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Aug 21, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Scoop: St. Louis pastry chefs win TLC’s ‘Next Great Baker’

August 20th, 2014

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Al Watson and Lia Weber are finally able to announce their big news: They have earned the title “Next Great Baker” from season four of TLC’s reality show of the same name. The finale episode aired last night, Aug. 19, when they beat nine other teams and emerged victorious with their final cake design — a 4-foot-tall red Japanese pagoda with a cherry tree branch covered in blossoms.

Weber said her emotions were running high during the taping of the final episode in April. “Every emotion you can image was going through my mind at the moment,” she said. “I was already crying and when I realized I had won, I fell to the ground. When I opened my eyes and my entire family was there, whom I hadn’t seen in two months.”

Watson and Weber met while working at Wedding Wonderland in Florissant. Weber is now the pastry chef at Hendel’s Market Café and has launched her own specialty dessert company, Made. by Lia. Watson, who is general manager and wedding cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland, said the whole experience was an amazing surprise. “The ride was remarkable, and to actually win the entire thing was beyond what I could have ever expected,” he said.

Weber and Watson will split the $100,000 award. As for the other prize, a potential opportunity to bake at Buddy Valastro’s new bakery at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, they are still waiting on final details before they make a decision.

If you missed the Next Great Baker” finale, the show will be rebroadcast at 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Baked: Rustic Tomato Pie

August 20th, 2014

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There are tons of sweet pie fillings out there, but what about savory? That flaky buttery crust goes perfectly with your entree, too, especially using seasonal tomatoes. I used fresh mini heirloom tomatoes for this rustic pie (or galette if you want to make rustic sound fancy), and the result is a savory delight. There’s corn for crunch, softened onions for another flavor dimension, and two kinds of cheese. It was messy, delicious and quickly gobbled up. I already know I’m making at least once more before tomato season is over. Enjoy and happy baking!
Rustic Tomato Pie
Adapted from a recipe from Smitten Kitchen
2 to 4 servings

1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 cups small fresh tomatoes
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
¾ cup corn
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 Pie Crust (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Handful fresh basil, chopped
1 egg, beaten

• In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onions with 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring every so often until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
• Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, tomatoes, salt, pepper and thyme to the same pan over high heat. Cover and let cook, shaking the pan occasionally to roll the tomatoes around so they cook evenly. They will burst and pop in 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and add the corn and softened onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool to room temperature.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Roll 1 pie crust out on a lightly floured surface to a rough 12-inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the crust with the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese onto the crust.
• Sprinkle the tomato mixture with Parmesan cheese, then spoon the tomato mixture on top of the cheddar in the center of the circle, leaving a 2-inch border all the way around. Fold the edges up around the filling, pleating as needed. The center of the pie should remain open.
• Brush the crust with the egg and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden-brown. Remove and sprinkled with the basil. Let stand 5 minutes, then transfer onto a serving plate. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Pie Crust
Adapted from a recipe from SmittenKitchen.com
Makes 1 double- or 2 single-crust pies

2½ cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, cubed and chilled
¾ cup ice cold water

• In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
• Sprinkle the butter over the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or your hands to mix together until the pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
• Drizzle half of the ice water over the mixture, and use a rubber spatula to gather the dough together. Add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a ball.
• Divide the dough in half and flatten into a thick disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and let chill for at least 1 hour. Dough will keep refrigerated up to 3 days; freeze to use later.

The Scoop: Riverbend to move to former Harvest space in Richmond Heights

August 20th, 2014

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Riverbend Restaurant & Bar is taking it New Orleans fare to Richmond Heights. Owner Sam Kogos has signed the lease for 1059 Big Bend Blvd., the former location of Harvest Restaurant. He hopes to make the move in early October.

Kogos has kept his eyes open for another location for about a year, citing logistical issues with a tiny kitchen in his 95-year-old building at 701 Utah St., in Soulard. “My building has a lot of issues,” Kogos explained. “My kitchen is so small that I’m really having trouble getting out the food that we have right now.”

The new location has a full industrial kitchen including a range, hood, fryer and walk-in cooler that will allow Riverbend’s executive chef Steve Daney and Kogos to expand the menu. “I’m going to be able to do so much more stuff I can’t do now,” said Kogos, who hopes to add a fresh fish option, charbroiled oysters, fried fish and more to his menu.

