Monday, August 31, 2009


If you've been reading the Philly dining blogs, perhaps you've heard of the restaurant Fond. The restaurant, at 1617 E Passyunk, opens to the public tonight, and is number 1 on my list of restaurants to try. The trio behind the restaurant is Jessie Prawluckie, Tory Keomanivong, and Lee Styer; I worked with the latter two at Lacroix, and it is for Lee's food which I am excited.

Lee is a tall, freckled, charismatic chef, always looking like he knows what he's doing and seemingly very capable of running a restaurant. Lee had worked at Lacroix a long time, coming there straight out of school (if I'm not mistaken; that's what I recall from talking to him) and working his way up to sous chef before leaving to work at Le-Bec Fin with Jessie. I speculate (though I could be wrong) that Lee left Lacroix because he started to become dissatisfied with the food. Having talked to him, Lee was really a hands-on cook. He loved the process of cooking and the gratifying effect of doing it yourself. He hated sous vide. He told me he would much rather say, braise than drop meat into a controlled water bath. I argued that sous vide gives you a consistent product every time. He lamented that there was no cooking in that, no skill involved. He worried what cooking would become if sous vide was all there was. Assuming he has maintained this philosophy, Fond will truly be Lee's food, nothing too fancy, nothing sous vide, no molecular gastronomy, just Lee's solid, great tasting food.

Tory, up until a few weeks ago, was a captain at Lacroix. He was honestly my favorite server. Throughout my time at Lacroix there have been a good amount of servers who have kinda looked down on me, not taking me seriously and not being particularly polite to me. Tory has always been quite the opposite, and I'm sure his hospitality will be ever-present at Fond. Glancing at the menu now, I can't find a dish that I wouldn't order. Can't wait to go.

P.S. Lee's the chef I wrote about in this post.

Friday, August 28, 2009

School Paper

This year (my junior year in high school) I will have a column in my school's monthly newspaper. I'm really excited and kind of nervous at the same. I expect that this will be a totally different experience from blogging. The biggest difference I predict, will be my audience. Unlike here, where I write to mostly people who are very interested in food, I will be writing to people who know little more than Chipotle Burritos and Coldstone Ice cream (yes that's an understatement).

One of the reasons however, that it's so awesome to love food, is that it's something with which everyone can relate. Sure I'm not going to get in a conversation with my friends about French Mountain Cheeses, but I'll most definitely talk with them about the joys of a good apple pie. Everyone likes food, and everyone needs to eat, and that is what brings the two groups together. It's not just pretentious, know-it-all kids like me who can appreciate good food, anyone has that ability.

(Could I convince kids to make this?)

That said, I'm not really sure where I wanna go with this. I've already started writing my first article (it talks about the school's dependence on the cafeteria cookies, and encourages kids to make their own, giving them a few principles for a superior cookie) but I'm not really sure where I wanna go from there. Should it be a column where I try to make daunting foods more accessible to high school students (maybe like pizza or homemade pasta)? Should I review restaurants? Should I try to instill a love for charcuterie in my peers, or would that fail miserably? Should I talk about food in general and would anyone really care about that? What would you write about if you had your own column in a paper? Shoot me an e-mail at and let me know!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homemade break n bake

I made a large large batch of cookie dough, then scooped out individual portions and froze them, then vaccuum sealed them in bags of 15. I just leave the bags in the freezer until I want some cookies. I bake at 350 for 16 minutes and I have delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Make em with my recipe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The #1 reason to make your own chicken stock...

May be because you can reduce it down to this, a thick gelatinous chicken jus that tastes delicious on any meat. I would even eat this with asparagus. You just can't get this from reducing canned stock, which doesn't have the necessary gelatin.
To make this I simply took about two cups of frozen chicken stock and boiled it down. When I made my stock a few months ago, I roasted the bones for a long time, and really browned them up well, therefore making the stock really rich and hearty. If you didn't do this but still want a rich chicken jus, roast some chicken bones, deglaze the pan by throwing in some mirepoix, browning those veggies, and then deglazing that with the stock and cooking the liquid down till its real nice and thick.

Check out the awesome shirt

Spicy Cashews

I like a good salty, but not unhealthy snack that I can munch on frequently. Though my favorite snack, cheese, doesn't necessarily fit this category, my 2nd favorite, nuts, do.

I eat nuts and nut butters all the time, buying raw and preparing my own whenever possible. The pre-spiced varieties always have corn syrup and sugar and other stuff which I don't care for on my nuts.

