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Archive for December, 2011

Drink This Weekend Edition: A bubbly toast for the 99 percent

Friday, December 30th, 2011

122611_DTWE_champagneGood guess if you wagered that this writer would succumb to scribbling a New Year’s Eve post about the most obvious tipple as we bid a grand adieu to a woeful year on Wall Street. Aha, but did you know that Champagne was an economic indicator? As Adam Davidson recently penned in The New York Times Magazine, “The amount of French Champagne that Americans consume has predicted – with nearly 90 percent accuracy – the average American income one year later. Apparently, when we pop a cork, we know that good times are ahead.” Do you realize what this means? Your choice of Champagne on Dec. 31 will probably decide whether I’m up for a raise next year.

So here we go with a few picks for bubbly, not all French Champagne, because, well, a considerable chunk of the 99 percent can’t afford that anyway. Thus only NV (non-vintage wines) made the list. So whether you’re toasting a sayonara to the sorry stock market, a simple thanks that you have a job, or perhaps hopes for the 13 inches of rainfall needed to ensure a good 2012 crop in Missouri, think hard about what’s in that Champagne flute. At the very least, toast with something sparkling. You’ll be in the 99 percent – and maybe included in the next survey.

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut This toast-worthy wine is a classic. It’s dry, smooth, clean and crisp, with just a touch of sweetness. France’s oldest sparkling wine, aged a minimum of 12 months, won’t let you – or your wallet – down. $13. Lukas Liquor, 15921 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.227.4543

Gruet Blanc de Noirs David Stitt of Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine called this sparkler from Gruet Winery in New Mexico “not only a great value, but a really solid product.” It’s a blanc de noirs, meaning that there is pinot noir in it, which also lends the 2-year-aged wine a nice pink color. This Gruet is fruity with lots of raspberry flavor and a toasty aroma. $16. Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine, 1722 Clarkson Road, Chesterfield, 636.530.9505

Bastianich Flor Prosecco If you need to take an Italianate route, consider this Prosecco from Bastianich Winery, established in 1997 by renowned chef, cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich (who appeared in the most recent installment of the Sauce Celebrity Chef series) and her son, Joe Bastianich. This bottle is also a great choice if you want something soft and less effervescent than Champagne. Lastly, the fleur-de-lis on the label makes the bottle a must in a St. Louis-themed gift basket. $17. Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine, 1722 Clarkson Road, Chesterfield, 636.530.9505

Montsarra Cava Brut The result of a blend of three grape varieties – Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada – from the Penedes region of Catalonia, Spain. Blah. Blah. Blah. Who doesn’t like bubbles that seem to last forever? Who doesn’t like fruity, bright apple or a hint of Marcona almonds at the finish? It’s a gourmet bottle of bubbles for the budget-conscious. Uncork it and have a fiesta. $20. Friar Tuck, 9053 Watson Road, Crestwood, 314.918.9230

Roland Champion Blanc de Blancs Roland is a small grower located in the grand cru village of Chouilly. Roland’s non-vintage brut, made from 100 percent chardonnay (what makes it a blanc de blancs), is produced from free-run juice and aged for a minimum of 30 months (compared to the minimum aging period of 15 months.) This Champagne is, in a word, lovely. Two more: fresh, delicate. It’s a perfect aperitif that, if you want to match with a nosh or two, goes well with shellfish. $50. The Wine and Cheese Place, 7435 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.727.8788

Roland Champion Brut Rosé The bubbly choice for the rosé drinker. Red fruits, black currant, cinnamon, and “a nice, fresh cut apple and grapefruit flavor” says the distributor. Add stone fruits to those tasting notes, says me. The pretty salmon hue of this wine comes from the 15 percent of 4-year-aged French red wine added to the chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier blend, the primary grapes used in the production of Champagne. $50. The Wine and Cheese Place, 7435 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.727.8788

Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Billecart-Salmon is known for fashioning elegant Champagnes. This straw-yellow-colored, fully rounded cuvée (a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier from three different years), offers a rich bouquet of ripe apple and pears and some slowly rising bubbles that will mesmerize you. It’s an excellent value for a non-vintage Champagne. $55. West End Wines, 4906 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.361.9463

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

Friday, December 30th, 2011

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

MrHallas
Uggggghhh…. #holidayeatingsounds

StoneBrewingMO
Overheard: husband, sweety what would you like to drink? Wife: no, I don’t drink when I’m standing. #firstworldproblems

barbaricgulp
Breakfast in bed = Fritos & Pepsi Throwback.

RizzoTees
New cat names: Pancetta (Italian bacon) and Speck (German).

KBestOliver
I have glimpsed the apocalypse, and it is the Guy vs. Rachel Celebrity Cook-off.

