Thursday, September 24, 2009

Strawberries were shining stars a few months ago. My friend Caralea and her friend Ruth came over bearing many many pounds of fruit, a big stock pot or two and some good conversation. With all those ingredients at the ready, we made over 30 pints of jam and learned a few lessons in jamming.
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When you have to hull, slice and mash as many berries as Ruth brought to the jam party, it gets a bit tiresome. But we were a strong team, taking turns and rotating through the tasks so no one got bored or tired of any particular job. If I had to hull all of these strawberries myself I would have surely broken down crying.
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It's a good idea to make jam when berries are at their ripest and cheapest. We didn't pick these berries, unfortunately, but they were exceptional specimens. Just sweet enough with a deep red color.
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Borrowing a large stock pot from A Full Plate was one of the best ideas we could have had. The largest pot in my collection is wimpy in comparison to this heavy duty professional kitchen variety.
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If I were to re-live this day, I would make the jam in smaller batches. We made a quadruple batch and as more experienced canners know, that's just asking for trouble! Some of our jars didn't jell and we ended up with some jam and some strawberry 'sauce' that I've been using on yogurt and ice cream, but not on toast. Oh well, you live and you learn, right? Writing this post now I'm very glad to have participated in this jam session. I'm extremely satisfied when I go down to my basement and see an entire shelf of homemade jams that I get to enjoy all fall and winter.
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In the end, even though some of our jam didn't quite turn out, it was a great afternoon, made even better with the company and take-out Chinese food! I used my favorite low sugar pectin and followed the instructions (save for quadrupling the recipe), but you can use whatever pectin you like or are comfortable with. 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.

Strawberry Jam (single batch)

4 cups ripe strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons calcium water
2 teaspoons pectin

Wash and mash your berries. This is easy enough to do with a fork to very ripe berries or use a potato masher. Combine mashed berries, lemon juice, 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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Arctic Roadrunner
No plans for dinner or socializing tonight? Come on out to a meating of Burger Club Philadelphia! Organized by my friend Jess from Fries with that Shake, we meet tonight at 6pm at Square Burger. Join the Burger Club Philadelphia facebook group for more details and updates on future meatings.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rust 'n ROOT cupcakes

My life in the past few months has been a bit out of control, but certainly fun, I dropped out of school and started a new life path fully devoted to baked goods, plus there was this little event I organized with my friends, A Full Plate's 3rd Annual Rib Cook-Off. One of our many sponsors, ROOT liqueur came out on the day of the cook-off and mixed cocktails for the crowd. But, the day before the event I whipped up some killer red velvet cupcakes with ROOT baked right inside.
All photos on this page are courtesy of Jess from Fries with That Shake

An additional nip added to the sweet cream cheese frosting made it an adult-only dessert. These cupcakes are unlike anything you've had before. The spiced ROOT liqueur adds a depth of flavor to the buttermilk cocoa cake that will keep you coming back for more.


I made nearly 300 mini cupcakes for A Full Plate's 3rd Annual Rib Cook-Off and they were gone in under a half an hour!

Rust 'n ROOT Cake or Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp ROOT liqueur

Mix all dry ingredients, including sugar, in a large bowl with a wire whisk to remove lumps. Mix all wet ingredients in a medium bowl or a large measuring cup.

Add wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until just blended.

If using cupcake pans, make sure you line them with paper muffin cups. This recipe makes enough batter to fill 24 muffin cups or 72 mini muffin cups or 2 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, 20 minutes or 45 minutes respectively.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thanks to Adam Erace and Mike Persico for this great article and photo about my leaving graduate school to pursue a life more rich with chocolate chips!

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Rib Cook-Off Recap

This year's Rib Cook-Off was a huge success! The weather cooperated and we had close to 600 people attend the event. The owners of A Full Plate and I couldn't be happier with the event, the participants and the food they grilled as well as the attendees.
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Here is a run-down on the judges final scores, as well as the crowd favorite. Judging was blind and each divisional category had a separate panel of three judges who gave each entry a score from 1 to 10 on Taste, Tenderness and Appearance.
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VEGETARIAN

Professional 1st Place = Q BBQ and Tequila Bar

Amateur 1st Place = Mediocre BBQ

BRISKET

Professional 1st Place = Q BBQ and Tequila Bar

ANYTHING GOES

Amateur 1st Place = Smokey Crossbones

RIBS

Professional 1st Place = Fran from Tower Investments

Amateur 1st Place = George Wells Meats

CROWD FAVORITE

Sonata

It was a stellar event thanks to the staff from A Full Plate and Home Slice, all of the volunteer judges who gave us their Saturday afternoon, Stoudt's Beer, ROOT liqueur and of course all the contestants who prepped long before competition day to put out their best ribs and other grilled fare. Check out all the pictures from the day, here.

