Monday, August 30, 2010

Beautiful Eggplant Rollatini!

I love August. I love the summer sound of crickets that come in my window at night. I love the way the summer sun starts to become a little softer. I love watching the kids get back on the school bus(sorry, Molls and Tim). And I especially love the end of summer produce that appears on my counter tops. I suddenly had 5 eggplants staring at me in my vegetable bowl at home, so, I made rollatini(by Giada) which is one of the greatest recipes ever!
Here are the ingredients you will need...
4 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/2 in slices
1T. sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T. toasted pine nuts
32 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
3T. grated Parmesan cheese
20 basil leaves
2 c. black pepper
I started off by placing the eggplant on a baking sheet and sprinkling it with the salt. I set aside for 15 minutes. This will help extract some of the moisture. Then I rinsed and patted dry. Next, I brushed the eggplant with olive oil and grilled, about 4 minutes per side(thanks B).
In a large bowl, combine your beaten eggs and ricotta. Stir in your mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Fold in the basil leaves.

Place 1 T. of cheese mixture at the end of your eggplant and roll up tightly as seen below.

Place the rollatinis seam-side down into a lightly oiled 13 X 9 in baking dish.

Make some marinara sauce(I used Giadas), but any sauce would substitute fine.

Pour sauce over your rollatinis and add salt and pepper. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Drizzle some more olive oil across the top and serve.


Hope your summer was as fun as mine.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Idiots Guide to the Sustainable Plate

Are you jealous? I got to meet and chat with one of the most talented chefs and restaurateurs
in the Cleveland area. This is head chef, Steve Schimoler, of Crop Bistro. I met him at a Crocker Park event yesterday called The Green Factory where he gave a presentation called "The Sustainable Plate". He is way cool, personable, and knowledgeable and I can't wait to give his restaurant a try.

What is the definition of that trendy, foodie term we keep hearing about lately? Even as a dietitian, I wasn't really sure. So, I was relieved when he said that he believes it is still a concept that is evolving. First, it is about serving up food of high quality and nutritious value. He believes that this can be attained by buying local foods(according to him, more important than buying organic). Local foods are better simply because they are picked at the peak of ripeness when the BRIX value is at its best. Don't worry- I didn't know what BRIX meant either. But, it is a measurement of the sugar content in produce. It relates to how good something tastes. For instance, the BRIX would be higher in a garden tomato vs. a pale red tomato that has traveled many miles and sat on refrigerated truck. He recommends that we consumers challenge the restaurants we eat at by asking them the BRIX content of some of their produce. He also recommends that we ask our restaurants of choice which of their foods are bought locally. After all, a restaurant is only as good at its patrons and we should demand the best. The Crop Bistro provides about 60% locally grown foods on its menu which is about the highest it can go considering that we live in Northeastern Ohio. We don't have a lot of access to meats which are raised locally.

Sustainable foods also refers to our food providers having a conscience. It may cost a restaurant more money to purchase foods which are locally grown, but, it gives back to the local economy which is good for all of us. Buying locally grown food also benefits the environment in 2 ways. First, it obviously takes less fuel for a tomato to travel from Kamms Corner than from Texas. Secondly, that heavy packaging that is necessary to protect produce when it travels a far distance, well, that is one less thing that goes into our landfills.

But, the best thing I learned about was Crop Bistro's Sunday Supper! This restaurant walks the walk when it comes to sustainable foods. They actually use the foods which he still has on hand from the week to provide an extraordinary meal on Sunday nights. Before you say, "Ew, I can eat leftovers for free at home". Check out todays Sunday Supper menu online at It looks amazing! FYI- he doesn't post the menu until 3:00 that day. How fun is that? Talk about spontaneity and talent!

For $25, you can have an appetizer, entree, and dessert which is a great value for such a high-end restaurant. I can't wait to go with my blogging buddy and fellow foodie, Tina. Any of you care to join us?

Oh, and by the way, I will have more recipe posts this week since I also have a lot of local produce on hand.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Roseangel- restaurant review

The last time I was out in the Gordon Square neighborhood, I ate at this great restaurant called La Boca across from Happy Dog. So, then I passed by a week later and it was gone. Pffff! But tonight my happiness was restored when I ate at the restaurant that took its place called Roseangel.

