Sweet and Sour Burger Buddies w/ Super Slaw

DSC_0276So you don’t normally need to encourage kids much to eat burgers.
But if you make them look like little alien friends then it’s just that little bit more enjoyable. Right kids?!
We also make it more enjoyable and healthy here by making what we can ourselves so that we know what we’re eating and also for that satisfaction of eating food you’ve created together.

We’ve made a sweet and sour ketchup using fresh ingredients, mince from the butcher to roll our own burger patties, our very own Japanese flavoured coleslaw and a couple of salad extras. We did buy the bread rolls (boring wholemeal sorry) from the bakery though.
Who has time to make bread huh? The baker, that’s who.

Maybe another time.

Sweet and Sour Ketchup – makes about 600ml
DSC_0253 DSC_0255 DSC_0262DSC_0256

1 wedge of really ripe pineapple
4-5 ripe cooking tomatoes – core them, score them ,roast them, peel them, chop them
1 red capsicum -deseeded and chopped
1 medium onion – peeled and sliced or diced
4 cloves chopped garlic
100ml malt vinegar – balsamic is good also for a darker, richer sauce
1 tablespoon sugar – I use raw wherever possible
Spices – I’ve use star anise, cumin, clove, cinnamon and mustard powder. Just a little of each

Sweat the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the spices and capsicum and cook gently until soft and fragrant.
Add the pineapple and sugar next. Cook this until the pineapple has broken down and the sugar starts to get a little caramel. Add the vinegar and reduce until almost dry. Tomatoes next and simmer gently for 20 mins or so. Add some salt. Puree. This will keep in the fridge for about 10 days.

Super Slaw



1 wedge sugar loaf cabbage – shredded
1 medium carrot – grated
1 lime
3 spring onions – washed and sliced. I used a bunch from last week that I salvaged
DSC_0260 DSC_0263 They looked gone but some cold water and a good peeling gave me another use from them.
1 tablespoon sliced pickled ginger
1/2 cup mint leaves – slice them or tear them but wait until you’re ready to mix
2 tablespoons Japanese style mayonnaise


Put it all in a bowl and mix it well. Go on, get your  (freshly washed) hands dirty.
Super slaw doesn’t wear a cape, but it is well dressed! (boom, tish.)

Beef Burger Pattie

Here’s a secret recipe that only the very best chefs know about.
It is handed down through generations and kept within our kind.
It even has a secret handshake.



Freshly ground beef mince, sea salt, cracked black pepper (optional).
About 125 grams per serve ( quarter pounder you see) depending on your rolls.

Yep. Seriously, you don’t need to put sauces or spices or breadcrumbs in. Or egg.
You can, but you don’t need them. We’re making burgers not rissoles.
What I find works best is getting good mince from your butcher (cheap supermarket mince will taste as it sounds).
I have a hand operated bench top mincer and can make my own using cuts like chuck steak, flank or short rib for great flavour.
If you’re lucky enough to own a kitchen aid it’s possible to get a mincing attachment. Mince it twice.
Season it well. You want it to taste like beef. It’s important to make the patties 1.5 times wider than the bun.
Keep them flat.They will shrink in diameter and puff up a little.
All the other beautiful sauces and salads etc that we’ll put on is where your burger will come to life.

Cooking – use a bbq or hot fry pan. ‘Get it brown then turn it down’ is your new meat cooking mantra.
Toast the rolls with a little cheese and assemble.
I’ve put pitted green olives on skewers for burger buddy eyes.
This helps hold them together until you get to the table too.
It also helps a lot if you want to cut them in half.

What Kid Did


Rolled beef patties, stirred the sauce, mixed the coleslaw. Kid helped peel the skins off the tomatoes.
Stuck the eyes in the burgers.
Today we also went for a half hour walk together before dinner.
We are trying to make this a regular part of our dinner routine.

Burger Bling

We’ve added sliced beetroot, no surprises there.
If you don’t like cabbage, finely sliced ice berg is a good substitute.
Guacamole or even just nice slices of avocado.
Some other Asian condiments such as hoi-sin w/ coriander and peanuts.
Fried egg of course.
Grated carrot or zucchini in your burger is a good way to squeeze some vegetable content in. I highly recommend being open and up front about this though. I’m no expert but I think it’s the whole point of engaging them in the process. Otherwise kids may become suspicious of anything you put in front of them.
Feta cheese, caramelised onions, pickles etc.. whatever makes you feel happy and healthy.


Breakfast the next day saw leftover rolls, slaw and ketchup become breaky burgers with the addition of a little pancetta (fancy bacon) ,avocado and fried egg.
The sauce was also a great addition to some of Grand Dad’s sausage rolls we had stored in the freezer.
More about those another time.

