Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Place marker for future 2009 posts

OK, its been months since I posted. Not that I haven't been doing anything, just that I didn't feel like it. It is now July 7th, and there's been alot going on since October of 2008.

There is the whole 2009 Competitive Eating Circuit (first half), in which I competed in 10 competitions and drove at least 5000 miles.

Attended the Nathan's Famous 2009 Hot Dog Eating Competition on July 4th, and received a trophy for the "2009 Carbon Footprint Award" in front of 40,000+ people before the actual competition (which I did not eat in - didn't qualify).

Melissa and I had a great time hanging out with the eaters before and after the competition. Thanks go out to the IFOCE, George & Rich Shea, Dave Keating, and especially Mike Antolini for getting us to the W for the weekend.

Melissa and I stopped at Harold's Deli in Edison, NJ on July 3rd, on the way to NYC. The sandwiches, as have been reported all over the Internet, are huge. We ordered one large (the smallest you can get), and split it.

We also had Benjamin burgers at the Emery Grille in the Benjamin Hotel at 50th & Lexington (one block up from the W) for dinner that night - fantastic! And at $11 for the burger and $4 for "customizable" fries, may be one of the best values in that area of Manhattan.

Well, that gives me a few items to elaborate on - just wanted to post this as a place marker so I would remember them when I have a little time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pizza Burger Throwdown Results!

My burger (the one in the middle) has been crowned the champion, with 14 votes. Mega Munch's burger (the top one) came in second, with six votes, and Skinnyboy's (the bottom one) came in third with four votes. Mega stayed true to the burger form, with a bun and melted cheese; Skinnyboy thought a little outside the box and used Red Baron individual frozen pizza for buns (a good thought).

I thought way outside the bun for mine; my burger is resting on a hand-tossed whole wheat pizza round, about seven inches in diameter. To save time, I bought a ball of pizza dough from the local Wegman's and separated it into six pieces. I then stretched each piece into a seven inch round and let them rest before baking; resting allows them to remain flexible and chewy instead of getting crispy, as I wanted them to be able to be folded like a taco around the burger and the insalata caprese.

After I had baked the dough rounds, I started on the burgers. My burger mix was 90/10 lean ground beef, fortified with 8 ounces of mild Italian sausage, spices and a little ketchup, mixed lightly:

After mixing the meat, I used one of the plates that I would be building the burger on as a guide for the half-moon shape of the burger I wanted:

On to the grill. I used my Brinkman smoker with my turkey fryer as a heat source. As the smoker had the smoke residue in it from the brisket I smoked over the fourth, the burgers got a little smoke flavor on them, and even turned a little red as they cooked:

As the burgers cooked, I started building the rest. After selecting the most visually appealing pizza crust, I spooned on some Wegman's Roasted Garlic marinara sauce and layered the burger side with some sandwich size pepperoni:

I then built the caprese salad, layering vine-ripened tomato slices with fresh mozzarella. I then added red onion rings, cut in half, and then sprinkled it with chiffonade-cut basil leaves:

I sautéed some steak-cut mushrooms in butter, Italian seasoning, and salt over high heat, just long enough to cook the mushrooms through but still retain their form. I retrieved the burgers from the grill, laid one over the pepperoni, and put the mushrooms on top:

The burger in the picture is about 10 ounces before cooking; unfortunately, being that size with everything else, Melissa couldn't fold it up and eat it as I had designed, and resorted to eating it open-faced with a knife and fork. I managed to get it folded and eat it as I had hoped; the combination of the various flavors was incredible.

What I had in mind with using the pizza crust was something that you could fold and keep all of the burger goodness together while you ate it; Derek Payne mentioned on Mega’s blog that a burger should have “buns” – could you imagine trying to eat this burger on a bun? Everything would be sliding out as you attempted to eat it. If you used an insubstantial bun, it would fall apart before you finished; too substantial, and you increase the likelihood of wearing the burger as you try to gnaw through the bun. It’s not really a wrap, either, as I envision a wrap as something that would enclose the whole thing. This was more of a soft-taco shape.

