Friday, December 07, 2007

Smoked Trout

I got some beautiful smoked trout recently. I think smoked trout always makes a delicious appetizer. I sort of dress out the plate as I would for smoked salmon. I grilled some baguette slices, made a cucumber-sour cream-dill relish, chopped egg, onion, and tomato with some horseradish sauce on the side.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cider Braised Pot Roast

This was labeled an English Arm Roast at the butcher shop, but most English arm roasts on the net are described as boneless. This one had a chunk of bone at the top as well as some short ribs attached. It was held together with a thick wooden skewer. I always the pick the roasts with alot of big bones because they taste better and make better sauces and gravies, eventhough they are more difficult to carve in any kind of orderly fashion. I browned the roast, then added some hard apple cider mixed with some beef broth and vegetables and braised it in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours. It was tender and juicy, and made a delicious gravy. I roasted some carrots, fingerling potatoes, parsnips, brussels sprouts, and pearl onions alongside.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Grilled Marlin with Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce

First I marinated the fish steaks in a little white wine, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil, before grilling. For the sauce I roasted some sweet red peppers and then cooked them with some shallot and garlic in chicken stock. I added a tablespoon of sugar and red wine vinegar to pick up the flavors a bit. I pureed the pepper-stock mixture, which created this beautiful sauce-no further thickening required. Next I topped the steak with a touch of lobster butter to melt across the top before serving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Turban Squash Stuffed with Curried Pork and Rice

Start by cutting off the top of a Turban Squash, scrape out the seeds and strings. Brush the inside of the squash with melted butted and brown sugar-up the side as well, and roast at 375 degrees until the squash is tender, but not collapsing.

While the squash is roasting, saute some curry spices in clarified butter, add garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Just wilt the vegetable slightly and let the spice aroma develop and add ground pork, brown slightly and add rice. Cook the rice briefly until it becomes opaque-like preparing a pilaf. Add raisins and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until rice is almost done-al dente. Add some nuts if you like them.

Fill the squash with the pork mixture, and return it to the oven for 30 minutes for a final cooking stage and to let all the marvelous flavors marry. Cut into pie wedges and serve a slice of squash with some of the stuffing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Seafood Pasta

I bought this ridiculously expensive pasta a farmer's market-lemon and spinach. I thought the ruffled edges looked like they might hold sauce well. I sauteed shellfish in garlic butter (U10 shrimp, little necks, cherry stones, mussels, and U10 sea scallops, I added a splash of white wine and a cup of marinara to the pan drippings and tossed in the cooked pasta-very tasty-also added fresh basil, oregano, and thyme.

Potato encrusted Mahi Mahi on Pineapple Linguini

This is a quick trick for tweaking fish fillets. First soak the fillets in a spiced buttermilk (I like garlic, paprika, cayenne), then dredge them in potato flakes and simply sautee in clarified butter. They are surprisingly tasty and pair well with creamy sauces. For this dish we used mahi mahi fillets, and made a creamy vegetabe sauce for linguini with some pineapple chunks and orange zest for a bit of a surprise. It sells pretty well, garnished with some additional sauteed shrimp and fresh basil, it also has eye appeal


Some of the kids carved pumpkins for the restaurant last week. On Halloween, all the customers voted and the winner got $50 plus some ghoulish gifts. While they were carving pumpkins, I was making soup. I think I got this recipe from an old Gourmet magazine-I've been making several years, so I'm not sure where I got it. I sauteed some curry powder, shallot, garlic, and mushrooms briefly in butter. Add pumpkin puree and thin with chicken stock until it has your desired consistency and simmer a few minutes-it's a very quick soup-once you have the pumpkin puree (you can also use canned). Taste for salt and pepper, and add a couple tablespoons of honey, if you like your pumpkin a little sweet, plus the sweetness is a great counterpoint to curry. Stir in a couple tablespoons of cream to round the flavor and serve with additional sauteed wild mushrooms to garnish.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Roasted Autumn Vegetables

