A Better Burger
We are great fans of the humble burger. This classic, American combination of a patty and bun with toppings has infinite variations. And, we do enjoy mixing it up. You can keep it simple and emphasize the flavor of the meat (or meatless) patty. Or add all kinds of sauces and veggies to go on top.
This month's issue is all about burgers and how to build them. So, we'll begin with some of our favorite products to get you started.
We have classic burger buns in our shop. And, there are also a few favorites to help your burger to stand apart.
Bakerly Brioche Burger Buns are subtly sweet and deliciously golden brown. A cross between a brioche and a burger bun. They are fluffy, soft, and buttery.
Soft Pretzel Burger Buns are perfect for the ultimate cheeseburger. They’re an everyday upgrade that lends your burger that unmistakable soft pretzel flavor. Try them toasted!
New Bread Company Sliders are keto, paleo, and gluten-free. This SF local company makes fresh, great-tasting whole-grain, gluten-free rolls.
We write about Stonewall Kitchen
here a lot. And, they really do have an amazing line of products that go perfectly with your burger. Their Country Ketchup simply tastes better. It is full-flavored and you can taste the freshness. And, if you love relish, their Farmhouse Green and Red Relish are favorites.
And, we want to talk to you about Stonewall Kitchen's Aioli because they have the best variety of flavors. Everyone will find something. These are the blends of aioli we are carrying: Siracha,
Malt Vinegar, Habanero Mango, Basil Pesto, Horseradish, Lemon Herb, and Buffalo.
If you are looking for something spicy to top your burger with, Lucky Dog Hot Sauce
is amazing. We are so impressed with the variety of flavors and high quality of this sauce. Try their Ridiculously Tasty Mustard Chipotle and Med Sweet & Garlicky Roasted Pepper Sauce.
We love a good cheeseburger, and we like to use cheese slices. They make it easy to get the right size and thickness. If you are a fan of American Cheese (like in our Juicy Lucy Burger recipe), we recommend picking up a package of Red Apple Kosher American Cheese. It is also 100% vegetarian.
And, sliced Tillamook cheese is rich and creamy, perfect for a burger. Try their Medium Cheddar, Pepper Jack, and Colby Jack.
Some of our favorite potato chips are made by Kettle Brand because of their fantastic variety of flavors. We carry all of them. And, three that go best alongside your burger are Dill Pickle, Farmstand Ranch, and Backyard Barbecue. You've got to try them!
For roasted potatoes, Alexia
makes it easy and so tasty. They always come crispy hot out of the oven and remind us of a good restaurant. Try their Sweet Potato, Garlic with Parsley, Rosemary, and Yukon Select Fries.
And, if you would rather do potato salad, we recommend Piedmont's Own San Francisco Potato Salad in our deli case. It is a just-right blend of flavors and couldn't be fresher.
Tasting is believing…crispy, crunchy & perfectly balanced in flavor, Sonoma Brinery Pickles
are the best fresh gourmet pickles around. How about their Market Style Whole Kosher or Dill Spears?
A Staff Favorite
Soft, buttery, and perfect for melting.
Finlandia Havarti Cheese is mild and flavorful with a delicious, creamy texture. Imported from Denmark, Havarti is a semisoft cow's milk cheese. It tastes delicious sliced and amazingly grilled or melted. And, Havarti makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich or panini and is the perfect topping for a burger.
Havarti is an original take on sliceable cheeses with a creamy body. Being a semi-hard cheese, it has a springy texture with subtle sweet and acidic notes. Lusciously smooth, Havarti is balanced and mild enough to suit all palates, with the piquant flavors harmonizing perfectly with salads, sandwiches as well as on its own.
Grab a pack of Finlandia Havarti Cheese slices for your next sandwich or burger. We also carry their delicious sliced Gouda cheese.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
We Should Ketchup
So, it’s now the second full week of September. And, although the weather is still hot, I have decided it’s time to pull my tomato plants. The heat is starting to take its toll. And, frankly, it’s just time. There are actually quite a few tomatoes still on the vine, so I’m going to have to do something with all that fruit. Sure, the easy answer is to make a big batch of pasta sauce, and I am planning to make at least a small batch to put in the freezer. But, now that football season has started up, my mind is in tailgating mode. In my mind, tailgating and extra tomatoes mean one thing. Ketchup.