Kogos said the Richmond Heights location, which will add about 20 extra seats to his current capacity, will also have more exposure than the Soulard location, currently dwarfed behind the massive expanse of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. With increased traffic, Kogos said he will be able to accept reservations and open on Sundays with the possibility of a jazz brunch. He also wants to accept Bear Bucks from Washington University students and add a late-night menu to lure the hungry college crowd.

Riverbend, which opened in 2010, is the second restaurant for Kogos; he ran another spot in New Orleans for years before Hurricane Katrina. He hopes his Soulard-based patrons will head to Big Bend for a bite to eat, but he added that 60 to 70 percent of his business currently comes from St. Louis County. “There’s a lot of people in the Soulard area already serving my type of food,” he said. “Where I’m going, nobody is serving my type of food.”

-photo by Wesley Law

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

August 19th, 2014
Welcome to Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Byron Kerman offers 9 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

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1. The new Happy Hour Menu at WildSmoke offers all the barbecue joint’s appetizers at half off from 2 to 6 p.m. daily. We’re talkin’ garlic barbecue delta shrimp over pepperjack grits ($5.50), smoked wings ($4), jumbo “doorknob” onion rings ($3.50), deviled eggs made with cheddar cheese and “pig candy” (brown sugar-roasted pork belly) ($3), a trio of sliders featuring brisket, smoked turkey and pulled pork ($4.25), and a half-dozen other choices.

2. Is Sauce on the Side poised to take over the world? That may be premature, but the newly opened second location of the calzone kitchen certainly has a hold on Clayton. The menu stars calzones like the Costanza, a dough pocket stuffed with pepperoni, eggplant, roasted garlic, basil, mozzarella and ricotta, brushed with garlic honey oil and served with red dipping sauce, as they say, on the side ($9).

 

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3. If you’re into fruit-infused, summertime beer, check out the Rubaeus Raspberry Ale by Founders Brewing Co. ($6), currently issuing from the tap at Basso. This sweet-tart double-fermented ale is made with raspberries introduced at multiple stages during fermentation. The bartenders there also offer their take on a snakebite, a “Black Raspberry” double-pour with Left Hand Chocolate Milk Stout on the bottom and Rubaeus on top to make a chocolate-raspberry beer ($7). Yummy.

4. Take away one of the five ingredients, and this dish falls apart. Put them together, and you get the winning gestalt of a classic app. The Bacon-Wrapped Dates ($7) at Joyia tapas restaurant are suitable for sharing, but you won’t want to. The dates are stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped with bacon, and roasted with tomato chutney and a red-wine reduction. Mmm…

 

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5. It’s tough to say but fun to eat at the new Sizzle, Swizzle & Swirl Happy Hour at Ruth’s Chris. Slide up to the bar in Clayton or downtown from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and order some of the steakhouse’s signature bites for almost half price. Dig into three crab BLT sliders, normally $12, with zucchini fries, a plate of beautifully seared ahi tuna (normally $17) or even a steak sandwich and fries, typically $13, all for $8. While you munch, sip a cosmo, blueberry mojito or Ruth’s Manhattan for $8 or a select beer for $3.

6. Carondelet burger palace Stacked STL has a cure for the Sunday-morning hangover: the $8 Sunday Morning Breakfast Buffet from 9 a.m. to noon. The spread features biscuits, gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, muffins and fruit, and once you find your seat, a server will take your order for French toast, pancakes or an omelet. Order up a mimosa, bloody mary or unlimited coffee and settle in for an easy morning.

 

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7. The All-Night Happy Hour at Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant wins our Inaugural Cuteness Award. Available from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the promotion is a lineup of 15 adorable one-bite samples. Consider the cerdo, grilled pork with quince (75 cents); the alcachofa relleno, artichoke stuffed with chorizo and cheese ($1); the queso frito, fried goat cheese with cumin honey ($2.50); and many more.

8. Haggis is probably eaten on a dare at least as often as it’s eaten by choice. The infamous dish – organ meats and grains encased in tripe (stomach) – gets a modern makeover at The Scottish Arms. At the CWE gastropub, house-made haggis is breaded and fried to make Haggis Fritters, and served with a whiskey sauce. You don’t have to know what’s inside to enjoy them. The end result – additional hair on your chest – is just a bonus.

