Monday, December 28, 2009

Petite Fillets with Green Peppercorns, Port Wine, and Stilton

Last week Whole Foods had a sale on Stilton, so I couldn't resist buying some. That paired with a call from my meat supplier about an abundance of 4 ounce steaks-accidentally cut too small-could I use them for a much reduced cost. Indeed I could use all of it. This is a great sauce for Winter, so rich and complex, we used to make it at the Richard Perry Restaurant to sauce pork tenderloin (Hi Rich if you're reading this-thanks for all the great food). The sauce can also be tweaked to complement chicken or lamb as well.

2 Tablespoons minced shallot

2 cups rich beef or veal stock

1 cup port wine

2 cups cream

1/2 cup green peppercorns-preferably brined-rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup stilton cheese

Reduce the stock and wine with the shallots by half.

Add the cream and continue to reduce until sauce consistency.

Add the green peppercons and season with salt and pepper-remember the green peppercorns are already a bit spicy.

At the last minute, crumble in the cheese and whisk until the cheese begins to melt.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Palmiers
Traditionally Palmiers (Palm Leaf) are a puff pastry sugar cookie. Here I used a savory filling of sun-dried tomatoes instead of sugar. They are excellent with a glass of Champagne or a martini.
1 sheet of puff pastry makes about 15 slices, cut about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide.
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
2/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Coarsely chop the basil, tomatoes, garlic,and pine nuts-I used a food processor-could be done by hand
Slowly fold in the oil and cheese
Spread the pesto in a thin layer over the top of sheet of puff pastry
Using the long side of the pastry, begin to roll it up jelly-roll style, when you reach the middle, stop and begin to roll from the opposite side until the two rolls meet in the center
Make 1/2 inch slices and bake on parchment covered baking sheets
I baked them at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes in a convection oven

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hangtown Fry
This omelet became famous in the gold rush era of Northern California. Legend has it being served to both miners striking it rich in the gold fields as well as a popular request for the last meal for men about to be hung. It is a rich dish, and I don't prepare it too often but it is one of my all time favorite omelets. I fill my omelet with oysters, fried in cornmeal and a little cheese, then top with a little spicy chili-garlic sauce and another fried oyster. A little chopped scallion is also nice. Traditionally bacon is also part of the mix, but that is entirely too rich for me.
For the oysters:
Dust the oysters (3 to 4 per person, depending on the size) with a half and half mixture of corn meal and flour spiced with a bit of salt and cayenne.
Shallow fry the oysters in a saute pan until they are crispy and brown, drain on toweling.
For the omelet:
I use three eggs per person whisked with one tablespoon of water (water makes a fluffier omelet or use milk for a richer omelet), season with a bit salt and pepper.
Prepare your omelet pan and add the eggs, stir the eggs briefly until semi-set. place the fried oysters in the center of the eggs and top with a small amount of cheese. Begin rolling the omelet and flip it onto a serving plate. Garnish with some chopped scallion, a teaspoon of hot chili garlic paste and top with another fried oyster. Really good with a glass of champagne for a celebration brunch.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kitchen Conservatory Cooking Class

Another really terrific evening teaching a class at Kitchen Conservatory last night. I really do get to know alot of interesting people. I seem to do alot of talking at these classes, everyone is just so congenial. I started with the French Laundry's recipe for "Peas and Carrots". Almost any dish from that cookbook is challenging to say the least. Chef Thomas Keller's wit is on display here with this over the top dish. His idea of peas and carrots is this chive crepe filled with lobster and mascarpone, served with a sauce of ginger and carrot juice underneath and topped with a salad of pea shoots.

Next up were lamb chops with red currant-mustard buerre blanc served with pear-parsnip puree. Cognac, walnuts and chocolate filled the pie with cognac flavored whipped cream.

I took some liberties with the recipe as Chef Keller wrote it. For example to get 2 cups of carrot juice he starts with 3 pounds of carrots, put through a juicer-I purchased a good quality carrot juice from the health foods store. So of course I didn't have the carrot pulp to dehydrate, pulverize and turn into carrot dust to garnish the plate rims with. So I will present my mere mortal's interpretation of this food God's masterpiece.

Here are the steps, it could be done in a two day period.

1) Make the crepes

2) Make the lobster filling

3) Make the lobster glace and add to the filling

4) Make the carrot ginger emulsion

5) Make the pea shoot salad

6) Assemble the dish


1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons of melted butter

Place the ingredients in a blender and mix

Make the crepes in an 8" crepe pan, using about 2 ounces of batter per crepe

Place the crepes, presentation side down on parchment paper and cover until ready to assemble the crepes.

