Archive for the ‘Events/Promotions’ Category

10
Jan

Weekend of food and glory

   Posted by: Livia Tags: ,

Thursday
Did not make progress of truffles because I had house buying mischief. Closing date is set to January 31st.

Mortgage rate would be 5%, which is higher than I’d hoped. Apparently rates went up right before the holidays. Do you think it would be weird/too late to shop around more?

I still don’t believe that the sellers will have all the repairs done in time, but I’m starting ye olde boxe collection of moving.

Gah!

Then met up with Hugh for dinner and socializing at Cheesecake Factory. I think they secretly add crack to their food because it’s bizarrely tasty.

And then I conned him into running errands with me: dropped of sewing machine for repair and bought rubber caps for the bottoms of my kitchen chairs (because it’s only okay for them to cut into the rented flooring.

Whee! Good times.

Friday
Made 5 batches of vegan ganache to be the center of truffles. Also made Smitten Kitchen’s buckeye filling.

And then I was wooed out of my kitchen by book group and potential movie watching, and I packed up my goods and rolled some chocolate balls that night. I even dipped some of them.

And then Smittywing showed up! I’d… erm… sort of forgotten having invited her up a couple months ago, but luckily my apartment was in decent shape and able to accommodate a guest with barely a hiccup. Plus I put her to work on the chocolate front. :)

Went home, went to bed, and resolved to wake up early to complete the truffle process.

Saturday
OMG – so nuts.

Breakfast of freshly baked bread while covering kitchen in chocolate as part of the frantic truffle making process.

Smittywing was kind enough to take orders and make labels for all the truffles. And a sign to post by the farmers market. And add signature garnishes to the tops for identification. Yay sous chefing!

And then I got a call reminding me that I hadn’t left the key with Lulu last night at book group, so I ran over quickly to open the door to the site before heading back home to finish making stuff and putting on clothing.

Ended up completing the following truffles: laurel, earl grey, peanut butter, and thai-inspired

Spent some time helping sell. Spent some time out front with Bitmonger doing a dance with the sign and encouraging people to come in and sample our wares.

And then we were running out of chocolate, and we were only a small fraction of the way into the bake sale… so I headed off back home to make more truffles (though as I was heading out, I did see more people with baked goods headed in). Smittywing came with me to review the shocking news of the day on her computer, and I twisted her arm into making a batch of (amazing!) cookies, too.

So we rolled chocolate in chocolate and talked politics of OMG.

Oh, and there was also experimental orange peel candying. Is there a trick to getting them dry enough not to make syrup?

completed truffles: masala and green tea
completed cookies: mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles

Went back. Rendezvoused with MeriSunshine , who had made black cocoa brownies that were all light and fluffy.

More chocolate was sold, and a significant profit was made – another year’s worth of BiUnity’s operating expenses covered. Whee!

Geeksdoitbetter showed up, looking glorious, just in time for final call and the wrap up auction.

And then we went back to Lulu’s and Bitmonger’s place and had dinner. Much gratitude to Geeksdoitbetter for making dinner of infinite amounts of pizza go. I had no idea how much I needed that until it happened.

Sadly, we still didn’t watch Memento (which had been an option for both book group and tonight) – maybe next Thursday?

We did spontaneously schedule a dim sum brunch for next week.

And as I left, I surreptitiously snuck both Smittywing and D into the prospective house for a looksee.

Sunday
There was sleeping in on Sunday!

And then I started on cleaning the kitchen… and it was bad enough that I used the technique of just picking an edge and working along methodically. Then a round of dishes… then more cleaning… And we got it all in decent shape by noon (well, aside from some spots on the floor…). And that was good because I’d had a moment of insanity the previous week of inviting SCA people over for crafting at 1pm! Way to overbook my weekends.

There was still time, in the midst of the cleaning, for a fancipants breakfast. Bagels. Fried eggs. Potatoes. Scallion cream cheese made just that morning from scallions picked from the pot on my porch. An orange.

So then Smittywing departed and the SCA people started arriving.

The first one brought rosemary and garlic bread, for which I made some honey butter, and a kumihimo project (I think). We spent some time talking calligraphy and bookmaking, and I sent her home with a pen nib that I acquired in the Great Bryn Mawr Paste Room pillage of ’02.

