Monday, December 24, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread houses have been a tradition for my family since I was a two year old who had to stand on a chair just to peak over the edge of the kitchen counter and who did a better job decorating herself with icing and candy than she did decorating the gingerbread house. Despite all the hours we’d put into decorating gingerbread houses over the years, however, we hadn’t been to a gingerbread house competition until this year. While our own gingerbread house – a farmyard theme this year – was not ready to enter into the competition, we enjoyed looking at the various entries. Most were the cute but rushed work of scout troops and young families, a few were truly beautiful, and all were full of Christmas spirit. Below are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fall 2012 Issue on Issuu!

Our beautiful Fall 2012 issue is up on Issuu! Many thanks to all the contributors who made this semester's issue possible.

Check it out here:


Sunday, December 9, 2012

News Feed: A Round-Up of the Week's Top Food Stories

• SHAMELESS PLUG: Check out Penn Appétit's Fall 2012 issue! An online link/pdf will be available on Monday. Physical copies can be picked up in Kelly Writers House, Van Pelt, Huntsman, 1920 Commons, Williams, Houston Hall, and the High Rise Lobbies!

• Christmas is coming early: Crumbs Bake Shop is planning a soft opening for Monday, December 10, at its latest 133 S. 18th Street location

What’s a Foowich? Midtown Lunch reviews the latest food truck to take Philly by storm

• LaBan concedes that Pizza Brain is more than just a "funky slice shop and a North Philly hipster prank on the world"

Stephen Starr is opening a larger version of El Vez in New York City

• Campus favorite Hummus Grill is expanding to Center City

• Holiday shopping: The New York Times Dining section has compiled the best gifts for food lovers

• Food writer Josh Ozersky (founding editor of Grub Street) asks: is Yelp really for morons?

• Hate noisy restaurants? You're not alone! A Today Show report shows some reach a stunning lawnmower-comparable volume of 90 decibels

• Foodies, start panicking now: a new study shows you lose your sense of taste with age

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Night Excursion: Le Bercail

After conducting a rather random search for something cultural to eat on Friday night, my friends and I came across Le Bercail- a Senegalese/French ethnic enclave. This new restaurant is located on 45th and Baltimore in West Philly. Housed in a converted duplex, it truly is a gem in the rough.

The food is absolutely amazing and inexpensive. The majority of the entrees are $10 or below and the portions are very generous. Le Bercail serves Senegalese fried rice and chicken, fried okra, chawarma and many other options. I highly recommend their Dibi viande entree, which consists of grilled lamb with a choice of rice and beans, cassava couscous or fried plantains as sides. I ordered this dish with rice and beans, or “riz aux haircots” in French. The lamb pieces were generously seasoned and very tasty. I could have ordered the rice and beans by itself and been just as pleased with my meal. My friends ordered Dibi viande, chawarma with chicken, and grilled chicken chops. My friend noted that her grilled chicken chops were also well seasoned and her side of fried plantains tasted delicious.

However, a major downside to the restaurant is the service. Our server was very inattentive even though there were very few patrons present. If you’re willing to look past the poor service for some incredible food, then I suggest you try the restaurant. In my opinion Le Bercail would be better fit for takeout based on the prices and the service.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

11th Issue Launch + 5 Year Anniversary + Potluck TONIGHT!


EVENT PROGRAM: A few words from past Penn Appétit editors Emma Morgenstern (C'10), ; gallery show of Penn Appétit artwork; readings of Penn Appétit articles; potluck and mingling. Lots of copies of Fall 2012 issue to go around.

We'll be celebrating the launch of the issue and the magazine's five-year anniversary with a potluck at the Kelly Writers House. It's going to be a really special event; all of Penn Appétit's past editors will be back: Emma Morgenstern (C'10) (magazine's founder!), Elise Dihlmann-Malzer (C'11), and Alex Marcus (W'12). We'll also be setting up a gallery show of Penn Appétit artwork, and we'll have readings of some of our sweetest and funniest pieces. Plus, you can get a copy of our issue.

Come! Bring friends and food. Comfort food is a good way to go, as that's our theme, but feel free to bring whatever you want.

Trip to Old City: Fork

“It’s like a theater,” says Ellen Yin of her buzzed-about restaurant, Fork, to a flock of spectators from Penn. Every day Yin, her new chef Eli Kulp, and the rest of their team put on a show, usually to a full house.

Like any seasoned producer, Yin thought carefully before she drew back Fork’s curtain in 1997. She selected a business partner, studied the competition, brought financial backers on board, and negotiated a promising location.

The acts at Fork are inspired by the set: a vast, high-ceilinged dining room that Yin speaks of warmly. A few months back, server and artist Tony Demeles outfitted its two center-stage walls in matching murals, tableaus of ghostly saplings, rusty shadows, and sunshiny streaks. Yin calls the space, “Vibrant, forward, and contemporary,” just like the fare dished up in house.

Man of the hour Eli Kulp is busy breaking duck legs behind the scenes. If Yin is Fork’s entrepreneurial producer, Kulp is its visionary director. He looks like a football player, but handles a tangle of radicchio like it’s a baby bird’s nest. His shtick is age-old technique meets space-age science meets aesthetic uplift.

This afternoon, as is his style, Kulp’s killing a number, plating duck done three ways for his now-drooling audience.

Word of mouth is that the Chinese-inspired dishes they tasted five minutes later were both delicious and economical: meatballs made of leg and drenched in sauce made of liver, jewel-toned prosciutto cured, dried, and sliced playbill-thin, cross-sections of breast. The money note is the breast’s skin, which melts on your tongue like candy.

The students scrape their plates clean and have to break from salaciously licking duck fat off of their fingers because Kulp has reemerged from the wings. This crew deserves a hand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Comfort Food: Chicken Pot Pie

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our bloggers' favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe is:
Chicken Pot Pie

Each of us has that one dish that evokes feelings of warmth, home and comfort. Just one bite will make you feel as if your wrapped in five warm blankets, instantly soothing your angsty soul. For me, that dish is chicken pot-pie. A hearty creamy blend of tender chicken and vegetables topped with a flaky and buttery crust makes for a meal that simply oozes coziness. Whether you’re creating comfort for one in a single bowl, or doling out relief to many, chicken potpie is a true taste of home-away-from-home.

