Archive for Uncategorized

Fried Green Tea Ice Cream



Isn’t this beautiful? Mine looked nothing like it.



I learned the hard way that this is something best ordered in a restaurant.

My daughter loves green tea ice cream–personally, I think it tastes like sweetened seaweed, but that’s actually good news for me.  I can stock up the freezer with abandon for her and I have absolution no temptation to indulge.  She asked if I would make fried green tea ice cream for her in lieu of a  birthday cake last week.  While I personally pined for what would have been a delicious, buttery, layered delight, frosted with chocolate ganache, I recognized that it was not my birthday, so I googled “green tea fried ice cream”.  I found this recipe and I marched forth.


The initial phase was simple enough–I formed the green tea ice cream into balls and froze them for several hours.  (the recipe had you mix matcha green tea into store-bought vanilla ice cream, but as we had green tea ice cream, I skipped that step).

The subsequent steps involved mixing a basic egg-milk-flour batter, dousing the balls in it, and quickly frying them in hot oil.  This final step was where things went rather badly, resulting in this unsightly mess:



After the first batch, we decided not to bother with the rest.  The good news?  She ate it anyway, said it tasted good, and the rest of us enjoyed funnel cakes made from the remaining batter.

If she’s still on this green tea ice cream kick next year, we’ll take her out for Japanese on her birthday.

Arugula and Apricot Quinoa

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 7.59.37 AM


I used to make couscous with roasted veggies about once a week.  I much prefer couscous to pasta, because of how well its crunchy nuttiness combines with so many other textures and flavors.  Couscous is off the menu these days; it’s made from wheat and is therefore a no-no in our household as my daughter is a Celiac.

Quinoa has replaced couscous on my weekday menu, and much to my delight, my 18-year old son, who wouldn’t touch couscous, will readily devour a bowl of quinoa.  How come?

I simply converted my tried and tested couscous recipe and threw in some fresh arugula for extra crunch.

Here’s how:


1 cup of uncooked quinoa

Chicken stock

Knob of salted butter

1 handful of arugula

About 8-10 dried apricots

2 tablespoons of pine nuts

2 small yellow onions

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

Glugful of olive oil to roast vegetables

1 heaped tsp of minced garlic

Pepper and salt to taste



  1. Follow instructions on Quinoa packet to cook, using the chicken stock and knob of butter
  2. Chop peppers and onions roughly; place in ovenproot tin and drizzle with olive oil and add the minced garlic.  Roast at 350 until veggies are nearly cooked through and may even be beginning to burn at the edges (45 minutes?) Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Chop apricots finely and add to cooked quinoa; add oven roasted garlic veggies
  4. Just before serving add the arugula and stir everything together

Serve alongside roast meat or fish.  You can warm the quinoa which wilts the arugula and makes it more like steamed spinach.  You decide!

A Salad that Everyone Likes!





After the overindulgence of the Holiday Season, replete with roasts, gravies, mashed potatoes, not to mention sweets and booze,  I’ve been craving salad.  Although deep winter is not the best time for fresh, local produce, I’ve managed to find  a combo of  easy to source ingredients that provide a light, flavorful, fulfilling dish, and best of all, it’s a crowd pleaser.


I served this to my extended family as an accompaniment to a post-Christmas dinner in late December.  The crowd comprised kids ranging from age 10-17, most of whom are not generally known for vegetable consumption.  A vast majority went back for seconds on the salad, and in recent weeks, this has become a regular on my table.



Here’s what you need :

1 package of your favorite baby greens

1/4 of a red onion, chopped

a handful or 2 of grape tomatoes

a ripe avocado or 2, cut into bite sized chunks

1 or 2 limes

1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

Toss vegetables into salad bowl in the order listed and squeeze lime over, making sure to give a generous spritz to the avocado chunks.  (If the lime is not juicy, use a second).  Sprinkle salad with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then drizzle with oil.  Toss thoroughly and serve.

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for a delicious 2014!  We’ll be back next week.


Merry Christmas!



We wish you a Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season.  We’ll be back in January with lots of new food adventures to share.

Upmarket Indian Dining at IndeBlue on 13th Street


A trio of soups including mulligatawny kicked off the meal

A trio of soups including mulligatawny kicked off the meal


This is now my second time dining at local Indian restaurant IndeBlue on 13th Street, (205. 13th Street, tel 215 545 4633).

In the first encounter with this chi-chi Indian I was treated to a meat thali one lunch time.  A thali is like a smorgasbord of small dishes clustered around a pile of basmati rice and served with naan bread and chutneys on one huge circular plate.

Think of a larger and more filling version of a japanese bento box!

