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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
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Archive for Meat & Poultry

RECIPE: Oktoberfest Burger With Pork Schnitzel

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The Oktoberfest Burger, with breaded pork
cutlets. Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.


Hard Rock Cafe is celebrating Oktoberfest with a Germany-inspired burger, the Samuel Adams Octoberfest Schnitzel Burger.

Available September through October 31st, it has German flavor accents: schnitzel (breaded pork cutlets) instead of beef patties, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard and beer-accented cheese sauce, all on a pretzel bun.

The Oktoberfest burger is similar to the Schnitzel Local Legendary Burger served year-round at Hard Rock Cafe locations in Germany. Here’s more about schnitzel.

The Oktoberfest Burger is served with a side of seasoned fries and a Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer.

What’s an Oktoberfest beer?

Oktoberfest Beer, or Märzen, is a smooth and malty amber lager with an ABV* of 6% or higher. See our Beer Glossary for the different types of beer.


Ingredients Per Burger

  • Lightly breaded tender pork schnitzel
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest-infused beer cheese sauce (recipe below)
  • Smoked bacon
  • Sauerkraut
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Fresh baby arugula
  • Pretzel bun
  • Optional: long toothpick

    1. PREPARE the schnitzel (recipe—substitute pork cutlets for the veal) and toast the buns.

    2. LAYER atop the bottom bun: mustard, arugula, schnitzel, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, schnitzel, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, bacon, mustard. Fasten with a toothpick if needed.



    Cheese sauce can be used on everything from breakfast eggs to dinner grains, potatoes, rice and veggies. This recipe is adapted from on, a great resource for cooking with beer.


  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup Oktoberfest beer (substitute other beer of choice)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Gouda†
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Cheddar†
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or substitute cayenne or chili flakes)

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    Make cheese sauce with freshly-grated cheese. Photo courtesy


    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on high until very well blended, about 5-8 minutes.

    2. EMPTY the contents into a saucepan and cook over medium high heat. Whisk rapidly and continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired; for an extra kick use the cayenne or chili flakes. For a perfectly smooth sauce, use an immersion blender as necessary.

    3. SERVE warm.

    *ABV is Alcohol By Volume.

    †Do not use pre-shredded cheese.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Schmacon Beef Bacon

    The producer calls Schmacon “beef’s answer to bacon.”

    It looks like bacon and smells bacon; it cooks like bacon–preferably in the oven for maximum crispness, although it can be cooked in a frying pan.

    The result, crisp strips of Schmacon, tastes of beef instead of pork, but with the smoky, sweet spirit of bacon.

  • A serving of Schmacon contains 30 calories, 2 g fat, and 60 mg sodium.
  • A serving of pork bacon averages 60-90 calories, 4.5-7 g fat, and 190-360 mg sodium.
    Meatier, lower in sodium, calories and fat, Schmacon is a much healthier alternative, and you get more meat and less fat. More benefits:

  • Schmacon cooks in half the time of raw pork bacon.
  • It generates much less grease; and, as with bacon grease, you can use it to cook potatoes and eggs, make German potato salad, etc.
  • For everyone without a great kitchen exhaust fan: There’s no lingering smell of old bacon fat in the air.

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    Crisp, delicious Schmacon. Use it wherever you’d use bacon. Photo courtesy Schqmacon.

    We think it’s terrific, and so does the trade: The National Restaurant Association gave Schmacon its Food and Beverage Innovations Award.


    This is not the first beef bacon on the market, but but it’s head and shoulders above the rest. Most other beef bacon is manufactured with the same technique as pork bacon, but that made no sense to CEO Howard Bender. He started from scratch, testing different cuts of beef, spice blends and cooking processes until, three years later, he was satisfied.

    The result, Schmacon Smoked & Glazed Beef Slices, is an achievement, a delicious alternative for those who do not eat pork products, and a boon to those who’d like “healthier bacon.”

    Why isn’t it called bacon? Today, the USDA limits the use of “bacon” to pork. “Turkey bacon” got grandfathered in.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/schmacon and eggs 230q

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    TOP: Schmacon and eggs. BOTTOM: Look for
    this package at your grocer’s. Photos courtesy Schmacon.



