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Jun 28, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Meera Nagarajan’

What I Do: Tyler Davis at Element

Monday, May 1st, 2017

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Tyler Davis is a details man. From crafting beautiful desserts as executive pastry chef at Element, to designing unique menus for weekly Purveyor’s Table pop-up dinners at Brennan’s, to single-handedly managing his online dessert business, Alchemy Artisan Bakery, Davis aims his self-proclaimed Type A tendencies at confections as visually stunning as they are delicious. Here, the busy sweet tooth shared about finding his passion and making it happen.

“Mom’s the strongest person I know. I didn’t have a father figure growing up – Mom was my mom and my dad. I fell into cooking because she couldn’t always be around to cook. When I was 9 or 10 I was like, ‘I don’t want to eat ramen noodles.’ I called her up and said, ‘How do you fry chicken?’ She was like, ‘Don’t burn down the house.’ She taught me over the phone and I made it.”

“She never bought us presents, but she would always ask what we wanted for our birthday meal and for me, that is the biggest way to show your love.”

“I went to school for cello. I wanted to be a classical musician. I love music, but when you start looking at grad school, auditions, and then you start to see the ratio of classical musicians that have jobs versus those that don’t have jobs and how difficult it is in that industry, I knew deep down inside I wasn’t passionate enough about that to take it to the next level.”

“My mind is always going. I like to start with an original thing and then mix and match it. We’ll have desserts on the spring menu like a cool version of an ice cream sandwich. It has taro ice cream with a matcha dacquoise and black sesame powder. It’s not your typical ice cream sandwich.”

“I started to cook on the side for a few friends to make a little extra money in college. … During that time, it was all experimentation, so anytime I would cook for my friends I was like, ‘Hey, I just saw this on Food Network – I want to try it.’ It definitely sparked a fire. That was the time when all the really cool shows came out, like ‘Top Chef.’ I had never seen anything like that – if I’m in college, I’m not going to spend $60 to $70 going out to eat, but when you see stuff on ‘Top Chef’ you’re like, ‘What is that! This is amazing.’ I became a sponge. Anything that had to do with cooking, I was about it. I watched ‘Yan Can Cook.’ I watched anything with Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Anthony Bourdain, ‘Top Chef’ – Bravo! You couldn’t take me away from Bravo.”

“Alinea was overwhelming. All the courses were phenomenal, but the dessert course stood out – it was a chocolate dish. It had chocolate soil, chocolate rocks, chocolate creme brulee that was a liquid before and they poured it in a ring mold, took [it] off and it was already set and I was like, ‘I don’t even know what’s happening right now!’”

“You can’t be afraid to fail, because it’s going to happen. It’s definitely going to happen. One time I tried to bake – oh my God, it was horrible – this really, really cool pie crust. I wanted it to be cookie crust. I don’t know what I was thinking. … I ended up using baking soda instead of baking powder, and it completely went everywhere and flooded out the oven. But you can’t be afraid to try new things.”

 

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine.

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Sauce Magazine: May 2017

What I Do: Patrick Olds of Louie’s Wine Dive

The Scoop: Josh Charles leaves Element, heads to Blood & Sand

 

Eat This: Lobster turnovers at Sidney Street Cafe

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

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The Lobster Turnovers at Sidney Street Cafe are a study in richness. Sweet pieces of lobster are wrapped in flaky filo dough, brushed with clarified butter and baked until golden. If that wasn’t enough, they’re finished with a cream sauce infused with San Marzano tomatoes, brandy, tarragon and a hint of chipotle, Tabasco and cayenne for a subtle kick. Class dismissed.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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The Scoop: Sidney Street Cafe pastry chef Robert Zugmaier nominated for The People’s Best New Pastry Chef by Food & Wine

Trendwatch: 7 trends on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list now

Friday, January 13th, 2017

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1. Smash and Grab
St. Louisans don’t have to wait until Shake Shack opens later this year to get their griddle burger fix of thin patties smashed on a flattop. Get a taste at Reeds American Table, where two patties are smothered with Swiss cheese and tallow aioli, or head to Olive & Oak in Webster Groves, where the kitchen keeps it classic with American cheese and dill pickles. The smashed Farmhouse Burger has been a fixture at Retreat Gastropub since it opened in October 2015, and The Dam in Tower Grove South does smashed patties – though the burgers are stacked so high with fixins, it’s hard to tell. Find griddled burgers at Brasserie, Local Chef Kitchen and Baileys’ Range, too.

