Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An October Evening with "The Jersey Devil"

Here's a great way to spend a beautiful fall night out at one of your favorite independent restaurants while benefiting a great local non-profit and drinking Jersey produced wine, with the winemaker. At Tortilla Press Cantina on October 14th we're doing our first Jersey Wine Dinner featuring Jim Quarella from Bellview Winery located in Landisville, NJ. Jim makes great wine & we're featuring two of my favorites (this is where the Jersey Devil Comes in) Jersey Devil Red & Jersey Devil White Table Wines with our entrees. And $10 of every ticket goes to benefit The Camden Children's Garden.

Bellview Winery Sangria made with Fiesta Grape Cranberry Wine

Passed Hors d’ Oeuvres
Butternut squash & forest mushroom empanada, creamy guajillo chile sauce
Mexican cheesesteak springrolls with three pepper dipping sauce
Coconut habanero shrimp & grilled pineapple skewer
Goat cheese, black bean & pumpkin empanada quesadilla with ancho chile crème

1rst course
Served with Bellview Homestead
Choice of
Mexican rock shrimp bisque with roasted poblano chile & red pepper garnish
Grilled vegetable salad with fried goat cheese straws & roasted pepper vinaigrette

Main course (Choice of )

Grilled Carne Asada, rajas poblano, chipotle mashed potatoes & sautéed green beans served with a glass of Jersey Devil Red Table Wine

Grilled Mahi Mahi Baja Fish Tacos &with sweet & spicy jicama slaw & chipotle~lime crème served with black beans & red rice served with a glass of Jersey Devil White Table Wine


Blueberry Pan Perdida with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Blueberry Sauce
Served with a glass of Bellview Blueberry Dessert Wine

$50/ person + tax & gratuity

Remember, $10 of every ticket purchased is donated to The Camden Children's Garden who besides having an awesome educational & recreational facility on the waterfront in Camden, helps to feed the city with their involvement in promoting community gardening in Camden. Community gardens are supplying about 10% of the fresh produce to city residents in what is considered one of America's largest "food deserts" so naturally, we are proud to support their efforts whenever we can.

After dinner we will have a the wines that we paired with dinner available for sale to enjoy at home.

To make a reservation for the evening at 856-356-2050. The Cantina is located at 7716 Maple Avenue, Pennsauken, Nj 08109, just off of Haddonfield Rd about 1 mile from the Cherry Hill Mall.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Collingswood Farmers Market Update

As the summer has progressed, we have been having a blast at the Collingswood Farmer's Market. Our guacamole made to order on site has been a huge seller, followed closely by our market inspired quesadillas. We have went from spinach & asparagus to mixed squash, to two of my all time favorites, jersey tomato with bacon & esquites which is grilled sweet corn & cheese. We are also selling our house fried chips, salsa & black bean dip. Unfortunately, we had an accident with our juicer & had to suspend market juicing until the parts come in from overseas.

But, this weekend, Lydia reminded me that it was time to put together our Farm Fresh Collingswood menu together & I thought, what the heck, since I have to write it & make it, we should run it for an extra week. So, starting Sunday July 18th, you'll be able to try our awesome local produce picked up from my farmer friends that you see every Saturday at the market. Below is the menu & of course it is subject to minor revisions based on product availability. We are taking all size reservations too.

Farm Fresh Collingswood Menu

7/18 to 7/31

4 courses $30


Grilled Springdale Farms Sweet Corn

with garlic chile butter, fresh lime & queso fresco

Fried Masa Planks

with roasted tomato, zucchini & local peppers salsa

Zucchini & Peppers from Flaim Farms

Dressed Classic Ceviche “Taco Tostada”

Springdale Farms pico de gallo, extra virgin olive oil, avocado & our classic ceviche tossed together & served over greens in a crispy mini corn tortilla bowl

Soup or Salad

Flaim Farm’s Squash Blossom Soup

With zucchini, potatoes, poblano peppers & corn in a lightly creamed vegetable broth

Hot & Cold Cucumber Soup

Collingswood Farmers Market cucumbers, cilantro, lime juice & cream garnished with diced jalapenos confetti

Cucumbers & Jalapenos from Springdale Farms, Cilantro from Flaim Farms

Mexican Cobb Salad

With mixed lettuces, corn, cucumbers, yellow grape tomatoes, black beans, bacon & queso fresco cubes tossed with roasted jersey tomato vinaigrette

Tomatoes & Corn From Springdale Farms


Chile rellanos & cheese enchiladas verde platter served with red rice & black beans.

