Saturday, March 29, 2008

Not Just Another Coffee Shop

The weekend is a perfect time to unwind—and by unwind I mean pump your body with caffeine so you can catch up on all the work you didn’t do during the week. One Saturday, jaded by the usual Starbucks and Bucks, I went in search of the Green Line Café on 43rd and Baltimore. A few of my friends had raved about it and I was curious to see how this coffee shop was any different from the rest. I prepared myself for the ‘sketchiness’ that normally pervades the streets beyond 41st, but I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the Clark Park and the quaint ground floor of a house that is now the Green Line Café.

I loosened my painful grip on my handbag, and pulled open the stained glass doors to find a very artsy, colorful, and relatively quiet crowd seated inside. The big glass panels allow a glorious stream of daylight, in contrast to the mood lighting of most cafes. All but two people man the cashier and the washing of dishes- yes that’s right- no cardboard cups!

The Green Line offers only free trade coffee, which is exceptionally flavorful and smooth (in comparison to Starbucks, who I’m convinced tries to sell burnt coffee). They stick to the basic espresso drinks but do it well: my Café Mocha was just the perfect balance of cocoa and coffee, and not just a mug of hot chocolate without the marshmallows. Green Lin has an interesting array of bagels and bagel toppings, including hummus and pesto. Their chocolate-espresso biscotti is a must-try, and the vegan chocolate chip cookie is worth a taste for its unique blend of barley, sesame, and coconut.

The Green Line Café is a great place to go for a satisfying cup of coffee and a homey atmosphere. It lets you get away from the hustle and bustle of campus and learn a little about the West Philadelphia community. Oh, and it supports fair trade! So cheers to the Green Line.

The Fresh Vegetable Mystery

Featuring torture, intoxicated onions and a kidnapping, this cartoon is definitely edgier than the Veggie Tales. An old-school whodunit from 1939 (that I watched way too many times as a child), “The Fresh Vegetable Mystery” is probably the reason I don’t like to eat my vegetables.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Penn Appetit News (and Haiku)

layout week leaves me
without time to write haiku.
a paradox, no?

This haiku is just a cheap way for me to let our readers know that we are in the process of laying out the next issue of Penn Appetit - the magazine form of it, anyway. The spring issue will be coming out on April 14! It's chock full of good stuff so far - so good that I don't want to give it away - but I can tell you that we are upgrading the printing to full color! If you want an issue and you aren't in the Philadelphia area, then please send me an email ( with your name and address. I was lax about sending them out this past semester, but I will be sure to get the spring issue out to whoever wants it.

One other exciting thing: we are having an event with Ellen Yin, the owner of Fork Restaurant in Old City, Philadelphia, and also a Penn alum. Read more about her career and love of food here. And here's the flyer for the event:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Truffle Treats

As a college freshman, I’ve experienced the infuriating annoyance of being equipped with only a fridge and microwave. As a result, I’ve become quite an experienced “no-bake chef.” There are a number of oven-free recipes in circulation, and while some of them are awful, this Oreo Truffle recipe is quick, easy, and delicious!

Oreo Truffles
(adapted from Kraft foods)


1 package of Oreos (the “Double Stuff” work best)
1 8-oz. block of cream cheese
1 12-oz. bag white chocolate chips


Crush the whole bag of Oreos until finely crumbled. Mix Oreo crumbs and block of cream cheese together into a well-blended paste. Roll the mixture into marble-sized balls, and place in the freezer to harden. Meanwhile, melt a bag of Chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl (I used white chocolate, but dark and milk work well too!)

After 5 or 10 minutes, take the semi-hardened balls out of the freezer and quickly dunk into the melted chocolate. For decoration, sprinkle some of the remaining Oreo crumbs on top of the truffles, and place back in the freezer for a few minutes to harden.

This recipe should yield roughly 40-50 truffles, depending on their size.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Best Cookie in Town

Okay, so it’s not delivered to your house at two in the morning. But east or west of the Schuylkill, the best oatmeal raisin cookie in Philadelphia is at Metropolitan Bakery.

