Monday, October 27, 2008

Dmitri's - Good Cheap Eats

They pack 'em in here at Dmitri's but it's worth the tight quarters and the wait; grab a drink at the bar across the street (New Wave Cafe) and the waitress will come and get you when a table opens up. Elizabeth and I arrived just after 9 on a Friday and ended up spending a half-hour waiting across the street. It's worth it though.

We ordered the grilled octopus, which seemed to be a must based on the reviews here. It was so-so..good grill flavor and swimming in olive oil & vinegar. It seemed a bit too tough and hard to cut with the dull knives...maybe it was tougher & dried out because this order was later in the night? I'll have to go back and try it again to see if it was a fluke.

The smelts were delicious...lightly dusted and fried crisp, it was like seafood french fries. Just as good as fried anchovies at Amada. The portions here are on the gargantuan size. Elizabeth witnessed the table behind us receive a pile of feta cheese blocks the size of a small brick.

We split the lamb entree. Roasted, sliced and grilled, the lamb was full of char-flavor...only regret was the lack of decent knife to slice it with. Notice in the photo above Elizabeth furiously sawing away with a butter knife.

The lamb rested on a bed of roasted peppers and was served with a cucumber-yogurt sauce that smoothed out the intense smoky flavor of the grill. The warm olive oil drizzle greens and rice was a decent & simple side.

Service was friendly and fast. Great night out for under $45...this is a BYOB that's cash only...and if you're ordering the lamb, make sure you BYOK...Knife!

C & E

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Tryouts! Turkey & Sage Sauce w/ Brussels Sprouts

We just received the Thanksgiving edition of Cooking Light and decided to try out a few recipes. Here's Turkey Cutlets with Pancetta Sage Sauce with a side of Brussels Sprouts with Currants & Pine Nuts.

These recipes were fast and easy. We had them done in under 40 minutes for under $15 bucks

Recipe for Turkey Cutlets with Pancetta Sage Sauce

The turkey cutlets came in under $5.00 at Whole Foods (no hormones).....................$5
We substituted pancetta with thick-cut'll need only one piece...................$1
Also, we used salted water instead of chicken broth
You could substitute the 3/4 white wine with 1/2 cup apple or white grape juice.......$3
Sage came from the garden, but you could substitue with Thyme.

Recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Currants & Pine Nuts.

The sprouts were less than $3.00 at the farmer's market..........................................$3
The currants & pine nuts were from Trader Joe's ...the best place to get good nuts & dried fruits for cheap...$8 for both bags with PLENTY left over...................................................$2
You could substitute with raisins (golden or not) & slivered almonds.

C & E

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Butternut Squash Risotto

Here's the recipe we used for the farmer's market squash...Butternut Squash Risotto. Elizabeth adapted a version of the risotto from the Barefoot Contessa. She left out the saffron and added in toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitos), sprinkled over the final dish.

C & E

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making Pesto

The nights are getting cold in Philly, which means not much more time before the basil goes...time to make pesto!

Elizabeth's trimmed the basil way down, then rinses and plucks the leaves. We blend the basil leaves in a food processor with enough olive oil to give them a luster.

The final paste goes into an ice-cube tray that we've sprayed with non-stick oil. Freeze the pesto-starter cubes, then store in the freezer. Whenever you need a shot of pesto or basil, you can just reach into the fridge for a chunk of green summer goodness.

C & E

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Farmer's Market Haul

Fall is here...which means apples, leeks, butternut squash and pumpkins at the market.

One the left is everything Elizabeth carried in her market bag. On the right, my haul...I actually stole the cucumber from Elizabeth's pile too...notice my three little pumpkins? I jokingly said our place is so small that those were the only kind of pumpkins we had room for.

C & E

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend Road Trip - General Lafayette Inn

A perfect fall weekend ...we took the Mustang for a run out of the city. We dropped in on the General Lafayette Inn, a tavern up in Lafayette Hill that brews it's own beer.

This place is OLD! It dates back from the 1700's. The Inn above the bar is haunted (read the stories at thier website). With the low ceilings, small rooms divided by heavy-timber posted doorways it drips with charm. I imagine snow covered hills outside, roaring fire inside and enjoying a warm bowl of soup tucked into one of the corner booths. This weekend however, it was sunny and soup for us!