Poblanos & Tomatillos from Flaim Farms

Pan Seared scallop & shrimp in a Flaim Farm cilantro pesto sauce garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds & pine nuts served with a Mexican style roasted eggplant & zucchini ragout

Grilled Pork Loin with Schober Orchard Peach~Serrano Chile Salsa

with peach cider~ancho chile glaze, coconut rice & sautéed garlic jersey green beans


Flan with jersey blueberry compote

Peach & Blueberry Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Peach & walnut empanada with cajeta & whipped cream

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Veggin Out Menu May 18th & 19th

Veggin Out

Tuesday & Wednesday May18th & 19th

4 course Dinner…$30.00/person *


Sautéed Jersey spinach, tofu & queso fresco empanadas with lime cilantro chimichurri

Guacamole & hearts of palm tostada garnished with micro cilantro

Vegetable ceviche with cucumber, jicama, jersey radishes, red onion & local asparagus in a lime & chile de arbol marinade

Soup or Salad

Cream of Jersey asparagus soup

Gazpacho with Don Julio Reposado tequila drizzle

Mixed jersey spring lettuces with goat cheese, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, sliced apples in ruby red grapefruit vinaigrette


Quinoa stuffed chile rellenos

Baked in a tomato cilantro broth

and served with cilantro rice & black beans

Vegetarian meatballs in a tomato~chipotle sauce served over red chile fettuccini with queso cotija & grilled jersey asparagus

Lasaña de berenjena

Layers of thinly sliced eggplant, mushrooms & spinach with chihuahua cheese & queso fresco in a rich guajillo chile tomato sauce


Dessert Nachos Lydia Cinnamon dusted tostada with caramel pecans, avocado gelato & strawberry pico de gallo

Vegan Coconut Flan

Or your choice of any of our other desserts

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Our First Mexican Beer Dinner

Mexican Beer Tasting Menu

April 21, 2010

5 Tapas Style Courses

each course accompanied by carefully selected Mexican beers

First Course

Beer & Cheese Soup

garnished with spicy crispy tortilla strips

Accompanied by…Modelo Especial Draft

Second Course

Honey Cholula Wings

Accompanied by…Dos Equis Amber Bottle

Third Course

Mini Cuban Slider with spicy slaw

Accompanied by…Dos Equis Lager Michelada

A refreshing mix of lager, hot sauce, lime juice & seasoning

Fourth Course

Carne Asada with charro beans

Accompanied by…Bohemia

Fifth Course

Twin Coffee Rubbed Ribs with mango glaze

& bacon wrapped red potatoes

Accompanied by…Negra Modelo

35/person (does not include sales tax or gratuity)

Your meal includes coffee and tea.

Fountain sodas available upon request at no charge

Thursday, April 8, 2010

South Jersey Gearing up for Restaurant Week

We’re Celebrating Restaurant Week

With the BEST VALUE in town!

Sunday, April 11 – Friday, April 16

Sunday through Wednesday…4 courses $28

Thursday & Friday…4 courses $30

The Cantina is closed on Monday

For reservations call 856-869-3345 in Collingswood

856-354-2050 in Pennsauken


Choose 1

* Grilled asparagus queso dip with crispy corn chips

* Mini seafood enchiladas with creamy chipotle sauce & black bean enfrijolada sauce

