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!

Try your hand at Ruth’s winter-warming chicken soup recipe!

Had enough of the snow and cold already? Does it feel as if we’re already living in “Groundhog Day” or what? Maybe what you need is a bowlful of comfort to warm you up, body and soul. If that sounds good to you, and you know your way around a kitchen, why not try Ruth’s own recipe for chicken soup, just as she gave it to Margaret Daykin when she cooked it up on the morning show on Fox 8? Get your ingredients together and get simmering…you’ll feel better just smelling the aroma. What’s her secret that gives it that extra snap of flavor? Fresh ginger…don’t leave it out!

Ruth’s Chicken Soup Recipe

1 brined chicken, 3-4 lbs. (may be left whole or cut up–your preference)
2 large onions, skin left on, washed very well and cut in half (this will give your soup a lovely color)
1 small leek, washed well and cut in half
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
4 stalks celery, with tops, cut into chunks
6 cloves fresh garlic
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
1 celery root with tops, cleaned and cut into chunks
10 black peppercorns
Salt to taste
1/2 bunch fresh dill, washed
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, washed

Put chicken in a large pot with enough water to bring the level 2″ above the chicken. Bring to a slow boil and skim the foam. Once foam is skimmed, reduce heat to a simmer and add all the other ingredients. Dill and parsley should be on the very top.

Cover the soup, with the lid slightly ajar. Let simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until chicken is very tender. Let soup cool and strain. Save chicken and vegetables. Take chicken meat off the bones. Add meat back to soup, along with some of the vegetables.

Serve with noodles, matzoh balls, or dumplings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Bistro will be closed tomorrow, so we wish all of you the happiest and safest of Thanksgivings. We will be back open on Friday, but if you miss us in the meantime, you’re welcome to try your hand whipping up our recipe for Chestnut Soup for your own Thanksgiving table — vegan style or otherwise! Find the recipe in this terrific article by Janet Podolak in Lake County’s News-Herald, which also provides other recipes for lighter Thanksgiving dishes that make terrific leftovers.

DON’T FORGET, WE’RE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!: Keep up with us on Facebook, and on on Twitter at @Bistro185, to find out what’s new and what we’re cooking up for you — and feel free to offer us ideas, suggestions, compliments, or just a friendly hello!

Vegan Thanksgiving Wine Dinner: No turkeys admitted!

The Tenant has decided that given how long it took to post her last dinner review, she’d better be quick with her review of this one — hate to keep the fans waiting! Of course, better than reading a review of this feast was actually being there to enjoy it.

First, let it be said: I’ve always been a meat eater. Even the idea of going vegetarian or vegan never appealed to me greatly, in part because I imagined condemning myself to a life of tofu this, tofu that, and, well, tofu tofu tofu. Am I getting the message across that I have never really been into tofu? Okay. But since Chef Jakub started helming the Vegan Dinner Series here at the Bistro, my horizons on the world of vegan options have been considerably broadened. Yes, I asked for my Masamaun Curry with chicken. But my first experience with Gardein (in the form of schnitzel) was a real revelation. So I was looking forward to seeing what Chef Ruth and Chef Jakub would be cooking up for this banquet.

First, the Bistro is delighted that this dinner received such a terrific reception. Nearly all the “restaurant side” of the Bistro was full of guests for this dinner, which may make it the biggest special dinner yet. Obviously, the vegan community in the Cleveland area is hungry for this kind of restaurant option and if you cook it, they will come!

Dinner began with a wine aperitif, Peter Lehmann Layers. This wine from Australia’s Barossa Valley blends five different types of grape to create a dry white wine with a complexity of flavors. It was fitting preparation for our first course, Chestnut Soup, which arrived at the table streaked with vegan yogurt and garnished with a frizzle of fried leeks and just a dab of black truffle paste. I love chestnut soup, and this one was fabulous! It derives its creaminess from almond milk, and if you want to know how to whip up a batch for your own Thanksgiving feast at home, keep an eye on the food section in next week’s News-Herald, as we’re sharing the recipe with them. The accompanying wine, Marimar Estate Chardonnay Acero, is a Sonoma County white, steel fermented without a touch of oak, dry, bright and crisp on the tongue.

Now for the “meat” of the meal, which was, of course, not meat, but Spiced Apple Cider-Glazed Supreme of Gardein. The Gardein “cut,” bathed in the slightly tart, slightly sweet glaze, sat atop an herbed polenta cake mixed with vegan sausage and dressed with sautéed shoestrings of zucchini, yellow squash and carrot. The combined effect of the very chicken-like gardein, the gentle glaze, the polenta and vegetables, and the savory sausage was just fantastic and said “fall feast” in every sense of the word. It was served with Flora Springs Soliloquy, a Napa white that served as a fine complement.

