Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Philadelphia


No one dumbs it better. (well maybe Philadelphia Style)










9/5/11-UPDATE: I owe love to Philly Mag and Philly Style.They say good stuff about me and this is what I had to say about them. F'ed up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stromboli



Yipee, the genuine New York Pizza Dough is back in stock at WholeFoods Market. I'd been jonesing. I made this capicola and ricotta strombo as soon as my dough ball slacked out.

"The luxe of the table"

Food and Wine magazine has a story about Michel Bras cooking for a small group in NYC. In the piece Bras says "The luxe of the table is in the joy around it". I found meaning there. I thought he was intimating that the integrity of the cuisine inspires the spell of connection and shared pleasure and appreciation of dining. He's saying those elements are the sumptuous parts! Hmm imagine, a three star chef focused on the joy that people bring to each other. I was contrasting that notion with the more common approach where familiar dishes lull expectations, $18 cocktails compromise palate and judgment and 'luxe' equals
a splurge at a hyped spot
.

I came across Craig LaBan's review of La Minette and read it carefully. I admire Craig's reviews and respect his judgment In this piece he gives a thoughtful sketch
of the strengths and weaknesses at Bistrot La Minette and he mentions the cadre (of 'bistros') that have sprung up around town.

I wondered if Craig LaBan thought it suspect that a spate of them opened in succession. We didn't get a sudden influx of Parisians, I don't think that any starred French chefs disbanded their kitchens releasing their spawn onto our streets. Is there a new trade agreement with France? I think it must be hype.
Associating your restaurant's cuisine with a classic and respected tradition is a compelling lure. It seems this strategy should backfire if you can't deliver. In Philadelphia do diners know or care?

Perrier (now gone),Caribou, Zinc, Coquette, La Minette, Parc and Cochon are familiar to me. Caribou has been around for way too long. When I was there last time they were selling diner style frozen potatoes as frites and that turned out to be their best cooking. Zinc was better but not legit bistro fare. Cochon the closest yet but not standard bistro fare. Parc, LOL could there be a Chef capable of propely executing a menu of bistro classics in an ostentatious, Disney-fied cavern? Not so far. No worries, the trappings and location are satisfaction enough for Parc's patrons.

My point is that mimicking the French bistro sabotages "the luxe of the table."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chuc Mung Tet



We had an excellent New Years Eve at Yakitori Boy last night. It was our first visit and we dined with another couple who are regulars. They did all the ordering and we had a huge sampling of tasty dishes.

I loved the octopus balls with bonita, the fried squid was really good, the miso soup was nice and the wasabi shumai were OK. The monkfish liver was excellent as was the Saba-(broiled mackerel).

On to the Yakitori: I loved the quail eggs and bacon. The squid was lighly seasoned and just cooked, the chicken livers were well done but our Japanese and Indonesian hosts werre ecstatic over them. We had 10 or so liver sticks! The chicken meat balls were my favorite and the mackerel pike was intriguing, the smelts were extremely tasty. A distinctively Japanese light touch highlighted the flavors of the grilled ingredients. The sushi was very good considering the encyclopedia of dishes on their menus. The ebi and uni were excellent and 2 kinds of toro were both luscious. The quality of the fish outshined the rice which seemed under-vinagared and a little pasty to me.

Kirin and Sapporo are both on tap and tasted fresh and crisp in heavy frosty glasses. Mugs of green tea too were right on. I tested the sweet potato sake and one sip was enough.

Our server was superb. She delivered and described 20 or so dishes without a misstep. There was not much festivity outside considering it was new years but we had good times around the table.

Yakitori Boy does surprisingly well with so much on offer and so much going on. The menu is in 2 parts and there is also a 1st floor bar and upstairs karaoke action. The cooking was sure and precise with plenty of authentic dishes and no sense of generic mass production.

I do think everything would taste a little brighter if there were more fresh air circulating, There is a subterranean
feel to the dining area and the less than fresh air accentuates it, not appetizing.

Sorry no pics it was too dark to get blog worthy photo's.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chile Rellenos and Fajitas


There has been good looking poblanos at the Italian Mkt for a while.This week we used them for rellenos, we took the recipe from a guy on youtube. It works great.

That section of skirt steak is from WholeFoods Market$7.99/#.The other stuff is from the Italian Mkt. Don't think I've seen decent avocados so cheap for so long a time. Some of these were .50/each.

Rabbit Stew and Lemon Curd Cake




The lil lady saw this cake here and we both thought it looked worth trying.
It was delicious.










The rabbit is from D'angelo. It was a prime bunny with nice freshness and good fat, not old and stiff at all.

I used the fava beans in the stew as well as plenty of mushrooms and onions, tomatoes, herbs and chicken stock. Served it over Talluto fettuccine with grated peppered pecorino. The Cracked wheat sourdough loaf from Metro was choice with this plate.


The rabbits liver was peppered and seared then buttered, salted and garlic chives.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fava Time



Fava beans at the Italian Market today $1.49/#.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama's Inaugural Poem 'Praise Song for the Day'


Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER: A farmer consider the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.


Thanks to CQ Politics for transcript

Poetry by Elizabeth Alexander

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More Olive Oil Cakes
















I nabbed this baking pan at the Philly AIDS thrift on Bainbridge for $4. I was dying to try it out so I used this recipe. The cake was just fine. The recipe made way too much batter for the 4 cup pan so I poured the remainder into canele molds.

Note the pistachio bits that i added to the batter.

