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Jan 21, 2018
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Celebrity chefs

By the Book: Ted Allen’s Vanilla Ice Cream with Honey

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Ted Allen’s new book, In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks, is for cooks “who love to cook.” From crusty baguettes and duck-fat potatoes to homemade pasta and vanilla ice cream, Allen hasn’t given us Rachel Ray-type recipes that have us in and out of the kitchen in a hop, skip and a jump. These recipes are for people who like to hang out in the kitchen.

Luckily, I fall into that latter camp. I love to cook. I am also a newly wed and have a plethora of new gadgets I want to experiment with, including an ice cream maker. I also happen to have a ton of local honey because it was my wedding favor, and now, let’s just say that I have more than I know what to do with. Putting it in some ice cream seemed like a good use – and it was.

This recipe was easy and straight-forward, an ideal way to spend a few hours in the kitchen. (Nothing’s worse than slaving over the stove just to be disappointed by your results.) The only thing missing from the instructions was the time it would take to thicken the custard until it reaches the desired consistency. For me, that was about 7 to 8 minutes.

The final product didn’t scream with honey flavor but rather tasted like a highly floral scoop of vanilla. But on a warm spring day, that was just fine with me.



Vanilla Ice Cream with Honey
Makes 1 generous quart

Of all the ways to flavor frozen cream, there is nothing more elegant or more versatile than vanilla. For a subtle but noticeable twist, Barry sweetens our batches with the light, floral, slightly minty honey from his beehive on our roof in Brooklyn. This recipe can serve as a base for many variations – two of our favorites follow. Or you can try in-season fruits or even subtle spice combinations.

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup honey
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract



1. Heat the cream, milk, honey and vanilla beans and seeds in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot, being careful not to let the mixture boil and curdle.



2. Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl, then slowly drizzle 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks while whisking. Pour the yolk mixutre into the saucepan of cream; heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, again being careful not to let it boil and curdle. (Note: Thickening took about 7 to 8 minutes.)

3. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the vanilla beans and any bits of cooked egg yolk. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 6 hours. You can speed this process dramatically by partially submerging the bowl of custard in a larger bowl of ice water to form an ice bath and stirring the custard occasionally until cold. The colder the custard is, the faster the machine will be able to freeze it for ice cream.



4. Follow the directions on your ice cream maker to freeze. Once the mixture is frozen, put it into the containers and allow it to “ripen” for at least 2 hours in the freezer.



Reprinted from In My Kitchen by Ted Allen with Barry Rice. Copyright (c) 2012. Photos copyright (c) 2012 by Ben Fink. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

Tell us about your favorite ice cream to make at home in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of In My Kitchen.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Marina, whose comments on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of Weeknights with Giada. Marina, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew! 

What I Learned From Shopping With Diana Kennedy

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, there’s no greater authority than Diana Kennedy. Beginning with the 1972 publication of her first cookbook, The Cuisines of Mexico, and spanning through her most recent work, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy, Kennedy has been instrumental in making authentic Mexican cooking accessible to the English-speaking world.

I was pretty excited to learn that Kennedy, a native of the U.K. who resides in Mexico, was visiting St. Louis this week. Her books are always among the first that I flip through when seeking inspiration for Mexican dishes. Tonight and Saturday afternoon, she will be at Kitchen Conservatory teaching cooking classes, something that she has done for more than 40 years. Sauce was invited – along with Local Harvest Café executive chef Clara Moore and Milagro Modern Mexican executive chef Jason Tilford – to accompany Kennedy as she shopped for the ingredients for the dishes she will prepare in these classes – and to hopefully learn a few tricks in Mexican cookery along the way.



“I’ve got to work. I have to concentrate,” Kennedy warned as we entered El Torito Supermarket on Cherokee Street, confirming what I had heard about her no-nonsense personality. First on the list: dried peppers. Kennedy spent a good 10 minutes looking for the right dried guajillo peppers and then rooted through the entire selection of whole dried arbol chile peppers seeking ones with the stems still on. The stems indicated Mexican origin, she explained. They would be a darker red color and more flavorful than de-stemed peppers.



Moving to the spice aisle, Kennedy pointed to cinnamon sticks, noting that those were the “right” kind – as opposed to the cassia bark found in most pantries. “Jason, I hope you’ve got the right cinnamon,” she said, looking at Tilford. He grabbed a bag off the spice rack. “I do now,” he replied.



