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Jan 25, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Extra Sauce: 12 healthy recipes to help keep New Year’s resolutions

Monday, January 5th, 2015

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{Seven-Grain Salad with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Capers}

Pledging to eat healthier in 2015 is a noble endeavor, but one cannot live on poached chicken breasts and lettuce alone. Here, 12 nutritious – and delicious – recipes to help maintain your New Year’s resolve.

 

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{Poached Salmon with Mustard Sauce}

1. We all know fish is packed with heart-healthy fats, but some landlocked Midwesterners are still leery of cooking it themselves. This recipe for Fish en Papillotte is a foolproof method for cooking perfect fish fillets every time. Steam is also used to make this Poached Salmon slathered with a quick and easy mustard sauce. Ready for more a more advanced (but still super simple) cooking method? Quickly pan-sear a halibut fillet and serve with a textural medley of sides in this recipe for Halibut with Grapefruit Fennel Slaw.

 

2. Ramp up your protein intake sans meat with beans and other legumes. A spiced bowl of Curried Sweet Potatoes and Lentils makes for a quick, filling meal , or toss quinoa and lucky black-eyed peas in a spicy lime dressing for a Red Quinoa and Black-Eyed Pea Salad. Stomach growling? Pack together these Lentil, Chickpea and Quinoa Burgers to sate even the most famished appetite.

 

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{Kale Caesar Salad}

3. Still can’t get enough kale? Try a Kale Caesar Salad that eschews anchovies for seaweed. If you’re pressed for time, this Shrimp and Citrus Salad comes together in less than 10 minutes and adds a citrus spark to winter with grapefruit (adding some chopped avocado would not go amiss either), and humble roots can brighten any frigid January day in a Beet and Carrot Salad.

 

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{Warm Mushroom Salad}

4. If crunchy raw salads scream “rabbit food” to you, opt for a lettuce-less creation instead. Try a Warm Spiced Roasted Root Vegetable Salad studded with briny feta and crunchy pepitas or saute a mess of woodsy mushrooms for this Warm Mushroom Salad. We love to dig into this Seven-Grain Salad filled with Italian sausage, peppers and salty capers  (and yes, it counts as a salad!). the idea of

 

Extra Sauce: Ligaya Figueras Predicts 2015 Trends

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The time has come once again when we food fanatics weigh in on the edible landscape of the year ahead. But first, let’s take a quick look back to my 2014 predictions.

Illinois has, indeed, been a hotspot, especially for craft breweries. This year saw breweries launch in Belleville (4204 Main Street Brewing Co.), Edwardsville (Recess Brewing) and O’Fallon (Peel).

Last year, I also speculated we’d see more all-veg restaurants with sophisticated plates. Small Batch, Seedz Café and Lulu’s Local Eatery brick-and-mortar on S. Grand Boulevard joined the small club of places to grab a meat-free bite. So did Five Bistro chef-owner Anthony Devoti’s five-week veg-centric pop-up this summer, Root & Vine.

Among local food trends, we’ve become thoroughly versed in ancient grains, but this was farro’s breakout year, and cauliflower is still having a fine run as a faux steak. The liquid stars of 2014 have been cherry alcohol and house-made soda and tonics.

What will 2015 bring? Here’s what I read in the booze-infused tea leaves (tea cocktails – you should try one):

 

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1. Bitter greens get big.
We’ve been won over by raw kale salads and crispy kale chips. But there are more bitter greens than the big K. At Death in the Afternoon, dandelion greens and chicory currently fill the bowl of a spicy Vietnamese grilled beef salad, and the restaurant’s Cobb salad is studded red with a blend of radicchio and its Italian cousin, Treviso. Get ready for dandelion pesto, collard chips and chicory in puntarelle salads.

