The Cafe Salle Playel Hamburger is kid-friendly enough that I decided to have my girlfriend and her two kids, a 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, over for dinner. I started out making some homemade french fries to serve alongside the burger instead of the suggested dill pickles because I never remember to pick up the dill pickles for a meal; maybe I should just get a jar to keep on hand? Nah. That would be too easy!
But I’m getting ahead of myself now. First we had to go to the store and gather ingredients. I don’t cook with capers, in fact I have never needed to buy them for a recipe before so this was a pleasant first! I love buying new ingredients and finding this one took some time. I finally asked a stocker boy at the store after wandering aisle after aisle in search of the capers only to find the tiniest jar of salted capers – and not just lightly salted or brined, but heavily salted with big chunks of sea salt. This is one of the lovely things I will truly miss when I go back to the States – the stocker boy and any other person working in the grocery store is especially friendly and super helpful! He asked what I was looking for, took note of exactly what I needed, asked me if I had more shopping to do then disappeared to find the illusive capers while Mei and I continued ambling through the store, picking out the ingredients we needed for the burgers.
In the States, if I were to ask a store worker where something is, they usually don’t look up from whatever task they are performing so that they can mutter an aisle number and then appear to have too much else going on to help you or show you exactly where something is. But then, that is pretty typically American – we are all in a big rush and have too much to do to slow down for a few moments. Usually back in the States, if I couldn’t find something I would assume the store doesn’t carry it and try another place, maybe a smaller mom-and-pop shop where the clerks are more willing to show you what they have and where they keep it.
So back to the stocker boy, as Mei was selecting the parmesan cheese (she was looking for one that would fit nicely in her mouth), he found us, holing a tall, slender bottle of rough hard little, olive-green colored capers! After ensuring that the bottle he held out for my approval was in fact what I was looking for, telling me the price and making sure I didn’t need help finding any other items we said good-bye. Capers? Check! With all the other ingredients nestled safely in our bag, we were ready to head back to the kitchen!
Something I haven’t mentioned yet was that I passed on buying sun-dried tomatoes and made up a batch (the night before) of an assortment of different varieties of cherry tomatoes that were available, the slow-roasted tomatoes from a couple of weeks ago. They went into a jar with some olive oil, waiting in the fridge until we were ready for them. I got out the red onions to make the red onion marmalade, dicing them to the size I liked and in they went in a saucepan with some water and butter! Since I expected to like this as much as the bacon jam I made awhile back, I doubled the recipe. This was probably a waste of two onions. I let the onion mixture cook down, while stirring regularly and preparing the potatoes to become delicious french fries and I noticed the onions were becoming more and more boiled but not exactly “jammy.” Looking at the ingredient list, I knew that to be a true “marmalade” it was going to require some source of sugar and some variety of vinegar, but Dorie didn’t say anything about it, so I made it to her exacting specifications, shrugged, and figured it would come together in the end.
When my friend arrived, I had just finished putting the herbs and tomatoes through the Magic Bullet and just about ready to put it together with the meat when she saw the onion marmalade on the stove.
“What is that?” She asked.
“Red onion marmalade, it’s one of the toppings for the burgers.” I replied.
“Oh. I have never had that. Why is it purple?” She asked.
Excellent question friend…..it looked like a somewhat soggy, mushy, purple mess in a saucepan. I shrugged, looked at her and assured her she did not have to try it if she didn’t feel like it and went back to mixing the ground beef together.
How many of you got fancy with your ground beef? I just bought the regular old lean mince meat that the grocer had, avoiding yet another entertaining yet embarrassing show at my local butcher shop explaining that I wanted a blend of two different cuts of meat, minced. We might venture down that lane at a later date. I seasoned the mince meat lightly with a little bit of salt and a bit more of the pepper and a dash of garlic powder and worked the seasonings into the meat and formed them into patties. Because I bought twice as much meat, I was able to get out ten patties; four of which I individually plastic wrapped and slipped into a freezer Ziploc bag for future “easy” dinners. Two of the leftover patties went straight onto a heated and oiled frying pan as two hungry vultures watched, eyes trained – quickly declaring that they didn’t like hamburgers.
Well, kids are picky about what they eat, and a lot of their willingness to try a food will depend greatly on its appearance and the boy is prompt to inform you of his likes and dislikes. After explaining that there is meat in the burgers (he loves meat), he seemed much more eager to try it, especially after hearing that he would not be forced to eat tomatoes (ssshhh…! there were plenty of tomatoes in the meat itself) or have the ribbons of parmesan on his burger. He even held out his plate and scurried onto his chair when his burger came off the pan! Although completely interested in the ribbons of parmesan, he still would not try it but gave Patella a ribbon because she will never turn down a cheese bite!
With the kids settled with some juice and mini French burgers of Dorie’s creation, my friend and I watched them eat while our burgers sizzled on the stove… big smiles and even bigger bites confirmed that they were happy with the burgers and even happy with the fries! There was a bit too much paprika and pepper in the spice rub for the fries that had them sucking down their juice like vampires, but all in all it was a good meal for them!
As for me, you already know that I inhaled the french fries as they came out of the oven, so I had to make another batch for everyone else, I grabbed up a handful and put them on my plate and started to assemble my burger.
First, the patty went onto the bun, topped with quite a few ribbons of the parmesan … I was really feelin’ the cheese, then topped with a spoonful of the onion marmalade. As I had my first bite of the burger, I was surprised at how moist and tender it was and how well seasoned it was! It was a tad on the salty side, but you could hardly notice through the onion marmalade. The water in the onion balanced out the extra salt that the capers added but I wasn’t too crazy about the taste of the capers either. I actually like capers and thinly sliced onions on my lox bagels, but outside of that, I think this concentrated their flavor somewhat and while I wouldn’t omit them, if I didn’t have any on hand I wouldn’t make a last-minute run to the store for them. The herbs were super delicious and refreshing in the burger and it all made me wanting more!
So I made another burger. This time I added just a touch of mayo and put a generous tablespoon of Grey Poupon and it was fabulous! In fact, just writing about it is making me salivate and want another one. A nice midnight snack! All in all, this was a quick, easy meal, very kid-friendly and we moms liked that we could sneak in veggies and other things that kids may not love, into the patty and get them to eat it (willingly) and love it. Not to mention, it is just so much fun to involve the kids in making the food they are going to eat that gets them that much more interested in eating it! I might even spice things up by putting it on an onion bun next time with a different recipe for onion or possibly pickled red onions along with some little gem lettuce and a few of the slow roasted tomatoes right on top! That sounds good enough for a third burger tonight…. hmmm, it’s a good thing my kitchen is open all the time!
Another great meal, thanks to Dorie! To see what the other Doristas thought of their Cafe Salle Pleyel Burgers, click here.