Thursday, April 28, 2011

Straight A's for Bassett's Ice Cream

The boys at CHA get down to business -- Grading Bassett's latest flavor ice-cream, Devil's Delight

Michael Strange (CHA, 1976), started cleaning tables at Reading Terminal Market for the family ice-cream business while in 6th Grade at Chestnut Hill Academy.  "I wasn't allowed to scoop the ice-cream at that age...only bus tables," Strange remembers. 

Today, as President of Bassett's Ice Cream, Michael is still a committed ice-cream lover: "My favorite is Butterscotch Vanilla. I've tried all flavors, but I keep returning to Bassett's Butterscotch Vanilla. I love ice-cream.  I never get tired of it," and adds, "the only reason I don't keep any in my fridge at home is because I know once I start on a pint of ice-cream, then I can't stop!" 

This love of ice-cream prompted Michael to throw himself heartily into the chance of collaborating with CHA to develop a new flavor ice-cream -- to mark both the school's 150th Anniversary and coincidentally Bassett's own 150th Anniversary later this year.

The flavor was developed in close collaboration with the CHA school children.  The children were organized into groups, representing all ages from Lower School to Upper School and asked to invent an appropriate name and suggest a fun flavor.  The school had no shortage of suggestions, but voted on "Devil's Delight" (named after the school's mascot, the ubiquitous Blue Devil.) 

Some bright spark devised the idea of mixing in dark blue and light blue M+Ms - to represent both the school colors at Sports Day and then they were away. 

Well... except that the children had a collective brain freeze and deemed it necessary to throw in some extra caramel and chocolate swirls for good measure.

The new flavor was market-tested this Spring - or rather, wolfed down by the school children - who graded and made further suggestions during a taste test.

On Friday April 29th, at Blue and Blue Day at CHA, the school will reveal the new 150th Anniversary flavor, Devil's Delight - for all to try. 

Can't make it tomorrow? 

The new flavor will be available at Reading Terminal Market on Saturday 16th July, during the hugely popular Ice-Cream Festival.  More details to follow on the Festival shortly.

There's always a line at the Market for Bassett's Ice-Cream. 

Top flavors are still the classics...Vanilla and French Vanilla, but Bassett's launches 2-3 new flavors a year and is expanding rapidly into the Chinese market.   With help from merchant friends at the Market, Bassett's has developed a new best-seller - Green Tea Ice-Cream.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eggs for Dinner, alla Carbonara

As the half of the Philly Food Lovers team that is not a huge fan of breakfast, nor a major consumer of eggs in the morning, I gravitate toward other uses of these nutritional orbs.   I love using eggs for dinner--they are quick to prepare, generally healthy,  and bridge a wide swath of dietary restrictions --they cover ovo-lacto vegetarians, kosher eaters, and are carb-free.  Look for Claire's frittata recipe this weekend; she serves it for brunch; for me it's dinner.
Pasta alla Carbonara, heaven in a bowl.

Today, however, I am here to share one of my go-to pasta dishes:  Pasta alla Carbonara, or "Coalminer's Pasta"  (sorry, Dr. Atkins,  South Beach Dieters and vegetarians but this one contains both carbs and meat.)  I am especially partial to this dish because it is made with very basic ingredients, which I pretty much always have on hand.  I can rustle this up for a small or large crowd with miminal notice.  If you don't have the guanciale or pancetta (both of which are Italian versions of  bacon) as suggested in the recipe link, regular old bacon works just fine.  I have even used turkey bacon when my pantry or my company required it, and the dish was still delish.

Like many foods, the history of this one is hazy.  The most common story credits the "carbonara" or "coalminers" with developing the dish as something that could easily be prepared over a fire during their shifts with a few ingredients grabbed from the kitchen (or henhouse) en route to work.  The generous sprinkle of pepper is said to mimic the inevitable specs of coal that would drop into the dish as an occupational hazard while the miners were preparing and eating it.  Another theory claims that the dish was invented by necessity at the end of WWII.  The Allied Forces, when liberating Italy, dropped food parcels containing American staples--dried eggs and bacon--throughout country as a part of the relief effort for the formerly occupied land.   The Italians took these ingredients, mixed them with the pasta and pecorino cheese they had on hand and Carbonara was born.  (leave it to the Italians to make something so fabulous with such rudiments.)  Thank you Foodies'Kitchen for this info.

