Category Archives: fancy food
When I was making and selling Pierogies, I used to sell at the Greensgrow Farm Farmers Market. It was there I became friends with Rachel Klein, owner of Miss Rachel’s Kitchen, a vegan catering company.
For those of you who don’t know: vegan eating means nothing that comes from an animal. Nothing. So, sometimes that can make having special occasions or just even finding some great sandwiches a bit of a challenge.
So! Rachel covers all the bases: You want meals for yourself for the week? Done! You just want some food for a day or two? Done! You want lunch delivered to your work (downtown & university city on wednesdays and downtown on fridays)? Done! Having a big event (weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, communion parties, block parties..!)? Done! Is it a holiday and you want to eat vegan but want to spend time with relatives instead of cooking (for just you or for the whole family?)? Done! Are you vegan and also gluten free? Done! Whew! I am exhausted just typing all that.
The thing about vegan food that I have mostly come across is that a lot of it just is not very good (altho it is coming around, especially in the Philly area). I was a vegetarian for about 6 years and, if you are familiar with this blog and my eating habits at all, I will eat almost anything. So when I met Rachel, I was expecting sawdusty food with the texture of either nasty seaweed or a slightly chewy cinderblock.
Then I had some of her tofu chicken salad. It was so awesome that, if she had forgotten to bring me any during our stints at the market, I would pout like a 6 year old who wasn’t allowed to watch cartoons. Indeed, it was that fantastic.
So fast forward to right about now, and I do a little work on the side helping Rachel do her friday lunch deliveries. I am a huge buffalo chicken nut. I can eat wings all the live long day and anything with the word “buffalo” and “sauce” in it makes me immediately drool. So when she told me one day we were going to make Buffalo Chicken Seitan Sandwiches, I needed a second for drooling (not on the food tho, we are strict with our food safety regulations!). Then when she told me they were to also be on fresh Cacia’s Bakery rolls, that sealed the deal.
First off, you gotta use some good Seitan, and if you are serious, you gotta hit up Michael from Michael’s Savory Seitan. Michael is a great guy: tall and full of energy about Seitan & eating healthy. Lots of places around town sell his Seitan, wether in foods already made or you can get it at Whole Foods, Essene and tons of other places. Hit up his website!
Anywho, the first step in this awesome sandwich is the oven. As in, put that seitan in there. Baste it up with whatever kind of hot sauce you like. It gets the same consistency of chicken without the actual chicken. If you like big chunks, then don’t cut it down. If you like it more shreddy, go ahead, get all OJ and run your knife thru it.
This brings me to sauce. I have a little recipe in my head I like to use. I used it when I made buffalo chicken pierogies and it works beautifully. Feel free to use your own. Some people like to use a thickener, like corn syrup. Then you might want to cut the acidity of a sauce with butter. Your mileage may vary. I like to add ground red pepper and Sriracha sauce to my hot sauce. Hot in, hot out, haha!
Anyway, what works great with a buffalo chicken sandwich? Coleslaw! So hey, let’s get that on there!
Follow it up with nice leafy lettuce for some crunch and what do you end up with?
You end up with this: the tastiest Seitan Buffalo Chicken Sandwich this side of the Pecos.
I could eat this sandwich every night of the week. So good! Just because you are a red blooded meat eater, doesn’t mean that you can’t try this stuff. It’s delicious, and when it comes down to it, that’s really all that matters. In fact, Rachel once told me that most of her Lunch Club people aren’t even vegetarians, they just are interested in something different and delicious. You can’t argue with that.
If you are interested in the Lunch Club, click on the link above. You can order once or weekly, whatever (or if you know someone who loves good food, hit them up with a gift certificate!). Lunch comes with a sandwich, a soup, fruit and some homemade soup. With delivery right to your door, you can’t beat it.
I do a lot of standup comedy and am friends with tons of comics and comic groups on Facebook. The other day the guys in LawnBoys Comedy posted that they were going to make a bacon milkshake and post it on the ‘net. I asked if I could post it here on Didjaeat and they were pretty enthusiastic about it!
I watched it and laughed all the way thru and you will probably do the same!
Nice job guys!
Here are the details:
Two tablespoons bacon grease
Not one, no two, no three strips of bacon
Half cup of milk
Three huge scoops of ice cream
World’s smallest blender
Fat guy with no shame
Are you ready?