Lobster filling
1 pound cooked lobster meat-I used tails-chef keller used whole lobsters, but not the claw meat
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
1 cup marscapone
1 tablespoon lobster glace-recipe follows)
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Combine the ingredients and mix well
Lobster Glace
Lobster shells
carrots, onion, celery. parsley, bay leaf. thyme
3 to 4 cups of water
Simmer ingredients for at least 1 hour
Strain the stock and reduce the stock to 1 tablespoon-cool before adding to lobster filling
Carrot Ginger Emulsion
2 cups carrot juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup cream
3/4 pound butter, slightly softened
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taaste
Combine the juice, ginger, and grated carrot, simmer for ten minutes. Puree the mixture and return it to the sauce pan. Add the cream and reduce the mixture to about 1 cup. Slowly whisk in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pea Shoot Salad
1 cup pea shoots-I found them at an asian grocery store or you can sprout your own
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Make a dressing with the zest, juice, oil, salt, and pepper
Wash and dry the shoots.
Toss the shoots with the dressing and let marinate 1/2 hour, drain before using.
To Assemble the dish:
Fill the the crepes with the lobster filling (about 1/4 cup per crepe), making a neat little package, lay seam side down on a buttered baking sheet. Brush the tops of the crepes with a little melted butter
Heat the crepes in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes
Ladle some sauce on the center of the plate, use the back of a spoon to spread the suce into a small circle. Place a heated crepe on the center of the sauce, and top the crepe with some pea shoot salad.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Champagne, Fried Oyster Tostados, and New Art
We acquired a new painting this weekend. It is titled "Woodlawn #5" by William Quinn. It was painted in 1979 by Mr. Quinn when he was a professor of art at Washington University. He now resides and paints in Europe. It is a compelling canvas in the post expressionist style with gorgeous explosive colors. We opened a bottle of sparkling wine and nibbled on oyster tostados as we got acquainted and decided to fall in love with each other.
Corn tortillas, cut into canape size, crisped in hot oil and lightly salted.
Remoulade slaw made with green and red cabbage dressed with remoulade dressing.
Oysters dredged in cornmeal and flour and fried until brown and crispy.
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup creole mustard
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 garlic clove
1 scallion
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Puree everything in the food processor.
Use some to dress the slaw, and reserve some to spoon on top of the oysters.
Garnish with sliced scallion and cilantro.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spaghetti For Breakfast
This was Sunday morning's breakfast, a take on the Italian Carbonara. Traditionally the eggs are just scrambled into the hot noodles and cooked that way. I fried the eggs in the bacon drippings and placed them whole on top of the pasta which had been tossed with the cooked bacon and a little cream. It was really luscious, with the yolk making a rich eggy sauce. Unbelievably I had no parmesan cheese-can you imagine a chef's refrigerator without parmesan?-scandalous! Definitely add the cheese if you have it, if not, it is still a most satisfying breakfast.
1/2 pound cooked spaghetti, with a couple tablespoons of the cooking water reserved
4 rashers of bacon, cut into chunks and cooked until crisped, reserve the drippings
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 or 2 sage leaves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Place the cooked spaghetti in a sauce pan, add a couple tablespoons of pasta cooking water, add the cream.
Add the bacon to the cream.
Saute garlic and sage in the reserved bacon drippings, strain the drippings and return the drippings to the saute pan. Add the cooked garlic and sage to the spaghetti mixture.
Heat the spaghetti until it begins to simmer, turn off the heat and let the noodles steep while cooking the eggs. While the noodles steep they will absorb the cream.
Fry the eggs in the reserved bacon drippings, basting until the whites are set, but the yolk is still runny.
Place the pasta in shallow bowls and top with a fried eggs, top with salt, pepper, parsley, and parmesan cheese.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Weiner Schnitzel , Spaetzle, and Apple Fritter

I'll be running this special in the restaurant for the month of October. German food isn't at the top of the food trends, which all seem to be fixated on Italy and Spain at the moment, but they seem to always be welcome this time of year. For this dish I bread crumbed some tender veal cutlets and quickly sauteed them. I paired them with some Spatzle and sauced the dish with a reduction of hard apple cider, veal demi glace, and bacon. I added some apple fritters for fun.

The cutlets were from the leg, trimmed and lightly pounded, then dredged first in flour, then egg, and finally the bread crumbs. Let the breading set for 1/2 hour in the refrigerator. Saute quickly in a hot saute pan with a bit of oil.

