FA L L 2 0 1 4
flambé finesse philly’s spiciest food
Issue fall 2014
letter from the editor EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Parker Brown, Byrne Fahey, Jenny Lu, Siera Martinez, Asher Sendyk, Amanda Nart
Connie Xu, Matthew Hernandez, Jie Guo, Sydney Kranzmann, Madeline McGovern, Riane Puno
LAYOUT & DESIGN EDITOR JUNIOR DESIGN EDITORS
PHOTO EDITOR JUNIOR PHOTO EDITOR PHOTO STAFF
CULINARY DIRECTOR TREASURER BUSINESS MANAGER business staff
PUBLICITY & OUTREACH MANAGERS Publicity & Outreach staff
BLOG EDITORS SOCIAL MEDIA CHAIR EVENTS CHAIR WEBMASTER COOKING CLUB CHAIR
Emily Belshaw Stephanie Businelli, Sydney Hard, Emily Huber, Garett Nelson, Suzette Wanninkhof, Bella Wu Maria Cristina “Iana” Feliciano Danielle Pi Irina Bit-Babik, Madison Harrow, Stephanie Loo, Maura ReillyUlmanek, Garett Nelson, Brenda Nguyen, Nicolette Sun, Crystal Qin Wei “Amy” Yu Kunal Kochar Allison Millner Ashley Berg, Isabelle Bral, Talia Delijani, Vatsala Goyal, Devyani Gupta, Caroline Guenoun, Katherine Harlow, Youngji Kim Jane Kitain, Melanie Lowenstein, Bonnie Mai, Lawrence Perry, Shreya Reddy, Ariana Salvatore
With its crackling sounds, dancing flames, and glowing warmth, fire creates the cozy image of the season. There’s a deep comfort that comes from lighting the fireplace for the first time or even from turning the channel to the one that displays an image of a fire (it’s a little too warm in Georgia, my home state, for a real fire…). Fire also transforms ingredients into food--turning grain into bread, meat into savory roasts, and flour, eggs, and chocolate into decadent desserts. Really, where would we be without it? For this issue, we’ve flickered fire across the pages, celebrating this classical element from its flame to its flavor. Learn how to cook over an open fire with recipes fit for campfires (p. 20) and dutch ovens (p. 22) and discover which woods to use for the perfect smoke (p. 32). Impress your guests with the art of flambé (p. 26) and the secrets of searing (p. 27), while igniting spicy-sweet cocktails (p. 28). For an international flare, discover roasts from around the world (p. 34). Looking to find fire in Philly? Go on our oven “food crawl” (p. 24); taste our top picks for hot-and-spicy dishes (p. 36), and get to know Chef Jack McDavid of Jack’s Firehouse (p. 30). And, for the more adventurous, challenge yourself and see how hot of a pepper you can tolerate (p. 35). Focusing on factors other than the flame, other recipes highlight mustard (p. 6), Greek yogurt (p. 42), and dates (p. 13). We’ve also included spotlights on new Philadelphia ventures, such as Nicholas Elmi’s Laurel, and reflections on international cuisine, like Israeli food (p. 44). Looking to devote an entire day to watching food programs? Follow our 24-hour food programming guide (p. 40) and then be inspired to make your own bread (p. 10) or pick your own wild foods (p. 18). So curl up next to the fire, sip on some spicy hot cocoa (p. 28), and let Penn Appétit kindle your interest in fiery foods. Stay warm!
Jillian Di Filippo, Yunhee Park Caroline Duckworth, Maggie Molen, Morgan Pearlman, Sarah Tang, Emily Waxman, Wendy Zhou
Farrel Levenson, Nicole Woon Jenny Lu Chase Matecun Emily Chen Byrne Fahey
Penn Appétit is the University of Pennysylvania’s innovative, studentrun magazine covering all things food. We publish one print issue each semester and have a blog that’s updated daily. To inquire about advertising, collaborating or getting involved, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking for new contributors in writing, photo, layout, and business. Cover Photo by Iana Feliciano
MUSTARD IN FIVE WAYS Mustard isn’t just for hot dogs, and it’s not always neon yellow.
POUR OVER THE DETAILS A guide to making and drinking the perfect cup of pour over coffee.
DREAM DATE A dull, wrinkly date transforms into a sophisticated appetizer.
40 BINGE ON THIS
A 24-hour food-programming
GOING PRO(BIOTICS) A day of recipes featuring Greek yogurt.
CAMPFIRE CLASSICS Recipes to cook under the stars.
22 BACK TO BASICS Recipes inspired by oldfashioned fires and techniques. THE PHILADELPHIA OVEN CRAWL The best that Philly has to offer on the oven scene.
in the city
FLAMBÉ FINESSE The art of flambé.
SIMPLY SEARING The secrets of searing.
PURE EATING AT PURE SWEETS & CO. Andrea Kyan discusses PS & Co’s transition from an online store to a restaurant.
URBAN JUNGLE Foraging in Philadelphia.
16 INSIDE HEADHOUSE FARMERS’ MARKET Eating
44 ISRAELI CUISINE Pressure cooker or melting
THERE’S NO TURNING BACK Naturally leavened loaves and High Street on Market.
SUSHI MEETS BURRITO Chef Takao Iinuma’s bold culinary venture.
healthy thanks to Philly Food Bucks.
46 A RESTAURANT OF ONE’S OWN
Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi on his first restaurant Laurel.
BLAME IT ON THE FLAME Bring the heat with these spicy-sweet cocktails.
FIRE IN THE HOUSE A spotlight on Jack’s Firehouse, a converted 19th-century firehouse.
32 BUILDING THE RIGHT SMOKE A guide to using wood. 34 INTERNATIONAL ROASTS Top picks from around the world. 35 HOW HOT CAN YOU GO? Try your luck with these tear-inducing peppers. . 36 FIERY FINDS Where to find dishes packed with heat and spice in Philly.
in five ways BY AMY YU PHOTOS BY IANA FELICIANO
Mustard isn’t just for hot dogs and hamburgers, and it isn’t always neon yellow. It actually comes in many different forms and flavors, from seed to powder and from sweet to spicy, making it a versatile addition to a wide variety of dishes. These next recipes go way beyond sandwiches and prove that mustard can spice up any meal of the day.
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Breakfast: Porky Mustard Pull Apart Bread Makes one 9 x 5 loaf • • • • • • • • • • • •
2 tbsps. + 1 tsp granulated sugar, divided ½ cup warm water 1 tsp. dry active yeast 2 to 2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. salt 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature ⅓ lb bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve 2 tbsps. bacon grease ½ cup sour cream ¼ cup French Dijon mustard 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced 2 scallions, thinly sliced ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Dissolve 1 tsp. sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand for 5 minutes until you see a frothy layer on top. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the eggs and reserved bacon grease. Whisk together to form a slurry. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry and stir with a long wooden spoon until a dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. If the dough is really sticky, add flour a little at a time until it no longer sticks to your hands but is still tacky. Place the dough into a large greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise somewhere warm until about doubled in size, 1 ½-2 hours. Punch down the dough and let rise for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the sour cream, mustard, and rosemary, and set aside. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and roll out the dough into a 20 x 12 rectangle. Spread the sour cream mixture evenly over the dough. Mix together the crumbled bacon, scallion, and cheddar. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the sour cream mixture. Cut dough into five 12 x 4 strips. Stack slices directly on top of each other bacon-side up. Slice stack into six 4 x 2 rectangles. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Arrange rectangles cut-side up in a loaf pan. Cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. About 45 minutes into the second rise, preheat oven to 350°F. Bake bread in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
fall fall 2014 2014
penn penn appétit appétit
Lunch: One Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken Serves 4 • 1 tbsp. olive oil • ½ cup finely diced onion • 2 cloves minced garlic • 2 tbsps. molasses • 2 tsps. dry mustard • ⅓ cup strongly brewed coffee • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar • 1 tsp. salt • ½ tsp. liquid smoke, optional • ¼ cup ketchup • 1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into large pieces • buttered, toasted sesame buns and Crunchy Mustard Slaw for serving Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add molasses, mustard, coffee, vinegar, salt, liquid smoke, and ketchup. Stir and bring to a boil. Add chicken thighs and bring back to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook on low, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is pull-apart tender. Shred the chicken with a fork in the pot. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Divide the chicken among 4 bottom-halves of buttered, toasted, sesame buns. Top each with about ⅓ cup of Crunchy Mustard Slaw and the other half of the buns. Crunchy Mustard Slaw: Whisk together 1 tbsp. whole grain mustard, ¼ tsp. salt, ½ tbsp. honey, 1 1/2 tbsps. apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a medium bowl. Toss in 2 cups of shredded cabbage and 1 thinly sliced scallion. Serve chilled.
Snack: Baked Spinach Artichoke Hot Mustard Dip Serves 4 • 1 ½ cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed • 1 ½ cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped • ¾ cup diced onion • 1 clove garlic, minced • 1 tbsp. butter • ¼ cup chicken broth • ¼ cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese • ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar, divided • ¼ cup sour cream • 2 tbsps. spicy brown mustard • Salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter four 6 oz. ramekins and set aside. Place spinach and artichoke hearts in a fine mesh sieve and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside. The spinach and artichoke hearts should total about 1 ¼ cups after draining. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add chicken broth, cheeses and sour cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until cheddar is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in mustard, spinach, and artichokes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins. Top each evenly with remaining cheddar. Bake in preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot with toasted sour dough bread, crackers, and crudités.
