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Feb 23, 2018
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Archive for November, 2015

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Acorn Squash

Monday, November 30th, 2015



Break out of the butternut rut and shake up your squash game. This fall, we’re all about acorn squash with its sweet flesh and delicate, edible skin. Take any odds and ends leftover from your Thanksgiving feast (those last few celery stalks, a spare onion or two, a handful of walnuts) and add bread crumbs and mushrooms. Then stuff the pre-baked squash and bake until piping hot. Click here for the recipe.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Cooking the Classics: Caesar Salad

Monday, November 30th, 2015



Few salads are more iconic than Caesar. We turned to chef Kier Puckett at Mike Shannon’s Steaks & Seafood for his take on this steakhouse classic. Step one: Put down that bottled dressing. This umami-packed DIY version uses raw egg yolks, white anchovy fillets, roasted garlic and cold olive oil – Puckett’s secret to a thick, rich dressing. Step two: Give the emperor of salads a proper throne. Add the dressing to a nonreactive wooden or glass serving bowl (We like Narcise natural wood salad bowls.), then toss with crisp romaine. Hail, Caesar!

Caesar Salad
Courtesy of Mike Shannon’s Steaks & Seafood’s Kier Puckett
4 servings

2 to 4 slices grilled baguette, plus more for serving
4 white anchovy fillets,* coarsely chopped
3 roasted garlic cloves
2 egg yolks
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Dash Worcestershire sauce
½ cup cold olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the baguette slices to create about cup breadcrumbs. Add the anchovy fillets, garlic, egg yolks, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice, mustard and Worcestershire and puree until well blended. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing into a serving bowl. Add the romaine and toss to coat. Serve with grilled baguette slices.

*Available at Straub’s in Clayton

-photo by Greg Rannells

First Look: Yo! Salsa in Wentzville

Saturday, November 28th, 2015



Fans of Yo! Salsa food truck won’t have to stand shivering in a line at the curb this winter. The 3-year-old mobile eatery settled down and quietly opened a brick-and-mortar at 2 W. Pearce Blvd., in Wentzville at the end of October. Wanting to distinguish Yo! Salsa from traditional Mexican establishments, co-owner John Lutgen’s menu features 10 different tacos that come two per order. Four appetizers and five entrees round out the choices. The house margarita uses top-shelf ingredients including Sauza tequila and a Grand Marnier float, but the taquiera also offers bottled beer and two reds and two whites.

The newly renovated restaurant can accommodate 45 diners in the main dining room with room for another 24 on the soon-to-be-enclosed patio with heaters and will soon feature a bar. Taco Tuesdays and a happy hour are among the current special events at the brick-and-mortar.

The four-wheeled kitchen will still be out and about (mainly through pre-booked lunch appointments) in St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Yo! Salsa is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Here’s what to expect when you step inside:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

By the Book: “Cairo Kitchen” by Suzanne Zeidy

Friday, November 27th, 2015



Being a sucker for beautiful food photography, there were at least six dishes in each of the nine chapters in Suzanne Zeidy’s Cairo Kitchen that I wanted to make for this final round of the Middle Eastern cookbook battle. I had to narrow it down. I considered that in the next few weeks there will be many potluck dinners and parties to which I will need to bring a side dish. With an eye toward keeping it somewhat light and healthy, I wisely settled on the Honey-Spiced Carrot Salad.

The recipe came together in a snap and only required about 15 minutes in front of the stove to boil water and blanch carrots. The rest of the ingredients were easy to procure, and I had most of the required spices and dressing ingredients in my pantry already.

The end result was a bright salad with a touch of warm spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg. although the texture may have been less grainy had it been have whisked together first instead of dressing the carrots with individual ingredients then mixing. Lemon juice provided an acidic balance to the honey and olive oil, while the carrots and raisins kept the salad pleasant but not overly sweet. Heads up to anyone inviting me for dinner: I’m bringing this salad.

Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate. The directions are thorough and easy to follow.
This book is for: Anyone wanting to feast on beautiful pictures and try beautiful food. The recipes vary from fried street food to hefty stews to sunny salads.
Other recipes to try: Oven-roasted Vegetables, Almond Semolina Cake
The Verdict: While the Honey-Spiced Carrot Salad came together well, it was not as complete and cohesive as last week’s eggplant. For this By the Book battle, Zahav takes top prize.




Honey-Spiced Carrot Salad
4 to 6 servings

500 g. carrots, peeled and sliced
50 g. raisins
2 Tbsp. walnuts, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh coriander, plus extra leaves to garnish
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
2 Tbsp. honey
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. olive oil

• Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and prepare a large bowl of iced water. Blanch the carrots in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and place in the iced water to stop the cooking and retain the bright color.
• Meanwhile, soak the raisins in lukewarm water for 15 minutes until softened, then drain.
• In a large bowl, mix together carrot, raisins, walnuts, the chopped coriander and dill.
• Season with the cinnamon, allspice, honey, lemon, olive oil and salt, to taste. Toss all together and garnish with fresh coriander.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Devil in a Blue Dress at Frazer’s

Friday, November 27th, 2015


{From left, Vanity and Devil in the Blue Dress}


Spend Saturday shopping small on Cherokee Street, then take some of that hard-earned holiday green over to Frazer’s Restaurant and Lounge in Benton Park, where bartender Terry Oliver has rolled out the winter cocktail menu. While the Negroni-esq Vanity entertains with a mirror “garnish,” we go for the Devil in a Blue Dress.

