Sunday, July 31, 2011

Philly: Main Line Part II

After a long day working at the PA Civil War 150 Road Show all day in Malvern, I was tired, especially from the heat.

After a long day in the sun we went for a nice dinner at the Brickside Grille at the Eagleview Town Center in Exton, PA. The restaurant is in the middle of the Eagleview Town Center and has a comfortable brick deck for outdoor seating. We sat down immediately and looked at their menu which had a nice balance of seafood, sandwiches, brick oven pizzas, and fresh items. Rated as one of Main line Magazine's best restaurants, this place definitely delievered.


We weren’t in the mood for appetizers even though they had some nice choices including a delicious Lobster Bisque which I have had before, or Sweet Potato Fries with a Bourbon Maple Drizzle. Still, we were happy with the great bread!

For dinner we order some delicious entrees:

Mom had Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. The crab was sweet and complex and the mashed potatoes were tangy and satisfying.

Mackenzie had Cajun Fried Grouper fish with Grilled Roma Tomatoes, Blackened Shrimp atop Mashed Potatoes drizzled in Basil Olive Oil. The basil infused oil made the dish and without it Mackenzie described it as “a glorified fish stick."

Aaron got the Shaved Prime Rib Sandwich with horseradish mayonnaise and French Fry Straws.

I got the daily special: Copper River Salmon with Pear and Raisin chutney, jasmine rice, and steamed green beans. Hopefully Chez Us would be proud.

 The salmon was perfect and the chutney worked well with the complex cinnamon flavor.  It was satisfying but light enough that I could still get dessert!

Mom had a light Sambuca while I ordered the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with decaf coffee.

As my family knows, when I get dessert (which is often) I always get a coffee to balance the sweet flavor. This was no exception. This was a decent sized portion and I could hardly finish the rich dessert. Despite this, it was totally worth it.
It was nice to sit outside under the shade but without any candles it got very buggy by the end of our meal. The service was fast and courteous but we did not feel rushed. The food was actually quite delicious and the atmosphere despite the bugs was pleasant. I like that they change their menu seasonly. My first visit to the Brickside was last November  when I had a delicious squash ravioli with dried cranberries, (very Fall.) The Summer menu and July specials are perfect for the weather. Since Aaron’s family is from Chester Springs right next to Exton, I would come here again. If you are ever in the Exton, PA area, try the Brickside for a nice relaxing dinner.


The College Cuisiner

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Philly: Main Line Adventure

This weekend my mother, Aaron, and myself get to stay on right outside Philly for a well-deserved break from the hectic situation that is a new house in transition.

As a perk for my 40 + hour internship, my mother and I got to come to Malvern, PA to "work" and stay for the weekend. I was lucky enough to score a major historical project for my first internship. The Pennsylvania Civil War 150 Project is commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War with many projects including the PA Civil War 150 Road Show which is travelling to all of PA's 67 counties in the next four years. This week we are in Chester County, in two weeks we'll be in Delaware County. So for you Philly folks, try to make it. For other stops check it out. Here's what it looks like:

So the next few posts will be from the road of our Main Line Adventure.

But on Friday we needed to meet my sister in Philadelphia to help her with her car so I took Veronika's advice from Tick Tock Vintage and went to the Franklin Fountain Ice Cream Shop.

Please bear with me, blogging from hotel internet is not easy.

It was adorable and just what we needed in this muggy heat. The Franklin Fountain is an Olde Time Ice Cream Shop on Market Street in Philadelphia. It is definitely priced for the experience ($ 5.50 for a medium dish) but the ice cream is all homemade and it is amazing.
As we ordered we just beat the line too: added bonus.


The Friday heat in Philly was almost unbearable, and while the ice cream helped, it was nice to get inside afterwards.

I had Mint Chocolate Chip. This was some of the best ice cream I have ever had and I am a mint chocolate chip snob. White ice cream with Crème de menthe swirls, and shavings of dark chocolate.

Aaron got a Strawberry milkshake and as always gulped it down before much sharing could be done.

Mom had a cone of Cherry Vanilla which she thoroughly enjoyed.

My sister had fresh orangeade and we all enjoyed the corner shop.


I wasn’t the only one taking photos but I received some dirty looks.