-Amanda Shulman

The Recipe

4 cups chicken broth
4 chicken breasts
½ stick salted butter (4 tbs)
3 tbs flour
½ cup heavy cream
8 small potatoes, halved
1 cup baby carrots
1 vidalia onion, roughly chopped
1 cup frozen peas
garlic powder
1 pre-made pie crust
1 egg, beaten

Pour the chicken broth into a large pasta pot. Put on high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the chicken breasts and turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove the chicken from the broth with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate to cool until able to handle. Shred the chicken with your hands into large hearty chunks, set aside. Keep the broth on a high simmer.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small saucepan melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly until a thick caramel colored mixture is formed. This is your roux. Once the roux is a thick sticky mixture, whisk it into the broth. Once fully mixed, add the cream, continuing to simmer. The mixture should be a milky white color and should be thick and creamy. Bring to a boil. Once boiling drop in the potatoes. After 10 minutes, they should be pretty fork tender. Bring down the heat to a simmer and add in the onions and carrots, cook for 10 more minutes. Stir in the chicken and peas. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Pour the entire mixture into a greased casserole dish.
Roll out the pie crust and lay it over the filling, pinching the sides at the edges. Brush the beaten egg over the top of the crust (will make it nice and golden brown). Cut 4 slits in the center in a design to let the steam escape. Sprinkle the whole crust with salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden and flaky. Serve yourself and your friends big spoonfuls.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Oh my god, my stomach hurts. No, it is not food poisoning. No, I do not have a stomach bug. Despite all my upcoming finals and pesky presentations, I make time for what matters most: experimenting with and obsessing over desserts. I just ate ¼ of a loaf of banana bread, several different types of baklava, many, MANY brownies, gelato, and a quarter pound cookie. Dessert night rules. Recently, I have been trying to find the perfect whole-wheat banana bread recipe. Baking with whole wheat is often a huge pain, because it does not act like white flour, and most types of whole wheat flours carry with them a weird bitter taste. However, I recently discovered white whole wheat flour at Trader Joe’s.

I initially believed it was some marketing BS, that “white whole wheat flour” was just white flour, but in fact, it is whole wheat, and it is good. Really good. Regular white and whole wheat flours are milled from red wheat. White whole wheat flour is milled from white wheat. It does not have the typical whole wheat taste, but it still has its properties. I do not know the specifics, but, basically, white flour has had the bran and germ from the wheat removed. This makes things made with white flour lighter and fluffier than things baked with whole wheat flour, but it also makes the flour itself much less nutritious! So, when I’m making something like banana bread and want to pretend that I’m being healthy (healthier at least), I use whole wheat flour.

I have tried several whole wheat banana bread recipes, but this one takes the cake. Or bread. Whatever. This whole wheat bread is the closest to white flour banana bread as I've ever had. Yum. Of course, it benefited from my chocolate layer technique, but so do all the banana breads I bake, regardless of recipe. I also ignored all the stuff about the millet, because I don't have time to go find some!

So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Crackly Banana Bread
(From Smitten Kitchen)

3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup (80 ml) virgin coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies, or olive oil
1/3 cup (65 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 to 1/3 cup (60 to 80 ml) maple syrup (less for less sweetness, of course)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) white whole-wheat flour (or flour mixture of your choice, see Note up top)
1/4 cup (50 grams) uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until virtually smooth but a few tiny lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, syrup and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then millet.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.

Here are my pictures of me putting pieces of the chocolate layers in and a picture of the finished product. I forgot to take a picture until like 30 minutes after it came out of the oven, and by then my housemates and I had almost finished it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Comfort Food: Spaghetti and Garlic Bread

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our bloggers' favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe:
Spaghetti with sausages and meatballs and a side of garlic bread

On a cold winter’s day, there may be nothing more comforting than indulging in a bowl (or plate, depending on your style) of hot spaghetti with sausages and meatballs. As a young girl, I remember the delight of watching my mom prepare the meal. She would effortlessly sprinkle spices into the pot, creating a rich sauce perfectly accented by the Italian seasonings and red wine. But, spaghetti nights were not completely filled with sheer enjoyment. For, I remember how disgusted I was with the prospect of touching raw meat to form the meatballs! Whenever I helped make this dish, my mom would always tease me while she prepared the meatballs, holding out her meat-encrusted hands with amusement. I, however, would focus on the chopping of ingredients or on the sautéing of the sausages or meatballs, desperately trying to avoid glancing at the meatball preparation. Yet now that I’m away from home, I’ve had quite a craving for my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. If I can only get over my fear of forming the meatballs, I’ll be good to go! Below is my mom’s recipe for spaghetti with sausages and meatballs. The spaghetti normally lasts my family of four two days. I always think that the second day is the best, since the flavors of the sauce have been able to marinate together. So, even if you only have a little bit left after the first night, keep it! My mom also really likes spicy food, so this recipe can tend to be a little on the hot side. If you prefer less spicy spaghetti, use sweet sausage rather than hot Italian sausage (Andouille is particularly delicious!). You can also omit the red pepper. But, I highly recommend trying the spaghetti as is—sometimes, a bit of spice is rather nice! Also—we always have our spaghetti with garlic bread! I’ve included the recipe below as well.

-Katie Behrman

The Recipe

Ingredients (meatballs)

One package ground sirloin (between 1 and 1.5 lbs)
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, chopped, one to put in meatball mixture and one to sauté
½ c seasoned breadcrumbs
¼ c milk
1 carrot, chopped (optional)
½ med onion, chopped
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper for meatball mixture + ¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper to sauté
1/8 tsp kosher or sea salt ¼ tsp basil (dried)
¼ tsp oregano
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to sauté

Directions (meatballs)

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl and form mixture into balls with bare hands(around 12-15).
Sauté 1 clove chopped garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, and ¼ tsp black pepper in frying pan until fragrant. ADD meatballs and cook over med-low heat around twenty minutes (don’t handle the meatballs too much as they can easily break. I find it helpful to rotate the meatballs about every 5 minutes—when the side has been browned). The meatballs do not need to be fully cooked, as they’ll cook in the sauce.

Ingredients (spaghetti sauce)

Meatballs (see above)
One package Hot Italian Sausage (or sweet if you prefer)
2 29 oz cans tomato sauce (Hunt’s is good)
2 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes, Italian style
1 small can tomato paste
around 6 leaves fresh basil, torn
1 tsp red pepper, crushed
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
½-1 onion, chopped
one red and one green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ c – 1 c red wine (cabernet sauvignon) (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea or kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Directions (spaghetti sauce)

Cook sausage in frying pan while cooking meatballs in another frying pan, around twenty minutes. After sausage is cooked, transfer to a plate with paper towels and dab away the grease. Then, slice sausage fairly thick.
Begin sauce. In a dutch-oven, sauté garlic, pepper (1/4 tsp) and onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat until onions are translucent, around three minutes. Add peppers and cook an additional three – five minutes, if desired.
Add tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, oregano, basil, bay leaf, red pepper, tomato paste and red wine to the dutch-oven. Season to taste with salt and pepper. ADD sausage and meatballs to the sauce.
Simmer covered on med-low heat around thirty minutes (the longer you simmer, the longer the flavors will have to blend together!).
Serve over thin spaghetti or vermicelli (cooked according to package directions).

