Monday, March 9, 2009

Olde City in Philadelphia On Sunday

Indulging in a few Belgian ales at Eulogy Belgian Tavern.
And yes the beer was good! (read the sign)
Stopped in at Amada Restaurant for some Spanish tapas.
Diners be us three, Tom, Leah and me outside Amada.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fennel Potato Soup with Butter Poached Shrimp and Blood Orange

This is my rendition of Stephanie Izard's Fennel Potato Soup recipe. Anybody that follows Bravo's Top Chef series will remember Stephanie as the winner of season FOUR. She garnished her soup with butter poached lobster tail. Since I had an abundance of shrimp in my freezer, I opted to use them instead. Shortly before posting this entry I recently won a recipe contest at work with my version of soup. Next time I make this I'll try using both shrimp and lobster!

Serves: 4
For the soup:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (reserve some fronds for garnish)
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Pernod
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream

For the shrimp:
16 shrimp (size 41-50 count per pound)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Blood orange reduction
Juice of 2 blood oranges (reserve two segments for garnish)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons honey

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or medium soup pot over medium heat.. Add
the onion and garlic and sweat them for 3 minutes. Add the fennel and sweat
5 minutes, until it begins to get tender. Add the potatoes, wine and Pernod
and simmer to reduce the liquid until it is nearly gone. Season with salt
and pepper. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat
and simmer for 40 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put the cream in a small heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium
heat. Simmer to reduce until it has thickened and has rich nutty flavor.
Set aside. While the soup simmers, prepare the Blood Orange Reduction. Whisk together
the blood orange juice, lemon juice and honey in small non-reactive
saucepot. Simmer over medium heat to reduce to a syrup, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Transfer soup in batches to a blender and process until smooth (or use a
stick blender in the pot). Pass each batch through a mesh sieve, pushing it
through with a rubber spatula. Discard solids. Return the soup to the
saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in the reduced cream and adjust seasoning
to taste. Keep the soup warm while preparing the shrimp. 

Bring a medium saucepot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and boil
for 30-45 seconds not to cook through. Put the shrimp in an ice bath to stop cooking. 

Melt the butter in the saucepot. Whisk in the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Add the shrimp and poach over low heat until just cooked through, about 2-3

Ladle hot soup into bowls. Add poached shrimp to each serving (four
shrimp). Drizzle the soup with blood orange reduction and garnish with
orange segments and fennel fronds. 

**Photo by Aimee Dilger; Recipe adapted from Stephanie Izard (

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lehigh Gorge State Park

In keeping with the outdoors theme of my last post, here are a few shots from a recent trip to the Lehigh Gorge State Park (last Sunday) and photos of Lock 22 (3 miles north of Rockport entrance) that was part of the Upper Grand Division of the Lehigh Canal which was decimated by a flood in the 1860's and ceased operating once the railroads established themselves in this part of PA right around the time of the Civil War.