Breakfast Rising — Apple Pancake or Puff Pancake or Dutch Baby

10 Jan

I know that everyone says “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  And some people write entire books and blogs, just about breakfast. But I must confess: I’m not a regular breakfast eater.  I have nothing against the meal mind you.  It’s just that I’m really not that hungry until a few hours after I wake up, and by that time, I’m at work and it’s easier to wait for lunch time to roll around.  Someone once suggested that I just wake up earlier.  That suggestion  was a non-starter; as much as I love food, I love sleeping more.

In stark contrast to myself, Tania is a breakfast lover.  She eats breakfast pretty much every day, and it’s usually the same thing: oatmeal with bananas, cinnamon, Splenda, and vanilla.  Woe is it to the one who gets between her and her oatmeal; there are very few things that could tear her away from a bowl of hot oats.  If there is one thing that could do it however, it’s a dish that she calls “apple pancake.”

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I’ve written at length about my own family food traditions.  Apple pancake is one of Tania’s.  Most commonly referred to as a Dutch Baby, sometimes as a puff pancake, and occasionally as an oven pancake, the apple pancake is akin to a large popover.  If done properly, it will tower above the pan in which it is cooked.

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Swish Swish — Eating Shabu Shabu at Kihachi

3 Jan

The recently ended holiday season was quite a bit of fun, and it involved countless food-related events that were worth blogging about.  I’ve already written about a few of those, lebkuchen cookies and Swedish rye bread for example.  But for every one blog I wrote, it seems like there were three or four other things I that could write about—indeed that I wanted to write about.  I just couldn’t find the time though.  I was too busy cooking and eating!

In an attempt to make up for the lack of posts over the past month, I’m going to recount one definite highlight from that period of time.

Earlier this year, Tania started working as a part-time tour guide for Columbus Food Adventures.  If you’ve been on the German Village walking food tour any time over the past several months, she’s probably been the one instructing you about the history and architecture of German Village and introducing you to the many awesome restaurants.  Like many companies out there, Columbus Food Adventures has a holiday party.  But unlike other companies, the entire business is built upon introducing people to awesome and interesting food.  So, it’s only logical that the holiday party would be similarly food-focused.

And it was.

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A Baking Tradition — Swedish Rye Bread

23 Dec

Once or twice over the course of this blog’s short existence I’ve written about some of my traditional family recipes.  If there was an urtext that was the ultimate and prototypical family recipe growing up, then it was the recipe for Swedish Rye Bread.  My mother’s family is 100% German and my father’s is correspondingly 100% Swedish.  So, one might naturally think that it was my father responsible for introducing and making this bread.

Reality however is much less clear.  It was an ongoing debate in my house as to whether my mother or father is responsible for learning this recipe from my Grandmother on the Swedish side.  Each one claims credit for the original making of the bread.  I, not wanting to get in the middle of such an amusing (and not entirely in jest) feud, will take no position.  Not that I really have any basis to weigh in with my opinion anyway.

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Christmas Treat — Lebkuchen Christmas Cookies

9 Dec

Many of my family traditions involve food. (See this earlier post about Chicken Szechwan and Peanuts.)  This food-focused sense of tradition is especially true around the holidays.  Christmas cookie baking was always a big deal growing up, and no Christmas season would be complete without a full complement of different cookie varieties.  And it wasn’t just the resulting sweets that made holiday cookies so special; it was the process of making the cookies itself.

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Every year around Christmas, just as school was letting out for break, my aunt and granddad (my grandfather on my mother’s side) would come for an extended visit.  At some point early on in that visit, me, my sister, my mom, and my aunt would spend a day or two crafting the Christmas cookies for that year.  While some of the varieties we made would vary from year to year, there was some staples that we always made: spritz, snowballs (better known as Russian tea cakes), and befitting of the German heritage on my mom’s side of the family, lebkuchen. (The recipe I have actually spells it lebkucken, but knowing a bit of German myself, I know that just can’t be right!)

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Well Dressed — FlipSide Burger (at Easton Town Center)

6 Dec

About the last place I ever plan on being around the holidays is out at Easton.  One time a couple of years ago I was forced out there because I needed to get a new vegetable peeler, and the only place I knew for sure that would have it was Sur la Table. (It’s an awesome vegetable peeler by the way.)

Just last weekend though, Tania and I found ourselves out there and thought we’d take advantage of the opportunity to try out the (relatively) new FlipSide burger location.  I was especially interested in trying it out because, in the not-too-distant future, the currently vacant former home of Yankee Trader will be home to the second Columbus FlipSide location.

For those of you not already familiar with FlipSide, its first location was up near Cleveland in Hudson, OH.  Their focus is on burgers and shakes, and boy do they have a lot of both.  The list of burger options was quite extensive, and picking one required more than a little bit of deliberation.

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I’m a fan of spicy things, and ultimately decided on the Chili Pepper Burger.  The combination of pickled jalepeanos, pepper jack cheese, smoked chili ketchup, sriracha sauce (not listed on the menu, but described by our waitress and, as you can see, appearing on the burger), and onion rings was the combination that ultimately swayed me.  There were many other burgers, including ones with brisket, shaved prime rib, and brie with date aioli that were also incredibly tempting.

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Warm and Hearty — Crock-Pot Moroccan Chicken Stew

3 Dec

It’s winter time, which means ‘tis the season for hearty meals—like soups and stews.  Actually, apparently Mother Nature has made a liar out of me.  The calendar may read December, but here in Ohio it feels like anything but.  With the warm, rainy, days we’ve had recently it feels more like April than anything else.

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This past weekend, pretending that it was winter, I hauled out the Crock-Pot.  Crock-Pots (or slow cooker for those of you with models from other brands) seem to be perfectly designed for winter meals.  You can get them started, head out into the cold for some exercise or other event, and then return to a ready and waiting meal.

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I have Twitter!

30 Nov

Hmm, yes, not really a newsworthy announcement in this day and age.  In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if you were currently thinking: “Yeah, so? Who doesn’t?”

While fair questions, that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the new official Pie Are Round twitter account.  Because “PieAreRound” was already taken, you can follow me on Twitter at “PieAreRoundBlog” instead.

Check it out here:

Official Pie Are Round Twitter account

And follow me for all sorts of great food updates that might not otherwise be blog-worthy. (Or don’t follow me, and be subjected to only my curated thoughts–not the more free form version.)

North-Side Dining — Nazareth Restaurant and Deli

28 Nov

As is obvious from this blog, I love food. And although a majority of the recent posts have involved my own kitchen exploits, you’d be wrong if you thought that meant I confined my eating to the products of my own kitchen.  Indeed, I go out of my way to sample and regularly patronize area restaurants.  In fact, I fancy myself pretty well-versed in area restaurants.

That doesn’t mean however that I’ve been to even restaurant in town.  I’ve not even been to all the places that are consensus favorites—even if they’ve been on my “must try” list for years.  Two such restaurants are Borgata Pizza Cafe and Nazareth Restaurant and Deli.  Both of these restaurants have garnered their fair share of accolades. (See Borgata Pizza here, here, and here. And Nazareth here, here and here.)

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Nutty and Sweet — Jeni’s Maple Ice Cream with Salty Buttered Nuts

22 Nov

You may not realize it, but Columbus is the ice cream capital of the world.  While other cities may host good, or even above average, ice cream shops, try telling a Columbus native about them.  They’ll get a faraway look in their eye—and you’ll get an unintentionally condescending “I’m sure they’re good…but…” in response.  The reason for this, is that we in Columbus have been spoiled.  We’ve been spoiled by being home to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the greatest ice cream shop known to man.  (Hyperbole much?)

Until very recently, the only way to sample this idealized form of ice cream was to visit Columbus.  Then, last year, Jeni decided to compile a large numbers of recipes into a cookbook.  We in Columbus were torn.  On one hand, we could now make at home all of that delicious ice cream we had been enjoying in Jeni’s stores for years.  On the other hand, we were now deprived of leverage which we had previously used to coerce our out-of-state friends into visiting. (The cookbook actually wasn’t the first time Jeni had ventured into the realm of home ice cream making.  She had developed a few recipes previously, which can be found here.)

If it’s possible, Jeni’s ice cream cookbook was as successful as, or even more than, her ice cream stores.  It was a New York Times Best Seller.  And it won the James Beard Award.  No longer was Jeni’s ice cream a local Columbus secret.  She was a full-blown national sensation and treasure.

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Uncommonly Good — Sam’s (award winning) Apple Pie

4 Nov

The name of this blog is not just a math pun.  (Get it, pie are round, not πr2!)  I also really, really love pie.  Of all the things that I create in the kitchen, pie is probably my favorite.  And, it can be any kind of pie—strawberry, blueberry, peach, you name it.  I must admit a strong preference for fruit pies however.  Not to give cream, or other types of pie short shrift, mind you.  But if it’s a fruit pie…well, it has fruit! It’s not just dessert, it’s healthy! (Right?)

My pie obsession isn’t entirely new.  As my mother would be happy to tell you, at some point in elementary school I declared that apple pie was my favorite smell in the world.  This is probably still true.

What is new is the fact that I’m no longer just the pie eater—I’m also the pie maker.  The transformation from one into the other came about in large part because I was seeking out a culinary challenge.  It seems that many people are intimidated by pie crust; making pie crust is perceived as a time-consuming task whose prospects for success are uncertain at best.  With that in mind, I set out to master the art of the crust.

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