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Archive for the tag “Broad Street Market”

Friday Photo: The Cookie that Made Me Proud to Be American

Sinful Sweets

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie

This cookie is truly worthy of a Friday photo because I only purchase it at the end of a week.  Made at Sinful Sweets, Broad Street Market, the peanut butter cup in the center is this cookie’s highlight — salty, chocolately, and moist.  I’ve been addicted to these cookies ever since moving to Harrisburg, claiming (when I first purchased one), “I think I was meant to come home from France just to eat this.”

In France, the sweet-and-salty combinations that so dominate American food (think chocolate-covered pretzels or caramel popcorn) aren’t so prominent; neither is, as a matter of fact, peanut butter.  In Talange, for example, peanut butter was available but in small 8 oz. jars for around $7, and only a small handful of my colleagues had ever tried Reese’s peanut butter cups.  (An adjective assignment I used for my seventh grade students was to write to my French friend in Paris who had spent a year teaching and eating Reese’s at Susquehanna University; my students and I sent her letters describing the cup’s taste, flavor, and texture and included a handful to satiate her craving.) When I was home for Christmas from teaching in France in 2007, my parents gave me a bag of Reese’s minis to use in the classroom, but when I returned to France, I stashed the bag in my apartment for weeks, feeding them only to myself.

Because of this, if there’s one thing that I love about being in the States, it’s peanut butter cups — and cookies like these.  If a cookie this simple can be worth a continent, it’s definitely worth your time.

Sinful Sweets
Broad Street Market, Brick Market Building
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 232-0440

Thursday-Friday: 7am-5pm
Saturday: 7am-4pm

Friday Photo: Eight-Pound Carrot Cake, P&R Baked Goods

P&R Baked Good’s Carrot Cake

In my opinion, cake is usually a form of dessert that is much better served if squashed flat, crammed with chocolate chips, and transformed into a cookie.  Most cakes usually seem to be made of too much air and not enough substance, a fact which makes me often twice as more likely to be disappointed after polishing off a cheap grocery-store cupcake with dyed-pink icing than a cheap cookie of any kind.

However, the carrot cake at P&R Baked Goods, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg, is a cake to make an exception for.  A single cake takes two days to build, says Nora Proctor, the bakery’s “pound cake diva,” for the cake is first mixed and molded then soaked in a buttermilk mixture overnight. Once baked, the cake is as dense as it is mighty: a wall of raisins, walnuts, and shredded coconut as dense and high as Jericho. Each bite is so brown-sugar moist that it’s almost like eating cake batter.  The cake’s dark buttery flavors are cut by the cream cheese icing, which is flavored with lemon juice and a little bit of lemon peel. The result is a sweet-but-not-too-sweet, massive cake — a whole cake is heavy enough to rival a lasagna, weighing in at 8 1/2 pounds.

The carrot cake is “one of the most unique cakes I make,” Nora Proctor told me in 2010, who claims that P&R Baked Good provides “stuff as good as your mama’s.”  For this reason — heck, for any occasion — I recommend this carrot cake as a dessert to bring home for the holidays, since a single cake is probably enough to feed an army.  Just don’t start taste testing it first.

P&R Baked Goods
Broad Street Market
Harrisburg, PA

Wednesday, 7am-2pm
Thursday-Friday, 7am-5pm
Saturday, 7am-4pm

TO ORDER:
(717) 350-5326
(717) 350-5327
ednorap@yahoo.com

$3/slice, $30/cake

Friday Photo: Crab-Stuffed Potatoes, T. Oliver’s Seafood and Soul Food

Looking for something to grace your holiday table this season that doesn’t involve turkey or a spiral ham? The crab-stuffed potatoes at T. Oliver’s Seafood & Soul Food at the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg are one of my favorite dishes.  They’re made of Asiago cheese, lump crab, and Hellman’s mayonnaise pocketed into baby red-skinned potatoes that are broiled until bubbly and charred — in other words, they’re bite-sized creaminess with a hint of sharpness, baked into a cozy potato shell.  I routinely crave these little guys for a Saturday lunch, steaming hot and sprinkled with just a bit of salt.  Recently, I took a dozen to my boyfriend’s family for Thanksgiving to share, and they were so popular that we actually forgot to broil them — we gobbled up a dozen potatoes raw, straight from the genius egg carton packaging.

Also check out T. Oliver’s stand for whole seafood and other holiday crowd-pleasers, such as shrimp salad, citrus “mojo,” codfish cakes, clams casino, oysters Rockefeller, and fresh calamari.  All prepared foods, according to stand manager Jim Woltman, are made to be as hassle-free as possible: either grab and go from the hot foods case, or buy it chilled, heat, and serve.