The second person showed up with a bar of good chocolate, some yarn to ball, and a sewing project.

We ended up discussing garden plans, and it looks like I’ll have a set of 4 large raised beds to plant in next summer! Whoooo!

That makes my next summer diversified gardening plan up to:

  • 2 small vining vegetables in Lulu’s front bed
  • hot peppers, maybe a squash, maybe some other vegetable not tomatoes in Jen’s back yard
  • tomatoes, hot peppers, and some things not susceptible to late blight yet tasty to my parents in (you guessed it) my parents’ back yard
  • And raised beds of awesome, too!
  • And I think I’ll still pursue negotiations with the funeral home next to the prospective house to see if I can garden on the roof of their garage

I made a dinner out of random things hanging around in my fridge:

  • ground meat (beef, veal, pork) cooked down very thoroughly with some onions. Sauced up with some sheep’s milk version of gorgonzola. And then mellowed with some light, fluffy ricotta. Tossed with whole wheat penne. Topped with parsley.
  • Side dish of Dandelion greens wilted down in olive oil with ground savory, parsley, clove, red wine, fish sauce, and a lot of pepper.

I sewed a wee coptic book with a 2 needle version. I am not sure I did it correctly, but it worked. Next step will be gluing the covers together and trimming them to size, and then I’ll decide whether it needs a book or some sort of closure.

Monday
And I have almost all of the dishes done and everything! Whee!

And still had time for a brag-worthy breakfast. I minced the last of the ghost chilies (saving the seeds) and cooked that down with a portabella in bacon fat. Once that was thoroughly cooked and seasoned, I mixed that with the very last of the ricotta and used that as the filling for an omelet. Toasted up a bagel and had more of the scallion cheese. And a bit of tea. \o/!

7
Jan

Project: Chocolate Truffles

   Posted by: Livia Tags: ,

I have two charity things going for which I am offering truffles: The Purple Dove – raising money to support LGBT youth and Death Bi Chocolate.

The latter had a call for vegan things, so the first round will be vegan – that just means I have spices steeping in coconut milk, instead of heavy cream.

Flavors I have started so far:

Earl Grey – 3 tea bags. Steeping so slow. – ganache made

Thai-ish – lemon grass, galangal, and green cardamom, Demerara sugar – ganache made

Green Tea – matcha, wasabi powder (will add black sesame later and maybe grated fresh ginger), Demerara sugar, buckwheat honey – ganache made

Masala – Penzey’s Rogan Josh, Garam Masala, and Kala Jeera (a favorite from last year), brown sugar

Laurel – Bay leaves, pink salt, buckwheat honey

Now I need to start on breaking up the chocolate.

9
Apr

Black Cocoa Brownies with Orange and Clove

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

Back in February, I tried making brownies for the first time (yes, I’m including any potential boxed mixes).

What changed my mind? Well, two things: Michael Ruhlan’s Ratio and it’s very persuasive argument in favor of weighed ingredients and inspiration grounded in math; and the accidental acquisition of a pound of Black Cocoa due to kind customer service after a box with an combined order with several friends was damaged.

And then into that willingness to bake brownies, Smitten Kitchen offered up a recipe she claimed to be the Best cocoa brownies ever, and she should know from brownies. (and SK found/adapted the recipe from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet)

Right, so brownies.

Now some people would know enough about cocoa powder to be a little intimidated by having the wrong (more alkali processed) kind, but this did not deter me as this was the kind of cocoa powder I had to experiment with. Or they might be intimidated by not having a brownie pan… but I had a casserole dish that looked to be of good dimensions for brownies. And I didn’t line it with parchment paper, just greased it with butter.

But other than that, I totally followed the recipe exactly. Probably.

Black Cocoa Brownies with Orange and Clove

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 325F

And bring out your double boiler. Okay, so SK admits that this step can probably be done in the microwave, but I have a double boiler that has been sitting unused since I acquired it for free about 4 years ago, so I used a double boiler. Put water in the bottom, but not too much – simmer.

Dump 141 grams (if I’ve got the scale out and the author is kind with the measurements, hell yes I’m going to use them ~g~) of butter (1 1/4 sticks) into the double boiler. Top with 280 grams of sugar. She used all white sugar; I did about 100 grams of brownulated sugar and 180 grams of white. Add a generous 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. And add your cocoa powder (82 grams) – black, in this case. Stir it from time to time, breaking up the butter, until it’s an evenly grainy base.

