Archive: April, 2009
Guest stars/judges will include Neil Patrick Harris (!), Lost producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (!!) and Zooey Deschanel (!!!).
Full rundown of Masters contestants ï¿½ it is intense ï¿½ after the jump.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Rick Bayless ï¿½ Frontera Grill, Chicago, Ill.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Wilo Benet ï¿½ Pikayo, San Juan, Puerto Rico
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ John Besh ï¿½ Restaurant August, New Orleans, LA
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Graham Elliot Bowles ï¿½ Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Michael Chiarello ï¿½ Bottega Restaurant, Yountville, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Michael Cimarusti ï¿½ Providence, Los Angeles, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Wylie Dufresne ï¿½ wd~50, New York, N.Y.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Elizabeth Falkner ï¿½ Orson, San Francisco, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Hubert Keller ï¿½ Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Christopher Lee ï¿½ Aureole, New York, N.Y.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Ludo Lefebvre ï¿½ Ludo Bites, Los Angeles, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Anita Lo ï¿½ Annisa, New York, N.Y.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Tim Love ï¿½ The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, Texas
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Rick Moonen ï¿½ Rick Moonen's RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Nils Noren ï¿½ French Culinary Institute, New York, N.Y.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Lachlan McKinnon Patterson ï¿½ Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, Colo.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Cindy Pawlcyn ï¿½ Mustards Grill, Napa Valley, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Mark Peel ï¿½ Campanile, Los Angeles, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Douglas Rodriguez ï¿½ Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PA
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Michael Schlow ï¿½ Radius Restaurant, Boston, Mass.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Art Smith ï¿½ Table Fifty-Two, Chicago, Ill.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Suzanne Tracht ï¿½ Jar, Los Angeles, Calif.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Jonathan Waxman ï¿½ Barbuto, New York, N.Y.
-ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Roy Yamaguchi ï¿½ Roy's Restaurants, San Diego, Calif.
After the jump, take a peek at the working menu for Q Barbecue & Tequila, the meaty concept that Kevin Meeker and his wife Janet (along with partner Tom Stewart) are opening in their long-running Philadelphia Fish & Co. space (207 Chestnut St.) next Monday, April 13.
More details on the restaurant in the upcoming edition of Feeding Frenzy.
1 Bone $3
3 Bones (1/4 rack) $8
6 Bones (1/2 rack) $14
Whole Rack $24
BBQ SANDWICHES (comes with one side of your choice)
Pulled Pork Sandwich $8
Pulled Chicken Sandwich $8
Brisket Sandwich $8
Sausage Sandwich $7
COMBINATION PLATTERS (pulled pork, ribs, pulled chicken, brisket, sausage; comes with one side of your choice)
Choose Any Two $14
Choose Any Threeï¿½ $21
(served with cole slaw and fries)
1/4 Chicken $8
1/2 Chicken $12
Full Bird $16
BBQ Shrimp, Collards, and Smoked Sausage on Cheddar Grits $18
Cajun Seared Catfish, Cheddar Grits and Slaw $14
Low Country Shrimp Boil (U Peel) $14
Crawdaddys in Season MP
WINGS (Pick your poison: Mild, Hot, HELLFIRE, or Hot & Honey)
10 Wings $7.50
15 Wings $10.50
20 Wings $14.50
STREET FOOD (Traditional street tacos with onions and cilantro; 3 per order)
QUESADILLAS (pico de gallo, fresh creme)
BURRITO (pulled pork or chicken, collard greens, baked beans, cole slaw) $10
Vegetarian Chorizo Taco $3
A Bowl of BBQ Spaghetti $10
Tofu, Mushroom or Cheese Quesadilla with Pico de Gallo and Fresh Creme $9
Mexi Burger (jalapeno, pico de gallo, guacamole) $10
Blue Cheese Burger (bacon, fried onions) $10
BIGASS Burger (topped with pulled pork, sausage, bacon, sauce and slaw) $14
Texas Tommy (sausage wrapped in bacon) $9
Cole Slaw $3
Mac and Cheese $5
Baked Beans $5
Cheddar Grits $5
BBQ Fries $5
French Fries $5
Corn in Season $4
Green Beans $5
Fried Green Tomatoes $5
Potato Salad $4
Banana Pudding $6
Bread Pudding $6
Pecan Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream $6
Neil Parish, owner of Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill, will open his second location at 1521 Locust Street in around two weeks' time. All the homemade hits will be available ï¿½ hot corned beef, hot pastrami, smoked fish prepped by "a licensed loxologist," etc. (Parish's spot is not affiliated with Kibitz at the City at Seventh and Chestnut, though both spaces were founded by original owner Russ Cowan.)
