Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Southwestern Chicken & Rice

I'm a total copycat! A few weeks ago, Sher over at What Did You Eat? made a delicious looking chicken and rice dinner for her lucky husband on his birthday. I bookmarked the recipe because I didn't want to forget it, and earlier this week I actually got my butt to the store to buy rice (I never have it around because I rarely cook with it). I like rice, but have a terrible track record of cooking it poorly. But this dish looked so satisfying and warm, I decided to give it a shot.
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Of course, I made a few tiny alterations to suit my tastes. Normally, I'm a skin-off, bone-out white meat only kind of girl. In this instance Sher's recipe called for skin-on breasts or thighs, so I compromised and went for dark meat (thighs) but I pulled all the skin off. After salt and peppering the chicken, I browned it well on both sides in a little butter/oil mix and then removed it from the pan.

Then I added:
1 onion, chopped medium
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic , minced

And sauteed until the onion was translucent and the whole kitchen smelled like garlic. Then I added 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice and cooked an additional three minutes or until the rice soaked up some of the oil and was starting to smell nutty.

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Then I added:

1 cup of dry white wine
3 cups of chicken broth
2 tsp hot sauce

Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Then put the browned chicken thighs back into the pot and put the lid on for 25 minutes over low heat.

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After the 25 minutes is up, the chicken should be done (160 degrees). I took the chicken out of the pot.

Then add:
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained, and rinsed with water
1 10 oz package of frozen corn, thawed and drained
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

And let it sit a minute or two so the cheese melts and everything comes together. I shredded the chicken and served myself up a bowl of rice and topped it with the chicken.

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This was a really delicious meal! It made a huge pot of food, I've eaten the leftovers twice for lunch this week and will probably have more for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pizza! Pizza!

Recent posts over Cooking for Margy and Baking & Books inspired a homemade pizza night.

pizza

I had a ball of whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's, my favorite marinara sauce, a blend of asiago, mozzarella and romano cheeses and some little black olives. Very simple, but very delicious.

crust

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Brown Betty Cupcakes
A friend of the 884 collective had a milestone birthday last week, and we all gathered at the cafe, which closed at seven for the event, to celebrate Kate's birthday. Apparently, one of her favorite desserts is a black-bottom cupcake. I had one of these for the first time in college, when a friend's mother sent him some in the mail. It's a dark chocolate cake swirled with cheesecake and topped with cream cheese frosting. Nicole went to Brown Betty Dessert Boutique to see if they could replicate the Black-Bottom cupcake that Kate loves. Unfortunately, they couldn't really do it, but they talked Nicole into a cream cheese frosting topped Red Velvet cupcakes and they were PHENOMENAL, I should know, I had one and half, okay okay, I had two! They also nicely piped out a "Happy Birthday" letter by letter on to the cakes, awww special.
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Shannon dared me to the eat the "P". Why? Cause she's immature and I like to fuel those moments. Anyway, the red velvet cake was moist and very chocolaty. They also didn't have that artificial looking red hue that most red velvets have due to an entire bottle of red food coloring. Maybe Brown Betty uses dried or paste colors, and I think it's a wise choice. The frosting was smooth and you could definitely taste the cream cheese.
Brown Betty 2
I posted previously about some of Brown Betty's other cakes. This picture shows (in order from top left) Chocolate with Chocolate ganache, Sour cream pound cake with strawberry cream and pineapple pound cake with pineapple frosting. All were delicious, but I have to say I liked the chocolate one the least. It was the most dry out of the three, and in no way compared to the Red Velvet cake we had last night.

Looking at the menu, cakes seem expensive at around $40, but they're so tasty and so rich that a smaller piece satisfies a sweet tooth adequately. Next I'm trying a slice of their carrot cake which is frosted with alternating layers of cream cheese and sour cream frosting.

Brown Betty Dessert Boutique
1030 N. 2nd Street, # 601 (Liberties Walk)
215.629.0999

Closed on Monday
Tuesday - Saturday: Noon-7pm
Sunday: Noon-5pm

Friday, January 26, 2007

I've eaten all over Northern Liberties. It's a neighborhood with a lot of buzz talk about food, and I'd heard about Honey's Sit n' Eat for a decent amount of time. You can read the comments from the No. Libs community bulletin board via this link. So, the first time I went to Honey's was this fall, and I had the most amazing breakfast quesadilla I've ever had. Ever.
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The tortilla was twice as thick as a regular one, was crispy from the grill but not burnt, and contained soft scrambled eggs, ham and cheese, topped with avacado cream. I just went again this morning, and had to order it again, it was just that good. That and I forgot to take a photo when I ordered it originally, and I needed one for this post. They put fresh pico de gallo on the side along with spicy refried beans. The beans are made with both black and pinto beans, as well as corn and spices.
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My dining buddy had the breakfast burrito, stuffed with scrambled eggs, some of the same spicy refried beans and cheese. It was huge!
honey's pear and raw milk cheddar omelet
On a different visit, I had an omelet special. Raw milk white cheddar cheese, ham, and anjou pear, with rye toast and a potato latke on the side. The latkes are excellent, not the traditional round pancake but a nice fried triangle of potato goodness.
spinach, scallion and cheddar omelet with biscuit and latke
My friend Healey also had an omelet, but built her own with spinach, scallions and cheese. She also opted for the warm biscuit and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Honey's can get very busy. Often, there is a line around the corner for weekend brunch. I don't completely understand this phenomenon. I mean Honey's is good, but I wouldn't say it's any better than North 3rd or A Full Plate for brunch. And compared to some of the other great places in No. Libs to eat, the service at Honey's can be lacking. While there seemed to be about 5 or 6 people working, it took us about 15 minutes to get coffee this morning, while tables that were seated after us had already ordered and were on a 2nd cup.

