Build A Better Burger

Do you think you make a pretty good burger? If so, and you like entering contests, here’s a chance to win $100,000.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of its Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest and Cook-Off, Sutter Home Winery of St. Helena, Calif., has doubled the payoff for the winner of this year’s contest.The national search for the best-tasting, most-creative burger runs through July 31.

Since the contest began, the panel of judges has included some of the nation’s top chefs and personalities from the culinary world. This year’s roster of chefs includes Daisy Martinez , host of Viva Daisy! onn the Food Network; Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith, aka The Hearty Boys, owners of The Hearty Boys Catering and hosts of several shows on The Food Network; Lucy Buffett, cookbook author and owner of LuLu’s at Homeport Marina; Fran Carpentier, senior editor of Parade Magazine; and Pam Anderson, food columnist for USA Weekend.
They join "Burger Parties" co-authors James McNair, head judge and prolific cookbook author, and Jeffrey Starr, culinary director and executive chef for Trinchero Family Estates. "Burger Parties," which features 16 themed burger celebrations using winning burger recipes from previous Build a Better Burger Cook-Offs, was released in March.

To enter the contest, go to

To help get your creative juices flowing, check out the following recipe from Christopher Kimball, the man behind the pleasantly obsessive-compulsive wing of the food world — Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines. His Old-Fashioned Burgers with Classic Sauce is part of The Associated Press’ 20 Burgers of Summer series.

Old-Fashioned Burgers with Classic Sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
½ teaspoon sweet pickle relish
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon white vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
10 ounces sirloin steak tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 ounces boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
4 soft hamburger buns
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
4 slices American cheese
Thinly sliced onion
To prepare the classic sauce, in a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, sugar, vinegar and black pepper. Set aside.
Place the steak and rib chunks on a baking sheet in a single layer, leaving ½ inch of space around each chunk. Freeze until very firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, 15 to 25 minutes.
Place half of the meat in a food processor and pulse until it is coarsely ground, 10 to 15 quick pulses, stopping and redistributing the meat around the bowl as necessary to ensure the beef is evenly ground. Transfer the meat to the baking sheet, overturning the bowl and not directly touching meat. Repeat grinding with remaining meat.
Spread the meat over the sheet. Discard any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat or fat. Gently separate the ground meat into 4 equal mounds. Without picking up the meat, use your fingers to gently shape each mound into a loose patty ½-inch thick and 4 inches in diameter, leaving the edges and surface ragged. Season the top of each patty with salt and pepper. Using a spatula, flip the patties and season the other side. Refrigerate.
In a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium, melt ½ tablespoon of the butter until foaming. Add the bun tops, cut-side down, and toast until light golden brown, about two minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and bun bottoms. Set buns aside and wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
Return the skillet to high heat. Add the oil and heat until just smoking. Using a spatula, transfer the burgers to the skillet and cook without moving for 3 minutes. Flip the burgers over and cook for one minute. Top each patty with a slice of cheese and continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about one minute longer.
Transfer the patties to the bun bottoms and top with onion. Spread 2 teaspoons of burger sauce on each bun top. Cover burgers and serve immediately.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 611 calories, 29 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams fat (17 grams saturated), 98 milligrams cholesterol, 1,096 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 379 calories from fat.

Memorial Day Hot Dogs

Memorial Day weekend is almost here. And I’m sure a lot of people already have big grilling plans made.

I’m hoping for nice weather, so we can do a little outdoor cooking, too. But just in case, I have a backup plan. That’s not a bad idea, since we all know how it sometimes rains on the holidays.  

Of course, there’s always the Foreman Grill for burgers. But I have a hankering for some sausage or hot dogs. My elk sausage is a great fit on the grill and is a hit with the family. However, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, here’s what I’m going to do.

I came across a recipe for Chicago-style hot dogs the other day. It calls for steaming the dogs for about 4 or 5 minutes before putting them on a warmed bun with all the fixings. I bet a ring of sausage would work just as well, so that’s my insurance in case it storms.

