22 03 2010

I love scones. They can be dry, moist, large, small, chocolate, lemon, fruity, whatever. I love them. My first scone-making of the year happened on Sunday before we went to a friend’s house for brunch. I can always count on my mom for having a few scone mixes stocked up in her cabinets:

Yes, I said mix. Sorry. My scones are not from scratch. They still taste good. I like Fisher’s because they taste authentic and you just have to add water.

Yes, I said “just add water.”  Whatever.

Another secret to perfect and easy scones is my scone pan:

This pan is such a life saver. Instead of molding each lump of dough into the perfect scone shape, I just press the dough into the scone pan and they pop right out easily after they bake.

The final secret to good scones, a step that my family often forgets, is to sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar before putting them into the oven. I did not have any white sugar (what?! who am I?) in the house on Sunday so I experimented with half of them by using brown sugar instead. It was OK, but white sugar is much better.

Eat these bad boys warm with jam and clotted cream.


Bethlehem Brew Works

19 03 2010

Bethlehem, PA in the Lehigh Valley is an adorable little town only about an hour’s drive away from Philadelphia and outlying suburbs. Matt and I drove out last weekend because Tao was performing at the Zoellner Arts Center.  We stopped at the Bethlehem Brew Works for dinner before the show.  On a Sunday, it was one of the few places open for dinner.

The interior was surprisingly cozy even after they matched their Steelgaarden theme with metal decor.

We ordered an old standard, the spinach artichoke dip (we substituted pita wedges for $1.95), for an appetizer.  Unlike every other spinach artichoke dip we’ve ever had, the spinach was in larger chunks, which I enjoyed.  What I didn’t enjoy was the watery texture of the dip.  It was definitely not cheesy enough for our taste.  The flavor was just OK.

Matt ordered the Bessemer’s Bratwurst served with Bavarian style red cabbage and warm German potato salad. His thoughts: bratwurst was fine. Cabbage was fine.  Potato salad was excellent and he wished he had been served twice as much potato salad and half as much cabbage.

I ordered the “Grand Ole Lady” 1/2 lb. Burger with Cajun spices, Pepper Jack Cheese, and dill tarragon aioli.  The fries definitely outshone the burger here.  They were exactly how I think fries should be.  Thin, but not too thin.  Hot and fried crispy with a slightly soft center.  The flavor so good that you don’t really need any ketchup.   The burger was great, but not worth $10.  I tasted the cajun spices.  I tasted the pepper jack cheese.  But I could not taste, or find, the aioli.  It was missing.  Oh well, I still ate it.

I really love going to brew pubs to eat.  I love the atmosphere.  The menu always has a lot of comforting pub standards with a few twists thrown in.  The beers are unique.  I’d definitely make another trip back to Bethlehem if I had a reason, and I’d try the Brew Works again.

Bangers ‘n’ Mash

14 03 2010

Our idea of a wild and crazy St. Patrick’s Day is to make our own homemade bangers ‘n’ mash. It’s really not that crazy.  Simple ingredients, simple preparation.


sausage (any kind–we used some pork sausage from Trader Joe’s)

potatoes (we got two bags of tiny potatoes. Tiny = 2 inches long)

1 onion

1/2 stick of butter

secret ingredient (Mushroom Ketchup)

First: Heat oven to 350. Put water in a pot to boil and heat some oil in a skillet. Brown the sausages and then remove from heat and butterfly

Second: Dump all of the tiny potatoes (or large potatoes that you have cut up) in the boiling water. Saute the onion in the pan that you browned the sausage in.  Then make a brown sauce* and add the sausages back in the pan.

*Matt made up the brown sauce himself using butter, cream, and our secret ingredient, the Mushroom Ketchup. I found this Mushroom Ketchup in a Waitrose on Gloucester Road two years ago in London. Sadly, the Mushroom Ketchup is almost gone so the brown sauce will have to be improvised once again. For those of you not lucky enough to have Mushroom Ketchup, you could find a recipe online or use a mix.

