Thursday, May 29, 2008

Deviled Eggs

I have many memories of deviled eggs on buffet tables as well as at picnics and BBQ's. However, none of these memories actually involve my eating and enjoying a deviled egg. Instead, I've been fraught with fear and offensive aromas whenever I encountered this little snack. While I was on vacation in the Outer Banks recently I came across a hot pink Melamine deviled egg tray and I had to have it because I'm obsessed with Melamine. When I got home and was brainstorming for a dish to bring to a Memorial Day get together, I figured now was the opportune time to try my hand at a deviled egg that wouldn't gross me out.
Memorial Day 2008 042

Fill a large pot with cool water about half way. Add eight eggs and set over high heat. When the water and eggs start to boil, let boil for a minute, then turn off the burner and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes, shock the eggs in ice water for about 5 minutes. This stops the cooking and makes the eggs easy to peel.

Carefully peel the cooled eggs under running water. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the hard yolks and place in a medium bowl. Arrange the egg white halves on a plate or your own deviled egg tray.

Mash the yolks up with a fork and add 2 tsp grainy mustard, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 chopped dill pickles and freshly ground pepper. Mix until smooth.

I transfered my egg yolk mixture into a Ziploc bag, snipped the end off and used it as a pastry bag to fill my deviled eggs, but feel free to use a real pastry bag with a fancy tip or just use a spoon if you're not worried about presentation. Garnish the filled eggs with a sprinkling of dried dill.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PBE_bar
Here is my submission for Peanut Butter Exhibition #2 where the challenge was to create a delicious and nutritious breakfast involving everyone's favorite ingredient: Peanut Butter!
North Carolina 2008 050

1 bagel of your choice (oatmeal or whole wheat are my favorite varieties)
1/2 banana, sliced into rounds
1 Tablespoon cream cheese
2 Tablespoons Peanut Butter, cream or chunky, your choice!
1 tsp honey

Carefully slice your bagel in half and lightly toast. Spread one half with the cream cheese and the other half with peanut butter. Lay the banana slices on top of the cream cheese and drizzle with honey. Join the two halves and let sit for a minute to allow the ingredients to warm slightly and melt together. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of juice and lots of napkins cause this is a messy sandwich!
PBE_contest
You still have 2 whole days to create, blog about, and enter your submission to Peanut Butter Exhibition #2! The deadline is May 30th by 12:00 pm(PST). Full details can be found over at The Peanut Butter Boy.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I recently look a long scenic drive with my mother down the eastern seaboard to Corolla, North Carolina. Some members of my mother's family make a habit of visiting this beach community a week or two before the tourist season starts, and they were gracious enough to invite us down for the week.
North Carolina 2008 015The first morning we were there I had the best breakfast I'd had in a long time. My cousin Adam made strawberry pancakes. The batter was spiked with cinnamon and vanilla and studded with some chunks of ripe strawberry. I will definitely attempt to mimic this breakfast sometime soon.
North Carolina 2008 049
The best thing I had to eat while out shopping award goes to this soft shell crab sandwich from Northbanks Restaurant and Raw Bar. The breading was light but a bit spicy and the crab was tender, slightly salty and delicious.
North Carolina 2008 093
In the middle of another exhausting shopping trip, Mom and I shared this delightful marshmallow enrobed in sweet, salty caramel. It was super chewy, but the kinds of sticky were in contrast to each other, making for a interesting and satisfying treat to keep our shopping energy up.
North Carolina 2008 098Another day was devoted to BBQ, and of course, a little more shopping. These hush puppies came from Sooey's BBQ in the Scarborough Faire shopping center located just south of Corolla in Duck. These puppies were sweet, dense, and fried until crispy. Served with honey butter, they were the perfect precursor to our sandwiches.
North Carolina 2008 101
Mom and I each ordered a different sandwich and then split them in half to share. That's one of the best things about traveling with a good eater, if they're willing, you can experience twice the culinary adventures as you could by yourself. We shared the pulled pork sandwich pictured above, which was drenched in tangy North Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce and we both really enjoyed it. We also shared a smoked chicken salad sandwich. It's not pictured because it was terribly blurred and didn't do the sandwich justice, but I can tell you, the smoking of the the chicken before making it into salad is a great idea. The smoked meat gives such a depth of flavor to an otherwise ordinary sandwich.
North Carolina 2008 081
All in all, I had a great little vacation. Some fun times with family coupled with some yummy local eats really took the sting out of the sunburn I got on the first day on the beach.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Next Food Network Star

Some of you may already have seen some promotional materials for Food Network's 4th season of "The Next Food Network Star" on TV or on other blogs. I was lucky enough to see the first episode already and I think it's going to be a killer sesason!

