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May 28, 2016
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Just Five: Smoked Paprika Chicken

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

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There are more variations on roast chicken than orphan socks in my laundry room (and if there was such a thing as a single sock store, I could be a supplier). This combination of smoked paprika, lime and agave would be ideal for not only chicken, but also fish or pork. It’s nuanced and complex with the dark sweetness of the agave playing off the tart lime and the earthy smokiness of the paprika. The bright red paprika creates a vivid, slightly sticky sauce for the chicken. Leftovers are sublime in a quesadilla or served on a sandwich with avocado.

 

Smoked Paprika Chicken
Inspired by a recipe at Simply Recipes
4 servings

1 4-5 lb. whole chicken
3 to 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
2 limes, divided
4 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, place breast side-up in a cast-iron skillet on a rack in a roasting pan and set aside.
• In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the butter, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and onion powder. Use your hands to rub the butter mixture all over the chicken skin, tucking some under the skin of the breasts and thighs.
• Slice 1 lime in half and tuck both halves in the cavity of the chicken. Roast 40 minutes.
• Meanwhile, juice the remaining lime and combine with the agave in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 10 seconds, then stir to combine.
• Baste the chicken with the agave-lime mixture. Roast another 35 to 45 minutes, basting with the pan juices every 15 minutes, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
• Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Drizzle with the pan drippings before serving.

 

 

Just Five: Cornmeal-Crusted Pork Loin with Blood Orange

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

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Beautiful blood orange takes your breath away with its rich color and a nuanced flavor – think tart raspberries mixed with sweet orange. Here, a slightly spicy, crunchy cornmeal crust on this pork loin is finished with a splash of this sweet citrus’ juice. Don’t be shy when seasoning the pork loin. It’s a big cut of meat and needs the flavor. This dish would work equally well with pork tenderloin or chops, too.

 

Cornmeal-Crusted Pork Loin with Blood Orange
4 to 6 servings

2 blood oranges
½ cup medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
3½ lb. boneless pork loin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Use a microplane or zester to remove 2 teaspoons orange zest. Slice the oranges in half, then juice. Reserve the juice and the zest; discard the remains.
• In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, cumin, chili powder and orange zest, then transfer the mixture to a large plate.
• Pat the pork dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper. Roll the pork in the cornmeal mixture until evenly coated.
• In a large nonstick, oven-safe or cast-iron skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear until browned all over, about 3 minutes per side.
• Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake 45 minutes, until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 155 degrees.
• Tent the skillet loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Slice the pork into ¾-to-1-inch pieces and drizzle with the blood orange juice to serve.

Make This: Shrimp Roll

Friday, May 6th, 2016

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Downside to not living by the ocean: no ocean. Upside to not living by the ocean: We don’t have to fight the seagulls for these sandwiches. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water plus 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning or salt to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp. Cover and let sit 3 minutes. Prepare an ice bath. Drain the shrimp and submerge in the ice bath to cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic, ¼ cup fresh basil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon horseradish. Pulse to combine. With the processor running, drizzle 1½ cups olive oil until a thick aioli forms. Roughly chop the shrimp and toss with ½ cup chopped celery and the aioli. Pile on 4 toasted hot dog buns or potato, brioche or Kaiser rolls brushed with melted butter and top with sliced tomato and lettuce.

 

-photo by Greg Rannells 

Just Five: Matzo Brei

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

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Matzo brei is a traditional dish during Passover, but it is also a practical dish regularly requested in my home. There are more versions of this dish than you can shake a kugel at, but my favorite incorporates the flavors of traditional bagels and lox (smoked salmon, red onion and capers).

As my oldest child prepares to go off to college, I’ve realized how important it is to send her out there with a few basic dishes in her repertoire. This dish is a great protein bomb with the added benefit of some omega-3s from the salmon (brain food!). Gild the lily and serve it with a scoop of sour cream and some fresh chopped dill on top, if desired. Chag sameach!

 

Matzo Brei
4 servings

4 unsalted matzos
8 eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. butter
4 oz. smoked salmon or lox, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp. capers

• Place the matzos under running water for 20 seconds, until beginning to soften but are not mushy or falling apart. Break into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
• In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
• Place the onions in a large, dry skillet over high heat and quickly toss until they start to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and saute until the butter just starts brown and smells nutty, about 3 minutes.
• Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the matzo, stirring to coat with butter, then add the eggs. Stir constantly until the eggs start to set, about 3 minutes. Add the salmon and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle the capers over the matzo brei and serve immediately.

Make This: Matzo Brittle

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

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When the Passover dishes are put away and all that’s left is a lonely half box of matzo, whip up this simple treat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with parchment paper. Break 4 matzo crackers into chunks and spread evenly on the baking sheet. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together 1 stick unsalted butter and 1 cup dark brown sugar until the mixture begins to boil. Stir constantly 2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Quickly cover the matzo with the mixture. Bake 10 minutes, then immediately scatter 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. Let stand 1 minute. Spread the melted chocolate across the surface and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and ⅓ cup toasted coconut or chopped nuts. Let cool, then break into pieces. It’s a mitzveh!

-photo by Greg Rannells

Just Five: Martini Burger

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

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Put a little Friday night in your weekday burger. While the patty itself is pretty basic (feel free to snazz it up with your favorite grill seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, etc.) the blue cheese, olive and celery sauce is, as the kids say, lit.

It may come as a surprise that I am recommending a shelf-stable bottled salad dressing, but after a bit of research (meaning I tried all of the bottles of dressing I had), I found that blue cheese dressings found in the refrigerated section mostly tasted like ranch with a handful of cheese crumbles tossed in. They were sweet and weird, while Wish-Bone Chunky Blue Cheese dressing really tasted like blue cheese. If you want to make your own dressing for this recipe, I salute you. I am far more interested in perfecting my accompanying gin to vermouth ratio.

