Mocha Chip Cookies

mochachip

I was craving coffee and chocolate and so was born these giant Mocha Chip Cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee grounds
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In a large bowl, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and coffee grounds. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Then add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat for 2 more minutes.
  4. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until all combined and well-incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula, fold in the both kinds of chocolate chips.
  6. How big you make them will change the cooking time. I made them humungous and they took about 20mns with the convection setting on. Normal size cookies will be pretty close to done at the 10mns mark.
  7. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before you move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Drizzle Ingredients: 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 tbsp. whipping cream 1 tbsp. cocoa powder 1 tbsp. butter 2 tsp. water

  1. Stir the powdered sugar and cocoa together in a bowl.
  2. Heat the water, butter and cream until boiling and pour into the bowl.
  3. Whisk well to make a smooth icing. To check the consistency, dip your finger in. It should coat your finger.
  4. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Use quickly before it sets.

Apple Jack Pie

apple-jack-pie

I like to cook liquor into my sweets. I am especially excited about it when I can use something locally made. Tom's Foolery in Chagrin Falls makes an awesome Applejack! It can be hard to track down because it sells fast when it hits the shelves, but I often find liquor I am having a tough time getting my hands on at Minotti's.

Pie Ingredients:

1 Pie Crust - I went for store bought this time. Wasn't trying to take all day to make my pie. :) 5 Apples (your favorite baking variety) 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar 1/3 cup Brown Sugar 1/3 cup Flour 1 tbsp Cinnamon 3 tbsp Applejack

Streusel Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup Flour 1/4 cup Quick Oats 1/4 cup Brown Sugar 1/4 tsp Cinnamon 1/8 tsp Salt 1/4 cup Butter, cold and diced into cubes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, toss apple slices with Applejack. Add sugars, flour, and spices to the bowl and toss to coat. Spoon apple filling into chilled pie crust.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, quick oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add cold butter and using fingertips, rub butter into dry mixture until it comes together it small crumbles and pieces of butter are no longer visible. Sprinkle on top of the apple pie filling and bake for 35-40mns or until bubbly and brown.

Snow Ball Cheesecakes

japanese-cotton

I have always loved snow balls. Peeling off the marshmallow layer and eating that first was my favorite thing to do as a kid. I wanted those flavors into a cheesecake. I also wanted a light cheese cake so I adapted this Japanese Cotton Cheesecake recipe to make it light and fluffy.  It is more cakeish than cheese, but it's cottony texture is incredible!

Found a set of two mini cheesecake pans at World Market, but this recipe will work with a normal size springform pan as well.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 6 tbsp. Butter
  • 8 oz. Cheese Cream
  • 1.4 oz. Sifted All-Purpose Flour
  • 1.2 oz. Cornmeal
  • 7 Egg yolks
  • 7 Egg whites
  • 3/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/2 cup Sugar 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 Egg whites - room temperature
  • 2 cups Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar - Sifted
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Extract
  • 2 cups Shredded Coconut
  • 1-2 Drops of Food Coloring

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil milk and butter, lower the heat and add cheese cream, use hand whisk to stir till smooth. Add in plain flour, cornmeal and cocoa powder. Mix well. Finally add in egg yolks, vanilla, cheese cream and mix until thick. Let cool.

In a stand mixer, whisk egg whites, cream of tar tar and sugar till peak form. Use a spatula to fold egg whites in two batches to cheese cream mixture.Wrap your springform pan in foil to shield it from the water bath you'll be cooking it in. Grease the foiled pan(s) and place it in a deep baking dish. Fill with water 3/4 the way up the pan. The water helps slowly heat up the cheesecake and prevents it from cracking. Bake for 45mns to 1 1/2 hours. It will depend on your oven and the size of your pans how long to cook. When it is done it will look solid and no longer jiggle like soup.

Let the cheesecake cool. Time to make the topping! In a standing mixer, combine egg whites, corn syrup, and salt. Beat on high speed for five minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and doubled. Reduce speed to low, and add coconut extract and powdered sugar. Beat until well combined. Top cheesecakes with it soon after it has been made. Finally, combine shredded coconut with a few drips of food coloring and sprinkle on top. Enjoy!

Italian Eggs for Two

italian-eggs-1

Quickly becoming one of my most favorite things to make for brunch because its so damn quick and easy! Great to make for that special someone in your life that you want to wake up with brunch in bed.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4tbsp. Spaghetti Sauce
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Mushrooms (or your other favorite pizza topping. I've used sausage and olives with good results)
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Italian Cheese
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper

DIRECTIONS

For this recipe you'll need 2 oven safe ramekins and a deep baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 and start boiling about a quart of water. I used Nino's Spaghetti sauce. You can pick it up at any of the places listed here. Place 2tbsp. of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of each ramekin.

eggs2

Brown your mushrooms (or prepare your other favorite pizza topping). I cooked them in lots of butter. Put the mushrooms on top of the spaghetti sauce. I keep a little bit of the butter to put in with the mushrooms.

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Crack an egg into each ramekin.

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Top with cheese, Italian seasoning a little salt and pepper.

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Put the ramekins in the deep baking dish and fill the dish with boiling water about 1/2 the way up the ramekin. Then pop in the oven. Bake at 350 for about 15mns or until you can shake the ramekin and it no longer slides around like an uncooked egg white. Baking time can be really different per oven so keep a close eye on it. 2mns can mean the difference between a nice runny yolk, a hard yolk and a totally uncooked egg.

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Once you find the perfect baking time you'll want to make these all the time too!

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Recipe: Strawberry Lemonade Cakes

StrawberryLemonadeCakes

Making mini layer cakes is so much fun! Have a deep sheet pan and round cookie cutter? Then you can do it too!

This makes a great Easterish dessert. I played around with a lot of different versions of this because the strawberry cake was just to good to not make something amazing with it.