(Kosher folks, please look away, or look on in terror!)
I don’t cook maybe as much as I should but sometimes I get the itch and try something new. I was watching Anne Burrell’s show “Secrets Of A Restaurant Chef” and she had been talking about stuffing chicken breasts. This got me thinking and I decided to try it.
Stuffing the chicken wasn’t the kind where you butterfly the breasts and then wrap them around actual stuffing. No, this is more like how you get filling into a cupcake. But first, let’s look at the making of the filling.
I started with a stick of butter, melted slowly. I then minced 2 cloves of garlic and threw them in. With garlic you gotta make sure it doesn’t burn or you have to start again and, frankly, I don’t have the patience for that. Anyway, the garlic slowly cooked into the butter and I shook a bunch of parmesan cheese in there, along with a little salt, pepper and italian seasoning. On the side I had a brick of cream cheese that was softened and cubed up sitting in a little bowl.
Then I threw in a tomato that I had taken the skin off of and let that swim around in the butter for a while. All this time it was on a low heat so everyone could have fun in the pan.
When everything was nice and together, I put
the mix into the bowl, mixed it up and set it aside. I knew I had one more thing to do! The mix felt like it was missing something, so I threw some shrimp into the pan with the remnants of the previous tenant and some more butter, garlic and parmesan cheese! I kept it at a low heat because these were precooked (It was what I had in the freezer. I know fresh is better but you have to roll with what you have lying around) and I kept on flipping them over in the butter & garlic mix.
In the meantime I kept mixing the cream cheese mixture. I wanted to make sure that everything was evenly distributed and there was no lumps in the mix.
When the shrimp were done, I de-tailed, chopped finely and tossed into the mix. Again, lots of mixing. Once it cooled, I popped it into the fridge for a bit while I started working on the other pieces of this meal.
The chicken breasts were a nice size. Basically all I had to do was take a knife and make a slit on the fat part of the breast end and wiggle the knife around to make a pocket. I did that to 4 breasts and set them aside.
After that, I took a Ziploc bag and filled the bag with the filling, favoring one end of the bag. I twisted the bag closed and pushed the filling into the corner and cut off the tip of the bag (ouch! haha).
The cut off end of the bag fit perfectly into the chicken and I filled each one with the filling. It took a few minutes to get the hang of it but it worked great! I even added more filling to 2 of the chicken breasts because I had a bunch left over.
After filling the chicken, I dipped them in flour, egg and then Panko breadcrumbs and
then they went right into the cast iron pan! When you do bread and fry things like chicken breasts, try doing it that way (Panko is a lighter Japanese breadcrumb that is delicious but it works even with regular breadcrumbs). The flour and egg mix combine to keep the meat moist and not fall right off the meat when you try and fry it. And of course, the egg helps the breadcrumb stay on as well. It’s good stuff.
I also didn’t have the heat turned super way up because I didn’t want to burn the breadcrumb and have raw chicken. So I had turned it up a lot before I put them in and then lowered it after because cast iron does hang onto heat. With something like this, it’s better to take your time then to hurry it up and burn the crap out of it. I had put too much time into prepping to screw it up at that point.
With all this protein going on, you must have some kind of vegetable. If, for the very least, color, haha. My mom really likes Brussel sprouts, so I decided to pan roast some with olive oil, salt and garlic. I would rather eat the parts of my car engine then eat Brussel sprouts but she loves them and they do look pretty in our little mini cast iron pan. I made some peas for myself, I do love peas!
At this point everything was cooking at a nice clip and I had time to do something important: clean up. There are fewer things I cannot stand more than having to clean up a mountain of dishes after eating a good meal. It makes me crazy. Dishwasher or no dishwasher, cleaning up as you go is something I have learned over the years and I stick with it. Especially working with raw chicken, which, I am sure you know, can make you best fiends with the bathroom if handled incorrectly. I follow this rule: you touch the chicken, you wash your hands each and every time. Some people do not like to wash their hands 6 times during a cooking session but I say that is better than getting sick, or getting whoever you are cooking for sick. Just do it. Good food safety isn’t just for restaurants, it’s for everyone!
Sooo…once the chicken was done (I even used a thermometer to check!), I plated it up for my mom and I (my stepdad got corn and buttered noodles and I forgot to take a pic). I didn’t make the breading super crispy because I thought a nice golden brown would be better, and it was! Check it out!