While there is nothing wrong with the tried and true Heinz that we all grew up on, homemade ketchup can take your sausage or burger to a whole new level. Making your own ketchup isn’t complicated and it can be fun to mess around with different flavors. I add cayenne to my ketchup because I like a little kick. But, you can leave it out if you aren’t a fan of spicy. A hefty shot of Tabasco works well, too. Curry can be a great addition as can fish sauce for a little southeast Asian flair. You can experiment with the different kinds of vinegar you choose as well. Apple Cider vinegar is classic, but you can do basic distilled white or even try some balsamic for a sweeter result.
The recipe below is adapted from grill king Bobby Flay and is a good basic starting recipe. Strangely, his original version does not have any spice to it—which is his signature. I added it in. I would recommend trying the basic version first so you know what the flavors are before you go messing with it.
A Staff Favorite
When it comes to snacking, everyone has their favorite indulgence.
There are some snacks we continue to purchase time after time until they become go-to classics. And, then there are others we reserve for special occasions. Sometimes it just feels right to treat ourselves. We may have a sudden hankering for a treat or a desire for a pick-me-up. So, we decide to splurge—either financially or calorically—on that special snack.
We asked around the store to find out what do our employees reach for when they want that special snack, and here is what we learned:
- Lisa in the Cheese Department gets herself a piece of the Strawberry Bar Cake that's in our bakery case.
- Wayne, our Store Manager, loves a good high-quality dark chocolate bar.
- Lanina in the Deli Department reaches for Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Cookies.
- For Maria in Produce, her favorite is Almond Cranberry Granola.
- Jack in our Wine & Spirits Department grabs a piece of Fromage D'Affinois cheese.
- Elaine in the office goes for Kettle Salt & Vinegar Chips.
What do you do to treat yourself to that special snack? Do you prefer something salty, sweet, cold, crunchy—or perhaps a combination?
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
On The Run With A Burger And A Bun
I have never met a burger I didn’t like, and I’ve had a lot of them. Not all of them have been good. But, in my book even a bad burger is better than no burger.
However, you can’t eat burgers all the time. Well, you can but you better have a cardiologist on standby. As I have gotten older, I have noticed that I am eating fewer beef burgers and instead opting for something different but still burger-like.
If you are looking for alternatives to the classic beef burger the good news is that there are plenty of options from turkey
to salmon, to black bean. And you could even try the meatless versions that are currently popular—just be aware of the sodium content. (Yikes!) One of my favorites is this shrimp burger. It is great when I want something burger-ish but also a little different.
This recipe is adapted from the Lee Brothers Southern Cooking
cookbook. This was a book we explored in my cookbook club many moons ago and it still remains a favorite. Since the weather outside says it’s summer even though the calendar doesn’t, put off putting your grill in storage and give these a try this weekend.
News & Events
The Northern California Renaissance Faire returns this year after being canceled last year "due to plague". The recreated Elizabethan English village is now open on weekends.
The event brings to life a village during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, complete with period costumes, refreshments, and entertainment. Watch the knights jousting, Shakespearean-style performers, sword swallowing, live music, and other entertainment. Old-world handcrafts will be on sale at the fair.
Try Renaissance-era activities including challenges and tests of strength. These include archery, axe and knife throwing, javelin, and darts. Schools of juggling and fencing will operate—as well tarot card readers. And, children especially are likely to enjoy the carousel and petting zoo.
A Cookbook Recommendation
by George Motz
This is the first book to showcase a wide range of regional hamburger styles and cooking methods. Author and burger expert George Motz covers traditional grilling techniques as well as how to smoke, steam, poach, and deep-fry burgers based on signature recipes from around the country.
