|Weaver's Way Co-op|
|Photo | Felicia D'Ambrosio|
First Person Arts has been gathering the family recipes of area foodies for their Edible World blog series, and today's post features our girl Felicia D. Check out the site to read her family's version of Boilo, the antracite coal-miner's cure for everything. FD says it's "akin to a hot toddy on steroids." Just what the doctor ordered.
|Photo l Rosey Lakos|
|Chocolate-orange and Meyer lemon manjars|
Former mistress of the kitchen at Capogiro Gelato Artisans on 20th St., Janina Larenas has returned to her native Santa Cruz, California to wrangle books. Fortunately for her sad, left-behind friends, she's still sharing her magical recipes via Paul Davis' Web magazine IsGreaterThan.
This month Larenas partners up with photographer Rosey Lakos to present an informative how-to slideshow on making the South American milk-caramel treat manjar. Similar to dulce de leche but less sweet, with a hint of bitterness, these manjars are based on sweetened condensed milk and flavored with either Meyer lemons or chocolate and orange.
Visit the article on IsGreaterThan to learn the simple method for this treat; you'll have to figure out your own excuses to eat it on everything.
|Taste and learn|
On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m., take-out craft beer destination the Foodery will convene the first session of the Foodery Beer Academy at Cantina dos Segundos (931 N. Second St.). The professional beer geeks who scour the festivals and man the phones tracking down the world's best craft brews will be teaching students how to describe the flavors that haunt them, with samples of 12 beers representative of major styles poured during three one-hour Academy classes, each $15 per person.
For those who can't play hooky on a weekday, the second class meets in West Philly at Local 44 (4333 Spruce St.) on Sat., Feb. 20 at 3 p.m.; the third will be in session at Nodding Head (1516 Sansom St.) on Sat., Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale at both Foodery locations (324 S. 10th St. and 837 N. Second St) and all participating bars.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
...is when the sommelier preserves the label of the bottle of wine you liked so much, as shown above. As with skinning cats, there's more than one way to get the label off the bottle without ripping it; fancy-pants steakhouses tend to use ready-made label removers like Oenophilia Label Lift, a product similar to the one shown in the photo.
Since ready-made label removers can be expensive, there are a few other ways to get the label off the bottle without destroying it; they work for beer bottles, too.
Hair-Dryer Method: Turning the hair dryer to its hottest setting, hold the nozzle directly over the label, moving it all around to cover the entire area. The heat from the dryer will melt the adhesive that attaches the label to the bottle, making it easy to peel. This also works on any kind of irritating sticker (i.e., prices on the glass of picture frames) you need to remove, and has the benefit of being free if you already own a hair dryer.
Packing/Shipping Clear Tape: Place a large piece of tape, leaving as big a margin around the label as possible, over the label. Smooth down any air bubbles with the back of a spoon and let the tape rest on the label a few hours or overnight. Starting at a corner, peel the tape up slowly. This will lift up the colored part of the label and leave the gluey backing behind.
Hot Water & Dish Soap: Soak the bottle in very hot water, adding just a few drops of dish soap. Allow to soak for at least 15-30 minutes; gently peel label away. Too much soap will disintegrate the label, so use sparingly.
|Edible Crafts at CraftGossip.com|
|Edible valentines for all skill levels|
For those too poor to visit Tiffany & Co. but in search of a meaningful gift for Valentine's Day (be it for your mom, best friend, true love or awesome kiddie) Meaghan Mountford of Edible Crafts at CraftGossip.com has assembled a collection of DIY edible gifts.
A wide range of baking skill levels are represented, from simple-but-high-impact projects like a "candy box" of decorated miniature chocolate cupcakes (pictured, by Hello! Cupcake), to cookie Scrabble tiles (pictured, by Bake at 350) frosted in royal icing to spell out a heartfelt message.
Non-mushy projects like pink and red rock candy in You Rock! header bags (pictured, by Martha Stewart's Craft Department) are appropriate for kid-to-kid Valentines, while a pure white cake (pictured, by i am baker) hides a rich red velvet heart.
Non-bakers can even get in on the action by covering Oreo Cakesters with store-bought fondant to create pretty Valentine petit fours; i am baker has the tutorial here.
