Q • My husband and I love getting the baklava every year at the Greek Festival in West County. Do you think they would share the recipe? — Kelsea Bucheit, Manchester
A • Baklava, the delightful dessert beloved for centuries in Greece, remains a festival favorite at the annual St. Louis County Greek Festival held each year at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Town and Country over Memorial Day weekend.
With its buttery layers of flaky phyllo filled with a crumble of finely chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon and honeyed syrup finish, this centuries-old sweet is a modern-day favorite of festival guests.
This year, as in the previous two years, the festival will feature a full menu of Greek specialties that can be ordered online through their website and picked up curbside from May 27 to 30. This year, the festival marks its 40th anniversary. Diane Sieckmann volunteers at the festival.
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She doesn’t have an official title. “I’m kind of an assistant to the festival chairman, Greg Simos,” she says. “We have people who run each of the different areas. If they have a problem, they call me.”
The food and desserts for the festival are prepared by volunteer members of the church with time-tested recipes they’ve perfected over the years. “We use the same recipes for consistency year to year,” Sieckmann says. When asked if professional bakers assisted the volunteers with baking, she had a ready answer. “Greek women are professional bakers, and you can quote me on that. When people came to this country, and they needed a way to raise money for their parishes, they cooked and baked. People were, and still are, interested in Greek food.”
The money raised by the festival supports the work of the church, which includes youth groups, an active men’s group, and the women who cook and socialize at the church. The church’s charitable arm also contributes to veterans groups from the funds raised on Memorial Day. “We honor them, these people who sacrificed for our country, in the best way we can,” she says.
Although Greek food is a great draw to bring folks to the festival, she says it goes deeper than that. “One thing that’s very important to us is we are able to share our culture with others. It’s more easily done when the festival happens in person because we have Greek music, dancers in costume and volunteers who often have one-on-one conversations with people. They can ask questions. We have a marketplace where they can buy things, and we also have a bookstore. The festival is a way people can get to know our culture and understand our presence in community.”
Where • Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 1755 Des Peres Road, Town and Country
More info • 314-966-2255; stlouisgreekfest.com
28 recipes from the top 100 restaurants in St. Louis
RECIPE: Charred Eggplant Dip
Yield: 3½ cups dip; serving size ½ cup
2 ¼ pounds eggplant (2 large or 3 small American/globe eggplants)
1 cup plus 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated black lime (see notes)
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
½ cup loosely packed basil leaves
¼ cup pickled seasonal vegetables (optional)
3 tablespoons chili oil (optional)
¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (optional)
Notes: This recipe uses the common purple eggplants known as globe eggplants or American eggplants.
• Black limes, or preserved limes, are popular in Mediterranean cooking and are available at international grocers. For the recipe, we grated half a whole black lime using a handheld microplane rasp grater. It can also be found online, already grated.
• Because this recipe makes a lot of dip, we chose to use finishing salt with each serving rather than salt the entire batch.
• At Louie, the charred eggplant dip is served garnished with chili oil, pickled vegetables and parsley. It is served with Louie’s freshly baked hearth breads.
1. Wash eggplants. Split eggplants in half lengthwise and trim leaves from the top.
2. To prepare eggplants in the oven: Set one rack to 6-inches under the broiler. Set a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat broiler to high.
3. Place halves cut side up on a sheet pan. Measure 4 tablespoons of oil into a small dish. Brush the tops with oil. Place pan under the broiler until the tops are blackened. For the test, we timed it at 10 minutes total, rotating the sheet halfway through.
4. Turn off the broiler and set oven to 325 degrees. Bake eggplants 25 to 30 minutes until the back of the eggplant is soft to the touch.
5. To grill: Measure 4 tablespoons of oil into a small dish. Brush the tops with oil. Place halves grill side down and cook slowly until the tops are completely black and the back of the eggplant is soft to the touch.
6. Remove eggplant from the oven or grill and place in a plastic container with a lid. Close the lid and allow the eggplant to steam for 30 minutes.
7. Using a spoon, very carefully scrape the flesh out and discard the skin.
8. Place the scraped eggplant in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, black lime, garlic, mint and basil leaves. Stir to mix.
