Pigs in Blankets

Posted by – February 7, 2011

I learned this one from an old friend who never misses an opportunity to trot it out, and to great effect. 15 minutes, a tube of crescent roll dough and a packet of cocktail weenies, plus something to dip them in are all you need. The stove is set to 375. An ambitious promoter for True Natural Taste offered to send me some mustards a few weeks back, and Pigs in Blankets are a great vehicle for mustards.  My intention was to create a savory corned-beef hash cupcake with a mustard frosting, but that dream has been deferred. I dipped these in both the spicy jalapeno and sweet & spicy mustards.  Not bad.

Lost Drink Recipes of the Williamsburg Bridge

Posted by – January 9, 2011

A few weeks ago, I was riding my bike home from a concert in Brooklyn when I ran over a small red writersblok notebook.   When I opened it, I found a series of mostly unfamiliar cocktail recipes.  There were no identifying marks on the notebook, but the recipes seemed intriguing enough to bother preserving.  I haven’t tried any of them, and the handwriting is iffy in places, but here’s a list.  You can try to make out the recipes yourself:

  • Autumn Leaves
  • Boudoir Cocktail
  • Black Currant
  • Telanovella
  • Cercle Rouge
  • Margarita
  • Devil’s Garden
  • 4 Wishes
  • Golden Age
  • Orchard Fire
  • Hemmingway Daquiri
  • Gentle Julep
  • Maids (Russian, Mexican British…)
  • Sidecar
  • Sazerac
  • Masala Maiden
  • French Navy
  • McCallen Mai Tai
  • Granny Polite
  • Negroni/Old Pal
  • Last Word
  • Ramos Gin Fizz
  • Sangrita
  • SF Handshake
  • Alibi
  • Smoke & Flowers
  • Sidecar
  • 10 Acre Wood
  • Blackbook



How not to make almond croissants

Posted by – December 24, 2010

This year, the office holiday party called for employee food contributions, and, since I’ve made them a few times before with some success, I thought I’d take the excuse to make a batch.   I went back to the same recipe I’ve used previously, but this time, I didn’t leave even close to enough time for the rounds of dough-chilling that seem to be required.  Brashly, I set up my video camera so I could show the world how it was done.  Unfortunately, among other failings, I didn’t knead the dough thoroughly enough,  the dough didn’t rise, and a large portion of my butter fell on the kitchen floor and was promptly eaten by my dog who then proceeded to puke it up in little puddles around the apartment.

On the plus side, I was up late enough to catch the eclipse. (Double Rainbow Edition)

Also, music in the video is by This Radiant Boy.


Posted by – March 30, 2010

For half of the Savorist household, no alternative to coffee is really necessary, but Dr. Savorista has a tough time with coffee, and tea wasn’t really doing it for her anymore, so she went looking for something new.  She found Choffy:

Choffy is, essentially, roasted and ground cacao beans that are then brewed like coffee.

Several regional varieties will eventually be offered, but they’re currently shipping Ivory Coast.

So how does it taste?  Unadulterated?  Pretty much like dirt.   But, to be fair, in your heart of hearts, you know coffee also tastes like dirt, and you acquired a taste for that.  Of course, if you add a little cream and sugar, brewed Choffy starts to taste a little more like a mild chocolate bar, and the overall effect is quite pleasant.

There are, purportedly, some health benefits (pdf) to the stuff, but I’d recommend absorbing those with some skepticism.  For instance, if cacao “contains a significant amount of iron per serving,” the FDA disagrees:

I wouldn’t count on ground cacao for all of your health and dietary needs, but you could certainly do worse.  And as far as I can tell, your only option for acquiring your own stash right now is ordering it directly from the folks at Choffy…and then waiting patiently.  The order we placed on March 16th arrived in a Priority Mail box on March 29th.  At $15 for a 12 ounce bag, it’s not much more expensive than a fancier coffee like the Oren’s I occasionally enjoy on break from my go-to-coffee, Chock Full o’ Nuts.

Though I won’t be supplanting my daily coffee consumption with Choffy, the experience does pique my interest in what *other* seeds, beans, and nuts out there might yield drinkable results after a good roasting, grinding and steeping.  Anyone tried this with lentils?


Choffy on the web, twitter, facebook.

Caramel Popcorn

Posted by – February 7, 2010

I used this recipe from AllRecipes.   Nothing particularly complex about this process.   In previous iterations, I hauled out a candy thermometer and hovered over the pot to get the caramel *just* right so it would harden on cooling.  This adds a step by pouring a thin caramel over the corn and then baking at low heat (250) for up to an hour.  Notes: Reviewers suggest you can halve the butter with no discernible effect on the final product.  Next time, I’ll add peanuts.

Sweet Potato Fries

Posted by – January 29, 2010

I came very late to the sweet potato.  Here was Thanksgiving, the greatest tribute to the varieties of savory taste, and right in the center of it, foul tradition had inserted a sickly sweet bright-orange casserole, sometimes implausibly studded with marshmallows, of all things.  What was to like?  But I have an adult palate now, accustomed to the superficially disgusting constituents of grown up connoisseurship: coffee, beer, wine, yogurt…sweet potatoes.

My first and only memorable experience with sweet potato fries was at Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia (sadly shuttered, for the moment, I believe).  They were thin, crisp, liberally sprinkled with Old Bay and delicious.  Unfortunately, I’ve never found their equal elsewhere.  Most subsequent attempts I’ve sampled have been limp and mushy, with none of the snap I like in a french fry.