Onto the produce section, where the entourage learned as much about Kennedy’s views on sustainability as her ability to pick out the choicest veggies. “We will not use plastic if we do not have to,” said Kennedy, who had brought her own shopping bags and began filling one with fresh tomatoes. “It drives me mad to go to the store and see all the plastic grocery bags. People don’t think about what they are doing to the environment.”

When Kennedy had filled the bag to what she guesstimated to be four pounds, she had Moore weigh the bag. Four pounds. “El ojo de rica,” she said of herself. “It’s a phrase [used] in Mexico that means ‘the rich woman’s eye.’ Because I said four pounds and it’s four pounds.”



After inspecting cebolla rabo (Mexican green onions) and putting a bunch in the cart, Kennedy rooted through garlic, disappointment evident in her voice. “They are probably coming from China,” she noted. “We’ll, it looks like we don’t have much choice.”

She nearly cleared out the meat case as she asked for package after package of fresh chicken giblets, chicken feet and chicken wings needed to prepare her Chicken Soup Tuxtepec, published in Oaxaca al Gusto. “I’m taking all his stuff,” she laughed, quickly turning serious with the employee as she beseeched him to use minimal plastic to wrap the fresh meat. To prepare Pork in Chile-Garlic Sauce, another dish from Oaxaca al Gusto, she was careful to select stewing pork with ample fat.



When Kennedy learned that El Torito could grind corn into masa and, upon request, even make the tortillas, she was impressed. “Oh, I’d like to see it. Just to comment on it, you know.” Upon being handed a bag of freshly made masa and sampling a pinch, she commented, “This market is good.” Good enough, in fact, that she placed an order for five dozen tortillas that she would serve at her classes.

At the checkout, the same employee charged with grinding the masa approached Kennedy with a hot, freshly made corn tortilla. “That’s such a lovely Mexican gesture,” she said between bites. “Mm. It’s got quite a bit of cal (lime powder). Delicious.”

Upon unloading her purchases into the car, I thanked Kennedy for letting me wander the aisles with her, adding that I hoped I hadn’t distracted her from her mission. She smiled and dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand, adding, “It’s a big responsibility giving a class. I want to give them their money’s worth.”

Kennedy has been giving home cooks their money’s worth for decades. And if you are among the lucky ones with a spot at Kennedy’s sold out classes at Kitchen Conservatory this week, rest assured, it will be money well spent.

No ticket? No problem. Head to Salt of the Earth, located at 8150 Big Bend Blvd., this Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., where Kennedy will be signing copies of her most recent book, Oaxaca al Gusto. Admission is free.

 

Sauce Celebrity Chef Series gets deliciously decadent with Alice Medrich

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The Queen of Chocolate is gracing us with her presence just in time for Mother’s Day. On May 9, celebrated sweets author Alice Medrich will discuss and sign her new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, for the next installment of the Sauce Celebrity Chef Series.

Medrich has won more cookbook-of-the-year awards than any other author, including two from the James Beard Foundation. For this event, Kakao Chocolate will be making sweet treats inspired by Medrich’s new book, which simplifies dozens of her classic dessert recipes.

Ticket packages cost just $30 and include admission for two, some of those tasty Kakao confections and 1 copy of Alice’s new cookbook, which she will be discussing and signing at the event. Whether you’ve been looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift or hoping to learn the secrets behind great baking, this is an event any dedicated sweet tooth truly shouldn’t miss.

What: Sauce Celebrity Chef Series with Alice Medrick
When: Wed., May 9 – 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: Left Bank Books, 321 N. 10th St., St. Louis, 314.436.3049, brownpapertickets.com
Cost: Tickets: $30, admission for 2, Kakao Chocolate confections, 1 copy of Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

Celebrity Chef Tour dinner series comes to St. Louis

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

If you obsess over celeb chef Twitter feeds, keep tabs on which culinary gurus have earned top industry awards and even plan your vacations around trendsetting restaurants, then you’ll want to hear about the Celebrity Chef Tour that’s coming to St. Louis on Monday, April 16.

The Celebrity Chef Tour, which benefits the James Beard Foundation, is an on-the-road version of a dinner at the James Beard House, the “perfomance space” in New York City for visiting chefs. The dinner series in St. Louis will take place at Sidney Street Cafe and will be hosted by chef-owner Kevin Nashan. The event will be an eight-course affair prepared by an all-star cast of 11 chefs, including four who have built a reputation in St. Louis. Besides Nashan, Josh Galliano of Monarch, Gerard Craft of the Niche family of restaurants and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus, are all participating. In case you didn’t know, these four were recently named semifinalists for a James Beard Award in the Best Chef: Midwest category.

