Saturday, May 31, 2014

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Delia was up early this morning starting coffee for Stone which smelt like donuts (Duncan Donuts Chocolate Glazed Donut).  Even though I do not drink coffee, it made me for a moment consider trying it again, but decided against it.  We quickly dressed and made our way over to the Green Eggs Cafe.  With it's homey atmosphere, this place was amazing.  The service was friendly, food not only fantastic, but came in large portions, which was perfect seeing that I was starving.  You did not leave there hungry.  The only dilemma was deciding what you where going to order.  As you can see no one had a problem.
Belgium waffle with cinnamon apple and berry compote Green Eggs Cafe Philadelphia
Stone's Belgium Waffle with cinnamon apple and berry compote.

My usual, egg white omelet, biscuit and a bowl of fruit.

Their famous Red Velvet Pancakes, which are to die for.   This we shared.

Delia's Veggie Benedict

Breakfast food, Huevos Rancheros with eggs, cheese, avacodo, nacho's, mexican style breakfast
Michael's Huevos Rancheros
Full and content we left for the Philadelphia Zoo, which just happens to be Americas first Zoo.  Arriving on such a beautiful day, it was already packed.  Thanks to Michael and Delia who have a Zoo membership, we received some special perks.  No waiting in lines for tickets, to feeding the Lorikeets.  
Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Michael and Delia

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Stone and I
We started by visiting Big Cat Falls.  These Cats are Michael, Delia and Stone's favorite of the animals.  The cats, while graceful, are very powerful and athletic.  New this year, they have the first-in-the-world animal trail system, called the Big Cat Crossing.  This was pretty cool.  You would be walking and above your head , you could see the Big Cats on the crossing. 
Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Big Cat Crossing
My favorite was the Primates, most importantly the Western Lowland Gorilla. These animals are  so human like.   As they looked at you, I would wonder what they are thinking.  Then again maybe I don't want to know.  

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Coquerel's Sifake 

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Western Lowland Gorilla
Time to feed the Lorikeets.  We are given nectar and go inside where the birds are waiting.  Quickly they gather around us knowing they are about to be feed.

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Delia feeding the Lorikeets.

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Michael feeding the Lorikeets.

Myself feeding the Lorikeets.
We visited numerous other exhibits before calling it a day at the zoo,  ending with Mini Melts Ice-cream.

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Duh, it says WET PAINT!!!!! That's me:)

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Pig Nose Turtle

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Aldabra Tortoise

Michael and Delia enjoying Mini Melts Ice-Cream

Mini Melts Ice-Cream
Final stop, balloon ride, from here we could see all of downtown Philly….
Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
Balloon Ride

Green Eggs Cafe and the Philadelphia Zoo
View of downtown Philadelphia.
What is your favorite animal at the zoo?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our First Trip To Michael and Delia's New City

Our driver, Larry arrived right on time.  He hurriedly loaded our luggage and entertained us with stories as he drove us to the airport.  After a brief flight, Stone and I touched down in Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell and most importantly, Michael and Delia.  We make our way to seize our luggage.  So that Stone and I wouldn't get lost in Philly, Michael met us at the train stop and took us to his dwelling.  The temperature in Tennessee when we left was 87'.  Here we where greeted with 67' along with Speck and Baloo, Michael and Delia's boys the dogs.  My how they have grown in such a short time.  Stone and I where shown our room in their quant little abode where we will be staying.  We unpacked and settled in, happy to be here.
For our evening meal, we visited The Blind Pig.  This is not the place to come if you are on a diet.  With it's intimate atmosphere and gourmet comfort food, you will leave here fulfilled and glad you came.  I ordered the pinot noir and a order of Blue Balls to share. .  Yes, you read that correct.  Blue Balls in my mouth, short rib surrounded by gorgonzola cheese, surrounded by mashed potatoes, then breaded and deep fried.  These are served with a tasty gravy.  Our waiter, the baby brother of the owner and her husband the chef, made for a perfect family owned eating establishment in Central Philadelphia.  After satisfying our hunger we strolled back to Michael and Delia's place calling it a night and anticipating a full schedule in Philadelphia tomorrow.
Train ride from the airport.



Michael and Delia

My dinner salad.

Blue Balls, Blind Pig, Philadelphia
The Famous Blue Balls.
Have you ever ordered the Famous Blue Balls?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lentil and Garlic-Sausage Soup

This is a great Make-Ahead soup.
Serving: 6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound garlic sausage, cut into 1" cubes
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2" dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cut into 1/2" dice
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups tri-colored lentils (1 pound plus 5 ounces)
2 quarts chicken broth
1 quart water
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cups (2 1/2 ounces) Manchego cheese, shredded

1. Heat the 1/4 of olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the sausage and cook over moderately low heat until it starts to brown, about 7 minutes.  Add the carrots, garlic, onion, fennel and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the wine and boil over moderately big heat  until the pan is almost dry, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the lentils, broth and water and bring to a boil.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 1 hour.  Discard the bay leaf.
2. Stir the rosemary into the soup and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls.  Sprinkle with cheese, then drizzle with olive oil and serve. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

These are always a big hit at dinner parties.