    Use it anywhere you’d use pork or turkey bacon, including to make:

  • Bacon cheeseburgers and hot dogs
  • Bacon quiche
  • Bean and lentil dishes
  • BLTs
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chowder
  • Eggs, pancakes, waffles
  • Green salad, wedge salad with blue cheese dressing
  • Hot bacon vinaigrette
  • “Larded” filet mignon and turkey breast
  • Surf and turf: bacon-crusted salmon fillets (recipe)

    Over the last year, Schmacon has rolled out to restaurants and foodservice. It is now rolling out to retailer stores.

    Look for a retailer near you. If you can’t find one, you can purchase a ten-pound package from the manufacturer. Extra Schmacon can be frozen; but we bet you’ll run through the bulk package pretty quickly.
    Discover more at




    FOOD FUN: Pot Pies & A Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potato

    September 23rd is National Great American Pot Pie Day, celebrating a favorite American comfort food. Pot pie (also spelled potpie) is a misappropriated name. Originally, “pot pie” referred to a crustless mixture of meat pie ingredients and noodles, stewed in a pot on the stove top.

    Over time, the term became used to designate a meat pie with conventional crusts, baked in the oven in a deep pie plate or casserole dish.


    Meat pies likely date back to the milling of flour in ancient times, but before the invention of pie plates, which came many centuries later. Very thick crusts were used as baking vessels (but were not eaten, due to the high proportion of salt required to stiffen the crust). Meat pies in large vessels made of crust were popular banquet fare during the Roman Empire, as anyone who has seen Fellini Satyricon can attest.

    By the 16th century, the English gentry revived the ancient custom of meat pies. Venison was the meat of choice. The recipe crossed the pond to America, where it became as American as…pot pie!


    Beef Pot Pie

    Beef pot pie with a star-embellished crust. Get out your cookie cutter! Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.

    The pot pie can be baked without a bottom crust but with a conventional top crust or a biscuit topping (the dough is dropped onto the top), like a cobbler. Personally, we prefer a crisp biscuit to a crust.

    While most people immediately think of chicken pot pie, pot pies are made today from any type of meat, poultry, fish or seafood, as well as vegetarian varieties. If you have venison, by all means enjoy a historic venison pot pie.

    Some of our favorite spins on pot pie:

  • Biscuit Pot Pie (with a biscuit instead of crust—(recipe)
  • Meatball Pot Pie (recipe)
  • Polka Dot Pot Pie (recipe)
  • Star Crust Pot Pie (see photo above)
  • Turkey Leftovers Pot Pie (recipe)
    And the recipe below, Baked Potato Pot Pie.


    Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potato

    Something new: pot pie in a baked potato! Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.



    For today’s special occasion, we’ve fused the pot pie with a baked potato. Or actually, blogger Carla Cardello of Chocolate Moosey did. She developed the recipe for the Idaho Potato Commission.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 Idaho baking potatoes
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frozen vegetable medley (carrots, peas, corn, and
    green beans)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Brush each with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and prick with the tines of a fork. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until they are fork tender. Meanwhile…

    2. HEAT the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken. Cook for 4 minutes, then flip and cook until no longer pink in the middle, another 3-5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and keep warm.

    3. ADD 1 tablespoon of butter to any meat drippings left in the skillet and melt. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and salt and bring back to a boil. Add the vegetable medley and cooked chicken. Cook another 1-2 minutes or until hot.

    4. MELT the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until brown, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the parsley.

    5. CUT each baked potato in half. Top with pot pie mixture and breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cooking With Craft Beer

    Cooking with beer is as old as civilization itself. The first-known written record, from the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia, is a 3900-year-old beer recipe and poem honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing.

    Brewing is much older than the written record: Evidence of beer production in Mesopotamia dates back about 5,000 years.

    Fast forward to the here and now: In American kitchens, some people regularly cook with beer. Others, even though they like beer, are more likely to cook with wine.

    Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo of Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. likes to cook with both. He recently added beer-braised onions to his fall Bar Burger, and sent us his recipe plus general tips for cooking with beer:

  • Think regional. The Germans, naturally, cook their brats and other foods with their local beer. If you are making sauerkraut, cook it with some good German beer. Likewise, when making fish and chips, make your beer batter with a nice British ale.
  • Never cook with a beer you would not like to drink. This is the same with wine. Your final product can only be as good as your ingredients.

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    A cheeseburger with caramelized onions is the fall Bar Burger recipes at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House. Photo courtesy

  • The delicate flavors of beer will dissipate over a long cooking process. If you are cooking a stew or braised beef, for example, add a splash or two to your dish before serving, to ensure you get that flavor. (We add a few tablespoons after we take the dish off the heat.)
  • Experiment with your favorite recipes. In virtually any recipe that calls for wine or stock of any type, you could replace them with beer.

