Friday, April 14, 2006

I can't figure out the placement of these pictures, so bear with me. As some of you know, homemade pizza is our lifeblood here in Northport. Whenever we make it, friends invariably come running over clutching a bottle of wine with that hungry saussage look in their eyes. Since a lot of our friends are still out of town for the winter, we had pizza alone with our movie, Scotland, PA...hysterical movie with a great sound track. I wanted to document my pizza making skills for you all, so here is the fruits of my labor. The crust is a cornbread crust made with 1.5 cups of wheat flour, 1 cup of cornmeal, 1 packet yeast dissolved in 1 cup of warm water, sea salt and some olive oil. I put the yeast in a bowl and add the warm water and let that bubble for about 10 minutes. I put the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the yeast, mixing with a fork until it comes together in a ball. Then I add aobut 1/8 cup of olive oil and knead in the bowl with my hands until moist and elastic. Let it rise in the bowl covered with plastic and a towel for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Then take it out of the bowl and place it on a greased cookie sheet. Now I have tried a pizza stone and those air cushioned cookie sheets, but I find that the crispiest crust is achieved by just using a cookie sheet.
If the dough will not cooperate with you and spread to the edges, let it rest for a minute and try again. A tip I have is to wet your fingers with oil so they don't stick to the dough.

I drain a can of organic diced tomatoes and then spread that out across the dough, add cooked sausage or hamburger (please add topping of your choice here) and then cover with shreaded cheese (I use what we have available in the house, last night was munster, its usually chedder) and add oregano and perhaps some fresh garlic and you are good to go. Its way too good. Place pizza in the lower third of a 390 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese is gold brown and bubbly.


Monday, April 10, 2006

On my first night in Philadelphia, I attended a lecture on architecture in the age of Benjamin Franklin which was really incredible. Of the three houses in which Franklin resided during his career as a diplomat, only the London one survives. His Philadelphia house, Franklin Court, was torn down just 20 years after his death by his own descendants to make room for 6 rental properties in order to provide and income for the family.

After the lecture a colleague with an expense account took me to Bookbinder's for dinner. Apparently its famous as the place to be seen in old Philadelphia and has been for 150 years I think.

I attach this photo of the bar at Bookbinders so that I can say that our table was the table right in the middle of the room there. I can say that I was shocked by the prices in this boisterous watering hole. Its mostly seafood and my mouth dropped open when the waiter told us that they were really famous for their lobster which were $29.00 a lb with a two lb minimum! Sixty bucks for the smallest lobster in the joint. That would feed a family of four a beautful lobster here in Maine.... with real butter even! The New York Strip steak was $45.00...this wasn't the Philadelphia I was used to.
So I ordered the famous snapper soup and chicken ceasar. My dining companion had fried oysters and the seafood cob salad with a double espresso for dessert (I'd be up all night).
The soup was great, and the turtle meat wasn't very big, so I didn't have to think about it...It arrived as a thick rich brown broth with a carafe of sherry on the side that you poured over the top and mixed, super delicious with the homemade breads they had.
The ceasar was fine after I removed the anchovie. M.L. appeared to love her fried clams, but wasn't that interested in the cobb salad, which doesn't sound great to me anyway.
This place is right on Walnut and second street and, I think, is filled with more tourists than glam queens. The service was perfect, every time I put my water glass down, there was a waiter to fill it. More bread was magically placed on the table and our plates were cleared immediately, something that I personally love.
Gotta try making that soup, or at least find a recipe to see what's in it.