The spaetzle are really easy as well.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Salt to taste and add couple gratings of fresh nutmeg

Mix up the ingredients and let them rest for 1/2 hour before pushing through the spaetzle cutter, a large holed colander will work if you do not have a spaetzle cutter. Just place the cutter or colander over boiling water and force the dough through the holes. When they float they are finished cooking. Remove them and hold for serving. When it's time to serve them just reheat with a bit of butter in a saute pan.

For the sauce:
4 rashers of bacon
2 tablespoons of flour
3 cups of hard apple cider
1 cup veal demi glace (can substitute rich chicken stock)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce I chopped up four rashers of bacon and cooked them in a sauce pan, add 2 tablespoons of flour and make a roux. When the flour is cooked, add 3 cups hard apple cider and 1 cup veal demi glace (you could use a strong chicken stock if you don't have the demi-glace, but the sauce will not be as sumptuous). Cook and reduce for a few minutes. Flavor the sauce with a combination of cider vinegar and sugar to taste. I start with a 1/4 cup of each and taste. Add more sweet or tart to get the right balance for you.
Apple fritters:
For the apple fritters, I cored and sliced the apples, battered them in my beer batter (I substituted the hard cider for beer in that recipe) and deep fried them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Baetje Farms Bloomsdale
Local farm cheeses are everywhere. I picked this goat's cheese up at Soulard's Farmer's Market last week. Baetje farms is located in Bloomsdale Mo. and the shape of the cheese is reminiscent of the hilly terrain of Bloomsdale. In actuality the cheese is inspired by Valencay, a French cheese that was originally made in a pyramid form until Napoleon, after a series of loses in Egypt stopped at the castle Valencay where the cheese was produced and lopped off the tops of the pyramids. Ever since then the cheese is made with a flattened top-in France and Missouri. The cheese is rolled in ash and salt before being aged. It is an American Cheese Association prize winner-I think it was second place, but I don't remember exactly. It is a lovely winner at that, with a creamy-buttery texture. Very mellow, slightly smokey and salty cheese.

Roti de Porc, poele (Casserole Roasted Pork)

Another Julia Child recipe. Since the "Julie /Julia" movie came out, Julia's book and recipes are on alot of people's minds lately, mine too it seems. Her recipes are so carefully written and explained, and the results from this one are so succulent and rich. This recipe uses the French technique of poele, which is simply a braised roast and translates as that all-American favorite from the 50's-casserole.
I marinated the roast over night in sherry wine with some chopped shallot, chopped garlic, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, black pepper and salt. Remove the roast from the marinade and dry before proceeding with the recipe.
Julia lists several vegetables that could be included. I used turnips, carrots, onion, and pears. Potatoes would also be good, of course, as would cabbage, parsnip, apple, sweet potato, or squash.
3 pound boneless pork roast
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, sliced
4 turnips, peeled and quartered
4 pears, cored and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and cut into larger chunks
1 flame proof casserole
1 1/2 cup wine, stock, or a mixture of both
Fresh herbs-I used bay, rosemary, and sage
Brown the pork in the butter
Add the vegetables and brown slightly
Add the wine and stock and herbs-Julia ties her up in an herb bouquet
Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Baste the roast every 1/2 hour.
Julia suggests you remove the roast when the temperature reaches 180 degrees. I removed the roast from the oven when the temperature hit 155 degrees, let it sit to rest for another ten minutes before carving and it was perfectly done.

Pear and Parsnip Puree
Here is a great little side dish for the changing season. My friend Richard Perry used to make this for his Eat Plan dinners-Hi Rich, if you're reading this. It is a really nice accompaniment to roast pork or chicken for the Fall.
2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
4 medium pears
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
1/4 cup cream
Blanch the parsnips for about 5 minutes
Peel, quarter and core the pears
Place the blanched parsnips in a baking dish
Add the pears, melted butter, honey, salt, pepper, and nutmeg
Toss the ingredients so that they are well mixed
Roasted the parsnip-pear mixture in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes
Puree the mixture, adding the cream
Taste for seasoning and melt some additional butter accross the top-optional

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Martha's Apple Blackberry Cake
Martha, like much in modern life these days-I'm thinking politics and recent presidents-is a polarising figure. In other words, you're either a fan or a hater, there is no middle ground. So I'm declaring my support for Martha. In my opinion, her magazine is more interesting and beautiful than Gourmet these days. I guess that means I have to start hating Gourmet-at least this month. This cake is from "Living" 's September issue. It is a very simple and appealing thing to throw together.
Granulated sugar for the pan
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces unsalted butter melted for the cake,plus enought to grease the pan, plus 2 tablespoons more to dot the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven
3/4 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons to dot the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
4 apples, peeled and sliced-Martha recommends McIntosh-I used Gala
1 pint black berries
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9" springform pan and dust with granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, milk, and eggs. Whisk the liquid mixture into the dry mixture.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Arrange the apple slices over the batter. Sprinkle with the blackberries, and gently press the fruit into the batter. Distribute the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining two tablespoons of butter over the top of the fruit. Bake until the top is golden brown, the apples are tender, and a cake tester comes clean from the center. Let cool before unmolding.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Apricot Tart with Ginger Ice Cream

