it's okay to play with your food

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Support Lucky Old Souls

It's been a while since we last heard from Matt Feldman (a.k.a. Feldie), jazz connoisseur behind the Newbold music venue and restaurant Lucky Old Souls, first reported on by kitchenplay. Despite a successful re-zoning venture, some great buzz among Philly bloggers, and support from the neighborhood association, it hasn't been the easiest ride. Specifically, Feldman has faced a few obstacles in acquiring the Lucky Old Souls liquor license (this should hardly be a surprise to anyone who's ever tried serving booze in Philly).

Thankfully, things are looking up. His hearing before The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is finally scheduled for Wednesday, August 4, at 12:30 P.M., at 8th & Market St. It's the next step in getting Lucky Old Souls off the ground and the more supporters in attendance, the better Feldman's shot at opening up what's sure to be one of the best spots for live music and food in Philly. (RIP Orthliebs)

kitchenplay will be there. Who else is in? RSVP with your full name to

Monday, March 22, 2010

Strawberry Cardamom Muffins

As I make my cross over from the sad side (thanks for all the sweet comments), I finally put to work some forgotten tools of happiness... brown sugar and butter, berries and spices.

Things I learned... strawberry muffin recipes are few and far between, so sometimes you have to use a blueberry muffin recipe instead... I really need a mortar and pestle for grinding spices, as opposed to the handle of my knife and cutting board (my birthday is May 17th, hint hint!)... you can fashion something akin to whole milk with heavy whipping cream and fat free milk... strawberries make me happy... baking makes me happy.

Strawberry Cardamom Muffins

based on Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins from epicurious
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (or in my case, 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream and 1/4 c. fat free milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound strawberries, chopped
  • Special equipment: a muffin pan with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups; 12 foil or paper muffin liners

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Have You Missed Me?

It's been well over two months since my last post. Did I lose my love for food, for cooking with others, for playing in the kitchen? Not exactly. I will confess that I have been on the sadder side of things lately and part of me hasn't been as excited to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. More often than not, cooking - baking in particular - have offered comfort (or at least distraction) for me when things were tough. So this recent cooking dry spell feels alien, likely influenced as much by the intense winter weather as by happenings in my personal life.

Rather than keep lamenting my lack of creative juices, both in the kitchen and on the blog, I need to start posting again, even if it is accomplished in a super uncreative way. Let me share some of the things that have been keeping my belly full and my taste buds tantalized. Yup, I'm giving you a list. Love it.

The Lockhart at Percy Street BBQ, in honor of Daniel's birthday
Many roast chickens, including one cooked by Mike in a clay pot
Soup dumplings at Dim Sum Garden
Brunches at Green Eggs Cafe
Plans for beef bourguinon and chocolate ginger scones at the Poconos this weekend (remember the Stuffalo adventure from last year?)
Beef short ribs for Christmas dinner
Roasted Brussels sprouts

It's a start.

P.S. And I've missed all of you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Foodie-Friendly Gifts

As it's the season of giving and all, here are some items that are delicious, adorable, helpful and/or fun. While not all of them are edible, each is sure to please the foodie in your life. And all of them are Philadelphia, born and raised.

Sara Selepouchin
Sara Selepouchin is a screen printer and fellow Newbold resident. She creates single color prints and specializes in diagrams, where she pulls apart the pieces of everyday things, such as the canner, bbq and KitchenAid mixer below. She prints on helpful kitchen items like oven mitts, tea towels and placemats, like her Joy of Cooking Diagram Placemat Set.

She is hosting an open house this Friday, December 4th from 6 to 9 in her studio (on the fourth floor of 319A N. 11th St.). You can also find her wares on Saturday, December 5th at the Crafty Balboa Holiday Show (Broadstreet Ministry @ 315 S. Broad St.) from 11am-5pm. Or visit her website!

Jose Garces and Marc Vetri
Two of Philadelphia's culinary golden boys have recently entered the publishing world. Garces, the newly crowned Iron Chef America, has Latin Evolution, a cookbook focusing on innovative Latin cuisine. Vetri talks about his personal experience mastering Italian cuisine in Il Viaggio di Vetri: A Culinary Journey. You can find them, and other books on food (all with a Philly slant), at the Foobooz Holiday Shop.

