Halloween and burgers…perfect match!

Sooooo… I guess it’s time for a Halloween report…which I’m probably a bit late with, but I’ve already made my peace with the fact that nothing goes well with this year’s Halloween posts (check out my previous post about scary sea bass and you will get a bit of an idea why).

You know how sometimes you are planning something waaay ahead and then it just all turns out to be completely different? Well, that’s exactly what happened this weekend.

First of all, most of us didn’t have any Halloween costumes (although we did have some horse-head masks plus one lovely maid costume which looked even more fantastic with our gorgeous Evgeniya wearing it). Secondly, I was too lazy to cook any Halloween treats in advance (shame on me) so we decided to make burgers which seemed to be a great and simple idea with us going outside of town and with the weather being just terrific. However (what a surprise!), by the time we finally gathered together it was too cold and too dark to grill ANYTHING, let alone taking pictures of the process. Still, the hunger, need-for-meat and a bit of cocktails did their part and we managed to grill the burgers. They turned out to be fantastic! The pictures, however, were not that good, so I went through with our burger experiment at home today (oh no, don’t you think I just wanted another burger?!) and took some nice shots so that you can get an idea of how great they were.

Burger1

For 4 of your own home-made burgers you will need:

  • 4 large soft bread rolls, cut in halves (any of your favourite bread will do)
  • 500 g beef mince
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 100 g fresh arugula/basil/corn/mangold leaves (use the mix of those you like, I used arugula and basil)
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 100 g light mayo
  • 3 medium pickles, hashed
  • 4 large slices of any semi-soft cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon grape vinegar
  • a pinch of ground chili
  • salt and pepper to season
  • + a bowl of ice-cold water

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add sliced onions, sugar, honey and vinegar and stir well. Cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until onions are soft and caramelized.

Preheat your barbecue or chargrill pan to high heat. Grill the bread rolls and then lightly butter their insides.

In a large bowl mix together beef mince, ground chili and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Form 4 meat balls and then press the balls flat so that they are the same diameter as your bread rolls. Place the patties in ice-cold water for 30 sec and then immediately place them on the barbecue or chargrill pan. Grill for 4 minutes, then turn the patties, place a slice of cheese on each patty and grill for 4 more minutes.

In a small bowl mix together hashed pickles and mayo.

To assemble the burgers, spread the mayo and pickle sauce on the base of each bun, scatter a handful of salad leaves, put on a cheese-topped patty, top with caramelized onion rings and sliced tomatoes. Cover the burger with the grilled bun top. Enjoy!

Burger2

PS Thank you guys for an amazing evening! I did find some pictures that are not blurred =), although unfortunately not all of our boys were “lucky” to be on those. As for now, Andrey and Filya are our supermodels!

Halloween people

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Oh, autumn! Part 1: mountains and pumpkin duet

Personally, I think autumn is just the best time of the year. Well, okay, not all autumn. And not everywhere. But two past weeks we spent in breathtaking Austrian Alps and sweet, sunny, welcoming and all-about-wine-and-food Italy. And that, I would say, is just the best possible way of living autumn through.

But first things first. I know this is not supposed to be a travel blog (and it is definitely not one), but there’s this one picture that we took while hiking in Schladming I just HAVE TO post.

Schladming

Isn’t that amazing? It’s all so incredibly fresh, verdurous, but at the same time somehow fantastically rich and sweet and juicy… And this fabulous jade-terracotta-amber carpet is all blueberry bushes!

And you know what? I have no idea of how my super-inventive-lunatic brain came up with this, but this picture somehow inspired me to cook a pumpkin soup)). Maybe colours? Well, who knows.

I really hope that this recipe will change the minds of those of you who find pumpkin dishes boring and not worth cooking at any price. With this recipe, you’ll find out that cooking pumpkins is extremely simple and the result usually exceeds all expectations!

Well, as usual, a picture of main ingredients below:

Pumpkin soup ingredients

You will also need:

– 200-300 ml chicken bouillon (beef or vegetable stock would also go, use one you like best)

– 100 ml light cream

– 1 tbsp sugar

– olive oil (and pumpkin oil if you happen to have some)

– 1/8 tbsp ginger and 1/8 tbsp nutmeg powder

– dried herbs (basil and thyme)

Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the skin, scoop out the seeds and fibres from the middle, cut the flesh into medium pieces. Peel and chop the onion and garlic cloves (leave one clove for rocket sauce). Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add chopped onion and garlic. Cook until they are softened and golden brown. Add the pumpkin flesh and herbs, season with salt, sugar and pepper. Cover with the lid and cook for 25-30 min until the pumpkin is soft, stirring from time to time to avoid burning. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 min.

Meanwhile, prepare the rocket sauce. Grind up rocket (I also added some fresh basil leaves) with 2 tbsp of pumpkin oil and garlic, season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Warm up the bouillon in a large casserole. Puree the cooled pumpkin-onion-garlic mix with a blender, add ginger and nutmeg and then pour the mixture in the casserole. Let it boil for a minute, take off the heat and add 50 ml cream, stir well.

To serve, pour the soup in the bowls, put a tbsp of rocket sauce and 2 tbsp of cream into each bowl, season with freshly ground pepper and paprika. Enjoy!

Pumpkin soup