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Feb 10, 2016
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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By the Book: “Magpie” by Holly Ricciardi

Monday, February 8th, 2016

BTB_Feb16_Round1_1

 

I made a mistake when I chose Magpie to cook from this month. I cannot make pies – never have been able, never will be able. But the book, a collection a recipes from Philadelphia’s Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique, looked so appealing, I was convinced I could.

The notion of making my own pie crust was scary, but I went for it. I definitely rolled it too thick, and despite baking it longer than instructed, it still wasn’t fully cooked. But the crust wasn’t the reason my Chocolate Blackout Pie didn’t work. The filling of milk, Valhrona cocoa powder (which I couldn’t find), egg yolks, espresso powder, sugar and cornstarch lacked the expected rich depth of flavor. It reminded me of Swiss Miss chocolate pudding – nothing wrong with that, but not the “chocolate knockout” I hoped for. Not even the chocolate cake crumb topping could deliver on such a promise. I guess I’ll continue to leave the pie baking to the experts.

The Rundown
Skill level: Moderate.
This book is for: Pie lovers with the experience to make them.
Other recipes to try: I doubt I’ll make a pie any time soon, but the herb-goat cheese quiche could tempt me. Maybe.

 

Chocolate Blackout Pie
1 9-inch pie

½ recipe Magpie Dough for flaky pie crust, chilled overnight (Recipe follows.)
2½ cups whole milk
6 Tbsp. Valrhona cocoa powder
2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. fine salt
4 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups crumbled chocolate cake (Recipe follows.)
Lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving

• Roll, pan and flute the dough as directed in the pie crust recipe. Then fully prebake the crust. Set the pan on a wire rack and let the shell cool to room temperature while you make the filling
• Whisk the milk, cocoa, and powdered coffee together in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Keep warm over very low heat.
• Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a bowl. Add the yolks and whisk until smooth and pale. Immediately measure out 1 cup of the hot milk mixture and slowly add it to the yolk mixture, pouring in a thin stream and whisking constantly.
• Turn the heat under the saucepan back up to medium. Slowly add the tempered yolks into the pan, pouring in a thin stream and whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a pudding consistency and a few large bubbles rise to the surface, about 5 minutes.
• Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Let cool until slightly warm, about 5 minutes, stirring often. (Don’t cool it all the way or it will begin to set – if this happens, gently rewarm to remedy.)
• Scoop the filling into the prepared pie shell, spreading evenly and smoothing the top. Top with the crumbled cake, pressing gently into the surface of the filling Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight (at least 12 hours and up to 3 days) before slicing and serving. Serve with whipped cream.

 

Magpie Dough for Flaky Pie Crust
2 9-inch pie crusts

2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and frozen
¼ cup vegetable shortening, preferably in baking stick form, frozen cut into ¼ inch pieces, and put back in the freezer
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. ice cold water

• Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse the machine 3 times to blend. Scatter the frozen butter cubes over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine 5 to 7 times, holding each pulse for 5 full seconds to cut all the butter into pea-size pieces. Scatter the pieces of frozen shortening over the flour-and-butter mixture. Pulse the machine 4 more 1-second pulses to blend the shortening with the flour. The mixture will resemble coarse cornmeal, but will be a bit more floury and riddled with pale butter bits.
• Turn the mixture out into a large mixing bowl and make a small well in the center. If you find a few butter clumps that are closer to marble size than pea size, carefully pick them out and give them a quick smoosh with your fingers. Pour the cold water into the well. Use a curved bowl scraper to lightly scoop the flour mixture up and over the water, covering the water to help get the absorption started. Continue mixing by scraping the flour up from the sides and bottom of the bowl into the center, rotating the bowl as you mix and occasionally pausing to clean off the scraper with your finger or the side of the bowl, until the mixture begins to gather into clumps but is still very crumbly.
• Lightly gather the clumps with your fingers and use your palm to fold over and press the dough a few times, until it just begins to come together into a single large mass. It will be a raggedy wad, moist but not damp, that barely holds together; this is exactly as it should be – all it needs is a good night’s rest in the fridge.
• Divide in two to make two single crust pies.
• No ifs, ands, or buts, the dough must have its beauty sleep. That means 8 hours in the refrigerator at the very least. Extra rest is just fine; feel free to let the wrapped dough sit in the fridge for up to 3 days before rolling.
• To prebake the shell, chill the panned, fluted piecrust in the freezer until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 375 with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut an additional 13-by-13-inch square of parchment.
• Set the pan on the lined baking sheet. Set the square of parchment in the pie shell and gently smooth it into place, pleating as needed to fit it up against the bottom and sides of the shell. The edges of the paper will project beyond the rim of the pan; just leave them standing straight up.
• Fill the shell to the top with the dried beans. Gently stir the beans around with your fingers to ensure that there are no air pockets. Top up with more beans as needed to come level with the top of the fluted edge of the piecrust.
• Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the shell for 25 minutes.
• Set out a wire rack and alongside it a mixing bowl. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and set it on the rack; bring together the points of parchment and carefully lift out the beans and transfer them to the bowl.
• Slide the baking sheet back into the oven and bake the crust another 10 minutes for fully prebaked. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Chocolate Cake
1 8-inch square cake