 

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{Root celery soup with sorrel sorbet at Niche}

 

2. Regionalism migrates to the Midwest
What Nordic chefs at places like Noma and Dill are doing in cooking with foods native to their area tundra territory has attracted attention because it’s sustainable and a reminder that food is about place. Locally, Scratch Brewing’s indigenous beers are an example of this movement, called regionalism. On the food side, Gerard Craft and his team at Niche are breaking new ground in sourcing ingredients from the Show-Me state. At that restaurant, it’s out with citrus (because it doesn’t grow here) and in with local foods that hold citrus flavors. It means sourcing Missouri-grown wheat from Richard Knapp to make bread. Craft is even on a quest to find Missouri salt, once an important industry for this state. It’s one thing to source locally. Going native takes that a step forward. Look for more chefs to help shape what Made in MO cuisine looks like.

 

 

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3. Low-gravity beers keep things sessionable – and tasty.
Craft beer fans have spoken: they want to occupy bar stools for hours. However, for a drinking session to last that long, the brew’s gotta be low in alcohol. A lager with no personality won’t suffice because beer nerds want character, too. Of the two dozen craft beers on tap at The Side Project Cellar, 10 are 6-percent ABV or lower, and three of those – Side Project Grisette, Side Project Saisonnier and The Civil Life  Milk Stout – clock in at less than 5 percent.

 

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{Chef-owner Ben Poremba at Old Standard, his new fried chicken shack}

 

4. The fried chicken run has just begun.
Quality options abound for Sunday fried chicken dinners, and you can even find expertly prepared fried chicken at ethnic restaurants. Chicken shack Old Standard is but two months old and another, Byrd & Barrel, is slated for early 2015. If fried chicken follows the 2014 trend of whiskey bars, we’re going to see a lot more restaurants giving us the bird.

 

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{Bread service at Scape}

5. Better bread is rising.
Restaurants aren’t taking their bread for granted anymore. And we’re not passing up the bread course when the basket is filled with flaky buttermilk biscuits and moist cornbread accompanied by thoughtful jams and compound butters. We’ve been wowed by the bread selection at Old Standard and Juniper, as well as the complimentary rosemary focaccia at Cucina Pazzo. Scape just upped its bread service with fresh baked focaccia, lavash and pretzel sticks served with white bean puree, olive tapenade and whipped butter. Watch for more in-house baking programs to rise.

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants, from pizza to Southern fare to pasta. Here, he shares his top five dishes of 2014:

 

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No. 5: Bread Basket at Juniper
Despite all the great food — the deviled eggs, that tangy pimento grilled cheese, fine fried chicken — I’m going with Juniper’s bread basket because even at $9, it’s a worthy indulgence when there’s buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, hush puppies, popovers and fluffy angel biscuits made with lard.

 

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No. 4: Short Rib Pappardelle at Cucino Pazzo
Perfectly al dente house-made pappardelle noodles, carrots, celery and tender, beefy short ribs braised for 16 hours in red wine all in a sauce of cipollini onions and roasted mushrooms? No wonder it’s their most popular dish.

 

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No. 3: Venison Chop at Element
Just like baseball season, it’s gone but it sure was memorable. That farm-raised venison was something. Tasting richer than beef, the big, bone-in seared, savory chop lacked the gaminess of its wild cousin. Roasted root vegetables and a smoked Concord grape sauce balanced winter earthiness with subtle sweetness.

 

 

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No. 2: Hamburger at Three Flags Tavern
Of course Three Flags’ beef brisket was ground in-house, but it was the house-baked potato bun that didn’t disintegrate and the house sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and pickle juice) that made this burger such a savory package. A close runner-up: the pan-fried chicken and the accompanying biscuit baked while the bird fries.

And my No. 1 dish of 2014 is…

 

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Lobster Roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

Regardless of the style — Maine (served cold with mayo) or Connecticut (tossed with drawn butter and served warm) — what made these rolls even more notable than the chunks of fresh, tender, sweet lobster was the bun: a split-top brioche bun griddled to a buttery, toasted perfection, soft enough for fingers to gently crunch, yet substantial enough cradle all that meat.