Other guest celebrity chefs that will be cooking at the Sidney Street dinner include Kelly English, chef-owner of Restaurant Iris in Memphis and the recently opened Kelly English Steakhouse in St. Charles; Debbie Gold of The American Restaurant in Kansas City; Alex Lee of the Glen Oaks Country Club in Long Island, N.Y.; Randy Lewis, a noted chef from the Bay Area who is working to open his project, Parish Eleven, in San Francisco; Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín in Sante Fe; John B. Shields, who began his culinary training in St. Louis and is currently exec chef at Town House in Chilhowie, Va.; and Michael Sullivan, a charcuterie wunderkind at Blackberry Farm near the Great Smoky Mountains in Walland, Tenn.

Unfortunately, the dinner has already sold out. However, Nashan confirmed that he is working hard to try and fit as many diners from the waiting list as possible into the dinner. Call Sidney Street to get on the waiting list for your $190 ticket today and, for more information on this all-inclusive affair, click here.

A look at El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, opening at the Tivoli Friday

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

020212_ferranadriaThe word “transcend” gets kicked around a lot, as in a work of art so earth-shattering that it manages to transcend the genre.

But truly, to appreciate what Ferran Adrià (pictured) did with his late, lamented Spanish restaurant, El Bulli, is to understand that the maverick chef transcended the idea of what a restaurant – and maybe even what cooking itself – can be. The window into his world comes courtesy of the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, which opens at the Tivoli Theatre this Friday and runs through Thursday, Feb. 9. This look at Adrià, the “Salvador Dali of the kitchen” – freely devising dishes like tangerine and green olive bits in vinaigrette, with ice chips added tableside – is sure to inspire chefs angling to shake up their menus and travel further into the endless vistas of taste and creativity.

We can only imagine what a dish like that would taste and feel like – the ice, fruit and oils rolling around our tongues. The same goes for the pineapple phyllo. And the praline ravioli in “vanishing” pockets of pasta (The pouches dissolve on contact with the tongue, revealing the flavors within immediately.). And all the other bizarre innovations that make up the parade of 35 dishes, brought out one-by-one every six minutes, to comprise the three-hour, epic prix-fixe meals for those diners lucky enough to actually score seats in Adrià’s rarefied food arena (a meal for which they paid about $500).

The film, shot in 2008 and 2009, is divided into two parts. It moves from the half-year experimentation process in a secondary location in Barcelona to the half-year of cooking and service at El Bulli itself, which became a theater where Adrià’s fanciful whims finally enter the greater world. Adrià and his assistant chefs experiment in a Barcelona kitchen, taking careful notes on all the different permutations of their potential recipes, tasting tiny morsels, slowly circling about what they hope will eventually become something new, daring and delectable. But it’s not even about whether something tastes good, at first, said Adrià in the film, but whether it is “magical – it opens up a new path.”

The creative process is far from over when Adrià’s team packs up their equipment and notes and heads for El Bulli. The acclaimed chef sits at a table in El Bulli’s kitchen, painstakingly tasting everything again and again to fine-tune the final menu. It’s clear that he puts a high value on spontaneity, as he doesn’t even name the dishes, in many cases, until the server has actually placed the plated items on a tray and is passing Adrià on his way out of the kitchen. Remember, the waiters need to know what to tell diners unsure of just what they’re eating or how to eat it. On the first day of the season, Adrià divulges this information at the last possible second. It’s a purposeful kind of insanity.

Because the diners eat 35 different dishes, the aggressive pace of service mustn’t flag. The staff is drilled like a military squad. Dozens of cooks at a bank of tables lean over their respective mise en place, performing close, careful work on dishes they have certainly never imagined. They manage to balance artful, delicate presentations of breaded tuna fish marrow, pumpkin meringue sandwiches with almonds and summer truffles, pine sprouts brushed with spruce honey, and on and on. A bizarre cocktail of olive oil, carbonated water and salt is served to tease the lips with the softness of oil. Courses have names like “Parmesan crystal,” “coconut sponge,” and “minted ice lake.”

The viewer comes away with a perception of Adrià as a kind of Miles Davis of cuisine, continually reinventing the medium, leaving everyone else to guess what comes next.