A thali in all its glory

A thali in all its glory

Just looked it up on Wiki and apparently the word “thali” actually stands for “plate” in Nepali.

On my first visit the thali included a goat curry – to which I am particularly partial – but I believe that lamb or beef is probably more usual.  The lunch hit the spot and persuaded me that we should return to the restaurant one evening and sample IndeBlue’s more extensive dinner menu.

Restaurant Week in Philly provided the perfect opportunity for encounter number two.  I went with a group of friends, which meant we could try practically everything that was on the Restaurant Week menu.  Rather than run you through the entirety of the meal, which was quite splendid, here follows the highlights:

This jalapeno martini was fiery but delicious.

This jalapeno martini was fiery but delicious.


"Drums of heaven" are aptly named

“Drums of heaven” are aptly named

The spicy chicken drumsticks are called “drums of heaven” and they certainly were.  They are a riff on bbq chicken drumsticks served with crumbled blue cheese and a garlic chili sauce.

These scallops in spicy broth were almost as good as the seafood curry with coconut, which I picked for my main meal.

The dish came with three scallops - we fought over the last one!

The dish came with three scallops – we fought over the last one!


This seafood moilee, which included crab meat and large shrimp was served with lemon rice.

This curry featured mustard seed, coconut, curry leaf and more...

This curry featured mustard seed, coconut, curry leaf and more…

Dessert which can be a little stodgy in Indian restaurants generally, was a pleasant surprise to all. It included an orange ginger sorbet, which we didn’t try; a fig duo compromising home made fig ice-cream and a fig tartlet; mango panna cotta (see below) and banana nirvana, a sort of banana fritter topped with salted caramel and house-made vanilla cinnamon ice-cream.

The mango panna cotta was heavenly

The mango panna cotta was heavenly

At the end of the meal, I prised the chef Rakesh Ramola, out of the kitchen to ask him how he concocted such an interesting array of dishes, for example, where did the idea for the osso bucco pork vindaloo come from?  (I didn’t try this time, but will do on my next encounter!).

Rakesh hails from Mumbai, but came to Philadelphia via London where he prepared Indian delicacies for two of the top international foodie spots in London:  Harrods and Selfridges.  After working for a number of years in London, he moved to Collingswood and opened his first IndeBlue restaurant there (619 Collings Ave, Collingswood).  None of these tidbits answer the above question, however, – why are osso bucco and panna cotta on the menu?  Perhaps the answer may have something to do with the fact that Rakesh is married to an Italian.  Also, the more you understand about Indian cuisine, the more you are astounded by its depth and range. Goan cuisine calls on the Portuguese kitchen; Keralan food is dominated by seafood; Pondicherry was influenced by the French and of course there is the Imperial Raj Kitchen with its anglo-flavors and ingredients.  India is a melting pot of cusines and influences and this is represented perfectly in IndeBlue’s eclectic menu.

This is by far, the best Indian restaurant in the city.



Tomato Salad, Heaven in a Bowl


As local tomatoes arrive, I experience euphoria.  I buy baskets of them and, though I never tire of them, my family requires some variety in tomato presentation.  So I’ve been playing around with some of the more traditional uses and last night I riffed on the typical Caprese Salad with the following:


2 large, ripe, perfect tomatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks

kernels from one ear of corn (I used a leftover ear that we had grilled earlier in the week)

1 tablespoon finely sliced mint leaves

1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything and enjoy.

NOTE:  this would be fine without the corn; i had a surplus ear and was inclined to use it rather than let it go to waste, but the other ingredients would stand fine on their own.



Serpico Lands on South Street


The much-anticipated Serpico has arrived! We took our long-suffering husbands to dinner there last week, eager to try this exciting new addition to the Philly Phood Scene.

Tomato, bean and calamari salad

Our reservation was for 8:30 on a mid-week summer evening, and we were pleased to see that the place was packed.  The ambiance is wonderful; the bar up front is inviting, built slightly lower than the traditional bar height and it has a nice selection of specialty cocktails and craft libations.  There is also a counter in the rear that looks into the open kitchen…providing Dinner and a Show.  We opted for a traditional table in the main dining area but were intrigued by the counter seating.  The other atmospheric element that bears mention was the lighting; the overall space is slightly dark, but each table seems to have a light that provides sufficient illumination.  The effect is quite nice, creating a sense of privacy at each table.

Egg Custard with Stugeon Roe

Egg Custard with Sturgeon Roe

Our server was attentive without being overbearing, and was knowledgeable about the dishes and ingredients.  He advised selecting about 10 items total from the menu for the 4 of us and we took his advice.  The entire menu only has about 15 dishes on it including salads, appetizers and mains, so we sampled a good portion of the chef’s offerings.