 

And an honorable mention goes to the duck confit at Jax Café Chef-owner Brian Hale showed style and whimsy with a savory chipotle-cherry pancake topped with arugula, creamed corn and a confit of duck leg. A lot of competition for a limited number of taste buds produced surprisingly complementary flavors.

-photos by Jonathan Gayman

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Lunch Dishes of 2014

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Sauce restaurant critic Byron Kerman knows how precious the lunch hour is. All year, he’s shared the highs and lows of new and venerable lunch joints around St. Louis in Power Lunch. Here, he shares his top five lunch dishes of 2014:

 

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No. 5: Buffalo Blue Burger at Lulu’s Local Eats
Lulu’s sweet potato burger has crunchy panko breading on the outside yielding to a soft, moist interior. The Buffalo Blue version adds vegan “ranch” dressing (made with lemon, cucumber and eggless Vegenaise) and a creamy hot sauce to the thickly formed patty. If you can make a better vegan burger, we’d love to try it.

 

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No. 4: Smoked Brisket at Adam’s Smokehouse
The melt-in-your-mouth brisket is the star of the show at Adam’s, where it’s sliced it thin as deli meat. The reddish trim and smoky taste were rapturous. Only a heretic would put a drop of sauce on it.

 

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No. 3: Buttermilk-Cornmeal Pancakes at Southwest Diner
Southwest Diner’s buttermilk-cornmeal pancakes with buttery-brown edges are done just the way pancakes should be: thin and crispy, not fat and fluffy. Ask for real maple syrup for an extra buck to properly anoint these babies.

 

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No. 2: Hot Pastrami Sandwich at Death in the Afternoon
I’ll just come out and say it: The Hot Pastrami sandwich at Death in the Afternoon is quite possibly the best you will ever put in your mouth. It’s crazy-good, largely because the drippings from the thinly sliced pastrami are collected and mixed into a house-made mustard-mayonnaise sauce. I know what you’re thinking: Mayo and pastrami shouldn’t mix. I didn’t care, and you won’t either.

And my No. 1 dish of the year…

 

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Kung Pao Squid at Joy Luck Buffet
The kung pao squid on Joy Luck Buffet’s secret Szechuan menu requires a good 15 minutes to pick a veritable army of dried Szechuan peppers off the plate. The struggle is worth it; pliant squid and peanuts cavort in a kung pao sauce that, like a well-aged Burgundy, takes the diner to a dark, deep, complex place. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only kung pao in town.

 

-Lulu’s photo by Elizabeth Maxson; Adam’s Smokehouse photo by Jonathan Gayman; Southwest Diner and Death in the Afternoon photos by Elizabeth Jochum; Joy Luck Buffet photo by Carmen Troesser

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Cocktails of 2014

Saturday, December 27th, 2014
Matt Berkley works some odd hours as Sauce’s Nightlife critic, spending many a late night sipping crafted cocktails around St. Louis on a hunt for the very best. Here, Berkley names his top five cocktails of the 2014:

 

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No. 5:  Sandanista Shot at Sandrina’s
The recipe for the Sandanista Shot reads like it came from a fraternity cookbook. One shot of Jose Cuervo is shaken with lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha and white pepper for this sinus clearing, adrenaline-shooting monster.

 

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No. 4: Tennessee Rose at Salt + Smoke
A whiskey lover’s dream, this smooth-sipping, rye-based, barrel-aged cocktail warms you from the inside out. This revelation of a drink mixes a robust Dickel Rye Whiskey with sweet ginger liquor, Peychaud’s bitters and a dash of St. Germain.

 

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No. 3: Bloody Ghost at Gamlin Whiskey House
Pepper-infused Jacobs Ghost white whiskey adds bite to this spicy masterwork. My exact description from February: “a tall, white-whiskey infused bloody mary that smacks every other bloody I’ve sample hard across the jaw.”

