Samboosa

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Samboosa, samosa. Tomato, tomahto. Either way – savory pastry stuffed with meaty goodness. A fellow homeschooling mom made this for a multicultural fair we had a few months back and it was so good I just had to recreate it. It is a traditional Omani recipe: ground beef infused with deep tomato flavor, spices, herbs and vegetables, enrobed in crispy fried pastry dough. Better than any of the samosas you’d find in Jackson Heights or any other South Asian enclave.

IMG_3524 IMG_3526 IMG_3529 A long time ago, I was downright terrible at frying things. I would add things to the oil before it heated up properly. Or I wouldn’t regulate the heat carefully so after the first batch or two things would just go BAM – overly browned and out of commission. But then – then I got a candy thermometer. A wonderful little kitchen tool that helps with my caramels as much as my samosas (truth be told – this is the first time I’ve made them!).

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I kind of winged it with the wrapping. I recalled some filo wrapping directions for Spanakopita ages ago and tried to apply it here. I tried cutting a single sheet in half and folding – the results were way too big. I tried thirds – still too big. Folding a sheet in half, and cutting it down the middle made the perfect size and thickness.

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You will have some leftover filo left after making these. Not to fret. I am already dreaming up things to do with them. Baklava tassies? Or perhaps fill them with coconut (or nutella?!) and deep fry? I’ll keep you posted ;)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro or parsley
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (not a heaping tbsp, not even a full tbsp, rather a scant tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp each turmeric, cumin, black pepper and cayenne/chili pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste (I needed 1 1/4tsp, just taste it to make sure it tastes really good)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • filo sheets for wrapping
  • oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add beef, onion and garlic. Cook until meat browns, 7-8 minutes, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon. Keep scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add carrots, parsley/cilantro, tomato paste, spices and salt. Saute for 2 minutes. Add water and cover with a lid. Cook until liquid evaporates and carrots are tender.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil to 350 to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Take one sheet of filo, fold it in half lengthwise and cut down the middle, so you end up with two strips, two layers each. Place one tablespoon of filling on one end. Fold up into a triangle as shown above. In a bowl, mix flour and water. Brush on the final edge of the pastry to seal shut. Fry 3-4 minutes until golden.

Sausages with Peppers and Onions

IMG_3461 This past Sunday, my daughter turned 4. There was a time, a dark time, deep in the winter of 2011, when I thought I wouldn’t live to see that day. In my zombie-like state, trying to comfort my colicky baby between bouncing on an exercise ball with white noise machines running and skin to skin contact – her infancy seemed like an eternity. Days kind of melted into each other, with nothing more signaling a new day then the slight shift of the hour hand on our clock.  IMG_3441 But, thankfully, I did survive those first few months, and apparently first 4 years. And despite all my attempts to outsource the party by hosting it at a charming local art studio – I still had quite a bit to do in the kitchen! From making waffles (with homemade blueberry compote), to the fruit platter, to my homemade Bengali milk tea, and the birthday cake, of course.

IMG_3305 IMG_3339 So, it was a relief, to be able to whip these Honest Chops sausages up the next day. It’s as easy and popping them on a hot skillet for 3-4  minutes on each side, then DONEZO. Butter up some warm rolls. Make the pepper and onion mixture if you’d like. If not, opt for the usual ketchup & mustard. IMG_3446 But I must say, the sweetness of the peppers and onions perfectly complements the savoriness of the sausages. Plus – they’re veggies so this constitutes a complete meal, right?IMG_3449  I remember throughout the course of my Italian language education, at San Gennaro festivals or cultural events, sausages with peppers and onions always being a popular, yet out of my reach option (recall I keep halal). But thanks to Honest Chops, I can enjoy and customize the dish to my liking!IMG_3468 I topped mine with a cheese sauce but then decided it was better without it. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, core and seeds discarded, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, core and seeds discarded, thinly slice
  • a pinch dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Honest Chops sausages
  • hot dog buns/rolls
  • butter

Directions

  1. In a large skillet or fry pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, peppers, oregano, salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp each) until softened – about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and let caramelize for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. In a cast iron skillet or non stick skillet, butter the surface and heat over medium heat. Add the buns. Warm through until browned on one side, then flip. When both sides are browned and bun is warmed through, remove from heat. Set aside on a (preferably) warmed plate.
  3. In the same skillet, lightly grease with oil or non stick cooking spray. Add the sausages and do not move for 3-4 minutes (3 minutes for a thinner sausage, 4 for a thicker one). After the allotted time, flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  4. Assemble hot dogs: place hot dogs in the buns and top with peppers and onions.

