America’s Best Burrito? You Be the Judge
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
On the flour-tortilla-wrapped face of it, finding America’s best burrito sounds like an impossible quest. For starters, how, given all the burrito-serving restaurants across the United States, do you taste all possible winners? And how, given the myriad permutations of burritos — the sheer volume and variety of techniques and fillings and flavors — do you compare different prospects? And then, how exactly can you quantify which is the best?
You’d have to be full of beans and un poco loco to even try such a thing, right?
Well, we don’t want to pass any judgments, but the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight.com recently flung itself full-force at the challenge, biting into burritos and crunching numbers — as only the site founded by statistician Nate Silver can — to arrive at a quantifiable winner.
The site’s method included assembling a group of experts to pick 64 top contenders from all 67,391 burrito peddlers nationwide, then sending Anna Maria Barry-Jester, its burrito correspondent (how’s that for a title?) on a road trip across the country and back again, in search of a verdict.
“I snarfed breakfast burritos, burritos with french fries, and an avant-garde burrito stuffed with Cap’n Crunch-encrusted tilapia,” Barry-Jester writes. “I gobbled burritos from trucks, stands, and brick-and-mortar establishments (not to mention a couple of vending machines). I bought a six-pack of burritos in New Mexico for $11 and a haute burrito in Phoenix for $18.50.”
Eventually the intrepid burrito eater narrowed it down to the “final four” contenders: the Chile Verde Burrito at Delicious Mexican Eatery, in El Paso, Texas; the Bean and Cheese with Green Chile at Al & Bea’s Mexican Food, in Los Angeles; the Carnitas Burrito at La Taqueria, in San Francisco; and the Carne Asada Burrito at Taqueria Tlaxcalli, in New York City (specifically, the Bronx). After giving them numeric scores in several categories (tortilla, primary filling, other ingredients, presentation and “flavor profile”), Barry-Jester called it a wrap and crowned a winner: La Taqueria. The win earned San Francisco burrito-bragging rights.
“It’s not necessarily the burrito you’ll want to eat every day, and may not even be my personal favorite (I’ll leave you guessing on that),” Barry-Jester says of the winner, “but it’s a technical marvel with a monumental first bite worthy of a national title.”
Of course you don’t have to drive across the country, or even leave the house, for a great burrito. Here are a few ultra-tasty recipes — all given five stars by our readers — to satisfy your burrito craving in the privacy of your own home (where you’ll have fewer witnesses when you eat them and start making appreciative noises):
Carne Asada Burrito (pictured above)
Chicken and Bean Burrito Verde
Beef and Bean Burritos
Mission-Style Wild Rice and Bean Burrito
Chipotle Chicken Burritos
And if you have a favorite burrito from a restaurant near you, why not share it with other readers? After all, we all have our own ideas of what makes a burrito the best – and true deliciousness is not always so easy to quantify.
10 Simple Halloween Party Food Hacks for Kids
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Here are 10 of the simplest ways to bring tons of Halloween fun to a party, classroom or family table in just minutes.
1. Creepy-Crawly Caterpillars (pictured above): Thread green grapes onto a long wooden skewer until it’s completely covered. Add mini chocolate chips to each grape on the very end for eyes (use a little frosting or cream cheese for glue).
2. Spider Sandwiches: Use a biscuit cutter to cut bread into 3- to 4-inch rounds. Spread with the usual favorite fillings like PB&J. Add four pretzel sticks to each side for legs, then put the sandwich top on. Use peanut butter for glue as you add two raisins for eyes.
3. Pumpkin Pudding Cups: Cut the tops off tangerines and hollow them out. Fill with pudding and use a permanent marker to make a goofy jack-o’-lantern grin on each one.
4. Green Goblin Punch: Use a juicer or blender to puree a combination of orange juice and pineapple juice plus a handful of fresh spinach. Instant green!
5. Mummy Dogs: Wrap regular hot dogs in strips of premade crescent dough. Bake in the oven and add two mustard dots for eyes.
6. Jack-o’-Lantern Cracker Bags: Draw jack-o’-lantern faces on sandwich bags, fill three-quarters full with cheese crackers and tie with a green twist tie.
7. Banana Ghosts: Cut bananas in half to make two ghosts. Add three chocolate chips to each one, making a pair of eyes and a little mouth that looks like it’s saying “Boo!”