Project Skill Ratings
- Easy: You Rock! candy (purchase rock candy, package in cello bags, print and staple labels)
- Basic: Cupcake "candy box" (bake and decorate mini cupcakes with candies); Valentine petit fours (buy box of Cakesters and fondant, cover without ripping)
- Patient and Good at Following Directions: Scrabble cookies (baking tools required; steady hands with royal icing)
- Jedi Sugar Skills: Vanilla and red velvet heart cake (there isn't even a tutorial up yet! Also requires carving cake)
The cook's methods for tenderizing the chewy flesh of the octopus are as various as the rainbow of colors the molluscan cephalopod's skin can flash though for camouflage. Varga Bar (941 Spruce St.) chef R. Evan Turney (pictured) cited at least half a dozen anecdotal prescriptions for its preparation, from parboiling the creature with wine corks or cylinders of cut-up copper pipes to applying daikon radish to the tentacles.
Turney put wives' tales aside and shared the method that makes Varga's wood-grilled octopus with potato masala, English peas and black olive vinaigrette (pictured) as tender as the inside of your elbow. Learn it after the jump.
Basic Octopus Method
by R. Evan Turney, exec chef of Varga Bar (as told to Felicia D'Ambrosio)
Bring a large pot of courtbouillon (fish stock, lemons and aromatics) to a full boil.
Hold octopus by the head; if using several, tie their heads together to make next steps easier.
Holding octopus by the head(s); dip tentacles completely into boiling stock and lift out after a few seconds.
Allow pot to fully boil again; dip tentacles again into stock and lift out.
Allow pot to fully boil a third time; dip octopus into water and release.
Turn heat down until stock is just simmering (small bubbles). Allow octopus to simmer for at least two hours; check for tenderness by removing octopus from pot and attempting to pull away one tentacle. It should detach from the body when done.
Working carefully while octopus is still hot, strip away suction cups with a kitchen towel (if desired; some people enjoy the texture of the suction cups).
Marinate cleaned tentacles in a mixture of olive oil, a dash of lemon juice, herbs and a splash of good vinegar. Allow to rest in marinade for at least an hour.
Heat a grill pan, charcoal or gas grill to medium-high; grill tentacles to order to crisp the skin and warm through; be wary of drying the flesh out.
Serve as you like, immediately.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Cheap & easy protein|
Many home cooks (including myself) who aren't afraid of breaking down a leg of lamb or spending two hours blanching and peeling minute pearl onions for an edible project still flinch away from cooking fish.ï¿½ The invisible bones, the lingering smell and the inevitable sticking and trashing of the expensive fillets are kind of a scary prospect.
My dear friend Nicole Pogas (who has cooked at Pif and Vetri, and taught me how to perfectly poach an egg) and I cooked a fast dinner the other night that employed her oven-roasting method for skinless, boneless fillets of tilapia. Her method removes the fear from cooking fish because you pre-heat a sheet tray in the oven and then add the fillets to it, which keeps the flesh from sticking and the lingering fishy smells under control.ï¿½ All tilapia, a hardy, freshwater white-fleshed fish native to North Africa, are farm-raised, mostly in the U.S., Central America and Asia.ï¿½ The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists U.S.-raised fresh tilapia as the Best Choice for sustainability; with Central American specimens as a Good Alternative.ï¿½ They recommend avoiding frozen tilapia from Asia because of pollution and farming practices.
Other thin, boneless-skinless fillets of fish can also be cooked using this method.ï¿½ After the jump, Nicole Pogas' super-fast Oven-Roasted Tilapia with Cucumber Salad.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Placing the fish fillets on a preheated sheet tray keeps them from sticking|
Oven-Roasted Tilapia with Cucumber Salad
By Nicole Pogas
Go Get This:
3 boneless, skinless fresh tilapia fillets
2 English cucumbers (you can use ordinary cucumbers, too, but English cukes have way fewer seeds)
3 thin green onions (scallions)
A few sprigs dill
A few sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
A few small glugs extra-virgin olive oil
Two small pats butter
Your choice of starch or sauteed greens
Now Do This:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for at least fifteen minutes.ï¿½ When oven reaches temp, place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to heat, at least 15 minutes.
While the oven is preheating, completely peel both cucumbers.ï¿½ Cut 1/4 inch off ends and discard.ï¿½ Slice trimmed cuke in half lengthwise and place flat side down on cutting board. Thinly slice cucumbers and place in large mixing bowl.
Cut root ends and tough green parts off green onions and discard, keeping the white and light green parts.ï¿½ Slice the green onions as thinly as you can and add to mixing bowl.