Ingredients (garlic bread)

1 baguette
½-1 stick butter (softened)
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh basil (optional, though encouraged)
Parmesan cheese (optional, though encouraged)

Directions (garlic bread)

Cut bread horizontally (so that there’s a top and a bottom).
Add garlic to softened butter and mix with fork.
Spread butter mixture onto bread.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Bake at 350F or broil wrapped in tinfoil until golden brown.
*Note: You can never have too much butter, air on the side of decadence!

Comfort Food: Macaroni and Cheese

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our bloggers' favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe:
Macaroni and Cheese

Something magical happens when you combine pasta with cheese. Pasta itself is yummy and cheese is one of my top food groups, but a marriage of the two creates my favorite comfort food- mac and cheese.

Like any other die-hard macaroni and cheese fan, I don’t discriminate between the fancy and cheap stuff. I was the girl who got far too excited about mac-and-cheese day in the elementary school cafeteria. I spent a sizeable part of my childhood winters contentedly eating Annie’s Shells and Cheddar by the bowlful, and still perk up at the sight of its iconic purple box. In my opinion, mac and cheese is just as good in a paper bowl as a glass dish- both White Dog’s savory lobster mac and cheese and Boston Market’s gooey cheesy mac rank close to heavenly on my list. And I will admit, at late hours of the night, even Wawa mac and cheese has something to offer.

Until recently, mac and cheese was something that was prepared for me, and I had never attempted it myself. However, with a kitchen of my own this year, I decided with my friend, a fellow mac-and-cheese aficionado, to try making some of our own. We found a Martha Stewart recipe on the popular food blog SmittenKitchen, and the results were incredible.

We knew we had found something special, even before the mac and cheese was done, upon sampling the cheese sauce. My friend and I would have been completely content simply eating the cheese sauce from the pot- the combination of milk, butter, Wisconsin white cheddar cheese, and pepper was unlike anything I’d ever tasted.

When I took my first bite of the final product, I knew I had found my new favorite. It was honestly one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had. How such simple ingredients could yield something so delicious never fails to amaze me- every single person who I (begrudgingly) offered it to instantly was hooked. The white cheddar was smooth and creamy, and the kick of pepper kept the cheese from dulling my taste buds. The entire combination was pure comfort.

I’m tempted to say this is one of the finest mac and cheeses I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. I'm also not a super experienced cook, and this was so easy to prepare. I have a feeling when I’m home for winter break, this is going to replace Annie’s Shells and Cheddar as a staple. This savory, gooey, cheesy dish is simply too good to pass up.

Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

Serves 12
Note: When my friend and I made the mac-and-cheese we adjusted it to four servings. We used pre-made breadcrumbs, omitted the nutmeg, and used packaged crumbled parmasean cheese. The first two changes were completely acceptable, but in the future, I'd definitely recommend using fresh grated parmesan instead for improved melting and a smoother texture.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Comfort Food: Clam Chowder

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our blogger's favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe is:
Port Townsend Clam Chowder

Everyone knows that clam chowder is considered a quintessential New England food. However, like most Northwesterners, clam chowder played a large part in my childhood too. The begginings of clam chowder in the Pacific Northwest can be traced to the sucessful Seattle seafood-joint Ivar's Chowder House, opened in 1946 by folk singer Ivar Haglund. The restraunt was so sucessful, in fact, that Haglund's song "Acres of Clams" is now Washington's unofficial state song. Now Ivar's clam chowder is sold everywhere- you can buy a bowl while watching a Mariner baseball game or while riding a ferry boat across the Puget Sound.

As delicious as Ivar's clam chowder is, I'm partial to my grandma's recipe that has been passed down to me. In the 1960s my grandma would make her chowder from clams that my grandpa, mom and aunts had freshly dug from Marrowstone Island, across the water from their home of Port Townsend, WA. Nowadays, however, my family prepares it with canned clams that you can find at any grocery store.

-Elliott Brooks

The Recipe


3 Tbsp butter
2 yellow onions
1/2 lb. bacon pieces,chopped
1 large potato, cubed
1 cup chopped clams
1 pint (2 C) heavy cream or half-and-half or milk
Clam nectar (steaming juice) or commercially bottled clam juice or potato cooking water or milk as needed
Salt and pepper to taste


Brown bacon pieces and reserve.
Drain all but 1 T bacon fat from skillet add butter and saute onions slowly till golden and well cooked.
In saucepan place potatoes and cover with cold water.
Bring to boil and slow boil 20 minutes or until soft.
Add potato to onions, add bacon, clams and cream.
Dilute to taste with clam nectar.
Heat but do NOT boil.
Season to taste.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

News Feed: A Round-Up of the Week's Top Food Stories

Mobile Eats: Penn student reviews Pure Fare Food Truck at 40th and Locust for Midtown Lunch

College Life: The WALK blog has a guide for the best hangover foods, on and off campus

• According to their Twitter, Kung Fu Hoagies is in...Vietnam and Cambodia! Don't worrythey'll be back at their normal 38th & Sansom location next week

SHAMELESS PLUG: Check out Penn Appétit's Editor-In-Chief Eesha Sardesai's travel guide for Santa Fe, New Mexico in Saveur

• More changes at the Reading Terminal: Basic 4 Vegetarian Cafe is closing it's stall after 31 years

• Two Eat Philly go behind the scenes at Shane Confectionery and Franklin Fountain 

• Whacky Food: NPR's food blog taste tests a "butter and sugar burger," inspired by a menu item in Singapore

The New York Times is asking readers to share their recipes for holiday sweets; three will be published in print in the December 19th Dining section!

Afternoon with a Haute Dog Artist

Hawk Krall has arranged a hot dog experiment. He’s put water on the stove and Russian dogs out to thaw on the counter. There’s a pink Molochnie Frank, an orange Vienna Sausage, and a rust-colored Parowki Cieleco-Wieprzowe.

Krall is a graphic artist and a recovering chef. He’s all looseness and liberation: a surfer personality who looks like a young Santa. The stove and counter in question are inside of his row house on Rosewood Street, eighteen blocks east of the Schuykill River.

He takes a step back from the franks, stretches his arms wide, and adjusts his spectacles. These Russians could possibly be the well-made, time-honored, natural casing dogs he’s been looking for.

Krall is the hot dog guy at Serious Eats, a food blog with one hundred contributors nationwide. Every week, he finds a new wiener to celebrate through writing and illustration. His cartoons have been featured locally – at Pizza Brain, the nation’s first pizza museum and tube steak haven Hot Diggity – as well as nationally – in Every Day with Rachael Ray. Last August, he hosted a hot dog demonstration at Audrey Claire’s Cook. Label-shedding aside (he’s quick to say the real hot dog authority is living incognito in Jersey) Hawk is a true frankfurter connoisseur.
In Memphis, he found a split dog cooking in one hundred year old grease. In Portland, he found a quarter pound frank being stuffed on site. And in the summer of 2010, Krall drove across South Carolina in pursuit of the best southern dog, only to stumble upon it at a strip mall.