Dinner: Honey-Mustard Salmon with MustardBraised Brussels Sprouts Serves 4 Honey-Mustard Salmon • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets with skin • Salt and Pepper • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise • Zest of 1 lemon • 1 tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard • 1 tbsp. honey • 2 tsps. chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried • Lemon wedges, for serving Preheat oven to 425° F. Rub salmon all over with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Spread over fillet evenly. Bake in preheated oven until fish flakes easily with a fork. Baking time will depend on thickness; add 4-6 minutes for every ½ inch thickness of fillet. While the fish is baking, prepare the Mustard-Braised Brussels Sprouts. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and MustardBraised Brussels Sprouts. Mustard-Braised Brussels Sprouts • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, rinsed, patted dry, trimmed, and sliced into halves • Extra virgin olive oil, for pan, about ¼ cup total • 2 tbsps. butter • ½ large onion, thinly sliced • 1 tbsp. whole mustard seeds • ½ cup chicken broth • Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper Working in batches, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer cut-side down. Let cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts develop a sear. Season with a pinch of salt, transfer to a plate and set aside. Add more olive oil to the pan to cover and repeat with the remaining Brussels sprouts. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds and cook, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and seared Brussels sprouts, reduce the heat to mediumlow, and let steam for 3-5 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the Brussels sprouts are tender. Remove from heat. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly grated black pepper. Serve immediately.
Dessert: Surprise Pretzel-Crunch Blondies Makes one 8 x 8 pan (16 blondies) • 1 ½ cups crushed pretzels • 2 tbsps. sugar • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temperature, divided • 1 cup all-purpose flour • ¼ tsp. salt • ¼ tsp. baking soda • 1 large egg, room temperature • ¾ cup light brown sugar • 2 tablespoons sweet honey mustard • ½ cup chopped dried apples • 2 oz good quality white chocolate, chopped (about ⅓ cup chopped) • ¼ cup raw peanuts Honey-Mustard Drizzle: • 2 tbsps. powdered sugar • 2 tsps. sweet honey mustard • ½ to 1 tsp. milk Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. Stir together the pretzels, sugar and ¼ c. melted butter in a medium bowl. Spread the pretzel mixer evenly at the bottom of the baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, and mustard. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients in the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the dried apples and white chocolate. Pour the batter evenly over the pretzels. Scatter the peanuts over the top and press into the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack. Stir together the powdered sugar and mustard for the drizzle. Slowly add milk, a few drops at a time to drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the blondies with a fork while still warm. Let cool to room temperature. Slice into 16 squares and serve.
There’s No Turning Back BY CHASE MATECUN PHOTOS BY AARON GUO
From the nutty aroma of toasted flour to the crisp crackle of a serrated knife piercing golden-brown crust, there is something fundamentally irresistible about a freshly baked loaf of bread. However, there is a marked difference between factory-produced loaves--soft and squishy with no discernable crust-and naturally leavened loaves--a moist center encased in a crunchy shell. Slightly fermented and bursting with flavor, naturally leavened loaves can be made with nothing more than flour, salt, water, and yeast. The process of making sourdough bread begins with the starter—the culture of wild yeasts that causes the dough to rise. Traditionally, you simply combine an equal ratio of flour to water and allow the mixture to develop at room temperature. The yeast in the air colonizes the mixture and begins feeding on the sugar in the flour, reproducing and creating pockets of pungent and flavorful gas that inflate and flavor the dough. Once the starter is active, a small amount is mixed with a larger portion of flour, water, and salt to create the final dough. After a series of folds, a number of hours in a warm environment to accelerate the fermentation of the flour, and a final shaping, the dough is laid to rest, or proof, in a cool environment overnight in order to further develop the dough’s flavor. Today, naturally leavened loaves are rather uncommon, but thankfully, a revival of old-world bread making techniques has been sweeping across America. High Street on Market (308 Market Street), an Old City restaurant that churns out bread worth its weight in gold, is at the forefront of this movement. Alex Bois, the head baker, has had a love for
quality bread ever since he snacked on melted chocolate atop tangy sourdough as a child. His bread always undergoes an extensive fermentation process, which gives it a depth of flavor rarely found in more common loaves. Additionally, he uses local flours wherever he can, incorporating unique grains like buckwheat, spelt, and rye to achieve what is the best bread in Philadelphia. But as perfect as his bread may seem, according to Alex, there’s no such thing as an ideal loaf. “Good bread,” he says, “should bring out the best in an ingredient—whether that’s the variety of flour with which it’s made or the dish it will accompany.” The bread program at High Street favors local styles in addition to its preference for local ingredients. The shelves out front are full of twists on old Pennsylvania Dutch favorites-- like a nutty-sweet Buckwheat Cherry boule and a delicately flavored, yet hearty, Anadama Miche. But more than anything, Alex and the rest of his team are trying to make “artisanal” bread more approachable to the everyday person. The lunch menu at High Street is peppered with sandwiches made on local favorites like pretzel rolls and hoagie buns, all elevated to a level of quality and flavor you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Through the bread program at High Street, Alex Bois is successfully working to bridge the gap between naturally leavened loaves and the pre-packaged slices stuffed in plastic bags. The latter loaf comprised many of my childhood meals, but after indulging in Bois’ delicious breads and experimenting with sourdough baking this past year, making my own naturally leavened bread, I can safely say I’m never going back to factory produced loaves.
Pour over the
Details Coffee has been many a college student’s secret to surviving an early morning class, a long day, or a late-night study session. While switching on a coffee machine or popping a Keurig pod might be convenient, using the pour-over method is worth the extra time to brew better-tasting coffee. With a pour-over dripper, a filter, a grinder, coffee beans, hot water, and a little practice, you can use this method to make a great cup of coffee every time. Why is pour-over superior to other forms of coffee? The answer is simple; it’s all in the details. The most important aspect of a flavorful cup of coffee involves the beans and how they are ground. Coffee experts suggest using whole beans and grinding them immediately before use, because the flavors in beans break down rapidly once crushed. To prevent the flavor from being
BY RACHEL RUSONIS PHOTO BY IRINA BIT-BABIK
overwhelmingly bitter, a speciality burr grinder should be used to create equallysized pieces. In brewing nonuniform grounds, the small pieces will reach the bitter flavor extraction point sooner than the large pieces, resulting in an uneven flavor extraction. After this initial preparation, it’s time to brew. Heat water until it is just about to boil. Cleanse the filter in the dripper, a ceramic or a glass funnel that sits directly on top of a mug, by pouring hot water over it; this removes the papery taste of the thick filter. Then place the desired amount of coffee grounds in the filter. Now for the technique: pouring the water. The goal is to wet all of the grounds equally over a span of about three to four minutes. The hot water dissolves the coffee, which is why wetting the grounds equally is
important. If too much coffee is dissolved due to prolonged contact with hot water, the resulting flavor is bitter. By pouring the water yourself, you can be sure to wet all the grounds equally for the right amount of time, control not offered in machine-made coffee. If you want to guarantee a successful first experience with pour-over coffee, try ordering a cup at HubBub (3736 Spruce Street). As the baristas at HubBub might tell you, the first pour of water on the grounds, the bloom, is the most important. This is where all the flavor and aromatic extraction takes place. Maintaining consistency throughout the rest of the pour results in a cup of coffee with flavors as complex as wine. If you take the extra time to pour water over your coffee, you might find yourself looking for an excuse to make another cup.
dream date BY AUBREY VINH PHOTOS BY MAURA REILLY-ULMANEK
The dull brown and wrinkly Medjool date seldom elicits culinary inspiration among everyday grocery shoppers. And yet, its dense, sticky interior contains the robust sweetness of brown sugar, rewarding those brave enough to take a nibble. With such a versatile flavor, the date is the perfect vehicle for peanut butter, topping for oatmeal, and sweetener in healthy smoothies. Most impressively, the underrated fruit takes on a pleasantly unexpected sophistication with a little help from bacon and goat cheese. Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates Makes 20 • • • •
About 20 fancy Medjool dates ⅓ cup of goat cheese 10-12 slices of bacon Toothpicks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a lengthwise slit into each date and remove pits, if necessary. Stuff a heaping ½ teaspoon of cheese into each date. Halve the bacon slices. Wrap each date tightly with a bacon slice. At the seam where the bacon overlaps, push a toothpick through the date. Place the dates on a rimmed pan lined with parchment paper. Arrange them with some space in between, as the bacon needs room to crisp properly. Roast for 10 minutes, then flip each date over. Return to oven for another 10 minutes or until the bacon is browned. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to drain. Allow about 5 minutes to cool before serving.
