Tuesday, August 30, 2011

blog appetite!


When I landed a job with the United Way as a Loaned Executive I thought two very separate and equally important thoughts; 1. This opens up a whole new territory for my food blogging. 2. Now I can finally save the children... 

Today 1 foodie ate at Cafe Bon Appetite at 1900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland.

First off, I will say that the atmosphere of this hopping lunch joint instantly pulls you in. There is an energetic and friendly staff, and it is a joy to watch them prepare your meal in front of your eyes. I always appreciate when there are specials on a display board outside... I don't like to walk in and then make my dining decision. 

There menu spans from a colorful selection of fairly priced coffee and teas to crepes, to baked sandwiches, and hand crafted wraps. 

These are not you ordinary bland wraps. They are packed with intensely fresh ingredients, and a portion size that puts most "burrito" style wraps to shame. 



I ordered the smoked salmon wrap. The smoked salmon really came through in every bite. It was dressed with mixed greens- which really tasted like hearty spinach, a house mayonnaise, cream cheese, parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and lemon juice. In a nutshell, I will say that usually when I order a sandwich or wrap there are ingredients in the menu that I don't feel made it to my plate... at bon appetite this is not the case. I could taste each item separately and together they made the perfect wrap. I would be happy going back each and every day to try something new. 

I love that many of the wraps are inspired by different counties and are simply and easily named, "Greece, France, Italy, Spain"... and so on. 

Simply, Bon Appetit is the kind of cafe that every community needs- fresh, clean ingredients, and a variety that keeps you coming back for more. 

Café Bon Appétit on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 19, 2011

Greenhouse Tavern "FROM GOD"



My husband likes to make fun of Greenhouse Tavern because they are so GREEN.... he says things like, " and this window shade was formally cow hide... and this table was once the spine of a humpback wale...., and so on." But let's face it, they are brilliant, environmentally responsible, and just plain innovative. In 2009 Bon Appetite restaurant named GHT as one of the top 10 best new restaurants in America.

Dear Bon Appetite, you made the right decision.



3 foodies ate this saturday eve.....

Appetizers:

Well to start, the restaurant sent us three complimentary chicken wings. There was a taping of "Unique Eats" that happened earlier that night, so they celebrated in treating their patrons. They had a punch of garlic and heat as soon as you dove in... the scallions were a nice fresh addition, and as my husband observed, there was a whole lot of flavor packed inside a wing that had no messy sauce.




Devils on Horseback rivals the bacon wrapped dates at Jullian Surano in Vegas. The bacon is the star in this dish, the farmer that raised the pigs and does much of the meat for GHT was actually sitting at the next table.

Hand Ground Beef Tartar with Pommes Frittes changed the way I think about food. This beef tartar makes me want to eat raw meat for breakfast. I didn't mind the texture, and I will order this each and every time I go back. The fries were a great compliment, and the mustard-mayo traveling softly across the plate was the perfect condiment for the dish.
Grilled Octopus & Salami - Michael, my brother in law was the biggest fan of this. The octopus was
really quite salty- as if you were eating it under water. I am a big fan of eating octopus "undressed" meaning, with a few less fixings, but all in all it was a nice twist on this very traditional app.

As a Half order our table ordered: Animal Style Frites w/ bacon, two fried eggs, whole grain mustard, mozzarella cheese curd & brown gravy In my opinion this was Canada's Poutine meets "ALL NATURAL"....I mean, actually this really is poutine with eggs... I guess its just shocking to see it in the US, and in such an organic spot.. the boys loved it. I would have skipped it with my meal, howeverI would have just order this half order and a beer for a happy hour. 
For my meal: Grass Fed Ohio Beef Burger w/ raclette cheese, preserved tomato, pommes frites & GHT pickle... I have to say, this is the second time I ordered this burger.... and I am still not disappointed. The beef has a really wonderful "clean" taste to it. When you eat this burger... you will consider that this cow must have been thanked for its gifts before it was slaughtered because it truly delivers.  Its a nice portion size and the fries are addicting.




Green House Tavern might not be the least expensive place in Cleveland... but its certainly not the most.... and IT DELIVERS. This place is not just for the all natural gurus. The same care given to the concept and culture of the restaurant truly comes through with every bite of their food. 

The Greenhouse Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 15, 2011

RECIPE: Chicken Breast Explosion



I am all about recipes that allow me to use as many fresh veggies as possible. I probably will never make this recipe the same way twice. I grew up on my mother making cheese and spinach filled chicken rolls. One of my favorites. This was always a hit for either entertaining for lunch or dinner. Today I made some small variations on that classic, which I like to call" Chicken Breast Explosion". This roll is also something you can easily freeze in its raw state, and when you are ready to have an impromptu dinner, you just pull them out and into the oven. 



Prep: 15 min
Cooking time: 50 minutes


Ingredients
1 cup kale
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded 1/2 inch thickness
1 tomato, chopped
2 small green peppers, chopped


Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
2. Place all vegetables and cheese in a bowl and mix thouroughly
3. Lay the chicken breasts out on a clean surface, and spoon some of the kale mixture onto each one. 
4. Roll up chicken to enclose the vegetables, secure with toothpicks, and arrange in a shallow baking dish.
5. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then broil uncovered for an additional 5 minutes


*TIP: Whatever vegetables you don't fit into the chicken rolls... just throw them on top! No need to waist, and it doesn't take away from the composition of the dish to see some bright colors atop of the chicken.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Heck's Cafe... What the Heck?

I am really not one to food bash, but the cold hard truth is that 6 people dined at Heck's on Saturday night... and not one of us foodies was truly satisfied.

