Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hatch Chiles from Heinen's

Mr. H and I enjoying cooking with new-to-us ingredients. It's one of the reasons that I enjoy purchasing a share in Fresh Fork Market during the summer. We end up with items in our refrigerator that we wouldn't normally purchase for ourselves at the grocery store. So far this summer, we've had fun cooking with tomatillos, eggplant, garlic scapes, and radishes. All of which have never really made it onto our grocery list before.

So, when Heinen's approached me to partner with them to cook with Hatch Chiles, I jumped at the chance to try something new-to-me in the kitchen. These chiles are from Hatch, Mexico, which is known as the chile capitol of the world.
Ok, ok, let's be honest...Mr. H cooked them, not me. I supervised.

We found a recipe in the Melissa's Hatch Chile Cookbook that used them two ways, and put something on our table that I loooove. Chile Rellenos!
It's my go-to dish at any Mexican restaurant, and we'd never tried making them at home. This version was made with hatch chiles and topped with Melissa's Hatch Salsa Ranchera. We adapted both recipes slightly, and I was pretty pleased with our first attempt at cooking this dish at home.

Chiles Rellenos
8 whole large Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled
1/2 lb. shredded Mexican blend cheese
4 large eggs, separated
4 Tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil

Roast the chiles on the grill until heavily blackened.
Wrap in tinfoil to slightly steam before peeling the skin from the whole peppers.
Slit the chiles lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Stuff with cheese, using toothpicks to hold the chiles closed.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and yolks and mix thoroughly.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a large skillet over medium heat.
In batches, dip the stuffed peppers into the batter.
Fry, turning once, until golden brown (about 3 minutes per side).
Drain on paper towels.
Top with Hatch Chile Salsa Ranchera and serve.

Hatch Chile Salsa Ranchera (makes 2 cups)
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large white onion
2 cloves of garlic
4 Hatch Chiles (roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1" pieces)
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
ground cumin to taste
salt to taste
1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken broth

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and cook until softened.
Add the peeled and diced garlic, brown for 1 minute.
Add the chiles to the pan and cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and their juice.
Add cumin and salt to taste.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the chicken broth.
Add the mixture to the pan and bring the salsa to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Top the chile rellenos with the salsa and serve.

I was pleasantly surprised by how spicy the de-seeded Hatch Chiles were! I love spicy foods, and this was tickling my tastebuds in just the right way. If you don't love heat, this recipe may not be for you.

Hatch Chiles are only available for a limited time. This special August/September pepper is available in any Heinen's produce department right now. They are also featuring cool Hatch Chile Roasting events. You still have time to catch one at the Mayfield Village Heinen’s location.

Friday, Sept. 11th: 2 – 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 12th: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 13th: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Pick up some hatch chiles at Heinen's and give them a try. They also come pre-roasted, if you're looking to skip a step and ease the prep for a weeknight meal.

Disclosure: I was provided with a $50 Heinen's gift card and the Melissa's Hatch Chile Cookbook in exchange for this post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chef's Tasting Menu

One of my favorite things to do at a restaurant where we know the chef and trust that it will be a great meal, is to do a Chef's Tasting Menu. This is usually 3 - 5 courses (although Dante offers up to 21) that the chef crafts specifically for the tasting menu. They are typically dishes that you can't order on the regular menu, and it can be quite fun to give up control and let yourself be surprised as each course arrives.

Recently, Mr. H and I took advantage of the five-course tasting at Dante in Tremont, while enjoying a gorgeous evening on their secluded garden patio.
We splurged and added wine pairings (often available with Chef's Tastings). Each course, and the wines, delighted our senses and we rolled walked away quite impressed with the experience. Our favorite was the "salad" course with tempura asparagus and tempura jalapeno.
This dinner got me thinking...What other restaurants around Greater Cleveland offer a Chef's Tasting option on their menu? Here is what I came up with:

AMP 150
Crop Bistro (Chef's Table)
The Black Pig
Greenhouse Tavern (Chef's Table)

Do you know of any that I missed? I'm on the hunt for more. Leave them in the comments!