Starring Four Roses bourbon infused in-house with blueberries, this sipper starts with spice from cinnamon syrup, then turns slightly floral and sweet from the blueberry bourbon and lavender. Vanilla liqueur enhances the naturally smooth notes in the Four Roses, and barrel-aged bitters and lemon juice lend depth and a dry finish. Poured over hand-chunked ice, this layered cocktail is the perfect way to celebrate and relax after a long day of buying local.



Cooking the Classics: Old-Fashioned

Thursday, November 26th, 2015



A classic Old-Fashioned is the granddaddy of whiskey cocktails. The simple, time-honored trio of whiskey, bitters and sugar is best complemented by the natural sweetness of cherry and fresh orange. Dustin Parres, corporate bar manager at Gamlin Whiskey House, contended that technique makes the Old-Fashioned so special – something often ignored by bartenders who slap the drink together using bottled juices and bland, mass-produced cherries. “If they aren’t breaking out a muddler, you know that they’re doing it wrong,” Parres said. Check out his take on the classic.


Courtesy of Gamlin Whiskey House’s Dustin Parres
1 serving

3 Luxardo maraschino cherries, divided
2 small orange slices, divided
1 Demerara sugar cube
A few dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. Henry McKenna bottled-in-bond bourbon
½ oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth

• In a pint glass or shaker, muddle together 2 cherries, 1 orange slice, the sugar cube and bitters. Pour in the bourbon and the vermouth. Add a few ice cubes, cover and shake. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into an Old-Fashioned glass, snifter or rocks glass filled with large ice cubes. Garnish with the remaining cherry and orange slice.


-photo by Greg Rannells

Just Five: Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015




We love visiting our friends in Iowa City, Iowa. After several hours in the car, they always have the Manhattans or martinis at the read, and they also manage to have amazing dinners waiting for us. Our most recent trip was no exception. We walked in to warm hugs, chilled martinis and a feast of pork tacos. If you want to gild the lily, quick pickle some red onions in white vinegar with bit of sugar and salt or add some sliced avocado. Note the lack of cheese: You won’t miss it.


Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos
4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. chipotle powder
1 3½-lb. pork shoulder roast
20 small corn tortillas
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped cilantro

• Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Mix the salt and chipotle powder together in a small bowl, then rub it into the pork on all sides.
• Place the pork in a deep roasting pan with a lid, cover and bake 3½ to 4 hours, until it falls apart when you pierce it with a fork. Let rest 15 minutes.
• Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in a skillet over medium-high heat until soft. Place on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
• Use 2 forks to shred the pork. Fill each tortilla with meat, garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice and serve immediately.

Prefer to set it and forget it? Make this in a slow cooker on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

Cooking the Classics: Chicken and Dumplings

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015



Chris Vomund, Herbie’s Vintage ’72 executive chef, has taken traditional chicken and dumplings in some surprising flavor directions. Start with the classic recipe below, then dream up your own flavor combinations or try one of Vomund’s ideas like miso and mushrooms, ginger and lemongrass, juniper and marjoram, and tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and red wine.

Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from a recipe by Herbie’s Vintage ’72’s Chris Vomund
4 servings

1/3 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, divided
2 lbs. boneless, skin-on chicken thighs*
2 Tbsp. butter
2 carrots, sliced
2 large celery ribs, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp. dried rosemary, divided
2 tsp. dried sage, divided
2 tsp. dried thyme, divided
2 cups dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
2 1/3 cups flour, divided, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
¾ cup water
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
• In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Cook the chicken skin-side down until browned and the fat renders, 10 to 15 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook another 5 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. Pour all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings into a measuring cup. It should total about ¼ cup.
• Add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion to the Dutch oven over medium heat and cover, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon sage and 1 teaspoon thyme and stir about 30 seconds. Increase heat to high, add the wine and the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar and boil 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and return to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes to reduce.
• Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling dough: On a clean work surface, combine 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt with your hands. Gather the flour into a mound and make a well in the center. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hand until a dough starts to form. Knead the dough a few times to form a ball, but do not overwork.
• Lightly sprinkle the work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to ⅛- to ¼-inch thickness and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon sage and 1 teaspoon thyme. Fold the dough in half, then roll out again to ⅛- to ¼-inch thickness. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 1½-inch pieces. Set aside.
• In a small saucepan over low heat, prepare a roux by whisking together the reserved ¼ cup pan drippings and the remaining 1/3 cup flour until well blended. Cook about 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
• Pour the roux into the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks. Stir in the chicken, pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, then add the dumpling dough to the stew, making sure the dough pieces don’t touch. Gently shake the Dutch oven to coat the dumplings in liquid. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 30 minutes, gently shaking the Dutch oven occasionally.

