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Main Dishes, Side Dishes

Food Blog Battle: Pete Bakes!

by Nick

I was really excited to have this food blog battle with Pete from Pete Bakes mainly just because we realized we could have an in person tasting! If this is the first time you’ve seen a food blog battle here, they are pretty straightforward. Each person picks an ingredient from a list and then both competitors have a certain amount of time to make their dish.

These were our ingredients for this battle: Leeks and Lamb

The ingredients of choice.

The ingredients of choice.

So, once again, and I know this because we ate them together, I managed to make almost the exact same dish as my competitor. We both went for a lamb burger slider. This was the basic recipe I used:

Lamb Burger Sliders

– 2 pounds ground lamb
– 6 ounces feta
– 2-3 Tablespoons of rosemary and parsley, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– Salt and Pepper
– A few glugs of beer (I probably used about half of a beer). This keeps the burger nice and moist.

Now you could stuff the feta into the center of each burger, but I like to mix the feta in. That way as the feta melts, it provides extra moisture to every bite.

Adding feta makes it salty and juicy.

Adding feta makes it salty and juicy.

I also wanted to add a bunch of herbs to this burger. But let’s talk about one herb I wanted to add, but couldn’t find anywhere: MINT. I have two theories why I couldn’t find it in any of the three stores I checked: 1) Pete knew I was making burgers and tried to spite me by buying up all the mint in the entire Metro area or 2) We happened to be making these dishes on Kentucky Derby weekend. (Mint juleps anyone?)

Anyway, I did my best.

Adding other stuff except no mint!

Adding other stuff except no mint!

I formed these into perfect 4 ounce patties because I like my mini-burgers (sliders) to be about half as large as a normal burger. Any smaller than that and I find that they get a bit dry. 4 ounces is perfect though.

For me, mini equals 4 ounces.

For me, mini equals 4 ounces.

Since I was just making burgers, I thought I would kick it up a notch by making my own buns. I must say that these turned out fantastic and were possibly the best part of my dish. The recipe which I got courtesy of the Wild Yeast Blog, was pretty intense. It requires a preferment batch of dough and some interesting ingredients (molasses), but it is all worth it. They turned out beautifully.

Sweet buns, dude.

Sweet buns, dude.

Now lets talk about the leeks. I had two things I wanted to do with these guys. First, I wanted to make some caramelized leeks to put on the burgers. Anytime you caramelize something, you need a lot of it. I used six leeks and cut them into fairly uniform matchsticks.

This was like 6 leeks.

This was like 6 leeks.

I sauteed these for about twenty minutes on medium heat in a few tablespoons of olive oil until most were browned nicely. Leeks don’t have as much liquid as onions and they don’t caramelize quite the same. They will burn easily if you take your eye off them.

Caramelizing and frying!

Caramelizing and frying!

See the pot in the back? That’s filled with canola oil. I also had the idea to split up a leek and make a blooming leek! I’m sure most people have tried the awesome blooming onion appetizer that when deep-frired, opens like a flower. Then you can break off each delicious fried section.

I thought it might be possible to split a leek open so that it opens in the same way.

For the batter for this, I used a traditional beer batter:

Buttermilk Beer Batter

- 2 Cups Flour
– 1.5 Cups buttermilk
– 1.5 Cups beer (I used an IPA because that is what I happened to have.)
– Big pinch of salt
– Lemon zest (optional)

A good batter will most likely have both of these.

A good batter will most likely have both of these.

For the blooming leek I sliced it vertically into eighths, hoping it would kind of peel open. I also left a large section of green on it, which made it super easy to dip into the oil.

Blooming leek!

Blooming leek!

I was expecting this to be a pretty big FAIL, and it didn’t “bloom” perfectly, but it tasted okay. Tasted like fried leek which tastes pretty darn good. To serve it I cut off the green stem and people just kind of peeled off parts, like they would the onion variety.

Turned out okay!

Turned out okay!

But let’s get down to business: The burgers. We both decided to make burgers and they were both stellar. Here is something you don’t get to see often on food blog battles: an actual side by side photo of the two dishes:

Tough call.

Tough call.

I should also mention that Pete’s Lamb in a Slanket where really inventive and amazing. They were a really cool appetizer. No doubt about it. I didn’t take a photo of them, but I’m sure he has a few photos of them up on his post which you should obviously check out.

This battle was the exact reason why I wanted to start doing this. It was awesome to get to meet someone else who likes cooking and food as much as I do. We had a few beers and a few burgers and it was a great time.

So check out Pete’s post, and obviously, vote for your favorite!

Also, the polls close at noon EST tomorrow (Wednesday).

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16 comments on “Food Blog Battle: Pete Bakes!

  1. Sorry Macheesmo, I had to vote for the other guy. Mostly because his deep fried things looked mad good, but also because it appears that he grinds his own meat…in a food processor. I don't vote against people like that. Gives me nightmares.

  2. I left a comment on Pete's blog stating that I thought you two had a tie. Both of your dishes were well constructed and sounded absolutely delicious. I visited both of your blogs and voted for each of you! Sorry, but I just couldn't choose which one was, in my opinion, better!

    I'll be checking back with you both often.

  3. Susan, that was the 1000th comment! You get to pick a book from any book I've reviewed.

    Thanks for voting everyone… it is a tight battle. Just in case it isn't clear, you can't vote more than once total. If you vote on my site and then on Pete's site, only your first vote will be tallied.

  4. I think you purposefully picked a really gross looking picture of his food to put on your post. I'm sure your burgers tasted better though, beer is the key.

  5. Great job to you both! I only discovered lamb in college because my mother won't eat it – she calls it "old dead sheep." Appetizing!

    Also, I swear I was going to post EXACTLY where Susan did, but I had the feeling my posts were getting gratuitous in seeking out #1000! Dangit!

  6. Re the "blooming leek"… I've not tried this, but after cutting the leek, if you were to soak it in ice water, do you think the layers might separate/curl a bit more (like doing "carrot curls)? The only problem would be getting enough water OUT of the leek before battering and frying to prevent splatter disasters in order to see if this experiment works…

  7. Sorry nick, I voted Pete because there were two tasty dishes and those indian spices seem delish. love the accent of sesame on your buns, though!

  8. @ Karen, I did soak in water actually! Sorry I forgot to include that photo.

    I let it dry after doing that. It definitely helped, but I just don't think leeks are made to really "bloom" like an onion….

  9. Well, the battle rages on! I missed the 1000th comment, but still seem to have something to say, regarding the blooming leek. I think you needed to cut off the green top Before dropping it in oil, even if it Was a good handle for dipping. I really liked the idea of leaving it whole though, that was creative. I do believe it tasted great. I had to vote for Pete, although I felt disloyal doing it, I just felt that he was a little more innovative this time, and his plate looked so good, with the different spices and jam and dipping sauce. Other stuff you have made was very inspired, Nick, and I enjoy your blog so much. The beer in the burgers, with no mint at all was no doubt delicious, and making the perfect little buns was an awesome touch.

  10. A bloomin' leek, homemade buns, and a beer-enhanced lamb burger??? Of course you won! This is my first time at your site and I am a likin' what I am a seein'.

    -Siri

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