Each chapter is dedicated to a specific regional burger, from the tortilla burger of New Mexico to the classic New York-style pub burger, and from the fried onion burger of Oklahoma to Hawaii’s Loco Moco. Motz provides expert instruction, tantalizing recipes, and vibrant color photography to help you create unique variations on America’s favorite dish in your own home.
Recipes feature regional burgers from: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
George Motz, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and founder of the Food Film Festival, is the author of Hamburger America and was hailed by the New York Times as a leading authority on hamburgers. His media credits include hosting Burger Land and Made in America on the Travel Channel, and he has been a guest on Inside Edition, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and PBS, among others. He lives in Brooklyn.
For true burger obsessives, there is no other cookbook.
—Paula Forbes, Epicurious
What a way to travel through America! George Motz takes us one burger at a time. I'll be locked on the Green Chile Cheeseburger page for my lesson from New Mexico.
In the land of the hamburger, George Motz is king, an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and passionate king who brings us not only the meat but heart and soul.
—Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Let the Good Times Roll
I am not a huge beer drinker. I really have to be in the mood for a beer. And even then, I have very specific beer tastes. It’s either a lighter beer like a Corona when it’s hot or I am on a beach. Or, usually, when it’s cold outside at the tailgate, it’s a Guinness or other type of stout. Nothing in between.
I do, however, cook with beer…a lot.
Sure you could do a straight-up beer bread like my Classic Beer Bread recipe which is a great addition to any fall chili or soup dinner. But, if you are looking for something with a twist give this Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe a shot. They are great on the table as dinner rolls. But, they work equally well when made into hamburger buns for a little something unexpected to up your tailgating game…and if you really want to get crazy, add some diced jalapeños.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
This classic and easy cocktail is light and refreshing. It requires just the two named ingredients and a squirt of lime, all of which meld together beautifully. Tonic water's ability to complement gin is unparalleled among mixers.
Some interesting history
The first gin and tonic was introduced by the army of the British East India Company. In India, where malaria was a persistent problem, quinine was used as a cure. In the 1700s they began introducing it into tonic water as preventative medicine, but the bitter taste was unpleasant. British officers took to adding a mixture of water, sugar, lime, and gin to the quinine in order to make the drink more palatable…thus the drink was born!
News & Events
Food, Art, and Music
After many months away, Oakland First Fridays are back in October with a COVID-safe reunion. This street festival grew out of the wonderful Oakland Art Murmur gallery crawl, which runs on the first Friday of each month.
This arts event welcomes visitors to experience Oakland as a unique urban destination celebrating the arts, creativity, food, the entrepreneurial spirit, cultural investment, growth, and innovation. Join in community to celebrate, sustain, and support the arts and Oakland's creative economy.
Oakland Art Murmur
And, on the first Friday of every month, Oakland Art Murmur (OAM) hosts an evening art walk featuring arts and mixed-use venues collectively open to the public.
OAM features free public walking tours, introducing hundreds of visitors to Oakland’s galleries and the artists they show while learning about topics like ceramics, drawing, textile approaches in art, starting a collection, street art in Oakland, and trends in contemporary art.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Confessions of a Burger Junkie
I have a mental block when it comes to veggie burgers. It’s not that I have a problem with them per se, it’s just that I haven’t found one that I like. When I am craving a burger, I’m going for a legit burger. But, there are times when my family is on the burger train but I’m just not feeling it. Those are the times I go for something “other” and I am usually disappointed.
True, it’s easy to just have a turkey burger or a m
ushroom burger and I have been known to go that route with quite a bit of success. But, there is a part of me that wants to find a true veggie burger that I like. My issue is that in my mind I can’t get past the fact that I am not eating a ground beef burger. Eating a veggie burger, so far, hasn’t given me that same cheesy, juicy, fatty flavor that I love. And, yes, I get that it’s the cheesy fatty part that I should try to avoid for health reasons. Hence the search for a veggie burger.
I have tried the Beyond and Impossible products with great results but because of the amount of sodium in those options (it’s crazy) I don’t see them as a healthy alternative to the occasional classic burger.
