Hanging Round the (Wrong) City

I spent around 24 hours this weekend in Philadelphia with friends, so naturally we set our priorities to finding the good food. Being new to the city, I was looking forward to discovering the Reading Terminal Market – and discover we did!

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipoCompared to Chelsea Market, this indoor food plaza of beauty is a little harder to maneuver, but much more sensory-stimulating. Bright neon signs, the scents of famous cookies, cold ice cream, Thai, Mediterranean, Chinese, Italian foods and more pack the building with sights and smells that will easily overwhelm you if you suffer from indecision. It probably took us 20-30 minutes to peruse and figure out what we wanted to eat. It was well worth the long stroll, and I now know what will be on my list the next time I’m in Philly (Famous 4th St Cookies? Kamal’s Middle Eastern Specialties? Profi’s Creperie??).

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

There is all sorts of stuff at the Reading Terminal market. You got your hot meals, your sweet treats, your groceries, and your books, flower essences, and juices. You could get a lot done here during the week (emphasis on “during” and “week”); like a street of Manhattan or Brooklyn, but reasonably priced. Turn your head one way and there are new and old cookbooks; turn your head the other way and there are turkey parts, all waiting to be purchased.

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

What do you have for lunch in a place with more than thirty options? You go local: what’s the city specialty? In this case, I concluded a classic Philly Cheesecake was as good choice. This was split along with chicken enchiladas and a tamale for maximum tasting efficiency. As you can see, the cheesesteak was much meat and min…anything else. There was definitely provolone in there. I’m sure it was fine for a cheesesteak, and I know next time to get some roasted peppers in there too. The enchiladas and tamale were quite satisfying. And of course after such a well-balanced meal, we went in search of dessert!

If you know me, you know I love….wait for it…doughnuts! So very much.When I heard that the market had a doughnut situation, I had to check it out via Google. Apparently the Beiler’s Doughnuts are pretty well known, especially in Philly. This was my initial first plan of attack when we got to the market, but then we saw the line of 30+ people waiting and said “next time”. However, when it came to picking out dessert, I just had to know for sure that it would take too long. Conveniently standing near me was a gentleman with a box of these doughnuts…

“Excuse me good sir, how long were you waiting in line for those?”
“Oh, not long at all. The line moves quickly”
“Great, thanks so much–” – and I make a beeline for Beiler’s. Luckily the wait does go quickly, particularly when you get to see this in front of you…check it out!

Very large vats of doughnut filling waiting to be poured/scooped into funnels of fun
Very large vats of doughnut filling waiting to be poured/scooped into funnels of fun

Exhibit A: filling being scooped from vat into funnel.
Exhibit A: filling being scooped from vat into funnel.

Check out that equipment! Doughnut cutting efficiency at its coolest.
Check out that equipment! Doughnut cutting efficiency at its coolest.

Some on deck to the fryer, others to be served. The bottom rack on the right side is full of apple fritters to-be-fried. They were flying out of the display case!
Some on deck to the fryer, others to be served. The bottom rack on the right side is full of apple fritters to-be-fried. They were flying out of the display case!

Rapid-fire powdering.
Rapid-fire powdering.

Check out (part of) that production line.
Check out (part of) that production line.
So those apple fritters; they were indeed flying off the trays they were sitting on behind the window, and people were waiting even longer for fresh ones to come out! They probably had two new batches sell out while we waited in line. We thought we’d try our luck and see if we could snag one by the time we made it to the front. As we paid, the newest batch was getting glazed, and our server went to grab one for us !!! What an experience.

It got emotional...
It got emotional…
The steam was still coming off and it was almost too hot to eat. But, you know, we managed.