Cake Ingredients: 1/2 Stick of Butter 1/4 Cup of Canola Oil 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar 2 Large Eggs 1/4 Cup Sour Cream 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla 2 Tbsp. Strawberry Jam 1 1/2 Cups Flour 1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda 1/4 Baking Powder 1/4 Tsp. Salt 1.5 oz. Strawberry Jello Powder (Half a pack of boxed jello powder) 1/4 Cup Buttermilk Lemon and/or Strawberry Jelly Beans for decoration

Meringue Frosting Ingredients: 2 Cups Caster Sugar 4 Egg Whites 1 Tbsp. Lim0ncello Zest of 1 Lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a deep sheet pan generously with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer, beat the melted butter, oil, sugar, eggs, sour cream, jam and vanilla until combined. Place flour, baking soda, baking powder, jello powder and salt into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Alternate adding flour then buttermilk until well combined. Pour batter onto sheet pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool completely.

cakes-layers

Once the cake is cooled it's time to get out your round cookie cutter. I used a 2" round, but you can choose a size you'd like. Cut the circles out of your sheet cake to make the layers of your cake.

Once you have your layers you are ready to make the meringue. In a metal mixing bowl with a pot of simmering water below, poor in the egg whites and sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves. Move to a stand mixer, add the limoncello and zest. Beat until stuff peaks and ice cakes immediately. Start by icing the layers together. (I made three layers, but you can easily make them as many as you'd like.) Then ice the tops and sides. Top with a few jelly beans and enjoy!

#Bakers4Life: Philomena Bake Shop

I admit that I partly wanted to write an article about Philomena Bake Shop so I could spend some time with two of the coolest girls I know. Caitlin Shea and Liz Wineclaw are always a blast to hangout with and they are also the busy baking entraprenures behind Philomena Bake Shop. The other reason I wanted to write about them is their delightfully delicious products are handcrafted works of art and deserve to be shared.

Liz and Caitlin

These ladies live to bake and bake to live. Caitlin and Liz met while working at a local bake shop and discovered they had complimentary skills that would make them a great team. Liz credits her grandmother for getting her into baking. When she was a little girl her grandmother started catering on the side for people that she knew in Cleveland's Slavic Village. While being bossed around by her grandmother catering for the local funeral home Liz fell in love with baking. When it was time to head off to college Liz opted for the culinary school instead. Caitlin had similar fond memories of baking from childhood. Her mother would not let them buy sweets for the house so if they wanted something they would have to make it and make it she did! She started baking professionally when she worked for a community center in Toronto where they had started their own farmers market. The community center was equipped with bread ovens and so Caitlin started making and selling bread to riase money for the community center.

Caitlin Baking

What sets Philomena Bake Shop apart is they are making things the old fashioned way, from scratch, with quality ingredients. Their icings aren't made from crisco or shortening, they're made from butter. They also have access to wholesalers where they can get fine chocolates and beautiful fruit purees that aren't easy to come by for the home baker and aren't being used by most bakeries due to the thin margins in the industry. You'll taste every bit of what you've been missing in those supermarket cakes and sweets when you bite into one of Philomena Bake Shop's treats.

Apples

Today Caitlin was experimenting with vegan/gluten free apple spice cake, which she'll test out at the retailers supplying their goods - Pour, Cleveland Tea Revival, Rising Star, Juma Coffee House. Not all of their baked goods are vegan/gluten free, but they offer a tasty variety of things that are, including a peanut butter brownie that is so amazing you won't miss that sweet, sweet gluten or the butter or the eggs.

Apple Cakes

Philomena Bake Shop recently went through a name change. They threw the challenge out to the public via Facebook/Instagram to help with the task of coming up with a new name.  They received a lot of creative entries like, Kratos God of War from a young video game fan at the Cleveland Flea, but ultimately decided on something meaningful to the both of them. While kicking around that they are both daughters of men named Phil and finding Daughters of Phil to be a better band name than bake shop,  Elizabeth of Chill Pop Shop said "what about Philomena" and Philomena Bake Shop was born.

liz

Liz was working on some Blood Orange Pate de Fruit for the center of their French Macarons. Their French Macarons are to die for! They are a must try! Beautiful and delicate, I love giving them to people as gifts, but they are hard to part with so always buy some extra to keep for yourself.

Pate de Fruit

Right now the business does about 50/50 retail/private catering. It can be hard to advertise exactly what they do without the aid of a physical shop. Their goal is to eventually open a shop on the west side of town, but for now they make their products in the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen. They make everything from wedding cakes/birthday cakes to sweet tables/petit fours.

coconut

I wasn't going to waste my time with these ladies by not asking for some baking tips. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that I baked my husband a cake using salt instead of sugar. As of late I've found baking to be therapeutic and enjoyable, so I wanted some tips from the masters!

  • Tip #1 - Get a scale and measure everything in grams to get more accuracy.
  • Tip #2 - Don't pay attention to the bake times. Get to know what it looks like when they are done and test with a toothpick. All ovens are different. Try getting an oven thermometer to see how accurate yours is.
French Macarons

I asked these queens of the sweets where they like to eat for a night out on the town. For Caitlin she recently enjoyed a meal at Momocho, while Liz likes to hit up El Carnicero, both Eric Williams restuarnts. "Eric Williams could cook for me everyday and I would let him" says Liz. I'll second that!

hearts3

If you want to get a taste of some of these treats get in touch via the Philomena Bake Shop website, check them out at PourCleveland Tea RevivalRising StarJuma Coffee House or catch them this weekend at The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights (details below).

FEBRUARY

12

, 13, 14 - 

ALL DAY

Valentines Weekend Bubbly and Philomena Bake Shop Sweet Plate

Thursday - Saturday, February 12, 13 and 14 - Valentine's Bubbly and Specialty Philomena Bake Shop Sweet Plate Offer Enjoy a very special weekend with a very special offering from

The Wine Spot

and

Philomena Bake Shop

. We have hand selected a french Grower's champagne and matched it perfectly with hand made treats from Philomena Bake Shop of Cleveland. No need to RSVP, just stop in Thursday, Friday or Saturday of Valentines Day weekend and enjoy a special treat with your significant other.

Hearts

Spotted Owl - Quietly Delivering a Superior Product

Spotted Owl

I was excited for the Spotted Owl to open from the second I heard about it. It was fun to watch the Instagram photos as owner Will Hollingsworth followed through on his vision to turn a dirt floor and four pillars into one of the most handsome and comfy spots to drink in Cleveland. He created the bar he wanted to go to and he did it all from the heart. Named after an endangered species of owl from Will's home state of Oregon with La Nuit Porte Conseil, or sleep on it asthe motto, I was head over heels for the place from my first visit!

When we came in Will was working on the House Vermouth which is aged in a sherry cured barrel and finished with fresh lemon peel. You can find this in the House Manahattan or any cocktails that call for Sweet Vermouth. If you're in the Tremont neighborhood it would make a great aperitif before before you head off to dinner.