9. Add one-fourth of the eggplant mixture to a standard blender. Pour in ¼ cup of the remaining oil. Pulse two or three times on the puree setting, then turn the blender on and time it to run for 1 full minute. The mixture should be very smooth.
10. Remove the pureed eggplant to a bowl, then repeat the process three more times. Stir each batch into the bowl.
11. Taste, then add salt or the finishing salt of your choice to taste. Garnish with pickled vegetables, chili oil and parsley, if using.
12. Store covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
Per (½ cup) serving: 370 calories; 38g fat; 5g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 5g fiber; 337mg sodium; 28mg calcium
RECIPE: Brasserie’s French Onion Soup
1 quart (4 cups) very thinly sliced peeled yellow onions
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups rich chicken stock
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 slices toasted bread or crostini to fit in soup bowls
3 cups grated Comté, Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1. Thinly slice the onions and place in a large bowl. Toss to separate the rings and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a 5-quart pot over medium low heat. Add the onions and salt.
3. Caramelize the onions very slowly over medium-low heat. It will take 30 to 50 minutes or more, stirring occasionally as needed.
4. As the onions cook they will release water, but if you notice sticking to the pan, add small amounts of water to prevent burning and release any flavorful pieces that develop on the bottom of the pan.
5. You want the onions to reach a deep brown — almost the “color of bourbon.” At that point they are fully caramelized.
6. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the cooking onions, stirring it in completely to evenly distribute the flour. You don’t want lumps in the flour before you add the stock next.
7. Pour 2 cups of stock over the onions, whisking as you go. Add the remaining 4 cups of stock in 2 cups at a time, whisking still to make sure no lumps are forming that need to be stirred down.
8. Bring the soup to a simmer and allow it to cook for 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, then stir in the sherry vinegar and ground pepper.
9. Turn the broiler on to medium high.
10. Portion the hot soup into 6 oven-proof bowls. Arrange 2 pieces of toasted bread on the surface. Top each bowl with ½ cup of grated cheese, taking care to cover the bread.
11. Place under the broiler to melt the cheese. Keep a good eye on this as it only takes a few minutes, 2 to 4 minutes depending on the broiler.
12. Garnish each bowl with chopped chives.
Per serving: 622 calories; 34g fat; 19g saturated fat; 97mg cholesterol; 29g protein; 50g carbohydrate; 11g sugar; 3g fiber; 1,225mg sodium; 660mg calcium
RECIPE: Chili Crisp Marinated Celery from Mac’s Local Eats
4 large celery stalks or 3 cups thinly sliced as directed
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon boiling hot water
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Nudo Chili Crisp
3 to 4 tablespoon toasted black or white sesame seeds
Notes: The chili crisp for this recipe is made by Qui Tran of Nudo House. It is available for purchase at both Nudo House locations.
• Chili crisp is a popular condiment of infused chili oil with crunchy bits of chili peppers that adds flavor and texture to nearly any dish.
• The crispy celery recipe gets hotter the longer it sits in the refrigerator. It keeps well for 3 to 4 days.
• Cooks can adjust the heat and the ingredients to taste as desired.
1. Remove 4 stalks from a bunch of celery, wash them and trim off the leaves.
2. Slice each stalk into ¼-inch wide pieces cut at an extreme diagonal across the stalk to get long, narrow cuts of celery. Set aside.
3. Combine the granulated sugar with hot water and stir to dissolve.
4. Add sugar water, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and chili crisp to a nonreactive medium mixing bowl and stir to blend.
5. Add cut celery, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Per serving: 96 calories; 9g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 2g fiber; 265mg sodium; 65mg calcium
RECIPE: Comeback Sauce from Grace Meat + Three
1 cup light mayonnaise (Miracle Whip or salad dressing won’t work for this)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Notes: This sauce should be made a day ahead and refrigerated for at least 8 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
• Chef Rick Lewis uses Duke’s mayonnaise for this dipping sauce. He likes the lemony flavor and the consistency of this brand. The light version has fewer calories, but the regular mayonnaise works very well.
