Friday, April 29, 2011

B Spot really 'hit the spot'

After talking about it for weeks, we finally last night went to B Spot in Strongsville, the latest location of the Michael Symon burger joint to open in the area. With only a 40 minute wait - happily spent at the bar with a Hefeweizen - we had time to browse the menu and decide what we'd try out.

Of course, there were so many enticing options that we had a hard time deciding. So, we choose two burgers and two sides and split everything.

For the burgers, we choose:
Lola - fried egg, bacon, pickled red onions, cheddar and mayo

Shroomage - portabella mushroom, blue cheese, Lola steak sauce and griddled onions

At medium temperature, these burgers were so juicy and flavorful, they probably would have been delicious even without the fantastic toppings. These have easily joined the list of my favorite burgers.

On the side, we shared an order of chips with Parmesan fondue and Lola fries, which we dipped in the assortment of condiments provided on the table. My favorite was the coffee BBQ sauce and my husband stuck with the Sasha sauce, a mustardy hot pepper combination - a Michael Symon speciality.

As if that meal wasn't good enough, we decided to end it by splitting a milkshake (or Bad A** shake as they're called on the menu) for dessert. We went all out with the most unique choice - Vanilla Bean Apple Bacon with Bourbon and it was the perfect combo of sweet and salty.

We plan to be back often. It was tasty and fun enough even to face the 3 hour wait they've been having on Saturday nights. Check it out soon and stay tuned for the Crocker Park location to open, too.

B Spot Burgers

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pasta Date No. 2

So, usually when I don't like something I've cooked, I don't post it, but since I committed to 3-4 pasta dishes this week, I couldn't leave this off.

It's not that I didn't like it or that it was bad, it's just a little more of an acquired taste.

Orecchiette with sweet fennel sausage and rapini

Rapini - aka broccoli rabe - is not quite what I expected. I thought, "I love broccoli, I love spinach and most other greens, so something that combines both should be great." Well, it was a little bitter. I may just need to experiment with different cooking methods to get the taste just right.

Anyway, if you're interested:
Cook about 3/4 pound bulk sweet fennel sausage, then add a little olive oil to the pan and saute the rapini with the cooked sausage. Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Then, add some chicken stock to create a sauce (I used about a cup and a half). Then, add this to a pound of cooked orecchiette pasta and serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My life-long love affair with pasta

This week, I'm truly inspired. After reading this oh-so appropriately titled article about America's most delicious pasta dishes, I had to take my relationship with pasta to the next level.

Pasta - in all forms - is my absolute favorite food, so an article that offers 101 ideas for fabulously tasty pasta dishes is my new favorite reading materials. This week, I have 3-4 dishes planned (time permitting). Here's what I started with:
Butchers Bolognese

It's basically a meat sauce - just with more than one meat. The original dish called for ground beef, pork and lamb, but my grocery store was out of ground lamb. So, I settled for a variety pack of beef, veal and pork - about 1 2/3 pounds total weight.

Other ingredients included: one red bell pepper and one banana pepper (both chopped), 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed to a chunky consistency, 1/4 cup chopped onion and salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried basil to taste.

I browned the meat in a large pot first, then added the onion and peppers and cooked them until they started to get soft. Then, I added the tomatoes and seasonings and simmered on low for about one hour until the meat was really soft and finely ground.

You can use whatever shape pasta you like. I choose a large, flat noodle that really folded up around the sauce, holding nice bites of the meat inside. It really was delicious and really easy to make. Next time I'll plan ahead and make it as it was intended - with lamb instead of veal - I'm sure that adds an extra something to the sauce. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New old-fashion: Pork chops and applesauce

I feel like pork chops and applesauce have been around for such a long time. I even remember hearing about it on the Brady Bunch (yes, I loved that show). I've made lots of variations of this dish, and last night, I tried a new twist:

Pork chops with apple chutney and wild rice with a brown butter sage sauce.

Since wild rice takes a long time to cook, I started that first. To make the chutney, I cut up two tart apples and sauteed them in a sauce pot with a little olive oil. Then, I added balsamic vinegar, ground ginger, garlic powder, nutmeg and sugar. Sorry, no measurements, I just eyeballed it and did a few taste-tests. I let this cook down until liquid reduced to a syrup, then set it aside. I cooked the pork chops in a large frying pan with olive oil. Then, using in the same pan I cooked the meat, I melted a few tablespoons of softened butter that I had mixed with about 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage. Once the butter was melted and brown, I added cooked rice and quickly stir-fried until it was completely coated.

It was a tasty twist on a pretty classic American dish. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Experimenting with my favorite things

For tonight's dinner, I thought I'd see what I could come up with using some of my favorite foods.
Favorite Vegetables: Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Favorite Spice: Cumin
Favorite Food Overall: Pasta

With those ingredients, plus garlic, coriander, chicken breast and cream, I came up with this:
...sort of a creamy, spiced-garlic chicken pasta.

Here's how you make it:
Cook pasta according to package directions. I used mezze penne because it's the perfect small shape.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put the pieces in a bowl. Mince a few cloves of garlic. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat.

On medium heat, cook the chicken in a large frying pan. While the chicken cooks, slice one zucchini and one squash and add the pieces to the pan. Then, add a little heavy cream to create a sauce.

Toss all together. It was so delicious, I'll definitely be adding it to my list of quick and easy meals.