On to the next challenge – Skinnyboy wants to do a burger using grilled cheese sandwiches as the bread. Can’t figure out at this time how to come up with a presentation for that yet, but something will bubble up through the subconscious.

Thanks to all of you who visited our blogs and voted for this throwdown!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2008 UEPa Pizza Burger Throwdown

The 2008 UEPa Pizza Burger Throwdown is on!

Mega Munch (http://megamunch.blogspot.com/), Skinnyboy (http://dogsarefunyes.blogspot.com/), and myself have each created our vision of what a pizza burger should be. In no particular order, here are our entries:

As computer technology has not advanced to the point where you can taste, touch, or smell the burgers, the competition is basically which one you find the most appetizing visually.
Please vote on which one you prefer in the comments section, along with any thoughts you might have on your choice. You can vote here, or on Mega Munch's or Skinnyboy's blogs. Sorry, no anonymous voting! In a week or so, we'll tally the votes and see who wins.
Good luck, Mega Munch and Skinnyboy!
Please, use the Name option if you don't have a Blogger ID!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I made the local paper! Bill White, a columnist for The Morning Call newspaper here in Allentown, started an "Eat Your Way Through Musikfest" years ago; I finally got around to doing it this year and in the process talked to Bill after completing it.

Long story short, he asked if he could contact me for a column later; here is the result:


He also wrote a blog entry with additional information that day:


Kudos to Bill for writing an informative, non-judgmental article about our pseudo-sport.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Windsor Deli Kicks Butt!

Stopped in today - was reminded about their existence due to Bill White's "Eat Your Way through Musikfest" challenge - a $5 coupon was in the swag bag if you were one of the first 100 people to complete the challenge. I’ve been driving by the place on occasion, and every time, I thought to myself, “I should stop in there sometime…”

I had the King Windsor sandwich today - 3.5 ounces of roast beef, large slice of Swiss cheese, fresh (!) leaf lettuce (may have been romaine), fresh sliced tomato, cole slaw, 1000 Island dressing on marble rye bread. Fresh!! It's a Friday, and many delis are working their way into the weekend and may be using up their supplies. Not the Windsor! This may have been the most perfect roast beef sandwich I have ever had. As noted above, the lettuce was fresh, the tomato was fresh, even the bread was fresh. The $6.00 price was worth every penny.

I talked to the owner; they also run the Food Stuff Inc. stands in Festplatz at Musikfest (the potato pancakes on the challenge are from there). I mentioned that most delis are running their stock down on Fridays; she said that they get everything in fresh every day. It shows; I hope they're around for a long time.

Unfortunately, due to the available kitchen space, the potato pancakes from Musikfest are not available at the deli (bummer!).

Try this place out - if you work in the area, they offer delivery with a minimum order of $15.00. I will be going back.

Service: Walk-up counter – my sandwich came out fast – 9 out of 10.
Ambience: Wood floors, some high tables, some low tables – think Starbucks, Einstein Bagels, and the like. Not loud, considering the hard surfaces – 9 out of 10.
Food: Sandwich, as noted above, was excellent. Pickle wedge and an individual bag of Utz chips were included (no stale chips!) – 10 out of 10.
Bar selection:
Price: Food - excellent. Drinks – a wide selection of Coca-cola 20 oz. soda products, Nestea products, juices, Calypso Lemonades, Vitamin Waters, V8 products, and Dasani waters. Prices for the bottled products range from $1.25 to $2.50; cans are available for $0.75. Drink prices seemed a little high, but on reflection versus the local mini-mart, not bad. – 9 out of 10.