Spotted Owl

How did Will go from wearing a suit and tie in Political Communications in DC to wearing whatever the fuck he wants and opening his own bar in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood? When moving to Cleveland he wanted to spend his time working on things he was more naturally interested in, like working on motorcycles and bartending. He started bartending at the Greenhouse Tavern in their 3rd month being open before heading to Lolita a year later. While at Lolita he had the realization what a beautiful job bartending could be. Combining his technical skills of making an elegant, balanced drink with his ability to tell jokes and stories that captivate customers he found the work fulfilling, but the entrepreneur in him wanted to create some job security. He started his business plan in January 2011 and spent 11 months sitting in Tremont coffee shop the Loop on his days off writing like it was his job. His careful and thoughtful planning is easy to see in every aspect of the business.

Spotted Owl

Once you've had a few drinks at the Spotted Owl you'll notice how differently things are done here than any place you'll find in Cleveland. If you're into cocktails this place will quickly earn your trust as an establishment that always delivers something great. There is a commitment to a consistent and simple, yet high quality cocktail that always delivers the perfect balance. It's nothing less than a work of art. It's only emphasized by the charm of an impeccably designed space and remarkable customer service coming whole-heartedly from every member of the staff.

Spotted Owl

Shooting for layers of flavor with an elegant balance Will's process for creating a cocktail starts with the flavors bouncing around in his head. Wondering what a tequila drink looks like when the nearest lime is miles away he started with tequila, an Italian liqueur called Amaro Averna, a light nutty orange liqueur from Spain called Licor 43 and an orange. He reworked the drink through a rigorous process until he found a version he started introducing to customers for feedback. He didn't settle on the final mix until he had achieved the perfect balance he strives for. His obsession with creating a winter tequila drink lead to lovely concoction called Brown Brink Eastward (Pictured Above), named after a line from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem. "These drinks don't remind me of cars or women or motorcycles, they remind me of poems."

Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl is a truly comfortable place to grab a drink (or five, or six) and spend some time. A mixture of hard and soft with a multitude of attention to detail and zero unnecessary elements sets you at ease. You'd never even notice the flatscreen TV behind the fireplace display unless it's turned on for someone trying to catch a Cleveland sports score.

SpottedOwl3

When you see the gorgeous stained glass behind the bar you might think the place was built around it, but it was actually one of the last elements that just happened to fall into place. Sitting in a friends studio for the last 10 years Will knew he had to have them as soon as he saw them. They just so happen to fit perfectly into what he had already designed for the space like kismet!

Spotted Owl

My favorite cocktail is Like Two Midnights in a Jar. Simply Fernet Branca liqueur, that has is bold and medicinal flavor, and a Loop cold brewed coffee ice cube. As the ice slowly melts it becomes a completely different cocktail from it's start to it's finish.

If you really want a cocktail expereince in Cleveland you simply must go to Spotted Owl. You might never look at cocktails the same way!

 

Don't Miss: Honeybucket's Third Birthday Bash

Honeybucket Cleveland

We have such a great local music scene here in Cleveland. I've been to some killer shows over the years, from Mahall's to the Beachland Ballroom, Grog Shop to the Agora. I think it's important to support local and try new things whether it be food, music, art, or clothing. It's a lot of fun seeing new places like the Music Box Supper Club, serving locally sourced foods, bringing food and music together in Cleveland. Really, what goes better with food than music anyways? I sat down with Honeybucket to chat about their upcoming Third Birthday Bash this Saturday, Oct 25th @ Music Box Supper Club. Get your tickets now!!! Honeybucket is a Cleveland Newgrass Band, composed of Adam on acoustic guitar/vocals, Brendan on mandolin/vocals, and Abie on upright bass/vocals. They formed on Halloween night 2011 so their yearly Birthday Bash shows are like a big Halloween Party - costumes are encouraged! Adam and Brendan had been playing together for a year when they decided to pull in Abie, who was playing in a death metal band at the time.

Honeybucket - Cleveland Newgrass

How'd they get the name? They wanted something rustic (bucket) and thought it would mix well with something sweet (honey). Only later did they find out what a honeybucket actually is...Google it!

They've played all over the city. They fondly remember shows at the Bottle House, where they first headlined, and music festivals like BRITE Winter and Burning River Fest, where they learned to command a big stage and crowd. They have even played the beautiful and intimidating Severance Hall. While playing at Cleveland Hostel to a hot, sweaty room jam-packed with amped up people dancing as it snowed outside, they almost brought the floor down onto Campbell's Sweet Factory located below.

Honeybucket - Cleveland Newgrass

What I found so fascinating is that each one of the guys writes songs. Their process is to show up with an almost finished song and then hash out the arrangement together. You can usually tell who wrote it by who is singing it.

They all bring such different musical backgrounds to the group. Abie has been playing the upright bass since he was 11 and has a lot of classical and jazz training. His influences include classic rock and punk. Brendan is into the blues and a big Jimi Hendrix fan. He also really didn't start playing the mandolin until the band was formed, switching from electric guitar. Adam is an acoustic guitar fan, influenced by Paul Simon and brings the band their ballads. The common thread among them all is a love for Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.

Here is a sample of Whistles and Wheels. You can really get a sense of their love of the Beatles with the harmonies they are using (1:30).

Of course I had to ask the guys about getting hit on after the shows. While they all take their turns getting hit on, depending on the current moon cycle, Adam is all business and likes to talk business after shows and Abie can typically be found geeking out about something totally nerdy. Brendan certainly wouldn't mind a little extra lady attention after the shows, but apparently its the men folk who find the mustache to be sexy.

Finally, I had to ask them where they love to eat. Adam is a big fan of Spice Kitchen and Bar and L'Albatros. Brendan who works at Greenhouse and loves their food also says "Toast is my jam" and has a special place in his heart for Jukebox perogies. Abie is drawn to El Carnicero and their tamales. They were all excited about the new Crop opening in Cleveland Heights, who's Chef Steve Schimoler has his own band, Cream of the Crop, and has jammed with Honeybucket.

Totally great guys and great music! I had so many laughs chatting with them and found it unbelievable how good they sound just practicing in an apartment. Their shows are filled with energy and just a really fucking good time. Make sure to get your tickets for the Birthday Bash and pick out a good costume for the show! GET TICKETS HERE

Gimme Booze and Burlesque Cleveland!

