Monthly Archives: May 2007

Croque Madame

I’ve been wanting to try a Croque Madame for quite a while now, and while we were out at Easton this past weekend to make the Sur La Table stop, we decided to stop at Bon Vie while they were still serving brunch on Sunday and both ordered the Croque Madame – this recipe is based on that, with bechamel sauce in place of the traditional hollandaise. The recipe for the bechamel sauce is taken from a Rachael Ray recipe, but the rest of the sandwich is served open face like we had at Bon Vie, with poetic license taken on my part. Our version of it was abfab, better even than Bon Vie’s, I think. Not a pretty picture, but you can see all the layers here (french toast bottom, gruyere, ham, eggs, and bechamel). The recipe is a sum of its parts, so prepare each part individual first, to assemble at the end. This dish has the added benefit of being mostly local (2Silos guinea hen eggs, ham from Thurn’s, Challah baked at Whole Foods, Ohio butter).

Croque Madame
bechamel sauce courtesy Rachael Ray, rest of recipe inspired by the dish at Bon Vie

Bechamel Sauce:

2 tbsp. butter
2 rounded tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. Dijon mustard (I used whole grain Dijon)

Place a small saucepot over medium low heat and melt two tablespoons of butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute or so. Whisk in the milk and bring it to a bubble and then drop the heat to low. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, nutmeg and Dijon. When sauce thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, turn off the heat.

Fried Eggs:

6 eggs (we used Guinea Hen, but you can use any kind)
2 tbsp. butter

Fry eggs in butter to your desired doneness – we did ours over easy.

French Toast:

4 slices Challah bread
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tbsp. cream
2 tbsp, butter.

Additional ingredients:
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 slices baked ham


Prepare bechamel sauce and then set aside. Dip challah bread in egg batter, and fry in the butter. After flipping over the first time, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of cheese on each french toast slice and put one slice of ham on each. Keep on heat until bottom of French Toast is browned and cheese is melted and ham is warmed. Plate the sandwich open faced style, 2 pieces of bread to a plate. Fry eggs, and then top each pair of French Toast with three fried eggs. Spoon bechamel sauce over fried eggs and serve.

Short Ribs with Tagliatelle

For this installment of Presto Pasta Night, I used the short ribs I got at Up the Lane Cattle at the Worthington Farmer’s Market a couple of weeks ago to make a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, Short Ribs with Tagliatelle.

The great thing about this recipe is that if you cook the short ribs the day before, you can let them sit overnight so you can scrape off all the excess fat that you get with short ribs – and shredding the meat also lets you discard fatty bits, and just concentrate pure short rib flavor. We used the fresh tagliatelle in our version that you get at Giant Eagle, although I’m sure dried will work as well.


Short Ribs with Tagliatelle
courtesy Giada De Laurentiis/Food Network

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 pounds short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup red wine
1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle
4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate

Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.

Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot. Return the pancetta to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta. Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.

Pierogies from Krystyna’s Deli

Just wanted to post a quick picture of yesterday’s lunch – a dozen pan fried (in butter and onion) pierogies from Krystyna’s Deli in Grandview.

I love Krystyna’s – it reminds me of all the places my grandmother used to take me when I was little, places where the food is authentic (and you can’t get more authentic than this for Polish food), places where you could actually have conversations with the shopkeepers, gaining little bits of wisdom along the way. Expect to see a full-length post of Krystyna’s sometime in the near future, for now – this should whet your appetite. 🙂

Want to go and try it yourself first? It’s a bit hard to find – on a side street (Ida Ave) off of Grandview Ave near West Fifth, right behind the Giant Eagle.

Daring Bakers: Gateau St. Honore

After failing miserably at the crepe cake last month, I knew that I’d have to buckle down and prove myself this month as a Daring Baker rather than a pathetic baker, no matter how many screw-ups and no matter how many retries it took. And believe me, there were screw-ups. Lots of them. Starting with the $10 box of puff pastry that we absolutely ruined beyond repair when we first attempted this recipe on Thursday. And then the fact we had the wrong tips (decorators instead of pastry) and had to make a very expensive trip to Sur La Table (because I had to get the mechanical gun instead of more bags, and lots of other things as I always do when I go to Sur La Table – other women buy shoes, I buy cookware and kitchen gadgets), ending with gross looking pate a choux (clumpy) that we had to do over again. Excuse the crappy picture, by the time I got done it was night time and had to settle for the crappy indoor light and flash in my kitchen rather than outside, where I WANTED to photograph it.


