Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching up on Some Smaller Dining Experiences

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It always amazes me just how much food related stuff you come across in the course of a week. As we plow our way through the holiday season it seems like dining opportunities are abound. I've got a few places that I've kind of saved up, just because they were really nothing all that earth shattering.

You might be asking yourself why I even waste the time. I think reviews on the these types of places add to the body of knowledge that's on the internet. I can't tell you how many times someone has suggested a place, albeit small, and I have no idea if it's any good or not. I don't need much information; just enough to give me idea of what it's comparable to.

Flying Crane's Cafe
Some time ago, I had mentioned that Shaker Square didn't have any good places for lunch. Stuart Spivack informed me that Flying Cranes in Larchmere was worth a try. So I invited Stuart to join us for lunch on a Saturday afternoon.

It's a small breakfast and lunch place. They offer a wide variety of food both American and Asian. Regina ordered the Eggplant and Rice. It was a very basic dish with eggplant slices encircling a mound of white rice. I had the Naomi's Grilled Cheese, which was basically a ham with mozzarella panini. I thought it was very small for $7. Come to think of it, I don't even think it came with a side. Stuart's actually turned out to be the best. His was an Asian noodle dish that actually looked very good.

If you go, get Asian. It was my fault for ordering a sandwich.

Flying Crane's Cafe
13002 Larchmere Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 795-1033

Santo's Pizza and Pasta
I stopped by my Dad's in Berea. We decided to grab a bite to eat before I went home. I like Dante's pizza in Berea, but my Dad wanted to go to Santo's. I'd never been, so I figured what the hell. He and I shared a pepperoni and sausage pizza. I thought the pizza was decent. If I had to describe it I'd say it was your run-of-the-mill Cleveland pizza, nothing to write home about. My brother had the chicken parm which was also your run-of -the mill chicken parm.

In the end it wasn't bad, it wasn't good. You get what you pay for here, (which isn't a bad thing).

Santo's Pizza & Pasta
7565 Pearl Road
Middleburg Heights, OH
(440) 234-6480
Santo's Pizza & Pasta on Urbanspoon

Weber's of Mentor
My Father-in-law's birthday was being celebrated late because he had been down in Florida, so Regina decided to get him an ice cream pie. I guess in the 50's, in the Higbee's downtown, they used to make a malted ice cream pie that was quite popular. Well, Weber's of Mentor sells that exact same pie. I won't go into great detail, but there is a good story (possible legend) that goes along with pie. While picking up the pie I had a vanilla malt and I have to say it was excellent. They still make ice cream with these machines from the '30's that are the only ones still in existence. I thought that was cool. Worth a trip if you're in the area.

Call before you go, I know they were going to shutdown for a remodeling.

Weber's of Mentor
8640 Mentor Avenue
Mentor, OH 44060
(440) 974-8030
Weber's of Mentor on Urbanspoon

Off topic
We watched Man On Wire last night. It was a very good documentary about a guy who tightrope walked between World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2. I think what made it such a good movie is that the tightrope walker, himself, did such a thorough job of documenting the whole planning process. I highly recommend renting this one.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Next Week's Intervention: I'm Addicted to Sugared Nuts

I think everyone can make the claim that there is one or two things they find impossible to stop eating during the holidays. Whether it's Aunt Carol's sugar cookies or Grandma's meatloaf, I think everyone has their own caloric kryptonite. For me it's a recipe from a lady at Regina's work for Sugared Nuts. These things are great to have around for holiday gatherings (unless you're diabetic or trying to lose weight). The best part is you never have to worry about throwing them out after everyone has gone home. Guests typically leave behind an empty dish.

Sugared Nuts
by Tricia Klonokowski
  • 1# total of shelled pecans and (or) walnuts
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 stick of Salted Butter
  1. Melt the stick of butter on a 9x13 cookie sheet
  2. Beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks
  3. Sprinkle sugar over the egg whites
  4. Fold in nuts
  5. Pour on cookie sheet and spread melted butter evenly over nuts
  6. bake at 350, turning the nuts every 10 minutes to prevent burning for a total of 30 minutes

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just a Few Things

This is just going to be a collection of different little things that I can’t justify putting into an individual post.

