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Posts Tagged ‘Guide to the Holidays’

3 quick and easy holiday starters to keep your guests at bay

Friday, November 10th, 2017

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First impressions matter, but they don’t have to be painful. Pick just a couple show-stopping, low-effort appetizers and fill in the gaps with easy cocktail party fare like bruschetta and a charcuterie board so you can start big and still focus on killing it with the rest of the meal. These fast, simple snacks take minimal effort for maximum flavor.

Scatter your snacks in more than one place and dish them out in batches throughout the evening. Snack-designated gathering spots prevent bottlenecks in a crowded kitchen, and timing is everything if you want to keep your drinking guests from donning a lampshade because you ran out of food.

1. Recipe: Spiced Mixed Nuts

2. Recipe: Roasted Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

3. Recipe: Spicy Bacon Caramel Corn

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Marianne Moore is a contributor to Sauce Magazine and Dierbergs culinary creative director.

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: Guide to the Holidays 2017

• Holiday Hacks: Outsource the dessert

• 7 recipes to help you host the holidays with the most

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your food snob

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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According to David Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld in their snarky Food Snob’s Dictionary, a food snob is someone “who has taken the amateur epicure’s admirable zeal for eating and cooking well to hollandaise-curdling extremes.” Here are a few holiday gift ideas to distinguish your food snob, experienced or aspiring, from the amateurs.

 

1. Acorns & Cattails
Most chefs know how to forage without poisoning themselves. For the rest of us, St. Louis native Rob Connoley’s smartly written, beautifully photographed cookbook provides inspiration and instruction for gathering and preparing food. We hope Connoley serves some of these recipes in the restaurant he plans to open in St. Louis next year. $35. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665, kitchenconservatory.com

2. VAIN Vanilla Sampler
Regular vanilla extract is so, uh, vanilla. VAIN Foods of Kansas City, Missouri switches out the standard neutral grain alcohol in favor of more interesting spirits to make its vanilla. Try Mexican vanilla in Kentucky bourbon, Indonesian vanilla in ginger spirits, Ugandan in orange spirits and Madagascar vanilla in both cane rum and vodka in this five-pack sampler. $40. Larder & Cupboard, 7310 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.300.8995, larderandcupboard.com

3. Wine Wands
Sometimes even the most conscientious don’t have time to chill their wine to the proper temperature. In such dire straights, the hoi polloi use ice cubes, a practice eschewed by any self-respecting food snob. Keep this set of two stainless-steel wine chillers in the freezer to cool down a glass of wine in a hurry, preempting such an embarrassing situation. $40. Williams-Sonoma, Plaza Frontenac, 1701 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Frontenac, 314.567.9211, williams-sonoma.com

4. Anova Precision Cooker Sous Vide WiFi
While rash enthusiasts bought aquarium-sized sous vide immersion circulators, food snobs knew something better had to be in the works. Like cell phones, sous vide technology has produced a manageably sized device. It’s lightweight, attaches to any pot and connects to a smartphone so you can cook remotely and receive temperature notifications. $199. Crate & Barrel, 1 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights, 314.725.6380, crateandbarrel.com

5. Halcyon Knives
Halcyon Forge is a one-man show in which Joseph Schrum makes beautiful, high-carbon steel knives in his backyard work shed in Sedalia. Schrum uses reclaimed materials like old saw blades and wood scavenged from riverbanks. Buy his designs or order custom knives made with, say, a resin laminate handle incorporating a memento. But prepare to wait six months for the custom gift to arrive. He’s that good. $140 to $425. Bertarelli Cutlery, 1927 Marconi Ave., St. Louis, 314.664.4005; halcyonforge.com

 

More Holiday Gift Guides
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for the person you have to shop for
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to stock a starter kitchen
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your boozehound
• Holiday Gifts 2015: Gifts for the Food Snob

 

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for the person you have to shop for

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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It’s not easy to shop for people who have everything or about whom you know nothing, but that doesn’t take them off your gift list. From sweets to splurges to simply pretty things, these are elegant and thoughtful choices that will please just about anyone.