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 pound apricots, halved
Juice and zest of one lemon

In a 10 inch iron skillet melt the butter, add the sugar and heat until bubbly.
Stir in the lemon juice andf zest

Place the apricots, cut side down into the caramel.

Cover the top with pastry-pie dough or puff patry works

Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Let the tart cool for 10 minutes, Place a platter on top of the skillet and invert it so that the tart unmolds.

Serve with Ginger Ice Cream
This recipe comes from Charlie Trotter and was part of the PBS series "America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower"-I never saw the series, but I do have the companion book. It is a really special ice cream and works well with peach tarts are well as the apricot.

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar
Add the ginger to the cream in a small sauce pan and heat to just below the boiling point. Remove it from the heat and let the cream and ginger steep for 1/2 hour, strain the ginger out and discard it. Whisk the sugar into the eggs and whip until the eggs are light and fluffy. Reheat the cream and temper the eggs-do not let the mixture boil, only cook it until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain once more and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Freeze in you ice cream freezer.

Chicken with Garlic Pearls and Pineau de Charentes

I used Paula Wolfert's recipe for Chicken with Garlic Pearls and Sauternes-substituting the Pineau de Charentes for the Sauternes (see my previous post on Pineau de Charentes). Her extremely well written recipe is from her book "The Cooking of Southwest France". I used 4 leg quarters (I don't personally care for eating chicken breast) rather than the whole bird called for in the recipe. You'll need to make creme fraich ahead of time (mix 1 cup heavy cream with 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk-let the mixture sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours-cover and refrigerate for up to one week). It is an involved recipe, but not difficult and the results are spectacular. I think I might use this technique for this year's Thanksgiving turkey. I also added some wild mushrooms sauteed in butter and deglazed with sherry.

For the chicken:
1 chicken or 4 leg quarters
Quarter the chicken, salt and pepper the pieces, and marinate the pieces in the creme fraiche for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Roast the chicken in a preheated 375 degree oven, basting with additional creme fraiche for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Run the chicken under the broiler for extra crispy skin.

For the garlic pearls:
2 head of fresh garlic, separate the cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons of butter
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar

Plunge the garlic cloves into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.

Cool the garlic and peel, leaving the cloves whole.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over very low heat, add the garlic and sugar. place the saute pan in a 350 degree oven and roast until the garlic is soft and golden-not brown. Shake the pan but do not stir or the garlic may break up. Can be prepared ahead of time.

For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons of rendered poultry fat or oil
1 3/4 cup sliced onions
1 2/3 cup sliced carrots
1 leek, split and cleaned, sliced
2 pounds of veal bones
1 pounds chicken bones
1 bottle Pineau de Charentes- Sauternes or sweet white wine can be substituted
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
Herb bouquet of parsley, thyme, bay, and celery leaf-all tied together
1/3 cup heavy cream
Fresh lemon juice, optional
Brown the bones and vegetables in the rendered fat over low heat-a long slow caramelization process that should take up to 15 minutes.

Drain off the fat, and begin adding the wine. Add the wine one cup at a time, letting the wine evaporate until it becomes syrupy before adding the next cup of wine.

Add the stock and the herb bouquet, cook covered for 1 hour.

Strain the mixture into a sauce pan, skim off any fat. Bring the mixture to the boil and reduce for 10 minutes, continually skimming any foamy debris. I also added some additional onion slices to be left in the finished sauce-Paula uses additional carrot slices. The sauce can be prepared ahead of time up to this point.

Add the cream and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon-taste for seasoning and add fresh lemon juice if the sauce is too sweet.

Add the garlic pearls.