Grum's Sandwich Shoppe
The other day as I was driving up to Miles Market and saw the old Harvey’s Famous Ribs is going to open as a Grum’s Sub Shoppe. I have never actually been to the one in Cleveland Heights. Since they don’t really have a dining area I’m never in the area to take a sandwich home. The one in Solon will be on my way from Miles Market, so I look forward to the opening.
This week I decided that the Food & Wine forum is officially unreadable. There are some people on there that are a real piece of work. I just can’t believe the amount of smack that is talked on that forum. Who knew there were so many experts packed into such a small geographic area? Good riddance.

Christmas Books
I ordered a book for my brother-in-law that is probably the coolest one I’ve seen this year. Keller’s Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide? Blumenthal’s The Big Fat Duck Cookbook? Achatz’s Alinea? Nope.

To me, Eric Ripert’s On the Line is the coolest book I’ve seen this year. I think Ripert and Christine Muhlke do a splendid job of explaining the inner workings of Le Bernadin. Complete with philosophies, diagrams, lists (like Cardinal Sins all 129 of them), and “a typical day of – (every duty in the restaurant), this book is chock full of every detail you’d want to know about a 3 star Michelin restaurant. The first half is all restaurant stuff, the second half is all recipes. I found this to be much more interesting reading than the narcissistic rants of Marco Pierre White in The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef.

After I buy this one for myself, Marc Vetri’s II Viaggio Di Vetri: A Culinary Journey will be my next buy.

I don’t know if anyone watches e2 series on PBS, but it’s a really well done show. Every week the show touches on possible solutions to the environmental issues we face around the world. The last episode was named Food Miles, and discussed the issues we currently face with Food Transportation. I thought the inclusion of Judy Wicks, owner and founder of White Dog Café and White Dog Café Foundation, was the cat’s ass. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail; but she discusses the importance of locally sourced food and what can be done to foster the relationship between grower and consumer. You really need to see the episode to understand how remarkable this woman really is. Michael Pollan, Michael Shuman, and James McWilliams make insights in this episode, as well.

Cleveland Christmas Basket
Speaking of locally sourced, I sent my boss my version of the gift basket. I find it interesting that we talking about local this and local that, but then send a gift basket from DiBruno Bros., Zingerman's, Murray's, etc. Why not send something from Cleveland? I sent a triple smoked Polish sausage from Chef's Choice Meats, a glass crock of Chevre marinated in olive oil and herbs from MacKenzie Creamery, Boeren Kaas Gouda from Buckeye Grove Farm Cheese (currently at Whole Foods), and Ripe From Downtown Salsa produced by Cleveland Botanical Garden's Green Corps program formulated by the folks at Sergio's Restaurants. I was actually pretty happy about the stuff I bought considering I had about a day to do it.

Shaker Farmers Market News
Last week I went to Berea to visit my sister. Whenever I go to that part of town I have to stop at Chef’s Choice Meats. I was very happy when owner Kris Kreiger informed me that he will be at the Shaker Square Winter Farmer’s Market when it opens in January.

Christmas Ale
I've heard different things from different people, but some like this year's GLB Christmas Ale and others don't. I would fall in the latter category. I think the spiciness is way overdone. My Christmas ale of choice has been from Anchor Brewery in San Fran. I think it's a more subtle interpretation than GLB's. I had bought some CA from Thirsty Dog in Akron, but after about the second bottle I decided it tasted a little too diluted. I made the mistake of not getting to Barley's, when I was in Columbus, to try theirs. At any rate, I had been getting the Anchor Brewing from West Point Market in Akron (man, do I love WPM), but my wife tells me they have it at Whole Foods and Heinen's on Green Rd.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Albatross of a Different Feather

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Imagine my surprise when I heard that Chef Zach Bruell was opening an affordable French bistro on my side of town. If one is looking to eat French food in Cleveland there aren’t a whole lot of options. I can only do the trek out to Vermillion once or twice a year (preferably in the summer), to eat at Chez François.