¼ cup unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing baking dish
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for flouring baking dish
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine salt
6 Tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup brewed coffee
½ cup whole milk
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract

• Preheat the oven to 325 with a rack in the center. Butter and flour an 8 x8-inch baking dish.
• Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
• Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the coffee, milk and sugars, mixing until dissolved and combined. Whisk in the egg and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.
• Pour the batter into the prepped pan and bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert on to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
• The cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen up to 1 month.

Reprinted with permission from Running Press Book Publishers

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

Friday, February 5th, 2016

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

Friday, January 29th, 2016

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

Friday, January 15th, 2016

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By the Book: “Flour + Water” by Thomas McNaughton

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

BTB_Jan16_Round1_1

I’ve visited San Francisco twice and both times I tried, unsuccessfully, to get a table at the incredibly popular Flour + Water. So, when the book by Thomas McNaughtan came across my desk, I had to cook out of it. If I wanted to eat Flour + Water food, I was going to have to make it myself.

I chose the tagliatelle Bolognese, and used a dried tagliatelle rather than making it from scratch – instantly simplifying the recipe. To make the sauce, McNaughton emphasizes the most important ingredient: time. The man knows what he’s talking about. This sauce needs five hours to simmer, giving the vegetables, meat, tomato paste, milk and butter all a chance to meld flavors. The sauce gently bubbled, each ingredient slowly imparting its layer of flavor, while I watched TV in the next room. Honestly, the sauce worked harder than I did; I just had to give it time. And this ultra comforting bowl of pasta is worth the wait.

Skill level: Beginner, intermediate and advanced. The recipes seem carefully written. The skill level varies and depends on the complexity of the pasta shape and if you make it from scratch.
This book is for: People who love pasta.
Other recipes to try: Burrata triangoli with preserved lemon, summer squash and mint
The verdict: The dish was a hit. Check back next week when Flour + Water takes on Eating Italy by Jeff Michaud.

BTB_Jan16_Round1_2

Tagliatelle Bolognese

4 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
12 ounces ground beef
5 1/2 ounces ground pork
3 1/2 ounces pancetta, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup milk
22 ounces dried tagliatelle pasta
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for finishing

• For the Bolognese, heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Saute until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the beef, pork and pancetta; saute, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups of the stock and the tomato paste; stir to blend. Reduce the heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.
• In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer; then gradually add to the sauce. Cover the sauce with a lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk is absorbed, about 1 hour, adding more stock 1/4 cup at a time to thin, if needed.
• Bring a large pot of seasoned water to a boil.
• Transfer the Bolognese to a 12-inch saute pan and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and begin swirling to combine.
• At the same time, drop the pasta in the boiling water. Once the pasta is cooked 80 percent through, about 2 to 3 minutes, add it to the pan. Reserve the pasta water. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until you achieve a sauce-like consistence, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from the heat.
•To serve, divide the pasta and sauce between four plates. Finish with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 

Reprinted with permission by Ten Speed Press

Eat This: Paneer Makhani at House of India

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

122815_eatthis

 

The paneer makhani at House of India has rounded flavor and deep heat. Cubes of paneer, a mild fresh cheese, swim in a silky tomato, onion and cream sauce flecked with spices like garam masala, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Sop up every bite with an order of hot, freshly baked naan that comes slightly charred with a glossy sheen of butter. This fragrant dish warms you from within.

 -photo by Carmen Troesser

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

Friday, December 25th, 2015

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

Friday, December 18th, 2015

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Friday, December 11th, 2015

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By the Book: “Hartwood” by Eric Werner and Mya Henry

Friday, December 11th, 2015

BTB_Dec15_Round1_1

 

Eric Werner and Mya Henry opened their restaurant Hartwood on the edge of the jungle in Tulum, located on the Yucatan peninsula. The open-air restaurant (the jungle canopy serves as the dining room’s ceiling) has little electricity, which means the fresh Mexican fare is often prepared over open flame. It’s an idyllic setting that Werner and Henry encapsulate in their beautiful new cookbook, Hartwood. Nearly every recipe is accompanied by a large, beautifully plated photo, which is a useful guide for the more complex recipes.

