Sunday, April 30, 2006

art menu
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Close friends of the 884 collective, Shannon & Liz are opening a small BYOB cafe in Northern Liberties this Wednesday. This morning Donal and I were lucky enough to be part of the "dress rehearsal".

e and donal
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Here we are looking goofy and anxiously awaiting our appetizers. We had an abbreviated menu, but there were still lots of choices. Our table of four included Donal, Carrie and Bill, so we ordered all three of the appetizers.

Originally uploaded by chalen4.

First, the crispy polenta. Rounds of polenta were toasted and topped with roasted red pepper goat cheese and a salad of Mediterranean veggies. The salad was delicious and had peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and onions.

spinach and Muenster bruschetta
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Our second choice was my favorite. Spinach and Muenster cheese bruschetta. It was full of garlic and tomatoes, but wasn't too oily the way bruschetta can sometimes be. Loved it.

Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Our final appetizers was the chicken quesadilla. The chicken was grilled and was covered with a very flavorful chipotle tomato sauce and cheese. The tortilla was whole wheat, which please Carrie quite a bit. Look how happy she is:

Originally uploaded by chalen4.

open faced turkey sandwich
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Donal chose the Open faced Turkey Sandwich. Chunks of turkey were served on black bread with a roasted red pepper sauce. The little dish to to the side contains cucumber salad that was fantastic! Sweet and vinegary.

chicken salad with grapes
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Carrie had the Chicken Salad Sandwich. It looked delicious, and had red grapes tucked inside! It was also served on a hallah roll, my favorite. I think I might get this next time I go in. The sandwich also came with the cucumber salad, but Carried doesn't like cucumbers, so I ate hers too.

chicken and waffles
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

For my lunch, I had something I'd only seen on TV. Chicken and Waffles. Yes. Fried chicken, served over a waffle with bbq syrup. The chicken was awesome, the waffle was good, and the combination of sweet maple syrup and spicy bbq sauce was really really good. Look how much I'm enjoying it:

e with chicken and waffle
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Unfortunately, as in most dress rehearsals, a little something goes wrong. Bill ordered the turkey club sandwich, but they'd already run out of turkey! So he had to look back at the menu and pick something new. In a very smart move, Bill went straight for dessert.

black moon with ice cream
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

This is a black moon cookie served with vanilla ice cream. These are best described as big, soft oreo cookies. Shannon and Jamie thought they tasted like TastyKake, I think they taste better. I might be a little biased though, because I made them, and I always think homemade baked goods taste better than store bought.

happy campers
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

A few other tables had the pleasure of dining at the cafe this morning. Here we have Jane, Matt, Molly and Mindy. They also had the chicken quesadillas, Molly got the last of the turkey in her Turkey club, and Matt had the carrot salad sandwich. Everyone seemed very pleased with the food and the wine. The wine, because it's a BYOB!

Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Here's a picture of the tentative menu. I can't wait to try more of it. And neither should anyone reading this. The cafe is located in Liberties Walk. From Girard turn south onto 2nd street, it's about a block up on your right.

A Full Plate. BYOB 1009 N. Bodine Street, Philadelphia, PA

Friday, April 28, 2006

Toni - Guest food blogger

Toni is one of my best friends from college. She's from Minnesota, and was actually the first friend I made on the floor, and my 2nd roommate. She recently got married to a man named Brad, and they went on their first big trip together, to Japan. When I heard of the trip, I begged Toni to take pictures of some cool things they ate, so that I could post them to the blog, she obliged.

Originally uploaded by chalen4.

In Toni's words:
This picture is of our second morning in Kyoto. We stayed in a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese hotel, so we slept on futons on the floor, and the women came in in the morning, picked them all up, stuffed them away into the closet, and moved our chairs to the center of the room for breakfast. We had the choice of Japanese breakfast or Western, and decided, "what the heck?"

