Monthly Archives: May 2006

Food Porn: Ricotta Cheesecake with Ohio Strawberries

The abundance of fresh Ohio strawberries at Weiland’s inspired me to make a dish that always (at least for the past couple of years) marks the beginning of summer and strawberry season for me – Ricotta Cheesecake with Berries. The original Cooking Light recipe calls for 3 different kinds of berries, but I was in the mood for just straight strawberries – I didn’t want anything to distract from the sweet juiciness of them. My photo has my version (strawberries only), but the recipe below is the original Cooking Light recipe.


Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Berry Topping

4 cups (2 pounds) fresh Ricotta Cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

2 cups quartered strawberries
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Mint sprigs (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. To prepare cheesecake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour batter into a 10-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around the outside edge of cheesecake. Cool slightly; remove outer ring from pan. Sprinkle cheesecake evenly with powdered sugar.

To prepare topping, combine berries, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and juice; toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve berry mixture with cheesecake. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 cheesecake wedge and about 1/2 cup berry mixture)
NUTRITION PER SERVING CALORIES 286(32% from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 5.6g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 18g; CHOLESTEROL 101mg; CALCIUM 353mg; SODIUM 328mg; FIBER 2.5g; IRON 0.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.7g

CSA: Week Two

In this week’s CSA box:

  • A bunch of asparagus
  • A bag of arugula
  • A bag of mixed greens
  • A bunch of radishes
  • A pint of the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted (I dipped these in chocolate – foodgasm!!!)

Will probably use the asparagus and arugula in pasta, and use the mixed greens and radishes in a salad I serve with it.

Food Porn: Creamy Sauteed Kohlrabi

I had some kohlrabi in the fridge that I needed to use up (I had originally bought it to make a stir fry, but ended up not making the stir fry), and was in a veggie mood for lunch today, so I whipped up a really simple lunch dish: sauteed kohlrabi with cream sauce.

This is one of those dishes I throw together with no real recipe, but it’s really easy – slice about 4-5 bulbs of kohlrabi thin (make sure you peel them first), chiffonade a handful of the greens, and saute it in 1-2 tbsp butter (amount depends on how much kohlrabi you have) until it’s tender-crisp (about 5 minutes). Near the end throw in about 1 1/2 tbsp flour, salt and pepper to taste, and let it brown a minute or two more. Add in enough cream (1-2 tbsp) to hold it all together, and make it creamy, but not saucy.

Food Porn: CSA Pasta

I needed to find a dish that would use most of the veggies I got in this week’s CSA box, and inspired by Restaurant Widow’s 90% Local Pasta entry and something I made two weeks ago, I came up with this dish.

From the CSA box, I used the asparagus, green garlic, and some of the arugula. There’s not a particular recipe for it, but I’ll explain what I did.

I sliced several green garlic bulbs, some leek, green onions, and garlic, and sauted them in a little olive oil for about three minutes. I used rotisserie chicken leftovers, and made the sauce from the Cooking Light recipe (the second link). I cooked the asparagus and the fetuccine together for three minutes, and then tossed everything together. Delicious. I think I’m going to spend the next couple of boxes finding different ways to mix asparagus and pasta.

Event: North Market Apron Gala

Paul and I went to the 10th Annual North Market Apron Gala on Saturday night, which is an annual fundraiser full of food, fun, and neighborhood camaraderie. I took a lot of pictures, but for some reason, my camera went a little wonky, so some of them may be a bit blurry. Bear with me. 🙂

We were running late, and got there a little bit after 7. No problem, as the vendors were just setting up at that point, and the atmosphere was fairly relaxed and laid back. Appetizers were just starting to be served when we got there, and we made the rounds.

Eric from Bubbles had made mimosas with his fresh-squeezed orange juice, which definitely made a difference in the final product. If all you’ve had are mixed drinks with supermarket OJ, do yourself a favor and pick up a quart or so of fresh squeezed juice. I spoke to him today when I stopped at the market and he said that he was completely cleaned out of mimosas in 20 minutes. I guess everyone else liked them as much as I did.

Amy from Omega had a wonderful selection of different baked goods, such as Savory Biscotti, Stuffed Flatbread, and Artisan Breads with Dipping Oils.

North Market Produce had a huge spread of fresh fruits and veggies. Nothing says love like fresh produce – the produce they presented was at the height of ripeness, and was the most perfect sweet & juicy palate cleanser I could ask for. I think that’s why I love spring and summer so much – the produce.

