All Posts In News

How to Plate Your Food Like a Pro

by in News, July 31st, 2014

How to Plate Your Food Like a ProWhen it comes to serving food, presentation may not be everything — there’s taste to consider, after all — but studies have shown it can have a surprisingly big impact on how the foods we prepare are perceived. When we cook and plate to please the eye, as it happens, we also please the palete.

This week’s news that Red Lobster, in order “to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood,” would stack food “higher on plates, as is the style at fancier restaurants,” as the Associated Press put it, brings that point home. Whether arranging the same food — fish, rice and vegetables — vertically, rather than spread out on the plate, will boost the seafood chain’s bottom line remains to be seen. Still, you may find in it the impetus to experiment with your own meal presentation.

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Which Is Better: Pie or Cake?

by in News, July 30th, 2014

Which Is Better: Pie or Cake?Dessert confession: I am not a pie person.

Unless it’s Key lime, I can easily pass pie by, even if my disinterest in crusts and cobblers containing apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin or (shudder) mincemeat deeply offends my pie-baking mother-in-law. So if you’re serving pie a la mode, just hand me the a la mode, please. But if there’s cake, feel free to give me the biggest piece — and then another.

I am a cake person.

It turns out the world may fall into two distinct groups: pie people and cake people. Recently, representatives from both camps squared off in a battle over bragging rights on Vox.com: “Is cake the great American dessert? Or is it pie?” the site wondered.

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How to Shop Like a Chef (Hint: Buy Generic)

by in News, July 29th, 2014

How to Shop Like a Chef It’s not always clear, as you’re standing in the supermarket aisle and feeling overwhelmed by a shelf crowded with different versions of the same product, when it’s worth reaching for a recognizable name brand and when you can save yourself a few hard-earned bucks and buy generic without sacrificing quality. Next time you’re in that situation, you may want to ask yourself, “What would a chef do?”

In a follow-up to a recent study on the over-the-counter-medicine-buying habits of doctors and pharmacists, a group of researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands has revealed which foods chefs and other food-prep pros buy generic more frequently than the general consumer, and for which food products they tend to shell out for a name brand.

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The Jerky Revolution

by in News, Product Reviews, July 29th, 2014

JerkyRemember that beef jerky you got at the gas station during road trips? The stuff that’s loaded with sodium and has what you would imagine the texture of dog treats to be? Well, it has come a long way since then, becoming a bona fide healthy snack for protein lovers. With less sodium, better flavors and almost nothing unnatural about it, artisan jerky is on the rise.

Just one ounce of the leading brand’s beef jerky can have almost 800 milligrams of sodium, while new brands that concentrate on a more-natural process usually stay around 400 milligrams for the same-size serving (some as low as 300). Besides the fact that these new brands won’t make you feel like you’re gnawing on a salt block, they’ve also got an ingredient list you can fully pronounce. It’s refreshing to see words like “garlic” and “sesame seeds” in place of words like “flavorings” and “monosodium glutamate.”

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Orange Juice Drinkers May Soon Feel the Squeeze

by in News, July 28th, 2014

Orange Juice Drinkers May Soon Feel the SqueezeIs your morning cup of orange juice in danger? It might be. And your grapefruit too.

A bacterial disease known as citrus greening (AKA Huanglongbing or HLB or yellow dragon disease) is threatening America’s citrus crops. Named for the way it turns citrus fruits green, misshapen and bitter tasting, and thus unsuitable for sale or consumption as either fresh fruit or juice, citrus greening poses no direct threat to humans or animals. For the trees themselves, however, it is devastating — and ultimately deadly. There is, as of now, no known cure.

Though the disease likely originated in China in the early 1900s and has long wreaked havoc abroad, citrus greening wasn’t detected in the United States until 2005, when it was spotted in Florida. By 2008 it affected almost every citrus-growing county in Florida, and it has continued to spread broadly and rapidly, primarily via a gnat-sized insect called the Asian citrus psyllid, which carries the disease from tree to tree as it feeds.