There might be a local showdown here in the Philadelphia area as two finalists are from our distinguised region:

Aaron McCargo Jr, 36 (Camden, NJ) is a family man who loves all things buttered and barbequed. Aaron got his start cooking in a local hospital at 13 and is the Executive Catering Chef for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Married with three kids, Aaron brings an easygoing presence to the kitchen with his warm smile and passion for down to earth cooking.

Adam, 30 (Philadelphia, PA) is an actor and server who has made the kitchen his stage! Adam is the former owner of The Smoked Joint – a BBQ joint he ran with his brother that brought ‘the barbeque experience’ to Philly. Currently starting up a catering company, he constantly searches for new ways to bring easy, approachable meals to the table with a side of fun.

I'm particularly interested in these two because of their proximity to me in real life. I also had the opportunity to sample Adam's BBQ before he closed The Smoked Joint and it was good. Unfortunately, I was turned off by his restaurant's childish slogans, and never returned. Can't wait to see how far these guys get in the competition.

I'll be watching the show as soon is it airs publicly and plan to give a little commentary along the way. I already have my two favorites and can't wait for a certain Diva from Texas who insists on cooking in heels to get a reality check.

Also, for the first time in this history of this show, viewers from home can have a say in who stays and who leaves. If you're a fan of The Next Food Network Star you can make your voice heard by logging on to www.FoodNetwork.com/Star and participating in the network’s first-ever “fan favorite” vote! Starting Monday, June 2nd, viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite contestants throughout the season. The finalist with the most votes will be crowned the “fan favorite” and will win assorted prizes.



June 1 at 10pm ET/PT
Season Premiere!

In the season four premiere of The Next Food Network Star, the 10 finalists are immediately thrown into their first challenge, before they are even unpacked! First up: the contestants are greeted by Alton Brown and must face their first on-camera challenge. Then, they are told to pair up in teams of two and cook for a really tough crowd—a table full of Food Network stars! In addition to Alton, Giada De Laurentiis, Sandra Lee, Gina and Pat Neely and Masaharu Morimoto share their thoughts on the finalists’ dishes with the selection committee (which this season features Bobby Flay as a permanent member). The first finalist is then eliminated.

Check out the promotional teaser above and tune in for the first episode, I guarantee you won't be dissapointed!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chocolate Matzoh

It seemed too good to be true when Two Fat Als posted a recipe for Matzoh Almond Rocha on their beautiful blog and I received a box of Matzoh as a hostess gift on the night of the Philadelphia Food Blogger Potluck from Rebbecca of The Plastic Bowl, within 24 hours of each other.
chocolate motzah (8)
There was really no other option in my mind than to give Alanna's recipe a try. Since that day I've made this recipe about 4 times with small adjustments here and there, some with greater audience appreciation than others.
chocolate motzah (1)
I've also gone through two boxes of matzoh crackers! This recipe is just that good!
chocolate motzah (2)

2 sticks (1 cup) of butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3 large matzoh crackers
3 cups of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
1 cup of toasted chopped nuts of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15 X 11 jelly roll pan with non-stick aluminum foil. Place the matzoh crackers on the foil, breaking the pieces if necessary so that they do not overlap.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. When the mixture starts to boil set your timer for 5 minutes and stir constantly until the 5 minutes is up.
chocolate motzah (3)
Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the crackers, using a heat proof spatula to smooth it over the crackers. Immediately place the pan into the oven and bake for 5 minutes until the caramel mixture is bubbling.
chocolate motzah (4)
Remove the sheet from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. In this particular batch I used Ghiardelli semi-sweet chips, but if you like milk chocolate use that, or whatever brand of chocolate you like. Let the chocolate sit on the hot matzoh for 2 minutes until it starts to melt. Then use your heat proof spatula and spread the chocolate into an even layer.
chocolate motzah (5)
While the chocolate is still warm sprinkle it with the toasted nuts. Alanna recommends sliced almonds in her original recipe, but I have trouble finding them at my go-to grocery store, so I've used slivered almonds in this version. Place the pan in the freezer for about an hour, then break into pieces with clean hands. Store it in the refrigerator, but don't worry, if your friends and family are anything like mine it won't be in there long! The combination of the sweet chocolate, crunchy nuts. and salty butter caramel give life the bland matzoh cracker and make for one addicting snack.

My favorite variation by far has been to use 1 1/2 cups each of milk and semi-sweet chocolate with toasted chopped hazelnuts on top. It's an easily adaptable recipe, so get creative if you try it and let me know what your favorite variation is.

Monday, May 19, 2008

PBE_main


Because of the terrific participation in Peanut Butter Exhibition #1, where bloggers submitted their most delicious cookie recipes, The Peanut Butter Boy and I decided to challenge our fellow bloggers to Peanut Butter Exhibition #2.

