Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guest post: mjphotolife. Burgers galore!

Hello everyone! Today's post comes to you from me, Miranda, of mjphotolife fame* (*I'm not famous yet). This is a special guest post for Eating with Andrew! Be sure to visit my page as well because I'll be posting additional images there.

I was quite pleased when he asked me to take photos for him on Labor Day. We invited some friends over and had a fun cooking and hanging out session. Andrew made some delicious burgers and an impressive vegetable spread. It was very attractive and fun to photograph.

The afternoon started off with the cutting of the vegetables. He picked a lovely selection of onions, mushrooms, red peppers and tomatoes, as well as cucumbers from my garden. Just to be clear, only the cucumbers were home grown, the rest of them came from the store. It'd be amazing to have a garden like that someday though!

Andrew's chopped cucumbers. 

The cucumbers were divided between the large tray of vegetables to be grilled and a dip that he prepared from a recipe he found online. I don't have a photo of the dip, but it turned out nicely. It was light and thin and tasted very fresh. Since he made it we've used it as vegetable dip, salad dressing and sandwich spread. Very diverse!

The finalized grilled and seasoned vegetables.

The tray of vegetables were set aside to be grilled in a new wire basket that we bought from Crate & Barrel. Andrew was very excited to use it, and it served us well. We consider it a good purchase. Between preparing the vegetables and starting the patties, he mixed up a delicious and fruity concoction for everyone to drink while we socialized. He fancied up an orange to put into the new pitcher (also from Crate & Barrel!) and added all manner of random fruits, juice, soda and alcohol. He's such a good host, and was sure to refill it whenever it ran dry (which was often haha).

Washed and ready, sliced all pretty.

Perfect drink for a hot summer day.

As the vegetables slow cooked on the grill and the cucumber dip thickened, Andrew began preparing the burgers. He prefers to buy ground beef and shape them himself. I'm used to pre-made patties, but shaping them is nicer because we can cater the sizes and thicknesses to suit our current needs. For his birthday he made sliders, which was great for how many people came over for the party. On nights when it's just the two of us he favors patties that are a bit heartier, and for our cookout and guests he made plump, slightly smaller than average burgers.

Custom suited to our needs.

The next step for the decadent spread that he created for everyone was potatoes! Oh how I love potatoes. He made an enormous amount and we have been eating them all week. They held up well over the days and he's been re-grilling them each night so they retain their flavor and consistency. They were particularly wonderful on the day they were made, of course, seared on the oven top and seasoned to a light flavor.

Hot, crispy and ready to eat.

Once the potatoes were finished there wasn't much to do except for chat, drink and wait for the burgers to be finished. When they were, we had a large and beautiful spread to choose from. Everything was so fresh and vibrant, I really love to photograph produce! The whole endeavor was fun and satisfying, and perhaps the best part was the amazing dinner afterward! I'm really pleased with how the majority of the photos turned out. The design of our kitchen made for the occasional lighting issue, but I think I was able to fix most of the problems in post.

Believe me, it was as tasty as it looks. I'm hungry.

I hope you'll tune in for his next Eating with Andrew post!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Welcome to the wonderful world of food!

Welcome to the debut post of Eating With Andrew! Every two weeks or so I'll be posting about my adventures in cooking! I'm no gourmet, I've never even taken a class, but with the help of the most amazing teaching/reference tool ever invented (the internets) I think I'll be able to make some delicious stuff. Follow along and we'll see how things go!

For my first cooking venture I made pork in a white wine and butter glaze, with gruyerre mashed potatoes, and a mix of grilled red peppers, onion, and asparagus. Here's a shot of (almost) all the things I used to make the meal.

I used butter, garlic, pork steaks, carrots, Gruyère cheese, asparagus, virgin olive oil, red peppers, onions, potatoes, and a few other things that I'll remember later. I started everything off by skinning and boiling the potatoes while I prepped up the steak pan with the olive oil, diced garlic and onions, and white wine. I let the pan come up to a simmer while my assistant and I prepared the peppers and asparagus. Starting this mix of tasty treats off at a healthy heat achieved two glorious things early on. The first, and primary goal, was that the onions and garlic released some of their delicious juices which coalesced with the oil and wine to make a flavorful sauce for my pork steaks to sit in. The second, and most notable to my guests, was that my kitchen filled up with a tremendous aroma of fresh cooked ingredients. 

Once the pan was sizzling, a nice rolling bubbly excitement, and all the garlic and onions were golden brown I separated the solids into a small sauce pan and turned the larger pan (still full of those delicious coalesced juices I spoke of earlier) down to simmer. I threw a pinch of unsalted butter into each pan to add a little thickness to my mix and grabbed the steaks. Now one of the many mistakes I made with this meal happened at the grocery store, and was at no point remedied by common sense and a knife. The mistake was that these steaks, which were a great cut with just enough fat marbled throughout, were about an inch thick and, as anyone who's worked with meat before can tell you, they took FOREVER to cook. It probably didn't help that I was pan frying them, but oh well you'll find out how everything turned out at the bottom, and don't just skip ahead to find out the ending!


So anyways, I grab the slightly seasoned steaks and toss them in the gravy-ish saucepan. Then I took some of the leftover onions and garlic that we hadn't grilled up before and tossed them in the mix hoping it would give the main course an extra little extra kick. While these suckers fried, nearly forty minutes, we were able to prep everything else and mix drinks! The next thing to get cookin were the veggies. This part of the meal was particularly important tonight, no not because my mom would yell at me if I didn't have them, but because my assistant was/is a vegetarian. With all the diced up veggies ready to throw in a pan I split half the simmering garlic mix onto our designated veggie pan with a little more butter and white wine. I figure I used about half a bottle of white whine and a stick of butter on the whole meal that night just to keep things lubricated.

While I started frying up the veggie mix my assistant pulled the potatoes out of the boiling pot and prepped them for destruction. The potatoes are super easy to make and, although they came out a little thick, they are extremely tasty. To make them all you have to do is take your favorite cheese (in this case we were using a smoked Gruyère) and some sliced carrot and mash them all together in a bowl. As you mash it's always good to add a little olive oil and whatever minor seasoning you enjoy as well.

In between mashing (yes, your arms will get tired) I continued to fry up veggies in my special sauce and administer light dashes of white wine to the steaks to keep them from smoking and browning too much. Once the veggies were near completion I split the remaining onion/garlic sauce between two sauce pans. For the vegetarian sauce I continued adding little bits of butter, while the carnivores got the grease and fat from the steaks. I reduced the fatty grease while adding butter until both sauces were thicker like a gravy which, it turns out, was not particularly difficult either. By this time the Steaks were nearing completion, they had little brown crispy bits on them and the insides of the thickest steak was barely pink. Since steaks, and most meats as I understand it, continue cooking for a few minutes after you pull them off the heat I figured this was a good time to pull them for presentation preparation.

Everything was still warm, still smelled good, and easy to arrange for my guests. We oohed and awed over the presentation (come on we're art students, composition man!)  then dug right in.

Everyone seemed to like it, even my vegetarian friend (although I'm not sure how he maintains his girlish figure only eating things like asparagus, potatoes, and red onions). The only critique I received was that the potatoes were too thick (I think this was probably due to the cheese to potato ratio)  but that their flavor was excellent. We ate and drank (red wine thanks to my assistant) and had a great time, so I feel that my first venture into the world of cooking was a great success! Thanks to Daniel Kole for taking such great pictures! He snaps the pictures I fill him with food, that's our deal and I think I'm getting the better half of it (but don't tell him).

That's all for now, thanks for reading. I'll be back with more in a couple weeks!