My friends are very aware of my burger quest so I get a lot of recipes handed to me to try. Some are better than others. I am always on the lookout. So, if you are reading this and have a recipe you want to share, please post it in the Facebook comments and I will give it a shot.
In the meantime, the recipe below is the latest submission. I am planning to give it a shot this weekend as I have been told they are really flavorful and good. We’ll see…
News & Events
Come What May—Hardly Strictly Everywhere 2021
Following the success of last year’s virtual concert, called Let the Music Play On, the organizers have decided to do it again. As a result, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival will return this year as a free online event titled Come What May, this time featuring 15 live-streamed and 12 prerecorded performances stretching over three days from October 1st through 3rd.
Festival veterans like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Mavis Staples, and Bela Fleck will join newcomers. The audience can look forward to virtual real-time sets by Andy Shauf, Lakestreet Drive, and Valerie June. While prerecorded performances are expected from Bob Mould with Fred Armisen and Seratones with Alyndra Segarra. Others on the bill include Ani DiFranco, Della Mae, Galactic, Jackie Greene, Meklit, Peter Rowan, Rainbow Girls, Terence Blanchard, among others.
In total, there will be 27 sets over three days of performances. All the performances will be live-streamed on Facebook, Youtube, and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival website.
Tune in October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from 1 PM Pacific Time to see this year's fantastic line-up.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
If you are looking for an easy-to-make and delicious cocktail idea, try this simple recipe for Midnight Moonshine Cherry Cola. It's a real treat!
Midnight Moon Cherry is made with ultra-smooth Midnight Moon and hand-filled with delicious cherries. It’s sweet and tart and blends beautifully with classic Coca-Cola.
Clean, ultra-smooth moonshine
Midnight Moonshine is inspired by Junior Johnson’s family moonshine recipe and–true to the roots of moonshine–it’s made from 100% American corn and handcrafted in small batches. They use a state-of-the-art distillation process to make a superior quality spirit. Midnight Moon does not have the harsh, heavy corn taste people associate with illegal moonshine. It is blended with ultra-clean water that has been through a five-step filtration process, and the result is a very smooth spirit with a subtle sweetness from the corn.
Burger and Sides—Recipes from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
A burger is a burger, right? It is dependent on toppings for variation and flavor. Yes, but sometimes it is good to mix things up. So, here are three of our favorite burger recipes that give a new spin on a burger.
This recipe provides the potentially bland turkey burger with a wonderful depth of flavor. You can dial the degree of spicy up or down to suit your taste.
This family favorite happens to be hugely popular in Minnesota. They are easy to slap together, and the perfectly melted cheese in the middle is a treat.
These sliders are the bomb! They are the perfect finger food on game day and the blend of spices will have you reaching for another.
Often called kosher-style dill pickles, these are quick to make. Use either small whole cucumbers or cut larger ones into quarters.
This delicious spin on the traditional pickle is excellent when made with both cucumbers or zucchini. Try adding a dried chili in there for a little extra kick….
Our method of preserving peppers is to roast them over an open fire, then preserve them with a little salt, oil, and vinegar. Roasted peppers are delicious. They make great appetizers and go well on a burger. This recipe can be used with any variety of pepper, sweet or spicy.
You can mess around with this recipe, but here is the basic version. Sometimes we add jicama. Sometimes green apple. Sometimes we leave out the cilantro.
This is the perfect side salad for those who love pickles without the two-week wait! It's quick to prepare and great with burgers.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy fresh corn on the cob, this Mexican grilled corn is delicious. You can also try our recipe for Fresh Elote Salad
We are big fans of potato salad, and this particular recipe is by far a favorite. And, we make it often. It is a great base for tweaking.
This is the perfect veggie blend: corn, tomatoes, and avocado. Plus, it has cumin in it and everything is better with cumin.
So when you find that perfect watermelon, try this Watermelon and Arugula Salad adapted from the Barefoot Contessa. It’s a super-fast great side salad!
