Monday, October 19, 2009

Elevation Burger

Elevation Burger
50 East Wynnewood Road
Wynnewood, PA
(610) 645-7704

I have been hearing alot about elevation burger, and I just couldn't wait for one to be opened in Center City, so the trek was made out to Wynnewood to give it a go. There have been numerous comparisons to In and Out, so of course I was intrigued. Well to make a short story short...

The burgers were good. Fresh ground, free range, organic beef. They had good toppings, though not as many as five guys. They had a thousand island style sauce that was unfortunately very bland. But they had 2 standouts. The fries, which are fried in olive oil, were awesome. Not super crispy, but crispy enough, with a GREAT fresh flavor. And the other standout was the balsamic mustard, which I got on the side for dipping the fries in. I also got the thousand island, but it was meh, so I attacked the mustard. It was really, really good. Not bad for a low guilt burger and fries. With two center city locations coming soon, I will definitely be back. Oh and the staff is SUPER friendly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Red Onion and Cilantro Relish

Ok so as the final garnish to my Korean tacos, I wanted to make something with a little crunch to give it a different texture. Red onion and cilantro relish was a no brainer, and SO easy to make.

2 large red onions
half a bunch of cilantro, de-stemmed
2 limes
1 cup of rice wine vinegar

I diced the onion, and threw it in a big non-reactive bowl. After that I added the vinegar, lime juice and salt. Toss, and let sit, tossing occasionally. About a half an hour before serving, add in the cilantro (you don't want it wilt too much), and add to your tacos. The vinegar and lime really dull the sharp onion taste, and it adds such an incredibly light and refreshing crunch to your tacos. I would use this recipe on ANY tacos, and will certainly do so in the future.

Korean Salsa

To go with my short rib tacos, I wanted a bit of a Mexican-Korean salsa to garnish them. I bought about 10 plum tomatoes, and 10 tomatillos. I threw them on a pan with some salt and olive oil, and put them in the oven at 400 for about a half hour. You will hear the tomatoes pop when the heat gets to be too much, and this is okay. After 20 minutes, check them every five.

When they are sufficiently roasted, pull them out of the oven, and throw them in a pot. In the pot you should start with some minced garlic, sliced onion and oil and cook for a couple minutes. Throw in the tomatoes, add a cup or so of water, the juice of 2 limes, a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of sesame oil and a cup of chili sauce or gochujang. Let this simmer for about a half hour on low medium heat.

When that has reduced and cooked together a bit, throw the whole mix into a food processor and blend until there are no remaining chunks. When it comes out, add more lime, or chili sauce to taste. I also tossed in some sesame seeds at this point and stirred them in. Let it rest in the fridge, but try and give it enough time to come up to room temperature before serving.

This would also be great for a unique twist on any Mexican dish. The spicy sweet chili sauce combined with the smoky roasted tomatoes is a delicious combo, and I am glad I made extra that I can use in the future. It should last up to a month in the fridge.

Korean short rib tacos

I am not a big fan of fusion food, but I must say, when I heard about Korean tacos, I was intrigued. Korean and Mexican are two of my favorite kinds of food. Actually they ARE my two favorites. I when I heard about Kogi, I almost moved back to LA on the spot (not really). But it DID make me want to try and replicate them in my new shiny Dutch Oven.

I went to the Italian market and got 4 pounds of beef short ribs, cut in half at the butchers. I also picked up some fresh vegetables, and went home to experiment.

Short Rib Ingredients:
4 lbs. Short Ribs
6 cloves of garlic
1 large yellow onion
4 medium red potatoes
2T fresh grated ginger
1c gochujang (you can make a close approximation with Siracha, Ketchup, Brown sugar, and a dash of sesame oil)
1/2c miso paste
1c soy sauce
1c water
1c chicken or beef stock
1c brown sugar
1T sesame oil

First, let the meat warm up for about thirty minutes to an hour, then heat a good amount of oil in the bottom of your Dutch Oven. Take the ribs dump in salt and pepper in the bag they came in
and shake to coat. Pull out the ribs and place in the hot oil. Don't move them for a couple minutes. This will let them brown up nicely. Then rotate them and continue browning on all sides.