* Spring vegetable empanadas with queso fresco & jalapeno~avocado salsa

* Twin mini sopes with chicken tinga & pulled pork mole

Soup or Salad

Choose 1

* Sweet potato, jersey leeks & chorizo soup

* Local spinach salad with red onion, chickpeas, chopped egg

& goat cheese, bacon vinaigrette

* Quinoa stuffed avocado salad with pineapple vinaigrette

* Cantina Crab Pepperpot


Mango chicken

Served with coconut rice & sugar snap peas

Chile rellenos & cheese enmolada combination plate

Served with red rice & pinto beans

Shrimp & Scallop Sauté with jersey cilantro pesto

Garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds & pinenuts and

served with red rice & vegetable medley

Filet Mignon Burrito

Stuffed with chipotle mushrooms, rajas poblano & red rice, then

smothered with guajillo chile sauce & melted cheddar jack cheese served with


* Mango Sorbet Tangle with cinnamon fried tortilla strips & mixed berry salsa

* Ancho chile flourless chocolate cake with raspberry puree & whipped cream

* Kahlua Mudslide Sundae

* Strawberry coconut bread pudding

Your per person price excludes beverages, gratuity and sales tax

TheTortilla Press is NOT affiliated with SJ Hot Chefs!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Give Green A Chance

That's me using our new green takeout containers

With all the chatter this week about the green of St. Patricks Day, we thought we'd add on a different kind of green event next week at The Tortilla Press & Tortilla Press Cantina. From Monday March 22 thru Saturday March 27 (Tues 3/23 in Pennsauken since we are closed on Mondays) we will be offering a meatless menu to give our earth a break from our usual eating habits. It is a really special menu that features some nice alternative proteins including tempeh & quinoa along with lots of fresh vegetables, dried chiles & delicious sauces ... & no meat or seafood. As a chef, I feel responsible to educate our guests. It seems to me that too many of us have grown up feeling deprived if we don't have our "meat & potatoes." So I created a menu that I am confident will leave you satisfied & impressed with no meat or seafood. I have 9 special dishes & you may choose any 3 of your liking for just $25/ person. If you're still hungry, our dessert menu will be presented so you can top off your dinner with one of our delicious desserts & a cup of organic, fair trade dark roasted Mexican coffee. Working with the environment does not have to be painful or a sacrifice, but can be an enjoyable evening without stressing our resources.

A couple of suggestions to make the evening a bit more environmentally friendly; in Collingswood, come in on Patco & walk to the restaurant. The trains are running anyway, so why not support them & save some gas. In Pennsauken, try one of our sustainably farmed or bio-dynamic wines with your dinner. Then, if you can't finish your dinner & want it packed up, make sure to take note of our green packaging. If we all do the little things, we can make a big difference for our environment

Please call 856-869-3345 to reserve your table in Collingswood (We are taking all size reservations for this event) Or 856-356-2050 for Pennsauken (We always take all size reservations at The Cantina!)

Choose any 3 plates $25/ person

Pineapple Guacamole Salad
Golden pineapple diced with avocado, lime, salt, fresh, chiles & cilantro served over spring mix with an mandarin orange vinaigrette

Vegetable Tortilla Flatbread
Crispy double stacked flour tortilla with chihuahua cheese sauce, mushrooms, spinach, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers & olives served with pico, crème & guacamole

Vegetarian Pozole
A rich tomato, vegetable & chile broth with hominy served with tostada, onions, cilantro, sliced radishes & lime wedges

Pumpkin, Black Bean & Goat Cheese Quesadilla
Served with ancho chile crème

Vegetarian Chile
Black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, red & green peppers, eggplant & dried chiles. Topped with grated cheddar jack cheese & fresh chopped onions

Quinoa & Chick Pea Salad with Lemon Sesame Dressing
Red onion, cilantro & toasted sesame seeds

Tempeh, Cheese & Onion Enchiladas
With guajillo chile sauce served with cilantro rice

Chipotle Mushroom & Vegetable Taco Plate
Mixed mushrooms & zucchini braised with tomato & chipotle chiles served with warm corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo & black beans

Chile Rellenos
Roasted poblano peppers stuffed with chihuahua cheese & queso fresco, battered & lightly fried served with tomato, jalapeno & cilantro broth.