A Brief History of Burgers.
This is one one of those ‘ nobody actually knows but there’s a few versions going around’ scenarios.Nobody doubts that the name we have today comes from the German city of Hamburg. There are a few claims to the original by German and American folk in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, long before it became the cult classic it is today. No doubt USA  chain restaurants have helped perpetuate it’s popularity.
There are stories though of the Mongol hordes in the 1200’s riding all day with pieces of meat wrapped in skin under their saddles. The days riding would shred the meat and the heat from the horse would cook it. I doubt they had a sesame seed bun or a sweet tangy sauce to accompany. They made their way across Europe, introducing the idea of ground meat to Russia then further afield as they went. This is where steak tartar is said to have come from. The cooking process was applied and we eventually ended up with the Hamburger. People have been sticking meat between bread for a long time so it probably belongs to the ages rather than a single bright spark.

Vive le burger evolution.

Hot Sauce (probably not for kids)

Last night I was at a friendly little bar in Sandgate having a beer to cap off a pretty hectic week at work and unwind a little. The bar guy suggested the Thai take away next door for food and let me eat it at the bar. He then pulled out a jar of his home made chilli sambal to try out with my fried rice. It was pretty good. Spicy, fresh and tangy. I’m not a sweet chilli kind of guy. We got talking about how he makes it, what type of chillies he uses and where he gets them from (grows his own). How just the right amount can really liven up a dish. Kid doesn’t eat much chilli not surprisingly (a little is okay) so I always keep some on hand to add to my own meal. Next week I’m going to return the favour and take that friendly bar guy some of my own hot sauce for him to try.

Basic Hot Sauce – or as I like to call it – AWESOME sauce.

10 Long Red Chillies (I use cayenne because they are fleshy and readily available).
300 ml apple cider vinegar.
175 ml water.
1 tbsp. sea salt.
5 cloves garlic – chopped thin.
1 small brown onion – chopped thin.
2 star anise 1 tsp. cumin seeds.
Handy Hint -Toast the spices and use a tea holder to immerse them in the sauce. This way they can be easily removed removed upon completion.


Simmer the ingredients gently on the stove top for 25 mins or until everything is tender. Remove spices and blend really well with a stick blender or food processor. Store in the refrigerator for up to 8 weeks.
ChiiliGreen chillies work well also but won’t stay green.
You could make a kid friendly version by halving the vinegar, replacing some chilli for red capsicum and the salt for sugar.
If you like Thai food simmer some lemongrass and lime leaves and remove before blending.
For a peri peri feel add extra cumin, extra garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil and finish with some lemon juice.
Cardamon and curry leaves will give good curry feel.

Chilli2How hot do you like it?
Chillies come in hundreds of varieties and vary quite massively in terms of flavour and particularly heat. Ask the supplier if you don’t know what your buying. Beware the Habenero, they are evil. The bulk of the heat in a chilli comes from the seeds and the pith (the white bit holding the seeds on) so if you want the flavour and less heat, just remove them. To do this cut the chillies lengthways and scrape the inside with a spoon. Avoid touching the insides and always wash your hands with lemon juice and cold water  (hot water will activate the heat) , then hot soapy water afterwards. Don’t touch yourself or anyone you know anywhere sensitive for a little while just to be sure.
Trivia – the heat in chillies comes from a chemical called capsaicin and is measured by something called the Scoville scale. It begins around the 1500 mark and climbs to nearly 600 000 units. Tobasco sauce is rated at 3000 whilst cayenne are 50 000.
Chillies are high in vitamin c and antioxidants and rumoured to boost serotonin levels ( they make you happy).

What Kid did– Nothing. This is an adults one so she was probably reading an adventure story or playing in her room.

Taco Taco Taco

Tacos are just everywhere at the moment. A massive rise in the popularity of Mexican/Tex-Mex street food has put tacos on the radar. They are incredibly easy to do at home and don’t have to be greasy, cheesy junk food. On the contrary, tacos can be a healthy well balanced meal that you don’t need to slave over. You can use hot or cold fillings or both. There are plenty of jobs for the kids to get amongst and at eating time everybody is involved in the making of their own dinner. You can choose hard of soft shell (if you have kids familiar with the second Kung Fu Panda movie this theme will get them involved) and put whatever you like in them.