Once a month, Parish adds, he plans on holding a reservation-only "Roumanian steakhouse" night in the style of Sammy's on NYC's Lower East Side ï¿½ veal chops, skirt steak, potato pancakes, kreplach, chocolate egg creams, etc. They'll be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, with late-night-ish hours (11 p.m. or midnight) on Fridays and Saturdays.
|ï¿½2009 Courtney Grant Winston|
Marshmallow Peeps, those sweet, explodable treats, are the quintessential Easter-basket filler.ï¿½ Though the Just Born Peeps will satisfy sugar craving-kiddies, homemade marshmallows are a fit for a foodie's basket.
Chef Alison Barshak has been making her own version of the classic marshmallow chicks, which she dubs Peepers, at her restaurant Alison at Blue Bell and the newly-opened Alison two.ï¿½ Barshak got interested in the many variations of the pillowy puffs when friend Eileen Talanian published her book Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats (Gibbs Smith).
"Last year when Eileen's book came out," says Barshak, "my whole kitchen did a marshmallow cocktail party and paired them with wines and passed hors d'oeuvres. We did ancho chili marshmallows, red wine fluff and apple marshmallows in bacon and cheese sandwiches.ï¿½ Everyone like the savory marshmallows best."ï¿½ For Easter and Passover sweets, Barshak makes more conventional dessert marshmallows, flavored with Meyer lemon, raspberry and vanilla bean.
Marshmallows make appearances in more than just Easter baskets this time of year. "Everyone is always looking for ways to make Passover desserts taste good," says the chef. "You can't use dairy, and the rules are kind of complicated.ï¿½ The more processed the food is, the less likely it will conform to kosher laws.ï¿½ Marshmallows work because you're making your own syrup with sugar, instead of using corn syrup.ï¿½ I taught a kosher class in New York, and did a lot of research on kosher desserts. Marshmallows are great, because you can get kosher gelatin. Eileen's book does fluff frozen like a semi-freddo with no dairy or gelatin that is amazing."
But are marshmallows hard to make?ï¿½ Barshak doesn't think so. "You have to do it all at once -- once you start you have to finish it, and you have to realize you're going to get really sticky. That's just the way it is.ï¿½ It's not more difficult than anything else.ï¿½ I think it's fun!"
If getting covered in sugar sounds like your idea of a good time, click over the jump for Alison's method to make Peepers at home, adapted from Eileen Talanian's book.ï¿½ After all, homemade marshmallows "taste so much better than store-bought," says Barshak.ï¿½ "They're softer, and have a cleaner flavor.ï¿½ We flavor ours with Meyer lemon juice and raspberry, and they just taste like spring to me."
Alison at Blue Bell, 721 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell; 215-641-2660, alisonatbluebell.com
Alison two, 424 S. Bethlehem Pike, Ft. Washington; 215-591-0200, alisontwo.com
Housemade Chick Peepers
Recipe courtesy of Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats by Eileen Talanian
As used by Chef Alison Barshak, Alison two & Alison at Blue Bell
For Marshmallow Syrup
For the syrup:
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Make the heavy syrup first. Place the syrup ingredients in a small heavy sauce pot over medium heat and stir mixture with high heat spatula. When the mixture starts to boil, cover sauce pan for a few minutes. Remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer increasing to high until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Do not stir as this will cause the mixture to crystallize. Remove from heat and let cool. (Note: you can substitute light corn syrup for marshmallow syrup in the Marshmallow Base recipe if you don't have the time or inclination to make this syrup.)
For the Bloom
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin
For the Marshmallow Base
3/4 cups water
1-1/4 cups marshmallow syrup
1-1/2ï¿½ cups Granulated cane sugar
Colored sugar for coating the peepers
powdered sugar, cornstarch, or a mixture of the two for coating
Piping bag fitted with 3/8-inch plain decorating tube
3-D food coloring tube and food coloring
First, make the Bloom: Stir the water and vanilla together in a measuring cup. Place the gelatin in a small bowl and add the water mixture, stirring with a fork or small whisk until perfectly smooth.
Next, make the Marshmallow Base: Place the water, marshmallow syrup, salt and sugar, in that order, into a 4-quart pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Then place a lid on the pan and boil it, covered for 2 minutes. This step is essential in order to eliminate sugar crystals on the side of the pan that may cause the marshmallows to crystallize.
Remove the lid, insert a candy thermometer, and continue boiling until the thermometer reaches 250 degrees F. Do not stir the mixture once the lid has been removed. Remove the thermometer and gently stir in the bloomed gelatin.