Serves 6-8

For the shrimp:
2 pounds (12-15 count) shrimp
1 Tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Old Bay Seasoning

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended: Heinz)
1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)


Thousand Island Dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon minced capers
1 teaspoon minced gherkins
1 Tablespoon sweet pickles
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400'.
Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on.  Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and a dusting of Old Bay Seasoning and  spread them in 1 layer.  Roast for 8-10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through.  Set aside to cool.
For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.  Serve as a dip with the shrimp.
For the dressing, place the mayonnaise, ketchup, caper, gherkins, sweet pickles, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl, and stir until blended.  Serve with roasted shrimp.
Recipe slightly adapted from:

This can be prepared early in the day and refrigerated.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mama's Lending Hand

Stone and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Georgia helping Malia set up her and Jim's new home.  Boxes where unpacked, dishes washed, stored, and surely to be reorganized as time passes.  You come across things that didn't endure the move, which can be expected.  Many trips where made to get items to help with organization, frustrated when things didn't fit, or pieces where missing.  That meant back to the store. This happened more than once.  With sales going on everywhere, it was busy.   Stone would stand in the return line, while Malia and I would quickly go for what was needed . We would make it back to the check-out line finding Stone sitting and eating an ice-cream cone.  Apparently dealing with the returns makes a man hungry.   Back at the house Malia and I battled the inside, while Stone was out on the lawn watering the freshly sodded grass along with the lone tree that had been planted.  While out there he befriended one of the neighbors, learning more about the area especially the nearby pizza place.  With all the boxes unpacked,  broken down and taken away, you could really tell the progress that was made.  It takes time to make a house a home. The smell of freshly baked cookies which Malia made as we left will do it every time.
Two bag lady's heading home.

Malia riding the rail home with her purchases.

A nights view of the downtown skyline from Malia and Jim's roof-top patio.

Atlanta's Thumbs Up Diner

Me and Richard
My favorite meal to eat out is breakfast.  My favorite breakfast item is biscuits!  When in Atlanta my favorite breakfast establishment is Thumbs Up Diner. There is usually a wait, but its worth every minute.  To me it's usually a good sign if there is a line.  Your order comes out quickly, and is always piping hot.   I was first introduced to this diner in March, and have been a regular whenever I've been back in town.  When I think of Thumbs Up, two things come to mind.  The best biscuits I've ever had, and Richard, who is an employee at the diner.  Upon each of my visits to this establishment I have ordered the same thing, as I'm a creature of habit.  I always order the egg white omelette with tomatoes, mushroom and spinach, a side of fresh fruit and, of course, a biscuit.  The biscuits are light, with a crusty crust which is saved for last after my other items are eaten, just like dessert.   They also make different flavors of preserves.  Yesterday, they had peach, and this morning it was strawberry.   Before heading back home tomorrow, we will make another trip to the diner.  I wonder what kind of preserves they will have?  Stone on the other hand seems to always order a belgian waffle.   Cooked to perfection, a light crispy batter, with deep holes that allow the butter and syrup to puddle.  Richard, whom we met for the first time three months ago, greets you with the warmest most welcoming smile and has a way of making your dining experience personal.  I was greeted with a smile and left with a hug.  This is what southerners are all about, making you feel like you are among family.  Stone and I will look forward to returning during future visits to Atlanta.  
The best biscuits you will ever eat, along with the biggest omelette.  You wonder if you will be able to eat it all but manage along with the fruit salad.  Knowing if you don't, you'll think about it all day, regretting you left it behind.   

Stone's light crispy belgian waffle with deep holes for the butter and syrup to puddle in,  with sides of bacon and fruit salad
What is your favorite item to order at Thumbs Up?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Orange Olive Oil Cake


Make a 9” round cake, I used a deep cake pan, this cake is to thick to use a regular size pan.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup olive oil, you want to use a mild olive oil, I use  Colavita Olive Oil 100% pure, that I zest 3 oranges into the oil and warm (remember heat and olive oil to not go well together.)  Do not simmer, or boil, just barely heat and let set for 2 hours. Then strain and use in your cake.
1 ¼ cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 ½ Tablespoon grated orange zest, I used zest from 2 oranges.
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup Grand Marnier

Heat the oven to 350’.  Oil, butter, or spray a 9” pan that is at least 2” deep and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder.  In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice and Grand Marnier.  Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for up to 1 hour until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean.  Mine took under an hour so make  sure you watch it.    Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

While Cake is cooling make Orange Curd:
6 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ cup fresh orange juice
4 ounces (8 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
zest of 2 oranges
Put egg yolks, sugar, orange juice in a medium saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly.
Continue whisking until the curd thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon: about 10 minutes. Be patient: it will happen!
Remove from heat and whisk the butter into the curd a few pieces at a time until they are melted and all of the butter is incorporated.  Whisk the zest in.  Let cool, measure out 1 cup and put in refrigerator to use in frosting.  Spread the remaining over cooled cake.

2 cups chilled whipping cream
1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup orange curd, that has been chilled
2 teaspoons orange zest
Whip the cream and mascarpone cheese together on medium peed until blended; gradually add the sugar and increase the speed to high and whip until firm peaks form.  Add orange curd and orange zest and mix until blended.  Frost cooled cake. Store cake in the refrigerator.

Candied Oranges:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 orange
Bring water and sugar to a boil in a heavy large pan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Thinly slice oranges and add to pan, arranging the slices in a single layer.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and barely simmer until the white pith of the orange becomes translucent, turning the slices occasionally, about 40 minutes.
Remove the slices from the syrup and allow to cool on a wire rack; turning occasionally as they cool to keep them from sticking to the rack.
1 cut min in half with scissors while still barely warm and not yet firmed.
Once cooled place on cake.

To Assemble the cake:
Spread left over curd on cooled cake. Cover the entire cake or just the top with the frosting, and garnish with candied orange slices.  Keep cake in the refrigerator.
 I think it taste better made the day before.