With my relocation to a much smaller kitchen in NYC, space is at a premium, but through some combination of nostalgia and luck, an ‘heirloom’ deep fryer made the cut, so I thought I’d give my own sweet potato fries a try:

Some notes:

1. Moisture is the biggest enemy of sweet potato fries.  I cut these into a fairly small julienne and lightly salted them, leaving them on paper towels to weep some of their liquid for an hour or two.

2. Everything I’ve read says you really have to fry twice to get a crisp product.  The first time should be about 325 and the second at 375.  I fried these a little too hot both times.  You should let them dry and cool between fryings.

3. Leave the skin on.

4. Though Ortlieb’s fries were heavily seasoned, I loved these with just a light salt.

Video action:

The song is Ludwig by Sax Kari & The Codes, found at the Internet Archive and used in accord with the Creative Commons License: Attribution.

Ethiopian Potato Salad

Posted by – August 23, 2009

I love my local West Philadelphia Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant Dahlak, and one of my favorite dishes is their potato salad.  I never want it to end.  Here’s a recipe for Ethiopian Potato Salad, some of which I’ve adjusted for volume and taste below.  Why you would ever want to make less than 5 pounds of this potato salad is beyond me:

  • 5 pounds of potatoes (Any kind will do, but I used Golden Yellow here.)
  • 10 tablespoons of lemon juice (Adjust up or down to taste)
  • 12 tablespoons of oil (Again, virtually any will do.  I used about 70% Canola and 30% olive)
  • 2 cups finely minced onion (white or yellow)
  • 10 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
  • Salt, to taste.
  • Pepper, to taste.
  • Four chopped jalapenos (Despite what the original recipe says, these are NOT optional)

IMG_4439 IMG_4437

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into 1.5 to 2 inch cubes.
  2. Get them boiling in a pot of water and get to work on the other ingredients.
  3. Chop, mince and juice everything else and drop it in a big bowl with the oil.
  4. When the potatoes are still a little hard but edible drain them, cool them off a little with cool running water and then drop them in the bowl with the other ingredients and toss.  Warm potatoes absorb flavors better, so don’t let them cool down all the way.
  5. Put the mixed warm potatoes in the fridge to cool for as long as it takes.

This potato salad just gets better the longer it sits.


And now, the Scrapple Taco

Posted by – August 18, 2009

Back in May, I brought you the Scrapple Hoagie to what can best be described as partial acclaim.  To be fair, neither Scrapple nor the Hoagie is native culinary terrain.   I grew up in the great Southwest–dividing my youth between El Paso, TX and Tempe, AZ–where Mexican food is king.  But in the ten years I’ve lived in Philadelphia, the Taco Gap has slammed shut.  The Mexican food you can get in this city is as good as can be found anywhere in the United States.  It won’t be long before even Joey Vento‘s offering a zesty tomatillo salsa on his cheesesteaks.  (The Mexican Torta will eventually eat his lunch.  Objectively speaking, it’s a superior sandwich.  It’s a hard-working sandwich.  It has dreams, but it never forgets where it comes from.)  Anyway, in a relentless pursuit of everything fusion and maybe a little…healing, I present the Scrapple Taco:


What you’ll need:

  • A pound of Scrapple
  • An onion
  • A lime
  • Some tortillas (I used flour, but corn will work just as well)
  • Cilantro
  • A bottle of hot sauce of your choice

I cubed the Scrapple, but given it’s steady degradation once on the fire, you may as well just mash it into the pan.


You don’t need any oil since the Scrapple will render enough fat to take care of all that.  Keep a lazy eye on it, but basically, you want your Scrapple to brown and evaporate most of the liquid.  I scraped the pan occasionally.    It took about twenty minutes to cook a pound of Scrapple down to this fistfull of chips.  Delicious delicious chips:


In the meantime, slice your lime, dice your onion and chop your cilantro.  All are essential to a fine taco unless you’re part of that small and unfortunate tribe of folks who taste cilantro as soap.


Set aside the Scrapple chips and keep the heat on the pan.  In the residual fat, you’re going to want to lightly saute your tortillas (whether corn or flour).  I cook them until they just start to bubble.  They need to retain their softness so they can be folded, but a little browning really brings out the flavor and adds a little crispiness to the final product.


Assemble your tacos and season with lime juice and salsa to taste:



These were seriously delicious, and I think Scrapple presents some great opportunities for more subtle seasoning.  Before cooking, while the Scrapple is still soft, you could easily mix in additional ingredients like seasonings, jalapenos, or even cheese.  Incidentally, I had originally intended to include Queso Fresco on these, but my local supplier was depleted.  That mild Mexican cheese would make these even better.

As a first step in the Pennsylvania Dutch-Mexican fusion movement, this isn’t bad.  Could the Soft-Pretzel Sopaipilla be next?

The Scrapple Hoagie

Posted by – May 12, 2009

There’s a new web series,  Peter Arthur Stories, launching May 14th as part of a Pennsylvania tourism initiative.   From the trailer, it looks like it’s going to follow a young man on a romantic and food-filled (Shoo-Fly pie!) adventure through Pennsylvania, and it got me thinking about some of the great Pennsylvania foods.  So, of course, I made this Scrapple Hoagie.  If you’re not familiar with Scrapple, think of it as the meatatarian’s tofu, and it makes a damn fine sandwich, if I do say so myself:

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Drizzle

Posted by – March 21, 2009


Pretty standard chocolate cake recipe except that I discovered that if you whip all the ingredients enough, you don’t really have to pay any attention to sifting all the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.  Under the gun, you can throw everything in a bowl at once and go to town with your burly hand mixer (thanks Santa!).  The icing/drizzle was coconut milk and a lot of powdered sugar finished with some flake coconut.  A little butter probably would have made it stand up but would have added to my arterial constriction.  Alas.