Of course, the hot dog man can’t afford to hit every stand in the nation. But he’s got informants in meaty places who are excited to tell him about their finds. They alert him to rare breeds, like dogs sold in baseball stadiums. A few years ago, Krall heard about a stadium frank slathered in peanut butter and sprinkled with chocolate chips. He couldn’t get close enough to taste it, but his review of it blew up online. “It’s all like gross food, yeah!” he says. “Those are the ones people go crazy about. The editors are like, ‘Do another one of those.’”

The fridge beside the cold dogs is bursting. There are three kinds of pickles, a slew of slaw, a multitude of mayonnaise bottles, and mustards to make your mouth water.

Krall drops the franks in now boiling water. As they cook, he shows off his studio, a happy, cluttered exhibition of his own work and the work of people he admires. His desk is stacked high with Serious Eats wiener cartoons, which he sells on his website as prints and t-shirts.

Krall selects a Coney Island dog illustration and points to a spot where the ink line runs too thick. “I would fix that now,” Krall grins. “I wouldn’t just leave it there.”

While Krall likes food, he loves illustrating. A Jenkintown native and the son of an art director and freelance painter, Krall always knew he was going to be an artist. His mother brought her nine-year-old to Penn’s Landing and Reading Terminal Market to draw. “My mother,” Krall says, “Taught me how to draw from life.” The process taught Hawk everything he knows, but it wasn’t all fun and games. “It was serious,” he says. “It wasn’t like ‘Oh good job, Hawkey, you drew something.’ It was like, ‘You need to fix that perspective.’”

Krall’s adolescence and twenties were Anthony Bourdain meets Robert Crumb. He worked at restaurants – Pizza Hut in Jenkintown at sixteen, Tillie’s in Brooklyn during college, North Star in Philly after graduation, Brasserie Perrier for five years after that – as he refined his illustrating technique - reading the great underground comic artists of the sixties, studying illustration at the Pratt Institute, freelancing whenever possible and coming into his own anarchist, satirical sensibility.

That was back when he had a mohawk. Now, Krall puts the Coney Island illustration back on his desk and jumps down the stairs, two at a time, to his experiment. The Russians are ready, and it’s time to taste them, both plain and with toppings. Turns out they’re delicious, by far tastier than your average super market find. So in a week Krall will post another feature article on Serious Eats, this one endorsing Net Cost, the Eastern European store in northeast Philadelphia where he found these natural casing dogs. A Serious Eats fan will comment on the blog, thanking Hawk for the information. Maybe someone will request he make a Vienna sausage print. Regardless of what the future might hold for Krall, right now he’s chilling out, riding waves of creative inspiration.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Bakery Black Friday

New York is the greatest city in the world. As a boy growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, visiting NYC terrified me. Back then, I was very concerned with cleanliness, and that subway forced me to experience my definition of dirty. Tons of sweaty people crammed together, the force of the train constantly pushing them far closer than any strangers should be…it wasn’t for me.

Now that I am older and I laugh in the face of hypothetical subway germs, I see New York for what it truly is: a paradise for anyone interested in anything, as long as they are willing to travel for it. For me, New York is a food paradise. And what food do I crave while on vacation?....and at all other times in my life? Baked goods! Well, also cheesecake, chocolate, and tons of non-dessert things, but still. I traveled around Brooklyn and Manhattan for five hours with 40 pounds of luggage on my back and in my hands searching for cookies, cakes, and whatever else I could get my hungry hands on. When I finally made it to my cousins’ home in Pelham Manor, my shoulders and arms were about to give out on me and all I had eaten for hours was a giant chocolate chip cookie. I saved the other stuff so I could document everything I bought. At least, the stuff that wasn’t crushed during my journey.

The first place I went was Jacques Torres in DUMBO. I got myself a nice bag of his chocolate disks and one of his famous giant chocolate chip cookies. Warm and gooey, the cookie was pretty great. But the homemade version of the same cookie that I wrote about a few weeks ago is much better.

Next I walked down the street to another bakery called One Girl Cookies. I got my first whoopie pie ever and an assortment of little cookies. Pure deliciousness. I am now a fan of whoopie pies for their delicious frosting and their soft, cakey consistency. The little cookies were each pretty great as well, but none really stood out.

I next stopped in lower Manhattan at Financier Patisserie. Regrettably, I failed to take a picture of the cookie/chocolate/pecan thing that I bought and have no idea what it was. Still, it was excellent and I have a strong desire to return to this bakery for more.

The last stop on my trip was La Maison Du Chocolat, which was by far the most expensive of the places I visited. I bought three dark chocolates, each considered a praline for the nuts inside, a piece of their chocolate almond cake “Pleyel,” and a piece of their “Bresilien Pastry.” The Anastasia and Figaro chocolates were good, but may not have been worth the $2.25 they each cost. They do give out a free chocolate when you buy enough stuff, so that very slightly softens the blow. The Jolika, however, was awesome. If you like pistachio, you will absolutely adore this.

The pleyel had an excellent, extremely light and cakey texture, but was less chocolatey than the last time I had it. The Bresilien Pastry was only okay, possibly due in part to it being a little smooshed when I finally got to it, but I wouldn’t buy it again. It was more cream and less pastry than I expected and the mocha flavor overpowered all the others. All in all though, this awesomely decadent Black Friday perfectly complimented the best Thanksgiving ever.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Waffle Grilled Cheese- a scrumptious pinch

One rather chilly evening last week, I decided that it was utterly impossible to traverse across campus in search of food. Frogro, certainly, was out of the question. That left me with two options: order from Grubhub or eat whatever I had in stock. Unfortunately, any delivery would probably take an hour, and I was far too hungry to wait. So, I ventured to my kitchen in search of something edible. However instead of finding any ingredients that went well together, I was met with a rather eclectic selection: oatmeal, white cheddar cheese, prosciutto, yogurt, expired milk, and pancake mix. Although I had eaten oatmeal for dinner in the past, I really wanted something a little more substantial. And, sadly, none of my other ingredients seemed dinner appropriate.

I dismally reflected on my options, for none of them seemed too appealing. Yet, suddenly, I remembered reading an article a year or two ago about a girl whose mom would often make waffles with cheese for dinner. Since I had pancake mix and a waffle iron, I could try to do the same--and I could add the prosciutto as well! While preparing the waffle batter, I had trouble deciding how I should put the cheese into the waffles. Should I place it into the batter, as I would with blueberries or strawberries? Or, should I first make the waffle and then place the cheese and prosciutto in the middle of the two slices?