The Bettie Page

Two things I truly love, booze and burlesque! Thanks to Cleveland Cocktail Week for bringing those two things together. I was super excited to head to Booze and Burlesque at one of my absolute favorite Cleveland restaurants, the Black Pig. The night started with a fun performance from the Bishop Brothers as the crowd starting showing up.

 

The Bishop Brothers

https://vine.co/v/OutW1220dtu

While the band rocked the front of the bar we started getting our booze on. The cocktail list featured burlesque themed drinks using Ciroc vodka, El Jimador tequila, and Old Forester bourbon. Very creative and well done cocktails with a lot of fresh ingredients, which is exactly what I would expect from the Black Pig.  It's one of my favorite places to grab a cocktail and small plate at the beautiful bar.

the Black Pig

The Corset Old Forester Bourbon, Lemon, Grenadine , Absinthe

The Corset

The Bettie Page El Jimador, Chartreuse, Salers, Lime

The Bettie Page

Show Girl Circo Vodka, St. Germaine, Grenadine, Sparkling

Old Forester Old Fashioned Old Forester Bourbon, Sugar, Bitters, Orange

Showgirl and Old Forester Old Fashioned

The absinthe in the corset gave the drink a nice kick without being overpowering. The Bettie Page was a complex, but smooth tequila cocktail. Show Girl was such a pretty drink that lots of ladies were enjoying and I am so glad they had an Old Fashioned since that is my hubby's favorite drink. He has them all over town and is constantly comparing them and he really loved this one.

Thankfully that had some awesome snacks to serve too! Left to right - Fried Zucchini Blossom Tacos, Pork Belly Tacos, Lambs Tongue Tacos. The fried zucchini  tacos were completely out of control! Pork belly from the Black Pig is always to die for. The lambs tongue I was not going to pass up. It was incredibly tender and delicious.

Black Pig Tacos

With a full belly and cocktail in hand it was on to the show! If you've never seen Cleveland Burlesque show you've got to get out to one. I adore Bella Sin! She is sweet, beautiful and knows how to put on a great show. The crowd was so into it. The room was lined with loads of smiling faces cheering on the performers.

From hula hoop to strip tease you are in for a great show! There was a brief magic act and lots of crowd participation time full of liquored up giggling.

HulaStrip

The lovely Bella Sin opened and closed the show. You can always catch her mingling with the crowd before a performance as well.

Bella SinBella Sin Bella Sin

This was such a great event! I have much love for the Black Pig and Bella Sin. Couldn't be happier to live in Cleveland seeing them come together in such an inventive way. Get your booty down to the Black Pig if you haven't been! Eat, drink and be merry. They have some of the bestest food and drink in town. Also, get yourself to a Cleveland Burlesque show if you haven't been. Trust me, you'll have a super fun time. You'll laugh, clap and smile from ear to ear.

 

Exquisite Eats from the Sunday Market at Hingetown

Recently my friend Fred (@IncogFredo) tweeted "If you're not proud to be from #CLE, you don't leave your house enough. So many amazing, talented, inspiring people doing great things here." I couldn't agree with Fred more! The Sunday Market in Hingetown is a great example of local people doing great things. I worked my way from one end to the other sampling incredibly exquisite eats from many talented local food entrepreneurs. Stephanie Sheldon, of the Cleveland Flea and the Indie Foundry, has created another sensational event that everyone is excited to be apart of.  She is a force in Cleveland! I am always excited to be involved in any event she is putting on and I hear that constantly from others who work with her. Stephanie knows how to create a truly #ThisisCLE experience and she does it in a way that promotes small business. I never feel bad spending a day indulging when I know my money is staying local. And indulge I did!

Who doesn't love fresh hot malty boiled hand-rolled bagels infused with personality? The Cleveland Bagel Co. guys are always fun to chat up and their fresh delicious bagels with creative smears are more than worth tracking down at Rising Star Coffee and Fears' Confections.

Cleveland Bagel Co.

Did you hear!? Brewnuts is now open in Tremont!! Brewnuts are more than just a genius idea, they make an incredibly moist and tasty product. They're full of hustle and fun as hell to know. If you see them, buy immediately because they'll sell out!

brewnuts

Clark Pope is a master in the kitchen! He always keeps me laughing and gives great advice that comes from his years of experience. I'm always impressed with the complexity and deliciousness of what he pulls off cooking in the outdoors. His hand cut pomme frites with orange ginger aioli were masterful work. His Bloody Mary mix is a must try! It is the perfect balance of tomatoes and spices to kick up brunch cocktails.

clarkpope

Coquette Patisserie came with more than just their beautifully decorated french macarons, they had an entire oyster bar!

macarons oysters

Even Chef Doug Katz of the Katz Club Diner was on hand greeting everyone as he passed out delightfully delicious BLTs.

katz

Did you know Cleveland now has a Brunch Food Truck?! Off the GRIDdle is slinging some unique waffle sandwiches, like my Acapulco Pulled, on the streets of Cleveland. Very fun menu and great #clebrunch addition.

offthegriddle offthegriddle2

While you're in Hingetown you might as well visit a few of the businesses that call this block home! Cleveland Tea Revival is a popular hang. I rarely find it not packed to the brim. They have high quality product and a prime people watching spot.

tea tea2

Of course no vegan, raw, or health food junky should be in Hingetown without stopping by Beet Jar juice Bar. I dare people who turn their nose up at vegan food to try one of their sandwiches! You'll be hooked. They are additively delicious.

beetjar beetjar2

And being the ice coffee addict I am, I can't not stop by Rising Star Coffee Roasters.

risingstar

Back out at the market there are still more foodie treats to discover! Sweet Bean owners recent trip to France has inspired some incredible new creations. Their Pate de Fruits are light as air and packet with flavor. I couldn't wait to get my hands on some and they were 100x's better than my mind had even conjured.

sweetbean

Olivia Rose has been teasing me for months with pictures of her eclairs. I finally got mine! I love catching up with her and her beautiful daughters who are always nearby to help their mom.

olivia

While I focus on the food there is a lot more to see. You'll find all things handmade at the market. One of my favorite stops is Liza Michelle Jewelry. I couldn't help but ogle some of her new pieces. This is not your average handmade market jewelry. She makes extremely beautiful high-end wearable art. She has a great eye and loads of talent. Do yourself a favor and forgo the cheesy mall kiosk jewelery store and buy a real local handmade work of art.

