Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo Post

Sweet Potato Fries from Sabrina's and Bobby's Burger Palace
by Carissa Gilbert

Penn Bites

Recently I read an old blog post by Adam Roberts, the AmateurGourmet, on his New York recommendations. He began with a summary of the quintessential nibbles that define New York: dumplings from Chinatown, a hot dog at Gray’s Papaya and an epic bagel. It prompted me to think of Penn bites, the foods that provide a snapshot of life and eating at Penn. Here's my immediate bite list. Feel free to suggest more in the comments.

1. Kiwi
Yes, frozen yogurt is a huge trend. Yes, there are three frozen yogurt places within walking distance of my house. None of them are self serve and none of them offer the breadth of flavors and toppings that Kiwi provides. Kiwi also constantly changes their flavors (countdown to pumpkin season please) and it’s a fun place to run into friends. Penn and Kiwi have a great relationship. How many times have you grabbed Kiwi to catch up with a friend? It’s a thing here and we somehow all convince ourselves it’s healthy.

2. One BIG coffee nursed slowly over the course of a day of studying

My caffeine levels at college are probably dangerously high, something that ought not to continue after graduation. I’m a big fan of coffeeshop studying and suspect that nothing represents the Sundays of my college career better than a large coffee and serious study time.

3. Food carts
Perhaps my favorite part of Penn’s food scene is the food trucks. Where else can you get anything from a macaron (at Sugar Philly) to an arepa (at Delicias Philly) to meatless meatballs (at Magic Carpet) to the perfect hangover sandwich (at Hemo's) within a few blocks of one another, usually for under $5.  Waiting in line and running into random people is half the fun. The other half is going so often that the employees know your name and order.

4. Wawa
Penn students get religious about Wawa and after a few weekends here it’s easy to see why. Late night Wawa runs are not merely a culinary experience; it’s social and it’s fun. Also, they have $1 coffee (any size) all of January and that needs to be acknowledged.

5. Houston Salads
I dare you to find another salad bar without a limit on toppings or a charge for anything beyond the basic carrot shreds. Houston doesn’t charge extra for cheese, nuts or nice fruits and the salads are huge! Get your parents to give you some Penncash and get nomming.

6. Brunch
There’s no such thing as breakfast or lunch on the weekends. Fact: These meals always merge. Whether you brunch at Hill, Tap House, Sabrina’s, White Dog or in your apartment, you’re brunching. It’s a thing. It’s tasty, you’re willing to wait for it and it delays the inevitable torture of a Sunday afternoon full of homework.

So there’s Penn, or at least some pivotal parts of it, in a few bites. When your kids someday ask you what college was like, just give them a tasting menu. It will be way less awkward than explaining any actual stories of your adventures.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chow Now: Egg White, Spinach, and Cheese Sandwich from Lyn's.

Now I know I am preaching to the choir when I say that lately, it has been impossible for me to get out of bed. The only thing dragging me out from the comfort of my room is my countdown until midterms are over and Spring Break '12 begins! That being said, I've recently been needing a little something extra to get my mornings started and have been able to get my fix right on campus. There is just something magical about a great egg sandwich, and Lyn's offers just that. While the cart does provide one with countless egg/meat/vegetable combinations, I've found one that just really does it for me: picing hot fried egg whites, tossed with some steamed spinach, topped with oozing gooey provolone cheese, and tucked between two toasted pieces of wheat bread sprinkled with some sriracha, salt, pepper, and ketchup. Okay so it's kind of a complicated order, but Lyn's got it down and it is oh-so-good. It's salty and melty and amazingly delicious and it also happens to be the best deal on campus at only $2.75. So hit up Lyn's right outside the lower quad gate, (the line moves fast), and start your morning off right and CHOW this NOW!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

News Feed

Magpie Artisan Pie Bakery & Boutique will bring sweet and savory pies to South Street this June - Foobooz

Uwishunu rounds up Philly's best brunch spots

DiNic's at the Reading Terminal Market, famous for its roast pork sandwich, adds a meatball sandwich to its menu - Eater Philly

Wawa expanding to D.C.? - DCist

34th Street tells us how to detox our diet before spring break

• In honor of Pancake Day last Tuesday, Slate tells us how to make the best buttermilk pancakes

• Weird: Trader Joe's introduces a chocolate cheddar cheese - What's Good At Trader Joe's?

Image Credit: Foobooz

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Site Scoop: Smitten Kitchen Breakfast

You'll never meet a bigger breakfast fan than me. Nothing gets me out of bed faster than the prospect of a gooey bacon egg and cheese sandwich or a stack of pancakes drenched in syrup. When I'm home in New York, my mother, knowing I have this weakness, constantly spoils me with omelets, chocolate chip pancakes and cinnamon buns. Some people find my breakfast obsession endearing, while others find it a little strange. In fact, I've noticed that many of my peers just can't get excited about the most important meal of the day. Too many people just grab a handful of dry cereal or a piece of toast before they rush out the door on their way to morning classes. And this makes me sad. Don't you know what you're missing out on? It's just wrong! So I am asking you to do something for me this weekend. Visit one of my most beloved food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, and find a delightfully decadent recipe from the breakfast section to make for yourself and some friends. May I suggest the boozy baked french toast, jalapeño-cheddar scones, or lemon ricotta pancakes with sauteed apples? Better yet, turn it into a breakfast potluck and let everyone contribute a dish! Then eat your heart out and reward yourself with a serious food-coma-induced afternoon nap! You can thank me later. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stove Top Popcorn

When I was little, snack time was a scheduled occurrence. Monday through Friday as soon as my brother and I got home from school, we would sit down at the kitchen table and have snack with my mom. There were many classics – crackers and cheese, apples and peanut butter, veggie sticks and the occasional cookies and milk – but one of my favorites was popcorn. We even had a special popcorn pot. My mom would place it on the stove, pour in a little oil, let it heat up, and then add the popcorn kernels. My brother or I would have the job of turning the crank, which spun a propeller on the bottom of the pot to keep the kernels moving. When the once lively pops grew few and far between, we would take the popcorn off the stove and toss in melted butter and salt in a giant bowl.

