Tuesday, August 5, 2008

rad dog meatless gourmet hotdogs

i love street food. and i love hot dogs. so when i heard about a new vegetarian hot dog vendor in town, i had to check it out.
rad dog veggie hot dogs doesn't disappoint, i think this is as good as vegetarian hot dogs get. a friend and i ate our dogs on a high street bench and thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace in the old lunch routine.
rad dog offers kraut, chili or peppers & onions for toppings in addition to the standard ketchup, mustard and relish. they also offer blue sky soda (made with real sugar!) and delicious vegan cookies from pattycake bakery. yummy, cheap, healthy and fun! rad dog moves around town, so check out his website to see where you can catch him.

Monday, July 7, 2008

sweet summer treats

often life gets too busy for me to visit my parents in western new york as often as i'd like. however, the fourth of july is one holiday i try never to miss. when i was growing up, christmas and the fourth of july were the two holidays our entire family got together. both holidays are filled with great food traditions and memories, but the fourth is my favorite for one reason - cherries. i have really fond memories of picking cherries with my mom and grandparents as a child, memories i've been lucky to recreate as an adult.
so this year when my parents and i loaded into the car and drove out into the country in search of u-pick cherries, the news that almost the entire sweet cherry crop had been destroyed by hail came as a big disappointment. but we were determined to pick something, so we headed out to find the next best crop that was in season - raspberries.
we found raspberries to pick and in one fun, sweaty and sticky hour, we picked about six pounds. we ate a good bit while picking and back at the house, about a pound was turned into raspberry sauce and eaten over ice cream and the rest went onto cookie sheets to be frozen and then stored in bags for enjoying later.
the cherries, strawberries (and corn, peas and tomatoes) were purchased at the farm stands we stopped at along the way to locate a farm that offered u-pick raspberries. - a tasty price we were happy to pay. this cute little robin's nest was right in the middle of a large raspberry bush!

Monday, June 30, 2008

the hulk

when i want something yummy, easy, good for you, and satisfying, this dish really fits the bill. i usually make "the hulk" pasta on sunday evening and parse it out for lunches that week. i call it "the hulk" for two reasons: as a tribute to a bonotogo pizza called the "hulk" that is topped with green toppings and because this is a really nutritionally dense dish that will make you as strong as the hulk.

the hulk pasta

1 lb whole wheat pasta (or barilla plus, which i prefer)
1/2 lb frozen edemame
1/2 lb frozen broccoli
1/2 cup prepared pesto (i like trader joe's)
pecorino romano

cook pasta, with 4ish minutes left, add broccoli and edemame to pot. drain and return to pot. add pesto. top with pecorino romano when serving.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

akai hana wakes me up in the middle of the night

here it is, my kryptonite - the sweet potato tempura roll at akai hana. i know it's not hardcore, but i don't eat sushi to be a bad ass. you'll never see me order uni. yuck.

the sweet potato roll consists of radish sprouts (cute and tasty!), spicy mayo (yes please!) and sweet potato tempura (does it get better?) just thinking about it starts a powerful craving. it's such a pleasing combination of tastes and textures. the sweet and crispy potato plays perfectly against the creamy spicy mayo and the slight crunch and bite of the radish sprouts.
here's a peek at akai hana's party boat for four. who doesn't love a boat filled with sushi and delivered to your table? the service and atmosphere at akai hana are great, just be sure to call for a reservation if you'd like a table on the weekend.

akai hana
1173 old henderson road
columbus, ohio 43220

Monday, June 2, 2008


for a few months i've been twittering, so if you'd like to tune in to what's on my mind 24/7, check me out: http://twitter.com/sopressata

twitter is a microblogging site that i almost exclusively update via my smartphone. it's what i'm thinking and doing in 140 characters or less, which is almost always food related.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

cafe lola

working downtown, i start to salivate every time i hear of a new restaurant opening within walking distance of work. so when cafe lola popped up as part of the nbc studios extravaganza at broad and high, i had to check it out. adding to my anticipation was the news that cafe lola is a kevin ames restaurant. past ventures of his are two places i still miss: frezno and dagwoodz.

cafe lola does a great job of serving speedy, straightforward cafe food. lunch offerings are expansive, covering sandwiches, quesadillas, pizzas, salads and soup. and while the menu, atmosphere and service may not the swankiest in town, they really seem to have lunch down to a science. service is quick (study that menu before you get in line or you'll wind up stammering and staring up at the huge menu like i did) and food is brought out to your table when it's ready. i chose the turkey, roasted red pepper & provolone panini and wasn't disappointed. the bread was perfectly toasty and the turkey, veggies, and cheese were fresh, tasty appropriately warm and gooey. i had a side of the pasta salad and found it to be decent.