Tonight I have my GF and my big brother coming for dinner. Gf is vegetarian (and hot) and so tonight we all are. Gladly. We all have good appetites so I’m serving 2 fillings –French lentils w/ eggplant and chipotle or Crushed chickpeas w/ olives, beans and lime along with guacamole, cottage cheese, hommus and a little shredded ice berg and mayo salad. And my very own home-made hot sauce. We are having both hard shells and soft corn tortillas, available from supermarkets. Gluten free varieties are easy enough to find for those friends with requirements.

French Lentils with Eggplant And Chipotle
1 cup dried French/puy lentils, soaked for at least 2 hours (overnight is better)and well drained.
2 celery sticks – small dice or slice.
5 garlic cloves- crushed.
1 medium eggplant -cut in half lengthways then 1cm or so slice.
3 anise stars.
2 tspn ground cumin, 2 tspn smoked paprika.
1 tblspn crushed chipotle chilli.
1 cup washed and picked coriander leaves.
1 tin crushed tomatoes or 6 ripe red tomatoes roasted and pureed. The first option is quicker and richer, the second option gives a fresher lighter flavour.
Olive oil. Plenty.

I start with the lentils – simmer them gently in lightly salted water until tender (about 10 mins-depends on how long you soaked them for),drain and rinse them well.
Meanwhile I’m sautéing celery and garlic in olive oil until soft and fragrant, adding more olive oil and then the eggplant. The eggplant will be thirsty for that olive oil – use enough to cover the bottom of your pan by 2-3mms, turn the heat up a little. When the eggplant is brown and soft I add spices and the soaked and cooked lentils, the chipotle and finally the tomatoes. Simmer gently for about 30 mins. Remove the anise stars. If your mix is too wet it will be awkward in tacos. Finish with a little S&P and chopped coriander. Just like that.

Crushed chickpeas w/ olives, beans and lime
1 cup dried chickpeas -soaked for at least 2 hours (overnight is better)
10 cloves garlic – crushed.It seems like a lot, but go with me here. Or leave some out.
1 red capsicum – de-seeded and 1/2 cm or so slice.
250gm green beans – topped and tailed- cut into 2-3 cm pieces. Blanched.
(I lower them into the chick pea pot for 30 seconds using a small strainer. Rinse under cold water)
1 cup of your favourite olives- pipped and broken up a little
Juice of 2 limes
2 spring onions – sliced
Salt and pepper

Cook the chick peas in lightly salted, boiling water until tender (about 30 mins, depends on soaking time,)drain and rinse them well.
In another pot I sauté garlic until golden. I add a little salt to the garlic whilst cooking to bring out the flavour and the sweetness. Next the red capsicums, sauté until soft. Next the soaked and cooked chickpeas. I use a fork to smash the chick peas against the side of the pot as they’re cooking to break them up a bit. Next the olives and blanched green beans, finishing with some spring onions, S&P and lime juice. Done.

Picfixies4Guacamole is made in advance and refrigerated, ice berg lettuce shredded and mixed with a smidge of Jap mayo that I happen to keep in the fridge.
The table is arranged with plates for everybody, plenty of napkins, the cottage cheese, hommus and hot sauce (totally optional).
And then most importantly the taco shells go in the oven until crunchy, the soft tortillas go under the grill to get all toasty like.
Then we’re ready to eat.

The Wash Up
There was plenty of food for the four of us with some of the fillings left over for mid week snacks. The chipotle is spicy on its own but quite mild overall. There is plenty of variety in flavours and textures. Next time I’ll have the taco shells on the table first so the fillings don’t get all eaten whilst waiting.


What Kid Did
Kid and I find plenty to do together tonight. The coriander needs washing and picking. The garlic needs crushing – Kid uses a garlic press. The guacamole needs mixing. The lentils and chick peas need soaking . The green beans need picking. The table needs setting


Wash herbs or lettuce by submerging them in cold water, remove by lifting out of the water and then drain well. You will see any residue left in the bottom. It’s particularly important with coriander as it holds a lot of dirt that you don’t want to eat. Right kids!

Other quick and easy filling suggestions
*Boil/Bbq some corn on the cob, scrape the kernels off and toss with a little olive oil, chopped coriander and toasted pine nuts.
*Sauté kidney beans with a little onion, garlic, chipotle (or regular) chilli.
*Chop some tomato, cucumber and mint. Add a little lime juice and toasted pepitas.
*Leftover roast chicken – pick it off the bones, shred it, add a little mayo, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.
*Grated carrots w/ dukkah, lemon juice and olive oil.
*Leftover bolognaise or savoury mince.
*Grilled white fish broken up with a little mayo or tartare.
*Lightly dressed coleslaw.
*Anything you like.                                                                        


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We All Eat And It Would Be A Sad Waste Of Opportunity To Eat Badly~~ Anna Thomas

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