Chocolate Pavlova

IMG_3292 This is for my friend Aaisha of BakingPartTime. Last time she was over for a brunch party at our place, I made two pavlovas – one classic and one chocolate. I’ve posted the classic recipe before, but this time around I’m serving up the chocolate version.   IMG_3271 By the way, can you tell we are crazy about pavlovas around here? If you haven’t had one – it’s high time to try. They hail from New Zealand, where my husband spent a good part of his teenage years. I love this man more than anything, but I love him a wee bit more for introducing me to this dessert. A welcome change of pace from cakes or cookies. Much easier to prepare than a pie. They are just the most perfect dessert to have in your arsenal. They are a winner presentation wise, as well. They just have the wow factor, but are deceptively easy to assemble, kind of like a trifle. You just whip up some egg whites with sugar. Bake it low and slow for 45 min to 1 hour. Once cooled, top with whipped cream and fruit (or chocolate). IMG_3274 The original recipe suggests topping it with strawberries and chocolate sauce. I didn’t have strawberries on hand, or the time to assemble the chocolate sauce, so I just have the bare bones version here. If you haven’t worked with whipped egg whites before, you needn’t worry. Just have patience. They take a while to whip up to the right consistency, unlike whipped cream (which I’ve turned into butter many times just by looking away for a minute).

IMG_3281 If you’ve had plain meringues, then you might not think this dessert would amount to anything. Meringues have a tendency to be cloyingly sweet. But with the topping of just slightly sweetened cream, and the complexity of the chocolate (or in most cases a fruit topping), the combination of textures and flavors is just divine. The outside of the meringue is crisp. The inner part melts in  your mouth, kind of like a marshmallow. The cream eases the sweetness and ties all the flavors together. IMG_3287 The original recipe calls for superfine sugar – something I never have on hand – and for the chocolate in the meringue to be grated – something for which I have no patience. So, I swapped out superfine sugar for granulated sugar and was not in the least bit disappointed. I also finely chopped instead of grated the chocolate, which I think is for the best really. If you’re grating chocolate by hand, it’s going to melt all over your hands (which is probably not the worst problem to have). IMG_3283   Don’t worry about the crackly appearance. I’ve tried every trick in the book for keeping it from cracking and nothing’s worked. Take comfort in the fact that it gets smothered and mostly concealed by the toppings. Feel free to top it with chopped strawberries, raspberries or even blackberries.

Adapted from Easy Desserts: Deliciously Indulgent Treats

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tbsp
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • semi sweet chocolate bar, for grating

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Draw a 9 in circle on a piece of parchment paper. Place it pencil side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle on some cornstarch. Spread the cornstarch over the area of the circle.
  2. Whisk the egg whites and salt (preferably with your stand mixer or with a hand held electric mixer) until soft peaks form. Gradually add in 1 cup of the sugar. Whisk in the cornstarch, cocoa, vanilla and vinegar.
  3. Add the chopped chocolate and fold carefully. That is – take a rubber spatula, cut through the eggs whites down the middle, moving to the left, lift spatula from the bottom to the top. Rotate bowl, and repeat until chocolate is incorporated. See demonstration here.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
  5. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue beating, just shy of firm peaks. Top cooled pavlova with whipped cream, and garnish with grated semi sweet chocolate, if desired.

