that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Archive for January, 2011

burger blitz at PYT

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 23, 2011

Calibunga, dude!

When it comes to mechanics of business diffusion (yeah, I’m getting all Marketing 101 on you), I’m almost always in the “late majority” group, i.e. I don’t care about the latest trends, and I very rarely go out of my way to get the “it” thing until I deem it necessary, and by that time, something more “it” has come out. I was, however, in the “early adopter” group when it comes to PYT in the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. Or at least I’m going to tell myself that.

See, a few months ago, I suggested to a friend that we journey there for their Burger of the Week: the Krispy Kreme Burger. We rearranged our schedules to make it before the gluttonous creation’s stint on the menu was done, and could not have been more amazed by the two patties, two slices of cheese and pieces of chocolate-covered bacon between — yes — two halves of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Turns out the burger was so popular that week, PYT put in on the menu to stay.

Fast forward to a few weeks later: I bring another handful of friends out to PYT, and they all fall in love with the place, too. We feasted on the awesome burgers and their special pumpkin cheesecake pierogies, and chatted with our super cool waitress, who revealed that the PYT acronym doesn’t actually stand for anything. And here we thought it was a shout out to Michael Jackson.

Suddenly, I’m seeing and hearing about PYT all over the place; on Jan. 13, the restaurant was featured on the Rachael Ray Show for “Rachael’s Burger Bash,” and killed it on Groupon this weekend with their $8 for $16 of food deal. I’m worried their little-to-no-wait style I’ve come to love is going to be out the window now that the place is blowing up. (Maybe I can dissuade people by telling them the bathroom is unisex; I know that freaked me out a little at first…)

Either way, if you live in the Philadelphia area, you need to check it out. And if you’re not carnivorous, they have plenty of vegetarian options; in fact, the last time I was there, I got the Calibunga burger — white beans, basil, garlic, tomato and breadcrumb patty topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onion “special sauce” (pictured above) — and it was awesome.

Oh, and don’t forget about their Adult Milkshakes, which their menu calls “a blend of premium ice cream and fine spirits.” Other than being a lightweight and needing to operate a vehicle within the next five hours, I opted out of the dessert beverage in favor of the neighboring gelato shop, Nana Petrillo’s. I recently had their Rosemary Honey Goat’s milk, and it was a sophisticated party in my mouth. If you’re not into the weird flavors that I am, they’ve got all sorts of crowd pleasers that change on a daily basis, as well as lattes, hot chocolate, etc.

Rosemary Honey Goat's Milk gelato from Nana Petrillo's

PYT on Urbanspoon

Posted in dining | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Totes McOats

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 18, 2011

I know so many people who say, “I’m not a breakfast person.” I’m not either — I find the options limited and my culinary creativity stifled with breakfast foods — but having a little sumthin’ sumthin’ in the morning gets my day going, so I’ll usually grab an English muffin and count the minutes until I’m hungry enough for some midday masterpiece. My breakfast-bitter brain was blown last week, though, when I embarked on a National Oatmeal Month celebration with LiveWell360′s peanut butter cup oatmeal (slightly adapted).

In addition to not being a breakfast person, I’m also not an oatmeal person, but this recipe looked simple and inexpensive (especially considering I “borrowed” a handful of oats from my roommate’s stash), so I gave it a go.

♦1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. water
pinch of salt
1/2 medium banana, sliced
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. peanut butter

Heat oats, water and salt oats in a saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, stir in bananas and mix until thickened. Add vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder and sugar until mixed. Either pour mixture into a bowl and top with peanut butter, or — as I did, at left — mix peanut butter into heated mixture because you can’t gracefully get it off the spoon.

Total time? 10 minutes, start to finish.
Cost? $2 oats. $2 peanut butter, 45¢ banana
Overall success relative to expectations? 6 out of 10. The taste wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, — not like biting into a Reese’s — but I still enjoyed it. The banana is virtually undetectable, but helps create a nice, thick consistency. The cinnamon was a little strong, so I’d probably drop that down to 1/8 tsp. next time. If this isn’t your thing, but you’re still interested in celebrating the last two weeks of National Oatmeal Month, check out the 30-Day Oatmeal Challenge for all sorts of crazy concoctions.

Posted in breakfast | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

I’m going to be on Food Network?

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 11, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned Food Network in at least half of my posts, so it should come as no surprise I dropped everything last week when my friend, Jay, e-mailed me about a show taping at a local sandwich place: Jake’s Sandwich Board on 12th Street in Philadelphia.

I took the notification — “We will be filming all day on Thursday, but opening our doors to everyone during some of the filming around 3 p.m.” – to mean the crew would get some B-roll and be on its way, but what we walked into was a full-out filming of an “Outrageous Food” episode about the eatery’s Five-Pound Philly Challenge, and they let us sit in on the entire thing.

