Friday, October 28, 2011

Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival 2011

Last weekend The Spatularettes visited foodie paradise... The Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival.  We didn't really know what to expect since this was the first time attending for both of us, but quite honestly we were blown away!  We met a lot of cool people and sampled some great new products.  Hands down the highlight of the day was getting the opportunity to chat with Iron Chef Jose Garces!

We mistakenly walked into the tail end of his book signing, and although we hadn't purchased cookbooks, we figured it didn't hurt to say hello!  He couldn't have been more friendly or gracious and gave us some great suggestions when we told him about our blog.
-When we asked him where he suggested eating in the city, he jokingly told us any of his restaurant (which in fact, is a good suggestion).
-He also told us the key to good cooking comes down to using really fresh, high quality ingredients.
-And his third idea we LOVED!  He suggested we choose a difficult technique or dish each month and really focus on mastering it.  We do the research, the trial and error, and then we'll blog about it.  Believe us, we've already got some ideas in the works, and we'll try and make all of the mistakes so you don't have to!

Although meeting one of our city's favorite chefs and restaurateurs was the highlight of our day, there sure were a lot of close seconds.  Take a look below and check out some of the cool new (or new to us) products we discovered!

Jin Ja's creator--He's cute, right ladies?

Not your grandma's health drink.

The first new product we are excited about is this innovative drink called Jin Ja!  The main ingredients are ginger (lots of it!), green tea, lemon, and cayenne pepper.  Sounds a little strange, right?  But it's SO good!  We promise!  There are all kinds of health benefits from each of the ingredients and according to the creator, all you need is a 4 oz glass to reap the benefits.  What really sold us though was its claim to cure hangovers! Not that The Spatularettes would know anything about hangovers... but from time to time a girl has one too many glasses of wine ;) We'll test Jin Ja out against some of it's claims and get back to you on what we think.  Head over to their website and check it out for yourself, or better yet, stop by your local Whole Foods to pick up a bottle and let us know what you think!

The artist hand paints these glasses and even does custom orders!
The next thing we are dying to get our hands on are these amazing hand painted glasses from Wine Me?.  The detail is incredible and we think they would be the perfect personalized gift for a friend!  She even paints beer steins as an ode to your favorite sports team, if you are looking for a gift for the man in your life.  Click on over to the official website to check out some more of her work.  And if you are friends with The Spatularettes, here's a hint at what you might be seeing on your next birthday!
These fine people from Robert Mondavi served us
lots of tastes of wine.  Tall One's favorite was the
Reisling and Small One liked the Cab Sauv.
It wouldn't be a food and wine festival without the wine!  Robert Mondavi had a large booth with plenty of wines to sample.  There were also a number of other wineries present as well as vodka tasting.  The Spatularettes kept it classy, but some of the other patrons were, let's just say, getting their money's worth.

And now a few more of our favorite things...
If anyone is looking to give The Spatularettes an expensive gift,
the Vitamix is a great place to start ;)
An energy drink with no caffeine, and real pieces of aloe.
This San Francisco company is now distributing in the Philadelphia area.
Has Tall One ever told you about her weaknesses?
Well Lindt White Chocolate Truffles happen to be one of them.
A few more of these and she's gonna have to loosen that belt!
The Spatularettes are always out there searching for inspiration... whether it be in life, in love, or in the kitchen!  The Philadelphia Food and Wine festival definitely opened some new doors for us and we can't wait to share all of this inspiration with you as we continue on this journey together.

Tall & Small

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mini Apple Pies

Autumn is the perfect time of year for outdoor activities.  The oppressive heat of summer has subsided, but the frigid winds of winter have not yet arrived.  And what better excuse to show off all those cute sweaters and boots that have been hiding in the back of our closets for months!  In the spirit of fall and fun outdoor activities, Small One and her roommates recently took a journey outside the city to pick bushels and bushels of apples!  After a fantastic day in the orchard, she returned home to let the real fun begin... in the kitchen!!  The perfect apple cuisine?  Apple Pie!  The cutest apple cuisine?  Mini apple pies!  Don't be intimidated by homemade crust - this recipe is super simple and we'll even give you a family secret  to help you along ;)

Makes 24 mini pies!

