Saturday, July 22, 2006

Carrot Ginger Cucumber Juice in Philly

No trip to Philly is complete without an excursion to the enormous Amish market in the Reading Terminal. The roommates and I stopped at the Four Seasons Juice Bar between touristing (by which I mean mostly food shopping with a quick stop at the art museum) to wait out a torrential rain storm.

I chose Carrot Ginger Cucumber juice, inspired by a few fancy restaurants that have started to serve water with a slice of cucumber in place of the boring old lemon. The drink was marvelously, radioactively orange. After four sips I decided I liked it, but the first few mouthfuls were touch-and-go. The other two drinks we ordered were sticky sweet and left their purchasers wanting water. Carrot Ginger Cucumber refreshed and hydrated, though the slivers of mushy carrot in the bottom weren't a great feature. Next time, I'd try the drink with watermelon replacing the carrot. Most important, after getting juiced we were ready to hit the wine and cheese shops to figure out what was for dinner.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pig's Blood and Eel Soup in Philly: Sang Kee

Is there anything better than a foodie friend? There are few things in life more gratifying than having someone you can count on match your order of eel soup with a request for pig blood.

I've been traveling a lot, as you might have noticed from the pathetic lack of posts. Last weekend, I was in Philadelphia for a reunion with my college roommates. I picked up one of the girls--perhaps my most reliable foodie friend--at the Chinatown bus, with the plan to grab some Chinese for lunch on Friday. Another benefit of foodie friends: She'd done research about the best place to lunch in this strange Chinatown.

We hit Sang Kee, a small place with a cartoon duck on the placard and a scenic view of the freeway. The Hong-Kong Style roasted duck, of course, was excellent. I love crispy skin on duck, but the flavorful, chewy skin on this duck made a convert of me. We branched out to less cartoon-friendly dishes as well--pig's blood with ginger and scallions and barbequed eel noodle soup. I found the taste and texture of the pig's blood was surprisingly non-gelatinous, more like a dense liver pate. The noodles in the eel soup were springy, with excellent bite. The eel was sweet and flaky, just like the barbequed eel in sushi.

I'd built up the joys of juicy buns to my companion, but Sang Kee's were a letdown, chewy and greasy. After lunch we walked down the street and picked up a glass of kumquat juice and a sesame ball--gelatinous rice dough filled with red bean paste and rolled in sesame seeds--at a corner bakery.

More Philly food soon: Best BBQ and Ginger Carrot Cucumber juice from the Amish Market

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Perfect S'more

The Perfect S'more

Two (2) crisp honey graham cracker halves, straight from a new package
Two (2) squares Hershey's chocolate
One (1) flawlessly toasted marshmallow, slowly roasted high over glowing BBQ coals, rotated regularly for crispy golden skin and liquid interior

Squish together, allow 27 seconds for chocolate to melt. Scarf down in three (3) bites. Repeat until fingers are sticky and stomach is vaguely sick.

Happt Birthday, America.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Rustic Chicken Noodle Soup with Spinach

OK, so when I say that this soup is rustic, I mostly mean that I photographed it outside with some woods in view. (The entire paternal ToastFamily is on vacation at the mountain house this week.) But it's also "rustic" because I threw caution to the wind and boiled the noodles directly in the soup.

There are chicken soup snobs out there who prefer to boil the noodles in their own pan of water, and thus keep the broth sparkling clear. To those people I say, phooey. The point of chicken soup is not to be beautiful. The point of chicken soup is to be easy to make, and warm and toasty, and not fancy. Also, I kind of like the starchy thickness that boiling the noodles in the broth creates.

Some enterprising soul (not me) made stock with the chicken bones leftover from last night's dinner, so when I got up today, all I had to do was skim some fat, chop some veggies, and toss it all together. What follows is also not really a recipe. Rough guidelines at best, really. Think of it as a rustic recipe for rustic soup.

Rustic Chicken Noodle Soup with Spinach

In a large soup pot, heat:
2 tablespoons schmaltz, skimmed fat from homemade stock, or olive oil

Add and saute until soft and starting to brown:
3 large carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then chunked up
4-5 green onions, whites and some green parts, minced
(Oddly, the grocery store near here was out of celery, other wise I would have added 2-3 stalks here.)
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
Pepper and salt, liberally added (especially the pepper--very important)

Reduce heat to low and pour in:
5-6 cups chicken stock
(as always, canned is perfectly fine, though I wouldn't go as far as bouillon in this case)

While the stock gently heats, add:
Some cooked chicken
(The amount is completely up to you. I used two leg quarters, which I poached in a pan of boiling water while doing the other stuff in this recipe, then pulled apart. That amount seemed about right for the broth I had. If you have leftover already-cooked chicken, use that. I recommend dark meat, but if you prefer white meat, go for it. What I'm saying here is: Whatever, dude.)

Ten minutes before you're ready to eat, bring the broth to a boil and add:
A handful and a half of dried egg noodles
(Only egg noodles are acceptable in chicken noodle soup. Wide ones for preference. Toying with noodle type is not OK.)

When the noodles are al dente, add:
6 ounces (3 handfuls) baby spinach

Reduce heat to low and let simmer until spinach wilts and noodles are suitably mushy.