About four to five inches in diameter, this chunky, nutty goodie is jam-packed with oats, raisins, and pecans. Almost more trail mix than dessert, Metro’s cookie is a satisfying breakfast treat or replenishing afternoon snack. They really are made of oatmeal, unlike many oatmeal raisin cookies that are more like cookie dough with a vague smattering of oats and raisins. The deliciousness is enriched by the expert use of spices. Each bite is as good as the last and you are almost guaranteed to get a raisin or a nut or both every time.

If you are looking for a hearty but sweet treat, Metropolitan is the place to be. If oatmeal raisin isn’t your style, their chocolate chip walnut is almost as good (and just as big). Get your cookie today for only $1.75 at 40th and Walnut on campus, or at 19th and Manning (just south of Rittenhouse Square) in Center City, or at Reading Terminal Market!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Julia Child Would Approve

My boyfriend Oscar is a foodie. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Only he would be willing to sit through my ramblings about a new recipe for pork and sage pies and, to my delight, actually get excited about it with me. Being in a long-distance relationship, we often talk about what we will do once we see each other again – namely, what restaurants we have to try or what foods we will make together. In one of these many conversations, Oscar brought up his (supposedly) famous French onion soup, which he contends is the best around. It’s a collaborative Julia Child and Jacques Pepin recipe with Oscar’s own added touch. Bringing up this soup sent Oscar on a tangent about its many wonders. “No, Marianne, you don’t understand, it’s seriously the best soup ever. Beef broth, sherry, and Gruyere cheese are the only ways to go,” he’d say. Well, of course he had to make it for me over spring break. But we took it one step further, and decided to make a French feast. I had made filet mignon with goat cheese for Christmas dinner last year. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to match our dishes up for an elegant meal back home.

The end result was a hit with both our palates. Caramelizing the onions with thyme and butter for the soup sent a wonderful aroma throughout the house. On three separate occasions, Oscar’s mom, dad, and sister walked in to ask what that wonderful smell was. Oscar took great pleasure in adding the sherry, beaming, “It makes the soup.” Simmering the onions in beef broth was easy enough, but we may have overdone the Gruyere cheese - the soup seemed to be half cheese, half broth. But for all his hype, the soup did not disappoint. The thyme and sherry sold me. To my surprise, it wasn’t, as most soups are, overly salty. I asked for seconds and thirds, which Oscar was all too willing to oblige me.

I seared the filet mignon from Whole Foods without incident. Oscar is a meat-lover, and since I rarely eat meat, he coaches me on all things cow. He’s a big proponent of seasoning steaks with salt, pepper and nothing else. So, I did just that, and added a balsamic glaze. The glaze was unexpectedly sweet and rich, a bit like molasses. I recommend making it right before the meal because if you let it sit, it solidifies into a sticky mess. The goat cheese broiled on the steaks provided a nice tang to contrast the glaze's sweetness. After a long time of slaving away in the kitchen, we finally sat down to what was truly a French feast.

Chef Oscar's Onion Soup Gratinée
Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home


2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp butter
11⁄2 pounds onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp minced thyme, or 1⁄2 tsp dried time
1⁄2 tsp salt or to taste
5 cups hot beef stock
1⁄4 tsp black pepper or to taste
1⁄4 cup sherry
1⁄4 inch thick baguette slices
3⁄4 cup grated Gruyere cheese


Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions, thyme, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and mix together thoroughly. Cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are tender, uncover and raise the heat slightly. Cook for another 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the hot stock and bring the soup to a boil. Add salt, black pepper, and sherry. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

To make croutons, toast a dozen or so baguette slices on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven. When the soup is ready, arrange individual crocks on a baking sheet. Put the croutons into the bottom of each crock. Ladle in a cup of soup. Heap a large mound of grated cheese all over the surface of the soup, using the rest of the cheese.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.


Giada’s Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup


1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
6 (5 to 6-ounce) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese


Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Crumble the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce around the steaks and serve.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holiday Wishes

Post a favorite Easter recipe or a link to one!

The Trials and Tribulations of a Loca-Vegan

I recently read a book that ALMOST convinced me to become vegan (or at least eat like one). As a non-meat-eating lactose-intolerant, I am already 2/3 of the way there. Although written as a diet/weight loss book, Skinny Bitch argues for veganism primarily for health reasons, but also for environmental and social reasons. Most of their arguments stem from the fact that the highly industrialized method of meat, dairy, and egg production often leads to more contamination than we’d like to acknowlede. Really, who wants arsenic in their omelette? Not I.