To source the ingredients for this simple dish, hit the Market.  By George will set you up with pasta:
Fresh fettucine from By George.
Depending on your choice of smoked meat, whether the authentic Italian version or an Americanized/poultry substitute, you have a wide selection of Market butchers who will provide what you need.

In terms of sides,  keep it simple.  Choose a crusty loaf of bread--either a semolina, or baguette from LeBus, or perhaps this country white from Metropolitan Bakery:

Metropolitan Bakery's Country White Bread

Philly Food Lovers Caesar Salad would be a grand accompaniment.    Iovine Brothers will provide all you need for this simple, crowd pleaser.

Stay tuned for guidance on wine from our friends at Philly Wine Finder and dessert from our friends at Flying Monkey Patisserie.

Buon appetito!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Putting a Spin on Eggs...

Delicate quail eggs and more intense goose eggs are now in season at  the Fair Food Farmstand 

Having devoured a wonderful Lindt chocolate bunny on Easter Sunday, and smashed a cascerone on the head of my son, daughter, and bemused husband (being British, we're new to this particular Easter tradition from Mexico), it seemed fitting to turn our attention to the humble egg - a key ingredient in so many of our favorite dishes.
Thanks to the ladies at Reading Terminal Market, who painted and directed these confetti filled eggs (cascerones) to raise money for charities that assist children who are afflicted with AIDS. 

Over the next two weeks, we'll be sharing our favorite egg recipes, ranging from the sweet to the savory, while spotlighting the array of egg-based dishes available at the Market -- of course we had to start at the beginning with breakfasts on Wednesday this week!

Our Very Own Treasure Hunt
 Before embarking on this culinary venture, we took a light-hearted look at the eggs we spotted on an (Easter) egg hunt around the Market last week...

The lads at Profi's Creperie, were only too happy to rustle up a crepe for us.  Apparently this chicken, spinach, tomato crepe, with a sprinkling of mozarella, is their lunchtime best-seller:

We topped off the crepe with a lemon curd cupcake from Flying Monkey Patisserie.  This divine cupcake, topped with a light buttercream, just oozed the most delicious lemon filling when we cut it in half.    
Now we know why they need so many pallets of eggs!
Also, an honorable mention to the freshly cooked Japanese omelet, crammed with chicken, from Tokyo Sushi Bar. While we didn't actually get a chance to sample it, the chef assured us it was very tasty - it certainly smelled exquisite...

One thing we just had to try was A.J.Pickle Patch's pickled eggs.  Stained a very pretty purple-ly color (a result of them being pickled with the sweet baby beets), these eggs are good! 
We polished them off for lunch the next day, but could imagine them being chopped up and featuring in a very interestingly colored egg mayo salad. We may try this sometime during the Summer...

Following this egg hunt, we dipped into some of the traditions and folklore associated with eggs at Easter time.   Why are eggs are so closely tied to Easter?  

In Christian lore, the egg is viewed as being symbolic of the Resurrection - a symbol of rebirth, the cycle of Life and renewal.   Since medieval times, birds eggs have been painted bright, Spring-like colors, and given as gifts to friends and family.  In the course of our research, we cracked open some of the odd-ball customs associated with the non-chocolate kind of Easter eggs - many of these, such as egg-rolling, originate in Europe and the U.K.  My particular favorite - and I'm indebted to Mandy Barrow, writing on the website British Life and Culture for her insights here is egg jarping. 

Yes, that's right; there is apparently a sport called "egg jarping" in the UK.  This contest entails opponents bashing their eggs together - much like you would play the game of conkers (where you take the nut from a horse chestnut tree, bake it 'til hard, thread a string through it and then you have your weapon ready to play "Conkers".)  We're assuming that the game of jarping involves hard-boiled eggs...