Ladle the sauce over the roasted chicken, and top with the sauteed mushrooms-the mushrooms are optional.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pineau de Charentes
The bottle says dessert wine, but it is usually served as an aperitif-chilled-served straight up. It is a a fortified wine made of grape juice and cognac fermented together, produced in the Charente region of France. It is usually made with Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, or Semillon. It is slightly sweet with a definite flavor of cognac. I have read online where it is really out of fashion in France, so only try this at the risk of being labeled frumpy by the French. Since I am hopelessly out of fashion in almost all areas, I don't really care. It can be difficult to locate, but I find it a refreshing cocktail, and worth seraching out.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes
This hasn't been the best year for local tomatoes, too cold and wet. But even in an off year, there are some tasty morsels to be found out there. This recipe will stuff about 4 medium tomatoes.
4 Tomatoes, scooped out, salted and left to drain upside down for 1/2 hour.
2 Tablespoons minced anchovy fillet
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
2 Tablespoons chopped capers
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil-plus extra for drizzling
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
Salt and pepper
Combine all of the ingredients and stuff the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with some extra olive oil, top with some extra grated cheese and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brasied Leeks with Tomato Vinaigrette

This made a lovely salad last week. I braised the leeks, and served them at room temperature over salad greens topped with fresh tomato vinaigrette. The leeks are nice on their own served hot as a side dish with or without the tomato vinaigrette.

For the leeks:
4 leeks, trimmed and cleaned, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock

In a flame proof casserole brown the leeks in the olive oil, cut side down.

Turn the leeks over, season with the salt and pepper and pour the chicken stock over them.

Place the casserole in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the leeks are tender.

Let the leeks cool to room temperature and place on a bed of salad greens and top with Tomato Vinaigrette.

For the Vinaigrette:
1 large tomato peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh Basil chiffonade
Salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and let sit 1/2 before using.

More Pickles
I've been blessed with lots of neighborhood gardeners leaving extra vegetables at my door. Pickling has always been a way of managing the abundance of harvest. Here I pickled a combination of cherry tomatoes, carrots, whole garlic cloves, red onion, cucumber, and jalapeno slices (I leave the seeds in for extra spiciness), it hasn't even cured totally yet and is already so spicy and good. I put out a small bowl to enjoy with cheeses, fruit, and cocktails.
about 4 cups of vegetables
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water (optional, depending on the acidity of your vinegar)
1 cup sugar
Salt and pepper
Stir up the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste for the balance you like it should be a combination of sweet-salty-sour. Remember your pickling solution should be pretty assertive because when you add the vegetables, it will become a little diluted.
Toss in the vegetables and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Henry Bain's Burger

This is an unusual steak sauce from Louisville's elite Pendennis Club. Henry Bain was the head waiter for years at the club beginning back in 1880, and he invented the recipe. I have used it for steaks, venison, and duck. Here I spooned it over a burger and served it with the Zuni Zuchinni pickles from my previous post.
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup A-1 Steak sauce
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups chutney-peach was probably the original, but any flavor will work-I used Major Grey
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat. This keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Zuni Cafe Zuchinni Pickle
Here is a pickle recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rogers (she's from St Louis by the way). Zuni Cafe is one of the legendary restaurants of San Francisco. Judy credits both Chef Mark Miller and "The Joy of Cooking" as the genesis of the recipe. It starts with a cold brine.
1 pound zuchinni (medium sized)
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons of salt
Thinly slice the zuchinni and onion on a mandoline
Toss the slices with the salt, add ice and water to cover and let sit for 1 hour
Drain and dry the slices with toweling
For the brine:
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
Combine the brine ingredients and stir until the spices and sugar are dissolved.
Add the zuchinni and onion slices.
Judy cooks the brine for 3 minutes and cools it befor she adds the vegetables, but I omitted that step.
The color intensifies as the pickles age.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Vegetable Pasta and Health Department Visit
We had an interesting inspection from the health department last week. Our score 96 out of 100-not perfect but ok. One unusual aspect was that it occured at 5:00 PM just as we opened which can often be a stressful 10 or 15 minutes without an inspector watching and checking temperatures. Anyone who has studied psychology will recognize the phonema as "Fixed Interval Scallop"-faced with a set of tasks and a deadline activity builds to a crescendo. Of course we face that deadline every night at opening. And even more unusual, the inspectator stayed for dinner. I have never experienced one of my inspectors eating in the place they inspect. I feel pretty good about that.
This vegetable pasta has nothing to do with the Health Department, but I just wanted to brag about it a little. This is just basically alot of vegetables simmered with tomatoes, wine, and some herbs at the end.
1/4 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 pound zuchinni
1/4 pound yellow squash
1/2 red pepper diced
1/4 pound carrot sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups white wine
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil and oregano
I begin by stewing the vegetables in the oil over low heat for 15 minutes, until they begin to carmelize and take on some color.
Add the tomato paste and let it btown slightly.
Add the tomatoes and wine and let the sauce simmer for 15 to 20 minutes-just until the vegetables are tender, but not cooked to mush.
Taste for dalt and pepper, add some fresh herbs. Serve over noodles with some fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. Makes a big batch, so freeze some for winter.

