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Archive for October, 2015

The Scoop: Pastry chef Stephan Schubert wins international competition

Friday, October 30th, 2015

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The pressure to perform on an international stage is intense. Despite a series of travel challenges, River City’s executive pastry chef, Stephan Schubert won the America’s Division of the American Culinary Federation’s Global Chef Challenge. After being awarded ACF’s Pastry Chef of the Year last year, Schubert competed in the regional competition in Quito, Ecuador on Oct. 25 and was awarded top prize over chefs from Columbia, Peru and Argentina.

The win is all the more impressive given that, despite shipping all of his equipment to Ecuador two weeks in advance, Schubert arrived to word that his supplies were stuck in customs, and his hotel room had been given away.

“I almost cried,” said Schubert. “But then I thought that I didn’t come all this way to lose, so I had two days to get a plan B. I put my innovative skills to work.”

Unlike the United States, procuring equipment in Ecuador is not as simple as running to a big box retail store. Schubert sourced from mom-and-pop stores in the streets of Quito and managed to get enough of what he needed to compete.

In the end, Schubert competed alone for six hours, creating four desserts and a 26-inch tall chocolate showpiece reflecting the contest’s theme: Tales and Legends of Greece. Schubert’s showpiece was a modern take on the warrior who dispatched the monster Medusa. Only 25 percent of the sculpture could be molded, with the remainder hand crafted. “I worked in Greece and love the culture,” said Schubert.

The next step in the ACF is the world competition in Thessaloniki, Greece in September 2016. “I know more people in Europe, should there be shipping trouble again,” said Schubert. “But I may bring things carry-on, too.”

As for this year, Schubert said he is pleased to be able to bring recognition both to River City and hopes this win will encourage his staff to keep learning.

The Scoop: STL BLT truck to roll in December

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

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Winter may be coming, but that won’t stop die-hard food truck fans. If house-made sausages aren’t your thing, check out STL BLT, which aims to fire up the griddle Dec. 1, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The truck will offer the variations on the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, from traditional to seasonal and regional riffs on the classic.

Owner Aaron Wren brought in professional help in the kitchen. Michael Allen is a five-year restaurant vet and responsible for menu development. Look for a recognizable BLT on sourdough with mayo as well as more creative offerings like a Southern BLT with fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese. “Anything you can imagine,” said Wren. “It really takes on a life of its own.”

The truck will use bread from local bakeries and will serve Mississippi Mud coffee as temps drop. A grand opening is in the works with updates found on the truck’s Twitter page @STLBLTs.

 

The Scoop: California Do-Nut sees second life on South Jefferson

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

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Long-shuttered California Do-Nut Co. at 2924 South Jefferson Ave., will re-open under the same name in January 2016 with first-time restaurant owner Felinna Love manning the fryer.

Working with city officials, a business coach and with the support of family and friends, Love acquired the storefront and has been testing recipes at markets around the city, including St. Louis Swap Meet. Although she’s never owned a brick-and-mortar business, she has spent the last year volunteering in and working with the lead baker in another doughnut shop. “This is meant to be,” said Love. “Things literally fell into place.”

Love’s classic yeast doughnuts will see 20 flavors on rotation, including seasonal specialties. Of the flavors she’s tested, she said the lavender, peanut butter-and-jelly and apple cider-glazed varieties have been popular. Love plans to have a Champagne-frosted confection at her ribbon-cutting party and a series of flavors honoring the people who helped her open the shop.

California Do-nut will be open Wednesday through Monday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. with occasional evening hours.

 

 

Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try right now

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

It’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Holly Fann offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10 and some change? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.

 

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1. The first Bionic Apples of the season have been dipped, rolled and wrapped up at the three Merb’s Candies locations. Merb’s has made its Bionic apples the same way since the early 1970s using tart Granny Smith apples dipped by hand in Merb’s caramel and then rolled in pecans. Pick up one for $6 at any Merb’s locations and select grocery stores.

2. Yes, you can dine on a dime at one of the most anticipated restaurants that opened this year. A number of wines by the glass, beer, cocktails at Reeds American Table in Maplewood are available for less than $10, but don’t overlook the small plates, either. My pick: the $5 crisp shoestring french fries served with intensely flavorful aioli.

