Tarpon springs is a sleepy little town on the west coast of Florida that is as Greek as the Aegean island of Patmos.The town was colonized before the turn of the century by Green immigrant sponge divers who worked their trade in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The community thrived until the invention of synthetic sponges, and its prosperity gave birth to dozens of small, ethnic restaurants and bars.
Twenty years ago, in one of the samll seaside restaurants that has long since disappeared, I was served a "Green" hamburger, which certainly was the most unusual hamburger I've ever eaten. The patty was stuffed with spices, peppers and things I'd not seen before and haven't seen since, and vaguely resembled a fried slice of meat loaf on a toasted bun. It was not the best hamburger I've ever eaten, but I've perfected something I call the "Greek-American Hamburger"; and while it has its roots in that long-ago burger I ate in Tarpon Springs, this one keeps going -- it's great! GREEK-AMERICAN HAMBURGER (6 servings) 2 pounds ground sirloin or chopped meat Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste 1 tablespoon celery seed 2 medium onions, finely chopped 1 red pepper, finely chopped 1 l/2 tablespoons pimiento 3 dozen capers 3ounces cheddar cheese, cut into pea-sized cubes Mustard and catsup
Divide the meat into six patties. Spread a patty out to a diameter of about 6 inches and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Divide the remaining ingredients into 6 equal portions. Sprinkle each patty with celery seed, onions, red pepper, pimiento, capers and a dozen cheese cubes. Add the mustard and catsup. Knead the patty until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Shape the hamburger patty and put on wax paper.
When all the patties are made and stacked in wax paper, it is a good idea to refrigerate them for a couple of hours.
This stabilizes them, and they hold together better once they are placed on the fire.
For those who prefer their hamburgers well-done, I would suggest they fry them in an iron skillet on the stove; the well-done Greek-American hamburger cooked over charcoal has a tendency to become dry and chewy, while the same patty done in an iron skillet remains moist and wonderful! MOTHER'S COLESLAW (6 servings) The cole slaw should be prepared the day before it's to be eaten so it can spend some time aging and chilling in the refrigerator. 3/4 cup vinegar 1 teaspoon celery seed 1 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/2 cup salad oil 2 to 6 tablespoons sugar 1 medium cabbage, thinly sliced 2 medium onions, diced 1 large green pepper, or 2 small, cut into long, thin strips 12 green olives, quartered
Combine vinegar, celery seek, salt, pepper, oil and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
In a large salad bowl, mix vinegar and oil mixture with cabbage, onions, place in refrigerator until the following day. Stir the slaw as you fix breakfast and a few hours before it's to be eaten.