Honey's Sit 'n Eat
800 N 4th St,
Philadelphia 19123
(4th and Brown)

Tue-Sun 8am - 4pm

* Check out the menu here.

But now also open for dinner!
Honey's Sit 'n Eat in Philadelphia

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I was browsing over at PhilaFoodie and found a very useful link for myself and those in the Philadelphia area: an interactive BYOB and Wine & Spirits store map. Now if you know you're going to a BYOB in Northern Libs you can look it up (click here)and find the nearest liquor store on the corner of Germantown Ave and Girard Ave.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thank god for Natalie and Sarah. I mean, really, I love visiting my parents, they're fun, intelligent people and I love spending time with them. But they work all day, and go to bed early, so when I'm in Omaha it's crucial that the few friends I have left from there spend time with me! Luckily, this past trip was full of good times with Sarah and Natalie. Sarah, admittedly, is a fan of the food pictures on Flickr, she says everytime she looks at them they make her hungry and then she has to go eat. So, one day, I made her pick the restaurant and we went on a food blogging adventure. Natalie came along for the ride too. We went to Mimi's Cafe in Village Pointe.

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We were at Mimi's for lunch and all ordered off of the "Small Bites" menu. A number of these items were available in "Full" size, but the small was definitely enough for lunch. Here is Sarah's Petit crab cake. Golden fried lump and blue crab cake drizzled with citrus remoulade and served over a garlic crouton and baby greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. Being such a great friend, Sarah even let me have a bite. It was good. Not as good as the crabcakes I've had at A Full Plate or anywhere in the state of Maryland, but good all the same.The dressing was too ketchupy with little to no spicey bite the way a remoulade really should.

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Natalie had the Fried Chicken Salad. Diced chicken tenders, cheddar cheese, tomato, egg, green onions with ranch dressing. Corn and buffalo sauce were also supposed to be present on the salad, but apparently "corn has no business on salad" according to Natalie, and she doesn't like very spicy things so the sauce had to be stopped.

Mimi's Cobb Salad

I had the Cobb Salad. Turkey, bacon, avocado, scallions, egg, tomato & crumbled bleu cheese on top of ICEBERG lettuce. Ick! Why couldn't they have given me beautiful romaine or field greens?? I knew they had it in the restaurant because Sarah's crab cake was nestled beautifully on top of some. The toppings were all great, even the avacado and tomato were decent for this time of year in the midwest, but the lettuce problem was just something I couldn't get over.

Onion Soup

Luckily, I'd also ordered some soup with my salad, and it was delicious and saved my opinion of the meal. The broth wasn't overly salty, which I find is the problem with a lot of onion soups, or maybe just soups with baked cheese on top? Not sure.

I later went here for breakfast with my parents. Considering it was 8 in the morning (so early!!) on a Sunday, I forgot my camera and probably might have skipped that altogether anyway due to the early hour. I don't remember what I had, because I suffered from order envy all through the meal. A gentleman at the table next to me had some glorious looking stuffed french toast. It will be mine, next time I'm in Omaha.

Mimi's Cafe & Bakery
301 North 175th Plaza
Omaha, Nebraska 68118
402.289.9610
Mimi's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The most beautiful and delicious canoli I have ever seen or tasted worked it's way into my life via a friend of Donal's. Lauren brought two canoli and a pint of hazelnut gelato to Donal's house last weekend when I happened to be visiting.
Canoli
Isn't this just a gorgeous looking pasty? Look at the crispy air bubbles. The clearly divine texture of the canoli cream and the perfect amount of mini chocolate chips dispersed throughout.
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The gelato was delicately scooped for the sake of the picture by Donal.
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By the time picture taking was over we just slammed three spoons in the ice cream bowl and broke the canoli in pieces and we were done in no time. Both dessert elements came from Vacarro's in Baltimore and are available at a number of other area locations.

The gelato was really the high point, not as sweet as ice cream, but with a super smooth texture combined with bits of real toasted hazelnuts, it was the epitome of delicious frozen treats.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Last weekend would have been my first weekend back in Philly had I not traveled a short distance to spend the weekend in New Freedom with Donal. Blake was still in Tokyo, so he wasn't around. But I did get to meet Lauren whom I'd been hearing about for weeks. On Saturday we ventured down to Baltimore to eat and see a movie. We went to Saigon Remembered, across the street from the Senator Theater. Not the theater where we'd be seeing a movie, but a justified landmark reference for those familiar with Baltimore. Saigon Remembered is apparently very well known for their summer rolls and a long menu accompanies the regular dinner menu when you sit down.