@MoMediaChica
Could I feel any more polluted?! #wine #whine

@DeeRyan29
I am an acknowledged foodsnob, however I am also a #STL girl, and I am not ashamed to tell u I just ordered Imo’s for dinner #hellztotheyeah

@kritterbugg
In 2012, I will eat more string cheese. #ResolutionGenerator bit.ly/fULePa

@gregrannells
thanks @momofuku #david chang 4 turning a nite w/ my niece into a lucky peach sticker slappin good time in a KS grocery ow.ly/i/oAm4

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

Stocking Up on artisan cheeses to ring in the new year

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

122311_cheeseThe season of holiday parties is coming to an end, but there’s one quick appetizer that can satisfy your guests whether the weather is frightful or not: the cheese plate.

I got hooked on cheese plates in France, where I indulged in a platter of dairy delights at every opportunity (and gained 10 pounds). So as soon as I got back to The States, I was overjoyed to discover the myriad locations to purchase quality cheese in the St. Louis area. But even a cheese head could use a little guidance once in a while. So I turned to my go-to cheesemonger, Simon Lehrer of The Wine Merchant in Clayton. Here’s his rundown on building a palate-pleasing cheese plate for your festivity.

“You don’t want more than three cheeses for any plate,” advised Lehrer. “That’s plenty of different flavors for people to try. Any more and you’ll just get palate fatigue. Also, crackers are fine, but fresh bread is always the best foil for a good cheese.”

My basic formula is a three-cheese system of strong, mild and soft. For example, mix a Stilton bleu, some Bodensee Käse (a mild, hard cheese from Germany) and creamy Brillat Savarin with a fresh baguette. Lehrer also recommended pairing your cheese with fresh, seasonal fruit such as apples and pears for autumn and dates and figs for winter.

But because it’s almost New Year’s Eve, I had to inquire about the best cheese plate to close out 2011. (Some crave confetti; I crave cheese.) “You’ll be drinking Champagne, so you want some lean and acidic fresh goat cheese or some really rich and decadent triple crème,” Lehrer noted. “My favorites now are the Clochette (“little bell” in French) goat cheese, which is nice and bright with a mineral acidity, and the Rigald de Bourgogne, a triple crème wrapped in golden raisins and Mirabelle (a plum liqueur).”

Do your friends normally refuse to deviate from grilled cheese? Lehrer suggested opting for a crowd-pleaser like Saint Angel triple crème, which is milder and creamier than normal Brie and is even popular with the kids.

Run with more of an adventurous crowd? Try the truffle Brillat Savarin – a luxurious cheese wrapped in truffles with complex notes through and through. Truffles, cheese and a little bubbly? Not a bad way to bring in 2012.

— Photo by Carmen Troesser

By the Book: Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift’s Mahogany-Glazed Chicken Wings

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

122311_BytheBook_coverWelcome 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.

The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends is the second book for Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. The authors, who are the respective host and producer of public radio show The Splendid Weekend, have dedicated this book to the “two days a week when the pressure is off [and] time becomes your ally.”

For myself and my fiancé, the weekends mean indulging in trashy TV and, well, food. While weekdays are usually filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains and juicing, Saturday and Sunday signal pizza, brownies and beer. As such, I opted to make the Mahogany-Glazed Chicken Wings in hopes that I didn’t betray our weekend mantra. The intro to the recipe said kids “wolf down” these chicken wings, so I figured they’d be well received by my finicky meat-and-potatoes man.

When I held open the book to show him the recipe with a “Doesn’t this recipe look delicious?” he blinked a couple times and asked, “Wait, mahogany … that’s wood right? Does that taste good?”

122311_BytheBook1

After a quick trip to the supermarket for plum sauce and sherry, I got started on the prep. The first half of the recipe couldn’t have been easier: blend, rinse, pierce, bag. Now to wait 12 to 48 hours to let this wonderfully aromatic marinade work its magic.

The next day I had almost forgotten that I needed to work chicken wings into the day’s schedule, so I revisited the recipe to see how much this was going to cut into my day. The two hours of rather hand-on baking time made me cringe slightly, as suddenly I wasn’t in the mood to put in the effort. After foiling my half sheet and finding a suitable rack, I laid my little bathing beauties on the rack and luckily they fit perfectly with no overlap. The directions called for an hour and a half of roasting punctuated by regular turning and basting. I’ll be honest: This got really old really quickly. And when it came to the halfway point and it was time to pierce, I found myself taking my aggression out on the wings: I delicately pierced the first few, but by the last row, I was wielding the knife like a serial killer, hacking with reckless abandon. When it was time to jack up the heat, my cloud of annoyance started to dissipate, because in less than an hour, I’d be eating. Also, the house had begun to fill with the most amazing scents of garlic and Asian spices.