Japanese Breakfast
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

I could go on and on about what we thought each thing was, but the most interesting was the smoked fish. At first they brought everything in, and there was this big ol' piece of fish. It appeared to be a bit marinated or seasoned, was raw. "Okay," I thought, "I can do this." But then she started this little cooker thing with a grill on top of it...Yay! She put the fish on the grill to cook. "Whew!" It was really yummy - a little difficult to remove from the skin, but tasty all the same.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Erawan Thai

Off a little street by 23rd and Walnut, Erawan Thai Cuisine Restaurant sits. Everytime I go to Erawan the place is nearly deserted. Usually this is a bad sign for a restaurant, lines are preferable because they show that lots of people think the food is worth the wait. I don't know what the deal is at Erawan, because the food is incredible! People should be lining up.

Actually, they have a pretty snazzy early bird dinner special, but I'm not usually up for dinner from 4:30 - 6:00, so maybe we always miss the crowd.

My old standby is of course the Pad Thai, I like it with tofu and shrimp, and Erawan cooks their noodles perfectly and will adjust the spice to fit my Midwestern palette. But this time, maybe because I had Brad and other friends in town, I decided to be a little adventurous and have the Erawan noodles.

Erawan Noodles
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

I could only eat about half of this after we had appetizers, which I forgot to take pictures of. We had the beef satay, with that amazing peanut dipping sauce and vegetable dumplings. My entree was great, if not a little bit spicy, the poor waitress had to fill my water glass like 8 times. But it was excellent overall, a good mix of veggies and noodles and really flavorful sauce. Erawan is also a BYO, so that adds to affordability.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Last Weekend

On Saturday morning, I got up at seven to bake two loaves of bread for dinner. A few months back, while I was browsing food blogs I enjoy, I stumbled upon this recipe for Beer Bread at What Did You Eat?

Beer Bread Done
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

We'd just gone on the tour at Yard's Brewery in Kensington. Earlier that week I'd also purchased the yard's Beer Variety pack down at Stone's, so I had two bottle of Love Stout in the fridge that I wasn't going to drink.

Yard's Love Stout
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

The beer provides all the leavening for this bread, and It came out really well, I used the leftovers for croutons just yesterday, and they were delicious too.

I got a good deal on an already sliced honey ham a few weeks before and I defrosted it a few days ahead of time. We needed to prepare a glaze for it, so Andy looked at some recipes and we watched Paula Deen do an amazing thing with a soft drink, and we combined a few elements to form our own glaze.

Ham Glaze
1 jar Apricot Jam
I cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grainy mustard
1/4 can Dr. Pepper

dr. pepper ham
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

We reheated the ham on a 300 degree oven for about an hour, then poured the glaze over the ham, and the remaining Dr. Pepper in the roasting pan. Then put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour, and it was warm most of the way through, but the glaze was carmelized and the house smelled, like awesome.

Earlier in the day, before the brewery tour, but after the bread making, Andy and Kim made scalloped potatoes.

scalloped potatoes
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

This recipe called for slicing four pounds of potatoes, layering them with 4 cups of cheese, 3 tablespoons of flour, salt and black pepper, and then simmering 3 cups of whole milk and pouring it over the potatoes and cheese in a 13X9 glass baking dish. Then you dot the top with butter, cover it in foil, and put it in the oven at 400 for 45 minutes. At that time, take the foil off, add another cup of cheese and cook uncovered for another 45 minutes. We used a few different cheeses we had around, I think it would work with anything you had.

spring veggie salad
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

We also had a spring vegetable salad, I made a version of this last month with a roast chicken, and added red pepper and zucchini. This time I skipped the zucchini and replaced the red pepper with some red onion.

