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May 30, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Make This: Peas and Pancetta with Tortellini

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

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Peas and pancetta are a timeless Italian combination. Here, the duo gets a dash of French flavor that’s nothing less than magnifique. Prepare 1 pound cheese tortellini according to package instructions. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook ½ cup diced pancetta until crispy, about 4 minutes. Add 1 thinly sliced small shallot and saute 1 minute. Add ¼ cup fresh orange juice and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Raise the heat to medium-high, add 2 cups fresh peas and simmer until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and 1½ tablespoons butter. Season with salt, if desired. Toss with the tortellini and serve immediately.

 

-photo by Sherrie Castellano

 

 

 

Just Five: Raspberry Fool with Angelic ‘Croutons’

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

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I’m generally not a fan of angel food cake. Its spongy texture leaves something to be desired. But toasted angel food cake? That simple technique converted me, and its the secret ingredient to this classic dessert. Toasted angel food “croutons” add sweet, crunchy, chewy bits of heaven to a beautiful treat. I used raspberries, but any spring berry would work wonderfully. Almond extract in the whipped cream gives an almost fruity note – I may not go back to vanilla!

 

Raspberry Fool with Angelic ‘Croutons’
4 servings

1 store-bought angel food cake, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
12 oz. raspberries
4 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. almond extract

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
• Place the cake pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
• Set a few raspberries aside for garnish. Mash the remaining raspberries in a bowl with 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside to macerate.
• In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the almond extract using an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.
• Place a layer of cake pieces in the bottom of 4 glasses. Add a layer of macerated raspberries, then a layer of whipped cream. Repeat layers to the top of the glasses, then garnish each with a few whole berries.

 

 

Just Five: Pork Tenderloin with Date Relish

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

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This dish is the perfect date night dinner. (See what I did there?) Sweet, toothsome dates pair wonderfully with fresh orange juice and seared pork. Toasted walnuts add a finishing crunch, though hazelnuts would also work here. Don’t skip the fresh herbs, either. If you are a card-carrying member of ICCCC (I Cannot Consume Cilantro Club), parsley makes a fine substitute. One final note: Do not use pre-cut dates, which are often coated in extra sugar that makes the dish far too sweet.

 
Pork Tenderloin with Date Relish
3 to 4 servings

¼ cup walnuts
1 1½-lb. pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
¾ cup diced pitted dates*
¼ cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
¼ cup cilantro or parsley

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts 2 to 3 minutes, tossing frequently, until aromatic. Remove from heat and let cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside.
• Season the pork tenderloin all over with salt and pepper.
• In a large ovenproof skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the pork 1 to 2 minutes per side, until evenly browned all over. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast 12 to 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Let the meat rest on a cutting board and loosely tent with foil.
• Pour the pan drippings into a small bowl. Add the dates, orange juice, cilantro and toasted walnuts and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Slice the pork tenderloin and place on a serving dish. Spoon the date relish over the top and serve.

* Do not use pre-cut dates, which are often coated in extra sugar.

Just Five: Filipino Chicken Adobo

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

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I don’t have a drop of Filipino blood in my family, but my mom was an adventerous cook and I learned a lot growing up at her table. Her Filipino Chicken Adobo was a regular summer dish. She boiled the chicken for an hour or so, and then handed it off to my dad to grill just long enough to get a nice char on the outside (I have a sneaking suspicion it was more about letting him futz with the fire for an hour and keeping him out of the kitchen. Win-win.). This dish is pretty foolproof: marinade the meat, simmer until until it is fall-off-the-bone tender, then crisp the skin under the broiler.

 

Filipino Chicken Adobo
4 to 6 servings

½ cup white vinegar
½ cup soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, crushed
4 bay leaves
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters or 8 thighs

• In a large pot, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and ½ teaspoon pepper and add the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 3 hours.
• Gently bring the pot to boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer 20 more minutes, until sauce begins reduce and thicken.
• Preheat the broiler.
• Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken until the skin is crispy. Remove to a serving plate.
• Remove and discard the bay leaves and garlic from the pot, then spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve with rice.

 

Just Five: Citrus Salad

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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Behold: another dish that blew my marginal expectations out of the water. I love it when a simple preparation is a home run, especially when it’s this beautiful to boot. This salad is ideal for brunch or a dinner party. Use whatever citrus is available, but don’t skip the blood oranges with their enticing ruby color. Cara Cara navel oranges work nicely, as do clementines, mandarins or even a little grapefruit. If you don’t use all the syrup, mix it with some gin, lemon and soda water for a perfect cocktail pairing.

 

Citrus Salad
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe
4 servings

¼ cup sugar
½ cup fresh tarragon leaves, divided
¼ cup hot water
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 blood oranges, peel and pith removed
2 tangerines, peel and pith removed
2 navel oranges, peel and pith removed

• Muddle together the sugar and ¼ cup tarragon in a jar, add the hot (not boiling) water and pepper, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
• Using a serrated knife, slice the blood oranges crosswise into about 4 ½-inch slices each. Repeat with the tangerines and the navel oranges. Arrange the fruit a serving dish and scatter the remaining ¼ cup tarragon over the citrus. Set aside.
• Strain the tarragon syrup through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the solids. Drizzle the orange segments with the syrup as desired. Serve at room temperature.

Make This: Fried Bolgona Sandwich

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

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A fried bologna sandwich is not highfalutin food, but every now and again, it’ll cure what ails you. In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, brown an onion sandwich bun, cut sides down, 2 minutes. Remove the bun and set aside. Cut four ¼-inch slits at the edges of a ¼-inch-thick slice of bologna to prevent it from curling while frying. Over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon canola oil in the skillet. Cook the bologna until the bottom is nicely browned, then flip and cook 1 minute more. Remove and set aside. Crack an egg into the skillet and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Fry the egg 1 minute, flip and cook to desired doneness (we like a runny yolk). In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish, 1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard and ¼ teaspoon freshly grated horseradish. Spread the mayo mixture on the toasted bun. Place the cooked bologna on top, followed by the fried egg. Top with the bun and serve immediately.

 

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Just Five: Asian-Lime Salmon

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

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Salmon is the one fish that everyone in my family gladly eats. I have no problem with this, as it’s frequently on sale and the health benefits are well documented (omega-3 bomb, anyone?). Until recently, the dish to beat in our home was Salmon with Pinot Noir Syrup, but lately, this Asian-lime salmon has slid into the No. 1 spot. I usually serve it flaked in a bowl filled with white or brown rice, edamame, shredded carrots and steamed broccoli or spinach. Only two salmon filets are needed for four of these bowls. For a more velvety sauce, you can stir in a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water. Bookmark this recipe – you’ll use it all the time.

 

Asian-Lime Salmon
2 Servings

2 5-oz. skinless salmon fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. maple syrup (or agave)
Half the zest and juice of 1 lime

● Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper and roast 10 minutes for medium-rare.
● Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a small saucepan over medium heat and saute the garlic 30 seconds. Whisk in the soy sauce, syrup, lime zest and lime juice and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.
● Plate the salmon and drizzle it with the sauce.

Just Five: Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

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Buttermilk is a problem child. I buy a full quart even though I need just a cup or so for a recipe, and then I’m stuck with the remaining three cups. I always put it in the refrigerator and vow to do something creative with it (Saturday pancakes! Homemade ranch dressing! Fluffy biscuits!), only to dump it out a week later.  That’s when I turned to the Internet, where I found buttermilk used in one of my favorite meat prep techniques, brining. Turns out, buttermilk is a perfect base for brine: its acidity and calcium break down the protein, making the meat tender and juicy.

I usually brine pork chops in a no-fail base of water, salt, syrup, mustard and herbs. but adding buttermilk changed everything. I sincerely have never made a juicier, more flavorful pork chop than this one. Use whatever seasoning you like in the brine (rosemary, thyme, juniper berries, citrus zest, garlic, red pepper flakes, etc.) and stock up. I’m buying buttermilk by the gallon, people!

 

Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops
2 servings

1½ cups buttermilk
½ cup water
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup maple syrup (grade B)
2 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
¼ cup torn fresh sage leaves
1 cup ice
2 bone-in, 1-inch-thick pork chops
1 Tbsp. olive oil

• In a medium saucepan, bring the buttermilk, water, salt, pepper, maple syrup, mustard and sage leaves to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve salt. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the ice and let the brine cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
• Place the pork chops into a large zip-top plastic bag and pour the brine over the meat. Seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
• Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine.
• Drizzle the olive oil into a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the pork chops in the skillet and cook about 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, until the internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove and let the meat rest 3 to 4 minutes before serving.

Just Five: Sweet Potato Soup with Ham

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

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This soup satisfies winter comfort food cravings without resorting to cheesy, heavy fare. Lighten things up with sweet potatoes, which marry well with salty ham and hot sauce. I’m a fan of Pickapeppa Hot Mango Sauce, available at Global Foods and Jay’s International, for its balance of sweet fruit and spicy kick. If you don’t have a sauce like this, mixing a little maple syrup or agave with a traditional hot sauce is a great substitute.

Most deli ham has just a little fat on it. Don’t trim it; the fat will render as it cooks to add flavor and salt to the soup. Not a meat-eater? Make the soup vegan with vegetable stock and swap the ham for a cup of frozen corn kernels to bulk up the soup.

 
Sweet Potato Soup with Ham
3 to 5 servings

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup diced thick-sliced ham
1 leek, white parts only, finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cups chicken broth
3 to 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp. Pickapeppa Hot Mango Sauce

● In a large pot over medium-low heat, saute the ham until just brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
● Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the leeks and the salt to the pot and raise the heat to medium. Saute 3 to 5 minutes.
● Add the broth to the pot and scrape up any of the browned bits from the bottom. Add the sweet potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
● Remove the pot from the heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth, or carefully puree in a blender, working in batches. Thin the soup with water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Stir in the hot sauce and the reserved ham. Serve with crusty bread.

 

 

Make This: Chocolate Meringue Cups

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

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Float on cloud nine this Valentine’s Day with light, airy meringues. In a blender, beat 4 egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar and a pinch of salt on high speed 1 minute, until soft peaks form. Mix in 1 cup superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and sift ¼ cup natural cocoa* over the meringue, then beat on low-medium speed until combined. Add 1 teaspoon each white vinegar and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed 1 minute, until the meringue is glossy. Drop the meringue by the heaping tablespoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a spoon, make an indent in the center of each meringue. Bake 2 hours at 225 degrees. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Blend 1 cup heavy whipping cream on high, 2 to 3 minutes, until soft peaks form. Add ½ cup mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons superfine sugar and ½ cup whole raspberries and mix 30 seconds on high speed. Spoon 2 tablespoons whipped cream in each meringue cup and top with diced kiwi.

*Only use natural, non-alkalized cocoa (such as Hershey’s, Nestle or Scharffen Berger) for the meringue. The alkali in Dutch-processed cocoa will turn the meringue to liquid.

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