122311_BytheBook2

According to the cookbook, the wings would take 15 to 20 minutes at 450 to crisp. After 6 minutes, my wings had started to burn. After a quick (and frantic) flip, I cooked them another 4 minutes. They were definitely done. A note to anyone trying out this recipe: Keep an eye on your oven during this step. I suspect I basted a bit longer than I should have. The ladies say to stop basting a good 30 minutes before roasting time is over. Woops.

My browned beauties were finally done – a mere 20 hours after I had begun the process – and they looked delicious. They were tasty and juicy, though stickier than I would have liked (but this was probably my fault). The final verdict: This recipe was far more involved than I’d like for any chicken wing recipe, especially if I’m making them for kids. But if you have the time and energy, boy are they tasty.

122311_BytheBook3

Mahogany-Glazed Chicken Wings

4 to 6 Servings

½ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup Chinese plum sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup cider vinegar
6 large garlic cloves
3¼ to 4 lbs. chicken wings, rinsed and pierced in several places with a paring knife

• In a blender or food processor, purée the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, plum sauce, sherry, cider vinegar and garlic. Reserve ¼ cup of the marinade for basting the wings. Combine the remaining mixture with the chicken wings in large plastic bags and refrigerate for 12 to 48 hours.
• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large, shallow baking pan (a half-sheet pan is ideal) with foil. Set a large cake rack inside the pan. Arrange the wings on the rack, trying not to stack them so they can all caramelize evenly.
• Roast the chicken for 1¼ to 1½ hours, turning the wings often and basting them with the reserved marinade until the last 30 minutes of cooking. Halfway through the roasting, pierce each wing several times with a knife to release some of its fat and help it crisp. The wings are cooked when they are easily pierced with a knife. If in doubt, roast longer.
• Give the wings a final crisping by raising the heat to 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them so they are a rich red-brown on all sides. Pile the wings on a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: The wings reheat well in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Care to meet Ms. Kasper, herself? Join us on Friday, Feb. 24, as the host and producer of The Splendid Table returns to St. Louis to discuss her new cookbook as part of the Sauce Celebrity Chef Series. For more information and how you can nab tickets to this awesome event, click here.

For a chance to win a copy of The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends, tell us what your favorite weekend cooking project and why in the comments section below.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Karen Snodgrass whose recommendation for pairing The Civil Life’s Scottish Ale with Brussels sprouts has won her a free copy of The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. Karen, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew regarding your prize!

Meatless Mondays: Stewed Black Beans and Rice

Monday, December 26th, 2011

122611_BlackBeanWe know what you’re thinking – another vegetarian column, really? Just give us a minute. Meatless Mondays is a movement that’s building across the country, one built not around a hatred of meat or a stance against the way animals are treated but rather a love for vegetables – and the health benefits that come along with them. While the Meatless Monday concept hasn’t quite picked up in St. Louis yet, we’re here to show you just how easily it could. From meat-free recipes to make at home to dishes around town that let the veggies truly shine – welcome to Meatless Mondays, a new weekly online column.

On a cold winter night, there is nothing that I want more (well, aside from spring to come sooner) than to curl up with a warm bowl of chunky stewed black beans. This is a dish I recreated after falling in love with it at the Columbia Restaurant in Sarasota, Fla. While I originally made it based on memory, upon checking out the recipe on the restaurant’s website, I was pleased as punch to see that I was pretty darn close to the original. One difference: My rendition swaps out the green peppers for celery, making it a great seasonal winter supper.

This dish is easy on the wallet and the waistline. (At least I’m starting the year on the right foot.) It’s also a great meal to help transition those Meatloaf Monday-lovers over to the ways of Meatless Monday – they won’t miss the meat one bit. Some friends are even convinced there’s meat in the recipe thanks to the deep flavor the beans develop. (Shh, don’t tell.) The salty, smooth black beans combined with the soft rice and crunchy diced onions always leave me wanting more … which is why I recommend doubling the recipe so you can enjoy it for lunch throughout the week. Just one disclaimer: If you live with a hungry significant other like I do, I can’t promise there will be leftovers.

Stewed Black Beans and Rice
Courtesy of Emily Luten
2 Servings

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cumin
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup long-grain brown or basmati rice, uncooked
5 cups vegetable broth
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups dry black beans, soaked overnight

• Add the olive oil to a small pot over medium heat.
• Once the olive oil is warm but not smoking, add the celery to the pot.
• Add the cayenne pepper, cumin and a liberal dose of freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
• In a separate pot, boil 2 cups of water. Once boiling, add 1 cup of rice and stir. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Fluff with a fork when finished.
• In the pot with the celery, add the black beans and sauté for 2 minutes.
• Pour 1 cup of water over the beans, turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
• Add the vegetable stock and stir to combine.
• Boil uncovered until the mixture becomes thick and reduces by more than half, about 1 hour.
• Serve the beans over the rice and garnish with the diced onion.

