Let’s hear it for the girls!

Did you know that March 8 is International Women’s Day? I didn’t either but it made me stop for a moment to think about all the women in my life who have made an indelible imprint. There are many strong, smart, funny, wonderful women that have helped me along the way and to each of them, I give thanks. However, as I sit in the office of the restaurant I run, I realize that the strongest influence has been that which my mother and grandmother made on my life. As a girl, I always thought my grandma had the MOST influence over my love of cooking, my desire to feed people and my love of entertaining. However, as I grew into a young woman, and then married and had a child of my own, I came to realize that my mother was the one who really showed me how to love through food.
Mom always worked. She married a man she loved with all her heart but he wasn’t the best at providing for our family. That left my mother holding the bag, so to speak, when it came to household choirs, paying the bills, taking us to church, and most importantly to me and my sister, getting wholesome meals on the table seven nights a week.
The food she cooked was never fussy, expensive, especially creative or worldly. What it was, was well-balanced, well-seasoned, seasonal and delicious. Most importantly though, it was a time for us to sit together as a family and share our day. I didn’t know then the way I do now, how much effort that took on Mom’s part. She didn’t love it the way I do, so I can only assume she did it out of obligation. But now when I make dinner with my own son I think back to how much it meant for her to come home from work, every day, without fail, and get a made-from-scratch meal on the table every night. For us. Thanks Mom, for teaching me how to love through food. And Happy International Women’s Day to you – one of the best women I know!

Thoughts on “Scratch Cooking”

I got into a discussion online the other day about some new and exciting things that are happening here at the Grill. In the process of describing what is different, it all-of-a-sudden hit me that I should really talk about what is the same. This led me to a bit of a rant on MY definition of “Scratch Cooking”. It’s a little frustrating as a real chef in the Land-of-the-Chain (aka Dayton, Ohio) how so many throw around the words “scratch” and “cooking” in the same sentence. Hence, this description of what I believe the words to mean.

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At the Hawthorn Grill, “from scratch” doesn’t mean opening a box and throwing a frozen pie into the oven. It doesn’t mean dropping frozen mozzarella sticks in the fryer. It doesn’t mean mixing together a few spice packets and tossing that with pre-tenderized, pre-seasoned, pre-breaded, pre-cut chicken or fish or beef and putting that in the oven and calling it ours. It doesn’t mean taking a lump of bread or pizza dough out of the freezer and calling it made from scratch. Too many people use these ingredients and techniques in today’s hectic world of fast and cheap.  However, in our kitchen, we use flour, cream, butter, yeast, sugar, carrots, onions and celery.

Huevos WIP 03.06.16Chocolate Pudding WIP 03.06.15

We cook things the way your grandmother did. We chop vegetables with a knife, we mix flour and butter together to make pie crust and fill that crust with apples we peel and dice in our kitchen. We peel real potatoes everyday for service, cook and mash them with butter, cream and salt. We roll out pasta that was made from nothing but flour and local eggs. We get in whole chickens, break them down, roast the bones for stock, brine the breasts for dinner service, and grind the thighs with freshly ground ancho chiles and tequila for real chicken chorizo.

Spatzle WIP 02.02.17

We simmer mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion) with garlic and herbs for our vegetable stock. Would it be easier to get in pre-chopped veggies, pre-marinated meat, pre-bagged salad greens, canned stocks and bases and pre-made desserts? Of course. But that isn’t what we do. We cook. From scratch. Every day. Because we love it.
The next time you go out, think about what it is that happens in the kitchen….is it scratch…or is it memorex?

Rich idea for a decadent Valentine’s Day

Crispy Chicken with Alfredo 11.16.16

I got an email notification yesterday that Christmas decorating ideas were trending on Pinterest…wait, WHAT?!?  I’m not quite that ahead of the game and I’m guessing you aren’t either.  I am barely ready for Valentine’s Day and that’s only a few days away!  That started me thinking about something yummy to make at home for your sweetie with little to no effort.  Something rich, decadent and befitting a holiday characterized by rarely eaten chocolates and overpriced roses.  Alfredo, I figure, is just the thing to fit the bill .  It goes with chicken, beef, pork or fish equally well and (don’t tell anyone!) it’s one of the most simple things you can make at home.  A box of pasta – any shape will do but I prefer mini penne or traditional fettuccine – some cream, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano and you have the makings for one of Italy’s most coveted and popular dishes.  Of course, I like to shake mine up a bit.  So put the water on to boil, open a bottle of wine and have a very happy heart day!