For those of you who might like to try the hot dog recipe, here it is. But let’s hope the weather is nice, and we can do our cooking outside.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog
1 all-beef hot dog
1 poppy seed hot dog bun
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Celery salt (optional)
1 tablespoon each: green pickle relish, chopped onion
3 sport peppers
3 tomato wedges
1 wedge kosher dill pickle
Place hot dog on a steam rack over boiling water; steam, covered, until hot, about 4 minutes. Add bun, steam 1 minute.
Place hot dog in bun. Top with mustard, celery salt, pickle relish, onions, peppers, tomato and pickle.
Yield: Serves 1.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 365 calories, 49 percent calories from fat, 35 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 30 milligrams cholesterol, 13 grams protein, 1,360 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Wild About Walleye

There’s something about a shore lunch of walleye that’s served with baked beans, maybe some creamed corn and pan-fried potatoes on a remote island on that makes my mouth water. Anyone who’s taken a launch trip on Lake of the Woods knows what I’m talking about.

This time of the year, a lot of people have turned their attention to angling for the elusive walleye, which is among the best-tasting freshwater fish in the world. I know several of my friends who already have hit the water.

I got to thinking about walleyes after reading some recipes from Kris Winkelman of the Winkelman family fame. Every so often, our outdoor editor, Brad Dokken, passes on an e-mail from Kris that contains a few recipes from her "Ultimate Wild Game and Fish Cookbook, which is available for $10 plus $9 shipping and handling at or (800) 333-0471.

Sometimes, I post one of the recipes on my blog under the section titled "Men Gone Wild," which as you can guess from its title is a bunch of easy-to-prepare wild game recipes that even a man without much cooking experience can make.

The latest entry is called Low-Calorie Lemon Walleye. (Click on the link to the right to view.) It’s a tasty recipe for walleye that is breaded and baked. It gives you the delicious coating that you find with deep-friend fish but without the added fat.

For those of you who might be going out fishing and are in need of a walleye shore lunch recipe, here’s one from Red Indian Lodge on Whitefish Bay on Lake of the Woods that looks mighty tasty. It’s not low-cal, but heck, we all have to splurge once in a while.

Shore Lunch Walleye
2 eggs
½ cup milk
8 walleye fillets
1 cup of cornmeal/cracker crumbs
1 pound lard
1 pound bacon
Beat eggs and milk in empty minnow bucket. Dip fillets in mixture and coat with cornmeal/cracker crumbs and set aside. Fry bacon over open campfire with ¼ of the lard in a large cast-iron skillet. Remove bacon and serve as an appetizer.
Next, add balance of lard and place fillets (rib cage side up) in pan. Fry to a golden brown
on each side, approximately 4 minutes. Serve with your favorite sides such as baked beans and fried potatoes.

Oriental Chicken Salads

I kind of have a thing for Oriental chicken salads. Often when we go out to eat, particularly at two East Grand Forks restaurants  — the Blue Moose and Applebee’s — I like to order that type of salad.

The other night, we went to Applebee’s, and I had the Oriental Chicken Salad, which features fresh Asian greens tossed in a tasty Oriental vinaigrette and topped with crispy noodles, toasted almonds and grilled chicken tenders. (You also can have it with the chicken fried.) It was very adequate — and tasty — so much so that I didn’t have room for dessert.

Being curious about what exactly is in the salad, I did a little researching on the Internet. At a couple of different sites, I discovered a recipe that purports to be very similar to Applebee’s. I quickly copied the recipe and filed it way, hoping to use it in the near future with some grilled pheasant breasts.

I’ve decided to share the recipe, along with another for an Asian Caesar Salad with Chicken, which also has found its way into my recipe box. Both would be excellent summer fare.

