Brownie Cookies adorned with holiday pizzazz.

Brownie Cookies

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting with my sister-in-law Jeannine’s 5th grade class at Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School. The students are learning the concept of word choice ...

Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon

It makes me chuckle a little bit when a complaint of French cooking and restaurants is small portions with more of a concern for artful plating than feeding hungry people. ...

The golden crust is the perfect base.

Deep-Dish Pizza

Food competitions based on geographical area are always entertaining. For starters, we all know Philadelphia is the only place on the planet you can get a real-deal, authentic cheesesteak. Imposters ...

What's Cookin'

Brownie Cookies

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting with my sister-in-law Jeannine’s 5th grade class at Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School. The students are learning the concept of word choice and are practicing using descriptive words and phrases to convey specific thoughts. At the beginning of my visit, Jaime Cheafsky, one of Hackett’s student teachers from Temple University (and, coincidentally, our cousin) read aloud from Stone Soup, a fable translated across various cultures in which hungry soldiers progressively persuade villagers to access their personal depository of ingredients and add to a stock pot full of boiling water and stones in order to make them dinner. The class then read aloud from a previously published Clean Plate article as Ms. Beck engaged them with questions regarding vocabulary, context, and the use of metaphors.

Hackett's 5th graders developed descriptive words for these brownie cookies.

Hackett’s 5th graders developed descriptive words for these brownie cookies.

The students’ assignment is to provide their own recipe and incorporate a personal narrative and description, and before they delved into their work I was able to discuss the background of Clean Plate, talk about my writing experiences, and share some tips on how I create my articles each week. The class was incredibly intelligent and interactive, and before I left for the day I figured I would take advantage of the creativity flowing throughout the room and enlist their help for this week’s recipe. I passed around these Brownie Cookies and the students used their senses to help me develop some key words that could paint an accurate picture of what this recipe is like. Read More…

Beef Bourguignon

It makes me chuckle a little bit when a complaint of French cooking and restaurants is small portions with more of a concern for artful plating than feeding hungry people. In actuality, many standard recipes are incredibly rich and filling, from even just the bread basket with homemade butter to the lavish desserts. Classics like crocks of hot French onion soup with oozing caps of browned cheese, rustic one pot meals like coq au vin, and buttery, flaky tarts with baked fruit could all suffice for the largest appetite.

Beef (boeuf to all you Francophiles) Bourguignon is a staple among brasserie style menus and, while it’s recognition is now associated with fine dining, it’s a traditional French peasant dish. Recipes vary, no advanced cooking techniques are required and, overall, it’s near impossible to screw up. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying this version at Les Halles in New York, the restaurant that helped ignite Anthony Bourdain’s notoriety. Read More…

Deep-Dish Pizza

Hefty.

Hefty.

Food competitions based on geographical area are always entertaining. For starters, we all know Philadelphia is the only place on the planet you can get a real-deal, authentic cheesesteak. Imposters in other cities selling “Philadelphia-style” cheesesteaks are frauds and true Philadelphians know better than to even think of ordering the sandwich outside the area, otherwise you’re up for disappointment. New York claims their bagels are something special and even attempts to participate in the soft pretzel category. Personally, I don’t think that’s even worth arguing; Philly’s perfected soft pretzels, too.

We even have a good shot at the best pizza outside of Italy. Fishtown alone has some of the city’s best spots – from Pizza Brain, to Pizzeria Beddia, to the handful of other small shops the neighborhood has been home to forever -  I would say we are lucky enough to never have trouble finding a place close enough that they’ll deliver a quality pie to your door. Until recently, though, our city was not typically thrown into the mix when it came to the great pizza debate.  Read More…

Chicken Curry

Tuesday is, by far, one of the busiest days of the week. It’s still the beginning of the week so, not only do I feel like the day runs in slow-motion, it’s filled with activity too. I wake up early to head to work, try to cross things off my ‘to-do’ list at my desk, and head to French class at the Alliance Française at the end of the day. I get picked up at 7:30 p.m. and head home, my stomach growling in anger that I’ve neglected it since lunchtime. Typically I get home to a fridge that’s been emptied from weekend activity, and often wish there was a machine that existed that could have somehow prepare dinner for me while I was gone all day. By the time I remember there is, it’s too late and I have to settle for take-out.

Slow cooker to the rescue.

Slow cooker to the rescue.

I’ve suffered too many Tuesday nights hungry or unsatisfied to forget any longer that the answer to my prayers is my trusty slow-cooker. It sits in a cabinet under my counter tops, so sometimes I forget it’s there to help me. Recently, though, it’s taken a more permanent role in my weekly meals and allows me to now let my busy Tuesdays get the best of me. This recipe takes very little preparation time and combines practical ingredients to make a diverse dish. Read More…

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