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Mar 25, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Top Chef’

By the Book: Home by Bryan Voltaggio

Friday, November 11th, 2016



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

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

By the Book: Fabio Viviani’s Mom’s Meatballs

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013




For those of you who follow Top Chef, you’re probably already a fan of Fabio Viviani, who appeared in the fifth season and on Top Chef: All Stars. For those of you sad people without cable (like me), the handsome Italian guy eating a cake on the cover of Fabio’s Italian Kitchen, probably doesn’t mean much. Sometimes books by celebrity chefs aren’t actually great cookbooks; they seem to be banking on star power rather than solid content, or they’re so difficult that they seem better suited for a coffee table than the kitchen. However, I can assure you that Viviani’s new book is great.

First, his anecdotes interspersed throughout his 100 family recipes are both funny and charming (particularly the one where he met the pope and tried to knock his hat off). I get why Viviani won Top Chef fan favorite. What really impressed me with the book, though, was his proclivity toward using inexpensive and simple ingredients – Viviani reiterates several times in the book how poor he was growing up. Many of his recipes highlight ways to skimp on cost – like using old wine and cheap cuts of meat – while not skimping on flavor. His recipe for Mom’s Meatballs is a perfect example of this attitude.

I was attracted to this recipe because I’m always a little suspicious when someone claims something is the best, as he did: “This is probably the best meatball you ever had in your life, or perhaps second only to the one your grandma makes.” I also wanted an excuse to try out his recipe for Fabio’s Tomato Sauce, which is an ingredient in many of the dishes in his book.




I doubled the tomato sauce recipe, as Viviani advised, so I could freeze some of the extra for later. I think I have an inkling as to why the sauce tasted so good – there’s a ton of olive oil in it.




As for the meatballs, all the ingredients go in one bowl, which, from a kitchen clean-up perspective, I really appreciated.




His recipe says a pound of ground beef will make eight meatballs, but I rolled the balls smaller. I don’t think it really makes a difference either way.




My grandmas are German, so I have no passed-down, guarded “grandma’s meatballs” to compare these to, but I can safely say these are pretty fantastic. I think the key was cooking them in the tomato sauce over the stove. I find many meatballs become dry from being cooked in the oven, but these were moist and divine. And by cooking them in the sauce, as Viviani writes above his recipe, I don’t think it’s possible to overcook them.




Since the tomato sauce is so rich and tasty, I recommend making extra and serving the meatballs over pasta. Buon appetito!

Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs
Makes 8 meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
4 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper pepper to taste
2 cups Fabio’s Tomato Sauce (Recipe follows.)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

• Place all ingredients except the tomato sauce, the parsley and the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium-size bowl and mix thoroughly by hand until they are completely combined and the mixture is uniformly firm.
• Coat your hands in olive oil and form balls slightly bigger than a golf ball.
• Heat the tomato sauce in a saucepan over medium heat, then drop the meatballs into the sauce and add enough water to allow the sauce to reduce and simmer but not so much that the sauce is totally liquid.
• Cook about 10 minutes on one side, then turn the meatballs over, add some more water, and cook for another 10 minutes, using a spoon to cover the meatballs with the sauce as they simmer. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
• Serve with chopped parsley, salt and pepper, more Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, of course.

Fabio’s Tomato Sauce with Oil and Garlic
Makes 2 cups

6 cloves garlic
8 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 28-oz. can of whole plum tomatoes (packed only in tomato juice)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 basil leaves

• Smash the garlic with the back of a knife. Place the garlic and 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown.
• Add the tomatoes and generous pinches of salt and pepper.
• Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce is thick and no longer watery, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to high. Stir, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
• Cook until the oil turns red, then turn off the heat and add the basil at the very end.

Reprinted with permission from Hyperion Books

What’s your favorite classic recipe to prepare that only your grandma could do better? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Fabio’s Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Chris, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of Try This at Home by Richard Blais. Chris, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



By The Book: Richard Blais’ Moroccan Tuna Bolognese

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013



I won’t lie; this book intimidated me. I had watched mad scientist Richard Blais on Top Chef, wielding an iSi siphon and liquid nitrogen the way most chefs work with microplanes and an immersion blender. The title of Blais’ book, Try This at Home, wasn’t so much a challenge as a taunt. I don’t own an immersion circulator, and agar-agar is most definitely missing from my pantry.

Thankfully, Blais recognizes that most home cooks don’t have access to his arsenal of kitchen toys. Many of his recipes are familiar ideas with a weird flavor twist, but their execution is straightforward. But if you’re just dying to use your fancy new smoking gun, don’t fret. Many recipes feature “2.0” options, ideas to take your dish to the next level with more advanced – and expensive – equipment.

After several rounds of flipping through the book, I decided to try his Moroccan Tuna Bolognese, a rift on his traditional Bolognese sauce. The combination of Moroccan spices, tuna steak, orange zest and linguini seemed odd enough to be challenging, but the cooking techniques (and required equipment) stayed in my comfort zone. At first, I couldn’t imagine lopping the gorgeous purple tuna into pieces and frying it in a pan, but that’s what Blais required. So begging the sushi gods’ forgiveness, I minced, sliced and browned appropriately.




The recipe’s one flaw is that it is unclear when to add the fish. At first, it seems like all the tuna should be simmered together in the sauce. However, it later calls for the chunks (not the mince) to be added with the olives and orange zest. Ultimately, I split the difference, simmering with the minced tuna and adding the chunks near the end.




I wasn’t sure how seafood, even a strong fish like tuna, would stand up to an onslaught of so many different flavors: tomato, cinnamon, lemon, cumin, balsamic vinegar and more. But ultimately, the clean tuna flavor came through it all, creating a refreshing (if citrusy) twist on a traditionally heavy sauce.




While it was a fun take on a classic dish, you can save quite a bit of time and cash by substituting pricey tuna steak for a good-quality packaged tuna. After all, if I’m spending that kind of money on fish, it’s getting a light sear and keeping some of that vibrant color.




Richard Blais’ Moroccan Tuna Bolognese
6 to 8 Servings

3 6- to 8-oz. tuna steaks
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely minced
1 stalk celery, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp. Moroccan spice blend or 1 tsp. each ground coriander, cumin and cinnamon
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup dry sherry or red wine
2 cups tomato sauce
¼ cup pitted Picholine or other green olives, roughly chopped
2 tsp. grated orange zest, plus more for garnish
1 lb. linguine
Juice of half a lemon
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup mixed fresh dill, parsley and basil, chopped

• Grind or very finely mince 1 tuna steak. Cut the other 2 steaks into ½-inch chunks.
• In a large deep heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until rippling. Add the tuna and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon and stirring vigorously until it’s no longer pink and begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the tuna with a slotted spoon and set aside.
• Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan and saute, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Moroccan spices, bay leaf, salt and pepper, stir and cook for 2 minutes to toast the spices. Add the tomato paste and cook and stir until it begins to caramelize, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and sherry, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
• Add the tomato sauce and cooked tuna and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the sauce is very thick, 25 to 30 minutes.
• Stir in the tuna chunks, green olives and orange zest, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, stir well, and taste to adjust the seasoning.
• Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt well. Add the linguine, stir and cook until al dente, 9 to 10 minutes. Remove ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
• Add the pasta to the sauce, then add the lemon juice and half the feta and herbs. Toss the pasta with the sauce until well coated. If the sauce is very thick, add the reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until loosened.
• To serve, transfer the pasta to warm shallow bowls or a large platter. Sprinkle the remaining feta and herbs and some orange zest over the pasta and serve.

Reprinted with permission by Clarkson Potter Publishers

What kitchen toy would you splurge on and why? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a signed copy of Try This at Home by Richard Blais. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate April, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of Fire in My Belly by Kevin Gillespie. April, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.





By the Book: Edward Lee’s Curry Pork Pies

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013



Edward Lee is the Brooklyn-bred son of Korean immigrants who has grown to become an acclaimed chef. He’s a three-time James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Southeast, an alum of Top Chef: Texas and the chef-owner of 610 Magnolia and MilkWood in Louisville, Ky. His debut cookbook, Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen, is a must-have for adventurous cooks, Top Chef junkies and anyone who wants insight into the mind of a chef whose creativity is redefining American food. (Lee will be in St. Louis Aug. 13 to discuss the book at the next Sauce Celebrity Chef Series event. Details and ticket information can be found here.)

There are so many dishes in Smoke & Pickles that showcase his ability to seamlessly tie together Korean and southern cuisines. I wavered between cooking up southern fried rice and a meatloaf sandwich made with bourbon and Coke. Then I spotted his recipe for curry pork pies. Who can resist a handheld savory meat pie?

The ingredients list may be a bit long, but none of the items are out of the ordinary. If you have a well-stocked kitchen, the goods are probably already in your fridge and pantry. Nor is the technique tough. For the pie filling, all you’ve got to do is saute meat and veggies – along with fresh ginger and garlic – then spike it with flavor using chicken stock, curry powder, soy sauce and a bit of S&P. While the filling is tasty as-is, I love ginger so much that next time I plan on doubling the prescribed 1 ½ tablespoons. Ditto for the 2 teaspoons of curry powder.




There are home cooks who can boast about their pie crust-making skills, and those who take the storebought route because they view it as faster and fail-safe. I will never claim “perfect crust” status, but I still make my own because homemade always tastes fresher, and I love the Zen moment when my hands massage flour, butter and shortening into a cornmeal-like texture.




My biscuit cutter has gone AWOL. But I think Lee would have given a slow, southern nod of approval if he’d been present when I used a screw cap from a Mason jar to punch out the rounds.




The hardest part of this entire recipe is the waiting. Those mini-pies bake for 15 long minutes and are supposed to cool for 10 even longer minutes. Leave the house. Take a walk. Burn off some calories. When you come back, you’re going to finish every last one.




Curry Pork Pies
12 Servings

½ cup bacon, chopped
¾ lb. ground pork
¾ cup onions, chopped
¼ green bell pepper, diced
¼ cup carrots, diced
1 ½ Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour
¾ cup chicken stock
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Pie crust:
10 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cubed, plus softened butter to grease muffin tin
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
8 to 10 Tbsp. ice water
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. whole milk

• To make the filling: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 minutes, until the bacon is lightly crisped and some of the fat has rendered out.
• Add the ground pork, onions, bell pepper, carrots, ginger and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften and the pork is cooked through.
• Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and pork and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, curry powder, soy sauce, salt and pepper, stir well, and cook for about 2 minutes. Has the liquid cooked off but the filling still looks moist? Good. Transfer it to a bowl and let cool in the refrigerator while you make the crust.
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with a little soft butter. Keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use.
• To make the pie crust, measure the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the shortening and butter and, using a fork or your fingers, work them into the flour until you have a granular texture (like cornmeal). If the butter starts to soften, stop and chill the mixture in the refrigerator. Add the water gradually and work it in just until the mixture clumps together to form wet dough; don’t overwork the dough. Dust with a little extra flour and divide the dough in half. Shape into 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.
• Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and put it on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 15-by-20-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass jar, punch out 12 5-inch rounds of dough, rerolling scraps if necessary.
• Line the prepared muffin tin with the dough rounds. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg with the oil and milk in a small bowl. Brush the inside of each crust with some of the egg wash to seal it, reserving the remaining egg wash for the top crusts.
• Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the chilled filling into each pie crust.
• Roll out the second disk of dough on the floured surface about 1/8-inch thick. Using a slightly smaller biscuit cutter or a 3-inch ring mold, cut out 12 rounds. Drape a round over each pie and use your fingers to crimp the edges together.
• Brush the top with the reserved egg wash. Use a fork to poke holes, or a sharp paring knife to cut an X, in the top of each pie.
• Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pies are puffed and golden; you should see a little bit of the juices bubbling up through the holes. This will make you hungry, so take them out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tins to prevent them form crumbling. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permissions from Artisan Publishers

Which local chef would you nominate to go on Top Chef and why? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Ben, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers. Ben, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