This point of the meal was perfect for a salad course, and the Field Greens with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Pomegranate Seeds and Oranges dressed in Blood Orange Vinaigrette fit the bill. It combined sweetness, tartness and crunch to make the perfect salad. In an unusual twist, this course was served with a red wine, Peter Lehmann Layers Red, but it worked. This Layers wine is also a five-grape blend, with a big fruity bouquet and, I thought, a little chocolaty hint in it. Whatever the flavors, they combined really well with the salad.

Course number four was Quinoa and Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash, slices of roasted acorn squash glazed with agave syrup and fitted out in the middle with little quinoa timbales including chopped green apple and big fat pecans. Well, I have now learned that quinoa, which happens to be a high-protein, high-fiber, gluten-free food, is as delicious as any rice or pasta, and lower on the glycemic index to boot. This is good to know! Maybe I should be eating more quinoa and fewer complex carbs. For this dish, the wine was Green Truck Organic Petite Sirah, a Syrah-Merlot blend, peppery and fruity.

Last came a very elegantly plated dessert that tasted as good as it looked: a Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Cranberry Coulis. This variation on the traditional panna cotta, sauced with tart cinnamon-spiked cranberries, topped with a foam of almond milk, and garnished with mint leaves, was as satisfying as any traditional pumpkin pie. Alongside, we had tiny glasses of Hobbs Dessert Grenache, a rich, sweet red dessert wine with an intense flavor that comes from the grapes being partly dried out before pressing. It was the perfect conclusion to a most satisfying meal.

So, that’s the story. If you’re vegan or vegetarian and you live anywhere near Bistro 185, you owe it to yourself to sign up to be there the next time a dinner like this one is in the planning — or at least keep an eye out to see when the next Vegan Night is coming up. This is one experience where you won’t have to wonder or ask whether all of your meal was prepared vegan — you’ll know. (Trust me, they’re very careful about this!) If you’re normally an omnivore, get ready for a surprise as you learn exactly how varied, interesting, and refined vegan cuisine can be in experienced hands. Bistro 185 served up the kind of Thanksgiving feast even a turkey could love.

Night at the Oscars: Julie & Julia and Boeuf Bourguignon

This week, Bistro 185 takes a slight turn in its tribute to the Academy Awards to honor (and remember) a film near and dear to our hearts, which has secured a 2009 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Meryl Streep. Yes, we’re revisiting our Julia Project Monday through Wednesday by once again offering one of the most popular specials from that project, Boeuf Bourguignon with Pearl Onions and Lardons.

This is Boeuf Bourguignon Julia’s way…a little different from our usual nightly specials recipe Boeuf Bourguignon. So stop by and re-enjoy the same dish you loved last summer, or try it for the first time. Bon Appétit!

UPDATE: HELD OVER!! Yes, our Boeuf Bourguignon is too good to limit to three days only, so we’re keeping it on as our “Night at the Oscars” special for the rest of this week. If you haven’t enjoyed it yet, what are you waiting for?

Night at the Oscars: Oo là là!

Tonight’s French dishes should definitely make you feel like An American in Paris. The Fennel Salad is sautéed sweetly with a touch of shallots (not in the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, but Chef Todd added them) in orange juice and olive oil to the point of perfect tenderness and nestled in a bed of mixed greens. Fennel also comes into play in our Tenderloin of Pork with Green Peppercorns, helping to flavor a slightly spicy, slightly sweet sauce that uses a mix of whole-grain and Dijon mustards. The sauce is perfect for being soaked up by the baby redskin potatoes. Dessert? The Pain Perdu is like slices of bread pudding, rich with toasted almonds and Grand Marnier and slivered strawberries. C’est magnifique indeed! If you missed it Monday, join us Tuesday!

Bistro 185 Salutes the Academy Awards!

Things never stay the same for long here at the Bistro, and we’re bringing something new to our offerings for the month of February as we look forward to the 82nd Academy Awards. This year, Bistro 185 is presenting its own salute to legendary Academy Award winners. Each week leading up to “Oscar Night” — March 7 — we’ll salute three past Academy Award winners for Best Picture with special entrees, starters and desserts.

As you might guess from the trailer above, we’re kicking off our Salute to Hollywood’s Best Pictures tonight and tomorrow night with a tribute to the Best Picture winner for 1951, An American in Paris. If you can’t dance like Gene Kelly or Leslie Caron, how can we make you feel like an American in Paris right here in Cleveland? By offering you a selection of dishes from Barefoot in Paris, the French cookbook by the Food Network’s own Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. On our salad menu: Fennel Salad (p. 99). Our featured entree: Loin of Pork with Green Peppercorns (p. 118), which we’ll prepare as a tenderloin of pork with green peppercorns, served with redskin potatoes. Finally, the perfect dessert to finish it off: Pain Perdu (p. 209), a souped-up French toast with strawberries, almonds and Grand Marnier. All of it together should make you feel like dancing!

But this is just the beginning. Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll salute yet another Academy Award Best Picture with a new set of themed dishes, and Friday and Saturday a third. The fun continues each week until the Best Picture winner for 2009 is chosen in March.

