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.

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Enjoy our 3-for-$30 menu during Cleveland Restaurant Week!

It’s Cleveland Restaurant Week, and Ruth is especially excited because she’s just been elected to the board of Cleveland Independents, the group that sponsors this annual opportunity for you to sample our unique, locally based restaurants at special prices.

If you’re a loyal Bistro 185 guest, you already know what we can do, and we hope you’ll plan to join us during Restaurant Week for more. If you’ve never visited before and are thinking of giving us a try, we’re eager to have you stop by and sample the pleasures of dinner with us.

Plan now to come in Monday through Friday (through November 11) and choose your three-course feast by selecting one from each category:

Salads and Starters
Soup of the Day
Chicken and Vegetable Pot Stickers
Field Greens Salad
House Tempura Vegetables

Entrees
Chicken Parmesan with Pasta Marinara
Slab St. Louis Ribs, House Fries and Slaw
Medallions of Beef Filet, Hollandaise Sauce, Mashers and House Tempura Vegetables
Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with Sesame Peanut Noodles
Sautéed Walleye with Hollandaise Sauce, Mashers and House Tempura Vegetables
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Pecan Butter, Sweet Mash and House Tempura Vegetables
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage and Chicken, Topped with Rice and Black Beans

Dessert
Key Lime Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
House-Made Ice Cream
Chocolate Crème Brulee
Warm Chocolate Molten Cake

Please note that entrees are not available for sharing and there are no substitutions; price also does not include beverages, tax or gratuity. The $3-for-$30 menu is available dine-in only.

If it’s been a while since you had a nice night out and you want to support the local economy when you plan that occasion…if you’re tired of the chain restaurant experience, but afraid that any “tab for two” at a one-of-a-kind place will end up in the three figures…or you just want to get together with some friends over a truly first-class meal without breaking the bank…you owe it to yourself to come to the Bistro and see how far we can stretch your $30! We know you’ll come back!

Present and future specials: tonight, this weekend, this fall

We have some truly exciting things in mind for the coming weeks! Here’s a preview.

First, tonight’s specials will be basically the same as last night’s. For those wondering what the Soup of the Day is, it’s Chicken Vegetable Tortilla.

Now, for we upcoming weekends, starting tomorrow night, we have some real goodies planned, so make your reservations now if your mouth starts watering!

First, we’re going to feature amongst our specials this weekend a 14-oz. Veal Osso Bucco Cooked with Pureed Fall Root Vegetables, served on a bed of pappardelle pasta.

Then, starting this Friday and Saturday and continuing each weekend through the first two weeks of November, we’re going to offer a Bistro 185 Individual Clambake. It’s just like any other clambake, only each one is personal-sized: big enough for just you! Each person who orders a Personal Clambake will receive his or her own potful of goodies cooked in clam broth, including a “maris section” crab leg (the portion between the knuckle and the claw), a South African lobster tail, jumbo shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, chicken thighs, redskin potatoes, and corn on the cob. Your clambake will be served with cornbread and melted butter so you can enjoy it to the fullest!

But that’s not all we’re working on that’s new and special. This Monday, October 12, the Bistro introduces its new Fall Menu, featuring some specials we think you’re really going to love. Here are some of the items we have planned:

House-Smoked Chicken with Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese: Replacing our Limoncello Chicken summer special, this treat will star our own smoked chicken with a combination of Gruyère, Brie, Emmenthaler and Parmesan cheeses on medium shell pasta, with black truffle, finished with a bit of white truffle oil. We like to call it “Ultimate Mac & Cheese.” We think you will, too.

Duck Three-Way: We’ve served duck the same way here at the Bistro since we opened. Time to change things up! That’s what we’ll be doing with this new dish: a duck ragout with a confit, served with a quarter roasted duck and sliced smoked duck breast. This creation will most likely be presented on a bed of pappardelle pasta.

Gumbo of the Week: We will feature a new and different gumbo each week. Next week’s will combine shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage.

Seafood Stews: We’ll be rotating a variety of seafood stews through our specials, influenced by different regions and countries, such as Thailand and Italy.

Cassoulets: Look for a rotating variety of cassoulets, including classic French and seafood.

Risottos: We’ll also rotate a variety of risottos highlighting various ingredients.

Julia Project Classics: We’ll rotate some of the most popular dishes we served during the Julia Project back through our fall menu.