I decided on the latter. I poured the waffle mix into the iron and let it cook until the steam disappeared. The waffles looked delicious—light, fluffy, and golden brown. I then transferred one of the waffle quarters into a frying pan and delicately positioned the slices of cheese and prosciutto on top. I took the second waffle quarter and placed it over the cheese and prosciutto. Then, as I would with a grilled cheese, I cooked the waffle sandwich over medium heat, flipping it over to prevent burning. Once the cheese had melted, I transferred the waffle sandwich to a plate and dug in. It was scrumptious. The light and fluffy waffle tasted almost like a biscuit. The cheese sopped into each and every hole, accenting the soft texture of the waffle and the crispy prosciutto. The prosciutto did taste a bit salty, however, so I’m tempted just to use regular ham next time. However, the next time I’m in a pinch for dinner, I know that I’ll first look to see if I have pancake mix and cheese. In fact, I may try to be in a pinch a little more—maybe, once a week. Or, even, once a day!

Photo courtesy of the TasteSpotting blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Favorite Blondies

Dear Kevin,

I think we should be friends. It’s quite obvious that we both have excellent taste in food, and when it comes right down to it, what better way is there is make a friend than to share a meal? In our case, however, I would recommend sharing dessert. After all, we both have an appreciation for anything chocolate. We both like our desserts warm from the oven – a soft crumb, a moist inside, and a melting scoop of ice cream spreading across the plate. Most importantly, however, we both have the same favorite blondie. It’s true that they were your favorite long before they were mine, but you’ll have to excuse me for spending a few years in the dark. When I saw the post on your wife, Kristen’s blog, and when I saw the photos of the perfect squares flecked with peanuts and oozing chocolate, I didn’t wait long before making them. I assembled the peanut butter and peanuts, the flaked coconut and semisweet chocolate, and I haven’t turned back since. I tasted a tiny square right out of the oven. Yum! I came back for seconds a bit later, and I came back for thirds and fourths and maybe even fifths. (We can keep the exact number to ourselves.) Somewhere in the middle of tasting and savoring and licking the last drop of chocolate off my fork (Yes, I eat blondies with a fork. I hope that’s okay), I realized they were my favorite blondies: that and my favorite bar cookie and maybe even my favorite dessert.

I’m writing this note to say thank you – thank you for having such good taste and thank you for inspiring the post that gave me my favorite blondie. I don’t think I can repay the favor, but if you’d like to be friends, I’ll gladly bake a batch of these blondies. Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I’ll even let you have more than one.

Happy eating,


The recipe for Kevin and my favorite blondies is from The Kitchen Sink Recipes blog and can be found here. It is also below with a few of my notes added in.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Blondies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (using half whole wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour also works)

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, finely chopped (using other nuts works as well)

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9-inch square pan. If you don’t have a 9-in square pan, you can use something that’s approximately the same size. Just be warned that the cooking time will vary accordingly. The blondies are best thick, so I would recommend an 8-in square pan above a 9x13in if you are going to substitute.

In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Make sure that you allow the butter to sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes ahead of time so that it softens. Add the sugar and mix until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate, peanuts and coconut. Be sure to chop the peanuts very finely. The texture is much better that way. Bake the blondies in the center of the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until the blondies have just begun to brown around the edges.

Allow the blondies to cool completely in the pan before cutting. If like me, you’re too impatient to wait, you can cut a piece earlier. Just expect the edges to be rather messy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins with Hazelnuts

When it comes to grocery shopping, I would generally consider myself a practical person- I almost always buy the generic brand over name brand, I meticulously write out shopping lists to avoid forgetting an item, I even scan over ingredient labels to check for quality. On the other hand, when it comes to baking, I tend to do things that make people question my sanity.
Today presented a perfect example. While munching on breakfast, my eyes were drawn to the bunch of speckled overripe bananas innocently perched on the dining table. Almost instantly, I was overcome with a baking itch. This is not the kind of itch that you can just scratch and it’ll go away. No, this is like the nastiest mosquito bite you ever had; it only gets worse and worse until you scratch yourself silly. Just the site of overripe bananas screamed banana bread in my mind. I knew that I would not be satisfied until I had transformed those shriveled black bananas into a scrumptious baked treat.
I am the type that will go out and buy flour, eggs, nuts, etc. just to save two black bananas rather than just trashing them or freezing them for smoothies like any rational person. Luckily, today I happened to have just enough ingredients on hand for muffins but this is usually not the case. I usually have to go to great lengths to save a few speckled bananas. Many people do not understand the magic of overripe bananas; no sarcasm intended. The blacker the better! Although they may be past their prime for straight up snacking, there is nothing more perfect for baking. They contribute a fragrant banana-y flavor as well as moisture and natural sweetness to baked goods.
For today’s recipe, I created a twist on classic banana bread and baked the batter into portable muffin form. Banana puree and sour cream add moisture while the vanilla and hint of espresso add depth of flavor. Semi-sweet chips create bursts of rich, chocolaty goodness and perfectly complement the crunchy hazelnut topping. The addition of whole wheat flour adds fiber and antioxidants so you can almost feel virtuous eating them.(I said almost. Just overlook the sour cream and sugar.) These muffins are moist, light, and definitely indulgent. Health conscious or not, they are sure to please.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins with Hazelnuts


*1 c. whole wheat pastry flour (can be found in most health food stores)
¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 c. banana puree (about 2 medium bananas)
1/3 c. white sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 c. sour cream, room temperature
1 egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 tsp. instant espresso
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c. chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.
Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Dissolve instant espresso in vanilla, whisk in banana puree, sugar, sour cream and the egg until smooth.
Gently stir together wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Top with hazelnuts and gently press into batter
Bake 16-20 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Nomnom!

Makes 12 muffins

*Can substitute all white flour or use regular whole wheat flour; if using regular whole wheat flour, only use 1/2 c. whole wheat flour and increase all purpose flour to 1 1/4 c.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bloggers' Bites: Thanksgiving 2012 Edition

Bloggers' Bites is a series of posts chronicling the foodie adventures and musings of Penn Appétit's blog staff. For this special Thanksgiving edition, Penn Appétit bloggers reflect on their favorite memories from a holiday that's all about good food.

Zoë Kirsch: Thanksgiving Day is all about the day after Thanksgiving. I say this because in my home, Thanksgiving dinner is almost too much. It's a heaven-sent avalanche of food, hell bent on sending you straight into a coma. My Kentucky-born grandmother and mother pull out all the stops. There's the classic: stuffing, two kinds of gravy (vegetarian and meaty), turkey (light and dark), cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. There's the Southern regional: pickled peaches, marinated brussels sprouts, and corn pudding. The pair have dessert covered, too, in the form of three pies (Chess, pecan, pumpkin). As the dinner winds down, we pat our bulging tummies and decide no more meals for the next ten years. Cue the next day. The sun has risen, and we can now stand up without falling over. Time for round two. We tell ourselves that the suffering endured last night has made us wiser, and so we help ourselves only to measured portions of stuffing, gravy, turkey, and cranberry sauce. Just those, microwaved and sandwiched between two thick slices of whole grain bread.