 

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3. Grab a fast, satisfying lunch bite at Edibles & Essentials, where chef-owner Matt Borchardt offers $10 Vietnamese-inspired bahn mi tacos. Corn tortillas are generously filled with spice-cured pork belly slow-cooked in its own fat. Hoisin mayo gilds the lily and pickled slaw adds brightness and balance.

4. Marcoot Jersey Creamery takes a year to develop its Cave-Aged Heritage cheese, a complex fruity sharp flavor similar to Gruyere. Ideal for cool-weather comfort food favorites like grilled cheese, fondue and French onion soup, this wonderfully gooey cheese is available at farmers markets and local grocery stores where a 4-ounce chunk goes for $5.

 

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5. The California Do-Nut Co.’s Felinna Love has big plans to open a brick-and-mortar doughnut shop on South Jefferson Avenue, but until then, snag one of her apple cider-glazed donuts or vanilla-glazed for a $1 each or $12 for a dozen at the St. Louis Swap Meet this Sunday, Nov. 1.

6. Milque Toast Bar knows no bonfire is complete without rich, decadent grown-up s’mores. Get the good stuff when you grab one of the bitty shop’s s’more kits, featuring rorating flavors from Kakao like Mexican chocolate, dark chocolate-coffee or white chocolate-coffee. Each take-home kit costs $6 and makes two generous s’mores.

 

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7. Pumpkin lovers go a little crazy at Pint Size Bakery when the Drunken Punkin Cupcakes hit the bakery case. Fresh baked pumpkin cupcakes are covered in a velvety buttercream frosting flavored with RumChata. The combination of tender, fragrant cake and subtly-sweet cinnamon liqueur sells for $3 each, an affordable fix for any pumpkin enthusiast. Look for them through the end of the year.

8. When the highly-anticipated Ikea opened to much fanfare last month, die-hard devotees discovered there was no need to step foot outside this utopia of Swedish design for sustenance. With $10, you can fuel yourself with three complete meals starting with a breakfast of eggs, turkey sausage and potatoes ($1) and organic penne with red sauce for lunch ($2). With leftover $7, splurge on the most expensive menu item, a white tablecloth-worthy dinner of wild-caught hot smoked salmon served on a bed of red beans, haricot verts and yellow beets served with a dill cream sauce.

 

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9. Watching The Libertine’s beverage director and mad scientist Ben Bauer playfully create a cocktail is nothing short of entertainment. To prepare the Robin’s Nest Reverie offered on the “imagined” portion of the cocktail menu, Bauer cooks fresh pineapple in duck fat, then releases its juice into cachaça. Mixed with Big O ginger liqueur and lime juice, this silky-smooth combination blends citrusy, spicy and savory flavors in one duck fat-washed glass for $10.

10. Grab a sweater a cozy up outside 4 Hands Brewing for free movies Monday nights through November starting at 7 p.m. Grab a pint (around $5 each) inside or snag one from its outdoor container bar, then pop open a lawn chair and catch a screening under the stars. This Monday, Nov. 2 start with Fight Club, and other films include The Sand Lot (Nov. 9), National Lampoon’s Vacation (Nov. 16) and The Big Lebowski (Nov. 23).

 

Holly Fann is a longtime food writer who currently blogs at GastrononicSTL.

-photos by Holly Fann  

By the Book: “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by Claire Ptak

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

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Before learning who the author Claire Ptak was, or noticing that the forward was written by the famous Alice Waters, I chose The Violet Bakery Cookbook because it is beautiful. Its bright, colorful photos of the entire baking process – from piles of fresh fruit to crumb-ridden, half-cleared tables – made me want to get in a (Kinfolk-styled) kitchen and bake (wearing a very expensive apron). Based on the recipes used in Ptak’s London bakery, the book offers savory and sweet options for any meal. Most will probably call your name while flipping through the book, but don’t let the apparently effortless rosewater madelines tumbling out of their charmingly worn molds fool you. These recipes are complicated, written by a professional who doesn’t need to wash her own dishes.

I chose to bake the olive oil sweet wine cake because it was sadly too late for many of the fresh summer fruit options, but it seemed too soon for molasses recipes. It also sounded simple and more approachable than say, apricot kernel upside-down cake. When I read how many components I’d have to whip separately, I felt less affection for Ptak and her wild blackberry-picking jaunts in the English countryside. “All our lemons at Violet come from the Amalfi coast of Italy.” I’m so happy for you, Ptak.

