The Art Of The Burger

For The Saturday Early Show Chef on a Shoestring segment, chef and cookbook author Nancy Silverton prepares a three-course meal for four on a budget of $40. The menu: Celery & Herb Salad with Cheese and Pesto; Nancy's Cheeseburgers; Blackberry-Yogurt Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream and Warm Blackberry Compote.

"The Marshall Field's Cookbook" is a combination of "classic" dishes served during the long history of Marshall Field's — it was, after all, the first department store to offer a full-service restaurant. The book includes contributions from a group called the "Field's Culinary Council." This is a group of 12 chefs including Marcus Samuelson, Tom Douglas and Tyler Florence.

When loaves of soft white bread stocked bakery shelves and bagels were the biggest breakthrough in breads, Nancy Silverton brought our culinary attention to the soul-satisfying pleasures of artisan baking. She and her (then) chef-husband opened the doors to La Brea Bakery in conjunction with their restaurant Campanile in 1989 after finding no one in the Los Angeles area capable of supplying them with the flavorful crusty loaves that they had sampled in Europe.

Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Ecole Lenotre, and some of L.A.'s most reputable kitchens, Nancy had become head pastry chef at Spago in the late '80s, but still yearned to make good bread.

La Brea Bakery and Campanile are both L.A. institutions at this point. Nancy recently sold her shares in both businesses and now does some cooking here and there at other restaurants "for fun." She has written several cookbooks and won several awards over the course of her career. Her latest contribution is to "The Marshall Field's Cookbook."


Stracciatella cheese: This is a soft, stringy cheese with mild flavor. Soft ricotta cheese is a nice substitute; it's what was used when calculating the "Shoestring" menu.

Ground chuck: This beef contains about 15 percent fat, making it a great choice for burgers. Nancy asks her butcher to add fat to the chuck for even better burgers.


Celery and Herb Salad with Cheese and Celery Leaf Pesto
Serves 4

Celery Leaf Pesto
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/2 large clove garlic
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup tender celery leaves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 to 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup whole fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 cup whole fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup whole tiny fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup peeled and diagonally sliced celery
1/4 cup diagonally sliced green onions
Maldon salt or sea salt
8 ounces Stracciatella cheese (or ricotta)

To prepare the pesto:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the pine nuts, garlic, parsley, celery leaves, and salt into a smooth paste (or finely chop the ingredients and smash with a knife to puree). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and add the cheese, mixing well to incorporate.
  5. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Season with salt to taste.

To prepare the vinaigrette>

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and shallot.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Combine the tarragon, parsley, basil, celery and green onions in a large bowl.
  2. Season with the salt and toss well.
  3. Add a conservative amount of the vinaigrette to the salad, just enough to moisten, and save the remaining dressing for drizzling around the plate.
  4. Divide the greens among four plates (preferably use oversized soup plates with a wide rim), mounding them in the center.
  5. Drizzle the extra dressing on the plate around the greens.
  6. Make an indentation in the middle of the greens and spoon on 2 ounces of the Stracciatella cheese. Season with a little more salt.
  7. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the celery leaf pesto onto each serving and serve the rest on the side.

For more recipes, go to page 2.