Giving thanks and giving back with Walnut Hill College Student Leaders

Two Walnut Hill College Student Leaders, Joshua Reilly and Meg Linck, prepare a pre-Thanksgiving meal at the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, along with other members of the Student Leadership Development Institute. Photo credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer

On Tuesday, November 26, members of the Walnut Hill College Student Leadership Development Institute visited the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House to prepare a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for residents of the transplant house and their families. This was the 7th meal in a partnership between the College and the Transplant House, all in an effort to engage WHC students with members and organizations of the University City community in a meaningful way.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, and we are happy to share their article, written by Mari A. Schaefer, both here and below:

Students at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College prepared a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for patients and families who were staying at the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, where guests wait for or recover from an organ transplant.

The facility celebrated the holiday in the past with either a potluck or a catered meal, said Kirsten King, director of the 13-room guesthouse, located on 3940 Spruce St. In addition to doing all the cooking this year, the students sat with the guests to help celebrate, she said.

“They have been really enthusiastic collaborators,” said King. Residents of the Transplant House have been known to stay for as long as eight months during recovery, she said. So the homemade meal, which was funded with grants from Penn Medicine and the Transplant Institute, means a lot to them.

Added King, “We even asked them to make extra,” so that leftovers could be served on another night.

Video credit: Walnut Hill College Student Leader Steven Walsh

The Student Leadership Development Institute began a new partnership with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House on Spruce and 38th Streets about 14 months ago. If you are unfamiliar with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant house, the house is not a medical facility, but rather a small guest house designed to meet the unique needs of transplant patients and their families during a trying time in which they wait for a transplant to be approved.

Initially, Dr. Julia G. Lavenberg, who is a Research Analyst for the Penn Medicine Center for Evidence-Based Practice, reached out to me, along with the Manager of the Transplant House, Kirsten King, with an opportunity of a potential long-term partnership involving what we do best: providing exceptional hospitality and food. The overall idea was for Walnut Hill College and, more specifically, the Student Leaders to plan, prep, and provide delicious meals for the patients, families, and friends residing at the Transplant House on a monthly basis. Needless to say, this was a fantastic opportunity for the college to partner with a nearby university in the community and, specifically, for our Student Leaders and the Student Leadership Development Institute to be at the center of the partnership…and we said yes.

Since the partnership began, these Student Leaders have planned, prepped, and provided seven different meals to the families and patients of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, each meal with its own menu and its own theme. From garlic knots to focaccia, from Italian wedding soup to baked potato soup, and from snickerdoodles to berry pie, the patients, families, and friends of the Transplant House were treated to home-cooked meals and the incredible aromas that came with them.

Needless to say, I am extremely proud of this partnership and of our Student Leaders for delivering such an amazing experience to the guests of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, and we are beyond excited in continuing this partnership for years to come!

Written by Dr. Joshua Seery, Director of the Walnut Hill College Student Leadership Development Institute


Thanksgiving at the Penn Transplant House

Hey, everyone! I hope that you’ve all had a good Thanksgiving. This week, I wanted to share something a little different from the usual content I post. On Tuesday, the 26th of November, a few of the Student Leaders and I went to the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House to provide a meal for the people staying there. As a team, the Student Leaders organized and put on a dinner for the residents, and it turned out to be an incredible experience. We chose to do a Thanksgiving theme for our dinner and made roast turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, apple and pumpkin pies, and other dishes to represent the holiday. There turned out to be loads of leftovers, but this made it so that people could pack lunches and dinners, if need be. It feels like a great opportunity to be able to provide a meal for people who are busy throughout the day caring for their loved ones.

On a separate note, I feel as though everyone should experience something like this in their lifetime. It’s important to put emotion into cooking and provide an experience for someone who needs a little extra love. One of the first things I can remember my grandmother saying to me about her food was that she had a secret ingredient. Every dish that she made for us would taste just that extra little bit delicious because of this one thing. Every time I asked why it was so good, my grandmother would tell me that she put all her love into what she had made. I became convinced that this really was the key to delicious food. Food should be full of love and care for those meant to enjoy it. I think that people should remember this when preparing and serving food to anyone. You might just make someone’s night because of what you’ve worked so hard to prepare.