I had read in Cleveland magazine that Roseangel was a casual and "modern taqueria". So, I was confused when I walked in the door to an upscale appearing restaurant. I was also surprised at how quickly the owner(Marlin Kaplin of Luxe) was able to create such a beautifully done space so quickly after the closing of the previous restaurant. My favorite room was magenta red with white and black polka dots on the tables. I sort of felt like I was on the cover of a Whitestripes album. I had my heart set on eating on the patio, but, it was hard to leave the Whitestripes room.
Out on the patio, my sister and I started our meal with some salsa, chips and drinks. Our server, cute guy with the glasses, (sorry, didn't get your name) was helpful and obviously a big fan of the foods he was serving. There were 9 salsas to choose from! This restaurant reminds me a bit of Momocho in Ohio City(except much more reasonable). We did the 2 salsas for $4.50 deal. Pictured below is the salsa verde and salsa del dia(salsa of the day) which was a corn, tomato, and garlic combination. Delicious! They also had some more exotic varieties such as the pomegranate mole salsa. I'll be back for that!
I'll also be back for the drinks which are all prepared using fresh fruit juice. We had the house margarita called The Rose and some Sangria which were both exceptionally good. However, there were so many great looking drinks. There was also a cantaloupe and basil infused margarita which sounded interesting. FYI- they have happy hour before 7:00 which is a 2 drinks for 1 special. These include mixed drinks, beer, and wine.

Onto the best part... The tacos! They were gorgeous! True works of art as you can see below. There were 15 varieties of tacos. Holy mole, bat man! Again, we had good guidance from our server. We decided to try a platter deal which was 4 pairs of tacos for $30.00. The 4 we chose, as seen below, are the grilled pork with bacon and potatoes, the walleye taco with cilantro pesto, the duck confit, and the tres queso with chorizo. Obviously, they were awesome. However, I though the walleye taco was missing something tangy or spicy(perhaps lime or jalapeno?). Overall, we had a great time and meal. My only warning.... if you don't like tacos, pick another place because there is not much else on the menu. But, with 15 tacos to choose from its hard not to find something you love.
Happy Birthday to my sister and fellow foodie, Judy!!! Love ya.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Organic Food vs. Your Grocery Bill

I was reading my friend Tina's blog at yesterday about the dilemma of buying organic vs. non-organic and balancing your food budget. I'm so glad someone brought this up! I've often agonized in the grocery store over the price of organic vs. non-organic and feel guilty when the price tag wins out. Its just that feeding a family of four, especially a picky family of four, can get so outrageously expensive!

I did some research on the subject and found this article from Eating Well, Organic—or Not? Is Organic Produce Healthier Than Conventional?. It basically said that that are two valid reasons for buying organic which are 1. to increase nutrients and 2. to consume less pesticides.

Lets start with the nutrient part. A study from 2007 showed that there were some nutrients(vitamin C, iron, and zinc) which were found to be 40% higher in organic foods. However, you can also increase your nutrients just by buying locally grown foods. It is common sense, the less a food travels, the less nutrients lost in the travel process. I happen to think that you are still doing great just by simply buying nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, lean meats/dairy, and whole wheat grains(organic or not). It also has a lot to do with how a food is stored and prepared. I've never been a purist when it comes to organic.

On the topic of pesticides... this is what I took from the article. There are trace amounts of residue from pesticides which are absorbed into fruits and vegetables. Some of the residue can be removed by washing the fruit. A large amount of the residue can be removed by taking off the skins or peals(but then you lose out on the fiber- it's a trade off). Most of us do not develop cancer and other fatal illnesses from these trace amounts of residue. However, in kids, the residue can build up more in their little bodies. So, naturally it makes sense to be concerned more about your kids when it comes to organic vs. non-organic.

So if you are independently wealthy and can afford to buy all organic, all the time for your family than great! I recommend it. However if you have to balance health and wealth a bit, then check this out... This organization, The Environmetal Working Group(EWG), pored over 51,000 tests on pesticides in foods from the FDA and USDA and found out that some foods absorb more of these trace contaminants than others. EWG came out with a sort of "dirty dozen" list. These are foods which you should probably try to buy organic most often. The article also listed the produce which is not so concerning. I will just list the "dirty dozen" below. Hope this helps make your organic shopping less perplexing and your wallets a little heavier.

Foods with Highest Amounts of Contaminants from Pesticides:

  1. celery

  2. peaches

  3. strawberries

  4. apples

  5. blueberries

  6. bellpepper

  7. spinach

  8. kale

  9. nectarines

  10. cherries

  11. potatoes

  12. grapes(imported)