We're definitely doing it again next year, so if you missed this legendary cook-off you can redeem yourself a year from now.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rib Cook-Off This Saturday!

It's Wednesday, so that means only three more days to wait until A Full Plate hosts its annual BBQ extravaganza.

The professional division is 9 teams large, so here is run-down on the competitors:

El Camino Real

Bar Ferdinand

North Bowl

Darling's Diner

Q BBQ and Tequila

Sonata

Koozeedoo (a yet-to-be-open spot taking over the Copper space on N. 2nd Street)

Mermaid BBQ (last year's 1st place winner)

Tower Investments (2007's crowd favorite winner)

Each one of these professional teams will be grilling or smoking loads of ribs, grass-fed organic brisket, and a vegetarian item for the crowd.
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The amateur division is also chock-full of talented grillers:

Little Mermaid BBQ

Mediocre BBQ

Ribbed for her Pleasure

Garden State Porkway

SoCo-licious

George Wells

Smokey Crossbones

Pork Sword

Got Ribs?

Pork Barrel Politics
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For an admission price of just $20 you get to sample the ribs from each division plus the grass-fed organic brisket and veggie options from the professional teams. In addition to the live grilling, A Full Plate cafe will be offering a buffet of all-vegetarian side dishes including:

Southern Style Slaw

Baked Beans

Brussels Sprout Salad

Sesame Kale

Mac & Cheese

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Rust'n ROOT Chocolate Cupcakes

With your $20 admission price you also get a beer from Stoudt's and a cocktail mixed with ROOT liqueur. A bottomless cup can be purchased for an additional $10. Doors open to the event at 1pm. The first 35 people through the door also get a FREE Rib Cook-Off t-shirt from Philly Fresh Prints!

A Full Plate's 3rd Annual Rib Cook-Off
2nd and N. Hancock Streets
(directly behind The Piazza @ Schmidt's)
FREE PARKING
1 pm
Saturday, September 12th

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Burger Club Philadelphia is heading to PYT in the Piazza at Schmidt's tonight for the first of 2 meatings happening in September.
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The first time I had the burger at PYT it blew my mind, repeat visits have been good, but not nearly as good as the first time around. Let's hope PYT is on point tonight for the discriminating palates of Burger Clubbers from around the city.

My advice, if you haven't been to BCP meating before or you haven't been to PYT yet, this is the perfect time to come out, meet some new friends and stuff your face! Save room for a milkshake, those things are dangerous!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Local food nerds descended upon my house a few Fridays ago bearing dishes and drinks to share. Per usual, a good time was had by all and I was stuffed by the end of the night thanks to overindulging in many many mini vegan donuts. Its always fun to get the food community together as it is constantly growing and changing. This potluck I was lucky enough to meet some faces behind some blogs that are fairly new to the scene, but definitely adding more flavor.
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Jeff from Unbreaded and his wife brought these mini caprese salad-on-a-stick lovelies. Ingenious idea that I intended to borrow straight away.