 

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No. 2: Kentucky Mule at The Whiskey Ring
Whether it’s the dead of winter or a scorching summer day, the Whiskey Ring’s classic Kentucky Mule is a refreshing companion. Ginger beer, a heavy dose of bourbon and a splash of lime come together in a mighty copper mug for this treat.

 

And the No. 1 drink of 2014 is…

 

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Planter’s House Punch at Planter’s House
The rum and cognac in this icy punch give it a sweet boozy kick, while the lime, lemon, grenadine, bitters and dry curacao blend in to a citrusy, complex finish. The only thing that could make you love this easy sipping drink more is the fact that it’s available to order by the bottle.

 

-Sandrina’s, Salt + Smoke and Whiskey Ring photos by Michelle Volansky; Gamlin Whiskey House and Planter’s House photos Jonathan Gayman

 

Extra Sauce: Cooking for the Circus

Friday, December 26th, 2014

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It’s one thing to cook for a full house every night; it’s another to do it on the road. That’s the task Liz Samatis takes on as head chef for Cirque du Soleil’s traveling show, Varekai, which comes to the Lou Jan. 7 to 11 at the Chaifetz Arena. Samatis and her kitchen crew cook two full meals a day for more than 100 performing artists and crew members from nearly 20 countries. Not only does her food have to fuel athletes for grueling physical performances, but the Johnson & Wales graduate also tries to create menus sourced from and inspired by the places they visit. After nearly a year on the road and almost 40 cities, this roving chef shares what’s its like to literally feed a circus.

 

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Cirque du Soleil contracts with Spectrum Catering for its food service. How did you end up on the Cirque team?
I actually knew somebody who worked on a rock ‘n’ roll tour cooking and I thought, “Wow, that’s a really cool job.” I just went out and searched different companies that do tour catering, and I fell upon this job.

Do you use onsite equipment or do you carry it all with you?
I have a truck. It’s a completely mobile kitchen that gets unloaded into the arena. Everything is in a case, then we set it up somewhere. It could be anywhere from a tent outside the arena to the Zamboni room to a hallway. They fit us in where ever they can. … As far as our operation goes, we are completely sustainable. We bring everything you would need to cook.

How do you balance meals to be both tasty and nutritious enough for athletes?
We offer a full salad bar, a juice bar and a deli bar. I always have to serve one lean protein, and I have to keep in mind I’m cooking for the technical staff as well, who don’t necessarily eat the same way the artists do. The most important part is to give as many options as possible to keep everybody happy.

 How do you keep meals fun and interesting?
I write a different menu every week. I’ve never repeated a menu, though there are some items people enjoy that I will bring up every once in a while. Another thing I try to do is stay true to the local cuisine. When we’re in the Midwest, I’m not going to try to get seafood from the East Coast. I try to source the products that are readily available … that way I can bring a little bit of flavor of whatever city we’re in. When we were in Maine, I drove down to the lobster dock, cut a deal, and bought lobsters from them. Two weeks before I go to the city, I do a lot of research; what they have, what’s abundant.

There are people from all over the world on staff. Do you prepare a lot of international fare?
I try to ask people, “What do you like to eat from your country that you don’t get to eat in America?” I’ll try my best to mimic that dish, say, Russian borscht or goulash. We have a lot of Russians on the staff. They’re used to eating a lot of salmon, so I try to incorporate salmon into the menu once a week.

Is there a staff favorite?
Everybody loves taco day. Any time they can build their own thing, that goes over really well. Once a week we do a live-action station. On Sunday (brunch), we’ll do omelets to order. … We do Asian stir-fry, crepes, things like that. That way there’s interaction. They get a fresh, hot meal, and it’s personalized to their tastes.

Do you go out to eat when you visit cities?
Absolutely! I get two days off a week. I love going out to eat and trying the local cuisine, especially when I’m about to try to cook that style of food.