Katie Behrman: 10 years ago, my family made a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. I had never had a pecan pie before, but all I had heard that day were my mom’s rave reviews. After consuming a delicious, and plentiful, meal, we first decided to go see the 2nd Harry Potter movie. We left the freshly baked pie on the counter and bid goodbye to my dog. When we returned from the movie, however, we were shocked to see that the pie had fallen to the ground! Its dismantled container rested on the floor, but its contents were nowhere to be found. What could have happened? My dog sulkily came in to greet us, and for good reason. Crumbles of pie had attached themselves to his whiskers and crust lay embedded in his eyelashes. He had eaten the ENTIRE PIE! Crust and all. Somehow, while we were at the movie, my dog had managed to knock the pie off the counter and lick away each and every morsel! Although I was disappointed that I didn’t get to try the pie, I don’t think I would have remembered the taste as much as I remember seeing my dog mope across the room, tail under legs, with little specs of gooey pecan littering his nose.

AJ Winkelman: Thanksgiving, for me, is not about food. Yes, I LOVE ridiculous amounts of moist, healthy turkey meat, but honestly most other Thanksgiving staples are just not that exciting for me. Thus, in my most special Thanksgiving memory, food is an afterthought. That Thanksgiving is the one in which my family and my cousins, who had previously never shared a Thanksgiving, were together. The piles of fluffy mashed potatoes, multiple turkeys, and the pumpkin pie were better than any food I've ever had, not because they tasted better, but because they did what no other food had successfully done before them: they connected our three families, if only for one day.

Laura Sluyter:  With all the lore and love surrounding the Thanksgiving turkey, some may find it surprising that my vegetarian aunt always hosts our family's Thanksgiving feast. I, however, think it's the perfect arrangement. My aunt cooks the turkey (and tofurkey) with as much care as anyone, and she takes the sides to a whole new level. Green beans, asparagus, salad, beets, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, dressing, homemade bread, and so on. With a side dish to person ratio greater than one, its no surprise we all leave the table stuffed. At least, I tell myself, it's mostly vegetables.

Krystal Bonner: As a vegetarian, my favorite part about Thanksgiving is introducing my extended family to delicious meatless holiday dishes. As a rule, I steer clear of preparing cooking that attempts to mimic meat (anyone who has tried Tofurky can attest to the prudence of this). Instead, I try to utilize seasonable produce and fresh herbs to create flavorful dishes that everyone can enjoy. This year I'm going to attempt a walnut and apple cornbread dressing (some Thanksgiving jargon for you—it's only called "stuffing" if it is cooked while "stuffed" inside the turkey). Of course, my other favorite part of Thanksgiving are the desserts—no dietary restrictions there other than the size of my stomach!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Uses for Leftover Chocolate (Or: How to make your chocolate chips awesome!)

Last week, when I was writing about my favorite cookies, I shared my disdain for chocolate chips. To reiterate: chocolate chips are too small and result in chocolate being spread too far throughout baked goods. I mentioned that I had a way of transforming these unsubstantial bits of chocolate into something useful. Today I will share that technique.

I call them chocolate layers. They are best used in large baked goods like banana bread or pound cakes, and can turn any dry and unremarkable baked good into a chocolate lover’s delight. One can make them using any chocolate they have, be it in chocolate bar form or chocolate chip form. This does not occur because more chocolate is used; it occurs because with these layers, pockets of chocolate are created which pack a lot more of an impact than teensy chocolate chips. To use them, you break them into strands of chocolate and insert them vertically into your dough or batter, adding batter then chocolate and repeating until there is no batter or chocolate left.

But you didn’t come here to read my justification for making giant chocolate layers. You came here for the chocolate. Let’s do this:

Chocolate Layers

Required Equipment:
-Baking Sheet
-Parchment Paper
-Large glass bowl + A pot to boil water in

-At least 5 ounces of chocolate (darker chocolate works better in baked goods)
-Water to be boiled
-Sugar to taste (Optional, only use if using unsweetened chocolate)

1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill pot halfway with water. Make sure glass bowl can sit atop pot on its own. Put the pot on the stove and turn the stove to high. Let the water get hot enough to begin steaming (almost a boil) and then turn down the heat just enough to maintain that steam.

2. Add chocolate to glass bowl. If using chocolate bars, chop chocolate into equal sized pieces before adding it. Put glass bowl on top of pot. Note: It is very important that no water touches any of the chocolate. If this happens, it will not melt and the chocolate will be useless.

3. Stir chocolate with a spatula. Do not stop stirring until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted.

4. Pour chocolate from bowl onto parchment paper. Smooth chocolate with spatula to desired thickness.

5. Put baking sheet with chocolate on it into the fridge. After 20 minutes check the chocolate. If it has solidified, it is ready to be used, if not, put it back in the fridge and wait another 10 minutes. Do not leave it in there for too long, it is not good for the chocolate.
6. Chocolate can be used immediately or can be stored for later use. To store it, just put it in a ziplock bag and store it at room temperature. It should not be stored in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Scream, You Scream...

It’s never too cold for ice cream. Even as winter rapidly approaches us, sometimes all you really need is the comfort of a big scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor. Well, look no further than The Franklin Fountain located at 116 Market Street.

New to the Philly scene, I had never heard of this extraordinary place and just happened to stumble upon it by chance. Well, I’m glad I did because never have my taste buds been so happy. From the moment you step foot into this cozy old school ice cream parlor, you are transported back in time—a time when the only kind of ice cream was the homemade kind. So taken aback by the nostalgic atmosphere, I almost forgot to look at the menu. Almost.

Newcomers beware: if you thought choosing what type of ice cream to get was hard before, the Franklin Fountain takes difficulty to a whole new level. First, you have your basic flavors consisting of some classic favorites such as vanilla bean, rocky road, pistachio and rum raisin. If you’re just looking to grab a cup or a cone they are bound to have a flavor for you. Although I must warn you, their portion sizes are quite generous. However, this place gets even more impressive with their selection of sundaes. From the Franklin Mint, which consists of mint chocolate chip ice cream underneath a layer of homemade marshmallow topping, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a mint infused cherry to top it off, to The Stock Market Crunch, which is a concoction of rocky road ice cream smothered with peanut butter sauce and then showered with pretzel bites, these sundaes are quite the creations. The most impressive has to be their famous Mt. Vesuvius. Living up to its name, the Mt. Vesuvius starts with an enormous bowl of vanilla (or chocolate) ice cream, is then topped with homemade fudgy brownie pieces, bathed in hot fudge, sprinkled with malt powder and then finished off with whipped cream. And if you haven’t satisfied your sweet tooth after conquering one of these enormous sundaes, have no fear because The Franklin Fountain has an array of homemade pies, fudge, an assortment of candies and, of course, fresh from the fountain sodas. I am almost positive that it is impossible to leave this place disappointed.