Top Chef: The Ultimate Burger Challenge

Friday, August 2nd, 2013



Sauce Magazine and Alive Magazine present an epic summer grill-off, Top Chef: The Ultimate Burger Challenge. This homegrown competition features six local chefs pitted against each other for the chance to be crowned Top Chef 2013. Participating are Zach Rice of Three Monkeys, Bob Waters of Blueberry Hill, Mike Johnson of Sugarfire Smokehouse, Eric Brenner of Alumni Saint Louis, Ian Craig of Sub Zero Vodka Bar and Matt Galati of The Dam. The chefs will grill up their best burgers, and attendees can sample each one in mini form.

Tickets, available here, are $25 online or $30 at the door. Attendees will receive six mini burgers, two complimentary beverages and enjoy live entertainment.

What: Live grill-off, tasting and entertainment

When: Aug. 18, Noon – 4 p.m.

Where: Circa Properties, 5501 Pershing Ave., St. Louis



Sauce Celebrity Chef Series Presents an Evening with Edward Lee

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013


Join Sauce Magazine, in partnership with Left Bank Books, for the next Sauce Celebrity Chef Series event with Edward Lee.

Lee, chef-owner of 610 Magnolia and MilkWood in Louisville, Ky., came to national attention as a three-time James Beard Award Finalist for Best Chef: Southeast and as a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas. At this intimate event, which takes place at Taste, Lee will mingle with guests over passed hors d’oeuvres as he discusses and signs his first book, Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen. The cookbook features 130 dishes that meld Lee’s Korean heritage with his French culinary training and Southern home.

Tickets, available here, are $50 each and include Smoke & Pickles-inspired hors d’oeuvres prepared by the chefs at Taste, a Bourbon Sweet Tea cocktail featuring Jefferson’s Bourbon, and a copy of Smoke & Pickles.

What: A conversation and book signing with chef Edward Lee, food and drink

When: Aug. 13 – 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Taste, 4584 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.361.1200

Only 60 tickets are available for the event, which is expected to sell out quickly.



Sauce Celebrity Chef Series presents a morning with Richard Blais

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Attention St. Louis foodophiles and Top Chef aficionados, crack open your March calendars because Bravo’s Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais is coming to The Lou.

As part of our Sauce Celebrity Chef Series, Blais will join us on March 30 from 10 a.m. to noon at The Market at The Cheshire. While attendees munch on fresh treats provided by The Market, Blais will provide demonstrations of his expert cooking techniques. From his winning Top Chef dishes (Remember his cornbread with foie gras ice cream and whipped mango?) to his use of liquid nitrogen, ready all your burning questions, for Blais will also be conducting a Q&A session.

Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased here. A ticket includes savory snacks and a signed-copy of Blais’ new cookbook, Try This At Home. Want more Blais? Also on March 30, The Cheshire is hosting a dinner with Blais; find more details here.

By the Book: Bryan and Michael Voltaggio’s Volt Ink

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

When the opening spread of a cookbook boasts side-by-side forewords from José Andrés and Charlie Palmer, you know it isn’t going to be like other cookbooks. And Volt Ink, the beautiful new book from Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, doesn’t disappoint. Most food fanatics know the Voltaggio brothers from their time on Top Chef. Those who watched the popular food competition show on Bravo know that, despite sharing a last name and an affinity for the stove, these two men are as different as night and day. And their forewords paint just such a picture.

Andrés describes Michael – who worked for the renowned chef when he was opening The Bazaar in Los Angeles – as “extremely intense” and “very rock and roll,” (read: bad boy). while he labels Bryan “very measured, reserved, even formal.” He then tells the story of how Michael decided to leave his spot in the kitchen at The Bazaar for Top Chef: “José, my brother is doing it,” he said. “I have to go.” And so the reader begins to understand the close and extremely competitive relationship between these two siblings. Palmer, who at one point had both Michael and Bryan working in his restaurants, furthers the narrative, describing the siblings as “a pair of raconteurs who set out to tell the same story, but each in a very personal, very prideful way.” Palmer also connects the dots between the two men, highlighting their parallels in the way they source ingredients, how they use them and how they plate them (with the eye, frustration and precision of an artist).