Take one lemon and zest it all over with a peeler or Microplane.ï¿½ Add all lemon zest to cucumber/green onion bowl.ï¿½ Cut zested lemon in half and juice both halves thoroughly; add juice to mixing bowl.ï¿½ Take second lemon and cut in half; juice one half into bowl and reserve other half to be cut into wedges for garnishing finished plate.
Wash and finely chop dill and parsley; add to mixing bowl.
Season cucumber salad with salt and pepper to taste; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in refrigerator while you cook the fish.
Remove tilapia fillets from packaging and season all over with salt and pepper.
Once the sheet pan has heated in the hot oven for at least 15 minutes, remove it from oven with oven mitts or tongs and place on heatproof surface (the range top is ideal, or use a few hot pads or a trivet).
Pour a hearty glug of olive oil onto hot sheet pan, then add a pat or two of butter.ï¿½ Arrange tilapia fillets on oil and butter and return to oven.ï¿½ Roast for about seven minutes; then remove sheet from oven and flip fish with large spatula.ï¿½ Return to oven and cook about five more minutes, until flesh is opaque white and firm to the touch.
Serve hot fish over your choice of starch or sauteed greens; top with cold cucumber salad.ï¿½ Cut wedges from reserved lemon half and serve on plate for squeezing over.
Maybe you don't celebrate Jesus' birthday with a consumer extravaganza, maybe you don't want to cook a formulaic feast again this year, or maybe you just don't care.ï¿½ Philly has a handful of restaurants, mostly in hotels, that are open Christmas day serving the full array of grub.
After the jump, check out the joints that will keep the stoves lit and the lights on this Friday.
La Fontana Della Citta (1701 Spruce St., 215-875-9990); Moderately famous for veal and seafood dishes, this one is right in pretty, sparkly Rittenhouse, serving their full a la carte menu for dinner.
S&H Kebab House (611 E. Passyunk Ave, 215-639-3214);ï¿½ Doner and chicken kebabs, Turkish veggie salad and babaganouj for peanuts.ï¿½ Super casual for those who reject holiday requirements of putting on their big-boy pants.
Divan Turkish Kitchen (918 S. 22nd St., 215-545-5790); A fancier take on Middle Eastern cuisine, the full menu will be available on Christmas.
Novita Bistro (1608 South St., 215-545-4665);ï¿½ Hey, did you know Morocco is part of the Mediterranean? Merguez, gnocchi and tagine all happily coexist here.
Fancyface Hotel Dining
Sole Food (Loew's Hotel, 1200 Market St., 215-231-7300); Seafood and complicated cocktails in a posh setting. Lovely lounge for secular merrymaking.
Fountain Restaurant (Four Seasons Hotel, 1 Logan Circle, 215-963-1500); One of Craig LaBan's precious few four-belled experiences in a setting right out of the golden age of Hollywood.ï¿½ Both the Fountain and the Swann Lounge are serving groaning tables of brunch fare all Christmas day, $98 per person.ï¿½ Last seatings are 6:30 (Swann) and 7 p.m. (Fountain).ï¿½
Lacroix (Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 215-790-2533); The typically lavish Sunday brunch at Lacroix will be served all Christmas Day, $75 per person, until their last seating at 7 p.m.
Chez Colette (Sofitel, 120 S. 17th St., 215-569-8300); A Sunday brunch-styled buffet breakfast runs 8-11 a.m. for $21 per person; lunch and dinner menus will be available a la carte, or a $36 holiday prix-fixe menu includingï¿½ Maine lobster bisque, Muscovy duck, French cheese plate and traditional Yule log dessert.
Palace at the Ben (Franklin House, 843 Chestnut St., 267-232-5600); Dine like a Raj with a luncheon buffet, $14.95 (vegetarian) or $16.95 (omnivore).ï¿½ Dinner will be a la carte from the regular Indian and Pakistani menu.
Derek's (4411 Main St., Manayunk, 215-483-9400); Manayunk's original mover-and-shaker chef, Derek Davis, will serve his Cal-Italian influenced new American menu as usual.ï¿½ The vodka bar upstairs is waiting for you.
Chart House (555 S. Columbus Blvd., 215-625-8383);ï¿½ The a la carte dinner menu will be served riverside all day, starting at 11 a.m. for the ambitious.
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