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US Food Safety Recalls and Tips

Has the Pretzel Bun Jumped the Shark?

Has the phrase “jumped the shark”  jumped the shark?

The origin of the “Pretzel Roll” in American restaurants seems to be traced back to the German “lye roll” or  Laugengebäck.  Using a process similar (and the same dough)  to making pretzels, the rolls are dipped in lye before baking.  The lye (washing or baking solution if you don’t want to handle lye) produces the unique browning effect.  Out of the oven,  the rolls (like pretzels) are dotted with large grains of salt.

My first introduction to these buns going mainstream was the seasonal Oktoberfest burger at Red Robin.   Steak N Shake has offered one as well.

Now they are widespread, available full time at Wendy’s, Sonic, and Smashburger, to name a few.

Most grocery stores carry some variation of them, and there is even an upstart national brand out of Milwaukee, called Pretzilla.

The best ones, IMHO, are the ones found in authentic German bakeries.  I pick them up at the Original Bavarian Sausage Shop in Tigard, OR, just down the street from one of Mrs. Burgerdogboy’s boyfriend’s house.  She should be mindful to bring some home when she’s over there!

The German recipes are more appealing to me than the US fast food ones that seem to have added some sweetener to their recipes, honey? Brown sugar?  Anyway, I don’t like “sweet” buns for burgers.  Just a personal thing.

So how long do you think pretzel buns will be around in fast food outlets?  And what’s next?  How about onion rolls?

Original Bavarian Sausage

Original Bavarian Sausage’s Pretzel Bun

 

 

 

pretzel bun review

Dollar Tree Frozen Sliders Review

Frozen Sliders ReviewI have previously wowed you with my reviews of other products from AdvancePierre, like the Big Az cheeseburger.  We’ve also taken a look at “Dollar store”  (generically using the name) foods like cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, and empanadas.  I actually preferred the fish sandwich to any of the fast food outlet offerings.

AdvancePierre, based in Cincinnati, is a leader is providing products to food service, vending, and c-marts. They have eleven factories across the U.S.

So these are  a buck for two sandwiches, which ends up being about 25 – 33 % less than White Castle six packs.  Instructions call for wrapping in a paper towel, heating for 60-70 seconds, and letting sit for 30 seconds prior to consuming.

The only curiosity (to me) was that in the manufacturing process, the two burgers share a single slice of cheese. (see pic).

Verdict?  If you like frozen White Castles, you’ll find these OK. They have a “grill flavor” in place of W.C.’s “onion flavor.”  They taste beefy  and are parked on ultra soft-buns.  Load them up with condiments however you like, and enjoy.

I have to admire AdvancePierre, frozen heat and eat foods has got to be one of the toughest segments in the industry, and they do a bang-up job.

Frozen Slider Review

Frozen, Out of Carton

 

Frozen Slider Review

After 70 seconds in microwave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Sliders Review

Chicago Fire Mexican Casserole Recipe

A Chicago fireman taught me this, he used to make it for his station mates when it was his turn to cook.  There’s really nothing “Mexican” about it, it’s just what he called it.   It’s fast, filling, and covers the food groups.

Ingredients

  • 2 tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (don’t try generic, trust me)
  • 2 Cups cooked chicken, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (do not dilute)
  • 1/2 C sliced jalapenos
  • 2 C your choice cheese (if you use ‘taco-seasoned’ cheese, it is “kinda” Mexican).

Prep

  • Pre heat oven to 350
  • Spray non-stick in a 13X9 baking pan
  • Unroll the crescent rolls, place flat on work surface.
  • On each piece of roll, put a dollop of soup, some jalapenos, chicken and cheese
  • Roll them up and place them symmetrically in the baking pan
  • Drop teaspoons of the soup between the crescent rolls
  • Cover with cheese and decorate with more jalapeno slices
  • Sprinkle paprika on cheese for browning if desired
  • 45 minutes in the oven will do
  • Place under broiler last couple minutes if you are so inclined

Will make 6-8 servings. Easy peasy!

Mexican Casserole Recipe

“Mexican” Chicken Casserole Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Casserole Recipe

Des Plaines, IL – Kuhns Delicatessen Review

Kuhns German Deli ReviewThe other day, a Los Angeles area newspaper had me write an article about the recent closing of an iconic traditional delicatessen. They do seem to be vanishing at a rapid rate, but I never gave much thought as to why, until the owner of this one that was giving it up set me straight. It’s kind of a result of several things happening at once in America’s dining habits – the infatuation with ‘fast casual’, the number of people following special diet regimens, like vegetarian and gluten free.

The traditional deli is mostly meat and baked goods. RIP.  There are very few left; one of my all time favorites is still around, Cecil’s in St. Paul.

