Cooking In Stilettos...
Thursday, November 27, 2008 Martha Stewart and .... Cheeseteaks?

Ok, so you know I'm absolutely loving the Restaurants and Food section of Well, the other day they had this hilarious video from when Martha Stewart visited the Philly Inquirer newsroom. Well, Martha doesn't mince her words when it comes to who wins in a Cheesesteak battle...

Genos v. Pat's Steaks...

Now, while each has their own opinion to best Philly cheesesteak, I know I'm partial to Genos or Jim's Steaks myself.

I'm so glad Ms. Martha settled the score!

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Posted by Lys :: 4:07 AM :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008 Chefs to Watch: Jose Garces...

Iron Chef is one of those shows I try to watch and, most of the time, I root for the Iron Chef competing (well, unless it is John Besh). I know that you have to be one hell of a chef to even go up against once of the ICs so when I saw that Philly chef, Jose Garces was facing off against MY fave, Bobby Flay, I was torn. Like the issue I face with sports, you can't be a Philly gal and NOT root for the home team! My crew would shoot me if I went against the grain. So, I cheered on Jose Garces when he hit the national stage running, defeating Bobby Flay with a menu that was to. die. for.

Chef Garces runs three very successful restaurants in Philly:
Tinto [Basque], Distrito [Modern Mexican] and Amada [Tapas] and is well known about town. My friends who have dined at his restaurants have raved about it to the heavens. Not only do I adore Italian cuisine, but Spanish dishes always have me at hello.

My birthday present to myself was his new cookbook,
Latin Evolution, but when I was on this week, I saw that they actually interviewed Chef Garces at his restaurant Tinto for a new episode of The Philly Dish.

Personally, I can't wait to go check out the menus. But, for now, check out this video and if you love Latin food like this gal here does, make sure to pick up your copy of
Latin Evolution today.

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Posted by Lys :: 5:44 AM :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008 Out With The Old. In With The New...

My pantry has been severely neglected. Those closest to me know that work has been kickin' me into overdrive and cooking and I have been estranged. Part of the reason for the cooking pause has been, quite simply, this nightmare of a pantry. To find something means some serious expeditions to find that one elusive ingredient as it hasn't been organized in forever. Not to mention, the lighting in my kitchen has been horrid but since the complex finally fixed (and broke) the overhead light on the super high ceiling, I figured I had no more excuses to avoid the pantry from hell.

I always joke that for me to feel "at home" I need a fully stocked pantry and fridge and anyone who comes into my home knows that if we need something, we've got it. However, I got sick of the clutter and decided rather than shove everything in the pantry, I'd take inventory and clean out what was old, expired or just never would be used.

Check out the AFTER pic.

Yeah, I'm just as shocked as you. My trash man, however, will want my head on a stake. There's still work to be done, but I figured that was a good start to change. Now I need to get to cooking.

What are your pantry staples that you MUST have no matter what?

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Posted by Lys :: 3:35 AM :: 2 comments

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Monday, November 24, 2008 A Few Of My Favorite Things: Philadelphia's Italian Market...

I recently flew up to Philadelphia for a birthday soiree thrown by two of my fave people, Meowmix and Reese at one of my favorite restaurants and in between hanging out with good friends, shopping and such, I also took some time to head over to my favorite culinary hangout in Philadelphia - the Italian Market.

One thing I MISS about not being at least in driving distance of Philly is the airline restrictions with luggage. No longer am I able to load up my suitcase with spices and goodies to take back to Orlando. Basically, my thought is that while my friends are crashing from partying the night before, I love to take the car and zip down to 9th Street and wander the Italian Market aimlessly with my coffee in hand as I take in the sights, smells and sounds. I always have such great conversations with the retailers and customers alike and, apparently, I must look like a Philly gal because this last trip, a tourist stopped moi and asked for help with finding some good spots to check out in town. (And Meowmix will tell you that I normally have this mean mug face when shopping to avoid the overzealous sales people so if I'm that calm in the Italian Market and approachable, you know I'm in heaven).

So this rainy, Saturday morning, I decided to zip on down to the Market and get some blog fodder for Cooking In Stilettos. Plus I need to fondle pots at Fantes, see if I can find some new cookbooks, pick up some spices and stock up on Pumpkin Spice Coffee. As I'm turning onto 9th Street, who walks in front of my car with HIS coffee but my old floor producer from TheShow back in the day - Rennie. How utterly random. After a quick convo (and so I wouldn't hold up traffic), promises to call later, assurances that I would be home again, etc. I shot down 9th Street and started looking for a parking space.