*Ask your butcher to debone skin-on chicken thighs, but save the bones to make stock.


-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Picasso’s Coffee opens second St. Charles location

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015



Picasso’s Coffee hosts the grand opening for its second location at 1650 Beale St., in The Streets of St. Charles today, Nov. 24. The new location is only five minutes from the original shop in historic downtown St. Charles, but it offers a new opportunity for owner Chris Schulte.

“I started Picasso’s first store 13 years ago,” said Schulte. “The coffee industry is so dynamic and changing that this was an opportunity for me to open up Picasso’s a decade later with newer technology and explore the latest trends in the coffee industry.”

The menu is largely the same as the original location with a few updates. Since the new space boasts an oven, the staff is busy creating original pastries like a bread pudding muffin with cranberries. The 40-seat restaurant also allows for a 50-bottle wine selection including 10 available by the glass. Beer and specialty cocktails are also served.

A breakfast menu features a bagel and lox, as well as a veggie scramble with eggs, spinach, feta and sundried tomatoes. Other offerings include pastries baked both in house and brought in from La Bonne Bouchee. Grilled paninis like turkey and Swiss with pesto and red peppers and small plates like house-made bruschetta are available for lunch and dinner.

“We’re a coffee shop first and foremost and the quality of the coffee is important to us,” Schulte said. “We do a lot of things, but we try to do them all well.” He also stressed the shop’s community roots and emphasis on local sourcing, such as its coffee that comes from Goshen Coffee and Chauvin.


By the Book: “Zahav” by Michael Solomonov

Monday, November 23rd, 2015



I never cook  eggplant at home because my mom makes the best eggplant. Why mess with perfection? Still, I decided to make chef Michael Solomonov’s fried eggplant with tehina and pomegranate seeds from the Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking for one key reason: It looked like the gorgeous cover of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Thankfully, it also tasted as amazing as it looked.

The dish took a little prep work, as I needed to salt the eggplant and let it sit overnight to draw out extra moisture. Eggplant skin can be thick and tough, but Solomonov instructs you to peel just half of the eggplant skin so it looks striped. This lessens the resistance when eating but keeps the vegetable intact when cooking. Details like this set you up for success, which makes me trust the recipes that I haven’t tried yet.

The tehina (the same ground sesame paste Americans call “tahini”) was a rich nutty sauce combining the paste with the sharp raw garlic and a bright lemon juice. I drizzled it and molasses atop the sliced eggplants, then sprinkled it all with pomegranate seeds and pistachios. The whole dish reminded me of a savory sundae, perfectly balanced with a sweet, acidic bite.

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate. These recipes are written perfectly. Anyone that can follow instructions can cook from this book.
This book is for: Anyone. No really. With nine chapters covering everything from vegetables to soup to rice to grilled meats, anyone can find something to try in this book.
Other recipes to try: Hummus or fried cauliflower with herbed labneh
The verdict: This simple dish offered more complexity than the Turkish kofte, earning it frontrunner status in our Middle Eastern By the Book battle. Check back next week when Zahav takes on our final contender.





Fried Eggplant with Tehina and Pomegranate Seeds
6 servings

2 large eggplants
Kosher salt
Canola oil, for frying
1/3 cup Basic Tehina Sauce (recipe follows)
3 Tbsp. carob molasses
½ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup shelled pistachios

• Remove 4 vertical strips of skin from each eggplant with a peeler, leaving the remaining skin attached. Trim the ends and cut the eggplants into ¾-inch-thick rounds. Generously season both sides with salt and place on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to catch any drips. Refrigerate overnight.
• Heat ½ inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Wipe both sides of each eggplant slice with a paper towel to remove surface moisture and excess salt.
• When the oil is shimmering but not smoking add the eggplant slices in a single layer, working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet. Fry the eggplant on each side until dark brown, about 5 minutes per side. You want the eggplant to be seriously dark on the outside and creamy on the inside, so be patient. When the skillet starts to seem dry, add more oil as needed. Remove the eggplant slices from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
• Place the eggplant on a platter and spoon the tehina sauce on top. Drizzle with the carob molasses and scatter the pomegranate seeds and pistachios on top.

Basic Tehina Sauce
Makes about 4 cups

1 head garlic
¾ cup lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
1½ tsp. kosher salt
2 generous cups tehina
½ tsp. ground cumin

• Break up the head of garlic with your hands, letting the unpeeled cloves fall into the blender. Add the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt. Blend on high for a few seconds until you have a coarse puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to let the garlic mellow.
• Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Add the tehina to the strained lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
• Whisk the mixture together until smooth (or use a food processor), adding ice water a few tablespoons at a time to thin it out. The sauce will lighten in color as you whisk. When the tehina seizes up or tightens, keep adding ice water, bit by bit (about 1½ cups in total), whisking energetically until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.
• Taste and add up to 1½ teaspoons more salt and cumin if you like. If you’re not using the sauce immediately, whisk in a few tablespoons of ice water to loosen it before refrigerating. The tehina sauce will keep a week refrigerated, or it can be frozen for up to a month.


Printed with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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