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    The American Craft Beer Cookbook pairs recipes with all the craft beer styles. Photo courtesy Storey Publishing.



    Beer braised onions are an easy way to start cooking with beer. You can add them to first courses, entrées and sides. As a start, serve them with meat or poultry, baked or mashed potatoes, beans, burgers, eggs, grains, grilled fish and sandwiches (especially great with grilled cheese, roast beef, turkey or vegetable sandwiches).

    Chef Canalizo’s fall Bar Burger includes onions braised in Ommegang Nut Brown Ale (from New York State) and melted Cheddar cheese on a Martin’s potato roll, and served with homemade potato chips. Here’s his recipe for the onions:


    Ingredients For 4 Burgers

    For The Burger

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 buns (hamburger roll substitutes)
    For The Braised Onions

  • 2 white Spanish onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup brown ale* (substitute amber ale/red ale)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. MELT the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are a golden color. Add the beer and herbs and continue to cook for 5 more minutes until caramelized.

    2. FORM the meat into four eight-ounce patties. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cook to the desired temperature. While the meat is cooking, toast the buns.

    3. TOP each patty with cheddar cheese and beer braised onions, place on the bun and serve.


    Skip those puffy, white-bread standards and try delicious gourmet hamburger rolls. Here’s a recipe.

    *Brown ale is sweeter, darker and less bitter than the typical lager beer. If you can’t find an American brown ale, imported Newcastle Nut Brown Ale is typically available in stores with a good beer selection.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: Pimp Your Cheeseburger

    It used to be that a cheeseburger was just a cheeseburger: a patty and a slice of cheese—usually American, Cheddar or Swiss—and maybe a garnish of pickles. Then some inspired person added a slice of bacon. And those were the options for decades.

    But cheeseburgers have evolved into more complex creations with endless possibilities.

    We’ve been slammed with pitches for creative cheeseburger ideas for National Cheeseburger Day, September 18th. We don’t even know that these ideas are out-of-the-box. We think they’re the new box.

    Some of the ideas that have come our way:

  • URBO, a huge new gourmet venue in the New York City theatre district, suggested a Brie Burger (dry aged beef, Brie and pear mostardo) and a Caprese Burger (dry aged beef, mozzarella, beefsteak tomato and fresh basil).
  • Maria Bernardis of Greekalicious suggested a lamb burger with feta cheese and yogurt sauce in toasted pita.
  • The Cheesecake Factory suggested a Memphis Burger, beef topped with American cheese, barbecue and slaw.

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pimento cheeseburger gardeniaNYC 2301

    A cheeseburger with pimento cheese from Gardenia Restaurant in New York City is delicious, but pretty simple compared to the other ideas we received.

  • Bull City Burger topped a beef patty with a sausage patty, Swiss cheese and pickles.
  • The Palm topped a patty with Gruyère, roasted red bell pepper and a slice of prosciutto.
  • Omaha Steaks suggested pimento cheese under the patty, sliced avocado and salsa on top.
  • Umami Burger tops a cheeseburger with a salad (photo below).

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    A Salad Burger with Swiss on the bottom. Photo courtesy Umami Burger.

  • Hudson Eats has a fried egg-topped burger with Gruyère, baby arugula and frizzled onions.
  • Martin’s Famous Pastry Shop suggests Swiss cheese and caramelized onions on one of their potato rolls.
  • The Munchery suggested Swiss, bacon and a grilled pineapple slice.
  • Vegetarian suggestions included portobello mushrooms with feta cheese and chickpea burgers with smoked mozzarella.

    Head to for many more ideas.

    Check out our master list of 40+ burger recipe ideas.

    Who invented the burger, and who transformed it into a cheeseburger? Much of the credit is lost to history, although here’s what we do know about the history of the burger.

    And if you’ve created a new cheeseburger recipe, let us know.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Wiener Schnitzel

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    Wiener Schnitzel, Austria’s national dish.
    Photo © Cokemomo | 123rf.


    Wiener Schnitzel (pronouced VEE-ner not WEE-ner) is the national dish of Austria and a standard of Continental cuisine. In The Sound Of Music, Maria sang that Schnitzel with noodles was “one of my favorite things.” The name means Viennese [-style] scallops, referring to the scallops of veal (der Schnitz means a slice or a cut).