As my brother and I got older and started staying after school for sports and activities, the popcorn pot made fewer appearances. In fact, I cannot remember the last time we used it. A couple of weeks ago, however, I started noticing popcorn recipes on various food blogs, and they reignited a hankering for popcorn. Last week, I gave in and bought a jar of kernels at FroGro. Of course, our little high-rise kitchen at school doesn’t include a popcorn pot, but I read online that you can make popcorn just as easily in a normal pot. Sure enough, in less than ten minutes, I was able to make my first pot of popcorn, and I haven’t stopped since.

Back in the days of snack time, we made normal butter and salt popcorn most often, but I also liked a sweet variation with peanut butter. Over the past week, I’ve been embracing the sweet side. I’ve mixed popcorn with melted nutella, peanut butter, and almond butter, and I’m thinking about trying a version with melted jam soon. I’ve also seen lots of delicious although slightly more complicated variations online.
Kate from Cookie + Kate blog provides a great description of how to make stove top popcorn here. The process is super simple, but her advice is helpful.

Also, here are just a couple of popcorn variations that caught my attention:

Chocolate from Simply Scratch
Cinnamon Spice from The City Sisters
Chocolate and Peanut Butter from Brown Eyed Baker
Sticky Date from Colourful Palate

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food Events @ Penn

Rouneye Noodle Bar's Second Pop-Up
What: Roundeye Noodle Bar's second pop-up is scheduled! Their first pop-up was a stellar hit, check out our review here. They accept reservations Saturday at 10am until they sell out. For more information check out their website.
Where: 37th S. 19th Street
When: Sunday, February 26th
Cost: Varies

New Restaurant: Leyla Turkish Cuisine
What: Leyla Turkish Cuisine has opened near Penn's Landing! They promise kebabs, lahmacun and pideler aplenty, along with panini and Turkish-inspired burgers. Check out their Facebook page here.
Where: 113 Chestnut Street
Cost: Varies

Pho Night
What: Join Penn Vietnamese Student Association for a night to both enjoy a delicious bowl of authentic Vietnamese cuisine and to learn about the cultural and historical influences that has made Pho a national symbol of the Vietnamese culture today. Check out the Facebook event here.
Where: Harrison Rooftop Lounge
When: Friday, February 24th at 6pm
Cost: $5

What's On Your Plate?
What: The Urban Nutrition is screening What's On Your Plate?, a film about kids and food politics. Join them before for a dinner and discussion on food justice.
Where: The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St.
When: Monday, February 27th. Dinner at 6pm, movie at 6:30pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spotlight on Spork

The staff of Penn Appétit is always happy to hear that we made a good impression! Therefore, we were thrilled when high school junior Byrne Fahey contacted us asking for advice about her own food and dining magazine, called Spork, which she launched this year at her high school. With funds raised entirely on their own, Byrne and her friends created a wonderful four-page magazine, complete with creative recipes, articles and reviews, all centered on her local town of Princeton, New Jersey. Every few months, they produce an issue featuring anything from yummy recipes using Oreos, to how to make a hot dog, hamburger, and bacon turtle. Spork truly has it all. And Byrne—we hope to see you at Penn soon!

Subscriptions to Spork are $15/year. You can sign up online here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Sweets

Winter blues leave us craving the sweet berries and tart, juicy peaches of summer’s past. I can picture a lazy afternoon under the sun, watermelon slice in hand, with the aroma of fresh cut grass floating by and the soft rustle of leaves with each steamy breeze. Though I am impatiently waiting to feast on the fresh plums, cherries, and apricots that summer will soon offer, winter can still satisfy my sweet tooth. Decadent desserts and rich hot cocoa may initially come to mind, but let’s leave those for the holidays. The sweets I am talking about won’t jeopardize your New Year’s resolution to lose those extra five pounds. Think root vegetables. Under the dirty, mud speckled skin of these seemingly dull veggies lies the sweet flesh of nature’s pure and organic sugars. Some of my favorite root vegetables include a medley of turnips, sweet potatoes, and beets. Besides the obvious health benefits, root vegetables simply taste delicious, wholesome, and filling. In addition, they add deep, vibrant colors and a sweet flavor to any dish. These root veggies are bold enough to stand alone and serve as the ideal complement to any meal.

The secret lies in how to cook them. Personally, I love my root veggies roasted. Here are some tips for cooking a hearty medley of turnips, sweet potatoes, and beets. Before cooking your root veggies, make sure to scrub them with a sponge to get all of the excess dirt off. I like to cook them with the skin on (with the exception of beets) so you really want to make sure to scrub hard. Next, slice them however you please. I usually just cut bite-sized chunks or thick, round pieces, but you can get creative here - star shaped, heart shaped, basic geometric shapes, so many possibilities! Next, line your root veggies on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper over your veggies and toss to coat. Pop them in the oven for around 40 minutes at 400 degrees and let them roast. If you have any rosemary lying around, this would be an excellent complement to the sweet flavor of the veggies but rest assured that they taste amazing on their own.