Asian Chicken Salad
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Oriental hot sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
¼ cup fat-free or light sour cream
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
2 green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
4 wonton wrappers, cut in half diagonally
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and hot sauce. Place chicken breasts in zip-top bag. Measure out 3 tablespoons of soy mixture and pour into bag. Seal and massage bag to coat chicken; refrigerate 15 minutes or up to several hours.
Whisk sour cream into remaining soy mixture until smooth; set aside. Combine lettuce, green onions, celery, peas and Parmesan in a salad bowl. Toss gently.
Preheat grill skillet over medium-high heat. Drain chicken and discard marinade. Place chicken in grill skillet and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side or until done, meat is no longer pink inside and meat thermometer registers 170 degrees. Allow to rest 10 minutes and slice into ½-inch pieces.
Place wonton wrappers in a single layer on baking sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Bake 4 to 7 minutes or until brown and crisp.
Pour half of dressing over greens and toss. Divide salad between six plates. Top with chicken and serve with 1 wonton or 2 halves tucked under leaves. Pass remaining dressing for pouring on chicken, if desired.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 287 calories, 14 percent of calories from fat, 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 72 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 431 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad
3 tablespoons honey
1½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
½ cup corn flake crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half
2 to 4 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup red cabbage
1 cup Napa cabbage
½ carrot, julienned or shredded
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
1/3 cup chow mein noodles
Preheat oil in deep fryer or deep pan over medium heat. You want the temperature of the oil to be around 350 degrees.
Blend together all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl with an electric mixer. Put dressing in refrigerator to chill while you prepare the salad.
In a small, shallow bowl beat egg, add milk and mix well.
In another bowl, combine flour with corn flake crumbs, salt and pepper.
Cut chicken breast into 4 or 5 long strips. Dip each strip of chicken first into egg mixture then into the flour mixture, coating each piece completely.
Fry each chicken finger for 5 minutes or until coating has darkened to brown.
Prepare salad by tossing the chopped romaine with the chopped red cabbage, Napa cabbage and carrots.
Sprinkle sliced green onion on top of the lettuce.
Sprinkle almonds over the salad, then the chow mein noodles.
Cut the chicken into small bite-size chunks. Place the chicken onto the salad forming a pile in the middle. Serve with salad dressing on the side.
Yield: Serves 1.

Go for Bison

I don’t have anything against beef, but my preference is wild game. Along those lines, I also like bison, no matter what form it is in. Over the years, I’ve eaten bison steak, ground bison burgers and bison roasts.

One thing I haven’t had is bison stew, although we’ve had our share of venison and elk stews.

That’s going to change soon. Next month, I’m going to help a friend, Lillian Elsinga, at a little get-together she’s throwing for out-of-town guests who will be here to celebrate her retirement from UND, where she’s dean of students.

One of the items on the menu will be Blueberry-Buffalo Stew. Lillian was given the recipe by Twyla Baker-Demaray, who is director of the National Resource Center on Native American Aging at UND’s Center for Rural Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Besides blueberries and chunks of bison, the stew also contains a little chicken or beef stock, oil, honey and sherry (optional). And if you like your stew a little spicy, a dash of cayenne pepper.

One of the reasons I’m a big fan of meats such as bison, venison and elk is that they are lower in fat and cholesterol than most domestically raised cattle, which means they are healthier for you.

For those of you who also would like to try the stew recipe, it follows and does one for another of my favorites, sloppy Joes, using ground bison.

Blueberry-Buffalo Stew
1½ to 2 pounds buffalo or beef stew meat.
1 cup blueberries
4 cups chicken or beef stock
2 tablespoons canola oil
1½ tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat a large stew pot. Drizzle in oil or bacon dripping to coat the bottom.
Working in batches, brown the meat well on all sides. Add oil as necessary.
Remove browned meat to a clean dish and cover.
Once all the meat is browned, return it all to the pan with any juices. Add stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off any froth that has collected on the surface until the broth is clear. Add the blueberries, honey, sherry and cayenne pepper and bring back to a boil.
Simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and the broth has reduced. Stir occasionally. This helps to break up the blueberries and incorporate them into the liquid. By the end of the cooking time the blueberries should be completely incorporated.

Sloppy Joes
1 pound ground buffalo
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
¾ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup green pepper
½ cup celery
Brown meat in large heavy skillet over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, breaking up clumps. Add onion, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, ketchup, salt, green pepper and celery. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring now and then, about 40 minutes until flavors mingle. Place ½ hamburger bun on each of 4 plates and ladle meat sauce generously on top. Serve at once.
Serves 4
Approximate nutritional analysis, per Joe (including bun): 344 calories 344, 13 percent of calories from fat; 4.9 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated, 2.1 grams monunsaturated, 0.7 grams polyunsaturated), 33 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 2.91 grams fiber, 81 milligrams cholesterol, 1,467 milligrams sodium, 88 milligrams calcium. 

Rhubarb Desserts — A Spring Rite

The other day, I tilled a garden spot for my neighbor, Robyn Lavoie. It wasn’t very spacious, but she says it’s big enough for what she wants to grow.

During the process, her mother, Judy, had to dig out some rhubarb plants that needed to be moved before I could get to work. She planned on transplanting them.

It’s spring, so, of course, rhubarb is in season. Many people I know already have been baking tasty desserts with the plant that just keeps producing if you keep picking it. I’ve heard of pies, bars and shakes.