UPDATE: Maybe not so great to add the nuts in this version. The pistachios rise to the top which -- turns out to be the bottom. It's not so good looking and seems clumsy, not nearly as felicitous as in the Saveur version (of the olive oil cake).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Croque

Herbed baked ham from Claudio on Metro cracked wheat sour dough with gruyere, bechamel and oeuf frite! Add a bowl of chicken vegetable and ooo la la.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Homemade Cheesesteaks


This is the type of cheesesteak I recommended to Barack Obama pre-election. Yes, the cheesesteak hoagie. The chipsteak is from Ochs (Reading Terminal) the butter lettuce was a buck a head crisp, clean and delicious from Iovine (Reading Terminal). The rolls are from Super Fresh South St where 'rennovations' are under way. The American cheese is Kraft because the scary lady at the deli in Super Fresh reminds me of the woman on TV who wipes down her countertops with a raw chicken carcass, yikes.

Chilean Cherries Cheap -- Cerisely !





These beauties were at Iovine yesterday $1.99/#. They were near perfect, sweet, ripe to slightly over ripe with excellent fruit flavor. We made a ricotta (claudio) and cherry tart and a little bit of cherry jam.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Florence Flask Chicken





Scheming a winter's night dinner menu.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weblogawards Best Food Blogs


My fellow blogger over at FX cuisine sent me a message requesting that I vote for his blog at weblogawards for best food blogs. His blog is truly inspired and merits praise so I immediately surfed over and registered my vote.

When I looked over the voting results I saw that FX was no where near the lead. A blog called Cake Wretch was way, way ahead. Cake Wretch is indeed wretched as a food blog but has funny pics and a large following. Our local juvenile Foodie at Fifteen is a contender as well.

Pictured above: the Weblogaward officials who popped out for a breather before getting back into their award positions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bravo Frito-Lay




We found excellent deals on avocados recently. Both times we used em for guacamole. The first time I made chips at home, they sucked. The second time I bought these on the advice of Ethan at South St WFM. These are remarkably delicious. They are great looking, unbroken, crisp, lightly salted with earthy corn flavor.

Bravo Frito Lay!

Pork Braciole



A while back I tested out these braciole from WFM. The results were excellent but they haven't been available since. Today I was at WFM and mentioned their absence. They had the ingredients available and made me these on the fly. Wow, impressive service, quality and selection at the WholeFoods Market butcher.

One Village Deal @ WholeFoods Market




For 2 hours last Monday morning WFM had a buy one get one promotion on One Village Beans. $11.99 for 2 pounds of very good coffee is an excellent deal. I grabbed 2 pounds but haven't brewed them yet. Update coming.

Update 1/24/09. We had a weeks worth of pots from this coffee and the quality is superb. We ground it at the coarse setting in a commercial grinder and brewed it in a French press. A great deal at the buy one get one price and still a decent buy at the regular 10-12$/#.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Canele Anomalies


The canele is a airy confection that likes to float up out of its confines as it bakes. This is a problem because if it rises too high it catches on the mold and will not fall back inside to finish baking properly. Some suggest venting the bubbling batter by popping a few holes through the crust as it cooks. I've tried this it helps just a bit. A better solution, in my experience, is to start with a very hot oven 455 F convection for the first 20 mins.

To increase the crackly sugary dimension test out ratios of 10x sugar mixed with granulated or try superfine. To get a lighter, less cakey structure test out ratios of pastry flour along with all purpose.

One other point is that when you reblend the batter before pouring it into the molds blend it gently. Whipping air into the batter will result in really floppy towers that turn out poorly.

Friday Night Dinner Party




We had a few friends over last night to help us enjoy the seafood we brought back from Cape May Lobster House.

We made Banh Trang with never frozen 21-25 ($7.95/#). We used up the remainder of the home made cornichons in tartar sauce for fried oysters. We seared dry scallops $8.50/# and served with a ham (Claudio's) crepe, fresh peas (wholefoods), honshimejis (hung vuong) and leeks (Italian market).

With some very fresh squid we made a salad. Italian Market avocados were .50 each and luscious in guac. Quail eggs at hung vuong are $1.59/10 each they make superb deviled eggs.

Chocolate dipped satsuma sections with the canele were popular.

Were still using up the supply of disposable ware from 07's holiday party hence the orange plate.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Satsuma Oranges




These fruits are choice. $2.99/# at WholeFoods Market in Marlton.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fatty Melt



I didn't make this but i did eat it. It's as wrong as it looks.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fosters Homeware

We stopped in Fosters to browse for a bit before heading over to see I've Loved You So Long

Wow I was impressed by Fosters wares. They offer the same place mats that are used at Bar 210!
They had great looking chairs, tables and table ware.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tri Tip Steak

























Chris who works behind the meat counter at WholeFoods has been encouraging me to try out this cut for a while. Whoa! The flavor was clean, lean and convincingly beefy and the texture was firm with just a bit of resistance. This cut has no waste, little shrinkage and serious flavor and texture. $7.99/# is an excellent value.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year


We had a few guests for New Year's dinner yesterday. Banh trang, deviled quail eggs, guacamole and chips for starters. Then bison rib roast and asian chicken wings with potato gratin and brussel sprouts for the main course. Very tasty indeed.

I had a fabulous slice of olive oil cake at Mercato a few years back. Since then I've wanted to test it out. Yesterday I made this version using a Saveur recipe and improvised by adding pistachios.



Whole Foods had avocados for $1 each! Yes, almost miraculous. They were excellente turned into guac.

Those gorgeous little chilies came from Hung Vuong at
$1.49 for 7, and the limes from the Italian market 4/$1.

WholeFoods also supplied the bison rib roast $13.99/# (bone in).