    Wiener Schnitzel is a thin, breaded, fried veal cutlet fried served with a slice of lemon, traditionally served with a simple green salad or cucumbers plus German potato salad or boiled parsley potatoes. Lingonberry jam can be served as a condiment (you can buy it at better food stores, Ikea or online).

    In Austria the term is protected by law; “Wiener Schnitzel” assures you of a veal cutlet. Since veal is pricey, a less expensive Austrian alternative uses pork (Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein). It can also be made with beef, chicken, mutton, pork, turkey, boar and reindeer—any meat that can be cut into thin slices. Just call it Chicken Schnitzel instead of Wiener Schnitzel.

    While Wiener Schnitzel itself is out of fashion in the U.S., its spirit lives on in the American dish, Chicken-Fried Steak, a similar recipe made with beef. It was created in the Texas Hill Country by German immigrants, who found themselves with plenty of available beef. There’s more about Chicken-Fried Steak below.

    And a recipe for authentic Wiener Schnitzel is also below. But first:


    According to legend, Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, an Austrian general, brought the recipe from Italy to Vienna in 1857. But this story was invented, like George Washington and the cherry tree. Here’s what we know from the historical record:

  • A recipe for thinly sliced meat, breaded and fried, appears in the only remaining ancient Roman cookbook, published in the 4th or 5th century by “Apicus*.”
  • In the Middle Ages, breaded, fried veal was a very popular dish in both Northern Italy and what is now Austria.
  • Cotoletta Milanese, a bone-in veal chop that is breaded and fried, dates to a banquet held by the Hapsburg rulers of what is now Italy in 1134.
  • Before Wiener Schnitzel there was another popular Viennese dish, Backhendl: thin chicken breast slices, breaded and deep fried. It was first mentioned in a cookbook from 1719. [Source]
  • The term “Wiener Schnitzel”” dates to at least 1862. [Source]
    Far from being a German dish, Germans across Austria’s northern border frequently refer to Austrians as Schnitzelfressers (Schnitzel munchers).

    A Southern specialty, Chicken-Fried Steak is the American version of Wiener Schnitzel; but instead of a tenderized veal cutlet, a tenderized cut of beef (a cube steak) is coated with seasoned flour and pan fried. It gets its name from its resemblance to fried chicken.

    In a redundant twist, a dish called Chicken-Fried Chicken pounds, breads, and pan fries a chicken cutlet. This preparation is distinctively different from regular fried chicken, which breads bone-in chicken parts and deep-fries them.
    *The book is thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. and given the title De Re Coquinaria (“On the Subject of Cooking”). The name Apicius had long been associated with an excessively refined love of food, exemplified by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet who lived sometime in the 1st century C.E. The author of the book is one Caelius Apicius; however, no person by this name otherwise exists in the historical record. The book was no doubt compiled by a person or persons who wished to remain anonymous. [Source]



    While home cooks tend to pan fry Wiener Schnitzel, professional chefs will deep-fry it, as in the recipe below. However, feel free to pan fry.

    This recipe is from Kurt Gutenbrunner, Austrian-born chef and owner of Wallsé in New York City, where he creates fine Austrian cuisine that reflects contemporary tastes and classic traditions. He is the author of . New York City chef and author of Neue Cuisine: The Elegant Tastes of Vienna.

    We’ve added our own touch to Chef Gutenbrunner’s recipe: our Nana’s preferred garnishes of capers, sardines and sliced gherkins. Think of it as “surf and turf” Wiener Schnitzel.

    Our favorite sides are cucumber salad and boiled parsley potatoes; but like Maria, we could go for some buttered egg noodles with parsley and cracked pepper.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups fine plain dried breadcrumbs

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/veal scallops cutlet freshdirect 230

    Veal cutlets, or scallops, are typically cut from the leg. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.

  • 1/2 pound veal scallops (leg) or eye round, cut across the grain into 4 equal pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • Curly parsley or lettuce
  • Optional garnishes: capers, sardines, sliced gherkins


    1. LINE a large baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.

    2. WHISK the flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a wide shallow bowl. Lightly whisk the eggs and cream in another wide shallow bowl until the yolks and whites are just streaky. Mix breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons salt in a third wide shallow bowl.