I've been sending out platters of roasted fall vegetables. Here I have used butternut and acorn squash, sweet potatoes, red peppers, purple onion, and parsnips. You have to roast everything separately because they all have different cooking times, and by roasting everything separately and then combining them at the end for a final communal roasting they each retain their individual characteristics. Glazed with butter and brown sugar, they are irresistible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Strip Steaks with Devils on Horseback

Angels on Horseback is an appetizer often associated with New Orleans. It is a plump oyster wrapped in bacon and broiled or grilled-either on a skewer, a toothpik, on on the half shell. They are, by legend, called Angels on Horseback because the oysters curl at the edges as they cook and look like angel wings-whatever, I doubt most people have seen actual angel wings, but it is a rather poetic title. To make their evil twin, the Devil on Horseback, you must douse the oysters with hot sauce before cooking them. I skewered my devils, doused them with "Cajun Sunshine" and grilled them along side the strip steaks.

It turns out oysters with bacon and beef actually date back to Victorian England-yawn-New Orleans seems more exciting-and in England and Ireland they make their Devils on Horseback with prunes wrapped in bacon-at least that's what I read on the internet. I'll stick with my version-rich, seductive, and a little bit noughty.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moules Marinier

Means mussels mariner style, or mussels with white wine and herbs. These were wild harvested mussels and they were plump and delicious. Because they were wild, there is always the possibility of grit, so I cleaned them well and pulled the little mass that attaches the mussels to their underwater home. I then let them sit in a strong vinegar-water solution which helps them expell any grit inside the shells. For this batch I took 1/4 cup butter and briefly sauteed garlic, shallot, and a mixture of herbs (all things still growing in my garden-oregano, basil, mint, sage, thyme, chive), I added 1/2 cup white wine and brought it to the boil. Next add the mussels and cover and simmer over medium heat for a couple minutes until the mussels open. Discard any that do not open. Add some lemon squeezes, if you like, and eat with lots of crusty bread to sop up the the incredible broth.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grilled Radicchio, Rooasted Pears and Shrimp

This is a recipe I'm working on for some classes in January. I roasted the pears with a little honey, I quartered the heads of Radicchio, brushed them with olive oil and grilled them. I sauteed the shrimp in garlic butter, but I think I will change the shrimp to seared sea scallops for the final recipe. I next made a vinaigrette with Balsamic vinegar mixed with the juices left from the roasting pears. The honey was a nice counter balance to the bitter Radicchio. The flavors worked beautifully, but I think the sea scallops might make a more appealing plate.

Monday, October 08, 2007

It's still Summer

Usually the trees are gold and red, and the temperatures are lowering and approaching frost levels in the mornings around here, but not this year. It is still sunny and in the 90's. I did add an apple salad to the summer menu-so I guess that makes it sort of a fall menu. I used Fuji apples with some grapes, celery, and peanuts. The only other unusual thing I did was to brine the ribs witin an apple juice brine. I did the ribs very slowly over almost dead coals for over 2 hours.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Delmonicos with Tapenade Butter and Roasted Squash

Fall is here and the sweet fall vegetables are so appealing. I roasted this squash, I can't recall the name-Sugar Baby-or something like that, that I got at Soulard Farmer's market. I roasted the squash cut in half with the flesh side up. Many recipes will direct you to place them on a baking sheet with the flesh side down with a bit of water on the bottom of the pan. This steams them. I prefer my way as the flesh will carmelize and brown and be sweeter. I rubbed the steaks with garlic and olive oil before grilling them ove charcoal. I made a steak butter with a tapenade which I incorporated with butter. All was delicious. The tapenade butter is a wonderful little addition to many things. It is marvelous over steamed cauliflour and tops a tuna steak just as tastily as a beef steak.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuscan Pork Stew over Polenta

