[Recipe] Vidalia Onion Marmalade is Sweet on the Cypress Burger at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink

Genuine Burger Month continues its weekly special burger rotation May 8-14 with a true keeper, the Cypress Burger.  The meat is ground chuck 75% fat, 25% lean, with dry-aged beef trimmings that build deep umami flavor in the patty.  What’s stunning about the burger isn’t necessarily that the blend is particularly ingenious, rather how the few special elements it is built on come together to create magic when they’re enjoyed in unison.  The Cypress Burger is so much more than the sum of its parts: cheddar-like Jasper Hill Landaff raw cow’s milk cheese and the Vidalia onion marmalade that it smothers, jacked up on the best caramelizing onions we know.  No added sugar necessary!

Due to the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986, Vidalia is a Trademarked name and an onion can only be called a Vidalia if it’s grown in one of the 20 Georgia counties designated in the act.

The original sweet onion has been cultivated by grower artisans for more than 80 years, a discovery of Great Depression era farmers who were trying to find a new cash crop suitable for Georgia soil.  Vidalia onions became the Official State Vegetable of Georgia in 1990 and get their sweet flavor through the perfect combination of mild winters and low sulfur soil, the unique terroir surrounding Vidalia, Georgia.  It’s only available from April until August, making it a special nearby summer crop when it’s slim pickings down here in the South Florida fields and tropical fruit trees are at their peak.  Over 80,000 Vidalia onion seedlings are hand-planted per acre translating into about 5 million 40-lb. boxes sent out across the country and into Canada each year.

Enjoy the Cypress Burger’s unique combination of specialty ingredients next week at lunch and dinner, between a hard roll bun skewered with a cornichon.  You may find it hard not to sit in admiration like its butter lettuce and sliced heirloom tomato do to the side.  Ok, maybe not that hard!  Follow along at #mgfdburger #genuineburgermonth and #onlyvidalia.

Deeply delicious onion marmalade fresh from the range chills out in the walk-in cooler.

Vidalia Onion Marmalade

Built on the recipe for caramelized onions that form the base of the dip for Thick Cut Potato Chips and decorate Chicken Liver Crostini at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, this condiment has many applications beyond a burger topping.  But we challenge you to find one more epic!

Makes 1 quart

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Vidalia onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions along with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until the onions are deeply golden brown and caramelized, roughly 20 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to allow the onions to burn. Add the red wine vinegar and stir to deglaze until the liquid cooks off, about 3 more minutes. Set aside and let cool.

[RECIPE] Have a Ball Today & Make Sure It’s Triple Meat

The Schwartz Meatball. One way, three meats

We can never get too familiar with a meatball, especially on National Meatball Day.  Harry’s Pizzeria® set the Schwartz benchmark; it’s all about the ball, pure and simple, with a pedestal of zesty tomato sauce and just a touch of Parmigiano to finish.  After the perfectly balanced blend of three meats was dialed in over the years, we were ready to up the game when Fi’lia came along.  Not much has changed.  The ball is virtually identical at its core. Michael combines three different types of meat to create a sturdy yet irresistibly tender texture. They’re quickly pan fried to seal in the juices and rendered even more luxurious when brought up in this ridiculously flavorful and punchy tomato sauce.  Fi’lia’s slightly more luxurious take is thanks to the addition of whipped ricotta and decadent garlic bread.  The healthy dollop just adds a special something, melting into the bowl for a creamy softness and pretty color contrast. The crunch from garlic bread ties this magical combination together, the perfect utensil to soak up luscious sauce.

Meatballs with Whipped Ricotta and Garlic Bread

Serves 6

1 pint whole milk
3 eggs
6 slices stale white bread, crust removed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pounds ground pork
Canola oil for frying
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 cans of high quality crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 whole garlic clove, smashed
6, ½-inch thick slices of country-style sourdough
2 cups whole milk ricotta
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Whisk milk and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the bread, breaking it up in your hands until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the salt, pepper, cheese, garlic and parsley, and continue to mix thoroughly with your hands until combined. Add the three ground meats and continue to mix using your hands until fully incorporated. Turn out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, wrap up securely and refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour. Remove from refrigerator and using an ice cream scoop or large tablespoon, portion into balls, gently cupping them in your hands to form uniform spheres and setting in rows on a baking sheet while you work. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat with ¼ inch of canola oil. Place the handle side of a wooden spoon in the oil. Once bubbles form around the edges it’s ready. Pan fry the meatballs, working in batches to brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove balls as they’re ready with a slotted spoon and set to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Add the oil to a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, and sweat the onions for 5-7 minutes, cooking until translucent. Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add the basil and meatballs, and simmer for 20 more. While the sauce is cooking, preheat oven to 300F.