To which films will we pay tribute? What kinds of special dishes will be in the offing as the weeks go on? You’ll just have to keep following the blog and see! (One hint: we’ll be including this year’s Best Picture nominees, which will be ten this time around, rather than the usual five. To find out which movies are selected, be alert for the live announcement tomorrow morning — yes, Groundhog Day — at 8:38 a.m.!)

Mind if we smoke?

We don’t think you will. In fact, we think you’ll thank us for smoking.

You’ll thank Marc for smoking, anyway. Since he got his big opportunity to smoke as much as he wanted at our house, he’s become quite the heavy smoker. Lately, he just can’t seem to quit smoking. Yeah, go figure, it’s a new year and everyone else is making resolutions to quit smoking — and this guy resolves to smoke more. In the past week, especially, Marc has been smoking like crazy.

Meat, that is. (What, you thought we were talking about smoking something else?)

He’s been smoking beef brisket (and if you’ve ever had our brisket, you’ll be delighted to hear that), he’s been smoking ribs, he’s been smoking pork chops, he’s been smoking sausage and he’s been smoking turkey. Now, you can benefit from all his smoking, in the form of this wonderful Choucroûte: an Alsatian smoked meat platter.

Meat platters like this are the quintessential bistro dish in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, so influenced in the kitchen by Germany: great quantities of smoked meat, roasted to a turn, served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut and flavorful mustards. This is our version. You get a plateful of smoked ribs, sausage, turkey and a pork chop. On the side, boiled baby potatoes and plenty of sauerkraut, made with Ruth’s special recipe that combines a touch of sugar and bacon to render the shredded cabbage sweet-tart-savory, not sour. The whole thing comes accompanied by two mustards — a hearty grainy mustard and a mellow honey mustard — and we suggest you ask for some bread as well, because you’re going to want some to soak up the sauce and juices. Order up a beer with this, and — ach du Lieber! — you can’t get a more heartwarming or satisfying winter’s meal. It’s on our specials menu this week; you need to get in here and taste it!

If for some reason that doesn’t ring your bell, though, we still have plenty of other delights with which to tempt you. Such as veal osso bucco; roasted half duck with cherry port sauce; long bone double cut pork chops wrapped in bacon and stuffed with prosciutto, Gruyère and apple with port and dried plum ginger sauce; slow braised lamb shank with rosemary-mint demiglace; a spicy jambalaya; four-cheese mac and cheese with smoked chicken and black truffle; Portuguese fisherman’s stew; mahi mahi with raspberry-chipotle glaze…

Come on by and fill your stomach and your soul with a lovingly prepared dish this week. Because at Bistro 185, we smoke ’em if we got ’em.

The James Beard Project: Coming full circle this week

This week marks the return of the James Beard Project, and to start with, we’re bringing back the same slate of dishes we featured in Week 1. That means if you missed any of these great dishes the first time around, you have another chance to enjoy them!

Monday, Jan. 11 — Noodles with Cabbage
Sautéed Medallions of Pork Tenderloin with a French Grainy Mustard and Horseradish Cream Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 88)

Tuesday, Jan. 12 — Coq au Riesling
Braised Chicken in Riesling Wine Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 116)

Wednesday, Jan. 13 — Walnut-Breaded Filet of Sole With Lemon Aioli, Grape Tomato Salad and Roasted Baby Redskin Potatoes (The New James Beard, p. 199)

Thursday, Jan. 14 — Roast Duck with Cherries and Wild Rice (The New James Beard, p. 338)

Friday, Jan. 15 — Ossi Buchi with Orzo
Braised Veal Shanks with Orzo (Beard on Pasta, p. 140)

Saturday, Jan. 16 — Lamb Shanks with Beans (The New James Beard, p. 399)

Mamma Mia! Don’t miss our Regional Italian Wine Dinner Jan. 26!

Whether you’ve enjoyed our wine dinners so far or never been to one before, you’re not going to want to miss out on our Italian Regional Wine Dinner Tuesday, January 26. It will feature a wonderful selection of regional Italian wines paired with each course — and oh, what courses!

Individual Antipasto

Tortellini en Brodo

Veal Osso Bucco with Pappardelle Pasta and Natural Pan Sauce

Caprese Salad

Seared Scallop on Black Truffle Soft Polenta and Asparagus

Ricotta Mascarpone Crêpe with Zabaglione and Fresh Berries

Our wine dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and cost is $60 per person, tax and gratuity additional. Our last dinner sold out, so don’t miss your chance to escape the drab and dreary Cleveland winter for a few hours for a romantic night of great cuisine Italian style. Call 216.481.9635 and make your paid reservation now!

AND…BEARD IS BACK!! Our James Beard Project resumes the week of January 11 with two more weeks featuring a classic James Beard-inspired dish as part of our dinner specials each night! Watch this blog for more information coming soon.