An excellent meal to complement your roasted root vegetables includes a fresh lemon arugula salad with mushroom and tomato and a lemon pepper salmon fillet. For the lemon arugula salad, top a bed of smokey arugula with tomatoes, mushrooms, and dried cranberries. For the dressing, keep it simple, freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil sprinkled with salt and pepper will provide the excellent balance to the sweetness of the cranberries and the bold flavor of the arugula. For the salmon fillet, sprinkle some lemon pepper seasoning over the fillet and pop it in into the oven with the roasted veggies for 10 to 15 minutes. For an added lemony kick, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the salmon before serving.

This meal will be sure to please the crowds and give you an excellent opportunity to allow you to keep it simple, sweet, and healthy. Even though my heart longs for the natural sweets of summer, it is now the time for winter vegetables to shine. Soon you’ll be craving the savory and hearty sweet potatoes and turnips of winter when summer finally decides to roll around. Happy eating!

--Monica Purmalek

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chow Now: Corned Beef Sandwich at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen

Everybody has those days when they are in the mood for a big, hearty, Jewish-deli style meal. Well, I was having one of those days, and I knew just where to get my fix: the Famous 4th Street Delicatessen.

It’s something about one of these meals that just makes you feel like your at home. Maybe it’s the monstrous size, or perhaps the flavors that remind me of comfortable couches and fleecy blankets, but this is the type of food that everyone needs when they’re a little drained and are in dire need of a rejuvenating pick me up. Nothing screams classic Jewish deli fare like fluffy rye bread piled high with warm slices of corned beef and some brown grainy mustard.  The corned beef is salty, savory, thick, and OH-SO juicy. The rye bread acts as the perfect pillow, gently sandwiching the massive mounds of corned beef. Also, you get a latke on the side, so what's not to love?And while it’s nearly impossible to take a bite of the entire sandwich at once, it is definitely worth trying, so, go on and CHOW this NOW!

Philly Kitchen: Celia Lewis

Every other week Penn Appétit profiles a student who cooks on a college budget and in a college sized kitchen.

Call her the queen of spices, Celia Lewis stays true to her cooking philosophy of “keeping it simple,” regardless of how big her spice collection might be. Though she’s famous in some circles for her baked treats, it turns out that she’s an accomplished cook as well. I had the pleasure of cooking with her one sunny afternoon in her high-rise kitchen and learning more about her journey from being dependent on restaurants around campus to cooking her own food. While I was there she made a full and delicious meal of pan seared salmon, roasted asparagus and rice. See the recipe below to make this easy but satisfying dinner yourself!

Penn Appétit: When did you start cooking and how did you learn to cook?
Celia Lewis: Before this year I didn’t cook, and I was kind of intimidated to start. I didn't have a meal plan, so I was supplementing eating out once or twice a day with yogurt, granola bars, deli meat, and other no-prep items I picked up from the grocery store. Not only was this costly, but I also realized I wasn't particularly satisfied from the eating the same thing from the same places all the time. After I came back to Penn from Thanksgiving, I decided that I needed to start cooking. I started with a lot of easy dishes, like omelets and pasta, and then started expanding to full meals with rice, a protein and basic vegetables… I taught myself [how to cook]. I never really helped my mom when she cooked but I used to always sit in the kitchen with her so I guess that helped… most of what I cook is really simple so it made it easy for me to do. Sometimes I’ll use Google if there’s a specific thing I need to look up.

PA: What’s your favorite dish to cook?
CL: Any kind of roasted vegetable, which is funny because I didn’t really eat so many vegetables before [I started cooking]. The prep is very easy but I like them really smoky and charred so it takes a while, but you can throw them in the oven and do your homework or something else while you wait. Plus once they’re cooked they take up much less space in the fridge.

PA: What’s your cooking philosophy?
CL: Keep it simple and use lots of spices. I really like spicy food so I will get dried chilies, break them apart by hand and then stick them in an omelet or eat them with vegetables. My three favorite spices are Herbs de Provence, Kansas City Classic Rub and Mozambique Peri Peri (a combination of red pepper flakes, paprika and other spices) [all available at Whole Foods]. As a college student, using a lot of spices means that I can have things that are really flavorful but don’t need a lot of ingredients.

PA: What’s your advice to someone who wants to start cooking for themselves?
CL: One thing that people find intimidating about cooking is that you need to plan ahead and figure out what to get at the grocery store. Even though you end up spending a lot of money upfront you save money in the long run. Start simple, figure out what your favorite spices are and buy those. Get frozen versions of your favorite proteins, like frozen chicken breasts or salmon burgers. You can also order staples, like oatmeal and rice, on amazon.com and if you have a prime account you can get free shipping. That helps a lot because one problem can be carrying heavy groceries from the store. Stock up your pantry because then you get over the hurdle of getting to the grocery store and you just have to find the time.

Celia’s Pan Roasted Salmon with Spicy Grilled Asparagus
Serves: 2 Time: 1 hour

• Olive Oil
• 1 bunch of asparagus
• 1 frozen salmon filet
• Salt, pepper, paprika, and Mozambique Peri Peri
• White rice

Start with the asparagus about an hour before you want to eat:
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees
• Wash your asparagus, cut about an inch off the ends. Place them in a bowl and toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add pepper, paprika and Peri Peri spice to taste (several shakes should suffice)
• Place on a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put into oven.
• After about 30 minutes, turn the asparagus over
• Let cook for another 20 – 30 minutes or until asparagus are well charred

For the Salmon,
• Thaw one packaged filet (between 0.5-1 lb) of salmon, you can get good frozen ones at Trader Joe’s. These filets come packaged in plastic bags already, so to thaw properly put them in the fridge the night before or place into a bowl of warm water that day.
• When you’re ready to cook, place salmon into a pan on the stove.
• Drizzle about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil over the salmon. Turn the heat to medium low.
• Sprinkle paprika, Peri Peri, and black pepper onto the filet.
• Cover the pan with a lid.
• Let cook for 10-15 minutes. You can cut it in half to check and make sure it’s done. You’ll be able to tell when the salmon changes from the red pink to a light pink, you want it to be thoroughly cooked and all the same color.

