The Constitution! Hamilton! Philadelphia! Crab Fries!

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GMT - 6 Hours The Constitution! Hamilton! Philadelphia! Crab Fries!

Post by Khan on Sat Oct 29, 2016 2:58 pm

Today is Constitution Day and commemorates the 1787 completion of the US Constitution, and its signing by the majority of delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  That was the famous convention during a brutally hot and humid Philadelphia summer when the convention delegates insisted that all of the room's windows be kept tightly closed; the delegates didn't want the American public to learn that they were designing some radically different kind of national government.  At least, not learn about it until the process had run its course and a complete draft constitution could be put before Americans for their consideration.  (If you've never been to Independence Hall, the founders of the US Constitution met there and labored in very same room as the founders of 1776 who produced the Declaration of Independence.  It's a helluva room.)  The new US Constitution wasn't ratified until 1788, and did not come into effect until 1789, but Sept 17, 1787 is the occasion that's easiest to commemorate.  On this date the delegates regarded their work as being as good as they could make it, and ready for their signatures.

So we're going to commemorate the occasion with some of the iconic beverages and foods of Philadelphia.  And with a special shout-out to Alexander Hamilton.  

Where does Hamilton enter into all of this?  Well...  When historians talk about who played a BIG role in the ratification and successful implementation of the US Constitution, Hamilton is one of the few founders they're talking about.  He was among the first to call for a Constitutional Convention to address the shortcomings and failures of the Articles of Confederation - the Articles had produced a national government that was FUBAR and which Americans could endure no longer.  Hamilton was one of the New York delegates to that 1787 convention in Philadelphia, and he's one of the signers of the Constitution.  What really mattered was Hamilton's role as an author of The Federalist Papers which explained and defended the new draft constitution, and persuaded the American people to ratify it.  And Hamilton rightly wins praise as the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury - Hamilton took the smart steps needed to ensure not just the survival of the new nation, but also its prosperity.  Hamilton remedied the crippling condition of state and national debts, ensured that both Americans and other nations had faith in our federal debt and currency, ensured that needed revenues were coming into the Treasury, and he gave a serious shot in the arm to the struggling national economy.  

That's why Hamilton is on the $10 bill, and gets to stay there - and it's Jackson who needs to step aside on the $20 bill to make room for Harriet Tubman.

And also, for some of us gathered for this weekend, Hamilton's "predicament" speaks directly to us.  He was born out of wedlock in a land far away, orphaned as a child and left with what's politely called a "socially challenged" status, came to America as an immigrant, acquired an education through the efforts, good graces, and charity of others...  Hell, Hamilton fits right in here.  He had a disadvantaged start in St. Croix down in the Caribbean, yet became a very influential lawyer and politician and one of the most important of the American founders.  Have a seat and a beer, my good man!

For our All Philadelphia Happy Hour today we have got beers from Yard's, Victory, and Philadelphia Brewing.  We've also got some Philadelphia distilled spirits to call upon (Bluecoat American Dry Gin, Penn 1681 Vodka).  Philadelphia is famous as the birthplace of soda pop  and for the kids we've got some local Frank's Black Cherry Wishniak and Vanilla Cream, as well as Levi's Champ Cherry.  And we can mix a Clover Club for anyone who wants - the one truly iconic Philadelphia cocktail.  As kid-friendly small bites for our Happy Hour, we are serving:

  • Soft Pretzels Nuggets w/ Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (store-bought fresh pretzels, dipping sauce recipe previously posted)
  • Late Summer Crudites w/ PA Dutch Cheese Dips (store-bought)
  • PA Dutch Antipasto Platters (sliced smoked or cured meats, sausages, cheeses, pickled veg, all store-bought)
  • Philadelphia Tomato Pie
  • Panzerotti (the original deep-fried and authentic 'Pizza Pocket' - made their first appearance in the US across the river in Camden, which ignored them, leaving Philadelphia to embrace them and adopt them as our own)

As a playlist for today's Constitution Day Happy Hour we are playing the Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast Recording.  It's over 2 hours and if you've not yet heard the songs, or read about the musical, consider:  "In 2016, Hamilton received a record-setting 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical, and was also the recipient of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The prior Off-Broadway production of Hamilton won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical as well as seven other Drama Desk Awards out of 14 total nominated categories.) That's a helluva musical.  Best of all, young audiences, love it.

