Greatest Hits: Chicken Pot Pie

We apologize for no posts yesterday. We must have suffered a technical glitch in which we thought yesterday’s post posted, but it didn’t. Anyway, we do hope you stopped in to enjoy the Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes, whether to reexperience it or to find out why it was a sellout if you missed it the first time (you can revisit our posts about the dish here and here).

Tonight, we’re reprising the perfect dish for this cold, rainy Cleveland weather: Chicken Pot Pie! Read about it here and here, then come in from the chill and enjoy a hot and delicious comfort dish Julia-style.

Julia Project, Week 8: Return to your favorites!

Here they are: your favorites, our biggest sellers and most popular dishes from the Julia Project, back for our final week:

Monday, September 28 — Fricasee de Poulet a L’ancienne (We will also feature last night’s Yellowtail Snapper as a reprise dish)

Tuesday, September 29 — Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes

Wednesday, September 30 — Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday, October 1 — Paella with Chicken, Lobster and Clams

Friday, October 2 — Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables

Saturday, October 3 — Lamb Moussaka

Whether you come in to enjoy one of your best-loved dishes again or to taste one you missed earlier, we hope to see you this week!

Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts: a taste of the tropics

JuliaProject926Due to unforeseen circumstances, we didn’t get to blog a “Behind the Dish” post today, but we can tell you now what is IN the dish known as Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts: a feeling that for a little while you can escape from chilly, rainy Cleveland to a warm island in the sun. And there’s more in it than the name indicates.

This dish starts with wild-caught Florida yellowtail snapper fillets, which are sautéed and then dressed with a sauce including chunks of both mango and papaya flavored with rum, mint, ginger and lemongrass, and studded with macadamia nuts. The fish and sauce top a bed of basmati rice flavored with lemon zest and mint. We are serving it with a salad of field greens dressed in a simple vinaigrette.

The verdict? The combination of all these sweet and slightly spicy tropical flavors works magic on the light, flaky moist fish fillets, while the nuts add a perfect meaty crunch. Eat this one and you can close your eyes and forget about the rain and the gloom for a little bit and pretend you’re in the tropics. Yes! Then again, if you missed the Shrimp Étouffée, the Chile Glazed St. Louis Style Ribs or the Chocolate Mousse, you have another chance to enjoy those, too!

Well, we’ve finally come to the last week of the Julia Project, but the fun is far from over. Don’t forget, in the final week we’ll be reprising the most popular dishes of the previous seven weeks of the Project. We’ll let you know what they are ASAP, so keep watching this space! And on October 13 comes the Julia Project Wine Dinner: six courses, a special wine matched with each course, and it’s all Julia. If you haven’t made your reservation yet, what are you waiting for?

Chocolate mousse, no antlers

JuliaProject925What a dessert this Mousseline au Chocolat is! Smooth as silk and topped with a slivered strawberry, it’s a light, sweet, fluffy cloud of a chocolate dream, to float you away at the end of a beautiful dinner into the cool of an early fall evening. What’s more, you can choose one of two reprise Julia entrees to start your meal with: the Shrimp Étouffée or a Chile-Glazed St. Louis-Style Ribs dinner accompanied by sweet potato fries. This is a no-lose proposition for your Friday!

Behind the Dish: Mousseline au Chocolat

Tonight is a night many Julia Project followers have probably been anticipating: chocolate mousse night! Julia’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 recipe includes eggs, sugar, orange liqueur, semisweet baking chocolate, strong coffee, unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt.

Our version is pretty straightforward in terms of following the recipe: whipping the egg yolks, folding in the chocolate, butter and coffee, then folding in a meringue made from the egg whites and sugar. To make ours more creamy, though, we may enhance it with a touch of pâté à bombe: an egg yolk-based foam mixed with sugar syrup. Also, we’ll be leaving out the orange liqueur from our version, in deference to those who prefer their chocolate as straight “chocolaty-chocolate” as it gets.

If that sounds irresistible, we highly suggest you make a reservation and try one of our regular menu items or specials — maybe with an appetizer — for dinner, then cap it all off with this delicious treat. You know that once you see a picture of it and hear how it tastes, you’re going to wish you had — so why not eliminate future regret now?

Shrimp Étouffée lets “les bons temps rouler”!

JuliaProject924For those craving some real Cajun fire in their meal, this dish, as Emeril loves to say, kicks it up a notch. The deep reddish-brown sauce brings the spice and the heat just the way you like it! It’s full of plump whole shrimp and shrimp pieces swimming in the sauce with the peppers, onions and other flavorings, with a bed of soft, fluffy white rice smack dab in the middle. And we kicked it up another notch by adding a couple of black-bean-and-corn fritters — kind of like souped-up hush puppies — to each bowlful. It’s a BAM! to your tastebuds New Orleans-style. Try it! Or, if you missed last night’s moussaka and are regretting it, you’re in luck, because it’s our reprise dish tonight. Cajun or Greek — you make the call!

