Friday, February 26, 2010

A Bunny From Sonny

I snared a rabbit at D'Angelo's yesterday. It was time to pair it with those pea ravioli* and decide if the dish was legit.

The rabbit & ravs made a decent pair. It was praised by my guests. I thought that it was tasty with clear, fresh flavors but could be improved.
Sonny's guanciale topped the ravs (not in pic). This was an excellent union.

Our other dish was tempura shrimp and oysters (Cape May) with chervil, celery root , and Honshimeji - wakame salad. Same deal here, these were all very tasty elements but not coherent enough. Again the guests thought the dish was splendid.

*Last weekend at the Piazza I traded the ShellBark Hollow folks canele for goat ricotta. Scott & Judy had peas and the lil lady schucked em.....she enjoys that kind of stuff.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Black Pearl Layer Cake

Mmmm this was a tasty cake that the little lady got all O-C about a few weeks ago. It's made with with ginger and wasabi, chocolate ganache, black sesame etc. It's unusual but well known and delicious.

Monday, February 22, 2010


On my first visit to Greenable I was so pleased to find Organic Mechanics potting soil available in the Lg. size (2cu ft) for under $20. It is almost potting season.

They also had a refill station for laundry detergent! They had soy based paint too,. You can't really eat it but Angelo told me that it is a one coat deal. If you're a straight-up eco-activist this is your spot.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thanks Johnny Bear

At Bear's Memorial Day party he served up sausage patty sandwiches on potato buns. They were excellent with an icy Rock pony. This sandwich inspired by Bear is a hunk of Fiorella's sweet with fennel, topped with broccoli rabe, sharp provo, black olives and cucarachas. (might be Asiago in pic)

Super Fresh house sausage is also real tasty and a thrifty deal.

Beef & Bison Burgers, Beyond Basics

I was blabbing to the lil lady about the burgers we sometimes made, way long ago, at this spot on Locust St. Burgers weren't on the menu but guests still ordered them. We almost always made it to order. It involved going to the meat cage and selecting complimentary candidates for chopping. Once the meat part was on the cutting board we'd slice it up and start chopping it with a pair of chef's knives. It entailed about 5 mins. hard work . I don't think I ever tasted the results.

Last week I grabbed 8oz. of grass fed skirt steak and 8oz. of bison sirloin. I started chopping while the lil lady was caramelizing onions. The result was amazing. Knife chopping the beef changes the characteristics of the burger in delicious ways. The burger holds it's juices differently/better and the texture is not completely homogeneous. Also any seasonings that you incorporate permeate the burger. I thought it was worth the effort. I was making only 2 and the ingredients were handy and choice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Paccheri & Cheese with Stewed Tomatoes

These noodles caught my eye at Claudio. The 500Gm package was about $7. I brought them home and just waited until I could justify using them for Mac & cheese. Yesterday was the day. This is the style of Mac that I prefer. It's made with mostly Gruyere, a bit of cheddar and light cream. Sometimes I use nutmeg or mustard, sometimes not. To my taste the critical part is the gratinee action. No need for a roux in this À la minute version.

The noodles are described as being like snippets of garden hose. That is an accurate take on their scale but the flavor and texture was delightful. Online I learned that the large size of this noodle facilitated the smuggling of garlic out of Italy to Austria back in the old days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesdays With Hillary

On Wednesday mornings, along with all the excellent local products, you will find a fresh batch of canelé and plenty of mini's for sampling at Pumpkin Market.

Thanks Hillary for your support of MDC.

ShellBark Hollow Goat Ricotta & Pea Ravioli

The other day we hit the dairy dept at the Fair Food Farm Stand in Reading Terminal.
We picked up Kingfisher Dairy raw milk and goat ricotta. It was a first time for both items.

The raw milk was not as different as I expected. I found the flavor very full and round, creamy with no off notes. It was so delicious we drank it by the glass until it was gone. I'd buy this again and maybe try to make some yogurt or cheese with it.