I tried this recipe out of last month's Food and Wine Magazine-it just sounded so good to me. However it must not have sounded good to the guests, because practically no one ordered it. The dish was savorous and marvelous so it was disappointing that it wouldn't sell. It is an easy recipe, but of course takes quite a long time simmering. Some famous Italian chef's aunt makes it nightly in her Tuscan restaurant, other than that it is just a very straightforward braise. I used large chunks of boneless pork shoulder-not alot of vegetables-some onions, carrots, and tomato. I made a creamy polenta using half milk and half water. Most of the waiters didn't know what polenta was, so we ended up with "a creamy Italian corn meal" as the description they could use at table, probably not a delicious enough description.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Commercial State Bank Anniversary Celebration
CSB celebrated 125 years in business last week (one of those lucky banks that remained open during the depression). They handle most of the restaurant's financials, and they are also our next door neighbor. They asked us to provide some refreshments for about 300 guests. We laid out platters of ante pasto, crudites, and fruit and cheese. The bank employees passed trays of pork skewers with peach glaze and mini Beef Wellingtons. It was one of the easiest catering job I've even done, considering their back door is right next to our back door-easy set up and easy clean up. They had a harpist perform which is always rather elegant.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The past couple of weeks we have been preparing Barramundi. It is a fish native to Australia. We have been getting it fresh, and it is just marvelous. It is a mildly sweet fish with snow white flesh. We bread crumb it lightly and put it on the grill. The first weekend I sauced it with a Champagne veloute, but last weekend I changed the sauce to one flavored with sesame oil, fresh ginger, soy, sherry, and black and white sesame seeds.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Small Intimate, and Lovely Wedding

A wedding took place Sunday afternoon on the third floor. 30 guests, with six of them children. It was an older couple, with mostly their children and grandchildren in attendance. They were a beautiful older couple, but I won't publish their pictures or names for privacy reasons. The bride chose simplicity and understatement, and it was quite striking. Mini potted yellow roses adorned the dining table, which was one large U shape. The bride and her attendant carried yellow rose and white orchid bouquets, which later became centerpieces. The couple promised their vows between yellow rose standards. It was a sweet scenario.

Their lunch was served at 2:45 PM after the ceremony. They served Caesar salad, Prime Rib with cheese crusted potatoes in ramekins and hoisin glazed green beans with black sesame seeds. The wedding cake was cut ans served as dessert.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Seafood Tostada

I made this for myself, but it is going to be an off menu appetizer special tonight. It was too large for an appetizer, so I am going to eliminate the lobster and make it smaller. I started with a tortilla, crisped, toppped with lettuce, tomato, and thinly sliced red onions. I composed crab and lobster meat over the lettuce and placed a grilled prawn on top. I dressed the salad with a vinaigrette made with lime juice and tequila. I garnished with avocado, jalapeno,sour cream, and lime wedges. It was refreshing delightful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shrimp Burger

In honor of my cousin Kevin, who has commanded me to "lighten up" in my last post's comments, I made shrimp burgers. They seem sort of whimsical and light. I read an article recently about the Japanese McDonalds who developed shrimpburgers for the Japanese palate, and it intrigued me.

So shrimp burgers had been on my mind, when Josh, my pantry cook brought me this recipe for shrimp balls that he makes for his step father. Instead of balls, I had him form them into patties and we made the first batch of shrimp burgers. I made wasabi mayonaise to serve with the burger. They were quite tasty, but both of the recipes need some tweaking before I sell them in the restaurant. In one of those ironic twists of fate, Josh is highly allergic to shellfish, so he can't taste them, and he has to wear surgical gloves when he makes them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon

It has been a rough month. And it doesn't seem to be letting up. Last week we parted ways with a key kitchen employee-it was tough decision, but best for everyone involved, including the employee who needed a change. I have someone on board to replace him, but he has commitments until the middle of September. All my cooks right now have gotten their training at the restaurant, with the exception of the lunch cook, who helped me open the kitchen. The other guys all started as dishwashers.

Experience is a great thing, but there is something to be said about the guys who come up the ranks from the dish ring. They have basically learned my way of doing things. Experienced cooks sometimes bring bad habits they've developed in other kitchens with them, and culinary students sometimes expect things to run like a text book-which they seldom do.

