Friday, August 13, 2010

Diner Food

Diner food is comfort food. It's not health food. However, when you live your life in an "all things in moderation" way, diner food has its place. There's just something about the classic cheeseburger, fries, and a thick chocolate shake that soothes the soul.

Recently, my sister found a new diner in her area (Orlando) and decided to give it a try.

The diner couldn't make her a milkshake.

What kind of diner doesn't serve milkshakes? The waitress told her that they hadn't gotten their milkshake machine in yet.

Wait. What? Milkshake machine? You mean a blender, right?

Nope. They mean a milkshake machine, like those you see at fast food restaurants. C'mon now. Milkshakes are milk and ice cream. Period. Any diner worth it's Wait to be Seated sign can make a real milkshake.

Anyway, she planted the seed in my brain and I decided to serve up some real diner food last night, with a twist. I made patty melts, sweet potato fries, and chocolate shakes. A patty melt is basically a thick burger served with cheese and fried onions (sometimes mushrooms) on grilled bread. Basically, a grilled cheese burger. Very tasty.

Diner-Style Patty Melts

What You Need:
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup melted butter plus a couple Tbsp more for pan
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 10 slices of buttered bread (rye or sourdough is best)
  • 10 slices of American cheese
  • mayonnaise if desired
How it's Done:
  1. Combine ground beef, melted butter, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Form into five patties.
  2. Heat skillet over medium heat and add some butter to the pan. Fry burgers until cooked to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, fry onions in oil and toast buttered bread on a hot skillet.
  4. Prepare burgers: Slather on side of bread with mayo. Top with cheese, burger, onions, cheese, and then top slice of bread. Cut in halves and serve.
To make the sweet potato fries, peel sweet potatoes (1 for every 2 people) and cut into matchstick strips. Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp melted butter per potato. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.


Jennifer said...

Yum! I love diner food! Especially the hole in the wall dinners that look like they may or may not have roaches crawling on the walls and cig ashes in your food. They always seem to have the best food!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Delicious burger!! YUM! I agree, no milkshake machine, huh???? Blenders make the best milkshakes anyway :) Lets open our own diner Michelle :)

Yenta Mary said...

I can't even believe what an amazing meal I'm seeing!!! Oh, so good for the soul ... :)

Jenn said...

That's just crazy about the milkshakes!! lol
I do love me some diner food and this meal you made, Michelle, sounds wonderful. When are you opening your own diner?? :)

StephenC said...

What fun! I'm tempted to head right out to my favorite diner.

Angie said...

Yummy! There are not to many diners around my area anymore. Sad that yours is going to machines to make milkshakes. You should write to the owner!

Melissa @ GreenAndFrugalMama said...


Kim said...

Milkshake blenders are not the same as fast food shake machines nor are they the same as bar blenders (the blenders most people have in their homes these days).

Milkshake blenders have a stick blender that extends down into the milkshake cup like this:
The method is to scoop ice cream and liquids (usually flavored syrup and/or milk) into the metal can. Put the metal can onto the machine so that the stick blender extends into the bottom of the can. Turn on blender and move can around until the shake is thoroughly mixed. Chains like Friendly's and Steak 'N Shake use these machines as do traditional ice cream stores and what are called diners here.

Fast food shake machines are similar to frozen yogurt or soft serve machines. The machine is filled with a liquid mix and the machine cools the mix down while paddles stir it. Eventually, the mix thickens and is extruded into a serving cup. McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's use machines like these to make what they call "shakes."

This is an example of a bar blender which is the type of blender that most homes have in their kitchens today:
You can make a milkshake with this type of blender but milkshake blenders are faster and more efficient than a bar blender. Bar blenders are not practical for making milkshakes in a restaurant setting, in part because it's so time-consuming to clean the container which is necessary between flavors.

Oh, bother. Now I want a milkshake!

Kim said...

Now I want to make the fries...yum...I love sweet potatoe fries. I think I have my menu for tomorrow...thanks!

favorite recipes said...

I just love these.

Samara Link said...

I'm making your black bean burgers on Sunday or Monday, and I'm going to make these sweet potato fries to go with. Thanks for the idea!! I'm behind on your blog and excited to spend some time catching up with it over the weekend. :)

Martha A. said...

i love patty melts....i am not an onion fan....but used to make these when we got fresh ground beef. They are so good!

Anonymous said...

I have foud a way to cut back on the amount of ground beef in a patty melt without sactificing flavor. Rather than makng a hamuburger patty, just cook and crumble the ground beef. Spread a thin layer on the bread between the cheese. You can make your pound of meat stretch to about 8 sandwiches. I have also added a slice of tomatoe to the sandwich before grilling especially when tomatoes are in season and everyone has plenty to use.

Michelle said...

Good idea...a sort of loose meat sandwich. I need the texture of a burger when I want a burger like this, but loose meat sandwiches are wonderful, too!

Jane said...

My family loves diner food, and although it's loaded in calories, we find ourselves indulging at times. I can't wait to try this. At least I can make the recipe healthier in my own terms. Thanks for sharing.

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