other items on the menu i've made a mental note to return to try: blt pizza (kryptonite!), italian sandwich, spicy thai noodle salad, and the grilled lime chicken pizza.

patio seating will be a treat when it opens, cafe lola is in the heart of columbus' ever improving downtown.
cafe lola
12 e. broad street
columbus, ohio 43215
p 614.754.8804

Monday, May 26, 2008

annual salmon roast at the hills market

even though salmon is not my favorite protein, the idea of a fresh fish being grilled for hundreds about a mile from my house was too good to resist. and i'm a sucker for food events. so the husband and i jumped in the car, met a friend at the hills market and got into a line that stretched almost to the end of the shopping center. the line moved quickly and hills had ingeniously set up product demos the entire way. the salmon sandwiches are served with the hills coleslaw and an onion sauce, both complimented the salmon well. this was a tasty sandwich! the aroma of the grill, the beautiful sunshine, live music and relaxed family picnic atmosphere really added to the experience. we chatted with the young men grilling the salmon, who told us the aroma of grilled salmon seeped into their pores enough that they didn't plan any dates for the couple of days following the roast. thanks for your sacrifice guys, it was well worth it.
the hills market maintains an excellent website where you can get tips on future food events (like wine tastings), read about featured products and all sorts of other tasty tidbits.

the hills market
7860 olentangy river road
columbus, ohio 43235
p: 614.846.3220

Sunday, May 18, 2008

i heart sauce cartel

sauce cartel is a fantastic local purveyor of hot sauce. i've gushed about them in the past and here's a review of two of their best sauces:

green wave
this is a great sauce. it is so enjoyable i’d suggest that sauce cartel start selling it in at least 10 oz jars. the peppery notes are the first thing you’ll notice upon smelling green wave, they hit the pepper just right in this sauce with both jalapeno and black pepper prominently featured. the second thing that I noticed about green wave was the slightly sweet taste of pineapple. the lighter citrus flavors of pineapple are the perfect foil to the darker, more complex pepper of the jalapeno. for those who don’t want to hurt themselves when eating hot sauce, this is great. you get a nice middle-of-the-tongue heat that just builds slightly the more you eat. as tempting as it is to eat directly from the bottle, i really wanted to use it in a way that highlighted the excellent flavors. using the green wave, i came up with this recipe for fresh pineapple salsa:

pineapple jalapeno salsa

2 cups diced fresh pineapple

1/3 cup diced red onion

¼ cup diced jalapeno

¼ cup chopped cilantro

juice of 1 lime

2 tbs green wave sauce

locura mayan
locura mayan really highlights sauce cartel’s flair for flavor. these guys aren’t afraid to make a really mild sauce, the complex flavors stand on their own, with no need to hide behind a million scoville units. this sauce has a savory, smoky aroma, but that’s just where locura mayan begins. the balance between the smoky and sweet is what really stands out about this sauce. in the background there’s the magical complexity of sun dried tomato and the slight bite of vinegar. my husband commented he’d love to pour it on a chipotle burrito. hey sauce cartel – want to wholesale to chipotle?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

where could i be...?

other priorities are hogging up my time. i'll be back soon, i promise.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

veggie soup

i've been craving veggie soup and came up with this hearty version this weekend:

veggie soup

2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2 handfuls of baby carrots
18 cups vegetable stock
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 package frozen spinach
1 lb shelled edamame
1 tbs basil
1 tbs oregano
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 package harvest grains blend from trader joe's

dice onion, carrots and celery and saute in olive oil until softened in large stock pot. add all remaining ingredients except harvest grains and simmer for 40 minutes. add harvest grains and simmer for at least 20 more minutes.

i really like the edamame in this soup. they retain their texture and add a great boost of nutrients. the harvest grains from trader joe's consist of israeli couscous, yellow lentils, orzo and quinoa. any other healthy grain, like barley for example, would do for substitution.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

i heart northstar

northstar cafe offers the perfect warm-you-up treat for cold winters days: hot chocolate and a raisin oatmeal cookie. the northstar's hot chocolate is so rich and decadent, i could make a meal of it. it's topped with cold, dense whipped cream and bits of dark chocolate covered in cocoa powder. so good!