• Smoked paprika, which is also called pimentón, is made with smoked peppers. It brings a deep, smoky flavor to different dishes. It’s generally not a hot paprika. You may see it labeled as dulce (sweet) or picante (hot) and in that case choose dulce.
• The sauce goes well with fried chicken or fish, it can be used as a condiment on sandwiches, and it is also good for dipping vegetables — raw, roasted, or battered and fried (tempura or country style).
1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until combined.
2. Refrigerate overnight.
Per serving: 50 calories; 4g fat; 1g saturated fat; 3mg cholesterol; 1g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; no fiber; 247mg sodium; 3mg calcium
RECIPE: Mayo Ketchup’s Cilantro Garlic Cream
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
Note: At Mayo Ketchup, this savory garlic cream is served with fried yucca, but this versatile condiment can be used with a variety of foods such as chips, empanadas, tacos or burritos, and with chicken, pork or seafood.
1. Add cilantro, lime juice, chopped garlic, powdered garlic and salt in a blender and pulse to blend well.
2. Place the sour cream in a medium mixing bowl. Fold in the blended cilantro mix.
3. Allow to stand for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
Per serving: 63 calories; 6g fat; 3g saturated fat; 18mg cholesterol; 1g protein; 2g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 165mg sodium; 32mg calcium
RECIPE: Sister Cities’ Polenta Fries
1 ½ teaspoons chicken soup base
1 ¾ cups yellow cornmeal
1 ¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan or Cojita cheese, divided
Oil for deep-fried, pan-fried or oven-baked fries; cooking spray for air-fried polenta
Notes: Chicken soup base is different than bouillon. Jamison’s Chicken Soup Base is readily available at better grocers. Penzey’s Spice has a Chicken Soup Base at its Maplewood stores.
• The cornmeal and water mixture gets very thick and heavy as it is whisked. Even after the heat was turned down, the hot mixture had a tendency to pop up. We recommend a 4-gallon saucepot.
• The polenta fries may be deep-fried, pan-fried, air-fried or oven-baked. Oil and air fryer temperatures should be in the 350-degree range; oven fries at 400 to 425 degrees. Pan-fried, air- fried and oven-baked polenta should be carefully turned with a thin-bladed spatula halfway through the cooking time. The fries have a tendency to break.
1. Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet by cutting a sheet of parchment paper. Create a liner folded to line the bottom and the sides of the pan.
2. Place salt and chicken base into a 3- or 4-gallon saucepan. Add 6 cups of water and stir. Bring the liquid to a full boil.
3. Slowly pour the cornmeal into the boiling water whisking the mixture constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat to medium immediately, then whisk constantly for 5 minutes. The mixture will be very thick.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside ¼ cup grated cheese for garnish.
5. Add the remaining grated cheese in 3 or 4 additions, stirring just enough to incorporate.
6. Spray the parchment with cooking spray on the bottom and sides.
7. Pour the hot mixture onto the pan, spread it around the pan. Add a second sheet of parchment and use a second cookie sheet of the same size to press the hot mixture into an even layer.
8. Allow the pan to cool, then place in the freezer to firm up.
9. Remove the mixture and carefully cut the sheet into fries 3 inches long by ½ inch wide.
10. Lay the cut fries on a new sheet of parchment or in a container so they do not touch. Use parchment in between layers of fries. Place in the freezer again 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
11. To deep fry, follow the directions and recommended temperature with your fryer and deep fry for 4 minutes until golden brown.
12. To pan fry, heat oil to 350 degrees and place fries in hot oil. Turn when the edges begin to turn brown, flip them, taking care not to break them. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
13. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
Per serving (based on 12): 95 calories; 3g fat; 2g saturated fat; 6mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 13g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 718mg sodium; 173mg calcium
RECIPE: Guerrilla Street Food’s Banana Mustard
Yield: 3 ½ to 4 cups mustard; approximately 60 servings of 2 tablespoons
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
¼ cup of whole grain mustard
¼ cup of light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Notes: You can use ripe bananas for this recipe.
• Six bananas yielded about 1 ¾ cups of mashed bananas.
• Mashing the bananas wasn’t as easy as anticipated, but because it is pureed at the end, a rough mash is fine.