Then pour in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract I scraped in some vanila seed from about half a bean. Because that’s what I had in my apartment.

Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating them in well, but without splashing because that black cocoa powder is really hard to clean up. The mixture should look nice and shiney when you’re through.

Add 66 grams of all purpose flour, stirring it in so that it is thoroughly incorporated. And then even more stirring for good measure (she says 40 strokes). (Oh, and she also has everything off the heat by this point. I was enamored of my double boiler enough that I just turned the burner off and did not separate the top from the water.)

At this point, I tasted the batter – because batter is delicious. And it was very dark in flavor as well as appearance. So I took and orange and zested the entire rind into the batter. And then I crushed the heads of about 15 cloves into the batter (tasting/smelling at intervals to see whether the flavor seemed right).

And then I added a bunch of broken walnuts into the mix and stirred it up thoroughly.

Pour into my greased casserole dish of shame…

And bake.

And here’s where I ran into difficulty. The original recipe called for 20-25 minutes. SK’s ran about 35 minutes. Mine ran about 45 minutes, even with (because of?) enthusiastic toothpick testing.

The first batch wasn’t so good.

It went almost immediately from gooey pudding to a brownie impersonating a brick rather quickly. Actually, it was sort of like biscotti, so the overcooking did not stop me from eating almost half of the pan by myself.

So I appealed for help on Twitter. And I called friends. And my mom. And in general I did not take it well because everything had seemed to be going so well until those last nail-biting 20 minutes.

And apparently you should take it out still a bit moist and just trust in it cooking further… or eating it with a spoon.

So I made a second batch. And it was much improved. My co-workers gave my baking the seal of approval. And my foodie co-worker approved this recipe as my entry into the… wait for it…

Philadelphia Food Blogger Bake Sale for Share Our Strength
April 17, 2010, 10am – 3pm
A Full Plate Cafe, on Liberties Walk (1009 N. Bodine St Philadelphia, PA 19123)

April 17, 2010 - National Food Bloggers Bake Sale for Share Our Strength

Here’s some of the explanatory text from foodaphilia/Baker E‘s launch post:

On April 17th Food Bloggers from Philadelphia will be gathered with goodies for sale from their home kitchens in order to raise money for Share Our Strength. Funds raised through Great American Bake Sale support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America. Nearly 17 million— almost one in four—children in America face hunger. Despite the efforts of governments, private-sector institutions and everyday Americans, millions of our children still don’t have daily access to the nutritious meals they need to live active, healthy lives. Click for more information on Share Our Strength.

Philadelphia’s Great American Bake Sale is being held on April 17th from 10am till 3pm at A Full Plate Cafe on Liberties Walk (1009 N. Bodine St Philadelphia, PA 19123) in Northern Liberties (yes, this is the restaurant where I bake full-time) and snag goodies made by some of Philly’s most beloved food bloggers! I’m donating some Cookies ‘n Cream Whoopie Pies to the event and I know Sabrina of Rhodey Girl Tests is going to whip up some of her delectable chocolate and candy covered pretzel rods.

So, if you’re a fan of food blogs, or just want to do your part to ensure kids across the country are getting the nutritious food they need, come on out to the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale and spend some money! All proceeds benefit Share Our Strength. If you can’t make it to the bake sale, but would like to donate to the cause, please visit this link to make a safe and secure donation.

If you’re a food blogger in Philly or the surrounding area and would like to donate a goodie to the bake sale, please contact Julie at jmdenouden@gmail.com and visit her post of the Great American Bake Sale here.

AND That will be a convenient break from the other amazing thing happening in the city that weekend –

The Free Library Festival!
Saturday & Sunday, April 17 & 18, 2010

This is a BiUnity event, but anyone is welcome to attend. Just drop me an email at NoCounterspace at gmail for more information.

BiUnity is a Philadelphia community organization.
The goal is to provide a community outlet for bisexuals, and we welcome anyone who would consider themselves an ally.

Because of the size of the apartment, attendance is limited to no more than 10 people. Minimum number of RSVPs for event to occur is 3.