The reaction was pretty positive! In hindsight I think I would chill the stuffing mix more before using it, because it really melted down, altho you could really get a nice sense of the garlic, shrimp and butter. But overall I was pretty happy with the results.
What do you guys think? Let me know!
There are some people who need to go out and roam about drunkenly to have, what they consider, a successful New Year’s Eve. There are others who need to have an epic, crazy, shitshow of a party at home in order to be successful (including, but not limited to: a painted cat, someone’s underwear in the freezer and the sofa covered in spray cheese with the lawn covered in PBR cans). And then there are some people who are content to stay home and cuddle up with their significant other whilst drinking wines, eating cheese and watching some kind of PBS special about NYE celebrations around the world. Those people should be kicked (but that’s besides the point…).
I like a one stop house party. This year, I deviated and went to a gathering of cousins up in the Northeast and then to my friends Jackie & Tim’s annual bash afterwards. Both were a great time (Jackie & Tim’s parties always rock!), but I wanted to write a little bit about the food at my first stop.
My cousin-in-law Bob likes to cook, and he really outdid himself. First up? Prime Rib!
Prime Rib, over the years, has gotten kind of a bad rap as a boring standby buffet food atany big hall occasion such as a wedding, anniversary party or anything someone’s parents have to pay for. If it is not seasoned and boring, it can be a let down. If it’s like this, right out of the oven, you just get EXCITED! (Ok, so maybe not that excited, that might just be me. I don’t get out a lot and have been single for awhile.)
Some people think Prime Rib is just Roast Beef. No! Roast Beef is made instead of Prime Rib and once you had really, really mouth watering Prime Rib, you will never blaspheme again against the lovely Prime Rib. (Bonus! Count how many times I used the term “Prime Rib” in this paragraph! Pat yourself on the back!)
A big mistake people make about meat is that they just take out of the oven, or off the grill, or even off the stovetop, and they don’t give the meat a chance to rest. Resting lets the meat relax and the juices can redistribute. If you ever cut into a steak and all the juices ran out and the meat ended up being kinda dry, the meat didn’t get a chance to rest. Feel free to smack the chef and grab some A1. This is what a Prime Rib, fully rested, looks like!
While the meat is resting, you can pop the roasting pan up on the stove and turn up a medium heat. Add some wine & stock and start scraping the bottom (the meat drippings!) of the pan to create a very cool Au Jus (or, thicken it up and make some gravy). Bob did just this, while I tried to drool on me and not the counter. I leaned in and snapped a shot!
The best part of the Au Jus, besides it being unbelievably delicious and cheaper then jars of salt filled gravy, is that when you have to clean that pan, anything that would have stuck to the bottom has dissolved into the liquid. So, really, you are just helping yourself.
Wondering what the final product looks like? How about this! Absolutely amazing! My hat is OFF to Bob! I know I ate a good 2 slabs of this buttery goodness, and even some of my other relatives, who aren’t into big pieces of meat, enjoyed it as well.
Not to be outdone, My cousin Michele made her Deviled Eggs. I don’t know what she puts in them, but she knows how to pack them. She doesn’t fill those eggs with a skimpy bit of filling, she fills and covers the whole egg with the filling! And they are fantastic!
Deviled Eggs are, again, another food that people kind of sigh when talked about. But find a good recipe and run with it! There is a reason why this appetizer (or, as we use it, side dish) has been around for so long…they ROCK!
Dessert, you say? After taking a lap or two around the block, I cleared some room and took a look at the dessert table. Homemade Pizzelles (made by Bob yet again!), cupcakes and cookies.
I love holidays, but I think my pants are glad it’s over! That is, until all the Valentine’s Day candy goes on sale…
My cousin John visited New Orleans for work and tried to jam some good food into his visit. He succeeded!
John says “Beignets from Cafe Du Monde. It’s fried dough covered in powdered sugar. It is something good covered in something great; like a monkey in a gold tuxedo!”.
I can’t really argue with that.
He also sent me a picture of a Po’ Boy he ate there.
John says “Po’ Boy from The Acme Oyster House. A shrimp Po’ Boy to be precise.”.
John is a man of not many words but he knows some good food when he sees it!