• This recipe made so much mustard we shared with friends. We didn’t test it at half size, but it seems reasonable that would work.
1. To roast the bananas, preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the bananas, cut in half lengthwise, and space evenly on the pan. Roast for 18 to 20 minutes until they are soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle, then mash to a rough mash in a large mixing bowl.
3. Heat oil in a 2- or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, then add diced onion and jalapeno and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to soften.
4. Add turmeric and nutmeg and stir to blend.
5. Add mustards, light brown sugar and cider vinegar, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and add mashed bananas. Stir to combine
6. Slowly add 1 cup of water, stirring it in as you pour.
7. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
8. Process in a food process until smooth, adding water if necessary to get the right consistency.
9. Cool, then refrigerate for about 2 weeks.
10. Use on sandwiches, stir it in cream cheese for a cracker spread, make a creamy or vinaigrette salad dressing, or mix with Greek yogurt or mayonnaise for a dip.
Per serving: 20 calories; 1g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 69mg sodium; 3mg calcium
RECIPE: Acero Egg Raviolo
Yield: 6 appetizer servings
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut in 9 to 12 slices
Notes: If you haven’t kneaded pasta before, look at a few videos or tutorials to proceed.
• A longer and skinnier wooden rolling pin, lightly floured as needed, worked best for this dough.
• The thickness of the dough determines the cooking time for these ravioli.
• If you don’t want to make fresh pasta, fresh sheet pasta is available pre-made at Midwest Pasta Co. and frozen at DiGregorio’s market. Follow the directions for filling, closing and cooking. These sheets will probably be thicker, requiring a longer cook time.
1. Place the flour in a mound on a clean surface that’s been lightly dusted with flour. Make a well in the center. It should look like a volcano — high and sloped on the sides, deep in the middle.
2. Break the 3 whole eggs into the well and whisk with a fork until well-mixed.
3. Using the fork, gently work the flour into the liquid. Continue until the dough becomes sticky and difficult to work with.
4. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then use them to form the rough dough into a ball.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough with a bowl or a clean kitchen towel and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.
6. While the dough rests, stir together the three cheeses in a medium-sized mixing bowl until blended. Taste. Add salt if desired and add freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside.
7. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, begin rolling out the dough, turning it as needed, to make a very thin sheet of dough approximately 15- to 18-inches by 12-inches. The dough should be “thin enough to see the knots in a wooden cutting board” — or “thin enough to read a newspaper,” according to Chef Andy Hirstein.
8. Cut the dough into 2 rectangles approximately 15- to 18-inches by 6 inches. Cover one half with a dry towel while you set up the filling.
9. Divide the cheese filling into 6 equal portions. Space them on the uncovered sheet of pasta, 1 to 2 inches apart.
10. Make a well in the center of each mound of cheese and place an egg yolk in the center, taking care not to break the yolk.
11. Using your fingers, lightly wet the remaining dough with your fingers. This is to help seal the raviolo.
12. Carefully place the reserved sheet of dough over the cheese/yolk mounds. Press the top sheet of dough closely around the filling to seal the top sheet to the bottom sheet, removing as much air as possible between the filling and the dough. Removing the air is especially important.
13. Trim the filled dough with a pastry cutter or with a large biscuit or cookie cutter into 6 round ravioli.
14. Bring a 4-quart or 5-quart saucepan of salted water to boil. Carefully slide the ravioli into the water one at a time. Cook for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough, until the pieces are al dente.
15. Preheat a stainless steel sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and swirl it around the hot pan. Cook, swirling often, as the butter crackles and snaps. Remove from heat when the butter begins to smell nutty. It will be brown in color. Pour it into a heat-proof dish.
16. Carefully remove raviolo from water with a slotted spoon. Drain well, plate, and top with brown butter.
Per serving: 707 calories; 47g fat; 29g saturated fat; 398mg cholesterol; 23g protein; 44g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 1g fiber; 388mg sodium; 401mg calcium
RECIPE: Olio’s Mohammara Spread
Yield: About 4 ½ cups of spread
3 large cloves garlic, skin on, top closely trimmed off
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2½ (9-ounce) jars piquillo peppers, drained
1 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Notes: This is more of a spread than a dip. It can be used on sandwiches and roasted meats, used as a sauce for pastas and blended into dressings for salads. Serve with pita bread, crackers and crudites.