A new way to eat your salad! This recipe feeds a crowd, so you dial back the ingredients as needed. You can also keep some prepped veggies and marinate them in the fridge for an easy weeknight batch of delicious leftovers.
The flavor in this tomato salad is accentuated by salting the tomatoes, so don’t be shy of this step. We promise it will be delicious. So, whether you are gathering tomatoes from your own backyard, or stopping by the store to pick up a variety of heirlooms and cherry tomatoes, this is a fantastic side salad!
The great thing about this Jumbo Pico Salad is the big chunks of veggies. It has all the flavor of pico de gallo with something you can sink your teeth into.
From our blog, The Butcher's Block
Ground meat seems like a pretty self-explanatory thing. It’s meat that’s been put through a grinder to be used as burgers, meatballs, or in a pasta sauce. But, there is more to it than that.
For example, ground beef is available in as many as five different versions, depending on how much fat you want in your meal. And, of course, almost any meat can be ground and used in your recipes from turkey to rabbit to buffalo. Depending on the grind, your options on how you use that meat can be endless, too.
Below are some of the most popular ground meats, their fat content, and popular uses:
80/20: Generally comes from the chuck area of the cow which is located up by the shoulder. Contains 80% muscle and 20% fat. This grade is considered the best option for juicy burgers and accounts for the bulk of ground beef consumed.
85/15: Typically comes from the chuck area of the cow. But, can also come from the round cut towards the back of the cow. While still juicy, this grade contains less fat which may be a better option for those who want a tasty but leaner burger.
90/10: This grade has the least amount of fat and generally comes from the sirloin area of the cow. The sirloin is where cuts like filet mignon come from and for that reason, the 90/10 grade tends to be more expensive. The smaller fat content makes it the healthier option. But, you need to be careful not to overcook the meat and dry it out. However, this grade can be a great choice if you plan to mix it with ground pork for meatballs since pork tends to be fattier than beef. The flavor will still be there, but with less fat. The same would be true if you wanted to make a meat ragu for pasta.
Leaner than ground beef at a 90/10 ratio, buffalo or bison has great flavor and is an obvious choice as a beef substitute for burgers.
Usually made from pork shoulder, ground pork is often not labeled with a fat ratio. In general, ground pork contains 15% fat. Perfect for pork burgers or for mixing with other meats for meatballs, meatloaf, or pasta sauces.
Sausage Grade Ground Pork: can contain up to 20%-30% fat and is generally sold as bulk pork sausage.
Ground Turkey Breast: This is essentially fat-free, which means you have to be careful when cooking it to prevent drying. It is also ridiculously versatile so you can use it for anything from tacos to burgers—though you may have to add a little fat for the burgers.
Ground Turkey Thighs: Also called ground turkey dark meat, it is 85% lean which means it has a 15% fat content. The fat content makes it great for turkey burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs but may not be the best choice for those looking to cut back the fat.
Vendor of the Month
Put some aloha in your snacks!
Have you tried O'Hana Bros Snacks yet? These are not your typical potato chips and popcorn. They are uber-fresh tasting and come in uniquely yummy flavors.
O'Hana Bros. makes some seriously delicious munches. We can't get enough. This very local, small business started out at Bay Area farmers markets and now delivers fresh to our store. Here is what we carry:
Maui Style Potato Chips
Handcrafted artisan potato chips are cut thick and by hand in small batches with really interesting flavors. Come by the store and try their Thyme Herb, Luau Honey BBQ, Maui Onion, and Rio Habanero Handcrafted Potato Chips.
Island Style Coconut Caramel Popcorn Popcorn
This is ridiculously good caramel corn. Each batch of Island Style Gourmet Popcorn is all made by hand with love and Aloha. O'Hana Bros. uses mushroom-style kernels to make sure no toppings are wasted.
O'Hana Bros Snacks take snacking to a whole new level!
Monday through Saturday from
9 AM to 8 PM & Sunday from
9 AM to 7 PM.
4038 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611
Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.