liza liza2

And last, but certainly not least...you won't just hear it from me, you'll hear it from everyone, you don't leave the market without your Mason's Creamery. Never fear their unusual flavors or combinations. When they say balsamic for your strawberry ice cream, trust them, they're the ice cream experts! You won't be disappointed.

masons masons2

I highly recommend checking out one of the upcoming Sunday Market's in Hingetown as well as all the great local businesses above! Bring a friend or a dog, grab a bite and watch all the great things going on in Cleveland.

chillax

Deagan's, What Bar Food Should Be

It can be hard to get my husband to a bar sometimes. He's not a bar dude. He doesn't enjoy chicken fingers, Bud Light or ESPN. I don't enjoy those things either so I can't complain, but I like to get my drink on from time to time. Finding Deagan's Kitchen & Bar in Lakewood was eye opening for us. It was everything we wanted in a bar. The beautiful wood decor has soaked up loads of stories and laughs that bring me comfort as soon as I sit down. We ordered a few cocktails to kick off our visit. I love to order a Pimm's Cup. Its a refreshing vintage cocktail with the right amount of sweet. My husband always enjoys a White Russian in blistery weather.

pimms

I enjoy little plates and Deagan's is a great place to load up on sharing little plates. First, we ordered from the Bar Snacks. The Deviled Eggs Sampler was delicious! Goat Cheese, Pork Belly and Crab were the varieties that night. All excellent. Very rich and filling.

Deviled-Egg-Sampler-goat-cheese,-crab,-pork-belly

The #1 reason we love Deagan's so much and feel they are what bar food should be is their vegetable dishes. They can make a vegetable the star of your meal. They don't even have to batter and deep fry your veggies to make them something you'll crave. I can't think of many bars that pull that off.  The Shaved Brussels Sprouts with bacon, walnuts, smoked blue cheese is something I crave. It's an amazing bar food loaded with flavor.

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Another great love I have at Deagan's is the Cured Meats & Cheese Boards. You can get a big board of everything or pick and choose. It comes with a little sweet and a little savory. Fresh warm bread, honey, jam and nuts. We got the salami tartufo with the 18-month beemster and red dragon. They were all amazing, but the red dragon was one of the best cheeses I've ever had. It's the mustard-like textured one at the top. It was the right amount of creamy.

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To close out the meal I ordered a Wired Irishmen with Guiness & Van Gogh’s Espresso Vodka. You can't find beer cocktails everywhere so I order them when I see them. This was a good kick in the pants at the end of the meal.

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Being able to pick at cheese boards and small plates leaves plenty of room for dessert. The Apple Peanut Butter Créme Brulée was incredibly rich. It had a bit of a pb&j flavor going on and resembled nothing like the creme brulee you conger in your mind, but was every bit delicious and amazingly creative.  Not your average bar dessert.

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If you haven't been to Deagan's please check it out! They have some great specials like Wednesday Vegan's night and Taco Tuesday.

Deagan's Kitchen & Bar Website Deagan's Kitchen & Bar Facebook Deagan's Kitchen & Bar Twitter

Happy New Year! CLE Foodies Look Back at 2013

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Overall it was a pretty great year for us! We met lots of amazing people and had tons of adventures. We couldn't be happier with how the blog has progressed and we're excited to be inching ever so closer to making our Wok n Roll Food Truck dreams come true. 2014 is going to be a great year! If all goes well, our food truck will be hitting the road this Spring. It's not worth our time trying imagine all the curveballs ahead, but we learned how good we are at rolling with the punches in 2013.

When I was growing up I loved looking through the family photo albums. My grandfather took photos constantly. When I was born they had to move me to my own area of the nursery so the other babies could avoid my Pop's Polaroid flash. His photos were how I relived my childhood every year. It's no wonder that I grew up photographing everything. Bringing my Pop's traditions and my many photos together I created a slideshow of our 2013.

Tay Do - The Best Restaurant You've Never Heard Of

Vietnamese food is our favorite cuisine. We eat it multiple times a week between going out and making it at home. If we had to choose only one Vietnamese restaurant in the Cleveland area to go to it would be Tay Do in Parma. They don’t have a website I can link to or a Twitter account or even a Facebook page to direct you to. In fact, they don't speak much English so make sure to order by number because if you don’t there is no guarantee what they will bring you. We’ve being going to Tay Do for at least a decade. We’ve never had a bad meal or a bad experience. I hate seeing some of the bad reviews out there about it. Most of the issues seem to have come from the language barrier. The owner has remembered us every time we’ve gone in. While there isn’t a lot of things we can talk to her about she always asks us about work and is happy for us for that we have jobs. We always enjoy Mrs. ‘Tay Do’.

Anthony Bourdain expressed his love for the Vietnamese because they always drink tea while waiting for their coffee.  I couldn’t agree more.  Sipping jasmine tea while waiting for the coffee to slowly drip through the phin is a comforting feeling even in the summer. Vietnamese coffee has a strong, bold flavor and is made unbelievable by the sweetened condensed milk. To try this order 1-1-7.

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We used to eat at Tay Do at least once a week while living in Parma.  We didn’t move that far, but still don’t get there as often as we like. So when we do, we order our favorites that we’ve been craving and we share.  Mrs. ‘Tay Do’ gave us a big smile when we told her we’re going to share – family style dining is something she has always encouraged and seems to be very important in Vietnamese culture.

First up, was pho with rare beef and beef meatballs.  Clear rich broth with lots of herbs – it’s not revolutionary but it is the backbone of a Vietnamese restaurant and of course they do it well.  Mrs. ‘Tay Do’ encouraged me to eat all my pho because the noodles are good for me! To try this order number 29 – we went with the small.

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Next up was the grilled pork rice plate served with cucumbers, tomatoes, a fried egg, and seasoned fish sauce.  The warm egg yolk mixes with the fish sauce and rice and makes a heavenly combination. The pork was tender and so tasty I was gnawing on the bone. To try this order number 52.

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Last and certainly not least was the bun bowl with grilled pork and fried egg rolls. The vermicelli noodles are always perfectly cooked and the entirety of the salad is very refreshing. To try this order number 81.

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I realized while writing this that we ordered the dishes that every Vietnamese restaurant serves because they are some of our favorites, but not necessarily what sets Tay Do apart.  We’ll be doing a follow up blog post soon featuring some of the dishes that make Tay Do unique!

