Travel + Leisure Ranks New York 7th Best Burger City

The May issue of Travel + Leisure ranks New York City as the 7th best city for burgers. I hate to even bring attention to this “poll” but this is simply outrageous. The T+L editors need to take a little stroll ’round town and visit The Burger Joint and Corner Bistro and Minetta Tavern and Peter Luger’s and Rudy’s and Shake Shack. Only then can an accurate “polling” of the country’s best burger cities be created.

The Burger Joint
119 West 56th Street
(inside the Le Parker Meridian Hotel)

The cities that beat New York include:

#1 Providence

#2 Philadelphia

#3 Chicago

#4 Houston

#5 San Juan, PR

#6 San Diego

#7 Minneapolis/St. Paul

#8 Kansas City, MO

This list really begs the question, “Where is Minneapolis/St. Paul again?”

The complete Travel + Leisure rankings can be found here: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-burger-cities/2

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Study Proves Eating Organic Food Makes You More Likely To Be A Jerk

In what a some have unofficially deduced for years, a study has proven once and for all that people who insist on eating only organic foods are more judgmental and selfish than people who eat conventional foods. A study published in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science concluded that consuming “organic foods reduce prosocial behavior and harshen moral judgements.”

In the study, participants were shown pictures of organic food and food deemed “comfort food” like brownies and other sweets. The  study administrators then gauged the partipant’s reaction to scenarios that suggested moral responses such as a lawyer’s presence  in an emergency room persuading patients to sue for their injuries. Using a numbered scale, researchers proved that those who preferred the organic food were more judgmental than those people who preferred the comfort food. They were also more reluctant to volunteer their time helping strangers, offering 13 minutes in comparison to the brownie lover’s 24 minutes. The study suggests that the people who prefer organic food fulfill their moral quota with their grocery store purchases. The lead researcher labeled it “moral licensing”.

Read the full study here: http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/05/14/1948550612447114.abstract

The moral of the story here? Think twice before you ask your server, “Are these carrots farm raised?” It may suggest more about about who you are than you think.

RECIPE: Flourless Chocolate Cake

In the spirit of eating healthy and getting your smokin’ bods ready for summer, I thought I would post a recipe for flourless chocolate cake. Why? Because most of you won’t actually bake this cake immediately after reading my post, the pictures I have look delicious and it will possibly serve as a nice incentive following weeks of dieting. I mean, really, will one piece of anything kill you?

Making a flourless chocolate cake is a relatively simple task as long as you understand the techniques involved. In a regular, flour-based cake, the flour serves as an aerator to coat the fat (usually butter) and provide a spongy texture. Because there is obviously no flour in a flourless chocolate cake, you need use heat and manual aeration to get the structure the cake needs. I will explain the techniques of making this cake in the method portion of this post. First, the ingredients:

Flourless Chocolate Cake

[yields 1, 8-in cake]

– 8 ea. eggs

– 1 pound chocolate, semi-sweet (or 2 2/3 cups)

– 8 oz butter (or 1 cup)

 

Method

1. Grease the sides of an 8 inch circular cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper circle.

2. Whip the eggs on high speed until double in volume, or about 5 minutes. The eggs will turn light yellow in color, like this:

3. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a water bath. For those who are unfamiliar with a water bath, it is also called a double boiler. Instead of melting over direct heat, the chocolate and butter are melted over boiling water. The set up looks like this:

4. Fold 1/3 of whipped egg mixture into the melted chocolate. Fold until there are only a few remaining streaks. The technique of folding is a way of combining two mixtures while also incorporating air. Using a rubber spatula, combine the two mixtures by moving your hand in a circular motion around the outside of the bowl and literally fold it on top of itself. Cut the mixture in half with your spatula and keep folding it on itself to incorporate as much air as possible and retain the fluffy structure of the eggs. Here are a couples pictures of the folding technique:

5. Fold in the remaining eggs in two parts so that the final product is homogenous. It should look something like this:

(note: these are Jon Lee’s man hands, not mine)