As you can imagine by now, Volt Ink is a book of extraordinary measures – the kind of gorgeous tome you display proudly on your coffee table and watch as guests ogle over the jaw-dropping images and intricate recipes. But as grandiose as this book is, it’s also a story about family. It’s about two brothers and the memories they share. It’s about the families both brothers have created in each of their restaurants. And it’s about how all of those families made these two men into the chefs they are today.

It’s only appropriate, then, that the book is broken into 20 families – food families, that is: Avian, Buckwheat, Citrus, Composite, Crustacean, Freshwater Fish, Funghi, Goosefoot, Gourd, Grain, Laurel, Legume, Lily, Mammal, Mint, Mollusk, Mustard, Nightshade, Parsley and Saltwater Fish. Within each family, there are several ingredients, each of which both brothers showcase in a dish they created. This unique layout is a wonderful juxtaposition of the brothers’ personalities, styles and approaches to food.

Some recipes are twists on a classic, like Michael’s Truffle Brioche, Nori-Goat Butter (pictured above). To most of us, it looks like old-fashioned cinnamon rolls that we’d pull apart as the sweet smell of cinnamon and sugar permeated the air. In reality, it’s sweet brioche dough slathered with a coulis of black and white truffles and truffle salt and then brushed with the flavors of the sea: nori-goat butter made from seaweed and goat’s milk. Other recipes aren’t familiar at all, leaving you in awe of a mind that can concoct such unique dishes, such as Bryan’s Venison, Creamsicle Potatoes, Cranberry Granola, Coffee (pictured below). No matter how different, all of the recipes are detailed, precise and surprising.

Just as with the other books we’ve featured this month, this book is obviously not for the novice cook. Take a closer look at the components that make up these complex dishes, however, and you’ll see that there are some approachable recipes that, if mastered, would be invaluable additions to the home cook’s arsenal. Who wouldn’t want to know how to make banana polenta? Or jalapeño salt? Or everything bagel crumbs? Or vanilla brioche? Every once in a while, these elements can take this book from the coffee table to the kitchen table. And you just might be amazed at the ways in which they can elevate your go-to dishes.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Top Chef and, like me, spent season 6 throwing your support behind one Voltaggio brother and then the other (bad boy, good guy, bad boy, good guy), or you’ve never heard of them before, it’s impossible to resist the amount of passion, beauty and creativity that has gone into creating this book. It’s beautiful to look at, interesting to read and surprisingly accessible at points. It’s everything a food-lover would want in a cookbook. And if it makes you want to eat at Bryan’s Volt, Lunchbox and Family Meal or Michael’s Ink, well, then I’ll meet you there.

Who are you rooting for on this season of Top Chef and why? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to a win a copy of Volt Ink. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Sue, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of Pierre Hermé Pastries. Sue, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew. 

Top Chef: The Tour coming to St. Louis on June 30

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Bravo TV’s Top Chef is on the road again. The popular “cheftestant” showdown hit the road in May for its fifth annual mobile tour, and St. Louis is the final stop on a 15-city circuit that features a live, interactive cook-off between two former Top Chef contestants in front of fans and a panel of judges.

On Saturday, June 30 at Soulard Farmers Market, chefs Edward Lee and Kenny Gilbert will go head-to-head in a culinary battle for area fans. Lee, who appeared on the cable show in Season 9, is the chef-owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Ky., and a 2011 James Beard Foundation Award finalist in the Best Chef: Southeast category. Gilbert, corporate chef of 50 Eggs Restaurant Group in Miami, appeared on the show in Season 7. The free event will also include games, prizes and opportunities to meet both Lee and Gilbert.

Pre-registration tickets are gone, but walks-ins are still welcome. Just show up the day of the event, when remaining seats will be available on a first come, first-serve basis. Demo times are 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. More information about Top Chef: The Tour 2012 is available on Bravo’s website.

— Images courtesy of Bravo

By the Book: Stephanie Izard’s Seared Scallops and Bacon-Braised Swiss Chard

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I loved the Chicago season of Top Chef. My sister and I were so excited when Stephanie Izard won. Finally, a girl that wasn’t mean … we just loved her. Shortly after she opened Girl and the Goat, we took a trip up to Chicago to experience her food in real life. It was magnificent. The setting was casual and cool; she was there expediting and taking pictures with fans; and the food was just awesome.

We had soft-shell crabs with corn, oysters with an array of sauces, freshly baked bread, crispy pig face (It was pig face meat made into a patty and pan fried. Yeah.), scallops, sauteed green beans with fish sauce, goat pizza, ham frites. And everything from the cocktails to the goat-cheese cheesecake was divine. So I was over the moon when Izard came out with her book so that I could cook like her at home. While reading the book it feels like she’s right there with you, as she provides a back story for each dish. Whether it’s an experience in the restaurant business that lead to the dish, her thoughts on an ingredient or memories from her childhood, every recipe has a tale. I also appreciated that she has tips and tricks for almost every recipe — whether it’s a wine pairing, how to work with one of the ingredients in the recipe or a plan of attack on creating the dish to make it easier to execute. It’s her way of guiding and teaching the reader, and it sure is helpful.

I decided to make her Seared Scallops with Tomato and Truffle-Poblano Vinaigrette using scallops I picked up from Bob’s Seafood.

To go alongside them, I made her Bacon-Braised Swiss Chard because I had just picked up some bacon from The Farmers’ Larder at the Schlafly Farmers Market and wanted to put it to good use. The dish was just as I expected: delicious.

Seared Scallops with Tomatoes and Truffled-Poblano Vinaigrette
4 Servings

Truffled-Poblano Vinaigrette
2 poblano peppers
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white truffle oil
Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups diced heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
12 large sea scallops, side muscles removed
2 tsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. butter

1. To make the vinaigrette: Preheat a grill to medium-high or turn on a gas-powered stovetop burner. Char the peppers until blackened on all sides, turning several times. Transfer them to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let cool. Remove the charred skins from the peppers. Cut off the stems and slice the peppers in half to scrape out and discard the seeds.

2. In a blender, combine the vinegar, egg yolk, mustard and honey, and pulse together. With the blender running, add the olive oil and truffle oil in a slow drizzle through the opening in the lid until a thick emulsion forms. Add the roasted peppers and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

3. To make the scallops: Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and vinegar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready and serve.

4. Pat the scallops dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the scallops to the hot pan. (Avoid overcrowding the scallops in the pan. If they are too close together, they will steam instead of sear. Sear them in batches if the pan is not big enough to hold them all at once.) Let the scallops brown for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until a brown crust forms. Add the butter to the pan. Turn the scallops over to brown the other sides. While browning, spoon the melted butter over the tops of the scallops to baste them. Remove them from the pan once you’ve basted them well and all the edges are nice and browned.

5. To serve, put a spoonful of the vinaigrette on each plate, offset from the center. Add 3 scallops to each plate and a few heaping teaspoons of the tomatoes next to the scallops.

Up to 3 days ahead: Make the Truffle-Poblano Vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate.

Up to 1 hour ahead: Bring the vinaigrette up to room temperature while preparing the tomatoes.

Cook time: Sear the scallops

Ripe tomatoes always go great with rose wines, but if you can find a French red Gamay and lightly chill it, you’ll also get just enough soft texture to go with the rich scallops in this dish.

Bacon-Braised Swiss Chard
4 Servings

2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch strips
½ cup diced red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
Freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs. swiss chard, stemmed, leaves torn into large pieces
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1. Heat a Dutch oven or a large saute pan with high sides over medium heat. Add the bacon and render the fat.
2. When most of the fat is rendered from the bacon and it begins to crisp, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes longer. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
4. Add the chard, soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Stir until the chard wilts, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning, and serve hot.

Recipes from Girl in the Kitchen, By Stephanie Izard, Chronicle Books, 2011

Tell us about a chef whose food you’d travel to taste in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Girl in the Kitchen. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Amanda, whose comments on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of How to Cook Everything: The BasicsAmanda, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

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