At the same time, I started a sauce pan with oil and threw in the garlic letting it saute for about 2 minutes. After that, pour in the stock, water, gochujang, miso paste, brown sugar and sesame oil and let simmer, stirring. After the short ribs are done browning, dump this into the dutch oven, cover and put it in the oven at a temperature between 250-350 degrees depending on how much time you have. I had all day so I set the oven at 290 and let it cook, covered for about 3 hours. I then pulled it out, and let it sit, covered, on the stove and come to rest. It is VERY important at this stage that you leave the ribs in the cooking liquid as they come to rest. They will soak up the liquid as they SLOWLY cool in the dutch oven, and remain incredibly moist and tender.

About 2 hours before I am going to serve them, I heat the oven to 300 and put them back in. I also toss in the onions and potatoes to cook for the last 2 hours. I don't put them in at the beginning because don't want the potatoes to turn into mush. Allowing them to slowly come back to heat really lets the flavor build in these succulent morsels.

I cook for an hour with the lid on, and then another hour with the lid off. The lid off allows the exposed pieces of meat to carmelize, and in turn makes for a DELICIOUS piece of beef in your taco, or eaten plain. You will not believe how good this is. One of the best meals I have ever made.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

3 Potato Beef Stew

So I bit the bullet and finally got the Le Creuset Dutch Oven I have been wanting for years. They are VERY expensive, but also VERY AWESOME, and I simply could not go with one of the inferior competitors models. I figure that given the lifetime warranty, it is the sort of thing you buy once, so it is worth the price tag. Not to mention it looks SWEET sitting on your stove.

So the first thing that came to mind to cook in it was Beef Stew. On the recommendation of the Italian Market Shopkeepers, I tried it using London Broil. The steak is relativly inexpensive, and it has a more even marbling of fat to keep it juicy and tender. I wanted to keep it fairly traditional, so I only added onions, potatoes and carrots. I got three kinds of gorgeous potatoes, small red, fingerling and purple potatoes. I cubed them, cut the carrots into discs, and cut the yellow onion into quarters.

I set the veggies aside, cubed my four pound steak, and threw it back in the bag with flour, salt and pepper. This gives it a good surface area for browning, and the flour will help thicken the sauce while it is cooking.

The browning does not take long, and after that, pull the meat out, and saute the veggies in the meat renderings. When you see the onions start to turn clear, pour in a Guinness, and add the meat, stirring. Add in some chicken or beef stock, cover and let the slow cooking commence.

I cooked this for about 4 hours on low heat. The stew really thickened up, thus distinguishing it from a soup. It was very tasty, earthy, smokey and tender. The London Broil is a cut I will definitely look to in the future for the many stews I plan on making over the winter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

French onion dip

I need to post a disclaimer here. This dip is addicting. Really addicting. And really easy to make. It is in a different league than the stuff you get in a packet and mix with sourcream. I made it for a party this weekend, and it was a big hit. As usual.

3 large yellow onions
1 package cream cheese
1 tub sour cream
2T butter
2t salt
Worcester sauce
Cooking wine
Red Pepper Flakes

Slice the onions into large slivers, and throw them in a saute pan with the butter (I also use olive oil) 2t salt, and slowly caramelize them. About half an hour in, pour in 1/2 cup of sherry, and continue cooking for about another 30 minutes. You want them to get really deep, dark, and golden brown. Turn off the heat and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Take them out, and dice the cooked onions, making sure to get all of the juicy remnants from the pan. The onions cook down ALOT, so if it looks, like too many at the start, it should be just about right.

Let the cream cheese warm up a bit before adding to a large bowl with the sour cream. Dump in the onions and all of their delicious juices, and add some pepper flakes, and a couple of dashes of Worcester. Stir these all together, and cover putting it in the fridge. Let it sit as long as possible before tearing into it. The flavors take a couple of hours to come together, optimally overnight. Serve with Ruffles. This is a real hit for football season. If you want the dip to be creamier, you can halve the cream cheese, or add mayo instead. As shown here, the dip is pretty thick, but I love the creaminess of cream cheese. It would be really good served with crackers too. Triscuits come to mind. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

MS Ride

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be a part of an MS 150 team in the city to shore ride. It was amazingly fun and quite a workout. Although I am still hurt, I put crusier bars on my old cannondale, and gave it a go.