• The piquillo peppers are a specialty item that can be found locally at AO&Co. Market & Cafe. They are also available online.
• Pomegranate molasses is available at AO&Co. Market & Cafe, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
• Grapeseed oil is available at most better grocers. It is used in this recipe for its neutral taste.
• Make sure the walnuts are thoroughly cooled before processing so they don’t break down and get pasty.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Separate 3 fresh garlic cloves from a bulb, leaving the skin on. Closely trim the top to open up the clove. Rub the cloves generously with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in a small ovenproof dish or skillet. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside. Squeeze roasted cloves out of skins when cool.
3. Lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees.
4. Drain peppers, rinse and pat dry. Toss with remaining olive oil and arrange in a single layer on baking sheets. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes to dry the peppers. Remove from the oven and let cool.
5. As the peppers cool, toast walnuts in a skillet over medium high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Remove from skillet, spread out on a sheet pan to thoroughly cool, and set aside.
6. In a food processor, pulse the peppers with the garlic cloves until the ingredients form a thick, smooth paste. Remove and set aside.
7. Make sure the walnuts are cool before placing them in the food processor. Place half the nuts in the processor and pulse into very small pieces, similar to a bulgur. Pulse the remaining walnuts into small pieces a bit larger than the first.
8. Fully incorporate the walnuts, ground cinnamon and cumin into the pepper mix.
9. Add the pomegranate molasses to the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly pour the grapeseed oil into the pomegranate molasses through the top opening to emulsify, or whisk together by hand.
10. Slowly pour into the pepper mix, stirring to combine as you pour.
11. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 10 days.
Per serving (based on ¼ cup): 104 calories; 8g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 1g protein; 8g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 1g fiber; 8mg sodium; 29mg calcium
RECIPE: Akar Blackberry Mint Mocktail
3 ounces blackberry mint water (see notes)
¾ ounce honey simple syrup
Ice (1 large cube, crushed or regular ice cubes)
Sprig of mint leaves for garnish
Notes: To make blackberry mint water, combine 1 cup of cold water with 6 ounces of rinsed fresh blackberries. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. The berries will release their juice. Remove from the stove, press the berries lightly, then place 3 large mint heads in the palm of one hand then lightly smack them with the other. This step releases the oils in the mint. Add slapped mint to the pot. Allow the berry mint water to cool, then strain and refrigerate until needed.
• Ginger beer is not a fermented drink. It is a carbonated drink classed as a soda with 0 percent alcohol.
• Honey simple syrup and ginger beer are both available at Intoxicology in the Grove.
• To make honey simple syrup at home, mix 2 parts honey to one part very hot water. Stir to blend, then store in a squeeze bottle and use as needed in drinks and salad dressings.
• To make the drink into cocktail, add 1 ½ ounces of gin, vodka, rum or spirit of your choice after step 1 and stir to blend.
1. Add the blackberry mint water and honey simple syrup to a tall glass and stir to mix.
2. Place your choice of a large single ice cube, crushed ice or regular ice in a rocks glass.
3. Slowly pour the blackberry mint water mix over the ice.
4. Float ginger beer to the top of the glass. Stir.
5. Slap the mint (see notes) and garnish the drink.
Per serving: 200 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 1g protein; 50g carbohydrate; 46g sugar; 5g fiber; 21mg sodium; 26mg calcium
RECIPE: Cleveland-Heath Pozole
1 pork butt, about 8 or 9 pounds
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
Salt, preferably Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
About 6 small dried chiles de árbol (see note), stems removed, seeds left in
2 tablespoons rice bran oil or another neutral oil
24 ounces canned hominy, drained
1 1/3 pork stock (plus more as needed to taste)
2 parts Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
1 part Huy Fong’s Sriracha
To serve, shredded purple and green cabbage and spicy aioli
To garnish, chopped cilantro and lime wedges
Notes: Chiles de árbol (pronounced ar-boll), are slender chiles up to about 3 inches long that ripen to a bright red color. Fresh ones are often used in colorful, prickly wreaths, dried ones for cooking. Cleveland-Heath chose this chile for its clean, neat heat and recommends using more/fewer chiles to adjust the spiciness to your own taste. I found them in the produce department at Schnucks, packaged by Frieda’s, the small ones are about an inch or so long.
