Is Burger King or is it a humble Sarnie?

I used to collect recipes and while I rarely follow one all the way through, generally having to adapt to what is in my larder, I do tend to keep lots of scraps of paper in a folder covered in scrawl where I have changed things that have been successful (the disasters  are quickly thrown away!)  Lots of these notes are also covered in drips from spoon or fork – you heard of scratch and sniff, these look like scrape and taste!

It always BBQ weather here in Tenerife, but being the control freak I am, I like to ensure the food is greeted with a sunny smile by everyone.  So when OH is planning on lighting the barbie I rummage through my folder to see what I can find that is quick as well as tasty. Burgers are an easy option for most, but vegetarians can be hard to please as some may eat fish and others steer clear of anything other than vegetables.  With a bit of forethought and some prep before lighting up it is easy to keep everyone happy. Below are some ideas which I serve to a mixed bunch of people and the only complaint is – is there any more?

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill. Of course I often made these in the UK when the weather didn´t always allow the use of a barbie so just cook in the normal way in frying pan or grill.

Beef Burgers with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onions Serves 4

4 medium onions, sliced
2 tsps sugar
2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1lb minced beef
1 tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs or 1 tsp dried
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
4 burger buns, toasted
4 slices tomato, and lettuce optional
Vegetable oil, for the grill

  • In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all the burger ingredients with your hands. Form the mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  • Add the onions, oil and sugar to a large frying pan and cook, stirring until golden and soft, about 20 minutes. When caramelized, stir in 1/4 cup water, vinegar and salt. Set aside and keep warm
  • Grill the burgers over medium hot heat until cooked on one side for 3 minutes. Flip the burgers and top with the cheese. Continue to cook for medium rare, about 4 minutes more, or about 6 minutes for well done.
  • When the burgers are nearly done, toast the buns and serve the burgers, topped with the caramelized onions and, if desired, tomato and lettuce.

Normally I’m suspicious when it comes to non-beef burgers. Why mess with a good thing?  But I have a few veggie friends and so rather than them feel left out or worse not invited to our barbie I tried these mushroom burgers and even for a sceptic like me they are delicious.

Mushroom Burgers Serves 4

4 large Portobello mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ideally provolone cheese but substitute with Mozzarella if provolone is not available.

  • Wipe mushrooms with damp cloth. Remove stems. With sharp knife, make slits in tops and stuff slivers of garlic.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes turning twice
  • Place mushrooms, cap-side down, and grill until soft and brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Brush with marinade frequently. Top with cheese during the last 2 minutes of grilling.  Serve on a bun with lettuce and tomato.
  • As an alternative you can stuff the mushroom with crab sticks, fried onions and top the provolone with parmesan for an Italian flavour.

Salmon burgers are often in danger of ending up dry.  I tend to follow the Mark Bittman   recipe of pureeing 1/4 of the salmon into a paste which holds the larger chunks together so solves the problem.

 Salmon Burgers Serves 4

1 lbs skinless, boneless salmon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 small shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 slices bread grated into coarse bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 soft buns

  • Break the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter into a food processor along with the mustard and shallots. Whisk until the mixture becomes like paste.
  • Add the remaining salmon and pulse until the fish is chopped and combined with the puree; be careful not to chop the mixture too fine.
  • Stir in the bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers.
  • Place oil in a pan or baking sheet and once hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes each side, turning once.

As an alternative to burgers you may fancy a sandwich the bacon and the sausage are of course cooked on the BBQ and hopefully you have made enough caramelized onions to use in various ways.

Caramelized Onion, Gruyère, and Sausage Sarnie Serves 4

Olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
4 sausages
Dijon mustard
4 oz. Gruyère, very thinly sliced
8 thick slices of crusty bread

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, oil and sugar and cook, stirring often until golden and soft, about 20 minutes. When caramelized, stir in 1/4 cup water, vinegar, and salt. Set aside and keep warm
  • Cut the cooked sausages in half lengthwise. Keep warm.
  • Toast the bread on one side only and while hot, spread the toasted side with mustard and assemble sandwiches, sharing the onions, cheese, and sausage evenly among them. Brush the outside of the sandwiches with 1 tbsp. oil and and grill them until golden brown. Serve immediately.

BLT with a Twist Serves 4

In this BLT peaches add an unusual sweet twist. Once you have fried or grilled the bacon these just need assembling.  Enjoy

You will Need
8 oz. streaky sliced bacon
1 baguette
Tomatoes thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 large ripe peach, pitted, thinly sliced and placed on the grill for just 1 minute
Lettuce leaves

I like to always include images so you get an idea of what the finished article should look like.  If a cook book doesn´t have pictures I would never buy it no matter how good the recipes may be.  So I have included images of what my BBQ food will look like but as it won’t be taking place until the weekend I have had to copy these images from my recipes or from the internet, so credit to whoever they belong to.

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