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Did someone find KFC's secret fried chicken recipe?

buttermilk fried chicken 

Over the years, many people have claimed to possess the "secret recipe" for Kentucky Fried Chicken's "blend of 11 herbs and spices" developed by Colonel Harland Sanders. None of the claims have turned out to be true, but the latest comes from a relative of the late Sanders. A reporter for the Chicago Tribune says he stumbled upon the recipe at the home of a nephew (by marriage) of the colonel.

The nephew, Joe Ledington, has a scrapbook once owned by Sanders' late wife, Claudia Sanders. The recipe was found tucked away in the scrapbook, inside an envelope that also contained Claudia Sanders' will. Yum! Brands, whos owns the KFC name, says that the recipe isn't the one used in the restaurants. Others doubt the veracity of Ledington's claim too.

But the 67-year-old Ledington, who used to work in Colonel Sanders' original restaurant, thinks it is the real deal. He recalls mixing up the ingredients for the chicken's coating and that this recipe seems to comport with his memories. A Tribune staffer used the recipe (published in the article), adding a bit of Accent (msg), and claims that the result "was indistinguishable from what it purchased at a KFC restaurant." If you like KFC's chicken, you might want to give it a try at home. 

Photo of Rosemary-brined buttermilk fried chicken [Michael Ruhlman] from Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore

Italy hands out stiff penalties for olive oil misbranding

 infused oils

Earlier this year we reported on the scandal of counterfeit extra-virgin olive oil being passed off as the real thing to customers in Italy and beyond. Now the Italian antitrust authority has started handing down stiff fines to olive oil producers caught mislabeling their oils. Discount supermarket Lidl and Spanish company Deoleo (makers of Bertolli, Sassa and Carapelli oils) have been fined €550,000 and €300,000, respectively, for branding malpractice. The Deoleo products were found to contain lower-grade 'virgin olive oil' instead of 'extra-virgin' as labeled.

The penalties for false labeling in Italy were recently increased substantially, as part of an effort to protect the quality of Italian olive oils. The fines were sextupled from the previous €2,500, and now manufacturers can be assessed up to €16,000 for each occurrence of mislabeling. Another law comes on the books tomorrow, which increases the fines for 'country sounding', which is the practice of misleading consumers by using symbols or images associated with a country other than that where the olive oil was actually sourced.  

A cynical person might assume that as some countries tighten up laws about misbranding, producers will move the product to countries without such protections. The laws in the US and some other countries don't carry the same level of fines for mislabeled products, so it can be easier for companies to pass off inferior oils to consumers without penalty. To complicate the matter, it can be difficult for users to detect substitute oils, making it easier to pass off lower quality oils as 'extra-virgin'. Finding a reputable brand is key to ensuring that you are receiving a quality product.

Photo of Flavorfully infused oils from The Minimalist at The New York Times by Mark Bittman

'The World's 50 Best Restaurants' winners announced

World's 50 best collage

Who has the best restaurant in the world? According to the latest edition of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, it's Osteria Francescana, helmed by chef Massimo Bottura. The tiny venue located in Modena, Italy bested last year's winner, Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, which fell to number two. New York's Eleven Madison Park, headed by Will Guidara and Daniel Humm, rose to claim the No. 3 spot. One of the biggest drops was by Heston Blumenthal's Dinner, which fell from No. 7 to No. 45. 

There were some sponsored special category awards. Cacao Barry sponsored the Best Pastry Chef award, won by Pierre Hermé. The Chef's Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Dram, went to Joan Roca of last year's No. 1 restaurant. Alain Passard won The Diner's Club Lifetime Achievement Award.    

Critics of the 'The World's 50 Best Restaurants' note its Euro-centric focus and lack of women-run establishments. 2016's edition will do little to quell this criticism, as the number of female-led restaurants actually fell from three to two. Central, located in Lima, Peru and headed by husband/wife team Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon, clocked in at No. 4, while San Sebastian's Arzak, led by father/daughter Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, fell to 21 on the list. Champagne maker Veuve Clicquot did sponsor a prize for Best Female Chef, which was won by Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn

The rankings are compiled by the global consulting firm Deloitte using data contributed by approximately 1,500 judges. These judges include food writers, chefs, restaurateurs, and 'well-traveled gastronomes.' Unlike most other critics, including inspectors for Michelin guides, there is no requirement for the judges to pay for their meals, although they are supposed to dine anonymously.   