Pour the batter into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat it on high speed for 10 to 12 minutes, using the wire whisk attachment or the paddle beater. It will take a little longer to beat with the paddle. You can cover the mixer with a clean kitchen towel for the first 3 minutes to avoid splattering hot liquid on yourself.
At first, the marshmallow batter will look very watery; as it beats, it will become thick, white, and glossy, and will increase in volume by two- to threefold. If desired, use a small amount of food coloring to make colored peepers.
For the Peepers
Prepare a surface by spraying it with oil and lightly wiping it, or by generously sprinkling it with a coating mixture. Holding the piping bag so the tip is at a 45-degree angle to the surface, pipe a mound, then push the bag back and up to form a neck, giving a slight extra squeeze to form the head. Dip the finger and thumb of your free hand in water and pinch off the end to form the beak, gently pushing it down, if necessary. Sprinkle with colored sugar and allow to cure overnight, or allow them to cure for a few hours and coat them with your favorite coating. You can place the coating in a bag with some of the peepers and shake it to coat them. Be sure to brush off excess coating.
Use a 3-D food-coloring tube to paint eyes onto the peepers. Pack them in gift boxes and tie with pretty ribbons.
Last week, I was laid low by a mystery microbe.ï¿½ I don't know if it was food poisoning or flu, but whatever its name, it tried to kill me.ï¿½ No drop of liquid or nibble of toast could pass my lips without being express-trained out the way it came in. In Anansi Boys (Harper Perennial), Neil Gaiman unleashes a comparable misery on his innocent protagonist, Fat Charlie Nancy:ï¿½ "Anything louder than the gentle Brownian motion of air molecules drifting softly past each other was above his pain threshold. Also, he wished he were dead."
I was as helpless as Fat Charlie, but no one will ever write a novel about it.ï¿½ By the time I could pick my head up off the pillow on Thursday night, I was as dehydrated as a sun-dried tomato without any of the pleasant sweetness.ï¿½ Since all fluids had been a no-go,ï¿½ I pondered the contents of the refrigerator for watery edibles that might stay in my stomach for longer than five minutes.
When you are already sick or nauseated,ï¿½ drinking water can induce vomiting because it is absorbed too quickly across the membranes of your stomach (osmosis).ï¿½ That's why ginger ale, with its absorption slowed by sugar, has long been a home remedy.ï¿½ Ginger also alleviates nausea.ï¿½ Once your stomach can tolerate it, food with a high water content can help rehydrate you.
Hello, crisper.ï¿½ Out of the fridge came a cantaloupe, a grapefruit, green grapes and a cucumber.ï¿½ Sliced down and mixed together, they saved my life.ï¿½ They also tasted amazing, especially after two days of eating nothing.ï¿½ For just a moment, I understood the raw foodists and vegans who promote fresh and pure plants as the best way to nourish your body.ï¿½ The next time a born-again prostelytizer asks me if I've heard the Good News, I'll look them right in the eye and say, sure have.
I have seen the Truth, and its name is Melon.
|Photo l Kevin D. Weeks|
|Benton's American "prosciutto," center|
On Thursday and Friday nights throughout April, West Philly's Marigold Kitchen will offer a special $50, five-course tasting menu featuring artisanal American hams from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Meal Ticket sat down with executive chef Erin O'Shea for the inside track on these "American prosciuttos." Marigold Kitchen owner Steve Cook and general manager Maura Carney provided wine pairing recommendations for maximum ham happiness.
Meal Ticket: What was the inspiration for an all-ham menu?
Erin O'Shea: It started out as a "tasting of country hams" appetizer plate, from our a la carte menu. We thought, wouldn't it be fun to make a tasting menu based on that app? I tend to avoid themed menus, but I guess I don't avoid it if I love it.
MT: The timing is appropriate, too. Easter is coming up, and that's definitely the hammiest holiday.
EO: It is the hammiest holiday!ï¿½ I think it has something to do with the different breeds of pigs.ï¿½ Each has its own butcher time, depending on what you are doing with it.
MT: Do hams vary from producer to producer?
EO: Yes and no. Within each ham, you've got variation. On each leg, there will be a large variety of flavors and textures, based on how much meat there is on the bone. There's more meat at the upper thigh than at the shank, and the amount of fat changes ï¿½ one band of fat around the thigh is deep fat that sort of trickles down to a thinner band. The shank end, where the ham is hung to dry, is really tough, but the upper thigh is very tender. Each ham has a lot to offer. There's also different cures.
MT: Different producers cure and smoke their hams with different things?
