Monday, February 15, 2016

More Great Local Finds and a Few Cold Weather Recipes

The winter is flying by it seems - get the seed and garden catalogs out everyone! -  and we have been playing in the kitchen and coming up with lots and lots of easy delicious recipes - especially easy delicious recipes for 2 - 4 people.  Of course, we are using either ingredients from our freezer, our larder or that which is seasonally available in the Market right now.  But, before we get to the recipes, here are some recommendations for some great local food and drink experiences which have joined our list of favorites!

Things we are loving right now:

LaDavisa Meats - check out the wonderful meats, sausages and assorted charcuterie house made by Nick Macri at his shop in the Reading Terminal Market.  We are addicted to the Sage Breakfast sausage, the hot Italian sausage, the Country Pate’, and various pork charcuterie. If you shop at the Reading Terminal Market, you must go to LaDavisa meats.

Rowhouse Spirits - why yes, in Philly we have another local distillery!  And it is a good one friends. All products are distilled and bottled on site in the East Kensington distillery.  Products include:  Poitin - a white whiskey; Gin; Bear Trap liqueur; Rum; and other liqueurs. Tastings are available as are tours of the distillery. We are currently enjoying the Poitin - it makes a great "Blonde Manhattan", the Rum and the Bear Trap liqueur. Check out Rowhouse Spirits soon!

Kensington Quarters Butcher Shop - located at 1310 Frankford Avenue, Kensington Quarters is a full service restaurant, butcher shop and bar.  We are most excited about the butcher shop.  The mission of KQ is to "support local agriculture and sustainable practices by providing an outlet for small farmers".  The butcher shop, which offers lessons in butchering as well, makes use of whole animals.  All of the drying and butchering and preparing is done behind huge glass windows - no "back room" here. The meats and the Charcuterie are excellent.  You can stop by, have a cocktail, enjoy a few small plates, and pick up fabulous appetizers and meats for dinner.  If you are going to enjoy meat once in awhile, this is another wonderful place to get it.

Kanella Restaurant - Voted the Best New Restaurant of 2015 by local critic, Craig LaBan, Kanella is now in walking distance from our home!  Oh, the joys of city living.  The restaurant started life as a very popular BYOB in Washington Square West.  The move to Queen Village has provided more space, a liquor license, and perhaps most importantly, a huge wood fired grill and oven. It offers a Mediterranean menu - Greek influences with an emphasis on Cypriot dishes.  The owner/chef Konstantinos Pitsillides is of Cypriot origin, and his love for his native food comes through.  The new site also has a beautiful bar, where wonderful, inventive cocktails (and old classics) are served and small plates are available. The service is nearly perfect and the food will have you dreaming of returning.  For example, I have had Bronzino in many places, including in Italy.  The Bronzino at Kanella, stuffed with herbs and wrapped in grape leaves, is cooked on the wood burning grill and is brought whole to the table (they will filet it for you, but it's more fun to play with, plus you get to eat the cheeks!) with a small pitcher of lemon and extra virgin olive oil to accompany it. It was transcendent. Go!  Soon!  Go for dinner or stop at the bar for a great cocktail and some small plates - I guarantee if you do the latter, you will be making dinner reservations.  Kanella is now open for Brunch Saturday and Sunday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM.  Check out their menus at:

One recent cold weather recipe that we adapted is a dish that had many readers contacting me for the recipe when I posted a picture of it.  It is an old recipe. It is an easy recipe. And it is a delicious recipe.  By the way, versions of the recipe were made by Martha Washington and it appeared in, “The Virginia Housewife” by Mary Randolph, which is widely considered to be the first general cookbook in the Colonies.

                            Recipe:  City Tavern’s Potato, Mushroom and Onion Casserole

Potato, Mushroom, Onion Casserole


7 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of oil (we are using Grape Seed oil generally; trying to break the Canola oil habit!)
1 pound of mushrooms of your choice (for the first time trying this we used sliced Trumpet mushrooms)
2 yellow onions, sliced 
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 medium red skinned potatoes or 5 large Yukon Golds, sliced very thin (we used Yukons and we scrubbed them and did not peel them)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 bunches of fresh flat leaf Parsley, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Heat 4 tablespoons of butter and the oil in a large skillet over high heat
Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet and saute’ for about 5 minutes until they are light brown and tender.
Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet saute’ the onions and garlic for three minutes, until light golden brown.  Set aside.

Pat the sliced potatoes dry. Place half of the potato slices in the bottom of a lightly buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.  Add the parsley.

Top the potatoes and parsley with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic.
Add the remaining potato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dot the mixture with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.

Bake for 15 minutes or more.  Test the fork tenderness of the potatoes.

Pour the cream evenly over the potatoes, top with the parmesan and bake for another 10 minutes.  You want a little color - but not a crispy finish - to the casserole.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.


Note:  If you have any casserole left over, mix it with some beaten eggs and pour into a buttered hot skillet - it makes a delicious potato torta! Fabulous served with sage breakfast sausages.

Potato Torta

Ever since the food poisoning “experience”, we’ve been researching ingredients and recipes  so that we can make our own delicious Chinese dishes at home.  I will be writing more about this new learning in the future, but for now, here’s a wonderful Beef and Broccoli stir fry with Udon noodles that we tried recently.  It’s pretty straightforward, easy and delicious.

                                                  Recipe:  Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Beef, Broccoli, Noodle Stir Fry


6 2/3oz udon noodles (A 10oz package of Udon noodles has 3 bundles, we used 2)
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of two limes
1 tablespoon of Sriracha Sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
1 tablespoon Arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets and penny sized cuts from the top of the stem
1/2 pounds of flank steak, in thinly sliced strips (slice against the grain)

Marinade ingredients 

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
Mix all of the above together

Cook the udon noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Marinate the beef slices in the mixture for about 15 minutes - not too long, you don’t want to start cooking the beef. 

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, Sriracha, and 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil.  Whisk in the arrowroot and set aside.  This is your sauce.

In a hot wok or large skillet, heat the grape seed oil over medium high heat.

Add the beef strips to the wok and toss and cook for about 3 - 4 minutes. 
Add the remaining sesame oil and toss again. Cook for about another minute.  Push the beef up the sides of the wok or remove from pan.
Add the broccoli florets and 2 tablespoons of water.  Toss and cook until the broccoli is tender, about 5 - 6 minutes.

Add the cooked Udon noodles and the sauce to the wok.  Bring the sauce to a quick boil, it will lose its cloudiness. Return beef to the pan if removed.  Toss until fully coated and warmed through.  Serve and enjoy.

Cherish Real Food!