Apr 232012

For the 16th anniversary of Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Contest and Cook-Off®, the search forAmerica’s best burger, judges are looking for entries to include a maximum of 16 ingredients. And here is the winner back in 1990. It still sounds like a 5-star burger today!

Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers
Makes 6


2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto


2 pounds ground sirloin

1/4 cup Zinfandel

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

1/4 cup minced red onion

1/4 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs

8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, finely chopped

2 teaspoons garlic salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

8 large fresh basil sprigs, moistened with water

6 large seeded sandwich rolls, split

6 slices Monterey Jack cheese

6 red leaf lettuce leaves

6 (1/4-inch-thick) large tomato slices

6 paper-thin red onion slices, separated into rings

6 fresh basil sprigs

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Combine the mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the patties, combine the sirloin, Zinfandel, basil, onion, bread crumbs, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form them into patties to fit the rolls.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Toss basil sprigs directly onto the fire. Place patties on the rack; cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of cooking, place rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Top each patty with a cheese slice. Cook 1 minute.

Spread the mayonnaise over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, a tomato slice, an onion slice and a basil sprig. Add the roll tops and serve.

With 16 ingredients, this burger took the grand prize in 1990


For dessert try the Take Your Breath Away Chocolate Pie

Apr 202012

Did you know? Barbecues originated in pig-pickins, feasts that were common in the Southern United Statesprior to the Civil War. Whole pigs were cooked and eaten by the crowd.

A couple of pieces of trivia: According to the Barbecue Industry Association, half of all marshmallows eaten in theU.S. have been toasted over a grill.

Kansas City, Missouriand Lexington, North Carolinaboth claim to be the barbecue capitals of the world. Memphis, meanwhile, stakes a claim to being the pork barbecue capital.

Here’s a tip for you: For an easy way to check how much propane you have left, bring your bathroom scale outside and weigh the gas tank.

Apr 132012

Tuna can be an excellent substitute for red meat on the grill. Look for tuna steaks cut about 1 inch thick. You can wrap each steak up in aluminum foil with your choice of: butter or olive oil, soy sauce or teriyaki marinade, green onions, ginger, or pineapple slices, and some salt and pepper. In less than 15 minutes you have a delicious, healthy main dish. Try grilling summer squash, pineapple chunks, or Vadalia onions to have on the side. Add a salad and you have an amazingly delicious, healthy meal. It’s so easy; I hope you’ll enjoy this gourmet side of grilling like we have.

Apr 102012

Whether you are grilling in your own back yard or in a park, nothing says summer like the flavor of barbecuing. Barbecues are a great way to bring friends and family together to enjoy the long summer nights. I thought I would share a few quick food tips with you. First, marinating your meats really adds flavor and make the meat mouth-watering tender. A marinade is comprised of an acidic ingredient,such as vinegar or wine; an oil, such as olive or canola; and a blend of herbs and spices. Barbecued meats freeze well and reheat easily. To add zest to your cookout, use colored plates, hang lanterns, or blend a signature cocktail. From my back yard to yours, enjoy!