Saturday, February 20, 2010


Last Sunday was Valentine’s Day. At the Collier house it was an all Valentine’s weekend! Saturday and Sunday we had plans with my most favorite little people; Bryce, Blake and Ava. So Friday was the night for Bob and me to celebrate. We went to dinner at one of Gahanna’s best kept secrets; Tora.

Tora opened December 11th 2009, with no fanfare and no intense advertising that I know of. It seemed like one day all of a sudden it was open! Well, of course I had been watching and waiting with great anticipation for its opening. I’m sure I was driving Bob absolutely crazy about it. Every time we were anywhere near it I would say, “I really want to try that restaurant!” I said it like it was the first time he’d heard it. Thank God he is a patient man.

So one evening we went to Tora with Lonnie. We ordered all kinds of awesome appetizers and dinner entrees and dessert even. We shared everything and enjoyed every single dish. I, of course, did not have my camera with me. I took pictures on my phone which turned out so badly that I simply could not put you through the agony of having to look at them. So I vowed to go back with my camera and get good photos! The food was so good that two nights later on New Year’s Eve, we ordered carry out to take as appetizers to the party we were attending!

On my birthday Laura Lee took me to Tora. Again, I forgot my camera. I had my new iPhone, which I had just gotten as my bday present from Bob. But, um…I didn’t quite know how to use the darn thing yet. So once again, my pictures looked like crap. I vowed to go back with my camera and get good photos! (No, this was not a ploy to make sure I’d get back soon!)

Enter Valentine’s Day weekend. Decidedly, I wanted to celebrate at Tora…with my camera! So let me tell you about one of my new favorite restaurants:

Tora means “tiger” in Japanese. The owners, Won Lee & Hye Young Han, have done a wonderful job of transforming what used to be Milano’s (a small Italian place). The result of their hard work is absolutely beautiful. Upon entering the restaurant we immediately saw the gorgeous sushi bar. And every single time we have entered, we have been greeted with huge smiles from the sushi chefs! What a pleasure!

Each time I have been to Tora I have been greeted at the front door by Han. Han is so gracious that she makes me feel like I am being welcomed into her home. She is just delightful!

As is the entire staff. Every single member of the wait staff has gone out of their way to make our visits memorable. This is Pedro…I want to take him home with me. His smile simply lights up the entire restaurant. See how the picture is somewhat blurry? That is because Pedro moves so fast when he changes the tables! (It can’t possibly be that my picture taking skills are lacking!)

Now let’s get down to the meat of the matter….so to speak. Bob and I set out to try a number of dishes. We are selfless and giving that way. We figured that to give you an adequate picture of Tora, it was imperative that we order a fair number of items from the menu. Chef Scott Kim is a genius! Did you know that he has been cooking in restaurants for 14 years before coming to Tora? Immediately before Tora,he was at Restaurant Hama in Easton, also owned by Won & Han. (His resume also includes cooking at Morimoto in Philadelphia.) So need I say that presentation is beyond incredible!!!

Okay. We began our journey with “Spicy Tuna Sashimi Tempura-deep fried with shiso leaf served with chef’s special white teriyaki sauce.” What a way to start! This was so good you cannot believe it. The flavor was so delicate and the sauce compliments the sashimi so perfectly. When we finished it I wanted to start it all over again! But there are so many other things to try. So onward we go!

Next up was the “Tora Special Roll-shrimp tempura roll with spicy snow crab on top.” This is a definite must when you visit Tora. I loved this roll. Absolutely, positively loved it! I mean, who doesn’t like shrimp tempura? What’s not to like about it? Then add spicy snow crab on top? Oh my. I just simply sighed when I ate this roll. It was exquisite.

This is a combination of single items we ordered. (Note: I am not supposed to eat raw sushi because of my suppressed immune system. And if by chance any of my doctors are reading this, I so did not sample any of the raw seafood here. Really! I mean it. I was dining with the transplant police, aka Bob!) From left to right: salmon, halibut, charred albacore, and tamago. Bob said the salmon, halibut and charred albacore were delicious. This was the first time he tried halibut sushi and he definitely would order it again. The tamago (egg) was mine and it was delicious. Okay, so I did try a little bite of the charred albacore. Very interesting! The rim of cooked fish against its raw counterpart was a study in contrast. The same fish, raw and cooked, tastes so different! I was surprised and pleased.

Did you notice the artistry on the halibut? I loved it! The attention to detail was awesome. Check back on the picture of the entire plate.