    3. POUND the veal slices between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8”–1/16” thickness, being careful not to tear. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

    4. PROP a deep-fry thermometer in a large deep, skillet. Pour in the oil so that the bulb is submerged. Heat oil over medium heat to 350°. Add butter to skillet and adjust heat to maintain 350°F.

    5. DREDGE 2 veal slices in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture, turn to coat and shake off excess. Dredge in the breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Shake off the excess and transfer the veal to the skillet. Using a large spoon, carefully baste the top of the veal with the hot oil.

    6. COOK until the breading puffs and starts to brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet. Repeat with the remaining veal slices.

    7. ASSEMBLE: Place the veal on individual plates. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley or lettuce.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Burger Salad & Salad Burger

    For years we have been enjoying the Burger Salad at Five Napkin Burger in New York City. It’s evolved over time, but initially consisted of a big bowl of beautifully arranged baby greens and colorful veggie complements, in a perfect vinaigrette. Atop was a plump burger: beef, salmon, turkey, veggie or a solid piece of grilled tuna.

    We love good bread and can [alas] eat loaves of it. But burger buns—even when heavily seeded or made of brioche—rarely fall into that group. And they get soggy.

    So when Five Napkin Burger presented a menu of burger salads in addition to conventional burgers, we tried a salad and were hooked. We were never a neat burger eater, so enjoyed the bonuses: no meat juices or ketchup dripping onto us when we raised the burger to our mouth.

    While it could be a calorie- and carb-cutting alternative for some, let us hasten to say that we enjoy our burger salad along with the establishment’s excellent onion rings, sweet potato fries, and a beer.

    Today’s tip is not just a burger salad, but for those who still want their bun, a salad burger (below).


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    Our favorite way to enjoy a burger this burger salad from Five Napkin Burger. Photo courtesy Five Napkin Burger | NYC.


    To start, think of your favorite salad and assemble the ingredients. Is it spinach salad? Cobb salad? Chopped salad? Salade Niçoise? Spicy greens (arugula, radish, watercress)? Tortilla salad?

    Create your burger salad from those ingredients; and if the original salad contained chicken, turkey or other meat, consider adding small amounts of them—a mixed grill burger salad, as it were.

    You can make a bacon cheeseburger salad or a diet burger burger salad. You can add seeds for more nutrition. And there are ways to cut calories. But here’s a list of options for starters:


  • Lettuce: mixed greens (we love to add arugula and cress, but have peaked on kale)
  • Salad veggies: bell pepper, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), radishes
  • Tomatoes: cherry, grape, sliced, sundried—or substitute pimento (roasted red pepper)
  • Onions: green (scallions), red, sweet

  • Cheese: crumbled, cubed, julienned, shaved ribbons or shredded
  • Extra veggies: broccoli florets, cauliflower, chiles, fennel, green beans, mushrooms—raw, pickled, roasted or steamed
  • Fruits: berries, dried fruit, mandarin or orange segments, sliced stone fruit, apples or pears
  • Luxury veggies: artichoke hearts, avocado, endive, hearts of palm, radicchio, water chestnuts
  • Seasonal veggies: for example, asparagus and green peas in spring; corn, yellow squash and zucchini in summer
  • Proteins: bacon, beans or legumes (chickpeas, lentils), ham, hard-boiled eggs, tofu/seitan, seafood (we recently created a modern surf and turf burger salad with grilled shrimp), slices or cubes of poultry, salami, sausage, etc.
  • Starch: boiled potatoes, cooked grains, small pasta shapes
  • Garnishes: anchovies, croutons, nuts, olives, peppadews, pepperoncini, pickles, seeds (chia, flax, pepita/pumpkin, sunflower, toasted sesame), sprouts

    A burger salad begs for a delicious vinaigrette. Here’s our template for making a vinaigrette recipe you’ll love.

  • Some people are calorie and fat counters. If that’s you, go for a dressing of plain balsamic vinegar (conventional or white balsamic). It makes a delicious dressing with just 14 calories per tablespoon.
  • Another direction is to use lemon, lime or yuzu juice. Yuzu is imported from Japan and pricey, but worth it.
  • Low-calorie salsa also works, plain or mixed with a bit of salad oil. For a creamy dressing, mix salsa with plain Greek yogurt.
    However, before you avoid salad oil, ask any nutritionist, the FDA or the American Heart Association: Two tablespoons daily of a heart-healthy oil are important for general health and specific conditions*. The recommended oils are monounsaturated, and include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil.