Below, I have included a short montage of the Thanksgiving dinner put on by the Student Leaders. You can even read all about it here in the Philadelphia Inquirer! I hope that even though this post was different, you could all enjoy it in a different sort of way. Thank you for reading this and sharing the experience with me!


The Path to Paneer Perfection

Hey, everyone! This week, I was wondering what to do for a blog post, and a classmate of mine actually asked if I would make them some paneer. Paneer is a fresh cheese that comes from the Indian subcontinent. This quick and easy cheese has a number of uses and is delicious in many applications. This seemed like a good food to showcase, especially because I am a sucker for cheese! I went to a local market and picked out a gallon of whole milk for a two-pound yield of cheese. One of my all-time favorite dishes to eat that showcases paneer is Saag Paneer. A rich gravy of spinach and aromatics make up the sauce, and paneer soaks it right up, making for an irresistible combination. I really enjoy Indian cuisine, and over the years I’ve actually found that I like the vegetarian dishes better. In my opinion, paneer makes a fantastic substitute for meat and is easier on the stomach as well.

In my Canning, Jarring, and Preserving class here at WHC, I learned a great recipe for paneer that is very easy to execute. With only two ingredients, it is a procedural recipe that is very user-friendly. If you don’t quite get the separation of curds and whey the first time you add the lemon juice, you can always add more until you get the desired curds. Some important things to note are that when making any type of cheese, it is a good general rule to have cheese cloth or butter muslin on hand. A large sieve proves to be very helpful, as well as a half-sheet pan with a rack if you don’t have a proper cheese press. Something heavy such as a gallon of milk or heavy pans are good for pressing in a pinch. The following is the recipe I use from the class that I took. I think that it’s a good ratio and yield for milk to cheese. I really enjoyed making this recipe, and I hope that anyone reading does, too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Procedure:

  • Bring milk to a gentle, rolling boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, and stir in lemon juice.
  • Cook for 15 seconds, then remove from heat.
  • Stir gently to see separation (large curds), then leave for 10 minutes.
  • Ladle curds into strainer lined with cheese cloth.
  • Rinse curds gently with warm water to remove lemon juice.
  • Tie off cheese cloth, and hang for 1-2 hours to drain.
  • Place cloth-bound cheese on a sheet pan with a rack, and apply 5 lbs. of pressure for 1 hour. (A cheese press can be used as well.)
  • Remove cheese from cloth, and store for up to 2 weeks.

The beauty of a recipe like this is that you can easily change the batch size. The above recipe yields two pounds of paneer. Simply cut the recipe in half for a one-pound yield. Once you get the hang of making this, explore the many recipes that give paneer the showcase that it deserves. As previously mentioned, Saag Paneer is my favorite panir recipe, but there are most likely hundreds of recipes and variations to explore. Try substituting this in place of meat in a curry recipe. I’m sure the possibilities are endless, and I always have fun learning new ways to spice up ingredients that I love. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and that you now have a platform to follow your path to paneer perfection. Thanks for reading!


Kimchi for the Soul

Hey, everyone! This week, I really wanted to highlight one of my all-time favorite foods to make and eat. Since it’s Napa cabbage and Joseon radish season, it’s the perfect time to make some lovely Kimchi! Traditionally in Korea, a great harvest takes place during late fall, when a year’s worth of Kimchi is made. This event, called Kim-Jang, brings together an entire community for making hundreds and hundreds of heads of Kimchi. This is then shared by families and community members. Kimchi is a staple food in Korea, and what better way to use the harvest then to make lots of it! Nowadays, most people make Kimchi for their families and most people’s recipes and ratios differ from household to household.

