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Archive for April, 2015

Drink This Weekend Edition: Morning in Baja

Thursday, April 30th, 2015



Tequila is delicious in so much more than margaritas, but incorporating it into the home bar can be a challenge. I prefer reposado tequila, which is aged in oak barrels from two to 12 months. Avoid tequila labeled “gold,” which can have as little as 49 percent tequila and contain additives like caramel coloring.

This cocktail combines that reposado tequila with a soft, subtly sweet vermouth and a fruity ruby port to create a perfect patio drink with depth and a bright finish. You can easily turn this cocktail into a party punch by multiplying all the ingredients by eight and adding 16 ounces dry sparking wine.


Morning in Baja
1 serving

1 oz. reposado tequila
1 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
1 oz. ruby port
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 thin strips cucumber, for garnish

• Stack the tequila, vermouth, port, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake 15 to 20 seconds, then strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with cucumber strips.

Justin Cardwell is a member of USBG St. Louis and general manager at BC’s Kitchen.

The Scoop: Stubborn German Brewing to open next year in Waterloo, Illinois

Thursday, April 30th, 2015



West County recently received word that it would soon have a new brewery to call its own, and next year, Illinois residents will add one to its ranks, too. High school sweethearts Chris and Tammy Rahn are making the move from homebrewing to opening a brewery in their hometown of Waterloo, Illinois. Stubborn German Brewing looks to open doors at a soon-to-be-determined location in 2016. In the meantime, the Rahns can be found in Forest Park at St. Louis Microfest May 1 and 2, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

Chris Rahn said the couple has looked to open a place for the last two years and is now eyeing a location in downtown Waterloo where they will serve multiple styles of mostly German-influenced beers.

“I’m stubborn like that,” Rahn said. “German-style lagers are more difficult to do well, to make them as crisp and refreshing as they should be. Lagers take more finesse to do right, and that makes it more of a fun challenge.”

Having started with a single Mr. Beer homebrew kit 10 years ago, Rahn now plans to brew 93 gallons at a time, including a selection of four to six rotating seasonal brews, as well as year-round offerings like Stubbornfest (an Oktoberfest), Fountain Creek Kolsch, Old Ledger Lager, Blitzkrieg IPA and Schitzengiggles (a dark, dunkel-style lager).

The Scoop: Standard Brewing Co. to come to Maryland Heights in August

Thursday, April 30th, 2015



Craft beer is coming to West County this August. As Jeff Harlan and Jeff Jones of J2 Brewing plan to open Standard Brewing Co. in the old Fudruckers space at 12322 Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

“We want to make Maryland Heights a mecca for craft beer in West County,” said Harlan. “There is potential for a serious nightlife scene here.”

The ample space in the former burger chain will allow at least 150 thirsty drinkers inside and 40 outside to sample Standard’s offerings, which will start with an IPA, Hefeweizen, blond ale and a stout. Future offerings will include an Oktoberfest and an English brown ale. Other local craft brews will be available on tap, as well as a selection from area micro-distillers and Missouri wineries.

Regardless of the brew, Harlan said he aims to set the standard for each beer. “If you’re drinking our IPA, it is a good, solid IPA,” he said. “Our stout will hit the mark in the stout class of beer.”

The details of the restaurant side are in the works, but Harlan is looking to create a fresh take on artisanal pizza and salad with every dish complementing the beer.

First Look: Kingside Diner

Thursday, April 30th, 2015



Kingside Diner, a new restaurant from Herbie’s Vintage ’72 owner Aaron Teitelbaum, is now open in the Central West End. Located in the former Lester’s space at 4651 Maryland Ave., adjacent to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, Kingside serves breakfast all day, plus burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, salads and blue-plate specials.

Kingside looks to offer a modern take on classic diner fare, and most items ring up around $10. Many ingredients are made in-house, and dishes sport creative twists, such as French toast turned into a waffle or the massive Thanksgiving All Year sandwich, which piles quintessential Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixin’s between slices of bread. Such ideas are the work of Chris Vomund, promoted this week to executive chef for both Kingside and Herbie’s. (Vomund was executive chef at the now defunct The Nest, and briefly worked at Eleven Eleven Mississippi before joining Teitelbaum at Herbie’s.)

