Month: February 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Sweet and sour salad with apple, yogurt, pickled raisins, pomegranate seeds, shallot, fennel, sesame, and mint

New Dinner Series: Meals of Antiquity, Babylonian Edition

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of an up-and-coming dinner series gracing Lucha Cartel on March 1st—Meals of Antiquity. The first dinner features a menu painstakingly researched by designing cook and historian Colin Barth, and aims to recreate a hearty, seasonal meal that would have been served during the First Dynasty Period almost 4,000 years ago.

At first glance, the menu may read like a standard, hearty winter’s meal studded with nourishing grains and gamey proteins. But a closer look reveals several less common ingredients like Emmer, nigella sativa, and cypress. The meal is also served with leavened Ninda, a deliciously dense bread the color of burnt umber.

Special thanks to Evi Numen for the beautiful photos.

Barth has been researching the menu since November with a goal of remaining as faithful to ingredients, which hasn’t always been easy. As it goes with translating ancient languages, sometimes meaning can be debatable. He learned this the hard way after a particular mistranslation resulted in a recipe test that failed in such a way he knew one of the ingredients must have been translated incorrectly. It turns out what he read as “pounded yogurt” actually meant “pounded locusts*“.

While I am calling this a “new” dinner series, that isn’t entirely true. A few years ago, special events and concerts group Dancing Ferret organized two sold-out Uyghur dinner events. They’re looking forward to re-launching the series and bringing a unique culinary experience to their attendees.

Tickets are just $45 and are selling fast, so snag your spot now if you want to part of this historic (pun fully intended) event. You can view the full menu here and find more info at dancingferret.com/babylon. Don’t forget to follow Meals of Antiquity on Twitter to stay up to date on future events.

*The Babylonian dinner menu does not contain pounded locusts. Unfortunately.

 

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Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Shakshuka

I’m really into eggs. Like, it’s borderline problematic. I am absolutely one of those people that goes ballistic when pretty much anything is topped with a soft egg, so the first time I had shakshuka a few years ago I instantly fell in love. Not only because it was delicious but because it seemed… attainable. And adaptable. After a few obsessive compulsive experiments I realized it’s also extremely forgiving, so much so that pretty much anyone with a standard pantry and a few eggs can whip up a big bubbling skillet of it in about 45 minutes. I tested this theory this week when I resolved to freestyle shakshuka for dinner without absolutely zero planning. The results were so good I’ve officially added it to our weeknight dinner rotation.

Ingredients

One 28 oz can of tomatoes, whole peeled or crushed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups feta
4-6 eggs
cilantro, basil, or parsley for garnish (optional)
salt to taste

So, about that ingredient list up there—it’s just a base, and even the base is pretty flexible. The only things you *need* are tomatoes, onions, eggs, and spices. You can play with the spices as much as you want. Don’t have cumin? Throw in some oregano and make an Italian spiced shakshuka. No feta? Go dairy-free or crumble in some goat cheese. Try this recipe with meat (lamb sausage works beautifully) by browning it in the pan before cooking up the onions and garlic. Throw in whatever veggies you have hanging out in your fridge, particularly peppers and leafy greens like chard. Roast a jalapeño, dice it up, and add that to the mix as well. You are the master of your shakshuka destiny.

Okay, on to the recipe.

Recipe

  1. In a cast iron skillet (or any wide, deep skillet you have laying around), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add onion. Cook 10 minutes or so until soft, then add the garlic.
  2. Add your can of tomatoes, liquid and all. If you have whole tomatoes you can dice them before or simply break them apart right in the skillet with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Add vinegar, honey, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. I recommend adding the red pepper flakes a little at a time as some brands are hotter than others and everyone has their own heat preference.
  4. Let simmer about 20 minutes until tomatoes begin to reduce. Stir in feta.
  5. With the back your spoon, make a little nest in the sauce for each egg. Gently crack them into the pan, spacing as evenly as you can. Carefully drag a spatula through the whites a bit to help them mix slightly with the sauce.
  6. Keeping the sauce at a gentle simmer, cover the pan and let cook 8-10 minutes so that the whites cook through and the yolks remain runny.
  7. Top with fresh herbs and serve with crusty bread. Extra points if you bake your own.
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Un-Valentine’s Day Pizza

Kevin and I may not be big on Hallmark holidays, but we are big on pizza. So it seemed only appropriate that we un-celebrate with a homemade pie. Kevin was on dough duty, and after reviving an almost-botched tomato sauce, we added fresh basil and burrata. I am being perfectly serious when I tell you that this pizza refused to NOT be heart-shaped. I swear to you, I tried to make it round and that little dough wound at the top just would not heal. So we decided to roll with it, but in keeping with the Un-Valentine’s Day theme, got a little creative with the pizza cutter.