But once I accepted that I’d be reducing the wine, separating the eggs and folding things into other things, cake-baking became more enjoyable. Though some steps seemed entirely unnecessary (like measuring ½ cup sugar into two separate bowls only to dump them into other bowls immediately), as a whole, every painstaking detail showed itself in the complex sweetness and silky crumb of this delightful cake. It can be eaten for breakfast, an afternoon snack or an evening dessert. It can stand on its own, be accompanied by the berries and whipped cream Ptak recommends, or I’m planning on making a chocolate sauce for my next go-round. Yes, I will make this cake again, and you should too. Put on some music, cancel your plans, and enjoy the process.

The Rundown
Skill level: Intermediate. The recipes are complicated, but the clear instructions should get most bakers through without a hitch.
This book is for: People who value taking the time to do things right as much as getting a final product, and/or those willing to do the hard work necessary for the best final product.
Other recipes to try: Wild blackberry crumble tart and apricot kernel upside-down cake
The verdict: This book beats Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook soundly. The crumb cake had great texture, but suffered from bad cook time directions and couldn’t touch the flavor of Ptak’s cake.

 

 

 

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Olive Oil Sweet Wine Cake
Makes one 23-cm (9 inch) cake, which serves 8 to 10

150g (2/3 cup) sweet white wine, such as Moscato d’Asti or Sauternes
1 tablespoon honey
zest of 1 small orange
50g (3 tablespoons) vegetable oil
150g (2/3 cup) mild olive oil
200g (1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, separated
200g (1 cup) sugar
oil, for greasing the pan
whipped cream, for serving
berries, for serving

• Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C/340 degrees F (150 degrees C/300 degrees F convection). Brush a deep 23-centimeter (9-inch) cake pan with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
• In a small heavy-bottomed pan, reduce the wine over medium heat by two-thirds until you have 50 grams (¼ cup). You can roughly eyeball this, but do weigh it before you add it to the cake mixture. Take off the heat and then add the honey and orange zest. Set aside to cool.
• Measure out the two oils into a jug and set aside. Measure the flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and whisk together, then set aside.
• Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Take two more bowls and measure out 100 grams (½ cup) sugar into each bowl. Add the sugar from one bowl to the yolks and whisk together immediately or it will become grainy. Use a stand mixer on high speed, if you have one, so that you can get the yolks pale and fluffy and forming ribbons. Lower the speed to medium and continue whisking as you slowly pour in the oils, as if forming a mayonnaise. Once all the oil is incorporated, turn up the speed for a minute or so. Gradually whisk in the reduced wine mixture.
• Sift the flour mixture over the oil mixture and gently fold it together. Now in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining 100 grams (½ cup) sugar until they form soft peaks. Fold them gently into the yolk mixture and pour into your prepared cake pan. Smooth the top with an icing spatula or rubber spatula and bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until set and springy and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
• Allow the cake to cool completely before turning it out of the pan. Serve with lightly whipped cream and berries. This cake is also delicious the following day.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

The Scoop: Gourmet sausage food truck to hit the streets

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

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St. Louis is a beer town, and in November, Frankly Sausages, a gourmet sausage truck, will hit the town offering a classic food pairing with the Lou’s favorite beverage. Cawthon will make all sausages served on the truck, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Bill Cawthon and his wife, Jamie Cawthon, spent four years in Los Angeles before returning to their hometown in December 2013. Bill Cawthon served as sous chef and chef de cuisine at Pastaria and is currently the chef de cuisine at Cardwell’s on the Plaza.

Frankly Sausages will be Cawthon’s first solo venture. “I’m looking forward to being out on my own,” he said. “I’m glad I get to work with Jamie, and a food truck will give me more time with the family.”

As for the menu, Cawthon plans to start with classics: beer brats and Italian sausages and sides of hand-cut fries. Eventually he hopes to branch out into lesser-used proteins like alligator and additional sides. Currently, the Cawthons are looking for local bread sources and plan to serve their sausages in Companion rolls. “It’s the right time for us,” said Jamie Cawthon. “A truck makes sense for us right now. We can be nimble and keep it simple.”

