Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Update on Penn Appetit and the Blog

I just wanted to write a quick note about what has been happening with Penn Appetit!

First of all, I apologize for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. Penn's school year just ended, so Penn Appetit took a little breather, but we hope to get back on track with some summer posts soon. Look for some great new pieces in the next few days!

Also, our second issue was a success! We distributed the magazines quickly, and got lots of compliments on the new look. Congratulations to all involved.

Lastly, we are working this summer on developing a new website. Though the articles/PDF version of the second issue of the magazine are not up yet, they will be soon. And if all goes as planned, we'll be moving the blog to be a section of the site. More details to follow.

Our posts might be a bit less frequent over the summer, but we are aiming to get a few up per week. So please look out for them, and I'll be sure to update you about the new website!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The War on Out-of-Season Produce

Chef Gordon Ramsay is cooking up controversy in his attempts to make serving out-of-season fruits and veggies illegal in England. He claims that this policy would force chefs to be creative and have environmental benefits. His heart seems to be in the right place, but as this article on BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7390959.stm) points out, this legislation would be catastrophic for the East African farmers that rely on the trade of their produce. Also, there is a reason such trade exists: a strong demand. Are his efforts the right way to tackle this issue?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Restaurant Design

Laia Guardiola and David Benito designed the versatile interior of Plató, their Barcelona restaurant, to be absolutely transformable in color and layout. Why? To keep guests entertained and adapt to a variety of entertaining needs. It looks a bit cafeteria style, and, well, my Sunday school's dining area doubled as a gym.

Check out dezeen's rundown of the restaurant, with some great photos.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ask-A-Nutritionist (Carolina)

Q: If I need to stay up late studying, what are some healthier alternatives to caffeine and carbohydrates that I could try out for energy? – Carolina

A: Hi Carolina,

If you’re looking for healthier alternatives for a late night snack, here’s my favorite: try a cup of Greek yogurt, topped with high-fiber cereal or low-fat granola. Or, instead of cereal, add omega-3s—the “good” fat—such as almonds or walnuts. (If you’re concerned about your waistline, keep the nuts to a handful.) Sliced strawberries add sweetness. It’s the ideal pick-me-up, and the protein and fiber will give you the energy and strength you need for a long night of studying.

Rachel S. Beller, MS, RD
Beller Nutritional Institute, LLC

Want to see your nutritional question answered here? Simply submit your questions to pennappetit [dot] nutritionQandA [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

The Restaurant School at 42nd and Walnut is close to campus and offers many classes open to the public. Take a look at some of the dishes that Penn Appetit staffer Alex Leavy prepared during a class at the Restaurant School, taught by Chef Ron Giovanni.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms


2 dozen large mushrooms, such as shiitake, or button mushrooms
½ medium onion, finely diced
4 tbsp. diced celery
4 tbsp. diced red bell pepper
3 tbsp. minced garlic
½ lb. lump crabmeat, picked to remove shells
bread or panko crumbs
2 tsp. Flour
1 egg
Canola oil for sautéing
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
1 c. seafood or vegetable stock


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull stems out of mushrooms and dice stems very finely. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper, mushroom stems, and garlic in oil until onions are clear. Add flour and blend. Add stock and simmer 10 minutes. Add crabmeat and breadcrumbs, season with salt and cayenne to taste. Add one egg.

Pipe mixture into mushroom caps. Top each with enough breadcrumbs to evenly coat and bake for 12 minutes.

Brussel Sprouts with Sauteed Bacon and Apples


1 pint Brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 c. water
1 c. milk
2 tsp. salt
4 slices bacon
1 apple – peeled, cored, diced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


Cut an “X” in the bottom of each Brussels sprout to allow the cooking liquid to penetrate the inside.

Combine the water, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the brussels sprouts and reduce to simmer. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until soft.

In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, render bacon crisp. Crumble and reserve the bacon, and also reserve the fat.

Heat saute pan and add the reserved bacon fat. Sauté brussels sprouts and apple in bacon fat until heated through. Add crumbled bacon, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and combine. Serve on a warm plate, if possible.

Chef Ron Giovanni began in a pantry position, but worked his way up to become a line cook, sous chef, and executive chef. He is currently a culinary instructor at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and West Catholic High School in Philadelphia. He is developing a professional personal chef service called Dine-By-Design. Chef Giovanni can be contacted at 856-582-4889 or RonAGiovanni [at] aol [dot] com.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Saturday in the City

The annual Rittenhouse Festival came at a perfect time this year: right in the middle of finals. So on Saturday, I decided to take a break from studying and walk down to Rittenhouse Square.

Not really knowing what to expect, I was amazed to find a multitude of vendors, live bands, and even a fashion show in the middle of Walnut Street. I took in the sights and sounds of the celebration; however, it was the delightful smells of Philadelphia's top restaurants that I enjoyed the most. The Rittenhouse Festival showcased freshly prepared foods from restaurants such as the Continental Midtown, Alma de Cuba, Le Castagne, and many others.

Even though the lines were long, I couldn't pass up the temptation for a delicious D'Angelo's cannoli. Now, if I could have only washed it down with a glass of champagne provided by Le Bec Fin, the day would have been perfect. But since that wasn't going to happen, I resorted to the free Starbucks coffee.

After sampling more food than I probably should have, I relaxed in the park and listened to a local band. I walked back to campus, astonished by the great afternoon I had had downtown--although I guess anything is better than studying for finals.

Coffee Shop Hopping

It’s even better than the bars. Why? Because you can do it during the day.