8. Witches’ Brooms (pictured above): Cut a piece of string cheese in half lengthwise, then use a paring knife to slice “straw.” Poke a pretzel stick in the center for the handle and wrap a fresh chive around the top of the straw.
9. Hot Zombie Soup: Prepare your favorite broccoli and cheddar soup, but puree it for a few extra minutes to get the texture extra smooth. Call this smooth green soup “Zombie Soup” and add a couple of croutons in fun shapes: Use Halloween cookie cutters (which you can use in another way below) to cut regular bread into the shape of a haunted house, a bat, etc., then toast in the broiler before slathering with butter, salt and a pinch of garlic powder.
10. Halloween Cheese and Crackers: Buy slices of cheese and simply use any Halloween cookie cutters to produce pumpkins, witches on brooms, black cats and so on.
Another Reason to Pass on Artificial Sweeteners
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
New research is giving us another reason to question the safety of artificial sweeteners. Researchers concluded that artificial sweeteners may be contributing to diseases like obesity and diabetes. It may be another reason you should swap the pink or blue packet of the artificial stuff for something more natural.
A recent study published in the journal Nature found that folks who were given saccharin (a type of artificial sweetener) over a week developed glucose intolerance, a condition that can lead to diabetes. Additionally, researchers also analyzed close to 400 people and found that the gut bacteria of those who used artificial sweeteners were really different from folks who did not use the fake stuff. The study concluded that more research should be done to really determine the safety of these calorie-free sugar alternatives.
The possibility that artificial sweeteners may possibly lead to diabetes and obesity just takes me back to my long-time recommendation of going natural — with your sweeteners. There are many natural sweeteners on the market to choose from including 100 percent maple syrup, agave, honey, and molasses. All of these natural sweeteners also contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals! As always, any sugar should be eaten sparingly. Here are five delicious recipes to try that use these natural sweeteners in a healthy way.
Oatmeal Pancakes with Maple Glazed Roasted Apples
A touch of maple syrup brings out the flavor of these roasted apples.
To sweeten these mouthwatering muffins, Ellie Krieger uses unsulpherated molasses.
Asian Red Cabbage Slaw with Peanuts
Agave or honey can be used to help balance delicious Asian flavors like in this slaw.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon
One tablespoon of honey per serving is the perfect way to add sweetness to your sweet potatoes.
The perfect marinade for salmon is a combination of soy sauce mixed with a hint of maple syrup.
Celebrate Thanksgiving with Food Network in November
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Thanksgiving is coming! Thanksgiving is coming! And it’s certainly not something we take lightly here at Food Network. Why? Because it’s all about food, of course! If you love this indulgent holiday as much as we do, join in on all of the festivities that are planned throughout the month of November. There’s an almost endless amount of shows to inspire your Thanksgiving feast, or to simply entertain you, holiday style.
Feeling like a little competition? These Thanksgiving-themed game shows will have you on the edge of your seat:
Guy’s Grocery Games: Thanksgiving Grocery Trot
In this Thanksgiving episode, it’s all about holiday tradition. Guy Fieri has the contestants prepare a meal with autumnal ingredients, prepare snacks for game day and put together an upscale Thanksgiving dinner.
Sunday, Nov. 9 8|7c
Holiday Baking Championship
It’s cookies galore as the contestants battle it out to see who can make the most-delectable batch despite all of the obstacles thrown their way.
Sunday, Nov. 9 9|8c
Chopped: Chopped Family Thanksgiving
It’s all about the judges in this episode. Not only do four of the Chopped judges compete, but they in turn are judged by their fellow chefs.
Tuesday, Nov. 11 10|9c
Beat Bobby Flay: Gobbled Up
It’s always a good time when Chrissy Teigen is around. Watch as she and Geoffrey Zakarian join Bobby for a Thanksgiving-themed showdown.
Thursday, Nov. 13 10|9c
Cutthroat Kitchen: Thanks, but no Thanksgiving
The contestants are in a Black Friday frame of mind — well, at least when they’re not dressed up like turkeys.
Sunday, Nov. 16 10|9c
And, if you’re cooking this holiday, recipes abound in the following programming. It’s like an all-weekend party!
