Listen to Ruth’s family cooking memories

Our upcoming Retro Dinner this Wednesday, Jan. 22, will be a fun nostalgia trip — and so are fond childhood memories of great home cooking. For Ruth, that’s more than just retro chic. For her, cuisine “the way it used to be” means recipes based on her family’s Jewish tradition, learned at her mother’s side in the 1950s and still heartwarming and delicious today.

Ruth was only 3 when her family fled Poland to escape the Nazis and settled in the Kinsman neighborhood, at that time a magnet for European Jewish families emigrating to Cleveland. She grew up surrounded by those families and the variety of national cuisines they brought with them, a source of great comfort for people so abruptly uprooted from their homelands and everything they had known and loved. Ruth first learned how to cook from watching her mother and aunts make the Polish classics, like krupnik, a barley soup with meat and vegetables, and kreplach, the “Jewish dim sum.” Her memories of those earliest culinary experiences, and the love and care that infused each dish, still influence everything she makes.

Ruth recently shared those memories with Vivian Goodman for her “Quick Bites” show on WKSU-FM Radio. If you missed hearing her then, you can listen to and read her story here. The website also features video of Ruth making kreplach. Enjoy!

We’re making “The List”!

Exciting news here at the Bistro: we’re going to be featured on an upcoming episode of “The List,” Scripps-Howard’s weeknightly TV news magazine that covers the biggest news trends by compiling lists of what people are talking about the most. Right now, a hot topic is “Thanksgivikkah” (some are spelling it “Thanksgivukkah”—take your pick!): the once-in-a-blue-moon confluence of Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah. Inspired by the chance to combine two holidays in one, people are doing everything from creating special “menurkeys” (menorahs shaped like turkeys) to sending special cards to planning menus combining the best traditions from both holidays…including suggestions from Ruth’s Thanksgivvikah menu. As a result, the folks at “The List” are stopping by to visit her in person and sample her suggestions.

No word on an air date yet, but you can see “The List” at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday on WEWS-TV Channel 5. “The List” also airs on WMAR-TV Channel 2 in Baltimore, WCPO-TV Channel 9 in Cincinnati, WPTV-TV Channel 5 in South Florida, WFTS-TV in Tampa (all at 7 p.m.), KNXV-TV Channel 15 in Phoenix (4:30 p.m.), and KJRH-TV Channel 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (6:30 p.m.), so if you have friends in those cities, let them know! We’ll tell you when we know which night Ruth’s feature will appear.

A wealth of news for your fall pleasure: Restaurant Week menu, Ruth’s latest recipes, Beer Dinner and Vegan Thanksgiving!

We’re bursting with news here at the Bistro in November…so bursting that some of it we’re not even ready to tell you the details about just yet! But let’s tackle our bulletins one at a time…

RUTH’S PUMPKIN RECIPES: Looking for a good recipe you can make at home to take the damp and chill out of your bones? Ruth has just the thing, and she cooked it up on the Fox 8 Recipe Box segment just this past week: Pumpkin Chili with Chicken and White Beans. Or if you’re in a Mexican-food mood, try a Pumpkin Chicken Cheese Quesadilla! Watch the video here, and get the recipes here:

Pumpkin Chili with Chicken and White Beans (serves 8)

4 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons good quality chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
32 ounces chicken broth
1 ½ lbs. ground chicken
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off the bones, or leftover chicken or turkey
2 cans diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 15 oz. cans white navy beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish:  sour cream, chopped scallions, shredded cheddar or jack cheese , tortilla chips, cilantro

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, celery, and jalapeno pepper and sauté about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. To the same pot add the ground chicken, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, basil, bay leaf and cinnamon. Cook together until the ground chicken is pink. Add the chicken broth, diced tomato, pumpkin, beans, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the shredded rotisserie chicken. Cook for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the chili is slightly thickened. Garnish with any of the above suggestions.

Pumpkin Chicken Cheese Quesadilla

Mix ½ cup of pumpkin puree with 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce. Spread on 2 flour tortillas. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup cooked chopped chicken. Top each with another tortilla. Heat 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil in pan. Add tortillas and cook until they are golden brown. Cut into wedges.

