Wednesday, July 29, 2009
To this day when my brother visits my mother's house in Nebraska or when it's his birthday, he tends to expect a batch of chocolate whoopie pies in honor of the occasion. My mother got this recipe from her friend Karen who she's known since she was a little girl. Growing up, we affectionately called them black moons, and I used to tease my mother for keeping such a cherished recipe on a piece of scrap paper. Wouldn't you know it, my version of the recipe is scrawled in red colored pencil on the back on an envelope. Sharing that with you now makes me want to give it the dignity of a legitimate recipe card and leave it just the way it is in equal amounts. Funny that.
The recipe is essentially a whoopie pie, two moist cake-like cookies are sandwiched around a vanilla cream filling. They're great chilled as a refreshing treat or room temperature. This recipe is easy to put together, but makes only 16-18 cookies, so if you're cooking for a crowd, you might need to double the recipe. The original recipe calls for shortening, but I've substituted butter and margarine with successful results, the cookies are just slightly less tender than when made with shortening.
Chocolate Whoopie Pies (aka Black Moons)
1/2 c shortening
1 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c milk
2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c shortening
1 c powdered sugar
1 c marshmallow fluff
1/2 c cream cheese, room temperature
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line to cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick foil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add milk. At this point the mixture will separate and look terrible. Don't worry.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the shortening and milk mixture and mix until combined.
Use two small spoons or a cookie scoop to drop the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the tops crack slightly but still look a bit damp. You don't want to over bake these cookies! Let cookies cool for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies cool, prepare the filling by creaming the shortening and cream cheese together. Then add the marshmallow fluff. (If you add the fluff in before creaming the shortening and cream cheese, all you'll get is a layer of marshmallow fluff on the bottom of the bowl. If you add them to the mixer in this order, the cream cheese and shortening act as a barrier to the stickiness of the fluff) At this point I like to add the seeds of a vanilla bean, but a little vanilla extract will do in a pinch. Finally, slowly add the powdered sugar until you've reached a nice spreadable consistency.
When the cookies are completely cool, place a spoonful on the bottom of one cookie and top with another. Because of the cream cheese in the frosting, these cookies do best stored in the fridge.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I was lucky enough to taste Root back in May, and tonight everyone in Philly who is so motivated will have a chance to taste Root mixed up in unique cocktails by some of our city's best mixologists. Bartenders from North Third, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Snackbar and other local watering holes will be serving up $5 dollar cocktails and competing to impress some sophisticated palates. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be served. Come on out and enjoy this new liquor! I'll see you there.
ROOT Cocktail Competition
Tuesday, July 28th, 7-10pm
Silk City Beer Garden (Rain location: inside Silk City)
435 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA
Monday, July 27, 2009
We're doing it again. Last year Taylor organized an awesome summer get-together in Fairmount Park, I'm too lazy for that, so I'm inviting everyone with a blog or vlog about food in the Philadelphia region over to my house instead. This potluck and meet-up is scheduled for Friday evening on August 14th. It is bound to be one of the best potlucks you'll ever attend with dishes and drinks brought from some of the areas most obsessive foodies. Don't miss it!
If you haven't already received an evite to the event, that's because you're not on our food blogger e-mail list. To join the list please send me an e-mail with your name, the name of your blog or vlog and the URL and I'll add you to our list. Hope to see some old friends and meet some new faces!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Congratulations to lyndsey, nugget, Lauren B, Phoodie, and Lightning. You all have won one pass (good for you and a guest) to the The Grand Market Event at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival! Each pass is good for entry to the event on August 1st or 2nd.
Please write me an e-mail using my contact information from my profile to send me your home address. I will pass on your addresses to Harrah's Entertainment and they will send your pass to The Grand Market Event directly to your home address.
Congratulations to the winners! Have a great time at this great event.
Friday, July 24, 2009
By now, everyone in the Philadelphia region should have heard something about PYT. The guy in charge is a PR master, so he created quite a stir over the opening of his burger lounge in the Piazza at Schmidt's. Seeing as how they've been closed this week to learn the new computer system and are re-opening tonight, I decided to wait to post about PYT until the massive flurry of activity was over and the establishment was closer to being open on the permanent basis. Whether they re-open tonight or tomorrow is up for debate, but one thing is for sure, when you go put a burger in your mouth!