Boursin Alfredo
8oz dry pasta – any shape will do
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 (5.2oz) container Boursin cheese, or more to taste
1/2 cup good quality, imported grated parmigiano-reggiano
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Bring a large pot of water to rolling boil. Add enough salt for it to taste like the sea. Drop pasta in water and cook according to package directions (I always take mine out about 2 minutes early and finish it directly in the sauce).
Meanwhile, in another shallow pan, melt butter over medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, add garlic. Let cook until fragrant but not brown. Add cream and Boursin and bring to rolling boil. Drain pasta (saving some of cooking liquid in case the sauce gets too thick) and add to cream mixture. Let simmer 2-3 until thickened to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Finish off heat with with parmigiano-reggiano and fresh parsley.

NOTES: Good ingredients are always imperative, but when you’re cooking something with such a short list, it’s REALLY important to use only the best. This recipe doesn’t call for much of any one thing so splurge and get the best butter, cheese and pasta you can buy. It will make all the difference in your end dish.
A quick rant on curly vs. flat leaf parsley: Please promise me, and yourself, that you’ll NEVER buy/use CURLY parsley. Ever. Again. Curly parsley is a relatively bland, tasteless herb that was overused to the point of ubiquity in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a non-functional garnish – my least favorite kind – and a complete waste of resources (both time and money). Flat leaf parsley (aka Italian parsley) on the other hand, has a fresh, herbaceous, almost lemony, quality that enhances any dish to which it is added. BTW – always at the end, always off the heat.

Good eating, Candace

Grilled Ribeye with Fettuccine Alfredo 01.08.16

Leftover suggestions!

Lasagna 03.26.14

So I was trying to decide what to make for dinner last night and I went into the fridge at home to look for inspiration…leftover meatballs…yummy grated Parmigiano-Reggiano…some ricotta…and in the very back, some fresh basil that was still, well, fresh!  My family doesn’t really care for leftovers so it always has to at least LOOK like something entirely different.  The goal with leftovers should be exactly that – something that looks entirely different than it did yesterday.  So I mashed up those delicious all-beef meatballs, added a can of diced tomatoes with the juice and some of the fresh basil; then stacked that recycled ‘sauce’ with some no-cook lasagna noodles (yes, I admit, at home I LOVE them and Barilla is my favorite!), layered in more cheese than any humans have a right to eat (I realize that Italians would never make it that way, but for crying out loud – I’m an American!) and baked it all until golden & bubbly.  Add in a green salad with a light vinaigrette made with just extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, and loaf of bread with some good salted butter and you have a weeknight meal in no time!

Other recycling ideas for dinner tonight:

*Turn any leftover meat or fish into tacos.  Heat some corn and flour tortillas, serve with grated cheese and shredded lettuce and for a side dish mix cooked white rice with salsa for an easy Spanish-style rice to make Taco Tuesday any day of the week. (Margarita’s are a must with this meal makeover!)

*Saute wild mushrooms in butter, season with salt & pepper.  Add picked leftover rotisserie or roasted chicken with leftover cooked pasta, frozen peas and a touch of cream or half-and-half.  Let simmer until heated through.  Serve with green beans and salad.

*Slice leftover steak.  Heat in a pan with a bit of oil, some frozen broccoli, chopped garlic, a touch of soy, a sprinkle of sugar, a squeeze of lime juice and some homemade or store bought chicken or vegetable stock.  Tighten to desired consistency with cornstarch mixed with water (it should look like whole milk when properly done).  Serve with brown rice for a quick Asian-inspired meal.

*REMEMBER – cooking has no rules.  If you have a meal sitting around a table of friends and family, even if it’s just cold pizza, that’s all that matters.

Good eating!
Candace

December has arrived!

Santa is on his way, December is here and holiday tidings are in full swing at the Hawthorn Grill!  This is such a joyous time of year and I know you have lots of things to do – gifts, decorations, entertaining, moving that pesky Elf on a Shelf nightly (or maybe that’s just me!), and holiday parties of all sorts.  It can be a little overwhelming.  Let us help – we can cater for you or you can book your holiday party here.  Just give us a call.  We still have plenty of space but slots fill up quickly!

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Quick tip for entertaining:
Don’t feel like you have to make EVERYTHING!