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup water, refrigerated until cold
For the filling:
5 apples (we used different kinds and sizes!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of half a lemon
For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs cold butter, cubbed
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer or bowl with hand mixer, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal (think chicken feed, people - we were down on the farm). Slowly add cold water, mix for about 30 seconds, just until the dough comes together. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Note: if your butter and water aren't cold, your dough won't come together nicely.

Slice apple and cut into small 1/2 inch chunks.  Mix remaining filling ingredients together in a large bowl with the apple pieces.

Mix all topping ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let soften at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Between two sheets of parchment paper or 2 bags from inside cereal boxes (Small One's gramma's little secret to perfect crust!), roll the dough about 1/8 inch thick. 

Butter the cups of a muffin tin.  Using a pint glass, cookie cutter, or a similar sized round object, cut out mini pie crusts.  Gently press the individual crusts into the muffin tins.  You want the edge of your crusts to extend above the top of the tin, for easy removal once baked.  Fill each crust with apple filling.  Notes: our miffin tins were shallow, so the pint glass worked perfectly.  If your muffin tins are deeper, be sure to use a larger crust cutter!

Bake for 30 minutes.  Put about 1 Tbs topping on each pie, and place in the oven for another 15 minutes.  You will know the pies are done when the crust is golden brown and the topping has caramelized.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remove pies from tins with a fork while still very warm! This may seem counterintuitive, but otherwise the crust will stick to the tin and crumble!

Top with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

We're here for the right reasons...

We just want you to know that we don't rush into things and it has been hard for us to share our kitchens in the past.  Please be patient and hopefully we can all work through this together.  We just want you to know that we are here for the right reasons and we hope we can prove that to you.

       ...ok enough of The Bachelorette references, now onto a recipe to tie you over until we start posting more frequently!

It's been perfect fall weather here in Philadelphia lately, and no better time to welcome an old friend to her new home in the City of Brotherly Love.  One of our teammates from our college cross country team recently relocated here from Vermont, so we invited her over to Tall One's apartment for a Spatularette dinner, full of gossip and life updates.  It's always great to catch up with an old friend, and felt strangely similar to the many meals we shared together in our college cafeteria--just with better food!!
It was one of those days when we got a little bit carried away (which happens quite often) and ended up making way more food than we knew what to do with!  We started off the meal with a stuffed mushroom recipe Tall One created for a party she threw last month.  They disappeared quickly at the party and it was no different this time around.

So we present to you, The Spatularettes' first recipe:
Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms

6.5 oz jar of artichoke hearts, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, diced
6 oz of cream cheese (we prefer Kraft Philadelphia, obvi!)
6 oz package crumbled feta (about 1 cup)
1 clove of garlic, minced
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 10 oz packages baby portabella mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil.  Pull the stems off of the mushrooms, wipe them clean with a damp paper towel and arrange on the cookie sheet.

For the filling, start by rinsing and finely chopping the contents of one jar of artichoke hearts.  Next, dice up a roasted red pepper.  If the peppers in your jar are not whole, just use a few large pieces.  Combine the peppers and artichoke hearts in a medium bowl and add the 6 oz of cream cheese (about ¾ of a block), the 6 oz of crumbled feta, and the minced garlic.  Stir until well combined.  Finally, add the panko bread crumbs ¼ cup at a time.  We used ¾ cup, but if your mixture is watery, you may want to use a little bit more.  The mixture should be soft, but not runny.

To fill the mushrooms, scoop tablespoons of the mixture into the well created by removing the stem.  As long as your filling isn’t runny, it will be easy to fill the mushrooms nice and full.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.  Depending on the size of your mushrooms, you may need to adjust baking times slightly.  The mushroom will be soft and the filling will be hot and golden brown when done.

Hopefully you'll think we deserve a rose for this one! ;-)