 

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9. One way to try the fried fantasies at Vincent Van Doughnut is to track down “Clyde,” the vintage van converted to a doughnut food truck. Another way is to order them at Sunday Brunch at Atomic Cowboy. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday, the Grove restaurant offers a rotation of two or three different varieties of Vincent Van Doughnut. Recent flavors have included Rumchata, maple bacon, salted caramel, turtle, Highlander (made with Highlander Grogg coffee), and Tuxedo (a doughnut with a vanilla glaze, chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate chips, and a drizzle of liquid chocolate). At the Cowboy, they serve the doughnuts with an ice-cold glass of milk for $5.

10. A single S’more is sold in a roast-it-yourself kit nightly at new pub Los Punk (which we told you about here). A mere two bucks gets you a pre-portioned packet of jumbo marshmallows, graham crackers and a single mini-candy bar, plus a wooden dowel conveniently soaked in water for roasting. After buying the kit, head out back to the fire pit to make your s’more. Los Punk is open every night but Tuesday and sells s’mores every night that weather permits.

Just Five: Grilled Mango with Ice Cream

August 19th, 2014

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This is the perfect dessert to bust out after a backyard barbecue. The coals are already hot \, and grilled mango is a super simple way to impress your guests. It’s tropical, refreshing and it surprises with just a kick of chili powder. I love to combine sweet and spicy, especially when I can make something pretty. Sweet ice cream is such a nice counter-balance to the hot fruit – like pie a la mode without heating up the house for an hour (Though if its mango pie you’re after, we’ve got that, too. Click here for the recipe.). Serve this treat with a scoop of your Lime-in-the-Coconut Ice Cream from last week’s Just Five for a tropical dessert that screams of summer.

Grilled Mango with Ice Cream
4 servings

2 Tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. honey
4 ripe mangos
Lime-in-the-Coconut Ice Cream (recipe here)

• Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high, direct heat. Clean and oil the grate well.
• In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, chili powder and honey. Set aside.
• Use a sharp knife to slice the sides from the mango, using the large flat seed in the center as a guide. Each mango will yield 2 pieces. Without piercing the skin, carefully slice a crosshatch pattern into the flesh.
• Grill the mango slices flesh-side down 4 to 5 minutes. Use tongs to carefully flip them, then brush the lime juice mixture onto the flesh, making sure to get the juice into the cracks. Flip the mango flesh-side down again, and grill 1 minute. Remove from grill and let cool slightly.
• To serve, gently press the skin in the center to fan out the mango flesh. Serve immediately with a scoop of ice cream.

Meatless Monday: Cucumber Avocado Soup

August 18th, 2014

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On warm summer days, we’re just not up to making elaborate dishes. We need simple, refreshing flavors with little to no cooking involved. This Cucumber Avocado Soup is dual purpose: it fulfills our no-cook, Meatless Monday mandate, and it tackles up the overabundance of cucumbers currently swarming all over our gardens.

All you need is a cucumber, an avocado, some fresh mint, green onion and a jalapeno for kick. Blend it together with buttermilk and ice cold water until you achieve the perfect consistency and chill. At dinnertime, just pour it into a bowl, grab a spoon and kick back and relax. Get the recipe here.

-photo by Laura Miller

By the Book: Warren Brown’s Peach Pie

August 16th, 2014

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Is there anything better than a ripe, juicy peach fresh from the farmer’s market right now? Actually yes, and it’s Warren Brown’s peach pie from his cookbook Pie Love.

I am hopelessly addicted to peaches and make cobbler quite regularly, so I was excited to try my favorite fruit in a different dessert. Pie Love is very accessible, with an introductory section on basic techniques and terms that are sure to make pie baking clear even to the novice. There is also a comprehensive section on classic and unorthodox pie crusts. Filling sweet and savory make up the rest of the cookbook, and Brown lets his simple recipes and gorgeous photos speak for themselves, leaving the anecdotes for another day.

 

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The hardest part of making a pie for me is the crust. Every time I attempt to cut that butter in to produce that elusive, sand-like texture, I end up covered in flour with warm butter all over my hands. However, thanks to Brown’s simple step-by-step instructions and (and a handy food processor), I was able to construct the cinnamon-butter pie crust while keeping my hands relatively clean.