For a main dish we thought about the iconic Philadelphia Flounder Hoagie.  It's simple, like a fried fish Po' Boy with a breaded and deep-fried flounder fillet - and many Americans living outside of Philadelphia cock their head as if they're sure they cannot have heard that right, a "Flounder Hoagie."  We've got plenty of local flounder but that's too much fish to fry.  Instead, we are setting up a Hoagie Bar.  American hoagies really did originate here in Philadelphia, and for all the media nonsense over the damb cheesesteaks, it's the Hoagie which is The Official Sandwich of Philadelphia.    We'll set up a fixings bar that will allow folks to make Philly-style Italian hoagies, cold cut hoagies, bluefish salad hoagies, etc.

Deep fryers will still be fired up though, as we want to serve Crab Fries.  They're very simple, they're just good French Fries seasoned with Old Bay or a similar crab seasonings, and often served with a cheese sauce for dipping.  They were invented at Chickie's & Pete's - a Philadelphia sports bar that is popular with Pauly, Ant'ny, Vinny and Dom, and all the South Philly Corner Boys - a place into which I never go.  But the fries *are* indeed pretty good, and they can be found all over Philly, South Jersey, and Atlantic coast boardwalks north and south.  We'll also grill some late summer veg and serve them as a chunky salad, dressed with a Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette.

For a Philadelphia end-of-summer dessert we're taking our inspiration from Rita's Water Ice - locally, an icon, absolutely.  But it's a not-very-good mass-produced American knock off of Italian Ice.  With less-than-first-rate ingredients.  We're swapping out Rita's for Giada's raspberry Italian Ice Pops.  And we'll have  a small assortment of Tastykakes because they're as Philadelphian as Independence Hall.  Late in the evening we'll see who wants Root Beer Floats; not only was soda pop invented in Philadelphia, so too was root beer - and so too was the ice cream float.  

Hey kids, let me tell you about the immigrant bastard who helped to write the Constitution and to found these United States...


Clover Club, Philly's Original Cocktail, from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book

2 oz dry gin (Plymouth or London Dry, preferably)
½ oz fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 tsp raspberry syrup
¾ tsp superfine sugar
1 egg white

Add ingredients to shaker and shake vigorously without ice for one full minute to emulsify the egg. Add two ice cubes and shake again for 30 seconds to chill the drink, then pour it slowly into a coupe glass, remembering that the best part of the egg white will come at the end.  Pro-tip: if you have a few extra minutes, it pays to whip the egg white in a small bowl for a few minutes before you add it to the shaker.  This will make the drink even more meringue-y and fluffy. 


Philadelphia Tomato Pie, from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

YIELD: makes one 13- by 18-inch pizza, serving 4 to 6


For the Dough
500 grams (17.5 ounces, about 3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
10 grams (.35 ounces, about 2 teaspoons) salt
5 grams (.175 ounces, about 1 teaspoon) rapid-rise yeast
30 grams (1 ounce, about 2 1/4 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
325 grams (11.5 ounces, about 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons) water

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly pureed in a food processor or blender
1 tablespoon sugar
1 shallot or small onion
Kosher salt
1/2 ounce finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Combine flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Whisk to combine. Add olive oil and water. Knead on low speed just until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes, then knead once more on low speed for 10 minutes. Dough should pull away from sides of bowl but stick to bottom.

Remove dough hook, cover top of mixing bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

For the Sauce: Heat olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, sugar, and whole shallot. Bring to a bare simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until rich and thick, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool in fridge while dough rises.

Two hours before baking, remove dough from fridge. Generously grease the inside of a 13- by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil (about 3 tablespoons). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Form into flat ball and transfer to baking sheet. Using your hands, coat the ball on all sides with olive oil. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic and let dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. The dough should spread out .

Carefully stretch and push the dough into the corners and edges of the pan. Cover loosely, and let rise for 1 hour longer. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. When dough has risen, gently dock center with finger tips and use your hands to create a risen ridge about 1-inch wide around the edge.

Spread sauce generously over dough, leaving the raised 1-inch edge un-sauced. Bake until edges are light golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes total, rotating pan once half way through baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with Romano cheese, cut into slices, and serve.