Across the aisle at Heil’s Family Deli, they had deviled eggs and finger sandwiches. The same solid stuff you can get every day. I love Heil’s – they have the best reasonably priced cheese in town. And their deviled eggs are almost as good as my own. 🙂

Other standouts during the appetizer portion of the evening were the Ham Balls at Bluescreek Farm Meats, the magnificent selection of cheeses from Curds and Whey, and my new favorite salad – Deluxe Baby Green Salad with Raspberries, Blueberries, Pine Nuts, Golden Raisins and Gorgonzola Cheese w/ Balsamic Dressing from Pastaria. The salad is so good I went back for seconds, and went out of my way today to pick up an order of it.

While making the rounds and noshing on all of the appetizers, we took a couple of minutes to talk to Daniel at Pure Imagination, who was keeping himself extremely busy dipping hundreds of strawberries in chocolate for dessert later that night.

As the night progressed, it got more and more crowded – by the time they started serving entrees at 8pm, the place was packed. Because of the long lines and the crowding, Paul and I opted to stick with just a couple of different places to try entrees at, as food was pretty much disappearing as soon as it was set out. Pastaria Seconda had the best dish of the night, hands down – Sun Dried Tomato Asiago Ravioli with Pork Tenderloin and a Marsala Sauce. I really wish they sold it as a regular dish, as it was quite fabulous. I did pick up some of the ravioli today, and a container of the Wild Mushroom Sauce (they don’t make the Marsala sauce regularly, but said the Wild Mushroom sauce has similar ingredients), and will try my hand at reproducing the dish tomorrow night.

Pam’s Market Popcorn had delicious Popcorn Crusted Chicken with Thai Peanut Sauce. I would have never thought to use popcorn as a breading for chicken, but it was surprisingly delicous. Kind of like Shake and Bake on steroids. Of course, part of that may have to do with the fact that she has the best popcorn in town (she told me that she uses her Classic Butter flavor for this recipe). She shared the recipe with me (see link above), and I’m hoping to try to make a batch on my own sometime soon.

Dessert was served promptly at nine – Jeni’s Ice Cream had a scrumptious tart orange push-up pop, and Daniel’s chocolate covered strawberries and truffles have had me craving chocolate and strawberries ever since.
By this time, it was really crowded and we decided to bow out early. People were having a great time and were dancing to the band (the free-flowing beer and wine might have something to do with *that*), but we wanted to beat the crowd so we headed home.

All in all, we had a great time, and look forward to attending next year.

Review: Spagio

We had plenty of time to kill before meeting the other two people interested in the supper club on Thursday, so we decided to head over to Grandview Avenue early, and eat dinner at Spagio. We had been there previously for brunch, but were looking forward to coming for dinner.

We arrived around 6:00, and asked to be seated on the patio so I could have better lighting for taking pictures. My husband was a bit chilly, but braved the cold for the sake of art. The wait staff was extremely attentive, as we had barely sat down before our waiter came out to check on us.

For starters, we had the appetizer-sized Thin Crust SPAGIO Pizza. It was very simple, but its simplicity was what made it good – the olive oil base on thin crunchy crust acted as an excellent delivery system for the fragrant blend of fresh tomato, garlic, and Parmesan.

Before having our entrees, both my husband and I opted to get the half-sized chopped salad, which acted as a great palate cleanser. It was extremely fresh tasting, with lots of good stuff such as eggs, tomatoes, cheese, and peppers in every bite. It was dressed with a very subtle vinaigrette, and the combination of the dressing, the cilantro, and the tortilla strips on top gave it a very Southwestern vibe.

My husband opted for the Veal Meatball Pasta with Marinara as his entree. The house-made marinara was thick but not too thick, fragrant with Italian herbs and served over a bed of rigatoni. The veal meatballs were melt in your mouth tender, with great flavor that wasn’t overpowered by the sauce. Portion size was ample, with 6 golf-ball sized meatballs in the order.

For my entree, I chose to go the comfort food route – I ordered Hungarian Goulash served over spatzle and finished with creme fraiche. Goulash has always brought back memories of my childhood, as my Oma (grandmother) would make a batch of it every week. Even though I always think her goulash will be the best ever, Spagio gives Oma’s goulash a run for her money. Tender cubes of beef that melt in your mouth and meld with the flavor of the spices take me back 30 years to sitting at Oma’s table with the chairs so high that my feet dangled in mid-air, looking at the snow outside while the goulash warmed my tummy. Chef Hubert’s spatzle are browned to perfection, adding a subtle nuttiness to the goulash.
Spagio has a great reputation, and for good reason. The service was impeccable, not too intrusive but always there to fill up an empty glass or take away our dishes at the right times. The food was cooked to perfection, and was plentiful. And the crowd in general seemed very laid back – the atmosphere of both the restaurant and Spagio Cellars next door was very welcoming and upscale without being daunting.