Add the garlic to the olive oil. Place sourdough slices on a baking sheet, lightly drizzle with the garlic-infused oil and bake for 8 minutes or until crisp but not browned.

Serve meatballs warm from the stove, family-style or plated in individual bowls, layering some sauce as a base and topping with spoonfuls of ricotta, crostini to the side and freshly torn basil.

Shop & Eat Genuinely for Wellness in the Schools on Tuesday, January 10

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It’s a New Year’s Resolution that’s easy to get behind.  Shop at Miami-area Whole Foods Markets and dine at any of Michael’s Miami restaurants on Tuesday, January 10 to help kids eat better in South Florida Schools.

As we shared in October, Michael is the South Florida ambassador for Wellness in the Schools (WITS), a non profit dedicated to improving school lunch and educating kids about healthy eating.

As it enters South Florida for the first time this school year, the program is expanding upon a relationship with Whole Foods Market that began in New York City in order to generate awareness, further galvanize the community in support of this incredible cause, and raise essential funds to support its in-school work.

To that end, Whole Foods Market has committed to donate 5% of net day’s sales on Tuesday, January 10 from all six Miami stores (Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Downtown Miami, South Beach, North Miami, Aventura) to Wellness in the Schools. And we’re proud to share that Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink, ella, Cypress Tavern, Harry’s Pizzeria® and Fi’lia at SLS Brickell will be doing the same!  Also on this 5% Day, Michael will be teaching a bean themed WITS Cooking Lab at the Coral Gables location, making vegetarian chili with students from Liberty City Elementary.

Fun times and good eating for all.  Every bite counts.  Let’s do this!  For more information, visit wellnessintheschools.org

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Join Amy and Harry’s for July’s OMG! Dinner & a Movie

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT MONTH’S EVENT — TICKETS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON FOR OMG! ON AUGUST 13!

O Cinema Wynwood and Harry’s Pizzeria reunite to celebrate AMY, the new documentary chronicling the career and life of Amy Winehouse, for our OMG! Dinner & A Movie series on July 9. A once-in-a-generation talent, Winehouse captivated us with her unforgettable voice. A jazz artist in the truest sense, she sang about her experience and struggles with raw honesty. The film, directed by Asif Kapadia, features previously unheard tracks and archival footage of Amy in her element. We’ve been humming the soundtrack for weeks, and absolutely cannot wait to see this film!

Doors open at 6pm and the movie starts at 7. General admission tickets are $40 and VIP tickets are $55 (the VIP tickets come with a signed copy of Chef’s cookbook Michael’s Genuine Food.)  Tickets are now LIVE and can purchased through O Cinema, here!  Chef de Cuisine Daniel Ramirez wrote a menu fit for a Queen, see below!

Fennel and radish salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette
Sunday roast with braised beef
Roasted summer vegetables with parmesan
Mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding
Banoffee pie (a traditional English pie made with banana, cream and toffee)
And a special movie snack of home made spiced corn nuts!

Florida’s Dark Side is Berry Delicious 

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Everyone knows and loves mangoes and lychees and waits with anticipation for the season to begin each summer… But just before the tropical fruit deluge, berries reign, and we aren’t talking those rosy red beauties that made Knaus Berry strawberry shakes so famous. Blueberries may just be Florida’s secret star crop.

Well, not that secret. I spoke with Trish Strawn, a rep from Florida Fresh, who grew up on her family’s grass fed cattle farm and is chiefly familiar with Florida farming.  Her advice was as obvious as it was eye opening.  “Just Google ‘Florida Bluerberries…'” Lo and behold, there is a Florida Blueberry Growers Association and an Annual Florida Blueberry Festival complete with a cartoon blueberry commercial…  How did I miss this?!

Blueberries have a very short season in Florida. It runs from about the first week in April to the first week of June. The thing is, blueberries thrive in citrus fields.  Almost every citrus company grows blueberries. Whatever the citrus trees are taking from the soil, the blueberries don’t need, so you will often see them planted side by side. We get our local blueberries from Crown Jewel Farms or Uncle Matt’s – at this point in the season, all our blueberries are coming from Uncle Matt’s in Clermont, FL. Uncle Matt’s is a certified organic farm and they are best known for their juices. They grow four different varieties of blueberries and the chefs get a fresh mix upon delivery. They farm using the permaculture method, as Trish explains, their approach is to go “with mother nature.” Uncle Matt’s grow blueberries in oak barrels, and underneath each barrel they plant a vinegar patch which naturally filters the soil.

