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

Instructions
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:

Starters
Soup of the Day
Potstickers
Field Green Salad
Tempura-Battered Calamari

Entrees
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!

Latin American Barbecue: A fantastic fiesta

So, the Latin American Barbecue last Wednesday looks good, no? It tasted even better…says the Tenant. I can tell you, as hot as the weather was, this was a terrific meal for it, because while we tend to think of barbecues as hot and smoky (at least over the grill!), the emphasis in this dinner was more on the cool and refreshing…even as it offered piquant, spicy flavors that danced on the tongue.

For starters, we were all served glasses of Marc’s Special Sangria, garnished with orange slices. This sangria has been available at the bar for quite a while this summer already, and it is truly the perfect cooling treat anytime, but especially for this dinner. Its rich mix of chilled fruits and spices prepared our palates for all that was to come.

The opening dish, Shrimp Ceviche, continued the theme of cool refreshment. The shrimp arrived plump and well-cooked from its time spent bathing in the pungent lime-juice marinade with the other chunks of veggies, fruits and herbs, from tomatoes to mangoes. The cocktail selected to accompany this course was a delightful caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil, a concoction of cachaca — sugar-cane rum — sugar and lime. It was intensely sweet and pleasingly powerful, very well mated to the ceviche.

Now that we were all relaxed quite well into the South American vibe, we were ready to enjoy the course of Smoked Chicken Empanada with Brazilian Black Beans. The savory, flaky little pockets of meat-filled dough sat atop the incredibly flavorful beans, dressed with a cool drizzle of creme fraiche. They could not have tasted better. We had wine for this course: ’09 Lo Tengo Torrontes, an Argentinean white with a bright, smooth flavor.

The next course brought us right back to cool — South American Style Jicama-Orange-Avocado Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette. This “slaw” style of salad featured a gently fruity-spicy dressing and the juicy tang of fresh orange slices. The perfect touch! Another white wine was served alongside, ’10 Octave Vinho Verde, a light and airy Portuguese selection, dry and crisp.

Then it was time for the star of any traditional barbecue meal: the meat. And oh, what meat! This was beautifully cooked, thinly sliced Argentinean Grilled Flatiron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Plantain Chutney and Peruvian Corn Pudding. The savory, spicy green chimichurri enhanced the natural flavor of the already well-seasoned slices of meat, tender and pink on the inside, yet with those crispy dark edges that signify perfect barbecue. I had never had plantain before, and had been curious as to what this more savory version of the banana was like. Well, as chutney, I loved it, and it was a welcome addition to this beautiful dish in which meat, chutney and sauce were arranged on a generous slice of the corn pudding, one of my favorite foundations for any dish. It all added up to produce a spectacular sequence of flavors: sharply spicy, then savory and sweet. With this dish we were served the only red wine of the evening, ’07 Guentota Old Vine Malbec, a rich, full-bodied and bountifully flavored selection.

To top off the evening, a little crown of a dessert: Quesillo de Coco, Venezuelan Coconut Flan. It sat on the plate looking irresistible in its puddle of caramel, flanked by incredibly tangy fresh raspberries. I almost hated to break the surface of the glaze; it looked too pretty to eat. Of course, not eating it would have been a huge mistake, because these little Latin American versions of creme caramel were absolutely fantastic. The accompanying wine was ’09 Moscato d’Asti, a crisp, light, peachy, pear-y white with just a touch of sparkle and a wine that always works with dessert. A satisfying conclusion indeed.

If you missed this dinner, you missed one masterful barbecue — but all is not yet lost. Sign up for this Wednesday’s classic barbecue American style (Yes, an earlier version of this said Thursday — but it’s Wednesday!), and you’ll feel as if you’re truly enjoying what summer is all about. I’m already looking forward to it!

Menu for Sake Dinner is ready!

You already know what we have planned for the Vegan Sake Dinner — so what’s in store for the non-vegan version on Wednesday, May 25? We can tell you now:

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
House-Cured Pork Belly
Sauteed Shiitake Mushroom Cap
Ginger Plum Sauce

Second Course
Roasted Asian Duck with Miso-Orange Sauce
Black Forbidden Rice

Third Course
Sesame Ahi Tuna
Pickled Ginger
Asian Greens

Fourth Course
Roast Pork and Crab Dumpling Soup

Fifth Course
Cold Soba Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
Tempura Shrimp
Tempura Green Beans

Sixth Course
Green Tea Ice Cream with Fresh Berries

This dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. sharp and the cost is $75 per person plus tax and gratuity. Keep your eyes here for future information on which sakes we’ll pair with which courses. In the meantime, make your prepaid reservation at 216.481.9635 and get ready for a true Asian gourmet experience!