So I decided to treat myself to a really good bottle of wine. Duckhorn is one of those cult favorites-but they are famous for their Merlot. I prefer the Cab it is so elegant and delicious with juicy black fruit flavors of currant, black cherry and rich intense mouth feel. Perfect with a simply grilled Delmonico steak.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Grilled Vegetables

I've been neglecting the blog because I've been so busy at work. Lots of private parties on the third floor and the Sparta Gun Club is holding one of their big shoots. People come from all over the world for this competition shoot. Unfortunately it has been during a record breaking heat wave. But this event literally packs the restaurant every night. And heat wave be damned the people are still shooting and eating.

One dish that is always welcome, even during this extreme heat, is grilled vegetables. I toss the vegetables on the grill for a few minutes-I like them to retain their bright color and a bit of crunch, then mix them with a balsamic vinaigrette and serve them at room temperature. They are so refreshing as a buffet side dish or as part of an antepasto.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Terres Major Steaks with Green Fried Tomatoes, Ham, and Bearnaise

I have been serving this cut of beef as a Thursday special for over a year now. It is cut from a little used shoulder muscle. It resembles tenderloin, but is smaller cut into medallions, they almost look like tenderloin tips. I have heard of some places passing them off as such. I have served them in several ways, butterflied, stuffed, wrapped with bacon-etc. They sell really well and make a great steak option, keeping the cost under $20-difficult for good beef steak. I enjoy them. They have great beefy flavor while being a bit chewier than tenderloin, they are much more tender than sirloin-another option to keep steak prices under $20.

This is their latest form. First the medallions are marinated with garlic, Rosemary, and olive oil. Grill the medallions;to serve, place a fried green tomato on the plate, top the tomato with a thin slice of ham, then top with the medallion. A spoonful of Bearnaise over the steak finishes it. A little bit on the fussy side, I agree, but quite delicious.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blackberry Season
Wednesday New York Times food section-I read it religiously almost every Wednesday-had a long article on blackberries. New varieties and hybrids such as Marion and Boysen have revolutionized the world of blackberries. The new berries have smaller seeds, ripen faster while retaining their shape and juice, and are now grown in places that were previously inhospitable to the plant. I had bought these berries at a farm stand the previous week and made the pies last week, but the article only increased my appreciation of the berry. I used a new recipe that called for tapioca to thicken the pies, which in theory let the berries retain their shape better through the baking process-I think I'll just use sugar, corn starch and butter in the future-the old way is the best way sometimes.

Still the pies were good, and the color lovely.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sea Scallops with Gooseberries

I headed out to Whole Foods, I had the need for Sea Scallops. Usually I buy fish for my personal use from the restaurant stock, because I know how fresh it is. Whole Foods is one of the few retail outlets where I will buy fish-(the other being Bob's Seafood). Whole Foods uses the same wholesaler that I do, Plitt Seafood. I know I've talked about them before, but their operation is still amazing to me. I seldom order Scallops for the restaurant, they don't seem to sell that well. I had in mind pairing them with some peaches or nectarines, but when I saw fresh gooseberries I changed strategies, knowing that the sour berries would be a perfect counterpoint to the scallops.

I first made a shellfish broth by steaming clams and mussels in wine with mirepoix. I reserved the clams and mussles and tossed them with remoulade and fresh chives and chilled them for a seperate salad.

I tossed the gooseberries into the shellfish broth with a bit of cream and reduced it slightly. I seasoned the sauce with some cayenne (always cayenne with seafood) and a teaspoon of sugar-I know that sounds heretical, but those berries are so tart that a bit of sugar adds some ying to the yang. I also like the colors of this dish the orange of the carrot, the green of the gooseberry and the white scallops with browned edges.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Mezze is defined in my "Food Lover's Companion" as Greek hors d ouevres, and it is spelled meze with one z. Wikipedia has some other spellings as well, some containing a's. In a cookbook "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden it is spelled mezze and defined as hors d ouevres. So there is really no clear definition, but they seem to be a food phenomena throughout the Middle East including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, as well as the Balkans.

I made baba ghanoush, which is an eggplant spread, flavored with tahini, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. It is incredibly delicious and so simple. Start by grilling a whole eggplant over medium coals until the skin is charred and the flesh soft-very similar to raosting peppers. Scrape off the skin and let the eggplant sit in a strainer to drain off the juices, which can be bitter. Puree the eggplant with some tahini and garlic. Flavor to your liking with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. I also added some fresh chopped parsley. You eat it spread on pita bread.