Cleveland Cheap Eats: Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner - Part I

I truly adore a good cheap eat. It's lovely to have a fantastic meal out with my hubby and spend less than $20 for the two of us. When you can get great food at a good price from a locally owned restaurant, why ever visit a national chain? Thankfully, we have plenty of amazing, locally owned, cheap eats to take advantage of in Cleveland. This week we brunched, lunched and dined for <$20 each meal. Brunch Waking up late and eating a meal that soaks up the previous night's debauchery is a beautiful thing. Brunch always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside just like this art at the Borderline Cafe in Lakewood.

cheap-eats.04Borderline Cafe is a fun little cheap eats brunch. They don't have a website/facebook/twitter page, but they do have a Google+ you can check out. They also only accept cash, but since you won't be spending much that's not such a big deal.

The front page of the menu has some real creative dishes. Some are closer to the $10 range, but there are plenty of things on the menu for <$6.

I tried the Breakfast Pizza. The tomato salsa was excellent. I expected a traditional salsa, but it was like a cross between a salsa and pizza sauce. Very well done dish for the price! I can see why they were packed.

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My hubby ordered the Traditional - two eggs, toast, homefries with sausage. I usually require my homefries covered in ketchup and/or hot sauce, but these were spiced to perfection. They didn't need a thing.

Exceptional food at a great price! I even had a nice sized glass of chocolate milk and we still got out of there for less than $20.

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Lunch Something about this being a tiny little place with a just a few outdoor tables off Bridge St. made Bogtrotters Doorstep highly appealing to me. Some of my favorite NYC eateries are little shops so I guess I've come to expect big flavors from little shops and Bogtrotters didn't disappoint!

cheap-eats.07 They just serve au jus sandwiches, but that's all they need to serve because they do them very well. I got the Porkopolis, au jus on the side and crunch (chips) on the top. Their sandwiches have meat for days and the greens were very well done. The sandwich was $9 and left me full for hours.

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My husband got the Clevelander, which he never even shared a bite of! Those onions looked amazing.

The most impressive part of the sandwich was the bread. This baguette can handle au jus! Even when soaked it still kept form and had flavor. No wonder Momocho Chef Eric once had a two-a-day habit.

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Dinner Getting dinner for 2 for under $20 can be a harder find, especially when you enjoy dessert with your dinner as much as I do. Thankfully, we discovered Sweetie Fry and their hand-crafted ice cream and impossibly good fries.

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Fries for dinner works! Impossibly good fries is a fitting description. We shared a large order of the Bacon Cheddar Melt Fries. They are every bit as good as they look and I am more than ready to go back and try more. It was plenty of food for the two of us for dinner.

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Since we got just a one scoop cone they gave us the kids price of $2.50 and you still get the little scoop on top with it too! We tried the French Toast ice cream with a little scoop of the strawberries and sour cream on top. The French Toast was excellent. Very bold flavors! I couldn't imagine eating more than just one scoop.

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A little bit of money goes a long way at these awesome Cleveland restaurants. It was my first time trying each one and they all hit it out of the park so I'm ready to go out and find some more Cleveland Cheap Eats for part II!

Let Tri-C Help You Become a Knife Ninja

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My husband, Matt, is truly skilled in the kitchen and I am truly unskilled. I once made him a cake and used salt instead of sugar. That's a hard one to live down. Just recently I made a cheesecake and forgot to bake the crust, thinking it was a pre-baked frozen crust. We ate out the filling like cheesecake pudding. How can someone who lives the life of a foodie be so horrible in the kitchen? Besides my refusal to read directions, which proves to be a huge mistake in the kitchen time and time again, I just haven't put much effort into learning. Now that my husband and I plan to open our own food truck I figure I need some kitchen skills. While I don't plan to be the one doing the cooking I want to help as much as I can.

I have a fear of knives that stems from cutting myself on a newly bought knife in a sink of soapy water. Matt insisted I take a knife skills class and found a great one at Tri-C. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The class was 2.5 hours and $39. It's been taken by everyone from chefs boning up on their skills to newlyweds getting acquainted in the kitchen. Matt joined me for the class and it made a for a fun evening.

I was very impressed with the Tri-C Eastern Campus facilities. They have a beautiful culinary studio surrounded by windows.

10.3.2013.knifeskills1 Our instructor, Chef Kellie Geiger, was also impressive. She was smart, knowledgeable and a talented instructor. I would absolutely recommend her and look forward to taking another class with her soon.

10.3.2013.knifeskills6 After being shown how to hold our knives and watching a sharpening demonstration we learned how to cut apart a chicken with our boning knives. I was a vegetarian for about 5 years and can get pretty squeamish, but this is an important skill to have. You can save tons of money by knowing how to cut up a whole chicken. The process was truly fascinating. Crack it here, run your finger along there, cut, cut and you've got two chicken breasts, two legs/thighs/wings and your carcass which they are happy to bag up for you to take home for chicken stock.

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After cutting up our chicken we got to season it with whatever we wanted, because next we would cook it up to take home! I thought that was a pretty amazing value for the class that we got to learn knife skills and take home an amazing meal. They had every spice you could imagine to choose from. It was a blast looking through them all and choosing. We went with a curry base, which wouldn't surprise you if you knew that Matt cooks mostly Asian foods. Then we browned it up on the stove before putting it on a baking sheet with chicken stock and covering in foil to bake. 10.3.2013.knifeskills7

While our chicken baked we moved on to cutting up our veggies and not cut ourselves by using the bear claw technique with our hand. I have already found these skills incredibly helpful in the kitchen. I like to make my own soda syrups from fresh fruits and vinegar and as I was slicing up my apples and melon this week I found it to be easier than ever.

10.3.2013.knifeskills8 We also learned how to make cute little veggie bundles by using a peeler to make long carrot strips to wrap our veggies in. We then took our veggie bundles and put them in a foil pouch with butter, herbs of our choosing and ice cubes, believe it or not. They came out amazing!  We had a great meal when we got home and I feel a lot more skilled and don't fear the knives so much anymore.

Check out the Knife Skills class and other Culinary Classes offered at Tri-C. There is an edible creations knife skills and even a pumpkin carving class on the list! They are also open to suggestions. I think an egg class would be great. I have an egg obsession right now and I bet there are a lot of tricks the would be helpful to learn.

