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La Belle Cuisine
The White Dog Cafe Cookbook:
Recipes and Tales of Adventure from
Philadelphia's Revolutionary Restaurant
by Judy Wicks and Kevin von Klause, 1998, Running
How the White Dog Cafe Got Its
"In June of 1875, Madame Helena Blavatsky lay seriously ill
with an injured
leg. On the second floor of her brownstone row house at
3420 Sansom Street
in Philadelphia, the doctors urged amputation to save
her life, but she would
none of it. 'Fancy my leg going to the
spirit land before me,' she exclaimed,
have my obituary read 'gone
to meet her leg'. Indeed!' So she shooed off the
doctors and cured
herself by having a white dog lie across her leg, healing all
in no time.
"Almost 100 years later, just after moving into that same house, I
knock at my door around midnight and found a strange woman
'Is this the home of the great Madame Blavtsky?'
'Is this 3420 Sansom Street?' she asked impatiently.
'Yes, but there's no Madame here.'
no, of course not, but would you mind if I came in for a minute, just
see where it was she once lived?'
"I swung open the door and she tore around the house explaining how
this was where her bedroom had been, and this her parlor, and oh, how
was that the rooms had been so altered. Then she was
off and I went back to
bed, wondering if I had been dreaming. Several
months later, I was looking out
the window of a bus when I noticed a
small message board in the window of an
elegant building near Rittenhouse Square that read,
'Who was Madame Blavatsky?'
hopped off the bus and ran into the building. The Theosophical
was celebrating the life of its founder and I began to learn the story
of the remarkable woman who had lived in my house 100 years before.
"A Russian noblewoman turned vagabond, Madame Blavatsky had come to
the United States to study the philosophy of Native Americans and during
on Sansom Street developed a vision of the world united by a
belief in universal brotherhood. After her recovery she left for New
York City to found the Theo-
sophical Society, an organization dedicated
to reconciling all nations and
religions through a common understanding
of ethical truths.
"As though fate had brought me to the same house, I discovered my
own funda- mental belief in the interconnectedness of all life to be at
the core of
Blavatsky's philosophy. In 1983, I would open a
restaurant on the first
of that house at 3420 Sansom Street and
name it for the dog who had saved
her. Whether there had actually
been a white dog or the dog was
a symbol of
the healing powers of faith and good humor, I'll never know.
Since dogs for
me have always represented the qualities of comfort and
fun that I wished for
the name suited and I drew the logo to
resemble the silhouette of my
hound, Newman. He was not a white
Lab as most people guess, but the
of a tricolored mutt. Some
accuse me of creating the White Dog Cafe as
to his memory, and
perhaps it's so!
"An intellectual and scholar, Madame Blavatsky worked to bring the
together through the study and teaching of ancient truths. With
the same goal
in mind, I choose a different route - peace through
- Judy Wicks, Founder and Proprietor
“Marinated in balsamic
vinegar and soy sauce, these fleshly mushrooms have a surprisingly meaty
flavor. They are simple to prepare and are terrific grilled. If
them as a vegetarian alternative at your next barbecue, you’ll find you
have more hamburgers left than mushrooms. We serve them with creamy
flecked polenta to temper an sharpness from the vinegar, and with
sautéed with roasted garlic and pine nuts.”
large portobello mushrooms, stems
caps brushed free of dirt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
Place the mushrooms, stem sides up, in a shallow baking dish.
2. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic,
rosemary, onion, pepper, and water. Pour the liquid over the
coating well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4
hours or up to 2 days.
3. About 30 minutes ahead of time,
preheat the oven to 450 degrees
F. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator.
4. Roast the mushroom caps until
soft and cooked through, 12 to
5. Serve at once, with Herbed
Parmesan Polenta and Sautéed Greens
and Garlic, sprinkled with pine nuts.
Herbed Parmesan Polenta
creamy polenta is warming food for the soul. This version has Parmesan
cheese and fresh herbs stirred in at the end (to go over the top stir in
butter as well). It is the perfect mate for braises and stews, or a
meal in itself
served with Roasted Eggplant Marinara and Sautéed Greens
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine the salt and water in a large saucepan set over medium
heat. Bring to a gentle boil.
2. A small handful at a time, gradually sift the cornmeal into the
mering water; whisk constantly to avoid lumps. Continue to stir,
the cornmeal until all in incorporated. Reduce the
heat to low and
simmer gently, stirring often, until the polenta
is smooth and creamy,
to 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, rosemary, and
to taste. Serve immediately.
Sautéed Greens and Garlic
tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 pounds spinach, washed well,
tough stems removed and discarded
1 1/4 pounds kale, washed well,
tough stems removed
2 pounds Swiss chard, washed well,
whole stalks cut into 2-inch strips
2 pounds broccoli rabe, washed well,
cut into 2-inch strips
2 pounds bok choy, washed well,
leaves and tender part
tough stems discarded
1 1/4 pounds arugula, washed well,
removed and discarded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. To cook any of the greens listed, heat the olive oil in a large
reactive sauté pan set over medium-high heat.
Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add the cleaned greens, a few tablespoons of water, and season
4. Cover and cook, stirring and turning, until the greens are tender
wilted. (For the spinach and Arugula, cook for only a matter
of seconds, until slightly wilted. For the kale and broccoli rabe,
the cooking time can take up to 5 minutes.) Taste the greens for
adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling
of lemon juice or
balsamic vinegar, if desired. Serve immediately.
Lemon Curd and Almond
(Serves 8 to
is an enchanting dessert of cool, airy lemon curd in a tender, almond
shortbread crust. Although you can make this tart in a regular pie tin,
far more attractive if you use a fluted tart pan with a removable
bottom. The lemon curd can be made several days in
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Juice and zest of 3 large lemons
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 3 large lemons
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted and ground
Whipped cream, white chocolate curls,
and fresh berries for garnish
Prepare the curd. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, butter, and lemon
juice and zest in a double boiler or stainless steel bowl set over
simmering water. Whisk constantly until the yolks thicken, 10 to
minutes until it’s bout the texture of a thick jam.
Strain the curd through a fine sieve. Place plastic wrap directly
the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to
temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours,
Whip the cream until stiff. Gently incorporate one-fourth of the
whipped cream into the chilled lemon curd so when you add the
whipped cream it stays airy. Fold in the remaining
whipped cream. Cover
and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Prepare the shortbread. Cream the butter with the sugar, vanilla
and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle
attachment. Beat for 2 minutes on low speed. Scrape down the sides
bowl with a rubber spatula. Whip on high speed until light and
4 minutes more. Add the flour and ground almonds and
low speed just
until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Do not
overmix. Gather the dough
into a ball and remove to an 11-inch tart
pan with a removable bottom.
6. Gently press the dough into an even 1/4-inch thick layer on the
bottom and up the side of the tart pan. Press aluminum foil over the
with pastry weights or dried beans and bake for 20 minutes.
the pie weights and foil and bake until golden brown, another 5
so. Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Remove the
of the tart pan, and carefully transfer the tart shell to a
7. Fill the cooled tart shell with the chilled lemon curd. Refrigerate
set, at least 2 hours or overnight. Cut into 8 to 10 wedges and
cold. Garnish, if desired.
Featured Archive Recipes:
July Buffet at The White Dog Cafe
Feast from The White Dog Cafe
Basil-Dressed Melon and Prosciutto with
Black Pepper-Orange Mascarpone
Desert Garden Gazpacho with
Oysters Stewed in Thyme Cream
White Cheddar and Red-Skinned Potato Gratin
Index - Cookbook
Recipe Archives Index