(had to be stealthy)

If you’ve never seen the show, it’s almost as if “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” procreated with “Man V. Food.” The host, Tom Pizzica, travels the country in search of ridiculous foods a la Guy Fieri, but often pits locals against restaurants’ ludicrous food challenges, like the 105-pound burger and the 72-inch burrito.

At Jake’s Sandwich Board, the challenge consists of an assortment of tasty Philly staples: a two-foot cheesesteak, four Philly soft pretzels, 12 TastyKake Krimpets, 24 Peanut Chews and one Champ Cherry soda to wash it all down. Oh, and you have to do it all in 45 minutes.

To date, only two individuals have successfully completed the challenge (and if you don’t finish in time, it’ll cost you $34.95), so to make the episode a little more interesting, “Outrageous Food” filmed two teams of three (boys v. girls) taking on the feat. I won’t spoil the outcome, but what remained of the losing team’s plate is pictured at the left.

My friend, Steve, and I were seated next to the challenge table, so we’re almost definitely going to be on screen when the episode airs next season, but we were both interviewed, so we might get some feature facetime, too. (I was really nervous, though, so I’m almost hoping they cut me on account of blushiness.)

Tom Pizzica was hilarious, and the entire production was so much fun. Oh, and did I mention how incredible the sandwich I ordered was? The Philly Wasabi — rib-eye steak, wasabi spread, American cheese and crunch onions. Yup. And based on the few bites I had of Steve’s Village Turkey sandwich and how drool-inducing the two-foot challenge cheesesteak was, I can’t imagine this place puts out anything short of amazing. I highly recommend you check it out.

Jake's "Philly Wasabi" sandwich

Posted in dining, notes | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

melting in the snow

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 7, 2011

It’s snowing here in Jersey. The last snow was the first major storm of the season (8-10 inches?), and I learned a valuable lesson: Your new car may not drive as well in the snow as your last car. Or even close to as well. Your new car may be less useful and/or safe on winter roads than the 10-speed Huffy you rocked in sixth grade.

With the snow still falling and no plans until at least the early evening, I’ve resigned myself to staying indoors until I absolutely must dust off my car and brave the unsteady — and undoubtedly congested — Jersey roads. Fortunate for my car, but unfortunate for my kitchen (and related appliances)…

Today’s lesson of the day: American cheese is really good at melting. Everywhere. Behold, the result of my homemade cheesesteak quesadilla (an “American, without” for all you Philly folk).

Posted in entrées, sides | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

don’t be cruel

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 6, 2011

I’ve been watching a lot of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” lately, and I noticed in two consecutive episodes, contestants made what they called “Elvis cupcakes.” Pshhh. I made that ish months ago. (Anyone about to tear me apart: I’m being facetious.)

A little while back, I wrote about the mini-BLT-ish sandwiches I made for my friends’ potluck dinner. Feeling ambitious for the event, I also made these chocolate-filled banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. And feeling overambitious, I opted to make them miniature so if everyone felt full post-feast, they could certainly find room for an itty-bitty cupcake. In retrospect, I wish I had stuck to 12 standard-sized cupcakes and let everyone fight to the death if we ran out.

The banana base flavor of the cupcake really came through, and the chocolate filling soaked in nicely; it was like a little chocolate surprise inside. The frosting was the most disastrous part of the project. It was supposed to be a mousse, but it was so thick, it ended up feeling like dollops of straight peanut butter atop the tiny cakes. I’m not really sure what went wrong. I found the peanut butter a little overwhelming, but I’m also one of those people who doubles the jelly and halves its counterpart in my PB&Js.

post-coning, pre-frosting

FOR CAKES
1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas

1/2 c. buttermilk1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

4 tbs. unsalted butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mash ripe bananas until no chunks remain; add buttermilk to bananas, mix and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, then vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture, the banana mixture and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Scoop mix into lined cupcake pan. Bake 18-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

FOR FILLING
1/3 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Combine cream and chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, and heat mixture on high for 1 minute. Stir and heat again in 15-second intervals until fully melted. Once cupcakes are cool, cut out a cone in the center, pour in cooled filling, replace cone and frost. (I also drizzled some of the extra topping across the frosting dollops to break up some of the peanut butter-ness.)

FOR FROSTING
♦1 c. creamy peanut butter
5 tbs. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1 to 1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

Total time? 25 minutes prep, 20 minutes bake, 25 minutes frost
Cost? $1 banana, $2 buttermilk, $2 heavy cream, $1.25 peanut butter
Overall success relative to expectations? 6 out of 10 Despite my trials, these were pretty successful. It yielded more than 30 cupcakes, and I went home with only about 10. These were a bit more work than your average cupcake – cutting little cones out of each cupcake, angling in the chocolate and — in my case — using every ounce of strength in my body to push out little chunks of peanut butter “frosting” from my piper. I gave myself a bonus point for busting out some fancy liners and edible gold flecks, but to make this a true hunka-hunka “Elvis cupcake,” I think I’ll add some candied bacon next time.


Posted in desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »