You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eatery (NY, NY)

Hey Guys!
Last Sunday I went to New York, New York to visit my older brother Michael who lives in Queens. As you may know, NYC is a prolific city when it comes to food and food history and is also the home to some of the finest restaurants in the world. While there are many five star restaurants and fancy dines in the city, today I'd like to tell you about a cute little restaurant that isn't too cheap and isn't too expensive either, but will give you exactly what you want if you're looking for a great BRUNCH. When my family and I decided to go Eatery in NYC, all we wanted was a good brunch and that is exactly what we got.
For my brunch I ordered their "e-benne," a new age version of an old classic, eggs benedict. Pictured below, the e-benne is two poached eggs on top of a potato-vegetable pancake, with you choice of ham or smoked salmon, and a chili hollandaise on top of all of it. This dish is technically perfect, and all the ingredients are fresh and delicious. The hollandaise is a little bit spicy, but it helps bring out all the flavors in the veggie pancake, which in turn soaks up the runny yolk from the poached egg.

My sister ordered the house pancakes, which are a special that change daily. That day, they were coconut walnut pancakes that are pictured below. While they don't look like they have all that much coconut on or in them, the one thing that you can't see is the flavor. When you bite into a piece of the fluffy pancake, coconut flavor bursts throughout your mouth. Behind it is a subtle flavor of walnuts that hides in your palette just waiting to be savored. The flavor is second to none, and the pancakes are just fine and fluffy.

Bottom Line:If you're looking for a great meal on a random morning in New York, head over to Eatery. However, get there early or make reservations because there might be a wait. Even if there is, stay around and wait, because it'll be worth your time.
RATING:3.75/5 Stars

For more about Eatery, head to their website at

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recipe: Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Jessie

Hey Guys!
So today is the first recipe/experience post rather than restaurant review.
This Sunday is my older sister Jessie's birthday, so I decided to make a cooler, more exciting cake than usual. A few weeks ago she requested a cake she had found online, a peanut butter chocolate cake that looked beyond delicious. The recipe was a little tough and called for some ingredients I didn't have in my kitchen, but after a run to the supermarket and stringing on an apron, I got to work. Thankfully, as you can see by the picture, everything turned out great. Also with the pictures of the cake is a picture of a cupcake of the cake I made with extra batter. The recipe for this delicious looking (and tasting!) cake is below.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
2 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cake pans with cooking spray and flour generously.

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down bowl and beaters.

In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Beat into creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Scrape down bowl and beaters and continue mixing on medium speed for one minute. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 28-30 minutes and until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. This actually ended up being about 35 minutes in my oven with the 6"x2" pans.

Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely on cooling rack. You may have trouble getting the cakes out of the pans, but remember to scrape a knife around the edge of the rounds and loosen them up before trying to de-pan the cakes.

Peanut Butter Filling (the best part)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup marshmallow creme (Fluff)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
Pinch salt

Mix all of the filling ingredients together with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scraping down the bowl as necessary.

NOTE: I used the frosting for both the inside of my two layers of cake as well as the sides. I think it gives it a peanut buttery good taste to have it on the sides and makes the cake all around better. If you want a plainer cake, you can just use the peanut butter in the middle of the layers.

Chocolate Ganache

1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine the above in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 15-20 second increments until cream is hot enough to melt the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth.
While still warm, drizzle the chocolate on top of the cake. Make sure you have a plate under the cake so that all the chocolate doesn't drip on the ground, but let it drip down the sides of the cake and on to the plate. As soon as you are done drizzling the ganache, put the cake in the fridge so it can solidify.