Our Daring Bakers project this month was a Gateau St. Honore, a cake in honor of the patron saint of bakers. It’s one that is often used in pastry school finals because it encompasses many of the basic methods – pate a choux, puff pastry, diplomat creme, caramel, etc. And because of the complexity of the recipe (I get nervous with multi-step recipes, it’s one reason I’d never be a professional chef of any kind), I was feeling out of my league before I even began. But I definitely was determined to make a go of it, no matter how it ended up turning out. So how did it turn out? Let’s just say I’m happy with the results. I didn’t even screw up the caramel this time. It took 2 tries with the pate a choux, but it all came out in the end. And thank God that she let us used store-bought puff pastry, because I’m definitely not ready for that yet (my poor arthritis couldn’t handle it). And I even got to incorporate some of the nummy strawberries I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday.

Be sure to check the other Daring Bakers on the sidebar for their rendition of this recipe. I’m almost afraid to see what’s in store for us next month, this one was definitely a challenge!

Thurn’s Specialty Meats

I’ve been meaning to write about Thurn’s ever since Rosie turned me on to them. It’s an old-fashioned (and I mean OLD fashioned – no cash registers, they add everything by hand on butcher paper, they don’t take credit cards kind of old-fashioned) meat shop in a part of town (South Columbus) that most people don’t ever go to unless they have to. It’s family run, only open for sales 3 days a week (the other four are for smoking and preparing the products for the week), and the meat is prepared and sold right there on premises. It’s been around for 118 years, originally in the old Central Market on 4th Street downtown, according to the newspaper article on the wall. If a place lasts that long, they’ve got to be doing something right. If you’re a hunter, they also do deer processing, and they participate in a program that process venison to donate to homeless shelters.


Thurn’s is the real thing, folks. You know that as soon as you open the door and the sweet, sweet smell of smoked meat smacks you in the face. If you go a weekend, prepare to wait in line. This place is definitely NOT a well kept secret, given the scores of older folks who wait patiently for their turn at the counter with Scott or Al. And considering it’s only open from 7 to 1 on Saturday, you better get there early if you want to make sure the item you’re seeking doesn’t run out. Once it’s gone for the week, it’s gone. They have a huge selection of different brats, bacons, sausages, and other smoked meat items:


What draws me there, more than anything else, is the schinken – which is a smoked German ham reminiscent of really good proscuitto in texture and taste, except a little smokier. I love it sliced paper thin, and plan on having some tonight on a plate with some canteloupe, strawberries, and cheese.


A pound of their baked ham is always a must for sandwiches – that is, if it manages to make it home without us scarfing most of it on the way.


My husband loves their German bologna, and gets it in a 1+ lb. chunk that he eats a few slices at a time. It’s also very good fried like a pork roll, I hear. Most of their bologna is a much coarser texture than you find in your typical deli.


We decided to get a few of their Cincinnati Brats, which are fully cooked, and which they advised us to fry in a saute pan with some butter – these will be wonderful tomorrow for lunch with some fried onions and mashed potatoes.


Another one of my husband’s favorites are their beef and cheese sticks and their landjaeger, which he likes to snack on.


We usually get our Schaller and Weber double-smoked bacon at Carfagna’s, but saw on this trip that Thurn’s offers their own double-smoked bacon, so we got a one pound hunk of it to try. We’ll let you know how it is.


Expect to see these items pop up in some dishes in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

If you’d like to go: Thurn’s Specialty Meats, 530 Greenlawn Ave., Columbus 614.443.1449

Farm Fresh and Local Produce – 5/26/07

I woke up early this morning (didn’t get to sleep until late last night because we were trying to make something and really botched up a whole box of puff pastry…the lesson learned? – when it says “defrost for 2 hours in fridge” – they mean only defrost it for 2 hours, not for 2 days). But I digress. I woke up early after about 4 hours of sleep (if that), glad to see that they predictions for thunderstorms weren’t coming true, and headed out to do my weekly marketing. Game plan for today was to hit the North Market, and then to Clintonville just to go to 2Silos to pick up the guinea hen eggs I requested last week (more about guinea hen eggs in another post).

