Monday, May 22, 2023

Just Say "NO" to Brioche Buns

my favorite burger, from Alonso's, on a too-absorbent brioche bun which fell apart as I was eating.
Can someone please explain to me why every restaurant seems to think that using a brioche bun to sandwich a hamburger is a good idea? For generations, a plain white-bread "hamburger roll" was just fine. Fast food companies still use them. McDonald's has been using regular white bread rolls for almost 80 years, on over 100 billion burgers, without any complaint. Up until recently, so did every other restaurant that served a hamburger. So why do so many places now use brioche, especially on big and juicy burgers?  

This leads to my main argument against brioche buns: their structural weakness. While the tender and buttery texture of brioche is appealing for various baked goods, it lacks the sturdiness required to contain the substantial and often juicy components of a burger. The porous nature of brioche buns tends to absorb moisture quickly, leading to sogginess and potential structural failure. Womp Womp. As a result, the burger may become a messy affair, detracting from the intended pleasure of enjoying a well-assembled sandwich...and requiring far too many napkins.

Then there's taste. The best burgers have a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. Personally, I think a brioche bun messes up that harmony. For one thing, brioche, a type of French bread known for its high egg and butter content, possesses a delicate sweetness that can overpower the savory elements of a well-seasoned burger patty. This imbalance can lead to a clash of flavors. I feel the traditional hamburger benefits from a neutral bun that complements the savory components without overshadowing them. Leave brioche for toast with butter and jam (my personal favorite way to eat it).
It's also worth mentioning that brioche buns tend to be higher in calories, fat, and sugar content compared to their traditional counterparts. Hamburgers are fattening enough. Opting for a brioche bun may contribute to a higher caloric intake without adding significant value to the overall dining experience. And what about people who have allergies to eggs or dairy? No burgers for you! (And stay away from Martin's Potato Rolls, though delicious and structurally sound, they contain milk and butter.)

I do love me a good hamburger, but I have found myself eating far fewer of them than in the past, all because of that damn brioche bun (which has also started ruining chicken sandwiches). Perhaps that is good for me, health-wise, calorically, but I'm also missing out on the happiness that a perfectly constructed burger can provide.

Restaurants, please reconsider following the fad and go back to using real hamburger buns. Leave the fancy French bread to French restaurants. Or breakfast.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Monday, May 15, 2023


It's almost June, and we're firmly into farmers' market season, so it seemed like a good time to post some all-veggie recipes. To be honest, I don't frequent the farmers' markets in the area because they tend to be on Saturday mornings. I'll get out of bed at 5:45am to catch a 6am bus to work, but I don't have much interest in getting up before 10am on the weekends. But if that's your thing, more power to ya. For a number of years, there was a Tuesday morning market in the park across from my office, but I don't know if it's happening this year. I hope so! I love to buy locally-grown peaches and corn to round out my garden of tomatoes and herbs. I don't really need much more than that to have a happy summer.

Here are some of my favorite vegetable recipes. Let me know if you try any of them.

All the Veg can be used in this unusual risotto made with steel cut oats in place of rice.

blackened carrots with other stuff
Blackened Carrots with Other Stuff - we first encountered the concept of blackened carrots at one of Bobby Flay's NY restaurants and I added the preparation to my repertoire. Roasted carrots, blackened or not, are meaty and versatile and make a great first course or entree, with the right accompaniments.

Brussels Sprouts Tacos - I can't imagine not loving brussels sprouts, but I know it's not everyone's favorite veg. They make a great taco filling though.

butternut squash toasts
Butternut Squash Toasts - I've seen this Jean-Georges Vongerichten invention pop up on restaurant menus from time to time, and it's worth ordering. It's also worth making at home. It's maybe more fall-ish than spring-y, so save it for later in the year. (Would make a great Thanksgiving app!)

Caponata is an Italian relish that uses celery, eggplant, and peppers, and it tastes great hot or cold. Spread it on a sandwich, serve it with fish or chicken, or use it to top crostini.

Cauliflower - I listed several cauliflower recipes in another post, so I won't repeat them here.

Celery Root Remoulade - Have you ever poked around in the produce section and wondered what the heck were those giant knobby bulbs that resemble alien brains? Celeriac is a kind of celery that has the appearance and texture of a root veg, with a mild celery-like flavor. It can be roasted and braised like a potato, but it's also delicious raw. Celery root remoulade is a classic French preparation that is super easy to make. Try it alongside crab cakes instead of the usual cole slaw.

Fried Green Tomato Caprese - In those rare summers when our tomato garden went crazy, we were eating the fruits both ripe and green. This recipe is gluten free, but use regular breadcrumbs if you prefer.

Gagooch, or Zucchini with Eggs - this is a childhood favorite of mine that couldn't be easier to make. And it's a great way to get rid of some of the inevitable abundance of summer squash.

Green Bean Falafel - what? this is heresy! Delicious, delicious heresy.

Mexican Street Corn, the Minx way, can be made all year long if you use frozen corn. I won't tell.