Panzerotti , from Dina Gramegna

Servings: 16


2 pounds store bought Pizza Dough
Olive Oil
bench Flour

1 1/2 pounds Chop Meat; Ground Beef
1 medium Yellow Onion
16 ounce block of Mozzarella; shredded
1 cup leftover MarinaraSauce

6 ounces Fresh Ricotta, strained
6 ounces Mozzarella
6 ounces Ham

2 ounces Pepperoni; thinly sliced
2 ounces Capicola; thinly sliced
2 ounces Prosciutto
2 ounces Salami
8 ounces Provolone

To Make the Pizza Dough Rounds:
On a lightly Floured work surface, roll out of the Pizza Dough to 1/8th-inch thickness. Cut out 8 inch circles.

For the Chop Meat and Mozzarella Filling:
Place a tablespoon of Olive Oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the Chop Meat (Ground Beef,) crumbling as it cooks. Remove the Ground Beef from the pan and drain the liquid. Add another tablespoon of Olive Oil and add the Onion, cooking until softened. Add the Ground Beef back to the pan and add the leftover Marinara sauce, adding enough to moisten the meat. Ladle a small amount of this mixture off-center on the pizza dough round, and top with some of the Mozzarella. Fold over the dough, and crimp edges with the tines of a fork.

For the Ham and Ricotta Filling:
Arrange the sliced Ham off-center on the pizza dough round, and top with a small dollop of Ricotta and sprinkle of Mozzarella. Fold over the dough, and crimp edges with the tines of a fork.

For the Salumi Filling:
Arrange a slice of each desired Salumi off-center on the pizza dough round, and top with a slice of Provolone. Fold over the dough, and crimp edges with the tines of a fork.

To Cook Panzerotti:
Heat a half-inch of Olive Oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the Panzerotti for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, and serve.

Beach Fries (aka Crab Fries), from Zac Williams

Served on the boardwalks of Atlantic beaches, these simple fries are a taste of summer.  The starting point is a basic french fry that is crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. This is the fry perfected in street stands for over two centuries in Belgium and France. Master this fry and you’ll have no problem finding friends.

6 fresh Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes (12 to 15 ounces each)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Peanut oil
Old Bay seasoning
Apple cider vinegar (optional)

1. Peel the potatoes. Using a knife with a sharp blade or a fry cutter, cut them into lengths a little less than 1/2 inch square. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl filled with cold water. Add the vinegar and swirl the potatoes around. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. Swirl the potatoes again and drain the water. Spread the potatoes on a layer of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels.
3. In a large heavy pot or deep-fryer, preheat the peanut oil to 315°F (157°C). Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
4. Working in small batches of approximately 2 cups each, add the sliced potatoes to the hot oil. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until just tender but not brown. Using a basket or slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the oil, shaking to remove any excess oil. Spread the potatoes on paper towels to drain. At this point the potato slices should be refrigerated at least 1 hour, uncovered, or as long as overnight. (You can also freeze the blanched slices at this stage for up to 1 month in a well-sealed freezer bag.)
5. When you are ready to serve the fries, reheat the oil to 375°F (190°C) and fry for about 4 minutes, until crispy and golden. (If using frozen potatoes, allow them to thaw at room temperature. Pat dry before frying.) Remove the fries from the fryer to remove excess oil. Spread on paper towels. Allow the fries to stand for 1 minute before sprinkling them with Old Bay. Serve them hot, preferably in a paper cup, dousing them liberally with vinegar, if desired.

Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette, from Bon Appetit, Oct 2006

YIELD Makes 8 servings


3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


For vinaigrette:
Combine first 9 ingredients in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature...  Mix vinaigrette into vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

Italian Ice Pops, from Giada de Laurentiis

Yield:  12 to 14 pops


1 (12-ounce) bag or 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
3 or 4 tablespoons simple syrup, recipe follows
14 wooden ice pop sticks

Simple Syrup:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar


In a blender, combine the raspberries and the mint. Puree until combined. Add the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the simple syrup. Blend to combine. Taste the mixture and add the remaining 1 tablespoon simple syrup if you like. Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze for approximately 30 minutes, or until partially frozen. Insert the wooden sticks and return trays to the freezer for another 3 to 5 hours.

Simple Syrup:
In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Take pan off heat and cool the syrup. Any extra cooled syrup can be saved in an airtight container.
Yield: 1/2 cup

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GMT - 6 Hours Re: The Constitution! Hamilton! Philadelphia! Crab Fries!

Post by Bao on Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:37 pm

Party Party Party Party

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