Serve with white rice. If you have a rice cooker like Celia set the timer for when you’re ready to eat. Otherwise cook on the stovetop (will take about 15 minutes for white rice).

-Leyla Mocan

Do you or someone you know cook in your college sized kitchen? Want to be profiled on our next post? Send an email to pennappetit.blog@gmail.com and we’ll contact you to be featured!

Magnificent Mint

Like the month of February, these chocolate-mint cookies transcend seasons. The peppermint flavor is reminiscent of the Holidays, yet it possesses a more refreshing flavor rather than the sweetness of a candy cane. This flavor rejuvenates our taste-buds, tempting our minds into believing that spring has come. The chocolate also consists of a lighter taste, yet the cracked nature of the cookie recalls the barren trees present in winter. The cookie’s juxtaposition of flavors (chocolate/mint) and textures (cracked/smooth) perfectly represents February’s strange amalgamation of winter and spring. The cookie is truly delicious, and very easy to bake.


2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Five ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat one cup each butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, three mins. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine.

2. Place a 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into one-inch balls; then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls one inch apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake five mins. Remove sheets from oven; with a small end of a melon baller or the bottom of a small, round measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

3. Bake until cookies are just set but still look moist, four mins. Do not overbake! Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

4. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and a 1/4 cup butter in 10 second increments until melted; stir in peppermint extract. Let cool until thick enough to pipe, five mins. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top bag; snip 1/4 inch hole in one corner. Pipe chocolate into cookie indentations (store in airtight containers up to one week).

*Recipe from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

Sunday, February 19, 2012

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

Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House will take the place of La Terrasse at 3432 Sansom Street - The Daily Pennsylvanian

• This week's 34th Street has the run down of everything pasta, with a pasta glossary, a DIY fettuccine recipe, and an interview with Penn chapter National Italian American Foundation president

Penn student reviews Marrakesh Express food truck at corner of 40th and Locust - Midtown Lunch

First signs of Shake Shack, famed burger and milkshake eatery, at 20th and Sansom; the restuarant is aimed to open in late summer - Foobooz

Philadelphia and other American cities' "Crazy-Awesome" desserts, including a deconstructed PB&J dessert served at Fish - Grub Street

The DP reports "Campus restaurants are on a diet," with more healthy options being offered at campus eateries

• National wire: Taco Bell will launch its Doritos Locos Tacos, a taco with a dorrito-flavored hardshell, on March 8th - Huff Post Food

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweet Potato Fry Sticks

Today, I’m going to introduce sweet potato fry sticks. They're a little different from sweet potato fries, which are already well known. This is crispier and sweeter when compared to sweet potato fries: enjoy!

① Peel the potato skin.
② Slice it as thin as possible.
③ Have those sliced potato in cold water.
④ After the water has turned a little white, take out those slices and dry with paper towels.
⑤ In a frying pot or pan, pour oil so you can completely drown the potato slices.
⑥ Fry about potato slices worth of one potato with 2 tablespoon of sugar first in medium heat.
⑦ After the sugar melts completely in oil, turn up to high heat.
⑧ When the potato turns yellowish, take out the slices with a sieve.
⑨ Spread the slices out after taking them out so they do not stick together.
⑩ You can also slice into sticks.

Picture from http://kitchen.naver.com/recipe/viewRecipe.nhn?recipePid=437844

Site Scoop: Good Wine Under $20

For years, I longed for the arrival of my twenty-first birthday. I was convinced that, at the stroke of midnight on that very day, I would suddenly acquire a wealth of impressive alcohol-related knowledge. I imagined myself pouring complicated, customized cocktails from my personal liquor cabinet and describing my evening glass of wine (expertly paired with an elegant dinner, of course) in terms of aroma and mouthfeel. Shockingly, this did not happen. I'm more than halfway to twenty-two now, and I still feel decidedly unsophisticated whenever I'm perusing the aisles of the nearest Wine and Spirits shop. Not to mention that, as a college student on a budget, I don't exactly have the funds to splurge on a fancy Bordeaux bottle for my next BYOB dinner. What's a young aspiring oenophile to do? Visit a swell little blog called Good Wine Under $20! This site is positively packed with reviews and recommendations of quality bargain wines, perfect for the person who wants to explore her beverage options without depleting her bank account. Saveur, Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits, and the American Wine Blog Awards approve, and I bet you will, too!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chocolate Cravings!

With Valentine’s Day over, but that chocolate craving still lingering, I have a recipe that I learned in a cooking class while studying abroad in France that will satisfy any longing for chocolate. It is a chocolate cake, “moelleux au chocolat,” that is so delicious you won’t have to go out to satisfy your chocolate fix anymore!

A “moelleux au chocolat” is a soft, decadent, fudgy French cake. With this recipe, it tastes different depending on its temperature. Hot, it tastes like a gooey pudding cake. Cold, it tastes like a dense fudge cake. In both cases, it is very chocolatey. I am usually the type of person who likes to eat baked goods right out of the oven—gooey brownies, warm muffins, soft cookies. However for this cake, I recommend refrigerating it and eating it cold. I actually suggest trying it both ways. Taste it when it comes right out of the oven, but then make sure there are leftovers so that you can put the rest in the fridge to try cold. It is crazy how different it tastes just due to a change in temperature. But I’ll leave it to you to decide which you prefer. The best part about this recipe—besides that it tastes so good—is that it is so simple to make! Just mix a few ingredients together, throw it in the oven, and it’s ready to eat…unless of course, you refrigerate it. But even still, the preparation takes less than ten minutes, which is great when you are in the middle of midterms and need some chocolate to get by! Last thing, when you test the cake, sticking a toothpick in the center to see if it is cooked, note that when the cake is hot, it is like a pudding cake. So when you put the toothpick in, you will still see gooey chocolate residue even if it is fully baked. So put it in the oven for the suggested time, and just make sure that it is not soupy when it comes out. Let it settle for a few minutes, and then…bon appétit!

