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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's the Fourth of July............. Let's Get Ready To G-RRRumble!!!

It's that time of year again, folks! 

The time to dust the cobwebs off that grill, if you haven't already started your official grilling season, what are you waiting for? If not now then when?

Yep, it is summertime & the living is easy.

I don't know about the jumping fish or how high the cotton is.
I mean I live in San Francisco, not in Scarlett O'Hara's beloved Tara. 
Hell, I doubt if the most devoted Atlantan could tell you anything about cotton these days other than what the bid is on the commodities market, and, even then, only if they were financially inclined.

Nope, the traditional lazy, hazy days of summer don't really apply here in Bagdhad by the Bay. It feels more like November than July, but I'll be darned if we are not just as patriotic as you guys that are sweltering in the heat of the dog days of summer.

Why July 4th is incredibly meaningful to us! Sure we grumble about the frozen tundra the city is in July & August. But, hey, we get out our down jackets, our gloves & scarves and excitedly gather around the beautiful Golden Gate to watch the fireworks reflect magnificent colors off the water. 

You may wonder why choose not to look up in the air when we view these pyrotechnic marvels.
Well, that's simple. It's a three letter word that really makes you want to use as many four letter words as possible when it is in our midst. Carl Sandburgh who was probably drunk off hid gourd when he composed this little ditty, says of it:

"The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

Doesn't that sound lovely?

Yeah right, until your fingers are blue from it while standing in 55 degree weather motionless while the city spends a gazillion dollars of tax payer money so you can ooohh & ahhhh at the colorful reflections in the bay's dark waters. 

To make it clear to the meanest intelligence: it is too damn foggy to ever see the fireworks in San Francisco!!!

But somehow, every year throngs of thousands clog the street arteries of the Northern waterfront of the city, expectantly & exuberantly hoping for a miracle. Yes, they fervently hope that whatever deity they pray to will see fit to allow the foggy equivalent of  parting of the Red Sea, just long enough for them to see flashes of light exploding in starriest climes. Never has 25 lousy minutes meant so much to so many. 

Lucky for us we don't have to join the huddled masses yearning to be free from fog to have a spectacular view of the display (if the weather ever permits it), we can watch from the comfort of our cosy little apartment. 

I do feel, however, a pang of pity for those who drive all the way over here from some godforsaken place just to spend their holiday with us. Thinking that somehow this is the place to be for the spectacle.

Silly rabbits, Trix are for kids!

Here's what the fireworks look like on a really good clear July 4th:

Now I know most of you are looking at the pretty bridge right now. 

I'm not talking about pretty lights on the bridge. 
It's the Fourth of July, people, I want to see a dazzling light extravaganza.
I can see the lights on the Bay Bridge every night.

No!!!! I'm talking about the puffs of smoke on the left side of the picture. 
That, my friends, is the 4th of July fireworks display in a good year!

So consider yourselves forewarned. 
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, plan a trip into San Francisco for the fourth of July unless you are a blind Eskimo because then, at least, the 50 degree weather in July won't chill the marrow of your bones &  the fact that it's too foggy to see won't bother you either. I mean you'll be able to hear it, so if you're blind this is the perfect place to experience the fireworks because you know you won't be missing anything!

Well one way you can still celebrate the same way as the rest of the country is by grilling.
This July 4th weekend, I thought would be great to grill burgers but give them a slightly  healthier twist.


So the hubby & I will be making: 

Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers with Chipotle Mayo


For the burgers:
  • 1 lb. of ground chicken breast
  • 4 oz. of extra sharp white cheddar or Manchego Cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
  • 2 roasted jalapeno chilis, seeds & membrane removed and cut into small dice (blackened on the stove top or grill until blistered then cooled)
  • 2 whole scallions, lighter green parts only, finely minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 pickled jalapenos, sliced thinly (for garnish)
  • 4 slices of Brandywine or your favorite thick juicy tomato
  • 1/2  avocado, thinly sliced into eighths
  • 4 hamburger buns (I like to use brioche-like buns)

For the chipotle aioli:
  • 1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped into a paste
  • 4 tablespoons of Best Foods Low fat Mayo (aka Hellman's on the East Coast)
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • 1/2 garlic clove smashed & minced into a paste.
  • 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the Chipotle Mayo in a bowl until well combined. Taste for seasonings & acidity. Adjust seasonings.
  2. Then place in a serving bowl & set aside.
  3. In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, scallions, roasted jalapenos, salt & fresh ground pepper & combine thoroughly but do not overmix.
  4. Divide the chicken evenly into four and, using your hands, shape them into round 1/2" thick patties. Remember the patties will swell in thickness & shrink in diameter as you cook them, so shape them accordingly.
  5. Set them aside until you are ready to cook them. Then prepare the shrimp & then the lamb burgers, if serving them as well.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap & water.
  7. Turn on your grill & preheat it for at least 20 minutes. Do the same with your broiler.
  8. When you are ready to cook the chicken burgers, place them over medium heat, & cook them on one side for 5 minutes without touching them. Then give them a 1/4 turn on your grill or griddle, leaving them to cook on the same side for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  9. Then flip the burgers over to the other side, cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes. After which, you will give them another 1/4 turn for the last 3-4 minutes. This will provide with pretty grill, crosshatched grill marks.
  10. The chicken needs to be cooked all the way through until well-done & there is no sign of pink. When it doubt, take a peek by cutting through the center of one.
  11. Remove from the heat, on a foil lined baking sheet, place your four buns, cut side up & top each half with cheddar. Broiling for 45 seconds or until the cheese is melted to your liking. Place a bottom half of the bun on a plate.
  12. Place a chicken burger on the bottom half of each bun. Garnish the burger with the tomato, pickled jalapeno & avocado slices. You may want to mash the avocado slightly with a fork if you couldn't cut it into thin fans.
  13. Serve with the Chipotle Aioli on the side. 
This recipe serves 4 independent-minded patriotic revelers.
You can serve with a simple mixed green salad or potato salad.
Keep it simple! 
A icy cold Corona goes well with this but so does a maragarita.
We'll be drinking a 2001 Leroy Auxey-Duresses, but it's your party & you can drink what you want to... drink what you want to.... drink what you want to...

Shrimp Scallion & Ginger Burgers with Sriracha Aioli

Lamb Black Olive & Feta Burgers with Tszatiki Sauce. 

All served on brioche buns & pitas with slices of Brandywine Heirloom tomatoes & slices of avocado.

Sounds weird & complicated, right?

Anything but!
BTW, all of the recipes are mine, but none of the photos are mine. 
I'll replace the food shots when I cook the burgers this weekend.
Thanks to Google images for providing a little color to the blog.
A food blog without the pics is like fireworks in the fog..... POINTLESS!

Happy Independence Day!
Long Live the Stars & Stripes!!!

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