Easter Dinner
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

Here is my plate just moments before I ate all of it. And then had some seconds.

strawberry clafoutis
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

After dinner was mostly cleaned up, I took a few minutes to have another glass of wine and then made Strawberry Clafoutis. I stumbled across the link to this recipe from someone's blog, and it was really easy to make.

clafoutis with ice cream and choc dip strawberry
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

I doubled the recipe from the link above, and served with a little ice cream and/or whipped cream. Kim also made chocolate dipped strawberries earlier in the day, so they made a great garnish. The clafoutis was nice, my strawberries could have been a touch sweeter, but the texture was similar to a bread pudding, but was slightly more custard like. Very good compliment to the meal as a whole.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Birthday

So I've been quiet lately. Not for lack of things to post about, but it was my birthday weekend and Brad and other friends from Ripon were in town, so we were out and about doing much eating and drinking, as well as sightseeing.

Friends were all on their way home by Monday afternoon, which was my birthday, so Uhlie and I went to dinner at one of her favorite places which I'd never been to before, Dimitri's. It's a small seafood BYO, and it's delicious!

We ordered the hummus and pita to start. Uhlie is a notorious hummus fan, but she didn't steer us wrong. This could quite possibly be the best hummus in the city. Not only was the hummus superb, but pita were grilled on an open flame and had a nice smokey flavor.

Alison with octupus and feta olives
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

You can see the hummus in the bottom corner of the table. Uhlie got two small plates for dinner, the grilled octopus and the feta and olives. The octopus was slightly chewy, but I expect and like that about octopus. The olives were nice, a good mixture of black and green, including those black wrinkly ones I love!

Shrimp Saute at Dimitri's
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

I ordered and enjoyed the shrimp saute. A generous portion of shrimp was sauteed with green peppers, onions, tomatoes and served with escarole and rice. Fantastic.

We came home and T-Rex had a yummy piece of chocolate tart for me. I wish I had a picture, but I don't.

And...the best.present.ever....

best salad spinner ever
Originally uploaded by chalen4.

That's right, Andy and Kim gave me my very own salad spinner. I ran right out and bought some lettuce right away and made a very good salad that night. Love it.

Much more eating and cooking to share in the coming days...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Occasionally T-Rex will wow us with her amazing skills in the kitchen. This night, she changed my opinion of lamb, with marinated and grilled lamb and vegetable kabobs. Here is she is posing with her roasted rosemary potatoes. In the window you can also see the gorgeous gerber daisy she brought me as a present. I potted it this weekend and put it on the front steps.

She cut up eggplant, mushrooms, sweet peppers and red onions and marinated them with a little soy/ginger/garlic sauce, skewered them on wooden sticks, then grilled them up.

Plated, the whole meal is impressive and large. The kabobs are nestled on a bed of cous cous with pine nuts and olives. To the right, near the top, is a little mozzarella and tomato salad on spinach leaves. In the middle is grilled corn with lime butter and of course, the rosemary potatoes round out the bottom of the plate.

T-Rex is also a cocktail queen. Here you can see how much I'm enjoying my fresh squeezed margarita on the rocks with salt. Yum Yum.

Totally unrelated, but worth my new cheese plate. It's made of environmentally sustainable bamboo and is perfect for thingss other than cheese, like hummus and pita, so I felt it was a worthwhile purchase and a steal at $12. For the first use we chose two goat cheeses, one herbed the other peppered, and a nice wedge of Jarlsberg. On the opposite side we had sweet plums, some cracked green olives and some buttery kalamata olives, as well as some toasted pine nuts. Very pretty, no?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Polenta with Tomato Sauce

Trader Joe's sells a wonderful precooked polenta that comes pre-formed into a roll. Andy jumped at the chance to use his electric knife and cut our polenta into 1/2 inch thick discs.

We salt and peppered each side and set them in a hot skillet with a little olive oil. We resisted the urge to move them around so that they could get crisp and brown on both sides.

We also finely grated some cheese and heated up my favorite jarred tomato sauce and added a little garlic and oregano.

Layering the sauce and cheese on the hot polenta rounds let everything melt together and created quite a nice dish. This was the first time I'd had polenta so I can't compare the homemade version to the store bought variety, but I liked it enough that I might make the polenta from scratch in the near future.