 

Townhall Proves You'll Enjoy Eating Vegan

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I've noticed plenty of people wrinkle their noses at the mention of eating something vegan, as if it must be bland and horrible. In reality, sure there are plenty of boring vegan dishes out there, but a chef that knows flavor can bring it to any dish. TownHall is proof that you can eat vegan and eat happy. Aside from having plenty of daily vegan options, they have a special vegan menu on Mondays. You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy vegan dishes. What's wrong with taking a break from meat once in a while? There are plenty of health and environmental benefits to eating less meat. The world's current meat consumption isn't sustainable so at some point meat won't be as available as it is now. Thankfully, there are chefs out there working hard to make vegan dishes enjoyable to the masses.

TownHall's Black Bean Hummus is a dish vegan and non-vegans alike can adore. If you like hummus and jalapenos this is a must try. I really loved the heat; it creeps up on you and stays with you, but packs tons of flavor too.

TownHall - Black Bean Hummus

I was certainly surprised to see a Cesar Salad on a vegan menu, but it was an awesome side to this meal. Townhall's vegan friendly Cesar has all the creaminess of the traditional dressing with these wonderfully light croutons and very fresh, crisp lettuce.

TownHall - Cesar Salad with vegan dressing

The Pan Roasted Corncake came highly recommended and it was incredibly delicious. Crispy on the outside, but nice and soft on the inside. The avocado creme fraiche brought the whole dish together. The corncake rested on a bed of quinoa, which is one of those things that can give a vegan dish a bad name. Most of us have met a health buff or two who eat quinoa for every meal and it never looks appealing. I've certainly had plenty of bland quinoa, to the point that I don't look for it on a menu, but this was great! I'm always impressed by a chef that makes it well.

TownHall - Pan Roasted Corncake Cheese is something a lot of vegans miss. Thankfully there are some good vegan cheeses on the market these days, but to walk into a restaurant and be able to order a grilled cheese that anyone would love is a rarity. These Grilled Cheese Bars were some of the best grilled cheese I've ever had. The roasted roma tomatoes brought so much sweetness to the bars and worked very well with the sourdough. The tomato soup is worth a mention too. It was slightly sweet and very fresh; it tasted straight from the garden.

TownHall - Grilled Cheese Bars and Roasted Tomato Soup

The Faux Pho: the name alone makes it fun to order. I was blown away by the chili marinated tofu. It had such bold and fresh flavor I could eat it everyday. The loads of fresh veggies were a great touch to this dish too. What I liked about this dish, and this went for all the vegan dishes, is that it isn't just a copy of Pho, it's a reinvention of it.

TownHall - Faux Pho What a unique dish the Tofu Etouffee. I don't believe I've ever had blacked tofu before. It was very enjoyable. Another reinvention of a traditional dish; it had lots of  bold flavor, but still had a wonderful balance.

Townhall - Tofu Etouffee

Balance was a common thread for the entire meal. Each dish was perfectly balanced, not only in flavor, but texture as well. The produce was so incredibly fresh and high quality. Even the decor was balanced. From the long bar to the people watching heaven of the front patio - the place is beautifully designed.

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Eating dessert out can be another pain for vegans. Milk and eggs are common in a lot of desserts. TownHall carries Samadhi Love's Vegan Gluten Free Desserts! Avoiding diary, eggs and gluten and still making a dessert taste amazing is a feat, but Samadhi is up for the challenge. She replaces those things with love and it shows. We tried her chocolate cookie that was so soft and light for being gluten free. If you've tried gluten free bread products, they are often rock-like in texture.  We also tired the brownie that came with ice cream and caramel drizzle. The brownie had a great texture and creaminess from oats and avocado. The ice cream was made from coconut water and the caramel sauce was made with cashews.

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I hope to see more people embracing vegan food. TownHall certainly makes it easy to eat vegan and still be a foodie. Do your part and skip the meat/dairy every now and then. If you're eating these dishes you'll enjoy it!

Learn more about TownHall: TownHall Facebook Twitter

Help Fight Hunger with the Cleveland Foodbank

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I was so excited to get invited to the Cleveland Foodbank for the August Bloggers Event. I haven't been a blogger that long and I still feel like a wanna-be-blogger most of the time while I continue to build a history and an audience. It was nice to be considered an actual blogger and I love the idea of giving back. Before being invited, I didn't know much about the Cleveland Foodbank. I had driven past it many times and always noticed the big, clean and beautiful sign that beams out towards the highway. I figured it's where the cans go after a canned food drive, but other than that I knew nothing about what was going on in the building beneath that sign.

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We (bloggers - me and Danielle of Find Time for Fun) were given a tour and rundown by the Online Communications Coordinator, Nancy Kelsey, who filled us in on all the incredible work being done.  The Cleveland Foodbank distributes more than 30 million pounds of food a year into our community. It's amazing with all the things we have in this country that hunger is an issue, but it affects an enormous amount of people in our area. One out of five of those who receive food from this organization is a child.

Upon pulling up to the building, I spotted a sea of people that stretched across the entire football field length of the building. I just so happened to be there on a day they were serving the public. The majority of the food collected by the Foodbank is distributed to agencies, churches and food pantries, but today they were more than just warehousing the food, they were giving it straight to the public.

9.3.2013.foodbank4 The next few hours we spent bagging greens, yogurts and cheese and helping people get all this food back to their vehicles. It was great to be able to interact with the people being served by the organization. Everyone was excited to receive their fresh produce they had been waiting so patiently in line for. It felt amazing to help. I was covered in water from unpacking the greens that had been packed in ice, then I was sweating from trying to maneuver the carts around the packed parking lot without hitting anything, but it felt good. I couldn't have been happier to be part of this day.  If you are looking for an amazing morale boost, just try volunteering for an afternoon.

One of the coolest things I got to learn about is how the Cleveland Foodbank is taking nutrition very seriously. They have nutritionist, Chris Vogliano, on staff making sure that children are getting nutritious meals with things like the BackPack for Kids program. Having recently battled thyroid cancer I realize more than ever how important nutrition is to our health. You can never start too early teaching kids about nutrition. It can go a long way towards building a healthy future. Chris has even built a community garden on the grounds! It was truly beautiful to see. 9.3.2013.foodbank1

With all the ways to give back there is surely some way you can help the Cleveland Foodbank. Got a little extra time on your hands? Volunteer at the Cleveland Foodbank. Pretty slammed on time, but got a few extra bucks? Donate Funds to the Cleveland Foodbank. Broke and busy, but you have some extra food laying around? Donate food to the Cleveland Foodbank. They have created endless ways to contribute and September is Hunger Action Month so it is packed with things you can do. Giving back can even be as fun as going to Taste of the Browns.