My favorite nuts may be pecans, but my favorite nuts to "spice up" are cashews. I toss raw cashews with a lil oil, toss them with salt, roast them at 325 for 10 minutes, then toss them with some spicy chili powder. Now there's a snack that's much healthier than all that overprocessed junk, yet still satisfyingly salty and crunch.

Monday, August 17, 2009

AOL Kid Chefs

Goodness gracious I just keep getting lucky with this awesome press. Check me out on AOL food.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nutella, Nilla Wafer, Dulce De Leche Cheesecake

Doesn't sound too bad does it? I am infatuated with cheesecake. I crave it constantly. When I feel like dessert, I feel like cheesecake.

I recently tried a grocery store cheesecake at my buddy's house and was pretty disappointed. There was nothing really wrong with it, it just tasted funky. It didn't taste fresh. It tasted like a machine made it ( I have a 6th sense for that). I devoured it nonetheless- I couldn't help myself. All that creamy fat and sugar, I'm like a little kid around cheesecake, and I'm proud of it.

Deterred and disturbed by my recent run in with mediocrity, I determined for cheesecake greatness! My in-house supplies however were limited. I had some sour cream, some cream cheese, but no graham crackers or oreos for a crust though after a quick scan of my pantry, I found some nilla wafers. Now let's flash back for a minute.

About a week ago I had just finished my shift at Rita's water ice. The store policy is that you are allowed to take a certain-size-cup of anything (water ice, ice cream etc) home. Now Rita's has bizarre treat that they make called a Blendini. It's a combination of water ice, custard, and some type of cookies (nilla wafers, oreos, pretzels) that get's combined in a cup then blended together. It's really not something I myself would order, and I puke in my mouth whenever a customer orders something like raspberry-lemonade water ice, chocolate ice cream, and pretzels. Anyway, the point is that they carry nilla wafer pieces, which I one day used to fill my free cup, completely intending to make them into a cheesecake crust.

Flash Forward: So I had the cookies and the cream cheese but what else. I find that I almost always like cheesecake better when it's not just plain cheesecake. Plain cheesecake is still delicious, don't get me wrong, but there's gotta be some contrast to the cream cheese filling. With just cream cheese filling, your cake is like an arid desert. The simple addition of oreos, or raspberry swirls, creates an oasis in every bite.

So I delved further into the ghetto of my pantry and found some nutella! I checked the expiration date and found that I was good to go! I was just using the ingredients that I had and I wasn't sure if the filling would fill a pan. I therefore chose to bake the custard in muffins tins (something I later realized might not be smart; when the cake is divided into individual muffins, its much easier to gauge how much you've eaten, and feel guilty, than if you back the cake in one big pan). I realized that I didn't know how much melted butter to add to the nilla wafers, so I just sprinkled some in the bottom, and in an effort to spice up my cake even further, I drizzled dulce de leche on top of the nilla wafers. I topped this with the cream cheese-nutella filling then baked for about 25 minutes in a 275 degree oven (I prob should've used a water bath. whatever).

Another benefit of baking the cheesecake in muffin tins is that the fillings cools a lot faster, thereby reducing drool time (or is that just me) while the cake cools. Only one of the muffins is for me though, the rest are for a shipment of duck eggs!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eleven Madison Park

After this review I gotta go here. Now to make some money...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doughnut Ice Cream

Ever have one of those nights where you're just looking for junk food to eat? Last week I was in a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins with a few friends and was craving something unhealthy. I swindled my way to 7 donuts (all different types mind you) for $2, then went home, pureed a few in half-and-half, along with some sugar and vanilla extract, froze that mixture in the ice cream machine, then folded the rest of the doughnuts (cut up into bite size pieces) in at the end.

You know how when you get those late night cravings, you just want something fast? I really just threw everything together as fast as possible and my doughnut (yes I realize I switch off between doughnut and donut) ice cream turned out to be an idea awesome in conception, but awful in execution. I'm really not sure why I thought jelly might taste good pureed with chocolate, glazed and strawberry-- and it really didn't, it was horrendous.

Mark my words though, someday I will get it right!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia is all over the place. I think the PR crew did quite the job because everywhere I look, every talk show, every magazine has an interview or a review, or some other type of promotion for the movie.

I picked up the book in Borders early in the summer and was immediately roped in. I would go to Borders whenever I was bored, sit in the in-store cafe and read. I loved it and the fact that Julie Powell had started with a food blog only added to the appeal. I folded down just the very tip of the page I was on, and stashed the book away from its display in a remote corner shelf where I could find it, untouched every time.

