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Archive for July, 2010

by Caitlin Saniga

Taste of Belgium: dessert crepes with lavender sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice

If you’ve never eaten lavender, imagine the powerful aroma of these purple, shrublike flowers. The smell and the taste are one and the same. Both are potent. So, you’d either love or hate these dessert crepes from Taste of Belgium in Columbus’ North Market.

The crepe, before I dug in

The crepe dough is made from a sweet batter that includes a little beer and a drop of vanilla extract. When finished cooking, the dough looks as if it’s been spattered in golden-brown dots. The rest is simple: a mixture of dried lavender flowers and sugar is sprinkled on the crepe dough, and half of a lemon is squeezed on top. The crepe is folded into a triangle the size of a slice of pizza, and is dusted with powdered sugar.

Before I ordered this crepe (for lunch, no less!), I asked about its flavors. Did they work together? Do people actually order this? The employee was right when she said the lavender had a punch, and she said people have polar reactions. The fresh lemon didn’t balance the lavender, but it gave the crepe depth. A healthy dose of sugar canceled out the tartness of the lemon.

The end product was pretty delicious: crispy lavender seeds and sweet, syrupy lemon between soft, thin layers of crepe – for $5.

But I’d probably try something different the next time I go to Taste of Belgium (which has another location in Cincinnati). Not that I had any major objections to this crepe, but the menu has so many alluring options. Other dessert crepes include Banana & Nutella and Caramel (a French caramel called caramel au beurre sale, with apples). The savory lunch crepes are made with organic buckwheat flour, and varieties include the Traditional (egg, smoked ham and gruyere cheese), the Reuben and the Vegetarian (roasted red peppers, goat cheese, spinach and balsamic glaze). But Taste of Belgium’s specialty is Liege-style waffles, which are served solo or with whipped cream and fruit or chocolate.

Visit Taste of Belgium in Columbus’s North Market: 59 Spruce St., Columbus, Ohio 43215; authenticwaffle.com

Additional reviews

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

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by Sarah Steimer

BREAD:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped lemon balm leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

GLAZE:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon balm leaves

The lemon balm in our garden

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and lemon balm. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in lemon peel and squeeze a little juice in as well. Pour into greased mini loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

FOR GLAZE: In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, water and lemon juice; stir in lemon balm. Spoon over warm bread while still in the pan. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Taste of Home

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

Heads up: This recipe has a big yield — about six side-dish portions. The photo doesn't do it justice.

dressing and zucchini before their wedding

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 pounds medium zucchini (or one big one)
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • grated Parmesan cheese

To prepare dressing, whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and hot sauce in a small bowl. Set aside

Using a vegetable peeler, and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into thin ribbons. Place ribbons in a large bowl. Add basil and pine nuts, then dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

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by Sarah Steimer

Laura's apartment

My host in Chicago and ol’ pal, Laura, and I had a little Mexican dinner party during my stay. It was nothing fancy, but just right for a few guests who wanted to mingle and taste here and there. Plus, the point of a dinner party is to have time to enjoy it yourself, not be stuck in the kitchen all night.

My co-chefs, Leah and Laura

So we chose three easy dishes that took almost no prep time or merely involved tossing something in the oven and forgetting about it.

The menu consisted of: Black bean and corn dip, sweet potato burritos and Caitlin’s lemony tomato and avocado salad.

And to top it all off, Laura let us try tequila she brought back from her trip to Peru… and it ruled.

Black bean and corn dip

We made ours spicy.

  • 1 cup of Trader Joe’s (TM) Cuban black bean soup
  • 1/2 cup of blackbeans
  • 1/2 cup of corn
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)

Cook the mixture on low until the majority of the soup has evaporated and the mixture has thickened. Serve with corn chips.

Source: Laura Nalin (host, old chum)

Sweet potato burritos

*Sorry there’s no picture with this, but I was trying to have a good time, folks. Can’t be running over to people’s plates all the time shoving my camera in their faces.

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup of black beans
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork and lather with about one tablespoon of butter. Put in oven at about 400 F until soft (we lost track of time, but it was definitely about an hour).

Cut the sweet potato into chunks and toss in a saucepan with the rest of the butter plus the milk. Cook until you can mash the sweet potato then add the corn and black beans.

We put this mixture on heated tortillas and even added a little of the lemony tomato and avocado salad that Caitlin posted a month ago… I’ll repost it anyhow (with my little addition of onions):

Lemony tomato and avocado salad

  • See? Caitlin and I try each other's recipes.

    2 roma tomatoes, chopped into small chunks

  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into small chunks
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Start with a little less lemon juice, and keep adding until you find the right amount.

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

Front

Back

Read Caitlin’s review of Schmidt’s Jumbo Vanilla Cream Puff.