EO: Yes, the very traditional cure is brown sugar and salt, but you can use other things to obtain different flavors.ï¿½ Most southern hams are smoked over hickory ï¿½ all of these that we are featuring are ï¿½ but we get one Yankee ham from up North that is smoked over corncobs. It gives it a very different flavor. Do you want to see a ham?
MT: Um, yeah.ï¿½ [Ed: Erin disappears into the walk-in at this point, and emerges seconds later holding a paper-and-cheesecloth wrapped ham like a baby.]
MT: Wow, it looks just like a prosciutto. I was expecting more like a no-water-added, pink thing like you get in the supermarket.
EO: This is the Benton's ham from Tennessee. It's rubbed with sugar and salt, allowed to sit for up to a year, then rinsed. They they hang and hickory-smoke it.
MT: Do these American hams contain nitrites?
EO: Nitrites have been demonized, but the thing is, you've got to use nitrites to comply with USDA regulations. In order not to use them, your ham has to be 10 percent salt, which makes the finished product way too salty. Most producers shoot for 5 to 6 percent salt. People will ask me, does this have nitrites in it, and I say, well, yes. They are necessary for preservation of a cured, raw product like this. [Ed: Click here for more information on nitrites in cured meats]
MT:ï¿½ I see you are making a ham vinaigrette for the farm vegetables course. How does one make a ham vinaigrette?
EO: We cook off the leg bone and some meat from the shank, including the meat that hung on the bone, and make a vinaigrette with it. It add as little smokiness, a little hamminess to this really beautiful local produce. We're pulling in the earliest regional stuff available, and those vegetables will change through April, as we can get more things.
MT: What wines would you recommend guests bring along to pair with the Ham Tasting?
Steven Cook: For something versatile that will work throughout the menu, you can't go wrong with a White Burgundy. They have a nice acidity and fruitiness that can stand up to things like the chicken. Macon-Villages are great with this and affordable. It sounds like a cliche, but Pinot Noir will work with the fish and meat ï¿½ a light to medium bodied red is really ideal, nothing with a lot of tannins.
Maura Carney: A Spanish wine like white Verdejo would be good as well, or Grenache if you must have a red.
MT: I'm glad you two can make recommendations. For ham, I'd just bring beer.
Erin O'Shea: [whispers] Me too.ï¿½ I don't know anything about wine.
Marigold Kitchen, 501 S. 45th St. 215-222-3699, marigoldkitchenbyob.com
Meal Ticket Tastes Three Country Hams, thinly sliced and in their "raw" state (first course of this menu)
Edward & Son's (Virginia): smoky, fruity, saline, peachy color, tons of character, silky fat, scotchy
Father's (Kentucky): smokier, more subtle flavor, less salt.ï¿½ Erin notes that "it's weird, but the texture is almost similar to fish" --there is a distinct melt-in-your-mouth quality, much like great sashimi.
Benton's (Tennessee): palest pink of the three, long finish,ï¿½ pure white fat has a very fruity, floral flavor, less smoky but the complex flavors linger -- "It'll stick with you," says Erin.
April is Ham Month at Marigold Kitchen
Tasting of Three Country Hams
Benton's (Tenn), Fathers' (Kentucky), Edward & Son's (Virginia)
with pear butter, whole grain mustard & marmalade
Local Farm Vegetables
with Virginia ham viniagrette
Benton's country ham broth, fava beans, poached egg
Stuffed Chicken Breast
Father's country ham, morel mushrooms, sugar snap peas
Pink will always be in fashion for cherry trees. The brilliant pink blossoms begin to show their colors in Philadelphia in late March, with larger, lighter-colored flowers blooming through April. The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia heralds the coming of spring with events as diverse as sake tastings, martial arts demonstrations, kodo drumming and dance, Japanese film screenings and traditional tea ceremonies. (See the full schedule here.)Many of the events take place in Fairmount Park, where a dense concentration of cherry trees reside.
This Sunday, April 5 is Sakura Sunday, the centerpiece of the festival. The outdoor event is Philadelphia's own o-hanami, the Japanese tradition of revelry beneath the cherry trees. The Horticultural Center in Fairmount Park will host an array of entertainments, including live music and dance, origami, calligraphy and crafts stations, kimonos and Japanese art vendors, a Japan-America food court, a cherry tree planting ceremony and tours of Shofusu Japanese House and Garden. Admission is a suggested donation of $5.