Minty Pea Pesto - put all your proliferating mint to use in this pesto made with sugar snap peas. There's a risotto recipe included on this page, too.

Nectarine Soup - have too many nectarines (or peaches)? Make this lovely soup, with crabmeat.

Peach Mostarda is another way to get rid of a plethora of stone fruits.

stone fruit crisp
Stone Fruit Crisp - Sadly, Mr Minx isn't a fan of cobblers, crisps, etc. Not so sadly, I have to consume the whole thing when I make one. 

Tomatoes make terrific tarts. And salads.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Monday, May 08, 2023

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Berry Scones

scone after a trip through the toaster oven
While I wasn't going to get myself out of bed at 5am to watch the coronation of King Charles III, I did think it would be nice to recognize the occasion with a batch of scones. Scones, like biscuits, can be made with butter and cream, or with cream alone. Being lactose intolerant and somewhat lazy, not wanting to get my hands all buttery, I opted to make cream scones using only coconut milk. And because a large bag of gluten-free flour had been staring at me from the pantry for a few months, I thought I'd use that, too. 

Cream scones are easy-peasy, and using gf flour means there's no way to eff them up by overworking the gluten in the dough. I still remember the very first scones I baked. My family had recently come back from a trip to England, where we had devoured many of the clotted-cream-and-jam-smeared, currant-studded, biscuit-like baked goods that often came with a pot of tea. We were a little obsessed, but found there were few places to purchase scones in Baltimore in the mid-1970s. That problem could be solved if we made our own, which we attempted with a recipe sourced from who-knows-where. Clearly my mother and I had overworked the dough, as the resulting objects--though pretty and pleasantly-scented--would more aptly be called "stones." They all went into the trash except for one, which we deposited into a lidded container and shelved as an experiment. Occasionally we'd take off the lid and poke at the stone to see if it had gotten any harder. It appeared to have reached maximum rigidity during baking, because it remained the same texture during its entire tenure in our house. We kept it around for a number of years before tossing it out, though it still smelled fine and never got moldy. 

Anyhoo...Mom and I were wary of attempting scones after that, though at some point I discovered that they could be made with very little handling. Gentle patting is really all that's required; drop scones are even more stupid-simple. 

scones immediately after baking
I briefly considered making drop scones on this occasion, but the dough produced with coconut milk and gf flour proved very sticky. A test drop produced something that resembled an albino hedgehog more than a baked good. I had a hard time scraping the dough off the spoon and my fingers; attempting to do so formed little spikes all over the sad blob on the baking sheet. After I plopped the hedgehog back in with the rest of the dough, I thought a short stay in the fridge would firm up the dough a bit. It works with cookie dough, so why not give it a try? About half an hour later, the dough was firm enough to divide into two blobby balls and pat into disks. I dampened my hands a bit before patting them down, which left enough moisture to help the gold-colored coarse sugar I sprinkled on top to adhere. 

Because I chose not to brush the tops with cream, the scones didn't brown very much. I think this is also a result of the gluten free flour. Again, I was lazy and didn't want to have to wash a pastry brush (we don't have a dishwasher). They scones did brown very nicely after a trip to the toaster oven, which I recommend, particularly if you are eating them the day after baking, as we did. The texture of gluten free flour is not the same as of wheat flour. It doesn't have the same springy crumb, and it's also a little, hmm...mushy? Easily squished? I am hard pressed to describe the interior texture accurately. This is why I chose to add almond meal to give the scones a tiny bit more interest. 

Overall, I think these scones were pretty successful. They were simple to make, and delicious with a smear of vegan butter and a dollop of lemon curd. If you try them, please let me know in a comment.

No-Gluten No-Dairy Berry Scones

1 cup canned coconut milk (don't use the "lite" stuff)
1 1/2 cups gluten-free 1-for-1 (cup for cup) flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, or a mix
grated rind of 1 lemon or half an orange, optional but tasty
1 tsp vanilla
Sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 425F.

Shake the can of coconut milk well, to mix in the cream. (If you don't shake it, you'll find a layer of coconut "cream" on top of a thinner liquid.)

Combine the dry ingredients, including the dried fruit, in a large bowl. Add the citrus rind, if using. Stir in most of the coconut milk to form a somewhat sticky dough. If the dough seems dry, add the rest of the milk. If it seems too sticky/wet, add a little more flour. With damp hands, form the dough into a ball, put it back into the bowl, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into two equal balls. Place them side-by-side on a large, parchment-lined, baking sheet. Using your hand, flatten each ball into a disk about 1-inch thick. Cut each disk into four wedges and pull them apart from each other. 

Bake at 425F for 20-22 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. (They won't get very dark.) Allow to cool to room temperature before serving with butter-like spread of your choice, jam, and lemon curd. 

Makes 8 scones.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Good Intentions

I was pretty gung ho about the blog last fall, when I started posting at least once per week. And now it seems I've run out of steam. Ugh. Let's call it "writer's block," and allow me to take a breather.

I promise I'll be back to writing regularly. I just need a break to gather my thoughts. :)

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