Thursday, October 30, 2014

Recipe: Pork au Poivre

I hope that everyone in Cleveland took advantage of the gorgeous weather this past weekend! This time last year, we had already experienced snow.

"R" and I did by getting some yard work done, and by fitting in a couple of bike rides.
We also cooked at home on Saturday and Sunday nights, which felt great. We've been super busy lately, and the next six weeks will be more of the same. We're wedding planning at warp speed, and trying to squeeze in time with friends as well.

On Saturday night, we were on a mission to use up a bunch of our Fresh Fork items. We're down to the last few weeks of the summer share, and we still have several items to use up. This recipe, adapted from the most recent issue of Cuisine at Home, took care of four, and it was quite tasty if you enjoy the flavor of peppercorns.

Pork au Poivre (servings = 2, total time = 30 minutes)

Two boneless pork loin chops (8-10 oz each), seasoned with salt
1/4 cup peppercorn blend, crushed

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup brandy

1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
3 Tbsp. salted butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Coat both sides of the pork chops with salt and the peppercorns.
Heat oil in a saute pan at medium-high heat until it simmers.
Add pork chops and sautee until browned (about 2 minutes per side).
Transfer pan to oven and roast pork until meat reads 145 degrees (about 8-10 minutes).
Transfer pork to plate and tent with foil.
Deglaze same pan with brandy.
Cook at medium-high heat until liquid nearly evaporates (about 2 minutes).
Add broth, vinegar, and thyme to pan, and reduce (4 minutes).
Off heat, whisk in butter.
Serve sauce over pork.

We wanted to use up more Fresh Fork items from our weekly bags, so we used some Ohio City Pasta garlic scape linguine as a base for this dish, and steamed some broccoli as a side.
The peppercorns have quite a bite to them, and a little heat, but we both love that flavor, so it worked for us. The pasta was a perfect pairing, and we enjoyed this last-minute dish that we had created.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour

The Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour is coming to PlayhouseSquare next Friday, November 7th at 8:00PM at State Theater.
"Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour" features a pinch of comedy, talk show antics, a multimedia lecture, live music (he sings!) and a dash of extreme food experimentation! Renowned "foodist" and TV personality Alton Brown is familiar to viewers for such food series as "Iron Chef America," "Good Eats," "Cutthroat Kitchen," and "Food Network Star." The James Beard Award winning author of seven books, Brown created, produced and hosted the Peabody Award-winning series "Good Eats" which ran for 13 years on the Food Network and now can be seen on the Cooking Channel."

Alton Brown will bring his brand of quirky humor and culinary-science antics to the stage.  The two-hour show is a unique blend of stand up comedy, food experimentation, talk show antics, multimedia lecture, and, for the first music.

Tickets range from $35 to $125. The $125 tickets include a pre-show meet and greet with the star. You can purchase them online here.

Or, you can WIN TWO TICKETS by entering my giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter below for several ways to enter. I'll select a random winner on Tuesday, November 4th.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with four tickets to the show, two for myself and two for a giveaway, from PlayhouseSquare in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Crop Kitchen Opens!

Chef Partners Steve Schimoler (Crop Bistro owner) and Matt Anderson (formerly of Umami Asian Kitchen) have opened the doors of the new Crop Kitchen in the east-side Uptown neighborhood.

The menu feels like a blend of the two, with some familiar Crop Bistro (sister restaurant in the Ohio City neighborhood) specialties, with sushi and a few crowd favorites from Umami sprinkled in. We saw Crop's signature Cherry Bombs and Popcorn, and Umami's Goat Cheese Dumplings ($8), just to name a few.
We had perched ourselves at the "chef's table" sushi bar this weekend, and had a great view of the workings of the kitchen, and a front-row seat to the sushi rolling.
As "R" stated, "I wouldn't want someone staring at me while I worked." Yes, this open-kitchen layout certainly puts all eyes on the staff, but it was pure fun to watch them work. We also had a chance to chat with Chef Matt, whom I've known since I moved to Cleveland almost seven years ago. We joked about the fact that Umami's entire restaurant could fit into the size of the new Crop's kitchen space. I'm sure it's going to take some getting used to, but he was handling it well.

Matt rolled us a complimentary Salmon and Goat Cheese roll (all rolls are $10), and we also ordered some sashimi later on (3 pieces for $12).
For now, the restaurant is offering three kinds of rolls, and three kinds of sashimi, with plans to expand that section of the menu later.

