Thursday, November 29, 2007


eating at tasi was really a pleasant surprise. there are plenty of places to get a sandwich/soup/salad for lunch, but few that source local ingredients, make almost all ingredients in house (including roasting their own meats!) and do so for a reasonable price. the menu is expansive and here's a bonus: they serve breakfast all day.

to start we had the potato latkes with chive and sour cream. they're served warm with the perfect balance of a crispy outside and soft inside. not too greasy, which allowed the potato flavor to come through.
for lunch i had the cubano panini, consisting of roasted pork, pickled vegetables, mozzarella and dijon mustard. the meat was really tender and flavorful and the pickled veggies added great texture and bite. the bread was delicious and perfectly toasted for the panini. look at this beautiful pork:
my lunch companion had the sourdough blt with ancho mayo. although the ancho wasn't really detectable it was still voted a very yummy sandwich.
a highlight for both dishes were the very delicious house made chips. i really appreciate a house made chip that tastes like a crispy potato rather than crispy grease.

the space is really beautiful and even though i didn't think it could be improved from how pistachio used it, tasi has. it's rustic, homey and elegant all at the same time. there's a surprising amount of seating and many of the tables have beautiful dark green granite. it's fun to be able to peek into the immaculate kitchen and watch the staff at work. the only drawback seemed to be that kitchen noise made it difficult to communicate your order to the cashier.
continuing to browse the menu over lunch, i immediately had the desire to order about 4 more dishes. "ooh! greek scrambled eggs with zucchini, tomato, feta & toasted sourdough! or lobster mac and cheese!" i can't wait to go back to try these goodies.
tasi offers a nice selection of pre-made dishes for you to heat and serve. this isn't really my style but i can imagine many a nice dinner coming from tasi.
680 north pearl street
columbus, ohio 43215
p 614.222.0788
f 614.222.1877

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

that jeni...

is a flavor genius.
i was blown away today by a seasonal sorbet from jeni's: the cranberry royale.
cranberry royale is the joyful marriage of cranberry, grapefruit and champagne. each component pops in perfect harmony with the others, it's tart, sweet and complex. this sorbet had me thinking, where else i can recreate this beautiful flavor combination, or will i need to buy cranberry royale by the pint and eat it daily to satisfy my cravings?

Monday, November 26, 2007

uzbek dumplings - how to

late this summer i got a lesson on how to make two varieties of dumplings from my uzbek bff, dilya. both dumplings use the same dough, one is sauted and the other is steamed.

first, how to make the dough. the recipe isn't a precise formula, you just have to know when you've reached the right consistency.

ingredients: 1 egg, 2 tbs salt, 1 liter hot water, about 8 c flour

beat the egg and temper with some of the hot water in a large glass bowl. add the rest of the water and salt to egg. add the flour and begin incorporating and kneading until dough forms. dough will become firm and pull away from edges of bowl when ready. cover bowl with towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
cut dough into 6 pieces, and knead again, forming into balls on a floured work surface.
using either a rolling pin or pasta maker, roll dough out until about 1/8 inch thick and cut into 4 inch squares. roll and cut dough as needed for assembly of dumplings so it doesn't dry out.

bichak - pumpkin pieroshki

1/2 medium pumpkin: seeded, peeled, shredded
2 onions, thinly sliced
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbs cumin seeds (whole)
~3 tbs oil

place all ingredients in a large saute pan and saute until pumpkin and onions are cooked down and soft.
place one spoonful on each square of dough and fold opposing corners together, sealing all four corners in the middle. don't overfill, they won't seal completely and make a mess when you saute them.
lightly coat pan in a small amount of oil and saute bichak in batches until lightly browned on each side. turn once. layer in a pan to keep warm.bichak is eaten warm and served with sour cream. these things are so good, i could probably eat two dozen of them. they're the perfect comfort food. the pumpkin tastes fresh and bright and the cumin seeds provide a crunchy pop of flavor.


for pumpkin manti:
1/2 pumpkin, seeded, peeled & shredded
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs cumin seeds, whole

for beef manti:
2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs cumin seeds, whole

in two separate bowls, incorporate ingredients for beef and pumpkin manti.

place a spoonful of filling on a 4 inch square of dough. fold all corners to the middle, like the bichak. then take both left corners and pinch them together on the side of the dumpling. take both right corners and pinch together on the right side of the dumpling. this is easy to do but hard to describe. check out the picture for the best depiction of the folding/pinching technique.
place dumplings in an oiled steamer tray and stack as many as five trays high. steam for 45 minutes.
meanwhile, saute onion and tomato together for a garnish to the bichak.
manti is served with sour cream and the tomato onion saute. they are really tasty and are meant to be eaten with your hands. the warm, soft, savory manti tastes so good with the cool creamy sour cream.
i'm so hungry for these now i'm almost willing to do the 4 hours of work it takes to prepare both of them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

you can't go wrong with goat cheese and caramelized onions

here's an appetizer so easy and tasty, you just can't go wrong. it combines the irresistible flavor combination of caramelized onions and goat cheese on a crispy, puffy little pillow of puff pastry. they can easily be made ahead and finished off in the oven for that "i make entertaining look soooo easy" start to any party.