A Tale of 3 Cakes

IMG_3206 There was the most chocolatey of cakes. There was the spiciest of cakes. There was the most citrusy of cakes. There was the prep time. There was the baking time. But most importantly, there was the eating time. IMG_3192 Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system (thanks, Ms. Liu!) let’s talk holiday baking. Now, it’s probably obvious by now that we don’t do Christmas around here. Hence, no yule logs, reindeer cookies, or gingerbread houses on the blog. IMG_3194 Despite not celebrating the winter holidays, I, like many others, am grateful for the end of year break. Time to unwind with family, watch The Interview, or maybe get in the kitchen to do some baking (read: eating). IMG_3198 I kept it simple with these cakes. No fancy techniques here. Just some basic creaming together of butter and sugar, then flavoring, dry ingredients, and voila. You have cake. IMG_3203  My sous chef and the forever cluttered kitchen island. IMG_3214 IMG_3218 IMG_3232 All three recipes are from an old issue of Fine Cooking magazine that I got, oh, 5 years ago. Just been sitting on my shelf while I browse online recipes. WHY? Each cake turned out so wonderful. Your search for perfect pound cake, everyday chocolate cake and spicy, earthy gingerbread stops HERE. NOW. IMG_3235 Confession: I haven’t yet tried the pound cake. But as soon I do I will post my findings. I tweaked the original recipe by adding orange zest and orange extract to the batter. You could go the extra mile and drizzle orange icing on top – but I thought it would look pretty with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I’m going to pretend I wasn’t an awful parent by not letting my kids eat the powdered sugar face down into the bowl.

I love the bundt pan I used for this cake. Not only is it out of this world pretty – it’s durable and has a non stick lining that requires minimal greasing to the get the cake out. Williams Sonoma really gets it right. You just have to take care not to use any metal spatulas or knives when loosening the cake. Those will scratch the surface and eventually reduce the effectiveness of the lining.

IMG_3241 Even this chocolate frosting is a newbie recipe. It’s made with creme fraiche and unsweetened chocolate. Fancy shmancy. Totally not necessary for this cake – I actually thought some whipped cream would have been great with it. But I don’t think anyone will mind the frosting.IMG_3242 I think this cake will make one pregnant woman very happy tomorrow. IMG_3254 This cake actually rose higher than the one pictured in the magazine. My baking dish may have been smaller than it’s supposed to be (I’ve never actually measured it – is it 8×8 or 9×9?? I may never know.)IMG_3258 The gingerbread got a dollop of some creme fraiche/maple butter concoction. SOO good.

Adapted from Fine Cooking.

Orange Pound Cake

If you’d like to stick to the original version, nix the orange zest and orange extract. Increase vanilla extract to 1 1/2 tsp.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest (from two navel oranges)
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temp
  • 3 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour or 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Cream butter and sugar for about 2 minutes at medium speed. Add orange zest. Turn the speed down and add the egg yolks, one at a time, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and continue mixing on low.
  3. Add the vanilla and orange extracts to the milk. Add half the flour mixture to the batter. When combined, slowly drizzle in the milk mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture until there are some streaks of flour still visible. Finish mixing with a rubber spatula, scraping down the bowl to incorporate everything.
  4. Pour into prepared bundt pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Everyday Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsps softened butter
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsps all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly brewed coffee

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×9 square baking dish.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed for 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla.
  3. With the mixer turned off, set a sifter over the bowl. Add flour, salt, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Sift directly onto the butter/sugar mixture. Add the coffee and mix gently by hand until combined (I did not do this by hand and got the dry ingredients ALL OVER MY COUNTER).
  4. Pour into prepared pan and even the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 40 to 43 minutes – some crumbs may stick to toothpick but that’s ok. Let cool before frosting (if you are frosting).

Gingerbread

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of salt (I did two pinches)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish. Sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter a medium speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl and continue mixing at low speed. Add molasses slowly. Add half the dry ingredients, then the cold water, then the remaining dry ingredients. Mixing until almost fully incorporated. Finish mixing by hand – scraping down the bowl as you go.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Toothpick inserted should come out clean.
  4. Combine creme fraiche or sour cream with maple syrup. Serve with cooled cake.