Do you see the cucumber at the left end? It’s whimsical! The chefs just delight me!

This is edamame. Edamame are boiled soybeans. They are really fun to eat and are delicious. We forgot to order them, so I took a picture of the edamame at the table next to us. I’m resourceful that way.

Now for our entrees...and yes, at this point we could have stopped. But we didn’t. Was that dedication, or what? Bob and I happened to order the same dinners that we had the first time we were here. We enjoyed them so much. When I was here with Laura Lee, I had the Ramen Soup. It was just the best I’ve ever had. Even surpassing what I experienced in Maui at a little restaurant called “Ramen Ya”. I loved it!

My main course began with a salad. Served in the cutest “bowl” (I just love the dishes here), it had mixed greens and a vinaigrette that was light with just a touch of sweetness. Really, a perfect palate cleanser!

Bob’s meal started off with miso soup. He said it was very good. The broth was savory with excellent flavor, and tofu added a nice smooth texture.

My entree was “Bulgogi Beef Box-served with squid salad, seaweed salad, spring roll, 6 pieces of California roll and daily fresh vegetables.” Actually, both times I’ve had this it has had potato salad instead of the fresh daily vegetables. And that has been perfectly okay by me! I think the Bulgogi box is divine. I am totally enamored with it. I swear the Bulgogi, which is “thinly sliced beef marinated in Korean BBQ sauce and sautéed with mushrooms and onions and served on a bed of rice” literally melted in my mouth...oh my. The flavor was incredible. And believe me, Tora was not shy with the portion size. The beef filled one section of the box and rice filled the opposite. Simply put, it was pure heaven.

The seaweed and squid salad, which have always been favorites of mine were the perfect compliment. Cool and yummy, they went right along with the California roll and the spring rolls. The spring rolls had a bit of sweet Thai chili sauce drizzled over them. Have I mentioned I loved this box?! I could go on and on, but I must continue with the rest of the meal. It is not to be missed either!

Bob’s main course was the “Korean Style Stone Pot-vegetables, beef and egg on a bed of rice with your choice of teriyaki or spicy sauce”. The first time he had it he got both of the sauces. This time he had the spicy. The stone pot dinner was served in a pot, a very hot pot! The rice was on the bottom and formed an unbelievably crunchy rice goodness. Next were strips of beef, mushrooms, shredded carrots, and sliced green onion. Just before serving, an egg was cracked over the top. The stone pot retained enough heat so that the egg cooked as it was mixed with the other ingredients. A dish of sauce accompanied the stone pot meal. It was so good. Take a look…

This is a happy man!

Every time I have been to Tora, I have been intrigued by the Korean flavored vodka that is on the drink menu. Since this was our Valentine’s Day celebration I took a walk on the wild side and ordered the grape Korean vodka. Both Bob and I thought it would be like an after dinner drink. You know, like a shot or two? It arrived in a teapot! With the cutest tiniest little cup I think I’ve ever seen. It was cold, as you would expect. I took the first sip rather tentatively, not really knowing what to expect. It was really good. It wasn’t so strong it knocked me off of my seat; so obviously it wasn’t straight vodka. And there was plenty there. I’m thinking maybe this is something I should have ordered to drink along with dinner? Evidently I should have asked. The bottom line is that I did like it. And I will order it again. But I’ll order it at the beginning of the meal. It also comes in lemon and yogurt flavors. I’d like to try the lemon. In fact, I think I’ll just do that next time!

Did we have dessert? Why, of course we did! This was my “Black Tie Chocolate Cake-chocolate brownie layered with creamy white chocolate filling, then topped with a moist chocolate cake and velvet fudge icing”. Yeah, can you even wrap your mind around that? It was over-the-top good. All that chocolate goodness, along with the white chocolate filling (I love white chocolate) was so, so good.

Bob’s dessert was “Tempura Ice Cream-ice cream wrapped in slices of pound cake and tempura deep fried (flavors: green tea, chocolate, vanilla, red beans)”. It was topped with whipped cream, sliced strawberries and an orange slice. I can’t say this was a favorite of mine. I've had several other desserts at Tora that I've liked better. The Raspberry Mascarpone Torte was awesome, the Banana Fritters were totally yummy,and the Mochi was really interesting and good! Bob certainly finished the Tempura Ice Cream and left the bowl clean! He also had coffee with his dessert. Even the coffee was beautifully presented in a great cup with cream, sugar and a choice of sweeteners.