goat cheese & caramelized onion appetizers

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 large onion
2 tbs butter
1/4 c goat cheese

equipment: mini muffin pan

preheat oven to 400 degrees. slice onion and place in saute pan with butter. cook at medium heat for about 40 minutes until nicely caramelized. cut sheet of puff pastry into 24 squares (approximately 2" x 2") and push into mini muffin tins. bake for 9 minutes. add small piece of goat cheese (about 1/2 tbs) to each puff and top with an equal amount of caramelized onions. at this point you can either put it in the fridge overnight of just pop it back into the oven for 5-10 more minutes. or if they're coming from the fridge, probably 15 minutes would be best. they are done when the edges of the puff pastry just starts to turn golden brown.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

yuen's restaurant

have you ever loved a restaurant?
i mean really loved a restaurant.
the food is excellent all of the time and it's never too crowded to get a table. you feel right at home there, you know the staff and the menu is great but most of the time you just have the chef make you whatever he's feeling that day. a restaurant like this comes along once in a lifetime and when it's closed and torn down, it leaves a serious hole in your heart. and stomach.

the restaurant i'm talking about is chinese village, formerly located on high street near lane avenue. when they closed around 2002 they promised they would reopen, but years went by and... nothing. until recently i got a tip that they indeed had reopened last year under the name yuen's restaurant.
this weekend we visited yuen's and were not disappointed in the least. the menu and staff are the same and the new location is attractive and comfortable. the menu is expansive and we ordered our favorites from the vietnamese and chinese menu.we started with the beef tendon. i didn't really know what to expect and it was a nice surprise. it was pleasantly spicy and the texture was unique, as firm as meat but gelatinous like fat - in a good way.
we also had the vietnamese spring rolls, which in addition to being delicious were very beautiful. they were cool and fresh with veggies, rice noodles and two plump little shrimp in each one. they were served with a brown sauce (hoisen?) for dipping with crushed peanuts. the rice noodle soup with seafood was exactly as we remembered it. the squid, fish cakes, shrimp and crab are fresh and delicious in the best seafood broth i've ever tasted. the scallion and cilantro add just the right crunch of freshness.i had the egg roll with rice noodles and grilled pork. i love this dish because even though it had lots going on, everything worked really well together. the sauce served on the side was sweet but really thin. i do wish that after pouring it over i'd been able to taste it throughout the whole bowl. the egg rolls were warm and made with pork and served over rice noodles, over lettuce. the grilled pork was flavorful and savory.

the kind folks at yuen's are not messing around. the food is fresh and authentic and never disappoints. check them out for the best chinese and vietnamese food columbus has to offer.

yuen's restaurant
5720 cleveland avenue
columbus, ohio 43231

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

per cent'anni!

"per cent'anni!" translates to "for a hundred years!" and is a common italian toast at weddings. for our wedding our signature cocktail was a popiotini (a play on our last name) and many a toast was made.(photo credit: adam lowe photography)

the popiotini is actually a grapfruit gibson, the first of which we had at dragonfly about 7 years ago and should be made as follows:
1 part tanqueray no. 10 gin
2 parts freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
splash of salty lime

notes: our bartender was kind enough to have bubbles squeeze our grapefruit juice. salty lime can be made by combining salt and lime juice.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

you can't have an italian wedding without a cookie table

among the first thoughts my mom had when the husband and i got engaged was "i'll make cookies!" and it's true, you can't have a (real) italian wedding without a large cookie table. *all of the photographs in this post are the beautiful work of adam lowe, our incredible photographer. he captured our wedding perfectly (including the food!) and we really enjoyed having him be a part of our day. to anyone looking for a photographer, please email me and i'll be happy to gush at length about what a wonderful job adam did. i love our wedding photographs.