Maybe because I did things like this.

Review: The shop was adorable and I loved that the ice cream servers wore the 1910's style uniforms. But wow, they must have been so hot in those things. While you do pay for the experience and the location, the ice cream is top notch. Definitely a fun place to visit once if you aren't from Philadelphia. But for me, I will definitely be back.



The College Cuisiner 

What is your favorite summer spot to visit?

p.s. look back this weekend for more of my Main Line/Philly Adventure!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Small Town Summer: The Cellar BYOB Restaurant

 Since my life has been engulfed with moving these past few months, we haven’t gotten much of a chance to go out to dinner. Yes, the occasional Thai takeout or pizza has come by but that has been about it.

Thankfully, it was different this time.

My mom, Aaron, and I went to the Cellar, a BYOB restaurant in Camp Hill, PA
(Right across the river from Harrisburg)

This isn’t our usual Wednesday night scene, but tonight we had a special cause.

Both in 2007 and 2008, I traveled to Ouanaminthe, Haiti for two weeks to work at a school and clinic for Haitian children and now adults.

The Cellar Restaurant donated 20% of all profits to Institution Univers and their charitable organizaiton, C.O.C.I.N.A. whether or not you came for the event or not.

This meant a lot to everyone and the Cellar are continuing the fundraiser every Wednesday in August 2011.

Back to the Restaurant:

When you pass the restaurant it probably doesn’t give you a feel for what it looks like inside or for how good the food is.

The inside is very attractive, light walls, tasteful art, and low lighting. So please forgive the horrible photography.

Aaron and I in the Cellar dining room

I was pleasantly surprised how good the food was. This was my first time at the Cellar and when I looked at the website, it appeared a little pretentious. It wasn’t at all. Both the restaurant and the staff were charming and hospitable. When we walked in we were welcomed by the owner and the manager who thanked us for coming to support the cause for Haiti.

The Cellar markets itself as “a BYOB restaurant” with the option for regulars to “rent” a locker for the alcohol at $10 a month (or $20 for a large locker) to be taken out and served whenever they come in.

Sadly, coming straight from work we had no bottle of wine. So the owner, Nicholas Dunphy, gave us a bottle of a beautiful dry red out of his own locker. For Free.

I liked this place already.

We ordered and I decided to get their special $29.99 deal: Any starter, a side salad, a lite entrée, and dessert. This was deal since every entrée was at least $20-$30 alone.

We began with two starters for the three of us:

Edamame Hummus with Kimchi and crispy Wonton Chips (We were given more chips)

Fried Calamari with Thai Chili Sauce

Both were wonderful. The Calamari was soft and crispy and great with Thai chili sauce.The real knockout  was the Edamame Hummus. When I saw this on the menu I was wary. This sounded like it would either be really good or really bad.

Instead, it was really great.

If you love hummus like me, this is completely different. But don't worry, you would love this too. Instead of chickpeas they used edamames, garlic, tahini, and I think some curry powder.
The hummus was fresh, light yet flavorful, and satisfying. The hummus was served with fried wonton chips and small pieces of kimchi. This was probably my favorite part of the meal.

Our next course was fresh rosemary focaccia bread and side salads. The dressing was a delicious house-made Citrus Dijon Vinaigrette and was a stand alone.

After the delicious starters our entrees were no let down either:

Aaron order Open Face Lobster Ravioli which was fantastic.

The dish is described on the menu as “Open Face Lobster Ravioli: Buratta Cheese, Pea, Baby Leek, Morel Mushroom, Lobster Broth”


Mom ordered the Quinoa & Roasted Vegetable Napoleon described as
Chipotle Quinoa Cake, Roasted Organic Vegetables, Lancaster County Noble Cheddar, Panko Crust, Roasted Pepper Consommé”

This was over the top good and had a delightful kick.

And then there was my meal…..

I ordered the Cellar Mac & Cheese described as “Lobster, Jumbo Lump Crab, Chevre, Lancaster County Cheddar, Baby Swiss, Asiago Rigatoni, Panko Crust”

This does not do it justice.

It was brimming with crab, lobster, and cheese, and actually had few Rigatoni. This Mac & Cheese was unbelievably rich. I am so glad I ordered the “lite” version. I can't even imagine how big the “full” version is.

