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Jul 03, 2015
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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: Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

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There is a distinct lack of crust-less sandwiches, petit fours and sugar lumps in the world today. Channel your inner Dowager Countess and invite someone over for a spot of tea and these aromatic cookies. Culinary-grade dried lavender flowers are available at Penzeys Spices in Maplewood and its new location in Chesterfield. When you crush them with sugar and citrus, the smell transports you to tea party in a field of flowers under a blue sky.

 
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
24 cookies

½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. dried lavender*
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

• In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sugar, lavender and lemon zest 8 to 10 times until the mixture is well blended. Set aside 1 tablespoon lavender sugar for sprinkling.
• In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the all but the reserved lavender sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until just incorporated.
• On medium speed, beat the flour in 1 large spoonful at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the flour is just incorporated. The dough will be a bit dry. Form the dough into 2 2-inch-thick discs, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Roll out a disc ½-inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the cookies out with a glass or cookie cutter and place them onto the baking sheets. Sprinkle the cookies with the reserved lavender sugar.
• Bake 10 to 14 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Cookies will keep covered up to 1 week.

*Available at Penzeys Spices in Maplewood and Chesterfield

 

 

Just Five: Skirt Steak with Radishes

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

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Radishes are a divisive little vegetable. While some long for radish season to make a butter and radish sandwich (yes, that’s a thing) or spend hours mastering radish roses for garnish, many more see this pink nubbins as the things you don’t eat on the crudite plate, skipping right over them at the farmers market.

Don’t be that guy! When you cook radishes with butter, they develop a mellow peppery taste that pairs exquisitely with steak. The pungent green tops are edible, too, and adding arugula or spinach softens their sharp bite. This pretty pink and green dish comes together in a snap and stretches a cheap cut of steak to serve four in less than 30 minutes.

 

Skirt Steak with Radishes
3 to 4 servings

8 radishes with leaves
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/8 freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 cup arugula or baby spinach
Vegetable oil for greasing
1 to 1½ lb. skirt steak

• Prepare a charcoal grill for high, direct heat.
• Remove the radish leaves, coarsely chop them and set aside.
• Quarter the radishes and place them in a medium saucepot with the water, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the radishes are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Add the mustard, half the minced garlic and radish leaves and simmer another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the arugula to wilt and set aside.
• Season the steak with the remaining minced garlic, salt and pepper. Oil the grate and grill the steak 5 minutes, then flip and grill another 4 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest on a cutting board 3 to 5 minutes.
• Thinly slice the meat against the grain. Divide the radish mixture evenly among 3 to 4 plates, then top each with steak slices.

 

 

Make This: Grilled Halloumi

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

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We love halloumi for its tangy, salty flavor, but the magic happens when this semi-firm Greek cheese meets a bit of heat. Whether grilled or pan-seared, halloumi holds its own against high temps, the crust turning golden brown and the interior becoming soft and chewy. Get to know one of the most grill-worthy cheeses. Cut 8 ounces halloumi cheese into ½-inch cubes. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cheese and sear until browned on both sides and soft on the inside, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.  

Halloumi takes well to the grill, too. Prepare a charcoal grill for medium-hot, direct heat or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Oil the grate, cut the cheese into ½-inch slabs instead of cubes, and grill until the bottom has a crispy brown crust with grill marks. Flip and repeat on the other side. For a tasty appetizer, toss grilled halloumi with diced red onion and watermelon and garnish with fresh mint.

-photo Sherrie Castellano 

Just Five: Sole with Citrus-Browned Butter Sauce

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

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It may shock you to know that there are many nights during the week when I’m not whipping up amazing five-ingredient meals for my family (shout out to Dogtown Pizza for keeping them fed on more than one occasion). However, I recently gained a bonus kid for a few nights, and I was determined to impress this new audience. I know you can never go wrong with browned butter, and pairing it with citrus and fish was a no-brainer. This dish was a huge hit, and I impressed a teenage girl – which, as any parent knows, is no small fete.

 

Sole with Citrus-Browned Butter Sauce
4 servings

1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 4-oz. sole fillets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 Tbsp. butter
1 large shallot, minced
1/3 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Orange zest and lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
• Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the fish in the flour and shake off the excess. Discard the flour and set the fillets aside.
• In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the fillets and cook 3 minutes, then carefully flip and cook on the other side another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fillets to a serving platter and place it in the oven to keep warm.
• In a saucepot over high heat, melt the butter until it starts to foam. Add the shallot and swirl 3 to 4 minutes, until the butter begins to brown and smells nutty. Add the orange and lemon juices and cook 1 minute more, until the butter starts to foam again. Remove from heat.
• Remove the platter from the oven and drizzle with the citrus-browned butter sauce. Garnish with orange and lemon zest, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

 

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

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