Steve Poses
For the home entertainer in your life, consider gifting
At Home by Steve Poses. You may recall that I saw Poses talk at the Free Library a few weeks ago and was inspired by his charm and insistence on the importance of home entertaining. His tips ran around my head throughout Thanksgiving preparations and will certainly remain relevant through the holiday season and beyond.

John and Kira's Chocolates
They make delicious chocolates and have box sets perfect for holiday giving. Plus, they recently partnered with ROOT liqueur; you can now find ROOT chocolates by John and Kira exclusively at Art in the Age.

Food in Jars
If making gifts yourself is more your speed, check out
kitchenplay favorite Food in Jars. She is posting recipes for "Gifts in Jars," like apple-cranberry jam and vanilla syrup. I also suggest my Bitter Whiskey Hot Fudge recipe from kitchenplay May 2009.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Support Brew on 12/11

For those of you following kitchenplay's coverage of Brew, you know that it's already a great coffee shop with the dream of becoming a coffee and beer-to-go shop. Actually getting the beer component of Brew up and running has been delayed multiple times over various neighborhood issues. However, fans of Brew have a chance to rally for the establishment on Friday, December 11th at the License Transfer Hearing.

Whatever your interest - local businesses, Newbold, good beer - it's an opportunity to demonstrate your support.

Sign up for the hearing at Brew by December 4th.

License Transfer Hearing in Support of Beer at Brew
Friday, December 11th @ 10am
801 Market Street, entrance at Marshall's Store

Update 11/30: Meal Ticket has the scoop here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


After a full day of gluttony, followed by a couple more days of nibbling and picking at leftovers, surely many of you are feeling sated and in need of a food respite. Why speak of luxe desserts and carb-heavy side dishes at a time like this?

To that I say, doughnuts!

Apple cider doughnuts, to be precise. Melanie and I made these a few weeks ago, on a perfectly brisk fall day.

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from Lauren Dawson at Hearth Restaurant from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 18 doughnuts + 18 doughnut holes (suggested yield for a 3-inch cutter; my larger one yielded fewer)

Most apple cider doughnuts, despite their name, are kind of a bummer because they don’t taste very apple-y. One of the many things that appealed to me about this recipe was the way the apple cider was reduced and concentrated to hopefully give it more presence. And despite the fact that these are cake doughnuts, which have always played second fiddle to yeast doughnuts in my experience (likely because cake are more likely to get stale sooner, or you know, by the time you buy them), I think this is all the more reason to make them at home.

Personally, I don’t think a sweetened doughnut needs any kind of topping, but I went with a cinnamon-sugar coating anyway. Hearth dips theirs in an apple cider glaze, and serves them with applesauce and barely-sweetened whipped cream. We had ours with a dark beer.

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

Toppings (optional)
Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)

Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

Make your toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.

Fry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I've been a part of a friend-based Thanksgiving for the past six years. Friends meet up in Philly from all over the East coast (and on occasion, farther away) and share the responsibilities of the meal. We eat a lot. We drink even more. Last year, we worked off Thanksgiving dinner with a dance party.

This will be my second year hosting. The turkey has been ordered from the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market. I recently purchased a dining room table with plenty of room for guests. I only have five chairs (for a party of 12), but I'll figure something out.

I always make at least one thing that I am 100% confident in (maple nutmeg cream pie) and then something else that I've never made before. Last year it was pigs-in-a-blanket, a simple but effective appetizer. I am still debating my new project for this year. We have mac and cheese, two kinds of stuffing, a yam souffle and cranberry sauce already on the dinner menu. Desserts are covered. Maybe another veggie side dish? I had roasted cauliflower with pine nuts last night at a new restaurant in town... it got me thinking about roasted Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and bacon...

If you are still looking for some inspiration, here are a few recipes that have served me well over the years...

Potato Leak Soup: In my childhood, my chef father always put together Thanksgiving meals that were gourmet to the hilt. Potato leak soup is the dish I associate most with Thanksgiving (yes, even more than turkey, believe it or not). Disclaimer: I have never tried this particular recipe, but of the ones on Epicurious, it was closest to what my dad would make.

Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread: I made this a few weeks ago for a chicken fry. Golden, moist bread lined on the bottom with fresh sage leaves; it's also very simple to put together.

Pigs in a Blanket: An appetizer for pre-meal noshing is a must. I like these because they aren't too hard to make or too filling and are crowd pleasers (even if some people loathe admitting how much they love them). That said, Mike and I are planning on making homemade hot dogs (Mike) and dough (me), so we are upping the difficulty ante a bit.

Maple Nutmeg Cream Pie: this has been my Thanksgiving staple for the past three years. I was first drawn to it for how unique it is. While there is nothing wrong with apple and pecan pies, I like preparing something a little different for the end of the Thanksgiving meal. Now I love it for how simple and aromatic it is. Making the custard filling, full of fresh nutmeg and pure maple syrup, is almost as delicious as eating it.

Roasted Root Vegetables
: A great and simple side dish, provided you have the oven to spare.

If you make any of the above recipes, send me pictures!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

E's Whoopie Pies at the First Person Festival

The First Person Festival is underway! We've met Ruth Reichl, consumed burgers, and eaten America. We still have one more foodie event on the roster, The Girl from Foreign, with Indian food courtesy of Ekta.

And in more foodie/First Person news, E from Foodaphilia is stocking our concessions stand. And here is the line-up:

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Coconut Crunch Cookies- coconut, toffee, almonds, oatmeal
Junk in the Trunk- white and dark chocolate, cookie pieces, pretzels and potato chips

A BIG thanks to E and A Full Plate Cafe for their support of First Person Arts!

The First Person Festival is taking place November 3-8 at the Painted Bride, 2nd and Vine St.

(photo from Foodaphilia)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hanging Out with Ruth Reichl

I have already expressed my fondness for Gourmet and the sadness brought on by its recent demise. So I was especially excited to attend First Person Art's First Taste Preview Dinner with Ruth Reichl at Supper this past Monday. And then First Person asked me to blog about it. Rather than re-recount the event, allow me to share what I wrote for First Person's blog. Visit the original post for some great pictures of Ruth at the event.

Ruth Reichl Quiz

Which of the following statements about Ruth Reichl’s early career as a food writer is false?

A) She published her first cookbook at age 21.
B) She wanted her first gig as a food critic so she could satisfy the fellow members of her commune with free food.
C) She crafted her early restaurant reviews as if they were plots out of film noir and sci-fi flicks.
D) All three statements are true.

The answer is D.

Reichl shared the tale of her unconventional start as a writer at last night’s First Taste Preview Dinner. A packed house at Supper listened as Reichl joked about her early days in Berkeley and her wobbly transition to the big leagues at the LA Times. Despite her eccentric beginnings, she ultimately crafted a career as one of the top food journalists in America without so much as a degree in writing or journalism. (She has a master’s degree in art history.)

Some of the most touching remarks of the evening came from Mitch Prensky, chef and owner of Supper. He admitted that his childhood was not a typical one. With parents in the food business, average family outings included trips to Zabar’s and Dean and Deluca. Prensky also acknowledged the influence that the California cuisine movement of the 70’s (and Reichl herself) had on his own cooking style. It was obvious that Reichl is a food hero to Prensky and he was clearly honored to be preparing a meal for her.

Of course, the Q & A visited upon the recent (and controversial) decision by Condé Nast to stop publishing Gourmet after 68 years in print. Reichl handled the questions with grace, though it was clear that she was saddened by the change.

The rest of the evening included a four-course meal prepared by Prensky and ended with a book signing. It was a lovely kick-off to the 8th Annual Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art, featuring the wit and humor of one of our top food writers and memoirists.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Unhappy Housewife

Normally, I'm quite satisfied in the domestic role, certainly as it pertains to the culinary arts. However, last weekend my friend Elizabeth Hershey, an immensely talented photographer, and I played around with the image of a less-than-content housewife. This resulted in cupcakes thrown on the floor, cleaver wielding and many sips of Jack Daniels.

She just posted some of the pictures to her blog but I wanted to post a few of them here.
(And a disclaimer, I didn't bake the cupcakes. They're courtesy of Acme.)