So as I was thinking about that, I was on my way out of Chicago for the winter, and had a deli craving. I was in Des Plaines, not far from Ray Kroc’s first McDonalds, and some locals suggested “Kuhn’s”, a German deli. So I rolled into the parking lot.

You walk into the door into the market portion of the deli, a counter ringing the interior room full of sausages, smoked meat specialties and salads; the outer walls are lined with shelves chock-a-block full of European groceries.

At the rear of the market, you can step through a door into the cafe section table seating for maybe 24 people. The menu offers a variety of German traditional dishes, including schnitzels, rouladen, sauerbraten, and of course, sausages. They also have a good selection of ‘traditional’ hot and cold sandwiches.

I went with the sausage assortment plate, which came with one each of knackwurst, thuringer, and veal bratwurst. A choice of sides had me opt for “German fries.” Now I have a question about that dish. They looked suspiciously like “American fries.” Now if they would have looked like “French fries,” I would have assumed the recipe was just one more thing the Germans pilfered from the French during WW2, but how the heck did they purloin our American fries? In any case, they were very tasty. As were the sausages, which were actually more than I could eat at a serving. (Yeah, I know, shut up).  The plate was accompanied by three slices of fresh bread and a ramekin of coarse mustard.

Chicago’s ethnic pockets and restaurants, German, Czech, Polish have some real gems, unfortunately, most visitors to the city don’t realize instead of Chicago being one big city, its really a collection of very unique neighborhoods.

Being as I’m on the road, I couldn’t load up on sausages from the deli case. Damn.

Kuhns Deli Review Des Plaines

 

 

 

Kuhn's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Kuhns Delicatessen Review

Elgin, IL – Elgin Public House Reviews

Geez I love to be surprised at a restaurant, especially one that has got a rep for burgers – you know, that’s what I write about. Like I was supposed to be amazed at Los Angeles’ Umami Burger, but wasn’t. Across town in West L.A., tho, I was blown away by the burger at Golden State Cafe. Go figure.

Elgin Public House Review

Bleu Horse Burger

I am delighted to say I was surprised  at the Elgin Public House, a massive bar in downtown Elgin, IL.  They’ve been open eight years, and have an incredibly deep menu for hand prepped items.  They have a big selection of burger choices, including two Wagyu, two veggie options, a turkey, and bison.  The beef burgers come in a lot of pre-determined configurations, or you can start from scratch, pick your protein, bun and toppings.  All burgers are served with a choice of a side from a very long list of options.

Mrs BurgerDogBoy went straight for the “The Bleu Horse,” a burger crusted with blue cheese and horseradish, onion straws, and she added pickles and a tomato slice to the brioche bun. She chose Cajun fries as her side. I didn’t try one, but she reported they had a little more heat than she expected.

I went with something way off the usual path for me, their “Saltimbocca Burger,”  topped with prosciutto, fresh Mozzarella and bruschetta.  It was served on a ciabatta roll slathered with red pepper aioli.  I went with their regular fries, which they call “pub fries,”  and they are somewhere between a shoestring and a steak fry in size and texture.

We both ordered our burgers medium rare, and they came……medium rare!  The hand-formed patties had a nice little char on them and a smash treatment.  Tough to get a smashed burger medium rare, kudos to chef.

Anyway, I was blown away by my burger.  These elements come together so perfectly I am at a loss to describe it.  The mozz and bruschetta were chilled, and the aioli brought it all together.  Hot protein, chilled vegetable, great bread durable enough for a heavily topped burger, and a little spice with the aioli.  Magnificent.

Add over the top service from Molly to the experience.  Two burgers, two soft drinks, $24.95.

If there’s a ‘next time,’  I’d give the Wagyu with garlic  Boursin a shot.  I’ve no doubt it would be superb.

Here’s their lengthy menu.

Elgin Public House Review

Burger Saltimbocca

 

Elgin Public House on Urbanspoon

Elgin Public House Reviews

“Boy Scout” Pepperoni Snack Stick Review

Country Meats Snack SticksWhen I was in Boy Scouts, we had two fund raising events per year; in the summer we went door to door and sold packs of light bulbs, in winter we sold Christmas wreaths.  I have no idea if we raised any significant amount of money, but if we did, it was supposed to support the troop and summer camping programs.

The last few years, pretty much everywhere I see scouts hocking goodies on the sidewalk, it’s been tubs of popcorn. (unpopped).  I remember the brand as being “Trail’s End” and I see that’s a division or subsidiary of Pop Weaver Popcorn, out of Indiana.

I think Scouting is a good thing, and I try and buy the popcorn when I see it available.  Besides, I like Pop Weaver corn.  They have it at Wal-Mart, and the microwave one is a bargain compared to say, Pop Secret.

