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Luna Bakery & Cafe’s Ham Panini

Serves 4

  • 8 slices Siciliano or multigrain bread
  • 12-16 slices all-natural ham, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 20-24 leaves baby spinach
  • French whole grain mustard
  • Butter, softened

For each sandwich, spread mustard on two slices of bread and add a slice of cheese to both. Add 3-4 slices of ham to one side, add spinach and top it with the other slice of bread. Spread butter on both sides of the panini and grill it on a preheated sandwich press. Alternately, heat a saute pan over medium heat. Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the second side until golden and cheese is melted, about 1-2 minutes more. 


Chef’s Take

“It’s simple with a little upscale twist. It’s the perfect balance of the salty ham, tangy mustard, creamy cheese and fresh spinach. It has all the elements you need for a great sandwich.” — Bridget Thibeault, owner and chef at Luna Bakery & Cafe

Local Toppings: Three Faves

Cleveland Kraut

Crunchy, tangy, full of probiotics — what’s not to love about Cleveland Kraut? It’s Bridget Thibeault’s favorite local condiment. “Around St. Patrick’s Day we run a corned beef sandwich special and we use their sauerkraut,” says the owner and chef of Luna Bakery & Cafe. “At home, I put it on everything. It’s local, delicious and comes in a variety of flavors.” 

Georgian Plum Sauce (tkemali)

This plum sauce comes in green (tart) and red (sweet) varieties. Find it at Yeleseyevsky Deli in Mayfield Heights or International Food & Deli on State Road. “If it’s your first introduction to tkemali, stick with a red sauce,” says Natasha Pogrebinsky, executive chef at the South Side. “Butterfly some kielbasa and put it on the grill, slather the tkemali on there and serve it with some local bread.” 

Ohio City Farm’s Mixed Greens

There’s nothing like crisp, fresh greens. Beet Jar sources theirs from this 6-acre urban farm, located at Bridge Avenue and West 24th Street. “We use local greens whenever possible,” says co-owner Molly Pamela. “I highly suggest Ohio City Farm. You can stop by their farm stand in the summer to pick up what you need.”

Ninja City’s Shrimp Steam Buns

Serves 2-3

  • 1 pack of 10 frozen foldable steam buns
  • 20-30 pieces of shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-off
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemongrass, fresh or frozen and minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Cooking oil
  • Pickled carrot
  • Pickled daikon
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Fresh ginger
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro

Steam frozen or defrosted buns using a metal or bamboo steamer. Apply a thin layer of cooking oil onto the steamer’s surface. Place buns in steamer. Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a saucepan or pot sized for the steamer. Place steamer on top of pan or pot. Steam buns for 9-10 minutes, until soft and hot. Season shrimp with black pepper. Heat cooking oil in wok, saucepan or deep-frying pan using high heat. Once oil is lightly smoking, add shrimp. Saute for 2-3 minutes on high heat, stirring occasionally. Add lemongrass and garlic. Continue cooking on high heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is fully cooked and lemongrass and garlic are golden brown. To prepare chili aioli, blend or whisk together ketchup, mayonnaise and fresh ginger. Carefully open buns to avoid splitting or smashing. Place jalapenos on bottom side of each bun. Place shrimp on top of jalapenos. Top with pickled carrot, daikon, chili aioli, scallions and cilantro. 


Chef’s take

“Steam buns are cute and they’re fun to eat — they’re kind of like a fluffy taco. There’s a sweetness to them, and the dough is addictive. Just like white bread, any flavor you put on them is going to taste delicious.” — Bac Nguyen, co-owner and chef of Ninja City Kitchen and Bar

Beet Jar’s Bravocado

Serves 4

  • 8 slices of Dave’s Killer Bread, toasted
  • 2-4 ripe avocados, sliced
  • 1 cup large coconut flakes
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon favorite mix of smoky spices, such as paprika
  • Cashew mayonnaise or Vegenaise
  • Mixed greens
  • Red onions, shaved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix coconut flakes, coconut aminos and spices together and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread cashew mayonnaise or Vegenaise onto a slice of toasted bread. Add one-half to a whole sliced avocado, greens, red onions and smoked coconut to taste. Top with another slice of bread.


Chef’s take

“People compare [the Bravocado] to avocado toast, but we tried to blow that out of the water by coming up with something completely unique. It’s like avocado toast on steroids.” — Molly Pamela, co-owner of Beet Jar


Best Bread: Two to Try

Mediterra Bakehouse

Founded by Warren, Ohio, native and John Carroll University grad Nick Ambeliotis, this company has baking operations in Pittsburgh and Arizona. Locally, you can find this artisan-style bread — like the brioche buns executive chef Natasha Pogrebinsky uses at the South Side — at West Side Market stand B9. “It’s organic and non-GMO with no preservatives — it’s very nice bread,” she says. “These are not your basic frozen buns.” 

The Stone Oven

 This local bakery serves up scratch-made loaves of bread, perfect for piling high with your favorite ingredients, out of locations in Cleveland Heights and Woodmere. “The bread is just so delicious — it’s that European-style with crunchy crust,” says Bridget Thibeault, owner and chef at Luna Bakery & Cafe. The Stone Oven founders, Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman, were originally partners in Luna Bakery & Cafe. Luna’s sandwiches come on your choice of Stone Oven multigrain or Siciliano bread. “They’re one of the few bakeries still making scratch bread in Cleveland,” she says.

The South Side’s Epic Fried Chicken

Serves 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed (or chopped fresh dill)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 6 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups of shredded cabbage or store-bought shredded cabbage mix
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 pint vegetable oil
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 4 slices Swiss or Muenster cheese
  • 4 brioche buns

Tenderize chicken thighs by pounding them with a meat mallet. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a bowl and add chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Blend or whisk together sriracha, 3/4 cup mayonnaise and water. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, curry, cumin, dill, celery salt seasonings in a medium bowl. Mix with a large spoon until evenly incorporated. Cover and store in a cool, dry place. Whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, mustard, celery salt, sugar and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate. Add slaw dressing to cabbage and mix well. Refrigerate. Crisp bacon strips in a skillet or oven and set aside. Place one piece of chicken at a time into a bowl of the seasoned flour mix. Press down, flip, press again, lift and shake off excess flour. Place on a sheet or plate. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Heat the oil in a tabletop deep fryer or a deep skillet on the stovetop to 325 degrees. Fry the chicken for 7-10 minutes or until it’s cooked through to 165 degrees. Turn on the broiler and set to medium. Place cooked chicken on a sheet, top it with a slice of cheese and melt under the broiler. Toast the buns under the broiler. Spread the bottom bun with aioli, then top it with a piece of chicken, two strips of bacon, slaw and the top bun. 


Chef’s take

“It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s very flavorful, and it’s been one of our bestsellers for years. It’s comfort food and a classic summer combination.” — Natasha Pogrebinsky, executive chef at The South Side

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