Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Crab and Candyboots

I have a very exciting vacation post coming up shortly. I can't say much right now, but it did involve:

dinner

And to bide the time, check out this wacky set of Weight Watchers recipe cards a woman found in her basement. Angela passed the link on to me, and I nearly wet my pants laughing.

e

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Las Cazuelas

The 884 collective is down to just two. Yup, Alison and I are all by ourselves, now without kitchen table or spoons. I'm just kidding (partly) we have a table, but it wobbles, and I just went to IKEA and purchased new flatware. Most sad is that we're not without Andy.

As sad as we were to see him go, we're really happy that he's got a great new job and he and Kim finally get to live together. Here is the former collective at Las Cazuelas. You can find the menu here. It's conveniently located on Girard Ave near Fourth street.


Our server was very friendly, explained the specials and gave us some time to order while we drank our first bottle of wine. Andy decided to try the Tortilla Soup which you see picture above. It was presented very nicely with crispy tortilla strips and avocado. I thought the soup was too salty, but other than that, it was a thin but rich tomato broth.


My favorite thing to eat as Las Cazuelas is the Corn Sopes. Three round thick tortillas topped with refried beans, salsa verde, diced onions and cheese. I love these and could eat them everyday. I could have eaten all three of these that night, but I shared.


Alison had Tacos De Sundero. Three soft tortillas with grilled flank steak and garnished with cilantro and diced onions, served with tomatillo sauce (house specialty). I had a small bite of one taco, and it was nice, but nowhere near as good as the tacos at Vera Cruzan.


Andy opted for one of the specials of the night. A grilled steak served with guacamole and rice as well as an enchilada de mole. The enchilda was a soft tortilla stuffed with marinated chicken, topped with a chocolate mild sauce and garnished with juliene onions, sour cream and cotija cheese.


I tried something new for dinner, the Pollo a Las Cazuelas. This dish consisted of grilled chicken breast stuffed with cheese, layered in a mild tangy tomatillo sauce and served with yellow rice and refried beans. It was good, but the chicken wasn't so much stuffed with cheese as it was just topped with cheese. Regardless, it was delicious and I ate it all.

We skipped dessert, even though I've heard people rave about the Tres Leches cake, and instead went to the Sunoco on Fairmount for ice cream. Ben and Jerry never let me down.

Andy will be missed, but I hope he had a good time living, cooking and eating with us at 884.

Las Cazuelas
426 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia 19123
Between N Lawrence St & N Leithgow St

Phone: 215-351-9144
Las Cazuelas in Philadelphia

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tacconelli's

I can't believe it either. Three years in this city of food and I only had the best.pizza.ever. last night!

That's right, due to the 100 degree temperatures, Andy and I decided eating out was the right choice. Earlier in the day Andy suggested Toccanelli's. I think I'd shied away from Toccanelli's for the same reason I avoided Pat's and Geno's for a long time; I was scared.

You need to call ahead and reserve your dough at Toccanelli's a day ahead of time, or at least in the morning of the day you're planning on going. I understand this logic. They only make so much dough per day, so to ensure a good fresh pie waiting for you, you have to call ahead. The thing with me is that I hate the telephone. Maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I'm intimidated by the telephone, I don't like speaking with strangers. And yes, this carries over to ordering any kind of take-out or delivery. I'm just a wuss. So I had Uhlie call and reserve the dough for Andy and I. I know I know I know, I'm a grown woman and I should be able to take care of that on my own. Maybe it was that summer I worked selling a certain men's magazine over the phone that turned me off to that form of communication. Okay, back to pizza.

You have 4 pizza choices at Tacconelli's.

1) Tomato Pie - For those who are not local Philadelphians, tomato pie is exactly what it sounds like, dough with sauce. It's even better served room temperature instead of just out of the oven.

2) Classic - Dough, sauce and a little bit of mozzarella

3) White - Dough, no sauce, black pepper, cheese, olive oil and garlic

4) Margarita - Dough, sauce, basil leaves and fresh mozzarella

You can add toppings to the first three choices, but Toccanelli's recommends that you don't have more than three toppings. Choices include the following: Basil, prosciutto, mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach, pepperoni, sausage, olives and whole tomatoes.

Andy doesn't like white pie (Though I have seen him eat the leftovers when Alison and I order the Mediterranean Special from Angelino's) so we went with the classic red pie with cheese and got sausage and spinach on top.



Here is our beautiful pie! The waitress gave us a stack of paper plates and napkins, dropped a pitcher of Diet Coke off at our table, and we were off. I was so excited to try this pizza that I'd read so many good things about that I burned my tongue, like real bad too! But I was a trooper, recovered quickly and inhaled three pieces. The toppings were good, I like slightly more cheese than was presented, but I can overlook that. The sauce was good, but I think it could have used a bit more garlic and oregano. What really makes this pizza is the crust. Clearly, this is why Toccanelli's, despite needing a complete interior re-design, is busy from open to close every day of the week. The crust is thin where it's supposed to be and thick where it counts, and the oven they're using does the job better than any other pizza oven out there. There are parts of the crust that get a little darker, and therefore crunchier, and a little sweet too as the sugars caramelize. Oh, it is so good!

So good, in fact, that as Andy and I were finishing our pie, Andy asked our waitress if they had any extra dough and sure enough they did, so we ordered a Margarita to go.

Each pie is 17 dollars, which is a little pricey for pizza in this area, but I would probably pay up to 20 for a pie that delivers the amazing taste adventure that Toccanelli's offers.

Toccanelli's Pizza
2604 E Somerset St
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 425-4983

Call ahead to reserve your dough!
Cash Only!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I Scream for Ice Cream

Ice cream may be my favorite food. It's sweet, it's cold, it's creamy, it's not good for you. What more could I want?

To make it on a whim. A few weeks ago I was working at the cafe, and I was incredibly hot and sticky, but it was payday, Liz handed me my money and I was off to Linens and Things to buy my ice cream maker. I'd done plenty of research online and found the Ice-20 by Cuisinart to be reliable, fast and relatively quiet.

Here is my baby. She's fully automated, i.e. no hand cranking or ice or salt! It has a gel-filled bowl that needs to sit in the freezer for at least a day before you can take it out, pop it on the machine, turn it on and add the ice cream base. But once you do that, it's only about 25 minutes to soft serve status.

I made a basic vanilla ice cream to start.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
Vanilla extract

I whisked together the sugar (I only used half of what the recipe suggested, so 1/4 cup)and the milk until the sugar was dissolved. Added the cream and vanilla to taste, I think it was around 2 teaspoons, and then parked it in the fridge to get super cold. When it was, I put the machine together, turned it on, and poured in my chilled mixture.

Seriously, 25 minutes later, you could tell the ice cream was ready to come out because the machine started making considerably more noise against the strain of the thick mixture.

I had a few spoonfuls right away, and it was great. But as much as I like soft serve, I wanted to add toppings and then put it in the freezer to get hard ice cream. I chopped up some peanut butter cups, mixed them into the soft serve and put it all in a plastic container to freeze up. Sorry for the blurry picture, but to be honest I couldn't take the time to photograph nicely when I wanted this ice cream in my mouth!

Ice cream is better with friends, so Healy and Matt came over to help me eat it up. Look how happy it made them!

More flavors have been concocted in my freezer since this initial try. I made banana frozen yogurt with walnuts, mint chocolate chip, and caramel toffee. More to come!