See a map of Caitlin’s and Sarah’s postcards to each other.

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by Caitlin Saniga

It's all about the bun, baby. I got a four-pack of these pretzel rolls at Trader Joe's.

This is more of a concept than a recipe, but I think the world needs to discover pretzel buns. Use them for burgers, toasted cheese or breakfast sandwiches. I made an egg-and-cheese sandwich with green onions from the yard.

  • pretzel bun (try Trader Joe’s four-pack)
  • 2 eggs
  • some milk
  • some shredded cheese
  • some green onions, chopped finely
  • some salt
  • a slice of Cheddar cheese

It’s simple: Butter a pan over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pan and add a splash of milk. Scramble until combined. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, green onions and salt. Don’t touch it until the egg starts to bubble and a spatula slides cleanly under the egg. Fold it like an omelet. Let it cook for about 30 seconds. Then flip it, and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Voila, you have an omelet.

Cut the omelet into thirds or quarters or fancy shapes, and arrange the pieces on the bottom half of the pretzel bun. Put a slice of cheese on top, and cover with the top of the pretzel.

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

Original recipe

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by Sarah Steimer

Enjoying one of my granola bars while sitting in the field at All Good!

I spent four days camped out on a mountain in West Virginia for the All Good music festival with a few thousand new friends. As much as music can feed your soul, it can’t feed your tummy. These granola bars definitely helped give me the energy I needed to stay on my funky feet all weekend.

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (made by pulsing 1/3 cup oats in food processor until fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 cups dried fruit and nut mix (I used dried cranberries and almonds)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat flour, salt, cinnamon, and dried fruit/nut mix.  Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract, water and honey.  Stir with a spatula until the entire mixture is well combined.

I used a meat tenderizer to pound the almonds into smaller sizes.

Spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment in one direction.  The parchment should extend over the sides of the pan to help you lift the bars out of the pan once they have cooled.

Pour the granola bar mix into the pan using the spatula to get every last crumb.  Now, this is an important step.  You need to really press the mixture into the pan so it will bind together while cooking.  Using the spatula, your hands or a piece of plastic wrap, press the granola into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges have browned.  Allow the bars to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then slowly remove the bars using the parchment overhang.  Let them cool on a rack for about 30 minutes and then place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two.  This technique will help stabilize the bars and hopefully avoid crumbling.  Once the bars have cooled in the refrigerator, set them on a cutting board, and using a large serrated knife, cut them to the size you like.

Source: The City Sisters blog

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

Schmidt’s: the Jumbo Vanilla Cream Puff in all of its glory

Check out this baby behemoth of 100% tasty goodness. It’s a 1/2-pound vanilla cream puff from Schmidt’s in Columbus’ German Village. The photo doesn’t lie. This pastry tasted just as good as it looks. The menu describes it as the “award-winning (Columbus Monthly) combination of our special whipped filling in a lightly baked pastry shell.”

Yea. Let’s talk about that filling for a minute. The whipped fluff tasted like a cross between vanilla pudding and whipped cream, with a buttery flavor that melts in your mouth. (Do you see how buttery yellow that stuff looks?) And the pastry shell was soft but sturdy. The combination of pastry and cream was heavenly, but I couldn’t finish the whole thing in one sitting. And, even though the sweetness wasn’t overpowering, it was good to have a big glass of ice water on hand.

For $5.25, this fork-and-knife dessert was a pretty good value. And it’s definitely a staple of Columbus’ German Village. Schmidt’s also serves other specialty cream puffs (for carryout, too), including chocolate.

Visit Schmidt’s: 240 E. Kosuth St., Columbus, Ohio 43206; www.schmidthaus.com

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

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by Holly Saniga

This easy-to-make pie crust is crispy and flaky, and the berries came from our backyard.

Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Crisco
  • 3 tablespoons water or Sprite

Filling:

  • 1 pint fresh raspberries or blackberries (or both!)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Check out that bubbly-warm berry filling.

To prepare the pie crust, mix flour and salt together. Add Crisco until the mixture forms balls the size of peas. Combine two tablespoons of water or Sprite with the dry mix, then add the third tablespoon. Blend just until it holds together. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and place in pie pan.

In the mean time, mix together the sugar and flour and sprinkle half the mixture in the pie crust. Place the washed and sorted raspberries on top, then sprinkle the remaining flour and sugar mixture on top of the raspberries. Pour the cream over all. Bake in the center of preheated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Let cool, then chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Best if served the same day.

Photos: Holly Saniga

Recipe: Cooks.com

*Note: Holly Saniga is a guest blogger and Caitlin’s younger sister. She likes to bake and can make a mean stir-fry sauce out of just about anything.

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