Mushroom Tortellini in Mushroom Broth

I was feeling a little bit bad about my poor pasta maker, stored so long in the cupboard. For February’s Gourmet Unbound I decided to make fresh mushroom tortellini. While there certainly were quite a few step (broth, filling, fresh pasta, rolling, cutting, filling, and folding) in the end it only took me about an hour. And let me tell you, it was delicious. Seriously delicious. I froze the remaining tortellini and ate it this week in a goat cheese sauce with finely shredded collards. Still delicious. A definite comfort meal, and sure to impress anyone you have over for dinner.

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Sang Kee Noodles House

I’ve never been to the Chinatown Sang Kee, but when the new location opened up in University City, I decided to stop by. While the prices are great, there are not many vegetarian options. And by that, I mean, like three. I ordered the classic noodle soup with egg noodles and convinced my server to throw in a couple of vegetable dumplings. The soup itself was pretty unimpressive – bland broth, bok choy the only vegetable, not a lot of flavor in the dumplings. I dressed it up with a healthy heap of siracha, which made it more palatable.

The real star of the night was the ice cream sampler that our serve helpfully suggested. Just $5 and we got delicious ice cream – green tea, red bean, ginger, and coconut – garnished with berries. All of the ice creams were good, but I, not particularly liking sweets, leaned towards the ginger and green tea.

Root is Back!

Beautiful Root

After the holidays, it got impossible to buy Root on the shelves of our local liquor stores. FINALLY that situation has been rectified and Wine and Spirits is back in stock. You can purchase Root at these locations:

2nd Street
12th Street
19th & Chestnut
Society Hill
17th & JFK
Manayunk Main Street
South St

If you haven’t already found your favorite Root recipe, try some of the recipes features on the Art and the Age of Mechanical Reproduction website HERE. This time of year, I love root with hot cider, but also straight (careful, it’s powerful) and in anything bourbon-based.

Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

I’m all about soup right now. Maybe because it’s been so cold, or because I can make a pot and eat it all week long. Unfortunately, my CSA extension has finally run out, and so now I’m down to the last vegetables that I’ve saved and ones that I actually have to go to the store and buy. Going to the store hasn’t exactly been on the list lately either, so I made this soup out of what was in the pantry. Easy enough. An onion, some fresh ginger and garlic, curry and a dash of tumeric sauteed in a heavy pot. Add pealed and cubed sweet potatoes and some pureed acorn squash prepped a month of so ago and stashed in the freezer, and a bit of homemade vegetable broth (also frozen). Salt and white pepper to taste. In just 20 minutes the potato is soft and you can puree it to your desired texture. Maybe add a dollop of local yogurt and some crusty toast. Simple, warming, delicious.

Pizzaria Stella

Tartufo Pizza

I went into Pizzaria Stella with one thing on my mind. The Tartufo Pizza. Black truffle, fontina, egg, parmesan on a crispy food fired crust. When it arrived, the egg, raw but intact, sat atop the pizza and the waitress deftly broke the yoke, swirling it across the cheese. It was a nice touch, especially with the salty truffle, though as the pizza cooled it became less impressive. A friendly selection of wine and beer (I had the house read, a perfectly serviceable Montepulciano d’Abruzzo). The menu includes numerous vegetarian options (though don’t expect anything vegan) and homemade gelato that won’t blow your socks off, but won’t disappoint you either.

This is a bustling place, with closely spaced tables that are almost always full. Though the lighting is dim, it’s too loud to be romantic, but would work well as a fun evening out with friends. While the service is perhaps too helpful (don’t let them rush you out) you won’t ever be ignored, either. Stella, Steven Starr’s newest addition to the Philly restaurant scene suffers, if anything, from the same mild disappointment of most Starr joints – great concept, but you’re left feeling that you paid a bit too much for the experience.

Pizzeria Stella on Urbanspoon

Jolly’s Rockin’ Piano Bar

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

All right folks. Let’s just say that I’m not into karaoke. At all. Listening to me sing will make your ears bleed, and I try to avoid hurting the people I love. But I went to Jolly’s Piano Bar for a holiday-ish event, and I thought I’d report back.

First of all Jolly’s advertises itself as a “dueling piano bar.” I like piano bars, and dueling, so I thought this would be fun. Really, it’s two guys playing piano – one the harmony and one the melody. They both sing. They favor piano “classics” like Elton John, Billy Joel, and “Sweet Caroline.” Just so you know. You might love that stuff. You might also love the booth with light fixtures made out of microphones. These help the whole bar sing along, which is what happens at this place.

It’s like being at a college bar, at about 1am, when someone plays a “sing-along” song on the jukebox. You can decide yourself how you feel about that.

On to the food. Overpriced drinks, so take a few shots beforehand if you’re looking to sing. Jolly’s specializes in small plates, and I tried two. The above vegetarian spring rolls were alright, with shredded carrots and fresh pineapple, cucumber and red peppers, but their pre-sliced presentation just allowed everything to fall out.

Flatbread pizza

Flatbread pizza is good, and I love local mushrooms. I had high hopes for this Kennett Mushroom and Locatelli pizza, but it was just all right. The crust was crispy-perfect but the sauce too sweet (I suspect some Prego). The addition of a saltier cheese (Pecorino, maybe) would have helped it out, but alas. What I DO like is that everything is served on these nice bamboo trays – a good “green” wood and cuts down on extra dish-doing! If you want little “share” plates, you’re going to have to ask for them.

If you like to sing with a room full of people, go for the tunes. I’d skip the food.

Holiday Rolls #2 – Buttermilk Biscuits with green onions, black pepper, and cornmeal

I know, I’ve been a bad blogger, but I’ve also been in Indiana, where the slow internet connection makes blogging an exercise in futility. But I’m back! I made these easy rolls as an alternative to traditional buttermilk biscuits. Buttermilk, yes, but with the kick of green onion, black pepper, and the texture of cornmeal. They look dry, but are surprisingly moist.