On the subject of hard boiled eggs, we stumbled across this irreverant egg timer and toast stamper combination in Amy's Place, the cookshop at the Market.  Having cooked your perfectly timed egg, you can accompany it with a miraculous image of the Madonna, courtesy of this "Holy Toast" duo. 

We just might give this one a try!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Treats: What's in YOUR Basket?

Chocolate Easter Cake from Termini's
In my basket, I'm hoping for chocolate--dark, rich, chocolate (none of that adulterated milk stuff for me.)   If you feel like making your own, try our chocolate dipped strawberries  or chocolate bark.  Remember, you can alter the recipes to your own preferences--substitute orange sections or banana slices for the strawberries or dried cherries and cashews for the cranberries and pistachios.

Another chocolate fave, either wrapped in a pretty jar as an Easter gift or heated and served as dessert, is chocolate fondue.  Here's my recipe, couldn't be simpler:

Philly Food Lovers' Chocolate Fondue
(makes about 2 cups sauce)

1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 11-oz bag dark chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli).

In small saucepan, heat milk and whisk in cocoa powder til just short of bubbling.  Meanwhile, dump chips into medium bowl.  Pour hot milk mixture over chips, let sit for a minute or to so chips can melt and mix til smooth.  Serve warm over ice cream, or as fondue with fruit and bite sized pieces of pound or angel food cake for dipping. (r eat with spoon directly from pan if you are having a particularly bad day.)  If using as a gift, allow sauce to cool and pour into decorative jars. 

In our increasingly secular society (with apologies to my dear, departed, very Catholic Grandma) Easter has, in many cases, become more about bunnies and baskets than the Resurrection.  But no matter where you fall on the religion spectrum, you can't help but fall into raptures over these divine Easter sweets...all on offer these days at Reading Terminal Market. 

Assorted eggs from PA General Store

Not chocolate, but super cute FlowerPot Cookies from the PA General Store
Glen Mueller of Mueller's Chocolates with coconut cream eggs and a bunny--a small fraction of their Easter Offerings

Flying Monkey's Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Egg Cupcake
We're hoping that some of these hop into our baskets on Sunday morning!  (Well, maybe not Mr. Mueller himself, for that wouldn't be proper,  but certainly the choccies.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Desserts at the Market

Flying Monkey's cupcakes--love those sprinkles!

Talk about eye candy...Easter just wouldn't be Easter without this homage to the delicious array of sweet breads, pastries and cakes now on sale at the Market.  These caught our eye - so what's your favorite treat this Holiday?

Easter cookies from Termini's, too lovely to eat.....almost.
Easter Bread from Termini's--perfect for brunch, and pretty enough to use as a centerpiece, at least until it's eaten!
Metropolitan Bakery's Flourless Chocolate Torte and Linzer Fruit Tart

 And if you fancy something lighter, we recommend our friend Marcy's  Citrus Fruit Salad.

For this simple recipe, you will need a selection of citrus fruits currently in season.  We like grapefruit, ruby grapefruit, orange, pineapple, blood oranges - for their pretty color.  Chop into bite sized chunks.  Take 2 cups of unsweetened orange juice and a teaspoon of honey.  Bring both ingredients gently to the boil.  Set aside until cool.  Combine all ingredients and refrigerate.  We find that it's best to chill the salad overnight, as this reduces the acidity of the fruits.  We would then suggest serving this light and healthy dessert with one of the slightly naughty Easter cookies or chocolates now in at the Market.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lamb for Easter

Termini's version of  "baked lamb."
Lamb is a meat that I've grown to love.  In fact it is now by far one of my favorites meats, particularly during the Spring and Summer.  I've been surprised, however, by the number of my American friends who won't partake.  When I first moved to the U.S., I threw a dinner party for two other couples and put Lamb on the menu -- without first checking in that they actually eat Lamb.  I served a magnificent crown roast, only to find that two of the ladies can't abide the thought of eating baby baaaaa lambs.  Their loss...and all the more lamb for the rest of the omnivores at the table!

Putting aside the squeamishness of those who won't eat lamb because it's a baby animal, there is apparently another reason why Lamb is not everyone's favorite meat.