Potato Hash

IMG_3167 I’m sorry I haven’t been posting any holiday related recipes. Do you guys want more of that stuff? Gingerbread, snickerdoodle and the like? For this post, I thought of one of my readers, Raseefa, who mentioned she loves the basic, every day South Asian (or not) recipes that she can make for her small family. Potato hash is definitely one of those recipes you should have your arsenal. It’s not complicated, but there is a small trick to getting it right…IMG_3152 Add potatoes first, remaining vegetables after. I can’t tell you how many times in the early days of my marriage, did my husband put up with potatoes with slightly burned, shriveled pieces of onion and pepper running through it. Because potatoes take longer to cook, I save time by getting them going in the oil first, while chopping the rest of my veggies. IMG_3154 This way of making potato hash won’t give you crispy potatoes. They’ll be tender and flavorful, but cooking them together with the peppers and onions will keep them from crisping up. If you’d rather fry them until crisp and take them off the heat, and combine them with the vegetables later, you’re more than welcome to. This version is easy, and gets eaten by the pickiest eaters in my household for breakfast, lunch or dinner. IMG_3155 I didn’t add any heat this time, mainly to cater to the young’ns. But diced jalapeno, chilli powder or even chipotle peppers would be so good with this. I just doused mine in hot sauce.

I recall my mom’s version of breakfast potatoes: aloo bhaji. She dices potatoes into matchsticks and fries them up generously in oil, seasoned with salt, turmeric and green chilis running through. Her version is delicious, but in order to satisfy my conscience a bit, I add veggies and use a lot less oil.

IMG_3158 Traditionally, potato hash gets topped with some eggs during the final stages of cooking. Since I like my fried eggs over easy, that doesn’t work for me. It easily goes from being breakfast side, to lunch or dinner by adding some diced leftover protein: chicken, beef, tofu, shrimp.

One final note: this dish is so much prettier with red bell pepper if you have it in your fridge.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 to 4 large yukon gold or russet potatoes, diced to 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, or half of a large one
  • 1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large wok or sauté pan. Add the potatoes in a single layer. Let cook while chopping up the remaining vegetables.
  2. Dice onion and peppers. Add to the pan and stir to combine. Mince garlic and add to pan. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper and paprika. Stir to combine.
  3. Cook, uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while to bring up the vegetables from the bottom to the top. If the vegetables at the bottom are scorching, turn heat down to medium and continue cooking.
  4. Top with cilantro and serve.

Boneless Short Ribs with Asian BBQ Sauce

IMG_3132 How can I explain to you how good these are? Do the pictures do justice to them? Are you drooling on your keyboard? If so, then I’ve done my job. IMG_3149Though I have a confession to make: I’ve never made short ribs before. I’ve never even had them before, you know, as a separate entity. Sure, I’ve eaten them as part of a larger curry, but not like this. IMG_3099 But hooray for internet, right? I checked my cookbooks and could not find anything for boneless ribs. They all had recipes for bone-in ribs, the type that you braise in a casserole. Balsamic braised. Beer braised. Red wine braised. But then, I found this recipe for easy bbq boneless ribs! And though I was grateful for Sunny Anderson’s (easy) cooking technique, I knew I wanted an Asian BBQ type thing, something rich in soy sauce and garlic with a hint of sesame flavor, but not one that was so authentic I needed to make an extra trip to my local Asian grocery. Na’m sayin? IMG_3103 In keeping with halal guidelines, I’ve never had korean or japanese bbq (I doubt any halal establishments exist in NY). But I knew I really wanted to try Korean BBQ short ribs, or Kalbi. The problem is, you need a special cut of short ribs to prepare in that way – called the flanken cut. And if I had thought a little bit in advance, I could have convinced my friends at Honest Chops to hook it up. But I didn’t. And here we are. IMG_3106 For this post, I took a page out of my research days, when, clueless about coding, I’d have to piece together bits from existing code, tweak it according to my data, and try to make some science! So I took a little from a recipe here, a recipe there, and badda bing badda boom. Definitely feel free to swap out the regular soy sauce for low-sodium. I served it here with rice, but I actually liked it better when it was shredded and wrapped in lettuce leaves. The cool, crisp texture and flavor of the lettuce worked perfectly with the slow cooked, soy sauce spiked flavor of the ribs. IMG_3124  I used Sunny’s cooking technique with an adapted version of the Kalbi recipe below (I didn’t have an asian pear, and I wasn’t about to venture out into this torrential rainfall to get some). And I had to add chili flakes. Had to. IMG_3147 I found by the end of the recommended 3 hours, the meat dried out a bit (that didn’t stop me from inhaling them). I did taste it at 2 hours, and it was tender enough. I would recommend for this amount of meat, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. And there is more than enough sauce. I actually used some of the leftover sauce to season some salmon. You can easily do 4 lbs of ribs in it.