With a slew of burger joints opening during the first few months of summer, I sorta expected PYT's burger to be just another pub burger. I was wrong. The PYT burger is a thing of beauty. The patty itself is not overwhelming in size, it's just big enough to cover the bun and just thick enough to ensure the chef can cook it to customer order.
Covered with melted cheddar, onion, tomato, shredded romaine, crispy bacon and PYT onion sauce, this burger was a flavor explosion. A bit on the salty side, but I have to admit, I like salty. The menu said the kettle-cooked chips would come on top of the burger, but ours fell to the side.
Fries are fresh cut, skin-on, which is the quickest way to french fry success in my opinion. I wish they'd just put a squeeze bottle of ketchup on the table at a place like this instead of doling out the ketchup in little shot glasses. I'm a ketchup junkie and dislike having to beg the server for more. But in the grand scheme of things, that's small potatoes and might change as PYT finds itself in full swing after this weekend.
Onion rings have a bit too much batter, but the batter is delicious. The crust itself is well-seasoned (speculation occurred as to the contents, my guess is a quick shake of powdered onion and garlic) and the onions are steamed to perfection inside the thick coating.
You're going to need to wash that burger and fries down with something, so I suggest the Jon Valdez Adult Milkshake. Intense coffee ice cream is blended up with Kahlua and Patron XO and served in a pint glass, covered with whipped cream and a single cherry on top. It's like all my diabetic nightmares converging in one glass and it is delicious. Thank god I had a friend sitting a table away who I was able to convince to take the milkshake away from me after I'd quickly sucked down half of it. Not only was I in danger of an ice cream headache because it was so thick and cold, but I was probably near the borderline of sugar shock.
With a location like they have and a menu that pleads with your inner glutton, PYT is sure to make a million dollars. If they stay open late (Tommy said they'd be serving food until 1am most nights) there is absolutely no reason they won't be a popular desination in The Piazza at Schmidt's.
1050 N. Hancock Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Atlantic City has truly evolved into a great getaway destination for fun, food, relaxation and nightlife. The first ever TD Bank Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, a four day festival, featuring food and wine tastings, beach soirees, celebrity appearances and cooking demonstrations hosted by the crème de la crème of the industry, including Emeril Lagasse, Tom Colicchio, Ted Allen and Guy Fieri (just to name a few) is taking place within Harrah's Entertainment, Atlantic City properties (Harrah's Resort, Caesars, Showboat and Bally's) on Thursday, July 30th - Sunday, August 2nd. Click here for more details.
If you're interested, I'm giving away 5 free passes (each pass is good for you and a guest) to The Grand Market Event taking place August 1 and August 2 from 12pm - 7pm at Bally's Grand Ballroom.
Just drop me a line in the comments section and you'll be entered in a random drawing for one of the five passes I have to give way. Contest closes on Saturday, July 25th at 8pm so that I have time to pass the winner's contact information on to Harrah's and have the passes sent directly to the winners.
Good luck and I'll see you there!
Monday, July 20, 2009
I spent half my life not loving breakfast. I don't know what my reasoning was as a child, but I just wasn't a fan. I distinctly remember eating only the white portion of a fried egg, leaving the yolk to bobble on the plate all by itself. Exceptions were made anytime for my mother's cinnamon french toast, but only for pancakes when they were eaten in lieu of dinner. Sometime in my college years, things changed and I consumed eggy breakfasts with abandon. I've come to terms with my love of breakfast, and indulge in a luxurious breakfast or brunch only occasionally. Recently, Jess and I headed to Rittenhouse Square to enjoy the beautiful weather and have a leisurely breakfast at Parc.
Not a traditional French breakfast by any means, I still had to try to the Eggs Benedict at Parc. I found it to be an excellent version of this eggy morning starter, with perfectly poached eggs, thin sliced salty ham and one of the most lemony hollandaise sauces I've had the pleasure to eat. If you're an Eggs Benedict fan, the version at Parc is sure to satisfy you.
Two eggs cooked any style you want, in this case, sunny-side up, are served with some very good breakfast potatoes. Loads of caramelized onions and spices are sauteed with the potatoes until everything just melds together into a mighty fine breakfast potato.