 

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Brown blind-bakes the crust 5 to 7 minutes, but I found that was not enough to get the bottom crust perfectly flaky. Tack on a few extra minutes to your blind bake to achieve the ideal texture.

 

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The peach filling was deceptively simple, but just quartering the peaches meant unmanageably large chunks of fruit in the filling. Next time, try cutting them in sixths to make the pie easier to eat. (And don’t throw the pits away! We’re got great recipes that use all that nutty goodness here.) After filling my pie to the brim, I still had a significant amount of peach left over. I kept it to eat with Greek yogurt, but if you prefer to use it all in one go, buy slightly less than the listed three pounds of peaches.

 

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The finished product was delicious; the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt on top of the crust enhanced the natural sweetness of the peaches, and the flaky crust added another textural dimension to a dessert than could only be improved by a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

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Peach Pie
Makes 1 9-to 10- inch pie

3 lbs. fresh or thawed, well-drained frozen peaches, peeled and quartered
¾ cup superfine granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, plus additional for sprinkling
¼ tsp. sea salt, plus additional for sprinkling
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Cinnamon-Butter Pie Crust (recipe follows)
1 egg
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Cinnamon for sprinkling

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position one rack in the middle of the oven and one on top.
• Put the peaches in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and salt. Stir the mixture into the peaches.
• Add the butter and cook the peaches over medium heat, stirring slowly but continuously, until the juices slowly simmer.
• Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the honey, and allow the filling to cool slightly. Scoop into the cooled pie crust.
• Cover with the crust of your choice. Whisk together the egg and vanilla and brush the wash over the pie.
• Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
• Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and salt across the top. Place an empty sheet pan on the top oven rack to prevent excessive browning.
• Bake the pie on the middle rack for 45 to 50 minutes, until the juices on the edges simmer rapidly and the crust turns golden-brown. Let the pie cool completely before serving.

Cinnamon-Butter Pie Crust
Makes 1 double-crust pie or 2 single-crust pies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. superfine granulated sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sea salt
10 Tbsp. (1¼ sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5 to 6 Tbsp. ice water

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- to 10- inch pie pan with butter and lightly sprinkle it with sugar.
• Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and mix for at least 30 seconds.
• Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
• Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms into a ball and rides on top of the S blade.
• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment. Set aside one third of the dough. If you’re not making a double-crust pie, wrap it in plastic film and freeze or refrigerate it for another use.
• Form the remaining dough into a disk, place a second piece of parchment on top, and roll it into a large round about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
• Gently fit the rolled dough into the pie pan, fold the excess underneath, crimp the edge, and chill the crust for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round approximately 10 inches across. Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out.
• Dock the bottom crust and cover it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the crust to prevent it from puffing up while toasting. If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes. If you’ll be using the crust for a custard pie where baking isn’t required, blind bake it for 10 to 15 minutes – checking often after 10 minutes.
• Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice. Top it as desired and bake it as directed in your recipe.

Reprinted with permission from Abrams Books.

Aside from pie, what’s your favorite way to prepare peaches in August? Tell us below for a chance to win a copy of Pie Love by Warren Brown. We’ll email this winner!

Drink This Weekend Edition: 2nd Shift Brewing’s Hibiscus Wit

August 15th, 2014

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2nd Shift Brewing brews can be divisive among hop aficionados and hop haters; the New Haven brewery has long been recognized as the one that makes “all those hoppy beers.” But in fact, head brewer Steve Crider has a knack for a broad array of styles, such as Hibiscus Wit, 2nd Shift’s take on a classic witbier.

Also known as white beer, witbier is a classic Belgian style known for its cloudy appearance and use of spices like coriander and orange peel in the brewing process. This practice actually comes from a much older method of brewing practiced before the widespread use of hops. The cloudy appearance comes from the large amount of unmalted wheat used in brewing.

2nd Shift’s unorthodox use of hibiscus flowers sets its witbier apart. You immediately notice the hibiscus’ signature pink hue when you pour the beer, along with a fluffy off-white head. Lively carbonation and a high level of wheat add a touch of tart crispness with gentle notes of lemongrass, coriander and citrus. Hibiscus Wit is a refreshing summertime beverage to pair with a mild, delicate cheese like Edam or a bright summer salad.