The day started out beautifully – we hit the ATM at the North Market and headed out front. Not much in the way of veggies this week – some holdout asparagus (I think this is probably the last week for asparagus), tomatoes, greens (spinach was gone by the time I got there at 9:15, boo hiss). But I did get some more lovely strawberries at Rhoads:

And for the first time this season, the appearance of the wonderful shiitake mushrooms from Toby Run Growers:

We also saw some lots of greens at the Elizabeth Telling stand – I can’t identify this particular variety offhand, but they sure look yummy:

And lots and lots of pretty flowers this week, like these begonias peonies (thanks, Candyce – for pointing out my error):

But what honestly motivates me to get up early on Saturday morning? Part of my weekend ritual, a delicious cinnamon roll from Omega. YUM.

By the time we got to Clintonville, it was getting really hot and humid, so we totally decided to forego Worthington because we had everything we needed for the week from the other two markets. While at Clintonville, we picked up a couple more heirloom tomato plants, which we’ll be planting later today. 🙂 Now I’m off to eat my cinnamon roll…

Real Men Make Quiche

I so love it when my husband cooks for me – and he’s been doing it far more often than not these days, with my arthritis acting up so badly. So even though real men may not eat quiche (yeah, right!), they definitely do make quiche!

Once again, in an attempt to use up the contents of our fridge, we decided to make quiche – both a leek goat cheese quiche, and also this crab asparagus quiche – we made a couple of changes, in order to use up leftovers. We used a pound of lump crabmeat instead of back fin and claw, didn’t have nearly enough asparagus (15 spears total), so we just chopped it all and put it in the quiche, and didn’t do a spoke pattern on top, and used pancetta instead of bacon. It had a nice crabby taste to it – but is missing some sort of seasoning – maybe a little old bay, or a little more cayenne is needed?


Crab and Asparagus Quiche
courtesy Chef John Folse (website)INGREDIENTS:

INGREDIENTS:1 cup back fin crabmeat
1 cup claw crabmeat
½ cup asparagus tips, cut into ½ inch pieces (see method)
24 whole asparagus spears about 4″ long
½ cup bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups half and half
1 tsp salt
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 (9-inch) unbaked deep dish pie shells


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grasp asparagus spear with two hands, holding the floret in one hand and the stem in the other. Gently bend spear until it snaps. Discard stem end. Repeat with entire bunch, reserving 24 whole spears. In a saucepan, bring a quart of water to a rolling boil. Add all asparagus and poach until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain asparagus and set aside to cool. Divide bacon, cheese, onion, red bell pepper, crabmeat and asparagus tips and sprinkle evenly into each pie shell. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half cream, salt, thyme and cayenne. Pour egg mixture evenly into both pastry shells. Place 12 whole asparagus spears in a starburst shape on top of each pie with florets pointing out from the center. Trim stem ends of asparagus if necessary. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Allow quiche to sit for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Pork Tenderloin with Ramp Pesto Gnocchi

For this edition of Presto Pasta Night, I give you another dish made from the contents of my fridge, pantry, and freezer – utilizing things I needed to use before their drop dead date. One of the drawbacks of being a child-free couple is that things are never sold in appropriate quantities for singles and/or couples, and one is left scrambling at the last minute to use items that are leftover from other dishes (for example – a recipe may call for a cup of spinach, but at the farmers markets, you can only buy a bag of spinach, about 6-8 cups – see my point?). I was lucky enough to find a tiny pork tenderloin at Giant Eagle – 8 oz. total weight, the perfect size for the pair of us.

To make this dish, we sliced the pork tenderloins into 1″ thick rounds, and pounded them down a bit thinner, and sauteed them in a touch of olive oil, seasoned with a little salt and pepper. We made a pesto using a bunch of ramps (we peeled off the outer layer, but used the whole thing), a handful of spinach, a small handful of basil, about 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan, a pinch (maybe 1/8 to 1/4 cup) of pine nuts, and olive oil to the right consistency – because of the garlicky nature of the ramps, it was *really* strong, and a little went a long way. I sauteed some zucchini ribbons, and wilted some spinach into the zucchini mixture at the last minute, and tossed the veggies and a few tablespoons of the ramp pesto with a package of cooked gnocchi. Delicious. Not a pretty presentation but it tasted great.