A few items that are already on our specials, and have earned a permanent place throughout our fall menu, are our two most popular Julia Project dishes of all: the Lamb Shank with Baby Fall Vegetables and the Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes. We will also continue to offer our Calves’ Liver entree, which recently won Scene Magazine’s Best in Cleveland award for Best Liver That’s Not Foie Gras.

In the future, also look for another very special dish: Cornish Hen Wrapped in Bacon with a Ginger-Maple Glaze, Acorn Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Pecans, Roasted Shallots and Roasted Garlic.

To learn more about our fall menu, and to keep up with the nightly specials, keep checking this space. You won’t want to miss anything!


Tonight’s Specials: Oct. 5

Starters
Soup of the Day
Gravlax (house cured salmon) with potato pancakes, capers, chopped red onion and sour cream
House Smoked Duck Breast with mango chipotle glaze, sun-dried cranberries, potato pancake and sour cream
Chicken and Vegetable Pot Stickers with sesame-soy dipping sauce
Asian Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
Romaine Wedge Salad with Gorgonzola dressing, chopped hard-boiled eggs, red onion, bacon and tomato
Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad on a bed of field greens with balsamic vinaigrette
Roasted Organic Beets with goat cheese, honey and balsamic drizzle
Calymarna Brown Figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with prosciutto, field greens and balsamic vinaigrette
Warm Wild Mushroom Salad with pistachios, field greens and raspberry vinaigrette
Coquilles St. Jacques: Baby bay scallops and shrimp in creamy Alfredo sauce with a Parmesan cheese crust
Escargot with Garlic Butter
Puff Pastry Wrapped French Camembert served warm with grapes and toasts
Medjool Dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped with bacon with balsamic drizzle and crumbled goat cheese

Entrees

Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables (a Julia Project favorite)
Lamb Moussaka with Greek Salad (a Julia Project favorite)
Sautéed Pork Tenderloin in Prune and Port Wine Sauce with Mashers (a Julia Project favorite)
Steak Oscar: Medallions of beef filet topped with crab and shrimp, hollandaise sauce, tempura green beans and mashers
Boeuf Bourguignon: Boneless Black Angus short ribs slow-braised in a rich burgundy wine sauce with carrots and onions on a bed of mashers
16-oz. Bone-in Cowboy Ribeye Steak with onion straws, sautéed redskin potatoes and house tempura vegetable
Calves’ Liver, pan sautéed, with onion gravy, mashers and bacon
Roasted Half Duck with orange sauce, organic wild rice and house tempura vegetable
Limoncello Chicken: Pan-seared chicken breasts finished in a limoncello cream sauce, Meyer lemons, asparagus, artichoke hearts and snap peas with penne pasta
Chicken Parmesan with pasta marinara
Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops with black truffle, chanterelle mushrooms and roasted butternut squash risotto
Sesame-Crusted Pan-Seared Wild-Caught Ahi Tuna with wasabi aioli and ginger mandarin drizzle, Israeli couscous and house tempura vegetable
Pecan-Crusted Bay of Fundy Salmon with sweet potato mashers and sautéed spinach
Pan-Roasted Wild-Caught Alaskan Halibut with tropical fruit and nut rum sauce and butternut squash ravioli
Wild-Caught Canadian Walleye finished with a lemon herb butter sauce, mashers and house vegetables, OR tempura style with sweet potato fries, slaw and tartar sauce
Lobster Ravioli with Seared Day Boat Scallops and Shrimp finished with a creamy lobster sauce
Ricotta and Spinach in Fresh Manicotti Pasta with marinara and a touch of cream

Julie & Julia, the movie: C’est magnifique!

Yesterday, while the Bistro was closed, we went out to see the movie Julie & Julia. If you haven’t seen it yet, we think you definitely should (complimentary dessert or not)! We enjoyed this parallel look at the lives of two women in need of a fresh project in life: Julie Powell in 2002 and Julia Child in France in the 1940s and ’50s. We think Meryl Streep’s characterization especially captures that special joie de vivre possessed by Julia as she tried to find a way to share her passion for French cuisine with Americans.

Mushroom Soup for 50…

Today, as you may know, we are stirring up a big batch of Julia’s Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe. We’ll be making 12 quarts, or about 50 servings, rich with white button mushrooms, egg yolks, onions, whipping cream and — you guessed it — plenty of butter.

When you try it tonight, look for the same qualities we look for in the finished product: a creamy, silky texture; a rich mushroom flavor; a mild acidity with a buttery finish; and a sense of “earthiness.” Let us know whether we’ve hit the spot.