The trifecta
The trifecta
Of course, we needed to sample some true/varied doughnuts to get a well-rounded feel for their game. Always get a glazed – that’s where all the magic should happen. You know someone can make a doughnut when their glazed is great. That was the most surprising thing about Beiler’s: this glazed doughnut was the best doughnut I’ve had, ever! Far exceeding anything Krispy Kreme could do for you, even right off the belt. This melted instantly in my mouth, was so fluffy, crispy on the outside, and light on the inside. I was shocked and highly pleased. The other one was maple walnut, and it was pretty good. A lot of frosting going on that was unnecessary, especially with the same on the inside. Good flavors, though. And the last kicker is the price of all of these: 95 cents!!! Suddenly feel like moving out of my own city…sigh to the #3dollardoughnuts.

All in all, great time at the market, and great time in Philly. To round out the trip, we of course got brunch, from the Gold Standard Cafe in West Philly.

gold-standard-cafe-carmen-ladipo
Cinnamon cream cheese French toast? Had to.

Counting down the days till my next trip!

A Summer in San Francisco

     To continue my end-of-blogging tendencies, I have run out of time to share all my gastronomic adventures with y’all in a chronologically appropriate time. So it is now the time to conglomerate the  highlights of the rest of my endeavors in San Francisco, the night before my flight back to the East Coast, when I should instead be making lunch/dinner/meal for the stingy domestic flight that won’t provide me with one for free. Featured here is the best chocolate chip cookie I purchased in the city, the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, Tartine Bakery (big deal), and Chile Pies and Ice Cream, north of the Panhandle.

     So another As Seen on “Unique Sweets” player here is Goody Goodie Cream and Sugar. This place is tucked away very nicely in what I guess is technically Mission. Nothing much is in the area, except some excellent chocolate chip cookies. I met the woman behind the baked goodness, Remi Hayashi. She was very kind and filled me in on her secret when I asked her what was crunching in the goody goodie cookie, with four different kinds of chocolate: cocoa nibs. Nuts, right? No, not nuts at all. This is all chocolate and almost no batter (once you bite into it). I would say a definite 2:1 chocolate to dough ratio here, no lie. And what’s better than a free milk shot to go with your cookie? Not much.

     They’re also just very attractive cookies. Perfectly round and colored on top. Also nice and thick.

 There she is, doing her cookie thing.

     This farmer’s market though…the biggest in the city, is up and running Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Saturday is from 8-2pm, and as you can imagine, the chef/restaurant owners don’t fancy wading through the crowd for the leftovers at noon, so the die hards get there right at 8 am for the best pickings and fewest people. One Saturday morning I got up at 7 just to get to the farmer’s market when it wasn’t crowded. I don’t do too well with crowds and grocery shopping: ask my classmates and they’ll tell you I wait until 10 pm to go to Wegmans. Well I got to the farmer’s market and while it was foggy, it was just so pleasant. Also beautiful (note tomato arrangement above). So many stone fruit samples. How else do you pick where to get your $3.50/lb nectarines?

Come hungry and get ready for a sugar crash later.

     Pluot: yes, plum-apricot.
Big bowl of greens.
Big popular bakery and a guy with cool glasses.
 So, animal fur. I guess it counts as being sustainable if you’re killing the
animals for their meat anyway, right?

It’s not just in the South of France (though it’s probably best there tbh).
     Oh, we can’t forget Umami Burger. Also known as $12 for a lot of truffle oil and “flavor”. There was nothing wrong with the burger per se, but I didn’t feel like the price was worth it. I have since tried a $3 In ‘N Out Burger, though, and was a good old fast food fix.
 Trying to go all Japanese. Not a bad looking place.
Community tabling it.

Check it: the original Umami Burger, with Parmesan crisp (baked Parmesan
chip), tiny shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and
house-made ketchup.

Megan got the Truffle Especiale with Parmesan frico, truffled arugula,
truffle butter, and a fried egg. #mushrooms #trendy

With a side of truffle cheese fondue fries. Topped with “truffle salt”. Sometimes
you just gotta lol. The fries were for sure tasty though I’ll give Umami that.

     I don’t know how to describe the importance of Tartine Bakery to San Francisco, except to say that it’s very important. Everyone knows it, everyone has been there, and everyone probably has their preferred menu item. I have never passed the corner café without seeing a line of this length out the door. I do know that no-lines happen on occasion, though. One Saturday morning I found myself in the Mission and thought it only appropriate to try something.