Saturday, May 29th

10-11am – stroll to Clark Park farmers market to purchase ingredients for the cooking – you are free to join me.

11am-3pm – My house will be open to people who want to hang out and craft, especially if they want to make baubles for Biunity to sell. I can have supplies for that available.

3-8pm – Bisexuals in the Kitchen

This is both a social event and a teaching event. You will have the opportunity to learn how to make a simple summer meal, and you’ll get a chance to help create an improvised recipe for the soup. There are openings for a couple people to help prepping the ingredients for each of these, and feel free to bring your questions. Or – feel free to come just to relax and talk and eat.

tentative proposed menu
soup
spicy corn & lemongrass broth

meat
carnitas (pork)

sides
salsa verde
jalepeno corn salad
quick roasted asparagus

bread
corn tortillas

dessert
depends on what is available at the market

movie – starts at 5:30pm
Velvet Goldmine

Note:Since the meat is entirely separate, I am considering this a vegetarian and celiac friendly event. If you are vegetarian and would like additional food options, let me know when you RSVP, and that won’t be a problem at all. I’m mostly just trying to keep the list simple for people new to cooking and menu preparation

Notes on accessibility:

  • not wheelchair accessible (stairs at entrance)
  • very fuzzy cat on premises
  • no air conditioning
13
Jan

Center City Restaurant Week

   Posted by: Livia

From the website:
Enjoy a three-course dinner for $35 and a three-course lunch for $20† at these restaurants, January 17-22 and 24-29, 2010. Those also offering lunch are marked with an *. Most participating Restaurant Week restaurants offer online reservations through OpenTable.com.

And I’m going to limit my choices this year to places with OpenTable because my mother is accumulating points through them.

Here’s my short list:
Bella Cena 1506 Spruce St (has cannelloni! Open until 10 M-Th, 11 on Fri) ETA: 5:30pm Thurs 1/28
Bridget Foy’s 200 South St (lunch looks even better than dinner, open 11am-11pm)
Chifa 707 Chestnut Street (until 10 M-Th, until midnight Fri-Sat)
Estia 1405 Locust St (until 10 M-Th, until 11:30 Fri)
Joe Pesce 1113 Walnut Street (until 10:30 M-Th, until 11 F)
Meritage 500 South 20th Street (until 10 T-Th, until 11 F)
Noble American Cookery 2025 Sansom St (until 10 T-Th, until 11 F)
Palace at the Ben 834 Chestnut Street (until 10 M-Th, until 11 F)
Square 1682 121 S 17th St (until 10:30 daily)
Time 1315 Sansom Street (M-Sun until 1:30am \o/!)
Valanni 1229 Spruce Street (until 10:30 M-Th, until11 F)
Zahav 237 Saint James Pl (until 10 M-Th, until 11 F)

I haven’t tried any of these places yet, so they’d all be an adventure for me.

30
Dec

planning a truffle experiment

   Posted by: Livia Tags: ,

I’m taking off work tomorrow, and I have vague plans to make truffles all day. I suspect I lack most of the useful knowledge, skills, and tools – but I have about 4 pounds of chocolate, and how bad can that be?

So I’m pondering possible flavor combinations. Let me know what you think.

1) Black Garlic. I got some as a free sample from Marx Foods to review on my blog. So far I’ve made three savory things, and I should make a sweet for comparison. Even the sweet recipe sample on their blog is a truffle – only they just roll the chocolate in a coating of garlic, and that sounds nasty.

So here’s the plan – make garlic butter, add extra salt and maybe some hard cheese. Swirl enough semi-melted chocolate into the butter to make it more like a buttery chocolate center than a center of butter. Make rounds, cool. Dip in dark chocolate

Topping to distinguish them from all others: I’m torn between a quarter of a pecan or some sweet paprika.

2) Earl Grey truffles

She recommends enrobing in a dark milk chocolate, so I’d need to buy more chocolate to make that happen. La la la!

If my skill is up to it, I think I want to decorate these with a drippy swirly, rather than a coating.

3) Masala truffles – I have black cardamom, instead of green. So I think I’ll crush a couple instead of steeping them whole.

Dust with curry powder (and toasted mustard seeds?)