Wow! What a meal! What an evening! Tora is such a special place. A beautiful atmosphere with wonderful food strikingly presented on fun and original dishware. Smiles from all who greet you; and through our meal we wanted for nothing. This is a place you don't want to miss.

Like I said, Tora is one of Gahanna’s best kept secrets. I hope this helps get the word out!

1330 N. Hamilton Road
Gahanna, OH 43230
614-428-TORA (8672)

Restaurant Tora on Urbanspoon

Tortellini Bacon Broccoli Salad

Now here is a recipe that I absolutely fell in love with! Oh my gosh, I simply could have eaten the entire contents of the bowl by myself. I mean, it took all of my self control not to stab Bob with my fork when I saw his hand coming toward the bowl. But hey, I’m not that harsh! Even though I never went to kindergarten I know how to share…albeit sometimes grudgingly. It’s a good thing I only made half of the recipe. I just couldn’t stop eating it! I am telling you, it is addictive.

Once again, I got the recipe from Allrecipes. I just cannot tell you how much I love that site! (Have I ever told you that a few of my recipes are on there?) They just have really good recipes. Some you take and use as a basic idea and shape your own and some are just good to go as they are. That is definitely the case here. The only thing I changed was that I used the low-fat dressing. And make sure you give it time to hang out in the fridge so all of the ingredients get to know each other really well. ‘Cause that’s when it tastes the best!

I can’t wait to make this again. I think it will be an absolutely wonderful dish for summer cookouts, too!

Tortellini Bacon Broccoli Salad


2 (9 ounce) packages refrigerated three-cheese tortellini (like Buttoni)
1 pound bacon
4 cups chopped broccoli
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup bottled coleslaw dressing (I use Marzetti’s Low Fat)

1. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions, drain, rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
2. Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Chop the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces while still a little warm.
3. Place the tortellini, bacon, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and green onions into a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the ingredients, and toss lightly to coat. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

Oh! Wait! I forgot to tell you something! Next time I make it, I will not mix the bacon in with all of the other ingredients. It got soggy. And who likes soggy bacon? That’s just not right. So I will cook the bacon and chop it up and then set it aside. Then I’ll just sprinkle it on each spoonful while I stand at the refrigerator door eating it…er, umm, I mean I’ll sprinkle it on each serving. Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dine Originals Week March 8-14, 2010

A wonderful thing is about to happen in Columbus in a few weeks. Yes, it is time again for Dine Originals Restaurant Week. Bob and I had an absolute blast with this last September! We ate our way through the week …all so I could selflessly serve my fellow man by blogging about our experiences. (I’m like that…totally selfless in my pursuit to bring you the best of Columbus’ culinary scene…yeah, that’s me.)

This spring the dates are March 8th through the 14th. You simply must check out the offerings! There are quite a few menus already posted and they will make your mouth water just reading them! There is a plethora of choices, both lunch and dinner!

Here is the link:

Mark your calendars! Get babysitters if you must! Save your pennies! Rob your kid’s piggybanks (you know who you are). Do whatever you must to insure that you can take advantage of the offerings of this delectable and delicious week!

Bob and I are already plotting our strategy…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tomato, White Bean & Bacon Soup

I had such high hopes for this soup. I’ve had the recipe since the end of summer. Bob had brought in our last batch of tomatoes and I blanched and froze them in the amount called for in this soup. I marked the bag with the name of the soup so I would remember why I’d done this (yes, memory is at issue here, folks. Sometimes I can’t even remember why I’ve walked into a different room in the house!) And, I don’t remember where I got the recipe, which is probably a good thing.

So here’s the deal; this just didn’t rock my boat. And I wanted to like it. I was certain I would like it. I mean, I saved the recipe for months! I’m not sure why I didn’t. I love all of the ingredients, but I guess this was just not a case of the whole being better than its parts. I think a portion of it was the mouth-feel. You puree the soup after adding half the beans. It felt, I don’t know, like kind of mushy to me. Maybe I should have spiced it up a bit. I'm just not sure. But for some reason it didn't speak to me. I just don’t think I’ll make it again. Bob was “okay” with it. So with that being said, you might take a look at it and think you want to try it anyway. If you do, please come back and let me know what you thought of it. I’m interested too, if and how you might have altered the recipe.

Tomato, White Bean, Bacon Soup Recipe
Source-I just can’t remember!
Serves 8-10


1/4 pound bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peeled, chopped potatoes (recommend Yukon Gold)
6 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (or canned whole tomatoes with juice)
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 can white beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste


1 Cook bacon on medium heat in a large saucepan until lightly browned and fat is rendered. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from the pan. Set on a plate lined with a paper towel.