     It’s a very small place, so don’t expect to get a table without waiting. But you go in – or rather line up, get in, order, and find somewhere to stay if you want. I think there may be some wait staff thing going on if you order lunch. Here are some literal sneak peek photos I took in stealth mode/from the hip (I’m getting better maybe?).

 They do all sorts of things here. I think that’s the lemon meringue cake
getting worked on back there.

Here is the finished product.

They’re famous for their bread pudding.

No wonder.
But they’re also famous for their morning buns. Remember C&W’s morning bun? The prices of the two differ by 20 cents, but the experience is galaxies apart. What came to mind when I was thinking of how to describe C&W’s bun was too harsh to post. But you must understand: I almost cried eating this morning bun. I almost bought another. Warm, citrusy, gooey, sugary meltedness on the top, barely done in the middle, incredible. Like no cinnamon roll I will ever have. If you go to San Francisco for one thing, make it this morning bun. I was so extremely content when I left. Thank you, Tartine Bakery.

     Chile Pies and Ice Cream are known for putting chiles in their apple pie with a cheddar crust or some such combo. I say why ruin a perfectly good pie, as does my intern buddy Erin, but I guess I can’t knock it yet since I went with the seasonal white nectarine with raspberries, paired with lemon cookie ice cream from SF’s Three Twins Ice Cream. I think one of those twins went to Cornell! This place is part of Green Chile Kitchen, a fun looking restaurant right next door to their NoPa location (north of Panhandle…does anyone really use NoPa as a neighborhood name?). It has some sort of old-fashioned, maybe rustic vibe to it. Check out that table top.

With a menu that changes daily, they have this cool roll of paper pinned to the wall.

Fun lights, except I couldn’t see all that well.

If you’re staying to eat, they’ll heat up your pie nice and gud. They also make
pie shakes. They will take your pie slice of choice and make it into a shake.
I’m not sure, either. Next time.

Fun lights like I mentioned.

       I’m leaving this city with more questions than answers, but at this point, with one semester to go and future choices to be considering, it’s not a bad thing. This time tomorrow I will be on the hustle side of things for one more round. Stay tuned for ridiculous senior(itis) endeavors, and thanks for reading this far! Keep your rubber scrapers handy for a fun cupcake recipe from weeks ago too…

Incredibly Whole Wheat Apple Crisp Muffins

I need to think of shorter names for my creations.

 I also need to think of a way to make money off of these creations, because they’re coming, they’re awesome, and they’re trying to compete with my picture taking for time. Culinary school gap year, anyone?
(Joking!) (I think!)
We had a lot of apples the week I was home after returning from Nigeria, and I wanted to do something with them. I combined the Fannie Farmer muffin recipe and Joy the Baker’s apple crispiness (I’m getting all food bloggy as of late…but really just Joythebakery) and voilà! Apple crisp muffins – with only whole wheat flour, because healthy lifestyles are the best lifestyles. Also, I have to make up for the diet that is Nigeria: meat n’ starch. So here! Replace the healthy with white, if you must.

Incredibly Whole Wheat Apple Crisp Muffins
Inconveniently makes 15 muffins…sorry


Apple filling
2 large apples, chopped into large pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 dash ground cinnamon

Topping
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 dash ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 handful crushed walnuts
2 tablespoons rolled oats

Muffin
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease 2 muffin pans

Cut the apples and place in a small bowl. Ad the sugar and cinnamon to coat all pieces. Set aside

Mix the dry topping ingredients together in a second small bowl. Add the butter and work into dry ingredients with hands until evenly distributed. Set aside

Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg, milk and oil, only enough to dampen batter, not making it smooth. Incorporate apples to batter.

Spoon batter into muffin pans, filling each cup two-thirds of the way. Top each muffin with brown sugar mixture, then place in oven to bake for 20 minutes.