LOO SEAH NIE E I A H M A STEP BY J S BY O T PHO
Nestled on Locust between 17th and 18th Streets, Pure Sweets and Company welcomes all those with interests in organic, gluten-free, and vegan dining options. For proprietor Andrea Kyan, who has been running Pure Sweets online since 2009, the manifestation of a restaurant represents the culmination of her efforts to bring nutritious, piquant food to Philadelphians. She describes her mission as a mélange of creative work, food adventures, and change creation. “I love Philadelphia, so I have faith in my city,” says an enthusiastic Andrea, who is sanguine about Philadelphia’s receptiveness to her philosophy of clean eating. With plans to enter medical school, Andrea turned her life in an entirely new direction when she decided to pursue her restaurant venture in 2008. In operating a restaurant with such a strong dedication to local farmers, Andrea describes the difficulties of consistently sourcing from local organic producers all year round. While squash, root vegetables, and apples are plentiful from November to May, the lack of availability of other ingredients makes bringing variety to her menu more challenging. “We make a commitment to source locally first, even if it’s more expensive,” claims Andrea, who goes on to explain the possibility of menu changes when certain purveyors are unable to provide them with the necessary ingredients. Thankfully, customers have been forgiving of dish modifications. The menu is heavily influenced by Asian recipes introduced by Andrea and also showcases a variety of smoothies and cold-pressed juices made in house daily. “I love hot, spicy, Asian-inspired flavors,” gushes Andrea, who grew up eating a blend of wholesome Chinese and Burmese foods. However, what distinguishes her dishes from traditional Asian cooking is her substitution of standard ingredients with healthier alternatives. Andrea modifies the standard recipe for Burmese Chickpea Curry by utilizing sprouted chickpeas, which are easier to digest and richer in protein than normal chickpeas. Her rendition offers a cornucopia of flavors, courtesy of a mix of spices including black pepper, turmeric and chili pepper. P.S. & Co. also serves lighter snacks, such as
the Radish Nori Roll paired with a mild wasabi dip. The roll features forbidden sticky rice or purple rice, a chewy staple that tightly seals in the flavor. As Philadelphia transitions to fall, P.S. & Co. is making arrangements to update its menu. Soups will be rotated regularly, with a permanent Burmese Mohinga soup and a lighter alternative being served daily. The restaurant is also set to launch ramen bowls made with forbidden rice noodles as well as traditional Chinese noodle dishes with roots in Andrea’s father’s village. P.S. & Co. is a community bustling with seasoned vegans, passionate foodies, and everyone in between. Andrea describes the relationship between her staff and customers as a “2-way street”, a testament to the all-star crew’s mission to serve the people well. “We’re in this business to make people happy, so our customers are our number one priority.” Sixteen-hour days are common at the establishment, given the labor-intensive methods utilized in P.S. & Co.’s production of food. “Our kale is being massaged by hand,” she elaborates, “so there are no shortcuts here. We’re just going through so many steps to make the purest, cleanest, most nutritious food. We sprout our nuts for 24 hours, then we dehydrate them for another 2 days before we even bake them into granola or muesli.” The rustic, earthy feel of P.S. & Co cleverly compliments the natural, back-to-basics philosophy that its food embodies. In line with its commitment to environmental sustainability, all of its take-out cutlery and containers are compostable. The restaurant features an al fresco area lining the storefront, sheltering seating in the main room as well as a brightly lit dining room in the back. A backyard garden is accessible via a wooden ramp located near the rear of the restaurant. Since September 15th, P.S. & Co. has been hosting weekly lunch tables on Mondays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. to stimulate conversation about eating clean and feeling well. All sessions are free of charge and open to the public. “We’re so new,” nods Andrea, “and this is our time to improve and get better and better.”
Inside Headhouse Farmers’ Market BY SHIRA HENDLER PHOTOS BY BRENDA NGUYEN
Crowds of people swarm between the lines of tables set up under the overhang in Headhouse Square. The space has been used as an open-air market on and off for centuries, and on Sunday mornings from ten o’clock to two, it once again fills with customers conversing with the merchants looking to sell their goods, an amazing variety of in-season produce, baked treats, and animal products. Among the alluring array of fresh goods, sits a nondescript table hiding underneath a green tablecloth. This table makes Headhouse Farmers’ Market, located at 2nd and Lombard, more than the typical farmers’ market. It belongs to The Food Trust, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia that works to increase access to nutritious foods for those who would normally not be able to buy fresh produce within their budgets. Headhouse Farmers’ Market accepts food stamps and runs a program called Philly Food Bucks, which incentivizes the purchase of produce and other nutritious products by giving shoppers $2 to spend at the market on fresh produce for every $5 he or she spends with food stamps or EBT, the electronic replacement for food stamps and checks, on other items. Erin, a Headhouse Farmers’ Market volunteer, has shopped at the market since she first moved to Philadelphia in the fall of 2012. She has always valued shopping locally and eating high quality foods; however, when she arrived in Philadelphia, she was on EBT, so she had a limited budget to spend on food. Fortunately, the Food Bucks program played an instrumental role in giving her access to nutritious, locally grown food. She explains, “Food Bucks gave me a great opportunity to ‘splurge’ on veggies or fruits I wouldn't normally buy because [they] didn't fit into my budget. I had never had kale, fava beans, or kiwi berries before shopping at the farmers market.” Today, she continues to shop at Headhouse every week, buying all of her produce, eggs, bread, and animal protein there. Erin’s experience at Headhouse Farmers’ Market is not the only one of its kind. According to Lisa, the Headhouse Farmers’ Market Manager, the Philly Food Bucks program helps many people “stretch their budget” to bring home healthy foods. Additionally, many people bring their kids to help them pick out the fresh produce. In this manner, customers manage not only to provide their families with nutritious food, but also to engage and excite their children about healthy eating. Simply visiting Headhouse Farmers’ Market arouses the senses, but if you manage to pull your attention away from the colorful produce to find that food-less table, you will fully discover the extent of the magic that occurs there. fall 2014
BY ELENA CROUCH PHOTOS BY NICOLETTE SUN
Here’s one take on preparing wild greens: Rice with Amaranth Greens, Lemon, Feta, and Pistachios • • • • • • • •
1 cup long-grain white rice 2 lbs amaranth greens (can replace with spinach) 1 clove garlic, slivered 1 tbsp olive oil zest of 2 lemons 2 oz feta, crumbled ⅓ cup pistachios Salt, pepper
Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and ½ tsp salt, cover and boil about 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, wash and chop up the greens, removing the stems, and heat the oil in a pan with the garlic until the garlic turns pale gold. Add the greens and a couple pinches of salt, cook over high heat until the greens are wilted. Once wilted, mix the greens into the rice with the lemon zest and feta, toss and top with the pistachios. Season with black pepper and enjoy! Serves 4. (Adapted from Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison)
Rain dripped down in fat droplets from the tree canopy as we bent down to observe a stinging nettle plant, a green plant with ribbed oval leaves. Not called “stinging” for nothing, we were advised to handle it carefully until it had been boiled and the stingers removed. Once cooked, it can be enjoyed as any other domestic green. The stinging nature of the nettles does not deter foragers. Rather, the hostile “wildness” found in some plants adds to the excitement of foraging for wild foods. It was a rather nondescript plant, but our leader, Peter Kurtz of Pennypack Park in Philadelphia, led us down this path for precisely the reason of showing us plants we never would have noticed. He was leading a foraging tour of about 20 locals interested in learning about, identifying, and eating wild plants in our area. A diverse and friendly group, the foraging community’s members span from military men hoping to learn about surviving in the wild to alternative medicine experts looking for new medicinal plants to use in their practices. I went on this hike with Lynn Landes, a local activist and promoter of sustainable living through wild plant consumption. She created a group called “The Wild Foodies of Philadelphia” to help bring together those interested in foraging to exchange knowledge and to form a foraging community. As more people become interested in using local foods to reduce their environmental impact and to save money, wild foods have received more attention. Lynn is an adamant advocate for wild foods, which, in her words, are “the only truly sustainable food, as they do not need human intervention to grow.” Philadelphia parks contain a surprising number of edible plants: white clover, Indian strawberries, violets, dandelion, and amaranth, along with an assortment of mushrooms, berries, and spices. Aside from being edible, many of these plants also have medicinal properties. For example, plantain can be used as an antibiotic for 18
wounds. Yet, foraging can be dangerous if one is not careful about identifying the correct plant and proceeding with caution to see how one’s body reacts to the new food. Yew seeds, for example, are so deadly that they can stop a human heart within hours of consumption. Lynn advises foragers always to identify carefully a plant, avoid collecting from polluted areas, eat in moderation, and most importantly, leave some for others, both animals and humans. Curious about what to do with all the wild foods I learned about on my tour, I spoke with Andrew Wood, the chef and co-owner of Russet, a cozy farm-to-table restaurant that highlights local foods (1521 Spruce Street). He changes the menu daily depending on what local treasures inspire him that day, many of which are wild foods provided to him by professional foragers. He works with many local plants and fungi-- from fiddlehead ferns to wild plums. He spoke with particular enthusiasm about the morels, chanterelles, and porcini mushrooms he received this year. For a delicious way to feature local porcini mushrooms, he prepares fresh spaghetti alla chitarra with garlic butter, parmesan cheese, and sautéed porcini mushrooms. Not limited to greens and fungi, Russet uses local berries by turning them into vinegars for salad dressings, accompanying savory meats like duck, and incorporating them in creative desserts thought up by Andrew’s wife, co-owner and pastry chef Kristin Wood. Using wild foods connects us to our environment. Reconnecting with our food sources is one of the main tenets of the food sustainability movement, and it is becoming increasingly important to take responsibility for our food choices. Plus, wild plants are abundant, free, and delicious! For more information about foraging in Philadelphia, visit www. wildfoodies.org
Welcome to the
Issue fall 2014
BY JIE GUO, SIERA MARTINEZ, & ASHER SENDYK PHOTO BY IANA FELICIANO
Stuffed Tin Packet Sweet Potatoes • • • • • • • • •
2 medium sweet potatoes ¾ cups cooked black beans ½ medium red onion, diced 2 strips of fried bacon, crumbled 1 oz feta cheese, crumbled 2 tsp. chili powder 2 tsp. olive oil pinch of sea salt parsley, optional
Preheat oven to 400 °F . Pierce each potato a few times with a fork and place onto a patch of aluminum foil large enough to hold the potato. Roll up the sides but leave the top of the potato uncovered. Bake for 45-50 minutes until soft. While potatoes are baking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium low heat. Add in the red onion and stir frequently until soft. Add the black beans, chili powder, and salt to pan and mix well. Cook for one to two minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and let them cool for 5-10 minutes. Slice each one in half and carefully fill the potatoes with the black beans and onion mix. Sprinkle the feta cheese and bacon over the top of the potatoes. Garnish with parsley.
feature Roasted Pears
• Bosc pears • ¼ cup of sugar (or more, depending on number of pears) • 1 tbsp. of cinnamon and/or cloves • 2 tsp. of butter per pear • Honey (enough for drizzling) • Desired topping(s) – chocolate squares, granola, chopped nuts, toasted sunflower seeds
• Bananas • Your favorite chocolate for s’mores • Mini marshmallows • Additional toppings (optional): crushed graham crackers, toasted coconut
Halve the pears and scoop out their cores. Peel if desired. Combine ¼ cup of sugar with 1 tbsp. of spices to make cinnamon sugar. Place a tsp. of butter on each and sprinkle with sugar mixture. If desired, add a topping and drizzle with honey. Wrap pears in foil and bake in campfire ashes for 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are soft.
