Kitchen Catch-Up and Other Catastrophes

by Cate on June 2, 2007

So earlier in the week, a realtor called and made an appointment to see our house. I happened to be in the middle of packing a bunch of bottles of alcohol and wasn’t going to be able to finish before he got here. I hurriedly stuffed the bottles into the oven and closed the door, wanting to make sure the counters were clear before they came.

Fast forward to last night. Nicholas’ play date left around 6:15 pm, and The Neighbors were due over for dinner between 6:30 and 7:00 and I hadn’t even started cooking yet. I got the topping sauce going for the burgers, started caramelizing onions for the pizza, mixed the meat for the burgers and turned on the oven to heat it up for pizza crust.

About 10 minutes later, I’m standing in front of the oven and see flames shooting up through the opening. I had completely forgotten about all the bottles of alcohol that I had stored in there. Luckily I had the peace of mind to grab the dishtowel and move it out of the way, otherwise things could have gotten a lot worse. I yelled for The Husband and he came running with the extinguisher, and it was out in a few minutes, with luckily no damage, except for that thick chemical residue smell hanging in the air. One of the bottles had a plastic screw top with a cork. Apparently, the top popped off, spewing alcohol onto the burners on the bottom of the oven, and that’s what started it. Totally enough excitement for one evening, thankyouverymuch!

The Neighbors came down a few minutes later, and we managed to get back on track, pushing away the urge to call for take-out. So what hit the table? For new recipes, it was Rachael Ray’s Spicy Bloody Mary Burgers. Christopher Meloni of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit fame was a recent guest on Rachael’s show, and she made these burgers for them … get it? … “bloody” burgers for the guy on a crime show? Rachael Ray humor, what can I say? ;) I can say that the burgers were fab. Only The Neighbor Husband and I tried the topping, and it definitely brought a little heat to the burger. The burger itself was very well flavored, although you, surprisingly, couldn’t really taste the horseradish.

OK, on to the taste test. A few weeks ago, The Neighbor Husband proclaimed that Kikkoman soy sauce is “the best ever.” Although I love soy sauce, I don’t think I would be able to tell the difference between Kikkoman and, say, La Choy. The Neighbor Husband proudly boasted that he could, and with the gauntlet thrown down, a challenge was born. We lined up three little cups, each with a different brand of soy sauce. One was Kikkoman, one was Shop Rite and the last was La Choy. And doggone it, he picked Kikkoman out of the line-up. Coulda knocked me over with a feather. Seeing the different soy sauces all next to each other was actually interesting. Each one is a different shade of brown, with the Shop Rite version being the most diluted, pale color. And the prize? He gets to choose a menu one night. I’ll never hear the end of it.

Spicy Bloody Mary Burgers
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
2 pounds ground beef sirloin
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 palmfuls grill seasoning
4 Kaiser rolls, split and toasted
1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
Spicy gourmet potato chips such as black pepper chips

Preheat broiler to high. Place a small sauce pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Once the oil ripples, add the onion and celery, season with some celery salt, hot sauce and a little pepper, and cook stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add the tomato sauce, bring up to a bubble then turn down the heat to medium-low and let it simmer while you cook the burgers.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground sirloin, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, horseradish and grill seasoning. Mix until thoroughly combined then score the meat with the side of your hand into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into to one-inch-thick patties. Once the skillet is hot, add the Bloody Mary burgers and cook on each side for 6-7 minutes, until they reach desired doneness. While the burgers are working, toast the buns in the broiler.

Remove the burgers from the skillet to the bottoms of the toasted buns, top with the warm ketchup, shredded lettuce and a toasted bun top. Serve with chips alongside.

Yields 4 servings

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara June 3, 2007 at 2:44 am

Phew! Glad the mishap wasn’t any worse. It reminds me of the first time I use the broiler on our gas stove. I put my mother-in-laws sweet potato casserole in it to brown the topping on it. What a surprise when I discovered it was on fire! I didn’t know the broiler would be an open flame!! Thankfully only one small corner actually caught on fire. My mother-in-law just scraped off the burnt part and put fresh on. And the casserole was saved.


Claire June 3, 2007 at 4:14 am

Wow! I’m just glad that the top didn’t wait to come off until you opened the oven…that could have been really bad. It is quite interesting the different color…are we surprised that the value brand soy sauce is lighter…not I (BTW, I get the store brand usually! :-) ).


Chris June 3, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Oh my – that’s scary. I am glad all is okay!


Alisha June 4, 2007 at 4:34 am

Goodness.. that’s too much excitement for me. Thankfully everyone and everything’s okay.

Any news from the realtor? Better be a sale in the makes for making you stick those bottles in your oven. :-)


mdvelazquez June 4, 2007 at 10:24 am

Although I was expecting the outcome of the bottles in the oven, I still cringed when I read it. Glad it wasn’t too bad.

I don’t think I can tell the difference between Kikkoman and La Choy, but I can tell the difference between some of the generic brands and those two.


P.S. I have a nice marinade for you. 1/4 cup canola/olive oil, 1 lime juiced, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 jalapeno/ancho chile coarsely chopped, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Lynn / vigilant20 June 4, 2007 at 2:45 pm

oh my goodness how scary!


Cate June 5, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Barbara – yikes! I’m sure we all have a long list of kitchen disasters. ;)

Claire – definitely no more store brands.

Chris, Maria, Lynn – definitely a dumb move on my part to put the bottles in the oven. Was just trying to hurry and not thinking. It sounds way worse then it was, I promise.

Alisha – actually she’s coming back for a second look Friday. :)


Elisabeth June 6, 2007 at 4:05 am

That’s quite a story about your oven! I am EXTREMELY impressed that you still managed to get dinner together – I think I would have called it quits in the kitchen for the night. That burger recipe looks fantastic.


Kristen June 7, 2007 at 1:19 am

Oh my gosh… you are so lucky that wasn’t worse than it was! Yikes!
Glad you all are ok and were able to make it through without a major disaster!


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