May 8, 2019

Dear friends,
And I use that salutation sincerely. I have corresponded with so many of you for so long that I do feel you are my friends. Losing one of you is painful, as it was when long-time reader Geoff Hewitt died on April 26.

Geoff had been in failing health, said Sherrie W., a close friend of Geoff’s who let me know.

I had no idea. Geoff and I traded emails about his favorite Cleveland Asian restaurants just two weeks before he died. His picks: Siam Cafe, Won Ton Gourmet, Szechuan Cafe and for dim sum, Bo Loong.

Over the years we discussed many food issues, from the price of produce at farmers’ markets (he was in favor of paying top dollar to support local farmers) to the best restaurants in Florida.

I met Geoff just twice. The first time was years ago when I interviewed him for an In the Kitchen column for the Beacon Journal. I learned he was a professional photographer who specialized in auto racing. He loved to cook almost as much as he loved to dine out. He shared his recipe for bread pudding with coconut and pecans, which is in my cookbook and which I reprinted in this newsletter a month or so ago.

The second time was at my yard sale last summer. Geoff dropped by just to visit. We sat in lawn chairs under an awning and talked for at least an hour. He told me he learned to make the bread pudding in a cooking class in New Orleans. He traveled the country for his job, and often made time for culinary detours. His knowledge of restaurants was extensive. He could have written a restaurant guidebook for all 50 states.

Before Geoff died, he wanted to know if any of my newsletter readers could figure out the ingredients in the tomato soup at Bombay Grill in Fairlawn. I printed his request, but got no answers.

Generous to the end, Geoff sent me his version of the soup. It isn’t quite the same as the restaurant’s but it’s pretty good, said. I know he would be pleased that I’m sharing it with you.

So long, Geoff. You made my life a bit more delicious.

GEOFF’S INDIAN TOMATO SOUP
2 tbsp. butter or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground black mustard seeds (preferred) or yellow mustard seeds or mustard powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. sugar
4 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan or saucier, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté
the onion for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add the ginger and cook two more minutes. Add the tomatoes and all the ingredients down to and including the sugar. Cover and cook for about two hours at a low simmer.

Stir in garlic and salt. Use an immersion blender to make a finely chopped puree. Alternately, puree in batches in a blender or food processor. As a last resort you could get by with a potato masher but this wouldn’t make the soup thin enough.

Add the cream, stir and add the cilantro. Taste and adjust any seasonings as necessary.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Meat sauce baked in spaghetti squash halves; chicken and rice salad with pineapple and dates; steak salad with roast butternut squash and sizzled asparagus; microwave-scrambled egg and ricotta with hot sauce and toast; pineapple mousse pie; cioppino (Italian shellfish stew) over polenta.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Chocolate chunk croissant from the Blue Door in Cuyahoga Falls; steamed edamame, octopus carpaccio, salmon nigiri, tamago nigiri at Sushi Katsu in Akron; fried pickle burger, french fries and coffee at Wally Waffle in Bath (Montrose) (majorly delicious); Korean barbecued beef taco, a Thai chicken with peanut sauce taco and a Modelo beer at Funky Truckeria in Norton.

TIDBIT
My favorite food festival of the year, the Cleveland Asian Festival, is coming up. Clear some time on Saturday, May 18 or Sunday, May 19 to eat your way through a United Nations of Asian cuisine and watch some quality entertainment (singing, dancing) by various Northeast Ohio Asian groups.

The festival sprawls along Payne Avenue around 27th Street, with a World Marketplace, social and service club exhibits, and two entertainment tents in addition to the Asian food court area, which is filled with edibles from local Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Indian and Nepali restaurants. Did I miss any?

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Don’t bring your dog (we tried last year). Check out the website at clevelandasianfestival.org.

THE MAILBAG
From Mary D.:
I found an unfiltered extra virgin olive oil at Marc’s — Carapelli.

Dear Mary:
I rushed right out and bought a bottle. The olive flavor is pronounced and, as you mentioned in a follow-up email, grassy. It is delicious. I will save it for salad dressings and other uncooked applications in which the flavor can shine. I am glad to see that Carapelli is on the list of certified extra-virgin oils. Thanks for the tip.

From Michele Sandridge:
Clamato is sold everywhere — Marc’s, Acme, etc. Look in the fruit juice aisle.

Dear Michele:
I’m embarrassed. Thanks for setting me straight. As Ken Stewart’s bartender (and my frequent partner in crime), you should know.

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