If you read this food blog in any kind of regular-ness, you’ll know that my family likes to not only eat a lot, but we also like to try new and ridiculous things. You only live once, right? So, as I drove to Jeff and Tara’s for the yearly watching of Wrestlemania (don’t judge), I had no idea what Lorrie had in store for dessert.
Normally, for any kind of gathering such as this (or Sunday Funday, which I think is another post), I bring a Carvel ice cream sheet cake. I say it’s for the kids but really, any excuse to eat ice cream cake is just fine with me. Arbor Day? Survived Sunday at Target? Still drunk from the night before? I rarely eat dessert so I justify it that way. Anywho, once I decompressed from almost getting slammed into by a Snooki lookalike whilst driving around Oxford Circle, Lorrie told me what she made….a Pie..In A..Cake!
Now, we live in a pretty great country (falling apart or not, you really can’t beat it. Shut up, Canada.) and I think this piece of American ingenuity proves it. Lorrie told me how she came up with the idea, something about seeing it on tv and then googling it and then…I sort of blacked out. Overstimulation? Probably. I’m still wrapping my mind around it.
Here is the first pic!
And here is a reverse angle:
Now, here is one with a bit better lighting:
and finally…on a plate:
Now, Lorrie made this cake with plain ol’ vanilla cake & frosting and an apple pie. It was really interesting and tasted like a Jewish apple cake. So, it got us thinking of different flavor combos. You could do a chocolate cake with a cherry pie in the middle. Or a pumpkin pie in a spice cake! Or a blueberry pie in a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for the 4th of July! The possibilities really are endless, and this was the first time she made it so there are ways to tweak how it was made. Maybe the next time we can post the recipe!
Anyone feeling daring?
I’m not the only creative person in my family with food. My cousin Lorrie, of Cakes By Lorrie, does some really awesome work.
Here is a cake she made for my Grandpop’s 90th Birthday! (as is always the case, click the pic to embiggen!)
Here is a Jack Skellington cake!
And finally, an ET cake. This picture is dark because the bar where the party was, was super dark. Click to embiggen and see how detailed it is, including his heart!
If you live in the Philly area, Lorrie makes really great cakes, as you can see. Hit me up thru this site if you are interested in one of her handcrafted cakes!
I’m of the belief that you can never have enough local places to eat. Wether it’s a little luncheonette, a hoagie shop, a cafeteria style place or a straight up cafe style restaurant, it’s all good.
A few weeks ago I went to Hinge Cafe with my friend Mary Kate, her baby Lucy and her friend Carol. Hinge is a great place in Port Richmond on Somerset Street, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and they have some really kick ass desserts (well, they look kick ass, I’ve always been too stuffed to order). As of then, I have only been there for lunch and I didn’t have time to hit up the menu on the website so I was hoping for an awesome surprise.
And I was rewarded.
When we got there, the place was empty, and considering we had a baby with us, that was awesome! Our waiter was super nice and attentive, the music wasn’t annoying and we got down to brass tacks. Let’s eat!
We ordered a bunch of apps first. I forgot to take a picture of the Crispy Beef Dumplings. They come with a sweet duck sauce like dipping sauce. They were so delicious, I could have eaten an entire table full of them, and we quickly decided to order more but then remembered we ordered a ton more stuff.
Next was the Prosciutto and Cheese.
Mouthwateringly good. They used buffalo mozzarella and the freshest bread toasted up with buttery olive oil.
Mary Kate also got the Hinge Dinner Salad. When you think of dinner salad, you think of a regular salad on steroids, or a salad in a smaller plate piled a little higher. This salad was ridiculous with spring mix, canneloni beans, roasted red peppers and a raspberry vinagrette dressing.
I ordered the Thai Chili Filet Mignon. Since I am a Libra, I always have trouble ordering but I saw “thai” and “filet mignon” and WASABI MASHED POTATOES and I was sold. Sold, I tell ya!
It also came with Bok Choy, and I wasn’t sure how I’d like that, but it was suateed with garlic and delicious! The wasabi mashed potatoes were hot and creamy. I want to make them all the time!
I cannot oversell the filet. It cut like butter, cooked perfectly. It was just spicy enough, so that it didn’t overpower the meat and yet left an impression on the tastebuds. I could have eaten ten of them.
Carol got the Chicken Grand Marnier.