1. Braise the pork and make pork stock. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place pork butt in a roasting pan with garlic and bay leaves alongside. Sprinkle generously with salt. Pour boiling water into pan, filling halfway. Cover with foil and braise in oven for 5 to 6 hours. Remove from oven and let cool. Reserve pan juices (the “pork stock”) and use two forks to “pull” the pork, separating strands. Reserve 2 cups pulled pork for the pozole, use the rest for sandwiches and more.
2. Make pozole. In a blender, combine tomato and chile de arbol until smooth and the chile breaks up and “disappears.”
3. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot such as a Dutch oven until shimmery, stir in onion, carrots, celery and salt and let begin to cook.
4. Stir in hominy, 1 1/3 cups pork stock and tomato-chile mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Stir in pulled pork and return to a simmer. Taste and if needed, adjust with additional pork stock and salt.
6. Make spicy aioli. While soup simmers, whisk mayonnaise and sriracha and transfer into a squeeze bottle.
7. To serve Cleveland-Heath-style, ladle 1-½ cups pozole into a bowl. Top with about a half cup of shredded cabbage and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon spicy aioli. Garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.
Per serving (based on 6): 488 calories; 33g fat; 9g saturated fat; 85mg cholesterol; 24g protein; 24g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 6g fiber; 531mg sodium; 95mg calcium
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: Cleveland-Heath’s Brussels Sprouts
Yield: 1 entrée- or table-size serving
12 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Notes: In Cleveland-Heath’s small kitchen, cooks use the fryer to briefly cook the Brussels sprouts, then finish in the oven. At home, Cleveland and Heath use the skillet method specified here.
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Trim Brussels sprouts by trimming rough stem end, removing any gnarly outer leaves. Cut through the core into halves if sprouts are small, into quarters if large. You should have about 5 cups.
3. Heat an oven-safe skillet with a large surface area until hot. Cover with cooking oil about 1/8 to ¼ deep, heat just to the smoking point; it should be “super hot.Carefully arrange Brussels sprouts cut-sides down (they should sizzle), sprinkle with salt and let cook without turning until color turns dark brown, almost but not quite burning.
4. With a spoon, carefully turn sprouts until new cut-sides are face down; again cook until color turns dark brown. If there is “significant” oil in the skillet, pour it off and place skillet in oven until Brussels sprouts are tender, about 5 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and capers. Turn in hot Brussels sprouts. Taste and be generous with salt.
6. To serve Cleveland-Heath style, transfer to a serving dish, top with Parmesan and serve hot.
Per serving (based on 1 serving): 1128 calories; 106g fat; 19g saturated fat; 20mg cholesterol; 23g protein; 32g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 13g fiber; 1054mg sodium; 541mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: Brasserie by Niche Ancient Grain Salad
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fines herbes (Italian parsley, chive, tarragon)
4 tablespoons vinaigrette
Additional fines herbes, for garnish
1. Cook the farro. In a large, heavy pot, bring farro, water, garlic and bay leaf to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; let simmer until farro is cooked. Remove garlic and bay leaf. If there’s excess water, drain. Arrange farro in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cool. Makes 4 cups.
2. Make the vinaigrette. Peel the ginger (the edge of a spoon works surprisingly well) then dice fine. In a blender, combine ginger, vinegar and honey for about 30 seconds on medium high speed. Turn blender to low speed, slowly pour in oil until well-combined. Season with salt. Makes 1 cup.
3. Prep salad ingredients. For celery, peel off celery strings and dice. For pistachios, toast pistachios on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees and roughly chop. For blood orange, slice off skin and pith; slice cross-wise, then into small pieces. For fines herbes, tear individual leaves off parsley stems and tarragon stems, discard stems; cut chives in 1-¼-inch batons.