The goat ricotta was extremely light in flavor and texture. It had a subtle tang and lively green notes. I used it to make ravioli blending it with fresh pea puree and marjoram. Next time I cook a rabbit I'm going to reserve the saddle and plate it up with the pea and goat ricotta ravs. These were delicious, brightly flavored, light and luscious all at once. These were just fine with the chicken saute shown in pic.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

My first very own Ly Xi.

Thanks Thu.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Clark (for the die hard) Park

Ouch, it was not a fun market day Saturday. Only the die hards showed up and there were nearly more vendors than customers.
I was the busiest when helping snow-stuck motorists.

I did bring my Fleur de Sel caramels and sold a few and gave out plenty of samples.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WholeFoods Mackey on Crackey?

I read a piece in the New Yorker about Mackey a few weeks ago. I didn't get a good feeling as I learned more about this guy and about the WholeFoods organization where he is "daddy". My opinion of him took a dive last year when he held forth on health care reform. It wasn't his politics. The pompous pronouncements, sweeping judgments and Palin-esque analysis were, to me, especially repugnant. He was all bombastic and at the same time out of his depth in this complex debate.

In the New Yorker article it's the same 'listen to me' stuff except it's his ego under discussion. I found his tone as tinny as in the health care message. The interviewer,
Nick Paumgarten, seems to say that Mackey fancies himself an enlightened being. That's where the Mackey on crackey comes in. Here's a guy who's talks alot about himself. He's as self actualized as the self absorbed can be, not much.

WholeFoods Markets well the window of the South St store they have signs about 'eat healthy' and 'eat more greens' meanwhile they sell more chicken wings than Hooters and a wall of 365 cola gets prominent siting. They have also followed through on their threat to expand the bakery. It's got a fantastic stock of tutti-frutti carbohydrates and at the same time not a single legit bread or roll. Does WholeFoods Market embody Mackey's skitzy spirit? I think so.

If you visit the WFM produce section you'll find prices at 2-3X that of Reading Terminal or 4-5X that of the Italian. You might argue that you're paying extra for ripeness. You're not. You're paying for local right? No. You might pay extra for organic that makes some sense. But mostly you're over paying.

WFM does lots of good stuff too. I wonder if it's unintentional.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday February 6, A Very Snowy Day

Seriously, no one around Philly should be boasting "well back in the day it snowed blah blah blah ". This winter is pretty much as wintry as it gets in the 215.

Is the Philly air really fresh lately because it's been cold and snowy?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fleur de Sel Caramel with Teuscher 99% Chocolate

Would this caramel made with Teuscher 99% compliment canelé at market?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Markets Closed

Seems like Philly Food Trust Farmers Markets will be closed because of the storm. Definitely no Clark Park tomorrow.

Pics show grub we grabbed at Clark and the Piazza last weekend. The Lil lady boned out that 4# chicken. It was from Barb Shelly at Clark Park. The cheeses are from Birchrun at the Piazza. The Metro sourdough baguette was outstanding. The romanesco came from The Piazza. (not certain which vendor)

The crispy boneless thigh is the real tasty part. The novelty of eating a nearly boneless chicken hasn't worn off.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I've learned a few things about canelé that may be useful to others interested in making this pastry.

