It's bathing suit weather, so there's probably one thing at the forefront of everyone's minds -- buns.
Hamburger buns, that is.
Thankfully, Rachael Ray has released her newest cookbook, "The Book of Burger" (Atria Books), just in time for grilling season.
The book includes more than 200 of Ray's burger recipes ranging in variety from beef to seafood to veal, to vegetarian, chicken, lamb and pork.
"I'm kind of burger obsessed and have been for years. I like what a burger says -- that if you put anything on a bun it says accessible, everybody's included, affordable," says Ray, host of the syndicated "Rachael Ray Show" and the Cooking Channel's "Rachael Ray's Week in a Day."
"By the same token I like to change up the expectation of what a burger is to people. I make burgers out of everything, not just beef. You can make them as uptown as you like, like a fresh ground filet mignon burger. Or you can make them as sloppy and fun as you like, like my little Messy Giuseppe."
In addition to burgers, Ray includes in her new book recipes for "burger's buddies," as she calls them, including sliders, sloppies, hot dogs, corn dogs, toppings, dips and side dishes.
As an added bonus to her own recipes, she includes some from chefs who have won trophies at her Burger Bashes, which take place at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival and New York City Wine and Food Festival.
There are also QR codes throughout the book that, when scanned with a smartphone, provide extra burger recipes.
"It's too hard for me to pick a favorite. My husband's favorite, there's two of them -- it's my 7-Hour Brisket Sandwich that's in there, by far, hands down, that's his favorite. His favorite burger is probably the one I'm making tonight, the Blue Ribbon," Ray says.
"We like the sloppy stuff too. I love like little sloppy Joes and sloppy sliders. I love my little mini corn dogs, especially
When it comes to the cooking method of the patties, Ray says, everyone will have their own preference.
She prefers cooking the meat in a cast-iron skillet, but her husband prefers them cooked on an outdoor grill, especially during these summer months.
So while there are no rules outlined in the book as to how readers should cook their burgers, Ray does have some tips for making a tasty patty.
"I think there are things you can do to improve your burger skills. Like whenever I make a burger I make it thinner in the center and thicker at the edges for even cooking and to have the burger present nice and flat on the bun," Ray says.
"I bring my meat to room temperature. I make sure that the cooking surface is very hot. I make sure the meat is dry before it goes in the pan. So there are little tricks we can all learn to make whatever you're cooking a little tastier, but it's one of those things where I'm not a finger-wagging sort of a person. I don't want to definitively say to somebody, 'This is the only way to make a burger.' I'm just not that uptight."
In light of the recent New York Times controversy saying cookbook authors such as Ray don't actually write their books or recipes but instead use ghostwriters, Ray assures these are her own recipes and that she wrote this book along with the 19 others she's published so far.
Ray actually gave the newspaper a source for the story, her friend Wes Martin. While Martin has ghostwritten for other cookbook authors, Ray says he does not ghostwrite for her, rather he is her food stylist.
A food stylist is somebody who takes the cook's recipe and prepares it for a picture to be used in cookbooks, magazines or other publications. While Ray tries to whip up as many recipes as she can for photos, she says she simply doesn't have the time.
"They make food that looks in the style of the person who wrote the recipe. That does not in any way make them the author of that recipe. That makes them the food stylist for
"I knew that Wes did ghostwrite for other people and I thought he would be a great source for them. I sort of made my own bed there. But when they then say, literally, that I use ghostwriters I got very sensitive about it because it's just not true. I'm not judging whether people do or don't, I think that's perfectly fine. It's just, I'm not a chef, I'm a cook. I write in a very specific way and I have saved every notebook and scrap of paper and computer file for 18 years."
Prior to writing "The Book of Burger" Ray had a burger file in her computer with more than 700 recipes. She had to let her friends and family pick their favorites for her to include in the publication.
Her goal, she says, is to write books that are affordable and are full of affordable recipes as well. And this particular book is for those who love burgers just as much as she does.
"We thought it would be a fun Father's Day gift because guys love the grill and guys love burgers. But I'm a girl and I'm burger obsessed," Ray says.
"So you know, anybody who likes sandwiches, casual entertaining, if you have your friends over to watch football or baseball, or if you like to have movie night or sandwich night once a week, that kind of thing, it's the perfect book."
Recipe: 5-Spice Burgers With Warm Mu Shu Slaw
1 1/2 pounds ground pork or chicken
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
2 scallions, whites and greens, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
Vegetable oil, for drizzling
For mu shu slaw:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
1/3 to 1/2 pound cabbage, such as napa or Savoy, shredded
2 to 3 scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced on an angle
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
4 cornmeal-dusted or sesame kaiser rolls, split and lightly toasted
Make the burgers: In a large bowl, combine the pork or chicken, 5-spice powder, garlic, ginger, scallions, tamari and a drizzle of oil; mix thoroughly. Score the mixture into 4 equal portions and form them into patties slightly thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook). Drizzle the patties with oil.
Heat a large nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers, flipping once, 10 to 12 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
While the burgers are cooking, make the slaw: Heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook the shiitakes 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add the scallions and hoisin sauce, toss to combine, and remove from the heat.
Place the burgers on the roll bottoms and pile high with slaw. Set the roll tops in place.
-- From Rachael Ray's "The Book of Burger"
The Book of Burger
What: Author and TV host Rachael Ray will sign her new cookbook.
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Barnes & Noble, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.
Information: To learn more about Ray or her book, go to www.rachaelray.com.