Pan roasted duck breast with Porcini and Blueberries

Pan roasted duck breast with Porcini and Blueberries

At The Cypress Room, Chef Roel Alcudia pairs blueberries with duck and Porcini mushrooms on our tasting menu. The blueberries complement the duck’s gaminess and the porcini’s earthiness.When you taste all the components together, it strikes a harmony between the three main ingredients. Chef explains, “Blueberries have an assertive, concentrated flavor, they are both sweet and sour. In this dish, we utilize both of those flavor profiles as a counterpoint to the duck and porcini.” Blueberries are extremely versatile; you’ll find them gracing The Cypress Room’s lunch prix fixe, dinner tasting, desserts, petit fours like macarons, gelees and housemade sodas.

Margie Pikarsky runs a tight ship in Homestead, FL where she has been growing all sorts of berries since the beginning of Bee Heaven Farm. Margie has a wealth of knowledge about South Florida crops and farming. Margie actually doesn’t grow blueberries. She explained that although the blueberries can handle the heat, the soil this far South is too basic (as opposed to acidic) for them. Further North, in Central Florida and beyond, the soil is more acidic and mucky – much more their comfort zone!

Bee Heaven Farm grows a variety of dark berries including three types of mulberries, mysore raspberry, muntingia (Jamaican cherry), dark surinam cherry, antidesma and Barbados cherry. Our chefs love the pencil mulberry (we do too!) – they are native to Pakistan and are deliciously sweet. They grow to be about three inches long and they produce one harvest a year, around February and March. If you visited any of our restaurants in that time, you probably tried some of Margie’s mulberries! Margie’s first mulberry tree “was a gift from a passing bird” in the late 1970s. When she purchased Bee Heaven Farms, it was one of the first things she planted. Margie learned more about them by visiting the Redland Fruit & Spice Park, “one of my favorite resources for learning about fruit that do well here.” And if that is where Margie, a South Florida farming encyclopedia and all around wonder woman goes to expand her wealth of knowledge, I can only imagine what one could find there!

Mysore raspberries are native to India, but do much better in this climate than the red or black raspberries you find at the grocery store. Mysore typically produces from January to May. The interesting thing about mysore raspberries, Margie explains, is that they have zero shelf life, so you have to pick them bright and early and get them into a cooler ASAP. Because of intricacies like this, you won’t find them in commercial markets – but Margie brings them to the farmer’s markets and they sell out quick!

When Margie purchased the farm, there was already a muntingia tree planted there. She explains, “Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma almost put an end to it, but I found and encouraged a couple of root suckers near the original plant, and they have rewarded us with plenty of fruit over the years.” Muntingia is native to the Caribbean, and the only member of its genus so it is extremely unique. “It bears mulitple crops a year, and is especially responsive to rains. It’s known as cotton candy fruit, because that’s exactly what it tastes like!”

Up until last week, I had never heard of a Surinam cherry. Then, thanks to Forager, a great guide book to Miami’s edible plants, I took to the streets and picked about 4 pounds of Surinam cherries from public parking lots and medians. Surinam cherries were an extremely popular hedge plant in the 1950s and 1960s, which is why if you look, you will see them everywhere! The cherries you find driving around are typically red and orange, the don’t taste great until they are perfectly ripe – bright red and fall off the tree at the slightest touch. Margie grows black surinam cherries, which are sweeter than the ones I picked. Margie says, “between the birds and rapid ripening, our Surinam cherries don’t usually make it to market.” So take a walk and see if you can find some on your block!

Margie grows Barbados cherry for personal ‘grazing’ since the crop is sporadic at best and a favorite of hungry fruit flies.  Antidesma, a tropical berry that is sometimes known as bignay, grows in dense clusters, “like a cylinder of tightly packed grapes.” This tree was also on the property when Margie took over, she likes to use it to make butter (like apple butter) and says that is makes ‘the most amazing red wine.’ “It has borne well only a few times in the past 20 years, around September. But, oh! When it does bear! Delicious!” Margie gushes.

Thank you to Margie, Trish and Chef Roel for talking blueberries with me and teaching me so much!

See how blueberries are hitting the plate and the glass across Genuineland by following our restaurants’ social feeds #genuineblueberries. We are very excited to keep you posted!