For example, the recipe grouper with white bean salad and cilantro crema took about four hours to complete its many components. The bean salad requires soaking and boiling dried beans. Poblano peppers must be roasted, skinned and seeded. The dressing requires roasted garlic poached for 45 minutes in a liter of oil. But all this effort is what makes the end result so special. Everything is balanced, and each component works together for a truly spectacular dish.

Yes, it takes time to prepare, but there’s nothing worse than spending time and effort on a recipe, only to produce a lackluster meal. I will happily give my time to Hartwood again and again when the results are this good.

Skill Level: Intermediate. While directions are clear, they require multiple steps and there are often recipes within recipes. You must budget your time, but the results are worth it.
This book is for: Anyone who likes complex Mexican flavors and subtle heat
Other recipes to try: Pulpo asado with roasted potatoes and coriander dressing or the toasted coconut cake
The verdict: This dish set the bar high. Check back next week when Hartwood takes on the next Mexican cookbook.

 

BTB_Dec15_Round1_2

 

Grouper with White Bean Salad and Cilantro Crema
4 servings

White Bean Salad
1½ cups dried navy beans or other creamy white beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
1 onion, cut in half
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
4 oregano stems
2 Tbsp. kosher salt, or to taste
5 poblano peppers
Olive oil
4 cups arugula
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup Lime and Honey Vinaigrette (Recipe follows.)
4 grouper fillets (6 to 8 oz. each), skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion, thinly sliced
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed

Cilantro Crema
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup olive oil
1½ tsp. mashed roasted garlic (Recipe follows.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves (some tender stems are fine)
1 jalapeno, very thinly sliced
2 limes, halved

● Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
● Prepare the beans and poblanos for the salad: Drain the beans and put in a large saucepan, along with the onion, carrot and oregano. Add water to cover by 2 inches, then add the salt and boil gently over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes, until the beans are soft. Drain the beans, discarding the onion, carrot and oregano. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
● While the beans beans are cooking, coat the poblanos with olive oil, put on a small baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the peppers and roast for 20 minutes longer, or until charred all over. Let the peppers cool, then remove the seeds and skin. Cut into ½ inch-wide strips and fold into the white beans. Set aside.
● Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
● Coat the grouper fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Oil the grill grate and grill the fish skin side down for about 1 minute to get nice grill makes. Turn 45 degrees and cook for 1 minute longer. Flip and repeat.
● Put the red onion and butter in a large cast-iron skillet. Transfer the fish, skin side up, to the skillet and drizzle olive oil over the skin. Roast in the oven until just cooked through, about 10 minutes.
● Meanwhile, add the arugula and cilantro to the white beans and stir gently to combine, being careful not to mash the beans. Add the vinaigrette and stir to incorporate.
● Make the crema: Combine the sour cream, olive oil, roasted garlic, salt and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the cilantro in two or three batches, pulsing for about 10 seconds after each addition. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
● Spoon the salad on to individual plates and drizzle with the cilantro crema. Top with the grouper and red onions. There will be some brown butter left in the skillet — pour it over everything. Garnish with the jalapeno slices (about 2 per fillet) and limes.

 

Lime and Honey Vinaigrette

¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes), or to taste
¾ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey, or to taste
1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

● Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified, then taste — everything should be in balance: the acid of the lime, the sweetness of the honey, the salinity of the salt. If anything is too faint, add more of whatever is missing. The vinaigrette will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, whisk again before serving to re-emulsify it.

 

Roasted Garlic Oil and Roasted Garlic

6 whole heads garlic
3 thyme sprigs
3 oregano sprigs
1 1-liter bottle olive oil

● Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
● Slice off the top ½ inch of each garlic head so that most of the cloves are exposed. Put the garlic in a deep sturdy 10-inch pan with the herbs and add enough olive oil so that the heads are just above the surface. Cover with the parchment paper, then tightly cover the pan with foil. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft — check by piercing a head with a paring knife. Remove the parchment and foil and roast for 5 more minutes to brown the garlic a bit, let cool.
● Strain the oil into a 1 liter measuring cup; set the garlic aside. Return the oil to its original bottle (simply pour through a funnel set into the neck of the bottle). Cover the oil and keep in a cool, dark place (the oil will last longer if you refrigerate it; just be sure to take it out about an hour before cooking to liquefy).

Reprinted with permission from Artisan Publishing

 

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