Cheeseburger In Paradise

I have a birthday coming up in six days time. Next Sunday, October 4, I turn 36. I am a big fan of birthdays. People come out of the wood works via social media. I am bombarded with a bevy of warm emails from my family and friends around the world. Wiesbaden, Cape Town, London and Auckland. Calls and messages flood in from those who matter most to me. The anticipation and excitement are both palpable. I am not a fan of surprises but this is the one time of year when it's the best way to roll. You know when your birthday approaches, you start to receive cards from insurances agencies, emails and sometimes discount offers from different sources. This morning, I received an early card stating that "birthdays are a new start; fresh beginnings, a time to start new endeavors with new goals." This seems especially apropos as I start a new job on Monday. I am very excited about the outstanding opportunities that await and as my British cousins like to say, I cannot wait to get "stuck in". This past week, a dear friend told me that when she was a little girl, she couldn't wait to turn 36. She has no idea where this number came from but 36 was it and she said, this year is where it all began for her. So I will be blowing out my candles with extra lung space next Sunday knowing that the best is yet to come.

Fake Shake Shack Burger
Adapted from the always exceptional Smitten Kitchen

*We usually prepare burgers on the grill but no more. The below recipe tastes like the "I can't stop dreaming about" burgers you get in fast food restaurants and burger stands. Smashing them in the pan to desired width is not only fun but makes for a superb, juicy, finger-licking-good burger experience. We plan to add this into regular Friday night rotation.



1 lb of beef. If you are lucky and have a butcher, go for the ground sirloin and brisket mixture. If you do not, chuck with a 80/20 fat ratio will suffice. Please just make sure that you are buying organic, grass fed beef! In fact, this should be the only type of beef that you procure.


4 potato rolls - potato variety is a must
4 TBS unsalted butter
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of cheese - your choice (we used cheddar)
Thinly sliced pickles
Thinly sliced tomatoes
Thinly sliced red onion
Crisp romaine lettuce



Heat a pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and place the buns face down in the pan. Cook until golden, approximately one minute. Check frequently as they can burn. No one likes burned buns. Place the buns on plates.


Shape your meat into four equal-sized balls. Place them on a plate lined with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes. You want to ensure that the burger is extra chilly once it hits the hot pan. Now is a good time to toast your buns. See above. Remove burgers from the freezer and dust with kosher salt as well as freshly ground black pepper. Add 2 TBS olive oil to your pan over high heat. Heat the pan until the oil begins to smoke, around one to two minutes. One at a time, add your patty to the pan and immediately flatten it to a 1/2 inch thickness. I was able to do this with a heavy spatula but you can use a normal spatula and then add a weight on top (think a jar of coconut oil). Cook for approximately two minutes for medium. Flip and add your cheese and cook for another two minutes. Repeat until all burgers are ready to rock and roll.


Put burgers on buns and tizzy them up with whatever wets your whistle. I go all the way: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickle, relish, red onion, lettuce and tomato. You won't stop at one. Bon appetit.

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