Why “The Albatross”? From what I hear the golf fanatic chef named it after the term for completing a par five in two shots. This event is much more uncommon than even a hole-in-one. I saw a guy do it on the 11th hole at OSU Scarlet Course. It’s something very special I’ll remember for the rest of my life. When we were on the tee we were teasing him because he was using “La Jolla” brand woods. Unbelievable.

Housed in the old “That Place on BellFlower” on the Case Western Reserve Campus, L’Albatros is a very affordable night out.

We made our reservation on I used the app that it is out now on the iphone – ‘twas very easy.

So we walk into the restaurant and the kitchen is immediately off to the right, the bar and tables are in various coves to the left. If you haven’t been in this building before, there are nooks and crannies with seating tucked in everywhere. It’s cozy, but not NYC cozy. The tables didn’t have table clothes. Instead this white resin type material was used for the table. It didn’t require a table cloth, yet looked quite smart.

We kicked things off with the five serving cheese plate. The cheese service is actually a direct interaction with the cheese server, in this case Brenden. He happily went through all of the cheeses that were available and individually cut them off of the wheels, right at our table. He was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what they had to offer. It was a lot of fun - highly recommended.

I ordered the Chicken Confit with spätzle, paprika, and roasted garlic jus. I thought it was good. The spätzle wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but the chicken was cooked perfectly. By the way his grilled chicken breast at Parallax is one of my favorites.

Regina ordered the Braised Leg of Lamb with pasta risotto and rosemary jus. The lamb was an appropriate size and also very tender.

Our desserts consisted of a Chocolate Brownie with walnuts, cherries, and vanilla gelato. I had the Espresso Pots de Crème. It was very rich and creamy with nothing left in the bowl.

If you’d like to view the menu, I robbed it from a link on Stuart Spivack’s blog, here it is.

I thought it was a really enjoyable dinner. For a restaurant that had only been open a week, I’d say it’s pretty far along. Affordable French – I think it’s a concept that is going to work great in “The Circle”. I eagerly await my next visit. Metaphorically speaking, this anything but an albatross.

11401 Bellflower Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-7880

L'Albatros on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Goin' Corporate in the Capitol!

Last week I had to go down to Columbus for a conference. If you spend any time in our state capitol’s restaurant scene, you’ll soon figure out that its landscape is dominated by corporate entities. For a relatively large city, Columbus’ fine dining options are especially corporate.

On the one night I spent there I was eating at Cameron Mitchell’s Martini Modern Italian, in the Short North. Located across from the Columbus Convention Center, Martini does a massive business from events held across the street.

I first noticed two things:

1) The place was packed to the gills.
2) Where there are many people, there is much body heat. It was absolutely sweltering in the upper dining room.

So I sit down with my friend Danny (seated with a party of about 15 other people) and partake in a few drinks. Passing on the appetizers I dove straight into Caesar’s salad. It was big and it was, well, a Caesar’s salad.

I chose the Garlic Crusted Salmon for my entrée. My first impression was that, from the top, it looked like a grilled cheese sandwich. The skin side (with the skin off) had a garlic crust on it. Since it was the flat side, it looked like a grilled cheese sandwich because the crust was on top and maintaining that flat firm surface. I was skeptical to say the least. Just then Ed, who was sitting across from me said, “I had that last night. It’s good. Don’t you think it looks like grilled cheese?” If you look here you’ll see it pictured in the banner in the upper right hand corner.

All I can say is that it the garlic crust is where it’s at. It tasted damn good. The funny thing is that the salmon looked like a piece of Coho or Sockeye (not particularly thick and a very deep salmon color), but it was perfectly cooked. Looking at the piece of salmon I thought, “Man, this is going to be dry as hell.” However, the crust and the sauce really pulled the whole together to create a really good dish.

For dessert I had the Tiramisu, again not your typical presentation. Expecting the “same old same old”, it came out served in a chocolate cup. The tiramisu itself seemed to have more of the creaminess and fewer of the lady fingers. I would jump on this dessert again in a heart beat.

Was it corporate? Sure. Was it free? Yeah. Thanks Danny. If there weren’t a number of new restaurants I haven’t tried in Columbus I would go there again. Other than the overwhelmingly high temperatures inside (in the middle of December no less), I really enjoyed my dinner here.

