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Oct 30, 2014
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Archive for October, 2011

Stocking Up on mushrooms

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

102611_mushroomHere in Missouri, we’re pretty much in mycological Mecca. We’re accustomed to seeing morels on many a menu around town in the spring. You might, however, want to mix it up a little and move mushrooms onto your mid-fall market list.

If you’re lucky, you’ll still be able to find some mushroom farmers at local markets. Nicola Macpherson routinely sets up shop at the Maplewood Farmers’ Market and offers a wide range of fungi. Sautéed criminis make a hearty topping for creamy polenta and give a chewy texture to lasagna. Roast some bite-sized mushrooms, toss with a little olive oil and lemon juice and skewer with a chunk of Parmesan for an easy appetizer. Continue on with the cheese pairing by folding Gruyère and sautéed shiitakes into a fluffy omelet. A quick mixed mushroom fricassee should provide enough umami to satisfy even the most dedicated carnivore.

Cooler weather may signal a good time for mushrooms, but it also brings an end to the outdoor farmers’ market season. Several area markets have already shuttered for the season, Maplewood and Ferguson wind up at the end of October, and Clayton and Tower Grove hang on until November 5. But worry not: A few area markets offer monthly indoor shopping opportunities, with plenty of local artisan products on hand to sustain you through the long winter ahead.

L’École Culinaire moves its public classes to Olivette

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

102511_LEcoleSince opening in March of this year, the L’École Culinaire Academy for Culinary Development (which offers classes specifically designed for the public) has been housed at the site of the culinary school L’École Culinaire in Ladue, which offers diploma and degree programs for aspiring culinary professionals. Now, L’École Culinaire is moving its public classes to an expanded space at 9200 Olive Blvd., in Olivette.

The 2,000-square-foot facility has teaching areas for baking/pastry and chocolate; a general kitchen area; and space for beverage classes and additional retail and prep areas. The facility is equipped with high-end residential appliances, offering the feel of a home kitchen.

Classes range from half-days to four days and range from cooking and cake decorating to sushi making and ice carving. For information about upcoming classes, visit the L’Ecole Culinaire Academy for Culinary Development website or call 314.264.1999.

The Scoop: Chefs from within to replace Eliot Harris at Miso

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

102511_harrisThis Saturday will mark Eliot Harris’ last day of service at Miso. The chef is leaving the Japanese restaurant located at 16 N. Meramec Ave., in Clayton, to open a food truck specializing in Japanese cuisine.

According to Miso owner Brad Beracha, two of Harris’ co-workers, Dobri Dobrev and Kory Kim, will share executive chef duties at Miso after the departure. Beracha noted that he expects a smooth transition since Dobrev and Kim have worked with Harris at Miso for more than three years. Both chefs will have a hand in new sushi and dinner menus that sport what Beracha called “seasonal edits,” slated to launch in early November.

— Photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: Crostini has short life in The Grove

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

102511_crostiniLast week, George Mahe of St. Louis Magazine, reported that Crostini, the Italian eatery that opened just weeks ago in The Grove, showed signs of having shuttered. The telephone for Crostini has been disconnected, but this morning, The Scoop was able to contact owner Eric Winbigler, who confirmed that the restaurant has closed for good.

Winbigler cited financial issues and clientele as reasons for the closure. “We did not produce what I needed [Crostini] to produce to stay alive,” he explained. “People weren’t coming in. Was it the location? Economy? I don’t know. … It was a business decision to close it down now because I didn’t want to dig a hole too deep to get out of.” Winbigler also noted that the “wrong type of crowd” was patronizing the restaurant on Friday night. “We wanted to be a place for families to come,” he explained. Instead, customers were “loud and obnoxious.” Winbigler stated that he hopes to try his hand with another restaurant “at some point in time.”