4. Just before serving, stir together farro, celery, pistachios, blood orange, fines herbes and vinaigrette. Season to taste. To serve Brasserie-style, mound salad in the center of a round, scalloped bowl. Carefully sprinkle salad with additional herbes.
Per serving: 474 calories; 17g fat; 2g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 15g protein; 73g carbohydrate; 15g sugar; 12g fiber; 24mg sodium; 88mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: The Crossing Roasted Beet Salad
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup goat cheese, room temperature
½ cup mascarpone, room temperature
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted with salt and pepper
½ bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
About 4 tablespoons roasted beets
1 teaspoon very finely diced shallot
1 teaspoon very finely diced parsley leaves
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted with salt & pepper
Goat cheese spread, warmed to room temperature
Basil pesto (store-bought or your own recipe)
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Gently scrub and trim beets, leaving one inch of stem and “tail” intact. Wrap each beet in foil with a pinch of salt. Bake 1 to 2 hours or until hot in center and fork tender. Remove foil and when beet is cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to rub skins off. Slice beets ¼-inch thick, stack and square the sides (reserving the scraps), cut in ¼ inch dice.
2. Make puree: Puree the scraps in a blender with water and a little salt to form a squeezable puree; place in a squeeze bottle.
3. Make sherry vinaigrette: Combine shallot, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bottle or bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously. Makes about 1 cup.
4. Make goat cheese spread: Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix goat cheese, mascarpone, parsley, shallot and enough sherry vinegar to reach a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop into a pastry bag or a freezer bag with a corner snipped. Refrigerate but return to room temperature before assembling salads. Makes about 2 cups.
5. Assemble. In a bowl, combined diced beets, shallot, parsley, pine nuts and salt. Stir in just enough sherry vinaigrette to wet.
6. Just before serving, fill bottom of a 2 3/4 inch by 2 3/4 inch ring mold with about 2 tablespoons diced beet. Pipe in a layer of goat cheese spread. Top with another layer of diced beet. Remove the ring mold (it helps to simultaneously gently press on the beets with an empty hot sauce bottle while lifting the ring mold up around the bottle).
7. To serve The Crossing-style, unmold onto a white rectangular serving plate. Toss pea sprouts with sherry vinaigrette and salt, arrange atop beet mixture. Garnish the plate with flourishes of basil pesto and beet puree.
Per serving: 500 calories; 50g fat; 14g saturated fat; 55mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 8g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 2g fiber; 160mg sodium; 70mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: El Toluco Taqueria & Grocery Guacamole
1 ½ cups chopped Roma tomato
1 cup chopped white onion
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 ripe but not soft avocados, diced
Notes: El Toluco uses a hand-operated vegetable dicer that cuts piles of tomatoes and onions into perfectly uniform pieces about 3/8-inch square. At home, use a serrated tomato knife to dice the tomatoes and onions, aiming for quite large, similarly sized pieces.
1. In a large bowl, collect all the ingredients. With a spatula, stir the ingredients quite vigorously, pressing against the mixture so that the avocados soften and form a sort of sauce that binds the guacamole.
2. To serve El Toluco-style, serve guacamole with tortilla chips.
Per (2 tablespoon) serving: 18 calories; 1g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 2g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 74mg sodium; 4mg calcium
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: Farmhaus Ozark Forest Roasted Mushroom Salad
Yield: 4 entrée salads or 8 side salads
8 ounces slab bacon or bacon ends
¾ cup finely diced yellow onion, leeks or shallots (in any combination)
1 teaspoon sorghum (see notes)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1¼ cup roasted garlic oil, divided (see notes)
8 ounces Ozark Forest fresh oyster mushrooms
8 ounces Ozark Forest fresh shiitake mushrooms
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
10 to 12 ounces flavorful greens washed, spun dry, woody stems removed (see notes)
¾ cup toasted Missouri pecans
3 ounces fresh Baetje Farms goat cheese
Notes: Sorghum is not interchangeable with molasses. It is available in better groceries and specialty stores. Roasted Garlic oil is available at better supermarkets. Use a variety of hearty greens for this salad. Farmhaus uses a mixture of seasonal greens including tatsoi, red mizuna, baby collards, field spinach, mustard and arugula.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut the bacon into chunky cubes, about ¼-inch square. Gently brown bacon pieces in a large 8- or 9-inch skillet until evenly brown and crispy, not burnt. Drain pieces and reserve fat; set aside bacon pieces.