Foodies will feel a sense of wistfulness at this one – El Bulli closed last year, when Adrià, tired of 20-plus years of experimentation and intense service (and set on finding new paradigms), announced at the El Bulli site that “We will transform into a creativity center, opening in 2014. Its main objective is to be a think-tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy and will be managed by a private foundation.”

Adventurous eaters will be stunned into wonder by Adrià the artist, let loose to indulge his caprices. But chefs might just need to make a point of watching this film to remind themselves why they’ve made this their career. When you cook like a mad scientist with a gleam in his eye, you might just turn a meal into a magic trick that won’t be soon forgotten.

By the Book: Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Budino

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

010212_bookblogsizeWelcome to By the Book, a new weekly online column in which we try our hand at recipes from some of the many amazing cookbooks that come across our desks. We thumb through, pick a dish and then get cooking – revealing the recipe we chose and the results of our culinary journey. Scroll to the bottom of the post to find out how you can win a copy of the featured book and to see last week’s By the Book winner.

Me and my finacé love the Lakers, so as a gift to him last year, I bought him a pair of tickets to a game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That’s the kind of gift you give with the knowledge that you’ll get to enjoy half of it. Selfish? Perhaps. But I had been waiting for a great excuse to visit LA and this was it.

Our first night there we went to Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza. The meal was a memorable one, from the arancine alla bolognese to the fennel-sausage pizza with whipped cream. That’s right, whipped cream. But dessert is what I remember most fondly: We had butterscotch budino. Budino is Italian for “pudding,” and this budino was divine, so divine that former New York Times dining editor Frank Bruni called it “a pudding to shame all other puddings …” It was velvety and had layered sweetness with hints of whisky. It arrived hidden under a cap of dark, salted caramel sauce and a fluffy mound of creme fraiche whipped cream. It was a classic dessert invigorated with Silverton’s creativity. She is a pastry chef after all.

When I saw that she was coming out with a cookbook, I knew her budino recipe would be in there. (Turn to page 31 of the January issue of Sauce to see our review of the book.) And after making it out of that book, I’m happy to report that it tastes just as good at home as it did that day. Silverton gives clear, easy-to-follow and detailed instructions. This recipe is long but not difficult to execute; you just have to follow it. I did make one minor change: I substituted a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, because I didn’t feel like spending an extra 6 dollars when I had extract in the fridge. (Forgive me. It was still delicious.) I would not overlook Silverton’s suggestion to use large saucepans to make the pudding and the caramel … especially the caramel. For that, I used a 5-quart dutch oven. I’m glad I did; otherwise I would have been in for a gigantic mess.

mousselikewhippedcream

One thing that surprised me in Silverton’s instructions was her suggestion to use sour cream or creme fraiche in the whipped cream topping. This unexpected ingredient adds tang and offsets the sweetness of the pudding and caramel. It also stabilizes the whipped cream so, even though I refrigerated it overnight, the topping was still light and airy the next day.

Although this recipe is extremely long (Bless those fancy chefs’ hearts!), it’s something you can make in stages in advance if you so choose. You could, say, make the caramel two weeks before (It’s good for a month.), the budino 2 to 3 days before (It keeps well for 3 days in the fridge.), and then the whipped cream the day of. It may be lengthy, but it also allows you to be flexible. That, plus the insanely delicious final product, makes the extra effort oh-so worth it.

Butterscotch Budino With Caramel Sauce Maldon Sea Salt
12 Servings

Before we opened either restaurant, Dahlia and I scoured our favorite Italian cookbooks to get ideas for desserts we might want to offer. The one that seemed to be in every book was budino, or pudding. We decided to serve butterscotch pudding because we both love American butterscotch pudding. It immediately became our signature dessert in the Pizzeria. And it still is the most talked about, written about, dreamed about, and ordered dessert we offer— at either restaurant. Two things to keep in mind for the success of the pudding are, first, that you heat the sugar in a heavy- bottomed saucepan so you can cook it sufficiently without it burning. But the real “secret,” which our intrepid recipe tester Lyn Root taught us, is that if the smoke alarm in your house doesn’t go off while you’re cooking the sugar, chances are you haven’t cooked the caramel long enough. We serve these in glasses, such as highball glasses, which look really pretty because you can see the different layers of ingredients. It’s also convenient in that you probably have plenty of such glasses at home. You will need twelve heat-resistant 8-ounce glasses or 7-ounce ramekins to make this. (I used high ball drinking glasses because it’s what I had in my cabinet.)