Hearty
Cookie cameo
The world needs less hunger and more scrapers
I had a fun time juggling the apple pieces with the muffin batter due to their large size but it was quite worth the struggle, as I happily encountered an acceptable ratio of apple-to-muffin. But the size you cut the apples into is ultimately up to you…
I could totally make a living off of this right
Super healthy AND super tasty!

#collegeproblemzzz: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Typical dorm life issue: You want to make cookies (make cookies), so you get out all your non-perishables from the closet, and forget you don’t have any butter or eggs.
Rats! Or, maybe that’s not generally a problem because why would you have flour, sugar and chocolate chips without butter and eggs?  If you’re anything like me, then you enjoy baking from scratch and won’t know when the urge will hit you. In these cases, it would be convenient to use eggs regularly enough that they don’t expire before you finish, and…well I guess you don’t have the same problem with butter. But I had no eggs, I had no butter, and I wasn’t about to drive to Wegmans in order to make cookies.
For whatever reason, however (specifically doughnuts…), I had some vegetable oil hanging around. There was hope yet! After Googling something like “no egg butter chocolate chip cookies” I eventually came across the Post Punk Kitchen, advertising their expertise on vegan cooking. I generally steer clear of vegan and gluten-free things, as a byproduct of their ingredients (or lack of) is more healthy, less dangerous and delectable. But I really didn’t have a choice since nothing I had to work with was/came from something that ever had legs. You know when they say don’t judge a recipe by its picture? That’s right – they don’t, because it’s surefire way to predict your success (totally).
I’ve attacked this recipe twice now, and let’s just say practice makes perfect. If you are missing butter from your fridge If you are a college student living in a dorm, then there’s a fair chance you won’t have tapioca flour hanging around like this recipe requests. If you are thus concerned for your cookies’ integrity, then you can replace the tapioca flour with something sticky like peanut butter or bananas. As long as you follow the instructions, and take care in catalyzing the “chemical reactions”, you should be good to go. Don’t be like me and assume efforts to mix the oil into the sugars are for naught. They’re not. Your cookies will taste better than the tube of dough your neighbors are buying from the campus convenience store.
Disclaimer: This, of course, depends on your substitute for the tapioca flour; not sure you even need one. If you use half a pinkie’s length of banana, you will have banana cookies with some chocolate chips. You’ve been warned.
Pools of oil: BAD
Homogenous velvety smooth “dough”: GOOD
Your cookies should look more like this
Less so like this: they may slip out of your fingers

Chocolate Chip Cookie (no eggs, no butter)

1/2 brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two large light metal baking sheets.
Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collide, so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Mix in the vanilla.
Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stuff so use your hands to really work them in.
For 3 inch cookies, roll the dough into about ping pong ball size balls. Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes – no more than 9 – until they are just a little browned around the edges. I usually get 16 out of these so I do two rounds of eight cookies. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
For 2 dozen two inch cookies roll dough into walnut sized balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches and bake for only six minutes.
Brought to you by PPK

How Many Different Ways Can You Spell Doughnut?

How about with some Fs? You know, like duffin! That’s what Torey, Tommy and I made one or two busy weekends ago. This adventure is proof that inspiration can come from anywhere – in this case, instagram. Yes, I do in fact shamelessly take pictures of my food and share with the world (http://instagram.com/carmzl). Don’t be envious of my food and picture snapping skills, there’s a good chance whatever you find in there will end up here so you might as well think of it as a preview of lovely recipes to come.
     So doughnut muffins. A doughnut or a muffin? I’ll give you a hint: You can usually go by the last word. So when you add nutmeg and muffin stuff to muffins, and glaze them, they’re gonna taste like muffins. With some doughnut…essence. I think we were envisioning light and fluffy “muffins” that were really doughnuts in disguise…more like muffins disguised as breakfast. Except they were also breakfast. Uh anyway, they’re pretty easy to make, and as long as you’re expecting muffins, you’ll likely enjoy them. The glaze was definitely the best part.

I promise I helped – there’s even proof
Look at that texture
Is that me? In my own blog?! The scary things that happen
when I share the camera
Per the request of Torey
Wasn’t lying about the glaze…
Next time we’re making doughnuts…no Fs included

Glazed Doughnut Muffins

For the Batter

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 ¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste (I used 1 ¼)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

For the Glaze

3 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper muffin cups.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.
  7. Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
  8. In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth.
  9. When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. As recommended in the adapted recipe, I glazed my muffins twice.
  10. Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.

Brought to you by one SemiSweetie

To Ramen or to Ramen

You’re a poor college student getting ready to replenish your stash of instant ramen cups – don’t do it! Let me suggest a more healthy and more taste-bud-thrilling option. You’ll still get your ramen, but you won’t get the unpronounceable ingredients list in your body. You have a couple options, but one main path to success.
1. Go to a grocery store and get a packet of ramen noodles, not pre-packaged to just nuke&go, but to boil in hot water or a microwave for a while.

Okay okay, not ramen per se, but I’ll tell you a secret – it doesn’t actually matter
2. Steal vegetables from the salad bar in the dining hall Go get vegetables to add to your noodles, in place of the vegetable flavoring powder. Peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli etc will do. Also mushrooms.
3. You can either cook the vegetables in oil until they smell good or leave them to put on top after the noodles are done. If you want to cook them, you can add some oil to whatever you can put on the stove — pot, skillet etc (hopefully you have a pot for the noodles, though)

If this counts as sautéing, then do that.
4. Boil water in a pot and then put the noodles in for 4ish minutes, or as long as the directions say. Yeah, don’t throw out the package.

Good to practice your guesstimating
5. Make sure the noodles as soft as you want them, then drain the water and place in a bowl. Add the vegetables with whatever other fixings you want like soy sauce, that red rooster sauce, salt/pepper etc.
Doesn’t that just look so much healthier?

That’s the basic rundown if you are culinarily challenged. Other variations include making a broth with the miso soup packet things (significantly less unhealthy than styrofoam noodle cups) with the water, cooking the vegetables with the noodles, and making a real broth with meat and everything (lol).
If you’re hard up for real cookware, you can put the noodles in a bowl with water and microwave them until the water is boiling, and add a miso packet to have soup. Anything like this is better than the Maruchan Ramen in the campus convenience store. Sure, it’s “convenient”, but if you take 7 more minutes, you can make a real meal and have some for tomorrow. Read that essay while the noodles cook.
*Special thanks to Tommy for being as good a cook as I am a baker 😛

Ithaca Dining Installment #3: ZaZa’s Cucina

We’re gonna pretend that I’ve posted something within the last month and smoothly transition into cardiac arresting Italian food. Rebecca and I took Jonathan out for his birthday to ZaZa’s Cucina, home to “authentic Italian cuisine”. Even though the outside of the place looks like a literal hole in the wall, once you step inside, you best hope you’re not wearing jeans. JK you could probably wear jeans, but it would not be strange to put on the fancy clothes. Jonathan had the pumpkin ravioli with caramelized onions, hazelnuts, and goat cheese.I think it was okay, if I remember correctly. 
Rebecca had theBologna-style lasagna. I think that bologna refers to the sauce, notthe sandwich meat. Tasted like lasagna. 

Then there was the gnocchi(apparently pronounced nyaw-key). That’s basically chunks of spongy potato. In this case, they were swimming in gorgonzola/brie/fontina/mascarpone/Parmigiano Reggiano cheese sauce.

Probably too decadent, especially as I had trouble getting through half, as some will be happy to hear. It tasted nice, but was very rich and sat like a rock in my stomach. I was most entertained by the texture of the new potato form in between my teeth. 

For dessert we shared a crème brûlée.My first one, too! Almost ironic. After all the time and anticipation of having it, I guess I was expecting more than it really was, though it didn’t taste bad. Glad I didn’t have my own, either. From the sounds of it, I still need some quality time (or meat) with true Italian cuisine. I can’t say this was the best night for my lipoprotein intake, but I most likely had oatmeal for breakfast. And I sure as heck won’t be trying those out again any time soon.