Does not include, beverages, dessert, tax or gratuity

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meet our new eco-friendly wine list

We are introducing some new wines at Tortilla Press Cantina this month & wanted to kick it off with a tasting. We chose our wines for a couple of factors. We looked at the dishes that we can pair each wine with, the ability to sell it to our guest at a reasonable price & then at a the growing & producing practices of the wineries. I'm proud to say that the wines that we have added to our list are all created using sustainable farming practices, are bio dynamic or our from a local winery. We also added a local beer to our draft beer selection this month....Flying Fish's Hopfish India Pale Ale. I love a hoppy beer & it pairs nicely with our award winning chipotle peanut bbq pork. We are also featuring a jersey cranberry sangria with cranberry wine from Bellview winery. It's still a bit chilly outside for sangria, but I see this refreshing a lot of palettes as the weather warms up. Anyway, here is a copy of the wine tasting menu, we are taking all reservations for the evening with the festivities starting at 6:45 & the formal tasting starting at 7. Hope to see you all there.

Wine Tastings and Tapas…

perfect together!

Our select accompaniments blend the perfect wines with perfect flavor combinations

…in ways that say, “Green, sustainable and environmentally friendly!”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Our Special Wine & Tapas begins at 6:30pm

Small Plate 1

Mimosa fire grilled shrimp over fried masa plank with mandarin orange vinaigrette

With Col Vetoraz Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut NV (sustainable practice)

Small Plate 2

Sauteed mushroom queso dip with blue & orange corn chips

With Ukiah Cellars Chardonnay 2008 ( "sustainably farmed")

Small Plate 3

Pan seared sea scallop with avocado cream sauce & toasted pine nuts with cilantro rice

With Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec Cuvee Silex 2007 (biodynamic)

Small Plate 4

Open faced strip steak torta with queso fresco & rajas poblano
With Ukiah Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ("sustainably farmed")

Small Plate 5

Twin coffee braised baby back rib with bacon wrapped redskin potato
With Chono Syrah 2007 (sustainable practice)


(excludes tax & gratuity)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A cooking trip to Mexico with Chef Mark Smith

I know this is really short notice, but if you are interested in learning authentic Mexican Cooking & getting out of the frigid winter weather this February 21-28 why not sneak away for seven days of authentic Mexican cooking with myself & Chef Ana Garcia at La Villa Bonita, her specially designed hotel & cooking school in the beautiful mountain village of Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Click here for a typical weeks schedule with Chef Ana.

Chef Ana was able to offer us an incredible deal for the week $1150 per person + tax for double occupancy & $1550 + tax for single occupancy. There are 6 rooms available. You will need to secure your own transportation to Mexico City for arrival on Sunday Febuary 21. This will be small be a small, hands on learning experience with lots of good food & warm weather. I have until the January 22nd to reserve the hotel, so if you are interested please contact me asap @

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mac & Cheese Segment From Fox

Here's a rundown of the Macaroni & Cheeses that the Chef's put together for the show. I really appreciate all their work, especially delivering it to the restaurant. I'll be getting your dishes & casseroles back to you all soon. I think that Chef Jim from blueplate & I we're the only ones to actually taste all 11 dishes, but remember, everyone can this Monday night at Tortilla Press Cantina 7716 Maple Ave, Pennsauken 08109. Call 856-356-2050 for reservations. $10 per adult $4 for kids & the bar will be open.

The Tortilla Press
Chef Mark Smith
Key ingredient: the five cheeses! Cheddar, monteray jack, Chihuahua, queso anejo, cotija; Crumbled home made tortilla chips on top give it extra crunch.

Chef Jim Malaby
Key ingredient: one is gluten free (lobster and goat cheese)
Second one is “regular” BLT mac and cheese – bacon and oven dried tomatoes with greens.

Chef Alex Capasso
Key ingredient: Riviera style macaroni and cheese with Fregola eggless pasta, mascarpone and truffle oil and fresh truffle.

La Campagne
Chef Rich Benussi
Key ingredient: Our mac and cheese key ingredient is trois lait or three milks (cow, goat, sheep). To represent them we will be using three French cheeses. Brie (cow's milk), Chevre (goat's milk) and Petit Basque (sheep's milk). A hint of truffle and an almond crunch topping should also be noted.