Our friend Ben offers sage advice on lamb

According to one of the learned butchers at Martin's in Reading Terminal Market, there is a big difference between the imported lamb that you eat over the winter and the U.S. lamb that you eat in season, starting around now.  Martin's gets their lamb from a farmer in Colorado.  "American lamb doesn't have that strong mutton taste that you get with some of the imported lamb.  That taste can put people off," says Ben, a veteran butcher, at Martin's.  "Our best sellers during the year are usually chops, because lamb can be expensive.  At Easter, though,  people like a leg."

In terms of cooking the leg of lamb, Ben recommends leaving the bone in the leg during cooking.  I've always preferred a de-boned, butterflied lamb (it cooks more quickly and is easier to serve), but Ben is adamant that to get the most out of your lamb you need to keep the bone in, to retain maximum flavor. 

Come Easter, I'll be trying it this a 5-6lb roast, bone in!  Ben reckons this will take about 3.5 hours on 350.

I'll also be combining my roast lamb with a rather lovely olivada condiment that Reading Terminal Market's Executive Chef Wallace McIlhenney will be sharing with Philly Food Lovers later in the week...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hippity, Hoppity, Easter's on its Way!

Termini's Bunny Cake
We were amused to see "smothered rabbit" on the menu at an eatery on a recent trip to New Orleans.  Who wants to know how your meat was slaughtered, we mused?  All we're interested in is how it's cooked, or as importantly what side come with the dish... Turns out that the 'smothering' down South refers to the fact that the meat is completely submerged in a gravy or sauce.  You live and learn!

We didn't try the dish -- not in the run up to Easter -- when the Market is awash with chocolate bunnies, chicks and other presagers of Spring!

For many people, Easter is an important holiday.  Aside from the obvious religious significance, this long weekend, much like Thanksgiving, is often a time when extended families come together around the dinner table to celebrate this holiday.  The lunch/brunch or dinner menu on Easter Sunday therefore tends to be an impressive meal.

This forthcoming holiday has given an excuse over the coming week to write about a number of subjects close to both our hearts...
  • Lamb, a personal favorite; we spoke to the butchers at Martin's to hear their thoughts.
  • Eggs - on your behalf we tasted goose eggs and came up with some quick and easy egg dishes.
Goose eggs from the Fair Food Farmstand
A chicken egg, a goose egg, and an avocado for perspective.  Goose eggs are huge!

  •  Easter desserts - the Market is well known for all its bakeries, we profile what they'll be carrying this week. 
  • Our friend Wallace, who also happens to be the Executive Catering Chef at the  Market, shares what he'll be cooking this Easter.
  • And all things CHOCOLATE...need we say more?

We hope you have a great week.  We will!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Suspiciously Delicious Passover Desserts

Don't forget a beautiful centerpiece for your table!
The first time I invited my dear friend Steven to a Seder and he tasted my dessert he was flabbergasted. "Doll," he said, "you know I love you no matter what, but you're a shiksa and there's no way this is Kosher for Passover; it tastes too good."  I insisted that the tart did not violate any of the restrictions--aside from the fact that it was prepared in my non-Kosher kitchen. He grilled me, and after a thorough interrogation it was proven that my tart was indeed K for P.

Steven was right; the old school desserts--sponge cake, honey cake made with matzoh meal, fruit compote, and chocolate covered jellies can be unexciting and un-delicious.  But with a little bit of creativity, Passover desserts can be tasty enough that you don't even notice anything is missing.

I was motivated to find some good Passover desserts after a disastrously embarrassing sponge cake attempt at my in-laws' home one Passover long ago. I was the new wife, trying ever so hard to embrace my husband's traditions. I toiled over the sponge cake, and when it was baked, I turned the bundt pan upside down on a bottle as directed and removed the bottom half of the pan, leaving the inverted cake suspended to cool. Imagine my horror when, right before my eyes, the accursed cake shriveled from the bottom up into a flat, hard, ugly ring.  It looked like an elapsed time sequence in a movie.  Then and there I made a commitment to find a better way. And I have.  One caveat:  the ingredients I use  (i.e. traditional brands) may not be certified Kosher for Passover even if they do not contain flour or leavening--if your Seder requires that level of observance, make sure you purchase ingredients in the "Kosher for Passover" section of your grocery store.

