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Burger Parties - Cookbook Review

Featuring Recipes from Sutter Home Winery's Build a Better Burger Contest

by James McNair and Jeffrey Starr
(Ten Speed Press, 2010)

Burger Parties

When the hamburger first appeared on a menu in New York in 1826, it consisted only of cooked ground meat between two buns. Since then, America's favorite food has evolved, as evidenced by sixteen eclectic burger recipes featured in Burger Parties. These recipes, taken from the award winners of Sutter Home Wineries' Build a Better Burger Contest, showcase the best and most unique burgers created during the past 20 years of the contest, from Ocean State Swordfish Burgers with Tangy Apple Tartar Sauce to Bouillabaisse Sliders with Tomato-Fennel Relish and Saffron Mayonnaise.

Head judges of the contest James McNair and Jeffrey Starr not only offer an array of creative burgers to star in this collection, but they built entire party plans around each menu, complete with complementary wines and side dishes and as well as tips for creating a festive atmosphere. Themes like "Moroccan Mystique" feature Sweet and Spicy Red Fez Burgers, Saffron Couscous, Orange and Sugar Snap Pea Salad and Pistachio-Anise Shortcakes. Suggestions for theme-inspired music and ideas for decorations and costumes make the party set-up easy.

While this cookbook contains burgers tailored to many cuisines such as Asian, Caribbean and Greek, of course, recipes for the traditional American burger are offered as well, like a juicy, Smoky-Sweet Bacon Burger served with potato salad (on the "Fall Harvest" menu). The majority of recipes themselves are simple, as are the easily obtainable ingredients.  For the few recipes that contain more elaborate ingredients, some of them seasonal, the introductions for the recipes often offer substitutions.

Burger Parties is more than just a cookbook; it is a guide to planning a party during which grill masters can show off their cooking skills and creativity. With burgers as the cornerstone, inventive, entertaining parties can take shape. This book can show readers not only how to build a better burger, but also a better party.

Reviewed by Megan Sebestyen

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