2 Add the chopped onion to the pot, cook in the bacon fat on medium heat until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more. Add the chopped peeled potatoes and cook a few minutes more.

3 Add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Cook until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes (or longer).

4 Stir in the brown sugar. Add half of the beans to the mixture. Use an immersion blender to blend about half of the soup mixture (or blend half of the soup in a standing blender and return to the pot).

5 Add bacon to the soup and the rest of the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sigh...maybe you'll like it better than I did...I just can't let it go, can I?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"It's Chili by George!"...or Jean

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you; this is the best darn chili I have ever made! And I always thought my chili was pretty good. Now, you all know how much I love Sometimes I just browse through reading recipes. I do that. I read cookbooks and cooking magazines. I think of all the dishes I want to make. And I mark them with the full intention of trying them. Of course, there is no way I could try them all. We don’t have a big enough refrigerator for that. Besides the fact that it is just Bob and me; hell, we’d be big as houses! However, every once in a while I do find one that I just simply have to make immediately. That’s what happened here.

I saw this recipe online. It is called “It’s Chili by George!” It is really so good and just the perfect thing in weather like we’ve been having! It warms you up from the inside out. Now, I made a few minor changes to the recipe (just couldn’t help myself). I’ll post the link to the original along with the recipe as I made it. Either way, whether it’s chili by George or Jean, it is good!!!

“It’s Chili by George” ala Jean
Adapted from
original recipe:

• 2 pounds lean ground beef
• 1 (28 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes
• 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
• 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 small can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
• 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
• 1 & 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup chili powder
• 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Ancho chili powder
• 1 tablespoon Wahoo chili seasoning (Tastefully Simple)

1. Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until about halfway cooked. Add chopped onion. Cook until beef is evenly browned. Drain, and crumble.

2. In a large pot over high heat combine the ground beef, tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, pinto beans, brown sugar, chili powder, ancho chili powder and Wahoo!. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

3. Note: If using a slow cooker, brown beef & onions. Drain. Set cooker on low, add ingredients, and cook for 4 to 6 hours on low.


All right everybody. I know it’s been a while. But seriously, where does the time go? I swear sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland. I don’t know what the heck is going on because it seems like time disappears days at a time! Anyway, have I got some really good posts coming for you!

First, I am going to start out with ‘Walk-to-School-Cookies”. An incredibly dear friend of mine gave this recipe to me years ago when we lived next door to each other. Rita Nuzum was one of the finest women I will ever have been blessed to know. She was this wonderfully beautiful creature, inside and out. And did she have a killer sense of humor. We were both single gals living next door to each other. Her husband had passed away and I was divorced. We pulled each other through many lonely days and nights. God, how I loved that woman. (Make sure you tell people you love how you feel about them…sometimes you lose the chance just because you never got around to it.)

Now this recipe is most definitely not for the faint of heart. And I mean that literally. It actually has enough butter that it probably could fell a grown man. But hey, it is so worth it! They are melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbread deliciousness with a nice little crunch.

Here’s to Rita!

from my friend, Rita Nuzum
(makes 7 dozen*)

Cast of Characters

3 cups butter (6 sticks)
2 cups sugar
1 cup grape nuts
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups all purpose flour

Cream butter with sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add cereal and vanilla; mix well.

Next add flour and mix well. Batter will be very stiff!

Shape into 1 inch balls (I use a #60 scoop) and drop onto wax paper sprinkled with sugar. Place balls, sugar coated side down, onto ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Gently press with a fork in a criss/cross pattern.

Bake at 350˚for 15 minutes.

Cool five minutes on sheet and move to wire rack to cool completely.

*I usually only make half a recipe…otherwise I’d eat the entire 7 dozen!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


One of my favorite weekends of the year. On tap:

Muffuletta (in honor of the Saints). A nice young man at Giant Eagle/Gahanna helped me get the right stuff at the deli, except I substituted capicola for the ham. My sister in Houston gave me the olive spread! And yeah, yeah, I know it's supposed to have sesame seeds, but my teeth don't appreciate those.

Mini hamburgers (in honor of the Colts), to be served with onions sauteed in New Castle beer.

Macaroni and Cheese (pure comfort food on a weekend like this - just because).

Mound Bars - and I made it 'mine' by adding sliced almonds before I added the chocolate on top (which were Hershey bars that I placed on the top layer, put back in the oven for 5 minutes to melt, spread, and THEN topped with semi-sweet mini chocolate chips).