Roasted Pork Loin with Marsala Wine Sauce
I made this dish for a wedding rehearsal dinner last weekend. It was really exceptional. First I bought the loin at Schubert's, a local packing plant in Millstadt. His products are locally grown on small farms, so finding a good pork product is three quarters of the battle, and grocery store pork usually doesn't measure up to a good local butcher.
For the pork:
1 whole boneless brined pork loin-Mine were about 6 pounds each, but you can buy smaller ones).
Salt and pepper to generously cover the roast
Place the roast fat side up on a roasting rack and season with the salt and pepper.
Many cooks are often intimidated by roasting large pieces of meat, but this is really one of the easiest. First, I brined the loins (I roasted two loins for 40 people-there was a second fish entree as well) over night in a solution of 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 gallon of water. Brining always ensures a juicy roast. I like to start roasting at a high temperature 450 degrees for ten minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees and cook to an internal temperature of 155. Start temping the roast after 30 minutes it will probably take from 45 minutes to just over an hour depending on the size of your roast, a good thermometer is the best way to judge for doneness. Remove the pork from the oven and let the roast rest for at least 8 to 10 minutes before carving. The internal temperature will continue to rise, hopefully not too much above 160 degrees.
Slice and serve with Marsala Wine Sauce.
For the Marsala Wine sauce:
3 cups of really rich chicken stock
1/2 cup minced shallot
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups sweet Marsala wine-it's important to find a good imported one I think
Salt and pepper
Corn starch slurry to thicken about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water.
Bring the stock, shallot, mushrooms, and wine to the boil, simmer for about 10 minutes, season, and thicken the sauce with the slurry.
This is a really simple voluptuous sauce, but it will only be as good as the stock you make and the wine you purchase-no skimping.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grilled Sweet Potato and Red Onion Salad
3 to 4 long skinny sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium sized red onion thinly sliced
For the dressing:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of minced fresh tarragon
Microwave or blanch the sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes, they should be soft but slightly undercooked. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and slice them into 1/2 inch slices.
Get your grill pan or grill very hot and finish cooking the potatoes, a well oiled grill helps prevent sticking.
Remove the grilled potato slices to a serving platter lined with greens and grill the onion slices.
Arrange the onion slices over the potato slices and drizzle with the dressing.

For the dressing:

Dissolve the sugar, salt and pepper in the rice wine vinegar, whisk in the oilve oil and fresh tarragon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Haricots Verts A La Provencale
In anticipation of Julia Child's birthday next month-she would be 97 on August15-I got out my copy of Mastering the Art. An early morning trip to a farm stand yeilded some tomatoes and green beans, so this recipe on page 447 sort of seemed a natural, although I used the fat American green beans, Julia probably would have used the skinny French ones. Although the French beans are sort of stylish, these plump Mid-Western beauties were tender, juicy and just delicious.
Julia's recipes are meticulously written. I am more impatient, so I will summarize how I made this dish, also I needed a smaller amount than the original recipe. But by all means dig out your own copy of Mastering the Art if you have one.
1 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup olive oil
Slowly stew the onions in the oil until they are tender, about 10 minutes-do not brown.
2 to 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and juiced-reserve the juice
1 bouquet garnie in cheesecloth-garlic, cloves, bay, parsley, and thyme
salt and pepper
Add the bouquet garnie and tomatoes to the onions and simmer gently, add some reserved juice if the tomatoes get too dry.
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and blanched
After the tomatoes haver simmered for 30 minutes, add the green beans and cook until tender, adding more juice as needed or water.
Remove bouquet garnie and top with fresh herbs before serving. I used fresh basil, but Julia also recommends savory, parsley, or tarragon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kitchen Conservatory on Twitter
Kitchen Conservatory, a marvelous cooking emporium where I teach the occaisional class, is twittering their instructor's favorite tools. Here is a little vignette of mine. My Michael Grave's Memphis tea kettle is in the foreground. I use it practically every morning-despite it being a collecter's item-making my tea or my coffee (I always make my coffee in a French Press). The little red bird on the spout whistles when the water is ready.
Second is my Wolf range which I also use every morning to heat the kettle. After cooking in restaurants for so many years, it is difficult for me to use household equipment, so my home kitchen is equipped with this Wolf professional range, It suits my needs very well.
In the background is one of my Le Creuset pans, some of which I have had since I lived in Chicago 25 years ago.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grilled Flank Steak Aloha

