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.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tomato Season

The first picking of local tomatoes has arrived. Here are two salads I made over this past weekend. Both salads included locally grown greens as well, but that will probably end soon, as it is getting too hot to grow salad greens. Both salads were dressed with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, garlic, and olive oil.

One included sliced red onions and anchovie fillets. The salty and intense richness of anchovie is marvelous with the sweet juiciness of the tomato, the onion adds crunch and another kind of sweetness.

The other was the classic Insalata Caprice. Sliced tomatoes were layered with slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh Basil. Traditionally this salad is dress with only olive oil, but I usually add red wine vinegar or Balsamic to the mix.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Party Platters

Here are a couple of party platters we made recently for private functions. One is simply a wheel of Brie with the top rind scraped off and filled with Pesto to which I added some sun-dried tomatoes. It is best if you warm it slightly in an oven so that it gets soft and gooey, then serve with toasted baguette slices.
The other is an antipasto platter chef William created. It consisted of melon wrapped with Proscuitto, Mortadella, Genoa salami, fresh Mozzarella, and some marinated vegetables. These platters are always striking focal points. We served this for a small benefit on our second floor front porch, that has been recently covered with a new awning. A local philanthropist rented the porch and threw a small cocktail party during the Porta Westfalica parade. They made a substantial donation to Gibault High School. Waterloo is sister city to Porta Westfalica in Germany, and every year there is a big German celebration with a parade and lotza hoopla. I've been told that in Porta Westfalica Germany, there is a similar Waterloo festival.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

One of my farmer growers brought me a bucket of beautiful zuchinni flowers. I stuffed them with a mixture of Ricotta cheese and crab flavored with shallot, basil, and oregano. I used an unusual tempura batter and then fried them. The batter was light, but somehow seemed too heavy still, perhaps I should have just floured the flowers. The sauce was a delicious puree of roasted sweet peppers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pan-fried Fingerling Potatoes with Zuchinni and Summer Squash

Fingerlings are so buttery and rich, and they crisp up easily, making great "home fried potatoes". Here I sliced some zuchinni and yellow squash and sauteed everything with garlic butter.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Day Old Bread and Tomatoes left from Saturday's Party

There is almost always some day old bread around the restaurant, and with some tomatoes left from Saturday's tomato salad I put together a bruschetta. I chopped the tomatos and tossed them with our balsamic vinaigrette and some fresh basil, I spooned the tomato mixture over toasted bread triangles and topped it with Provel cheese (a St louis favorite for pizza-and really more of a "cheese food" than a real cheese). I then browned them under the broiler. Since I left the restaurant early lastnight, I have no idea how they sold, but they were made of leftover bits and pieces and therefore was a good dish to insure against waste.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Glenn's Birthday Party

Saturday we got the opportunity to prepare a lovely birthday dinner for a good friend of the Gallaghers. We started with hor's douevres of bacon wrapped dates, and wonton chips topped with seared tuna and wasabi and seared salmon with Asian glaze. For cocktail hour while we passed hors douvres, James Gallagher made pitchers of his special punch and pitchers of Stingers, which is the preferred cocktail of the hosts.
Dinner started with Gazapacho with avocado and shrimp. Next we served hot house tomato and Heirloom tomato salad, the tomatoes were nicer than expected-considering the season, the tomato slices were on fresh greens from one of my farmer-growers, and the salad was dressed with blue cheese and a light vinaigrette-which is a welcome change from heavy creamy blue cheese dressings.

The entree was Tenderloin au poivre with cognac sauce, fingerling potatoes and zuchinni (these from another farmer-grower) sauteed in garlic butter, asparagus with sesame and soy.

We made creme brulee for dessert and there were also three birthday cakes as there were two birthdays that evening as well as that of the guest of honor.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lemon Blueberry Tart

The combination of lemon and blueberries is one of the most refreshing ways I know to end a Spring or Summer dinner or lunch. I make a sweet pastry with some sugar and sometimes an egg-it is one of those obnoxious doughs to try and roll, I usually end up rolling it between plastic wrap and pushing it into the tart pan-but it also works well with a traditional pie dough. In any case, prebake your shell and cool it.

This is one of the easiest lemon curds I've ever made. The only two things to remember is always use slow gentle heat, and never let it got too hot, just hot enough to thicken the custard.

2 Tablespoons lemon zest

1 cup fresh lemon juice

4 large eggs

3/4 cup butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and dried

1 cup blueberry jelly, melted and strained

Whisk the zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2 quart heavy, non-reactive pan
Add all the butter and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture holds the mark of the whisk-do not boil

Strain the curd through a mesh strainer and refrigerate

Fill pre-baked shell with the curd, top with the blueberries and glaze with the strained blueberry jelly

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lobster and Vegetable Tempura on Rice Sticks with Apricot Sweet and Sour

It has been a little too busy for writing the blog lately. And when we are doing something new or interesting it seems the camera is in another location or it isn't possible to take pictures at that time. But here is a dish that I taught in another cooking class last night. It is a very light tempura coating on some vegetables and chunks of lobster. It is presented on fried rice sticks with apricot sweet and sour sauce served on the side.

The tempura batter is made with one egg, ice water and rice flour, whipped into a thin batter. First dust the vegetables and lobster chunks with all purpose flour, then dip them into the batter and plunge them into 350 to 375 degree hot oil (peanut is best if you're not allergic).

The rice sticks are fun to make. You drop them into the hot oil and the puff up beautifully, and make an interesting way to present the tempura. They also add extra crunch and taste delicious when they absorb some of the apricot.

The apricot sweet and sour is a recipe from Fusion Food Cookbook by Hugh Carpenter and Terri Sandison, a husband and wife team who create beautiful books-he cooks and she photographs. I had the honor of assisting Hugh in one of his classes at the Kitchen Conservatory a couple of years ago, and he presented me with an autographed copy of his book. Dried apricots, apricot nectar, rice wine vinegar, ginger and chili are cooked together and blended into a smooth sweet and sour sauce that will knock your socks off.