Just Five: Sweet-Spiced Lamb Chops

Monday, December 26th, 2011

122211_Just5This is my homage to a Moroccan dish that I’ve never actually had. To be honest, I’ve not had much in the way of Moroccan food, as there aren’t any local restaurants that specialize in this cuisine. So, being the industrious cook that I am, I decided to see what I could come up with on my own. While this was in the oven, I was immediately transported to Marrakesh or some equally exotic locale. The allspice, cinnamon and cumin are so aromatic. The heat from the pepper stirs the soul. This dish would be amazing served with preserved lemons, couscous or quinoa, chopped dates and almonds. Send your family on an easy trip to a foreign land for dinner tonight.

Sweet-Spiced Lamb Chops

4 Servings
Adapted by Dee Ryan from a recipe originally published in Cooking Light

2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
8 lamb chops
Vegetable oil

• Preheat the broiler.
• In a small bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients.
• Rub the lamb chops with a bit of oil and rub the spice mixture evenly over each chop.
• Place the lamb chops in a single layer on a broiler pan.
• Broil for about 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. (see note below)
• When the lamb is finished, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Note: If you prefer your lamb medium to medium-well, add about 1 minute to each side.

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

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

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

@OhMyFoodgasm
My office partner said he wants a bedazzled coffee mug for christmas. Hm.

@DaveN37
Hot chocolate when I got to the office was a good call. Walking to work in shorts, not so much. #Brisk #Refreshing

@ironstef
Realized last night that @AveryBrewingCo doesn’t have a Kim Jong Ale as part of its dictators series. Well?!

@sumpcoffee
Video: Buddy the elf discovers “world’s best cup of coffee.” Happy Holidays! tmblr.co/Zk7-GxDZ5UMV

@benofleisure
I’m eating at blood and sand I’m going to die of happiness!!!! lockerz.com/s/166683046

@kzieff
Been making Christmas candy since October hard to believe its all over but the shouting after tomorrow! Oh here comes valentines an Easter

@kguymon
Woke up to pug toenails on a wooden floor. Now my mom is making French toast. Should I move back home?

@sethteel
Any of the taco places on Cherokee serve breakfast tacos? I know you can get huevos rancheros at most, but I want tacos.

@mcharcuterie
My Dad has not stopped talking about the bourbon & pecan pie he had at Monarch. He might pass out when I show up with @cookingkid pies!

@threefourteen
Christmas is probably the only time of year you will find an apple under an evergreen tree.

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

Drink This Weekend Edition: Last-minute gifts for the spirit-swilling sect

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

122111_flask_DTWKHanukkah is in full swing and Christmas is less than three days away. If you still need a gift for the boozer in your life, we’ve come to your aid. Last week, we suggested some value and high-dollar wines as holiday buys. This week, we offer last-minute picks to please the spirit-swilling sect. Get started here.

Cook Wise: Easy pie crust

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

122111_pieNothing says the holidays like a little pie. But amidst all the holiday shopping and ham roasting and stressing over Grandpa Joe’s satirical remarks, there’s a good chance you forgot about dear old dessert. Or maybe that wasn’t such an accident. This year, finally make that perfect pie crust, the kind that’s actually mixed, rolled out and baked at home. The kind any house guest would be impressed by. Not sure you can muster up the nerve to master this technique? Find out in our new column, Cook Wise. Click here for everything you need to know.

The Scoop: La Cantina headed to Webster Groves instead of The Loop

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

092211_amigosIn September, Amigos Cantina owner Robert Trevino informed The Scoop that he would be opening a Mexican restaurant in The Loop called La Cantina. Yesterday, however, Ian Froeb of the Riverfront Times reported signage at 35 North Gore Ave., in Webster Groves announcing the address as the future home of the Mexican eatery. The Scoop spoke today with Trevino, who confirmed the change in plans.

According to Trevino, he had been negotiating the terms of the lease for three and a half months with the owner of The Loop property (which will also, upon completion of construction, house Michael Del Pietro’s Italian eatery Tavolo V). “He would not budge on anything,” said Trevino, calling certain terms that the landlord wanted on the lease “not reasonable.” “We are lucky we found this building,” said Trevino of the space in Old Webster Groves. “The owner purchased it a couple weeks ago. He called me and I jumped at it.”

Trevino’s move puts La Cantina within eyesight of another Mexican restaurant, Milagro Modern Mexican. When asked whether he thought this would be good for both restaurants, Trevino responded in the affirmative. “I have a totally different concept. He is very modern Mexican; mine is the total opposite.” Trevino declined to elaborate but offered to discuss details regarding the La Cantina menu when the eatery neared its opening in mid-April. In a previous conversation with The Scoop, Trevino described the La Cantina concept as one that would highlight rural Mexican culinary traditions.

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