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         "Better Burgers"                                                                     May 20, 2010 - Vol 3, Issue 10 
In This Issue
Cooks'Wares Special
Trip to France Opportunity
Cooking Classes
Burger Fundamentals
Ketchup & Mustard
Cooking with Fire
Smart Grilling Tips
Q & A's
Cookbook Review
Better Burger Recipes
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Fire Up the Grill!
A great burger on the grill is hard to beat! The proxies found at fast food restaurants do disservice to what a great hamburger can be. With warmer weather upon us, it's time to move the kitchen outdoors and reap some great burger flavors from the grill. Burger PortraitMastering burgers on the grill is a worthwhile, budget-minded endeavor. We've uncovered a whole new world of burgers featuring great flavor and endless variety that leaves us anything but deprived. The lessons learned about grilling burgers translate well to other aspects of our grilling life, too.

we provide an update on making better burgers by refreshing our knowledge of the basics. With this foundation, we introduce some recipes with embellishments and improvisational notions. And, what would a classic burger be without ketchup and mustard? We'll share what we know about these ubiquitous condiments, increase your grilling prowess with some great tips, and conclude with three great-tasting burger recipes you can enjoy tonight!

Cooks'Wares Special!
Soda Stream
Journey to France with Diane Philips
Trip to France with Phillips
Cooking Classes
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Harper's Point classes - Call 513-489-6400    Settler's Walk classes - Call 937-748-4540

1CW_MastheadMon, May 24 - Cooking with My Mamas! with Jackson Rouse and his Mamas
Settlers' Walk 6:30 - 9:00pm $45

Tues, May 25 - All Day Chocolate Festival with Lisa Cooper-Holmes
Harper's Point 6:00 - 9:00pm $45

Wed, May 26 - Strawberry Fields Forever with Rhonda Clark
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Wed, Jun 2 - A Southern Brunch with Marilyn Harris
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1CW_MastheadThurs, Jun 3 - Dewey's Does It Better with Chuck Lipp
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Thurs, Jun 3 - Easy Summer Entertaining with Courtney Rathweg
Settlers' Walk 6:30 - 9:00pm $40

Mon, Jun 7 - Summertime Seafood with Jackson Rouse
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Tue, Jun 8 - All Day for Dad with Todd Davis
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Thurs, Jun 10 - Paella with a Twist with Hector Esteve
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Harper's Point classes - Call 513-489-6400    
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Burger Fundamentals
There's nothing to making a good burger, but there are a few tricks to incorporate into your methodology that will make for a better burger, and, perhaps, inspire you to create your own signature burger.

Ground BeefChoosing the Meat - Because burgers have the simplest of ingredients, choosing the meat is a crucial decision. Traditional beef burgers can be made from chuck, sirloin, or round cuts of beef. Chuck is a combination of meats from the "waist and above" on a cow, sirloin is from the midsection, and round is from the hip and upper back legs. When it comes to meat, fat equals flavor. Not exactly what our nutritionists want to hear, but true. Chuck tends to be about 80% lean and 20% fat. Sirloin weighs in at around 90% lean, and round at around 85% lean. Buy meat that has a fresh, bright color from a reputable source.

Grinding and Chopping - Ground meats are readily available at any grocer; choose the cut and fat percentage you prefer for the situation. Increasingly, individuals are choosing their own cuts of meat and grinding them at home. This allows control over quality and composition. You may use a grinder attachment on your mixer to accomplish this, or use razor-sharp knives to chop the meat finely.

Shaping the Patties - Form patties from the ground meat that hold together easily, while handling the meat as lightly as possible. Use a kitchen scale to weigh equal portions of ground meat; this will minimize handling. Avoid handling the meat too much and smashing it together. Molding PattiesA light texture will provide small spaces for the juices to collect during grilling and eating. Use a mold or burger press to quickly achieve uniformity.

Seasoning the Meat - Most meats need nothing more than salt and pepper for great flavor. Because salt withdraws juices from food, we tend to salt just prior to grilling. However, if your burger is destined to have other seasonings, they may be incorporated into the meat prior to forming patties. Allow the burgers to chill so that the flavors blend and the meat regains its coldness prior to grilling.

Grilling and Cooking - Cook burgers on a medium-hot grill. Once heated, rub the grate with a paper towel dipped in olive oil to help prevent sticking. Place the cold burgers on the grill, cover, and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, then turn and allow to finish grilling according to the size of the patty. The key to a great burger is not pressing down on the burgers while cooking. This forces the juices out of the meat instead of retaining moistness and flavor.