Molleaux au Chocolat

200 grams of dark chocolate
1 3/4 sticks of butter
5 eggs
1 full tablespoon of flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round pan.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave. Mix together.
Add the eggs one by one, mixing by hand after each addition.
Add flour and sugar. Mix well and pour into the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Broiled Grapefruit

Growing up in my household, orange juice was a breakfast staple. While that might not be anything out of the ordinary for an American family, what was more unusual was my pronounced dislike for orange juice and love of grapefruit. Grapefruit juice and grapefruits were rare treats bought by my mother when they were on sale. While my sisters spurned it for its bitterness and size, I appropriated the “greatfruit” as my own favorite. It wasn’t until high school, however, that I discovered the broiled grapefruit, known by some recipes as “Grapefruit Brûlée.”

By merely slicing the grapefruit in half, putting it on a pan, sprinkling brown sugar on the top, and popping it under the broiler for ten minutes or so, one can get a deliciously sweet and arguably healthy treat that is warm on the top and refreshingly cool on the inside. Now that I have an oven in my high rise room, I actually have been having broiled grapefruit a few times a week for breakfast. Grapefruits are a winter fruit, and this way of cooking it adds just the right amount of sweetness and warmth. Some recipes suggest sprinkling cinnamon or ground ginger on the top, as well as sugar. So if you haven’t been the biggest grapefruit fan before, this might be the way that works for you!

Picture courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Food Events @ Penn

New Restaurant Opening: Russet
What: This BYOB just steps from Rittenhouse Square opened on Valentine's Day and is already receiving rave reviews. Russet serves a daily-changing menu (six appetizers, six entrees) sourced from Green Meadow Farm, Erdenheim Farm and other local purveyors within 100 miles of the restaurant. For more information, visit their site.
Where: Russet, 1521 Spruce Street
When: Now!
Cost: Varies

JG Domestic "Meet the Maker" Dinner
What: In honor of JG Domestic's "Bourbon Month," Enjoy a menu of the finest artisanal American ingredients paired with distiller Jim Rutledge’s acclaimed bourbons. See the full menu and more information here.
Where: JG Domestic, 2929 Arch Street
When: February 22, 6 pm
Cost: $55

Burger Club Philadelphia Outing
What: Join Burger Club Philadelphia for their monthly burger outing, this time to Royal Tavern. Any and all burger enthusiasts welcome. Find the Facebook event here.
Where: Royal Tavern, 937 E. Passyunk Ave.
When: February 29, 6:30 pm
Cost: Varies

Brewer’s Plate 2012
What: This annual Fair Food fundraiser is in its 8th year and is better than ever. The one-of-a-kind tasting event unites craft beer with local gourmet food; this year brings together 25 local restaurants and 25 local breweries. There will also be a speakeasy showcasing local spirits, a variety of sweets and chocolates, and a VIP area with live cooking demos by Iron Chef Jose Garces. Learn more here
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
When: Sunday, March 11, VIP 5-9 p.m., General Admission 6-9 p.m.
Cost: $75 general admission, $125 VIP

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bloggers' Bites: Ocean Harbor Dim Sum

Bloggers' Bites is a series of posts chronicling the foodie adventures of Penn Appetit's blog staff. This past Sunday, we went out for Ocean Harbor's dim sum at 11th and Race.

Nicole Woon: Having grown up around dim sum and Chinese banquets, I'm no stranger to har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) and jellyfish tentacles. What was new to me was the place we dined at: Ocean Harbor. I've been on the hunt for a good dim sum place in Philly's Chinatown and was pleasantly surprised with the fare at Ocean Harbor. While I wasn't a fan of a couple dishes—take the BBQ beef skewers (the beef and the cloyingly sweet sauce that coated it was neither good nor authentic) and the jellyfish (I never could get over the odd texture and lack of taste)—, I was quite pleased with the rest. Personal favorites included the perfect pan-fried pork and scallion dumplings (excellent pan-crusted exterior, savory and juicy interior, flavorful throughout), steamed sticky rice (deliciously glutinous with a good balance of meat to rice), and the plump siu mai (what succulent steamed pork dumplings these were!). I was disappointed that the restaurant's golden egg tarts (a must-order for every dim sum meal) weren't ready until after we left, but that's just more incentive to return. Based on the quality of the food and the excellent price ($8 per person is a steal for the feast we had!), I'm sure I wasn't the only one who enjoyed Ocean Harbor overall. The crowds are a testament to the restaurant's success as well; the dining area was PACKED and by the time we left around 11:30 am, the waitstaff was calling group #18 after giving a "place in line" ticket to group #34! The icing on the cake (er... the coating on the taro dumpling?) was the spirited Chinese New Year bash going on outside; we reveled in the delightfully noisy firecrackers and talented lion dancers' performances before our departure.