2. Drinking like a Vegan
Aquafaba, aka the cloudy liquid in a can of chickpeas that usually goes down the drain, has seen new life as a vegan egg replacer in baked goods. Now it’s found its way behind the bar and into Pisco Sours at Los Angeles establishments like Birch and Gracias Madre. Small Batch pulled a similar move in its Cicer Sour with aquafaba, smoked almond Pisco and dry curacao. Bengelina Hospitality bar manager Drew Lucido shakes it with Old Tom Gin, Becherovka and lemon juice in The Walden at Olio, while the team across the street at Nixta uses a cream whipper to add a foamy, egg-free head to the No. 3.

3. Kung Pao That
The Chinese staple is popping up outside the takeout box these days at restaurants like Mission Chinese in San Francisco, which has a kung pao pastrami we hope someone in town will replicate. Chefs at Cleveland-Heath were inspired by a celery dish at Mission’s NYC location to create a shaved raw beef and celery kung pao special for St. Louisans to enjoy last summer. The Preston swaps in calamari for a sophisticated take on the dish, and the pop-up and future restaurant Good Fortune is crazy about kung pao. It incorporated the flavors into a bratwurst made for a collaboration with Brasserie, and made a kung pao pizza for an event with Delicious Pizza in Los Angeles.

 

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4. Rise and Shine
The Egg McMuffin will always hold a special greasy place in our hearts, but area restaurants are taking breakfast more seriously these days. Whole concepts, like Egg on Gravois Avenue and Yolklore in Crestwood, are devoted to breakfast beyond the standard flapjacks, eggs and bacon. Quick counter-service options at newly opened eateries like Sardella and The Garden on Grand mean we’re setting our weekday alarms a few minutes earlier. Even pop-up eateries are getting in on the action: Revel Kitchen chef-owner Simon Lusky and chef Adam Altnether recently hosted the breakfast-themed Waffle Nut Pop-up, serving sweet and savory waffle combos and cereal milk coffee beverages.

5. Lightning in a Mug
Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and a large dose of caffeine, yerba mate is a light, herbaceous tea that’s creeping its way into local spots like SweetArt, where it’s served hot, and Comet Coffee, where it’s found in two forms: as hot tea and as a mocha-nut mate made with toasted mate leaves, chocolate, hazelnut and marigold flowers for a sweet treat. Pick up some of the loose-leaf tea to brew at home from international grocers like Global Foods Market or United Provisions.

6. Meat Lollipops
Some St. Louis chefs are frenching chicken drumettes, trimming classic wings into little meat lollipops. The trend has a confusing extra-work-for-less-meat quality, but we’ve bought jeans with holes in the knees, so we’re not here to judge. Try the lollies at Mona’s, where they’re smoked and served with a creamy giardiniera sauce and salsa verde, or at Copper Pig with a Vietnamese fish sauce caramel or a sweet chile basil sauce. Scapegoat offers a more traditional Buffalo version.

7. Taste the Magic
Magic Shell is making appearances outside grandma’s sundae bar these days. We noticed it with caramelized honey and honeycomb candy on soft serve at The Honey Paw in Portland, Maine, and over caramel corn and vanilla malted milk balls at Girl & the Goat in Chicago. But Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. has offered the topping on soft serve since it opened in 2014, and our favorite matcha-chocolate cookie gelato pop from Porano this summer was dipped in Magic Shell. Taste’s new brownie dessert with candy cap ice cream and toffee sauce lives in a Magic Shell house, too.

 

Related Content
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Sauce Magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2016

Extra Sauce: 4 gifts on Meera’s holiday wish list

Friday, December 9th, 2016

From memorable cookbooks to a ridiculously gorgeous range, here’s what Sauce art director Meera Nagarajan really wants this holiday season.