I also made hummus, which is a chick pea puree flavored again with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. I added some fresh tomato wedges and purple onion slices. Again, heaped on little pita triangles-so refreshing to nibble on a hot Sunday afternoon with a glass of wine.
I also got some fresh figs and stuffed them with Camembert cheese-this was a misstep, the rich cheese sort of drowned out and overwhelmed the the figs-I should have let them stand on their own.
The two spreads look pretty similar, the top one is the baba ghanoush, and the bottom is the hummus.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sweet Corn

The sweet corn is coming in. At the first of the season, we sell quite alot. I grill some of the ears and serve with a spiced butter. On Fridays this whole month I've been serving them with Alaskan King crab legs in a bowl with new potatoes, all poached in a rich seafood broth-with plenty of drawn butter on the side. These crab legs are marvelous-not your standard "all you can eat" which involve too much effort to get the meat at table, not to mention their smaller size. To me crab and fresh corn are perfect partners-sweet and rich, truly luxurious.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Guinness Ribeyes with Irish Whiskey Butter

I first made this special a couple of weeks ago, and it was quite popular. It has increased rib eye sales by 30% and has only been offered on Friday and Saturday nights. I might add it to the permanent menu. The steak starts out with a marinade including shallot, garlic, tarragon, mustard, soy sauce, and of course Guinness. It is then grilled and finished with an Irish whiskey compound butter. The butter is made by taking a couple cups of the marinade and reducing to a glaze, then add 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey and flame, turn off heat and add 2 tablespoons of worcestershire. When the whiskey-marinade reduction cools, whip it into butter, form the butter into small cylinders and refrigerate until firm. When the steak is grilled to the temperature specified on the order, it is topped with a slice of compound butter to melt accross the top of the steak.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Prosperity Sandwich

Our Prosperity sandwich has been featured in the book titled "Eat This before You Diet" by Ian Jackman. This is a sandwich developed at the Mayfair Hotel in St Louis. I also worked at the hotel a couple years ago-not as the chef, but as the Restaurant and Bar Manager. I first started making this sandwich for the Sappington Barn-a restaurant I owned in the 1990's. It was a favorite of little old ladies who lunch alot. It is not something I would choose to be known for , but I guess you can't be picky with free publicity.

I toast English muffins and layer turkey, ham, and cheddar. This is put under the broiler and then topped with bacon before it is sent to the table. The Mayfair still serves a version of this sandwich including the turkey and ham, but topped with steamed broccoli and asparagus, and then topped with cheese sauce. I don't like the cheese sauce-I'd rather have a slice of cheese-melted slightly.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two Tasty Pastas with Fresh Peas

Fresh peas are becoming such a problem. My farmer growers don't like to grow them-no one wants to put the work of shelling them into their routine. These peas came from a grower already shelled. Although they were fresh, they were disappointing to me because they were a bit mature and starchy-not the tiny sweet orbs I wanted-nonetheless they were still tasty mixed with some additional ingredients and noodles.

Very simple and delicious. The first is linguini tossed with shrimp and grilled salmon. The sauce was Vodka Tomato cream-we reduced cream, added some of our red sauce and 1/4 cup vodka and cooked it briefly before tossing in the shrimp and salmon to cook in the sauce, then we added the already cooked peas and noodles. We finished the dish with fresh dill.

The second is from the cookbook author Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cooking". It is titled Paglia e Fieno. The translation means "hay and straw"-you use both egg and spinach noodles, so it whimsically looks like a mixture of hay and straw. This time the noodles are sauced with reduced cream, wine, wild mushrooms, peas, and parmesan. Before serving I topped the noodles with some thinly sliced Proscuitto, which makes it essentially noodles with ham and peas-the Italian sounds exotic, while the American sounds mundane-in any case, to paraphrase (badly) Shakespeare "a pasta by any other name would taste just as sweet"-so call it what ever you want.