Rachel Marc: The dim sum experience was a nice change of pace from the traditional dining scene. It was nice to see so many large groups together to enjoy a meal in a lively and bustling atmosphere. The carts wheeled about by servers served as a reminder that not all restaurants operate in the same manner, and the contrast from the typical experience was refreshing. It was great to be able to sample a variety of dishes and the table sharing experience was quite pleasant. My favorite dish was the coconut pudding. It was delicious and light, and it perfectly alleviated the craving for something sweet after the meal. I also really enjoyed the jasmine tea and didn't feel the urge, as a I frequently do, to sweeten the beverage. Overall, dim sum at Ocean Harbor was a great experience and I look forward to returning there to further explore its array of options.

Jessica Chung: Dim sum is one of my favorite kinds of brunch. I love the atmosphere, in which ladies bustle around, pushing carts full of food from which you can pick the dishes that appeal to you. I love the clamor of hungry people shouting out which dish they want as it goes by. And I love the smell of the salty, fried cooking. As for the food, I find all types of dim sum delicious: shrimp dumplings, roasted pork buns, egg custard tarts. Out of the dishes the bloggers and I ate at our trip to Ocean Harbor, my favorite was the fried taro dumpling. This dish consisted of mashed taro stuffed with shitake mushrooms, shrimp, and pork in the center, covered in a fried bird’s nest shell. The crunch of the bird’s nest nicely contrasted the soft, potato-like taro. And the mushroom, shrimp, and pork filling gave the taro a salty flavor. The one thing we were missing at this brunch were egg custard tarts. This is my favorite dim sum dessert. Egg custard tarts look like mini pies with a flaky pastry crust filled with a sweet yellow egg custard. The smooth texture of the custard goes well with the flaky texture of the crust. And it is small enough to satisfy a little sweet craving at the end of such a salty meal. We did have a coconut jello though for dessert. Its consistency was that of jello, it’s color was white, and the flavor was distinctly coconut. It was satisfying, but I wouldn’t have minded an egg custard tart too! So, I guess that means we’ll just have to go for dim sum again some time!

Katie Behrman: Upon entering Ocean Harbor, I knew I was in for a treat! Waiters bustled throughout the restaurant pushing carts piled with delicacies. Once seated, our waiter brought two pots of jasmine tea. The delicate, slightly sweet tea warmed my throat and soothed my body. I cannot even tell you how many cups I drank! The food-filled carts arrived at our table throughout the meal, enabling us to taste a variety of dishes. Below, I have described some of my favorites:

Haam sui gok: My favorite dish, Haam sui gok consisted of fried dough filled with chopped pork and vegetables. The dough possessed a delightful outer crunch combined with a soft inner layer. It tasted sweet and sugary, almost like a donut, but not quite as overwhelming. I also really enjoyed the filling as the pork and vegetables complemented the dough very well.

Steamed sticky rice: Not only delicious, the steamed sticky rice contained an intricate, and mesmerizing, construction. Wrapped in a thin layer of what I believe to be a pastry, the rice and its other components (pork and vegetables) created an almost perfect circle. Although I did struggle initially cutting away a piece with my chopsticks, I really enjoyed this dish. It was hot, packed with flavor, and contained a variety of textures.

Coconut pudding: Our final dish, the coconut pudding resembled a smooth, purely white rectangle. It was cold, yet melted in my mouth. I thought that the pudding tasted like milk infused with sweet and fragrant flavors. The refreshing pudding also cleansed my palate, and I really enjoyed ending the meal in this way!

Elliott Brooks: Dim sum for the gluten-sensitive is a near impossible feat. So while my fellow bloggers chowed down on siu mai and har gow (my two favorite dim sum delicacies from before I realized I had a gluten sensitivity!) I sipped my jasmine tea and tried to think about other things. Luckily, there were a couple things I was able to try. The first was jellyfish, certainly not a dish for the faint of heart. The jelly fish had been sliced into long translucent-looking "noodles". Suprisingly, jellyfish is quite crunchy and pretty bland. However, ours had a slightly pungent fishy aftertaste, which might just be because our jellyfish wasn't particularly fresh. I ended up eating the pickled diakon (a large white radish) that was nestled under the jellyfish.

The second dish I was able to try was the coconut pudding, which came in a wobbly, jello-like block. I love both coconut and pudding, so this was the perfect dessert to me. Not to mention, it wasn't too sweet and was almost refreshing. Needless to say, I ended up eating three times more coconut pudding than a normal person, and didn't regret a single bite.

Fine Belgian Beer

This is a continuation of our Belgian food series.

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Any beer connoisseur knows Belgium brews some of the finest beers in the world. Beers of every variety are brewed in Belgium, from cherry-flavored to those with upwards of 11% alcohol by volume (ABV)—nearly the same ABV as a glass of wine! Visiting breweries is a popular tourist attraction in Belgium, and a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Fun fact = Belgians consume, according to one estimate, 93 liters of beer per person a year, compared to the US at 81.6 liters per person

During the 19th century, there were over 3,000 registered breweries in the country. But after two World Wars and a depression in the first half of the 20th century, the number of breweries dropped to 755. Later, with the growth of industrialization, many breweries merged and were taken over my larger concerns, dropping the number of remaining breweries today to around 100.

Fun fact = In Belgium and other parts of Europe, the words "café" and "bar" are used interchangeably to denote what we would call a bar in the US.

Belgian beers can be classified by their style, differences in taste and color created by variants of the brewing process, and type, details like the brewing location and alcohol content.


• Blonde, Amber, and Brown ales are beers differentiated based on their color. A beer's color is dependent on the color of the malts (the germinated and dried grains like barely used to make beer) used in brewing, and is unrelated to the alcohol content. My favorite of these ales were the Blondes; I recommend trying Leffe Blonde, La Chouffe Achouffe, and Delirium Tremens.

Fun fact = Délirium Café in Brussels holds the Guinness World Record for the bar with most beers available at 2,004.