          One of the reasons why I love Kimchi so much is that it’s incredibly versatile. It can be used as a side dish, a base for soups or stews, stir fried, boiled, and so on. When you get the hang of making Kimchi, you can start to experiment by adding other ingredients that you like that are fit to ferment. In some parts of Korea, you can find thinly sliced carrot in Kimchi as well as a certain type of seaweed. A handful of chefs and culinarians in Korea and around the world have taken it upon themselves to make Kimchi with just about anything. I recently had pear Kimchi, which was actually really refreshing. I would say the most important things about making Kimchi are to salt, wash, and drain your cabbage well, have everything measured out and ready to use, and to really focus on making a flavorful paste to smother your cabbage with.

          I have been lucky enough to taste some incredible Kimchi in the past few years and have learned how to make a delicious, traditional Kimchi. This recipe can be modified to make either Pogi Kimchi (whole cabbage) or Gat Kimchi (cut-up cabbage). When I first learned about all the ingredients that go into Kimchi, I was amazed at such a combination. My wife’s mom makes the most incredible Kimchi, and learning what her secrets and procedures were really inspired me to start making more at home. I would like to put a disclaimer out there right now and say that I am not going to disclose exactly what goes into the broth for my mother-in-law’s Kimchi. However, a simple broth of vegetables and Dashima (also referred to as Kombu) works well for this and is what I will include in the recipe. As silly as this may sound, this is another one of those dishes in which you can really taste the love if you put in the time and effort. People typically spend all day making Kimchi and will sometimes make enough for months if not a full year. The recipe below is good for one head of Napa cabbage. As the weight of a cabbage does range, I’ll also say that the cabbage should weigh about three pounds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Napa cabbage
  • 1 Joseon radish
  • 2 bunches spring onions
  • 1 cup red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup anchovy fish sauce
  • ¼ cup salted shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 onion
  • ½ head of garlic
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • 1 jalapeño (optional)
  • ½ cup sweet rice
  • 3 cups seaweed and vegetable broth

Procedure:

  1. Cut cabbage into quarters and submerge in a brine of 1 part salt and 10 parts water.
  2. Leave in brine for 12 hours, then remove and wash thoroughly.
  3. Let the water drain from the salted cabbage for 2 hours in a colander.
  4. Take any trimmings from the cutting process and make a stock with that, 2 slices of Dashima, and 4 cups of water.
  5. Reduce the broth down to 3 cups, strain, and make sticky rice paste.
  6. Boil, then simmer rice until a paste and cool.
  7. In a food processor, blend the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño, if using.
  8. Once blended into a paste, add to a mixing bowl and combine with salted shrimp, fish sauce, sugar, and red chili flakes to make the paste.
  9. Cut spring onions into 2-inch pieces.
  10. Julienne the Joseon radish after scrubbing the outside of it. Do not peel.
  11. Add radish and spring onion to the paste and prepare a workstation that can handle a potential mess.
  12. Between each layer of cabbage leaves, smear the paste and make sure to cover every part of the cabbage.
  13. Place these smothered cabbage quarters in a container and let sit out 1-3 days, depending on how sour you want your Kimchi.
  14. Your Kimchi is now ready to eat!

A few pointers for making Kimchi are that you want to let the radish and the paste sit together for about half an hour before using on your cabbage. Also, it’s important to recognize that Kimchi keeps fermenting in your fridge, so you don’t want it sitting out of the fridge for too long. For most beginners who have never tried Kimchi, I would recommend letting it sit out for 1 day and then refrigerating it to maintain a slow fermentation. I always love making this, and I hope this recipe gives people the ability to make some proper, delicious Kimchi. Thank you for reading and have a great week!


Cut the Cheese

Hey, everyone! The time has finally come for my cheese to be tasted! After two and a half months, I just couldn’t wait any longer. I knew that during the process of aging, my cheese formed a somewhat deep rind and dried out probably more than I had wanted it to. I amended this problem quickly enough to save the cheese from cracking though, and I’m really pleased with the result. While it is drier than I had seen in other results, it is still creamy for a semi-hard cheese. The color and texture are very much like gruyère and share a very similar flavor profile as well. If I could describe its flavor in three words, those words would be nutty, milky, and tangy. I think that with age, the tangy characteristic would turn into the mild sharpness that a comté or gruyère has. This was by far one of the most eagerly awaited things I’ve ever made. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to enjoy my blueberry wine with my tomme-style cheese!