Of course, the best part about the General Lafayette is the bar. There were a few locals enjoying pints when we seated ourselves at the long , low bar. A few other day-trippers and locals dropped in while we were there...the place had good traffic flow for the middle of the day.

Here's a listing of thier brews

The General brews its own beers, true...but this isn't your average brewpub. Here's a brew that caught Elizabeth's eye...Lafayette’s Bière de Framboises. This beer is made with pounds and pounds of raspberries, which give a great aroma and tang. Mercifully, this is not a sweet frambozen lambic...just crisp clean raspberry goodness with a little effervescence.

I opted for Chocolate Thunder...a thick porter with an inky coffee & dark chocolate character.

We were already doing pretty good, both of us enjoying the unique character of the brews. This was a real find though...Cheesesteak Springrolls! The Taphouse in Norfolk served up Hillbilly Eggrolls, ham, black-eyed peas, cabbage and Gruyere cheese. These were thier Philly counterparts. Small slivers of steak, a little bit of cheese (Provolone maybe?) fried in a crispy pastry roll and served with Cheez Whiz dipping sauce.

C & E

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yo! Crostini-ize My App! Flammenkuche

Here's a photo of a delicious appetizer I had at a new French-style restaurant that opened on 6th st., La Minette. Here's our review.

This is Alsatian 'pizza' consisting of heavy cream, caramelized onions, cheese and lardons (bacon croutons YUM!).

Not having time the other night to make a real crust and not wanting to eat alot of calories, we decided to do a crostini that mimiced the flavor profile...but was alot faster and cheaper.

Baguette; sliced along the bias into crostini and toasted lightly

Thick-cut or Slab bacon

1 Medium Onion
2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Butter
1-2 tablespoons Cream Sherry

Neufchatel Cheese or light cream cheese

I cooked off the bacon in the pan, drained the grease, reserving about a tabelspoon.

Slice your onion into long slivers, from pole-to-pole, dust with a pinch of brown sugar and a tablespoon of butter then allow them to caramelize in a pan over medium. When the onions are starting to get brown and gooey, splash in about a table spoon or two of cream sherry to punch up the gooey caramelized sweetness

Spread the Neufchatel over your toasted crostini, top with onion mixture and sprinkle with bacon.

C & E

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tool Time - Crispy Chicken Thighs

Whole Foods has been doing some good specials on skinless thighs, so we've been trying to get them extra crispy without using a lot of oil.

Here's an example of a chicken thigh cooked WITH the skin on...cripsy, golden brown and delicious! We seared it off in the pan, topped it with thinly sliced lemons and then baked it off on a 375 oven for 30 minutes.

We sliced the thigh pieces in half, soaked them in buttermilk and then dredged them in rice flour.

Next I heated up two had some peanut oil in it, the other dry.

We seared off the thigh pieces, getting them slightly browned on each side; the rice flour, while crispier, will char faster then regular breadings.

Once each side of the chicken pieces was browned, we lowered the heat to med-low and placed the other pan on top, now super hot.

We found this brick laying on the sidewalk...I washed it up and double-wrapped it in foil...the Society Hill Chicken Press.

We added the foil wrapped brick to the top to weigh the pan down and press the chicken flat; this slowly squeezed out the chicken's grease & moisture to continue the browning while avoiding the charring.

Here's the end result...a good crispy coating on tender boneless chicken thighs. The heat and weight of the second pan helped to cook the chicken off faster while keeping it from becoming dry or charred.

Although this technique didn't use skin-on chicken, I think it's similar to the Italian Brick Chicken, Pollo al Mattone, which uses the weight of a brick to keep a splayed whole chicken flat on a hot plate.

C & E

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vegetables Without Borders

Some of our good friends from Virginia visited last weekend bringing a shipment of veggies straight from Elizabeth's parent's garden...a late summer aid-package from our friends and families.

We all went down to the Italian market for some foodie foraging; we cam back with some fresh ricotta. Elizabeth made her signature eggplant parmesan...discs of eggplant, breaded lightly and sauteed, layered with ricotta and smothered in tomato sauce using fresh Romas (again from Norman & Judy!) and basil grown on the patio...and also a gift from Norman & Judy. You can pretty much say that 3/4 of this dish was homegrown start to finish!

C & E