Tools and Techniques – Latex Gloves

Next time you’re at the pharmacy picking up some of your bare essentials, pick up a box of latex gloves. They come in handy for a variety of household chores but aside from keeping a couple pairs in my first-aid kit, I use them the most in the kitchen. I am not talking about some sort of kinky affair over the stove… Umm, wait… where was I? 

Latex gloves are key for messy jobs in the kitchen or when dealing with spice. Some of the oils tend to stick to skin and so if you happen to rub your eye for any reason it may end up stinging pretty badly. They are great for handling chicken, mixing marinades with your hands, cooking any ingredient that stains (like beets and pomegranate), slicing and dicing hot peppers, anything and everything that’s messy. 

Funny story; true story! The first time I made salsa verde, I had gone to the Jean-Talon market and picked up a basket of fresh jalapeños. Upon eyeing them my mouth started salivating over the roasted pepper salsa I instantly whipped up in my mind. It was going to be great! Perfect for the dinner I was hosting the following evening. Paid and wrapped up, I went home, turned on the grill and plopped on the dozen jalapeños I had just acquired. As they were charring away, I prepped garlic, onions, cilantro, lemon and olive oil. Off the grill, into a bowl and covered in plastic wrap to cool. This was my first attempt at salsa verde and this version of my recipe did not include any green peppers, only jalapeños, lots of them and no latex gloves in sight. The technique of charring jalapeños and letting them cool under plastic wrap also works for sweet peppers. The condensation from the heat under the plastic wrap is what helps the skin of the peppers separate from its flesh. So I start peeling the skin off and scraping out the seeds. I have cleaned out nearly half of the jalapeños when the tip of my fingers starts to tingle. As I work my way through the rest of them the tingling turns into burning. Finally, the batch of peppers is cleaned out and in the food processor, along with the other ingredients. 

I rinse and wash, and re-rinse and re-wash my hands but there is nothing to be done. My fingers are burning and throbbing. I taste the salsa with a nacho and it is unbearably hot. I can handle my share of spicy food and hot sauces, but this was beyond what my taste buds were capable of wrangling. There was no way I could serve that to guests. So I take some of that salsa and add equal parts sour cream to the mix but it is still too spicy. I added more ingredients, different ingredients in an attempt to salvage my plan for appetizers at my dinner party. Nothing to be done and at this point not only is my mouth on fire but the burning has moved to the majority of the hand. I eventually went to bed with an ice pack held dearly in my hands and finally managed to fall asleep. The next morning I woke up to hands and fingers not only still searing from the jalapeños but red from the irritation. Needless to say, I opted for a different appetizer that day. 

So please remember, no glove, no love!


The Burger

Salsa Verde Burger-4Who doesn’t love a hamburger? It’s great all year round, kid friendly, user friendly, picky-eater friendly and of course foodie friendly.

Harvey’s (Canadian fast-food chain) has really hit the spot with their new-ish ad campaign, pinning each person to their own burger, or perhaps that the burger is an extension of your identity. As much as I love that commercial, it really got me thinking about how accurate it really is and how come no one has ever thought of it before? Unlike any other fast-food restaurant, Harvey’s is one of the few, if any, that stands firm with the principle that you can have your burger any way you want it…and indeed you can.

Dress it up, dress it down, downsize or supersize, burgers have been a fast food icon for decades, but sit-down restaurants everywhere are reinventing all sorts of burgers as a staple on their menus. These “gourmet-ized” burgers are easy to make at home and best of all you can feature different meats and different flairs. 

I’ve recently made for my better half the ultimate “Noah Burger”. Since he’s oh-so-very-kindly asked me to not publish his special recipe, I decided instead to showcase one of my favorites. Although it was a stiff competition between the za’atar lamb burger with goat cheese and grilled eggplant, the beef burger stuffed with blue cheese, and the salsa verde turkey burger, the latter steps up to the podium.

Salsa Verde Turkey Burger

  • Jalapeños – two or three
  • Green pepper – one
  • Garlic – one head
  • Lime juice
  • Olive oil
  • Ground turkey
  • Finely chopped small onion and one garlic clove
  • Ground cumin – one teaspoon
  • Oregano – one tablespoon (if using fresh, make sure to remove the stems and give the leaves a coarse chop)
  • Aged cheddar cheese – sliced (optional)
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt (can be replaced with mayo)
  • Onion, avocado, mango or pineapple (this replaces the tomato) – sliced
  • Cilantro (this replaces the lettuce)
  • Hamburger bread (use any kind you like, this time i used)

The amount of jalapeños to use in this salsa verde depends on the level of spiciness you can handle or perhaps test your limits with. However, I highly recommend a minimum heat for this burger to work. I like to use three jalapeños per green pepper.

Start by grilling the jalapeños and the green pepper on the bbq; leave them whole and char the skin. Chop off the top of the head of garlic, place it on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, wrap it all up in the foil and throw it onto the grill with the peppers. The peppers and the garlic have the same average cooking time on the grill and should be ready when the peppers are evenly charred and the garlic is soft. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them cool. Once they are cooled, arm yourself with a pair of latex gloves and start to peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Squeeze out the garlic and juice one lime into the food processor along with the jalapeños. Add a drizzle of olive oil and start processing. You want to end up with a smooth purée that is just thick enough to coat a nacho. At this point, you may as well just taste it! Season with salt and pepper to taste, add olive oil if it’s still too thick and set aside.

For the meat, start by finely chopping one small onion and a clove of garlic. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. With your hands mix all ingredients and form into four burgers. Don’t compress them too much or else they will dry out on the grill. Slice the onion, avocado and/or mango. Thoroughly rinse and dry the cilantro. Grill the meat and the bread. Add the cheddar cheese to the meat after the first flip to allow it to melt (you want to avoid flipping and flopping your meat over, only one flip is required; also, don’t press down on the meat with your spatula, this will dry it out). 

To serve, spread sour cream on the bottom bread, top with cilantro, avocado and place the turkey on top. Add mango and onions. Top with a hearty serving of salsa verde. Close up the burger and dive in! 

This burger should have a palatable heat balanced by the sharpness of the turkey, onions and cheddar, cooled by the freshness and sweetness of the mango, cilantro and avocado. It is above all, to be enjoyed with a lime margarita! 

So, what do I have on my Harvey’s hamburger? Mustard, relish, onions, pickles, hot peppers.