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foodzings: December 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Texas Roadhouse

R is the official queen of chain restaurants. It's not by choice, it's by family requirement. Name any chain restaurant and she'll tell you what she'd order. She has their phone numbers on speed dial. I wouldn't make this up. So for a birthday dinner for this christmas jewish baby, I told her she could pick whatever chain restaurant she wanted.
And thus, we landed at Texas Roadhouse. Until R told me about it a bit back, I'd never heard of it. Mostly because there isn't one near me. The closest is in Montgomeryville.
You get to eat peanuts while you wait, and they even give you a bucket of peanuts at your table. Best part? You get to throw the shells anywhere you damn well please. Or at least on the ground. They're actually good peanuts to boot.
You get a basket of delicious rolls. Damn, these rolls were dreamy. Warm, sweet, delicious, and served with softened cinnamon butter. Hot diggity! These rolls would make a fine meal.
Most entrees come with two sides, so I got a mixed salad as one of them. This is the type of salad I love. No fancy microgreens to be found, chunks of tomato, hard boiled eggs, cheese, croutons, and an awesome vinaigrette. I loved this salad.
R got her old standby: oven roasted chicken (which is half a freakin chicken), with sides of mashed and apple sauce. They slow roast this puppy until it's super tender and moist.
I went with the country fried chicken and a baked sweet potato. This chicken was huge. That ain't a small plate. And it was flattened, battered, fried, and doused with delicious gravy. You know how I feel about gravy. And I love me some sweet potatoes, so I was all about this one which was cooked to perfection.

This is a familiy restaurant, so there's some shenanigans that go on here. If it's your birthday, they come out and sing to you and make you sit on a saddle. They dance. There's lots of hootin and hollerin. They also sing other stuff. This goes on all night. But the food is extremely affordable. Even the drinks are affordable. The portions are large but not freakishly large. And the food is good, yo. This is why places like these are popular. And for another birthday, I'd certainly come back.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Eating!

Christmas is usually held at my aunt's house in delaware, but we had a change of plans this year. It was at my mom's house, yes, where I grew up. No ham or turkey here folks, just good old-fashioned korean fare.
The spread. Ain't it beautiful?
My aunt fried up some shrimp tempura. Ok, so that's not korean, it's japanese, but hey, it's still tasty. How do these shrimp not curl up when fried? It's a secret. And now I know the secret!
Mrs. K made us a batch of these little pancakes. Not typical of what we would normally eat, as these were made up with ground mung beans, cabbage, and some other stuff. Quite mild, yet delicious.
What's this weird gelatenous stuff on this plate? It's muk. I'm not sure what kind of muk, whether it's made from acorn starch, or buckwheat starch, or mung bean starch, but it's some kind of korean muk. It's jello-esque in texture, but still not. Hard to describe. The muk itself essentially has no flavor. So you have to adulterate with something. Here, my mom has just doused with some sort of soy sauce based nonsense, green onions, and eventually, after this photo was taken, some crushed up nori sheets. I know it's a strange concept, but I dig this stuff.
Grilled squid on the left, and some kind of grilled long skinny fish on the right. Both marinated with some spicy shizz.
A close up of the squid. Beautiful, isn't it? It's painstakingly scored in both horizontal and vertical directions. Why? I have no idea. I think it has to do with how it always curls when cooked, but it's also because it looks so bad ass.
Some spicy pork ribs.
My aunt made some galbi jim, or korean braised short ribs. A family holiday gathering certainly isn't worth anything if it doens't involve stuffing your face with good homemade eats.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Jew and a Korean Walk Into a Soul Food Restaurant...

Ever since finding this particular soul food restaurant recommendation for a friend, R had been wanting to go check out Ms Tootsie's herself. I thought why the hell not? Located on a strip of South Street not really occupied by many businesses, Tootsie's is a nice little spot. There's plenty of street parking. When you walk in, you notice how darn dark it is. I think perhaps the idea "oh it's so romantic", but it ends up being "oye, I can't read my darn menu!" The place is decorated simply, with b&w prints of jazz greats. It's a fairly small place with mostly two-tops. The kitchen is fairly open and you can see in.
Oh baby... These cornbread muffins were dreamy. Warm, sweet, moist, everything you'd want in cornbread. I could have eaten a plate full of these, but instead, we actually ate entrees. R got the turkey chops. What's a turkey chop? I have no freakin idea, but I do know that it's freakin delicious. Smothered in gravy, but then what isn't good that has been smothered in gravy? Sides of mac & cheese and candied yams, more on that later. I was recommended the fried chicken, so I went with that. Apparently, they're famous for it and it's their most popular dish. Why not! Well, I'm glad I did, as it was really good. Super crispy on the outside and juicy and hot on the inside. The mac & cheese was dreamy. Some of the best I've ever had. I loved the yams as well. Super sweet, but in a good way, that it was more like a dessert.