Mirabella Café
Chef Joe Palombo
Key ingredient: lobster with several Italian cheeses. Chef Joe’s mac and cheese demonstrates how this homey dish can be dressed up.

Viennese Cafe
Chef Richard Marsh
Short rib mac n cheese with pine nut crust topping

Bistro di Marino
Chef Jim Marino
Key ingredient: penne pasta & gorgonzola make this extra creamy.

Chef Vipul
Key Ingredient: a combination of the spices that are used in many Indian dishes including ginger, cumin, coriander powder and tumeric. (It was nice & spicy) my note!

Kuzina by Sofia
Chef Sofia Khoury
Key ingredient: a secret! Let’s just say it’s chef Sofia’s TLC

Norma’s Mediterranean Café/ Cous Cous
Chef Elias

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homestyle classic menu Jan25 thru Jan28

Well, the holidays are over & The Cantina is re-opened & I'm done testing margarita & mojito recipes for a little while at least. I've just finished tweeking my recipe for the first annual (I hope) Mighty Mac Battle of the Chefs. I call it the "Mac Off" much to my wife's dismay. The event is to be held at Tortilla Press Cantina on Monday Jan 18th at 6:30, and will be featuring the mac & cheese of at least 10 of the areas chefs. Please make your reservations soon at 856-356-2050. The cost is $10 for adults & $4 for kids. Part of the proceeds will go to The South Jersey Food Bank. We will also have a cash bar available with great drink specials.

My blog this year will be a place to check out upcoming events at The Tortilla Press, Tortilla Press Cantina, South Jersey Culinary Events & SJ Green Dining. But, mainly it will be the musings of an independent restaurateur/chef running two restaurants & the daily triumphs and challenges that arise. Of course, this will be the place to see all special event menus & changes to either restaurants' menu before the rest of the public, so check back often & feel free to comment anytime with suggestions, ideas or ways to improve The Tortilla Press or The Cantina.

Our second annual Homestyle Classics is the first event for South Jersey Culinary Events in 2010 & it will run from Jan 25 thru Jan 28. The event is $30 for 4 courses & it will feature all of the chefs' unique twist on the classics we grew up with. Here is the first draft of the menu to be served at Tortilla Press & The Cantina. Remember, feedback is always welcome here.

Homestyle classics

Choose 1

Fried Cheese Sticks

Breaded chihuahua cheese lightly fried & served with tijauna marinara sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Our award winning chipotle peanut bbq pork served on a toasted mini brioche roll with a side of spicy slaw

Hot Wings

Our twist on the classic buffalo wings served with honey cholula sauce & avocado ranch

Choose 1

Cesar Salad

Romaine lettuce, Aztec salad dressing queso cotija, garlic chile croutons,

roasted red pepper rajas & twin fire-grilled shrimp

Skyline Style Chile

A cup of an Ohio favorite served 5 ways with beef, black beans,

onion & grated cheddar over spaghetti

Vegetable Soup

A rich vegetable, tomato & chile stock with hominy & mixed vegetables

with a tostada, shredded lettuce, diced onion, lime & sliced radish garnish

Choose 1

Friday Night Fish Fry

My mom’s special breading on mild white fish filets

served with french fries, cole slaw & 3 dipping sauces

Mac & Cheese

Cheddar, monteray jack, queso fresco, chihuahua & cotija in a creamy guajillo chile sauce

with crunchy tortilla chip topping. Served with corn mexicana

Chicken & Dumplings

Roasted chicken pulled & simmered in a yellow mole

with masa dumplings served with green beans & carrots

Steak & Potatoes

Carne Asada grilled to your liking with achiote roasted Yukon gold potatoes

& a spicy lime chile dipping sauce

Choose 1

Rice Pudding

Slow cooked till creamy with mexican cinnamon then served

chilled with goat milk caramel sauce & whipped cream

Cream Puffs

Classic shell filled with coffee ice cream & finished with a

Patron XO enhanced coffee sauce & whipped cream

Bread Pudding

Mexican chocolate & challah baked into a rich egg custard with mexican cinnamon & vanilla

served with a spoonful of mixed berry salsa & whipped cream