4) vegan coconut truffles

I’d need to buy coconut… and then figure out what to do with the rest of the bag.

5) Almonds – smash some almonds, mix them with the filling

dark coating? milk coating?

dust in cinnamon/confectioners sugar

6) Spicy – center with chipotle, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

milk coating

decoration – If I stud it with a clove, do you think people will know not to eat it? Probably not. Ummm… I could tie it with a strip of cayenne pepper like raffia, but that’s still not tasty. Demerara sugar! And the extra sweet will help moderate the spicy.

7) ginger – I have ginger juice and powdered ginger. Does this also need candied ginger?

decoration – I think powdered ginger on the outside might be too strong, so how about these be the ones rolled in cocoa powder?

to buy:

1
Oct

Food on my mind – planning events

   Posted by: Livia

First thing I need to organize: bridge this Sunday

I’m taking Saturday off to clean, but it’s supposed to rain. So if I want to get laundry done, it’ll have to be on Friday morning.

Saturday tasks: completely change litterbox, clean bathroom, move chair out of the way and vacuum floor, swipe at dirty spots on kitchen floor, find a space for my exercise clothes that is not on top of the table I use as a buffet for bridge.

remind friends to not mention to my parents: that I have started karate classes, that there are sex offenders living near-ish to my favorite house so far

I’m vaguely flailing in the direction of food to serve for bridge. I am thinking:

  • sweet potato potato salad, which no one will like, but I want to make anyway
  • popcorn popped in bacon fat and dressed with cheddar cheese and salt (do you make dipping sauces for popcorn? if so, I’m thinking sour cream with honey and adobo sauce)
  • maybe a cheese plate
  • and my mother will bring deviled eggs

Second thing I need to organize: Chocolate Show in NYC – Oct 31

Ticket purchase is through Ticketmaster, so the $28 ticket becomes a $38.20 ticket. It’s $30 at the door, but last time there was an awful line that it was wonderful to be able to mostly skip.

My plan is to get in, eat all the chocolate, take notes, and then abandon anyone else with me to go spend the rest of the weekend with my grandmother. I love you all, but I am behind on my 1 weekend/month plan. I’d like to get to her place no later than 3:30pm.

So who wants to go up from Philadelphia with me? So far I have Merisunshine and Redwizz.

The new location – Metropolitan Pavilion – 125 West 18th Street – New York, NY 10011 – is equidistant between the drop off locations for the Chinatown Bus and the Bolt Bus, it will be slightly easier to navigate to the site from the Bolt Bus.

Possible Bolt Bus times include:

depart PHL arrive NYC
7:15 AM 9:30 AM
8:00 AM 10:00 AM
9:00 AM 11:00 AM
10:30 AM 12:30 PM
11:00 AM 1:00 PM

ETA: Leaving Philadelphia at 8am!

(And then from the Bolt Bus drop off, walk about 1 block to Penn Station, find the subway entrance for the 1 train, take the train 3 stops south to 18th street & 7th, walk toward 6th – viola!)

All the tickets are around $12 for one way and that day’s $1 fare isn’t until later in the afternoon. So when should we leave?

If anyone’s wondering what the show was like last year, here are my notes from then

Third thing I need to organize: Roman Cooking Workshop – Sunday, October 25th

Apparently, also know as Project Clear Out My Freezer.

I know we’ll be cooking a pork loin. I was very tempted by the cumin, salt, and honey plan of one of the previous workshops. But in the spirit of trying new things, I think I’ll go for the recipe where you brine it with bay leaves.

And then maybe a barley soup recipe that would use up the roast pork leftovers also in my freezer.

And everyone loves a mushroom recipe.

And I’ll look for a couple vegetable recipes.

And maybe brains or organ meats for fun, if I feel like sourcing the innards for it.

Philly peeps –

So I have this lovely vacation to Vermont planned (leaving next week!)…

I also have tickets to an exciting local food thing while I’ll be away. September 14th.

Anyone want to buy a ticket to the first Pro Chef-a-Me for $35?

9 courses (with beer, but maybe for an extra charge of $3/glass, or maybe not for the specific pairings. I was confused)

3 professional chefs will be trying to woo your affection to their dishes.

Any takers?

I’ve only got one ticket (but I don’t think it’s quite sold out). Sorry I took so long to post this, but I’d offered it to a couple people first, and I was waiting to hear back from them.