Unfortunately, summer reading and summer work got in the way and I haven't picked up the book in a while. I have been very much looking forward to seeing the movie however, especially after reading countless reviews of "Streep's masterful portrayal of Child," from such critics as Time Magazine and well, my mom. I rarely go out to see movies. Very few appeal to me. I'm not into the action stuff (hated Transformers 2), and I absolutely cannot watch horror movies. Julie and Julia however, seems to be just my thing ;) My only problem is that I'm having trouble finding a friend who feels the same to come see it with me.

A few days ago my mom proudly declared that in the spirit of Julia Child she would make beef bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking for dinner. I smirked. My mom making beef bourguignon by herself! yea right! But I told myself that I would leave this to her as I sat down to work on my summer English essay. About 15 minutes after she had started cooking, I walked through the kitchen to get a sharpened pencil and saw she was running into trouble. She didn't really know what she was doing. I, partly to procrastinate on my assignment, partly to help my mom, and partly because I love to cook, took over. I brought in the big guns (my dutch oven; she had planned on using a casserole), rendering the bacon then thoroughly browning the beef, cooking the mirepoix, deglazing and finally putting the mixture into a 325 degree oven. I then went back to my essay.

Now my mom probably saw this as just another time that I helped her out in the kitchen. I, on the other hand, saw the situation slightly more metaphorically. My helping her was not unlike Julia helping Julie. My mom was Julie Powell, I was Julia Child. Julie, unhappy and lacking direction in life, sought guidance from Julia and with Julia's help, went from lack of direction to a life of happiness and vigor- basically what I've done for my mom- making me the equivalent of Julia Child.

Am I being serious about all this? Course not. What is serious however, is my desire to see Julie and Julia...


Saturday, August 8, 2009


It seems like everyone is making pesto bout this time, and why not? It's such a great summery food. So versatile, so simple, so universally admired. But I think it can be daunting for a home cook. So often I hear the "experts" saying that pesto can't be made without a mortar and pestle, it can't be made without true parmesan cheese, blah blah blah.

I for one, don't have a mortar and pestle nor did I have parmesan cheese at the time I made this. I instead used a food processor and some good salty pecorino romano (which I, to be honest, like better than parmesan). Nonetheless, my pesto, though maybe not as good as Claudia's, turned out fantastic (the fact that the basil came from my garden didn't hurt). Forget explicit directions and follow your tastes to great pesto. Here's a very rough recipe for you to tinker with.

5 handfulls basil
1 handful pine nuts
1 handful parmesan
under a half a cup of evoo
clove or two of garlic
few pinches of salt

blend basil, garlic and olive oil, then blend in rest.

really, that's all

Here it is with some roasted potatoes from Lancaster.

Past Week's CSA Shipment

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Chicken leg cooked sous vide at 176 degrees for 8 hours, then crisped up on the grill, and grilled white eggplant from Lancaster.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dulce De Leche

don't think I ever really knew what dulce de leche was, nor how to make it, until I heard it being talked about at Lacroix a a few years ago. They were looking for new condiments to put on cheese plates, and had decided on dulce de leche. The head chef at the time said, "just put a few cans of sweetened condensed milk over low heat and cook them down all day" - hardly precise directions for one who had no idea what the stuff was, nonetheless, I was eager to make some. I never really got around to making any, but I tried some at Lacroix the next week and was amazed! This stuff was just soo good! It was much more than caramel- more complex, richer, what's more, it tasted great with bleu cheese. That night I set aside a little, no, big snack for myself of some of the bleu cheese that was used for a salad, and some dulce de leche; I just couldn't help it.
I was recently browsing Dave Lebovitz site and found his recipe for dulce de leche. It was so easy, that I just made it right there on the spot. Alternatively, I'm sure you could just cook down some sweetened condensed milk on the stovetop over low heat until it's the consistency you desire. I doubt you will have to "cook it down all day:" an hour or two should do the trick.Oh yea, it's great with Fage Yogurt, or just plain eating out of the jar. If you're slightly more civil, you could drizzle it on top of banana pancakes and serve it to your friends for breakfast. Yum!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Best of Philly

By some magnificent stroke of luck, a Philadelphia Magazine writer e-mailed me a few months ago, telling me that she wanted to feature me in an article. The article came out in the latest of Philadelphia Magazine- the Best of Philly edition, and though the article isn't solely about me, I'm interspersed throughout (including the end quote which is my fav part). I think it's a great article and I'm really quite honored to have been featured.

As if it couldn't get any better, I also won the Best of Philly award for "junior food blog"!!!! And though I certainly wouldn't describe my mom and dad as "indulgent parents, who buy him expensive pans and gourmet ingredients" (they don't), it's freakin awesome to get the award!

Check out the article here. Thanks Amy Korman! Stop by for a meal sometime.