Chocolate & Wine Dinner a tasty treat!

You’ve been waiting for it, and you’ve got it: the video from the Valentine’s Day Chocolate & Wine Dinner. I must say, I (the humble Tenant) am really sorry I didn’t get to finish this one. Those of you who were there, you know why; not going to bother the rest of you with the story. Suffice it to say I’m fine, and I hope I didn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of what was a really terrific repast.

We began with an aperitif wine, San Giulio Malvasia. This was a red sparkling wine, poured in flutes, and I liked it for its bright, slightly sweet qualities that prepared us for the meal to come.

The first course was Seared Day Boat Scallop with Wild Mushroom Risotto in a White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce. Once again, a classic Bistro 185 scallop, seared and cooked just perfectly, and in a delightfully light sauce. If you expect chocolate, white or otherwise, to be heavy, a sauce like this is a revelation; it was a light and delicate creamy seafood sauce, only a touch sweet. The risotto studded with mushrooms was a fine complement. Our wine for this course was Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs, which didn’t overpower the flavor of the dish.

Course 2 treated us to Chocolate and Espresso-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mango Sauce, accompanied by a Chocolate Noodle Kugel. The slices of pork, once again cooked just enough, were tender and flavorful, with lovely little crispy crusty edges of chocolate-espresso coating. The mango sauce went with them perfectly, and the square of noodle kugel was like a little noodle casserole: a bit sweet but also spicy. With this dish we received a glass of Rebel Wine Company’s The Show Malbec. This is a smooth and full-bodied wine that is just right for a more substantial meat course.

The third course was a real charmer. I told my companions that it seems Ruth never does an ordinary salad, and this one was another mold-breaker. The mixed greens for this salad arrived in lacy fried baskets of Parmesan cheese slightly flavored with chocolate. (Ruth admitted to me later that they were very tricky to make.) The greens were sprinkled with organic cocoa nibs–which really aren’t sweet at all–and dressed in a mildly sweet, light ginger-citrus vinaigrette. This was tasty enough, but I’ll be honest and admit what my favorite part of the salad was: the piece of dark chocolate-dipped bacon that speared every serving. How can you resist a thick slice of applewood-smoked bacon coated in a lovely thick covering of dark chocolate? Of course, whoever came up with the concept of covering bacon in chocolate in the first place should probably be consigned to the fiery flames for having stumbled upon such an entirely unhealthy and utterly sinful concept. But it’s too late now to undo what’s been done. And let’s face facts: chocolate-covered bacon is unbelievably delicious. Did the Graffigna Pinot Grigio go well with it? Sure, but did it really matter? Enough said about that.

For the fourth course, we enjoyed Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce and Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear. What a fine combination this turned out to be as well. The duck was ever so crispy and the sauce again was a winning combination of sweet and spice, with the pears just making it all the tastier. The wine was Campo Viejo Rioja, a very nice red.

Here is where I have to end my review. I only wish I could have made it to the Panko and Hazelnut Crusted Scampi with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce with Brunoise of Fresh Melons in Chocolate Liqueur, not to mention the dessert of Chocolate Creme Brulee with Chocolate Cigar and Fresh Berries. I’m also a lover of any combination of chocolate and hazelnuts (keep your Nutella away from me if you don’t want it to disappear), and I know from past experience what kinds of reactions Ruth gets for her scampi. And a chocolate dessert like this one–need I say more? I would also have liked to try the Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut and Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port. But I’m probably going to have to try to get Ruth to cook up these dishes for me some other time. How good are my powers of persuasion? I guess we’ll see. Then again, maybe I can convince her that I don’t want to have missed out on seeing what magic she worked with these dishes. Worth a shot, right?

Anyway, if you were there and would like to offer your comments on them, please do. As a matter of fact, feel free to comment on anything about this dinner. One impression I definitely came away with, from what I was able to enjoy, was that if anyone had any notions that  just because it was chocolate-based, it was going to be like eating six courses of nothing but gooey-sweet, candy-like dishes…well, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. On the contrary, it proved that with care and creativity, chocolate can be used as a flavoring or component of many dishes other than sugary desserts, just like cinnamon or any other such spice. Something worth thinking about the next time you want to try cooking up a special meal–or enjoying one in a restaurant.

What’s up next on the Bistro 185 special dinner schedule? As you may have already seen, it’s a chance to get your Irish on at an Irish Wine and Spirits Dinner. To ensure yourself a place at the table, be sure to reserve now!

