Saturday, September 24, 2011

La Campagna!

Laura Taxel, author of Cleveland Ethnic Eats, is my new hero! I had gone to hear her speak a couple of months ago at the library. Someone in the crowd asked for a recommendation for an Italian restaurant on the westside of Cleveland and she replied, "La Campagna"!

So last night was B's birthday and I surprised him by taking him to a restaurant that we have never been to. In fact, he had never heard of the restaurant. It was risky..... but it turned out to be great. Better than great.... amazing!

La Campagna is a little Italian restaurant tucked into an average looking shopping center in Westlake. It a tiny little place that you would never look twice at. Laura Taxel described it as a gift shop by day and restaurant by night. It is family owned and everything is made to order. The owners shop daily(from local vendors) and try to use foods which are organic when available. The menu changes everyday. Laura Taxel had recommended that a reservation be made because the restaurant might just close up if it has no customers coming. Another warning..... there is no written menu. They make a handful of entrees daily and they just list them for you. Now, I like this kind of adventurous eating, but, others may not. But, I will tell you that everything we ate was extraordinary!

We started off with a bottle of Syrah(above) and a fried pepper appetizer(below). The wine is purchased from the shop so it is not marked up and there is a large selection. This picture of the peppers does not do them justice. They were simply sauteed in olive oil with a generous sprinkling of sea salt. However, there was a nice combination of sweet yellows and reds along with some spicy Poblanos. So simple but delicious!

Next we ordered our entrees which were accompanied by salad and soup. B had a corn and clam chowder. I had the salad below. It was a nice mix of fresh greens, blueberries, and goat cheese. One of the owners was actually making the salad dressing, a balsamic with fresh figs, minutes before I received the salad! It was like eating at a family members house, except an extremely talented family member. I think I may have to adopt this family!

My entree was mussels in a fresh tomato broth. Also phenominal.

But B's dish was the award winner of the night. He ordered their clam bake. This clambake wasexceptional. Check out the lobster twice baked potato in the front of this plate. There was no skimping on the lobster. The chicken was cooked with some nice herbs and very moist. The corn was picked that day.

Needless to say... we were very happy customers!!!! The price was also a pleasant surprise. I intend on becoming one of the regulars at this spot.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weight Watchers... a proven success.

A weight loss study that came out this week which indicates that Weight Watchers is one of the most effective methods for losing weight. 772 obese people were followed in Australia, Germany, and the UK over a years time. The results showed that those who followed Weight Watchers lost an average of 14.7 pounds as compared to those on standard diets who only lost about 7# after 12 months.

There was no information suggesting the reason for its success, but, I have to think it is a result of the weekly support that members receive. It is always easier to accomplish something difficult in numbers. Also, the weekly meetings provide lost of inspiration. Although I have never been a member of weight watchers, I really like the recipes. One of my favorite recipes is the Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf. It is easy, healthy, and low in cholesterol and fat. Oh, and it tastes good which is always helpful. Here are the steps....

1. Separate 2 egg whites into a bowl

2. Add 1 1/2# of ground turkey

3. Add 1/2 cup of minced onion

4. Add 1/2 c of bread crumbs

5. Add 1 c. of part-skim mozzarella

6. Add 10 oz of chopped frozen spinach(thawed and drained)

7. Add 1 T of Worcestershire sauce

8. Add 2 T of ketchup or spaghetti sauce

9. Mix all ingredients and pack into a greased loaf pan

10. Bake for 60 minutes at 375 degrees and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Cut into even pieces and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One more tomato recipe....

Oh Cleveland summers... how I hate to see you come to an end. Today was actually cold!!! That gazpacho soup I made last week is no longer appropriate for this week's weather. When I look over at the garden, I am seeing less and less red spots which makes me a bit sad. But, I still have a plate full of tomatoes, so, I am going to use them to the best of my ability.

I hope you all are not sick of tomato recipes because I have one more tomato soup recipe to share. It looks kind of simple but the flavors in this soup are sweet and tangy and delicious! It makes an easy weeknight dinner but could also be a great starter if you are having guests. You will not be sorry you made it in either scenario.

So here is the recipe for Tomato Rice Soup with Garlic and Herbs(William Sonoma).

  • Mince 1 small yellow onion

  • 1/2 c. of garlic cloves cut in halves

  • Warm 3T of olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute until soft for about 15 minute.

  • Add 2 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped.

  • Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of water. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes

  • Chop 3 T of mixed chopped fresh parsley and chives

  • Chop 1 T of fresh oregano and/or summer savory

  • Add 1/3 cup long-grain white rice and herbs to the soup

  • Simmer until the rice is cooked about 15-20 minutes

  • Add 1 T. red wine vinegar

  • Add 1/4 cup of a fruit red wine such as Zinfandel and salt and pepper to taste

  • Serve immediately!