Hibiscus Wit can often be found on tap at St. Louis area beer bars like Bailey’s Range and Bridge; 750-milliliter bottles are available at better bottle shops.

Tweet Beat: The week’s best tweets from #STL foodies

August 15th, 2014

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rhubarbandhoney
A ray of sunshine in this crappy week? The best damn gin & tonic ever. Thanks, @CKFriedhoff and @PinckneyBend! pic.twitter.com/EgdmU9fUlQ

tuBURKEulosis
I went to Crown Candy for the first time today, and I definitely ate my weight in bacon. pic.twitter.com/b8jh38M0nB

DeliciousSTL
If you’re looking for a way to do good during this time of unrest, @StraubsMarkets has made it easy. #MichaelBrown pic.twitter.com/BOf8e5GW2y

PerennialBeer
Congratulations to @UnitedProvision! Beautiful space and incredible sushi!

knashan
A day of firsts…… kindergarten & a new restaurant. pic.twitter.com/tZGajuUt19

jayeedoubleeff
Back soon by popular demand soon @thegoodpiestl ! #mollscup3 https://twitter.com/jayeedoubleeff/status/499708549027471362/photo/1

USBGSTL
Packed House for lunch @FergusonBrewing with the USBG. Happy to be supporting great local business here in St. Louis! #thisismyferguson

nancerdancer
Like if I’m going to eat a kale salad you can at least give me alcohol

RiseCoffeeSTL
Calling all journalists covering #MikeBrown #Ferguson FREE coffee/Wifi if you need a place to work! @AntonioFrench pic.twitter.com/im1T8ELeup
Think you should be on this list? Follow us and let us know @saucemag

The Weekend Project: Stone Fruit Sundae

August 14th, 2014

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When I first approached Dan about this month’s Weekend Project, he was … less than thrilled. “Great, what are we going to call this? This Recipe’s the Pits! Cooking with Cyanide! Don’t you just throw them away or plant trees with this sort of rubbish?” But after a little bit of research, even this most hardened critic was convinced of the power of pit.

Stone fruits are those late-summer delicacies like peaches, plums, pluots, apricots, cherries, and nectarines that have a hard pit protecting the seed inside. Though most people throw the pits, or kernels, in the trash, they can actually be used as flavorful ingredients. In fact, most almond extract is not made from almonds, but from the seeds found inside apricot pits.

 

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So what’s this talk of cyanide? Raw pits contain a chemical called amygdalin, which breaks down with water in your stomach and produces hydra-cyanide. However, you would have to consume more than 10 whole, raw peach pits to produce just 100 milligrams of actual cyanide (Kudos if your jaws are actually strong enough to achieve that!). But simply cooking the pits breaks down the amygdalin and renders the kernel harmless.

I first ran across a recipe for Stone Fruit Soup inspired by Jean-Georges Vongerichten (the New York chef responsible for the chocolate flourless cake craze) about 15 years ago. The seemed like an elegant, simple dish that would be fun to serve to friends coming over dinner, not to mention an excellent conversation piece. But I never quite found the time (caring for infant twins will do that), and for years, I diligently saved cherry pits in a little bowl, only to throw them out with all the other stone fruit pits. Oh, how we were missing out!

None of these recipes are complicated or that time consuming, and the more people get involved in the kitchen (kids and guests make excellent pitters), the more fun everyone has. Just make sure to have extra stone fruit on hand; not every peach or cherry is going to find its way to the mixing bowl.

 

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To harvest the almond, nutty flavors of larger stone fruits or the rosy, spicy flavors of the smaller cherry pits, you simply simmer, then steep them overnight in water, milk or even cream. Roast them the next day, then take your favorite whacking implement (we used vice grips, but feel free to improvise with a nutcracker, hammer or pliers) and get cracking! These roasted shells and the seeds inside can be used for any number of applications, as demonstrated with this sundae, or even homemade amaretto.

 

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This dessert is perfect for a hot August night with flavors of honey, thyme, rose and almond accentuating the rich notes of ripe summer stone fruits. Just ladle a bowl of Stone Cherry Soup, top with a scoop of Bourbon Peach Sorbet and garnish with the Mahlab Tart Cookies. It’s the perfect example of that age-old adage: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Bon appetite!