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S’mores: Fried and Frozen, Drinkable and DIY

by in News, July 27th, 2014

Skillet S'MoresS’mores are the perfect campfire food: the roasting of the marshmallows on a stick over the fire to your own preferred consistency (golden brown on the outside, mushy on the inside for me); the sticky-fingertip removal of marshmallow from stick and gentle placement atop several squares of not-yet-melted milk chocolate and between fresh-from-the-box graham cracker halves; the ungainly, delicious, headily sweet act of eating it; and the instant urge to repeat the process all over again.

But what if you’re stuck in the city with no campfire in sight? Several eateries around New York City have come up with creative solutions to that common problem, and the New York Daily News recently surveyed a few. At choco-centric restaurant Max Brenner, you can get order up the at-table DIY Urban S’mores for Two, complete with a teensy tabletop grill over which to roast marshmallows, then eat with graham crackers and a variety of toppings, listed on the menu as “pure melted milk chocolate, toffee bananas … warm peanut butter and raspberry sauce.”

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Foe or Foie?: Top California Chefs Host a Protest Luncheon

by in News, July 26th, 2014

Foe or Foie?: Top California Chefs Host a Protest Luncheon By Meesha Halm

Foie gras is polarizing. Diners either love it or hate the very idea. Buttery, ultra-rich duck liver has been one of the most venerated ingredients in a chef’s arsenal for centuries. Whether floating in a soup at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare or miso-cured at Acadia in Chicago, it’s considered the ultimate luxury.

Not so in California, where foie gras has been banned since 2012. Foie gras hasn’t exactly gone away in the Golden State; it’s just gone underground. The sale and production of it are forbidden but consumption of it is not, so restaurateurs circumvent the ban by sending it out as a “gift from the chef.” But some California chefs, including Ken Frank (La Toque), are willing to fight publicly for it. Last month, Frank and five top toques rallied to host “State of American Foie Gras,” a protest luncheon at his Napa Valley restaurant.

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Toasted Selfies: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

by in News, July 25th, 2014

Toasted Selfies: The Best Thing Since Sliced BreadYou’re bored with your breakfast options — sick of the same old, same old. Cereal? Been there. Eggs? Done that. Pancakes? Waffles? Yeah, yeah, we’ll wake you when they’re over.

But, hey, how about toast with your face on it? Bingo, right?

A company called the Vermont Novelty Toast Corporation, which has been manufacturing toasters that pop out toast with images and logos on it since 2010, is now moving beyond pictures of Edger Allen Poe and peace signs and offering customers a chance to purchase a toaster that browns toasted selfies right onto their bread. (Images are singed onto one side only; the other side is just toast.)

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A 5-Minute Steak Defrost Hack? (and Other Meat-Thawing Tips)

by in News, July 24th, 2014

Grilled SteakIt’s the end of a long day and you’re craving a thick, juicy steak. Fortunately, you have a nice fresh cut in the freezer, awaiting its big moment. Unfortunately it’s frozen solid as a rock and dinnertime is in less than an hour. Time to surrender your steak dreams and start making pasta instead? Nope, not so fast.

CTi, a Taiwanese cable channel, suggests an electricity-free steak-defrosting hack that will safely thaw a frozen steak about 1 centimeter thick in less than five minutes. How? Take two metal pots or pans, turn one over bottom up and place your vacuum-sealed steak flat on it. Then fill the other pot or pan with water and place it, topside up, on top of the steak. The weight of the water and its temperature, conducted by the metal, will speed thawing. In five minutes, CTi says, your steak should be defrosted and ready to cook. (You can use the time to pick a recipe.)

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Superfood Alert: Is Kelp the New Kale?

by in News, July 22nd, 2014

Is Kelp the New Kale?Are we on the cusp of a full-on kelp craze? Not only have magnetic fake kelp forests recently been touted as an eco-friendly way to repel sharks and prevent attacks on beaches, but the nutrition-packed seaweed is also being hailed as the “next big superfood.”

“Eat Kelp. It’s chock-full of nutrients, it mitigates climate change by sequestering carbon, improves oceans by soaking up excess nitrogen and phosphorus, and has potential as a valuable fertilizer and biofuel,” Patrick Mustain, a communications manager at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, recently wrote in Scientific American, in a blog post titled “Move Over, Kale, The New Super Vegetable Comes From The Sea.”

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