I hope this inspires some of you to give back. Feel free to let me know how you've helped. If you need a volunteering buddy, let me know and I'll try and join you. It feels great to give back.

Learn more about the Cleveland Foodbank:

Website Facebook Twitter

How to Season a Wok in 5 Steps

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When you bring your new wok home from the store, it' nothing more than a hunk of metal. Without seasoning it, it is worthless. Think of a cast iron pan - if you know how to maintain cast iron you know how to care for a wok. Once clean, heating and cooling your wok with cooking oil will develop a natural non stick coating over time requiring less oil to cook and opening up a host of ancient cooking methods to you. Your new wok will come covered in oil to protect it from rust between the factory and your kitchen. Without properly seasoning it, your wok will rust. So the first step is to remove the protective coating. The easiest and simplest way is with hot soapy water and steel wool. This will be the first, last and only time that you’ll ever want to use soap or steel wool on your wok. Scrub it with the soap and water until you remove all visible traces of the oil. You won’t get all of it – it’s impossible – but no worries, it will come off later. Once you rinsed the wok dry it thoroughly.

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Next heat your oven to 425. In the meantime, we want to put a very thin coat of oil on the wok – inside and out. What kind of oil? The possibilities are endless, but choose something that can stand up to the heat – so no butter or olive oil. Peanut or canola oil are good choices as is lard (but only choose lard from grass fed animals). I chose to use organic vegetable shortening this time.

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Once you cover the wok with oil, wipe off any excess and put it upside down in the oven for 20 minutes. My wok didn’t have wooden handles, but if yours does, see if it’s removable. If not, wrap the handle with a damp rag and cover it all with foil. After the time is up, open the oven door and let the wok cool for a bit.

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Then we’ll put it on the stove and heat it up. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and stir-fry some aromatics until charred. Make sure to push everything around the pan rubbing it on every part of the surface. This will help remove any metallic taste from the wok. What to use for aromatics? I used a bunch of green onions, but Chinese chives, ginger, garlic, or onions make great choices.

8.21.2013.wok4 Once the aromatics are charred, remove them from the pan, give it a wipe and you’re good to go. To maintain your wok, rinse with water after each use but no soap.  You can use a soft sponge to get off any stuck pieces. Make sure to dry over heat and coat with a thin layer of oil when necessary. Your wok will develop a seasoned look to it with time and gets better every time you use it.

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If you want more information on woks – history, use, care, lore, etc. – I highly recommend The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young.

I'll be Bac

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I grew up in a town that only had one extremely Americanized Chinese Restaurant, but I would come to Cleveland often to visit my Aunt who was a regular at Minh Anh.  I have nothing but fond memories of meals at Minh Anh, my aunt chatting it up with Van and my first tastes of Vietnamese food. It was so different than anything I had ever had that it quickly became my favorite food. Today, I still find many people who have not tried Vietnmese food. I imagine it can be intimidating to examine a menu that is completely alien to you, which is why I have so often overheard people order from the standard Americanized section of the menu and totally missing out. Thankfully, Bac Nguyen, who grew up in his families restaurant, Minh Anh, is bringing those flavors to his own restaurant, Bac in Tremont. Bac is exactly where I would take someone to introduce them to Vietnamese food.

I was so impressed with the Coconut Milk Crepe. It reminds me very much of the crepes at Minh Anh that come in a giant order. This was a nice size portion and a good way to get a little taste of this traditional Vietnamese dish, which is one of my favorites.

Bac - Coconut Milk Crepe

Another extremely well done traditional dish is the Green Papaya Salad. Shredded papaya may sound a little out there, but it so incredibly refreshing. My lunch date ordered it, but I could not stop eating it. You'll find this dish at just about any Vietnamese restaurant.

Bac - Green Papaya Salad

I have an pork obsession so I started with the Pork Buns. These are a must try snack. You get your pick of meat, but this pork was cooked so perfectly that I highly recommend trying it. Buns are some of my favorite food. All the flavors of a banh mi packed into a fluffy little steamed bun.

Bac - Pork Buns

Due to my pork obsession I also got the Pork Rangoon. Pork and cream cheese...I'll be bac! So good! This a great place to order a bunch of apps and chill out on the patio.

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Bac has a great drink menu as well. Lots of sake, beers, wine and fun cocktails. I had a refreshing Pimm's Cup, one of my favorite summer cocktails.

Bac - Pimm's Cup

I just left and I already can't wait to go back. Whether you want to try some traditional Vietnamese dishes like the crepes and papaya salad or some tasty pork apps like the buns or rangoon, you won't regret a trip to Bac.

Check out Bac: Website Facebook Twitter

Step back in time at the Katz Club Diner

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Every photo and article I've seen about the Katz Club Diner drew me in until I couldn't stay away any longer. I adore seeing this historic diner restored so beautifully. It is a step back in time dining experience.

The Katz Club Diner

Every detail of this place is well done. I found it really comforting as if I was not just getting a taste of great food, but of simpler times.

The Katz Club Diner

My date ordered the pan fried chicken with tomato-mushroom spaghetti casserole, which I had choose for him. The chicken was light and buttery without a hint of greasiness. The cheese on the spaghetti casserole was a tasty touch. I stole more than my fair share of bites.

The Katz Club Diner - Pan Fried Chicken with Tomato-Mushroom Spaghetti Casserole

As usual, I look for something on the menu that I've never seen anywhere else before and I found the eggplant reuben! Very different and extremely well done. It had a nice thick slice of eggplant. It's a surprising combination, but the eggplant, sauerkraut and cheese went together perfectly.

The Katz Club Diner - Eggplant Reuben

Everything in the bakery looked incredible. They make their own ho-hos! I am for sure going back for one of those. They are giant! I decided to sink my sweet tooth into a Black Cherry Float. The whipped cream is the real deal and the ice cream is the creamy yellow vanilla-bean kind. I loved the way the soda mixes with the ice cream to create a sweet foamy deliciousness. It was a dreamy as it looks.

The Katz Club Diner - Black Cherry Float

Check out the Katz Club Diner: Website Facebook Twitter