• Pilsner is another popular style of beer and is characterized by its light color and hop flavor. Stella Artois, Jupiler, Maes pils, and Cristal are all Belgian Pilsners. Stella Artois originates from Leuven, the town I studied abroad in, and is still brewed there today. In student bars you could get a glass for 80 Euro cents, about $1.05 US dollars—much cheaper than the $5 and upwards you’ll pay for a Stella in the US!

Fun Fact = Belgians, as I observed, drink beer around the clock. On sunny days, the Oude Markt (an historic central square filled with bars/cafes and restaurants) would be full of people drinking at tables by 11 a.m..

• Lambic beers are produced using spontaneous fermentation by exposing the beer to wild yeast in the air in large, open vats. This unusual process results in a characteristic cidery flavor with a sour aftertaste. Some of the more interesting Lambics I tried in Belgium were fruit flavored, like cherry-flavored Kriek and raspberry-favored Framboos.

Fun fact = Almost every brand of beer has its own unique glass, ranging from elaborate hour-glass shapes that require a stand (see photo), to branded chalices and goblets. Broken glassware, as you can imagine, is a huge expense for the bars, who have to stock the different glasses for all of their beers.

• The last style, but certainly not the least, of beer I’ll describe are White beers, which are made with a blend of herbs (mainly of coriander, orange, bitter orange, and hops), wheat, and barely. They get their name from the pale, cloudy color they have when cold. My favorite of this variety was Hoegaarden.


• Some will be familiar with the term “Trappist beer,” but fewer know the history behind it. Trappist is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered monks, and it was Trappist monks who first brewed beer in Belgium during the Middle Ages. There are strict criteria to label a beer as Trappist, and today only six Belgian monasteries selling Trappist beer remain: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. I tried the famous Westmalle Tripel, a strong pale ale; it was the most alcoholic beer I had while in Belgium at 9.5% ABV.

Fun fact = “Cheers!” in Dutch is “Proost!”

• Certified Abbey beers are beers brewed by other non-Trappist monasteries, or by commercial breweries in connection with an existing or abandoned monastery. (Remember, neither the terms Trappist nor Abbey signify a style of beer, but rather they tell where the beers come from.)

Fun fact = In 2008, Anheuser-Busch, an American brewery known for its brands like Budweiser and Natural Light, was acquired by Brazilian-Belgian brewing company InBev (which brews Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, among other beers) for a total value of $52 billion

•The terms Tripel and Dubbel indicate the percentage alcohol content of the beer. A Dubbel has double the alcohol content of your average beer at 6 – 7.5% ABV, and a Tripel, you guessed it, has triple the alcohol content at 7% - 10% ABV. My favorite Tripel was the Tripel Karmeliet (8.4% ABV).

Luckily, Philadelphia is full of bars offering a variety of fine Belgian beers. City Tap House in West Philly serves an impressive 11 Belgian beers, including Tripel Karmeliet!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Food Photography

A Food Photographer's Midterm Snacking
- by Ellen Kim

I Heart You Cookies

It’s the month of love so what better way to celebrate than to bake delicious treats for your family, friends, or special someone? This year, I decided to make heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies, dip then in white chocolate, and then add red, pink, and white sprinkles on top. The quick recipe only requires 3 ingredients and will take hardly any time to bake!

1 package slice and bake chocolate chip cookies
1 package white chocolate almond bark
Variety of red, pink, and white sprinkles

1) Open up the package of chocolate chip cookies and let thaw for 15 minutes.
2) Mash cookie dough together and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heart.
3)Scrape the excess cookie dough off around the edges of the cookie cutter and then combine cookie dough again and cut out another heart.
4) Bake cookies in a 350 degree heated oven for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are brown.
5)Let cookies cool for 15 minutes.
6) During this time, melt almond bark in the microwave. Microwave four squares at a time for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
7) Stir almond bark after removing it from the microwave.
8) Once the cookies are cool, completely cover them in the almond bark by dipping them.
9) Place cookies on a drying rack and sprinkle them with Valentine-colored sprinkles.
10) Impress your family and friends! Voila!

Valentine's Day 101 for Every Personality

Struggling to decide where to take or what to make for that special someone? Here's a round-up of some of Penn Appetit's favorite restaurants and dessert recipes, fitting each and every personality.

The Restaurants

The Hopeless Romantic Valentine: Barbuzzo
Three words: salted caramel budino. Seriously. Some say Aphrodite made Helen fall in love with Paris, but I think it was this dessert. Whatever the case, you can never go wrong ordering a budino for your lovey-dovey valentine. And the rest of Barbuzzo's food is pretty darn good too.

The Creative Valentine: Reading Terminal Market
Alright, so Reading Terminal Market is packed with tourists and the "sit-down" aspect are fold up tables and chairs. But if your valentine doesn't like going to fancy-pants restaurants, they still might be game for a trip to Reading Terminal Market. Sample the candies at Chocolate by Mueller, split a cone at Bassetts Ice Cream (America's oldest ice cream shop) or dig in to a sandwich at DiNic's. It's nearly impossible to not have a great time.

The Hippy Valentine: Cafe Estelle
Cafe Estelle prides itself on sustainability, so even if your valentine is a die-hard locavore, they won't feel guilty indulging in some good fare. Not to mention, the flat-bread pizzas are amazing and perfect for splitting. Just make sure to go early, Cafe Estelle serves breakfast and lunch only, and closes at 4pm.

The Nerdy Valentine: High Tea at the Dandelion
Pretending to be English royalty may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I promise most nerds will love it. So put on your best British accent and take your valentine out for high tea. Prepare yourself for a smattering of small plates, from a Welsh rarebit to a butter lettuce salad. I mean, the food is still English, so don't have too high of expectations, but it will sure be a fun and low-key outing. Make sure to stick out your pinkies and don't be afraid to laugh at yourselves a little.