Today I saw Scouts selling jerky and pepperoni snack sticks, loaded up on a few, glanced at the package and see they are made in Ocala, FL by a company called Country Meats, who appears to only be in the fundraising segment, offering many different flavors of snack sticks.

The pepperoni ones have an impressive list of ingredient:  pork, salt, spices, and natural smoke flavoring.  That’s substantially it.  And they are damned tasty. I like Slim Jim’s and Jack Links, but they are mostly beef sticks, so to have a pepperoni pork one suits me fine. The snack has great flavor and a nice grind, the collagen casing gives a nice snap reminiscent of a natural casing.

Apparently, you can do business with Country Meats if you want to have a fundraising deal for your organization. A case contains 144 snack sticks and is yours for $89, with a suggestion you sell them for a buck apiece. You can order online.  Country Meats operates a USDA inspected facility at 7650 SW 75th Avenue, Ocala FL.    They even have a YouTube video to show you how they are made (below).  I like transparency, especially in the food industry.

Snack Stick Review

Orv’s Pizza Review

Orv's Frozen Pizza ReviewOrv’s Pizza was originally from Kaukauna, WI, and may still be produced there, but it’s now under the ownership of Minneapolis pizza company Bernatellos, that also makes and sells  Roma and Brew Pub  brands.

I wonder if Kaukauna Cheese is still made in Kaukauna?   Hold on.  OK, seems like its still made nearby, but now owned by a cheese brand collecting company from Chicago.  (BTW, cheese company, I see you also hold Merkt’s, which I prefer, especially for burgers.

Wow, talk about careening wildly off track!

This Orv’s “Tasty Toppings”  Sausage & Pepperoni Think Crust weighs in at a hair over one pound, and they were on sale today at 2 $8.00.  That’s about the right price-point for the weight.   I’m having a hard time seeing any quantity of  sausage, and they may have missed a few spots with the “Real Cheese,” (as is noted on the front of the package.

BTW, before I tell you what I thought of the experience, I give the company props for the ‘real’ ingredients.   Sausage is pork and seasonings, pepperoni is pork, beef, and seasonings, and tomato sauce is just….tomato sauce.  So they got that going for them.

The pepperoni slice was paper thin.  Say have you seen Jack Link’s is making thick “crinkle cut” pepperoni?  Ain’t that interesting?  Saw it at that store that John Boy and Mary Ellen started….you know, the Waltons?  Right.

So how is Orv’s pizza?  The thin crust is crispy, the tomato sauces leans towards being more sweet than savory and I think they shouldn’t be so stingy with the cheese.   I’d say this pizza belongs at the top end of the budget lines like Totino’s, Jeno’s, and no-name brands, but even at this sale price, is pretty spendy for that category.   I tried the parent company’s premium pie, Bellatoria Ultra Thin Sausage Italia, about six months ago, and it was pretty ok. 

425 at 10-12 minutes brought the result shown below.

Orv's Frozen Pizza Review

“Tasty Toppings”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bernatellos, Bellatoria, Roma, Brew Pub

 

Orv’s Pizza Review

Friendly Farms Cottage Cheese Review

Friendly Farms Cottage CheeseI love cottage cheese – not that lowfat crap, but delicious creamy max fat small curd. I use it as a dip for ruffled potato chips and tell myself I’m eating healthy. I usually sprinkle a little Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning on the top.

Friendly Farms cottage cheese is another in-house product from Aldi, the German discount food chain scattered across the US.  I’ve reviewed some of their stuff before.  Generally for “staples,”  you can’t beat Aldi in price, except at the Dollar Store, which has become my new “go-to” place for tomato juice, chicken and beef broth.  They’re a buck. :-)

You can check where your dairy products originate (you’ll probably want the producer to be as close to you  as possible) by deciphering the numeric production code on the carton or bottle.  It is usually near the expiration date in the format of XX-XXX or similar.

Then you trot over to this website and enter the code. Voila!  So I find out this cottage cheese is packaged for Aldi by a company called PET O’Fallon, outside of St. Louis and seemingly a part of Dean Foods, one of the nation’s largest food producers, and a company with a pretty boring website.

I’m picky about cottage cheese, and I like this one.  Since it is from Aldi, it’s a great value too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

friendly farms cottage cheese

Schaumburg, IL – To Pho Review

I used to work for a company that was owned by a reclusive jillionaire. My office was in Europe, but I maintained a household in the Chicago area that I would escape to on occasion.  On one of those occasions, I got a call from a couple of my superiors at the company, direct connections to the recluse, and they asked me to meet them.  I did.  When I inquired why, they said the man owned Woodfield Shopping Center and had never seen it, so they were gonna go kick the tires and report back.  At the time, Woodfield was the largest and finest mall in the country, and the centerpiece of Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb about ten miles west of O’Hare.  Schaumburg exists primarily to house corporate headquarters, shopping and dining outlets.  I’ve never actually met someone FROM there.