CLEVELAND RESTAURANT WEEK IS COMING!: Cleveland Independents Restaurant Week is once again TWO weeks: Monday, November 4, through Saturday, November 16. We invite you to join us (especially if you haven’t tried us yet) and enjoy one of our “3 for $33” (plus tax and gratuity) complete dinner options. Choose one each from these starters and entrees, and add our Dessert of the Day:

Soup of the Day
Field Green Salad
Tempura-Battered Calamari

Bistro Steak with Hollandaise and Mashers
3-Cheese Ravioli with Marinara or Alfredo Sauce
Panko-and-Almond-Crusted Cod with Corn Pudding
Mussels in a Spicy Marinara with Pasta
Chicken Marsala
Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Peanut Noodles
1/2 Slab St. Louis Ribs with Fries

Whatever you select, you’ll love it! Of course, our other starters and entrees will also be available a la carte at the prices listed on the menu.

BEVY OF BAVARIAN BEERS: Beer lovers and fine-dining aficionados will want to join us for our Ayinger Beer Dinner Wednesday, November 20, at 6:30 p.m. This $45-per-person event will highlight five courses specially paired with beers from this traditional Bavarian brewery. Watch for a menu coming soon!

VEGAN THANKSGIVING: You loved it so much it’s become a tradition: our meatless, completely animal-free Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner. This year’s feast will be Wednesday, November 27 at 6:30 p.m. (the night before Thanksgiving). We’re still working on the menu for this one, but you can be assured it’s going to be another amazing meal! Check back soon. Cost will be $45 plus tax and gratuity.

AND THERE’S MORE NEWS TO COME…We’re announcing something brand-new to our schedule this month that we think you’re going to like very much. What is it? Watch this space and find out!

Tune in to see Ruth on Fox 8 News Tuesday morning!

Got a hankering to try some grilling yourself? Yeah, we knew you might not be able to wait. That’s why Ruth’s appearing on Fox 8 News this Tuesday morning, June 25, showing you how to make Mongolian Grilled Beef. Don’t miss her!

Laura Taxel writes a love letter to the Bistro

When a discriminating, well-respected Cleveland food critic chooses to stop by your restaurant on her days off—when she names it as a place to which she likes to bring her favorite people—that’s something pretty special. That’s why we were so delighted to see Laura Taxel’s post “Tried, True and Terrific” on the Cleveland Magazine website May 8. Laura tells about why she and her husband have been regulars here since the Bistro opened in 2006 (her post includes several terrific photos by Barney). Among her words of praise:

“We love to talk curing and smoking with Marc, and I appreciate his savvy (and recommendations) when it comes to wine and beer.”

“Ruth is a culinary powerhouse and someone I admire. She’s knowledgeable, skilled and imaginative when it comes to cooking but without ego or pretension (always giving credit to her crack kitchen team, especially chef Todd Mueller), and she seems to possess the energy and endurance of two.”

“The service is friendly, the prices affordable. The bar is well stocked with interesting stuff. Though some dishes show up often because they’re popular, the menu changes daily so it never gets boring. And there are always ample choices: meat, poultry, fish, vegetarian — options from light to hearty.”

“But most of all, the husband and I agreed that we’d never, not ever, had a bad meal there…We keep coming here, and bring family, friends and out-of-towners because we can depend on having a fine night out.”

Thanks, Laura! We’re so glad you feel this way, and we’ll keep working hard to make sure you continue to do so!

Come see Ruth cook for the holidays at the Fabulous Food Show!

If you’re a Cleveland food lover, your mouth has no doubt been watering for months thinking about all the delights awaiting you at the Fabulous Food Show this weekend at the I-X Center, November 9-11. Well, we’ve got a special piece of news to tell you about this year’s show: Ruth will be one of the presenters at Saturday, November 10’s Cleveland All-Star Chef “Taste of the Holidays!” event. Beginning at 3 p.m. in the Plain Dealer Stage’s Culinary Celebration Theatre, this part of the show will display the region’s finest culinary talent presenting a cavalcade of inspirational seasonal dishes. At 3:50 p.m., Ruth will demonstrate how to make Pumpkin-Carrot-Pecan Whoopie Pies with Orange-Scented Cream Cheese Filling.

