Last Saturday, I found myself in my formal apron (and matching hair toy, of course) facing some 25 people across a kitchen counter. They were there to learn how to make savory dishes with blueberries. I was there to (gulp) teach.
Here’s the backstory: my favorite blueberry farm puts out a newsletter year-round. Ann (owner of said farm) mentioned in one newsletter that she was starting classes of various kinds and did anyone have any ideas? Hmm, I thought, there’s a limit to the number of blueberry muffins, cobblers, and pies I need to eat, but I still have blueberries in my freezer. I wonder . . . So I emailed Ann my idea, she asked if I wanted to help teach, and the next thing I knew we were advertising “Beyond the Blueberry Muffin: Savory Dishes with Blueberries.”
Now, prior to this I had never taught a cooking class, or much of anything else. Years ago I trained a bunch of secretaries on an extremely boring computer program, but that’s about the extent of my teaching experience. But what the heck? All those hours watching the Food Network ought to pay off somehow, right? So I requested recipes from a co-worker’s daughter—a recent Le Cordon Bleu grad—dug through my files, and formulated a plan.
It all went remarkably well. Ann and I went back and forth demonstrating everything from salads and salsas to BBQ sauces and burgers. (Yes, hamburgers. With blueberries. They’re to die for; recipe follows.) We had a sous chef and everything; Elaura kept the dishes clean and supplies coming, bless her heart. Ann’s husband Pearce was stationed outside at the grill, taking care of the chicken, pork loin, and those infamous burgers. The crowd actually listened when I talked—I was a little concerned about that, going in—and seemed to enjoy the stories, tips and trivia I added to my portion of the show. We cooked for 3 or so hours, then set out the food and chowed down. (I’d show you a picture of the food, but I forgot to take one.) Our audience went home happy with books of recipes, free cutting boards, and full tummies. I went home and took a long nap.
It was all grand fun. I don’t think I’m quite FN material (I’ve seen myself on camera, it’s a little scary) but I did enjoy showing off my culinary “expertise” and spending time with a great group of people. So if anybody wants a cooking class teacher, my formal apron is clean again, and maybe…
Meanwhile, here’s the Blueberry Burger Recipe. Don’t be scared, once it’s cooked you’ll never know they’re in there.
Blueberry Beef Burgers
2 slices whole-wheat bread, torn into pieces
1/3 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) blueberries
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces lean ground beef
Place bread in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Transfer to large bowl. (No need to wash food processor’s workbowl.)
Remaining ingredients EXCEPT ground beef to food processor; process until pureed. Scrape into bowl with breadcrumbs. Add ground beef and mix well. (I like to put on plastic gloves and use the tools God gave me for mixing—it’s much easier than using a potato masher or spoon. The gloves keep the meat mixture out from under your fingernails.) Form into ½ inch thick patties.
Preheat broiler or grill to medium-high. Oil broiler pan or grill (prior to heating is best) to prevent sticking. Cook patties until they reach your preferred level of doneness; 4-5 minute per side should get you to medium-well territory. You can also cook patties on the stove, preferably in an iron skillet. Do not mash them with your spatula; they’re extremely juicy and will make a mess.
Serve immediately, with or without buns and toppings. If using buns, I recommend toasting them because, as mentioned before, these are extremely juicy. Make 4 good-sized burgers.