now, back to cookies. for months before the wedding my mother was slaving in the kitchen, trying to find the best version of all the classic italian cookies. and to my father's credit, he spent months taste testing every batch. we all sacrificed for this wedding! my grandfather was the final word on authenticity and taste. issuing the highest praise when my mom got a recipe right: "tastes just like my mother made".
when the final recipes were decided on, my mother began baking in earnest and socking away dozens upon dozens of cookies, filling her freezer and leasing space from neighbors when needed.
not only did she bake all these cookies but she and my dad drove from new york to columbus with them and assembled them all on trays the night before the wedding.
the future in-laws chipped in too and soon we had enough cookies to feed the largest army of italian wedding guests one could imagine.
it was so special to have that cookie table for the wedding. to think of all of the hard work, care and love that went into those cookies is really emotional. and to see our relatives dive in with such enthusiasm when those cookies were uncovered was truly priceless.
(photo credit: adam lowe photography)

one of my most cherished wedding gifts is a small recipe book my mom gave me, filled with all of the recipes she used to make our cookies. here are a few of my favorites:

italian fig cookies

2 1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c shortening
2 tbs butter
1/2 c milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c dried figs
3/4 c golden raisins
1/4 c slivered almonds
1/4 c hot water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/4 c white sugar

in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/3 c sugar and baking powder. cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles small peas. stir in the milk and egg until the dough comes together. divide dough into two pieces, wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until easy to handle.
in a food processor, grind the figs, raisins and almonds until they are coarsely chopped. in a medium bowl, stir together 1/4 c sugar, cinnamon and pepper. add hot water and stir until sugar dissolves. stir in fruit mixture, cover and set aside until the dough is ready.
preheat oven to 350 degrees.
on a floured works surface, roll each piece of dough out to a 12 inch square. cut each 12 inch square into twelve 3 X 4 inch rectangles. using a tablespoon of filling for each rectangle, spread filling long one of the short sides of the rectangle. roll up from that side. place the rolls seam side down onto a cookie sheet. curve each roll slightly.
bake for 20 to 25 min until golden brown.
let cool and drizzle with confectioners icing.

wedding knot cookies

1/2 c butter
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
3 tsp baking powder

preheat oven to 350 degrees. cream the butter. addin eggs, sugar and vanilla. mix well.
in a separate bowl, stire together flour and baking powder. add flour mixture to butter mixture. use hands to shape pieces of dough into loose knots. bake 8-10 mins. frost with almond icing when cool.

almond confectioners icing

2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbs almond extract
8 tsp water
2 tbs melted butter

mix all ingredients together until smooth. color as desired.

chocolate spice balls

1 devils food cake mix
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 c oil
1/2 c water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

mix above ingredients together and add:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mini chocolate chips

mix thoroughly and roll into 1 inch balls. it's helpful to use a small amount of oil on your hands.
bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 mins. frost with confectioners icing.
(photo credit: adam lowe photography)

Monday, November 12, 2007

experimental panini night

another wedding gift i'm just getting around to unpacking is an awesome panini grill. if there's one thing i love it's a good sandwich, so i picked up some interesting ingredients from whole foods and got down to business.

the first panini was a combo of some of my favorite ingredients: sopressata, provolone, roasted tomatoes, and spicy mayo. the spicy mayo has been on my mind since the last time i had my favorite sushi at akai hana, the sweet potato roll. it contains sweet potato tempura, radish sprouts and the magical spicy mayo. i made mine by combining mayo and huy fong sriracha. i love it when you can easily replicate a restaurant ingredient you crave.

the second panini i made was a hawaiian panini, at the suggestion of my bff. other experiments with the hawaiian pizza flavor combo have been successful, so why not? the ingredients were: ham, sliced pineapple, mozzarella and a bit of garlic salt. i used rustic italian bread from whole foods and olive oil spread to facilitate the yummy crispy panini goodness.

*update: i think the panini maker is our new leftover consumption strategy. it's so easy to pull it out, assemble the sandwiches and be eating a warm meal in less than 15 minutes. that's my kind of weeknight dinner.
the husband made two paninis. the first consisting of leftover spaghetti, sopressata and provolone and the second made of sliced ny strip steak, provolone and spicy mayo.
my panini contained sliced chicken, artichoke hearts, spicy mayo and provolone. yummy!
i've had so many tasty breakfast wraps (north star cafe being among my favorite) i'd like to try to recreate some of my favorites and grill them on the panini press. the fun part about the grill i got is that you can set the top to rest at different heights so it won't totally flatten items unless you want it to.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

my favorite fall foods

visiting my parents in western ny brought two of my favorite fall foods: pumpkin seeds and concord grapes.
we have concord grapes here in ohio but they are a weaker imitation of western ny's concords. they have a rich, deep complex flavor and i love the pop of sweet juice in my mouth. here's the quart i picked up:

my other favorite is pumpkin seeds. there are many schools of thought on the best way to roast seeds, but here's my favorite method:

scoop the guts out of your pumpkins and carve them:
pick the seeds out of the guts
and rinse. drain, removing as much water as possible.
spread on parchment lined jelly roll pan and add equal parts of celery salt and table salt to taste. roast at 275 degrees until totally dry and just starting to brown: