The entry is actually entitled “Five Ways with Beefburgers” so I can tell you that this testing family happily ate “Two Ways with Beefburgers.” We had original beefburgers (pictured above) and chorizo burgers.
First of all, my heartfelt thanks to Ruby for allowing us to have burgers– TWICE!– without guilt. We love a burger in this house, but it’s a been a good long while since we had a recipe for a burger that we could test in one of our featured cookbooks. Ruby also name checks Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in the introduction, which only makes me love Ruby, this cookbook and burgers all the more.
To be fair, you don’t really need a recipe to make a good burger. Obviously, you need to get the best mince possible because there’s so few other ingredients in it. But Ruby provides the Top Tip of grating the onion, rather than chopping it finely, which is such a great idea I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it first. By grating the onion, it melts into the meat when you cook it. In the past when I’ve tried my best to mince the onion finely, I usually lost interest in some point and ended up with onion bits that were far too large to ever melt into the burger. So I will be doing it this way forever more.
For the Chorizo Burgers, you add chopped chorizo to the mince, along with some smoked paprika. Again, this is a brilliant idea and was hugely popular with the entire table.
Needless to say, these were both winning nights. I have to reiterate my love for Ruby when she tells us we can eat what we love. On these two nights, we did, and everyone was very, very happy about that.
Cook’s Note: The eagle-eyed among you might notice that I make quite generous burgers. I don’t apologise for it (nor do I think Ruby would want me to). I tend to use about 350g per burger, which makes for a most satisfying size. Yum.
When we go to eat at Leon, the thing I love most about the experience is I always feel that I’m eating something that’s good for me. Obviously, it tastes good, but it also leaves me with a feeling of wholesomeness that I really don’t get anywhere else I stop at for lunch in London.
This dinner to me felt like that experience and quintessential Leon: Good to eat and good FOR me. What a winner.
It’s got layers of goodness: salad leaves on the bottom, followed by quinoa, peas, roasted red peppers, followed by chargrilled chicken thighs, chorizo, and finally adorned with garlic mayonnaise and french dressing. What’s not to like?
In the interest of full disclosure, Andrew (age 16) and I hoovered it up and loved it all. Tim liked it but later admitted that he’s not a fan of quinoa. When pressed if it was because he didn’t like the taste of it, or just didn’t like that it had become trendy, he admitted that it may be the latter. Nicholas (13) was really not a fan at all, having picked through to eat only the chicken and the chorizo. When asked what he didn’t like about it, he couldn’t really say,
When I pointed out to Andrew that he actually happily ate a plate full of salad, he remarked, “I must be growing up and getting old.” Ha.
Would I make this again? Absolutely. But maybe it would be on a night where Nicholas wasn’t home.
I have to say that the boys were thrilled to see the triumphant return of quesadillas to our dinner table.
We used to have quesadillas all the time. Mostly on nights when we had half an hour between having to be at one place and then needing to go to another. Days of shuttling between swimming lessons/boy scouts/karate/climbing/clubs: I do not miss you.
In any case, the standard quesadillas I used to make all the time only had grated cheddar cheese in them. The boys were small, after all, and not the adventurous eaters we know and love today. In this version, you add chorizo too. You take two uncooked chorizo sausages and fry them up before adding them to the quesadillas. I also took them out of the casings, which make them easier to crumble over the top.
We all loved this new addition of chorizo, and asked that I do it this way again the next time I make quesadillas. (Had I followed the recipe to the letter, it would have also had pickled jalapeno, but I knew the boys would not be keen, so I left it out.)
To make the dinner slightly more fancy, I made some guacamole to go with it. This was good news for me, because the boys weren’t interested in having any, and as I’m on a bit of an avocado kick at the moment [read: can’t get enough of it], that made me happy.
I more or less followed the “Street Food”guacamole recipe. The adjustments I made included only using one avocado, since I knew I was going to be the only one eating it, and I also used hot sauce (this one: delicious) instead of chopped chillis. This top tip came via Mary McCarthy when I made her guacamole recipe in Food. It’s so much easier to just add a few drops of hot sauce rather than chop up a chilli. Thanks, Mary.
This was a winner. We definitely will be making quesadillas this way again.
Or to make it easier on you if you’ve never studied Spanish, Rice with Pork, Chorizo and Spinach
Maureen: I think you’re all going to love this. Rice with pork products. What’s not to love?
Tim: That’s not really the name, is it.
Maureen: Well, no. But it cuts right to the heart of the matter. It’s a Spanish paella with chorizo, pork and spinach, from this month’s cookbook. What do you think?
NIcholas (11): As noted on previous occasions, I am not a fan of spinach.
Maureen: Yes, I know. This is why I didn’t give you any spinach in your portion.
Andrew (15): Well, I like it.
Tim: So do I.
Maureen: Me too. I’m not sure it’s a massive improvement on the sausage and rice dish I make from Gordon Ramsay that we all like, but this is good time.
Nicholas: I think this is too spicy.
Maureen: Three out of four isn’t bad. I’ll take it.
Want to make this yourself? Click through this sentence to find the recipe from the Guardian, when the book was first published in 2001.
Kirstin: You can’t tell from the title of this, what he’s stuffed the chicken with, but oh my goodness!
Tom: What have you stuffed it with then?
Kirstin: Chorizo, cannellini beans and sun-dried tomatoes. It smelt absolutely wonderful as I simmered it all on the hob.
Tom: I wondered what that delicious smell was.
Kirstin: And of course, adding the wine and water to the baking tray, kept the chicken moist.
Tom: Yes, it was perfectly tender.
Kirstin: I wasn’t sure about the paprika on the bird itself, but that was all good too! In summary, it was a really special way of cooking a chicken. I didn’t get a very good picture of it on the table because I wanted to tuck in!
Zelee: You can certainly tell it’s slow-cooked! It’s delicious.
Anna: I like anything slow-cooked. Though it’s a shame that most slow-cooked things don’t photograph well!
Euan: The chorizo is a revalation. I would never have thought of chorizo in a chilli.
Anna: It’s a good trick for giving it a smokiness. Peter, how do you think it tastes compared to the one from last month?
Peter: I preferred that one I think.
Anna: That recipe got its smokiness by roasting the chillis and then whizzing them up before straining the sauce.
Zelee: I’d stick with the chorizo!
Anna: What I really like about this has chunks of beef rather than mince. It feels much more authentic to me. And it’s so rich because of the slow cooking, it’s almost syrupy. I will definitely be making this again, and in the meantime we have lots of leftovers in the freezer!
Anna: This is delicious. I made it quickly this morning while Louis napped in the sling, and it cooked for 2 hours while I went out and about. And now we have supper for three nights!
Peter: Yes, this was practical because you could prepare it in advance.
Anna: Although our nights of rocking are over for the time being as we have the baby sleep trained, for now, so I can actually cook in the evenings again! That said, I’m so knackered it’s nice to have something we just need to heat up.
Peter: I do like a bit of chorizo and there was certainly plenty of that. And it is good and filling. Perfect food for a cold winter night.
Anna: What a shame the potatoes didn’t cook properly as the cooking temperature was too low. Having to fish them out and microwave them separately did slightly defeat the objective of having dinner already prepared, but we’ll know for next time.
Peter: In the meantime we’ve got two more suppers ready in the freezer.