That’s what the professionals are for and no one expects you to work that hard as a host.  If you’re having a little soiree at your house, the most important thing is to make sure your guests get to spend time with you.  That’s why they show up, after all!  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  If you have a killer cheesecake recipe, a fantastic appetizer or the best chip dip ever, make that and buy or order the rest. You can stop by your local deli department and pick up assorted olives, cheeses and crackers and display your one special dish proudly, knowing that you gave a great party and didn’t drive yourself crazy in the process!

 

Dinner With Santa set for Monday, Dec. 5 at Hawthorn Grill

The time is here again. Jolly Ole’ St. Nick will make an advance stop in Kettering on Monday, Dec. 5 when Dinner With Santa is hosted at Hawthorn Grill.

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Meat Loaf and kid-sized spaghetti and meatballs will be featured along with the regular menu. Kids can visit with Santa and families an experience the holiday decor and the warm fireplace while dining on chef Candace Rinke’s made-from-scratch delights.

Chicken and Biscuits, Pumpkin Risotto, Stuffed Chicken Breast, Grilled Polenta and BBQ Ribs are among the entrees on the menu. The half-pound Angus Grill Burger, Steak Tips and Mushrooms and Pan Seared Walleye are other favorites. As always, Hawthorn Grill offers a selection of artisan pizzas, salads and appetizers like Ed Hill Chicken Liver Pate, Pierogi, Pimento Cheese Fritters, Crab Cakes and Smoked Trout Pate.

Desserts like Warm Chocolate Cake and Caramel Apple Bread Pudding are ideal finishing touches, as are the selection of dessert wines, ports and coffees.

 

 

Hawthorn Grill celebrates holiday season with expanded hours, open on Mondays in December

The holidays are a special time for family and friends to celebrate amid food and drink, and Hawthorn Grill is an ideal destination with its comfortably elegant ambience and inviting menu of made-from-scratch dishes. To accommodate more guests, upon request, Hawthorn Grill will be open on Mondays during December.

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Located in Kettering, Hawthorn Grill is a favorite of dining enthusiasts who embrace owner and chef Candace Rinke’s commitment to and passion for creating made-from-scratch meals using ingredients in season. Every dish at Hawthorn Grill is given the attention to detail by Rinke that illustrates the “homemade” concept. Since the menu is geared towards the changing of the seasons with fruits, vegetables and even chicken and fish that are currently available, that guarantees ultimate freshness.

Recent daily specials showcase Hawthorn Grill’s seasonal menu that now reflects the approaching winter months. A $22 dinner feature included a Grilled Bone-In Pork Chop, Cranberry Sauce with Rosemary and Fig, Potato Croquettes and Garlicky Spinach Sauté. The $23 Surf-N-Turf: Grilled Shoulder Steak, Grilled Shrimp, Lemon Butter, Crispy Green Beans, Garlic and Herb Pasta was another highlight.

The $22 daily special was served with Blackened Cod, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Red Skin Potatoes and Crispy Green Beans. The $20 Pan Seared Duck Breast, Autumn Risotto (Dried Cranberries, Wild Mushrooms, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes), and Apple Cider Reduction was another favorite. A $19 regular feature of Spaghetti & Meatballs, Homemade Garlic Bread and Homemade Caesar Salad and the $13.99 Artisanal Pizza and American Caesar Salad provided more options.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, Warm Apple Dumpling, Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream and a Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae were other appealing choices.

“One of the many blessings of being an independent restaurant is that we not only keep signature dishes that regulars like, but we also regularly update our menu based on what is available in season. Our guests can expect consistency because of our ingredients and our attention to detail,” Rinke said. “Our expanded hours during the holidays allows our frequent guests to try something familiar or new, and first-time guests to experience our made-from-scratch, seasonal concept that we believe will lead them to return again.”

Hawthorn Grill is the realization of a lifelong dream for Rinke, who developed a fondness for cooking from her grandma “Buscia” and her mother, Gloria. That love grew when she spent time in Germany as a child and worked in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants earlier in her career. After studying engineering at the University of Michigan, she realized that becoming a chef was her true passion, so she earned her culinary degree and worked in back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house positions to learn every aspect of the restaurant industry. Hawthorn Grill, which is named to honor the Wright brothers’ home, illustrates Rinke’s at-home cooking preferences.