It’s the middle of finals. You’re getting cabin fever from Van Pelt (not to mention to the food selection in Mark’s Café is sub-par), Buck’s is loud and filled with sorority girls planning their nights out while you are desperately trying to crank out those fifteen pages due tomorrow, and Starbuck’s just smells funny. So what do you do? Why, you get out of town, of course.

I don’t mean literally. There are a plethora of off-campus study locations (and by this I mean coffee shops, because I refuse to work out of the easy reach of food), both near and far. I aim to bring you a far from comprehensive listing of a few of the choicest options.

First, if you want to stay near campus, The Green Line Cafés, two of which are at 43rd and Baltimore and 43rd and Locust, are excellent choices. Socially responsible coffee meets edgy West Philly in a friendly neighborhood atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Baltimore location does not offer wireless access but the Locust one does. The Locust shop is also two doors down from Koch’s, so if the vegan-veggie vibes of the Green Line aren’t doing it for you, you can always pop over to Penn’s best and only deli for pounds of (free) meat.

If you want to venture farther, well, that’s when the fun starts.

Across the Schuylkill but still close:
Walnut Bridge Coffee Shop, which I think is at the intersection of the Schuylkill River and Walnut Street, offers free wireless, comfortable chairs, and chocolate truffles.

Just a little further (Rittenhouse Area):
Tuscany Café, at Rittenhouse Square and Locust (West End of the square), is my choice for morning work, as its little window-front bar gets so much sun it could probably power the whole café. (I have a think about sitting in the sun.)
Just diagonally across the square is the Center City Barnes and Noble, whose second-floor Starbucks offers better-than-Tazo teas but pay-for wireless (BOO).
In the vicinity is La Colombe, just north of Rittenhouse on 18th, famous for its coffees, and Remedy Tea Bar, at 16th and Sansom, previously reviewed on this blog.
Then, of course, there’s the park itself, although it is not conducive to productive studying.

South Street offers its own fair share of coffee shops, particularly La•Va, at 21st and South, and the Bean Café at 6th and South.

12th and Pine features The Last Drop, and 11th and Spruce is home to Spruce Street Espresso.

If you’re looking for somewhere new to study and get a little exercise while you’re at it, Philadelphia has more than its fair share of small, neighborhood coffee shops, most of whom offer wireless internet and excellent food and beverages. And the best part? No one you know is there to distract you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Beyond the Forbidden Fruit

CNNmoney.com highlights 9 foods that have been banned by government agencies for issues ranging from animal rights to public health. Resourceful and legal-savvy restaurateurs have worked around some restrictions, however, so don't be surprised if you see foie gras in Chicago!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ask-A-Nutritionist (Rob)

Q: How much caffeine is too much to have in one day, and what are the adverse effects? -Rob

A: Hi Rob,

More than 2 cups of coffee, or from 100-200 mg of caffeine, can produce anxiety and nervousness, and upset stomach. But caffeine is found in many products, from energy bars and sodas (Diet Pepsi Max has 70 mg), to ice cream (40 mg in a half-cup cup of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch). There’s even a brand of oatmeal that has the equivalent of a cup of coffee per serving for your morning jolt.

While 1-2 cups of coffee improve alertness, memory and even physical endurance, caffeine has its drawbacks. Caffeine may relieve an occasional headache, but it also increases the risk of migraines, if you are prone to them. And if you’re using coffee to sober up, you’re even more likely to have an accident. The caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, but you are still not in control of your reactions, making for a dangerous mix.

Bottom line: aim for no more than 1-2 cups of coffee per day.

Rachel S. Beller, MS, RD
Beller Nutritional Institute, LLC

Want to see your nutritional question answered here? Simply submit your questions to pennappetit [dot] nutritionQandA [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Blog Lovin' - Poached Pears in Wild Thymes and Raspberries

PhotoBlog: Dhanggit's Kitchen

After a month-long hiatus, this blogger is back in the kitchen with this colorful post. Being paired with her retelling of a spooky experience around her father's recent death, these pears are sure to freak your taste buds out.

Note: Click on the photo to see the original post.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Prunes: Food Haiku #7

prunes: purple bursts of
sweetness, sublime juiciness
--yet so regular.

Pesto Egg Salad Pita Sandwich

Pesto Egg Salad Pita Sandwich with Bell Peppers and Asparagus Sauté


For the egg salad sandwich:
4 boiled eggs
1 ½- 2 tsp. of mayonnaise (I go easy on the mayo)
2-2 ½ tsp. of pesto herb mix
¾ c. halved grape tomatoes
¾ c. chopped celery
¾ c. chopped yellow onion
Pinch of curry powder (optional)
½ c. of black olives
Whole wheat pita bread
Big spinach leaves

For the peppers and asparagus sauté:
1 c. red peppers
A handful (or a couple) of asparagus spears
1 tsp. each of basil and oregano
1/2 tsp. each of thyme, rosemary and sage
1/2 tbsp. of red wine vinegar
Salt and paprika to taste


Coarsely chop the boiled eggs. Add the tomatoes, celery, olives and onions to the eggs in a large bowl. Mix the mayonnaise and pesto in a separate bowl to avoid creating a mush of tomatoes and eggs. Add this mixture to the egg mixture and carefully toss everything around. Add salt to taste. Take your pita bread and place a few spinach leaves inside, then fill generously (or as much as the poor bread can take) with the egg salad. Before you sink your teeth into the sandwich though, quickly sauté the peppers and asparagus in a tablespoon of oil, and add in the basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano (or you could just Italian seasoning, but I prefer to make my own proportions). Add a dash of red wine vinegar, salt, and ground paprika. Serve it on the side of your sandwich and voila you’ve got a perfectly balanced meal- protein, carbs, and vegetables. Bon Appetit!

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