Monday, 31 October 2011

Simply Fresh: Casual Dining at Home

Simply Fresh 
Casual Dining at Home 
by Jeff Morgan
Ruby Tuesday
Hardcover, 216 pages

Good Friends, Good Food

America's iconic restaurant Ruby Tuesday has been a celebration of simple and fun for almost 40 years with the mantra Good Friends, Good Food. Now Jeff Morgan, gourmet food writer, cookbook author and wine writer, shares the essence of Ruby Tuesday's founder Sandy Beall's food philosophy and some of the most popular dishes from the restaurant so that you can create this atmosphere in your own home. Or backyard.. or potluck... or any get-together with friends, loved-ones and family. 

There are over 100 delicious and simple recipes from brunch to dessert, with corresponding full-colour (stunning!) photos. Jeff even includes beverage recommendations for each dish, many from Ruby Tuesday's famous bar drinks selection. 

Chapters include:
* Drinks * Appetizers & Side Dishes * Brunch * Salads & Soups * Pasta * Seafood * Beef, Pork, & Poultry * Desserts *

We enjoyed Ruby Tuesday's Classic Burger on the grill. A delicious way to wrap up grill season before the snow flies. For those of you who got the early taste of winter - I'm sure it won't last. There'll still be a chance to get out there and do some late-seasons grilling before we wrap it up. 

Some other delicious dishes to look forward to in Simply Fresh - Tai Phoon Shrimp, Saffron Tomato Soup, or Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice and Cucumber Raita, and Ruby Tuesday's famous Mac 'n Cheese.

Time to invite a couple of good friends over for some good food!

The Classic Burger­
—From Simply Fresh

It’s no accident that we take our burgers seriously. Nearly one out of every five diners at Ruby Tuesday orders one. That adds up to some 13 million burgers each year. A great burger should be plump, juicy, and flavor filled. At the restaurant, our burgers are prepared simply—seasoned only with salt and pepper—to showcase the rich, natural taste of the meat. They are typically dressed with roasted garlic mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce, onion slices, and dill pickles. We hold back on the ketchup, however, which is served on the side. Of course, we love ketchup as much as anyone, but we prefer to leave it up to our guests whether they want to add it. The same is true for mustard.

Serves 4

This burger is all about the beef. You can use any ground cut you like, but we recommend freshly ground beef chuck—the hamburger gold standard for most butchers. With about 20 percent fat content, chuck is still juicy and flavorful when it comes off the fire.

Roasted garlic mayonnaise (page 195) adds a special touch. But if you don’t have time to make it from scratch, any top-notch commercial mayonnaise will yield excellent results, with or without the garlic.
And if you’re enjoying your burgers with wine, look for a fruit-forward red like Zinfandel or Malbec. Rosé is a fine match for burgers, too. It has bright acidity and fruit flavors that can stand up to onion, mayonnaise, and ketchup. By extension, fruity Sangria (page 12) is also an excellent choice for your glass.


2 pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon canola oil, if cooking on the stovetop
Roasted garlic mayonnaise (page 195) or mayonnaise (page 194), or store-bought, for spreading
4 hamburger buns (such as ciabatta, potato, or English muffin), split and toasted
4 to 8 leaves butter or other green leaf lettuce
4 tomato slices
4 onion slices
8 round dill pickle slices (optional)
Ketchup, for serving (optional)

Prepare an outdoor charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat. Or, have ready a large, heavy skillet.

Place the beef in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and add several grinds of pepper. Using your hands, mix together thoroughly. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Gently shape each portion into a ball, then toss the ball back and forth between your hands a few times to eliminate any air pockets. Gently flatten each ball into a patty about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

If not using an outdoor grill, coat the surface of the skillet with the canola oil and heat on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Place the patties on the grill rack or in the skillet and cook, turning once, for about 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare or about 7 minutes on each side for medium. Remove from the grill or pan.

Spread a dollop of mayonnaise on the bottom half of each bun. Place a leaf or two of lettuce on top of the mayonnaise. Set the burger on top of the lettuce. Layer 1 tomato slice, 1 onion slice, and 2 pickle slices on top of the burger. Cover with the top half of the bun. If desired, cut the burgers in half for ease of eating. Pass the ketchup at the table.

­Tips for Backyard Barbecues
When hosting a casual backyard barbecue, the more you plan in advance, the more free time you’ll have to enjoy with friends and family. The following tips will help ensure you’re having as much fun as your guests.

1. Check your fuel source. It’s no fun running out of propane gas or charcoal briquettes with hungry guests waiting to eat.

2. Ready any other dishes in advance, such as salads, side dishes, and desserts, and set them aside in a cool place or refrigerate them. It’s a good idea to plan a menu that includes as many dishes as possible that require no heating.

3. If your party is on a hot summer day, make sure there is plenty of available shade. If it is an evening get-together, provide enough light to allow your guests to move about safely.

4. Have plenty of ice on hand and an ice chest for cold drinks. White wines need to be kept cold, and red wines should be stored out of the sun. Warm red wine will taste “hot,” or alcoholic.

5. And speaking of alcohol, not everyone drinks it. Remember to provide plenty of nonalcoholic drinks as well.

6. With finger food, napkins are required. Don’t be caught short!