I’ve never been one to shy away from something that requires more elbow grease than is necessary on my part. Modesty aside, almost everything I do is done with more exertion than most people would normally put in, whether it’s school work, any kind of work, or something for my leisure. The principle is that ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well’. If I am going to dedicate some of my precious time doing something anyway, might as well dedicate some effort to ensure that the results are worth it. During the days when I feel particularly assiduous, I like to build things from the ground up to create something great. No shortcuts, no easy ways out, just plain old handiwork stemming from sweat and heart. It’s no different when it comes to my cooking/baking, whether I’m doing a simple recipe or an involved one.
That said, there are days when I just want to take it easy, snap my photos, and still have a lot of time left to get out of the house and do my thing. And then there are days (usually Sundays) when I practically spend the whole day on my feet inside the kitchen and make things like this. I’m talking about making burger buns, plus patties, plus fries from scratch.
Just like the last time I did something like this, I began with the patties, because I wanted to freeze them overnight to get them firm for cooking. I believe this allows the ingredients some time to come out and meld together. Burger patties are so easy to prepare, and then you can simply pop them in the freezer until you’re ready to cook.
You can make the Cilantro-Mayo ahead as well and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge to get a fuller cilantro flavoured mayonnaise. I’m not a fan of mayonnaise, but I do love cilantro, so I enjoyed this Cilantro-Mayo a lot! The flavours complement the salmon patties perfectly, and it was especially good as a dip for the fries! My brothers really cleaned up the bottle!
Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo
For the patties:
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
6 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 pound salmon fillets, skinned, boned and finely chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
For the cilantro mayo:
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup cilantro
dash of cayenne pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
Burger Buns (see recipe suggestion below)
Fries (see recipe suggestion below)
1. Make the patties: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced bell pepper, panko, garlic and salmon.
2. In a small bowl combine the egg white, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the salmon and toss gently until well incorporated.
3. Form the mixture into four equal patties.*
4. To make the cilantro mayo: Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined and smooth.**
5. Lightly coat a grill pan or skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the patties about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through.
6. Place the burgers on the buns, spreading one side of the bun with the cilantro mayo. Top as desired with lettuce, onion and tomato.
*I made eight thinner patties though I imagine six would have been better. You can freeze the patties at this stage if you’re making them ahead. Just take them out of the fridge about 20 minutes before cooking.
**I don’t own a food processor so I just chopped up my cilantro into very fine pieces then mixed everything with a whisk.
The recipe for the buns I used were interesting. For the record, I really liked the taste of the buns– lightly sweet because of the honey. I also liked that a serving is heavy enough because of the whole wheat. But oddly, if you click through to Annie’s blog, you will see that my buns look nothing like hers. To be honest, I was prepared to get my heart broken big time when I saw that my dough did not rise from the flat rounds the recipe had me shape the dough into.
With a heavy heart, I popped them into the oven anyway and decided that if I was going to be given English Muffins instead of buns, I was still going to sandwich my patties inside. Fortunately, they did inflate a bit in the oven, but the resulting buns were small and rather tight-crumbed and firm. They were fine freshly baked, but since you end up with a few more buns than patties, a trip to the toaster oven will soften the leftovers up.
I have to figure out what I did wrong here, but I’m thinking it’s in the part where I tried to dissolve the yeast in the water completely. I guess it killed off some of the potency of the yeast, preventing my dough from rising to its fullness. Instant yeast is generally mixed into the flour and not stirred into the liquid; and though I do add it to the liquid sometimes, I always just give it a little stir but not to the point of dissolving it completely. That’s probably the best thing to do in this case. I’ve altered the instructions a little bit to reflect this.
Honey Wheat Sandwich Buns
adapted from Annie’s Eats | Makes 9 to 10 buns
For the dough:
1 1/4 cups milk, warmed
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups bread flour, plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup more as needed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, based on preference
2 tablespoons butter, melted
sesame seeds, optional
1. Measure out the milk in a liquid measuring cup. Add in the instant yeast and give a little stir, but not to the point that the yeast is dissolved completely.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 2 cups bread flour, wheat flour, and salt. Mix briefly on low speed to combine.
3. Add the yeast-milk mixture, egg, and 1/4 cup of honey to the mixer bowl and mix on low speed just until a dough has formed.
4. Switch to the dough hook. Continue kneading on low speed with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and tacky but not sticky, adding extra flour 1-2 tablespoons at a time as needed until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and has the desired consistency.*
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
6. Once the dough has risen, transfer the ball to a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate the dough. Divide the dough into 9 to 10 equal sized pieces (if using a kitchen scale to achieve uniform size, make into 3.25- to 3.50-ounce pieces).
7. Form each piece of dough into a flattened round, 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter. Transfer the shaped rounds to a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.
8. During the final 20 minutes of rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine the melted butter with 1 tablespoons of honey and lightly brush the tops of the rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
9. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until golden brown and baked through. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
*At the risk of adding too much flour and making your breads too tough, you will know when your dough has reached the ‘tacky but not sticky’ consistency by touching the dough with a finger. It should stick to your finger briefly when you pull away, but the dough should not be so sticky that it will break away stuck to your finger. Add a tablespoon of flour at a time until you get the desired consistency.
Whew! I hope you’re still with me because we’ve still got the fries to make!
I confess I don’t have a lot of affection for fries. The only time I ever get even close to these things is when I dine in fast food chains, which is like twice a year. The whole deep-frying thing is not something I actively embrace, and to be honest I had to cringe a little when I made churros because of the deep-frying aspect (but I’m sure I’ll be making churros again because they’re just too yummy with the chocolate. I’ll just wipe each and every one of them dry with a tissue). But the truth is, burgers and fries are almost inseparable; which is why I pretty much jumped at this opportunity to make baked fries! Plus I don’t think I’ll hear the end of it from my brothers if I didn’t. Pssh. Boys.
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook | Serves 3 to 4
3 russet potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
1. Preheat oven to 475°F (250°C) with the rack in the lowest portion of the oven.
2. Cut the potatoes into wedges. First, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then cut each of those halves in half lengthwise so you end up with a quartered potato. Slice each quarter into 2 or 3 wedges lengthwise again, depending on how thick you want your fries.
3. Add all of the wedges to a large bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, grab a large rimmed baking sheet and coat it with 1/4 cup of the canola oil. Tilt the pan to ensure the oil is spread in an even layer. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over the oil evenly.
5. Drain the potatoes and spread them over a dishtowel or layer of paper towels. Dry them thoroughly.
6. Dry the bowl the potatoes were soaking in, and then add the wedges back to the bowl. Toss them with the remaining teaspoon of canola oil. Transfer the wedges to the oiled and seasoned baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Cover the pan with foil.
7. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottoms of the potatoes are golden brown.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and flip each of the wedges over. Return to the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, or until golden and crisp.
9. Drain the fries on a paper towel-lined plate then season with salt and pepper to taste. Eat with your favourite dip or plain-old tomato ketchup.
This set of recipes kept me busy pretty much the whole morning, but I had so much fun making everything that I didn’t even notice. Of course, the best part was sharing and enjoying the product of my hard work with others.
However I totally will not take it against you if you make just one or two of these recipes at a time!