    It’s time to stop looking old-school at “calories” and “fat”—an old school way of looking at diet—and focus your choices on health and nutrition.


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    Plan B: Top your burger with a salad.
    Photo courtesy Umami Burger | Hudson



    Instead of topping salad with a burger, you can top a burger with salad.

    Far more than a bunless burger or “diet burger”—the type served by our local diner and others, which plates a burger patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and a scoop of cottage cheese—a salad burger tops your burger with a flavorful salad.

    As you can see in the photo, it can be simple mixed greens, very lightly dressed. Since the burger is America’s favorite food, if you’ve been meaning to add more salad to your diet, here’s your chance.

    Monounsaturated fats deliver many health benefits, including:

  • Decreased risk for breast cancer.
  • Reduced cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of monounsaturated fats to improve one’s blood lipid profile.
  • Lower risk for heart disease and stroke. The FDA recommends that .8 ounce daily—about 2 tablespoons—may “possibly prevent coronary disease.”
  • Weight loss, when switching to monounsaturated fat from polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among others) and saturated fats (largely from animal products: meat, dairy, eggs).
  • Less severe pain and less stiffness for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. Diet plays a role in reducing the pain and stiffness of those who already have rheumatoid arthritis.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Lettuce Wraps ~ Wrap It Up

    Lettuce wraps are a Vietnamese specialty, often used as an appetizer or side instead of a main course. But for a light, better-for-you lunch or dinner, we enjoy them as a main.

    Lettuce wraps are a fun, interactive course for lunch or dinner. You can wrap up any boneless protein in a lettuce leaf; or make it a vegetarian dish, using anything from tofu or seitan to stir-fried vegetables.

    While the recipe below is so easy it can be made on weekdays, it’s also festive for Labor Day weekend. The secret is pre-cooked Tony Roma’s Boneless Ribs (other brands sell a similar product).

    The meaty ribs ready to heat and eat. You can heat them on the grill, in the oven or in the microwave. The ribs are sold at Sam’s Club and other retailers nationwide.

    The other tasks are simply to wash the lettuce, make a quick Asian slaw and set out the sauces. If you want to cut back on the number of sauces, just pick the one everyone will like (we recommend hoisin*). Whatever you choose should be thick, so it doesn’t dribble out of the wrap.


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    Wrap cooked boneless ribs in lettuce leaves and top with Asian slaw, cilantro and a sauce of choice. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s.

    *Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet-and-pungent sauce popular in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, as dipping sauce and a condiment (e.g., in lettuce wraps as well as dishes with pancake wrap such as Moo Shoo Pork and Peking Duck). It is dark brown in color. Hoisin is not the same as plum sauce, which is an orange-colored sweet and sour sauce. In Vietnamese, hoisin sauce is called tuong den.


    Boneless ribs, also called country-style pork ribs or or pork shoulder country-style ribs, are thick strips of meat cut from the pig’s shoulder. They come from a cut called the pork shoulder steak; so they are not actually from the rib cage, but look like the meat removed from a rib. They are marinated and seasoned before cooking.

    Boneless ribs, also called pork loin country-style ribs, can be cut from the shoulder blade as well. They can be sold bone-in, but the bone is usually to make them boneless.


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    Boneless country-style pork ribs. Photo courtesy Calumet Diversified Meats.



    Since the ribs are pre-cooked, prep time is just 15 minutes; cook time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 32 ounces† Tony Roma’s Boneless Pork Ribs
  • 12 leaves of crisp green leaf lettuce (we use romaine hearts, but Boston or bibb work well too)
    For The Slaw

  • 1 radish, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons sweet rice vinegar
  • Salt to taste
    †There are 3 boneless ribs in each 16-ounce package and 6 boneless ribs in each 32-ounce package. Each person can have two lettuce wraps.
    For The Garnish

  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
    For The Sauces

  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sambal oelek chili sauce or Sriracha hot sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce


    1. WASH the lettuce and pat dry with paper towels.

    2. PREPARE the boneless ribs per package instructions.

    3. MAKE the salad topping: Combine the radish, carrot, cucumber and green onions in a mixing bowl. Add the sweet rice vinegar and season with a pinch of salt (or more to taste). Gently toss and set aside in a cool place. When ready to serve…

    4. INSTRUCT everyone on how to serve themselves: Take a lettuce leaf and place a strip of boneless rib in center. Top with some of the slaw; then garnish with cilantro and choice of sauces (hoisin, Sriracha, sambal oelek, sweet chili).



