Big On Burgers

Warm weather is here that means it’s time to fire up the barbie. What’s more American than hot dogs and hamburgers?

More and more places are creating specialty burgers and it’s catching on. From toppings galore, to specialty flavors, to price tags that are out of this world, the gourmet burger craze is sweeping through America.

Many restaurants have a full page menu that’s dedicated just to hamburgers. It doesn’t end there, there is usually a build-your-own burger on the menu. From numerous cheese options, to a toppings bar that includes peppers, various sauces and the standard lettuce, tomato and pickle, the options are endless.

According to trend watchers, spicy burger compliments are what burger connoisseurs want. Sriracha, poblano, jalapeno and habanero are among the fastest-growing burger ingredients/toppings. In fact, they are more popular than pickles.

IMG_6304Another popular topping making its way onto the scene is specialty ketchup. More and more chefs across the country are making their own ketchup to control flavor. There is of course some debate on this topic. Many say, some things just shouldn’t be replaced.

If your perfect burger matches the lyrics of a popular song (lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57, pickle and french fries) it may be time to change it up. Get creative! Opt for more vegetables/sauces on your burgers. Try barbecue sauce with pickled jalapenos for a sweet and spicy kick.

Burgers are no longer meant to be boring. There is no wrong way to eat one. Many people have even gotten rid of the bun and replaced it with large lettuce leaves.

It’s About Tradition

It doesn’t matter whether you’re eating Italian, Mexican, Asian, or even Polish, it’s about the authenticity of the food. I grew up in a very traditional/ethnic home. I learned the importance of preparing food that is both true to the culture and delicious. While I am no culinary master, I do believe in traditions and authenticity.

My mother was Italian (Sicilian to be exact), and my father Polish. I am not a chef, but I love to cook and I appreciate great made-from-scratch food. Many of my favorite dishes are rooted in my upbringing. I remember incorporating old world family recipes into holiday dinners. Stuffed Cabbage was a side dish at Thanksgiving. Lasagna was served on Christmas Eve. Chrusciki (a sweet, crispy, deep-fried Polish pastry, sprinkled with powdered sugar) was Christmas dessert. Kielbasa (Polish sausage) was an appetizer at Easter, while Cannoli were the dessert.

These table additions made me who I am today. Making or eating Chrusciki always reminds me of my grandmother. I remember rolling out the dough as a little girl, watching her cut it into strips. I would “pinch” the pieces into ribbons before she would fry them. When they were done, I sprinkled the powdered sugar on (the more the better).

It is now my turn to keep the traditions alive, while starting new ones with my family. I may not be a classically trained chef, but my background taught me the importance of authenticity and tradition. Nothing beats the real thing.