Welcome to the new and improved Carano's Cucina. I make a lot of kick ass food and go out to some amazing restaurants. Take a look around and make yourself at home :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lunching at One Red Door

Getting together for lunch with my friend Cindy always proves to be an exercise in delicious.  Rarely do we ever end up at a place where I think, "no way, never again" and this was no exception.  We decided on one of the newer places at First and Main in Hudson, Ohio called One Red Door

It's a really nice looking place, somewhat masculine with all the wood and brick, but really nice.

Dare I say, when we started looking at the menu, we went a little crazy!   There was so much on it we both wanted.  So for starters we settled on the Warm Marinated Olives for $4.00 (I had these at a restaurant in Philadelphia last month and went crazy for them!) and the Butternut Squash Soup for $7.00. 

Warm olives.  Who would of thunk it!   I love olives anyway, and they aren't much different tasting when they are warmed but they are soft and warm and oh so lovely.   And the soup.... are you kidding me?   The Butternut Squash Soup had just the right amount of sweetness with some smokiness from the bacon that was cooked in it.  And then it had these sort of gingerbread croutons on top.  Delish!  In fact, we ordered one bowl and had them split it in half so we could share it and it was just the right amount that way.

Cindy couldn't decide between a pizza and a salad so she got both!  The salad of poached Bartlett pears with field greens, blue cheese, spiced hazelnuts and a hazelnut vinaigrette had me at spiced hazelnuts.   I'm not generally a fan of blue cheese, and they certainly did not skimp on it in this salad, made me a believer.  The salad was a very generous size for $7.00

And then the pizza.   Cindy chose a Lobster pizza... butter poached lobster with wilted spinach, pearl onion confit, fontina cheese and tarragon for $14. 

I'm not a seafood person and I really hate tarragon, but look at that!  I had to try it.  I just took one little bite because I have an entree coming too and we'd already had bread, olives, soup and salad.  The pizza was out of this world!!!   The crust was perfect, the balance of flavors insane and happily I didn't even taste the tarragon.   

And now, my lunch... Chef's Burger for $11.  I love a burger.  I can eat a good burger anytime, anywhere.  And the best burger I have had to date was from Michael Symon's B-Spot.  It's still the best burger, but this one is not to be dismissed!   The Chef's Burger is Ohio grass fed beef cooked however you want it (I always chose medium) with crispy shallots, melted brie cheese with date and applewood smoked bacon aioli on the side.  It's served with house made chips and has lettuce and tomato on the side.  

This burger was a thing of beauty.  I cannot say one bad thing about it.  The meat was juicy and flavorful, the brie and crispy shallots were just different enough from regular old onions and American cheese to make this burger different and that date and bacon aioli!  Fuggedaboutit!!   I've died and gone to burger heaven!   I would so go back for that burger.  Even though there is so much more on the menu I want to try, I might not be able to resist the allure of this, the only burger on the menu.  Honestly, they don't need another. 

Can you stand it!?   Damn, when am I going to be in Hudson again?    One Red Door is located at 49 Village Way, Hudson Ohio.  The phone number is (330) 342-DOOR.  
Buon Cibo mia Amici.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Russo's Part Creole Part Italian All Good!

It was a long time coming.  Nick and I had been wanting to go to Russo's for some time.  We even had a $25 gift card burning a hole in the sock drawer.  So we finally bit the bullet and decided to go on October 30, our 17th anniversary.  Russo's reputation has been great from the get go and it's really close to where we live.  Why had it taken so long for us to go!?  It doesn't matter now, it's all in the past.  Russo's we love you!

We had a 7:00 pm reservation in the dining room.  Russo's offers bar seating but they go fast because right behind the bar is the kitchen and you can watch the chaos and magic happen right in front of your eyes.  So since we were unable to get a bar seat, we got a table near the bar and were able to see some of the magic.  
I knew before we even got there that I had to have the Arancini appetizer.  I had them last year when Russo's had a booth up at Taste of Hudson and they were incredible!   In fact, it's a dish I've been wanting to make myself but have never gotten around to it.  Someday!   In case you're unfamiliar, arancini are balls of saffron risotto with either a meat or cheese filling in the middle, then they are breaded and deep fried.  Russo's describes their arancini as follows:  Rice Balls Flavored with Saffron and Stuffed with Mozzarella, Meat and Vegetables, then Breaded and Fried.  Served with Pomodoro Sauce.

Oh, I can feel your jealousy!   And yes, they are as good as they look!