Also, if you’ve seen Julie & Julia, we’re curious to know what you thought of it. Vote below!


The inspirational power of great food

We confess! Last night at the Bistro, we jumped the gun a bit and put our veal scallops and calves’ liver dishes back on the menu for Saturday night. And it looks as if many of you thought that was a good idea, because we sold out of them! Not only that, but a number of you brought in your Julie & Julia movie ticket stubs and showed us your copies of the Julie & Julia and My Life in France books, and received complimentary desserts.

If you ordered our Julia dessert of the evening, Chocolate Mousse Cake, you had a delicious experience: a rich and fluffy chocolate dream! We served it with a fresh Ohio raspberry coulis to which we  added some Chambord, French raspberry liqueur, and topped it all off with freshly made whipped cream. Altogether, a great night for the Julia Child Project.

If you’re reading My Life in France, one aspect of Julia Child’s life story that will strike you right away is how taken Julia was by her very first meal on French soil in 1948. She and her husband had just disembarked at Le Havre from a week on a cross-Atlantic ship (how we take for granted our modern ability to get there quickly in a plane!), unloaded their station wagon from its hold, and set out for Paris, with a lunch stop in Rouen. Seated at an establishment called Restaurant La Couronne, they enjoyed a complete French meal starring sole meunière. “It was the most exciting meal of my life,” Julia rhapsodized — for her, an awakening to everything that great food can be.

Ruth herself enjoyed a similar experience once in France. To this day, she recalls a meal she enjoyed at a restaurant in the famous Louvre Museum. The poached salmon with tarragon sauce, accompanied by a simple salad of the European salad green mâche with a vinaigrette dressing, lingers in her mind as perfection itself.

Julie & Julia and My Life in France are all about the capacity for great food to create positive change in people’s lives. It’s that kind of experience we hope to bring to every guest at Bistro 185 — to pass our passion and inspiration for our work on to you. We hope you’re looking forward to our second week of menus as much as we are. Come join us tomorrow night for our Julia Soup of the Day, cream of mushroom, and carry the inspiration onward.

Eat your liver!

Did you ever hear that admonition when you were a child? Did you find yourself not too thrilled at the prospect, staring at a plateful of something that looked like a big slab of shoe leather — and had approximately the same consistency and flavor?

Or, are you a fan of that good old comfort food standard — liver and onions — who’s never tried liver the way the French do it? Or have you already discovered the pleasures of foie de veau — but wondered if you can experience something that good here in Cleveland? Thanks to our Julia Project, you can, tonight.

Our Sautéed Calves’ Liver with Cream Mustard Sauce is a far cry from shoe-leather country. These are soft, tender slices of liver bathed in a savory sauce of cream and top-quality grainy French mustard, sitting atop a cozy bed of mashed potatoes. Our accompaniments for this dish are sautéed spinach, rich with garlic, and celery root (celeriac) remoulade, the recipe for which is also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1. Normally, remoulade is a term used for a kind of tartar sauce or condiment, but this French dish is actually thin strips of celery root combined with a mustard-based dressing. You might think of it as “coleslaw in a tuxedo.” Just as the cold creaminess of coleslaw complements battered fried fish, the crisp, cool, astringent texture and taste of this remoulade provides a refreshing contrast to the rich, warm flavor of the calves’ liver and sauce. Indeed, it’s a dish you’ll be more than happy to eat, no admonitions necessary!

In other news: The Julia Project list of dishes for the week of August 10 to 15 is ready! Here’s what’s in store for each day.

Monday: Potage Veloute aux Champignons — Cream of Mushroom Soup, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 40)

Tuesday: Coquilles St. Jacques — Scallops and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 216), accompanied by asparagus tips

Wednesday: Sauté de Veau Marengo — Brown Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Mushrooms, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 360), accompanied by mashed potatoes

Thursday: Loup en Croûte — Fish in Pastry, from Julia Child and Company, with hollandaise sauce and haricots verts

Friday: Savarin with Ohio-Grown Tart Cherries and Seasonal Stone Fruit with Crème Anglaise, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 664). Taste a classic French dessert made with local fruit at the peak of flavor!

Saturday: Bouillabaisse de Poulet — Chicken Poached in White Wine, Provençal Vegetables and Herbs, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2 (page 261), with Ohio-grown baby redskin potatoes and pistou. (It will be Julia’s birthday August 15 — she would have been 97 — and we’ll be celebrating in style!)