The Scoop: Italian and Japanese food trucks hit the streets

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

102511_ZiasZia’s, the Italian restaurant located on The Hill, officially joined the food truck movement last Saturday when a spiffy Zia’s-on-wheels rolled into ArtFeast at Crestwood Court. Yesterday, the truck hit the weekday lunch circuit, serving up affordable Italian eats like cannelloni, portabello mushroom ravioli, t-ravs, a salsiccia sandwich and the Zia’s house salad. The weekly menu is posted on the Zia’s Facebook page.

In other news from the mobile food scene, it appears that Japanese cuisine will soon be available to local food truck fans. Eliot Harris, sushi chef at Miso on Meramec, will be leaving his post at the restaurant to open a to-be-named Japanese food truck, reported George Mahe of St. Louis Magazine. Whether that means sushi will join the tacos, meatballs and cupcakes in our local list of food truck fare has yet to be revealed.

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.”

Baked: Pumpkin-Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday, October 24th, 2011

102411_cookiesI still remember my first taste of pumpkin. It was my first real American Thanksgiving in Portland, Ore., with my stepfather’s family, and it was a classic pumpkin pie. Before that moment, I had only seen enormous pumpkins around, carved and sitting pretty on doorsteps. I had never been in a position to eat them, as my family simply didn’t (although we do eat many savory versions from the pumpkin family).

The whole meal was a delicious blur of turkey, cranberry sauce and the best stuffing of my life. And it ended with the most scrumptious pie. The pumpkin was sweet and silky smooth, without an overpowering taste.

This year I decided to buy some pumpkin purée to experiment with. I could have made a pumpkin pie but that would have been the easy way out (And truth be told, I’m a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to recreate the perfection I tasted those many years ago. ).

Thankfully, my first attempt turned out to be a success. I researched the flavors that best complement pumpkins and found that bourbon, butterscotch and maple are just a few of the many options. And so I decided to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch and maple extract. Although the recipe has a decent amount of pumpkin, the flavor was still a bit subtle, but no less delectable – nuanced with classic spices. The cookie itself is soft and cake-like, providing contrasting bites of sweet butterscotch and semi-sweet chocolate. The hint of maple provides a heavenly aroma and a classic sweetness.

I’m inclined to try this again with different variations … perhaps adding coconut, bourbon, or caramel?

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

12 to 15 cookies

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1½ Tbsp. pumpkin spice
4 oz. butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. maple extract
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
3 oz. butterscotch chips
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

• Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice in a bowl. Set aside.
• In a separate bowl, combine the butter and sugars.
• Add in the egg and the maple extract and stir until combined.
• Add in the pumpkin purée.
• Add the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.
• Once everything is combined, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Put a heaping tablespoon of dough on a baking sheet (sprayed or with parchment paper); keep some space between the mounds.
• Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, depending on size, until golden (they should press back very lightly when touched).
• Let cool before serving.

The Scoop: Parker’s Table may soon see second life

Friday, October 21st, 2011

102011_parkerstableAll signs point to the return of Parker’s Table. Jon Parker, proprietor of the wine and gourmet food shop in Clayton that closed in early 2009, plans to purchase the building at 7118 Oakland Ave., in Richmond Heights to open Parker’s Table at Oakland and Yale.

The sale of the building is currently under contract, and last night, Parker presented his plans to the City of Richmond Heights at a conditional use hearing. If all goes well, Parker hopes to open doors in time for the holiday shopping season.

Initially, only the front area of the 3,500-square-foot space will be open to the public, with other sections opening gradually upon renovation. The building, which dates all the way back to 1928, has served as a post office, wine shop, barber shop, florist and catering kitchen. Parker is working with Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects on the design of the historic space.

Parker is excited for what he deems the “next evolution” of Parker’s Table, noting that the space on Oakland Avenue is more than double the size of his former Clayton space and that the central location (one block south of heavily trafficked Clayton Road) along the Highway 40 corridor should be accessible for many customers.

Last November, Parker announced that he would be bringing Delmar Farm and Food, a multi-use farmers’ market, grocery and restaurant, to The Loop. That deal, however, fell apart some four months later.

