April 8, 2008

The Schmitter Sandwich: Philly Goodness on a Roll

I admit it openly, I am not a native Baltimorian. I am instead a Philly Boy. I have been raised on cheesesteaks with sliced steak and processed liquid cheese and pretzels that you buy on the side of the road. Nothing warms my heart more than the site of a Wawa and the blissful thoughts of Rita's Water Ice. There is just something about Philly food. It is food for the people. One of the best examples of this is the Schmitter Sandwich.

The Schmitter, originally created at McNally's Tavern, is one of the specialty concessions served at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The sandwich is considered by some to be one of the best cheesesteaks in the city. While I am a traditionalist who likes my "Cheesesteak, Wiz, Wit" the Schmitter holds a special place in my heart (mostly the clogged Artery part). The sandwich is comprised of some fantastic guilty pleasures, all Philly favorites. Yum. Just take a look at this artists representation of all of the goodness that goes into each one of these handfuls of deliciousness.

As you can see the Schmitter is no kids sandwich. Three slices of cheese, sliced steak, fried onions, grilled salami, and special sauce with stars in it (okay, so the stars are only in this representation, but boy are they delicious). There are tomatoes, clearly there to ensure the nutritional value of this monster. Overall it is one of the best sandwiches I have ever had.

The Schmitter is one of those food items that people travel to get. Either at McNally's or the stadiums, people come for the sandwich (the also potentially come for Beer and Baseball/Football). One of the nice things is that the Schmitter has taken a little bit of a tour in recent memory. The Florida debut happened at Superbowl XXXIX and took a trip up I-95 to be enjoyed by those crazy and annoying Mets fans at Shea Stadium (sorry, I couldn't help myself).
If you get the opportunity I highly suggest getting your hands on one of these delectable sandwiches. They are a real unique Philly treat.

April 1, 2008

Penne Con Cavolofiore

Last night I had the pleasure of stretching my culinary legs into the kitchen as opposed to the dining room. It was a friend's birthday and we decided that the best celebrate would be to cook a good meal and a cake. I decided to take on the the main course and pulled out one of my staple recipes. Penne Con Cavolofiore, aka Penne with Cauliflower, by none other than Mario Batali. I came across this recipe in Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs, which is a fantastic book that I have been slowly working my way through. The book has a nice mix of different types of recipes from Food Networks Stable of Celebrity Chefs, including some real winners from Mario, Paula Dean and Bobby Flay. I highly suggest picking this one up.

This particular recipe is great because it classic Italian. Simple ingredients and simple preparation ends in a completely amazing meal. I would highly suggest trying this one out.


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 4 cups plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/2 cup very hot water, plus 6 quarts
  • 2 tablespoons salt, plus more, for seasoning
  • 1 pound dry penne
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bunches Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated caciocavallo, Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic. Cook gently until softened and very light golden brown, then add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add cauliflower and stir well. Add 1/2 cup very hot water, lower heat to medium and cook 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the penne, and cook according to package directions, until tender yet al dente.

Drain and add to pan with cauliflower. Stir in parsley and black pepper to taste and toss 1 minute over high heat. Divide evenly among 6 warmed pasta bowls, top with grated cheese, and serve immediately.