Friday
So I called out sick from work on Friday. Yeah. It was lovely.

Basically, I had a food blogger potluck, no food, and performance anxiety. And a plethora of sick days available.

Plan A for food: Pita chips and tzatziki.
I’ve started taking that to almost every pot luck type thing, and I wasn’t feeling it this time. I drained the yogurt, but I didn’t even work up to buying the pita.

Plan B for food: Salsa
I’ve got a butt load of tomatoes from my garden, but, again, I didn’t work up enthusiasm. (It’s okay – I think I’ll work up to it next week or so and then can/jar some)

Plan E for food: So I had a two-week old plan to use up eggplants in my fridge in imam bayildi… and two week old eggplants, which ended up in the compost because they were a little fuzzy. But it was a good plan – and one that would help me with my tomato backlog. So I drove off to one of the big Asian supermarkets in south philly to acquire eggplants (of the variety often found near me, but not when I’m looking for them).

food bloggers potluck
Okay, so let me tell you the genius of using Asian (long, skinny) eggplants for this Mediterranean dish: bite-sized imam bayildi!

Not a big pile of mush! No, these were 4-5cm long segments, each one with it’s own little pocket-forming slit and awesome deliciousness. It turned out just as well as I had planned (and better than I’d feared, the big pile of resulting mush would still have been delicious, though, so no worries). And I got the portion right (about 30 pieces) for the gathering, so there was just enough let over at the end of the evening for a lunch-sized portion for me.

And what do you know – someone else had brought chips and homemade salsas and another person has pitas and dip. No one else had mysteriously delicious eggplant with tomatoes and onions and parsley.

Oh, and I also took a fruit salad which I loved

Fruit Salad

watermelon, hand-picked blackberries, and banana slices that had been dosed in lime juice and ginger juice.

I loved it and thought it needed more of the sauce throughout! Those bananas were yummy.

What else was there?

Teagan brought a pasta salad with mint pesto and an indian string bean and carrot dish with mustard seeds. Oh, and she also had a pumpkin and coconut pudding.

Marisa brought a big jar of pickles with delicious onions.

Someone had a plate of traditional pimento cheese sandwiches. Up here, that is an exotic gourmet treat. Yum!

Messy & Picky brought a tasty and simple corn salad.

North Port Fishington Vegan Cookie Factory brought donuts

Someone made little caprese salads on a stick with grape tomato halves framing little mozzarella lumps and basil

someone brought carnitas

There was a fruit tart.

And the host made tasty peanut butter cookies.

There was socializing.

And then I left.

Saturday
yoga!
pilates!
farmers market! – where I achieved my primary goal of acquiring a lot of dubious peaches.
looking at potential houses…

Meeting up with friends for a game night
I took some more of the same fruit salad (but with a slightly higher ratio of lime/ginger to fruit that for the potluck), but the people trying it this time thought it tasted a bit wonky.

then dinner
a failed quest for ice cream
and home

Sunday
first there was kick ass yoga.
then I went on an emergency quest for pectin (only to be found in solid form at the whole foods)
and did laundry

and then I made jam
and then I made a tonne of peach jam.

I started cutting up and sugaring peaches while I boiled the jars.

first project was re-cooking the white peach with lime and ginger from last time that did not set up properly. I just cooked it down more and added some more pectin from the last packet of liquid pectin. I think it turned out better, but I haven’t tried. it. (yield: 4 – 4oz jars)

second project – was making a non-spicy jam for geeksdoitbetter, but I think the 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar recipe is a bit too sweet for me, and I like spicy to balance that. Also, I’m actually not a bit jelly person, and I quite like jam from the supermarket. I’m not trying to make something I will enjoy from any ole source, so I might as well get wacky. So a simpler recipe was hard. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup of the cherries we’d picked together and that she’d dried with quite a lot of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and possible allspice. When those cherries were finished, she was quite sure they were way too heavily seasoned, so I only used that many for about 6 cups of fruit and 3 cups of sugar – and then I added cranberries when I decided it was a little too sparsely populated with fruit (if you are going to have random dried fruit chewy bits, then there should be enough to pop up reliably, instead of as surprise chewy). No other seasoning. For this one, I added 3 teaspoons of dried pectin, and it seemed like it was going to set up rather solidly. (yield: 3 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)

third project – so then I went looking for savourier options, and started with 5 Spice Powder. A lot of 5 spice powder. And then some ginger juice. And a wee little bit of black pepper sauce. Stir cook stir. And then it didn’t seem to have a distinctive enough flavor, so things went a bit wacky. I added a little rice vinegar and some soy sauce, and then I added some sambal oelek for kick, and the hot version finally tasted right. (yield: 5 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)

