Citrus Wine Cake with Fresh Berries

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I have to say, whoever thought to put wine in cake was pretty brilliant. This particular cake uses a sweet dessert wine, which imparts very subtle wine flavor to the finished product and enhances the texture, making this cake moist, but light. Think of a lighter version of a pound cake flavored with citrus, olive oil, and wine!

It is truly the perfect summer dessert, especially when garnished with fresh berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

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Citrus Wine Cake with Fresh Berries 

Yield: one 9 by 3 inch springform pan cake

Servings: 10 slices

Ingredients: 

scant 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit more for brushing pan

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

scant 1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup sweet dessert wine, such as Moscato, Marsala, or Muscat

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp grated orange zest

1 tsp grated lemon zest

4 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

confectioners’ sugar to dust with

2 pt. fresh berries for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat sides of 9 by 3 inch springform pan lightly with oil. Line pan bottom with circle of parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Whisk together oil, wine, orange juice, and orange and lemon zests in separate bowl.

3. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer for 4 minutes or until pale yellow and tripled in volume. Add half of dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until blended. Add half of olive oil mixture, and mix to blend. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and olive oil mixture.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and set on baking sheet (in case of a mishap with springform pan). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating half way through baking time or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few dry crumbs. Top of cake will peak. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack; then remove sides of pan to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with berries.

Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine 

Peach, Rhubarb, and Blueberry Crisp

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Tomorrow, my brother finally returns from South Africa after his study abroad adventure! So I decided to make a crisp from all the fresh fruit in season right now. The middle of July delivers bountiful amounts of so many delicious fruits! Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are in the middle of their season. Peach season is just beginning, and the seasons for strawberries and rhubarb are coming to a close.

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So this crisp was the perfect dessert to make not only because of all the fresh, local fruit available, but because whether it’s a crisp, cobbler, or pie, that first bite welcomes you home and reminds you how good it is to be home!
Because of the natural sweetness of the peaches and the blueberries in this crisp, little sugar is needed and the natural fruit flavors can shine on their own! There is also some crystallized ginger in both the filling and topping which lends both sweetness and a little kick, going with the fruit quite well.

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Hurry up and whip up this easy dessert while you can still buy these fresh, local fruits at your farmer’s market. Although you can make it other times of the year, I can guarantee, it’ll be best and a very special treat in July!

Peach, Rhubarb, and Blueberry Crisp 

Yield: one 9 inch pan, 6+ servings

Ingredients: 

FILLING

2 cups sliced peaches (1/2 inch slices), peeled if desired

2 cups sliced rhubarb (1/2 inch slices)

1/2 cup blueberries

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 TBP minced crystallized ginger

TOPPING

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (if not, use all-purpose flour)

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 TBP  minced crystallized ginger

1/8 tsp table salt

2 TBP unsalted butter, melted

1 TBP canola oil

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or lightly butter a 9-inch glass or metal baking dish.

2. For filling, toss all ingredients and transfer to greased baking dish.

3. For topping, mix together oats, nuts, flour, sugar, ginger, and salt. Pour melted butter and oil over and crumble with hands. Then top fruit with this mixture.

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned and fruit is bubbling. Let cool about 15 minutes before serving on a wire rack.

Adapted from Eating Well magazine 

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Snickerdoodle Blondies

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Remember not too long ago when most people didn’t even know what a snickerdoodle was? Well this cookie has definitely grabbed people’s attention. Now this cinnamon sugar cookie has become so popular that bakers are experimenting with how to make all kinds of snickerdoodle variations, from snickerdoodle cake to snickerdoodle ice cream!

Today, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite variations on the snickerdoodle, snickerdoodle blondies! These delectable treats are moist, light, and elicit that warm cinnamon flavor that makes everything seem like it’ll be okay even on your worst day. They also come together twice as fast as cookies do because all you do is spread out the batter in the pan and bake them.

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After reading through many different recipes for snickerdoodle blondies, none of which completely met my satisfaction, my friend Liza coincidentally sent me a recipe for this dessert that she had recently made from a blog called Amandeleine. I liked the ingredients and proportions of this recipe for the most part, so I based mine off of hers. However, one ingredient that I think defines a snickerdoodle  is cream of tartar, which is not in the recipe that follows. It gives the cookies that slightly sour bite that you don’t find in most cookies, but adds so much wonderful flavor!

So with that being said, these are truly incredible cookie bars, but their name might be mistaken…

I will have to experiment with adding the cream of tartar next time I make these.

Thank you to Liza and Amandeleine for this delicious recipe!

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“Snickerdoodle” Blondies 

Yield: one 9 by 13 inch glass pan, cut into bars

Ingredients: 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

scant 1 cup light brown sugar

scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

cinnamon-sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. Combine and mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In a larger bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla, and mix just until combined.