Service was fine. Our server was super friendly and accommodating to us soul food virgins. She was good with recommendations and made us feel quite welcome. Actually, there was only a few people working there, and they were all amazingly friendly and made us all feel like family. Good food, good people, good times.

Ms Tootsie's Soul Food Cafe
1314 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 731-9045


Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Cookie Exchange

M had a cookie exchange party this year. I'd never been to one, she'd never thrown one, so it was all a nice first for us all. In fact, everyone that went to the party had never been to a cookie exchange party. It was a random coincidence. We couldn't just stuff our faces with cookies, so M had a nice spread for us. Cheese with port wine sauce. Candied walnuts. Veggie spread with spinach dip. Hummus and pita. All freakin good, especially the darn walnuts.
Some candy cane cookies, with a hint of peppermint. Peanut butter cup cookies with a whole peanut butter cup smooshed in. One of my favorites from the party.
R made some fudge and peanut with chocolate chip cookies. This from a woman who doesn't cook at all, apparently.
A made these chocolate crinkles which were a huge hit with the kids. They totally cleared her out!
K and the kids made some sugar cookies along with chocolate espresso biscotti. I couldn't even imagine making my own biscotti.
M, the hostest with the mostest, made these chocolate heath bar cookies. Beyond decadent!
I made some chewy gingersnaps from a random recipe I found on a fellow blog. I used fresh spices that I got from the Head Nut, so with every bite of cookie, you got a punch in the mouth with all the spices. They were a hit!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Attempting Comfort Food

I've always liked Cooking Light magazine. I acquired an old issue last week and really wanted to make the chicken pot pie recipe. Who was stopping me? No one! So I did. Here it is!

Chicken and Root Vegetable Potpie

3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup (1/2 inch) cubed peeled baking potato
1 cup (1/2 inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
1 cup (1/2 inch) cubed peeled celeriac (celery root)
1 cup (1/2 inch thick) sliced parsnip
1 (10 oz) package frozen pearl onions
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tb chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed

1 - preheat oven to 400F
2 - Bring broth to boil in large dutch oven. Add peas and next 5 ingredients (through onions) to pan; cover, reduce heat, simmer for 6 minutes. Add chicken, cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl.
3 - Increase heat to medium. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place all but 1 Tb flour in a medium bowl; gradually add milk to bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broth; cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken mixture, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken mixture, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
4 - Sprinkle remaining 1 Tb flour on a work surface; roll dough into a 13x9-inch rectangle. Place dough over chicken mixture, pressing to seal at edges of dish. Cut small slits into dough to allow steam to escape; coat dough lightly with cooking spray. Place dish on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 16 minutes or until pastry is browned and filling is bubbly. Yield: 8 servings.

So how did it turn out? Well, I had several problems. First off, all the root vegetables were crunchy. So if anyone is going ot make this, they need to be cooked in advance, because they will not get cooked during baking. I would also have the onions be defrosted first, or just use regular onions instead. I like pearl onions, but they ended up crunchy too, and the inside was too crunchy and not flavored. Lastly, it was too much thyme. It's way too much thyme and all you taste is thyme. I would half it. It still turned out fine. I was able to cook the innards some more so it didn't end up hard and crunchy and rescue it. I particularly enjoyed the puff pastry part. The chicken was great. Next time it will turn out perfect! And by the way, I didn't make anything light, so if you want to, just be sure to use fat free or light stuff.

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What To Do With Leftover Buttermilk

After making the banana bread, I had a whole crap load of buttermilk left over. I didn't want to waste it so I decided to make some buttermilk biscuits instead. I found a simple and straightforward recipe on the food network. And they turned out great! My only issue was that I did not have a pastry blender. I just used two butter knives instead and it still worked fine. Warm buttermilk biscuits with melted butter and honey, it's a meal in itself!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

New Tropicana

I started feeling a bit under the weather late on Thursday afternoon. I decided to fight with all my might, and this included getting some orange juice. I picked up some of this tropicana which was on sale. But when I was at the store, I had no idea what it was. Obviously, Tropicana recently decided to change their packaging. And honestly, I don't like it at all. You know what it actually looks like to me? Citrucel. Yeah, Citrucel. I'm no design expert but seriously, you know they paid tons of money for this redesign, and it totally doesn't work for me. I miss the old package with an actual orange on it. Sorry Tropicana!