“What you see on the menu is what I love to cook for my family,” said Rinke, who has won several chef competitions and is a featured chef on WDTN’s “Living Dayton” morning show.   “Our meals take time because they are homemade from beginning to end, which is especially relevant during the holidays because of all the beloved traditions of celebrating with family and friends.”

Hawthorn Grill reflects chef/owner Candace Rinke’s passion for made-from-scratch meals that change with the seasons

On a Wednesday night, a couple who frequents Hawthorn Grill is seated at their table and greets owner/chef Candace Rinke with enthusiasm about dinner. They notice the autumn-inspired entrees and rave about trying the pumpkin risotto and pan-seared walleye, which only appear on the menu seasonally. The couple’s sentiments echo why the Kettering-based restaurant is a beloved destination for dining enthusiasts who embrace Rinke’s commitment to and passion for creating made-from-scratch meals using ingredients in season.

Every dish at Hawthorn Grill is given the attention to detail by Rinke that illustrates the “homemade” concept. Since the menu is geared towards the changing of the seasons with fruits, vegetables and even chicken and fish that are currently available, that guarantees ultimate freshness.

“There was a time when it was commonplace to have local ingredients and know that you were eating fresh and healthy meals,” Rinke said. “We strive to create awareness of the ingredients and where their food originates.

“Americans are becoming more discriminating about the food they eat, and how the ingredients are sourced and prepared,” Rinke explained. “We look at the integrity of every ingredient in our kitchen, so you can feel confident that the food you are eating is bursting with flavor and is high quality.”

Hawthorn Grill is the realization of a lifelong dream for Rinke, who developed a fondness for cooking from her grandma “Buscia” and her mother, Gloria. That love grew when she spent time in Germany as a child and worked in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants earlier in her career. After studying engineering at the University of Michigan, she realized that becoming a chef was her true passion, so she earned her culinary degree and worked in back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house positions to learn every aspect of the restaurant industry. Hawthorn Grill, which is named to honor the Wright brothers’ home, illustrates Rinke’s at-home cooking preferences.

“What you see on the menu is what I love to cook for my family,” said Rinke, who has won several chef competitions and is a featured chef on WDTN’s “Living Dayton” morning show.   “Our meals take time because they are homemade from beginning to end. For guests who have gluten sensitivities or other dietary restrictions, chances are we can modify a dish to fit within their guidelines since we make everything from scratch.

“One of the many blessings of being an independent restaurant is that we not only keep signature dishes that regulars like, but we also regularly update our menu based on what is available in season,” Rinke added. “Our guests can expect consistency because of our ingredients and our attention to detail.”

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Ed Hill, a farmer from Xenia, raises free-roaming chickens free of antibiotics and hand grinds open pollinated corn meal, both of which are featured on the restaurant’s winter menu in dishes like chicken liver pate; grilled polenta; the chicken in the chicken, shrimp and grits; and stuffed chicken breast. In the kitchen at Hawthorn Grill, nothing is made from a box. Potatoes are peeled, fish is hand-battered, bread is made from flour and yeast, desserts are baked in house, and pasta is rolled out. Even the margaritas are handmade at Hawthorn Grill.

Rinke is also committed to responsible culinary choices. In addition to chicken and corn meal from Ed Hill, Rinke incorporates fresh produce from Bellbrook’s Lucas Family Farms and DuBreton pork made from pigs that are raised humanely on small family farms in Canada without antibiotics or steroids. Containers that are recycled and landfill friendly are used for carryout and catering orders.

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Hawthorn Grill is renowned for its’ special culinary events, like Oktoberfest (which features favorites Rinke learned during her time in Germany) and Duck-a-palooza. Currently, the restaurant is accepting orders for Thanksgiving dinners, which include farm-raised turkey from Ed Hill and a la carte or package side items, like mashed potatoes and white wine gravy, sweet potato mash, bread stuffing and cranberry sauce among other homemade delicacies.

“We are fortunate to have a loyal following of regular guests since the doors opened in 2010,” Rinke said.  “These guests have become more like family members than acquaintances. I think that is appropriate since our concept was inspired by my grandma and mom, and how they taught me to share the love of cooking. This restaurant is my passion, not just my livelihood, and I strive to make that evident in every dish that is served.”

What: Hawthorn Grill

Where: 1222 E. Stroop Rd., Kettering

Contact information: 937-298-2222 and www.hawthorngrill.com

Hours: Open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Open for dinner 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and for brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.