Publican Quality Meats & Chocolate Hazelnut Soufflé

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It’s Center City Restaurant Week in Philadelphia, a time when 100 downtown restaurants offer a three-course, $35 dinner menu, and that reminds me of a recent visit to Chicago.  My last trip to the Windy City fell during the 5th annual Chicago Chef Week, prix-fixe dining at 75 of the city’s top culinary destinations, and I couldn’t resist taking part in the $22 lunch menu!

Choosing where to go was a challenge until I saw that the list included Publican Quality Meats, owned by James Beard Outstanding Chef Semifinalist Paul Kahan and visited by Anthony Bourdain on his Chicago layover. It also happened to be in the meatpacking district, an area of Chicago I hadn’t yet visited, so I set off on the mile walk from where I was staying in the Loop

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to the meatpacking district.

[Under-researched traveler alert!] I was fully expecting Chicago’s meatpacking district to look like New York City’s — a hip, thriving neighborhood buzzing with bars, restaurants, and people. But while I was picturing this…

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I got this…

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a fully-functioning area with commercial meat sellers and very few visitors…well, until I got inside Publican Quality Meats, that is!

Each table of this warm, charming neighborhood cafe and shop was filled

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with people eager to buy something from the butcher shop,

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procure a treat from the bakery and gourmet market,

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or settle in for a nice lunch from their seasonal menu.

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For my first course, I ordered the beet and faro salad with roasted butternut squash, frisee, pecans, farmers cheese, and an orange brown butter vinaigrette.

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I love when chefs let the ingredients speak for themselves. This dish was well balanced and each bite made my palate more and more excited for my second course — “Return of the Gyro”.

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A braised pork belly, raita, escalavida, and pea shoots sandwich with calabrian chili vinaigrette on griddled flatbread,

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each bite was better than the last. The pork belly was cooked perfectly and the sandwich was a fabulous mix of flavors and textures. At this point, you can imagine how excited I was for dessert!

For dessert, I was served a Hazelnut Paris-Brest, a classic French dessert that resembles a bicycle wheel

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and was, well, disappointing. After such exquisite first and second courses, I found it a bit dry and lacking depth.

Now, I’m far from a James Beard semi-finalist, but I would have much preferred a different delicate French dessert with hazelnut, a Chocolate Hazelnut Soufflé! Soufflé should be served right out of the oven and, since guests order all courses up front, would be a great choice for a Restaurant Week or Chef Week…or your next dinner party!

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Click Here To Print This Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat to 375 degrees. Butter 8 ramekins or 1 soufflé dish, dust with cocoa powder, and place on baking sheet. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine Frangelico, espresso powder, and vanilla, stirring until the espresso powder is dissolved. Add sugar and cocoa powder; stir to combine.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat milk until steaming.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter and oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook over medium-low heat, whisking, until the mixture is the consistency of thick batter, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Whisk in the Frangelico-cocoa mixture.

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  • In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add salt. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until shiny and stiff, but not dry.
  • Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into batter mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until evenly distributed. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish(es).

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  • Bake until puffed and top cracks, 15-20 minutes for individual ramekins, 35-40 minutes for large soufflé. Serve immediately as soufflé will deflate upon removing from oven.

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Serving Suggestions: Pair with vanilla ice cream or gelato and drizzled Nutella.

DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO CHICAGO: 678 miles

This recipe was adapted from Eating Well’s Kahlua & Chocolate Souffle recipe.

Chicago & Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes

When work took me to Chicago last week, the timing was perfect. I always enjoy walking the city streets,

appreciating the contrasting architectural styles,

and admiring the fantastic clocks (for which I have a minor but little-publicized obsession) that adorn many of the buildings.

But this isn’t a post about building styles or chronometers. This is a post about pizza. For 30 days before the trip, I participated in a food challenge that, among other things, left me gluten-free. As a lover of beer and bread, I considered the fact that the challenge ended the day I left for Chicago to be a good omen! I departed Philadelphia with one thing in mind — deep-dish pizza.

After some unscientific polling of Chicagoans, Tweeters, and the hotel desk staff, I headed down the river walk

to Lou Malnati’s, where I was told I could get the best deep-dish pizza in the city.

It took 35 minutes for my individual deep-dish to bake — but after 30 pizza-free days, what’s a few more minutes?

The thin crust was filled with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese

and topped according to Chicago tradition with sausage and a chunky tomato sauce.

My poll results were accurate — the pizza was delicious. (Though less well-advertised, Lou’s also had the most fantastic sweet vinaigrette salad dressing!). So delicious, in fact, that I ate the whole thing and was in need of a long walk afterwards!

I strolled to Millenium Park. Opened in 2004, I love this urban oasis’ dedication to public art and sculpture in all forms,

(Interconnected)

including video and LED,

(Crown Fountain)

and, of course, the “Bean”.

(Cloud Gate)

This well-known Anish Kapoor original is a fascinating way to see the city skyline through the eyes of tourists taking photos from seemingly unlimited vantage points.

My trip to Chicago and the pizza there, along with the end of the food challenge, inspired me to bake a cupcake that was a little more dense than usual, but packed with flavor…and beer! — Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes.

This recipe uses GenY Foodie’s Pumpkin Ale Cake and tweaks Smitten Kitchen’s Maple Cream Cheese Frosting ever so slightly.

Click Here to Print This Recipe

Yield: 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:
Pumpkin Ale Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces pumpkin ale
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with 18 liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.

  • In a non-stick frying pan, melt butter over low heat until slightly browned. In a large glass mixing bowl, combine browned butter with granulated and brown sugars. Whisk together until combined, let set for one minute, whisk again.

  • Add eggs, pumpkin, and pumpkin ale to the butter and sugar mixture. Whisk lightly until just combined. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Do not overmix.

  • Spoon batter into cupcake liners and bake for 12-15 minutes until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

  • Cool for 3 minutes in tins and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the frosting, combine all ingredients in a stand mixer, beating on medium speed until fluffy. Chill frosting for 10-15 minutes before spreading onto cooled cupcakes.

Note: The cupcakes pictured in this post were garnished with edible orange glitter.

DISTANCE FROM PHILADELPHIA TO CHICAGO: 678 miles

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