When it comes to cooking, I often am looking for something fast, easy, and inexpensive. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy elaborate flavors and innovative recipes. I feel like my friend Krystina’s blog, Cooking through Cleveland, combines the elements of easy and affordable with innovation. She enjoys everything from her family’s traditional Italian recipes to Mahi Mahi and Cous-Cous salad. And she occasionally shares a trip to some of the more well-known popular restaurants in Cleveland. I am so excited that she started blogging because now I know exactly where to look when I am lacking inspiration in the kitchen. I recently asked her some questions about her favorite recipes and dishes:
What made you start Cooking through Cleveland?
I’ve always loved to eat, but as I got older I really got into cooking, too. If I see a really complicated recipe that takes hours to make, I get really excited about it. I also love creating my own recipes, sometimes inspired by meals I see on the Food Network or in cookbooks, or just experimenting with my favorite ingredients. I thought others might like to see what I come up with and be inspired to cook great meals too.
What cooking tool/aid could you not live without?
It’s a toss up between my knives – a really good, strong knife is so important – and my 12-inch non-stick skillet. I make a lot of one-pot meals and I probably use that pan almost every day.
What is your favorite dish to make and your favorite dish to eat?
Favorite to make – I love doing variations of mac-and-cheese. Cheeseburger mac, baked potato mac, Italian-style, or even just trying different combinations of cheeses. You can almost never go wrong. Favorite to eat – My favorite meal has been and will always be a traditional Sunday pasta dinner. It takes a long time to prepare the sauce with the meatballs and everything else that goes in it, so I only make it once-in-a-while, but I absolutely love it. It’s the center of every family dinner and I hope it stays that way. To give you an idea of how much I truly love it, when I was 2 years old, I interrupted my brother’s baptism by loudly whining about how much I wanted to leave and go to the party so I could eat macaroni!
What is your favorite Cleveland restaurant?
Don’t even have to think about it – Momocho in Ohio City. This place is AMAZING. Everything I’ve ever tasted there is beyond delicious. They’ve really taken Mexican food to a place I didn’t think it could go. Plus, the vibe in there is just awesome. I can’t eat there enough!
What is your favorite restaurant outside of Cleveland?
I grew up in around Youngstown, Ohio and there isn’t much of a restaurant scene. It’s mostly chains and a few mom-and-pop places. My favorite, though, is a little hole-in-the-wall Japanese habachi restaurant called the Tokyo House. (And I really mean hole-in-the-wall. It’s a teeny little building in a sketchy neighborhood with a rickety sign just leaning up against the outside wall.) This place beats out any fancy hibachi place any day. Owned and run only by one family of four (now 2 since the kids went away to college), this place is always great and worth the sometimes 2-3 hour wait. They have a simple menu, but the huge portions and the incredibly entertaining chef/owner make for an unforgettable experience. He even remembered me recently from my trips during high school after not coming for a good 5 years.
And completely random question, if you could be from another era what time period would you live in?
I could definitely see myself loving the Roaring 20’s. The decadence, the fashion, the cocktails, it just seemed like a constant party. I often wish I had a reason to dress like a flapper or add a Great Gatsby theme to a get-together.