Monday, February 18, 2008

fiery foods festival

i've been anticipating the fiery foods festival at the north market for a couple of weeks and it definitely didn't disappoint. we started by sampling products from sauce cartel, urban chefs and montezuma brands. now, i like hot food but don't really go for anything that could be classified as "stupid hot". i favor distinctive flavors with good back of the mouth heat. sauce cartel sells hot sauces that use a variety of fruits for flavor and sweetness that were really excellent. plus, the guys from sauce cartel positively ooze passion and excitement for their product. we picked up some green river sauce, made with pineapple and jalepenos. we also bought some soulicious wing sauce from urban chefs that had a great balance of heat, vinegar and smokiness.
next stop was cajohn's, for whom i've got a deep and abiding love. i sampled "the world's hottest chili" made with the the naga jolokia (scoville rating of 1 million!) i think the chili tasted good, but all i can really recall is my mouth burning for about twenty minutes after i sampled it. taking a break for lunch we had some pho ga from lac viet, a dish that never disappoints. don't miss the house-made chili sauce in the red quirt bottles. after lunch we attended "a chilihead's perspective" given by joe from the hot zone, a blog devoted to hot and spicy food products and chilihead culture. he talked briefly about the naga jolokia (pictured), the scoville rating system, chilihead culture and the online chilihead community. the "wings of fire" hot wing eating challenge was by far the high point of the day. a riveting mix of pain, testosterone, intestinal fortitude, endurance and sheer will, this competition was a real spectacle. presided over by the fine folks a cajohn's, there were two competitions. the rules were thus: contestants could surrender at any time by holding up a "surrender" sign or by taking a drink. for each round they had three wings to eat in 90 seconds, a 2 minute wait until the next round of three wings came out, with each round of wings getting successively hotter. among the hot sauces used for the competitions were: ignite, cojohns, ace, talon, and sauce 10. for the final round, a plate of ten wings covered in sauce 10 was placed in front of remaining contestants. whoever ate the most wings in 3 minutes was crowned the winner. halfway into the competition competitors' eyes were bulging and blinking, sweat glistening on their foreheads. in the last round of the competition, the guy i had pegged for the winner got sauce 10 in his eye and faltered. he did resume eating but the gentleman in the foreground of the picture below ended up winning the first competition.a contestant throwing in the towel:
the second competition was pretty fierce with representatives from the hot zone and sauce cartel competing. unfortunately, gary from sauce cartel dropped out: which left two competitors at the very end to be crowned co-champions. as joe from the hot zone limped away, guzzling a pint of milk, i heard him say "i think i saw god". now that my friends, is some fiery food.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

bistro 86, asian fusion

hidden in a strip of industrial grandview real estate, bistro 86 is coming up with some really intriguing and fresh fusion flavors.
we started with the bistro 86 croquettes - "a signature dish of japanese sticky rice, pork and romano, fused with a special blend of seasoning". the appearance and crisp exterior were appealing. the inside tasted good but was so sticky they were a bit unpleasant to eat. within the first bite my lips, teeth and tongue were hopelessly coated. the flavor of the filling reminded me of a processed pizza snack, something akin to totino's pizza rolls or a hot pocket.

my dining companion had the sesame chicken. the chicken was fresh and lightly battered, obviously prepared by the kitchen rather than from a preprepared frozen bag. this was a nice departure from average asian fare. the sauce was tangy and sweet with a slightly smokey background.
i started with the chicken corn soup, it was similar to egg drop soup with the addition of corn. the flavor was subtle with a full bodied texture, great for a cold day.
my obsession with pad thai compelled me to order the southwestern pad thai, even though i had my doubts about how good it would be. i pleasantly surprised by a dish that was a perfect fusion of southwest flavors and the classic pad thai. everything really worked and it was very tasty. high quality chicken & fresh veggies with the perfect sauce/noodle ratio. i love the caramelization added to the corn from cooking in the wok.
i've got to say i'm intrigued and plan to go back for more of this authentic fusion.

bistro 86
1223 goodale boulevarde
grandview, ohio 43212
614.223.1288 phone
614.223.1188 fax

Sunday, February 3, 2008

dates with manchego and walnuts

here's an elegant little appetizer that can be made a day in advance and tastes better together than three simple ingredients should. the dates are sweet, the manchego has a bit of a bite and the walnuts add a nice clean and crunchy element. and let's face it, if you're trying to pull off a nice dinner for guests, you don't really have time to be fussing around finishing off appetizers and finishing dinner and entertaining your guests and being the consummate hostess. if you do assemble them the night before, be sure to allow them to fully come up to room temperature before serving.
what you'll need: pitted dates (sliced open), whole walnut halves (cut in half) and a smallish hunk of manchego cheese. put those babies together and enjoy!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


this is my grandmother's recipe for lasagna. the pace of the recipe is relaxed and is a nice way to spend a sunday afternoon. today i got to use my new emile henry lasagna dish. lucky me! i was also thankful for the sun today. cooking in a sunny kitchen is one of my favorite things. now, if spring would hurry up and get here i could be cooking in a sunny kitchen with the breeze coming in open windows.