Peel back a small strip of the banana peel. Scoop or cut out some of the banana to make a small trough running the length of the banana. Fill trench with chocolate and marshmallows. Recover the banana with the peel. Wrap the banana in foil and cook over hot coals for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and add additional toppings to provide texture contrast, if desired.
Peanut Butter and Pretzel Cookies • 1 package of Sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie dough • Peanut butter • Pretzels Preheat a covered pan a foot above the hottest part of the fire for ten minutes (you can avoid tired arms by using a cooking grate). Divide a package of sugar cookie dough- chocolate chip also works- into silver dollar-sized portions. Pound each portion flat and coat with a generous layer of peanut butter and crushed pretzel. Form the dough into balls by folding together the edges and then reshaping. Line the pan with parchment paper, place the dough inside, and cover immediately. Top the lid of the pan with embers and cook above the flame for nine minutes. Let cool for ten more and devour.
Back to Basics BY PARKER BROWN PHOTOS BY IANA FELICIANO
Dutch Oven Similar to stew, the Dutch Oven has its roots in the past, having first appeared in the Netherlands over three hundred years ago. Dutch Oven cooking today has largely been revitalized due to the convenience of a one-pot meal. A Dutch Oven very simply consists of a large cast-iron pot and fitted lid. Although traditional Dutch Oven dishes were cooked over an open fire, the vessel can also be placed over a stove or grill to achieve the same results. The sweet and savory offerings available with a Dutch Oven reserves its place as a staple of even the most modern kitchen.
S’mores Brownies • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
1 cup butter, melted ½ cup cocoa 4 eggs 2 cups sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. baking powder 2 cups flour ¾ cup chopped walnuts 1 cup marshmallows 1 cup chopped peanut butter cups 1 cup white chocolate chips 1 cup crumbled graham crackers
Whisk the melted butter and cocoa together in a bowl. Then, crack the eggs one by one. To the bowl, add sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and flour. Pour the mixture into a Dutch Oven coated with nonstick spray. Place walnuts over the top and bake at 400 degrees for twelve minutes (eighteen coals on the bottom and twelve on the top). Remove the coals from the bottom and bake for another twenty minutes. Remove the lid and place marshmallows, peanut butter cups, and white chocolate chips over the top. Replace the lid, remove all of the coals, and allow the brownies sit for five minutes. Sprinkle the brownies with crumbled graham crackers before serving.
Beef Stew with Warm Mashed Potatoes Ingredients: Grilled Corn • 2 ears of corn • 1 tbsp. butter • 1 tbsp. parsley • Salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste Stew • 2 tbsp. olive oil • 1 tbsp. butter • 2 lbs filet mignon • 1 medium onion, diced • 3 cloves garlic • 4 oz tomato paste • 4 cups beef broth • A few dashes of Worcestershire • ½ tsp. sugar • 4 carrots, peeled and diced • 3 turnips, peeled and diced • 2 tomatoes, diced • 2 tbsp. minced parsley • Salt and pepper, to taste Mashed Potatoes • 5 lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and quartered • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened • 1 stick of butter, softened • ½ cup heavy cream • Salt and pepper, to taste
Stew The term “stew” constitutes the boiling of two or more foods in a liquid, most traditionally over an open fire. Archeological evidence suggests that Amazon tribes first used turtle and mollusk shells to create simple broths, and the subsequent development of pottery further popularized this type of cooking. The first textual mention of the dish appears in “Apicius de re Coquinaria,” which is recognized as the first cookbook, written sometime between first century BC and second century AD. Despite its ancient, cross-cultural origins, the hearty, comforting taste of stew remains popular for modern audiences.
Grilled Corn Lather the ears of corn with butter, parsley, salt, pepper, and paprika. Wrap the seasoned cobs in aluminum foil and place on the grill with medium heat for fifteen to twenty minutes. Stew Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Then, add the meat to the pot and brown for two minutes. Remove the meat and place it on a separate plate. In the same pot, place the diced onions and garlic and cook for about two minutes. Add tomato paste to the mixture and cook for another two minutes. Next, add beef stock, Worcestershire, sugar, and the browned beef to the pot, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and allow the stew to simmer for one-and-a-half to two hours. Add the carrots, turnips, and tomatoes to the mixture and let the stew simmer for another thirty minutes. Stir in parsley and grilled corn and serve alongside mashed potatoes. Mashed Potatoes Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in a large pot of water and boil for thirty minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them under low heat. Turn off the heat and mix in the remaining ingredients.
The Philadelphia BY JENNY LU ILLUSTRATION BY EMILY BELSHAW
Oven Crawl Philadelphia is a city with a vibrant food culture and many types of cuisine. Here are a few of our picks of the best that Philly has to offer on the oven scene.
SPREAD BAGELRY, 262 S. 20TH ST Spread churns out homemade bagels in their Montreal style custom built wood oven, the first of its kind in America. The bagels are first dipped in honey water before being fired in the oven. Spread’s bagel flavors are standard, including poppyseed, rye, whole wheat, and everything. Try them with their assortment of organically sourced cream cheeses and jams, or go for their bagel melts that are baked in the oven to melty perfection.
FETTE SAU, 1208 FRANKFORD AVE Barbecued meats make up a different kind of oven, right? The process of smoking meat requires slowcooking it over a low, smoky fire for a tender bite and tons of flavor. Starr establishment Fette Sau gets their smoked meats right with the classics: brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and chicken, all sold by the pound. Their meats are sourced locally and smoked in-house, and their bar is extensive, with over 100 whiskeys available.
TASHAN, 777 S. BROAD ST Tashan offers haute Indian cuisine on the Avenue of the Arts. Head over to sample the creations from their tandoori oven — a traditional Indian method of cooking that uses a charcoal or wood fire placed in a cylindrical clay or metal oven. Highlights on Tashan’s tandoori menu include tandoori shrimp with coconut and toasted pea flour and lamb chop with honey and balsamic reduction. Finally, don’t forget to try their tandoori roti, an Indian whole wheat flatbread that is also baked in the tandoori oven.
PITRUCO, LOCATIONS VARY This pizza food truck pops up all over the city, from 33rd and Arch Streets to Love Park. Pitruco’s owners have managed to make an entire wood-burning oven mobile. Their menu offers classic pies all produced from the truck, ranging from a traditional margherita to a braised radicchio pizza with mozzarella and balsamic drizzle. Make sure to follow their Twitter (@ pitrucopizza) to get live updates on their location for the day as well as specialty pizzas.
ZAHAV, 237 ST. JAMES PL Zahav is Chef Michael Solomonov’s jewel of fine Israeli cuisine tucked away in Old City. While everything on the menu is fantastic, the house-made laffa (pita bread) steals the show. The soft and chewy laffa is the perfect complement to the silky and flavorful hummus. Watch the laffa get pulled out of the oven and delivered, steaming hot, to your table.
Flambé Finesse BY SIERA MARTINEZ PHOTO BY IANA FELICIANO
The art of flambé, igniting food with a liqueur, has turned cooking into an extreme sport. Flambéing may or may not actually flavor the dish to taste like alcohol, but the pyrotechnics involved in this cooking technique supply a brilliant display of elegance. Guests will find it simply too hard to avoid eating food that was just seconds ago covered in flames! While a safer alternative to flambéing is lining a dish with sugar cubes soaked in flavor extract, a traditional flambé involves hard alcohol. To start, it is important to choose the correct liquor - ideally any brand that is labeled 80-proof or 40% alcohol. Too low a number and the dish may not catch fire at all. Too high, and the entire kitchen might burst into flames. The secret to a perfect flambé is microwaving the liqueur for 30 to 45 seconds. This step brings it closer to its flash point of approximately 80ºF, the lowest temperature at which a 40% or 50% alcohol releases enough vapors to be ignitable. However, just as the alcohol content of a liqueur affects ignition, so too does its temperature. On one hand, room temperature liqueur will not burn, because it is too cold. On the other, liqueur that is too warm will not light, because it has too high of a flash point to be easily ignited. Always take extra caution during a flambé. Since warm alcohol exerts greater vapor pressure than room temperature liqueur, it can be lit much more easily. Thus, a match or a lighter held as far away as the outer rim of a dish can easily send the alcohol into flames. Other steps to minimize the risk of injury or damage include using a deep pan with a long handle and removing the pan from heat prior to adding the liqueur. After all, guests are more interested in the food catching fire rather than the cook himself!
Banana Fosters (serves 4) ~30 minutes • • • • • • • •
4 tbsp. unsalted butter 1 cup brown sugar ½ tsp. ground cinnamon or nutmeg ¼ tsp. ground allspice or cinnamon ¼ cup amaretto or banana liqueur 4 under ripe bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise ½ cup dark rum ½ tsp. finely grated orange zest (optional)
Melt the butter in a tall skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar and spices, and heat for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is fully dissolved and bubbling. Turn the heat to medium and pour in the banana liqueur. Let simmer. Add banana halves and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. While the bananas are cooking, microwave the rum for 30 seconds. Immediately after microwaving, remove the skillet from the burner and slowly pour in the rum. Return the skillet to heat and carefully ignite the pan with a stick flame. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, or until the flame is extinguished and add optional orange zest. Spoon sauce over the bananas, and serve immediately alongside ice cream, crêpes, pound cake, or dessert pizza.
Simply Searing BY ASHER SENDYK PHOTOS BY IANA FELICIANO
Its outside is flaky, almost crusty, and speckled with char. It smells faintly smoky, but pleasantly so. You can tell, even without tasting, when the salmon steak on your plate has been seared. For those curious as to how fillets are finessed, searing entails quickly scorching the surface of foods (usually, but not always proteins) in a pan at high temperatures. A modest amount of oil is used, not to fry the food, but rather to ensure that it evenly comes in contact with the heat. After a minute or two, and a singular flip of the fish, steak, or vegetable, etc., the dish is often finished in the oven. If you’re so inclined, you can then make the most of the remaining specks left over in the pan through deglazing [see recipe below]. This outward simplicity, however, belies two intricate processes that occur within dishes that are seared. The first, caramelization, is responsible for browning the item in the pan—bestowing it with a beautiful outer crust—as well as yielding the compounds that account for the unique sweetyet-savory balance that this technique imparts. It does such through denaturing the sugars inside foods, triggering a set of oxidizing reactions. The effects of caramelization are reinforced through the second process that occurs during searing, the Maillard reaction, in which sugars combine with amino acids to create another palette of flavors. The specific notes produced are contingent upon the composition of the foods being cooked; they range anywhere from malty to earthy to nutty. Together, these processes are what elevate your simple piece of salmon from banal to ethereal. fall 2014
Give the technique a try with these seared sherry vinegar-glazed scallops: • • • • • •
One dozen scallops 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. white pepper 1 tbsp. clarified butter 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 3 cloves garlic, diced
Pat the scallops dry. Remove the tough muscle along the side of the scallops, if present. Heat a frying pan to high and add the clarified butter. Season the scallops with salt and white pepper. Right before the butter starts to smoke, place the scallops into the pan. Flip scallops when they start to cook up the sides and turn opaque. At this point, the bottoms should be a nice golden brown. Once the second side has cooked, remove scallops from pan and set aside. Reduce heat. Deglaze the pan by mixing in the sherry vinegar and garlic. Be sure to stir in all the specks left over from the scallops and cook the garlic just until it browns (don’t let it burn!). Pour sherry garlic reduction over scallops and serve.
Homemade Ginger Liqueur Makes: 16 oz • • • • • •
16 oz brandy 3 ½ oz fresh ginger root 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 vanilla bean zest from 1 lemon or orange
Peel ginger and chop into slices. Combine ginger, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir gently until sugar is dissolved and ginger is slightly softened. Pour ginger syrup (and ginger slices) into a glass jar or container. Slice vanilla bean in half and add to container, along with zest.Top with brandy and shake well to combine. Allow to steep for 1-2 days, depending on spice level desired. Strain out ginger and zest.
Flaming Dr. Pepper Makes 1 • 1 beer • 1 ½ oz amaretto liqueur • ½ oz overproof rum (such as Bacardi 151) Fill a pint glass ¾ of the way with beer. Fill a shot glass ¾ of the way with amaretto. Top off with rum. Carefully light rum on fire and allow to burn for several seconds. Drop shot glass into pint glass, let beer extinguish the flame completely, and chug (with caution).
Warm Pumpkin Pie Shot Makes 1 • • • • •
⅔ oz pumpkin spice liqueur ⅔ oz Bailey’s Irish cream ⅔ oz tequila 1 pinch nutmeg 1 tbsp vanilla ice cream
Layer pumpkin spice liqueur, Bailey’s, and tequila in a shot glass. Ignite tequila. Allow to burn for several seconds. Top with a pinch of nutmeg, blow out, and quickly drink. Chase with a generous spoonful of vanilla ice cream.
e It on the Flame BY BYRNE FAHEY PHOTOS BY IANA FELICIANO Too young for a Bloody Mary, but too old for a shot of Fireball? Bring the heat and extinguish it simultaneously with these spicy-sweet cocktails you can make at home.
Spicy Spiked Hot Cocoa Serves: 4 • • • • • • • • • • •
3 ½ cups milk ½ cup heavy cream ¼ cup cocoa powder ¼ cup sugar 1 tsp. cinnamon ¼ tsp. chili powder ⅛ tsp. nutmeg ⅛ tsp. cayenne 1 tsp. vanilla extract 4 oz bourbon whipped cream or marshmallows (optional)
Combine milk, heavy cream, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and spices in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until all cocoa is dissolved and mixture is hot. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and bourbon. Divide among four mugs, top with whipped cream or marshmallows, and serve.
Jalapeño-Citrus Margarita Serves: 2 • • • • •
1 fresh jalepeño pepper 4 oz tequila 3 oz fresh blood orange or grapefruit juice 2 oz triple-sec 1 oz lime juice
Chop jalepeño pepper into slices and steep in tequila for at least one and up to four hours. Combine tequila with remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Divide among two glasses over ice.
Jack’s Firehou BY KATIE BEHRMAN PHOTOS BY DANIELLE PI
“I always try to increase the amount of fire in the kitchen,” smiles Chef Jack McDavid as he leans back in his wooden chair. “It just adds layers of flavor to whatever it is you’re making. Take a fried turkey,” he pauses, his deep Southern accent ringing though the air, “you get it really hot on the outside and then it’s super moist on the inside. Most people don’t know that--the more heat on the outer layer, the more moistness on the inner one.” Since 1989, Jack McDavid has been manipulating heat and playing with fire in his “haute country” restaurant, Jack’s Firehouse. Situated directly across the street from the Eastern State Penitentiary, the converted 19th-century firehouse has retained much of the station’s original interior, from the wood plank floors that once held Truck "A” to the brass fire pole used by the men of Ladder Company 1. The old-fashioned setting complements the classic, Southern-inspired menu, beckoning the passerby with its comforting feel and traditional dishes, like barbecued ribs and fried catfish. “It’s about the elements,” McDavid fittingly describes of the restaurant that sits in a building once used to fight fire. “It’s about what you can get from nature; it’s about hard work and happiness; and it’s about hospitality—being treated like you’re queens and kings.” From sourcing ingredients through local farms to serving hearty and flavorful entrees, McDavid effectively instills this philosophy into his menu. Sour cherries from a New York farm accompany steaming buttermilk biscuits, local pork comes served several ways, from pennappetit.com
se a heaping pulled pork sandwich to a classic pork loin with sweet potato mash and apple Brandy jus, and the bread enters the oven from scratch every day. “You don’t ever leave going, ‘Gosh I wish we had a little more food from there!’” chuckles Mick Houston, McDavid’s partner and owner of the Firehouse since 2002. McDavid first learned about the importance of fresh ingredients as a young boy growing up on a Virginia farm. “I remember picking strawberries,” he softly smiles, his eyes gleaming. His pale blue shirt mimics the dusty color of the early fall sky. “You had to pick them just right, right when they were a little bit soft.” He rolls up one of his button-down sleeves, demonstrating, “And if you did that, the juices would just seep down your arm, just spill down.” He smacks his lips together. “But, if you’re picking strawberries for sale, you can’t pick them right then. You have to pick them just a bit before they’re ready. And if you’re me, and if you’re buying them, you have to buy them just a bit before they’re ready, too.” McDavid’s experience on a farm also instilled within him a strong work ethic. “You learned from a young age that you had to wake up a little bit earlier than everyone else and go to bed a bit later. And,” he nods meaningfully, “you had to do the work yourself.” This attitude has led McDavid to have an extremely successful career: working at Le Bec Fin, opening two restaurants (the Firehouse and the Downhome Diner in Reading Terminal Market), participating in several television fall 2014
shows, including competing against Bobby Flay, winning barbeque competitions in Memphis, and being the only chef in America to participate in the Taste of the NFL for twenty-two years in a row. “I always say,” confides Houston in his stark white shirt, “people may know Marc Vetri really well, Jose Garces, Steven Starr—‘cause they’re all big names in the restaurant world. But if you go out and just ask the average Joe in America: name a couple of chefs, well they’ll know Jack. They love Jack ‘cause he’s a downhome country guy.” McDavid runs his fingers along the rivets of the table. “Food is so important to the soul,” he breathes, referring to the role the Firehouse played in invigorating Fairmount. McDavid’s first experience with this notion, however, came when he was working in a small café. “It was a cold, winter day,” he ominously begins. “You know, one of those days where everyone is hunched over and the wind’s been whipping. Everyone was down.” McDavid dutifully served his frozen guests a quintessential Southern dish, Brunswick stew, which he had prepared earlier that day. “And you could see it, once they had a taste of soup, they all just…” McDavid acts out the scene, lifting his torso up so that he is sitting straight as a rod. “They sat up a bit straighter. And then you looked and…” he slowly traces a grin onto his face, “and they smiled.” “That’s what food does. “It’s what Jack’s Firehouse does,” McDavid sighs. “It makes it all a bit better.” And, in Philadelphia, the Firehouse also adds a welcome touch of Southern heat.
Food is so important to the soul.
BY JIE GUO ILLUSTRATION BY REIKA YOSHINO
feature There’s more to the smell of the blackish blue smoke drifting from a fire pit than its musky, carbon top notes. The smell depends on the type of wood used, and the same can be said for the taste smoke leaves on food. Some woods have a distinct and pungent aroma that adds an extra kick to smoked foods, while others like pine should never be used as the inside resin, an indelible sticky secretion, produces harsh, potentially toxic, effects. For a flavorful smoke, here are the best picks of wood to use:
The wood: One of the most common hardwoods used, oak is the most versatile with a smoke that leaves no trace of a lingering aftertaste. Its smoke is mild, sometimes nutty, but seldom overpowering. It’s common to see it used in a wood mix to counteract other woods too overwhelming on their own. The food: Oak gives a rich smoked color to food and pairs well with red meats, fish, and big game. For a classic smoke, brine any choice of meat with pink curing salt and wintery spices like cinnamon or nutmeg and smoke over a pile of oak wood.