While there, I opted to get the seasonal flavor of pumpkin ice cream paired with my personal favorite, coffee. It was like a pumpkin spice latte, but so much better. So, fight the dropping temperatures and head over to The Franklin Fountain. If you hurry you may be able to get their latest featured item, The Caramel Apple Pie Milkshake, which is fresh out of the oven warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream all fused into one mouthwatering dessert. I shouldn’t even have to say more.

-- Xandria James


Sunday, November 18, 2012

News Feed: A Round-Up of the Week's Top Food Stories

• Campus: Philadelphia Chutney Company, Whirled Peace Frozen Yogurt coming to 40th and Sansom! Be sure to check out Midtown Lunch's review of Philadelphia Chutney Company's center city location

• University City and beyond: The Inquirer profiles the owners of Milk & Honey, located at 44th and Baltimore, who've recently expanded the business over the bridge 

• +1: Spencer ETA Burger, the brother restaurant of Sabrina's Cafe at 34th and Powelton, is expanding its hours; check out their eclectic burger menu here

Thanksgiving Roundup: Seven must-try recipes from The Inquirer, a bizarre vegetarian option called the "Veggieducken" from Slate, and Uwishunu's top picks for Thanksgiving dinner at Philadelphia restaurants

• Closings: Both the Union Trust and Butcher & the Brewer are shutting their doors

A Thanksgiving miracle? Foobooz reports that Crumbs Bake Shop is aiming to open its first Philadelphia location at 133 S 18th Street before the holiday

• The Fall 2012 Center City District Restaurant Week was the most successful since the biannual event began in 2003; the next Center City District Restaurant Week begins January 20

Vedge, Chef Greg Vernick winners in Eater's 2012 Awards for Philly 

• Food Saga: Part 1: The New York Times pans Guy Fieri's New York restaurant, Part 2: Fieri shoots back calling the review unfair, Stunning Twistthe Times hosted a 160-person party at the restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, the same day the review ran in the paper

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Philly Food Events

Beer vs. Wine Pairing Dinner
WHAT: Chef Michael Solomonov and sommelier Marnie Old are pairing up with Brauhaus Schmitz Executive Chef Jeremy Nolen and owner Doug Hager for a night of sips, suds and German-inspired plates. The evening presents passed hors d’oeuvres and five courses each accompanied by one beer chosen by Hager and a wine option selected by Old. A glimpse at the menu reveals chestnut-stuffed pasta with pumpernickel crumbs and aged gouda, chicken liver schnitzel “BLT,” halibut-stuffed cabbage rolls with passion fruit-mango pickle, confit pork belly alongside turnip-sauerkraut gratin and maggi glaze and lastly, malted pot de creme and chocolate covered pretzel sticks for dessert. Reservations can be made via City Eats here. Note: you have to first sign up for a (totally free) City Eats membership. For more information, call (216) 909-8814.
WHERE: Brauhaus Schmitz, 718 South Street
WHEN: Tuesday, November 20, 7 p.m.
COST: $75 plus tax & gratuity

Burger Palooza 2012
WHAT: Meat patty lovers unite as Burger Palooza 2012 stacks up on Wednesday, November 21 at Yards Brewery. Gathering on Thanksgiving eve, this topping-loaded affair will be a warm-up, or stretch if you will, for official gobble day feasts. Participating food trucks include Chewys, Spot, Street Food Philly and The MOO Truck of Bucks County. Each will reveal three entirely new variations of 1/4-lb. gourmet creations. That’s a dozen burgers and three extra pounds to add to your frame. The all-you-can-eat, four-hour event comes in at $35 a ticket and sees you two foamy pours from Yards in addition to live tunes. Starting this Monday, November 12, visit one of the four trucks listed above and purchase a ticket for just $29 in advance.
WHERE: Yards Brewery, 901 N. Delaware Avenue
WHEN: Wednesday, November 21, 5-9 p.m.
COST: $35 at door; $29 at participating food trucks

Christmas Village of Philadelphia
WHAT: It's time again for Philly's annual outdoor holiday market! Modeled after Germany’s traditional open-air Christmas markets, there are plenty of vendors from whom you can buy wares and Christmas-themed goodies. But the food, you ask? Enjoy traditional German and European food, sweets and drinks like bratwurst with sauerkraut, currywurst, strudels, pretzels, potato soup, landjager and more. You can also stay warm with a mug of hot gluhwine (mulled winde) and a cup of hot chocolate with some marshmallows on top for the little ones. In addition to the official food tent, Chaddsford Winery will sell mulled wine in Booth 51, German Grill will have more traditional German fare in Booth 46, Nuts About You will make fresh as-you-wait funnel cakes (Booth 6), and Helmut’s Original Austrian Food will be located at Booth 61. Check out Booth 13 for German Christmas foods like Lebkuchen (Gingerbread Cookies), Stollen (traditional German Holiday Cake), Cinnamon Stars and Spekulatius (traditional German spicy cookies). More info here.
WHEN: November 24-December 24; Sneak Peek on November 22 (Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Christmas Eve: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.)
WHERE: Love Park, 1500 Arch Street
COST: Free admission; pay as you go for shopping and refreshments

An Uncommonly Tasty 1920 Commons

If you ask most upperclassmen their opinion of 1920 Commons, generally it won’t be very positive- the food is thought to be mediocre at best. I’m not a picky eater, and as one of the few sophomores with a small meal plan, have meal swipes to use. This meant dining at Commons fairly often, and my opinion of the selection was always average, until I got inventive.

Commons food is considerably bland, but as I’ve learned, has unlimited potential. I was recently filling my takeout box with spinach from the salad bar, and wondered about the possibility of actually cooking the spinach leaves. I have a stove in my apartment, and realized this would actually be possible.

I then proceeded to add a variety of raw vegetables, quinoa and grilled chicken. All were healthy, but flavor-wise, none of these foods were spectacular by themselves. When I returned to my apartment and sautéed them together with olive oil, salt and pepper, the result was wondrous. Believe it or not, my Commons meal was actually tasty.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that when it comes to Commons, all you need to do is add flavor. The salad bar is basically a stir-fry bar waiting to happen, and other foods can be improved upon too. For instance, the grilled chicken is generally tasteless, but when I cooked it with vegetables, balsamic vinaigrette, and lime juice, it was delicious.

