Looking to escape your corner of the world, for a historic city whose bells toll the sound of freedom? Philadelphia is not just famous for the Liberty Bell and being America’s first capital. It’s also an historic culinary bastion for African-American chefs becoming successful entrepreneurs. After all, Philly is where George Washington’s favorite slave, Hercules, escaped as Washington was preparing to return to Mt. Vernon. And, despite Washington’s best efforts to recapture him, the city of Brotherly Love never returned Hercules.
A whole pineapple was thoughtlessly purchased without a clue of what to do with it. Although, it’s a bit complicated to chop up, it’s a juicy snack or a nice garnish for a rum drink. Chunks of it always sweeten a mean, green stir-fry. When it’s pureed, it sweetens most dessert (try it in Hummingbird Cake with Mascarpone Frosting). After some thought, I decided to challenge myself by making a savory pineapple pizza.
Potato Chips, fruity and hard candies, twirly sugar sticks, chewy caramels, salty pretzels and raw nuts were not my childhood friends. Among the most offending taste were raw nuts. The taste of peanuts are what I image wood to taste like, but I love peanut butter. And, I will never understand people’s obsession with salted sunflower seeds as they spit speckled shells onto subway train floors. Then there’s the pecans. They’re a different nut.
Growing up, tacos were filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, and they were topped with chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. Mom deep fried corn tortilla shells and asked everyone whether they want soft or hard taco shells. Back then, tacos were simple, and I still love my childhood version today for nostalgic reasons.
Today, an online search for tacos yields more than lettuce and tomatoes. Tacos are topped with pickled vegetables and authentic Mexican cheeses. They’re filled with meat slowly simmered in mole sauce, quinoa and spicy roast vegetables. And, some people buy tortilla presses to make their own corn tortillas. Personally, my taco shells aren’t deep-fried, instead a little oil is added to a hot skillet as a tortilla shell is flipped over several times for a few minutes.
In this autumnal taco, butternut squash is roasted with warm spices and toss with shredded chicken. The meat and squash filling is placed over a corn tortilla and before its folded in half to enclose it, pineapple salsa is spooned on top for a fresh and sweet taste. Of course, no taco is complete without cheese. In this version, only a mild flavored cheese is needed, such as Cotija (think of it as a Mexican version of the Italian Ricotta Salata cheese).
There’s memories surrounded by tacos. Since, Dad was ‘The Cook’ in our house, we were excited when Mom decided to make one of her few dishes, which were tacos. For the record, even though I strive to eat healthy most of the time, I always prefer her deep-fried taco shells. Read more
Now that cooler nights are here, I can turn on the oven to it’s highest temperature to make pizza. This pizza has a mild spicy cornmeal crust that most kids will love. It’s topped with homemade roast peppers with a smoky and candy sweet taste sans the spice. The peppers are layered over a herbal ricotta cheese and baby spinach leaves. Balancing the sweetness of the pizza, salty kalamata olives gently top the roast peppers with a handful of shredded parmesan cheese (try it with asiago, too). The result: A pizza that warms your family’s soul into the first few days of autumn. Read more