Martini Modern Italian
445 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 224-8259

Martini Modern Italian on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boulevard Blue

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Boulevard Blue has been a favorite of ours since we came back to Cleveland. Over the last couple of years we’ve eaten there probably ten times. For us that’s a lot. Even though we go out to eat frequently we do enjoy spreading the love.

For the last few months we had suspected that something was going on because management was basically offering the second entrée for 50 percent off. So when we heard that Kurt Steeber had taken over the restaurant just a few days before our visit, it all added up.

As we opened the menu we noticed that some of the menu had changed, but most of the old menu was still intact.

In the unofficial Dine O Mite calamari taste test, Boulevard Blue and Paladar have the best calamari. We did notice, however, that this time it was a little different. The waitress informed us that the calamari is now sautéed instead of deep fried. I think I liked the deep fried calamari better. They were crispier and more consistently cooked.

My entrée was the Chicken Thai Pasta. It was the first time I’d ever had it, but it was very large and full of flavor. However, I think it might be a victim to the new menu. If it’s still on there I’d highly recommend ordering it.

Regina order the halibut cheeks with artichokes, fennel, baby carrots, purple Peruvian potatoes, garlic confit, with white wine broth. This was one of the new menu items. Her issue was that the dish was a bit bland for her liking.

For dessert I ordered the Caramel Apple Cheesecake with spiced almond crust, Ohio apples, dulce de leche. This was actually a pretty tasty dessert. Regina also enjoyed the Devil which was a chocolate center, chocolate mousse, and vanilla gelato. Typically, the desserts here were not much to write home about. The ones we had this time were both winners.

So what did we think of the partially new Boulevard Blue? If I had to give it a grade my visit it would probably be an “I” for incomplete. Steeber had only been there literally for a few days. A couple of summers ago we had eaten at Balantine while he was still there. I thought their food was decent. I’ll be interested to see what it’s like when we go back to Boulevard Blue in a few months. By then, I think we’ll be able to get a better gauge of where they’re headed.

Boulevard Blue
12718 Larchmere Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44120

Boulevard Blue on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge

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It’s funny, there always seems to be one restaurant that you always mean to go, but never quite make it there. You might go to someplace one block away three times. Or may be go to everyplace around it. For us Luxe Kitchen & Lounge was that place.

So last Sunday we decided to meet our friends there and finally try Luxe for the very first time.

Most things that I had heard have been pretty positive. The first thing everyone says is that it’s definitely a good value- good food at reasonable prices.

When you first walk in the interior of the place it is pretty striking. Whoever designed the interior did one heck of a job. The ceiling was partially shielded with the neat looking panels. The interior was definitely hip, yet still comfortable.

But how was the food?

The menu has a pretty wide variety of food on it. There are an abundance of smaller plates you can combine to “make” a meal, or you can just do the traditional appetizer and entrée.

We tried the Crispy Calamari w/Fried Scallions, Spicy Tomatoes & Lemon Aioli to start with. I thought it was a little overcooked, aside from that it was decent.

For dinner I ordered the Kobe beef corn dog with Truffle Fries. I know there’s something wrong with me, but I just love corn dogs. Always have. Since I wasn’t quite sure what this was going to taste like I just had to try it. Covered with the traditional corn meal breading, it was simply deep fried beef. I thought the idea was intriguing but the overall taste of it wasn’t going to make me want to order it again.

I was also intrigued by the truffle fries (they came with the Beef Corn Dog). As with most things truffle, my guess is that these were simply drizzled with truffle oil. For as cheap as they were I wasn’t expecting shaved Black Périgords, but there really wasn’t much flavor to them.

Regina had the Grilled Duck Panini with Spinach and Sweet Tomato mayo. It wasn’t noted on the menu, but this came with garlic chips, reminiscent of the ones we’ve had at Brazenhead in Columbus. She also had a order of the Broccolini. While the duck was essentially duck breast on toast, it was quite tasty when paired with the tomato mayo.

To finish off dinner it was a tale of two desserts, she instantly fell in love with her's I wasn’t even mildly attracted to mine. I ordered the Basket of Beignets with jam. The “beignets were much too dense. I had to labor to finish them- small but heavy. I think if they were made from lighter and fluffier dough (like, well, beignets) they would be more appropriate as a dessert.