For the budino:

3 cups heavy whipping cream
1½ cups whole milk
3 extra-large egg yolks plus 1 extra-large egg
5 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1½ tsp. kosher salt
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. Scotch whiskey

For serving the budino:

¾ cup caramel sauce (recipe below)
Maldon sea salt or another flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel
Whipped cream (recipe below)
24 1¼-inch rosemary pine nut cookies (optional) I didn’t make these.

puddingchilling

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl inside. Set a fine-mesh strainer in the smaller bowl.

To make the budino, stir the cream and milk together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg and cornstarch together. Combine the brown sugar, salt and ½ cup of water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Cook the sugar, without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally for even cooking, until the sugar is smoking, nutty smelling and a very dark caramel color, 10 to 12 minutes. (Don’t be alarmed: The sugar will become foamy and lava-like with slow-bursting bubbles.) Reduce the heat to low and immediately add the cream-milk mixture in a thin, steady stream, stirring with a whisk as you add it. This stops the cooking process and prevents the sugar from burning. This will cause the sugar to seize, or harden. Increase the heat to high and cook until the seized sugar has dissolved and the mixture is liquid again, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat. Ladle out 1 cup of the hot cream and sugar mixture and gradually add it to the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the cream mixture from cooking the eggs. Continue adding the cream to the eggs until you have added half of the cream mixture. Gradually add the contents of the bowls to the saucepan with the remaining caramel, stirring constantly with a whisk, and cook the custard over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl set in the ice, and ladle it into the glasses or ramekins, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top of each budino. Place the budini on a baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours to chill. (The budini can be prepared to this point up to 3 days in advance.) Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator, cover each budino with plastic wrap, and return the budini to the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

To serve, if the caramel sauce cooled, warm it over medium heat until it returns to a loose sauce-like consistency and is barely warm but not hot. Remove the budini from the refrigerator and spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce on each budino. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and top each with a big dollop (about 2 tablespoons) of the whipped cream. Place each budino on a small plate, ideally lined with a small napkin or doily, and place two rosemary pine nut cookies, if you are using them, alongside each glass on the plate.

For the caramel sauce:
Makes about 2 cups

This recipe makes far more than you will need … but caramel is something you can’t make in small batches.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 whole vanilla bean I used a teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 Tbsp, unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup

lavalikebubbles

Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Using a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to scrape out the pulp and seeds and add the scrapings and the bean to the saucepan with the cream. Heat the cream over high heat until it just begins to boil. Turn off the heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and ¼ cup of water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook without stirring, swirling the pan for even cooking and brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush to remove the sugar crystals until the sugar becomes a medium amber color, about 10 minutes. (See note below)

Remove the caramel from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean from the cream mixture and discard the bean. Gradually add the cream mixture to the caramel, whisking constantly to thoroughly combine, taking care as the mixture will steam and bubble. Serve the caramel sauce, or set it aside to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Before serving, warm the sauce in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to melt it.

Note: I let mine go a little bit longer, around 14 minutes.

For the whipped cream:

Silverton adds creme fraiche or sour cream when serving whipped cream on desserts because she loves the tang that it adds. It also guarantees a smooth, dense and shiny cream.

1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. creme fraiche or sour cream

Pour the whipping cream into a chilled bowl and whip it with a chilled whisk until it thickens to soft peaks. (See note below) Do not over whip the cream, as it will become curdled. Add the creme fraiche and gently beat it until the whipped cream is thick and mousse-like. (Use the cream or cover the bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it or for up to several hours. Before serving, whip gently to stiffen if it separated.)

Note: I did not chill the bowl and whisk and it was fine.

finishedbudino

Excerpted from THE MOZZA COOKBOOK by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno.  Copyright © 2011 by Nancy Silverton.  Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House.  All rights reserved.  No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

For a chance to win a copy of The Mozza Cookbook, tell us about a memorable dish you enjoyed at a local restaurant that you have tried to replicate at home in the comments section below.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Gwen whose explanation of her weekend cooking projects had us lusting for a snowy Sunday in the kitchen. It’s also won her a free copy of The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Weekends. Gwen, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew regarding your prize!