T. Oliver's Seafood and Soul Food, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg

Crab-Stuffed Potatoes, T. Oliver's Seafood and Soul Food

Crab-Stuffed Potatoes: $8.75/dozen, $4.75/dozen

T. Oliver’s Seafood and Soul Food
Brick Market Building
Broad Street Market
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
717-234-5000

Wednesday, 7AM – 2PM (limited vendors)
Thursday-Friday, 7AM – 5PM
Saturday: 7AM – 4PM

Tales of Pennsylvania Peppermint

A few months ago, I bought a tall can of organic dried peppermint from the Broad Street Market and tucked it into my cabinet next to the espresso machine.  I think I bought the peppermint tea purely out of nostalgia. I hadn’t drunk mint tea in years.  I, in posh old age, had graduated to chicer beverages like green tea or French pressed coffee, or–my usual at The Scholar in Harrisburg (the only place where I have a “usual” of anything)–an americano.  In 2005, I had learned to drink coffee on my aunt Colleen’s back patio in Holland while eating some gourmet European chocolate dessert and watching the sun set, and afterwards, I used to boast that learning to drink espresso was somehow intimately connected to growing up, alongside other admirably adult tasks like learning to eat with chopsticks or driving aggressively in heavy traffic.

But mint tea was actually my first hot beverage. About every other morning when my farming father got up early to milk cows at 3am, my mom would treat our entire family to a big breakfast–“dippy” eggs, toast, and homemade strawberry jam.  She had one flowered teapot that she’d fill with dried mint leaves picked from bank at the end of our lawn, and she’d fill a teacup and place the sugar bowl next to my plate.  Cradling the cup of weak-colored liquid in my palms, I’d sit with my siblings on the kitchen heat register that pumped the room full with boiling warmth.  I’d wonder what could ever be better in the world: I had a family around a kitchen table lit with yellow light, the sweetness of pink-red jam, and the way the butter-soaked toast buckled beneath the weight of egg and yolk.

In the summer, my mother would pluck fresh tea leaves from the bank and boil them in an open kettle on the stove, eventually filling a pitcher with the sugared liquid and ice cubes as a breeze fringed with the smell of cut alfalfa blew in and out of the kitchen screen door.  In July, when my grandmother picked sweet corn to sell by the dozen under the shade trees in front of my cousins’ farmhouse, my brothers, sister, cousins, and I capitalized on the increased in traffic and sold the same cold mint tea in plastic cups for 25 cents each.  One year later, when we set up the business again, we adjusted the price to 30 cents for inflation.

My older brother Chris once gathered armfuls of mint leaves and spread them on newspaper in our garage like my mother would lay out peaches to ripen, and when the tea dried, he packed the leaves carefully into plastic freezer quarts and stashed them somewhere for my mother to use.  For the rest of my junior high and high school days, dried mint tea seemed never-ending, like the Biblical story of the woman with the bottomless jar of oil which provided everything for her until she had no more pots left to fill.

But my parents eventually graduated to Eight O’Clock Coffee and I to chai lattes and Maxwell House International Cafe Decaffeinated Sugar-Free Swiss Mocha, piling the red-lidded tins around my dorm room to display my intellect and my taste in fine things.  Tea bags marked my growing up which then were replaced by fair trade coffee in wide-mouthed mugs at the Kind Cafe in Selinsgrove, Italian hot chocolate drunk with Ellen Witoff while overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, then Vietnamese coffee at Garden Vietnamese in Harrisburg, as if beverages could map the footsteps of a departure.

In 2007, after accepting an English assistantship position in Talange, France, I bought espresso at 5:30am during my layover at the airport in Milan, Italy, due to a promise I’d made my boyfriend, and I sipped it standing up while surrounded by dark-haired businessmen.  From there, I flew to Luxembourg where I took a train north to sleep off my jetlag at my same aunt’s familiar home in Holland.  When I woke up–proud and adult for having traveled from Philadelphia to Milan to Luxembourg to Brussels to Rosendaal, the Netherlands, in a single day of French, Dutch, and Italian–Colleen and I drank Dutch koffee from black and white patterned mugs while sitting again on her back patio.  Afterwards, she walked me around her backyard and garden to show me the new landscaping that I hadn’t seen in two years, and Pennsylvania peppermint was there.