Behind the Dish: Shrimp Étouffée

The master chef who provided Julia with the recipe for today’s Julia Project dish is one likely familiar to many: Emeril Lagasse, the Cajun/Creole chef whose presence on TV is ubiquitous. (You can see him preparing the dish at the video linked here.)

Shrimp Étouffé calls for, first, a butter-and-flour roux, to which are added chopped onions, bell peppers and celery, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper and, of course, “Essence” (a combination of paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme). Then shrimp stock is added and the whole combination is boiled, then simmered. Raw shrimp is seasoned with more of the Essence and added them to the pot and cooked through. With a little parsley added, the finished dish is served on steamed white rice and garnished with green onion. BAM!

Marvelous moussaka!

JuliaProject923Enjoy! The moussaka includes layers and layers of rich flavor — just as intended. The tomato sauce has the depth and savoriness that comes only from simmering a good long time, and the essence of the spicing, especially the cinnamon, really comes through. The lamb, mushrooms, eggplant and potato slices are cooked to perfection, and the béchamel sauce has formed a delicious, light custard on top. Combined with the fresh astringent spice of the organic vegetables and feta cheese in the Greek side salad, this is a taste of the Mediterranean that hits just the right spot.

We’d like to give a special shout-out tonight to photographer Stuart Spivack, who has recently started tweeting regularly about the Bistro on his Twitter robot
clevespecials (which lists specials featured by Cleveland-area restaurants) and featuring this blog amongst the “Blogs of Note” listed on his Web site. He must have dropped by for our Julia special Monday night, because a luscious-looking photo of our Chile-Glazed Country Ribs with Black Beans and Rice just showed up on his Flickr page. Nice work, Stu!

Behind the Dish: Lamb Moussaka

Tonight’s Julia Project dish, Lamb Moussaka, is familiar to most modern diners. If you know anything about Greek cuisine, you’ve probably heard of moussaka, and you may well have enjoyed it as part of your family’s cooking or at a Greek or other restaurant. The dish, which usually is made in the form of a kind of “lasagna” that layers slices of eggplant with ground lamb in a tomato sauce, originated in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, which makes it rather interesting that a recipe for it was included in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1.

Julia’s instructions for how to structure and serve the completed dish are quite a bit different from how it’s normally done today; they’re much more classically French. Her original recipe uses a charlotte mold, which she instructs the cook to line with the skins of the cooked eggplant portion of the dish and then fill with a combination of the eggplant, mushrooms, lamb and sauce, resulting in a “shiny, dark purple cylinder surrounded with a deep red tomato sauce.” Wow! Her completed entree, brought to the table whole at a dinner party, must have looked rather like a purple Bundt cake. For our purposes, however, we used the more conventional rectangular pan and “layered” method of preparation commonly seen today. We’re also providing it with our own version of a “French twist.” And we’re proud to add that the vegetables are all organic, from Jim Darr’s Old Plank Farm in Windsor, Ohio — pesticide and herbicide free.

We’ve been prepping our moussaka since yesterday, because it is quite a bit labor-intensive. One of the steps requires slicing up the eggplant, sprinkling the slices with salt and letting them sit out for a half hour to “sweat out” the excess water (eggplant holds a lot of water) before cooking it. This process makes the eggplant more permeable to the olive oil in which it bakes before it’s layered, but it also requires a lot of room to lay out all the slices when you’re making as much moussaka as we are! With the limited space available to us in the Bistro kitchens, we had to do it in stages.

The recipe also calls for minced mushrooms, shallots or onions, the ground lamb (already cooked before being placed in the dish — which is probably why Julia describes it as a way to use “leftovers”), salt and pepper, thyme, garlic and rosemary, tomato paste, eggs, and a brown sauce. Rather than the brown sauce, however, we’re topping our moussaka layers with a classic béchamel, or white sauce, made with milk, flour and butter. Also, our bottom layer is sliced fried Yukon Gold potatoes — another item not in Julia’s original recipe. And, we added oregano and cinnamon, two other spices Julia’s version omits, but that are very much components of a classic moussaka.

The ingredients are layered and baked up to make a hearty, heartwarming dish, which we will top with an arrabiata pepper sauce. It will be accompanied by a classic Greek side salad featuring cucumbers, kalamata olives, our rooftop tomatoes and basil, red onion, orange and red peppers, and feta cheese, dressed in a Greek vinaigrette.

Sounds like a great fall dish? We thought so!