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

Jan 162012

This easy dessert had them licking the bowl during cooking club. I do mean the bowl not just the spoon  😆 . It is one of the quickest and easiest desserts you will ever make. It is a classy dessert that the beginner cook could easily serve. It is the perfect dessert to impress at a dinner party. You don’t have to tell anyone that it was a quick and easy recipe.


8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh Strawberries (use as many or a few as you would like)

Mascarpone is just a sweetened Italian cream cheese. It’s a little denser of a product, and it has a silkier, smoother finish. Just like you would whip cream, you’re going to use a stand-up mixer. Add Mascarpone cheese and turn mixer on the lowest setting. Add half a cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of vanilla extract . Stop the mixer and with the spatula to scrape down the sides and make sure everything gets smooth and incorporated. And that’s it, mascarpone already is a pretty dense product so you really don’t have to give it much whipping. Mix for a few seconds more and then spoon out just a little dollop right in the middle of the bowl and I use some fresh strawberries right over the top and I just drizzle a little bit of honey. You can taste every strawberry. Feel free to substitute other berries.