4. Add flour mixture, mixing on low speed until combined.

5. Transfer dough to prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until set and lightly golden. 

6. Sprinkle warm bars with cinnamon-sugar. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Adapted from Amandeleine 

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Rhubarb Ginger Bread

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Rhubarb season is almost coming to an end! So in an effort to make the most of this delicious fruit, I whipped up a rhubarb ginger quick bread recipe I had found on a great blog called Baking Bites. I was intrigued by the addition of crystallized ginger as well as its very healthy ingredients. Truthfully, I was a bit skeptical of no egg yolks, fat free milk, and only 2 TBP butter/oil, but I was delightfully surprised when I tasted this delicious loaf!

I made a few tweaks, which you will find in the recipe below, one being using ground ginger since I didn’t have the crystallized ginger on hand. I also added cinnamon and cut the sugar a lot. In my opinion, the bread is still quite sweet, but if you have a big sweet tooth, the original recipe called for 1 cup. I also wanted this to be more of a breakfast bread than a cake loaf.

This moist, flavorful quick-bread comes together in a flash and is delicious lightly toasted by itself, or would also be excellent with a little butter, jam, or ricotta spread on top.

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb Ginger Bread 

Yield: one 9 by 5″ loaf pan

Ingredients:

2 cups (9-10 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup + 1/8 cup granulated sugar

2 TBP canola oil (or melted unsalted butter)

2 egg whites or 1/3 cup egg substitue

3/4 cup fat-free milk

3 TBP crystallized ginger, chopped (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)

1 1/4 cups rhubarb, chopped (2.5 stalks)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

2. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl including flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground ginger (if using), cinnamon and sugar.

3. Lightly beat oil (butter), egg whites, and milk in another bowl.

4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until almost combined, a few streaks of flour still remaining. Then stir in ginger and rhubarb until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or mix too rigorously.

5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating half way through baking time, until a tester comes out with few crumbs. (Mine was done in about 42 minutes).

6. Place on rack to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out of pan onto rack and let cool completely.

Adapted from Baking Bites 

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Taqueria Feliz, Manayunk

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Taqueria Feliz 

Category: Mexican
Neighborhoods: Manayunk, Roxborough

4410 Main St
Manayunk, PA 19127
Phone: (267) 331-5874

4/5 stars

After eying some of the delicious looking food at this place in passing, I went for dinner here with some friends. Overall, although the service was on the slower side and the waitstaff on the arrogant, pushy side, the food definitely met my expectations, if not exceeded them.
After reading others’ reviews, it seemed like this place was either inconsistent with their food or peoples’ opinions/preferences varied a lot.
Upon being seated, our waiter asked if we wanted any drinks to begin with and when we told him we needed a minute to decide, he disappeared and didn’t return for more than ten minutes.
Basically, this is the kind of place where the waitstaff asks you if you want more chips (for example) making it sound like it’s a free refill when you already have paid for the chips and salsa (which many Mexican places serve on the house). Additionally, when we ordered them, the waiter asked if we wanted guacamole with them too, again making it sound like it almost comes with it when it’s actually $10 on the menu. They also push you to get drinks.

However, the food was very impressive!
The tortilla chips had just the right amount of sea salt and tasted very homemade. The salsa was pretty thin, but decent (Just don’t expect to find your chunky style salsa).
We shared the watermelon salad, which consisted of cubed watermelon, jicama, pepitas, avocado, mint leaves, arugula, with achiote vinaigrette, which was spicy and slightly sweet. Everything seemed very fresh in the salad, but it was on the spicy side for me. The sweetness of the watermelon helped tame the spiciness though.
For my entree, I ordered the chicken tinga tacos. This was 3 corn tacos with pieces of chicken marinated in chipotle, pickled cabbage, avocado, queso fresco, and crema (sour cream). These were very flavorful and it was an interesting combination with the pickled cabbage. The chicken was well cooked and it was not overly oily or salty. I also tasted my friend’s brisket tacos, which were made up of cubes of brisket topped with scallions and salsa de arbol. This was excellent as well, although a tad fatty on some pieces.
This restaurant also has a lot of atmosphere, bright and colorful with a nice cultural vibe. It was definitely on the louder side though, mostly due to the bar (it was a Friday night so it might have been more crowded than usual).

Overall, great place, would definitely return!

*Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but there are lots of photos on yelp if you’re curious what the food looks like!

 

Earth, Bread, & Brewery, Manayunk

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Earth, Bread, and Brewery

Categories: PizzaBreweries
Neighborhoods: Mount Airy, Germantown

7136 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19119
Phone: (215) 242-6666

3/5 stars

My first experience at Earth, Bread, and Brewery was definitely better than my second which is why I’m rounding up to 3 stars instead of 2.
It seems like this place is just very inconsistent. Since my first time here was a year ago, it’s hard to remember specifics, but I think we had friendly, good service, and our pizza (whatever the special was that night) with figs, balsamic, goat cheese, etc was pretty good. I don’t remember it being excellent but the crust was good and the toppings created an interesting combination.
On the other hand, my second experience was a little ridiculous to say the least. We ordered two pizzas and two salads. We ended up ordering the Asian Kale Salad and the Avocado salad with dressing on the side. Unfortunately, the waiter confused the two dressing orders and put the wrong one on the side. When politely informed of his mistake, he shrugged it off and didn’t offer to take it back. The kale salad was very fair, the dressing being extremely salty and spicy. Imagine kale dressed in soy sauce and chile powder.
The other salad was flavorful and unique and had a decorative presentation (as pictured below), but had too much dressing.