 

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1. Nopi: The Cookbook
On a recent visit to London, I had a beautiful lunch at Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi. The highlight of the meal was the pan-fried mackerel served with tamarind sauce and raw coconut salad – which I can now make any time thanks to Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook.
$40. Left Bank Books, left-bank.com

 

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2. Kentuckyaki Sauce
Wandering The Smokehouse Market on the hunt for a clever weeknight dinner idea, butcher Andrew Jennrich suggested this sauce. I soused leftover chicken and broccoli for instant teriyaki magic with a bourbon twist.
$12. The Smokehouse Market, anniegunns.com

 

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3. Plantation Pineapple Rum
Fruity rums are all the rage – and I don’t mean Malibu. I’m talking aged rum infused with ripe fruit. Try sipping this neat or over ice before you attempt a grown piña colada.
$35. Lukas Wine & Spirits, lukasliquorstl.com

 

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4. Grand Palais 180
Remember the ranges inside Gusteau’s kitchen in Pixar’s Ratatouille? I do. The closest thing I’ve found to them in real life is the La Cornue Grand Palais 180 in brilliant black with brushed brass. I would never try to justify buying a $22,800 range, but it is spectacular – and I’m worth it.
Starts at $22,800, lacornue.com

 

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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 Gift Guide: 5 gifts for the Food Snob

 

Ratatouille image courtesy of Disney 

Best New Restaurants: No. 10 – Melo’s Pizzeria

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 best new restaurants of 2016.

 

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Five seats, five menu items and a fire crackling merrily in the oven: This is Melo’s. The small but mighty Italian-American pizza shop is run by the Valenza family – brothers Joey, Johnny and Vinny, and their dad Vince Sr., the owner of Blues City Deli, whom you could call their consigliere.

When Vince finally bought the Blues City building in 2013, it came with a teeny garage, big enough to fit a couple cars, or to give life to Joey’s bread-making hobby turned pizza-making obsession.

Happily, Dad went with the latter, and now we’re obsessed, too. The Dom is our favorite, a simple pizza topped with Grana Padano, sliced garlic, fresh basil, oregano and a glug of extra-virgin olive oil. It’s Neapolitan-style, with a thin, wood-fired crust and a perfectly pure crushed tomato sauce, but has an American twist, mixing fresh mozzarella with drier, shredded mozzarella. This transgression makes for a lower moisture content that keeps the dough from getting too wet.

“It’s more of a familiar flavor for people,” Joey said. “I don’t know if it’s our American taste buds, but we think it tastes better.”

Melo’s formula for an Italian-American pie combines the best of both worlds. We appreciate an edited menu, pared down to the bare, most delicious bones.

 

More about Melo’s Pizzeria

• Hit List: 6 new restaurants you must try this month

• Sneak Peek: Melo’s Pizzeria in Benton Park

The Scoop: Blues City Deli owner to open Melo’s Pizza

Photo by Dave Moore

By the Book: Home by Bryan Voltaggio

Friday, November 11th, 2016

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I am a major Top Chef fan (Season 14 starts Dec. 1!). Season six, which featured brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, was a favorite – so much so that on a my first trip to Baltimore, I took a detour to Frederick, Maryland to eat at Volt, Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant. It was a wonderful experience. One memorable chicken and beets dish featured local ingredients and several components that came together to make an unforgettable experience.

His cookbook, Home, reminds me of that dish. Many recipes have smaller sub-recipes that are additional components on a plate. I’m currently in a cooking rut, and the thought of making several recipes for one dish was daunting. So I decided to make simple lemon cookies.

There are only two recipes in for this dessert: one for the cookie and one for a glaze. The dough was easy to make, though the dough needed to rest at least four hours (surprise, I didn’t), and they must cool thoroughly so the glaze can harden (yeah, skipped that part, too). Even with my shortcuts, the recipes yielded tiny, slightly doughy treats with a hint of lemon and a sweet glaze that I’ll likely make again.

Skill level: Moderate. Recipes are long and detailed, but they sound delicious.
Other recipes to try: Everything mashed potatoes, loaded hash browns
The verdict: Check back next week!

 

Lemon Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies

1½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Glaze
3 Tbsp. water
2½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
2½ cups powdered sugar

Make the cookies
• Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt together. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and add all of the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes. Put the dough in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Use a ¾-ounce ice cream scoop to portion the dough into balls, and lay them out on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the cookies are set and slightly golden brown around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make the glaze
• Put the water, lemon juice, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until the salt dissolves. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. Dip the tops of each cookie into the glaze and then set them on the rack. Sprinkle the cookies with freshly grated lemon zest and leave them on the rack until the glaze hardens, about 20 minutes.