Grilling HamburgersTesting Doneness - Being flat, burgers are easy to estimate doneness. However, we always recommend using an instant read thermometer when cooking any meat. Undercooking meat is undesirable, but more often, there is a tendency to overcook meat robbing the burger of flavor and yielding a dry result. A thermometer provides confidence in the grilling experience and promotes the best result possible. Cook hamburgers until the center reaches 160ºF.

Serving Fresh - As hungry as you might be given the swirling aromas, allow the finished burgers to set for a few minutes so that juices can be reabsorbed into the meat. Use this waiting time to grill the buns to a perfect golden toast.

Ketchup & Mustard
Open nearly any refrigerator in America and you'll find in the door shelves a container of ketchup and at least one type of mustard. But what do we know about these ubiquitous condiments?

KetchupKetchup tops the list of condiments, no question. Originally, the word, ketchup, described any number of sauces. The term's meaning settled on the tomato-based sauce by the early 1800s. Henry J. Heinz developed today's ketchup sauce and set the standard for flavor and texture by the turn of the 20th century. Ketchup and Mustard BottlesHis secret was to use ripe tomatoes, pickle them with vinegar, and then concentrate the sauce. Ketchup is considered good if it is thick, does not separate, and, of course, tastes great. The secret to ketchup's huge fan base lies in its ingredients. Ketchup contains tomato, vinegar, sugar, salt, spices, and herbs. This mélange of flavors hits all of our taste buds - sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and the fifth taste, umami. With all cylinders firing at once, no wonder ketchup registers pleasure in our mouths.

MustardMustard holds second place on the post-grill table. While ketchup seems to be, well, ketchup, mustard sports a host of personalities that project distinctly different flavors and effects. All mustards start with the humble mustard seed, the fruit of the mustard plant. Mustard seed or dry mustard powder does not have any potency on its own, but when combined with water or liquid, heat emerges. The cooler the liquid used in mustard preparation, the hotter the mustard. Hot water breaks down the heat component during mustard making and later during roasting or grilling. Vinegar, water, and spice mixed with the ground mustard seed complete the condiment. There are four common types of mustard each with many variations:
Four Mustards

Cooking with Fire
Why do people grill? Anthropologists might point to some primeval connection to fire, the chemist might point to the Maillard reaction occurring during browning, but a modern interpretation might land on the simplest of answers - it tastes good! To enjoy your grilling life to the max, keep these ideas in mind:

Grilling GearKeep the Grill Clean! - We can't emphasize this enough. A clean grill will allow your foods to keep their true grilled flavors without any compromise from burnt pieces, ash, or other leftovers from the last grilling session. Use a wire brush to scrape away any stuck on food. Be religious in keeping your grill clean and you'll be rewarded with great tasting food and a long-lasting grill.

Oil the Grate - Once clean, oil the preheated grate with a paper towel soaked with an oil of your choice and held by a pair of tongs. The thin coat of oil will keep foods from sticking and simultaneously allow for easier clean up later.

Expand your Grilling Life - Explore burgers on the grill, but don't forget all of the other foods that would benefit from the magic of the grill. Master the tradition of meat on the grill with beef cuts, but don't forget pork, chicken, turkey, and seafood. You may like to experiment with less common meats such as buffalo, ostrich, emu, or game. Vegetables on the grill are hard to match, as are grilled fruits.

Baskets, Skewers, Mats - A few key tools can make your grilling explorations instantly more successful. Grill baskets allow for small pieces of seafood or vegetables to be grilled easily without any loss through the grate. Explore the many skewers we have for kabob grilling; each has its distinct use and advantage. Grilling mats, like grilling baskets keep food from falling through the grate while allowing the fire and smoke to infuse into the food. Mats are particularly useful for grilling fish and vegetables.

Smart Grilling Tips
Tip #1: Expand your repertoire of burger buns - ditch the soft, fluffy breads and choose breads with some heft, flavor, and interest. Here are a few alternatives - ciabatta buns, baguettes, croissants, English muffins, or any number of flat breads.

TongsTip #2: Get comfortable with using tongs when grilling. Tongs allow for all kinds of handling motions with the advantage of long-handled distance. Tongs have an advantage over long-handled forks; forks pierce the food allowing juices to escape.

