Happy Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2014 is one of the favorite holidays for many. Why? Well, you have a perfect excuse to wear sombreros and ponchos, drink margaritas, and snack on chips and salsa. Yet, do we really aware of what we are celebrating?
Stefan Lovgren, contributor for National Geographic News, says that Cinco de Mayo is often times mistaken with Mexican Indepence day which is celebrated on September 16th! In his article, he says that:

“May holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.”

Welcome to West Side Market


I wanted my 30th anniversary blog post to be super special that is why I devoted this post to the West Side Market. This place embodies everything delicious that is in Cleveland, but most importantly, you can find foods from different cultures!

Crain’s Cleveland Business on the Web describes Cleveland’s West Side Market as:

A popular place to shop for fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, the building is one of the largest indoor/outdoor markets in the country.”

West Side Market is one of the oldest markets in Cleveland area, and believe it or not, it has been operating ever since since the end of nineteenth century. It’s over hundred years! On December 18, 1973, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Now, West Side market has over 100 vendor combined of food representatives of all sorts of ethnic groups. There you can find anything from mouth-watering smell of Middle Eastern spices to hand-crafted cupcakes you have only seen on the pictures. 20140430_211924000_iOS

West Side Market is located at the corner of West 25th and Lorain which is short drive from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, so you can easily visit both of the places on the same day. 

My first encounter with the West Side Market was quite memorable. Me and my friend were shopping for some deli and coated buffalo chicken wings. On the same stand, there was a skinned rabbit. If its cooked in the crock pot with sour-cream, carrots, bell peppers, and onions, it is delicious and very tender. It is even more tender than under-cooked chicken breast. I made a joke about it being a cat instead of the rabbit. People who were looking to buy something from this vendor totally freaked out. They looked at me with big round eyes and said; “you have to be kitten me.” Good thing, everybody were in a good mood. I explained to them that this skinned animal is an actual rabbit as you can tell by its legs and the fur left on them. In the end everybody just laughed at this situation, but nobody bought that poor skinned animal.


Parmesan Crusted Chicken VS. Chicken Parmesan

This post is about two Italian dinner favorites: Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Chicken Parmesan. What similar between them is that both of the recipes include lots of Parmesan as a key ingredient. Both of the recipes will deliver tender and juicy white chicken meat to you dinner table. Yet, one of the recipes is a little more complicated that the other and requires more time and a few extra ingredients.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

When you watch this commercial, don’t you just want to have some Parmesan Crusted Chicken like right now? Well, I had the same problem. Plus, I couldn’t recall if I ever have tried this dish, so I decided to cook it. That’s when my dad would call me “victim of the commercial.” 

The recipe of Parmesan Crusted Chicken is unbelievably easy. You can literally follow the same steps from Hellmann’s commercial. I actually found it on Hellmann’s website 🙂

Here are the ingredients you will need:
• 1/2 cup Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
• 4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise with cheese in medium bowl. Arrange chicken on baking sheet. Evenly top with Mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Bake until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 25 minutes.
Timesaving Tip: Try making this dish with thin-cut boneless skinless chicken breasts! Prepare as above, decreasing bake time to 10 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is little more complex in terms of ingredients and cooking directions. But the end result would so worth doing; especially, if you see cooking as a culinary art. As a side not, do not confuse Chicken Parmesan and Chicken Parmigiana. Although they both cooked in a similar manner, one includes Parmesan and one does not. People often refer to both of these dishes as Chicken Parm.

According to the recipe posted on Food Network by Tyler Florence, chef and host on Food Network, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
  • Pinch sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained

This is a long list but small things will really do the work for this recipe.

First of all, if your oven takes forever to preheat, set it on 450 degrees F, and start working on your chicken cutlets. 

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Cut chicken breast into thin strips. Put the flour in a shallow plate and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper. Add Parmesan to this mix. Lightly dredge both sides of the future chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

While you working on your cutlets, you can prepare your own tomato sauce from scratch. You will need a sauce pan coated with a couple spoons of olive oil to start. Onions, garlic, bay leaves will go first. After five minute off cooking, add olives, basil, and tomatoes. Cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick about 15 minutes.