I digress.  I was in Schaumburg, and feelin’ my combo urges of Asian and French, we headed for To Pho to satisfy my craving for a Bahn Mi, and Mrs Burgerdogboy’s favorite  - pho.  (Still don’t know how to pronounce that?  it’s basically said “FAH.”)

It’s  a small place in Schaumburg, where fancy pants restaurants lean towards places like Mortons and Ruths, and casual places are more along the lines of Hooters  or Buffalo Wild Wings.

It was immaculate, and we were seated and waited on promptly.  I opted for the special pork  Bahn Mi, with pork roll, ham, and pork belly, dressed as per tradition with mayo, shredded carrot, cilantro, cucumber and daikon (Asian radish). The baguette used was spot on perfect, could have been from a street bakery in Paris.  Flaky soft exterior, soft as butter in July inside.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy must have not been feeling rightly, as her usual tact is to cram as many calories into a meal as possible, so usually she would have gone with the pho that had beef and pork, and she would have ordered a double side of extra fat back.  But she had the chicken.  The broth is served with traditional accompaniments, including  lime, sprouts, basil, and cilantro.  In the broth with the rice noodles and chicken were green onions.  She be a soup fiend!  I have seen her take an entire week’s worth of groceries and make them into a single bowl.  Truly a magic act (except for trying to figure out dinner for the balance of the week).

We had the spring rolls as a starter, shrimp and pork mixed with rice noodles  and sprouts with a side of peanut sauce.  The  rice paper wrappers were clear and tightly wound.

This place is great. Ultra fresh, great value for the money.   Plus if you buy four sammiches, you get one free!  The restaurant is in a strip mall at 823  E. Algonquin Road in Schaumburg.  Neighbors in the mall include a Chinese restaurant, liquor store, tarot reader and a Subway.

Here’s the full menu.  And now, back to the new farm.  I’ll start a new site / blog about that soon. I’m definitely old, and definitely not “McDonald.”

To Pho Bahn Mi Review

Special Pork Bahn Mi

 

To Pho Review

Chicken Pho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Pho Review

Algonquin, IL – Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Back in Chicagoland for the last time this year, had a craving for Mexican food since Mrs. Burgerdogboy has been on a cooking strike lately and she makes some fine Mexican platos.

I was out in the NW burbs, some areas of which are increasingly populated with people of various Latin heritages, and mercados and taquerias are popping up like pop-ups.

Not wanting to cause confusion among any potential customers, one entrepreneur labeled his restaurant as plain as plain could be: “Algonquin Mexican Restaurant.” (AMR)

With tables that will accommodate thirty and a counter with room for eight more, the AMX serves breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday with hours from 10A – 8 PM. They were doing a brisk take-out business, but I was in the mood to be waited on, so I took a seat a booth looking out at the Algonquin intersection the corners of “Road Construction” and “Needs Road Construction.” The gajillion dollar downtown bypass appears that it will take another generation of works before it is actually finished, and from where I sit, will do little do alleviate the REAL area traffic problems, which are East – West, while the bypass is north-south. DOH!

The menu is straight forward and straight Mexican. Order ala carte or a plate which includes beans and rice.  (Me and the Mrs were forever spoiled by the refried beans in Aberdeen, WA one day).   Turns out tho that these were pretty tasty.  I wish I had ordered an additional side of them. (The ones in Aberdeen were so tasty we ate two orders at the table and got an order to go).

Polished off the complimentary chips and pico, and then  I ordered three tacos, chorizo, shredded beef, and ground beef.  Chicken, steak, pork, and pork skin were other options.  No tongue here.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tacos, even tho I had them with the gringo flour tortilla.  They come loaded with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. A second “filling” option is straight chopped onion and cilantro.  Should have tried that.

In order of favorite – chorizo one, then shredded beef, and lastly ground beef.  The accompanying rice was nothing to write home (or here about) so i won’t.  I rarely eat rice as a side anymore. Can’t say why and sure you don’t care.

Circumstances were such that I spent a fair amount of time in Mexico this year, and of course little North of the border can match local street food in Juarez or TJ,  just like after living in China I was spoiled to that type of food in the US.

But in any case, if you happen to be driving around the NW burbs, or live in Algonquin, Dundee, Lake in the Hills or Crystal Lake, the Algonquin Mexican Restaurant is worth a stop with freshly prepared food at great prices.   I’ve posted there menu over in our menu section, check it out.

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Pico

 

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

3 Taco Plate

 

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Storefront

 

 

 

 

 
Algonquin Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

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