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Happy Un-Valentine’s Day!

 

B&W milkshake with Nutella

First Look: P’unk Burger

I’m new to South Philly, and I’m still kind of getting my bearings. I don’t really know my way around, I can’t gauge walking distances of anything (everything seems to be 15 minutes away, how is that even possible?), and since it’s been cold I haven’t explored as much as I would like to. Especially today. Today was freezing, and I really didn’t want to go outside. However, after a week of being vaguely sick and totally inactive I managed to drag my ass to a yoga class. Then of course, as a reward, ventured down the Avenue for P’unk Burger‘s first lunch service.

The P'unk Burger in all of its glory

The P’unk Burger in all of its glory

Regrettably, I couldn’t try their whole menu today as much as I would liked to have. I settled on their signature burger. I was also hellbent on a black and white milkshake, then when I read the menu and learned their B&W is made with Nutella instead of chocolate I nearly burst into crazed joyous tears.

The signature burger is a beef patty topped with peppercorn bacon from 1732 meats, smoked gouda, an onion ring, and their signature sauce. Generally I prefer some sort of greens on my burger, but with as high as this thing was stacked I appreciated that they pulled no punches with the decadent toppings. I had expected their signature sauce to be In-N-Out-esque but it isn’t at all. It’s more barbecue-inspired than anything and it had a wonderful sweetness that constrasted perfectly with the peppery bite of the bacon. Oh, let me also just say that the roll P’unk uses is sturdy—these burgers have structural integrity. In spite of all the cheese, sauce, bacon, and onion rings, this thing did not fall apart at all even after I put it down a few times. That may seem minor but I really appreciate a burger that doesn’t dissolve in my hands.

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B&W milkshake with Nutella

Do I really even need to talk about the milkshake? You know how it was. It was delicious.

I do have one big regret from today. I didn’t get fries. Don’t be like me! If you go to P’unk Burger for lunch (and you should), get the lunch special. It’s $12.50 for a burger, fries, and a soda. With all of the burgers (aside from build-your-own, these start at $7.95) ranging between about $10-$12, it’s a steal.

I’m really looking forward to trying more of what P’unk Burger has to offer, and when it warms up I see many lunches here in my future. Their menu is unique to most burger joints in that they seem to really offer something for everyone. You have your choice of organic beef, chicken, turkey, or ahi tuna if you’re meat-included, or you can get a veggie patty made by Vegan Commissary. Their specialty burgers hit all the right notes, and even include a local take on the Juicy Lucy—which, by the way, is next on my list to try.

  • <3

P’unk Burger
1823 E Passyunk Ave
http://punkburger.com/

Food swap haul

Apple Pie Moonshine and My First Food Swap

Despite being from South Central Pennsyltucky, I had never heard of the magical elixir that is apple pie moonshine until a few years ago when my friend Maria gave me a jar. I’m not generally one for sweets, but I am an apple cider fanatic and it hit all the right notes. Sweet for sure, but still maintaining the crisp distinct apple flavor with just a hint of cinnamon. Liquid apple pie.

Shout out to Kevin and his beautiful handwriting

Shout out to Kevin and his beautiful handwriting

This jar came with a warning, however, and thus so shall this recipe. This stuff may taste like dessert and be totally devoid of the an alcohol bite, but it is strong. Apple pie moonshine is mean to be sipped, shot, or added to cocktails. It’s delicious straight, but go easy. It creeps up on you.

Ingredients

1 gallon apple juice
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks, or more to taste
1 pinch apple pie spice
1 (750 milliliter) bottle Everclear
1 (750 milliliter) bottle vodka

Assembly

This is the world’s simplest recipe. Combine everything but the booze in a large (and I do mean large) pot and simmer on the stove for an hour. Then, let it cool completely, add alcohol, and bottle.

I made a batch for last week’s Philly Food Swap and it was a bit hit. Turns out swappers love a jar of booze (I knew you guys were my people). It was my first time attending a swap, and I can’t believe I waited so long. I think I was partially intimidated by the overwhelming amount of talented home cooks that come. Either way, I could not be happier that I finally joined in the fun. It was an absolutely whirlwind of an evening that resulted in a gorgeous haul of homemade goodies lovingly crafted by local bakers, canners, and cooks. I even came home with a batch of home-cured bacon.

Food swap haul

That’s right, I snagged bacon, cheese, AND gin.

Gorgeous, right?

I’m already brainstorming my contributions for next time since the word on the street is that swaps may be happening quarterly (please let it be true!) and I want to get creative. If the rumors are true and a spring swap is on the horizon, I think I see some foraged gifts in my swapping future.

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