Thursday, June 7, 2012

What makes Friday fun when you’re 31

Oh, how Friday nights have changed.

While I fondly recall the Fridays of my younger days, rushing home to get ready for a big night out, I must say that I’m equally fond of the much more relaxed approach we now take when kicking off the weekend.

Happy hour? Sometimes.

Meeting up with friends for dinner/drinks/trouble? It still happens.

I find that more and more that the energy I used to dedicate to prepping for a blowout night I’m now redirecting into firing up the stereo when I get home, cracking open some beers or a bottle of wine, cooking a great Friday night dinner and relaxing with my sweets. Yes, this might seem a little sleepy compared to what some you have got going on, and yes, I’m only 31, not 101, but sometimes it feels really good to get home and just chill. And, all this relaxing on Friday night means we’ve got plenty of energy for weekend shenanigans Saturday and Sunday.

Last Friday was nice and warm, a prelude to the much warmer (OK, blazing hot) summer days we have ahead of us in Sacramento. It was the perfect night to fire up the barbecue for some delicious lamb burgers. I’ve only made lamb burgers a couple times and knew I wanted to top them with a little bit of red onion, possibly some cucumber too. My good friend Kimmy made the great suggestion to make a “quick pickle” of the veggies, and the result really made the flavor of the meat sing without overpowering it.

Last Friday’s pre-summer vibe also inspired me to mix up some frosty cocktails. I’ve recently developed a love for the sweet, clean flavor of elderflower liqueur thanks to friends Melissa and Mike, who recently hosted cocktail hour during a neighborhood progressive dinner. They served white linens, a drink they originally discovered at the Shady Lady Saloon and that features elderflower liqueur.

I found a couple recipes online and made a couple tweaks, using Hendrick’s Gin (tastes great with cucumber) and opting for agave nectar instead of simple syrup. This just might be my new summer cocktail.

Lamb burgers with Quick Pickle 
1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1 lb. ground lamb
⅓ cup chopped fresh mint
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup crumbled feta
Four sandwich thins or buns of your preference

For the quick pickle: Combine cucumber, onion, rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl. Let sit for one hour and drain excess liquid.

 For the burger: Mix ground lamb, mint, cinnamon, paprika, garlic and feta in a bowl to combine. Form four patties. Cooking on the grill for 4-5 minutes each side resulted in some mostly done (not pink) patties. Place patty on bottom half of bun, add a scoop of pickled veggies and top with the other half of the bun. We rounded out the meal with a side salad of green-leaf lettuce, red bell pepper and the best (store-bought) dressing ever.

White Linen 
1 ½ ounces Hendrick’s Gin
½ ounce elderflower liqueur
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce agave nectar
Two slices English cucumber, slightly muddled
Soda water

Combine first five ingredients in a glass (I used a mixer because I made two drinks at a time). Add some ice and some soda water and enjoy!