The wood: The wood is slightly sweet, but its denser, fruity flavor makes it the strongest out of all the fruitwoods. The wood burns hot and slow, so it can take several hours for the light character of its smoke to seep into the food. It’s a versatile wood that can be mixed with oak and cherry for extra depth. The food: Apple wood complements almost every choice of meat, and its mild character makes it especially good for smoking meat lightly seasoned with salt, coarse black pepper, brown sugar, and a few juniper berries and bay leaves.
The wood: Almost as common as oak, hickory can range from a medium to a strong, hearty bacon flavor. This hardwood also burns hot and slow, yet it’s important to be wary of having too much hickory in the fire, or else it will impart a bitter flavor. A good preventative measure is to mix apple or oak with hickory, in the ratio of two to one. The food: Its smoke works well with strong flavored meats like pork, poultry, and beef, rubbed and coated with generous amounts of sauce like a pomegranate chipotle BBQ or, for a twist, a chimichurri with black peppercorns.
The wood: It should be no surprise that maple wood has a sweet, subtle flavor in its smoke. Dense yet light in color, maple burns like apple wood. The food: Perfect for very lightly seasoned foods like poultry, turkey, and small game birds. For the more creative, maple wood is the best choice for smoking non-meats. Try carrots and russet potatoes with a bit of olive oil and salt, mushroom caps stuffed with tomato and bell pepper, or even Gouda cheese.
International Roasts Around the world, roasts form the centerpiece of the table, bringing together family and friends for an impressive meal. With their impeccable tenderness and distinct flavors, roasts are well worth the two to three hour cooking time.
CHINA BY JENNY LU A classic in Chinese cuisine, Peking roast duck is coated with a layer of syrup before roasting to turn a signature golden-brown color. The duck is roasted either in a closed oven or hung and roasted. Sliced and served with the skin on, the duck usually comes wrapped in small, steamed pancakes with sliced cucumbers and hoisin sauce. With its juicy, tender meat and crispy, thick skin, the Peking roast duck bursts with flavor that sets it apart from other duck dishes. If Philly, Pecking roast duck can be found readily in Chinatown, identifiable by the rows of ducks hung in store windows. For a sit-down experience where you can’t go wrong, try renowned location Sang Kee, which specializes in Peking roast duck. (Sang Kee, 238 N. 9th St.) CUBA BY AMANDA NART Roast pork serves as a centerpiece of many Cuban gatherings from Christmas dinners with family or just a casual get together with friends. Traditionally, one roasts a whole pig in a caja china, which is a special type of roasting box for whole pigs, or rotisserie style over an open fire; however, many people make smaller versions, roasting just the pork shoulder in a standard oven. The pork is marinated in mojo, which is a sauce made out of garlic, olive oil, and sour orange. The tartness of the orange combined with the mystical powers of garlic and a slow roast makes the super rich pork shoulder tender and droolinducing. Roast pork also features prominently in the famous Cuban sandwich and serves as the defining factor of its legitimacy and taste. ENGLAND BY JIE GUO A classic roast in England is so much more than a single succulent dish. It is a meal often eaten as a Sunday lunch or dinner that traditionally features roast beef. Cooked in a hot fire or oven with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and the optional onion and herbs, any mundane chunk of beef can transform into a weekend centerpiece, bringing together family and friends. Modern popular alternatives for roast beef in a Sunday roast are whole chicken or leg of lamb, made delicious when sprinkled with a mix of garlic and rosemary. Side dishes like potatoes, hardy vegetables, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding, a light and soufflélike bake that can be topped off with drippings from the roasted meat, accompany the roast. PERU BY PARKER BROWN Pachamanca, a roast native to the Inca people of South America, was originally a means of honoring Pachamama, the earth goddess. In the Quechua language indigenous to the region, “Pacha” refers to earth and “Manca” to cooking pot, suggesting the creation of an “earth oven” in preparing the meal. This style of cooking continues to be popular today in various regions of Peru. The dish is prepared by layering vegetables, meat, and herbs with hot stones in an underground pit. A selection of beef, pork, lamb, guinea pig, or chicken is most often accompanied by a mix of potatoes, corn, and beans. The cooking pit, or huatia, is then covered with soil to prevent the escape of smoke and heat. After between two and three hours of roasting, the hole is uncovered, and the vegetables and meat are ready to be served.
BY PARKER BROWN PHOTO BY DANIELLE PI
Watery eyes and a runny nose? Did you just finish The Notebook or have you accidentally eaten a chili pepper? The tears and runny nose are actually your body’s attempts to expel capsaicin, the active component in peppers. Developed by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, the Scoville scale is a means of measuring the pungency of spicy foods based on the concentration of this compound, which causes a burning sensation in any tissue with which it comes in contact. For adventurous foodies eager to discover how hot is too hot, refer to the guide below.
Scoville Scale (Scoville Heat Units) Trinidad Moruga Scorpion 2,000,000 (World’s Hottest Pepper- February 2012) Habanero 100,000-350,000 Thai Pepper 50,000-100,000 Cayenne 30,000-50,000 Serrano 10,000-23,000 Jalapeno 2,500-8,000 Poblano 1,000-1,500 Pepperoncini 100-500 Bell Pepper 0
How Hot Can You Go?
BY RACHEL SIMON ILLUSTRATION BY YENNY CHEUNG
When it comes to food, some like it hot – but what exactly do we mean when we use the terms “hot” and “spicy” to describe our meals? In colloquial English, we often use the words “hot” and “spicy” interchangeably; however, the two definitions are slightly more nuanced. When added to food, spices bring flavor. Heat, in contrast, is more than just a flavor; it is a tactile sensation that can only be experienced when the chemical compounds responsible for heat are present. Fortunately, the City of Brotherly Love offers plenty of dishes packed with both heat and spice from a variety of cuisines.
CHINESE: DRY POT STYLE
HAN DYNASTY 3711 Market Street (University City) or 123 Chestnut Street (Old City) Han Dynasty includes its own measurement for heat levels, rating each dish on a scale of one to ten. Their dry pot style dish is ranked a perfect ten, serving as both a warning and an invitation to heat-seeking customers. “Dry pot” mimics the traditional Chinese “hot pot” stew that combines spices, meats, and thinly sliced vegetables in one large pot of boiling water. However, the dry pot style requires the removal of the water, preventing the spice blend from becoming diluted and producing extremely intense heat. The spice blends often include white and black pepper as well as large doses of fiery dried chili peppers. At Han Dynasty, customers can choose from a variety of meats: fish, lamb, beef, pork, shrimp, chicken, or rabbit. The dish is served in a sizzling mini wok accompanied by bell peppers, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, and lemony Szechuan peppercorns. THAI: RED CURRY
PATTAYA 4006 Chestnut Street Curry dishes are a staple of Thai cuisine and are generally prepared by combining a flavorful curry paste with coconut milk and aromatic spices. Although Thai curries vary in spice level, the red curry served at Pattaya is sure to offer a fiery kick. Traditionally, the heat of red curry is derived from a combination of dried red chilies, cumin seeds, and peppercorns. Customers can choose from chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu served with bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and Thai basil. INDIAN: CHICKEN VINDALOO
NEW DELHI 4004 Chestnut Street Chicken vindaloo, a popular Indian curry dish, is one of the hottest items served at the New Delhi Indian restaurant. While the original Indian dish is sometimes prepared using a mild curry, New Delhi offers a vindaloo cooked in a spiced tomato sauce with extra red chilies. The high levels of capsaicin produce a burning sensation that can only be cooled with a side order of New Delhi’s fresh, house-made yogurt. MEXICAN: RED CHILE AND CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
EL VEZ 121 South 13th Street The red chile and chicken enchiladas at El Vez offer a flavorful spin on a traditional Mexican staple. The chicken is combined with coconut milk, cream, and herbs to create the filling, which is placed in between two corn tortillas. The stuffed tortillas are then coated in a spiced, tomato-based sauce and topped with queso cotija, a hard cow’s milk cheese. The subtle heat of the dish is perfect for foodies who lean towards more mild options. AMERICAN: HOT FRIED CHICKEN
THE FAT HAM 3131 Walnut Street Top Chef Kevin Sbraga offers customers a taste of timeless Southern comfort food with a kick: a hot fried chicken that is known as a local specialty in Nashville, Tennessee. Staying true to Southern cooking techniques, Sbraga first soaks the chicken in buttermilk, subsequently deep-fries it in lard, and finally coats the meat in his own hot sauce. The hot and crispy chicken is served alongside dill pickles on a slice of classic American sourdough. The secret to the dish’s intense heat is the cayenne-based sauce. This red, powdered spice contains high levels of capsaicin, a chemical compound known for generating tons of heat. Luckily for customers, the white bread is smothered in ranch dressing to offer a creamy contrast that calms the heat of the cayenne.