It is breast of chicken with jumbo lump crabmeat, mandarin oranges and dried cranberries finished with a Grand Marnier and sweet basil cream sauce served over white rice. The description is a mouthful and so was the dish. The sauce was sweet and creamy and deliciously melty. The chicken was buttery goodness as well.
Needless to say, there was little chatting during the main courses.
I love this place and you really should too. If you are in the area, stop on in and try the fantastic stuff on the menu. By the time we finished eating, Lucy let us know it was time to go:
So, full and happy, we took Lucy home so she could work on getting bigger. Soon she can eat at there as well!
After a long and kind of boring day at the farmer’s market, I enlisted my friend Mary Kate (of Ida Mae’s Bruncherie) to go get some food at this new bar/restaurant Kraftwork on Girard Ave. I was expecting this place to be huge, but in actuality, it is the size of a regular corner bar, which, honestly, surprised me a bit. Even tho it was a Saturday early evening, the place was full, but we managed to score some seats at the bar. We had two people (one girl who I assume was the hostess/waitress and the bartender) both ask us where we would like to sit and thier attitudes were great. It irks me when you walk into a crowded place and the hostess gives you attitude.
The decor is interesting. The tables surround the perimeter and you sit with others. Besides that, there are seats at the bar, with sturdy, not crappy bar stools (also a pet peeve of mine). While the hipsters were aplenty, the staff was nice (even if super busy), but we never had to wait to get drinks, food or anything else. It is, however, super loud, I am guessing from the acoustics. The place is barebones, plenty of room for voices to bounce around.
There are landscape printed excel sheets on the bar for you when you sit down, with all 25 beers on tap mapped out for you. What is really awesome, is that there are two columns, the regular list, and then a corresponding column with the beers that will replace them right away when they kick the keg. Talk about planning! Most places would either just replace the line with another keg of the same or have to wait for something to come in and replace it with. Very cool. Even funnier is that they have a ton of neat beers, but they also have PBR on tap. A nice nod to the hipsters in the area.
We were both starving so we started with the Cheese plate.
While it was super loud, and we couldn’t really hear the guy who brought it out, the cheese plate was pretty kick ass. In the middle was some kind of creamy parmesan. The one with the candied almonds I think was a sort of soft stilton and the one with the thinly sliced apples and honey was a very, very blue cheese. We didn’t catch the others except for that the one had some sort of soaked cherries (which were great) and the other had finely chopped olives (also awesome). The cheese is served with sliced garlicy flatbread:
Mary Kate said that she thought they used the same flatbread to make a delicous Flatbread Pizza Margherita. It went perfectly with the assortment of cheeses, and we hoovered it down quickly.
While we ate the cheeses, our appetizer came out, the Ricotta Dumplings:
Please note that they come with 4, but we both speared one before I managed to dig out the IPhone 4 to snap a pic. They were creamy, with that parmesan nuttiness, and sitting on a nice roasted red pepper Harissa sauce. It was semi-spicy and a little kick to the dumplings. The greens were a wilted swiss chard, and had a great almost olive oil taste.
I ordered the Beer Can Chicken. It came with fried long hots and onions with sharp provolone. The star of that plate tho, was the red cabbage and apple slaw!
The slaw, of which I kind of thought would just be a vinegary slaw, was spicy in a slow burn kind of way, and we both thought it was great. The beer can chicken was good, chopped pretty small and it congealed with the provolone pretty quickly. It was on a brioche bun that was just big enough, so that you did not feel like you were getting a bun that happened to have some meat on it. It had a lovely aged provolone, but it could have used a sauce. I ended up putting a big forkful of the slaw on my sandwich, which made it tad bit juicier.
MaryKate really dug her burger.
It came with 2 year old Grafton cheddar, butter lettuce, carmelized onions and a bacon onion jam. She was pleasantly surprised that you could really taste the bacon all the way thru it. The fries were slightly garlicky but not overwhelming. The dipping sauce tasted like a stone ground mustard with some mayo and another secret ingredient we couldn’t place, but I am guessing is sugar. Overall, another winning dish.
They had a bunch of great sounding desserts (I hear the chocolate tureen is fantastic), but we were both too stuffed to order.
From the easy going and friendly staff, to the great (but not overwhelming!) food selections, to the wide variety of beers (and a few very cool looking cocktails!), to the reasonable prices for what you get, I’d say Kraftwork has their proverbial shit together, and I would definitely go back.