Grilled Flank steak with some Hawaiian influences-grilled pineapple slices and coconut Jasmine rice with edamame and vegetables.
1/4 cup Mirin
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons of sesame oil
1/2 pineapple peeled and sliced
1 flank steak about 1 1/2 pounds

In a large flat container, combine the wines, soy, garlic, ginger, pepper, and sesame oil

Marinate the flank steak at least 2 hours, or overnight

Grill over medium hot coals 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare

Let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing

Brush pineapple slices with marinade and grill for 2 minutes on each side

Serve with coconut Jasmine rice and Asian dipping sauce

Asian Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons of sesame oil
2 Scallions, thinly sliced
1 Teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 Teaspoon of Chili-garlic paste
Combine all ingredients, and serve with flank steak. Also good with egg rolls, pot stickers and any kind of won ton.

Pan-Seared Ham Steak with Brown Sugar, Pineapple, and Raspberries
This was a tasty breakfast, served with grits to soak up all those salty-sweet juices. Served, as always while watching all the Sunday political shows. Sadly missing was Beaulah, my beautiful 14 year old Standard Poodle-she is no longer with us. I miss her so, she would always be underfoot whenever I cooked at home, demanding a taste of whatever I was making-she had a very developed palate.
1 pound slice of bone-in ham steak
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks
1 pint of raspberries
In a heavy skillet, brown the ham steak
Add the brown sugar and let melt
Add the sherry and pineapple chunks
Add the raspberries just before serving
Serve with grits

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bacon, Lettuce, tomato, and Fried Egg Sandwich

This was Independence day breakfast. I have started purchasing eggs from a new woman. She grow several breeds, among them the Araucana (they produce the blueish green eggs), Banties (they are quite small), and several others that produce brown eggs. I promise I'll visit her hen houses and give you better information in the future. They live a great chicken life and have the run of 2 1/2 acres during the day and return to their houses at evening. She refuses to butcher her chickens and so she sells off her roosters-only retaining breeding stock. She has no idea what to do with her retired hens.

I'll be going to a barbecue later this afternoon, but that is several hours away so I thought a little breakfast was in order. Farm Fresh Eggs is one of the most eloquent phrases I can think of , but just in case you have never tasted anything but mass produced factory farm eggs, real eggs are deeply flavored, richly colored beauties.

Also I grew the lettuce in a pot on my deck, while I enjoy having it there to clip as I need it, it is too pathetic and ugly to photograph. My mom, dad, and one uncle are terrific gardeners-I guess I didn't get the green thumb.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Miso Glazed Strip Steaks
Here is a really tasty grilled dinner with some Japanese influences. First up is a spinach salad simply dressed with lemon juice and sesame, next the steaks are marinated in a miso paste flavored with garlic, ginger, and sesame, and last we have grilled corn with wasabi, ginger, and cilantro butter.
Spinach salad
1 pound fresh spinach
Juice of 2 lemons
Splenda or sugar to taste
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
Freshly ground pepper
Sesame seeds for garnish
Mix the lemon juice with the sweetner, soy, sesame oil, and pepper
Toss the spinach with the dressing and allow to sit for about 1/2 hour, the spinach should be slightly wilted
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds
ButterGrilled Corn With Wasabi, Ginger, and Cilantro
I usually soak my corn with the husks still intact for at least 1/2 hour before placing them on the grill
1/4 pound butter
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Wasabi powder to taste-I used 1/2 teaspoon
Cream the butter and add the rest of the ingredients
Form the butter into a cylinder, and wrap with plastic or parchment paper and place in the refrigerator to chill
Slice the butter and let it melt across the grilled corn

Miso Glaze (enought for 4 steaks)