Coconut Lemon Tart--suspiciously delicious
Coconut Lemon Tart

For crust:

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup matzoh cake meal
1/2 stick margarine, melted

Mix margarine and coconut and press firmly into bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of tart pan, preferably scallop-edged with removable bottom. Bake at 350 about 10 minutes til browned. Watch it carefully; coconut tends to burn.  Cool completely before filling.

Meanwhile, make Lemon Curd:

6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 stick margarine cut in small pieces

Combine eggs, sugar and zest in saucepan and whisk til smooth. Add lemon juice and margarine and cook over medium whisking constantly til thickened, approx 7 minutes. Do not boil. Strain through fine sieve into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming and chill thoroughly.

Fill coconut shell with lemon curd. Top with fresh blueberries if desired.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy, here are a few other suggestions:

Chocolate Truffle Pie

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Meringue Cookies

And you can always resort to the tried and true chocolate dipped fruit. I prefer Ghirardelli's chocolate, which may not be K for P, but there are other chocolate options that are--check the Passover section of your grocery store if that is required at your table.  If you don't feel like making your own, and you are relaxed about the rules, Termini does gorgeous chocolate-dipped strawberries.  They also offer a staggering selection of cakes and pastries--not, of course, K for P, so if you adhere to the traditional Passover diet, they'll be something wonderful to look forward to next week.

More on Passover from the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Braised Veal and Spring Veggies for Passover

As a devout agnostic with a vaguely Christian heritage married to a very Reformed Jew, I host a Seder that respects the traditions but probably would not pass muster with a strict rabbi.  We love the idea of gathering friends and family around a festive table to celebrate my husband's heritage, to teach my children appreciation for their roots, and of course, if it centers around food,  I'm in. 

Epicurious has a great Passover Guide where you will find a wealth of information and recipes.  I did a dry run on our Passover dinner this week.  In addition to the seder plate, (thank you,,  here's what I'll be serving Monday night, after a trip to the Market for
the latest spring veggies and a veal roast (believe me, asparagus is at its best right now!):
Happy Passover!

Braised Veal Roast  (NB:  for simplicity's sake, and to comply with the Jewish restriction on mixing meat with dairy, I skipped the step that involves stuffing the roast with goat cheese; in fact, I skipped the stuffing step altogether, just tossed the fresh herbs in the braising liquid, and the dish came out beautifully with far less fuss.) 
Roasted Asparagus:  Break stem ends off stalks, rinse, and toss in a baking dish with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Roast at 425 for 15 minutes.
Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes:  Peel and cut sweet potatoes.  Toss with olive oil and your favorite spice blend--Devil Dust from Beck's Cajun Cafe is great, but any peppery preparation will work.  Roast sweet potatoes at 375 for 1 hr.
Pickled Cippolini--these lovely little gems provided a perfect sweet/tart counterpoint to the veal--and I suspect the leftovers will be fabulous as a condiment on sandwiches.

By far our favorite of all the seasonings offered by Beck's in the Market, is their Devil Dust - perhaps the name is none too appropriate in the context of this post...

This ] versatile spice combo seems to go well with pretty much everything--meat, salmon, shrimp and root veggies so far.    (We're looking forward to summer, when we'll sprinkle it over garden-fresh zucchini, eggplant and peppers and pop them on the grill!)

For those interested in a mini-history lesson, Passover is the Jewish celebration that marks the emancipation of the Israelite slaves from Egypt.  It is a joyous holiday that centers around the Seder.  Seder, meaning "order" is a meal during which traditional and symbolic foods are eaten to commemorate the struggles of the slaves and their eventual freedom from bondage and journey to the promised land.   This story is told via readings, prayers and songs at the table.  (Thank you,

As the story goes, in their haste to flee Egypt, the Israelites did not have time to wait for the bread to rise, so they hightailed it out of town with unleavened bread--or matzoh.  To mark this event, it is forbidden to consume any leavened bread or grain products for the eight day Passover period--no pasta, rice, corn, breads, cereals, oats, etc., though like traditions in every faith, there is a wide range of observance.