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

Friday, October 21st, 2011

080610_twittericonAre you following us on Twitter? Come on, get Saucy @saucemagazine

theroyale
Mark your calendar: mid Jan release for Schlafly/Royale Collaboration Vanilla Milk Stout. More details will follow.

LHepburnEngert
Mashed potatoes should be just as common a breakfast food as hashbrowns #runnyyolkgravy

maeve_c
“Middle America is turned off by vegans.” *sigh* Sad, but true. Some #vegan bakeries hide the v-word: on.wsj.com/nC5WT4

daniellesmyname
First morning house sitting with two dogs and three cats… and no coffee. #halp

threefourteen
I seriously think I could drink Imo’s salad dressing straight from the bottle. Made a fried chicken salad from leftovers- Awesome.

madsquirrel20
Bacon Funnel Cakes with Nutella Cream goo.gl/fb/tBGN3

kannataylor
Just ate gooey butter cake for breakfast. Let the sugar rush begin.

DocOrlando70
Wish I’d made chili over the weekend because a chili and eggs burrito sounds good for breakfast on this dank and chilly morning. #muybueno

Shep133
It’s a ramen kind of night

Scotchguy
Finally made it to Williamsburg -W&M HC! Outlets, Cheese Shop, HC Parade, …

ironstef
Sad about the cards loss. But happy about the good beer and dude-convos I had all evening. Stl is gonna be okay, you guys. We rule.

Think you should be on this list? Follow us and let us know @saucemagazine

Drink This Weekend Edition: Where to rally this weekend

Friday, October 21st, 2011

101811_pinksquirrelAvid sports fans usually show their support by donning their team’s colors. With the Redbirds in the World Series, we figure we’ll run into a bunch of No. 5 white jersey wearers this weekend. But Cardinals Nation can do more than throw on champ gear while the Cards are on the road. Get a seat by the TV and sport your enthusiasm with a color-coordinated beverage.

If you’re tracking the infamous rally squirrel, your drink of choice this weekend should be a Pink Squirrel. At Al’s Restaurant, located downtown at 1200 N. First St., this drink will be served in its classic form, as a frozen cocktail that blends amaretto, Chambord and white crème de cacao with ice cream and ice for $12. (Order any food item at Al’s during the World Series and mention this article or the restaurant’s website, Facebook or Twitter post, and you’ll be served a complimentary Pink Rally Squirrel.)

A Pink Squirrel is also being featured at Blueberry Hill. But instead of preparing it as a frozen ice cream cocktail, The Loop restaurant serves a Pink Squirrel of cream, white crème de cocoa, grenadine and amaretto, shaken over ice and strained. For $5, you can afford to rally around that. Drink enough Pink Squirrels and we’re sure you’ll spot one at Rangers Ballpark.

Rather sip a nice glass of wine during the games? Forget what the weather calls for and just ask for the rosé at Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine. This weekend, the Chesterfield restaurant and wine shop is featuring a Tavel rosé, hailing from France’s Rhône Valley. Rosés being Tavel’s sole designation, you can trust this Cardinals-colored wine is going to be good. Nab a bottle for $17 or sip on a glass for just $6. Have a group who wants to sport Redbirds colors? Order the Veritas brandy-spiked sangria ($15/pitcher, $6/glass).

For a truly World Series drink lineup, head to the The Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton where a special cocktail menu has been created for this baseball showdown. With six mixed drinks on the list, each $12, you’ve got enough options to last well into extra innings. While Pujols is (hopefully) busy pounding balls out of the ballpark , you can pound a Carpenter’s Nail (Johnnie Walker Black with a hint of Drambuie and a twist of lemon), then settle into your seat with a Happy Flight – a trio of autumnal Schlafly brews. Need muchies? The Ritz has a special ballpark concessions menu just for Cardinals Nation.

Go Cards!

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