Third: After about 20 minutes, the potatoes should be soft. Add a few tablespoons of butter and some salt and pepper (to taste) and either mash with an old-fashioned masher or use an immersion blender.

Fourth: Pile all of the potatoes on top of the sausages in the skillet.** Put the skillet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes have browned on top.

**I failed to mention this before, but in order to use the skillet in the oven, the whole thing must be oven-safe. If you do not have an oven-safe skillet, move the sausages and brown sauce to a casserole dish, add the potatoes, and then bake.

The end product looks ugly but tastes delicious. So delicious that while I write this during a bout of insomnia at 4:30 in the morning, I am thinking about the leftovers in the fridge and how they would be perfect for breakfast. I think it really depends on the type of sausage you choose and how you make the brown sauce so this recipe might take a while to perfect.


2010 Summer Food Festivals

8 03 2010

It’s about this time of year when I start itching to plan some traveling over the summer.  Although this year Matt and I may be laying low, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of summer food festivals around the United States for those of you starting to plan your warm weather escapes early.  Enjoy! (**Disclaimer: I can’t vouch for any of these festivals. I just did the research and provided the links!)

Wein & Saengerfest (May 1st; New Braunfels, Texas)

North Carolina Potato Festival (May 15; Elizabeth City, NC)

Rhubarb Festival (May 21 and 22; Intercourse, PA)

World’s Largest Brat Fest (May 28 through 31; Madison, Wisconsin)

Chili Pepper & Brew Fest (June 4 and 5; Snowmass, Colorado)

Virginia Pork Festival (June 9; Emporia, VA)

Orange County’s BBQ Festival (June 12; OC, CA)

Savor Idaho (June 13; Boise, Idaho)

Chefs at the Shore VII (June 17; Atlantic City, NJ)

Hampton County Watermelon Festival (June 19-27; Hampton County, SC)

Cranberry Blossom Festival (June 24-27; Wisconsin Rapids, WI)

Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Festival (June 25-27; Norfolk, VA)

Ribfest (July 1-4; Naperville, Illinois)

Mandeville Seafood Festival (July 1-4; Mandeville, LA)

Taste of Park Ridge (July 8-10; Park Ridge, IL)

World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival (July 11; Collinsville, Illinois)

Citrus Festival (July 16-18; Santa Paula, CA)

Pierogi Fest (July 23-25; Whiting Indiana)

Bite of Seattle (July 16-18; Seattle, WA)

Natchez Food & Wine Festival (July 30-Aug. 1; Natchez, Mississippi)

Sweet Corn Festival (Aug. 12-15; Mendota, Illinois)

Hamburg-er Festival (Sep. 4; Hamburg, PA)

Healthy fish sticks

2 03 2010

Matt and I are hooked on fish sticks. We make them once a week and have it quite down to a science.  Here’s how we do it:

Buy 1/2 to 1 pound of a firm, white, flaky fish (cod or haddock are good choices).

Cut the fish into sticks.

Get three empty bowls down from your cupboard. In one: flour. In another: eggs. In the third: bread crumbs (we’ve found that panko works best).

Heat 1-2 inches of vegetable oil in a pan. While it is heating, start dipping and coating the fish.  First in the flour, then the egg, then in the bread crumbs.

We cook the fish in batches and it takes 5-10 minutes for the fish to cook through (depending on how big you cut your sticks).

To serve: salt and lemon.  That’s about all you need. Although, you could do wonders with some tartar sauce, mustard, or vinegar.  We usually eat the sticks with a nice side salad.

Look how beautiful (this was one of our first attempts):

Tasting Table

1 03 2010

Check out Tasting Table, a free daily email geared towards adventurous foodies.  One of my virtual foodie friends, Joy Manning, just announced her new position as senior editor so you know it’s bound to be a good read!  Today, the national edition is featuring a article on French champagnes and the People section profiles a seaweed farmer in Maine.  I hope a Philadelphia version is developed soon.