Windsor Deli
7525 Tilghman Street, Suite 105
Allentown, PA 18106
Phone: (610) 481-0474
Fax: (610) 481-9401

Open Monday through Friday, 8AM – 6PM, Saturday 9AM – 3PM

Friday, May 23, 2008

Nathan's Philly Qualifier, Take Three (2008)

Tomorrow I attempt to make it to the IFOCE sanctioned Nathan's Famous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, again. This will be my seventh (that's right, 7) attempt at qualifying, and I expect to come in third or possibly fourth. If it's a really good day, I may come in second, but Humble Bob Shoudt is expected to show, and I can't come anywhere close to his total tomorrow. So, I'll go, eat some hot dogs, collect my shirt, and look forward to the Shea Stadium qualifier on June 14 (oh, damn, I let out where I'm going to be) where I will be beaten by Tim "Eater X" Janus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lightening up Mexican-Style Chicken with Penne

I adapted this recipe from the February 2008 issue of Food & Wine magazine, pages 88-89. The recipe originally called for 0.75 pounds of regular penne rigate, five tablespoons of olive oil, one pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, and 0.25 pounds of queso blanco.

First off, before the health police jump all over me, I KNOW olive oil is healthy and fairly good for you; however, in the interest of making this as HEALTHY and LOW CALORIE as possible, I sprayed the skillet with an olive oil spray and left the olive oil out. When the pan got too dry for my liking, I added a little low-sodium chicken broth, which I did not include in the calorie calculations.

I also substituted a new pasta product, Dreamfields – Healthy Carb Living, for the penne rigate, and I used the WHOLE BOX (16 ounces). Really, who uses 12 ounces of a 16 ounce box and then puts the rest aside? If you’re in a restaurant kitchen, where you buy things like penne rigate in bulk, then fine, but doing that at home leaves you with a whole bunch of different pastas in four ounce quantities. Then you have this urge to make macaroni and cheese and blow the whole healthy living, want to lose weight thing… but I digress. They claim that each serving (two ounces before cooking) has only five grams of digestible carbs. The key nutritition facts, calories, fat and fiber were 190, 1 gram and 5 grams, with 42 grams of total carbohydrates. A comparable regular white penne rigate has 210 calories, 1 gram of fat and 2 grams of fiber for each two ounce before cooking serving.

Since I made this recipe, I have compared various whole wheat pastas against the Dreamfields product, and they are comparable in calories, fat, and fiber, for about half the price.

The skinless, boneless chicken thighs are a better choice, health-wise without the skins, and would be slightly more flavorful, but I substituted skinless, boneless chicken breasts to save calories. I substituted 2% mozzarella as the recipe suggested for the queso blanco, as I was not near home and access to a market that sold queso blanco.

The instructions for the recipe pretty much stay the same as quoted from the magazine, with the exception of slopping the olive oil around.


16 ounces Dreamfields penne rigate
Olive oil cooking spray
Low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch dice
Kosher salt (yeah, you can use regular)
Freshly ground pepper (buy a pepper mill, trust me – you don’t know what you’re missing)
1 onion, cut into ¼ inch dice (I used a 332 gram Mayan sweet)
1 large garlic clove, minched
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 large chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
½ cup frozen corn
¼ pound 2% mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente. Drain the penne.
2. Meanwhile, spray a large, deep skillet with olive-oil cooking spray. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add a little chicken broth if the pan gets too dry. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Once again, add a little chicken broth when the pan gets dry. Add the diced tomatoes, chipotle and adobo sauce and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper and cook until the corn is heated through, about 1 minute.
3. Add the penne and 2 tablespoons of chicken broth to the sauce and toss to coat. Add 3 ounces of the mozzarella and toss. Transfer the pasta to bowls, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and the cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 servings – big servings, over one pound each. My fiancĂ© couldn’t finish hers.

Nutrition per serving as modified: 670 calories, 9.04 grams fat, and 13.43 grams fiber.

Nutrition per serving as originally made, with the addition of five tablespoons of olive oil, substitution of chicken thighs, regular white flour penne rigate (only 12 ounces in original recipe), and queso blanco: 780 calories, 31.94 grams of fat, and 6.43 grams fiber.