Chocoholics, rejoice!

We’ve got the menu all planned for the Chocolate & Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16. As promised, every dish includes chocolate, and every one is going to be special:

Aperitif Wine
San Giulio Malvasia

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
Wild Mushroom Risotto
White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce
Wine: Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs

Second Course
Chocolate and Espresso Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions
Mango Sauce
Chocolate Noodle Kugel
Wine: Rebel Wine Company “The Show” Malbec

Third Course
Parmesan and Chocolate Basket
Mixed Greens
Organic Chocolate Nibs
Dark-Chocolate-Dipped Bacon
Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette
Wine: Graffigna Pinot Grigio

Fourth Course
Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce
Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear
Wine: Campo Viejo Rioja

Fifth Course
Panko-and-Hazelnut-Crusted Scampi
Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce
Brunoise of Fresh Melons in a Chocolate Liqueur
Wine: Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut

Sixth Course
Chocolate Crème Brulée
Chocolate Cigar
Fresh Berries
Wine: Terra d’Oro Port Zinfandel

Think of what a special gift this dinner would make for your Valentine — this year, skip the box of candy and give an original “assorted chocolates” surprise! Not only that, but maybe your sweetheart will enjoy the idea of dining out after the rush. Especially when it means enjoying a relaxing, elegantly served six-course meal that’s full of chocolate magic.

You won’t want to miss this one, so call now and make your reservation ($75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity) at 216.481.9635. Chocolate may be the food of romance, but our Chocolate Wine Dinner will be a sweet experience even if you’re enjoying it solo!

Join us for our Sake Dinner July 28

Whether you’ve already experienced the pleasures of a sake dinner at Bistro 185, or you’ve never tasted sake before, our July 28 “Sake To Me II” Dinner is an evening you shouldn’t miss — especially if you’re a fan of Asian-inspired cuisine. We’re planning a delightful evening of six courses perfectly paired with a selection of six sake wines that is sure to leave your tastebuds delighted. Here’s the menu:

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop with Golden Trout Caviar
Forbidden Black Jasmine Rice with Chinese Sausage
Ginger Beurre Blanc
Murai Family Pearl Genshu Sake

Second Course
Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Tonkatsu with Curry Aioli
Grilled Korean Beef Lettuce Wrap
Sesame Japanese Eggplant
Moonstone Asian Pear Sake

Third Course
Scallion Dumpling Soup
Choya Umensu Sake

Fourth Course
Soba Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
Tempura Shrimp
Moonstone Raspberry Sake

Fifth Course
Yuzu Ahi Tuna — Sashimi Style
Daikon-Carrot Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing
Moonstone Plum Sake

Sixth Course
Lychee Ice Cream
Sake-Marinated Assorted Melons
Custard Tartlet
Murri-Sugidama Sake

Cost of our Sake Dinner is $65, excluding tax and gratuity. Our Russian Champagne and Vodka Dinner sold out, so be sure to make reservations for this one early to secure your place. Call 216.481.9635, and accompany us on a culinary journey to Asia that you’ll never forget!

Behind the Dish: Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken TetrazziniToday we think of Chicken Tetrazzini as a rather common dish, but it wasn’t named after a common person, or so the story goes. There was once a trend for naming culinary creations after celebrities, and Chicken Tetrazzini, we are told, was named to honor the Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, “The Florentine Nightingale,” star of the San Francisco Opera. Although there are many variations on the recipe, the common elements are chicken, a butter-cream-Parmesan cheese sauce flavored with wine and vegetables, spaghetti and a grated Parmesan topping.

Most people have eaten Chicken Tetrazzini at some point, but have you ever eaten James Beard’s recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini? Chances are you haven’t — and you’ve never had it quite the way we’re cooking it for tonight.

Beard’s recipe calls for chicken, sweet red peppers, butter, flour, chicken broth, heavy cream, black pepper, Tabasco sauce, sherry, spaghetti, bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. We’re using close to the same ingredients, with a combination of white and dark meat chicken, but we’re roasting the sweet red peppers for extra flavor, adding roasted garlic, and substituting Sriracha hot sauce — the popular chili sauce most often found on the tabletops of Chinese and other Asian restaurants — for the Tabasco and Marsala wine for the sherry. The bread crumbs topping our tetrazzini are a combination of regular and Japanese panko bread crumbs for extra crispness.

This isn’t your old school cafeteria’s Chicken Tetrazzini — as you will find out when you taste it! You get crisp, creamy and just a little spicy in the same dish — definitely uncommon.