But therein lies my problem with the book’s arguments for veganism. I am fully prepared to stop supporting the “industry”: I will refuse to consume or purchase any animal product that was produced in a questionable manner. But what about small family farms? What about hunters? Can I eat the fish my friend caught off his boat? (This is relevant: I live in Maine.) It's difficult to argue that eggs coming from small, local, organic farms are ridden with chemicals and pesticides. The same is true for meat and fish: if I can meet the guy that shot the deer, and he skinned it and butchered it, I’ll eat it. Hunting is sustainable. Cattle overgrazing the land and mass-slaughtering is NOT.

At first I was enthralled with the idea of veganism: it seems as though it really is healthier and generally more sustainable than the majority of the meat and dairy industries. But I've realized that the deciding issue for me is not animal rights (although most slaughterhouses are abhorrent) but impact on the environment, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Hence I chose a new route, not really vegan but inspired by it. This is my personal loca-veganism. But I won’t judge you – you can eat whatever you want.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friend of the Devil - Food Haiku #5

if circles never end,
can my bundt cake continue
until forever?

A cake I made with my friend Yuuki, using the Devil's Food Cockaigne recipe from Joy of Cooking and a modified version of this spicy glaze from the blog Authentic Deliciousness

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Colorful Wheat Berry Salad

Recently, after resolving to be more adventurous in my grain consumption, I picked up some wheat berries from Whole Foods. I had never cooked them before and only knew that they are unprocessed wheat kernels that are ground into flour. I was pleasantly surprised by their nutty taste and texture and found them easy to prepare. Even though it's winter, I made a colorful salad to be served at room temperature and it brightened up my day!

For this recipe you will most likely want to use the high-protein variety, known as hard wheat berries (as opposed to the "soft" low-protein wheat berries).

Colorful Wheat Berry Salad
Recipe adapted from


1 cup wheat berries
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 green onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
sunflower seeds, toasted (optional)


Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add wheat berries, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add red onion; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 4 tablespoons oil, then vinegar; whisk to blend.

Toss wheat berries, green onions, carrots, bell pepper, parsley, and sunflower seeds in large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pinkberry: A Froyo Fantasy


Tart and sweet,
fresh and airy…
Swirly and fluffy
exquisite dream.

Lady Tigra perkily serenades you in the peppy theme song for Pinkberry entitled "Pinkberry Remix.". This frozen yogurt haven was founded in January 2005 near Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. Presently there are 47 locations in both California and New York with many more to come.

Step into any Pinkberry location and electronic dance music swallows your eardrums as your body pulses and vibrates to the beat. Scanning the room, your eyes gracefully slip and slide along smooth shades of white, orange, and green. Arriving at the counter, you are presented with three flavor options: original, green tea, and the recently added mocha in one of three sizes: 0.7, 1.1 or 1.8 cups. Next come the toppings. You choose from a selection of fresh fruit and dry treats ranging from cocoa pebbles to pineapples to almonds. Shifting aside, your gaze is focused on the preparation of your creation. At the sound of your name, you take the custom delicacy and travel the ten feet to your table. Finally, your fantasy is realized and Lady Tigra’s promise for tart-airy-fluffy-exquisiteness is fulfilled. You are in heaven.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Food and Fashion

Sure, both are guilty pleasures, but I used to think the link between food and fashion was tenuous at best. Then came this dress:

And this dessert-- proof that designers can make just about anything way too expensive:

And of course, I'm not-so-patiently waiting for the next season of Project Runway and its obligatory food challenge!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Blog Lovin' - Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

Photo Blogger: Tarah
Blog: Genesis of a Cook

This eighteen-year-old baker and cook from the UK comes up with fun new recipes to satisfy her family's tummies. Inspired by her own cinnamon cravings and constrained by her family's taste buds, these cinnamon sugar muffins are a guaranteed quick treat!

Note: Click on the photo to see Tarah's original post.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Blog Lovin' - Absolute Favourites

Photo Blogger: Lisa
Blog: spicy icecream

This nineteen-year-old Australian graphic designer creates family-inspired dishes with a Down Under flair. After almost a year of tweaking from its original recipe in Fresh Magazine, this moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is simply tantalizing.

Note: Click on the photo to see Lisa's original post.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

ABP "Downsizing"

There is an article in the Boston Globe today about how Au Bon Pain is launching a "Portions" line of smaller dishes. Each one will have fewer than 200 calories, but will cost between $3 and $3.50. I'm hoping our blog readers will respond to this. What do you think the aim of this new project is? Is it just a straight-up money-making scheme, or do you think ABP is really trying to go French and offer smaller portion sizes?

It's an interesting way to go about business. Do you think the new line will be successful or popular at Penn? Maybe I'm reading too far into this, but the idea intrigued me.

Monkey Cake

Here's a delicious recipe for what is quite possibly the easiest dessert you can call a cake.

Monkey Cake


1 1/2 sticks of butter (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon
4 8-oz packages of buttermilk biscuits


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate and cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Mix the sugar and the cinnamon in a plastic bag, and stick the biscuit pieces in the bag and shake 'em up. Take out half of the biscuit pieces and put them in a bundt pan. Melt the butter and 1 cup of sugar and pour 2/3 of this over the biscuits in the pan. Put the rest of the biscuit pieces on top and cover with the remaining butter-sugar mix. Bake for 35-40 minutes our until golden brown. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Just Like Mama Used to Make

“Can I please get a large Mama’s?”
“White or wheat?”
“Wheat please.”
“Why wheat? White tastes better and is healthier."
“Haha, okay.”
“You want hot sauce?”
“A little bit.”
“Have you been here before?”
“Yeah, a lot.”
“Do you live here?”
“I go to school here.”
“I go to Penn.”
“Ooh, so you’re smart.”
“I try.”

This is the kind of friendly (and if you’re a girl, flirtatious) service you can expect from the cute Israeli boys behind the counter at Mama’s Vegetarian, the infamous Kosher falafel joint on 20th, between Market and Chestnut. Falafel from Mama’s is something of a Sunday afternoon tradition for me.

The falafel are always hot out of the deep fryer and the necessary condiments are constantly being refilled from buckets of freshly chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. The guys who make your sandwich are not only good-looking with exotic accents, but they assemble your meal like only a professional falafelist could. The slice, spread, dollop, scoop, 3 falafel, scoop, 2 falafel, squeeze of's a process that makes you feel like you're watching a well-oiled machine. The only delay can be when you have to wait for more falafel to come out of the fryer, which in the end is even better because they are hot and greasy and even more delicious.

Expect to see all sorts of unexpected clientele at Mama’s on your average Sunday afternoon. You have the older Orthodox Jewish couple, the young Israelis, the Orthodox college students, maybe an Asian or Indian kid, and many others of ambiguous descent. Basically, everyone goes to Mama’s. And you’d be silly not to – where else can you get a hearty and delicious meal, entertaining service included, for only $5? That doesn’t include the wide selection of Israeli beverages in the cooler or the numerous side dishes.

If you’re there during peak hours, be prepared to wait--after all, Mama’s is no secret. And they aren't open on Saturdays because of Shabbat--this is probably the main drawback of it being a Kosher restaurant. Mama's is cash only, but there is a Wawa with a no-surcharge ATM at 20th and Chestnut.

If you haven’t been to Mama’s, I recommend going. It's my favorite restaurant in this entire city, although I probably haven’t been to enough to seriously judge. It's at least my favorite lunch spot. And if for some reason you find yourself down on South Street, or if you want meat, there is Mama’s Grill between 6th and 7th.

Moral of the story: eat at Mama’s!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Rachel Beller is a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences. She is the president and founder of the Beller Nutritional Institute, a Los Angeles based company that focuses on weight loss, disease prevention, and maintaining a healthy dietary lifestyle.

I am very pleased to announce that Rachel Beller will be answering YOUR nutritional questions every other week! Submit your questions to pennappetit [dot] nutritionQandA [at] gmail [dot] com and if your question is chosen, it will be posted alongside Rachel's answer right here on the blog.

Keep your questions coming!

Note: Click on the logo to see Rachel Beller's website.

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