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Taylor of Mac and Cheese loosened everyone up with a special cocktail mixed with Firefly sweet tea vodka and fattened us up by bringing a plate of her famous pimento cheese sandwiches.
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At this point in the evening I'd had two of Taylor's cocktails and pretty much lost track of who brought what to the potluck, forgive me and blame Taylor for her mad cocktail mixing skills. I do distinctly remember the beautiful blackberries in that fruit salad and the large dish of roasted vegetables with pita that Olivia from No Counterspace provided.
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Marisa from Food in Jars hooked up the party with a large jar of her homemade pickles. Lucky me, upon leaving the party she poured her delicious pickle brine into a large jar for me to keep. Score! We also had a fair bit of salsa as I made a chunky, cilantro-heavy version to share and Jess from Fries with that Shake made two kick-ass salsas plus a dish of sweet and savory Texas cavier.
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You should have seen my dance of joy when the two desserts that showed up both came with fresh whipped cream! I mean, really, who could complain about that or bottle up their dance of joy? Not me, that's for sure. I also made some chewy peanut butter oatmeal cookies because I didn't have time for the chocolate whoopie pies I was hoping to make. The cookies were good, but I was outdone by the master of vegan baking: Mike from the North Port Fishington Cookie Factory.
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Mike and his friend Geri could barely walk through the living room without us all ooohing, ahhhing and reaching into the huge bakery box of donuts they brought to share with us food bloggers.
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Aside from dozens of mini donuts, Mike and Geri brought cinnamon rolls, mint chocolate brownies, big oatmeal raisin cookies (my favorite!) and peanut butter sandwich cookies. Everything is baked at Philly Kitchen Share and is cruelty free. Mike sells his sweets wholesale to a variety of local cafes, coffeeshops and restaurants. Check out the following list to find the nearest retail outlet for Mike's delicious baked goods.

North Port Fishington Cookie Factory
Mike Landers. 267.235.5538. mikelandersemail@hotmail .com
Myspace.com/northportfishington & facebook.com/northportfishington

Products are available at the following locations:

In Fishtown
Greensgrow Farms (Cumberland btw Gaul & Almond)
{Saturday market table}
Mr Bills Deli (Tulip & Berks)
Rocket Cat Café (Frankford & Norris)
Atlantis the Lost Bar (Frankford & Hagert)

In Northern Liberties
One Shot Café (Liberties Walk)
Almanac Market (4th & Poplar)
Soy Café (2nd & Fairmount)
Higher Grounds (3rd & Fairmount)

In Center City
Grindstone Café (5th btw South & Bainbridge)
The Last Drop (13th & Pine)
Natural Goodness (20th & Walnut)
Good Karma Café (22nd & Pine)

In Grad Ho
Pumpkin Market (South btw 16th & 17th)
Beauty Shop Café (20th & Fitzwater)

In South Philly
Bella Vista Natural Foods (9th in the Italian Market)
Bennas Café (8th & Wharton)
B2 (Passyunk & Dickinson)
Fantes (9th St, in the Italian market also)

In Fairmount
Flying Saucer Café (26th & Brown)

In West Philly
Mariposa Coop (47th & Baltimore)
Satellite Café (50th & Baltimore)
Earth Cup (45th & Pine)

In the burbs
Milkboy Café (Lancaster Ave; in Ardmore and in Bryn Mawr)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

This is awesome! I just wish I lived in Vermont so I could take advantage of the scoop special.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Today is the last day to enter A Full Plate's 3rd Annual Rib Cook-Off as a competitor. The entry fee for an amateur team is just $75 bucks and supplies you with a 10 X 10 foot space on Hancock Street behind the Piazza at Schimdt's to grill on, plus 12-15 racks of ribs to prepare for hungry guests. The event is Saturday, September 12th and opens to the public at 1pm.

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If you're a professional cook or restaurateur you can enter the Professional Division of competition to battle the BBQ prowess of El Camino Real and other local BBQ experts.

Categories for Professional Teams include Ribs, Brisket and Vegetarian, while categories for Amateur Teams include Ribs, Anything Goes and Vegetarian.

For the amateur category turn in times are as follows:

1:00 Vegetarian

1:30 Anything Goes

2:00 Ribs

For the professional category turn in times are as follows:

1:00 Vegtarian

2:00 Ribs

3:00 Brisket

We'll be setting the whole Rib Cook-Off up on Hancock Street behind The Piazza at Schmidt's and Stoudt's brewery and ROOT have agreed to provide samples of their libations throughout the day.

If you'd just like to show up and eat the wonderful samples from both Professional and Amateur teams as well as full buffet of vegetarian side dishes courtesy of A Full Plate Cafe, it's just 20 bucks for a ticket on the day of the event.

For details on rules and regulations or to download an entry form, please visit A Full Plate's Annual Rib Cook-Off official website.

Mark you calendars today and spread the word to your friends who think they have what it takes to compete to win First Place in the 3rd Annual Rib Cook-Off!