Now y'all know parking in Philly is at a premium, so I have a few tricks I use - side streets, careful attention to the signs (don't need to be on an episode of Parking Wars) and after careful prayers and putting it out there, a spot was procured. I found one a few streets over, channeled my inner parallel parking diva and while my parking wasn't sooooo great (I'm rusty - shoot me), I grabbed my purse and headed for the crowds. As I didn't take my normal camera and only had the Blackberry, please forgive me if the shots seem a bit "off".
Walking down one of the gorgeous side streets on the way to the Italian Market

A mainstay in the Italian Market - DiBruno Bros. Who know, you might run into one Ms. Patti LaBelle here as she's known to frequent the Market and DiBruno Bros.

One of the many produce stands that lines the sidewalk. The streets are narrow as are the sidewalks so the key is to shop quick, walk quick and everyone is happy.

Esposito's - one of the BEST places for meats and fish

The Spice Corner is one of my favorite spots to hang out in. I pretty much cleaned them out of their pumpkin spice coffee (one for SL and the rest for yours truly). I picked up a number of spices, some great loose teas and some stuff for a upcoming holiday contest... Everything there is fresh, the people are so sweet and helpful and

I headed to Fante's to see what was new in all things Le Creuset, Global and more. Plus, I was craving some good coffee so I dropped by their coffee shop to get a fabulous Cafe au Lait and pumpkin biscotti.

Claudio's beckoned and in I went to purchase some pantry staples i.e. quick polenta, gnocci and some other goodies. Trust me, check out the photos of the cheeses below. I could have done WAY more damage but they wouldn't have lasted on the way back to Orlando. :::sigh:::

Isn't that cheese selection divine? Oh how I wanted to throw a Philly soiree. Claudio's - can you please open a shop in Orlando, pretty please?

Finally, as I'm trotting down another side of the street, I saw one of my weaknesses - pizzelles. If you have never had them, you must try. They are an Italian cookie and are sooo good. But much like Lay's potato chips, you can't have just one.

Quickly swiping up a package, I headed into Antonio's Italian Coffee and Chocolate House to purchase and was greeted with this sight:

Chocolates and Gelato? Wait - a minute -homemade gelato? Now I'm really overwhelmed and thinking "Can I just wear jeans tonight and leave the form-fitting dress for another day?" I decide to bring some treats back for the gals as thanks for everything they did for my birthday and pick up a little somethin' somethin' for me too.

The homemade truffles were divine. My favorite was the Sea Salt Caramel and the gals loved the Hazelnut and Kahlua ones. If you can, order a box for someone you love during the holidays. They will adore it.
And check this out - they have CANNOLI KITS! No, seriously, they ship the fixings for cannolis to you ASAP and you can treat your family to a bit of Italian Market heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CONTEST ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, to give a little holiday gift to two lucky blog readers, leave a comment on this post NO LATER than Dec. 7, 2008 telling me about either your experiences in my favorite city, Philadelphia, or if you haven't been to Philly, what is your favorite holiday recipe/goodie to share with others. We'll pick two winners using a Random Number Generator and I'll have a little something from Antonio's shipped your way for the holiday season. Make sure to include your email!!!

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Posted by Lys :: 1:39 AM :: 10 comments

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Sunday, November 23, 2008 Tried and True: Panettone Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Syrup...

My gal Bren at Flanboyant Eats asked us what was the recipe that had people on pester alert. You know the type where they HAVE to have your recipe and are emailing, texting and trying whatever means necessary to get it (or is that just me - heehee!)

Well, one of the ones in my arsenal that have people going "Oh. My. God!" is this recipe that I saw on Everyday Italian. Since I tried it, I make sure to stock up on Panettone during the holidays and it's on my table for any soirees or even when I'm making dinner for some certain peeps.

Without further adieu, here is Panettone Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Syrup. So simple and sooo worth it. Trust a gal, please. When I make it this season, I will make sure to post pics.

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis

Cinnamon Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bread Pudding:
1 (1-pound) loaf panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups sugar

To make the syrup:
Combine 1 cup of water and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Boil until the syrup reduces to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and cinnamon.
Keep the syrup warm. (The syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Re-warm before serving.)

To make the bread pudding:
Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.
Arrange the bread cubes in prepared dish.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to blend.
Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge.
Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake until the pudding puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
Spoon the bread pudding into bowls, drizzle with the warm Cinnamon Syrup, and serve.

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Posted by Lys :: 1:28 PM :: 3 comments

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 Best Iron Chef Quote Ever...

"Food, it should explode. It shouldn't hold back."
~Michael Symon

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Posted by Lys :: 10:07 PM :: 0 comments

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