Reprinted with permission from Little Brown

Hit List: 3 new restaurants you must try this November

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

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1. Egg: 2200 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.202.8224, breakfastcamefirst.com

Egg has expanded from its weekend brunch popup beginnings, taking over Spare No Rib’s original space on Gravois Avenue for good. (Have no fear; Spare No Rib moved to a new home at 3701 S. Jefferson Ave.) Try the cornbread Benedict with a choice of smoked pork belly or spinach and avocado stacked on sweet, crumbly cornbread, topped with two gently poached eggs and a deluge of hollandaise or the generous asada wrap, packed with succulent steak, fries and just the right amount of cheese sauce. The chakchouka, a stewed vegetable dish with baked eggs, is a hearty yet healthy choice, or go south of the border with robust breakfast tacos filled with veggies, carne asada, chorizo or carnitas with house-made salsas. Sip a brunch cocktail like the sweet and floral Sidi Bou Spritz made with hop vodka, jasmine and elderflower liqueurs and fresh orange juice.

 

2. Vietnam Style: 6100 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.405.8438, Facebook: Vietnam Style

Vietnam Style on the east end of The Loop may confuse at first glance, but you’ll only be disappointed if you intend to shop for clothes. Start with the Vietnamese spring rolls, packed with veggies, rice noodles, pork and shrimp or grilled beef – and don’t be shy with the bright, savory peanut dipping sauce. The Bò Né Original Vietnamese Sizzling Steak is a great introduction to Vietnamese flavors, with a sweet and garlicky seasoning that complements rather than overpowers the filet mignon, along with a sunny side up egg. If you only get one thing, make it a noodle soup – the Pho Filet Mignon Bo Vien features thin, curling slices of tender beef, meatballs and rice noodles in a rich, mile-deep beef broth. The classic pho ga comes with generous amounts of shredded chicken and rice noodles in a lighter-tasting broth good enough to pour into a thermos and drink all day long.

 

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3. Wicked Greenz: 16 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.727.2772, wickedgreenz.com

Wicked Greenz is serving up healthy, quick meals for the lunch and dinner crowds in Clayton. The veggie-focused menu offers 13 greens-based dishes that can be served “bowled” as a salad or “rolled” as a wrap. Try the Mexicali, a mix of salad greens, black beans, red onion, corn, cilantro and pico de gallo with charred tomato vinaigrette. The classic Caesar features Asiago cheese, basil and a sharp Parmesan-peppercorn Caesar dressing. But the stars of the menu are the soups: The smoked chicken gumbo is spicy and complex with chunks of chicken, andouille and kielbasa in a dark, rich broth served atop a mound of white rice. Get the garlicky, slightly sweet tomato soup, which is topped with cheese and crunchy croutons reminiscent of a deconstructed grilled cheese.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky 

 

 

 

Tweet Beat: The week’s top tweets from #STL foodies

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Think you should be on this list? Prove it. Tweet @SauceMag.

Tweet Beat: The week’s top tweets from #STL foodies

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Think you should be on this list? Prove it. Tweet and tag @SauceMag.

 

By the Book: Big Bad Breakfast by John Currence

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

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Big Bad Breakfast sounded like a fun cookbook, and author John Currence has the credentials to back up his recipes. He won a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South in 2009, and he is the chef-owner of several restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, including (of course) Big Bad Breakfast.

I chose to make his German pancake. Like its Dutch baby cousin, it’s baked rather than cooked on the stovetop, producing a gloriously puffy breakfast treat that elicits oohs and ahs when it hits the table. Currence’s version fills a simple batter with apples and butter, then pours into an oven-proof skillet atop even more butter, apples and dark brown sugar, creating a sticky caramelized base.

The pancake puffed up as promised, but it took much longer than the recommended 12 to 14 minutes. After nearly 20 minutes, the top still had not browned as I’d hoped, so I helped it along with the broiler. Though it wasn’t quite the voluminous showstopper I’d hoped for, it tasted wonderful when finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a splash of maple syrup. I’d definitely make this again.

Skill level: Moderate. There are some recipes in here that require more time and more obscure ingredients.
Other recipes to try: Sauteed trout, soft scrambled eggs, chanterelle mushrooms, Louisiana crabcake Benedict
The verdict: Check back next week when Big Bad Breakfast takes on the next breakfast challenger.

 

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German Pancake
1 to 2 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup buttermilk
6 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
¼ cup clarified butter or your preferred cooking fat
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• In a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk together until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then stir in half of the apple.
• Warm an 8-inch cast-iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the clarified butter, then place the remaining apple slices around the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Pour the batter evenly over the top and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake until the top of the pancake is golden brown, puffy and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, and serve immediately, preferably directly from the pan.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

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