combine in a stockpot:
2 large cans tomato puree
2 small cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs basil
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper

simmer the sauce while you sauté in a skillet:
2 tbs olive oil
1 c diced onion
1 clove garlic, diced

when the onion is golden, add:
3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb italian sausage
1 tsp. salt

brown the meat and add to the saucepan mixture. simmer for about 2 hours or until the sauce is thick. cook ½ box of lasagna noodles per instructions on package, drain thoroughly, rinse and separate the noodles.

1 lb sliced mozzarella
15 ozs. ricotta cheese
4 oz fresh grated romano cheese.

spoon some of the sauce into a 9 x 13 pan, put in a layer of noodles, then a layer of mozzarella and a layer of ricotta. continue layering sauce, noodles, mozzarella then ricotta. lather, rinse, repeat. finish with sauce, mozzarella, cover with all of the romano cheese.

you should have a few cups of sauce left over. reserve this to add to the plate for serving lasagna.

bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. let stand in a warm place for 15 minutes before serving.

the emile henry lasagna dish is really worth purchasing. it holds more than a 9x13 pyrex baking dish (no ugly bubbling over in the oven), it cooks evenly, it's pretty, and easy to clean up. go ahead, you've earned it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a gift for your favorite foodie

a friend was kind enough to get me foodie fight, a trivia game for serious food lovers this christmas and it's the perfect gift for your favorite foodie. you really need to be a well versed foodie in all aspects of foodie culture to excel at this game: history, science, restaurants, and food personalities. the husband and i played one night after dinner and i won, but just barely. good times.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

new year's resolutions

i'm not usually a resolutions type of person.
however, blogging has given me the opportunity to reflect on how my cooking, creativity, technique and skill have developed over time. and reflecting on my culinary life over the last year has made me realize i want to devote more time to improving my culinary skill, technique and knowledge; to not just be able to follow a recipe but to know why foods are cooked using specific methods and mastering those techniques.
to this end, santa has very generously given me these two books for christmas:

blogging provides accountability for devoting time and energy to my passion, so in a year from now i hope to see development in my technique that will allow me to explore and enjoy cooking in new and deeper ways.

other things i hope to accomplish in 2008:
  • get over my fear of baking. it can't be that hard, unless you consider that impatience is probably at the root of my baking issues. in which case, it may be very hard.
  • take some classes. i'll have to seek out alternatives to the north market's classes, as they are sold out. good for them! bad for me. even though i think my knife skills are pretty decent, like i said, i'm building on the fundamentals, so i may take sur la table's knife skills.
  • eat more indian food. this is one of the world's best cuisines and i know virtually nothing about it.
  • learn to cook something from my relatives in sicily. we plan to travel to italy next summer and visiting family in sicily is top of my list of priorities.
  • grow something this summer. i need to find a way to make our almost 100% shady back yard yield some produce.
  • make stock, the right way. and maybe demi glace if everything goes well.
  • eat more jeni's. (i just stuck that one in there so i'd be guaranteed to have at least some success when 2009 rolls around.)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

nonna's sauce

this is the sauce recipe that my dad's nonna (my great grandmother) always made and it's a staple of our family get togethers. every christmas the menu for our family party is the same: pasta with nonna's sauce and sausage with peppers and onions. mom taught me how to make it and someday i hope i'll teach my kids to make it too.
you'll really need about three hours to make this sauce, but believe me, it's worth it. i always get the sauce going and then start in on making my
mom's meatballs. just add them in after they're browned and let them simmer with the sauce.

nonna's sauce

2 pork chops (bone-in)
2 large cans of tomato sauce (56 oz)
4 small cans of tomato paste (24 oz)
6 cups water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried oregano
2 bay leafs
3 tbs sugar

in a large stock pot, brown pork chops. remove pork and pour water in hot pan and deglaze (a wooden spoon is helpful for this). combine remaining ingredients and add pork back to pan. simmer for at least 2 hours. these proportions make enough for 2 pounds of pasta, which means unless you're feeding 8 people, you'll have enough for leftovers later in the week. and homemade sauce in the fridge is like money in the bank.