7,500 people rode on the first day, a 75 (80) mile ride to Ocean City, New Jersey.

We then crashed out and woke up early the next day for the ride back.

160 miles later, Team Biscuit was at the finish line and ready for some pizza!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vegan Fig Bars

The other day, while out on a South Philly fig hunting bike ride with a Vegan partner in crime, I realized we didn't have a plan as far as how to prepare the figs. I figured a homemade take on Fig Newton's would be a good compromise, as I normally only think of figs as a complement to meat. We were lucky enough to get about 30 fresh figs from various trees in a couple of neighborhoods.

This recipe was SUPER easy, and really quite good.
1c shortening
2c flour
4c diced fresh figs
2c water
1/2t salt
1c brown sugar
2 c quick cooking oats
2T lemon juice
2T orange peel
1c Honey
2T balsamic vinegar

Take a medium sauce pan, and add 4 cups diced figs, 2 cups water, honey, vinegar and orange peel. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for an hour.

Next add 2 table spoons of flour mixed with 2 table spoons of water and stir in until it becomes a thick (Fig Newton like) mixture. Add 2T lemon juice, cook an additional 5 minutes and take off of the heat.

After that, cream together the shortening, and the brown sugar. When that is throughly mixed, add in the oats and keep on mixing! Spread half of the oat/shortening mixture on the bottom of a greased glass baking tray, and dump on the fig mixture.

Spread the mixture evenly across the entire tray.

Cover with the remaining oats and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Although not necessary, we threw it in the broiler to brown up the top. Slice them while warm, and let cool completely before removing.

Although this picture is bad (Iphone!), the finished product tastes great! Next time, I might try something different for the top crust. Also, you could put virtually ANY fruit in the saucepan to start and it would have similarly great results (cherries, peaches, or blueberries come to mind). Give it a try, and impress your Vegan friends.

Monday, October 5, 2009


413 E Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 634-3466

I had been hearing about sketch for a while now, and after the enlightening art experience that is first Friday, I decided to check it out last week. When we got there, we were greeted by a VERY enthusiastic host/food runner, who had lots of recommendations. He steered us in the direction of the fries, but mentioned there was some chili leftover from lunch. Chili cheese fries anyone? It had been quite a while, so I bit. He said they had a special cheese sauce. I figured whiz, and it was a whiz base, but there was something extra in there. The fries, although thicker than I normally like, were crispy, perfectly seasoned and delicious. Next time I would go cheese sauce on the side. It was quite good though and the whole trio together were SUPER addicting (I mean come on, it's chili cheese fries).

Next I went with the regular burger (they boast a Kobe beef, Turkey or Buffalo burger as well) medium rare, with lettuce, tomato, mushrooms ($1 extra), bacon ($1 extra) and bleu cheese (also $1 extra). They also charge another dollar for grilled or raw(?) onions. I will overlook this because the burger at base cost is a reasonable $6.50. They also let you add your choice of sauces. I chose the harissa mayo. When it came out, the meat was cooked perfectly, and this 8 oz. monster was quite a formidable opponent (especially after 3 lbs of chili cheese fries). I only ate half. It was really, really tasty, but also really, really messy. The ingredients were almost too much. Not to say I didn't quite enjoy this burger it was just really hard to eat. Next time I will probably order the onion burger.

The other sandwich we chose was the short-rib. I LOVE short-ribs and this sandwich did not disappoint. Served on the same fluffy egg roll as the burger, it was a huge pile of meat topped with caramelized onions and spicy mustard. The meat was delicious, but the onions too plentiful. Also the mustard was lost in the greasiness of the onions and beef. I ended up adding horseradish at home for a little kick.

Overall, it was a quite enjoyable experience and I will be back to try the other combos. A bit greasy, and hard to eat, but hey, you are at a burger and shake shack, not Butcher and Singer. It's to be expected!