For those of you who have a hankering for anything rhubarb, set aside June 12. That’s the day University Lutheran Church in Grand Forks is hosting its annual Rhubarb Festival. There will be all kinds of rhubarb dishes to sample as well as a bake sale and door prizes. There also will be a contest for the best rhubarb bar as well quilts, cards, rhubarb lotions, gels and candles for sale. Lunch will be served. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For those of you who are looking for a recipe to try in the meantime, how about the following?

Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
7 ounces (¾ cup) almond paste (see note)
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon almond extract
Powdered sugar
Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and almond paste thoroughly. Add sugar slowly and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder thoroughly.
In a cup or small bowl, combine milk and almond extract.
Add 1/3 of flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir gently but thoroughly; add 1/3 of milk mixture and stir gently but thoroughly. Continue to add flour mixture and milk alternately until all has been incorporated into the batter.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; gently fold into batter thoroughly.
Spoon into well-greased, 10-cup tube pan (an angel food cake pan or Bundt pan) or in 2 loaf pans. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes (slightly less for loaf pans), or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Loosen cake gently around rim and tube. Cool completely before removing from pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce.
Yield: Serves 20.
Note: Almond paste comes in a tube, in the baking section of supermarkets. It’s not critical to the recipe and can be omitted, but it will add an extra layer of almond flavor (if you don’t use it, lessen the milk by 2 tablespoons).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 267 calories, 13 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 195 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 60 milligrams calcium, 4 grams protein, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups (1 pint) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ cup sugar
2 cups chopped (¼-inch pieces) rhubarb (2 large stalks), fresh or frozen
Juice and zest from 1 orange (about ¼ cup orange juice and 1 tablespoon orange zest)
In a medium bowl, toss sliced strawberries with sugar; set aside. In a medium pot, combine rhubarb and orange juice and, over low heat, bring to a simmer. Cook rhubarb until barely soft, about 5 minutes — do not overcook or the color turns gray. (Or cook in a microwave.) Set aside to cool slightly. Add cooled rhubarb to strawberries and toss with orange zest. Serve over cake or ice cream.
Yield: About 2 cups.

Over-the-Top Burger

Some people say you can’t beat a burger on the grill. My wife is one of them.

We had ground elk burgers the other day on our gas grill, and Therese commented how much better they tasted than the ones we fix on our Foreman.

One thing I know, it has nothing to do with the seasoning. I generally fix my burgers — no matter if they’re beef, venison, elk or bison — the same way. They are seasoned with a little salt and pepper, some garlic powder, a dash of Adolph’s meat tenderizer and a sprinkling of mixture for wild game (optional) that my brother, Kevin, gave me a while back. And lest I forget, about a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire sauce.

As I said before, I’m a fair-weather griller, so a good part of the year when we have burgers, they’re usually fixed inside, which brings me to the following recipe that came to my attention last week.

It’s called a a 24/7 burger, and it is the creation of Spike Mendelsohn, whose Washington, D.C., burger shop has become a favorite of first lady Michelle Obama. Mendelsohn created the over-the-top burger as part of The Associated Press’ weekley series, "20 Burgers of Summer."

The burger is made with ground sirloin and also contains bacon, a fried egg, a slice off American cheese and corned beef hash. It’s cooked on the stove, so no grill is needed. It might be worth a try, since it’s like no other burger I’ve ever come across.

But one caveat: This is the type of burger that I would call an indulgence — something that’s worth trying — but not on a regular basis if you’re counting calories and fat grams. 