PBE_bar


The theme for the second PBE is breakfast. Submit your recipe following the guidelines below and we'll be rounding up all submissions and choosing a Top 3. The deadline is May 30th by 12:00 pm(PST). That gives you a little under two weeks from now to dream up and whip up your ultimate peanut butter breakfast! The Top 3 will be prominently featured at The Peanut Butter Boy and here at Foodaphilia, and all other entries will be displayed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Warsaw Cafe

If you're in the mood for nostalgic German or Polish food in the Philadelphia area your best bet is going to be the Warsaw Cafe in Center City warsaw cafe (7)
Veal Wienerschnitzel is lightly breaded and sauteed, then served with a mushroom dill sauce and egg noodles. The breading was crispy and light, not oily, and very tender. But I felt the mushroom dill sauce was lacking a bit in flavor, or maybe it was right on, but there just wasn't enough of it to liven up the completely undressed noodles.
warsaw cafe (6)
Beef stroganoff was very good. Thinly sliced beef was sauteed with onions and mushrooms in a wine, dill and sour cream sauce. My mother makes the best beef stroganoff I've ever had the pleasure to eat, and while this version varies from hers, it was a contender in terms of flavor.
warsaw cafe (5)
The Transylvanian casserole was a big hit. Layers of ground veal, eggplant, spinach and cheese were covered with filo and topped with a light tomato sauce. Great flavor and texture combinations made this dish a reason to visit the Warsaw Cafe again.
warsaw cafe (4)
In my opinion it's okay to have just one vegetarian dish on a menu as long as it's a really good vegetarian dish. These eggplant cakes were excellent. Moist and garlicky on the inside, but crusty from a good pan sear on the outside, I would definitely order these tasty little cakes again.
warsaw cafe (12)
Three desserts were available that night and we couldn't make a decision, so we ordered all three. This chocolate cake was elevated beyond normal cake status with the addition of ground nuts.
warsaw cafe (11)
The raspberry tar was full of fresh sweet and sour raspberries encased in a buttery crust.
warsaw cafe (13)
My favorite dessert was the cheesecake. This version was super creamy and flavored with raisins, apricots, and a sugar crumb topping. I'd never had cheesecake with this combination of flavors and I absolutely loved it. I'm going to do a little recipe research to see if I can recreate it at home.

Delicious imported beer and wine, coupled with a small but cozy dining room and authentic food make the Warsaw Cafe a winner. Due to it's location on 16th street near the Kimmel Center it's the perfect place to go before a show. This also means the place can be jam packed on some nights so reservations are suggested.

Warsaw Cafe
305 South 16th Street
Philadelaphia, PA 19103
215.546.0204
Warsaw Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 09, 2008

Las Bugambilias

It was a completely perfect day. Seventy two degrees, sunny, my 27th birthday. Angela was coming in to town because her birthday is just two days after mine and we try to celebrate together when we're close enough to do so. I took the bus into the city to meet with some folks about an exciting possible writing opportunity, walked home along the parkway, taking a few pictures along the way. Then I treated myself to this delicious water ice and sat in the sun by Eastern State to enjoy it.

The fun really started when my friends started to gather at our house and we were all(mostly) wearing fun colored pants!
e's birthday (26)
After a few great drinks, we were all starving and I was delighted that we were headed to Las Bugambilias on 2nd and South Streets. I'd heard great things about it in the papers and had eagerly been awaiting going there to taste for myself. Due to the aforementioned drinks and the drinks that subsequently entered my system at Las Bugambilias, the photo quality in this post is not the best. Additionally, this high level of alcohol consumption resulted in no note-taking at dinner. That, coupled with the unfortunate situation that no menu exists online for Las Bugambilias means this post is complimentary but hazy in recollection of details and names of dishes, please forgive me.
las bugambilas (6)
We started with the guacamole, of course. It was delicious. We were ravenous and the portion was not the most generous, so it was gone in minutes. It was nicely balanced with garlic and lime, and nice and chunky. The chips were also worthy of a mention themselves. Clearly made in house, they were thick, crunchy, not oily and lightly salted. The perfect transport for the tasty guacamole.
las bugambilas (8)
Empanadas were also devoid of characteristic oiliness and filled with tender niblets of corn, peppers and cheese.
las bugambilas (12)
Deliciously melty Oaxaca cheese baked with crumbled fresh Chorizo sausage was served with mini flour tortillas and really pleased the non-vegetarians at the table.
las bugambilas (14)
Small but thick corn masa cakes called sopes are a favorite of mine in general. Las Bugambilias does a few different preparations with various proteins, but we opted for the veggie variety. Black beans, salsa fresca and fresh cheese topped these warm sopes with a cool bite.
las bugambilas (15)
Quesadillas were also a hit, filled with flavorful cheese and huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on ears of corn. I'm going to make an effort to eat this more and maybe try to cook with it at home, it's very good!
las bugambilas (19)
Vegetarian enchiladas were stuffed with beans, peppers, onions, and cheese, then covered in a green chili sauce. Accompanied by black beans and rice, they were a satisfying and delicious preparation.
las bugambilas (17)
Enfrijoladas also went over well, everyone was a fan of the black bean sauce that enrobed the stuffed tortillas. It was creamy, spicy, and addictive. I've been thinking about it for weeks now.
las bugambilas (21)
The advertised tenderloin filet special was grilled to order after being stuffed with cheese and spinach. It was made extra special with some of the same guacamole we enjoyed earlier as well as a pasilla pepper sauce.
las bugambilas (24)
Named for the vessel it's served from, the steak molcajete was ridiculously good. Tender pieces of steak, peppers, onions, and nopales were swimming in a thick spicy sauce that begged to be lapped up with a spoon. las bugambilas (28)
I didn't choose any of the desserts, but they were all very good. A candle was stuck in this one and I look terribly silly blowing it out, but overall the picture perfectly captures that moment, so I had to share. The cake had walnuts and spiced frosting.
las bugambilas (30)
Churros are deep fried pieces of dough dusted with cinnamon and sugar and they're pretty much awesome all the time. What makes them even more awesome at Las Bugambilias is that they're served with caramel sauce and chocolate sauce to enhance your churro experience.
las bugambilas (32)
Finally, chocolate tres leches cake. A vanilla cake soaked with a combination of three milks and cocoa. It was great and a nice change from the traditional version.