I don’t really remember the details–how the plants had been brought through customs, or whether or not they’d been a gift from my grandmother–but I remember that they had been from the farm in Pennsylvania. When I moved to Harrisburg in 2009, the first gift I asked my younger brother to bring was a plant of peppermint from the bank from my family’s backyard.  He brought it to me in a grocery bag with the dirt stripped from brittle roots.  I placed it carefully in a pot in the sunroom next to the Thai basil, like a ceremony.  I just watered it a moment ago.

These days, I drink peppermint tea only at nights, especially cold ones, cupping my hands around the little black and white mugs that Colleen bought me in Holland to match hers.  I drink mint tea only with honey.  As I sip, I remember making tea in the evenings in Talange with my German roommate Tobias as the French winter wind blew desolate around our apartment.  I remember the raw honey given to me that same year by a French teacher named Catherine, who had a family member had a beehive, and how certain she had been to make sure the glass jar was always refilled when I wanted more.  I remember the Moroccan tea ceremony that was performed for me on the day before I left France in 2008, with its imported mint leaves and frosted tea glasses and ritual pouring.  I think about drinking tea with Rachel Fetrow after she returned from Senegal during our junior year in college, or the tea shared with Alli Engle on the frosted winter morning when I arrived in Chile this past June.

I think about the voyages away and home again.

Metz, France, June 2010

Foodie Goodie: Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co., Harrisburg, Embraces Flavor, Family

Chris Kiley and Creations, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg

Think French cuisine is defined by moldy cheese, snails, and bottles of wine with unintelligible names?  Think again.  Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co. at the Broad Street Market, Harrisburg, is rethinking one classic French concept: the ultra-thin French pancake known as a crepe.

In France, crepes are traditionally made while you wait, folded with simple ingredients, and sold in small shops called creperies. Recent trends have pushed these soft golden disks onto menus in Europe and abroad, where the crepes act as canvases for sweet ingredients like Nutella, powdered sugar, or fruit; or savory ingredients like scallops, asparagus, and cream.

However, at Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co.—opened in June 2011—the crepes are all-American: stuffed like breakfast burritos, smothered in peanut butter for a dessert, or folded with chicken and bacon as a lunch wrap.

“A crepe is basically a French tortilla, just 100 calories less,” owner Chris Kiley explains.  “It’s incredible versatile and customizable.”

Hearty, elegant, and accessible, the fillings of Kiley’s crepes range from yogurt, seasonal fruit, and granola for breakfast to melted ham and Swiss for lunch.  When wrapped in a still-warm, slightly springy crepe, even ho-hum fillings get new life: the cool lettuce of Kiley’s chicken Caesar crepe seems crisper.  The textures of his Chocolate King crepe—a crepe folded with peanut butter, banana, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream—feel richer, like a molten peanut butter cup.

“We wanted to make a food that could either work as a snack or a meal, something that you could eat while walking,” Kiley explains.

Kiley’s cooking experience began in Central Pennsylvania when he was in high school.  He worked first in the kitchens of local eateries, such as the former Giagantes on St. John’s Church Road, Camp Hill; Kosta’s Fine Cuisine, Camp Hill; and T. Jimmy’s Place, Mt. Holly Springs.  Then, after earning his degree at Shippensburg University, Kiley moved to Maui, Hawaii, where he worked for six years as head chef at the Basil Tomatoes Italian Grille on the Kaanapali Resort.

“I’ve just always enjoyed cooking,” Kiley explains.  “I like the creativity.”

Kiley and his family became familiar with crepes when his older brother, Mike, worked in Paris from 2001-2003.  “My parents would visit me in the winter and Mike in the summer,” Kiley explains. “It was my dad’s idea to start a crepe stand in Pennsylvania.”

Kiley returned to the mainland in 2006 when Mike was diagnosed with cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant.  Kiley was found to be a match.  “It was time to return to my roots,” he says.

Today, Kiley now runs Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co. with his mother, Mary Ellen, and his father, Pat. His brother Mike now works in Washington, D.C.

The stand serves breakfast, lunch, and dessert crepes as well as bottled drinks, iced tea, lemonade, and 100% Hawaiian-grown coffee.  Kiley hopes to expand his business by offering daily specials and catering options.

“Once you try a crepe, you’ll love it,” Kiley says.

Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co.
Broad Street Market
Brick Market Building
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 695-7970

Thursday-Friday, 7am-5pm
Saturday, 7am-4pm

First published in TheBurg, September 2011.  Click here to visit TheBurg’s website and download the latest issue. 

Friday Photo: Summer Fruit Tetris

Fruit Tetris, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg, PA

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