We do like Hollywood's classic retelling of this tale...

Next post:  Passover desserts--with no flour or leavening, these can be a real challenge, but I'm up for it! Also....quick news flash from Metropolitan Bakery -- their 19th Street bakery will be selling three different types of matzos during this Holiday season.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Salad Days with the Iovine Family

It was only a matter of time before we arrived here. You can't really delve into the Reading Terminal Market without mentioning Tootsie's Salad Express and Iovine Brothers. Tootsie herself can nearly always be found standing at her cash register, dispensing warm greetings and great food to her beloved customers.

Tootsie in festive attire.

We caught up with Tootsie recently to pick her brain and her fantastic food bar for tips and eats.  After gobbling up a justifiably famous Chicken Caesar we asked her the secret to a great salad. 
Without hesitation, she replied:  "Cold, crisp, fresh."  And for Tootsie, sister of the equally famous Iovine Brothers,  they of produce market fame, she has access to the best.  The good news for the rest of us, of course, is that we do, too.

When asked how she entered the food business, Tootsie smiles.  "My brother Vinnie and I were working as administrators for a court reporting company.  The owner of the business wanted to branch out into food, so he bought two stalls in Reading Terminal--the produce shop and the salad bar.  He offered us jobs managing the two businesses, and we thought, 'why not?'.

Tootsie laughs in earnest.  "We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  At that time, we really did not know the food business, but we figured management is management and believed that our administrative experience would translate.  But it really didn't.  Vinnie was getting up at 3am and heading to the food distribution center for inventory, but because he did not know produce, he was working extra hard to learn the business and the hours were killing him.  I was running the accounting end of things and the Salad Express stand at the Market, but it was not going well.    Vinnie was miserable.  He came to me and told me that he was going to quit.  I told him in words that are unprintable here that if he did I would do him bodily harm.  He believed me, and agreed to stick it out for a bit longer.

"Our brother Jim came into the produce shop around that time.  At that point, the Convention Center was being built adjacent to the Market,  and that was very challenging.    The owner of the business determined that the produce shop had no resale value, so he cut his losses and gave it to Vinnie and Jim.  Through blood, sweat, some tears, and good old fashioned hard work, they pulled the businesses off life support,  learning about produce from the ground up and pushing nonstop to make it a success.  It was a slow process, but eventually, it took.

Enjoy the photo; you'll never see Iovine's this empty!
"My brother Tony always had first option to buy the Salad Bar, and after running it for five years, we approached the owner with an offer and he accepted.  At that  point, the name was changed to "Tootsie's Salad Express," I came in as a partner, built the catering business, and also brought in our brother Bobby to help run things.

"Of our ten siblings, seven now work in the Market--in addition to the five of us I've mentioned, sisters Theresa and Anna work in the produce market, as well as a bunch of nieces and nephews.  It's kind of like a family reunion every time I come to work."

Talk about a story with a happy ending.  Tootsie's Salad Express is thriving; she has regulars and new customers every day.   Her outside catering business continues to grow, and a renovation of her space is planned soon to enlarge the seating area for customers.   Iovine Brothers Produce has grown exponentially as well.  Their produce market is the largest tenant in the Market today, their quality is unmatched, their prices highly competitive, and their variety staggering.

And the eagerly anticipated Molly Malloy's, the Iovine's new gastro-pub, located in the former Beer Garden, will open any day now.  The pub, named for the Iovines' mother, will feature locally brewed beers, American comfort food, the freshest produce available anywhere, and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.   Given that Molly Malloy's entry was named the winning dish at Scrapplefest, we are confident that the kitchen will not disappoint.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Phillies Phood

The Phils are off to a heck of a start this season, and being Philly Food Lovers, well, we naturally gravitate toward culinary connections.  Ball park food is part of the ritual, whether you grab a hot dog before the National Anthem, nibble a pretzel during the bottom of the 4th, head out for an ice cream during the 7th inning stretch, or snag some cracker jack for the ride home.   

Sure, we love to go to games, but that's not always possible.   Instead, we've also had a 'ball' recreating authentic stadium food for our Phellow Phans as we cheer the team on to victory right in the comfort of our own homes.   

