Smashing Burgers

It's better than smashing pumpkins. Plus, an easy spanakopita galette

I hereby declare it the summer of smashburgers and all their crispy-edged glory. I also hereby declare it the summer of galettes (a.k.a lazy pies), at least, when the AC is roaring and the heat hasn’t melted away my motivation.

In all seriousness, with vaccines in arms and hope on the glitteringly hot horizon, it’s the summer of making food to share with people. Smashburgers, be they real meat or otherwise, and easy peasy galettes make for great party food served alongside, say, a peach, mozzarella and tomato caprese salad and a pitcher of sangria. Tis’ the season for sharing good food and goodwill. I hope you’ll share these recipes with you and yours and have a toast to hope, the future, and to scrummy good food.

What I’m Eating

Lamb Smashburgers with Tomato, Pepper and Rose Relish

I don’t often eat burgers, but when I do, I smash them. Gimme that thin, crusty, chewy-edged patty draped in cheese and clamped between a soft potato bun! One of my favorite iterations is one I’ve already featured in my newsletter (if you haven’t made the turkey chourico smashburger yet, hover your mouse over that link right now and give it a click), and a new fave that I’m sharing today: The Lamb Smashburger with Tomato, Pepper, and Rose Relish. Studded with feta cheese, sprinkled with Lowry’s seasoned salt (it’s a childhood nostalgia thing, and it works) and smashed into a crispy disc, this is a lamb burger like no other you’ve had. Top it off with a spicy-sweet tomato pepper and rose relish and it embodies Samin Nosrat’s ethos: salt, fat, acid, heat. But even if you don’t feel like making the relish (though I suggest you do!) it will still be delish.

Serves 6 with 1 patty each, or 3 with 2 patties each

Burgers:

1 lb ground lamb

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 tsp Lowry’s seasoned salt

6 slices sharp cheddar, for topping

Relish:

1 tsp olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Roma tomato, diced or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 Tbsp dried rose petals (optional), crushed

1 serrano chile, finely chopped

1 Tbsp pepper paste (optional)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp rose water (optional)

To Serve:

Martin’s Potato Buns. No other will do.

First, make the relish

Heat oil in small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the roma tomato, balsamic vinegar, rose petals if using, serrano chili, salt and pepper, stir, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes, until tomatoes have gone all jammy and soft and sort of melted into the other ingredients. Add the rose water if using, stir, and set aside.

Now, prep your burgers

In a large bowl, mix together the lamb, crumbled feta and Lowry’s. Form the mixture into roughly 3 ounce balls, place on a sheet tray and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat a 12 inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat, until just starting to smoke. Add 1 tbsp oil, remove lamb from the fridge, and place 3 balls in the pan. Using a flat metal spatula coated in non-stick spray, quickly squish the patties down into roughly 1/4 inch thick disks. Cook for about 2 minutes, then flip, cover with a slice of cheddar, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan, place on a plate or sheet tray and cover with aluminum foil. Continue the process with the remaining lamb balls.

Time ta eat!

To serve, smear good mayo on a Martin’s potato roll, add your patty and top with the tomato, pepper, rose relish.

Spanakopita Galette

This recipe was born out of thrift. The idea formed when I found myself with a container of leftover spinach filling from salmon en croute, and realized that it was actually quite similar to spanakopita filling. My mind then made the unusual leap to galette, since I didn’t have any phyllo dough lying around and even if I did, I’m a sucker for a good, buttery pie crust. The recipe below tweaks the filling a tiny bit, adding more feta and a bright lashing of lemon. Feel free to load it up with herbs—parsley or dill would be lovely—or gruyere in place of parm.

Serves 2 hungry people, or 4 people with a side salad

1 recipe New York Times pie dough (it’s easy and it always turns out well; I recommend making it about 1 hour in advance, to let chill in the fridge)

2 lb spinach, any thick stalks removed if fresh, if frozen, thawed and squeezed dry

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup grated parmesan

6 ounces feta

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 egg + 1 egg, lightly whisked and mixed with 1 tsp water for brushing on dough

1 lemon, zested

1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

Let’s dough- it!

An hour before you want to start cooking your galette, make the dough, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge.

45 minutes later…

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees with rack in middle.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onions, and stir, cooking until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, stir, then add spinach, stir, and cover. Cook for 1 minute, then remove lid and let simmer until spinach is somewhat dry and most of the water has evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. If you’re using frozen spinach, disregard the lid step and cook spinach in with the onions and spices for about 1 minute. Scrape mixture into a heat-proof bowl, then add the cheeses, scallions, egg, and lemon zest and juice, and mix well. Set aside.

Let’s roll

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Scatter a little bit of flour on a clean surface. Take your pie dough out of the fridge and roll it into a roughly 14 inch diameter circle. Carefully fold dough in half, then fold once more, and place on prepared baking sheet.

Unfold dough, and carefully scrape spanakopita filling into the center of the dough, spreading it out with a spoon, but leaving a 1 inch border of dough around the edges.

Carefully fold dough edges over spanakopita mixture (it doesn’t need to look perfect, it’s a rustic pie after all!) and brush dough with egg and water mixture.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, turning once halfway. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

What I’m Drinking

Cynar a.k.a. artichoke infused digestif

There’s no getting around it: This uber herbal, artichoke-infused digestif is intense. Compared to the sexy, colorful drinks that trend on Instagram, Cynar looks like a frumpy old neighbor: vegetal, murky green/brown and decidedly unappealing at first glance. But, I ask you, give it a chance. While you might not fancy sipping it straight (and I’m with you on that), add a splash to a mezcal margarita for a slight vegetal undertone, or mix it with your soda of choice (it’s strangely really good with root beer) for a riff on a Rum and Soda. Or, if you’re like me, add a bit to a classic 50/50 sweet and dry vermouth and soda for a little herbal bite.

Smoky Sherry Paloma

This riff on a Paloma gets a kick from the ancho-infused sherry, which also lends it a subtle nuttiness. If you can’t find whole dried ancho chilis, add a 1/4 teaspoon of the sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo, or for a different kind of spice, sub in ginger beer for soda water.

3/4 oz ancho-infused sherry (recipe below)

1 1/2 oz Lillet or Tequila

1 1/2 oz grapefruit juice

1/4 oz orange curacao

soda water

Wedge of grapefruit for serving

Add all ingredients except soda water and grapefruit wedge to a shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, until cold, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with grapefruit wedge.

*To make ancho-infused sherry: Take a bottle of sherry and pour it into a large mason jar. Remove the seeds from a dried ancho chile, and place the chili into the sherry. Let sit at room temp for at least 2 hours, but don’t go beyond 4 or else it’ll be real spicy.