Many of the chefs in the rankings have published cookbooks, so even if a trip to their esteemed restaurants is out of reach, you may still be able to get a glimpse of what makes these destinations so special. You'll find many of the books at Phaidon, which specializes in beautifully crafted cookbooks by the world's best chefs and authors. Phaidon has just announced  a new sale for EYB Members with up to 75% off select chef and cookery books, including several by chefs on the World's 50 best list such as Massimo Bottura's Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef and René Redzepi's A Work in Progress, at 25 and 30% off, respectively. (You'll find even bigger discounts on volumes like Coi by Daniel Patterson and The Silver Spoon Quick and Easy Italian Recipes, both discounted 75%.)

General Mills issues recall of flour

 flour

Before you bake that loaf of bread or batch of cookies, you should check your flour. If you are using Gold Medal flour, it may be subject to a recall. Yesterday General Mills announced a voluntary recall of over 10 million pounds of flour, stating that it was working with health officials to investigate a possible association with the product and an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 38 people in 20 U.S. states. 

The recall affects General Mills' Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchens flours. None of the bacteria has been found in the flour itself or in the General Mills' manufacturing plant, according to the company, but the recall has been issued "out of an abundance of caution." Nor have any consumers contacted the General Mills directly to report any illnesses, the Minneapolis-based company added.

U.S. health authorities are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O121 that stretched from December 21 to May 3. This particular strain can cause bloody diarrhea, and dehydration, and potentially death in compromised groups like the elderly, very young, and those with immune diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one quarter of the 38 sickened people reported cooking with General Mills' brand flour before becoming ill, the company reported.

Additional recall information can be found at www.generalmills.com/flour.

BBC Food website to close

sausages with red onion

Yesterday the BBC announced that BBC Food, along with a few other websites, will be shuttered as part of a larger cost-saving plan. Before you get too upset, please note that the company's commercial site, BBC Good Food, will carry on.

The BBC Food site contains over 11,000 recipes, which will not be searchable after the site closes, although you will be able to find the recipe if you know the URL. That means any recipes currently indexed on EYB (currently 291 recipes) should remain linked. If you have any favorites from the site that you haven't yet Bookmarked, now is the time to do it. BBC Food contains recipes from well-known names like Nigella Lawson, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Hairy Bikers, including their Glamorgan sausages with red onion and chilli relish recipe shown above.

A BBC spokesperson explained the process: "We currently have two websites and we'll move to one. The recipes you love will still be available and we'll migrate as much of the content as possible to the BBC Good Food website. So you'll still be able to carry on baking and cooking with the BBC."

Rethink the bubbly for these sparkling cocktails

Cognac sparklers

Champagne has long been associated with New Year's Eve revelry, alone and in classic cocktails like the French 75 and Kir Royale. But there is a broader world of effervescent drinks that would be right at home when ringing in the new year, says Colin Powers of The Oregonian. In a story exploring offerings at various Oregon bars, he notes that cava, prosecco, and sparkling cider can also elevate your cocktails.

Sparkling drinks range from light and floral to bold and funky, says Powers. You can make individual cocktails or whip up a pitcher at a time for a party. Naturally, the EYB Library is bubbling over with great sparkling cocktails to add creativity to your New Year's Eve drinks. Try one of these great recipes (the main ingredients for each are listed to help you decide):

City of light from David Lebovitz (prosecco, vermouth, Lillet blanc, orange liqueur)
Rossinis from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof (strawberries, Grand Marnier, Prosecco)
Blood orange sangria
from Bon Appétit Magazine
     (Riesling, blood oranges, grapefruits, limes, Champagne, lemongrass)

Vanilla-fig Champagne sparkler
from Cooking Light Magazine
     (dried figs, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, vodka, brut Champagne)

Sbagliato
from Good Food (Aus) (Prosecco, oranges, Campari, sweet vermouth)
Pomegranate rosemary spritzer
from BBC Good Food Magazine
     (pomegranate juice, rosemary, Prosecco)

The wintergreen (New Year's Champagne Cocktail)
from Serious Eats
     (lemons, crème de menthe, Champagne)
Sherry-cava citrus fizz
from Cooking Light Magazine (oranges, Spanish sherry, cava)
Cognac sparklers
from MarthaStewart.com by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
     (Cognac, sparkling apple cider) (pictured top)

Controversy swirls around Mast Brothers chocolate

Mast Brothers chocolate

The Mast Brothers chocolate company has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the craft chocolate world. Starting in their Brooklyn, NY apartment, brothers Rick and Michael Mast quickly developed a cult following, wrote a James Beard-nominated cookbook, opened factories in Brooklyn and London, and scored a partnership with Shake Shack. But currently the brothers are embroiled in controversy. It began when a blogger recently published a four-part series on DallasFood.org about the bearded brothers Mast, alleging that the pair, who have long claimed they were "bean to bar" chocolate makers since they opened their shop in 2007, are frauds.