    TIP OF THE DAY: Avoid Grill Toxins With Organic Grilling

    August 16th is National Bratwurst Day. Before you throw some brats on the grill, here are tips on organic grilling from Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., a publisher of health and wellness magazines, books, and digital content*.

    Not surprisingly, she’s committed to organic living. This article is adapted from a larger article:


    Grilling in America needs an organic makeover—independence from exposure to conventional grilling toxins, says Maria. We need to apply that spirit of revolution to our health and the environment and take it organic every time we fire up the grill!

    Sure, you can find throw a grass-fed, certified-organic steak or an Applegate Farms organic hot dog on the grill. But there’s more to organic grilling than just what you cook.

    Organic grilling is a complete process that minimizes toxic chemicals from beginning to end, as it maximizes flavor and healthful benefits for you and the environment.


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    Avoid toxic charcoal briquettes; use organic charcoal. Photo courtesy Hillshire Farms.

    Here Maria demystifies the grilling process and detoxifies it as much as possible. Her tips are safe and simple.
    *This article was originally published on June 24, 2015 on Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen blog.

    You can use any grill; Maria uses a Big Green Egg charcoal grill with certified-organic charcoal. Big Green Egg sells organic charcoal, as do other companies.

    Whatever the brand, always use charcoal that’s made from natural materials like wood (look for “lump charcoal,” bamboo or coconut). You can use wood logs instead of charcoal; just make sure you have time to let them burn down a bit first. Avoiding toxic briquettes is the most important organic choice you can make for the environment and for your health.

  • To start the grill, you will need a chimney starter, which lets you light the charcoal without poisonous lighter fluid. A chimney starter and organic charcoal solve most of your toxin problems.
  • Everything else you need: paper to stuff under the chimney, matches, organic food to grill, tongs and a silicone hot pad. Maria recommends tongs that are long, non-locking and without plastic parts.

    Make sure your grill is in a safe place, all your materials are handy, and the grill is clean enough.

  • Never use a wire cleaning brush to clean your grill. Those little wire bits can break off and get stuck in your stomach. Instead, use a heavy-duty sponge, a wood grill scraper or a natural-fiber scrub brush.
  • When the grate is clean, rub it with some high smoke point oil on the grill—Maria likes coconut oil but canola, peanut, soybean, sunflower and others are fine—to keep your food from sticking.

    First, remove the grill grate. Put a few pieces of crumbled dry paper (or one piece of newspaper) at the bottom of the chimney; then load the charcoal on top. Spread a bit of charcoal around the sides, too. Light the paper on fire underneath.

  • Keep checking to make sure that it’s burning hot enough. For example, in damp weather, it might take a few tries to get the paper burning hot enough to light the charcoal.
  • You will know if it’s caught fire when you see smoke coming out of the top of the chimney and/or feel the heat.

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    Put some shrimp on the barbie… Photo courtesy The Smoked Olive (try their terrific smoked olive oil!).


    STEP 4: WAIT

    It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the charcoal to get hot enough. You’ll know it’s ready when you can see red coals glowing through the chimney holes.

  • During that time, make sure all your food is ready to be put on the grill.
  • When the fire is hot enough, grasp the handle of the chimney with a hot pad and dump the burning coals into the grill.
  • Remove the chimney, which will be burning hot, to a safe place, out of the reach of anyone (adults as well as children).

    STEP 5: GRILL!

    Put the grill grate back on the grill. It will need a few minutes to warm up, so don’t rush. Spread some oil on the grill to prevent sticking and add the food.

  • You can use aluminum foil if you want, but it’s not necessary. The important thing is to give the food the time it needs to cook properly.
  • Remove the food from the grill onto a clean platter and get ready to dig in.

  • Keep a squirt bottle or squirt gun handy in case the fire gets too hot. This is especially important if you are using wooden logs—they can get really hot. If they do, give the grill a squirt. Most natural or organic charcoal doesn’t get super-hot, unless you use lots of it.
  • Don’t put cooked meat on the same platter you used for raw meat without washing it first. That’s just good food safety.
  • Don’t get distracted. You can’t grill successfully while trying to get the rest of the meal ready. You need to keep an eye on the food or it can easily burn (or not cook fast enough). If you have no other hekp, make sure all of the other items on your list are ready before you start to grill.


