Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Book of Burger | Rachael Ray

 

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” – Whimpy

The Book of Burger

TITLE: The Book of Burger
AUTHOR: Rachael Ray
PUBLISHER: Atria
CUISINE: Burgers

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Featured Ingredient: Ketchup
Ketchup (also catsup, tomato sauce, or red sauce) is a sweet and tangy food sauce, typically made from tomatoes, vinegar, a sweetener, and assorted seasonings and spices. The sweetener is most commonly sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Seasonings vary by recipe, but commonly include onions, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and celery. Ketchup is often used as a condiment with various, usually hot, dishes including french fries (chips), hamburgers, sandwiches and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is sometimes used as a basis or ingredient for other sauces and dressings. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
This cookbook is packed with burger variations. And, I’ll have to say, some pretty creative ones. The delicious dishes are accompanied by equally mouthwatering images courtesy of photographer, Romulo Yanes. Rachael breaks out over 200 burger related recipes. There is a ton of variety here. As you would imagine given the volume. It is broken down into some nice manageable pieces. For a burger fan, it’s a really page turner.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Burgers
Sliders
Sandwiches & Dogs
Sloppies
Sides & Sauces
Burger Bash

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I like mine with lettuce and tomatoes…

 

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Chili Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burgers Spanikopita Burgers
The Gyro Burger Salmon Burgers with Tartar Sauce
Bistro Sliders ala Rachael Chorizo Sliders
Mexican Pulled Pork Sliders Deluxe Turkey Club Sliders
Deluxe Turkey Club Sliders BBQ “Bun”-Mi Sliders
Michigan Dogs with Cheese Sauce Creole Andouille Dawgs
Sloppy Cubanos Caesar Tots
Hot Dog Fries Honey-Dijon Potato Salad
Cuban Patty Melts with Yellow Mustard Slaw Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Chunky Apple and Onion Chutney

 

I told you there was a lots here to consider. I had a hard time whittling things down for you. There were some hands down, sure fire winners. The Drunken Burger with Stilton (p.18) combines some of my favorite things into one semi-neat package. The Ultimate Salami Burgers (p.52) are a decadent burger delight (watch Rachael make it here). I’m from Chicago, so, obviously the Chicagoan-Italian Roast Beef Heroes (p.182) hits the mark. It’s not quite Mr. Beef. But, then again, what is. Finally, the Jerk Burgers (p.99) and the Buffalo Joes (p.232) round out my best of the book.

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Special Features
The Book of BurgerThis cookbook has a lot that’s “special” about it. First off it’s a “smart book”. It employs Microsoft TAG technology to unlock great additional features like how-to videos. Just scan and watch. The Burger Bash section has a bunch of burger recipes contributed by some pretty well known chefs. Here’s a short list, Spike Mendelsohn, Morimoto, Michael Symon, Bobby Flay and Chris Santos. Not too shabby. The book is splashed with some interesting burger related essays. All on different topics. But, tied together with a common burger theme. Lastly, Rachael has sprinkled in some of her personal tips on the bottom right corner of select pages.

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Conclusions
This book has SO many great recipes. I should have just made the index my “best of” section. Great creative combinations make these burger recipes really sing. They are relatively easy to make. They’re certainly fun and would make for ideal party food. If you’ve got a lot of other burger books sitting around collecting dust here’s an opportunity. You can recycle some of those old titles to new homes and let Rachael Ray help you freshen up your burger repertoire.

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Culinary Expertise 5.5
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Resources, Links and Press
Official Rachael Ray Website
The Food Network – Rachael Ray Page
Follow Rachael Ray on Twitter
Chicago Tribune Rachael Ray Interview

Slow Fire | Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe

 

It’s hard to imagine another smell that says “summer” more than BBQ.

Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue

TITLE: Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue
AUTHOR: Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe
PUBLISHER: Chronicle Books
CUISINE: BBQ/Grilling

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Featured Ingredient: BrisketBeef Brisket Chart
Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef prime cuts. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals. As cattle do not have collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
I’m a sucker of BBQ cookbooks, so, I’ll try my level best to be objective. It won’t be easy. Dr. BBQ (aka Ray Lampe), has near legendary status in the smoky sub-culture of BBQ. So, you’re learning from a true master of the grill. There are lots of beautiful color images by Leigh Beisch throughout the book. I just loved the books finished size. It made it very easy to keep it open while cooking. A big plus for me. Most recipes are contained to one page. Love the design artwork with the two-tone pages. There is a fair amount of reverse type. But, it is surprisingly easy to read.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Tools & Techniques
Spices and Sauces
Ribs Rule the World
Pork, Glorious Pork
Beautiful Beef
The Birds
Anything But
The Necessary Side Dishes

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It’s hard to resist Rhett & Link. I know what you’re thinking…

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Superchicken Wing Rub Windy City Rib Tips
Competition-Style Pork Butt Homemade Pastrami
Smoky Skirt Steak Fajitas Smoked Flat-Cut Brisket with Coffee
Superchicken Smoked Wings Smoked Scotch Eggs
Planked Salmon with Soy-Honey Glaze Cheesy Mac and Cheese

 

Let’s just say that most of Ray’s recipes made my mouth water. Instantly! Were there one’s that rose above the crowd? But of course. The Roadside Barbecue Spareribs (p.56) seems like a recipe that most would be grill masters could easily tackle. I love Cuban food. So, the Cuban-style Leg of Pork (p.79), was an instant winner for me. It looks delicious. No lie. I’m making that soon. Keep an eye out here for the finished product. I know about the State Fair. And, I know about Disney. As you approach Frontierland, you can see a steady stream of people walking and eating. More like gnawing. They’re tackling giant, beautifully cooked turkey legs. It’s almost like they’re in some turkey induced trance. Anyway, if the State Fair Turkey Legs (p.129) come even close to those, then I say, “We have a WINNER!” Finally, the Bacon and Blue Cheese Coleslaw (p.161) would make a fine addition to any meal whether it was barbecued or not.