Fourth project – So I have a coconut, and I was thinking of adding shredded unsweetened coconut meat to one, but at 10pm it was a little much work to start on. So I went for a peach masala theory. I added a lot of Penzey’s garam masala. And I wanted a few more savory notes, so I added a shake or two of Penzey’s Rogan Josh. Oh, and this one got just 1 teaspoon of solid pectin for about 6 cups (maybe more) of peaches. Cook cook stir cook. And then when it was near thick enough, I melted some coconut fat in another pan and fried up a generous quantity of mustard seeds and nigella seeds (and added three drops of mustard oil when the coconut fat seemed to be toasting more quickly than the seeds). Add to jam. This one tasted awesome hot, and I have high hopes for it being my favorite. yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 2 – 8oz jars; and 2 wee tiny jelly jars because I couldn’t bear to leave the little scrapings in the pot to be washed down the drain)

Fifth project – And I liked the peach chipotle jam I made in the first experiment so much, that I tried to replicate that batch. By this point my tastebuds were so blown with sticky peach that I suspect I made it spicier, but hey. Same ingredients at least. (yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 1 – 16oz jar)

project 4.5 and while I had just started cooking down the peaches for batch 5, I threw my Green Tomato Salsa in a pint jar and boiled it for the entire length of the cooking process and all because I couldn’t bear a 6th round of heating stuff before canning it. I’m storing it in the fridge in case that wouldn’t be sufficient to make it shelf stable, but it should at least slow down the aging process. (yes, there’s lots of vinegar in the salsa)

Oh, and I went out to dinner
Oh, and I went out to dinner. With a boy. Yeah, it’s my co-worker on whom I have a vague crush, but I’m pretty sure it’s doomed.

So we tried out the new Tampopo near me. The dumplings were exceptional – with a light skin and filling with flavor. Pan fried to deliciousness. He ordered the hot, spicy tofu – which was tasty. The tofu had nice crispy edges. I ordered hot, spicy squid, and my tentacles were not too chewy. Same sauce really was used for both. And the portions were small, but it was a full meal’s worth and sized right for the price. No service and free water.

And the place was chock full of the most stereotypical west philly people, and I kept getting distracted from my barely coworker level of intimacy conversation by the wacky west philly people discussing their accupuncture and tattoos.

Monday
a little more house shopping before work…

30
Jul

Open Chef-A-Me

   Posted by: Livia

I think I heard about this event through Food in Jars, but I can’t find the twitter to prove it. But somehow, news came through the ether than Philadelphia has a new food thing going – where completely amateur chefs can take over a professional kitchen for one night only and serve amazing food to 70 people or so. Just say, “Open Chef-A-Me.”

How could I resist? So I bought a subscription (since no matter how bad it could be, it would definitely be completely different the next time).

Last Monday was the first one. I switched my work schedule to daytime hours and I hopped on a bus over right after work… and found the venue, Ava with plenty of time to spare.

A little wandering around South Street (and, more interestingly, Bainbridge) later, and I popped back in only 20 minutes early. And there were still only a handful of people. I ended up randomly joining a couple at a table and having one other woman join us later. As one of the guys of Chef-A-Me explained, that’s part of what’s cool about the way Chef-A-Me is framed – with tables large enough that probably at least two groups of people end up merging and talking to each other, but small enough that you can form actual conversations. This is one of the rare events that has made a conscious decision to chose smaller venues even though demand for their tickets has been increasing.

So let me tell you about my nifty dining companions first, and then I promise I’ll get to the food and the chefs. There was an architect, her techie/literary husband, and a freelance writer, who writes a bit for CitySearch. Turns out the other three had all done graduate work at Northwestern, and two of them in the journalism program. While they were discussing the various merits of alumni associations, I praised the Johns Hopkins one, which I have quite enjoyed even though I didn’t attend the school. And then it turns out that three of us had all participated in their youth nerd camp! It really was a joy to get to meet my dining companions.

