Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season!

Kitty says: "Bah Humbug. Stupid sweater. You guys suck, get me out of this thing. Where did you even find it?!"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Wonders of Findlay Market:

This post details a welcome back dinner I made for David, and my trip to Findlay market to get the all sorts of yummy items to make it. That said, it’s also about how to make yourself feel better after having spent $180 on cookware.

I’d read about Le Creuset pans. They seemed to be on just about every cooks Christmas wishlist, and I recalled the Brown Eyed Baker mentioning that some could be found at TJ Maxx.

Which is where I found myself on Friday afternoon. Looking at a $140.00 Le Creuset 5 ½ qt enameled cast iron French oven.

I did some research and did a quick twitter poll. Is this pot really worth it? I asked. How is it different than a crockpot?

“Well, you can put it in the oven. Oh, and it’s not a DEATHTRAP” Said Jeff.
“NO WAY! The last time I trusted something French I ended up gagging on Saison beer.” exclaimed 5chw4r7z.

In the interest of accuracy, I feel that I have to point out that Saison style beer is not technically from France, rather a French speaking region of Belgium.

5chw4r7z’s Franco-phobia aside, the overall endorsement was that this pot would probably continue to be used in the kitchen long after I was gone. A versatile pot, good for soups and stews and braising. A heavy pot—something I can attest to after carrying the thing around the store pondering my potential purchase.

My decision made, I plunked it on the counter with two small and one large Le Creuset potterie baking pans and lugged it all home.

David would be coming back into town from Michigan the following day. I was planning on making dinner for him anyway. And what’s the point of buying an expensive French oven if I was not going to use it? I resolved to make dinner in my new Le Creuset cookware. All my new cookware, including the baking dishes.

I stayed up that evening looking at photograzing and tastespotting until my stomach started rumbling. I needed a main dish, a side, an appetizer and a dessert.

I really wanted to try making rack of lamb, so that was what I decided to make as a main. David said he wanted eggplant. I find eggplant a very strange vegetable, but stumbled upon this recipe for a vegetable tian at the Gastronomer.

For dessert I knew I was headed to Findlay market, so it had to involve Dojo Gelato in some way. I found the perfect recipe from Smitten Kitchen for vanilla roasted pears, and knew Dojo’s Mexican vanilla gelato would be a great counterpart to the dish.

I loaded myself up with re-usable bags and headed off to Findlay Market, where I found everything I needed. First stop, Kroeger and Sons for two frenched lamb racks. I got two racks and also two lamb chops because they looked nice for $45. Then over to Madison’s Produce for fresh rosemary and thyme. I also saw some figs on the shelf next to the herbs, and grabbed those. I made the figs with this recipe for roasted figs with balsamic vinegar, leaving out the pine nuts.

Then over to some of the produce vendors for a bulb of garlic, an onion, a lemon, 5 pears, an eggplant and a zucchini. Back over to the other side of Findlay to Krause’s deli for cave aged gruyere. While I was there I saw some rosemary Manchego, a quarter pound of which also ended up in my grocery bag.

Then back again to the other side of Findlay, where I picked up two bottles of wine from Market wines. Going around the front, I had my last two stops—the Colonel for spices, (a blend of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, appropriately named “Simon and Garfunkel” and one large, fragrant vanilla bean) and Dojo for gelato.

I ended up with two pints of gelato with two different flavors in each. Gingersnap and Mexican vanilla in one pint, and rose petal pistachio and chocolate in the other.

My shopping done, I brought my now very heavy bag back to the apartment and began the prep work. David got back a little early, so nothing was cooked, just prepped and in the fridge, but it all worked out. We seared the lamb well after covering it in herbs and roasted it in the oven until the internal temperature reached approximately 130 degrees.

I’d say the star of the evening was the tian. With the gruyere cheese on top of the eggplant and zucchini and the flavor from the sautéed onion, garlic and herbs, this is a dish that we will be making again soon. It looks very impressive in the pan and is incredibly easy to cook. I can imagine many variations of this as different vegetables come into season.

Kitty was not much help, but he sure looked cute

I really enjoy going to Findlay Market. People are friendly and cheerful, vendors take the time to have conversations with their customers and give their recommendations (David and I spent a good 45 minutes with the Colonel getting an impromptu spice education on a Saturday morning) and I almost always find something new and interesting.

If you have not been, go! Christmas is coming up. Don’t get your standing rib roast or holiday meal supplies from the Grocery store this year. Head down to Findlay and see what I mean.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Café De Wheels:

hmmmm.” David said from his position on the futon.


“there’s a burger and grilled cheese truck downtown.”

“Grilled cheese? Truck? Where? Let’s meet there tomorrow for lunch. Bring the camera.”

