The Gingerbread House Tour

Fairmount Park is a Philadelphia treasure and the Fairmount Park Houses are some of its jewels. What could be sweeter than some of those mansions recreated in royal icing and gingerbread? Throw in some Philadelphia landmarks and some outstanding chefs, (Click here for list and scroll down.) and you have a recipe everyone will like. Enjoy!



Pancakes for Breakfast Made With Love


Happy Holidays from South Philadelphia!  We decided to make  plates for two little boys  for their weekly pancake breakfasts with their parents. Dad makes chocolate chip pancakes for the family every Sunday.   Yum, Yum!


imageSo, where did we go ?  Why The Expressive Hand a charming paint your own pottery shop in the heart of Bella Vista.   That’s owner Marcie Ziskind showing Bubbie how to do lettering on the rim of the plate.

wpid-img_20141214_143135blog_wm.jpgBubbie is working hard on Connor’s plate.

imageHere’s my plate with the rim painted and the pancake design drawn out.

imageDon’t Connor’s pancakes look good?  Great job Bubbie!!

imageAnd here’s Nathan’s plate, done by yours truly.


IMG_20141214_155236blog_wmBoy we had a good time!    Wait until the little guys see their dishes, made with lots of love and some help from Marcie.

Read more about the Expressive hand in this  Blog Post.

Less Than Perfect Petit Fours

I have always loved the idea of Petit Fours: little multi-layer cakes that look like miniature  iced gift boxes just waiting to reveal the secret of their delicious insides to whoever is lucky enough to bite into them.


Sensible people buy their Petit Fours but how many times have I told you that I am not a sensible person?  I have been on a periodic Petit Four odyssey since high school when I would experiment in my mother’s kitchen.  I had a willing and perennially hungry friend who would eat the rejects.  I even tried my hand at making fondant, unsuccessfully I might add because I did not have a candy thermometer which my mother regarded as a mysterious scientific instrument not meant for everyday cooks.   Still I had fun and my results were tasty even if they looked like the cat walked over them.  I mean, butter, sugar and eggs?  How can you go wrong?  It’s like shooting Petit Fours in a barrel.


This time around, I got the bright idea that I was going to turn a recipe for Sicilian Cassata  into Petit Fours.  I should have known that there was a good reason I could not find a recipe for them on the Internet.  I decided to develop my own.  I started with one of the best recipes in the world: Sponge Cake courtesy of The Cake Boss.    Believe me, the secret to making this case is beating the eggs as instructed in the recipe.  See the top picture of the thick and lovely batter?  That’s after beating the eggs!  IMG_9964

I made the cake in a big cookie tray (16 X 24) lines with parchment.  It baked up nicely.   Now most Petit Four recipes  tell you to slice the cake into layers,  ice and fill the layers, and then to slice the whole thing into little squares.  Not me.  I cannot slice anything straight.  You can hide wopperjawed  layers,  but not uneven cake sides.


So  after I layered the cake (tip:  cut the cake into small sections and cut into layers a section at a time.  Easier than trying to slice a big cake into layers.  And use a serrated knife.) I cut out little squares and stacked them with ricotta filling in between.  Only it is impossible to make a ricotta filling for cakes this small because it does not hold its shape.  So the filling was ricotta with LOTS of powered sugar.  It was good, but not the same as Cassata filling.

IMG_9966I bought almond paste which I have never worked with and I had planned to use it between layers but I decided to top the  cakes with squares of it instead.



Here are the naked cakes before glazing.  The balls are made of the scraps mixed with the filling.  I thought I could make some kind of truffle from these.


Glazing.  Thank you 350 Degree Oven Blog for the broken fork trick!


I got the idea for the glaze from the Southern Fatty Blog


And this is the best I have ever done making Petit Fours, which means there is still time to screw it up!!


I was going to cover  them with chocolate confectioner’s coating, but for the life of me I could not get it into a pourable  state.


So I ended up topping each cake with a smidge of chocolate.  I attempted to coat the “truffles”  and they came out rather <ahem> rustic looking.


The Petit Fours were a hit at the party I took them to, but I have to confess that I skipped them in favor of the shrimp!

Franklin Flea Holiday Market and More

If you come to Philadelphia to do Holiday Shopping this year, be sure to check out the Franklin Flea. They’ve set up on the first floor of the old Strawbridge and Clothier store at 8th and Market and the vendors offer a great selection of eclectic funk.

Six Saturdays, 10am – 5pm
Nov. 15, 22, 29
Dec. 6, 13, 20


Shopping under the chandeliers


wpid-img_20141122_141753blog_wm.jpgThe Picasso repro is in needle point.  How ’70s can you get?

 wpid-img_20141122_173908blog_wm.jpgLots of re purposed items including clothes



Vintage belts and look at those Coach bags


wpid-img_20141122_142211blog_wm.jpgThere’s some older stuff too



If you can’t come in person, most of the  ever changing selection of  vendors sell on line


Reclaimed Crafts

Found RW


Earth and Iron


This Pretty Life


Hoof and Antler

For more information on the Franklin Flea Holiday Market press here.

But wait!  There’s more.  If you’re in town during the week, check out Christmas Village (also open on weekends) which pops up in Love Park  every year after Thanksgiving and stays open until the last Sunday in December.    You can go ice skating at Dilworth Park after you’ve finished shopping.