24/7 Burger
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cups finely chopped cooked corned beef
3 cups chopped cooked Yukon Gold potatoes
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
30 ounces ground sirloin
6 brioche buns, halved and toasted
½ cup olive oil
6 large eggs
Canola oil
1 pound applewood smoked bacon
Salt and ground black pepper
6 slices American cheese
To prepare the sauce, in a food processor or blender, combine the eggs, mustard, vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Process for 30 seconds in a processor, or 10 seconds in a blender.
With the motor running, drizzle in the oil, slowly at first, then add in a thin, steady stream until all of the oil is added and the mixture is smooth. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little hot water. If too thin, process a little longer.
Add the ketchup, molasses, vinegar and remaining teaspoon of salt. Process until smooth. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To prepare the corned beef hash, in a large (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium, melt the butter. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Mix in the beef and potatoes, then spread the ingredients in an even layer over the pan.
Increase the heat to high or medium-high and press down on the mixture with a metal spatula. Do not stir the potatoes and corned beef, but let them brown. If you hear them sizzling, this is good.
When nicely browned on the bottom, use the spatula to flip sections over in the pan so that they brown on the other side. Press down again with the spatula. If there is too much sticking, you can add a bit more butter to the pan.
Remove the pan from heat and stir in the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To prepare the burgers, roll the meat into six 5-ounce balls, then flatten into patties. Place on a plate, cover and refrigerate.
Line a plate with paper towels.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium, heat the oil. One at a time, crack the eggs into the skillet, cover and fry for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard the oil.
Line a second plate with paper towels.
Return the clean skillet to medium-high heat. Add just enough canola oil to coat the bottom. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to the paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Drain off the fat from the skillet but do not wipe clean. Heat the skillet over medium.
Working in batches, add the patties to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Place an equal amount of the bacon, 1 fried egg and 1 slice of cheese on each patty.
Cook for another 2 minutes for medium-rare. Cover with a lid for the last 30 seconds to melt the cheese.
To assemble the burgers, place 1 patty on 1 toasted bun bottom. Top the patty with corned beef hash. Dress with a generous amount of the sauce. Cover with the bun top. Wrap in waxed paper, then let rest 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,515 calories, 960 calories from fat, 34 grams fat (34 grams saturated, no trans), 525 milligrams cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 89 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 3,619 milligrams sodium.

A Grilled Salmon How-To

A lot of people grew up with Crisco in the house. It was — and still is — the favorite of many cooks for baking needs. Some used it for other types of cooking, too. I remember my mom using Crisco when she browned her fried chicken.

These days, Crisco is used in a number of other types of food prepartion, including grilling. Just this past weekend, I a checked out video on Crisco’s Web site for grilled salmon ( It’s one a number of how-to video tutorials that will help answer all your grilling questions.

Besides a number of tasty-looking recipes and videos on how to fix them, Crisco also offers several cooking tips on its Web site (, including the following ones for grilling.

— Always spray cool grill rack with Crisco No-Stick Cooking Spray before heating grill so that food will not stick. Remember to never spray a hot grill.

— Make sure you have the right equipment and a clean grill before igniting the grill.

— Coat meat and vegetables with a light coat of Crisco Olive Oil to help your favorite seasonings adhere while grilling. Try using black pepper, kosher salt and a touch of lime or lemon juice.

Here’s the recipe for the salmon, which I’ve put on my grilling calendar. I find it hard to beat salmon on the grill.

And remember, if you want a little primer on how to fix it, check out the video. 

Grilled Salmon with Maple-Dill Glaze
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Hungry Jack Microwave Ready Lite Syrup or Hungry Jack Microwave Ready Regular Syrup
½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon dill weed
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Crisco Puritan Canola Oil with Omega-3 DHA
4 4-ounce salmon fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 16-ounce bag frozen vegetable blend like Baby Corn Blend (see note)
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, syrup, garlic, dill weed and salt in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Place 3 tablespoons glaze in a resealable food storage bag with salmon. Marinate 1 hour in refrigerator.
Brush grill pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once grill is hot, place fillets, skin side up, in pan. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning once or until fish is opaque throughout. Place 3 tablespoons glaze in a small bowl. Brush the fillets with glaze during the last few minutes of cooking.
Cook vegetable blend according to package directions. Drain if necessary. Divide vegetables evenly onto 4 dinner plates. Center fillets over vegetables. Serve drizzled with remaining warmed glaze.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Baby Corn Blend is a mixture of white corn, broccoli florets, baby whole cob corn and Parisienne carrots and can be found in your grocer’s freezer.

Perfect Fried Potatoes

I love just about any kind of potatoes. Always have, always will.

That said, I think my favorite might be mashed potatoes, especially when they’re served with turkey, homemade dressing and gravy at those holiday get-togethers such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. But if I were to choose another, pan-fried potatoes would be a close second.

While I don’t often make fried potatoes, the opportunity does arise every once in a while, especially if we have some leftover bakers. But what I’d really like is to master the kind of potatoes that my dad made or the ones my cousin, Dick Tiedeman, has perfected.

What made me think about fried potatoes was an e-mail I received from a reader, Chuck Gooden. He was wondering if I could help him out with a recipe for fried potatoes that would turn out like the ones his grandmother used to make.

Chuck said his grandmother, who lived in Grand Forks, used to peel and cut the potatoes in small slices and fry them in a pan on the stove in a little Crisco. The potatoes would be fairly soft, and the the ones next to the pan would be brown and slightly crunchy but not burnt. He thought she may have boiled the potatoes first.