Tip #3:
Add olive oil to lean cuts of ground meat for juiciness and flavor. This doesn't necessarily reduce the overall fat content, but it does substitute a better, healthier type of fat and optimizes the richness and moistness in the end result.

Tip #4: When grilling kabobs use skewers that are flat. The flat shape will help keep the food from spinning when turning.

Tip #5: When shaping patties, moisten your hands with water. This will help to keep the meat from sticking to your hands and makes washing up easier.

Q & A's
Q and A Logo
Q: How can I make a great burger indoors?
A:  If you live in an apartment, or if it's raining and your patio is uncovered, a great burger is still accessible. Here are two common methods for making indoor burgers: (1) Pan-Searing, and (2) Grill Pan. When pan-searing a burger, heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium-high skillet, add the burgers, cover for 2 minutes, turn, and complete the cooking. A grill pan is used similarly with one exception, excess fat is allowed to drain away from the frying meat due to the pan's ridges.

Tomato KnifeQ: How do I know when my grill is hot enough for grilling burgers?
A: Burgers usually require a medium-hot grill. Hold your hand, palm down 4-5 inches above the grill. If you can hold it there for about 4 seconds the heat is just about right for burgers. If you need to pull away sooner, it's too hot; if you can hold your hand there longer, it's too cool.

Q: What's the best way to get perfect tomato slices for my burgers?
A: Choose a tomato that matches the size of your burgers and one that is more meaty than juicy. Use a high quality serrated knife to slice the tomatoes as thinly as you'd like. A classic tomato knife has a razor-sharp serrated edge and a pointed tip for spearing and moving the completed slices.

Q: What is piccalilli?
A: Varying by region, piccalilli is a relish of various chopped, pickled vegetables. The veggies are often held together in a mustard-based sauce and are a classic addition to mustard and ketchup on the condiment tray.
Cookbook Review
Burger Bar by Hubert Keller with Penelope Wisner. Photography by Bill Milne. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ. Copyright 2009.

Burger Bar CookbookWho knew burgers could be so interesting? This cookbook serves up a whole new attitude for burgers that can be summed up in one word, flavor! Mr. Keller and Ms. Wisner manage to take the humble burger and transform it into the centerpiece with some serious flavor dynamics. They school us in the essential basics, then propel us into the big world of delicious variations. While the initial focus is with traditional beef versions, the book broadens its appeal with pork, fowl, and seafood substrates. The much maligned veggie burger is reinvented and duly elevated in its appeal. The book concludes with great suggestions for sides, sauces, and finales. The full color photographic illustrations start the mouth watering upon first glance; the real thing that followed did not disappoint. Try the three recipes below, then you'll be ready for Keller's French-inspired Burger au Poivre, or the Brazilian Feijoada Burger. Burgers have never been better!

Better Burger Recipes
Recipes excerpted from Burger Bar by Hubert Keller with Penelope Wisner. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ. Copyright 2009. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Black Jack Burgers
Black  Jack BurgersView and Print

Full bodied in stature and in flavor, this burger delivers. Choose some good chuck, season, and grill. The "black" in Black Jack comes from the delicious olive tapenade, and the "jack" comes from a thick slice of Monterey Jack cheese. The combination makes for a hat trick certain to win over the entire house. The extra tapenade was delicious the next morning on a lightly toasted baguette.

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Bacon Sliders
Blue  Cheese Stuffed SlidersView and Print

Perfectly packaged, blue cheese unites two of its favorites, beef and pears, together in these tasty stacks. Slider-sized, these burgers pack tons of flavor into just a few bites. The caramelized pears seem an unlikely addition, but turn out to be an essential flavor. The blue cheese melts nicely permeating the burger with a juicy dimension. The sliders made for a dynamite presentation on a tray served tapas style.

Seared Tuna Burgers
Seared  Tuna BurgerView and Print

Not every burger needs to be a beef burger. This fresh tuna burger with its Asian flavor influences will have you converted at first bite. Sesame oil and ginger provide plenty of personality for the tuna. The Sesame Vinaigrette is a keeper combination of ingredients that is not only the perfect condiment for the tuna burgers, but is great on greens, easy to make, and a pizzazz-y dressing for all kinds of grilled foods.

Fire up the grill and make a better burger!
Mary Fricke
Cooks'Wares, Inc.
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