Ease of Recipe--6 on a scale of 1-10, 1 being easiest and 10 being hardest.

credits to for the chocolate cake and pb icing recipe, and to King Arthur Flour Co. For the ganache recipe! Thanks for helping me build my recipe and interpret yours!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buddakan (Phil, PA)

"So if you like cooking so much...what's your favorite restaurant?"
I get asked a lot of questions by my friends when they hear that I'm interested in cooking. What I'm gonna pursue as a career, what is my favorite food, or what kind of cuisine I enjoy cooking most. After tonight, the one question I could answer at the tip of a hat is, "What's your favorite restaurant?"
I had been to Buddakan in Philadelphia on one prior occasion, however I had only been for lunch, not dinner. Combining outstanding food, service, and atmosphere, Buddakan has the total package. From the moment we stepped in and looked at the menu, I knew the meal would be perfect. For an appetizer, I had the Tea Smoked Short Ribs. The ribs were far and above the best part of my meal. They were dripping in a flavorful hoisin-based sauce, and the meat fell off the bone before it could even melt in your mouth.
For my entree I sampled the five spice duck breast. Layed out like it was the peace offering from the kitchen it was, limitless slices of duck cut as thinly as a size zero America's Next Top Model greeted me with open arms and a delicious five spice jus. No matter how good the meat was, the side dish might have been the best part. On the menu it is described as a spoon bread. Though one might see "Bread" and be convinced of a cracker or toasted crustini, a spoon bread is actually something different. Closer to a polenta or pudding, the scallion and corn spoon bread served with the five spice duck was one of the best things i've ever eaten. Creamy, light, and flavorful, the spoon bread was a delicious bite in the midst of all the surprisingly lean duck.
Finally for dessert I tasted the Milk Chocolate Carmel Tart. Though it may have been the weak point of the meal, the tart was still delicious. Covered in warm carmel, the crunchy chocolate crisp was a little bit crumbly for my liking. However the warm carmel and jasmine vanilla ice cream was enough to satisfy me after a long, delicious meal.
After two visits, I can confidently say that Buddakan is my favorite restaurant that I have ever eaten at. Below are other notes on dishes that I have tasted from Buddakan that weren't a part of my three courses tonight:
Tuna Pizza--I don't usually go for carpaccio, but this one is delicious. The tuna is flavored better than most carpaccios I have tasted and is topped with pickled jalepenos that will set your tastebuds aflame.
Vietnamese Crepe--A simple, tastey appetizer that tastes a little much of shrimp. However, still a good dish if you're a shrimp fan.
Wok Charred Brussels Sprouts--A heaping bowl full of well spiced sprouts, a simple side dish to complement any good meal at Buddakan.
Vegetable Dumpings--The vegetable dumpings at Buddakan might be the only dish I truly don't like. They are filled with few ingredients, one of which is corn. Because of that, the corn overpowers the dumpling and the dumpling really only tastes of corn.
Kobe Beef Sliders (lunch only)--One of the most delicious things at Buddakan. Possibly the most tender, beautiful pieces of burger meat I've ever tasted. You know food is good when you can picture yourself eating it all day long without stopping and that is what I did with these sliders.
"Dip Sum" Doughnuts--The specialty of the restaurant, and here is why. If you're going to serve doughnuts at a high class restaurant, they better be good. They might want to be fried perfectly, dipped in delicious sugars, and served with two luscious sauces. That's exactly how it goes down at Buddakan. 5 amazing, round doughnuts came out with a blackberry jam and a warm chocolate sauce. They're the perfect end to your meal at Buddakan.

Bottom Line--Buddakan is my favorite restaurant. One of the top in Philadelphia, and a must go to before you finish your last bite.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Check out more about Buddakan Philly at

Who I am

This isn't just any food blog.
Born and being raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I've been cooking and eating ever since I could ask my mom to pass the salt. My palette seems much older than much age, which is but fifteen years old. I ate an elk steak before I could do my multiplication tables, and I knew how to properly dry rub a sirloin before I could tell you what the propane lighting my grill actually was.
Because I am so young, most would call my credibility into question. However, I spent 3 summers of my teen years at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill Culinary College in Philadelphia. I studied with chefs who knew their stuff. From one who worked at the Union Square Cafe in NYC to another that has one three different James Beard awards, including two best dinner awards. Though I might sound like just a little kid, there's clearly far more to me than one would think.
Finally, my mission when it comes to food is simple. I want to give others my opinions on my culinary experiences everywhere. Whenever I have a notable taste of cuisine, I'll write about it. Whether notable because it was delicious beyond belief or because it was vile and unpleasant, you can expect I'll give you the hard truth every time. Buckle up and open your stomaches for some food for thought from the Teen With Taste.