Chuck said he’s attempted to duplicate her efforts, but whenever he tries, the potatoes usually start to brown and burn before they become soft. He’s tried tried low heat, high heat, cast-iron pans, different type of potatoes, all to no avail.

For what it’s worth, I think my dad used slices of raw potatoes and fried them (without covering the pan) over medium heat in a little bacon fat, which always could be found in a small container that sat next to the stove. And if I correctly recall, he used to turn the potatoes only once or twice. And if he added onions, it was at the end, so they wouldn’t get done before the potatoes.

That’s kind of like the way my cousin makes his. Dick told me he always uses oil — never butter — when frying potatoes (either leftover baked, small new red ones that have been boiled and cooled or raw — all cut into cubes). That’s because you can’t cook as hot with butter, he said. And Dick uses a heavy pan because the heat is more evenly distrubuted.

I recall eating fried potatoes several times while staying at his home in Walker, Minn., after a day of ice fishing for walleye on Leech Lake. His meals of fried fish and potatoes, along with some homemade baked beans, were better than any shore lunch I’ve ever eaten.

All this talk of fried potatoes and fish kind makes me want to head out for the Minnesota opener this weekend.

Potato Salad — A Summer Mainstay

I don’t know how anyone can dislike potato salad. And I can’t imagine a picnic or summer get-together without a big bowl of it.

My mom makes great potato salad. It’s the kind that had hard-boiled eggs, a little bit of onion, celery, a Miracle Whip-yellow mustard sauce and, of course, potatoes. It was the standard by which I judge all potato salads.

Therese make about the same kind of potato salad, and I would rate it right up there with Mom’s. But instead of onion, Therese uses shallots, which have a milder flavor. In fact, she made a big bowl of it this past weekend, when we had it with some grilled pheasant and elk and a pot of homemade baked beans. She also makes a hot German potato salad, which also is very yummy.

While those two are my favorites, I’m willing to try just about any kind of potato salad, which brings me to "Potato Salad, 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool" by Debbie Moose (Wiley, $16.95).

In the cookbook, there are just about any kind of potato salad you can imagine. Moose covers several ethic versions, including German, French, Greek and Mexican. She also uses several different kinds of potatoes, including blue ones. She even has recipes that use sweet potatoes.

Here are a couple of the recipes you can find in the cookbook. They probably won’t be as good as your mom’s, but you just never know. After all, they probably were somebody’s mom’s recipe.

Potato, Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad with Basil Dressing
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2½ pounds red potatoes
½ pound cherry tomatoes, halved
6 ears fresh corn, cooked, kernels removed
Put vinegar, oil, basil, salt and pepper in blender or food processor. Process until emulsified.
Place potatoes in a large pot, add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool until you can handle them but they are still warm. Cut into quarters but do not peel. Put potatoes, cherry tomatoes and corn kernels in large bowl. Pour in the basil dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 8.

Curry Potato Salad
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups plain yogurt
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons Major Grey chutney
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup cooked green peas
1 cup chopped onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Place potatoes in large pot, add enough water to cover them, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil.
Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain and let cool until you can handle them but they are still warm.
Peel and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces.
In large bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, chutney, salt, curry powder, peas, onions and, if using, cayenne. Stir in potatoes. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Yield: Serves 6.

Egg-Lover’s Potato Salad
2½ pounds red potatoes
¾ cup mayonnaise
6 or 7 eggs, hard-cooked (divided)
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 to 3 teaspoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ to ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced or slivered
Celery seed and dried basil
Cook unpeeled potatoes in boiling water just until tender, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook.
Drain well and set aside to cool. When lukewarm, cover and refrigerate until ready to make salad.
To make salad: Cut up cooled potatoes into bite-size chunks into large bowl.
Place mayonnaise in medium bowl. Remove yolks from 2 or 3 eggs; mash well with fork or potato masher. Add to mayonnaise along with the mustard, balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper. Mix well and taste, then adjust seasonings accordingly.
Set 1 whole hard-cooked egg aside. Chop remaining eggs and egg whites and add to potatoes along with onion and a sprinkling of salt. Sprinkle generously with celery seed and then a bit of basil, add mayonnaise mixture and mix gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle on more celery seed and basil, then slice reserved egg and arrange slices on top.
Yield: Serves 6.