Regina loved her Cappuccino Ice Cream Pie w/Caramel Glaze. Our waitress commented that it was a very popular dish and homemade to boot. The serving size was certainly enough for two.

I know this sounds like I didn’t really like my dinner, and in a sense I guess I didn’t. But I loved the space, the noise level, the server, and the adventurous nature of the menu. I’m willing to cut a little bit of slack for a place that tries different things. I would definitely go back for every miss there was a hit. It just seemed like my normally excellent food karma was missing on this occasion.

Luxe Kitchen and Lounge
6605 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 920-0600

Luxe Kitchen and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Italian Pumpkin Soup

My wife absolutely loves soup. It’s a constant search for the latest and greatest recipe. While I wouldn’t exactly call this low-fat, this is an extremely tasty soup.

We found this recipe in the old 150 Best Recipes cookbook. If you’re not familiar with this series of cookbooks, Fran McCollough and Molly Stevens would create a volume of the best recipes that have been published for the year. These books were published annually from 1999 – 2006. Unfortunately they no longer publish this collection.

Italian Pumpkin Soup
Source: Palio press release
By: Maria Pia

  • 1 Sugar Pumpkin or Butternut Squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/3 C Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 Large Onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 6-8 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Amaretto, such as Disaronno
  • 1/3 Cup crushed amaretti cookies (without sugar on top)

Serves 6 to 8

Preheat the oven to 450° and set a rack in the middle rack. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, grease it, and set aside.

Peel the pumpkin or squash and cut it into small (about 1-inch) pieces. Remove and discard the seeds. Spread the pieces on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast, stirring once, for 10 to 20 minutes, or until almost tender.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until totally wilted.

Add the pumpkin or squash and 4 cups of the vegetable broth to the onion mixture. Simmer over medium heat until the pumpkin or squash is completely soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream, amaretto, and amaretti. Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to food processor and puree. Return to the pot and stir in 2 cups broth, or more to taste. Taste and add a bit more salt, if desired.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I woke up kind of early this morning so I figured I'd write about broccoli before I went to church. When I got back I was surprised to see there was already a comment on it. What? The last thing I expected was a comment on a four ingredient broccoli recipe.

Once I opened it, I realized I'd been tagged by the good people at Heights Eats.

So here goes.

First the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
(Heights Eats)
2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

1) The Dine O Mite's have never revealed their first names......until now. Cal and Regina
2) Cal's favorite cities of all time: 1. San Francisco 2. NYC 3. Philadelphia
3) Regina's favorite cities of all time: 1. Venice 2. NYC 3. San Francisco
4) Best concert we ever went to was Oasis at the House of Blues in Atlantic City
5) Regina won an all expenses paid trip to Japan.
6) We have a black pug named Ladybug.

Gluten Free in Cleveland
The Cage Free Tomato
Cleveland Foodie
Feeding Maybelle
The Cleveland Sandwich Board

That should do it. While it took a little more time than I thought it would, but it was a fun little exercise.

PS, for all those involved: we're going to try an hit up L'albatros this week if anyone is interested in going.

Roastin' Brocco-lee, Roastin' Brocco-lay, Roastin' Broccol-lie

Okay, so maybe that isn't exactly how Dana Carvey sang it, but it's close. Our two favorite vegetables are probably broccoli and green beans. Not all that exciting I know, but that's just the way we roll.

It's funny, most of these roasted broccoli dishes are pretty much the same. There's typically an oil and a couple of other things included. At the end of it all, though, the ever-so-slight crispiness is what brings us back.

Overall I liked this version because there was a slight hint of heat at the very end of the bite. My wife wasn't as impressed because she is averse to spiciness in general.

This is yet another version we found in this month's Bon Appetit under the RSVP section (reader's favorite restaurant recipes). RSVP is the first thing I look for when this magazine comes in the mail. Basically reader's write into Bon Appetit and request the recipe for a dish they had at a restaurant. Bon Appetit then tries to track down the recipe from the actual restaurant.

This recipe is in the current (January) issue from a place called Black Bottle in Seattle, Washington.