Sound good? Make your reservation now! Also, don’t forget, if we served a dish this past week that you’d love to see again, let us know in the poll. We’ll keep it open until midnight Sunday to give you a good chance to vote.

A special shout-out to everyone who enjoyed sampling our food last night at the American Cancer Society 2nd Annual “Dining at the Diamond” event at Classic Park in Eastlake. Thanks for joining us in supporting a great cause, and hope to see you at the Bistro soon!

What makes a great French dish a great French dish?

How can you make your own attempts at French cooking stand out with that deep, rich flavor that puts it above the rest? Two of the keys are how you treat the vegetables in your dish and how you infuse your sauce with herbs.

Our chef Todd Mueller, for example, who prepared our Chicken Fricassee Tuesday night, took special care with the mushrooms to ensure they tasted as fine as they did. First, they get a treatment with lemon juice to retain their white color; then they receive a bath of flavor from the white wine and chicken stock. Although Julia Child recommends either dry white wine or vermouth, Todd likes to use a combination of both for more richness of flavor; a dry Chardonnay is an especially good complement to the mushrooms.

For our Potage Parmentier, potato-and-leek soup, texture was important. Mashing the potatoes with a hand blender provided a more rustic consistency than would pureeing them in a food processor, leaving small pieces of potato and leek intact for a more interesting feel and taste.

As for flavor infusion, the key to depth of flavor in a slow-cooked dish like our Chicken Fricassee is the bouquet garni: a gathering of herbs, spices and other aromatics tied together into a bundle of cheesecloth. (At Bistro 185, of course, Todd can gather fresh sprigs of thyme and other herbs right from our rooftop garden.) The bouquet garni is submerged in the pot while the dish cooks and removed before serving, by which time it’s permeated the sauce with a tremendous depth of flavor.

Of course, the alternative to cooking these dishes on your own is enjoying them with us. (Then again, we may just serve as your inspiration!) Come by tonight and taste for yourself.

On the schedule for tonight: Sautéed Veal Scallops

We hope you are enjoying following along with our Julia Child cooking journey so far. If you haven’t had the opportunity to taste any of these dishes yet for yourself, or even if you have, we hope you’ll be able to come to the bistro tonight for Escalopes de Veau a L’Estragon – Sautéed Veal Scallops with Brown Tarragon Butter, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.

Taking the lead on preparation of this dish, as he did the Potage Parmentier, Apple Turnovers and Chicken Fricassee, will be our chef Todd Mueller. Todd frequently applies his experience in the extended program of Paris’ École Lenôtre to create traditional French dishes for our menu, and our Julia Project is really giving him and all of our talented kitchen crew an opportunity to shine. Coming up, we’ll feature an inside view from Todd into what it takes to create dishes like these on a restaurant scale — and maybe a tip or two for those who’d like to try whipping them up at home.

Potage Parmentier is a sensation!

We are pleased to report that Bistro 185 has just served our first Julia Child Project dish: our soup of the day, Potage Parmentier. And it is delicious — thick and rich with flavor and garnished with herbs, garlic croutons and just a touch of sour cream. Julia Powell used a potato ricer in her efforts, but we blended our potatoes using a hand blender to get just the right kind of not-too-smooth, not-too-chunky consistency. If you chose this for your appetizer this evening, you enjoyed a treat indeed.

Everyone in our kitchen is excited about our project, which is why Potage Parmentier turned out not to be the only Julia Child pleasure available at the bistro tonight — the apple turnover, light, flaky and full of apples with a wonderful touch of lemon, is as delightful a dessert as any you’ll find at a sidewalk café in France.

Our Julia Child-inspired offerings, of course, share the menu with many of our guests’ perennial favorites, as well as some newer offerings that take advantage of the summer bounty that is hitting its peak of flavor right now. Our rooftop garden is full of heirloom tomatoes and wonderful herbs that you can taste in dishes like our Caprese Salad, starring our own basil and organic tomatoes; the Bruschetta Quartet, a selection of tapenades served with toasts; and Pasta in the Pink, featuring our tomatoes, basil and herbs tossed with shell pasta and baked with fresh mozzarella and cream.

On Tuesday night’s menu, our special Julia Child dish is Fricassee de Poulet à L’Ancienne — Chicken Fricassee with Wine-Flavored Cream Sauce, Onions and Mushrooms, also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.

But whatever you choose — whether you stop by to enjoy a classic Child masterpiece, an old favorite, or the latest produce fresh from our rooftop to your plate — as Julia would say, Bon Appétit!