A bowl of mixed berries was adorable. But more importantly, the berries were just the right ripeness for serving. Everyone has been served under-ripe fruit at sometime by some restaurant, but at Parc that is unlikely to happen. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are garnished with a simple mint leaf and provided the perfect accompaniment to my eggs.
Since I've been on such a jam kick lately, we decided to order the tartine with jams in order to compare our homemade versions to Parc's. The french baguette is a dream, lightly toasted and served with softened whipped butter. The jam is good, but I'm happy to say, mine are better.
But Parc definitely has something special going on in the bakery department. We grabbed some baguette to take with us so my delicious homemade jams, like this one, have a swift delivery vehicle to my mouth.
227 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
It took me a little while to find, but a TV station in Utah picked up my Peanut Butter Pretzel Bite recipe and did an on-air segment about these treats and gave Foodaphilia some nice props too. Check it out!
Monday, July 13, 2009
To kick off Jess' birthday I took her and my sweetheart to Elevation Burger out in Wynnewood yesterday. Jess is a self-proclaimed Burgerbaroness, and when given a choice between a birthday brunch at Bar Ferdinand or Elevation Burger, she choose the burger. Nothing against Bar Ferdinand, but I'm glad she chose the burger. It was delicious!
Not quite as stellar as Jess' favorite fast food burger chain, In and Out Burger, Elevation Burger is quite possibly the closest we'll get to that style of fast food burger here in Pennsylvania. Luckily for us, the location in Wynnewood is just the first of three stores the chain is planning for the Philadelphia region. I think I might have a problem on my hands if one of the locations is close to Northern Liberties.
The Elevation Burger philosophy is one that echos sustainability and quality at a reasonable price in a matter of minutes. According to their website, "Elevation burger is more than just a restaurant; it is a vision for fresh food that is better for you and better for the environment". We can all get behind a mission statement like that, no?
Beef for the burgers is grass-fed, organic and ground on the premises, meaning fresh food that isn't pre-frozen into patties and shipped across the U.S. The fries, which are super crispy and perfectly salted, are fried in 100% Olive Oil, meaning no trans-fats.
Upon first bite, I was smitten. I ordered a single cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and pickles. The bun was light, held together with the power of potato and didn't overwhelm the small-ish burger the way some burger buns can. The cheese was real cheddar, none of that processed flavorless American cheese. In my opinion, the only room for improvement would be the lettuce. I really adore a nice leafy green piece of lettuce, but the standard at Elevation Burger is a piece of Iceberg. I understand the need for crunchy textural contrast, but I think that can be achieved with a nice piece of Romaine or Bibb lettuce just as easily as Iceberg.
The shakes are nothing to dismiss either. Just thick enough to make you work a little bit to get the sweet mixture up the straw, but not so thick that you pop a blood vessel in your forehead, the shakes are definitely worth the calories. You can get a Vanilla, Chocolate or Coffee shake with up to two mix-ins for the same low price. I chose Coffee ice cream and added Oreo cookies, and I was delighted with the end product. Other mix-ins include strawberries, mango, pineapple, black cherries, chocolate syrup and key lime!
Finally, the service at Elevation Burger was great. Granted, they've just opened and seem to have an abundance of staff on hand for training, but I felt really taken care of during my whole visit. It's harder to be stealthy about taking pictures with my new beautiful camera, so I'm sure I drew some attention to myself, but still, the kids who were working were very friendly, asked us repeatedly how the food was and if they could do anything for us while we were there. It was nice. Not sure if this is typical of the chain or typical of the suburbs, so it will be interesting to see what service is like when a location opens up within Philadelphia county. For now, however, I'm very very satisfied with Elevation Burger and am already planning another trip out to the 'burbs so I can scarf another delicious and sustainable burger.
50 E. Wynnewood Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096
Thursday, July 09, 2009
This is a post about Burger Club Philadelphia's latest meating at Standard Tap, and I'll get to that in just a minute. But first, I have to take a moment to point out the awesomeness that is this duck live mousse.