 

1. Flowers to the People
A kitchen bouquet is doubly appreciated during this season of entertaining. Request colors and types of flowers if you’d like, or simply tell the florist the occasion and watch as she swiftly spins together something magical as you watch. Each is a unique work of art, making an elegant and lovely-smelling gift. Bonus: The shop delivers. $25. Flowers to the People, 2317 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.762.0422, flowerstothepeople.biz

2. Masala Chai Tea Concentrate
Village Botanicals (formerly The ReTrailer Tea Co.) recently started bottling this wonderfully spiced Extra Special Masala Chai Tea Concentrate, made with cardamom, ginger and a five-spice masala blend of cinnamon, star anise, allspice, clove and peppercorn. $9. Larder & Cupboard, 7310 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.300.8995; villagebotanicals.com

3. Nordic Ware Egg Waffle Pan
This pan produces fluffy, crispy, eggy mounds that melt in your mouth, like an inverted waffle. Eat them by the bubble or roll them up like a waffle cone and fill with ice cream. Either way, the topping possibilities are endless. These waffles will liven up Sunday morning breakfast for anyone on your gift list. $45. amazon.com

4. Mila, Sweets Macarons
It’s difficult to resist delicate, colorful, full-flavored cookies that fit perfectly into a chic little box. With flavors like chocolate sea salt or raspberry elderflower, these macarons will give someone a taste of Paris at home. Half dozen: $9. Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop, 2201 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.932.5166, milasweets.com

5. Tasting menu at Elaia
A handful of places around town provide tasting menus, but few have the ambiance and style of Elaia. The quiet Botanical Heights restaurant has wonderful service, and with inventive dishes like tartare of lamb, each of the 10 courses is meant to be savored. It’s a splurge, but you’re giving an experience one will never forget. $120; $220 with wine pairings. Elaia, 1634 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.1088, elaiastl.com

 

More Holiday Gift Guides
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your food snob
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to stock a starter kitchen
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your boozehound
• Holiday Gifts 2015: The Obligatory Gift

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to stock a starter kitchen

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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Everyone has a list of kitchen must-haves, but gifts for new cooks require a little more finesse. They should be practical, yet inspirational; something to not only set them up for success, but also get them excited about cooking for the first time or in a new place. Give these long-lasting tools, amped-up basics and fun ways for new cooks to learn in the kitchen.

1. Kitchen Conversions Art
Nothing’s worse than dousing a phone in sugar trying to look up how much is in an ounce. This chart eliminates guesswork when it’s time to convert teaspoons to tablespoons or cups to pints. With many colors available, it also makes great kitchen decor. 8½-by-11-inch: $20; 13-by-19-inch: $25. Etsy: SweetFineDay

2. Victorinox 9-inch bread knife
A proper bread knife is essential. This serrated knife slices through the softest brioche or the crunchiest country loaf with ease, and the raised handle keeps knuckles from scraping on the cutting board. Bread knives are also great for slicing ripe tomatoes and leveling cakes. $28. amazon.com

3. Knife & Flag Apron
Want to cook like a rock star? Dress for the part. Knife & Flag Core Aprons are built with a cross-harness strap design to ensure they won’t get in the way in the busiest of kitchens. Stylish, comfortable and made to last with heavy denim or canvas, these aprons are for the serious cook – or those who want to look like one. $70 to $80. knifeflag.com

4. Twelve Recipes
A great cookbook is the total package: delicious recipes that work, beautiful photography and writing that inspires. Twelve Recipes is just that. It’s a versatile book of the basics, and variations are encouraged. It will get new cooks into the kitchen with the confidence to gather friends around the table. $27. Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.367.6731, left-bank.com

5. Eat, Drink and Learn
Even if they think the oven is a place to store shoes, developing cooking skills can still be fun. Arm your new cooks with a gift card to Dierbergs School of Cooking, and they can choose a class that fits their interests from mastering basic knife skills to baking cupcakes. $35 to $50. Dierbergs School of Cooking, various locations, dierbergs.com/school

 

More Holiday Gift Guides
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your food snob
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to the person you have to shop for
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your boozehound
• Holiday Gifts 2015: The Starter Kitchen

Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your boozehound

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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These can’t-miss presents will wow even the most cosmopolitan drinker. From classes that inform and entertain to home bar must-haves sure to impress, here are gifts for the boozehounds on your list.

1. Skull Barspoon
More than just a pretty face, this tiki-inspired stainless spoon is well-balanced in the hand and comfortable to work with – making it one of Público bar manager Nick Digiovanni’s favorite tools. The conversation starter is also available in gold and copper-plated finishes. $25. cocktailkingdom.com

2. Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters & Amari
Bitter is in. Along with instructions for DIY bitters and cocktail recipes, these pages are packed with tasting notes and essential information to make the most of ubiquitous and obscure bitter bottles. $25. Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.367.6731, left-bank.com