Spencer Pernikoff blogs at Whiskey and Soba
-performance photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Extra Sauce: 4 Whole-Fruit Desserts

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Stuff the candy canes in the stockings, not your mouth. Instead, finish your holiday meal with a show-stopping and deceptively simple dessert of whole fruit. Guests each receive a dish with their own apple, pear or plum, ending the meal on an elegant (and easy) note.

 

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1. Simple and elegant, these Spiced Poached Pears get some added holiday magic when you sprinkled them with a surprise ingredient: black pepper.

2. Poached Plums are a perfect make-ahead dessert. Poach the pretty stone fruit in sherry and apple juice the night before, then served chilled and garnished with sugared almonds and a twist of lemon.

 

 

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3. You know what goes perfectly with apples? More apples. Hollow them out and fill with cinnamon-scented crisp in this recipe for Apple Crisp-Stuffed Apples. Want to really take it over the top? Serve with cinnamon ice cream.

4. You could spend two hours peeling, coring and slicing pears to assemble and bake a holiday crisp. Or you could just slice in half, top with nuts and oats, bake and be done in 30 minutes with this recipe for Baked Pears with Pistachios and Cardamom.

-pear photo by Carmen Troesser

Extra Sauce: 4 Holiday Cookies for Chocoholics

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Sugar cookies make spirits bright, and gingerbread sings of the holidays, but deep down, our hearts will always belong to chocolate.

 

 

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1. Double-stuffed childhood favorites have nothing on these monster Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.

2. Nothing is as comforting as a chocolate chip cookie – except maybe the dual punch of these Chocolate Cookies.

 

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3. Chocolate chip cookies grow up with the addition of chocolate bitters to Triple Chocolate Cookies. Add cocoa powder and chocolate chips the holy trinity of cocoa goodness.

4. Macarons come in a rainbow of colors, but the luscious dark brown sheen of these Chocolate Macarons puts those pastel-hued babies to shame.

 

-photos by Carmen Troesser

Guide to the Holidays: Boozy Ginger Balls

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

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The hostess has received more than enough bottles of wine and plates of cookies, and she’d likely throw another mixed nut assortment at the wall. But you can’t come to the party empty-handed, so deck the halls with boozy balls. These citrus and ginger treats come together in a flash and, as a bonus, the leftover ginger liqueur will have you making cocktails for the rest of the season.

 

Boozy Ginger Balls
Makes 3 dozen

1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. orange zest
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup ground toasted hazelnuts
¾ cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup ginger liqueur
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

• Place the granulated sugar and orange zest in a small, lidded container and shake well. Pour the orange sugar onto a paper plate or pie pan. Set aside.
• In a large bowl using an electric mixer, mix the crushed vanilla wafers, hazelnuts and powdered sugar until combined. Add the ginger liqueur, corn syrup, orange juice and vanilla, and mix until a dough forms.
• Shape the dough into 1- to 1½-inch balls and roll in the sugar. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Balls will keep, refrigerated, up to 3 weeks, or frozen up to 2 months.

 

-photo by Elizabeth Maxson

Extra Sauce: 3 Festive Hanukkah Treats

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown, and these celebration-worthy pastries will have the whole family clamoring for more. From sweet to savory, serve up a table of tasty tradition with these festive treats for the next eight nights.

 

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1. While these  tri-cornered treats are traditionally served during Purim, for contributor Stacy Schultz‘s family, it’s not Hanukkah until the Hamantaschen hit the table. These hold a filling of dried fruit, pineapple and pecans.

 

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2. When in doubt, go with the pros. This Chocolate Babka from Arthur’s Schwartz’s book Jewish Home Cooking is brimming with melted chocolate chips, crunchy walnuts and sweet cinnamon.

 

 

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3. Not much of a sweet tooth? Take your taste buds for a walk on the savory side with Tomato, Parmesan And Pine Nut Rugelach filled with a homemade tomato jam.

 

-rugelach photo by Carmen Troesser

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