Sauce Celebrity Chef Series presents A Splendid Friday Evening With Lynne Rosetto Kasper

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

121511_lynneRCWe know, we know; we haven’t even caught our breath from our last Celebrity Chef announcement. But we can hardly wait to tell you about the next event in our Sauce Celebrity Chef Series: A Splendid Friday Evening With Lynne Rosetto Kasper, presented in partnership with St. Louis Public Radio.

The host and producer of The Splendid Table public radio show is returning to St. Louis to discuss her latest book: The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends. In this follow-up to her first book, How to Eat Supper, Kasper celebrates the hours the weekends allow us and encourages readers to use that time to visit new neighborhoods, find new markets, gather new ingredients and learn new cooking techniques, all of which she hopes will instill knowledge and experience readers can carry over into their everyday meals.

Join us at Soulard Presentation Hall on Friday, Feb. 24, from 6 to 10 p.m., as Kasper discusses and signs her new book. Tickets, priced at $35, will include a food and drink reception, the discussion and signing of her book and valet parking. Copies of Kasper’s How To Eat Weekends will be available for purchase for an additional $35 in advance at Left Bank Books and at the event. It’s sure to be an evening of culinary insight and inspiration, so reserve your ticket today via St. Louis Public Radio.

Sauce Celebrity Chef Series presents an afternoon with Gabrielle Hamilton

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

100711_gabrielleAnthony Bourdain called it “Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever.” Mario Batali said she “has changed the potential and raised the bar for all books about eating and cooking.” Now, you have a chance to discuss Gabrielle Hamilton’s honest and thought-provoking memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, with the chef and author herself as she travels to St. Louis for what is sure to be a fun and insightful afternoon.

For the next installment of the Sauce Celebrity Chef Series, join us at Monarch on Monday, Jan. 30, at noon for a luncheon with Hamilton, presented in partnership with Left Bank Books. The chef-owner of New York’s Prune restaurant will read from her memoir while guests enjoy a menu inspired by Hamilton’s memoir and designed by Monarch executive chef Josh Galliano.

Tickets for the event cost $35 and include lunch and a paperback copy of Blood, Bones & Butter, which Hamilton will be signing. Tickets are available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets and Left Bank Books locations.

Sauce Celebrity Chef Series: Lidia Bastianich to bring Italy to The Lou

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

102411_LidiaYou probably know Lidia Bastianich as the no-nonsense, mothering figure who brought Italian cuisine into our homes via her PBS cooking shows, such as Lidia’s Italy. What you may not know is that this mother of two and grandmother of five has been running restaurants for more than 40 years – and that her burgeoning food empire now includes seven restaurants, an Italian winery, her own brand of dried pastas and jarred sauces, a line of tableware, and most recently, the publication of her seventh cookbook, Lidia’s Italy in America.

Bastianich is headed our way to discuss and sign her new cookbook – which includes accounts of her trips to local eateries Rigazzi’s, Imo’s and Volpi Foods – for the latest installment of our Sauce Celebrity Chef Series. The event, in partnership with Left Bank Books and Nine Network, will be held on Wednesday, November 16 at 7 p.m., at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Click here for tickets and more info.

In the meantime, we got a chance to sit down and chat with the legendary culinarian about her new book, how she prefers her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and what it takes to be successful in today’s ever-expanding culinary realm.

Tell us about the new cookbook, Lidia’s Italy in America.
America is made up of immigrants, and Italian immigrants play a big part [in] that. I went back and followed the routes of the immigrants; New Orleans was a big point of entry, the Mississippi River and up into Missouri. What are the recipes they brought with them and how did those change? When the Italians came here, a lot of products weren’t available, and the cuisine changed and became Italian-American. In the Salinas Valley, the Italian influence made that area the artichoke-and-broccoli raab capital of the world. These products became big business, and, in turn, became part of the Italian-American palate. In the book, you’ll find artichoke dishes. You’ll also find things like pesto pasta with a little pistachio and a great zuppa inglese, the Italian-American rum sponge cake that’s a take on the trifle and became very popular in America.

Where are some of the places you visited in St. Louis to write the new book?
In St. Louis, of course, I love The Hill; I had a great time there. I went to St. Ambrose [parish]. I went to the bocce courts and found some interesting dishes there. In one of the oldest restaurants there, Rigazzi’s, I found veal “parmiciano” made with chopped meat, like a hamburger, and then breaded and made into a sandwich. I went in and saw how they interpreted Italian cuisine. In Kansas City, the Italian area was not as vivid or alive as it is in St. Louis. There is a tradition of thanking St. Joseph with an altar. About 40 people make cookies, and decorate this beautiful, artistic altar with the face of Jesus in dough, and then sell cookies for the poor.

