Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dan Neman

Time to cast your bake-off vote



Anyone remember Cathy Holmes? How about Anne Johnson?

Sure, there are plenty of Cathy Holmeses and Anne Johnsons out there. The Cathy Holmes we’re talking about is from Toledo originally and now lives in Columbus. The Anne Johnson is a native of Sylvania and now lives in Vincent, Ohio. They are both amateur bakers and, apparently, very good ones.

Both have reached the semifinal stage of the prestigious Pillsbury Bake-Off, and both are competing in the category of Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts.

Ms. Holmes’ creation is Sweet Brie Breakfast Sandwiches — slices of turkey and ham, brie, a slice of pear, and a dash of apricot preserves inside biscuit dough that has been wrapped around the whole thing. Ms. Johnson came up with PB&J Mini Walnut Muffins — muffins made from peanut-butter cookie dough, flour, eggs, buttermilk, walnuts, and strawberry jam and more walnuts on top.

It is hard to imagine how either such delicacy could fail to win it all, but even the best of concoctions need votes from the public to advance to the final round.

Voting is online at Votes may be cast until 1 p.m. on Thursday. Remember, 33 finalists will be chosen from the 60 semifinal recipes, so both formerly local women can become finalists.

All recipes for the contest must use seven or fewer ingredients (both Ms. Johnson’s and Ms. Holmes’ use seven) and can take no more than 30 minutes to prepare (both recipes take the full 30 minutes), not including the time to cook and cool. The bake-off finals will be held in November in Las Vegas. The grand prize winner will receive $1 million which, as the Pillsbury folks love to say, is a lot of dough.


In the mood for a lobster? Clamoring for some clams?

Real Seafood Company is going for shellfish in a big way over the next couple of weeks. From now through Oct. 7 it is having its annual lobster fest — that’s a 1¼ pound steamed live Maine lobster served with drawn butter, a side dish, bleu cheese cole slaw, and bread.

The cost is $21.95, which does not include tax or tip, and reservations are definitely recommended. Lobsters don’t grow on trees, you know, but can you picture what it would look like if they did?

Meanwhile, if bivalves are more your style, an oyster dinner — which also includes top neck clams — will be served on Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

The meal begins with all-you-can-eat oysters and clams, and this column has been known to put away an embarrassingly large number of oysters and clams. From there, the meal progresses to a main course of fire-roasted hake (it’s a fish) with bacon jam and a salad of oven-roasted beets. Dessert is what they are calling Torta di Zucca, which sounds fancier than “pumpkin pie,” possibly because it will be topped with bourbon whipped cream and candied walnuts.

Naturally, such a feast does not come cheap. The oyster dinner will set you back $64.95, including tax and tip, and can actually be an excellent deal if you eat enough of the oysters.

Reservations are required for the oyster dinner (and, as we said, recommended for the lobster fest) at 888-456-3463.

Grilled and cheesy

This is hard to believe: Paddy Jacks restaurant, which specializes in “gourmet stuffed grilled cheese” sandwiches, opened one year ago (plus about two weeks). They now have four locations, with the addition of one at 5122 Heatherdowns Blvd. in Maumee.

That’s not the part that’s hard to believe. This is the part that’s hard to believe: In just the one year (plus two weeks), they say they have served nearly 1 million grilled-cheese sandwiches. That’s spectacular. That’s extraordinary. That’s almost impossible.

Here’s the math: Between them, the four locations have been open a total of about 650 days. If you divide 650 days into 1 million sandwiches, you get an average of 1,538 grilled-cheese sandwiches made by each restaurant on every day that restaurant has been open.

As we said, it’s hard to believe. No wonder the hard-working entrepreneurs have plans to have 10 locations open by the end of the year.

Gluten? Not!

You know those “gluten-free” labels you’ve seen on a wide variety of foods over the last several years? It turns out they have had no standard definition, and one man’s gluten-free might be another’s glutenous.

But that is all going to change, at least by next August. That is when all labels reading “gluten-free” will have to measure up to a standard put forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As of next August, any food labeled “gluten-free” will contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, the lowest level that can consistently be detected in tests. It is the same standard applied by other countries.

At the moment, according to the USDA, only about 5 percent of the foods labeled “gluten-free” have more than 20 parts per million of gluten. But any confusion should be cleared up in less than a year.

Items for Morsels should be submitted up to two weeks before an event to

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