Labor Day weekend grilling feast, on a budget

Fall's just around the corner, and we're into Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, so chef Franklin Becker put together a menu to "fall for" when he accepted the "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge from "The Early Show on Saturday Morning."

Of course, he opted for grilled fare - in this case, grilled chicken.

But he made it his own special way, and added a special salad and dessert for a holiday feast you won't find anywhere else.

The Brooklyn native is executive chef of Abe & Arthur's in Manhattan's meatpacking district, and he'll have that role at the midtown brasserie, Lexington Brass, slated to open soon.

As our Chef on a Shoestring, Franklin tried to prepare a three-course dinner for four on a budget of only $40.

And his chef's hat was automatically entered in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition, in which the "Shoestringer" with the lowest ingredients cost will be invited back to whip up the meal for our year-end holiday extravaganza.

Enjoy all our "Early Show" recipes!


  • Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Shrimp
  • Grilled Chicken with Tuscan Salad
  • Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee



Creme Brulee: The literal translation of this rich dessert is "burnt cream." It describes a chilled, stirred CUSTARD that, just before serving, is sprinkled with brown or granulated sugar. The sugar topping is quickly caramelized under a broiler. The caramelized topping becomes brittle, creating a delicious flavor and textural contrast to the smooth, creamy custard beneath.

Couscous: Cooked, it may be served with milk as porridge, with a dressing as a salad or sweetened and mixed with fruits for dessert. Packaged precooked couscous is available in Middle Eastern markets and large supermarkets. The cooked semolina is heaped onto a platter, with the meats and vegetables placed on top. All diners use chunks of bread to scoop the couscous from this central platter.


Israeli Couscous salad with Grilled Shrimp

  • 16 Shrimp (4 per salad)
  • 1 cup Israeli tri-color couscous
  • 1/4 bunch of mint
  • 2 tablespoons almonds (toasted)
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1/2 pound of red grapes
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomato
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/2 pound arugula
  • 1 cucumber sliced thin


1. Take the cooked Israeli couscous and add raisins, arugula, shallot, mint, grapes, almonds, cherry tomatoes in a bowl. Dress and season

2. Lay your cucumber on the plate, toss in cooked shrimp

3. Lay down your salad on top of the cucumber and wrap the cucumber around the salad.

4. Finish with a little fresh mint and put your shrimps on the plate.

Ginger Honey vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons ginger oil
  • Salt to taste


Place all ingredients in blender and emulsify with oil.

For more of Franklin's recipes, go to Page 2.