Once visitors have reveled under the trees and learned a few things about Japanese culture, they might develop an insatiable craving for shumai, sushi and noodles. Download the Dine Out Japan coupon here to receive 20 percent off your meal at 11 local Japanese restaurants, including trendy karaoke bar Yakitori Boy and petite BYO Umai Umai. The deal runs from April 19-23.
Visit jasgp.org/cherryblossomfestival for more information.
For the inaugural edition of our seasonal special, Patio Drinking, we cross the Atlantic to bring you a warm-weather intoxicant straight from the plazas of sunny Spain: kalimotxo.
Kalimotxo (Basque) or calimocho (Catalan) is a fifty-fifty blend of cheap red wine and Coca-Cola, served over plenty of ice in a short glass tumbler.ï¿½ The mixture is also often drunk out of plastic bottles called minis, katxi, macetas, litros, cubalitros or jarras.ï¿½ The kalimotxo is made by pouring out half of a liter bottle of cola and pouring in the red wine.ï¿½ These minis can then be shared by drinkers, usually Spanish teenagers, at botellï¿½nes -- outdoor parties in public spaces.
The sweet potion is said to have originated at a 1972 summer festival in Algorta, Spain, when some young vendors realized "the wine they had planned to sell tasted not just bad but toxic, and added Coca-Cola and ice to mask the flavor," writes Jonathan Miles in a 2007 New York Times article. "It was an improbable hit."
The type of wine used to make kalimotxo falls at the low end of even a teenager's booze budget.ï¿½ Indeed, Miles hits it on the head with his grape juice recommendation: " if you wish to follow botellï¿½n tradition, harsh and cheap. The kind of wine that begs for a little helping hand."
Since Coca-Cola is about as sweet as a beverage can be, stick with dry reds with a little tannic bite for best results.ï¿½ The big, 1500 ml. bottle ofï¿½ Bolla Sangiovese is $15.99 at PLCB stores -- enought to make a few minis for you and all your best underage chums.
|Photo l Neal Santos|
|World Champion Eaters|
This week's Food and Restaurants sections were almost entirely written by Drew Lazor. Way to save on the budget, Drew!
- Ever wonder how many peanuts and crackerjacks baseball fans consume in the course of a game? We don't have any idea, but we do know all about the hot dogs, hamburgers and nachos Phils fans will snarf on Opening Day this Sunday. Drew visits the chefs and concessionaires of Citizen's Bank Park for the lowdown on what makes CPB the greatest arena for vegans, gourmets and devotees of house-smoked meats.
- The Foie Gras Wars author Mark Caro sits down to chat with Drew about Philadelphia's role in the liver battle, and answers the big question: Now that you know how it's made, what don't you eat?
- Super foodtern Lauren Fleming previews Ham Month at Marigold Kitchen; an edible tour of Titanic victim's burial sites in Lauren Hill Cemetary; the Cherry Blossom's intoxicated cousin Sake Fest 2009; the first Sunday brunch of the season at the Comcastic Plaza Cafï¿½; and a bunny bar hop for charity 'round Fairmount, all in What's Cooking.
- Our hard-working editor feeds you the latest openings in Feeding Frenzy: Bish Bish Cafï¿½ at 18th and Sansom and The Blockley Pourhouse/Mary Oaks in West Philly. If you've got champagne taste on a Budweiser budget, check out the new pub menu at swank steakhouse Barclay Prime.
|Once Upon a Nation|
By the time warm weather is no longer a welcome novelty, you will be able to chow down on a Stephen Starr-approved hot dog and Capogiro gelato after taking a spin on the whimsical Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel at the prettiest playground in the city.
Starr announces today in a press conference at Franklin Square that he will be partnering with Historic Philadelphia Inc., who manages the family-friendly park, to set up a permanent food vending operation in the Square.
By mid-April, a temporary Starr stand will be up and running, selling burgers, hot dogs, pretzels, drinks and ice cream. When construction on the permanent stand is completed (estimated by mid-summer), the offerings will expand to include specialty burgers, shakes, salads and Capogiro gelato.ï¿½ Cafe tables and chairs, as well as picnic benches, will be scattered throughout the park for visitors to better enjoy an al fresco snack.
Franklin Square features two playgrounds, one scaled for little kids under two,ï¿½ and another complete with centrifugal force rides, climbing structures and swings that can keep the biggest kids amused for hours. The park is also home to the only carousel in the City of Philadelphia, a miniature golf course complete with scaled-down local historical monuments and a restored vintage marble fountain. The park, which is one of William Penn's original five squares, was named in the Top Ten Best Playgrounds in the U.S. by Dream On Travel.
Franklin Square, 200 N. Sixth St., 215-629-4026, historicphiladelphia.com/franklin-square
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