Monday, August 31, 2009

Nearly Perfect Bacon Cheeseburgers

1 lb lean ground beef
seasoning (salt and pepper, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, etc.) to taste
1/ 4 c Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp butter
1/2 tsp each parsley, thyme and basil
4 slices peppered bacon
2 slices Tillamook cheddar cheese
2 stone-ground wheat buns

Combine ground beef, seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic in medium sized bowl
Form beef into two patties, taking care not to over-handle
Barbecue patties 5-7 minutes per side for medium doneness, applying cheese after the flip
Place wheat buns on upper barbecue rack until very lightly toasted
Soften butter in microwave oven and add parsley, thyme and basil; brush on buns
Cook bacon thoroughly and blot dry
Assemble burgers, topping each with two slices bacon, and garnish as desired

Serves 2

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stephen and Caryn's Wedding

Earlier this month, we attended a family wedding. Like most family weddings, it was a fantastic party. Like most fantastic parties, there was plenty of food. I neglected to photograph the hors d'œuvres that were passed around, though I did remember to snap a few pictures of the dinner we enjoyed that night.

Seen below is the spring salad, served with candied walnuts and dried cranberries, and dressed in a tangy strawberry vinaigrette.

Dinner was served buffet-style. Clockwise from top center are green beans almondine, sun dried tomato-poached golden chicken breast with light tomato herb cream sauce, citrus salmon fillet with lemon caper Hollandaise sauce, roasted rosemary red potatoes, and stuffed zucchini with lemon pine nut pilaf.

I should be admonished for forgetting to take a picture of the cake. However, I did take a picture of the happy couple: My brother Stephen, and my new sister Caryn. Congratulations to both of you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Winner: In-N-Out Burger recently asked some of the most prominent chefs in America about their favorite fast food, and to the surprise of no one who's ever enjoyed a Double Double, In-N-Out Burger received high marks.

Says Alton Brown, host of Food Network's Iron Chef America and Good Eats programs, as well as an accomplished food author,

The hamburger is definitive, greasy but oddly clean-tasting at the same time and the sauce actually is 'special.' And the shake tastes the way shakes tasted back when I was a kid. It makes me tear up just thinkin' about it.

Tyler Florence, host of Food Network's Tyler's Ultimate, as well as Food 911 and How to Boil Water, says,

I dare anyone to tell me their burgers aren't as good as any you'll fine [sic] anywhere, from fast food to fine dining.

Chef David Myers of Los Angeles restaurants Sona, Boule and Comme Ça; as well as host of Shopping With Chefs on Fine Living Network, summed up In-N-Out thusly:

It's fast, it's hot, there are code words — what's not to enjoy?

Thomas Keller of Napa Valley's famed French Laundry calls In-N-Out Burger "the perfect example of classic American fast food," and says, "It satisfies my craving for meat, crisp fries, and their special sauce."

Nate Appleman of San Francisco restaurants A16 and SPQR calls it "a rite of passage for all visitors to California."

Charlie Palmer, namesake of the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant chain says,

The places are incredibly clean. I'm impressed as hell by that. And
whatever's in that sauce is tasty.

Chefs Joey Campanaro, Paul Bartolotta, and Guy Fieri also cited In-N-Out as favorite fast food. If you've been there, it's not hard to imagine why.

In addition to In-N-Out Burger, some of the restaurants and chains named in Esquire's survey include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ted's Hot Dogs, Mighty Taco, Dairy Queen, Wow Bao, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Jack in the Box, Taco Cabana, and Whataburger. Note that many of the restaurants named in the survey are regional and not nationwide. (Road trip!)

So what sort of fast food - local or national - does everyone prefer? Come on, don't be shy. I won't judge you for liking Jack in the Box's Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.

Check out the survey at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Pasta Salad

I prepared this recipe earlier this week and took it to a family function, where it was a great accompaniment to barbecued steak, chicken and ribs.

9 oz rotini pasta
8 oz Mozzarella Ciliegine (i.e. cherry tomato size)
6 oz artichoke hearts
8 tbsp olives (kalamata and Sicilian olives used here)
1/2 tsp chopped pimiento
1 small tomato
1 slice red onion
8 oz vinaigrette dressing (Ken's Steakhouse Balsamic & Basil Vinaigrette used here)

Boil rotini, drain, and rinse in cold water.
Chop artichoke hearts, olives, tomato and onion. Mix with rotini in serving bowl.
Halve mozzarella pieces and add to bowl.
Toss with dressing and serve.