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Red Pepper
4 to 6 Servings

  • 1.25# Broccoli crowns, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
  • 3.5 Tbsp Olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Toss broccoli and 3 tablespoons oil in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Roast 15 minutes. Stir remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, garlic, and red pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle garlic mixture over broccoli; toss to coat. Roast until broccoli is beginning to brown, about 8 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Baricelli Inn

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The Baricelli Inn is someplace I’ve wanted to go ever since we moved back to Cleveland. It’s been cited in a number of magazines and always ranks high amongst the other local eateries in town.

Baricelli breaks from tradition in the month of December, offering a lunch menu. Since it isn’t a cheap place I often like to test drive a restaurant at lunch time to see just what I can expect at dinner.

The first thing that really hit me was that it was very quiet. Even though there was music playing over the sound system I could hear every word the people were saying in front of and behind me. I’m not saying this was bad or good – just an observation. If I had one gripe it’s that the upholstery on the chairs seemed a little 1980’s, not that they are from the 1980’s they just looked like it.

We sit down and decide we’re just going to get an entrée and dessert. Since I had made a fairly rich dessert for that night’s dinner, I didn’t think it made much sense to gorge myself at lunch.

I ordered the Beef Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and Saba (which I forgot to ask what it is). There were haricot verts and a brown reduction on the plate. I’m assuming saba was the sauce. The short ribs were tender, the potatoes and green beans were good. At $18, I felt that I got what I paid for.

Mrs. Dine O Mite ordered the Crab Roll with Avocado Crème Fraîche on Focaccia served with a Roasted Vegetable Penne Pasta Salad. She liked the light and creamy crab salad. Since she isn’t much for pasta, I was nice enough to eat it for her. Weighing in at $14 she, too, thought it was a fair price.

Dessert was an awesome way to end our lunch. The Chocolate Praline Gateau Torte was worth the price of admission. This is a definite candidate for my “Favorite Cleveland Dessert” category. This is a delectable stratification of chocolate cake, praline crunch, chocolate topped with chocolate ganache. This is a must try dessert.

I enjoyed my visit to Baricelli. Would I go for dinner? It’s a little too quiet for me. I think it’s a lot like Chez Francoise or Red, great food but is more of a special occasion kind of place.

Baricelli Inn
2203 Cornell Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-6500

Baricelli Inn on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Move Over Pumpkin Pie (and say “Hello” to Maple Mascarpone Cheesecake with Walnut Shortbread Cookies)

My contribution for Thanksgiving was the most important item next to the turkey…the dessert. This year’s selection was the Maple Mascarpone Cheesecake with Walnut Shortbread Cookies from Mario Batali’s Babbo cookbook (credit as well to Gina DePalma, Babbo’s pastry chef, for the recipe). Normally, it’s just Mr. Dine O Mite and myself sitting down to dessert, so I found this recipe, which serves 8, to be best suited for a larger dinner party.

Overall, this dessert was a success. I think my only mistake was that I should have reduced the maple syrup (from Goodell Farms in Mantua, Ohio) down just a little further, before adding the cream. I found some adorable fall themed cookie cutters at Crate and Barrel for cutting out the walnut shortbread cookies. The mascarpone cheese was imported from Italy and on sale at Whole Foods. My special touch was the addition of some glazed walnuts.

This dessert was so rich and creamy that it didn’t even need require my usual dose of whipped cream…

Maple Mascarpone Cheesecake (see link for recipe)

Walnut Shortbread Cookies
From the Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali

4 cups toasted walnut pieces
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar

1. Toast walnut pieces on a baking sheet for 5-7 minutes at 325 degrees, until
golden brown and fragrant. Cool completely, then place in food processor until
just finely ground.
2. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees.
3. Place the butter, brown sugar, and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric
mixer and blend together until smooth and creamy.
4. Beat in vanilla extract
5. In a separate bowl, mix the nuts, sifted flour, and salt.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until a soft dough is
7. Wrap dough tightly in saran wrap and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into ½ inch thickness. Cut out shapes
as desired and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
9. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until they turn light golden brown. Place on a wire
rack to cool, then store in an airtight container.

* I added powdered sugar to the final product.