Monday, July 31, 2006

Cooling summer dishes

The tomatoes are ripe and delicious.
for the restaurant I made the ubiquituous Caprezi salad (tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic), chilled watermelon and peach soup-flavored with a little fresh ginger.

At home a triple creme cheese with fresh blueberries and nectarines with gin and tonics. Temperatures are over 100.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Seafood slaw

I have been making this salad for years, usually with crab, but any seafood works. Just shredded cabbage, grated onion, mayo, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and sometimes dill or tarragon. It is refreshing to eat in this heat. Make the slaw and let it sit an hour in the refrigerator, fold in crab and chopped shellfish, garnish with whole shellfish, tomato, and sliced avocado. Sometimes I drizzle the tomato and avocado with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stormy Wednesday

It has truly been a challenging week in the aftermath of the storm last wednesday. The storm hit Waterloo-the power went out. Two tables had not been served yet. The dining rooms actually became more charming with just the candle lamps glowing, but the kitchen became at least the second ring of Hell-cooking by candle lamp is not nearly as charming as dining by candle lamp light. The first table was a no brainer and went off quickly, but the second table ordered medium rare steaks after already consuming two bottles of $100 plus Silver Oak Cabernet. So we now have expense and extremely discriminating palates thrown into the pressure pot. Then I remembered touch is always the best way to test for doneness of meat, and I relaxed a bit. Just in the way blind musicians are more sensitive, my temporarily blind grill man performed superbly with perfect steaks. I think I'll blindfold him on Saturday nights just for the fun of it-just kidding Tim-great job.

We've tried a couple Tutti di mare recipes one creamy, one tomato, one white wine and garlic. It was my choice light and delicious for summer.

Also made duck this week with fresh Monroe county peaches-quite tasty. Picture doesn't do the dish justice

And lastly pot roast -I know-in July? Because of the storm it was difficult getting deliveries. One delivery was a grade of prime rib not acceptable to me for anything but pot roasting. In the spirit of making lemonade when handed a case of lemons, we made pot roast. We sold out. Who knew people were dying for pot roast on a Saturday night in July?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

It seems I'm on a fish and shellfish kick lately. It may seem at odds with my preference to eat locally grown things, but last I checked Missippi River had no Mahi Mahi , or shrimp or crabs. They arrive via a company named Plitt. They are based in Chicago, and my sales rep tells me the fish is 48 hours out of the water, and I do believe him. I have never refused delivery on anything sent to me. I once refused an entire truck of 48 cases because the peppers were soft. That's extreme, and I was making a point because every week there was one or two things not acceptable. When that happens they start paying attention to your order.

I always write about my specials, but our menu items are nice too. They usually start life as a special. When one sells particularly well and doesn't cost too much to produce I move it onto the menu the next time I change it. One menu appetizer we do at the restaurant is a seafood cocktail. We use an ice cream sundae glass and layer it with crab, lobster, shrimp, cocktail sauce, and chiffonade of lettuces.

Back to the fish story, The fish leave Chicago by truck. My order is routed through Springfiled, IL. In Spring field he entire St Louis area order is moved onto a secondtruck (this is about 3:30 to 4 AM). The St Louis order arrives in St Louis in the morning (6:30 or thereabouts) from there it is divided into smaller trucks and routed for delivery. It all works remarkably well. Sometimes the truck is a little late, but not nearly as aften as some of the local comapanies.

Two other suucesful fish dished this week were blackberry and mustard glazed Mahi Mahi with blackberry wine sauce, and seared tuna on noodle salad with wasabi cream and wonton chips.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sunday Panfried chicken dinner

I don't usually do fried chicken at home. We make a lovely family-style fried chicken dinner at the restaurant, but Dan's sisters were coming-some of them aren't very adventuresome eaters-they requested fried chicken. I fried it in my prized Griswold iron skillet which was a gift from my mama when I moved into my first apartment in Chicago over 30 years ago.

Also on the menu-deviled eggs, potato salad, carrot-apricot-date salad, and pineapple upside cake. It could have been the 1950's in the prosperous and peaceful "I Like Ike" era. I don't know how to characterize this era other than violent, divided and intolerant, and I can't think of an affectionate saying for our current president like "I like Ike". I could resort to name calling, but I won't. It is amazing how good fried chicken and lazy summer Sundays can let you forget the troubles of the world for awhile

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Monroe county sweet corn

Last week we got the first of the locally grown sweet corn. Mrs. Crook, a local farmer, grows alot of things for me and last week was the first of the sweet corn. I grilled the corn in the husk and served it with a spicy cajun butter. Sales were brisk.

Also the Mahis mahi was a big seller. I had planned to use an Emeril Lagasse recipe, which includes a fussy pecan breading and a delicious piquant lemon sauce, but the fish truck got there too late and I didn't have time to get all the prep done, so instead I marinated the fish and served it topped with a lemon-crab butter with some fresh chopped dill. It was a lovely dish and probably nicer than Emeril's fussy one in some ways.