Friday, March 23, 2012

Bergen County's Best burger Joints

     If you live in Bergen County and you happen to be a burger lover, the odds are slim to none that you couldn't point someone in the right direction for a tasty, juicy, and succulent burger. On the other hand, if your not from around here, let me be the first to tell you, Bergen County is loaded with great burger joints, but then again that's nothing a Google search couldn't tell you. Call it a burger boom, call it a craze, call it what you will, but all I can say is from the looks of things, burgers are here to stay.
     One of the most famous Jersey burger spots is the White Manna, situated in Hackensack. This place is a dive to the fullest's even been featured on the Food Network's, "Diners Drive-ins and Dives" It resembles a more of a small trailer than a burger place, but the signature sliders here just may be worth staving the large lunch lines.The sliders are decent, but definitely not Bergen County's best burger spot.With all the new burger spots popping up, it's hard to be number 1!
       Nowadays, burger joints aren't what they used to be... They are better!!! Burgers are becoming more sophisticated, I mean these places are getting crafty. Take Bucu Burger Bar/Bakery in Paramus, NJ. This place, alongside throwing down some unique burgers, also happens to be a bakery!!! Who would have thought, Burgers and cupcakes. Looking at it from the outside I'm wondering why I never thought of it myself, the idea is absolutely genius. To be quite honest, being the burger aficionado I am, I wasn't blown away by the burger, it wasn't bad by any means, just not the holy grail if you know what I mean. I felt the patty was a bit small and I probably could have eaten 4 of them. What impressed me more was the depth of the menu, dogs, wings, paninis, and not too mention some cupcakes and homemade ice cream. Having depth in your menu, however, doesn't sell me. I mean c'mon the food has to be good right? My expectations were far exceeded when it came to the quality all around the board. It's hard enough to focus on making one thing good, when you take two elements from opposite ends of the spectrum, such as burgers and cupcakes, and you nail them both, well ladies and gentlemen, that spells a winner to me!



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Raf's Spicy Sofrito Turkey Burger

     I have to tell you, I'm generally not a fan of turkey burgers. When it comes to burgers, I guess you can say I'm a purist, I want beef! However, if I were to paint myself to be any sort of burger connoisseur, I felt that I should at least be able to come up something outside of the box. I can tell you honestly, this was my first attempt to create a turkey burger recipe. What I came up with not only far exceeded my expectations, but it made me a turkey burger believer!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Simply Delicious Kobe Beef Burger

     For this burger recipe I wanted something simple. I wanted an outrageously tasty burger, but not something flashy. Just a good old burger. When I set out to craft this masterpiece I started at the butcher. To say he gasped when I asked him to grind the Kobe steak was an understatement, but when I told him my plans for this burger , he nodded and happily got to work, only remarking that I bring him a sample! Sometimes it's great to try a fancy burger loaded with all sorts of fancy toppings, but I just  thought the beef should speak for itself. No bacon , no cheese, just some real deal, I'm not playing around Kobe beef! With that I give you, The Kobe Burger

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Burgers: My Absolute Most Favorite Food

     Burgers may not be much on the healthy side, but  they are devilishly delicious. Now the cold days are slowly tip-toeing away, and it feels as if spring may make an early appearance.  To me the beginning of spring is a nostalgic time. I reminisce of mom's spring cleaning, which she took rather seriously. If you made a mess it was either clean fast or flee the scene. The baseball games and of course the sound of people rolling their grills out of their sheds where they spent the winter hibernating. This was my favorite part. People went from eating pasta and casseroles to grilled chicken and burgers. A sort of seasonal change.
     I can personally stand outside and grill for hours. One of my favorite chefs, is Iron Chef Bobby Flay, who aside from being a renowned restaurateur is a grilling expert/burger aficionado. He has a cookbook dedicated solely to burgers, fries, and shakes! Reading this taught me the fundamentals of making a good burger. Let's face it, burgers are huge now. The various food channels are flooded with episodes dedicated to the humble burger. Take a walk around and I bet you may come across a new burger spot, they are popping up everywhere, all with their take on this American classic.                                                    
"Pig-Out Burger" Bucu  Burger Bar/Bakery -Paramus NJ

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New York Restaurants- Where To Eat!