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And demonstrating the menu is Lauren. She's a bit camera shy, I hope to break her of that a bit.

Spring and Summer

Donal and Lauren are both a fan of the sticky rice paper wrapped summer rolls, and I don't mind the texture of them either. I tend to stray from them because they almost always contain mint, sometimes in large quantities, and I have to admit to having a strong aversion to mint. I ordered the spring rolls, a cabbage, chicken and carrot mixture wrapped in wonton and fried. In this case, Donal and Lauren's summer rolls had cilantro in them instead of mint, so I probably would have enjoyed them. But my spring rolls were so good that I didn't suffer from order envy.

Spring Roll Bun with Grilled Pork and Salad

Lauren and I both ordered the same thing for dinner, Spring roll bun (rice noodles) with grilled pork (on skewers) and salad. The salad consisted of carrot, jicama, cucumber and the typical orangish Vietnamese dressing.

Special Pancake

Donal was adventurous and ordered the special pancake with chicken. What arrived at the table was a thick crispy egg crepe filled with chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts and "lots and lots of onions" according to Donal. I tried a bite of the pancake and it was very eggy tasting but incredibly crispy and light.

This restaurant was very good, perhaps a bit on the expensive side, or maybe it was just the Baltimore vs. Philadelphia differential. Regardless, I would eat there again, and I would imagine a couple of summer rolls would be an awesome snack to try to sneak into the theater across the street. As for us, we went to the Charles Theater and saw "Notes on a Scandal", a very fine movie with Judy Dench.

If you're in Baltimore go eat at:

Saigon Remembered
5857 York Rd
Baltimore, MD 21212
410.435.1200

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Braciola

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Flipping through a new cookbook with my mother, we salivated at the idea of stuffed flank steak simmered in marinara sauce and wine.

The first step is the filling for the flank steak. I used the basic breadcrumb and cheese filling. But it could easily be altered to include more veggies or different cheeses.

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For the braciola you'll need:

1 1/2 pound flank steak
1 cup of white wine
3 cups of marinara sauce
salt and pepper


Additionally,
In a medium bowl mix together:

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmasaen cheese
1/4 cup grated provolone cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp olive oil

On a work surface lay out the flank steak, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press the breadcrumb mixture over the surface of the steak and roll up with the grain of the meat and secure with kitchen twine.

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Heat two more tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven and place the braciola in to sear on all sides (about 8 mins). Take off the heat and add one cup of dry white wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of pan. Add the marinara sauce and cover loosely with foil.

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Place the braciola in a 350 degree oven and baste every 30 mins with the marinara sauce for an hour and a half. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 mins.

Slice on a diagonal and against the grain and serve with sauce.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Caramel Pecan Brownies

I'm back in Philly, but Omaha was a nice respite. I spent a bunch of time in my parents beautiful and awesome kitchen. I was able to capture some of these moments on my new camera. My parents find the blog such a quirky hobby, they were saddened by my lost camera story and got me this little camera as a gift. In addition to Snowballs and Black Moons, I made Caramel Pecan Brownies. Former neighbors of my parents spent the last few years sending a batch of these delicious brownies to our family around the holidays. This year, my mother talked them into sending the recipe over instead. (Am I committing a total faux pas by turning around and posting it on the internet?)
Caramel Pecan Brownie

Ingredients:

4oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. Butter
2 c. Sugar
4 eggs
1 c. Flour
1 14oz. package of caramels, unwrapped
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 c. chopped pecans
12oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 (325 for glass). Line 13 X 9 pan with foil, spray with non-stick spray.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter, about 2 minutes on high. Stir to melt completely. Add sugar, stir to combine, and mix in eggs. Stir in the flour. Divide the batter in half and spread one half evenly on the bottom of the pan. The layer will be thin. Bake for 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, unwrap the carmels, melt with cream in a microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes on high. Whisk until smooth. Stir in one cup of nuts and spread over baked brownie layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Drop remaining batter over the top of the caramel and gently spread to cover. Some caramel will show through. Sprinkle with remaining nuts and bake for 25 minutes.

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Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, then use the overhang of foil to remove from the pan. Cut into squares with a good knife.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Snowball Cookies

I love dates. So does my entire family. We love date nut bread, date cookies, dates all by themselves. One cookie stands out from all other date products my mother has taught me how to make over the years, Snowball Cookies.

For the Snowballs you'll need:
1 stick of butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup chopped dates
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work best)
2 cups flaked coconut

Snowball mix

Melt butter, add sugar and beaten egg over medium heat. Add the chopped dates and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Cool for 3 minutes.

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Add the Rice Krispies and nuts. The mixture will be hot, so wait a minute or two before shaping into balls and rolling in coconut. I'm always burning my hands making these cookies, but they're soooo worth it. To avoid hurting yourself try dropping the mixture by teaspoonfuls directly onto the plate with the coconut, cover the drops with coconut and then form them into balls. Place on partchment paper to cool.

Snowballs

Makes about 2 dozen if you like them big, or more if you make them a bit smaller.