Sunday, December 14, 2008


Have you ever watched a TV show or a movie and had that make you crave something particular to eat? Well, that's what happened after we watched Wong Kar-Wai's "In The Mood For Love". It's a beautifully sensuous movie, not about food, but the lead characters were always running out for noodles. And it totally forced us to want to eat noodles!
We drove over to Washington Ave since it was close and just decided to wing it. We ended up deciding on Wokano, a fairly new chinese restaurant. The place is huge, and I believe they have karaoke rooms on the second floor. The main dining area is big and bright with horribly gawdy chandeliers. They have a decent sized menu, but from what I could deduce, it was definitely one of those places with a secret chinese menu. Well, noodles were what was on the mind so we got a shrimp pan fried noodle. Pan fried noodle isn't something I usually eat. There's something about the idea of a crispy noodle dish. I prefer my noodles noodle-y. But this was a nice dish. The sauce is mild but the noodles had a nice smoky flavor, with just enough burnt taste. I'm one of those people who like things that taste a little burnt. Weird, I know.
I wanted a bunch of noodles in soup so I got a noodle soup dish with barbecued pork and dumplings. The dumplings were big and quite meaty. They were probably a bit too meaty for me, I prefer a more even ratio of meat to vegetables. The pork was excellent. The broth was a bit on the bland side, but I did not mind it one bit. The dishes were also quite affordable. Our first server was a surly lady who looked miserable. Eventually, we got a different one and he was much more jolly. It was a perfectly acceptable meal. It was nothing extraordinary but it certainly satisfied our noodle cravings!

1100 Washington Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 271-3388

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Bah Bah Black Sheep

After walking around the city a little bit and in the middle of trying to do some pseudo holiday shopping, we stopped by the Black Sheep for some much needed foodage. I'm not sure how I've never been here before, but I guess I just never got around to it. I had heard very positive things about it. S got the pulled pork sandwich. Yeah, it's a pretty big sandwich and bit cumbersome to eat. As S found out, it's just easier to go with knife and fork instead of trying to keep it in sandwich form. I stole some fries towards the end of our visit. They're quite good. Behold one of the most impressive fish and chips dishes you've ever seen. Yes, that piece of cod is as big as it looks. And it's Guinness battered. It should be rated NC-17 or something. J got the shepherd's pie. And he said he's never had shepherd's pie before. Who's never had shepherd's pie? Even I've had shepherd's pie before, and this is coming from a girl who grew up eating rice and kimchi most of her life. I love me some shepherd's pie!!! Other than the carrots and celery in this one, what's not to like about it? Meat, veggies, and mashed potato. Yum. To this day, the best shepherd's pie I've ever had is in some random family restaurant in Vermont. Don't know the name of the place or what town it's in, but I know how to drive there. This is a fact. I went the small plates route and got a bowl of the potato and leek soup and the mac & cheese. The soup was excellent. It was basically a potato soup with some deliciously fried leeks on top. Once mixed together, it was the perfect complement to the potato. The mac & cheese was a bit on the liquidy side, but still delicious. Really hot and really tasty. Service was good and considering how cold it was outside, we were extremely happy how well heated the place was. They play really random music though, or maybe it's that the jukebox has random songs. And they play it a bit too loud. We had a great time, I'll definitely be back!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Bananas! Or Banana Leaf, At Least...

The great thing about going to Skeletor Karaoke Gong Show at the Trocadero is that it's practically next door to Banana Leaf. And y'all know how much I love me some damn Banana Leaf.
So along with the regular menu, they also serve sushi. But I've never been compelled to get it. I figure if I want sushi, I would go to a sushi restaurant. Why eat sushi at a malaysian restaurant? Apparently, H/A doesn't have these thoughts, and he gets sushi here all the time. He got a roll (forget the name), which was actually quite expensive, but quite tasty. I believe it had white tuna involved. I really liked this and would totally order it again, if I ever find out what this is called.
He also ordered the chili chicken, indian style. It was hilarious watching him try to eat this, as it was so damn spicy, that it was very hard for him to actually eat it, and he got totally sweaty in the face in the process. Eventually, he had to give up. If it isn't fun to eat, then it's just too damn spicy.
E likes pad thai so she went with that. She also got the tofu satay, which I love. But I do have to say that on that night, the tofu satay looked awful. Hence, no photo.
T showed up a bit late, and ordered the fried squid. Fried squid is more of an appetizer in my eyes, but but it seemed to make a good entree as well.
I tend to get a noodle dish here, so I did this time too. I got a chow fun with seafood and egg. The gravy itself was fairly bland so I got some chili oil and once I put a little of that on everything, it was great.