The DallasFood.org exposé alleges that while the Mast Brothers claim they have made their chocolate from "bean-to-bar" from the start, at least in the early years they were actually re-melting industrial chocolate such as Valrhona. In response, the chocolatiers posted an open letter last week denying the accusations and stating, "Any insinuation that Mast Brothers was not, is not or will not be a bean to bar chocolate maker is incorrect and misinformed. We have been making chocolate from bean to bar since the beginning and will continue to do so."

While the brothers have dismissed the claims as a "mean-spirited 'takedown' by determined individuals with an agenda to harm" their reputation, they recently admitted to some of the acts in a New York Times article. The story notes that "...on the claim that the Masts were 'remelters' at the start, Mr. Mast confirmed the brothers did use industrial chocolate, what is known as couverture, in some of their early creations, before settling on the bean-to-bar process for which they are now known."

In a new letter on mastbrothers.com, Rick Mast defends his company's actions, basically stating that since they were making some of their chocolate bean-to-bar, they could call themselves bean-to-bar chocolate makers. The letter also states that they have "been open and transparent" about their experimentation. Despite these claims about being committed to transparency,  Slate points out the company seems to be moving toward less transparency in its operations rather than more: "In their new 12-bar product line, they've removed all information about cacao country of origin or source from their labels. They've also closed their main factory, on Brooklyn's Washington Avenue, to public and professional tours."

The DallasFood.org story goes even farther, noting that in their cookbook, the Masts declared a commitment to connecting customers to farmers. However, by removing the source information from the bars, "the Mast Brothers are free to use absolutely any cacao they can get their hands on, at any price, in any bar. Without knowing the origin, a customer has no way of assessing the probable quality of the cacao, the environmental sustainability of its production, the fairness of pricing for the farmers, or the absence of abusive labor practices."

It's not clear how much of an impact this controversy will have on the company, which has been a target of derision by chocolate experts and specialty chocolate stores, many of which refuse to carry the Mast Brothers brand. 

Rene Redzepi set to embark on a new chapter

NomaRené Redzepi has been described as the most influential chef in the world. His Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, has sat atop the world rankings for several years, and has spawned any number of imitators. Now the Danish chef is releasing a new documentary called Noma: My Perfect Storm, and has also announced big changes at Noma.

You can view the stunning trailer for the film exclusively on Apple Trailers. Regarding the changes to his restaurant, we'll have to wait until 2017. Redzepi announced that he will be closing Noma at the end of next year, and will be reopening it at a new location in Copenhagen, with an "urban farm" supplying the kitchen. 

Redzepi's playful approach to food and his belief in using local and sustainable ingredients--which he often forages to find--has won him many admirers. But although foraging for ingredients brings to mind a relaxing and bucolic experience, that isn't always the case. Says Redzepi, "We go there and it's like harvest time. It isn't as romantic as you think where you are with your little wooden basket, picking things while listening to music and soaking in the sun.

"Sometimes it's rainy, pouring down and you're in your rain suit, mud everywhere and it's cold and your fingers are trembling and you have to pick [tiny leaves] and you need a kilo of them." While foraging for many of Noma's ingredients has been a lot of work, relying solely on an urban farm in the middle of Copenhagen may be the chef's biggest challenge yet.

Saveur Blog Award winners announced

Funfetti cake

On Friday, Saveur magazine announced the winners of its sixth annual blog awards. I must admit that I hadn't heard of many of the blogs, but now I have even more sites on my "need to visit" list. The awards, which celebrate celebrate the best in food, drink, and design blogging, were broken down by category, with an editor's choice, a reader's choice, and four runners-up for each.

The Blog of the Year for 2015 was Molly Yeh's My Name Is Yeh. Recipes on Yeh's blog "draw inspiration from her Jewish and Chinese heritage, her '90s Chicago suburban upbringing, her years spent in New York, and her new Midwestern farm life." You may have seen photos of her homemade funfetti cake making the internet rounds.

