Tag: comfort food

Charm City Cook: Welcome to Shoo-fly Diner



Back in 2007, I was planning an alumni event at my full-time gig at Friends School and my friend who was then working for Struever Brothers suggested that I look at a new space being developed in Clipper Mill. I live in Hampden…so I took a drive. It was amazing – I’d really forgotten how much so. I’d been to an artist’s studio in an old burned out building down there years before and was always kind of fascinated by the area. My friend made a call and arranged for me to meet with Spike Gjerde about the possibility of an event in his unfinished restaurant space. Spike and I met over insanely strong macchiatos and we figured out how to make the event work well for both of us. I knew I liked this guy (and those macchiatos kinda sealed the deal.)  We had the party there – in Woodberry Hall, which would become Artifact Coffee’s first location – and it was a huge hit. And…then the restaurant opened later that year and it’s been packed ever since.

Today, Spike and Amy Gjerde officially open Shoo-fly, their farmhouse diner in Belvedere Square and North Baltimore cannot wait another day. I went for a friends & family night earlier this week and I can vouch. Vouch that the fried chicken is perfectly crispy outside and moist inside…that the shoo-fly pie is subtly sweet…and that the $7 Manhattan is so smooth and could be trouble for me. Also not to be missed? Milkshakes, burgers, chicken pot pie and more.  I love the rustic decor, friendly servers and an overall vibe of easy, casual fun. And, yes, that old Hess Shoe slide is still there!

Next week, Spike and Amy will travel to NYC for Martha Stewart’s “American Made Tastemakers” festivities. I know they will make Baltimore so proud, as 200,000+ people visit their booth and learn about what they do here at home. I’m such a fan of their work. When I go to Woodberry for a cocktail, Artifact to caffeinate and write…and now Shoo-fly for Opie’s fried chicken and Sarah’s cookies, I’m happy. Happy is good. We need more happy.

Check out this great video featuring Amy & Spike for Tastemakers and some photos from Shoo-fly.

Charm City Cook: Comfort and Goodness at Oliver Speck’s


The new Oliver Specks Eats & Drinks in Harbor East – the restaurant formerly known as Vino Rosina – has officially reopened. Chef Jesse Sandlin has created an approachable, creative menu of comfort food, cocktails and more and the clean, modern decor of the former restaurant has remained. I attended a little opening tasting party last night and I am definitely going back soon. A server walked by with a gorgeous plate of ribs and mac ‘n cheese that I have got to try!

Love, Loss, and What I Cooked


Woman in Kitchen Checking Groceries

University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik is really cooking now!

I knew I was falling in love when I broke an egg into my coffee while trying to make a man an omelet. I stared at the submerged yolk poaching in my java and thought: Girl, you are gone. Just then the butter began to burn and the smoke alarm said this place is on fire.

Charm City Cook: Mac ‘n’ Cheesy Goodness


Since becoming an avid home cook — and giving up cable for about two years — I’ve begun to appreciate the cooking shows on PBS. You know, the ones hosted by Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, José Andrés, Lidia Bastianich and America’s Test Kitchen. You know the show: They work and work and work on recipes and figure out how they come out best – and then, they show you how to do it. I’ve learned such helpful, basic tips (for example: always cook pasta about two minutes less than the package states.) I’ve also become a Cook’s Illustrated online member so that I can check out videos and recipes whenever I want. In addition to recipes and cooking tips, they also have equipment and ingredient ratings, too. Best olive oil, immersion blenders, knife sharpeners and more. What a fabulous resource – well worth the $35 annual online fee.

Charm City Cook: Risotto is Your Friend


I’d always been told that making risotto is a bear. All that stirring, stirring, stirring. Blah, blah, blah. How do you know when it’s done??  But thanks to the wonderful folks at America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve found that it’s not that hard. Risotto actually is your friend.

Soup’s On


Courtesy of charmcitycook – Soup is the most comforting, satisfying thing to me – especially in winter. My fave in the whole world is Ina Garten’s Cheddar Corn Chowder. Cheese, corn, onions, potatoes…um, bacon…what’s not to love? Ina is not known for light cooking, so I use a little regular milk in place of the heavy cream and it’s plenty rich. I’ve made this soup about ten times over the last few years. Obsessed? Yep. Make it, you will not be disappointed.
Here are two more great winter soups, both from my favorite food blog, The Kitchn

First up, Baked potato soup with bacon, onion and cheddar. No, not the healthiest, of course, but quite tasty.  

Recipe note: it calls for two cups of bacon bits. I love me some bacon and the thought of buying bacon bits made me think, um, no. So, instead, I cooked an entire package of sliced bacon and made my own – but I didn’t end up with enough. I’d probably use bacon bits next time – Oscar Mayer makes some that seem less scary to me.

This soup is, of course, very filling. Pace yourself. 

Here is a healthier soup option: Sweet potato soup with miso and ginger. My local grocery store didn’t have the miso paste, so I went to Asia Food on York Road [thanks, Lauren] and while there, I also picked up some buckwheat noodles for a future cooking adventure. This miso paste has such bright flavor and the ginger gives the soup a nice little kick. This would be great with a salad and good crusty bread for dippage. 
Recipe note: I’d use a smidge less ginger than what the recipe suggests.
Highly recommend this soup – I’ll definitely make it again! And I’ve gotta give a shout out to my awesome Cuisinart immersion blender – they come in fabulous colors, too! No more pureeing soups in batches in the food processor. It makes life so much easier!
Winter + soup = comfort and warmth.

Mad Mac ‘n’ Cheese Skills? Last Day to Enter the Mac-Off!


Calling all cheesy cooks both amateur and professional! Think you mix your own mac ‘n’ cheese dish far better than most? Well, set your oven timer — by 6 p.m. today, September 7th, click here to apply to participate in the first-ever Great Baltimore Mac-Off, part of Hampdenfest, Saturday, September 10. Recipes rules say your two main ingredients must be pasta and cheese, but beyond that, you can go wild with alternative additions and cooking methods. Food must be prepared Saturday morning in a licensed kitchen, which will be provided if you don’t have access to one.

Judges are Mary Smith, decorator at Charm City Cakes, Henry Hong, food writer for City Paper and Baltimore Magazine, and chef at Republic Noodle, and Tom Campbell, chef at Patchwork Catering. Mac-Off’s official host is John Houser III, food critic for The Baltimore Sun.

Competitive juices bubbling yet? “Best Home Cook,” “Best Professional,” and “People’s Choice” titles all to be awarded. Tickets for public tasting will be available at the fest.

Prizes include gift baskets stuffed with goodies from Hampden merchants and, for winners, bragging mention in City Paper.

Best perk: Proceeds from the comfort-food contest will benefit the Hampden Food Pantry, a local food bank that provides free groceries to hundreds of families in North Baltimore.

To volunteer, email or call: [email protected]/443-416-8903. To apply, hurry up and click this link today! (The entry fee of $25 must be received by Friday.)