Rainy weekends always give me a great excuse to do two things–cook and watch television–not that I necessarily need a rainy weekend to do either. In fact, I often find inspiration for my culinary experimentation just from channel-surfing. A case in point, the other night I happened upon an episode of Best Bars in America (Esquire Channel) in which comedians Jay Larson and Sean Patton, in one of their cross-country pub crawls, end up in L.A. at a restaurant called Father’s Office where they indulge in the signature Office Burger–a savory masterpiece consisting of a perfectly grilled medium rare burger, topped with melted Gruyere and blue cheeses, sweet unctuous caramelized onion bacon jam and peppery arugula served on a toasted soft roll. Chef/Owner Sang Yoon explains that what he was trying to recreate in the burger was the flavor profile of French onion soup–beef broth, caramelized onion and Gruyere cheese. Brilliant! So, of course, I immediately had a mad craving for that Office Burger. I knew I had some 80/20 ground beef in my freezer and onion in the pantry. All I needed were the other components. But when I got to Trader Joe’s, it occurred to me that while the burger would no doubt be delicious, it seemed silly for me to buy an entire package of rolls for one burger when I could just as easily come up with another variation on this “French onion soup” theme by making focaccia dough and using some of it to make a kind of cheeseburger pinwheel roll (like the one I made in a previous post) that would last more than one meal.
Instead making the bacon-onion jam, I just flavored my caramelized onions with some fresh thyme and dry white wine. However, I did cook the ground beef in a little rendered bacon fat. I substituted some sauteed Kale and spinach for the fresh arugula and used a mixture of shredded Fontina and Gruyere cheeses. The end result was a richly satisfying, savory mouthful of deliciousness that just hit the spot. And, best of all, I had lunch for next couple of days!
With my “cheeseburger” craving satiated, I settled in for some screen time with some badass chicks. Now while I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy (hell, I’ve even been sucked into some mediocre ones), I also love watching action flicks featuring strong kick-ass women, particularly those who can stand toe to toe with (and sometimes triumph over) the men–like Michelle Rodriguez in the Fast and Furious movies or Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, or more recently Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road and Melissa McCarthy in Spy .
In the predominantly male George Miller universe of Mad Max, Theron’s Furiosa stands as warrior capable of taking down even the most loathsome testosterone-warped muscle head. Overlooked and underestimated by her superiors at the CIA, McCarthy’s Susan Miller foils every attempt to put her in a box with her sharp mind and even sharper tongue. Although the two women are miles apart in terms of circumstances and physical prowess, they share a quality all badass chicks possess–a fierce determination that overrides all fear, even in the face of overwhelming odds. More importantly, they remind us that women are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves (and the world) thank you very much! No need to cue that chorus of “I Need a Hero”…though we can definitely use a badass cocktail, preferably one that starts with a healthy dose of tequila. To add some vibrant color and complexity (because a badass chick always makes a statement), I threw in some dark cherries and pomegranate liqueur, along with a red wine syrup (made by simmering dry red wine with sugar, vanilla bean and dark cherries), orange liqueur and fresh lime juice. Think of it as cross between a margarita and a sangria.
Badass Cherry Margaria
- 2 oz. Tequila (Silver or Gold)
- 1 oz. Pomegranate Liqueur (e.g. Pama)
- 1 oz. Orange Liqueur (e.g. Triple Sec)
- 1/2 c. Frozen Cherries
- 1-1/2 oz. Red Wine Syrup*
- 1/2 oz. Lime Juice
Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
*Red Wine Syrup
Simmer 1-1/2 cups dry red wine (e.g. Merlot, Pinot Noir) with 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean (split), and 1/2 c. frozen dark cherries for about 10 mins. Liquid should be thick and syrupy. Transfer mixture into a mason jar and cool.