Don’t miss out on this chance to see Ruth in action preparing an incredible dessert you just might want to add to your Thanksgiving menu. What a way to celebrate Cleveland Culinary Celebration Week! For tickets and more information, visit the Fabulous Food Show website.

Happy Julia’s Birthday! More links for you to love

The day has arrived! Hope you made reservations for our sold-out Julia Child Birthday Dinner, because we’re looking forward to a terrific event! In the meantime, whet your appetite with these commemorations of Julia’s 100th birthday:

  • Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to Julia.
  • The New York Times features an article on Julia Child recipes that home cooks still make, even if they don’t always (or never have) tackled her more challenging dishes.
  • Have you visited Julia’s kitchen at the Smithsonian? It was transported to the National Museum of American History from Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2001. The whole thing is there, right down to the pegboard for all her pots and pans, with each one outlined in Magic Marker so it was easy to see where to replace them after cleaning. Take the virtual tour here (requires Flash 6 player).
  • This 2009 Vanity Fair article tells the story of Julia’s romance with her husband Paul, and includes a picture of their 1956 Valentine’s Day card, featuring a photo of Julia and Paul in the bathtub (oo la la!). It also describes how her early TV appearances made Julia a star.
  • Julie Powell, on whose blog and book the movie Julie & Julia was based, writes here on how Julia taught her to cook — and live.
  • Julia’s friend Ariane Daguin writes here on how Julia founded “the cult of the kitchen.”
  • The Washington Post presents videos in which chefs, restaurateurs and household hint doyenne Martha Stewart talk about what they learned from Julia.
  • This review by The Atlantic of a book featuring correspondence between Julia and a close friend uncloaks the perseverance it required for Julia to have her first cookbook published.

These and many more articles and videos are available to help get you ready for tonight. Bon Appetit!

Enjoy this “Julia Child Remixed” video and don’t forget to enter our contest!

It’s almost celebration time! As you can see, PBS has given Julia Child a fresh new sound for her 100th birthday — enjoy it here in “Julia Child Remixed.” Let it serve as your inspiration, if you haven’t done so yet, to submit your entry to our “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” Contest! We’re looking for the best story (500 words or fewer) about a time you exercised the courage of your convictions, either in your cooking or your eating. So tell us about that salvaged souffle, that tricky Thanksgiving turkey, or the time you sampled that dish that your friends thought belonged on Fear Factor but that actually turned out to be wonderful. Send the story to with “Julia Child Contest Entry” in the header before the end of today, and you could win a $50 Bistro gift certificate!

We’d like to thank you for your enthusiasm about our Julia Child Wine Dinner that caps off our festivities tomorrow night: it’s sold out. We’re looking forward to a fantastic evening and we want you to have fun — you’re invited to come dressed as Julia if the spirit moves you! But the only requirement is that you bring your appetite and your sense of adventure. It’s sure to be a celebration you’ll remember for a long time to come!

Celebrate Julia Child with videos, TV, books

The celebrations of the Julia Child centenary are ramping up, as you can see from the musical tribute above–and you can be part of them. In addition to joining us next Wednesday for our Julia Child 100th Birthday Wine Dinner, on this coming Saturday, August 11, watch the WVIZ/PBS “Petite Marathon” of three classic episodes of Julia’s pioneering cooking show The French Chef. These episodes haven’t been broadcast since the 1960s, so don’t miss them! WVIZ/Ideastream is also inviting you to cook up your favorite Julia Child recipe and share your experience, as well as tell about how you’re celebrating Julia’s birthday.

But that’s not all. You can find information here about three new Julia Child books (including a definitive biography and one about her cats!) and an iPad/Nook app that provides a condensed version of the cookbook that started it all, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Whether you love to cook or just love to eat, the Julia Child centenary has something for everyone!

Which reminds us–have you sent in your entry for our “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” contest? If not, better do so soon! (If you need some inspiration, Ruth will provide that in a future entry to the blog. Be looking for it!)