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Special Features
Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue I like the fact that recipe names are included in the table of contents. It makes it easy to see what you’re getting yourself into. I guess you could flip to the index. But, the index is never that great to navigate for something like that. There is a lot of info on tools, equipment and cooker types. That’s expected since BBQ isn’t like cooking in your kitchen. It requires special stuff. A great excuse for me to accumulate extra gadgets! There is a Table of Equivalents (p.176). I think it’s a conversion chart in sheep’s clothing. I really should stop obsessing about that.

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Conclusions
Slow Fire, is a fun book. As, most BBQ/grill books are. There are some pretty intense ones on the market today. This one takes a much more laid back approach. That’s to my liking. The recipes here could keep your grill happy all summer long. Or, all year long depending on where you live. The recipes are of medium difficulty. Nothing that couldn’t be tackled by any would-be BBQ enthusiast. Ray is super creative. I like that. It’s not just another BBQ book. And, that’s good because it’s a pretty busy space. There are some truly unique recipes here that deserve your attention. This cookbook claims to be for beginners. And, lots of its elements are aimed at the novice. But, there is really something here for outdoor chefs of all experience levels. If you’re a near expert BBQer you needn’t turn your nose up at the thought of a beginner book. There is certainly something here for you too. So, dig out your pigtail, tongs and tin foil and get grilling!

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Culinary Expertise: 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue

Resources, Links and Press
Dr. BBQ’s Official Website
Follow Dr. BBQ on Twitter
Dr. BBQ’s favorite BBQ Joints
Slow Fire review: Top Ribs

Trout Caviar | Brett Laidlaw

 

Foraging for your own meal is serious business.

Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager

TITLE: Trout Caviar
AUTHOR: Brett Laidlaw
PUBLISHER: Minnesota Historical Society Press
CUISINE: American

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Featured Ingredient: Brown Trout
The brown trout (Salmo trutta) is an originally European species of salmonid fish. ItBrown Trout includes both purely freshwater populations, referred to Salmo trutta morpha fario and S. trutta morpha lacustris, and anadromous forms known as the sea trout, S. trutta morpha trutta. The latter migrates to the oceans for much of its life and returns to freshwater only to spawn.[2] Sea trout in the UK and Ireland have many regional names, including sewin (Wales), finnock (Scotland), peal (West Country), mort (North West England) and white trout (Ireland).

The specific epithet trutta derives from the Latin trutta, meaning, literally, “trout”. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
Trout Caviar is as much a personal food journal as it is a cookbook. It reminds me a little of Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini. But, with digging rather than shooting. It’s a tale of gathering and foraging. I must admit I wasn’t very familiar with the topic until I read through it. It’s a fantastic primer on the subject. I particularly love the way the stories are so intertwined with the dishes. They provide excellent context for the recipes. You’re not going to be wowed by the images. They are mostly black and white. There is a section of color photographs towards the middle of the book. The meat of this cookbook are the hearty and homey recipes. They are worth the price of admission.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Starters
Salads
Soups
Vegetable Mains
Pasta and Pizza
Meat
Poultry
Fish
Vegetable Side
Desserts and Drinks
Condiments

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Steve Oxley, master fly fisherman. Enough said.

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Watercress Bacon Salad Sorrel Shallot Potato Soup
Summer Lake Trout Chowder Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Bacon Onion Tart Steak Tartare Maison
Confit of Fresh Ham Home Smoked Trout
Duck Confit Tacos Knife and Fork BOT (Bacon, Onion & Tomato)

 

I love to make my own gravlax or lox. The Lake Trout Maple-Spiced Gravlax (p.28) sounds really interesting. I have never attempted to cure anything but salmon. That always turns out amazing. So, that makes this a must try. The Popcorn Salad (p.43) sounds so unusual that it is hard to resist. Also, the Walleye Tacos (p.165) are sure to be a winner. I love fish tacos of all stripes. The ones that I have eaten have been made mainly with grouper, red snapper or some other with fleshed saltwater fish. Walleye would be a great substitution.

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Special FeaturesTrout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager
There are some great smoking tips here. Lots of notes on the do’s and don’ts of foraging for your own ingredients. Probably more don’ts. I’ve always thought you should probably take someone with a little experience with you on your first mushroom hunt. It seems to me the downside could be huge. There is a list of some helpful websites and books towards the back. Foraging doesn’t seem like a subject that tons of people will be well versed in. The resources are a nice addition.

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Conclusions
This isn’t the type of cookbook that you’re going to turn to for your everyday meals. Unless, you’re a forager that is. But, it has a nice selection of unique recipes that would be great for a change of pace. I’m sure that Brett would be OK with you making these dishes even if you didn’t dig up your own fungi. Most of the recipes are reasonably easy to execute. The ingredients are a slightly tougher task. If you don’t have easy access to ramps or fiddleheads, you may want to find a reliable source before cracking the spine of this one. All in all, an enjoyable and delicious romp with nature.

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Culinary Expertise 6
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager

Resources, Links and Press
The Trout Caviar Website
Trout Caviar Review via Heavy Table
Follow Brett Laidlaw on Twitter
Minnesota Historical Society