Vegan “Farm to Table” fresh and delicious

Apologies for the delay! The Tenant is back with a description of the Vegan Farm to Table Dinner of Wednesday. It was delicious from beginning to end — and the notable thing about this one was that Chef Ruth cooked it on her own, without any of the customary assistance from Chef Jakub. Looks like she’s got this vegan thing down cold! Or, should I say, hot and delicious!

Vegan Corn Chowder and Jalapeno Muffin

The starter course, Ohio Corn Chowder with Jalapeno Corn Muffin, could not have been better for me. I am a corn lover, and this is the time of year to grab that Ohio sweet corn and make amazing things out of it while you can! Ruth did just that with this incredible chowder. It was full of all the savory sweetness of the corn, yet with a special kick of heat enhanced by the red-pepper “cream” swirled atop it (which I believe was made with the assistance of almond milk). This is the kind of soup that, like the chestnut soup from Thanksgiving, makes even non-vegans say “What’s that you’re eating? Looks delicious.” It’s delicious, all right, and the muffin was perfect for sopping up any extra soup the spoon didn’t catch.

Organic Vegan Ratatouille and Gardein

On to the entree: Local and Organic Ratatouille with Rooftop Garden Herb-Crusted Gardein and Roasted Local Fingerling Potatoes. This was a concoction of classic ratatouille vegetables (including yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, red peppers) with garlic and rooftop herbs, combined with the crispy-outside, tender-inside tiny potatoes, and the crunchy-coated herbed gardein sitting atop it all. The melange of flavors was pure summer, and as I mentioned earlier, I like the chickeny texture and flavor of gardein myself, so I found this dish perfect for me.

Finally, dessert, and I’d already heard tell that this was going to be something else. Many times, cooks think of grilling meat but don’t consider what kind of amazing flavors grilling can impart to other foods (even lettuce, as I once learned at an earlier Bistro dinner). In this case, the Grilled Stone Fruit Compote demonstrated how succulent and tasty stone fruit (I believe this was peaches and apricots–not sure if there were plums too) can become when subjected to the grill, and what an incredible saucy glaze can be made from them as well. As for the Olive Oil-Lemon Cake…wow. You might be inclined to think “Wouldn’t olive oil ruin the sweet flavor of a cake?” But of course, there are many different kinds of olive oil, and not all of them have that “olive” taste. In the case of this cake, all the olive oil did was make it moist and spongy, with a tender, light, crunchy crust. The cake soaked up the fruit glaze beautifully and itself had just the slightest dusting of powdered sugar. Snuggled beside it was a mound of almond-milk whipped cream, boosted, I believe, with a touch of tapioca that made it a bit firmer and more puddinglike. Altogether, it was a tasty treat of the kind easily as enjoyable by non-vegans as by vegans.

This dinner was more than enough to rev my appetite for next week’s wine dinner. I’ll be there, and I hope you’re signed up to join us this Wednesday as Larry Laurello tells us about his wines and we enjoy dishes made from ingredients just as local as the wines. The growing season here is at its peak…come enjoy it at the Bistro!

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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!