organic limes, divided
smoked sea salt
2 Tablespoons chopped mint, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a cast-iron skillet with coconut oil.
Arrange the peaches and onions in the skillet (like pictured, or as best they fit). Top with the sliced peppers. Pour the juice of 2 limes over the peaches, onion and peppers. Season with smoked sea salt to taste.
Transfer to the oven, and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the onion has browned slightly and the peaches have puckered.
Set aside to cool. Then add the ingredients and the remaining lime juice to a food processor, and pulse to combine, or chop by hand for a chunkier texture. Add more salt if need be.
Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the chopped mint. Keep chilled until ready to use. Garnish with fresh mint before serving.
Beet & Beef Burgers
yield: 4 burgers
1 cup raw, coarse beet puree (from local beets)
1.5 lbs ground beef (pasture raised/free-range)
fourth or half of red onion, to taste, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons homemade BBQ sauce (or an organic variety)
smoked sea salt & black pepper, to taste
Roasted Peach & Mint Salsa (recipe above)
4 organic whole-wheat rolls
Combine enough peeled beets in a food processor to yield 1 cup coarse puree.
In a mixing bowl, combine the beet puree, ground beef and bbq sauce. Season with salt & pepper.
Form into patties and grill or pan fry to desired temperature.
Serve on an organic, whole-wheat roll with Roasted Peach Salsa and Blue Cheese.