6. Pour batter into buttered cake pan and smooth surface.

7. Bake cake in 325 degree oven in a hot water bath until the cake has risen slightly and pulls away from the pan edges. The center of the cake should be about 145 degrees. This should take approximately 25 minutes in a convection oven, or 30 minutes in a conventional oven.  The water in the water bath should be about 3/4 of the way up the cake pan. The set-up looks like this:

8. Cool and refrigerate overnight so the cake can set.

9. To remove the cake from the pan, warm the edges in a hot water bath.  Flip the cake pan upside-down and tap the bottom so the cake drops out. If you have a blow torch laying around your kitchen, you can also use that:

10. Once the cake is out of the cake pan and onto a plate, dust with powdered sugar or chocolate shavings to serve. You can also make homemade Chantilly cream (whipped cream with sugar) or use a store bought brand to layer another flavor into the cake. If you do use whipped/Chantilly cream, I suggest portioning the cake slices first so you can serve each slice with a clean rosette. Enjoy!

The 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards

It has been an embarrassingly long time since my last blog post (more than four months) and with the James Beard Foundation Awards being announced last night, I decided that today was as good a day as any to get this going again. In this morning’s online edition of the New York Times, Florence Fabricant recounted several of the main awards presented and I could not agree more with a select number of recipients.

Though she did not win for her culinary talents, Gabrielle Hamilton (owner/executive chef of New York’s Prune) walked away from Lincoln Center last night with the award for Writing & Literature for her memoir “Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef”. This is hands down not only the best food book I have ever read (I’ve read a lot) but my favorite book of the year. Hamilton – or since this is my blog I can call her Gabby – tells her story of growing up in Lambertville, NJ in an eccentric family with mostly absent parents. The story details her move from New Jersey to live with her sister in New York City and all of the adventures that come along with working in soulless catering halls around the tri-state area. The story includes a trip to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where she has a startling and upsetting reaction to comments made by her fellow notable female chefs on a discussion panel. Her memoir combines incredible wit and sarcasm, interesting use of language and story flow, and a personal story worth reading at least twice.

Before I get to the actual food-related awards, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxine Bilet beat out Eleven Madison Park’s cookbook with “Modernist Cuisine” in the category of Book from a Professional Point of View. I have never seen Dan Humm and Will Guidara’s book, but I do not need to. The Modernist Cuisine belongs in a museum and will be unsurpassed for several years to come. For those unfamiliar with the Modernist Cuisine, it is a five volume monster of a “book” that depicts everything you could ever want to know about molecular gastronomy in incredibly sharp images. My description of the images will never do it justice so here are a few examples of pages from the bible, I mean book:

As my favorite restaurant (when I’m not paying) in New York has been Eleven Madison Park for the past two years, I was very happy to see Daniel Humm, the executive chef and owner, leave last night with the award for 2012 Outstanding Chef. Daniel Humm, along with William Guidara, purchased Eleven Madison Park from Danny Meyer late last year so this accolade was just the validation they needed to continue their quest for world (not just U.S.) domination.

I like to think of myself as having discovered Momofuku Milk Bar three years ago following a TINY snip-it I read in New York Magazine. For this reason, I will credit myself with Christina Tosi’s win for Rising Star Chef. She is the creator of Momofuku’s famous crack pie and cereal milk flavored soft serve ice cream. (In case you have always wondered how they make the cereal milk flavored soft serve they literally soak the creme anglais in corn flakes for hours before churning the cream. I know: genius.) If you have never been to Momofuku Milk Bar I would suggest you wander over to 13th and 2nd and get one of each: compost cookie, blueberry & cream cookie, cereal milk soft serve and a hot chocolate. I would expand this list if it weren’t almost bathing suit season.  (note: they have expanded to a few locations around the city but you should always go to the original location in the east village)

For a complete list of James Beard Award winners check out their website: http://jamesbeard.org/sites/default/files/static/additional/050712_JBF_WINNERS.pdf

You can also view this morning’s New York Times blog for a more concise list of winners that is not exclusive to New York: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/daniel-humm-leads-beard-award-winners/?ref=dining