Burgers or Steak?

We may not be in a recession yet, but you wouldn't know that from the way we're eating. According to Allrecipes, an online cooking community with over 35 million unique visitors annually, the economic downturn might just be causing Americans to cut back on food spending. Traffic to recipe pages using low-cost ingredients, such as ground beef and pasta, nearly doubled over the past three months. Searches for low cost vs. their high cost counterparts have increased significantly, 74% overall. For example, they noted ground beef had a relative increase of 24% when compared to steak.

Two recent cookbooks can help you make the most of your burger or your steak, regardless of your budget. Recipe of the Week Burgers 52 Easy Recipes for Year-Round Cooking is a fun little book with very creative recipes, for example week 6 is Curried Chicken Burgers with Chutney Mayonnaise and week 16 is Espresso Rubbed Burgers. There are Portobello Burgers, Lamb Burgers, Salmon Burgers and Turkey Burgers. While you may not actually wish to cook a burger a week, there are lots of great ideas for spicing up repertoire. You may never eat a plain old burger again.

The New Steak looks at often overlooked cuts such as skirt, flat iron, hangar and flank steak and discuses all kinds of meaty issues such as Kobe, Wagyu, organic beef and certified Black Angus. Author and blogger Cree LeFavour also pays lavish attention to the side dishes. This would no doubt please my sometimes vegetarian sister-in-law who thinks the sides are the best part of any steakhouse. Corn Griddle Cakes, Avocado Salad and Rum-Glazed Plantains are just a few of her unorthodox choices.

Recipes are divided into four chapters, American Steak, Bistro Steak, Latin Steak and Far East Steak. If you're going to invest in good steak, make the most of it with recipes like Hangar Steak with French Feta, Salsa Verde, and Mint-Zucchini Pancakes or Caribbean Spice Paste-Rubbed Top Sirloin with Lime-Cilantro Crema and Red Beans and Rice. Recipes are incredibly detailed, giving instructions for both pan frying and grilling.

Cauliflower Mash


1 head cauliflower, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Chop off the stem of the cauliflower and break up the remaining florets. Put the cauliflower in a steam basket over water in a pot with a lid. Make sure you have water up to the basket. Bring it to a boil, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes , or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain and coarsely mash the florets with a potato masher before transferring the cooked cauliflower to a food processor. Add the butter and salt and blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrap the mash into a bowl and it's ready to serve.

Reprinted from The New Steak Copyright © 20088 by Cree LeFavour, published by Tenspeed Press.

Curried Crab Cake Burgers
makes 4 burgers

12 ounces crabmeat, very coarsely shredded
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup mayonnaise or whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, quartered

Place the crabmeat, panko, mayonnaise, cilantro, chive and curry powder in a medium sized bowl and using your hand, mix very gently to combine. Form into 4 patties, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

Place the flour and salt on a large plate. Dredge each patty in the flour mixture. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and when it is hot, add the oil. Add the patties and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately with the lime wedges.

Reprinted from Recipe of the Week Burgers, Copyright © 2008 by Sally Sampson, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.