Categories for this year's awards are: Best Baking and Desserts, Best Beer Coverage (, Best Spirits or Cocktail Coverage, Best Culinary Travel Blog, Most Delicious, Best-Designed, Home, Style & Design, Best New Voice, Best Photography, Best Special Interest, Best Use of Video, Best Wine Coverage, and Best Writing. The winner for Best Writing was Orangette, indexed on EYB. Visit indexed magazine Saveur for a complete list of winners.

Photo of How to make a funfetti cake from scratch from Food52 by Molly Yeh

The world's top 50 restaurants

Top cookbooks

Yesterday, San Pellegrino unveiled its ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the world. The big question was whether Noma would appear at the top of the list for a fifth year, but it fell to El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, which was named the best restaurant for 2015. Noma - the best restaurant for four out of the past five years - dropped to number three this year, with Italy's Osteria Francescana sitting just above it at number two. The restaurant in in the number five slot, New York's Eleven Madison Park, was the top-ranking North American restaurant on the list. The top-ranked Australian restaurant at number 32 was Attica, Ben Shewry's restaurant in Melbourne.  And Dinner by Heston Blumenthal took top honors for the UK at number seven.

Some big names fell out of the top 50 this year, most notably Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant Daniel in NYC, which dropped all the way to 80. David Kinch's Manresa in Los Gatos, California, and Daniel Patterson's Coi in San Francisco also moved out of the top tier. Daniel Boulud will have to console himself over his drop in rank with winning the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award.

The top 50 restaurants are spread across the globe and have widely varying cuisines, but many of them do have one thing in common: cookbooks that are indexed on EYB. And if there were an award for publishing house with the most cookbooks from top restaurants, it would go to Phaidon, which features books from four of the top 10 restaurants: D.O.M. by Alex Atala, Mugaritz by Andoni Luiz Aduriz, Noma by Rene Redzepi, and Osteria Francescana by Massimo Bottura (all of which are indexed). Other current and former top 50 cookbooks from the Phaidon stable indexed on EYB include Fäviken by Magnus Nilsson, Peru: the Cookbook by Gastón Acurio (watch for a special promotion for Peru later this month), and Coi by Daniel Patterson.

If you want to learn more about these top restaurants and their chefs through these cookbooks, we have wonderful news for you: Phaidon is offering EYB Members a whopping 40% off all chef and cookery books from now until June 30.  Visit the Phaidon website for more details (and to fill your shopping cart.)

It's quite possible that we may see a few new cookbooks emerge from first-time entrants to the top 50 list. San Pellegrino has also ranked restaurants 51-100, and the EYB Library contains many books from those restaurants. The list below provides links to cookbooks in the EYB Library associated with the top 50 restaurants. Most of the cookbooks are indexed and several offer a few teaser recipes online to pique your interest. The numbers in parenthesis are the 2014 rankings for the restaurant.

1 (2)       El Celler de Can Roca / Joan and Jordi Roca, Girona, Spain
2 (3)       Osteria Francescana / Massimo Bottura, Modena, Italy
3 (1)       Noma / Rene Redzepi Copenhagen, Denmark
4            Central Restaurante, Lima, Peru (no cookbook)
5 (4)       Eleven Madison Park / Daniel Humm, New York City, USA
6 (6)       Mugaritz / Andoni Luis Aduriz, San Sebastián, Spain
7 (5)       Dinner by Heston Blumenthal / Ashley Palmer Watts, London, UK
8            Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan (no cookbook)
9 (7)       D.O.M. / Alex Atala. São Paolo, Brazil
10          Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand (no cookbook)

12 (25)  L'Arpége / Alain Passard, Paris, France
14 (14)  Astrid y Gaston / Gastón Acurio, Lima, Peru
17  (8)   Arzak / Juan Mari Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain
18 (21)  Le Bernadin / Eric Ripert, New York City, USA
22 (13)  Nahm / David Thompson, Bangkok, Thailand
25 (19)  Fäviken / Magnus Nilsson, Järpen, Sweden
26  (9)   Alinea / Grant Achatz, Chicago, USA
31 (23)  Restaurant Frantzén  / Björn Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
32 (32)  Attica / Ben Shewry, Melbourne, Australia
36 (38)  L'Astrance / Pascal Barbot, Paris, France
40 (30)  Per Se / Thomas Keller, New York City, USA
45         Relae / Christian Puglisi, Copenhagen, Denmark
49         Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee / Paris, France
50 (41)  The French Laundry / Thomas Keller, Yountville, USA

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

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