Spagio can be a bit on the expensive side, depending on what you are ordering – but if the rest of the food is as good as what we had, it’s worth every penny. Be sure to check their website for events, as they have regular wine tastings that are paired with food.

If you want to go, Spagio, 1295 Grandview Ave, Columbus, OH 43212. 614.486.1114

Spagio on Urbanspoon

Supper Club: Take One

Paul and I met on Thursday with two people that we got in contact with through the Cooking Light message boards about putting together a supper club. The meeting itself was interesting, as we were all from different backgrounds – some had previous experience with a supper club, others didn’t. The meeting seemed to go well, and we all made plans to have the first supper club at the end of June. We planned to fill out the group with friends of the other two people.

A couple of days later, the first person emailed to say she was backing out because she didn’t want to take part in a co-ed club, which didn’t seem to be an issue before, but suddenly was. Today, the other person emailed to say that she too was backing out of the supper club thing. I’m feeling rejected, but am not totally giving up on the idea.

If there are any supper clubs around who wouldn’t mind having two down-to-earth, non-pretentious fatties who can cook really well and are adventurous in our eating in your group, please give us a heads up. And so there are no surprises: we’re married, mid-30’s, educated professionals who happen to live in a Maronda-built house on the southwest side (I’m thinking this was part of the problem, since the one person’s body language visibly changed when we mentioned this).

Food Porn: Bourbon Short-Rib Stew

Forgive me for the extended break, I had some computer issues which took the better part of the weekend to resolve. So I’ll be posting a lot today to make up for the few days I missed. First up was something I made last week that tasted much, much better than it looks in this picture. This is one of my old favorite recipes, bourbon short rib stew. Technically, it’s supposed to be served with white cheddar grits, but we were fresh out of white cheddar, and decided to serve it over whole wheat farfalle instead. Next time, rather than using short ribs, I’ll use beef cubes (my usual substitution), as the final outcome was a little too fatty for my tastes, although it gave great mouth feel to the gravy. To maintain the integrity of the original recipe, I’ll include the recipe for white cheddar grits below.

Bourbon Short Rib Stew

Bourbon Short-Rib Stew

Courtesy Emeril Lagasse (1999)

4 lbs beef short-ribs, cut into individual ribs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cub bourbon
3 tbsp chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 cups beef stock
1 pint pearl onions
1 cup baby carrots or 1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup baby turnips or 1 cup sliced turnips
1 1/2 lbs new or small red potatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped horse-radish

1. In a mixing bowl, season the short-ribs with salt and pepper. Toss with flour and mix well.

2. In a large dutch oven, add 1/2 cup of oil. Add 1/2 batch of the meat a time and brown them. Repeat.

3. After 3 or 4 minutes —take the beef ribs out and set aside. Add 1/2 cup bourbon to deglaze pan. Add beef stock —add garlic, bay leaves, thyme and a teaspoon black pepper. Then add short ribs back to the pan with stock Cook for 2 hours.

4. In a mixing bowl, add pearl onions, baby carrots peeled, baby turnips new potatoes quartered and season with salt and pepper. Add vegetables to stew and cook for 1/2 hour. Stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley. Then stir in 2 tbsp horse-radish. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Keep warm until ready to serve with grits.

5. TIP: If you want liquid to thicken liquid of the stew make a slurrey with 2 tbsp flour (or 2 tbsp corn-starch) + 2 tbsp water and mix into broth of stew.

Serves 4.

White-Cheddar Grits

2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking white grits
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup grated white Cheddar Cheese

1. Bring the milk, seasoned with salt, to boil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining butter. While stirring, slowly add the grits, breaking up any lumps.

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the grits are tender and slightly thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the heavy cream and 1/4 cup of the cheese, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Season with salt/pepper.

CSA: Week One

Went to go pick up our first box in our CSA share. Not that much yet, since it’s early in the year. Here’s what we got in this week’s box:

  • One bunch of green garlic
  • A bag of arugula
  • A bag of lettuce
  • A bunch of radishes
  • A bunch of green garlic
  • A bunch of asparagus
  • One dozen free range eggs

I need to do some searches and make some decisions on what to make this week to use these veggies.