Café de Wheels is indeed a big, black truck. Their first day of business was Monday, the 14th. We stopped by today to check it out. Their website is very comprehensive, listing the menu, hours, and a shared google calendar if you want to stalk the truck around town. You can also keep an eye on their twitter account.

The concept is a welcome one in Cincinnati. Supporting local businesses and featuring shadeau bread and produce from Findlay, CdW is off to a strong start.

David and I decided to pig out and we ordered the Cincinnati Cuban, with sliced ham, roasted Cuban pork, baby swiss, grilled onion, dill pickle, butter, and mustard. ($6.50)

I chose to order the Wheels grilled cheese with cheddar and pulled pork in the center. ($5.50) and the chili de Mike ($4.00).

We also got the wheels burger, with pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, relish, and grilled onion. ($5.00)

The pulled pork in the center of the grilled cheese was very flavorful, the only improvement I could think of is that I really wanted some barbecue sauce.

The burger was cooked a nice consistent medium well, and was hot and juicy, but begs for mayonnaise or mustard. David gobbled down the Cuban. The chili was meaty and not overwhelmingly spicy. It was perfect for today's chilly afternoon.

We decided to eat in the car. I think we’ve gotten used to being food bloggers, because we didn’t hesitate to meticulously unwrap each item and take pictures of them before we ate. I imagine we looked pretty ridiculous sitting in the car taking pictures of our sandwiches.

They will be on the corner of 9th and main for the next couple weeks, according to the Calendar. Please note that they will eventually have a credit card machine, but right now it is cash only. The prices seem very reasonable, the total for our super lunch adventure was about $21—and we got three sandwiches and a large cup of chili!

****Update 9/23/10: Cafe de Wheels has updated their burger to make it even better and now features a juicy, delicious chicken sandwich. If you're on the fence about going, You should definitely try them!****

Cafe de Wheels (MOBILE CART) on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mayberry Brunch:

Mayberry opened for dinner and brunch this past weekend. After some tantalizing hints of the brunch to come from Chef Josh Campbell, we had already resolved to stop by.

Once we saw the menu, we knew we’d have to come for brunch. We had no choice. The maple sausage gravy with rosemary biscuits and poached egg drew David like a moth to a flame.

After bundling up, we trekked out in mittens, scarves and layers to brunch around 10. After a few minutes of negotiation, we decided to give in to our impulses and ordered 4 dishes and a few sides.

You can stop making that "oink, oink" noise now, please.

We ordered:
The “Elvis killer” –Waffles with peanut butter mousse, banana and toasted peanuts ($7)
Sourdough French toast with house made maple apple butter ($7)
Roasted vegetable quiche with truffled chive sour cream and mesculin greens ($7)
Maple sausage gravy with rosemary biscuits and poached egg ($7)
Breakfast Sausage ($3)
Goetta ($3)
Rosemary biscuit ($1.50)

As you can see from the menu, all mains are under ten dollars, and contain interesting and tasty igredients. I know the dinner menu will change weekly, but I am not sure about the brunch menu. Some of the weekday lunch dishes are on the menu as well.

We both ordered coffee, which came in a French press.

David approves of the french press, we have one at home, as well as an Ibrik for turkish coffee.

A variety of pastries sit by the cash register, if you have any room left. We sure didn’t!

We stopped back to bug Josh in the kitchen, slaving away over a pot of fig and brown sugar oatmeal.

We enjoyed everything we ordered, but agreed the two standout dishes were the quiche and the rosemary biscuits with sausage gravy. The quiche had some sweet corn in it that we really enjoyed.

The goetta had a spice in it that we couldn’t identify, and was a little different that the glier’s goetta that I’m used to. I liked it—the only improvement I would make was that it was a little bit dry. The sausage was excellently flavored and very tasty.

I had dug out my favorite mittens from the closet because of the cold weather. (As a side note: Puppet style mittens inject joy into just about every situation). The Elvis Killer was presented beautifully, and was more a dessert than a breakfast, with the flavorful peanut butter mousse. Do you like peanut butter pie? Do you like banana pie? Do you like waffles? Then you’d like this.

My mittens like pie. And waffles.

We took a lot of our meal home with us for later, but we polished off the two dishes that we really enjoyed. David made short work of the biscuit and gravy.

The French toast was tasty, served, with apple butter. It’s cooked a special way so the inside stays moist and the custard is in the center.

The rosemary biscuits were huge and delicious with the sausage. The rosemary was not overpowering, but I could definitely taste it. Next time we may put in a special request for a rosemary biscuit, poached egg and sausage sandwich.

We didn’t get any bacon, but we tried it on the burger previously and it’s delicious.

Breakfast: it's what's for dinner.

Mayberry on Urbanspoon