     Ah, the city of Manhattan! For me the city is a mere ten minute car ride away, but it's not until I'm out of the car, and strolling around that I find myself immersed in a world that feels miles from home. New York City is spectacular! There are high-rise buildings as far as the eye can see, and the streets are teaming with life. From museums and theater, to lounges and nightlife, Manhattan has a little bit for everyone. So what most intrigues me about Manhattan? Well Manhattan, if you didn't already know, has one or two good places to go eat!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Worlds Best Beef Kebab with Homemade Slaw

 OK guys, this recipe will give you some of the best beef kebabs you have ever tasted! Ask me what the best part about these savory, delicious skewers is and wouldn't know where to start! They are sweet, they are spicy, and they are just downright good. The best part is you get to improvise, you want more heat, then add more chili flakes and dial it up, not a fan of the sweet, cut back the brown sugar. Do it how you like it, although I have to tell you they are enormously addictive just the way they are! The slaw adds a refreshing bite of acid to cut through all the sweet and heat leaving your palate begging for more, enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How To Follow a Recipe

     Now that I have given you some simple recipes to follow, I thought I would shed some light on a task which many aspiring cooks find to be quite daunting. It is the art of following a recipe. I remember when I first started putting down some good dishes in my early teen years, I didn't have much in a sense of creativity yet, so I would just follow recipes by the book. I remember putting some of those recipes in the "Do Not Cook" list, some rightfully so, others, well........ Like I said, I was just starting to cook. I have probably butchered recipes from all the top chefs you can think of. At that point I had not yet mastered the art of improvisation, the hallmark of any great chef.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spice Rubbed Chicken Kebab Sandwich

        Bring home some Mediterranean flavors with this tasty chicken kebab wrap. As I've told you before in International Cuisine Basics, staring with just one spice you can begin to replicate regional flavors. A pinch of cumin in this spice rubbed chicken brings a delightful earthiness to this kebab. Eat this for a quick healthy lunch, or use it to fuel up before the gym. Healthy doesn't necessarily mean boring, give this simple, yet tasty recipe a try and I guarantee you will love it! Happy Eating!!!  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fiery Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup

 I made this chicken soup recipe using the same marinade from my spicy herb-garlic chicken. This dish incorporates both coconut milk, and curry,which are commonly used in traditional southeastern Asian cuisine. These two flavors compliment each other perfectly.   Hints of spice and curry pop in this dish which is simple to make, yet delicious as can be! This dish is easy enough for the beginner cook, yet the flavors are vibrant and sophisticated. Your friends will be impressed... Trust me!  Enjoy!!!

International Cuisine Basics

      There has often been times when I stumbled into unassuming  establishments specializing in a particular cuisine, and left speechless trying to comprehend the flavors I just took in. Often times these little eateries are run by people who came to this country and still cook how they used to back home. You get authentic food, done right. Let's face it, food from other countries are amazing! Not to say I don't have an affinity for some good old American fare, but I like it all. For me trying food from other regions of the world is fun, educational, and inspiring. The problem for a guy like me is that once I try something I like, my mind starts going to work.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spicy Herb Garlic Chicken with Roasted Winter Vegetables

   Hello once again my friends! Without any further delay I present to you, a meal fit for an athlete. When creating this dish I took a minimalist approach. I wanted something easy for you guys to prepare, something that would taste delicious without a mile long list of ingredients. This spicy roasted chicken sparks a harmony between the heat of the jalapeno and the earthiness of the roasted winter vegetables. Splashes of lime add a brightness to this dish that take the flavors over the top. Hope you guys enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kitchen Basics

 While I'm busy whipping you guys up a healthy recipe, I wanted to give you a few kitchen basics. Simple guidelines so to speak, that will make cooking easy, and your food delicious!

 Prep-work ladies and gentleman, make it part of your cooking routine and I guarantee you will thank me.
     The French call it "mise en place," or to set in place. The French are considered to be among the world's culinary elite, yet as sophisticated, and precise as their techniques are, each dish begins with basic prep work. Only once everything has been prepared will a classically trained French chef begin to cook.
     Start by making a list of everything you are going to need for your meal, every ingredient and every spice, and lay them all out in front of you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Bite of Nutrition

     First off, I would like to thank you guys for the feedback. It seems the majority of you are interested in making a good healthy meal, with that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about nutrition. Nowadays nutrition is a bit of a confusing subject, and a lot has changed since I was a kid. First it was the four food groups, then there was some sort of pyramid, and I'm almost sure they followed that up with some sort revised pyramid. Whats the deal with eggs, are they good or bad? Well, that depends on the time frame, its one of those back and forth things. How about dense fatty protein all day??? No carbs, all good... Or so some doctor from somewhere thought. Now carbs are ok, not all carbs, just some carbs. But which ones? You see what I mean by confusing? I want to share some general info, some easy guidelines that anyone can benefit from. In a sense, I would like to give you guys a bite of nutrition!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Calling all Foodies

     My fellow foodies, let me take a second to introduce myself. My name is Rafael, I am 32 years old and I live in Essex County NJ with  my half-witted dog Sampson. I'm writing simply because I have a love of food that I want to share with the world.
      Some may say that my passion for food started pretty early on in life. As a kid my family referred to me as the "bottomless pit." Well not much has changed, at 32 years old, I'm still putting it back! Whether it is burgers, foie gras, prime rib or pizza, I love it all!