Above is some footage of the cheese after I split it in two, then four. Looking back at all the photos I’ve taken during this process makes me feel lucky to have learned so much about this craft. I really appreciate the beautiful cheese press that Chef Slonaker made, and for inspiring me to really pursue this. After finally finishing this first cheese, I’m really hungry for more, and I hope to share more cheesemaking adventures on here. I really urge you all to try making that one thing you love to eat. Try learning how to do that thing you’ve always thought about doing. I’m someone who’s all too familiar with putting things like this off, but this was one of the most rewarding culinary experiences I’ve ever had. I’m very eager to start another project and to apply what I’ve learned from this run to the next. One of my favorite things in life is to learn something new, and I’m glad that I got to document and share my experience!


Under the weather? Get well soon with Grandma’s Chicken Soup.

Hey, everyone! I hope you’ve been keeping healthy during this season of head colds and stomach bugs. I personally came down with a head cold, and it was a nuisance to get over. Whenever I get sick, it feels like a wrench has been thrown into the multi-part machine that is my everyday life. My strategy is to get better as quickly as possible. Nothing is better than quality rest and lots of fluids, but I do have some home remedies that at least make me feel better. It’s these little things that help me get better as quickly as I can.

Growing up, there were many occasions during which Grandma’s matzah ball soup was eagerly awaited. Everyone in my family loves it, and my grandmother is always so kind as to make enough for everyone to take some home. To this day, this soup is what I look for when I’m feeling under the weather. There’s just something about properly done matzah ball chicken soup that revitalizes me and kicks the sickness right out. When my grandmother gave me her recipe, I hesitated at first to make it. I don’t mean to offend anyone whose matzah ball chicken soup I’ve had in my lifetime, but it has never held a candle to hers. I was worried that mine would never be able to measure up to the soup I remembered growing up. Recently, I changed my mind and figured I should start attempting to make it. Maybe in time, I can come close to the original!

One of the things that I love about this recipe is that it’s simple. Like many good things, time is the key to this soup’s success. Good preparation also makes this dish much easier to produce, which makes for an easier cleanup as well. The recipe for roughly six quarts of soup is below, and I really do recommend not trying to scale this down. If you have freezer space, you can make very large batches of this soup, which makes for fantastic eats throughout the year. Last, as you may notice in the recipe below, the chicken is roasted whole and then split in two. Again, I recommend using this technique, but, if necessary, pieces can be used as a substitute.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, fryer (2 ½ – 4 ½)

1 gallon cold water

4 celery hearts

1 large onion

2 parsnips, quartered

1 cup chicken broth

1 bunch dill

Preparation:

  1. Roast chicken with vegetables to lightly color chicken (15-20 minutes at 400°F).
  2. Cut chicken in half. (I use kitchen scissors.)
  3. Place remaining ingredients in small stock pot, bring to a boil, then simmer 2-3 hours covered.
  4. Once finished, remove meat at room temperature and pull chicken/remove bones.
  5. Add chicken back to soup and serve. (Season at the table!)

One of the reasons you should keep the chicken in halves, if not whole, is that this allows you to imbue so much flavor into the broth during its cooking process. It is also much more pleasant in the final dish if the meat is torn instead of diced or chopped. This soup is usually accompanied by light, fluffy matzah balls, which elevates this soup immensely. I feel as though this soup would also be great with rice or some type of noodle. This turned out to be very fun to make, and I’ve learned a lot about one of my favorite dishes. I feel lucky to have people in my life who can pass on such great things to me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and, if you’re sick, get well soon!