 

Martini Burger
4 servings

1 cup chunky blue cheese dressing (like Wish-Bone)
⅓ cup chopped pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
¼ cup chopped celery
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⅓ lb. ground chuck
Kosher salt to taste
Vegetable oil for greasing
4 English muffins, toasted

• Prepare a charcoal grill for medium-high, direct heat.
• In a small bowl, combine the blue cheese dressing, chopped olives, celery and pepper to taste. Set aside.
• In a large mixing bowl, gently mix the ground chuck with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the meat evenly into 4 balls, then form patties, making a small indent in the center of each.
• Lightly brush the grill grate with oil. Oil the grill and cook the patties with the indent facing up 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and grill another 4 to 5 minutes for medium doneness.
• Place the burgers on the English muffin bottoms, then add a scoop of the blue cheese-olive mixture. Cover with the remaining English muffin tops and serve.

Just Five: Madras Egg Salad

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

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It’s that time of year when people divide themselves into two camps: those who are grossed out by a sudden surplus of hard-boiled eggs and those who celebrate it. I myself am a card-carrying member of Camp Celebration. I love hard-boiled eggs sliced up and thrown into salads, eaten for breakfast with a little hot sauce, or made into just about any kind of egg salad. This mustard-free version adds mango chutney and garam masala for a slightly sweet, Indian-inspired take on the classic. I included instructions for the perfect hard-boiled egg in case you didn’t get around to it (or failed miserably on your first try), but for those of you with eggs to burn, it’s as simple as peel, chop and stir. To gild the lily, serve this on thin slices of radish.

 

Madras Egg Salad
4 servings

6 eggs
4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. minced green onions
2 Tbsp. mango chutney
1 tsp. garam masala

• Place the eggs in a large pot and cover with 1 inch cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then immediately cover and remove from heat. Let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Plunge eggs into ice water and let rest until cool.
• To easily shell hard-boiled eggs, place 1 egg in a small glass or mug, fill halfway with water, cover with 1 hand and shake vigorously over a sink to crack the shell. Peel the shell away, and repeat with the remaining eggs.
• Roughly chop the eggs, then add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just Five: Steak with Porcini Slather

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

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I recently took a trip to northern California to visit one of the few friends who nerds out over food as much as I do. Her current obsession: porcini mushrooms. She demanded to know if I was equally infatuated. But here’s the thing – I really don’t get excited about mushrooms.

I’ll now eat my words (and my mushrooms) after that weekend and the amazing porcini dishes we tried. Upon my return, I was inspired to buy a pack of dried porcini mushrooms and play. This recipe was the winner.

If you do not have a spice grinder, you can blitz the porcini mushrooms in a food processor. It won’t be as fine, so add an extra tablespoon of oil when whisking the slather ingredients together and let rest one hour to soften the larger pieces. You can also find porcini powder in specialty shops. Ozark Forest Mushrooms makes a lovely one available at Larder & Cupboard.

With apologies to linguists, I am used the word “slather” as a verb and a noun here. The woodsy, savory porcini mixed with shallot, sugar and pepper make this decadent sauce worthy of such wordplay. I served this steak with the remaining slather slathered on my sides of potatoes and Swiss chard, cursing myself for not doubling the recipe.

 
Steak with Porcini Slather
2 servings

¼ oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup olive oil
1 shallot, finely minced
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
½ Tbsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 8-ounce, strip steaks, about 1-inch thick

• In a spice grinder, grind the dried mushrooms into a fine powder.
• In a small bowl, whisk together the mushroom powder, olive oil, shallot, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes and pepper. Set aside.
• In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, sear the steak 4 minutes, then flip and cook another 3 minutes. Slather some of the mushroom sauce over the top of the steaks and cook 1 minute more for medium-rare.
• Remove from the skillet, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side and slather at will.

 

Make This: Dukka-Crusted Lamb Chops

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

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Dukka (pronounced DOO’-kah) is a blend of nuts, seeds and spices found in Egyptian cuisine that makes a rich, crunchy crust for cooked meat or fish. Place ½ cup salted and roasted pistachios, 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons coriander, 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a food processor and grind until fine. Season 8 trimmed 3-ounce lamb chops with kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add half the lamb chops to the pan. Cook 3 minutes per side, until medium-rare. Transfer chops to a plate and tent with foil, then cook the remaining chops. Dredge the cooked lamb chops in dukka to coat both sides, place on a plate and drizzle each with 1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Just Five: Cod with Rosemary-Olive Vinaigrette

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

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For those who observe Lent in St. Louis (or who just love a good piece of fried cod), Friday means parish fish fries – crowds of people, plastic cups of beer, deliciously greasy fish and sides for miles. But at some point during Lent, you reach a point where your Friday night calls for something more upscale.

This dish comes together in less than 10 minutes and can work with just about any dense white fish like cod, halibut, grouper or bass. Normally you would salt the fish before cooking, but the Kalamata olives add enough salt to skip this step. Meyer lemons offer a more complex, almost honey-like sweetness to the dish, but you can approximate that same flavor with standard lemon and orange juices. Skip the long lines and warm beer and eat off the good china tomorrow.

 

Cod with Rosemary-Olive Vinaigrette
4 servings

4 4-oz. cod fillets or other firm white fish
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary, plus more for garnish
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice

• Season both sides of the fish with pepper.
• In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook about 3 minutes, until just golden brown. Carefully turn the fish and scatter the olives, rosemary and garlic evenly in the pan. Cook until the fish is opaque, about 3 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet.
• Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, swirling the pan to combine. Place 1 fillet on each plate and evenly divide the sauce over the fish. Garnish with rosemary and serve.

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