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So after we got our salads, it was forever until the pizzas finally came out. I have no idea what took them so long because we ordered two more pizzas to go (to take to a friend’s house) when they came, and those came out within 10 minutes.

So the pizzas…
We got their “Earth” pizza which was tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, roasted onions, basil, and arugula. I enjoyed this pizza for the most part. The crust was nice and thin, but had some black spots on the bottom of the crust. Their crust is pretty good, but not excellent, it’s very light, but not much depth to it. The toppings were fresh and flavorful though.

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The other pizza was the special which was herbed ricotta cheese, grana padano cheese, Swiss chard, basil, roasted onions, and a tomato basil vinaigrette drizzled on top. For me, the Swiss chard overtook the pizza completely and the bottom of the crust on this pizza was totally black!
In my opinion, it’s unacceptable to bring out a pizza that’s black on the bottom. We were nice enough not to send it back (especially after the waiter’s rudeness with the salads), but should have nonetheless.

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So not the best experience, to sum it up, slow service, mistakes by the waiter, and very burnt crust. Would probably not go back.

Vedge, Philadelphia

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Vedge 

Category: Vegan, Vegetarian
Neighborhood: Washington Square West

1221 Locust St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 320-7500

4.5/5 stars

Vedge has been on my go-to Philly restaurant list for a few years now. It’s been raved about everywhere, from magazines to newspapers, to TV shows. This vegan restaurant excels in not only their presentation, but also transforms the experience of eating vegetables. Vedge elevates the vegetable to the status of meat, without intending to imitate it. Instead of making the vegetable into something it’s not meant to be, the cooks at Vedge bring out the vegetables’ diverse qualities in flavor and texture, creating elegant masterpieces that you don’t want to ruin by digging in with your fork.

So now onto the actual food! The suggested amount of plates to order is 3 per person, but my friend and I decided a total of 4 would be plenty for us. The menu is divided into three main sections with the first comprising of cold plates mostly in their raw form. The second section lists hot plates, which are a little heartier and have larger portions, and the third section is called the dirt list, items that are cooked for the most part but smaller portions.

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The first dish we ordered was the Wood Baked Sweet Potato Hummus with two types of sliced bread (multigrain and grilled white bread with olive oil) along with pickles and pickled jicama rods. They actually give you quite a large portion of hummus, but not quite enough bread and pickles to dip into the hummus. The bread and pickled items were very tasty. The bread tasted fresh and the pickled jicama was especially tangy with a strong bite. The hummus had a smooth texture and a very smoky flavor. We didn’t expect this extent of smokiness, but if you like “smoky”, then this hummus is right up your alley!

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Our second dish was the Roasted Rutabaga Salad. This was my favorite. It was presented beautifully with the leaves of the rutabaga, grilled shiitakes, and crushed pistachio making up a salad dressed in a little olive oil, and 4 large thin bright yellow slices of rutabaga emerging from underneath with some roasted bits of onion sprinkled along the long edge of the plate. I loved the surprise of a crunch of pistachio in the salad with the delicious mushrooms and fresh leaves. The rutabaga actually had a caramelized onion flavor and were crisp and delicate. The onion complimented the rutabaga well as well as the greens.

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Our next dish was Brussels sprouts that were shaved and grilled with a smoked mustard dressing drizzled on top. The Brussels sprouts were well cooked and flavorful and the mustard dressing was light and fresh, bringing out the Brussels sprouts even more so.

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The final dish was the Seared Hearts of Palm. This was presented as one whole heart of palm in the middle, with chopped hearts of palm next to it, and topped with Calabrian chile salad. The salad consisted of halved cherry tomatoes and chile peppers with a light vinaigrette. In a pool around this were black lentils that had a rich undertone, encircled by a rim of green Harissa puree. This dish was also well prepared, the hearts of palm were crisp and flavorful, the lentils well cooked and slightly rich with the Harissa blending in to add a delicate flavor. The child salad was a bit on the spicy side especially if you got a tiny pepper. But the waitstaff were very quick to ensure our water glasses were always full, so that helped wash away the spiciness.

The service also was extremely fast. Almost too fast! Our food came out in less than 10 minutes after we ordered, might have been five.
We were presented with the dessert menu after we finished our meal, which by the way was the perfect amount for the two of us. The desserts were all items that combined sweet and savory flavors, but more adventurously than usual.
Overall, I would highly recommend Vedge. It’s a great place to go whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore!
However, you’ll usually have to make reservations pretty far ahead of time if you’re looking to eat at prime dinner hours (6-8pm) range. Or you might be able to snag a reservation that someone cancelled (like I did) a few days before!