Foods that Made Brooklyn Famous

If you’ve ever watched the hot dog eating contest held at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island every July 4, then you are aware of at least one food that puts New York City on the culinary map! There are many others, including the steaks at Peter Luger’s and the Russian cuisine in Brighton Beach – which is now almost better known as “Little Odessa.”

Wherever Jewish neighborhoods spring up – and there are a lot of them in Brooklyn – restaurants and food stores follow. Jewish people, especially the Orthodox, can be particularly selective about where they shop. Everyone in the neighborhood wants to know who the most reliable shochet (kosher slaughterer) is and where the best deals can be found.

The beloved New York-style cheesecake was made famous by Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. What makes this cheesecake so good? New York-style cheesecake is thicker and denser than the conventional varieties, with the addition of sour cream, cream cheese and egg yolks. In honor of the fact that this delicious dessert began to catch on in the late 19th century, around the same time that Chosen People Ministries was started in Brooklyn, we decided to share a recipe from Mitch Forman, who is not only Vice President of U.S. Ministries, but is also a former professional chef.

New York-Style Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 cups of finely-crushed graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 ounces sugar

Cake Ingredients

  • 30 ounces of cream cheese, softened at room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks


1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl, then press this mixture onto the sides of a 10-inch spring form cake pan.

2. Place softened cream cheese and one cup of sugar into a food processor and mix until smooth.

3. Add heavy cream and mix until smooth.

4. Add the 2 yolks and 5 whole eggs (one at a time) into the cream cheese and sugar mixture, and mix until smooth (no lumps).

5. Add the one tablespoon of vanilla flavoring and lemon zest, and mix.

6. Spoon this mixture into the spring form pan, over the top of the crust.

7. Place into an oven that has been preheated to 500 degrees F and cook for 10 minutes.

8. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees F and cook for 60 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back to the touch (a little wobbly, but not too much).

9. Run a warm knife around the edge of the cake, and refrigerate in the pan overnight.

Of course, the atmosphere at your house may not be the same as that of Junior’s, where the people-watching is a large part of the whole experience! But if you close your eyes with every bite of the authentic New York-style cheesecake, you might just imagine yourself there – if even for only a moment.