To Taste: Flavored Finishing Salts collabo w. Sunshine

Sunshine turned me on to this awesome how-to video on how easy and rewarding it is to make flavored finishing salts. Eric Gower, the handsome personality behind Breakaway Cook, introduces diverse suggestions for ingredients to flavor moist sel gris. I’m beyond envious of his spice shelf and could watch his videos over and over and over.

Creative Use of Salts from Eric Gower on Vimeo.

Sunshine suggested and I agreed that this was a great inspiration for a crafty foodie collaboration! She had also found some mini jam jars that would be perfect vessels to store our new seasonings. We chose an afternoon during my week of leisure between jobs and got to planning our approach.

In the video, Eric Gower makes 4 different salts with lavender, matcha, smoked paprika, & saffron. We couldn’t get our hands on any of those ingredients, so we thought of great flavorings of our own. Sunshine finally located the sel gris at Trader Joe’s that is suggested as the base for our blends and we prepared our ingredients for blending. We heated the oven to about 275degrees and started drying our lime wheels, herbs, mango, & bacon:

Lime Wheels, Bacon, Herbs, & Mango

While our fresh ingredients dried in the oven, we set up the food processing attachment to the Cuisinart stick blender Dre got me for VDay. Quickest way to my heart is through a kitchen gadget! First up was some crystallized ginger we located on a last minute trip to the Asia mart. We ground it and added in about 2 T of the sel gris. A few more seconds of blending and we had so simply made our premier flavored salt.

Crystallized Ginger Salt

Luckily, we saved some fresh mango slices to sample the salt on. It was a perfect pairing!

Crystallized Ginger Salt on Mango

We still had some time to kill while our items dried in the oven. Sunshine found some really fun Victorian-inspired banner designs that we printed out as labels for our jars. We cut and arranged them on the lids with pencil-written names. One already filled and four more to go!

Labeled Salt Jars

The fresh herbs were first to be fully dried so we ground up the basil, thyme, oregano, & parsley. The result looked like a bowl of emerald-speckled diamonds and tasted amazing on fresh tomato slices.

Herb Salt

We whirled up our lime batch next, but I somehow missed getting a decent pic of it. Once the mango was crispy, we added it to two separate batches: one with just mango and another with the addition of bacon for a sweet & smokey approach. Both looked and tasted beautiful.

Mango Salt

Bacon Mango Salt

By this point in the afternoon, we’d downed quite a few Absolut Boston (elderflower & black tea vodka) and Arizona Lemonade cocktails. We moved the party to the patio to snack and focus on sampling all of our salts. I pan-fried chicken breast and sliced some more tomato as simple hosts for the variety of salty tastes.

Flavored Salt Sampling

They were all amazing but our stand-out favorite was definitely the crystallized ginger. We finished up our meal with sliced fresh strawberries… with salts, of course! I’m sure our cholesterol levels were staggering by the end of the day.

Strawberry w. Mango Salt

Even the Baby Kitty joined us for a great afternoon on the patio. She loves to stalk flies from the edge of the garden.

Baby kitty stalking flies

I’m so glad Sunshine stumbled upon this project as it is one of my favorites to date. We have alot of fun ideas on using our salts, so keep an eye out for exciting updates.

Flavored Finishing Salts

Check out Sunshine’s blog post on our crafty flavored finishing salts project on Blog Full of Jelly!

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Weekend Update: Italian Market Festival

After our Spring Patio Brunch, Kerry came to scoop Tom, Dre, & me to join her at the Italian Market Festival. 9th Street was alive with South Philadelphians, music, arts, &, of course, amazing food! We settled our brunch over a few beers and perused our snack options. Dessert was up first! The Italian Market has always had a battle of the cannoli between Isgro Pasticceria on 10th & Christian and Termini Bros. on 7th & Dickinson. This day, Termini Bros. wins with their fresh “filled to order” cannoli! The cream was a cool, decadent on a hot South Philly day.

Termini Bros. Cannoli - Filled to order with a smile!

Termini Bros. Cannoli

Making our way back down 9th street, we relocated the impressive Trompo of marinated pork for some tasty Tacos al Pastor. Again, “to order” service with a smile!