We were so full…but what about dessert?

I am a sucker when it comes to dessert, and since my meal came with a dessert I couldn’t refuse. So after narrowing the dessert menu from 10 items to 4 to 1, I picked the Almond Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream.


For you “gluten freers” out there, this dessert was made for you, but don’t mind if I enjoy too!

The soft, flourless almond cake with a light cream cheese icing in between two layers of cake was unreal. Not to mention the cinnamon ice cream that went perfect with the cake and my cup of decaf coffee.


Review: Overall this restaurant is fantastic. It is a little pricey for the weekday meal but great for a special occasion. While it is a little pricey, it is not over priced for the quality of the ingredients and culinary detail of the food. I will definitely come here again. Probably in a few weeks on another Wednesday fundraising night. This would not be a normal “college student” place due to price, I much rather come here than somewhere that was. I need just need to save up first.

The manager shared with us that the charitable nights were so successful they would be continue it for other organizations.  Six weeks-20% of profits. All you have to do is eat: not a bad deal at all.

So if you find yourself in the Harrisburg/Camp Hill area, check out The Cellar and don’t forget to bring a bottle of wine.



The College Cuisiner

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Small Town Summer: Personal Peach Tarts

I spent most of yesterday thinking about the delicious Red Beet Risotto I was going to make for dinner. Alas, we had no beets. So now, Thursday night is the night for risotto. Hopefully.

Dinner became linguini with Italian Turkey Sausage and Spinach Tomato Sauce. Nothing of too much note, but very good none the less.

So I decided to turn to my other passion: baking. I always like baking and did it well, but I didn’t come to appreciate until I was a junior in high school and began baking desserts, cupcakes, muffins, etc. for 20 of my closest classmates almost every week. That got a little tiresome, and expensive, but still I enjoyed it.

College kept me from baking: no oven = no baking. But when I would come back home I would usually bake something to stay in the groove.

But, I haven’t made a dessert or baked since we began moving my mother from one house to another. So this was the night. And I actually had the ingredients this time.

So I decided to take the advice of Bakeaholic Mama and try her recipe for Individual Fruit Tarts. But instead of the delicious Strawberry and Rhubarb variety she made, I used peaches.

I LOVE PEACHES! They are delicious, versatile, and well, delicious. I think my true appreciation for the fruit was realized when I began working at a local farm stand. My first real job at 16 was as a cashier at an orchard/farm stand. This place grows and sells their own apples, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries, etc. including local produce and honey. It was one of the best teaching experiences I have ever had. And even today, between my 40+ hour unpaid internship, blogging, eating, living, etc., I still take shifts there when I can get them.

The worst part is being around all this fresh produce. First it makes you want to spend your entire paycheck immediately, and second, it makes you a produce snob.

So last Saturday when I came home from a long day at the orchard, I brought along 20 or so Red Haven peaches. And now that they are perfectly ripe, I will eat them single handedly.

Personal Peach Tarts makes 6 tarts
(Recipe courtesy of Bakeaholic Mama + 3 and Food & Wine Magazine)

I followed Bakeaholic Mama’s recipe pretty carefully, except I cheated.

Instead of making my own dough and refrigerating it over night, I used store bought ready-made piecrust. Please don’t judge. Blame the “college” in me.

The truth is I love this stuff. Pillsbury Ready Made piecrust in my opinion is a good alternative to the “oh so delicious yet oh so time consuming” homemade pie crust.
So if you would like to make your own dough, please visit her site.


3 Pillsbury ready made piecrusts (let out for 30 minutes)

1 egg beaten for brushing tarts

Coarse or white sugar for outside tarts

For the Peach Filling:

5 Cups sliced fresh peaches (peeled of skin)

1 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup corn starch

Juice of half a lemon

½ tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and Slice 10-15 peaches to make 5 cups.

Mix all Peach filling ingredients together in a large bowl.

Roll out the piecrusts and cut each in half. Cut the corners of half and re-attach to form a circle. These do not have to be perfect circles, or pretty.)  This should make 6 circles.