The quintessential ball park meal is clearly the hot dog.  We recommend the selection at Smuckers,
where you will find classic dogs, as well as Bratwursts and a wide array of other sausages which make great game-viewing fare.  If you are not inclined to make your own, stop by Franks A-Lot and they'll hand you a World Series-worthy hot dog.

Smucker's Hot Dogs

Pretzels?  There's no place like Miller's Twist for that magical blend of crunchy, chewy, salty, hint-of-buttery bliss to munch on as our team ties its opponent into knots.

"Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack"--how abut this Keystone Crunch from the Pennsylvania General Store?

Cheeesteaks?  By George or Carmen's.
Pork Sandwiches?  DiNic's
Ice Cream?  Bassetts!

So, even if you can't make it to the ballpark, you can certainly hit a culinary home run with a little help from our Phriends at Reading Terminal Market.   Our boys in red will take care of the rest.

Speaking of baseball, we sign today off with a few choice clips from a baseball classic: A League of Their Own.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Tribute to the Phillies

Phillies madness is once again sweeping through the City.  Everywhere you look, citizens are proudly sporting their team's baseball caps, sweatshirts and, as the weather improves, tees.

While lunching at the Market today, we went in search of all things Red + White and stumbled upon these five...

A bliss-inducing treat from Termini's.  How do they manage to make food which is so darned delicious and photogenic..?

The Tricolore Salad, featuring Mozzarella Cheese, Italian Tomatoes from By George!

Lunchtime Shoppers Crave the Pizza, Pasta & Salads from By George!

In the mood for a fix-it-quick baseball supper?  Why not stop by the Fair Food Farmstand and pick up a fresh batch of wholegrain pizza dough and make your own? 

Combine with fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs and your fave cheese and you've got a winner.

Catering for many?  Then grab the ribs to go from the Down Home Diner

Quite possibly staffed by some of the most loyal Phillies Fans in the Market...
And we spotted this in the Market's Management Office.  We guess this is to hand out to the fans of rival teams - to dry their tears when they get crushed by the Phillies starting lineup!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The "Frys" Have It

We caught up with three of Reading Terminal Market's reknowned chefs this week who were kind enough to share their secrets to successful frying.

Jack McDavid doing what he does best
Down Home Diner's Chef Jack McDavid, never one to mince words, said bluntly in his trademark Virginia drawl:  "Yankees cain't frah."   (Translation:  "Yankees can't fry") or "People born in the northern US are not conversant in frying techniques."  He elaborates:  "They're too rushed.  Frying takes time ("tahm") and patience.  The secret is in the seal.   I mean, ya gotta completely coat the fish with the breading--whatever you use--corn meal, flour, or pecan crust like our Down Home Diner catfish--it's gotta be gently but firmly pressed into the fish so that it sticks, but not so much that it crushes the proteins and makes the end result soft and mushy.   Then ya gotta carefully place it in the hot oil.  If ya drop in in hard, that knocks off some of the breading--remember what I said about the secret being in the seal?  The breading is the seal.  If you break it, then the oil seeps inside, and you end up with greasy fish.  Who wants to eat that?"  Can't argue with that.

Anna Maria Florio working her magic in La Cucina

Then we visited Chef Anna Maria Florio of La Cucina at the Market, who shared further intel.  She agreed with Jack on the seal issue.  She elaborated:  "People think that frying is an unhealthy preparation; if done correctly, it's not.  The coating acts as a seal, as Jack said, and if the oil is hot enough the crust forms an immediate barrier so that the oil does not penetrate the food.  The key is to heat the oil enough, but not too much.  If your oil smokes, you've gone too far and it will burn the food.  In that case, you have to start again."

Wally McIlhenny, Executive Chef of the Reading Terminal Market Catering Co., offered a tip on testing the oil temp:  "Drop a small piece of bread into the hot oil.  If it sizzles to the top immediately, then you're good to go."
Chef Wally with his famous sweet potato salad

And as one who is a sucker for BritCom, I offer you up another Fry--a skit from the old Fry and Laurie Show on the BBC--these guys are hilarious. Enjoy.