Trompo of Al Pastor on the Italian Market

The spiced pork was moist & tender and brimmed with flavor & depth. What I was truly impressed by, however, were the tortillas. Each order didn’t just call for hand-shaved pork, but also hand-pressed & fresh grilled corn tortillas. To top them off, literally, were fresh cilantro, mango, and salsas. Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla (9th b/t Ellsworth & Federal Sts.) “officially” wins best tacos in Philly!

Tacos al Pastor

UPDATE: Special thanks to Drew Lazor, of CityPaper’s Mealticket food blog fame, for the shout-out! Without you, dude, we wouldn’t be able to do what we all do so well.

Italian Market + Food Love = Al Pastor Lust

Saturday w/ Sarah: Ansill’s Menu @ Ladder 15

This past weekend, Dre & I went on a mission to the bookstore for Dalai Llama wisdom, food rules via Michael Pollan, & hopefully a continued subscription to Cook’s Illustrated. He headed off to work at 3 and I ventured across Broad is pursuit of a long-overdue Saturday w/ Sarah.

I’m glad I recalled that David Ansill (of Pif & Ansill restaurant notoriety) had revamped the menu* at the relatively new Ladder 15 – 1528 Sansom Street. Our waitress was great and beyond adorable, so I took her recommendation on the Pear Complex from their (also newly revamped) cocktail menu. DELICIOUS! We started off the meal with the Curried Lamb Empanadas. The three rich, crispy, & dense pockets were  savory and perfectly paired with an Apple Chutney & Mango Yogurt.

Curried Lamb Empanadas w/ Apple Chutney & Mango Yogurt

Ahh, the new buzz menu item around Phily – the Ladder 15 Burger! This burger is on a new level of decadence. Eff a kobe burger… a sizzling bone full of marrow & truffle sauce are where it’s at! For those that can’t handle it, they have a classic burger, too. Both are paired with perfectly crisp fries & parmesan mayo dipping sauce… with caviar on top?!?!

Burger 15 - Prime Sirloin, Braised Short Rib, Red Wine Mushrooms, Grilled Red Onion, Bone Marrow, & Truffle Sauce on Metropolitan Bakery Brioche**

Ansill’s self-titled restaurant (that unfortunatley closed last Summer) had a buzz menu item of its own – Korean Tacos! I never had the opportunity to try them, so it was exciting to have a second chance. The order came with (2) soft tacos – a Pork Belly one & a Braised Short Rib one. They were of a richness beyond my imagination with a fatty Korean BBQ marinade, kim chi, scallion, & sesame seeds. I WILL be back for these again soon… and to try whatever flaming dish I envied as it was delivered to another table.

Ansill's Korean Tacos - (1) Pork Belly & (1) Braised Short Rib

The highlight of the experience was not one, but two visits to our table by Chef Ansill. He made a welcome point to show Sarah his vision on topping off the Burger 15 and popped over again to see how we were enjoying everything. Now that’s a chef I can surely respect & support!

*Check out Ansill’s full new Ladder 15 menu HERE!

**Thanks to Metropolitan Bakery for their Twitter shoutout of my Burger 15 pic on Flickr!

@ Matt Mayhem’s (but, in my kitchen): Seared Duck Breast, Zucchini-Honeycomb Mushroom Egg Noodles, & Blood Orange-Mango-Dandelion Salad

Matt Mayhem is one of my all-time favorite people and my longest friend in my time living in Philly. Each year we get together to celebrate our friendiversary and this time it was a bit of reunion. Life gets away from us sometimes, but great friends never fade. There are very few people I truly trust to have my back, and, possibly even less that I trust in my kitchen. Matt’s a lucky guy to fall into both categories!

My Matt Mayhem

Matt scooped some ingredients from Reading Terminal Market and I scooped him on my way home from work. It was nice for once to focus on pics and eating, instead of always being the cook (not that I usually mind!). I was so pleased to sit down to a meal I wouldn’t usually think to prepare, either. Matt artfully seared Duck Breast, sauteed Zucchini-Honeycomb Mushroom Egg Noodles, & tossed a Blood Orange-Mango-Dandelion Salad with a Grapefruit-Shallot Vinaigrette for a truly fresh, delicious dinner. Thanks for the yummies & 6 years of friendship, Mayhem!

Seared Duck Breast w/ Zucchini-Honeycomb Mushroom Egg Noodles

Dandelion Salad w/ Mango, Blood Orange, Bean Sprouts, & a Grapefruit Vinaigrette