And the chefs:

The Food!

First Course
Langoustine Buzara (from Tim): Here’s a picture of the serving, but a lot of the yellow tones are washed out. It looked much tastier, and I ate at least 4 of them! It had lovely tender flesh with a slightly muskier taste than lobster. I tried sucking on the biggest limbs, but that plan didn’t work. Each serving also came with a basket of garlic toast on a lovely sesame crusted bread, which soaked up the juices beautifully. I didn’t have a lot of luck sucking on the heads, but scooping them out onto the bread worked well. The light tomato and onion broth was, also, just as tasty and promised. And I did use up a few more bread pieces soaking up the sauce – and then spent a decent amount of time worrying whether I’d be able to fit the rest of the meal in my stomach. Here, have a recipe that is not at all dissimilar

Shrimp Guacamole (from Sarah): So the introduction to this dish was confusing, with Jesse (the spokesman Chef-a-Me guy) saying that it was flavored with shrimp juice and Sarah clarifying that it was flavored with the liquid in which the shrimp had been marinated and that her vegetarian friends thought this was still okay for vegetarians to eat. If it’s just the same ingredients as the marinade, sure – but if it’s the actual liquid in which raw shrimp have been sitting then not only does that not sound vegetarian to me, but also it sounds a bit dodgy food safety-wise. And the guacamole did have a distinct flavor of shrimp. That said, and having heard the spiel, I ate it anyway and loved it. I think shrimp-flavored guacamole is a wonderful, beachy sort of delight. And what a perfect touch with the roasted poblanos – it hit exactly on the line of tingly without being spicy. It was served on top of a tostada, and was plated close enough to serving that it stayed crispy all the way through eating. And it was topped with a single shrimp. If Tim’s part of the first course had not been so extravagant, the single shrimp would have been too few, but for that meal it was plenty. The tequila part of the marinade was not particularly noticeable.

Second Course

Braised short ribs with grilled corn, pepper, and onion relish (from Tim): Okay, so the corn relish? That was amazing, and I wish the recipe were up on his food blog for me to steal. It was spicy, lively and versatile. It was, perhaps, not the best pairing for the short ribs, however, because it made the ribs seem to have less flavor in comparison. Don’t get me wrong – the ribs were distinctly tender and delightful, but it was hard to single out the joy of their particular seasoning and sauce with the roasted corn salad jumping up for attention and love.

Spicy Quail (from Sarah): described as quail marinated and glazed in brown sugar, soy sauce, clover honey, jalapenos, and garlic and then roasted. It was not spicy hot, but it was spicy flavorful – and so beautifully caramelized, it was just a minute or so short of burned – apparently consistently, because all I heard was joy from people eating it. Half a quail was just the right portion, and luckily we had abandoned table manners back with the langoustines so I could just pick up the little legs and gnaw the meat off. It was served on top of a slice of crusty bread topped with what seemed like fig and balsamic vinegar jelly, but I could be wrong. It was tasty, though, so I’d love to know the real answer. And then it was served with chickpeas cooked down with lime, purple onion, cracked pepper, and lots of thyme. \o/!

Dessert

The two chefs had to collaborate for the dessert course, and Tim generously told the story about how he had insisted on making something showy and made it rather hard to come to a balance that would showcase both of their talents. But the end result was delicious!

Strawberry Shortcake-esque – Tim make the base out of tres leches cake, and Sarah added both the freshly whipped cream and the strawberries, having been marinated for 24 hours in basil and brown sugar (though not much brown sugar because they were not too sweet). The end result was gooey and melty and awesome.

Oh, and I have to thank my dining companion Tara, who brought wine from Norton vineyards, which she had learned about while traveling in Argentina. Their Chardonay was unlike any I’d had before – it had a deeper, round taste that was as if the grapes had been harvested just before they would have been too ripe. But this odd wine went well with every course, from the seafood to the ribs to the dessert – strong work!

The next one will be August 24th, and I suppose I might see you there.

ETA: Philly.com has a behind the scenes article on the event here with some of Tim Crowe’s recipes.