Hand Torn Pasta

Hand Torn Pasta

In lieu of bread, Serpico delivers a rice paper sesame wafer.  It reminded me of a tasty version of the host offered at a Catholic mass.   In response to this observation, my husband joked, “If they offered this up every Sunday, I might convert.”

Copes Corn Ravioli

Copes Corn Ravioli

The lettuce salad was excellent; the fresh tarragon gave it a wonderful zing of flavor, and the ingredients were exquisitely crisp.  The tomato, bean and shellfish salad was interesting; we all agreed that the components were top notch, but the salad could easily have stood on its own without the seafood.

The egg custard is a bit of a signature item for Chef Serpico.  He conceptualizes American Comfort Food with a lot of Asian influences and flavors.  The custard is a play on a Japanese egg dish cooked with a fish broth, but he uses chicken broth instead to invoke American comfort.  Chef Serpico is also intrigued with textures, so he does a lot with soft, gooey preparations like the custard.  While we appreciated the idea and the novelty, none of us particularly liked the dish.

The hand torn pasta was good; the noodles were perfectly cooked, and the chorizo had a pleasing kick.   Although we are all fans of escargot, we felt that the dish could have done without the snails.  The copes corn ravioli was less successful.  We felt the dish was overly busy, with a few too many ingredients competing.

The lamb ribs were a universal hit at our table; they were tender and toothsome with an excellent flavor.  Their accompanying grilled onions with chili sauce were exquisite.  The caper brined trout was good, but it suffered from the same problem that many of the dishes did; there was just too much going on.  The trout was well prepared and supremely fresh; the smoked potato salad it sat on was interesting.  The blue crab was superfluous.  The pepperoncini was too subtle.  The roe was overkill.


Lamb Ribs


Duck Breast

The duck breast was a hit. The husbands declared it “the best duck they’d ever eaten.”

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

The semi-sweet dessert offerings were not tempting; foie gras and goat cheese sorbet did not call to us.  We did sample the apple cake with caramel sauce, which was unanimously liked, as was the rocky road chocolate pudding with marshmallow and salted candied walnuts.

Chocolate Rocky Road

Chocolate Rocky Road

Overall reaction was that the chef certainly has creativity and talent, he accesses top-quality ingredients, but  many of his dishes are too busy.   We loved the ambience and we absolutely adore the fact that Stephen Starr and Peter Serpico have chosen a South Street location.    We welcome Serpico and wish it much success!

July 4, Philly Food Lovers Style

july 4th cake - edited

When it comes to July 4, not surprisingly, we like to amplify the celebration with food.  In this day and age “American food” can mean any number of things. The melting pot that we have the good fortune to call home  boasts such a variety of people and cuisines that you really can’t go wrong whatever you serve.


In general, we stick to the grill on July 4; burgers and dogs are a traditional option, but pretty much any thing you chuck on the fire is a crowd pleaser. Try barbecue chicken, kebabs, steaks, and even grilled veggies.

If like me this year, your crowd is larger that what your grill can reasonably handle (we’ve got 29 people coming), consider pulled pork.  This is a low-stress, fix-it-and-forget-it, economical option that is really, really delicious.  Go with traditional southern barbecue flavor, or spice it up with a Mexican or Asian twist.  I’m also serving mammoth trays of macaroni and cheese, and slaw.


For dessert? I’m offering an assortment of brownies, blondies, and shortbread bars that I made and froze ahead of time because of the size of my crowd.  But if I were catering 4th of July for a smaller group, I’d offer up Apple pie, of course!

Wherever your celebrations take you, and whatever is on your table, we wish you a happy, safe, patriotic Independence Day!

Steak Fries


As we planned dinner at the beach for a crowd last weekend we surveyed the larder. Chicken was marinading in a yogurt and soy blend in preparation for the grill, there were greens aplenty for a salad, but what to do for a starch?

The five pounds of potatoes in the drawer presented a plethora of options, and my sister suggested steak fries. I cringed, envisioning endless chopping and careful monitoring of deep friers. “No, no,” she said, “we’ll do them in the oven. I do them all the time for my kids. They’re super easy and everyone loves them.” Her claims were proven true.

Here’s what we did:

1. Heat oven to 450.
2. Slice potatoes into wedges; each whole potato made either 4 or 6 fries. (figure a max of 2 potatoes per person)
3. Spread wedges in single layer on rimmed cookie sheet and toss them with olive oil, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
4. Roast in oven for 1 hr, checking periodically to ensure even cooking.  When mostly browned and crispy, remove from oven and serve immediately.

NOTE: paprika or other red pepper can be substituted for the cayenne, or omitted entirely.