The Workaholic Valentine: Garces Trading Company
The space is minimalist and well-lit, perfect for the budding business-savvy valentine. The food comes out fast and is utterly delicious, so your busy buddy won't get too stressed. Not to mention, the beautiful desserts will make any uptight student swoon.

The Laid-Back Valentine: Pub & Kitchen
I mean, it's a pub. What more do I need to say? Actually, quite a bit more. It's pretty classy as far as pubs go, while still offering the traditional burgers and beer. If your looking for the perfect combo between low-key and romantic atmosphere, look no further than Pub & Kitchen. I'm sure your laid-back valentine will agree.

The Recipes

The Hopeless Romantic Valentine: Aztec Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
I mean really, is there anything more romantic than hot chocolate? I certainly don't think so, unless of course it's hot chocolate masquerading as a cupcake. If your gooey-eyed valentine wasn't already head-over-heels in love with you, the cayenne pepper that gives these cupcakes their kick is a mighty aphrodisiac. The whipped cream "frosting" might end up places other than on top of the cupcake. Don't say you haven't been warned.

The Creative Valentine: Peanut Butter Brownies with Chocolate Ganache
Peanut butter brownies aren't the most typical Valentine's Day treat, but they're still pretty darn delicious. If your sweetheart doesn't want to conform to silly holiday traditions, but stills wants to see you care, then these brownies will be "nutty" enough for them.

The Hippy Valentine: Vegan Cupcakes
Baking for a vegan darling can be a bit difficult, but we promise these cupcakes are a breeze to make and require no odd ingredients. These cruelty-free sweets will make any granola-loving hippy so happy, you might end up going on a moonlit frolic afterwards.

The Nerdy Valentine: Butterbeer Cupcakes
As a Harry Potter-nerd myself, I know that nothing says romance like a trip to Hogsmeade for a steamy mug of butterbeer. Unfortunately, the chance to take a wintery walk into Hogsmeade will forever remain a fantasy for me and and your fellow nerdy valentine. However, make that love-struck Potter fan some butterbeer cupcakes and they will be yours faster than you can say "Accio Harry Potter movies and a Snuggie!"

The Workaholic Valentine: Dark Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes
Although your ambitious valentine might be feeling a bit stressed, it doesn't mean they won't appreciate these dark chocolate and coffee treats. In fact, after one bite of these caffeine-filled cupcakes, they'll be grateful you've prepared them for their next OCR interview.

The Laid-Back Valentine: Seven Layers of Heaven Bars
This dessert is one of the quickest and easiest to pull together, and it still tastes divine. This gooey, chocolatey, coconut and butterscotch filled bite of heaven is so delicious, your valentine won't realize what a breeze it was for you to make it. And if your valentine truly is laid-back, they won't care if you tell them!

-Elliott Brooks

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chow Now: Crème Brûlée French Toast at Green Eggs Café

We are excited to introduce a new weekly series to the Penn Appetit blog: Chow Now! Every Monday, we'll spotlight the latest must-eat food that you HAVE to try.

My latest obsession is anything that has to do with French toast. Because I am also a dessert monger, when a dessert-French toast combination is on the menu, it is on my plate. When I was at the Green Eggs Café for a casual Saturday brunch and was handed the menu, my jaw dropped and my head started spinning when I saw Crème Brûlée French Toast. Could it be? A combination of my favorite dessert in the world and my newest obsession? I quickly made my order and was hyperventilating by the time the waitress placed it in front of me. I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from attacking it before she set it down. It was stunning. Fluffy pieces of brioche toast were smothered in a crème brûlée thick sauce, topped with beautiful strawberries and dolloped with fresh whipped cream. It was totally, and utterly sinfully delicious and for that reason must be chowed NOW.

-Amanda Shulman

Franklin Fountain

A quaint little ice creamery in Olde City, the Franklin Fountain – colloquially known as “Franklin’s” – takes you back in time. Almost literally.

As soon as you step into the ice cream shop to the tinkering bell on the door, you are greeted with the sweet smell of chocolate and pastry, and an air of the 1800s. The ice cream is hand-made from local ingredients, and comes in twenty-two delectable flavors, which they whip up into various sundaes, banana splits, and milkshakes. The flavors range from the classic vanilla and chocolate to more daring tastes such as black raspberry and teaberry gum. They also have a selection of sorbets, sugar-free flavors, and ice cream made from soy milk.

I ordered the Mt. Vesuvius – a scoop of chocolate, a scoop of vanilla, perfectly cut cubes of brownies and hot fudge, all topped off with whipped cream and a sprinkling of malt, all delicately arranged in an aluminum floral-shaped cup, to be eaten with spoons with swirls engraved on the handles. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The ice cream, the obvious hero of the dish, is so creamy and not too sweet, and there are flecks of vanilla bean in the vanilla, so you know it’s authentic. The fudge is thick and rich, so much so that it sticks to the spoon, and goes excellently with everything else in the bowl. The brownies are great too – moist and chocolatey. Plus, they don’t get soggy, even when they’re covered with half-melted ice cream.

As someone with a serious addiction to Ben and Jerry’s, I like to consider myself knowledgeable in the ice cream department. And the Franklin Fountain’s borderline orgasmic sundae more than makes the cut.

But it’s the décor of this store that really makes it. With flavors embossed on a wooden board, postcards with vintage images printed on them for sale, a small barrel for water that you pour into small paper cones, and even a nineteenth century telephone – that still functions! – the Franklin Fountain is from a whole different time.

--Michelle See-Tho

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