3. Cocktails Are Go! Class
Check a dozen or so off your list with a group gift. Matt and Beth Sorrell teach classes with themes like Cocktails 101, Pre-Prohibition or Farm to Table. You buy the booze, and the Sorrells bring the glassware, mixers and know-how to up your friends’ bartending game. $25 per person. 314.406.2777, cocktails-are-go.com

4. Blood & Sand Membership
No secret handshake required, just a monthly membership fee to give the wine, beer and cocktail quaffer access to one of the best bars in town. With its extensive and carefully curated wine list and cocktails ranging from whimsical to brooding, there is no shortage of ways to unwind. $15 per month. Blood & Sand, 1500 St. Charles St., St. Louis, 314.241.7263, bloodandsandstl.com

 5. World of Wine Gift Basket
Take your favorite wine snob around the world in six bottles. Specialists hand-pick a motley crew of red and white wines from near and far. Order this no-brainer basket online or at any location, then have it delivered locally for a festive holiday surprise. $100. The Wine & Cheese Place, all locations, wineandcheeseplace.com 

More Holiday Gift Guides
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for your food snob
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts for the person you have to shop for
• Holiday Gift Guide: 5 gifts to stock a starter kitchen
• Holiday Gifts 2015: Gifts for the Boozehound

Guide to the Holidays 2016: Season’s Drinkings

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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Ready the corkscrew, polish the stemware and bring out the wine. Whether you’re looking to drop some coin or want a bottle that only tastes expensive, we’ve got you covered.

 

Impress for less
2014 Naveran Brut Cava
Cavas like this dry, fresh sparkler may be Spain’s best kept bubbly secret.
$15. The Vino Gallery, thevinogallery.com

2014 Talbott Logan Chardonnay
Bold, rich and tropical, this California chardonnay makes a statement without draining your pocketbook.
$25. Balaban’s, balabanswine.com

2013 Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos
Balancing acidity and fruity notes, this Spanish red is a full-bodied and refined addition to the table.
$25. Parker’s Table, parkerstable.com

 

Spare no expense
Jacquesson Cuvée Extra Brut 738
This dry Champagne is the perfect start to a decadent dinner.
$65. The Wine Merchant, winemerchantltd.com

2013 Bindi Quartz Chardonnay
Minerality comes through in this oak-aged vintage from Down Under.
$125. Reeds American Table, reedsamericantable.com

2012 Silverado Solo Cabernet Sauvignon
From Napa Valley heritage vines comes an intense, stone fruit sip with a long, rich, earthy finish.
$119. Balaban’s, balabanswine.com

Guide to the Holidays 2016: Bottles of Good Cheer

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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Put aside your light, workaday brews and reach for something more festive to serve at this extravagant holiday meal. Saint Louis Hop Shop co-owner Justin Harris shared his five picks from double IPAs to rich chocolate stouts to put you in a merry mood.

 

1. Schlafly Tasmanian IPA
Redolent with Galaxy and Australian Topaz hops, this 7.2-percent IPA is heady enough to feel celebratory but won’t weigh you down for a night of decadent food and drink. 6-pack: $10.

2. Destihl Wild Sour Plum Sour Stout
Chocolate and dark fruit combine for a brew that balances sweet and tart. At 5.6 percent, it goes well with lighter hors d’oeuvres or salads. 4-pack: $10.

3. Against the Grain Citra Ass Down
A healthy dose of Citra hops gives this 8-percent American IPA a taste of the tropics that’s balanced by maltiness. 4-pack: $12.

4. Ballast Point Victory at Sea
This rich Imperial porter is infused with sweet notes of coffee and vanilla perfect for post-dinner sipping. Be on the lookout for its elusive peppermint variant to add to the holiday hoopla. 6-pack: $15.50.

5. Evil Twin Liquid Double Fudge
The name doesn’t lie: This Imperial stout packs a creamy, fudgy punch that becomes even more chocolaty as it warms. At 12 percent, this is a beer to share and sip slowly. 22-ounce bottle: $9.

All beers are available at Saint Louis Hop Shop

 

More on Saint Louis Hop Shop

• The Scoop: Beer bottle shop to open on Cherokee Street

Guide to the Holidays 2016: Cheese for Dessert

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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Nothing says class like an after-dinner cheese course. “Cheese can be a decadent treat that satisfies your need for something creamy and sweet to finish out a meal,” said Larder & Cupboard general manager Cindy Higgerson. “It’s a nice way to end an elegant dinner.” A good cheese board should have a couple sweet accompaniments like honey and dried fruit, some savory choices like pickles and nuts, and crackers or crusty bread along with three to five cheeses. Ask your cheesemonger for help choosing a variety of milks, ages and styles. We asked Higgerson to build us the ultimate cheese course.