BY RACHEL SIMON PHOTOS BY AARON GUO & LIZ HWANG
The famous Korean taco, known for its cross-cultural inspiration and popularity in urban food trucks, may now have a close competitor in Philadelphia. Hai Street Kitchen & Company (32 S. 18th Street) attracts customers with a bold new approach to sushi. Rather than serving sushi rolls in individual pieces, Hai Street offers its customers the groundbreaking “sushirrito.” The creation blends the freshness of traditional sushi ingredients with the satisfying yet messy experience of eating a burrito. The sushirrito originates from the creative mind of Executive Chef Takao Iinuma, an expert in both culinary arts and nutrition. After studying at Hattori Nutrition College in Japan, serving as an apprentice to the school’s founder, Dr. Yukio Hattori, working as a nutritional advisor for the school and later for a private wellness compa, Iinuma met his mentor, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. He served as his Executive Sous-Chef and nutrition specialist. After stints in Japan, India and Virginia furthering his culinary career, Iinuma moved to Philadelphia to oversee the food preparation in six fine-dining restaurants. After four years, Iinuma again
changed courses and established Hai Street. While the Hai Street in Center City is Iinuma’s first Philadelphia location, he has already enjoyed success with a Hai Street Kitchen in London’s Leadenhall Market. At Hai Street, Iinuma’s sushirrito is prepared similarly to traditional sushi; a bed of rice is placed on a sheet of Nori seaweed, and the ingredients are rolled and pressed into the wrap using a bamboo sushi mat. However, the portion size and shape of the dish mimic the Mexican burrito, as does the packaging; the final product is wrapped tightly in paper and halved. Customers also have the option to forego the Nori wrap and order their sushi in a burrito bowl. According to Iinuma, the restaurant is designed as a theater, allowing customers to watch the assembly of their burrito or sushi bowl from start to finish. The option to create an original sushirrito allows customers to tailor this JapaneseMexican fusion to their own tastes. In addition to the common Japanese offerings such as shrimp tempura, chicken katsu, teriyaki steak and tataki salmon, customers also have the option of choosing Mexicangrilled pork belly, a smokier and spicier protein, as the foundation of their sushirrito.
Similarly, Chimichurri and tomatillo salsas are listed alongside traditional Japanese sauces such as black pepper teriyaki and gochujang (a hot pepper paste). For those customers who prefer to order from the prefixed menu, Iinuma crafted the Mexicana, a sushi wrap that blends the Mexican flavors of grilled pork belly and tomatillo salsa with the Asian flavors of green papaya salad. The Mexicana also includes spring mix, carrot and sautéed onion, bundled and wrapped in crispy Nori. Wasabi guacamole completes the cultural fusion. The reaction to Iinuma’s sushirrito has been overwhelmingly positive. Zagat recently listed Hai Street Kitchen & Company as one of the hottest new restaurants in the Philadelphia area. Iinuma and his management team plan to capitalize on this success with the opening of a second Hai Street on 40th Street and Sansom. In the meantime, Iinuma is keeping busy as a frequent contestant on Iron Chef Japan, where he continues to transform and refine traditional Asian cuisine.
Binge On This BY NICOLE WOON ILLUSTRATION BY JUN XIA Follow our primer for fantastic food footage over the course of 24 hours. Get your movie snacks (all the day’s meals) ready. 40
8:00 AM - 8:03 AM: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start your morning with bacon, hash browns, and Jack Daniels orange juice; the guys from YouTube’s Epic Meal Time (“Breakfast of Booze”) show you how.
6:50 PM - 7:11 PM: Penn President Amy Gutmann cameos in Dinner:Impossible’s “Rush Dinner: Frat House Impossible” episode. Robert Irvine recruits Psi Upsilon for help with the dinner fête: chaos ensues.
8:03 AM - 8:06 AM: The Key of Awesome and American Hipster’s song parody “Eat It Don't Tweet It” makes you secondguess all your Instagram food porn… but you’ll still upload that filtered photo of stuffed french toast.
7:11 PM - 8:58 PM: Pasta is the perfect partner while watching Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci command the kitchen with full Italian bravado in the motion picture drama Big Night.
8:06 AM - 8:30 AM: Lovable man-and-dog pals Wallace and Gromit follow their taste buds to the moon to sample cheese in the stop motion classic A Grand Day Out. 8:30 AM - 10:24 AM: Burned by a social media catastrophe, a professional chef starts a food truck to reclaim his artistic freedom and reconnect with his family in the quick-witted film Chef. 10:24 AM - 11:07 AM: No Reservations whisks you away on a whirlwind tour of food and culture, complemented by Anthony Bourdain’s acerbic commentary. Emmy-nominated episode "Anthony Bourdain in Beirut" is a must-see, documenting the crew's experiences during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. 11:07 AM - 11:32 AM: Replete with pedagogical value, cooking show America's Test Kitchen (“Old-Fashioned Sunday Dinners”) leverages Cook’s Illustrated staff for recipe testing, ingredient comparisons, and equipment evaluations. 11:32 AM - 11:52 AM: Mark Bittman’s TED talk “What’s Wrong With What We Eat” delves into industrialized food’s negative effects on the environment and our health. 11:52 AM - 1:36 PM: Learn about the elaborate dabbawala system while eating Indian takeout for lunch in the epistolary romantic film The Lunchbox.
8:58 PM - 9:02 PM: “California Gurls” leaves no dessert unturned in Katy Perry’s eye-popping Candyland-inspired sensation. 9:02 PM - 10:42 PM: Cult movie favorite Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory takes you to a world of pure imagination. 10:42 PM - 11:03 PM: Geek out with Alton Brown on Good Eats (“Three Chips for Sister Marsha”), where each episode makes the science of cooking accessible and entertaining. 11:03 PM - 11:25 PM: Marge, Bart, and Lisa join a group of foodies and start blogging, much to Homer’s dismay, in The Simpsons’ “The Food Wife.” 11:25 PM - 11:29 PM: The King of Parody Weird Al Yankovic riffs off the King of Pop Michael Jackson in “Eat It.” 11:29 PM - 12:10 AM: Iron Chef ’s “Battle Octopus” demonstrates why the Japanese TV spectacle is a touchstone for cooking competition programming worldwide. 12:10 AM - 2:05 AM: Cook up some late-night ramen in honor of the movie Tampopo; noodles were never so sensuous. 2:05 AM - 2:08 AM: You’ll be in stitches after watching MisterEpicMann’s “How Animals Eat Their Food” on Youtube.
1:36 PM - 1:39 PM: Choose your own YouTube adventure: rap alongside “Whole Foods Parking Lot” or croon to “If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe's.”
2:08 AM - 2:16 AM: “Rubber Bands vs. Watermelon” and “Popping Popcorn in Super Slow Motion” are fine examples of YouTube’s The Slow Mo Guys’ action-movie-worthy explosions.
1:39 PM - 2:08 PM: Julia Child’s infectious spirit and fearless approach to cooking the world’s most intimidating cuisine endeared The French Chef to audiences everywhere. Always remember (“The Potato Show”): “When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions!”
2:16 AM - 3:54 AM: Instead of a 2 AM chicken nugget run, check out Morgan Spurlock’s 30-day McDonald’s challenge in Supersize Me.
2:08 PM - 3:59 PM: Aspiring chef Remy—never mind that he’s a rat—forges an unlikely alliance with a Parisian restaurant’s garbage boy in the animated feature Ratatouille. 3:59 PM - 4:42 PM: Andrew Zimmern ventures where few eaters have gone before in Bizarre Foods, chowing down on fare like frog hearts and raw pig testicles in the show’s pilot. 4:42 PM - 6:03 PM: Jiro Dreams of Sushi spotlights sushi master Jiro Ono and his quest to perfect the art of sushi. The documentary’s macro shots of shimmering salmon roe and creamy sea urchin have a Pavlovian effect. 6:03 PM - 6:48 PM: Chopped’s mystery baskets—like "Victory on the Brain"’s peanut brittle/marsala wine/wonton wrappers/durian challenge—inspire contestants to create inventive dishes in minutes. 6:48 PM - 6:50 PM: “Celebrity Chef Ted Allen Cooks His Favorite Pretentious Foodie Bullshit Meal”: kudos to The Onion for making you second-guess if this YouTube clip is real.
3:54 AM - 3:57 AM: Booty-shake to Kelis’ “Milkshake.” This counts as your day’s exercise. 3:57 AM - 4:19 AM: Order up! The quirky Belcher family gather laughs in pop-culture-skewering animated sitcom Bob's Burgers (“Sheesh! Cab, Bob?”). 4:19 AM - 5:46 AM: The documentary Kings of Pastry shadows pastry chefs competing for Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France membership. Watching contenders construct elaborate blown sugar showpieces is nerve-wracking. 5:46 AM - 7:47 AM: Have Valrhona nearby while watching Chocolat, a magical fable about a young mother who opens a chocolaterie in a repressed French village. 7:47 AM - 8:00 AM: Anderson Cooper explores molecular gastronomy and, “The Culinary Miracles of Chef Jose Andrès” on 60 Minutes. Conclude with breakfast and [something else…].
BY MORGAN PEARLMAN PHOTOS BY GARETT NELSON
going pro[biotic] Sick of granola? Greek yogurt is more versatile than you think. Benefit from its cultures, and show off your cultured self with a variety of different recipes from breakfast to dinner. 42
Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes Serves 2
Yogurt Zucchini Gratin Serves 4
Caprese Yogurt Salad Serves 1
• • • • • •
For the casserole: • 2 thinly sliced zucchinis • 2 tbsp. butter • 2 tbsp. flour • ½ cup water • ½ cup Greek yogurt • 1 tsp. kosher salt • ¼ tsp. black pepper • ⅔ cup shredded cheddar cheese • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
• • • •
2 eggs 12 oz Greek yogurt 2 tbsp. honey 2 tsp. baking soda 1 cup flour 1 cup blueberries
Mix together the beaten eggs, yogurt, and honey. Slowly add the baking soda and flour. Scoop large spoonfuls of the batter onto a large pan over medium heat. Place a handful of blueberries on the pancake and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip the pancake and cook for another one to two minutes.