1- Clotilde's recipe over at Zucchini and Chocolate is a very good one if you follow it very closely.
2- Oven temp accuracy is very important. Use an accurate oven thermometer, verify your temps.
3- Do use butter and beeswax to glaze your molds. Silicone molds as well as copper molds benefit from this technique.
3a- Don't prepare much more beeswax and butter mix than you'll be soon using. The mixture doesn't improve with age
4- You can get excellent results using ordinary all-purpose flour (Pillsbury-Gold Medal)
5- Don't skimp on the vanilla or the rum. Don't go overboard either.
6- Silicone molds can produce excellent results. Copper molds are lovely but not mandatory.
7- Do not crowd your molds. Even heat is important for proper baking. Copper molds are quite forgiving of crowding but silicone molds need space around them.
8- Follow the recipe scrupulously. Canelé are not forgiving.
* Use orange zest sparingly. We use the zest of three oranges for a 4 gallon recipe.
Check out my Brit buds over at Eat-Drink-Man-Woman. Turned onto canelé right here at PMC but they're thinking they need to go to Bordeaux to get the real canelé deal. Uh uh. Come again. Visit Philly for canelé and visit Vetri for Italian cooking that rivals anything they've covered in their extensive Italian culinary pilgrimages.
At Market Day Canelé we made a few refinements in the last year.

We use a ton of vanilla beans. The once used beans get incorporated into a homemade vanilla extract. I think the FDA rule for extract is vanilla solids @ 23%. Since we have so many beans our extract is made with 60-70% solids and the liquid is rum. This 'extract' is bracingly vanilla and adds a luscious creaminess to the pastry.

We use organic pharma or food grade beeswax from Jedwards. It's a clean, sweet and pure product. Organic is expensive but a worthwhile value in my view.

We always use rBGH free milk and butter. We use meadow farms wildly fresh, pasture eggs any time they can supply us. Otherwise we use 365 brand.

Please message me with any questions or suggestions.

Rendell's Raid

I was at a dinner party on Saturday night and one of the main topics of conversation was Rendell's attention grabbing 'rescue' mission to Haiti.

Plenty of questions were raised. The most fundamental was: Who decided that it was legal and who gets those kids? Some asked "How is it Rendell's role to facilitate international matters?
Overall folks were incredulous that Rendell was involved and that he pulled it off without any hard core investigation by anyone. Except maybe Anderson Cooper.

News this week is loaded with questions about the baby biz. About the meaning of "orphanage" and journalists are examining the ethics of 'rescuing' babies in times of crises.

Here's a juicy bit from another blog:
in my earlier post I suggested that the overwhelming demands to move children out of Haiti for adoption elsewhere were in a way a twisted expression of American consumerism. I wrote, “It…. matches the consumerist mindset, in which by simply acquiring the right things – even your very own “orphan” – your situation, and that of the world, will improve.”

I didn’t quite expect that in little more than 24 hours, events, driven by a founder of a company that sells consumer products online, would serve to drive home that point and others I was trying to make. It’s the mythology of international adoption that is driving American prospective adopters, politicians and Christian organizations to organize the exporting of Haitian children to the United States, amid calls for legislation to simplify adoptions for prospective adopters by creating a dedicated office for it at the State Department.

Central to those calls was the demand for rapid visa approvals from the State Department. Seldom heard from this crowd was any mention that the Haitians, assisted by aid organizations, might have some interest in monitoring, or even restricting completely, the flow of unaccompanied children out of their country, making the issue of the State Department’s speed rather moot.

Most American churchgoing suburbanites are unable to drop everything, get on a plane and run off to Haiti and see if they can, for themselves, run their own version of what some of us are calling “Rendell’s Raid,” in which the governor of Pennsylvania flew to Haiti, twisted the arms of various politicians, put pressure on what was left of the Haitian government, and finally, packed more than 50 of Haiti’s children on a U.S. military plane. But inevitably, someone with some means and willing accomplices, if not connections, would actually make such an attempt – this time, ending with ten Americans being arrested by Haitian police. At this writing it’s very likely that they’re sitting in jail cells in Port-au-Prince.

There is a story that Rendell's posse stole the rescue show from another politician who did all the leg work. There are lots of 'thoughts' on Ed's move here in the comments section.

2/5, UPDATE: Mia Farrow's take on the issue appears enlightened to me."Farrow, who herself has adopted 11 children, says offering parents a better life for their children elsewhere is "completely unacceptable and immoral.""