I had to laugh when I found out that May is National Hamburger Month. However, when you think about the role the hamburger has played in American culture and cuisine, maybe it should be recognized on the calendar.
If you are interested in knowing more about the hamburger and its humble beginnings, the library has a couple of books on burger history.
“Hamburger Heaven” by Jeffrey Tennyson is a good one to get you started. This book details the beginnings of the hamburger steak from the Tartars of the 13th century, its immigration to the United States via Hamburg, Germany, and the Americans who claim to be the first to put the steak between two pieces of bread. Then, there is a fascinating look at the rise of burger restaurants and the famous burger battles that ensued. What also makes the book so enjoyable, is its numerous photographs of early restaurants, advertisements and burger memorabilia (yes, there really is burger memorabilia).
If you are not that into burger history and would just like to eat some hamburgers, the library has plenty of cookbooks to choose from.
One of my recent favorites is “Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes.” Flay has created a cookbook that is great for beginners and burger experts alike.
The first chapter offers advice for choosing the right meats, cheeses, buns, cookware and the best way to cook your burgers. Subsequent chapters offer burger recipes galore, many illustrated with full-page color photographs. After you’ve mastered the burger, try one of Flay’s recipes for fries, condiments or milkshakes. What washes down a burger better than a lemon meringue pie milkshake or a dark chocolate milkshake with coconut cream?
You could also try “The Book of Burger” by Rachel Ray. With over 200 recipes, there are plenty of burgers to choose from; Ray makes her recipes very accessible for the average home cook.
Her book includes recipes for beef, lamb, pork, veggie, chicken, turkey and seafood burgers, not to mention fries and dipping sauces. There is also a selection of favorite burger recipes from other celebrity chefs. Many of the recipes are kid friendly, as well. If macaroni is a staple at your house, try the Chili Mac ‘N’ Cheese Burgers.
“Raichlen’s Indoor! Grilling” by Steven Raichlen is the cookbook for those who do not have an outdoor grill or for those who crave a burger in any kind of weather.
Although this book does not contain a huge assortment of burger recipes, each recipe it does contain is fairly detailed.
Every burger recipe contains specific instructions for cooking on five different types of indoor grills: contact grills, grill pans, built-in grills, freestanding grills and even fireplace grills.
There are also chapters on sides, veggies and desserts. Pound Cake S’mores, anyone?
If you are an experienced cook and not easily intimidated in the kitchen, try “Burgers: from Barbecue Ranch Burger to Miso Salmon Burger” by Paul Gayler. This one is definitely not for the average cook. All recipe measurements are in metric and the majority of the burgers take extensive prep and/or have difficult to find ingredients.
Take, for instance, the Lamb Burger Briks, which are wrapped in spring roll pastry dough and then deep-fried. If you are up for a challenge, you can even try pheasant, ostrich or swordfish burgers.
“Grilling Vegan Style” by John Schlimm is perfect for the vegetarians or vegans in your life.
The first couple chapters go over the basics of grilling and the different types of vegan foods and products that are available. There is one chapter devoted to burgers, plus several others on appetizers, marinades, sides and various grilled dishes. There is even an entire chapter devoted to the perfect drinks to go with your burgers or other grilling masterpieces.
If this has gotten you in the mood for a good burger, come check out one of these or our many other cookbooks from the library today!