3 Tablespoons of miso
3 Tablespoons of Mirin
1 Tablespoon of sherry
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground pepper
Combine all of the ingredients
Reserve 1/2 of the mixture
Brush the steaks with the miso paste and let sit for 1/2 hour
Grill of medium hot coals until your desired degree of doneness
When the steaks are cooked to you liking, remove them from the heat and brush with the reserved paste
Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Post Dispatch says Gallagher's Fried Chicken is Best in the St Louis Metro-East Area
If my posts have been far and few between lately it is because I have been on some fried chicken odyssey. In May the St Louis Post Dispatch began a contest for readers to vote for their favorite fried chicken. The Post then visited the top 5 restaurants and reviewed the chicken with large color photos and a continuing dialogue that also included their web site. To make a long story less tedious, Gallagher's was named best. Upsetting Hodak's (a restaurant specialising in fried chicken since time immemorial) reign. Since then we have been seating record breaking crowds, who knew St Louisans loved fried chicken so much?
Originally we only served fried chicken on Sundays, and it was the only thing we served on Sunday, family style. Since the article was published we have added it to the regular menu as so many people were arriving for fried chicken every night of the week. Many became irate that we didn't offer fried chicken all the time eventhough the article clearly stated it was only available on Sundays. Fried chicken done properly is not an easy task.
Our chicken is fresh-never frozen-brined for at least 12 hours, then hand breaded, and fried in small batches. The traditional sides are corn custard, mashed potatoes, gravy, long simmered green beans with ham, biscuits, and a home style dessert made by Mrs Gallagher. Seriously, I've had one long-time cook quit over it all-he wanted to cook somthing "fancier". We reworked all the recipes to expand the numbers being served, as well as purchasing new equipment. It was almost like starting over as all the recipes had to be tested and re-tested. All new equipment has its own learning curve to it until everyone is used to working with it.
The first week the article came out we served 310 dinners, there was a 2 hour wait for tables, and another 45 minutes before I could get food to the table. Keep in mind previous to the article, we usually served betwee 150 and 200. One disgruntled guest declared that the Post must have been drunk when they named us best. Last week I am happy to report we served 380 guests with minimal waits for tables and 8 minutes for me to get chicken to the tables. Since we do not share the chicken recipe, here is a picture of one of our lovely servers taking a tray of the platters of food to the table.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Moorish Zucchini Salad

Just in time for the local zucchini crop, I give you this Spanish-moorish salad.

1/4 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 pounds small zucchini, thinly sliced

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins

Several threads of Saffron

1/4 cup minced Italian parsley

1/4 cup minced mint

Juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper to your liking

Brown the garlic in the oil, to flavor it-discard the garlic, after the oil is flavored

Briefly saute the zucchini until al dente

Remove the zucchini to a mixing bowl

Add the pine nutes to the saute pan and toast them

Add the pine nuts, raisins, Saffron, lemon juice, parsley, and mint to the zucchini, mix and let marinate for 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator

Serve on a bed of salad greens or on grilled bread slices

Monday, June 08, 2009


One of our most favorite clients, Traci, perished in a horrible auto accident last week. She was a delightful woman with a lot of spunk. I always enjoyed bantering with her. Here she is enjoying appetizers and drinks with her husband. He is gravely injured still in the hospital. She also leaves behind a daughter in high school. So sad.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Another Kitchen Conservatory Class

I taught another class at the Kitchen Conservatory last night. I always meet such nice folks at these classes. Many of them know me from the restaurant, but often there are new faces who usually make it to the restaurant after they take a class. Last night's menu was Pine Nut encrusted salmon with orange-basil butter, Spring peas with Boston lettuce and fresh mint, Potatoes Dauphinois with roasted peppers and Fontina, and Strawberry-Rhubarb Clafouti.

Here is the recipe for the peas, if you like peas, you will really enjoy this preparation.

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups shell peas
1/4 cup sliced scallion
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 small head of tender lettuce, such as Boston, sliced into chifffonade
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh mint

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and saute the carrots until they begin to soften, add the sugar and caramelize slightly.

Add the chicken stock and lemon and bring to the boil.

Add the peas and cook until tender, add the lettuce chiffonade and continue to cook until the lettuce wilts.

Remove from heat and top with the fresh mint

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Ribs

Potluck at my friend Mary's for Memorial day. Everyone contributed, Mary made pasta salad, Diane brought a green salad-she grew the lettuce, she's a big gardener, Pat brought garlic bread-he burnt it. Judy brought white cake with chocolate frosting-she bakes from scratch-no mixes. My contribution was the ribs. I made three kinds, Tandoori, terriyaki, and sweet barbeque. I didn't get a picture of the bbq, but here are the other two. I just sliced them all and loaded them into my larger copper oval pan. Caitlyn, (pat's daughter and Dan's niece) played her sax for us. She is an accomplished musician and will be studying music at SIUE next year after she graduates high school. We all laughed and played cards until late into the night. A great big slice of Americana.
This tandoori paste is also really good on rotisserie chicken.


2 cups of plain yogurt

1/4 cup grated fresh ginger root

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 hot chili (I used a bird's eye), minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tablespoon cumin seed

1 Tablespoon mustard seed

1/4 cup commercial tandoori spice

Combine all of the ingredients except the yogurt in a mortar and pestle and mash into a paste.

Spread the paste over two racks of baby back ribs and marinate over night.

Grill over indirect heat until the ribs are tender, brushing with additional yogurt mixture, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours-keep the heat very low.