I encourage you to lower your inhibitions and take a risk ordering a chef's tasting. Diners can experience things that they may not normally order for themselves, in the trusted hands of one of our area's best.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekend Fun and a BBQ Throwdown Winner

Happy Monday! We had quite the whirlwind weekend. We attended the Great Lakes Burning River Fest on Friday evening.
It was my first time attending, so I didn't know what to expect. What I experienced were great views of Downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie from the Coast Guard Station, cold and delicious local craft brews from Great Lakes Brewing Co., live music, and food and demos from some of my favorite chefs and food trucks in town.
Of course, my favorite parts of the event included the food. We had a great time watching the chef demos, including Jeff Jarrett from Sterle's and the Hub 55 Project.
I also snagged a Lobster Roll and Tater Tots from The Beachcomber food truck.
For just $12 pre-sale or $15 at the door, this event is affordable, fun, and in such a unique setting. Proceeds benefit the Burning River Foundation. Since 2007, they've awarded almost $400,000 to non-profit organizations dedicated to improving and celebrating our fresh water resource.

On Saturday, we had quite the special night. Back in May, Mr. H won an auction package for a private dinner party for 8 people on the Observation Deck of the Terminal Tower, catered by our buddy Chef John Selick from UH Ahuja Medical Center.
The food, company, and setting matched the breathtaking views from up there. It was my first time on the Observation Deck.
We decided to stay the night in Downtown, grabbing a room at the Westin, because we had tickets to the Indians game on Sunday afternoon.
It was quite a fun "staycation" weekend in Downtown, other than losing some money at the Casino, haha. How was your weekend?

Let's make your Monday brighter by announcing the winner of the two tickets to The Ulimate BBQ Throwdown at Sterle's on September 12th. The winner is...Jason Tjoarman. Congratulations! Please check your email and reply by Wednesday, or another winner will be selected. If you didn't win, you can purchase your tickets online here for just $35. That includes 3 meats, 3 sides, and your first beer.

Have a good week!

Disclosure: I was provided with passes to the Burning River Fest to attend and give away, and two tickets to the BBQ Throwdown to give away. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

5th Annual Chefs Unbridled

Taking place under a decorated tent on the grounds of the prestigious Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Field in Gates Mills on Saturday, September 19th, guests at the 5th Annual Chefs Unbridled will enjoy cocktails and appetizers while sampling cuisine from various stations around the tent from 7-9:30PM.
Food trucks will be on site serving microbrews, cupcakes, and more, including the Hodge Podge Truck, voted best food truck in Cleveland. In addition to the great cuisine, guests can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the grounds and participate in the silent and live auctions while listening to the sounds of strolling musicians.

The event benefits the Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. In case you aren’t familiar, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center (located in Bainbridge) is one of the largest therapeutic riding centers in the country, serving 800 students annually (from preschoolers to veterans). Through a special partnership with horses, Fieldstone offers programs designed by professionals to foster personal growth and individual achievement for people with special needs.

Mr. H and I have attended this event, and it's always a festive evening that is filled with good food from some of our favorite area chefs. Here is the 2015 lineup:

·         Chad Bolar of Pesto’s Pizza & Wine Bar (Chandler, Arizona)
·         Chris Hodgson and Scott Kuhn of Driftwood Restaurant Group
·         Walter Hyde and Jeff Jarrett of Hub 55
·         Doug Katz of Fire Food and Drink
·         Erik Martinez of Cibréo Italian Kitchen
·         Matt Mytro of Flour
·         John Owens Group of Market Rocky River & Market Wine Bar
·         Jennifer Plank of Toast
·         Ian Thompson of Sanctuary

Tickets are $140 each, and they are still available. I hope to see you there!

Disclosure: I was provided with two general admission tickets in exchange for this post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ticket Giveaway: Ultimate BBQ Throwdown at Sterle's

September is packed with excellent food events in the Greater Cleveland area, and you'll be hearing about several of them here over the next two weeks. Today, let's talk BBQ. Because, I'm still clinging to summer!

Sterle's Country House is throwing the Ultimate BBQ Throwdown on Saturday, September 12th. The event will be held in their outdoor beir garden from 4-8PM. Local favorites Fat Casual BBQ, Saucisson, and Ohio City Provisions will compete in the BBQ throw down. Tickets are just $35 per person, and this includes 3 meats, 3 sides, and 1 beer.  Tickets must be purchased in advance, so don't wait.

Or, you can win two tickets here. Just use the Rafflecopter form below for several ways to enter the random giveaway. You may tweet once a day for additional entries.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be selected on Monday, August 31st.

The fall temperatures have started to roll in, but let's celebrate the last bit of summer with some delicious BBQ, beers, a kissing booth, and outdoor fun.

Disclosure: I was provided with two tickets to give away to one lucky reader. All opinions stated are 100% my own.