1. Green Dirt Farms Woolly Rind aged sheep’s milk cheese
This creamy, decadent Camembert-style is made locally in Weston, Missouri. $18.

2. Kenny’s Farmhouse Awe Brie
A bloomy-rind, soft cheese, this brie goes great with preserves and fruit. $14.

3. Baetje Pumpkin Walnut goat cheese
This fresh goat cheese is nutty and sweet. “It’s good crumbled on ice cream,” Higgerson said. “I’ve even had customers put it in cannoli.” $11.

4. Milton Creamery Flory’s Truckle aged cheddar
With more of a bite, this clothbound aged cheddar offers nice contrast to the creamier cheeses. $27 per pound.

5. Kenny’s FarmhouseBlue Gouda
This is milder than most blue cheeses, offering some funkiness without overpowering. $23.50 per pound.

6. Quince & Apple figs and black tea preserves
Figs and cheese are a classic combination. This fruity preserve pairs especially well with the Truckle. $9.

7. La Quercia Speck Americana
Similar to prosciutto, speck offers a bit of saltiness to contrast and balance the sweeter cheeses and preserves. $11.50.

8. Potter’s crackers
These Wisconsin-made crackers are hand-rolled and hand-cut. “The Classic White pairs with almost any cheese, without question,” Higgerson said. $7.

9. Quince & Apple pear with honey and ginger preserves
The sweet punch of this honey-ginger pear preserve is well suited for dessert. $9.

All products available at Larder & Cupboard

More about Larder & Cupboard

Guide to the Holidays 2014: How Not to Be a Potluck Jackass

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

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Hooray! Someone likes you enough to invite you to his potluck dinner. But don’t screw it up by being a nitwit. Not clear on what exactly constitutes such behavior? Read on for a comprehensive list of potential potluck party fouls. Avoid them, and you’ll secure an invite to next year’s shindig before the night is over. Commit them, and you better hope the host appreciates your better half.

1. Do recon. Ask around, then prepare a dish that complements the other guests’ offerings. Don’t be the lazy twit who whips up slice n’ bake cookies while someone else sweats over mini creme brulee. Presenting a posh pate to an onion dip crowd is an equally boneheaded move.

2. Don’t ask to use the oven. Your hosts have carefully timed the prep and cooking of their own dishes. If they can’t cook their lasagna because you’re baking your brie en croûte, you’re a self-important dolt. Slow cookers are a great way to keep food warm – if your host has available electrical outlets. Better yet, choose a dish that is served at room temperature.

3. Do supply your own serving spoons. It’s poor form to assume your host has enough serving pieces for everyone. But as potluck gaffes go, this is a relatively minor infraction. If you accidentally leave your cake cutter at home on the kitchen counter, don’t sweat it. You’re only kind of a jerk.

4. Do keep your food issues to yourself unless you have a life-threatening allergy. Otherwise, use common sense to determine what you should pile on your plate. People who make a production about what they can and can’t eat are attention-seeking blockheads. Bonus jackass points go to anyone who declares food to be “clean” or “unclean.” Leave the paleo platitudes at home.

5. Do be transparent about the ingredients if asked. This is the flip side of the previous faux pas. Always disclose what’s in your dish. Anyone who says there’s no meat in something made with chicken broth – even if it’s “just a splash” – is a certifiable jackass.

6. Don’t get drunk. Let this be your party mantra, and not just at potlucks. Getting so sloshed that you tumble down the stairs, fling your cocktail, and land on another guest’s husband is the jackass trifecta. If you find yourself in that undignified position, immediately redeem yourself by offering to host the potluck next year. Then compliment the host’s lasagna.

 

-illustration by Vidhya Nagarajan

 

 

Guide to the Holidays: Gifts for the Grill Master

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

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Does the smell of freshly lit charcoal send your special someone sprinting for a steak and the closest open flame? You have a grill master on your hands. Initially, those with singular hobbies seem easiest to shop for, but after the kettle, the fancy tongs and the stack of how-to-grill-everything cookbooks, what’s left to give the hardcore grillers in your life?

Your grill master probably already owns one or two trusty Weber kettles. But for the true luxury grill, go for the gold – er, green – standard. The Big Green Egg’s ceramic walls retain heat better than a standard kettle, which means less charcoal needed, more even cooking temperatures, and truly succulent results.

$1,038 for large egg with nest. St. Louis Home Fires, 15053 Manchester Road, Ballwin, 636.256.6564, stlouishomefires.com

For more gifts guaranteed to light your grill master’s fire, click here.

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