For a special occasion, or any occasion, I'd definitely suggest a visit to Las Bugambilias. Delicious cocktails and delectable food are both easily found at this traditional Mexican restaurant on South street.

Las Bugambilias
148 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
215.922.3190
Las Bugambilias on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Chocolate Graham Layer Bars

On a recent Sunday I got a last minute invitation to an impromptu BBQ. Because it was a nice day and I didn't want to heat up the kitchen, I decided on a quick and easy no bake bar recipe similar to a Nanaimo Bar.
baking (26)
For the chocolate graham crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a 9X9 glass dish with non-stick foil or regular foil that you've sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and chocolate together over low heat.
baking (10)
When the chocolate and butter are completely melted, add the crumbs, nuts, sugar, water, and vanilla, and stir to coat all the crumbs. Press this mixture into the prepared pan and stick it in the fridge to cool.

For the frosting layer:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablesppons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate, melted.

Cream butter and sugar, add vanilla and milk and mix thoroughly. Spread the frosting evenly over the chilled crust. Melt the baking chocolate and transfer to a pastry bag or ziploc bag. Cut a tiny hole in the bottom corner of the bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the frosting in a decorative manner.
baking (24)
Chill the bar until the chocolate is set. Use the foil to remove the bars from the pan, place on a cutting board and use a sharp knife or a pizza wheel to cut the cookie into 16 squares.

Keep in the refrigerator

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Last night was Wednesday night and Wednesday night at my house means Top Chef night. Liz recently returned from Mexico with a nice bottle of Tequila to share with us and though that having a Salsa party on Top Chef night would be the perfect occasion at which to consume some fine Mexican tequila.
Salsa Party 140
This was a really fun idea because salsa comes in all sorts of variations. It was easy to use an ingredient in an unusual way and still come up with something yummy.
Salsa Party 152
Starting from 12 and moving clockwise we have Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips (recipe to follow from me) Pureed Tomato and Avocado Salsa from Karlina, Salsa Two Ways from Shannon (she used the exact same ingredients for each bowl, but roasted and cooked one and left the other raw) In the yellow bowl, Cheesy Salsa from Liz, Avocado and Kiwi Salsa from Alison (this was my favorite of the night, but Alison committed a major faux pas by not telling the vegetarians that her dish contained fish sauce!) and finally in the white container in the middle, Cucumber and Corn Salsa from Mindy.

Fruit Salsa

Mango (1)
Kiwi (2)
Strawberries (1 pint)
Orange (1)
Pineapple (1/2)
Green Pepper (1/2)
Green Onions (1 -2 onions)
Salsa Party 132
Chop all of the fruit into very small dice, add the green pepper and green onions that you've diced slightly smaller than the fruit, and squeeze the juice of one whole lemon over the top. Store salsa in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cinnamon Chips

1 package flour tortillas (taco sized)
Cinnamon Sugar
3 Tablespoons of butter, melted
Salsa Party 134
Brush tortillas with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and cut into six chips per tortilla. Place chips on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 7 to 8 minutes.
Salsa Party 136
The cinnamon chips are very good, but the salsa is also delicious with the slight saltiness of a regular corn tortilla chip. Try them both and tell me what you think.