Beverage offerings include coffee and espresso-based drinks featuring Wild Horse Creek coffee, a specialty brand from local roaster Ronnoco. Once the restaurant’s liquor license is approved, it will also offer a full bar, and late May will see the launch of a dessert menu with a full range of shakes and floats.

The decor at Kingside stays true to the diner’s name with photos of chess matches adorning the walls of the 90-seat main dining area. Vintage travel chess sets sit on display near a stairwell that leads to a second floor patio with an additional 30 seats. Kingside has also partnered with its neighbor, the St. Louis Chess Club, which will offer occasional classes in one of the restaurant private dining rooms.

Here’s a first look at what to expect when you eat at Kingside Diner.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Baked: Chocolate Cherry Cake

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015



I made this simple cake for a friend who loves chocolate-covered cherries. Though it’s never been my favorite combination, they complement each other well, and this cake tempers the sweetness with strong brewed coffee and tart buttermilk. Frozen cherries add a nice tang to the chocolate, too. This rich cake is ideal paired with a post-dinner glass of red wine and great conversation. Enjoy and happy baking!


Chocolate Cherry Cake
Adapted from Lady and Pups
Makes 1 9-inch cake

1 cup sugar
¾ cup strong brewed coffee
¾ cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cup flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. plus a pinch kosher salt, divided
8 oz. frozen, pitted cherries, thawed and roughly chopped
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
Chocolate shavings or sprinkles, for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan or cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the canola oil, coffee, buttermilk, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and ¾ teaspoon salt until just combined, then fold in the cherries. Pour the batter into the pie pan.
• Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely.
• Meanwhile, prepare the ganache by bringing the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chocolate chips and the remaining pinch of salt. Remove from heat, cover and let rest 2 minutes. Whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Let cool completely.
• Turn the cake out of the pan and onto a serving platter. Drizzle with the cool ganache and garnish with chocolate shavings or sprinkles before serving.

The Scoop: Rollin Around pops up at St. Louis events with egg roll stand

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015




Often served as a side at carryout Chinese restaurants, egg rolls take center stage at Rollin Around, a new food stand that specializes in egg rolls with fillings like Philly cheesesteak, Buffalo chicken and pizza.

Co-owners Robert and Megan Hickman said their idea for the unconventional fillings came when they wanted to try a new, yet kid-friendly meal at home. “We wanted to do something different for dinner, but we have kids, so we still wanted it to not be messy,” said Robert Hickman. “We wanted to make sure that our kids could walk around the house or watch a movie while eating these.”

The kitchen experiment started at their dinner table, but quickly moved to Hickman’s workplace, then family parties and launched as a business this April. Hickman, who attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis, has previously worked at The Stadium at Lumiere Casino (now Ozzie’s Sports Bar & Grill), Frank & Helen’s in University City and Two Shamrocks in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Currently, the Hickmans have 20 different egg rolls on their menu with fillings ranging from meatballs to teriyaki to chicken cordon bleu. Currently Rollin Around fries egg rolls to order at St. Louis-area events, and customers can also order frozen egg rolls delivered to their homes. The Hickmans are currently fundraising to purchase a food truck. “We’re catered to the family environment, and we want to be the most family-friendly food truck you can find,” he said.



The Scoop: Peculiar Penguin serves up NOLA-inspired fare, baked goods in Tower Grove South

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015



A restaurant serving up New Orleans-inspired fare with a decidedly non-NOLA name has opened shop in Tower Grove South: Peculiar Penguin opened doors April 17. The 700-square-foot space is located at 4005 Utah St., as reported by Feast Magazine.

Tower Grove residents and co-owners Michael Catalanotto and Tess Baklor took over the kitchen when the owners of next-door AM Trading Co. announced they were closing their adjacent bakery, Annie Moons. “I was a customer at Annie Moons on more than a few occasions and when I found out they were closing their kitchen, I decided right then that it wasn’t really going to close,” Catalanotto said. “I wanted to take over.”