    FOOD HOLIDAY: Carpaccio For National Filet Mignon Day

    For National Filet Mignon Day you have two easy choices: cook it or enjoy it uncooked (yes, raw).

    The easiest ways to serve cooked filet mignon:

  • Whole, plated with vegetables and potatoes
  • Steak sandwich, on a toasted baguette with caramelized onions, or with lettuce and horseradish mayo (blend prepared horseradish into mayonnaise, to taste)
  • Steak salad, sliced and placed atop a bed of greens with blue cheese dressing; substituted for tuna in a Nicoise Salad; or substituted for ham in a Cobb Salad
    The easiest ways to serve raw filet mignon:

  • Sliced into carpaccio
  • Ground into steak tartare
    Carpaccio is the absolute easiest.

    Carpaccio is the Italian term for raw beef filet (crudo is the term for raw seafood). Typically made from sirloin, the dish was created in Venice in 1963, at the time of an exhibition dedicated to Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1526).


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    A traditional carpaccio with basil-infused olive oil. Photo courtesy Atlantic Paradise Hotel | NYC.

    The carpaccio dish was based on the Piedmont speciality, carne cruda all’albese, created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Using fine Piedmontese beef (Piemontese in Italian), he originally prepared it for a countess whose doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat. [Source]

    It is a very popular first course.

    To make carpaccio, buy freshly-cut filet mignon or sirloin from the butcher.


  • Filet mignon or sirloin
  • Fine olive oil (infused oil, such as basil or rosemary, is great)
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese or white truffles
  • Baby arugula (or baby spinach if you prefer)
  • Optional: sliced onions
  • Toasted baguette on the side
  • Optional: lemon wedges
  • Dishes of flake salt (Cyprus, Maldon, Smoked—substitute coarse sea salt) and cracked pepper

    1. PLACE the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes (longer if needed) to firm it and make it easier to slice thin. Using your sharpest knife, slice thin pieces. Arrange on individual plates or a platter. You can create a “sunburst” or “wheel spoke” or parallel slices, depending on the plate or platter.

    2. DRIZZLE olive oil over the top of the beef or around the rim of the plate. If using onions (not part of the original recipe), scatter over the beef, along with the shaved Parmesan. Lastly, top with the arugula.

    3. SERVE with optional lemon wedges and pass dishes of salt and pepper (or go the conventional route, with salt and pepper shakers).


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    Filet mignon. To make carpaccio, freeze it for 30 minutes to make it easy to slice thin pieces. Photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.



  • Filet mignon is the most tender cut of beef. It is cut from the tenderloin, a muscle in the middle of the back between the sirloin and the ribs. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue. This is why it’s the most tender.
  • The name is French for “tender fillet” or “dainty fillet.” Fillet, pronounced FILL-it, is the English spelling of filet. Americans use the French spelling and pronunciation, fee-LAY min-YONE.
  • Filet mignon is the most expensive cut of beef. That’s not only because it’s so desirable for its tenderness, but because the tenderloin is very small.
  • The tenderloin weighs an average of five to seven pounds. It is not an even width; it tapers on both ends, so filets mignon can only be cut from the center. The center cut of a 5-1/2 pound tenderloin is just 2 pounds or so.
  • The entire center cut can be roasted whole—the dish known as Chateaubriand. For even more tenderness, you can poach the center cut. It’s our favorite dish for entertaining—very easy, requiring no time to check on it as it cooks. We’ll publish the recipe in a future tip.
  • The tenderloin is generally not as flavorful (“beefy”) as other premium cuts of beef (e.g., the rib eye or the strip steak). That’s why it is sometimes wrapped in bacon or served with a sauce.
  • Tournedos are small round pieces of beef cut from the tail and head of the tenderloin, often cooked with bacon.
  • The pieces that are too small to use as steak are often cut into 1-inch pieces for a Beef Stroganoff or other dishes. You can use them in a steak salad.

  • Dutch: ossenhaas
  • English (U.S.): medallions, tenderloin steak
  • English (UK, Ireland): fillet steak
  • English (Australia, New Zealand): eye fillet
  • French: filet de bœuf (the entire center-cut tenderloin is the dish known as Chateaubriand)
  • French (Québec): filet mignon
  • Italian: filetto
  • Norwegian: indrefilet
  • Portuguese: filé or filé mignon
  • Spanish: filete miñón or filet mignon
  • Swedish: oxfilé


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