The Scoop: Brickyard Tavern opens in former Absoluti Goosed space

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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Two weeks after the curtain fell on Absolutli Goosed, it rose again on Brickyard Tavern. Co-owners Robin Schubert, Staci Stift and Joe Thele opened the neighborhood bar and restaurant at 3196 S. Grand Blvd., on Oct. 18; a grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 6.

“We contemplated this for a while,” Schubert said. “Absolutli Goosed had a great 13-year run. We felt like something a little more laid-back would be a nice change for everyone and felt a little more like home to us.”

Brickyard Tavern’s kitchen has former Pittsburgh resident and restaurant veteran John Homer at its helm. His menu includes four starters, two sliders, wings, sandwiches, wraps and flatbreads, including two veggie-only options.

While Absolutli Goosed was a destination bar, Schubert said he hopes Brickyard Tavern will be more “neighborhood-forward, a place to walk up, grab a bite to eat and walk home.”

Beer now dominates the bar program and includes more than 30 bottles, cans and tap choices, including local brews like Schlafly. Brickyard Tavern is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

 

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 10 a.m. Oct. 29 to correctly reflect Brickyard Tavern’s hours. 

 

 

The Scoop: Black Bear Bakery to suspend storefront operations

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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Cherokee Street staple Black Bear Bakery announced yesterday, Oct. 27, that it will suspend its storefront operation, effective Nov. 1. The cooperative bakery has leased its current space at 2639 Cherokee Street for about 10 years. Loaf lovers need not fret; the bakery will continue production in a kitchen incubator space in the same neighborhood until another storefront can be located.

“We’ll be looking for something that will serve the purpose of a cafe space, bakery, reading room and grocery,” said co-op member Bryan Dennert. “You’re already here getting your bread. You might as well get other things cheaper, too.”

The vision for the new grocery includes selling local, natural foods, as well as ingredients used in Black Bear’s current recipes.

Black Bear Bakery bread will still be available at farmers markets and restaurants while the co-op members look for a new space. For a full list of availability, see the cooperative’s Facebook page.

 

 

The Scoop: MOD Pizza to enter St. Louis pizza scene

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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Expanding like pizza dough, Seattle-based pizza company MOD Pizza plans to open a total of five store in the St. Louis area next year. Ellisville, Kirkwood, St. Charles, Wentzville and Cottleville residents will all have a new place to get their pizza fix when the fast-casual DIY pizza concept opens in 2016.

Founded by husband-wife team Scott and Ally Svenson, MOD Pizza had 31 stores in January 2015 and will close the year with 98 locations across the country.

“You get to custom-make your own pizza or order one of our classic pizzas,” said Scott Svenson. “It’s an 11-inch, thin-crust pizza with unlimited toppings for one price. From start to finish, the process takes about seven to eight minutes.”

Choose from red, white or barbecue sauces, a bevy of veggies including artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula, meats ranging from pepperoni to chorizo and finishing sauces like Buffalo or balsamic-fig glaze. Then watch it all bake up in a quick three to four minutes in the oven.

Typical locations seat between 60 and 80 diners and are open from 10:30 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m.

 

Editor’s Note: This Scoop was updated at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 2 to correct Scott Svenson’s name.

 

Just Five: Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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This simple vegetarian recipe is a great dish to serve before sending your goblins out to trick-or-treat, but it’s also sophisticated enough to serve as a starter for a grown-up Halloween party. Roasting the carrots brings out their natural sugars, the ginger adds just a hint of sweet pepperiness, and the coconut milk adds a silky texture and just a hint of the tropics. Start your evening in the carrot patch, and you’ll feel less guilty unwrapping those fun-size Snickers for dessert.

 
Roasted Carrot-Ginger Soup
4 to 6 servings

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
½ cup full-fat coconut milk

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a large bowl, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread them a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until they start to brown.
• Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 8 minutes, until translucent. Add the ginger and cook 1 minute, then add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
• Add the roasted carrots to the pot, cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Use an immersion blender or work in batches with a regular blender to carefully puree the soup until smooth. Add more stock to thin to reach desired consistency.
• Return the soup to the pot over low heat and stir in the coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

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