Monday, July 25, 2011

A welcome back dinner fit for a king:

fancy royal menus

your table is ready, your highness

"Ooooh!" I exclaimed, peering into the frozen case. "Look David, a pheasant!" David glanced back at me from the line at the cash register, skeptical. "Do you even know how to cook a pheasant? What are you going to do with it?"

"I don't know, something." I replied petulantly, yanking open the door to the case, and selecting one of the locally raised pheasants. As we left Findlay Market, I was still coming up with ideas on how to cook the bird. BBQ? Maybe some sort of coq au vin style dish? The possibilities!

Hey, what can I say. Some women impulse buy shoes, jewelry or purses. For me, it's poultry.

After arriving home, the pheasant took up residence in our freezer, where it remained for 5 months. Paralyzed by choice, I kept changing my mind about how and when to make it. Finally, though, I made up my mind that I was going to keep it simple and roast the pheasant with some herbes de provence. David's latest welcome back dinner presented the perfect opportunity.

After giving some thought to where I thought a pheasant might usually be served, I came up with the idea of a fancy medieval style feast. A few things come to mind when I envision such an event. The first is giant turkey legs.

It's very likely that I've been conditioned by years of Renaissance festivals to associate the two, and any historical inaccuracies aside, the turkey legs were always delicious. For an appetizer, I made goat cheese pate pinwheels, which are simple and require very little prep time.

Rosemary mashed potatoes and green beans amandine completed the main course. As for dessert, I eyed the fancy Valrhona chocolate in the cabinet and decided to use it to make chocopots.

I used a duck egg to make the chocopots as well as fancy cocoa

Speaking of chocopots, have you heard a certain Cincinnati blogger's serenade to the choco pot?

I generally have about two hours to get dinner ready before David arrives home from Michigan, which is usually around 8 PM. I leave work at 6. Cooking an entire 3 course meal with a cute but entirely useless cat as a sous chef can be challenging, to say the least. This past dinner required the use of the oven for four of the items, which called for a critical path chart. I also used a Gantt chart to further organize my thoughts on the order of prep.

graphs can be sensible and pretty

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tom + Chee:

It may come as a surprise that this was my first visit to Tom + Chee. Given my love of grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as their many creative options, I knew it I'd end up there sooner or later.

I just kept pushing it for later, for purely selfish reasons. Oh, I looked at the menu online. I knew about the grilled cheese donut. I follow them on twitter, and see tweets of the daily specials and soups, which sound delicious most of the time. But I just couldn't bring myself to go there.

I knew that if it was anything like Melt Bar and Grilled, visiting Tom + Chee would be akin to opening Pandora's box. My will power would vanish, and indubitably I would construct some sort of goetta-triple-cheese-and-potato-chip-grilled-cheese-donut-monstrosity the likes of which has never been seen by man or beast.

Putting my fear aside, I visited for lunch this past week with two of my friends, who kindly let me take pictures of their sandwiches. And yes, I got the grilled cheese donut. And the mac n' cheese grilled cheese with bacon.

Tom + Chee was as awesome as I was afraid it would be. Service was quick and friendly, grilled cheeses were gooey and toasty, and the wide variety of coke products (diet coke, caffeine free diet coke, cherry coke zero and regular coke!) was a welcome surprise.

Hippy Chee: lettuce, tomato, cucumber and hummus with cheddar on wheat, $3.50

Hot N' Spicy Chee: pepperoni, hot peppers and onion, with pepper jack on wheat

The grilled cheeses were also very inexpensive for their size (my two sandwiches, even with the upcharge of bacon on the grilled mac n’ cheese and my soda were still under $10), which is a good deal. It's easy to see why they've been successful and able to open up a second location in Newport so quickly. I'll definitely be back. My donut creation awaits.

it calls

Tom+Chee on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iron Chef Cincinnati:

If you didn't know, Thursday is a big day for four local chefs. Yelp Cincinnati is hosting an Iron Chef competition!

Chef Matt Buschle from Virgil's, Chef Josh Campbell from Mayberry & The Skinny Pig, Chef Steven Shockley (formerly of Maribelle's Tavern), Chef Mark Bodenstein of Parkers Blue Ash Tavern and Chef Bella Dolce from Roxy's will all be competing, in Iron Chef style, with one of four local ingredients which will be revealed right before the competition. The event starts at 7, and you can read all about it (and RSVP) here on Yelp.

We caught up to Josh Campbell to ask him a few questions about his feelings prior to the competition.

Good luck Josh! We're interested to see what you cook up. The event also supports the Freestore Foodbank, which is a great cause.