Peculiar Penguin is his first experience running a restaurant, but he has worked in the kitchens of The Dam, South City Diner and Café Eau at The Chase Park Plaza. The menu is a nod to Catalanotto’s roots with Southern Louisiana dishes like slow-cooked red beans and rice, andouille sausage and cornmeal-breaded catfish. Plenty of a la carte options are available; look for dishes like fried green tomatoes, cornbread, pecan-crusted okra and baked macaroni and cheese. “We’re trying to keep everything below $10,” he said.

The space’s baking history gets a nod, too. A rotating selection of cakes, breads, cookies and scones changes daily. Beverage options are on the healthy side, including selections from The London Tea Room, Confluence kombucha and fresh ground Chauvin Coffee. In true New Orleans fashion, Catalanotto hopes to offer crawfish boils on the 20-seat patio. Another 24 seats are available inside Peculiar Penguin.

And just how did the restaurant get such a peculiar moniker? It’s fairly simple. Catalanotto said Baklor already owned the website peculiarpenguin.com, currently under construction. Peculiar Penguin is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Just Five: Pork Tenderloin with Date Relish

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015



This dish is the perfect date night dinner. (See what I did there?) Sweet, toothsome dates pair wonderfully with fresh orange juice and seared pork. Toasted walnuts add a finishing crunch, though hazelnuts would also work here. Don’t skip the fresh herbs, either. If you are a card-carrying member of ICCCC (I Cannot Consume Cilantro Club), parsley makes a fine substitute. One final note: Do not use pre-cut dates, which are often coated in extra sugar that makes the dish far too sweet.

Pork Tenderloin with Date Relish
3 to 4 servings

¼ cup walnuts
1 1½-lb. pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
¾ cup diced pitted dates*
¼ cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
¼ cup cilantro or parsley

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts 2 to 3 minutes, tossing frequently, until aromatic. Remove from heat and let cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside.
• Season the pork tenderloin all over with salt and pepper.
• In a large ovenproof skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the pork 1 to 2 minutes per side, until evenly browned all over. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast 12 to 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Let the meat rest on a cutting board and loosely tent with foil.
• Pour the pan drippings into a small bowl. Add the dates, orange juice, cilantro and toasted walnuts and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Slice the pork tenderloin and place on a serving dish. Spoon the date relish over the top and serve.

* Do not use pre-cut dates, which are often coated in extra sugar.

Meatless Monday: Fruit and Gorgonzola Flatbread

Monday, April 27th, 2015



Make fruit the star of the show tonight with a flatbread topped with pears, dried cherries and creamy Gorgonzola. An Anjou pear and dried cherries are soaked in a mixture of white balsamic and agave, then scattered over homemade flatbread dough (No time? Pick up your favorite pizza dough at the grocery and save an hour.) Add pungent Gorgonzola and grill the flatbread over open flame for a smoky base. Serve as a vegetarian starter or slice like a pizza for a delicious Meatless Monday main. Get the recipe here.

-photo by Kristi Schiffman

The Scoop: Sugarfire to open fifth location in Valley Park

Monday, April 27th, 2015




Expanding like wild fire, Sugarfire Smoke House will open its fifth location at 932 Meramec Station Road in Valley Park in early summer. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, this location will replace the former Dickey’s BBQ Pit at the intersection of Interstate 44 and Highway 141.

“This location will actually open before the downtown location,” said Mike Johnson, co-owner and chef of Sugarfire Smoke House. “It’s appealing because it is so close to a major highway.”

The Valley Park restaurant is the second Sugarfire to be owned by a franchisee, Matt Martin. The first franchised location opened in O’Fallon in 2014, and Johnson said the arrangement is working out well.

“The franchisee has great business sense,” he said. “We train the chefs, and he’s got the numbers on lockdown. It’s a great match.”

The Valley Park location will feature the same menu and cafeteria-style service as the other locations and will seat 150 diners inside and 35 outside.



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