Nov. 15 7a|6c to 12|11a & Nov. 16 7a|6c to 2|1c
Nov. 22 7a|6c to 12|11a & Nov. 23 7a|6c to 2|1c
Watch and learn how to prepare a unique Thanksgiving feast outrageously. Get recipes for Buffalo-style turkey and habanero cornbread.
Saturday, Nov. 15 9|8c
The Pioneer Woman: The Secret’s in the Sides
Ree Drummond serves up Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole, Soul Sweet ‘Taters, Dressing with Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash, and No-Knead Cloverleaf Rolls.
Saturday, Nov. 15 10a|9c
Trisha’s Southern Kitchen: Big Family Thanksgiving
Trisha Yearwood and her family make Ranch-Injected Fried Turkey, Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios, Broccoli Cornbread and Lemon Pecan Pie.
Saturday, Nov. 15 10:30a|9:30c
The Kitchen: Thanksgiving Prep
The chefs give advice on preparing a successful Thanksgiving dinner and Maile Carpenter from Food Network Magazine visits to discuss the magazine and Thanksgiving trends.
Saturday, Nov. 15 11a|10c
Farmhouse Rules: Farmhouse Thanksgiving
Nancy Fuller delights with recipes for Roasted Turkey with Herb Gravy, Oyster Stuffing, Homemade Green Bean Casserole and Perfect Pumpkin Cakes.
Sunday, Nov. 16 12:30|11:30c
Giada at Home: Giving Thanks
Who says Thanksgiving can’t be Italianized? Giada De Laurentiis cooks up Turkey Breast “Porchetta,” Bacon Bourbon Brussels Sprouts Skewers and Smashed Root Vegetables.
Sunday, Nov. 16 10:30a|9:30c
Guy’s Big Bite: Turkey Sandwich Slam-Dunk
Guy’s making meals that are delicious at any time, like Roasted Turkey Sandwiches with Cremini and Truffle, and a Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Salad.
Sunday, Nov. 16 11a|10c
Southern at Heart: Friends-giving Leftovers
Relax and enjoy as Damaris Phillips and friends make Turkey and Stuffing Casserole, Green Bean and Smashed Potato Casserole, and Sweet Potato Crumble.
Sunday, Nov. 16 12|11c
Join the co-hosts in celebrating this all-new holiday-themed episode.
Saturday, Nov. 22 11a|10c
Thanksgiving at Bobby’s
Katie Lee and Bobby are hosting an exciting Thanksgiving feast with Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon and Sunny Anderson.
Saturday, Nov. 22 12|11c
Dessert of the Month: Almond Butter Brownies with Sea Salt
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Although it’s extremely difficult to pick a favorite recipe from my cookbook “At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well,” these brownies do stand out as one of the true winners. The idea of combining almond butter, dark chocolate and sea salt came to me on a car trip out of the city one weekend when I was craving something sweet and satisfying. The thought of those flavors combined in a vegan brownie was something I simply had to try. I wanted the brownies to be rich and nutty without being cloying; the flaky sea salt adds a lovely texture and helps balance out the sweetness. Dates blended with almond butter are the secret here for creating the fudgy texture. These brownies taste best when cold and also keep well in the fridge for a few days. I hope you get a chance to make them soon!
Almond Butter Brownies with Sea Salt
Makes fifteen 3 x 2 ½-inch brownies
1/2 cup packed, pitted dates
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted almond butter
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup maple sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain soymilk or almond milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
3 1/2 oz dark (85 percent) chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided or about ¾ cup chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt, either Maldon or fleur de sel
Place dates in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes or until softened, then drain well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan (also known as a quarter sheet pan) with parchment paper; brush paper and sides of pan lightly with oil, and set aside.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a medium bowl; whisk to combine and set aside.
Place almond butter, olive oil, maple syrup, maple sugar, soymilk, salt, vanilla, and drained dates in a food processor; blend until smooth. (It’s ok if a few small date pieces are not blended). Pour into sifted flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until almost combined. Reserve 2 tablespoons of chopped chocolate and stir the rest into the batter being careful not to over-mix. Transfer batter into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle with almonds, remaining chocolate, and a large pinch of sea salt.
Bake for 30 minutes or until edges pull away from the sides of pan and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. For best results, refrigerate until completely cold before cutting.
Recipe from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well by Amy Chaplin, © 2014 by Amy Chaplin. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA. www.roostbooks.com
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is available this fall. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.