For leftovers: shred the beef, mix with some mayo/lemon juice, and fill a pita or other flatbread with it and some lettuce. So good.

Recipe adapted from Food Network: Kalbi, Easy BBQ Short Ribs.

Ingredients

  • About 2 lbs Honest Chops  GRASS FED boneless short ribs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsps garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 4 scallions, chopped at a diagonal in half in slices

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Measure out the first 4 ingredients in a large glass measuring cup. Add garlic and ginger paste, sesame oil, black pepper and chili flakes. Stir to combine.
  3. Add quartered onion into food processor. Process for a few seconds, then slowly drizzle in soy sauce mixture.
  4. Cut the short ribs into 1 1/12 to 2 in thick strips. Lay across a baking dish and drizzle the sauce over all the pieces.
  5. Cover with aluminum and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, turning once half way, then once again 15 minutes before removing from the oven. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Brisket Burgers

IMG_3038For our third installment of HCxK3N (what? you don’t think it’s catchy?), we’re serving up some brisket burgers. Notorious for being overcooked, I’m sharing my experience in cooking these delicious burgers up. Don’t judge the placement of the cheese slice. It’s adjusted below.IMG_3062Just look at that caramelization!

And to give you some background, burgers are to Naureen as hunny is to ____. IMG_3036Pooh. The answer is Winnie the Pooh. Don’t judge my TV selections as of late. I LOVE burgers. But sometimes I wonder if I’m more about the burger fixins than the actual burger. For me the patty is more of a vehicle for the most wonderful combination of sauce, cheese, veggies and bread. I’m probably not supposed to be saying that but regardless I’m going to share with you the secret to keeping your burgers nice and juicy.    IMG_3092The secret’s in the sauce. No it isn’t. I’ll be sharing my not-so-secret sauce recipe below.

It’s in the cooking method. You want to cook it over pretty high heat so you sear the outside and you don’t want to overcook it. The longer it sits over the pan, the more juices that come pouring out. So I found 7 minutes on each side, on a hot cast iron skillet does the trick. This gets the burger to a medium doneness. If you can stomach a rare burger, 4 minutes on each side should do. Well done, 9-10 on each side. If your burger loses some of its juiciness at that point, compensate with sauce (that’s what I do…don’t hate!).

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 lb Honest Chops Brisket Burgers
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 slices swiss or american cheese
  • a few slices of tomato
  • a few slices of red onion
  • a few slivers of pickles
  • some iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • a dash of hot sauce or chipotle adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp chopped pickle
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet or a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Season both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper. Add a little grease (veg or olive oil) to the pan. Add 1 or 2 burgers at a time depending on the size of your pan and don’t move until ready to flip (4 min each side for rare, 7 for medium, 9-10 for well done).
  2. When the burgers are done, top with cheese (you can add the cheese in its final stages of cooking, but I hate dealing with the mess of melted cheese) and set aside while assembling the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Warm the brioche buns in the same pan the burgers were cooked in or in your toaster oven.
  4. Make the sauce: combine mayo, ketchup, hot sauce, chopped pickle, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Smear sauce on both sides of the bun. Add burger and layer with whatever ingredients you like, I listed the classic toppers above but feel free to substitute caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms or avocado and cilantro. The choices are endless!