The Shopping List*
7 to 8 large, ripe peaches
8 oz. vodka
1 lb. cherries
1 cup honey
3 to 4 lemons
2 cups strawberries
2 cups blueberries, blackberries or raspberries
Mint leaves
3 Tbsp. bourbon
1 tsp. ground mahlab*
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme

*This list assumes you have salt, flour, 1 stick of butter and sugar. If not, you will need to purchase these, too.

The Gameplan
Day 1: Start the Peach Pit Tincture.
Day 2: Finish the Peach Pit Tincture. Make the Cherry Stone Soup. Make the Mahlab Tart Cookies.
Day 3: Make the Bourbon Peach Sorbet.

 

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Peach Pit Tincture
Makes 8 ounces

1 quart water
1 cup peach pits (about 7 to 8 large pits)
8 oz. vodka

Day 1: Bring the water and pits to a simmer in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight to steep.
Day 2: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Strain the peach pits; reserve 3 tablespoons of the steeping liquid for Bourbon Peach Sorbet (recipe follows).
• Rinse the poached pits and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from the oven and let cool.
• Use a nut cracker, hammer or pliars to crack open the pits by pressing down on the pointed end to crack it open. Remove the seeds and reserve for another use.
• Fill a pint jar with the vodka and add the cracked pits. Let soak at least overnight and up to several weeks. Use for Peach Bourbon Sorbet and Mahlab Tart Cookies (recipes follow).

 

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Cherry Stone Soup
Adapted from a Jean-Georges Vongerichten recipe
6 servings

1 lb. cherries
2 cups water
½ cup honey
2 cups strawberries, cored and sliced
2 cups blueberries, blackberries or raspberries
6 Tbsp. lemon juice
Mint leaves for garnish

Day 1: Pit the cherries, reserving the pits and stems. Set the fruit aside.
● Place the pits in a large zip-top bag. Crack the pits open with a hammer or the bottom of a cast-iron skillet.
● Pour the cracked pits into a large saucepan with the stems, water and honey. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam as it forms. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes.
● Strain the liquid into another bowl; discard the stems and pits. Return the liquid to the stove over medium heat and add the cherries. Cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
● Add the berries and lemon juice to the cherry soup. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors meld.
Day 2: Serve the soup with Bourbon Peach Sorbet. Garnish with mint leaves and Mahlab Tart cookies.

 

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Mahlab Tart Cookies
Makes 20 cookies

1½ cups flour
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground mahlab*
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. ice-cold peach pit tincture (recipe above) or water

Day 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
● In the bowl of a food processor or a large mixing bowl, add the flour, butter, salt, sugar, mahlab and thyme. Pulse or cut in the ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal with pea-sized or smaller chunks of butter.
● Add the honey and the peach pit tincture. Mix until the dough just begins to stick together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and form it into a 4-inch round. Wrap in plastic and freeze 15 to 20 minutes.
● Roll out the dough onto a floured to a ¼-inch thickness. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter and place on the baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until the edges are golden.
● Remove cookies onto a rack and let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container. Serve with Bourbon Peach Sorbet and Cherry Stone Soup.

*Mahlab can be found at Penzey’s Spices.

 

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Bourbon Peach Sorbet
Makes 1 quart

5 peaches (or 3 cups fresh peach puree)
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup lemon juice (juice of 3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. peach kernel tincture (recipe above) or almond extract
3 Tbsp. reserved peach pit tincture steeping liquid (recipe above) or water
3 Tbsp. bourbon

Day 2: Pit and quarter the peaches; reserve the pits. Place the peach flesh in the bowl of a food processor and purée.
● If using an ice cream maker, pour the purée, honey, lemon juice, salt, tincture and peach pit water into the machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
● If not using an ice cream maker, pour the puree, honey, lemon juice, salt, tincture and peach pit steeping liquid into an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish and freeze 1 hour. Use a fork to stir the purée until the texture is uniform. Return the sorbet to the freezer. Continue to stir every hour for 4 to 5 hours, until the sorbet is set.
● Before serving, add the bourbon and mix well. Serve atop Cherry Stone Soup and garnish with Mahlab Tart Cookies.

 

TheProject_Aug14_02

-photos by Michelle Volansky

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