But I have to admit, $8.99 for 3 arancini seems a bit steep to me, delicious as they are.  But while perusing the menu and the specials, I happened upon something that I love far too much and had to have.  Right at the top of the nightly specials, there it was... roasted garlic heads served with a basket of bread and at $3.50, this was the bargain of the night!   I had this before, many years ago when I was in Massachusetts for a friends wedding.  The restaurant we went to for the rehearsal dinner, Vinny Testa's, served roasted heads of garlic floating in a seasoned olive oil and a basket of bread.  I swore that if I ever owned a restaurant I was going to do this!  It's the best thing ever.  So I was more than thrilled to see this on Russo's menu.   You get your roasted garlic with a little shrimp fork so you can dig the cloves out of the head and spread them on your bread.  Oh yes, I died and went to garlic heaven!

Quite honestly, I could have made this my meal and been perfectly content.  But alas, more deliciousness was to come!  We both ordered specials that night and started off the main event with a simple salad that was beautifully and perfectly dressed. 

I ordered half an almost fully boned roasted chicken in a tangy sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and twice dipped onion rings for $22.99.

It was incredibly delicious.  Seasoned and sauced to perfection, tender, juicy and full of flavor.  I seriously don't think I ever had as succulent a piece of chicken as this.  And after the arancini and my bread coma, I ended up bringing most of it home.  Mmmm Russo's leftovers.

Nick also ordered a special, his was a large cut grilled pork chop on a bed of squash puree with collard greens in a sugar cane sauce for $26.99.

Everything was gorgeous and perfect.  The collards were tender and flavorful.  The pork was cooked to absolute juicy perfection.  The squash puree was delicious and beautifully balanced.

Our final bill without any drinks, just water, was $66.53.  Russo's is not a place we will frequent, but oh yes we will be back!   Sadly, Russo's no longer serves lunch, but if you're in or around Peninsula, Ohio at dinner time, I highly suggest you give them a try.  Russo's is located at 4895 State Road
Peninsula, OH 44264 and their phone number is (330) 923-2665.

Buon Cibo mia Amici.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A long time ago, I made Spanakopita.  It was good and all, but I never made it again.  For some reason I got the idea in my head that I needed to make it again and I just couldn't rest until I did.  Well, ok, I could rest, but it did fester.  In case you don't know, Spanakopita is a Greek spinach and other good stuff, stuffed into phyllo dough.  I started out with a half of a sweet onion.  My onion was really big, so I think I probably actually used a third of it.  Chop the onion and cook slowly with about a Tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  You don't want them to brown, just to cook through until they are translucent and fragrant.

I used two packages of frozen chopped spinach.  You can use fresh and cook it, but for my money, frozen is the way to go.  Just defrost them, and then squeeze squeeze squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.  The best way to do this is to take a clean dish towel (I used one that is already green, pretty smart huh?  ha).  I put the thawed spinach in the middle of the towel and then pull the ends up and start twisting and squeezing.  A ton of water will come out.  Make sure you get as much as possible or your Spanakopita will be soggy and who wants that?  No one.  After you get it all squeezed, put it in a bowl and fluff it up with a fork.

To the spinach add a half cup of chopped flat leaf parsley.  I still have it in my garden, going strong!

And about two Tablespoons or so of chopped mint.  Also still going strong in my garden!

Then add a cup of crumbled Feta cheese.  Mmmm, feta!   Feta is kind of salty so you probably don't want to add too much extra salt to this mixture.  But add some.  Maybe about a teaspoon.  

I also added about 5 grinds from my pepper mill and a good 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg.  It definitely makes a difference so don't skip the nutmeg!

Mix it all with one beaten egg to hold it all together and now it's time to for the phyllo dough.  I'm not going to lie to you, phyllo is a giant pain in the ass. It's so fragile and delicate and needs special care.  When you unwrap your thawed out phyllo, make sure you have a damp towel to place over the top of it while you're not using it.  Phyllo will dry out in seconds and as soon as it does, you're done.  There is no going back.   Take the sheets and cut them down the middle, lengthwise.  Brush the dough, carefully, with melted butter and then place about 1/3 cup of the spinach mixture at the top of one of the rows and off to one side.  Either side, it doesn't matter, we're just going to fold these babies up anyway. 

I used between 2 and 3 sheets of phyllo each.  One was too thin.  Fold them end over end, kind of like a flag is folded, so they end up looking like a triangle.

Brush the outside with melted butter and then bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until golden brown.

Enjoy!!!   They were really really good.  And quite frankly, I don't love spinach cooked.  I'd rather have it raw.  So who knows why I wanted to make them so bad.  But I'm glad I did!  They rocked!

καλά τρόφιμα οι φίλοι μου