Heck's Cafe is actually a restaurant that I have dined at in the past, and have really enjoyed.. However, this visit proved to be such, that I will not be going back. We had a 9 pm reservation, which on a Saturday night might be a bit late, but I wouldn't say late enough so that you are the only one in the dining area...

We ordered 2 appetizers: Artichoke Hearts alouette... stuffed with herbed cheese, lightly breaded and fried, an appetizer I have eaten in the past at Heck's and died over. This time it was really tastless, I couldn't even tell that there was an "herbed" cheese in the middle and instead tried masking the taste of the blah artichoke with the mayonnaise side dip it was served with. The second appetizer was on the specials menu. We ordered eggplant fries. Eggplant fries are a guilty pleasure of mine. I love thinking I'm eating something healthy, and yet I know its been soaked in oil... mmmm... BUT.. not this time, the special did not prove to be very special at all. The fries were hardly eaten by anyone at the table. The fried exterior was so thick and rubbery that you couldn't taste much of the eggplant at all.

For my main course I ordered the Pecan Chicken... Grilled and pecan-maple glazed topped with toasted pecans. Served with sweet mashed potatoes and asparagus. The presentation of this meal was very nice. They offered a steak knife to cut my chicken. The taste however was nothing to run home and tell your momma about. The chicken was a decent size portion, but it wasn't particularly juicy...almost as if the breading on the outside had dried it out. The sweet potato was anything but sweet. I don't know about you, but when I eat sweet potato... I either want it with butter or brown sugar.. or some combination of both! I won't lie... I ate almost my whole plate, because I was starving... but It really wasn't worth the calories.

There were two redeeming qualities of this entire meal. The salad & the cocktail. The salad was really beautiful and rich for a house salad. It included walnuts, blue cheese, dried cherries, and red onions over some field greens. I asked for the ginger dressing and it was incredible. The salad, which is usually one of my least favorite courses... was by far the best.   The cocktail I ordered was I believe, and don't quote me on the name" Ohio City Cherry Cheesecake Martini". All I know is it had 3 olives cherry vodka and some sort of chocolate liquor.... It was STRONG... and TASTY!

Two other atmospheric issues contributed to why most of this review is mostly negative. While I realize that the restaurant officially closes at 10 PM, I don't see any reason for a table that begins dining at 9 should have to be irritated by bright lights turning on at 10:15 PM. More Lights at 10:30 PM. Isn't it understood that even though the restaurant isn't going to take new patrons after 10 PM, that they would at least respect the only patrons they have. Our bill was close to $300.... and they basically waived us out as if we were loitering.

When the bill arrived at the table, each couple threw down a credit card and asked the waitress to divide the bill into three equal parts. She walked back very frustrated about 10 minutes later.. and explained to us that she had put a double charge on one check, so If we could figure out how to pay the person who got stiffed with 2/3 of the bill that would be great. Luckily, we were able to manage this inconvenience.... but I could not understand how this waitress could actually come to the table and let us know that we just needed to figure out her mistake. If they hadn't been in such a rush to purge us from our seats perhaps she could have resolved the issue? Heck's Cafe again? Heck NO.

Urbanspoon rocks

Heck's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

RECIPE: Apple & Kale Pasta

I am a big fan of the sweet & savory. This recipe is a great creation, and one which will make you want to show it off at any dinner party. I think this is an excellent summer dish. I ate two plates full yesterday, and let out a big burp at the end... (very satisfied). A friend of mine introduced me to kale many years ago, and I have always been a bit apprehensive to use it. BIG MISTAKE!!! Kale is the next big thing, recently I have been seeing Kale Chips being served with beer.. yum.  I hope you will enjoy my newest creation!


Ingredients
6 ounces whole grain fusilli = corkscrew pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely sliced5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons Fustine's Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed, and chopped coarsely - between 1 to 2 cups
1 red pepper
2 medium red apples, chopped with skin
4 oz. goat cheese


Directions
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, cinnamon Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the apples, 4 to 5 minutes more. Stir in vinegar and goat cheese once you have removed from heat, and stir in lightly

3. Add the kale mixture to drained pasta, and serve

TIP: If you are going to reheat this, I would suggest adding a bit more olive oil when doing so, the pasta really sucks in all the oil it was cooked in, and can appear dry.

Monday, August 1, 2011

RECIPE: Vegetarian Gemista

The name for the dish gemista comes from the word in Greek that means STUFFED! I enjoy that gemista cooked with ground beef are excellent, and yet in a time of fasting gemista without meat allow you to feel like your not missing anything at all. I associate the dish with Greek Restaurants that make gemista each day fresh, and you can look through their food display and pick out the one you. 

Many people fast from meat and dairy for the 15 days leading up to the nameday of the Panagia (Virgin Mary). I prepared gemista as a side dish for my husband and I, but it could be the lunch or dinner jewel of any table setting. 


Ingredients:

4 large peppers and or tomatoes
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cup bismati rice
1 medium white onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons chopped basil
3 tbsp oilive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 cup water


Directions


1. Cut out the tops of all of your pepper
2. Scoop out the seeds and don't forget to keep the core!

3. In a small saute pan brown your onions and garlic
4. Add 1 cup water to the mixture, and mix in 1 cup of bismati rice
5. Allow to saute for 10 minutes with low heat
6. Remove from heat and mix in feta

7. Scoop mixture into pyrex or roasting pan
8. add water in between peppers to help cooking process
9. Cook with foil at top for 40 minutes, remove foil and cook for 30 additional minutes at 340F

To get that perfect brown color I tend to broil at the end, there is no fear of drying out your veggie gemista


 
Number of Servings: 2