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Archive for April, 2012

Cupcake Smash 2012!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 28, 2012

Cupcake Smash 2012!

Here’s my setup at Philabundance’s Cupcake Smash 2012 in Philadelphia. Fruit Loop cupcake with Loopy Vodka buttercream frosting. I won People’s Choice! More details coming soon. Thanks to all who came out to “beet” hunger!


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last meals?

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 26, 2012

I’d been itching to take the “100 Foods to Eat Before You Die” quiz since it hit Facebook, like, two months ago. (Yeah, I’m a little late to the game.) The biggest holdup was really that I was too lazy to hit “allow” when Facebook asked me if I wanted to grant the app access to my profile.

I finally completed the quiz tonight, and boy was it a fun 75 seconds! The draw is they tell you most people have tried 20 or fewer of the somewhat obscure dishes on the list. Reading that, I was thrilled when my score of 48 appeared; but when I compared myself with my Facebook friends who had also taken the quiz, I was disappointed to see myself in 23th place (and only a few spots above “average user”). Now, far be if to for me to judge, but I know some of these people don’t have the most refined tastes, so I’m guessing they racked up their points with Frito Pie, Hostess and Philly cheesesteaks. Or they’re lying. Or maybe I don’t know them well enough and should be asking them to dinner instead of baselessly condemning them. Whatever the case may be, I’ve got some eatin’ to do.

Where do you rank? I was a little disappointed swordfish, duck, lamb and boar (some of my more adventurous meals) aren’t on here. Anything else you think someone must eat before they die?

Baba Ghanoush (Wedding Crashers?)
Bagel and lox
Barbecue ribs
Bird’s Nest Soup
Biscuits and gravy
Black Pudding (Just because it says ‘pudding’ does not mean it’s appetizing. Google it.)
Black Truffle
Cheese fondue
Chicken and waffles
Chicken Tikka Masala (Does chicken marsala count?)
Chile Relleno
Chitterlings/Chitlins (Mmm, intestines)
Clam Chowder
Crickets (*This* will prevent me from ever reaching 100.)
Dandelion wine
Dulce de leche
Eggs benedict
Fish Tacos
Foie Gras
Fresh Spring Rolls
Fried Catfish
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Plaintain
Frito Pie (Surprisingly, no.)
Frog’s Legs
Funnel Cake
Goat’s milk
Head Cheese (How can they call this cheese? It’s not cheese!)
Heirloom Tomatoes
Hostess Fruit Pie
Huevos Rancheros
Jerk Chicken
Key Lime Pie
Kobe Beef
Morel Mushrooms
Nettle Tea
Oxtail Soup
Pastrami on Rye
Philly Cheesesteak
Pineapple and cottage cheese (Never even had cottage cheese before.)
Pistachio Ice Cream
Po’ boy
Prickly Pear
Rabbit Stew
Raw Oysters
Root Beer Float
Sea Urchin
Soft Shell Crab
Som Tam
Squirrel (Katniss?)
Steak Tartare
Sweet Potato Fries
Sweetbreads (How can something called “sweet” “breads” be so unappetizing?)
Tom Yum
Wasabi Peas
Zucchini Flowers

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that’s how I ‘roll’

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 8, 2012

I like to try new things, and often I’m met with “eww, that sounds gross” when my menu selection goes off the beaten path. Such was the case last Friday when I hit PYT with a few of my friends. I opted for their special “Philly Roll” burger with cream cheese, smoked salmon, fresh cucumbers and a pinch of seaweed. When it arrived at the table, everyone took a taste. When their disgust turned to jealousy, I retorted, “Fortune favors the bold.” That’s how I roll.


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sweet & spicy beef stir fry

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 7, 2012

Ugh. I hate how long it’s been since my last post. For as little time as I’ve had to cook lately, I’ve had even less time to write. The sparse free time I’ve had has been devoted to Cupcake Smash entry development. I can’t yet reveal what I’ll be serving, but I will tell you there’s been an awful lot of bacon and booze involved; those are two staples of the PYT menu, after all.

One of the few meals I’ve cranked out lately was this awesome sweet and spicy beef stir fry (adapted from evil shenanigans). I toned back some of the heat because I’ve often turned perfectly good Asian meals inedible with heavy handed spice, but feel free to kick up a notch; I just enjoyed the sweet side of this dish with just a pinch of spice.

♦1 lb. beef round steak
♦1/3 c. honey
♦2 tbs. soy sauce
♦2 tbs. cooking sherry
♦1 tbs. minced ginger
♦1 tbs. oyster sauce
♦1/2 tbs. sriracha
♦2 tbs. orange juice
♦1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Slice beef into thin strips. Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Add strips to bowl, and coat and massage with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and set in fridge. Ideally, you’d like this to marinate for two hours, but I’m impatient and planned my meal poorly, so I let it marinate for only 45 minutes. The flavor still came through, so short cuts are permitted.

♦2 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tbs. ginger
1/2 lb. snow peas
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 c. white rice

Once beef is nearing end of marinating, heat 1 tbs. vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add half the beef to hot oil and sear for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to brown for about 1 minute. Remove beef and place in a small bowl. Add remaining beef and cook until brown. Return first batch of beef to skillet and turn to high heat. Cook about three minutes until beef begins to caramelize. Remove and place in bowl.

Wash skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add remaining vegetable oil, then add carrots and onions. Cook until softened, then add ginger and garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Add snow peas and soy sauce, and cook for two minutes – until softened.  Add the beef to skillet and toss. Serve over steamed white rice.

Total time? Hour and a half (including marinating — longer if you’re patient and want even stronger flavor).
Cost? $3 beef, less than $1 for carrot and snow peas, $2.69 oyster sauce, $3.29 cooking sherry, $2.50 orange juice.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. I absolutely loved this meal. I thought my inability to wait two hours for marinating would ruin the flavor, but the flavor was fantastic. One serving was satisfying without making you feel overly full, and it kept well as leftovers. Definitely a tasty and relatively healthy weeknight meal that I’d highly recommend.

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