Good Cheese and Fine Wine

Hey, everyone! This week, I wanted to do something similar to the last post. I am a huge believer that wine and cheese have this magical, soul-healing power when paired together. Maybe that’s just me! Anyway, this past summer, my friend Zach invited me over to his dad’s house to sort through and make jam out of farm-fresh blueberries. We had our work cut out for us, seeing as though it was over 20 pounds of blueberries. We gave it our best shot and ended up canning 24 jars of jam. However, there were still loads of blueberries left and not enough time in the day for jam. I was sent on my way home with 7 ½ pounds of blueberries, and the wheels in my head began to turn. Having made fruit wine before, I thought this would be a great idea for those super sweet, plump blueberries. I did a little research and talked to some people who had experience in making country and fruit wines to figure out the best approach for this. I wanted to gauge others to see what their ratios of fruit, sugar, water, and yeast were. After devising a plan, I got to work!

Just like with making cheese, winemaking calls for scrupulous sanitation. I use a solution called Star San to sanitize my equipment before I do anything like this. I washed all of my blueberries and then added six pounds of sugar into my five-gallon food-grade bucket. I then took a potato masher and created a syrupy mash by smashing the berries into the sugar. To this, I added 2 ½ gallons of boiling water and let it come to 98 degrees Fahrenheit. The next step was pitching the yeast, which requires water between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I used a variety of wine yeast called “71B,” which is recommended for country and fruit wines. It’s as simple as letting one packet of yeast hydrate for a minute in your water and then stirring with a sanitized utensil. The packet of yeast that I bought ferments up to five gallons of must. Once that was done, I added the yeast to my must and stirred with a top-down motion. After a minute of stirring, I covered my must with cheesecloth, tied it with twine, and began my first fermentation. My work was complete until the following week, when I would have to strain my must into sanitized carboys.

While there are oftentimes just a few ingredients in the winemaking process, it is the actual process itself that can trip people up. Sanitation is really the biggest factor in this process, so I typically wash my tools and containers first and then sanitize with solution. Following this method, I cleaned all of my carboys, rubber bungs, air locks, and other items I used to get the wine from the bucket to the carboys. This process involved lining a sieve with cheesecloth, placing a funnel underneath the sieve, and pouring slowly into my carboys. As a side note, leaving headspace is very important when brewing wine. It would be an incredible waste to leave a half gallon’s worth of headspace in a gallon carboy and have your wine oxidize. I usually stick to about two or three inches from the rubber bung and airlock. Even though wine is partially protected from oxidization while brewing by a barrier of CO2, once you kill the yeast off, you run the risk of oxidizing your wine. There are ways to fix a headspace problem, but nothing is more surefire than using the right-sized container from the start.

The rest of the process is up to time and patience. It is important to monitor the development of the wine and make sure that your airlocks are properly filled and show signs of carbonation below. My wine is currently at its final stages of the brewing process, and I have added Potassium Metabisulphite to kill off any remaining yeast. This takes a few days to fully take effect, and it’s important to let the fermentation drastically slow, if not stop, before doing this. Without ensuring that the fermentation has finished, you could have re-fermentation occur after the bottling process. This leads to corks popping on their own and makes for a messy cellar! I hope that this post has inspired some of you to look into winemaking and viticulture. It is just incredible what fresh, juicy fruit and the right conditions can create. I actually had some left-over must from the winemaking process and decided to make my own blueberry vinegar using a small amount of “mother” from apple cider vinegar. The result was fantastic, and I will share pictures below along with my process for making the blueberry wine! Thanks for reading!


Make your own cheese at home!

Hey, everybody! This week, I wanted to try something new with the blog posts. Summer was very eventful in the kitchen for me, and I learned a lot about pastry as well as some other tasty things. One thing that I had been planning for a while was to go to a local dairy farm, buy some of their milk, and make myself a wheel of cheese! Thanks to the canning, jarring, and cheesemaking class that I took this past term, I had the confidence to invest the money in a cheese-making setup. I am an absolute cheese nut, so the thought of this was like a dream come true. I had recently asked Chef Slonaker if he would fashion me a cheese press so that I could make this happen, and he delivered something really beautiful and functional. I am very lucky to have this piece of equipment, and it will see many more presses to come. 

Even though I have some confidence in making cheese, I am very much an amateur. I wanted to find a recipe that wasn’t too daunting but still pushed the boundaries of what I had already done. New England Cheese Making Supply Company has many different recipes from beginner to advanced. They also sell a large selection of items ranging from cheese molds to cultures for making cheese. They turned out to be a great resource, and the recipe I chose was a tomme-style cheese. Tomme is an alpine-style cheese that was typically made when there was an excess of skim milk left over from skimming cream for butter or making other sorts of richer cheeses. This recipe called for thermophilic and mesophilic cultures as well as animal rennet and calcium chloride. The recipe seemed simple enough, but I wanted to attempt making a four-pound wheel.

I gathered my supplies, and, when I finally had the time, I drove out to a dairy in my area. Baily’s Dairy is a small family-run farm that offers beautifully sweet milk and an array of other dairy products. The family I met there was very kind, and the farm shop was fun to browse. One of the best things about sourcing your ingredients locally is getting to know the people putting in the effort to produce the ingredients you’re buying. I really look forward to going back for more milk and possibly some other goodies! Below you’ll see a short video that I have put together so that you can get a sense of what the process was like for me making the cheese. One of the best parts about something like this for me is that I can keep constantly improving and honing my craft. There are plenty of things that could have gone better, but I am thrilled with the result and had an amazing time making it. I have learned a lot from this adventure, and I am currently trying to decide what cheese to attempt next! This tomme-style cheese will age in my “cellar” for two to six months, then I’ll crack into it and post the result. Here’s the recipe for this cheese so that anyone who wants to make this at home can!


Bingsu, a refreshing treat just in time for summer

Hello, everyone! This week, I wanted to share a really refreshing, summer treat. This past summer, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel to South Korea. The reason for the trip was to meet my wife’s family, which was an absolutely amazing experience. While there, I was introduced to so many different kinds of foods I had never seen before. From fishcakes to mulhwae, I was having all of these delicious things one after another. One of the biggest surprises for me, however, was the heat that everyone had to endure during the summer! This didn’t seem to faze anyone except for me, and to be honest, I struggled a little at first to cope with it. It seemed as though everyone had their own way of dealing with the heat, and at first, I had no idea where to look for something that would cool me off. It wasn’t until the third night that I was in Seoul that my wife suggested to me that we try Bingsu. At first, of course, I had absolutely no idea what this was. She explained to me that this was a really popular snack or treat in Korea that is perfect for a scorching summer’s day. Bingsu comes in many different forms and flavors, but simply, it is a base liquid or fruit that has been blended and frozen to form a soft, frozen ice. This is then topped with all sorts of goodies such as sweet red bean, sweet rice cakes, matcha green tea powder, and many others!

That night, we went out to a cafe with one of my wife’s friends, and while they caught up, I got to know Bingsu a little better. Finally, something that will cool me down! I couldn’t get over the fact that such a simple dish could be so flavorful and refreshing at the same time. My wife and I ordered the Injeolmi Bingsu, which was a sweet milk ice topped with sweet rice cake, honey, toasted almonds, and dried bean powder. I really mean this when I say it, I was in culinary Nirvana for the duration of that visit. There was something so incredibly satisfying about the cooling sensation of the milk ice paired with the chewy and sweet rice cakes. The combination was divine and from that point on, I heavily sought out Bingsu. For the rest of my trip there it was, my cooling agent, and I was able to try so many other variations as well. One of my other favorites from that trip was a classic treat called Patbingsu. This variation of the ice was topped with sweet red bean and matcha green tea powder, which was all it really needed. Needless to say, I was a happy man and wanted to continue my relationship with Bingsu back home!

This past May, my wife and I decided that it was time we tried our hand at Bingsu. Even though we didn’t have any sort of ice cream maker or sorbet maker, we wanted to have Bingsu again. After sitting down and brainstorming for a while, we decided to try something new. The result of this turned out better than we had expected, and we decided to keep our original recipe the same. Instead of using milk primarily for the ice, we thought it would be fun to try using fruit that had a very high water and sugar content. Melons were the first thing that came to mind, and we settled on using watermelon and honeydew. This, we thought, would pair nicely with some sort of creamy element, but we didn’t want the complementary flavor to be overpowering, so we went with a mixture of coconut milk and whole milk. We both love sweetened condensed milk, so we decided that this would play the role of the sweetener as well as a thickener. We were thrilled with the way this turned out, and it was amazing how easy it was to make. All you needed was time and a little patience! Below is our recipe for a simple, homemade Melon Bingsu!

Ingredients:

  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 honeydew
  • 10 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Ready to make Bingsu!

Procedure:

  • Halve the melons, remove the seeds from the honeydew, and discard.
  • Reserve two melon halves for melon balls.
  • Remove the flesh of the melons and place in a blender.
  • Melon ball other melons and scrape the remaining flesh into the blender with other melon.
  • Reserve melon balls for later as garnish. Freeze for 2 hours.
  • Add lemon juice and 1 ounce of sweetened condensed milk.
  • Pulse mixture until combined. Do not over blend.
  • Place mixture in a metal bowl and freeze, checking every hour.
  • In a metal bowl, add milk, coconut milk, and 8 ounces of sweetened condensed milk.
  • Whisk until combined and place in freezer, checking every hour.
  • Once mixtures are mostly frozen, mash or mix with a metal spoon or potato masher.*
  • Continue this process until the texture is a thick slush.
  • In parfait glasses or cups, alternately layer coconut cream ice and melon ice.
  • Top the ices with frozen melon balls, and drizzle remaining sweetened condensed milk on top.
The final result!

This type of Bingsu is referred to as Gwhayil Bingsu, or fruit Bingsu. It is an incredibly refreshing dessert that takes very little effort to make. I found that using a potato masher works really well when making the slush. The consistency of the slush should be solid enough so that it can be scooped but soft enough to eat with a spoon. The amount of sweetened condensed milk used can also be changed depending on how sweet the melons are and how sweet you prefer your treats! I’m sure that this recipe can be altered to use different fruits, and I look forward to doing my own experimentation this summer. I hope that you enjoy this recipe and that it cools you off during this upcoming summer heat!

-Steven Walsh, Walnut Hill College Student Leader

Read Steven’s bio


Ready for rhubarb!

Hey, everyone! It’s rhubarb season! I always get excited around this time of year because I can buy or harvest fresh rhubarb for jams, preserves, pies, and more! If you’ve never had it before, it has a very distinct flavor. Raw, the smell can be likened to that of a tart, unripe pear. However, its flavor is one of a kind and is sour, savory, and slightly sweet! It is almost always cooked and can also be compressed in a vacuum sealer for a nice dessert addition. One of my favorite things to do with rhubarb is make strawberry rhubarb pie. The seasons for both of these plants overlap, which results in a naturally sweet and incredibly flavorful pie. One of the best things about rhubarb is that it does not need a lot of doctoring to taste good. With just enough seasoning, rhubarb becomes an incredibly complex element in any dish.

My memories of rhubarb start with stories from my father’s childhood. My father grew up in the north of England, and there, it was customary to see rhubarb in family gardens, growing in a thick bunch of stalks. One of the most memorable rhubarb dishes he remembers having as a child was rhubarb pie. Pastry, sugar, butter, and rhubarb are essentially what comprised this dish, and apparently the flavor was something to behold. When my dad moved to Philadelphia for work, he sought it out but realized there was little to no interest in rhubarb here. It was essentially inaccessible, and for a long time, he just went without it. As classic and once thought of as “out-of-fashion” fruits and vegetables began to come back into popularity, items such as rhubarb and previously ignored vegetables became more accessible and even more desired in mainstream eateries and grocery stores. Growing up, my family had access to rhubarb, but no one had the time or patience to make rhubarb pie. We always ate the store-bought strawberry rhubarb pies, but to me, they were incredible nonetheless. The sweet, savory, and tangy notes of the rhubarb paired so nicely with the sweet strawberry and crumbly crust. It was a rarity for that pie to last even a couple of days in the Walsh household.

After spending some time in culinary school, I’ve learned to have the patience and carve out the time to make a homemade pie. Nothing fills your house quite like the smell of homemade pastry and baked fruit. This is also a great way to use up harvested fruit that isn’t pretty enough for the table or is maybe a little underripe. Below is my very simple recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie, and it is open for adaptation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. cold, unsalted butter
  • 7-10 tablespoons ice water
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 ½ cups fresh strawberries, halved
  • 2 ½ cups fresh rhubarb, large chop
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoons butter for dotting pie

Procedure:

  • Cut butter into cubes, and refrigerate until hard and cold.
  • Place a few ice cubes in 2 cups of water.
  • Once cold, pinch butter into flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  • Use the tips of your fingers to avoid adding excess heat.
  • Once butter is pea-sized and flour is somewhat mealy, stop pinching.
  • One tablespoon at a time, add the ice water. *Humidity and temperature are important factors to consider before adding all of the water at once. I tend to add 7 tablespoons of water when it’s warm and 9-10 when it’s cold out.
  • Do not overmix dough. Once combined, wrap in plastic and set in the fridge 30 minutes to an hour. *Pie dough can be held in the fridge longer and also frozen.
  • Set oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once chilled, flour a surface for rolling, and cut the pie dough into 2/3 and 1/3 pieces with a bench knife.
  • Roll the dough to 1/8 of an inch thick.
  • Lightly butter a 9-inch pie dish, and press the larger rolled out piece of dough to the sides and bottom.
  • Once tightly fit to the dish, refrigerate for another 20-30 minutes.
  • Toss strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, tapioca starch, and lemon juice together and place into pie shell.
  • Roll the rest of the pie dough on top of the pie, cut excess, and secure top to base with water.
  • Tuck the crust underneath itself once to form a strong seal and flaky edge.
  • Crimp as you see fit. I usually use the tips of my fingers and pinch every ¼ inch with my thumb between my other thumb and index finger.
  • If you have a pie collar, use it. If not, make a collar for your pie out of foil.
  • Slice a small “x” into the center of the pie’s lid, so that steam can escape.
  • Egg washing the pie is optional; I usually don’t.
  • Bake pie for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.
  • For the final 10 minutes, remove the pie collar or foil.
  • Allow pie to cool on a rack for at least 1 hour. The longer it cools, the better!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Once you have made this recipe a couple of times, it becomes second nature. When working with rhubarb, it is customary to peel off the outside layer, which comes off easily. Large pieces also help to maintain a filling with body, so that each piece of fruit is identifiable. Last, thoroughly chilling the ingredients for your dough, working efficiently, and getting the ingredients ready before you start will lead to a beautiful and flaky pie crust. One of the best things about this pie is that there are only a few ingredients and the flavors of the fruit are the highlight of the dish. For another interesting way to use rhubarb, it can be peeled, compressed in a vacuum sealer, and circulated in a hot water bath with various types of vinegars, sugars, herbs, and spices! Below is a quick compressed rhubarb recipe that livens up any plate!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rhubarb, 2-inch pieces, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon picked thyme
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Procedure:

  • Place ingredients in a vacuum seal bag.
  • Seal and remove any air within.
  • Circulate in a water bath at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
  • Remove contents from bag and enjoy.

I hope that these recipes come in handy, and they can also be changed in a number of ways. I always have a lot of fun making pie, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. I urge anyone reading this to experiment and play around with rhubarb while it’s in season. It has such a wonderful flavor profile and really rounds out overly sweet and extremely rich foods. Try adding it to the next batch of jam you make, or maybe add it to a really meaty stew for a refreshing tang. The possibilities with rhubarb are limitless, and I hope this has shed some light on an amazing plant!

-Steven Walsh, Walnut Hill College Student Leader

Read Steven’s bio