Do these steps one tart at a time:

Evenly place the crusts one at a time on a lined cookie sheet. (Parchment paper is best, but I used tin foil because I couldn’t find mine)

Photo Courtesy of Bakeaholic Mama + 3

Fill each individual piecrust with about 1/2 cup of peach filling leaving a border of half the piecrust.

(Make sure you account for the extra liquid created by the peaches. Strain the liquid from each spoonful of filling before filling the piecrust.) It should look more like the picture above, mine was too soupy.

Fold the piecrust up, pinching the sides carefully. (Very carefully, this caused problems for me.)

Brush the sides of the tarts with a beaten egg (egg wash)

I didn’t have a pastry brush so used a folded paper towel, it worked just fine.

Sprinkle the coarse or white sugar over the piecrust.

Put the cookie sheet with prepared tarts in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the tarts are golden brown.

Take the tarts out and remove from cookie sheet with a large plastic spatula.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cream, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Makes great leftovers too!
Like my breakfast this morning.


Bakeaholic Mama's looked a lot more professional and I was afraid of the extra liquid turning my tarts into soup. Luckliy the tarts browned nicely and the liquid that oozed out turned into caramelized syrup that I put on top my tarts and ice cream. Win win! Overall these were delicious and I will definitely make them again. My only suggestion is that six of these will go unbelievably fast, so if you want to share, MAKE MORE!

Because if you don't you probably will want to eat them all, like me.



The College Cuisiner

Thanks to Bakeaholic Mama + 3 for her amazing recipe and photo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Small Town: We've Got the Beet

Today I thought I would talk about something I have been going nuts for recently.

Introducing my new food obsession: Beets

All Photos by Marisa Hunt

While this isn't the first time I have eaten or made beets, I have found a new appreciation for the wonder vegetable. They couldn't be better for you, (well maybe they could, but it is pretty good.)

When our green-thumbed neighbor brought us delicious homegrown beets, I couldn't resist.

So to go along with our dinner of grilled chicken and zucchini I decided to make roasted beets.

I have made these before but with a new oven they turned out to be more caramelized than roasted. I thought I had ruined them but we actually liked them more! Roasted beets are delicious but these turned out to be crispy and bursting with a rich flavor.

The only problem with these beets were that I didn't make nearly enough! Out of maybe seven small beets cut into quarters we have a very small amount.

As soon as I pulled them out of the oven my family ate them all off the baking sheet!  Tired-hungry from moving out my mother's last storage unit into her new house, they couldn't wait till the rest of dinner was ready. Even my picky cousin ate them saying "Wow, those are good."

Roasted/ Caramelized Beets

This was all that was left by the time I got these on a plate.

These recipe represents a larger quantity


15 fresh beets peeled and cut into quarters (If you want alot use 20 beets)

Olive Oil

2 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary, chopped

Sea Salt

Cracked Pepper

Garlic Powder

Use salt, pepper and garlic powder as you see fit, enough to sprinkle on all the beets


Cut the tops and bottoms off the beets and peel off the rough skin with a potato peeler to reveal purple skin

Cut the peeled beets into quarters and spread the beets out a tin-foil lined cookie sheet

 Drizzle olive oil evenly over the beets, but not too much

Sprinkle sea salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder and chopped rosemary over the beets

To Roast the beets, heat oven to 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Watch the beets, if you want to simple roast the beets, take them out before they brown, they should look almost boiled instead

To Caramelize the beets, heat the oven to 425 degrees for about 50 minutes. These beets will appear crispy, once they do, take them out so they don't dry up and remain soft inside.

Remove the beets from the cookie sheet immediately and put on a serving plate. Now, attempt to get them to the table before you family eats them off the plate!

There you have it, BEETS the wonder food. After this I will buy alot more beets! Try to get beets that still have the greens attached so you can use them as well. Beet greens are just as nutrious as the beets themselves and can be made similarly to swiss chard, or kale. Let's make another dish out of these!

I can't wait to try this recipe for Beet Risotto. I think tonight is the night. Look for my attempt this week.

I also found a recipe for Beet Cocktails, but I'm not too sure about this. Anyone brave enough? Tell me how they are!

I think next time I will  mix these beets into pasta with chicken and parmesan for added flavor and texture.

What would you use these beets for? A side dish? With pasta or in a salad?



The College Cuisiner