It was beyond creamy with just the right amount of fattiness to coat your mouth slightly, but a hint of something sweet keep it away from becoming too rich. Coupled with the toasted bread and a salad of cornichon, onions, and mustard, it was some of the best duck liver I've ever eaten. And I'd order it again. Okay, now on to the matter at hand: Burgers!
Organized by our fearless leader, Jess, from Fries with that Shake, Burger Club Philadelphia met recently on the top floor of Standard Tap, which has a reputation for a bitchin' burger.
I ordered mine medium rare with grilled onions, mushrooms and monterey jack cheese. The Tap doesn't let you get all fancy with the burgers, mushrooms and onions are the only available add-ons, all I'm saying is that it's a bummer no bacon is allowed.
But this is seriously one beautiful burger when she's all put together. The patty is clearly had formed, the cheese is from a good source, the lettuce and tomato are not skimpy in portion, and the pickles are crunchy and dill, the only kind of pickles I allow in front of me.
Cooked to my exact specification, this burger was juicy, flavorful and I inhaled it in a matter of minutes. I was shocked at how quickly I consumed this beast. When it was first placed in front of me I thought for sure that I would only be able to eat half, especially after the duck liver mousse appetizer we shared at my table. I guess my hunger for red meat has been increasing since I joined burger club, and this puppy was polished off before I'd finished my second beer!
My only real complaint was the bread. The brioche roll, which I think is from Le Bus, was a little on the stale side and crumbled when you bit into the burger. It wasn't a deal breaker for me.
Head on over to Jess's post on Fries with that Shake to read all the reviews from members of Burger Club Philadelphia on Standard Tap burger.
901 N. 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Aside from making pickled green beans occasionally with my mother when I was a kid, I have practically no canning experience. But, I've been reading Food in Jars since Marisa started sharing her expertise with all of us, so I figured berry season was the perfect time to join in the fun. I wanted to use local fresh fruit and as little sugar as possible so I could enjoy my jam without hesitation. I also added a twist to a plain raspberry jam by adding a significant citrus kick with lime juice and the powerful zest.
I had lots of traditional pectin around my house, but grabbed a box of Pomona's Universal Pectin at Whole Foods at the last minute for this Raspberry-Lime Jam. Pomona's pectin calls for making a calcium water to aid in gelling and they supply the calcium powder with every box of pectin. You simply add a little calcium powder to some water and stick it in the fridge before you start jamming.
I'm also going to give just the basic canning instruction here, if you've never done it before check out your copy of the Joy of Cooking or one of the online resources recommended by Food in Jars.
4 cups ripe red raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
Zest of one lime
2 teaspoons calcium water
2 teaspoons pectin
Wash and mash your berries. This is easy enough to do with a fork to ripe raspberries. Combine mashed berries, lime juice, lime zest and the measured calcium water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl mix the sugar with the pectin and add to the boiling fruit. Stir vigorously for two minutes to dissolve the pectin and bring jam back to a boil and remove from the heat.
Carefully fill your sterilized jars to 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe the rim of the jar clean, place on the lid and screw on the band. Then process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely, about 12 hours.
My yield was about 4 1/2 cups of finished product. Delicious finished product.
Monday, July 06, 2009
McGlinchey's Tavern is an institution in Philadelphia. Nearly everyone I know has a story, memory or nightmare that involves the cantankerous words of the bartender or the hot dogs from McGlinchey's. I was excited to hear of a new book by local photographer and McGlinchey's bartender, Sarah Stolfa.
Stolfa is a Drexel educated artist who began tending bar to make some cash, and found a bar full of regulars that became the subjects of her artistic vision. If you've ever been in for a drink, you already know that McGlinchey's is a cheap, dirty and cool bar that welcomes individuals from all walks of life with the same surly look. Stolfa manages to capture some of The Regulars and their (mostly) dour looks in her book of portraits. If you're a fan of Stolfa's or McGlinchey's and you'd like the opportunity to win a copy of The Regulars, please leave a message in the comments section with your favorite memory of McGlinchey's. Make sure to leave your comment before Friday, July 10th at noon (EST) to be included in the drawing for a copy of Sarah Stolfa's, The Regulars.
Alternatively, you can buy The Regulars online at Amazon.com
McGlinchey's Bar & Grille
259 S. 15th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102