White Chocolate Yogurt Truffles Serves 12 • 4 oz white chocolate • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt • 1 tsp. coconut flakes First melt the chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until melted. Once melted, immediately remove from the stove and stir in the yogurt. Mix in the coconut flakes and whisk until the consistency is smooth. Chill the mixture for three hours and then roll into balls. Extra coconut flakes can be used for decoration.
For the topping: • ½ cup breadcrumbs • ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese Grease a casserole dish and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and stir constantly for two minutes. Slowly add the water and whisk the mixture. Remove the mixture from the heat, and add the yogurt, salt, pepper, and cheeses. Stir until the cheese melts. To prepare the topping, stir together the breadcrumbs, cheddar, and parmesan. Lay one sliced zucchini in the prepared casserole dish. Make sure to overlap each piece and completely cover the dish. Spread half the casserole combination evenly over the zucchini and repeat the process using the remaining sliced zucchini and casserole blend. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes in the oven; the breadcrumbs should be browned and the gratin should be bubbly.
1 ½ tsp olive oil 1 cup Greek yogurt ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes Salt and pepper to taste
For this caprese salad, Greek yogurt replaces mozzarella. Mix olive oil into Greek yogurt. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes and garnish with a handful of basil leaves.
Yogurt Risotto Serves 4 • • • • • • • • • • • •
2 cups vegetable broth 1 3’’ Parmesan rind 1 tbsp. olive oil ½ cup chopped shallots 1 cup Arborio rice ⅓ cup dry white wine 1 cup thawed frozen peas 3 tbsp. minced parsley 3 tbsp. minced chives 1 ½ tsp minced thyme ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese ¼ cup Greek yogurt
Bring the chicken broth, 1 ½ cups water, and the Parmesan cheese rind to a simmer. Simmer for twenty minutes. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the shallots in the oil until they are soft, but not brown. Add the wine and stir for about two minutes. The wine should evaporate. Add ½ cup of the chicken broth combination and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add the chicken broth mixture in ½ cup increments. Once the rice is tender and creamy add the peas and stir thoroughly. Finally, mix in the Greek yogurt, grated Parmesan, and all of the herbs.
Israeli Cuisine Pressure Cooker or Melting Pot? BY ZACH FISHER PHOTOS BY CRYSTAL QIN
“In less than thirty years Israeli society has graduated from Spartan austerity to a true gastronomic heaven,” asserts Russian-born Janna Gur, author of The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey. Israel’s fare, like its people, began as simple and local but has since evolved to be confident, elegant, and cosmopolitan. So where did modern Israeli cuisine begin? Well, long gone are “Jewish Food” classics like latkes, kugels, gefilte fish, and various stews transported with the early Zionists of the old country. They abandoned their European customs, opting to infuse the freshness of the Mediterranean and boldness of the Middle East and North Africa. Still, Gur points out that true culinary know-how was “nonexistent.” Thus, Israelis first gravitated toward Mediterranean fare, with an emphasis on readily available vegetables, ample use of herbs, and a love of chickpeas and fava beans, all served with olive oil and/or lemon juice. In the 1950s and 60s, waves of immigration characterized Israel, and the nation incorporated incoming culinary customs from North Africa and the Middle East. The Arab world, long foreign to the Jews of Israel, lavishly prescribed spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cumin, and mint. Regional neighbors, including Iraqis, Turks, Iranians, Syrians, and Lebanese, endowed Israelis with baba ganoush (eggplant), tahini (sesame paste), and zataar spice mix (thyme, sesame, sumac, and salt). The Moroccans, Algerians, and Tunisians offered Israel with couscous and the beloved street food, chakchouka (poached eggs over tomatoes sautéed with onions, garlic, and herbs), often served with the ubiquitous condiment, harissa (hot pepper paste).
During the 1970s, there was a movement amongst hotel and fine dining chefs to concoct a “haute” Israeli style, applying French techniques to Israeli and Middle Eastern classics. The 1979 treaty with Egypt inspired a new appetite for world travel, so chefs sought to create dishes with a global flair. A culinary revolution for the masses erupted in tiny, experimental restaurants during the 1980s. In 1989, Haim Cohen and Irit Shenkar opened Keren in Jaffa to rival the best eateries of New York and London. Promoting their goal “to fuse the friendly food we love so much with fine dining,” they offered distinctive dishes like tahini lamb kebab with chakchouka and foie gras. Ever since, Israelis have continued to cultivate and refine this unique fusion. At the forefront of the modern Israeli food scene is internationally acclaimed chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, who co-authored the cookbook Jerusalem in 2012 with his partner, Sami Tamimi. They recognize there are certain mainstays in this unifying “tapestry of cuisines” including the obligatory “Israeli” salad and the beloved “national dishes” of hummus, shawarma, and falafel. Contemporary chefs like Ottolenghi use a plethora of previously non-Israeli cooking methods, such as confit, ceviche, tartare, quiche, casseroles, and al ha’esh (barbeque). Ottolenghi’s latest jewel is Plenty More, expanding way beyond the Middle East and Mediterranean cuisines. The beautiful cookbook was featured in a prominent Ottolenghi display at the Penn Book Store in October 2014. Israeli cuisine has expanded beyond its borders, and its presence in the local Philadelphia food scene can be attributed to restaurateur and chef, Michael Solomonov. The former Vermont undergrad cut
his studies short to work in a bakery near his birthplace, Tel-Aviv, before attending a Florida culinary school, according to a September 2011 New York Times article by Joan Nathan. Solomonov confirms that Israel is a puree, as he salivates over the unique cuisines of Yemenites, Syrians, Turks, Druses, Palestinians, and Ethiopians. His alwaysbusy Zahav restaurant is modeled after the classic Israeli shuk, an airy space surrounded by Jerusalem stone walls adorned with murals of crowded market-goers. An exemplary dish from the six-year-old culinary gem is its coffee and cardamomcoated brisket, served with chestnuts and turnips on a bed of pumpkin juice-infused jasmine rice. This past August, Solomonov distilled the essence of Israeli cuisine in his new venture, Dizengoff. The Rittenhouse “hummusiya” is little more than a Hebrew rock poster-enshrined garage, but delightfully satiates city-goers with in-house baked pita and traditional and creative hummus like the eggplant or ground lamb versions. The industrial chic atmosphere captures the quintessence of the street food of namesake Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. “[Israeli] food culture that has evolved is one of dynamic cross-fertilization between numerous influences: Arab and Jewish, Eastern Europe and North Africa, religious and secular, new immigrants and old timers, locals and foreigners. They all work together to create a synergy,” concludes Gur. In this land, disparate peoples and styles have not always meshed so seamlessly. Yet it is clear that where food is concerned, Israel has embraced the intricate mosiac of its melting pot.
A Restaurant of One’s Own: Nicholas Elmi’s Laurel BY STEVEN FONDO PHOTOS BY MADISON HARROW Chef Nicholas Elmi is a man comfortable with his place in the culinary firmament. After winning the 11th season of Bravo’s Top Chef, he chose to open his first restaurant in South Philadelphia. Laurel, a quaint twenty-seat nouveau French bistro, opened last spring (1617 E Passyunk Avenue). On a bustling block, Laurel has experienced considerable success, at times even being solidly booked for months. Yet, Elmi still appears calm and confident: the anti-prototype in running shorts and a black hoodie. Sorry no orange Crocs® here, at least not on this day. This Nicholas Elmi is light years from the volatile, tantrum-prone chef from last season’s much-ballyhooed cooking competition. “French [cuisine] has always been my passion,” informs Elmi, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who practiced for a number of years under Georges Perrier at Philadelphia’s former Francophile haunt, Le Bec Fin. Before settling in Philadelphia, he spent time honing his cooking skills under maestro Guy Savoy in Paris and at New York’s Lutece in its heyday. “There’s more of masonry than artistry in being a good chef,” Elmi explains. “So much physical energy is expended in the process of cooking in a busy kitchen. It’s not just about creating a great dish; it’s about making it perfect every night 100 times.” “Look at this place,” Elmi says, proudly surveying his creation. “We did all the work ourselves, from the fixtures to the furniture. There’s something about having full control.” Laurel’s weeknight menu features gastronomic gems such as a ricotta gnocchi, a seared foie gras in cherry-
vanilla reduction, and a caramelized white chocolate pudding. In addition, a seven-course tasting menu is offered each weekend. Not surprisingly, Elmi is proud of Laurel’s stellar reputation on “food-themed” social media sites that are revolutionizing the restaurant business. “We’ve got the second best rating in the Mid-Atlantic on Yelp,” Elmi says. “And the last time I checked, we were the number one reviewed place on OpenTable in the city. I like talking to people.” Elmi says, mentioning that he takes the time each evening to visit every table. “If they’ve got honest criticism, I accept that and learn from it. It’s easy for people to hate something; it takes effort to get them to appreciate and understand what you’re trying to do.” “That doesn’t happen by accident,” Elmi continues. “We work our asses off every night to see that people understand what we’re trying to do here. I know I’m a good
chef and our food is outstanding. But it’s not all about the food; it’s really about the total experience.” Regarding his experience on Top Chef, Elmi reflects, “it was a great experience, one where I learned a lot about myself and I’m appreciative of the opportunity,” he says. “I’ve always been competitive, so it was sort of an environment I could thrive in. I actually cook better when I’m given a bunch of fresh ingredients and can develop a dish in the moment. That’s really what the show was all about.” “But I’m not a celebrity chef,” Elmi asserts. “If you’re on TV all the time, it probably means that you’re no longer on the line in your kitchen, and being in the kitchen with my staff is where I’m most happy. As soon as I learned I’d won, I thought to myself, ‘great, now I can get back to living my real life.’ This is where I want to be.”
it’s not all about the food; it’s really about the total experience.