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Cheeseburger and Onion Rings, Entirely Scratch Made

There are many elements to a cheeseburger, but making one from scratch isn’t as daunting as it first seems – stay at home and create a meal worthy of a high-end restaurant.  Especially if you have a group to feed, impress their palates and save some dough by making your own dough!

Makes 5 burgers

• For the buns:

3 cups of bread flour

1 cup of warm water and 1 tsp.

2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk

1/3 cup of all purpose flour

5 tbs. of softened butter

2 tbs. of sugar

2 tsp. of active dry yeast

1 1/2 tsp. of salt

Combine 1 cup of water, yeast, and sugar in a glass measuring cup; let stand for about 5 minutes until foamy.  Beat 1 of the eggs and the egg yolk in a small bowl and set aside.

In a KitchenAid mixing bowl, add flour and salt, and whisk together.  Add the soften butter, and with a dough hook, mix on speed 2 until the butter combines into the flour.  Add the beaten egg and yeast mixture, and continue mixing on speed 2 for 8 minutes.

Scrape bowl onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll into a ball, then put in a lightly oiled bowl to let rise; covered in plastic wrap, let rise in the oven with the light on (not the heat!) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the ball appears to double in size.

unproofed dough

unproofed dough…

...proofed dough

…proofed dough

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  With a dough scraper, divide into 5 equal parts, and roll each portion into a ball.  Arrange on the baking sheet evenly spaced apart.  Put a large shallow pan filled with boiling water on the floor of the oven.  Put the baking sheet back in the oven with the light on until the balls double in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

portioned dough

portioned dough

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Beat remaining egg with 1 tsp. of water to make an egg wash and lightly brush on the top of the buns, then sprinkle with salt (Chef Zach used rosemary salt).  Bake about 8 minutes, rotate the sheet, then bake about 8 minutes more, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing horizontally.

finished brioche buns

finished brioche buns

• For the onion rings:

1 gallon of cooking oil (canola or peanut [Chef Zach used canola])

2 sweet yellow onions

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 1/2 cups of buttermilk

12 oz. of Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye beer

2 tsp. of garlic powder

3 tsp. of salt and more for seasoning the onion rings when done

1 tsp. of freshly cracked black pepper

Peel off darker exterior layers of the onion, then slice 1/2″ thick.  Separate the rings and soak in buttermilk for 1 hour.

Heat oil to 350 degrees F in a deep fryer.  Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 tsp. of salt, and mix thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, beer, garlic powder, 2 tsp. of salt, and pepper, and mix thoroughly.

drip dry

drip dry

Pour the rings and buttermilk into a strainer over a bowl.  Using two forks so that you can do two at a time, dredge the rings in the flour, then shake off any excess.  Dip rings in the beer batter, and shake off any excess once again.  Drop into the hot oil, and as you add more, make sure they don’t crowd or else they will stick together.  When golden brown (after about 5-6 minutes), lift fry basket from the oil and shake off excess oil.  Salt immediately and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

cheeseburgers from scratch 036

• For the bacon: (4 pieces per burger)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Put a wire rack inside of a baking sheet, so that the bacon doesn’t sit in its own grease.  Lay the bacon on the wire rack, and bake for 16-20 minutes depending on desired crispiness.

• For the mushrooms

30 mushrooms, thinly sliced (if all 5 burgers are to be topped; otherwise, 6 per burger)

2/3 cup of Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye beer (for 30 mushrooms; eye it if less)

1 tbs. of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the beer and cook until the liquid is evaporated.  Cook further until the mushrooms are lightly browned, and try not to stir them too much during this step.  Salt within seconds of removing from heat.

• For the beef patties:

2 1/2 lbs. of boneless rib eye steak (find it at your butcher’s under Market Steak)

1 tbs. of butter

Hook up your grinding attachment to your KitchenAid with the fine plate.  Chop the meat into 1 1/2″ cubes and put in the grinder; grind all of the meat, then grind it all once again.  Form into 5 patties about 1/2″ thick.

Melt butter on a cast iron griddle with medium heat and place patties on the griddle one at a time, with about 5-10 seconds between each placement so that the griddle doesn’t cool down.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.  When on the second side, add cheese, bacon, and/or mushrooms.

In a separate griddle or frying pan, lightly butter the cut side of the split buns and grill on that side until lightly golden brown.  Build burger with condiments of choice.

august's with mushrooms, swiss cheese, tomato, and lettuce

august’s with mushrooms, swiss cheese, tomato, and lettuce

zach's with bacon, american cheese, onion rings, and bbq sauce

zach’s with bacon, american cheese, onion rings, and bbq sauce

Korean BBQ Plus!, Concord CA

August’s favorite Korean barbecue restaurant in Walnut Creek has closed.  Now we’re on the hunt for a new favorite Korean barbecue.  Korean BBQ Plus! is right around the corner from us, so we went there last night for dinner.


banchan side dishes

We were a little concerned that we had no plates before us when the food started coming out, until we realized that this restaurant serves you in true family-style.  Feel free to reach across the table – this way of eating promotes camaraderie, community, and compassion.  The traditional sides served with a meal are banchan, and here they are plentiful and varied.  Pickled potato in a sweet sauce, kimchee, dried fish in a spicy sauce, seaweed salad… there were several items we could identify, but several we could not.  Regardless, trying all the banchan was fun, mysterious, and tasty.

#33 - sam gyup sal gu e

#33 – “sam gyup sal gu e”

Barbecued pork belly with sesame oil, green onions, and white onions was the first dish to come out.  It is served with romaine lettuce to make your own wraps, although we just went at it with chopsticks and forks.  The pork had a mild sesame taste thanks to the oil; the meat itself was very tender.  The caramelized white onions underneath the pork were sweet and flavorful since they soaked up the meat juices and sesame oil.

#45 - dduk man du gook

#45 – “dduk man du gook”

This soup was simple but tantalizing.  Known in English as rice cake and dumpling soup, it had lots of wontons and rice pasta (actually rice cakes, but of a pasta texture). With a rich chicken-flavored broth spiced with traditional Korean spices, the wontons were succulent and maintained their texture well.  The rice cakes added another layer of texture; they were different from what we’ve ever had before, but they were definitely enjoyable.

#19 - haw mul pa jun

#19 – “haw mul pa jun”

The menu lists #19 as a Korean style pancake with green onions, scallops, and oysters.  We did not get scallops and oysters in ours, though; instead, we had shrimp and octopus, and frankly Zach enjoyed it more!  This was not of our choosing, it just came out that way.  Served with a sweet sesame sauce on the side, this is essentially like a thick, stuffed crepe – somewhere between an omelet and a fritter.  We enjoyed the pancake without the sauce, as it had enough flavor on its own.  There were plenty of pleasant textures bouncing around, as well, between the different seafoods, the pancake, and the onions.

#24 - dol sot bi bim bab

#24 – “dol sot bi bim bab”

Mixed vegetables, beef, fried egg, and sticky white rice are served together in a hot stoneware bowl for bibimbap.  This is one of the most traditional and recognizable dishes from Korean cuisine, and our waitress recommended that we try it.  With a nice assortment of fresh vegetables, the meat was super flavorful, and the most interesting part was mixing it up.  It’s almost like a lower-fat version of fried rice, because the fried egg yolk is nearly raw, meant to be broken and stirred into the bowl.  Since the stoneware bowl is so hot, it aids in cooking the egg further into the dish.

This is a small establishment in an unexpected neighborhood, but worth a try.  Zach can’t wait to go back and try some more.  Be aware, all the food we got was enough for five to six people and we brought most of it home, so order with caution!