It doesn't feel like the restaurant changed too much in the layout from the previous restaurant's concept (actually, look up at the ceiling to still see the Accent letters), but Crop has certainly put its signature stamp on the place in some ways. Warmer colors, food art on the wall, and playful accents like these colander lamps.
The cocktail menu also has several tempting choices. I just had a glass of wine, but "R" went for the Mr. Figgy with fig-infused bourbon, sweet Vermouth, maple bitters, and bruleed bacon.
I stole a bite of the bacon, and it was divine.

Welcome to Uptown, Crop Kitchen! We'll be back for more.

Crop Kitchen
11460 Uptown Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

Monday, October 20, 2014

Platform Beer Co. Brunch

I'm really a fan of the new(ish) Platform Beer Co. on the corner of Lorain and West 41st. We stopped in for just a beer the first time, but now I've been back for two meals. They just happen to both be brunch.

As I mentioned in my last blog post about the new bar, they are not providing their own food. They have recruited a rotating roster of local restaurants and food trucks to pop in one night a week to provide food for Platform patrons. On Saturday, they have The Grocery.

The menu is simple. Build your own omelet, crepe, or bagel sandwich.
The amount of components being used that are sourced from local vendors is impressive. I spotted: Cleveland Bagel Co., Saucisson, Clark Pope, Randy's Pickles, Brewnuts...just to name a few.

During my first Brewhouse Brunch, I tried a BYO bagel sandwich. You have your choice of bacon or sausage, cheese, and many vegetables and additions to choose from.
I kept it simple, with just bacon, egg, cheddar cheese, and jalapenos. I also requested a side of blackberry jam, which was an amazing addition. It was seriously messy, but oh so delicious.

I also couldn't resist the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. I'm a sucker for them every time.
You get to pick from a couple of vodka flavors. I selected the Cilantro Jalapeno. They offer a couple of different mixes, several hot sauces, classic additions, and several locally sourced munchables to add. My only complaint? No shakers or stir sticks provided, and I had to stir it all together with my straw, which didn't work very well.

This past Saturday, I met two friends there for a second brunch visit to Platform. I started with a Bloody Mary again, this time going with the Cilantro Lime vodka. Still no shakers or stir sticks, but they did switch up the presentation of meat and cheeses to add, by pre-building skewers for you. Very easy to grab and add to your drink.

For food, I chose the build-your-own Buckwheat Crepe this time.
I had selected sausage, cheddar cheese, chard, and blackberry jam. I'm hooked on that blackberry jam. Other than the fact that it was packed with too much chard, it was enjoyable. Although, a bit more cheese would have helped hold it all together, because it was a tad dry and the pieces and parts kind of fell apart when I cut into it. While good, the bagel sandwich had been better.

Not pictured was a Brewnut donut, soft, glazed, and topped with a raspberry beer frosting and chocolate chips. My first bite of a Brewnut, and I liked it!

Also, we each started a tab by providing a credit card when we arrived. When we were ready to leave, the bartender ran the cards provided, and we were never presented with itemized checks. From the amounts, we were pretty sure that something was incorrect on our bills, but it wasn't worth trying to figure out what had happened. The food and drink prices are reasonable, and our checks weren't high, considering the fact that we had sat there drinking and eating for over two hours. But, I hope that this was a fluke, and that itemized checks are presented to patrons. Our bartender was less than stellar on Saturday, in general, so it wasn't surprising.

All brunch options are $7.99. The Brewhouse Brunch is offered every Saturday from 10AM - 2PM.

I was also thrilled to see Founder's Breakfast Stout on tap during this trip! Never a bad way to kick off a boozey brunch.

Platform is doing alright, in my book. We'll keep stopping in. Have you been to Platform yet?

Platform Beer Co.
4125 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hitting the Pause Button

Sometimes I really crave a "Pause" button on life. When it feels too busy, too stressful, or too overwhelming...I want to hit "Pause" on adult life and go escape to a beach or something...

Wishful thinking, I know.

While there is no "Pause" button, I can certainly find areas of my life that can be put on hold when I have to focus time and energy on other things. This blog is about to be one of those areas.

You'll still hear from me. I already have some recent dining adventures to share with you, and there are sure to be more in the near future. However, I may not be posting as regularly here for a bit.

Because..."R" and I are tying the knot! In just 8 weeks time. Yes, I'm going to plan and throw a wedding within that crazy time frame. If anyone can do it, I can. I throw large events for a living. But, that doesn't mean that it won't be stressful, and that there isn't A LOT to do in the short amount of time.

No, I am not pregnant, and this is not a shotgun wedding. Hehehe. 

So, while I bury my nose in wedding planning, please excuse the "Pause" over here on the blog.