Freshmen generally don’t have the option to cook, but for any upperclassmen that still have meal swipes and enjoy cooking, give Commons a chance. Putting in a little effort and adding your own twist makes the world of a difference.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Best Cookie Ever?

Big chocolate-chip cookies, small chocolate-chip cookies, giant chocolate-chip cookies stuffed with brownie. I certainly have a type. But, after a trip to Jacques Torres Chocolate in New York over Fall break, I am done with chocolate chips. Have I fallen out of love with chocolate? Of course not. Do I now think that chocolate and baked goods do not belong together? Preposterous. What then?

I have discovered something better. Some call them chocolate féves. Some call them chocolate discs. I call them “perfection.” I cannot fathom going back to regular chocolate chips. Nothing will ever be the same for me again. Chocolate feves even inspired me to melt down and shape my own chocolate for use in baking things like banana bread. However, I will delve into that subject another week. For now, let me share with you the recipe for a cookie I bought at Jacques Torres Chocolate that uses chocolate discs to amazing effect.

If you love chocolate this will absolutely be the best version of the classic chocolate-chip cookie that you ever make. It is perfectly crispy on the outside, chocolatey-chewy on the inside and has a slight hint of toffee. It truly is incredible. I do not usually write about recipes like this (these cookies are not especially crazy decadent except for their size), but I had four midterms this week and this cookie dough was already in my freezer, all ready to go. So without further ado, here is the recipe with a few of my notes in italics: (Note: All pictures here are from the internet; my camera is having problems).

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(From the New York Times)
Adapted from Jacques Torres

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note, linked is the bag that I have)
Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. 36 hour fridge cookies are noticeably better than 24 hour fridge cookies (and, of course, much, much better than cookies where the dough has not been refrigerated).
Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. The cookies spread out quite a bit, be extremely careful when spacing them or the sought-after crispy outside/gooey inside will be ruined! When in doubt, just put in fewer cookies at a time, baking time remains the same regardless of how many cookies are on a baking sheet.
Cookies can be taken out when their edges are golden yet their centers are still pale. If you are unsure, remember that it is better to underbake than to overbake (it just makes the cookies all gooey and no crunch!).
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Do not skip this step. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

One more note:

-1.2 oz cookies can be made as well. I only made one of these when there wasn't enough cookie dough for the larger cookies, but I really prefer them. In my opinion, the best part of these cookies is how they manage to be chewy and crispy at the same time, and the issue with the large cookies is that people often split them or just have a little bit. Only by eating the whole cookie can one fully appreciate the crispy/chewy texture. These smaller cookies allow people to do just that without the guilt that eating nearly quarter pound cookies brings (I must admit, I ate about 5 of the giant cookies over the course of the two days that I baked them a few weeks ago. Oh yes. When I am unhealthy, I go as far as possible.) These smaller cookies should be baked 12-14 minutes (a little longer than 13 was perfect for me). With these smaller cookies, the time cookies should sit outside of the oven before they are placed on the wire rack can be reduced to more like ~5 minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bloggers' Bites: Pub & Kitchen

Bloggers' Bites is a series of posts chronicling the foodie adventures of Penn Appétit's blog staff. Last Thursday, Penn Appétit bloggers went to Pub & Kitchen.

Ashlee Burris: Going to Pub & Kitchen was my first Penn Appétit blog outing- we ventured across the South Street Bridge for some delicious, Euro-American comfort food. After walking twenty minutes and more than ten blocks away from campus, we arrived at a rustic, warm, yet obscure setting that housed our destination. The eatery was packed; which is typical for a restaurant in Philadelphia on a Thursday evening. Pub & Kitchen does not accept reservations, so we had to wait 30 minutes for a table. However, my meal definitely made up for the wait. Picking it from their fall menu though did require some scrutinizing attention. I classify myself as a food economist- I pick meals off of menus based on quantity, quality and popularity. I don’t like to take too many food risks when it involves a more than moderately priced meal, especially on a college budget. I did a quick scan of the restaurant clientele and easily observed that the majority of people were eating burgers and short ribs. Our complementary appetizers consisted of autumn vegetables and their daily selection of cheeses and bread. Both appetizers tasted delicious. So to switch it up for my entrée, I ordered the burger and was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I receive a large portion of both burger and fries for $18, but also the burger had unique flavoring. It was stuffed with bleu cheese and topped with double cut bacon strips, pickled red onions, and buttered challah bread. The fries were also hand-cut and seasoned with the right amount of salt. I wouldn’t advise a health-conscious person to order this item off the menu, but I thoroughly enjoyed my selection- 2,000 calories and all. I wholly enjoyed my first outing and the restaurant selection. The items on the menu were a great spin on typical pub food with a unique and high end American flare. I strongly encourage more students to try this restaurant; especially on a night after midterms when comfort food is crucial.

AJ Winkelman: My first trip to Pub and Kitchen was an enjoyable one. After a long wait and some tasty drinks, we were finally seated at our table by an extremely friendly waitress. She felt bad that we had to wait so long so we got two plates of free appetizers -- a plate full of unidentifiable (but delicious) vegetables and a cheese plate. I love cheese and am very choosy, but even I thought the cheese was pretty good. Even better were the spreads that came with the cheese: fruity delicious.

On to the main course. I recently decided I would try to eat more fish, so I forced myself to try the trout. First thing I noticed about the dish was how pretty it was. The light green olive oil surrounded a centerpiece of trout, causing me to pause a bit to admire the aesthetics of the dish before I devoured it. Once I finally took a bite, I noticed a little bit too much salt. The olive oil was clearly of very high quality and was very well paired with the trout, but the saltiness of the trout itself threw me off. I would be happy to return to Pub & Kitchen, if only to try a hamburger next time, because as pretty as my dish was, the hamburger looked unbelievable.

Elliott Brooks: I'm embarrassed to say that last Thursday was my first time at Pub & Kitchen. Having heard amazing things about this upscale American-British pub and its lick-smacking fare, I was eager to make the trip across the Schuylkill. Once seated (after our 30 minute wait!) I ordered the warm beet and apple soup. I have always been a fan of borscht, a beet soup found in most Central and Eastern European countries, and was curious to try Pub & Kitchen's borscht-like variation. The soup itself was a beautiful bright red, garnished with apple slivers, a spoonful of trout roe, a dollop of creme fraiche and a bit of horseradish. The soup was thick and almost creamy, although that didn't prevent me from stirring in all the creme fraiche. It had that wonderful sweet-sour tang that I've come to associate with all beet soups, making the trout roe was an interesting combination. As delicious and beautiful as it was, it didn't come close to my Mom's homemade borscht. Worth the $9? Maybe- I haven't yet mastered the art of making beet soup, so for now Pub & Kitchen will have to do!

Pub & Kitchen
1946 Lombard St.
(215) 545-0350

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