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Baking Banana Bread

I found some recipes for banana bread and was itching to bake. I used one I found on a blog which was based on an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and tweaked it to be my own. It turned out quite well, if not a bit on the sweet side due to the sugars I used, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

My Banana Bread

Butter a non-stick bread pan then flour well.

Combine and mix dry ingredients in a bowl:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In another bowl, coarsely smash 3 extremely ripe bananas (the browner on the outside the better) so that the smashed bananas are somewhat chunky.

To the bananas, add and combine wet ingredients:

2 large eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold until the flour is thoroughly moistened. Pour into the prepared bread pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes.

Then stuff your face.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chickenless Chicken Nuggets

The other day, I stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up some random stuff. While perusing the frozen food aisle, I noticed that they were out of so much stuff. I mean for real, their inventory replenishing system must have been on the fritz, because shizz just hadn't been replenished. It was kind of sad. I'd been wanting to try these soy nuggets because I heard they were good. And wouldn't you know it, they didn't have any. But I rooted around, and I found this one lone box of Chickenless Nuggets. I'm pretty sure that these are the same as the Soy Nuggets, just in different packaging and branding.
I popped these puppies in the oven and they came out hot and tasty. I enjoyed my fake chicken nuggets with barbeque sauce and honey mustard. Sure, they don't taste exactly like real chicken nuggets, but they're pretty darn close and still tasty. It's a nice veggie alternative, but I'm not going to tell you that they're better than the nuggets from Wendy's.


Pizza Bagels!

I was recently informed that J is a freak about pizza bagels. Like he'd make 8 at a time and eat them all. How crazy. And that he'd be crazy about giant bowls of cereal too. But then that got me thinking about pizza bagels. Then I was talking on the phone with K and she talked about how she just made pizza bagels with her kids. And damn, I had to make pizza bagels! I picked up some frozen bagels and some chicken sausages from Trader Joe's. I already had pizza sauce and cheese left over from when I made the hawaiian pizza.
How can anyone not like pizza bagels? Pizza on top of a crispy on the outside, hot and chewy on the inside bagel. The sausage was a nice touch too. I am so doing this again and again.

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Monday, December 8, 2008


After getting pho at Viet Huong and before stopping by Connie's Ric Rac for a show, we wanted to chill out at a cafe with some hot tasty treats. While driving around, we found Chapterhouse. Turns out I was here once a gazillion years ago with K. I don't remember why, but we were. And I remembered it fondly.
Chapterhouse is on 9th, just below South, but they have no sign. So somehow, you just have to know that it's there. It's also down the street from Starbucks. Just skip the Starbucks and go to Chapterhouse. The place is pretty big and clean. White walls, modern furniture, free wi-fi, all the good stuff. They also have interesting art on the walls that rotates.
So that saturday night, it was actually fairly empty. We had plenty of choice for seating, and could have even sat on the couches by the books, but we didn't cuz they're a bit dirty and stained. Instead, we grabbed one of the tables with the coolest bouncy chairs. R and I both got a decaf caramel mocha latte. They have a vast array of latte choices, and luckily for me, they'll make everything decaf. It was even topped off with a chocolatey whipped cream. We both thoroughly enjoyed our lattes. And the baristas at Chapterhouse totally make everything with love, love, love. They even make little designs when they pour the steamed milk in. I love those little touches.
I really loved Chapterhouse so much that J and I went there on Sunday. Sunday was a different matter altogether. Although it was about the same time of day as Saturday, the place was absolutely packed on Sunday. Dang. Luckily, we stalked out some people that were leaving and got a table in the back. Whew! J got a regular plain ol latte, but it came in this adorable paisley cup.
It was another cold ass day that Sunday (so cold that I had pho again (damn, I love pho weather!)), so I got myself a hot chocolate. They make it with syrup and look at the finish! Powdered chocolate that they make little swirls in. Lovely. I really like this place. A lot. I'll be back!

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