In partnership with your son, Joe Bastianich, chef Mario Batali and others, you opened Eataly in New York City a year ago. It sounds like an Italian food-lover’s dream. I wish we had this in St. Louis!
It’s very Italian. It’s like a whole block of shops lifted up right from Italy; you get that feeling. It has great products from American and Italian artisans; a cooking school and a language school; tastings and restaurants; and fresh pastas, fish and other ingredients you can bring home to cook. You can eat and taste and go home and cook for yourself – it’s very fun.

How does it feel to go from one Italian restaurant to a whole “empire” of businesses? It’s a natural crescendo. You take one road, and it opens up to two or three other roads, and it’s about choosing the right roads. Other people come up with ideas and they present them to you. I respond to opportunities. Opening the first restaurant was something my husband was into; I was very young when we opened our first restaurant. I fell into it. We had nine or 10 tables. We invested everything we had and borrowed from my mother, and thank God it worked. Then, Julia Child asked me to do two episodes on her Master Chef series and the producer liked my work, and so on. You just have to take the right opportunities. You open a restaurant, people come, they share your food, the first book comes, then TV comes, and then you go from that. People want more. We are passionate about wine, and at first we just bottled it for our restaurants, but then it grew. I’m honored and proud to have that relationship between myself and the viewers, that they want to know me and to experience more about me. Along the way it’s been a lot of work, but I’ve had a great time.

You have your own small winery now. What are you bottling there? We do a lot of the indigenous varietals from the area. Our Vespa Bianco blend has chardonnay, sauvignon and picolit. It’s a nice, buttery, complex wine. The area where we grow is known for some of the best Italian whites. We go there for the blending every spring. We taste everything; we don’t just slap our name on it, we’re very involved.

What do you cook for yourself on a typical night? I like soup. I just made a big pot of vegetable soup. I love it with a piece of cheese and a little wine. I love a little prosciutto. In the summer I love salads with a can of tuna. I love canned sardines and anchovies. I don’t have to eat a lot to get a wallop of flavor. Sometimes I have peanut butter and jelly. I just feel like something sweet, and I just put it on rice cakes instead of bread, usually with milk.

Do you like to cook with music? Yeah, I love it. I do that all the time. What I listen to differs. I like classical music, operas and contemporary music as well. I like contemporary Italian music. I like jazz and blues; it depends on the mood. But no hard rock – it sounds like banging pots to me (laughs).

Do you drink wine while you cook? I do. I usually sip whatever we’re gonna have with dinner. A little bit for the pot, a little bit for me … (laughs)

Your new line of pasta sauces are all-natural – they’re not full of corn syrup, like some of the competition. No, I wouldn’t do that. I can’t. I’m too connected with my followers and viewers. They trust me.

I got a chance to try them, and I particularly liked the artichoke flavor – there are little bits of artichoke in every bite. Isn’t that good and different? Let’s say you have a piece of chicken breast – you can just sauté some garlic and olive oil, sear the chicken with salt, throw some sauce in there and maybe a little oil and seasoning and bring it to a boil. You can do that with fish and so on, too.

Many of us Lidia fans feel like we know your mother, too. How’s she? She’s great – she’s right here next to me.

One of the producers on your PBS show called you one of the hardest working persons she’s ever known.
Young people come into this industry and I ask them, “What would you like to do?” They say, “I want to become like you,” and I say, “Well, this is very do-able in America, the land of opportunity, but you need commitment, some talent, to educate yourself continually, be enthusiastic, and you need to do a hell of a lot of work.”

The Scoop: Memphis celeb chef Kelly English to open steakhouse at Harrah’s (updated)

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

060211_KelyEnglishMemphis celebrity chef Kelly English is expanding his culinary brand to St. Louis. The chef, who opened Restaurant Iris in Memphis in 2008 and was named by Food & Wine magazine among the best new chefs of 2009, is opening a steakhouse at Harrah’s St. Louis Casino and Hotel in the space currently occupied by The Range Steakhouse.

Kelly English Steakhouse will feature Southern-style recipes that also showcase the Louisiana native’s French-Creole influences. The restaurant is expected to open later this year, but no target date has been announced.

Update: A representative of Harrah’s St. Louis Casino and Hotel has informed The Scoop that the target opening date for the new steakhouse is October 17.

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