The last step in the preparation of Chicken Parmesan is putting cutlets and sauce together. Pour sauce in the baking pan, lay out your cutlets, and top with fresh Mozzarella. Bake the Chicken Parmesan for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti.

Start Monday Right: Eat Eggs for Breakfast

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Did you know that there about fifteen different ways to cook eggs?! It is hard to believe that an egg could be something else besides boiled or simply fried. I guess this variety of methods to cook eggs comes from the additional items or techniques one can use to prepare them for breakfast. Check out these 15 recipes as a way to add variety to your usual breakfast mix.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash from Hungarians


Have you ever tried chicken paparikash? If not you most definitely missed out because this Hungarian dinner dish is amazing!

Magyar or Hungarian cuisine is one of the culinary reps in Eastern European food art. It often goes unnoticed unless you have a big Hungarian diaspora in the area near where you live. Also, people are frequently confused about Magyar foods considering Russian cooking the only high well-known performer in Eastern European food family. Well, this is assumption is wrong although, to be completely honest Hungarian, Ukrainian, Polish, and even Russian cuisines have some features in common, for example, a great variety of pickled winter vegetables and all sorts of cold and hot soups, including cabbage soup or goulash.

Likely, if you are a Clevelander, you must know the difference by now thanks to the effort of restaurant Balaton or West Side Market. For those who are still curious about what’s Magyars like to cook for dinner, ladies and gentlemen, I now would like to introduce you an original genuinely authentic recipe of chicken paprikash!

I asked my Hungarian friends to share this recipe with, so I in my turn could share it with all of my readers.
Chicken paprikash is one of the most well-known Magyar dinner dishes and could be found in every Hungarian restaurant like angel hair spaghetti at any Italian dinner.

Here are the recipes from my friends. The first one is short and sweet posted here for emphasize that this dish could be cooked at ease. The second recipe goes more in depth. So enjoy, and post in the comment if you are going to use any one of these recipes so I can pass kudos to my Hungarian friends.

Marton Toth: “Chicken paprikash is easy. Fry up some onions, maybe some pepper and tomatoes if you want to. Then chicken, fry it a little bit. Then add paprika, water and cook it till it’s good. Then mix together flower with sour cream and mix it in it…. Boil it up, after then it’s done.”

Andras Kovach: “First of all you need the ingredients, here is the list:
• you need chicken (breast, thighs, legs), any could be used (I usually use chicken breast cause that’s my favorite)
• Hungarian red pepper
• flour
• sour cream
• onions
• tomatoes
• a bell pepper (but it is optional)
• salt and pepper
• vegetable oil
You should chop the onions and start cooking them on the oil on medium heat. Cook it until glassy. Then, add the tomatoes, and cook it with the onions for a while. After a couple of minutes, take the pan off the hot stove and put the red peppers in, and it mix it with the onions and the tomatoes. Afterwards, put it back on the hot stove.Add the chicken.

You should cut the chicken a little bit larger pieces. When the chicken gets white, add cold water and salt and pepper. Do not add to much water because it is not a soup. When the chicken is soft, mix a small amount of sour cream with flour in a separate bowl and add it to the paprikash. Stir it and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes. Paprikash should be done afterwards.”

A few side notes:

For more reading on all sorts of cultural cooking tricks in Eastern European cuisines check out DMOZ website with its chapter about Hungarian recipes.

Hungarian paprika refers to a spice as well as red bell pepper, so read carefully. It will be clear from the context what is what. As a spice, Hungarian paprika is a complimentary part of almost every Magyar dinner dishes.




Hot banana peppers stuffed with sausage, topped with marinara sauce and parmesan

Valenti’s Ristorante represents fine Italian dinning in Cleveland. The food at Valenti’s is obviously Italian with a hint of grandma’s cooking. The restaurant’s owner describes this place as:

Valenti’s Ristorante celebrates Grandma’s table, a tradition of eating great food with friends and family. Or A tavola non si invecchia. “At the table one never grows old.”

If you ever went there, you would experience comfort food outside of your couch area in the really nice set up. White tablecoth, piano music, fire place, and summer outdoor patio create a soothing atmosphere for a romantic dinner or business meeting during the lunch time.

If you like to fish for food promotions on twitter, just type in the search tab @Valenti’s_Italian. You will see the official Twitter account of Valenti’s.