3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat to the skillet; add diced onion, leek and shallot mixture to the pan. Cook the onions over low to medium-low heat to caramelize them.
4. Add cooked bacon pieces to the pan with onions. Pour in the cider vinegar. Deglaze the pan by gently dislodging the brown cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Reduce the mixture to about three-fourths of its original volume. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
5. Whisk in the sorghum, the reserved bacon fat, ¾ cup of roasted garlic oil and the lemon juice. Taste. If needed, add salt to taste. Set to the side in a warm place.
6. Prepare the mushrooms for roasting. Tear out the stems from the shiitakes and the fibrous core of the oyster mushrooms and reserve both for another use.
7. Mushroom caps 2 inches in diameter should be left whole. Loosely tear the larger ones in pieces, about 2 inches.
8. Toss the mushrooms in a medium mixing bowl with ½ cup roasted garlic oil to lightly coat them. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
9. Place prepared mushrooms, leaving space between, on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 425 for 8 to 12 minutes. Rotate them twice during cook time and remove smaller pieces as needed when they are slightly crispy and done. When all are roasted, remove from the hot cookie sheet to a warmed dish. If there is oil left on the pan, scrape it off and you will have garlic-mushroom oil for another dish.
10. Toss the greens with the reserved bacon dressing to coat. Divide into 4 or 8 salad bowls.
11. Top first with the roasted mushrooms, followed by toasted pecans. Add crumbled fresh goat cheese and serve.
Per serving: 1,015 calories; 98g fat; 19g saturated fat; 62mg cholesterol; 28g protein; 17g carbohydrate; 6g sugar; 7g fiber; 1258mg sodium; 167mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch
RECIPE: Gioia’s Chicken Salad
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ to ½ cup chicken stock or water
1 cup finely diced celery
¾ cup finely diced red onion
2 ¼ teaspoons celery salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup mayonnaise (Gioia’s uses Duke’s mayonnaise), more if needed
Notes: Although Gioia’s bakes the chicken breasts for this salad, you can use approximately 4 cups of chopped white meat chicken poached or from a rotisserie chicken.
The unique texture of Gioia’s chicken salad comes from baking the breasts in liquid, adding lemon juice and from hand mixing the pieces together. The methods allow the chicken pieces to soften and the mayonnaise absorbs better over all the pieces.
Although you can use any mayonnaise, Gioia’s uses Dukes, which contains no sugar, has a tangy flavor and a rich consistency. Once a southern cooking staple, it is now widely available in local grocery stores.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken breasts in the pan, leaving a small space between each to allow the air to circulate.
2. Pour enough broth or liquid into the pan to cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of ¼-inch.
3. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
4. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the chicken to a cutting board, discard pan juices, and cut into a ½-inch dice.
5. Place diced chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice. Using gloves, toss the chicken with your hands to incorporate the juices throughout.
6. Add the celery and onion.
7. Whisk celery salt, lemon pepper and fresh ground pepper together and add to the bowl.
8. Toss the salad with your hands to evenly incorporate all.
9. Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture, and work it in with your gloved hands. The chicken salad shouldn’t be heavy and should just hold together. If needed, add mayonnaise in small increments to reach desired consistency.
Per serving: 502 calories; 36g fat; 6g saturated fat; 141mg cholesterol; 40g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 481mg sodium; 35mg calcium
RECIPE: Grace Meat + Three’s Country Ham Deviled Eggs
Yield: 15 servings (30 halves)
For the Everything Seasoning:
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespon dried minced onion
For the eggs and deviled ham
15 large hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons Creole-style whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Crystal hot sauce, divided
1 cup mayonnaise, divided
½ cup diced country-style ham
2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves only
8 to 10 chive stems, cut in 1 ½ inch pieces
5 to 6 large leaves basil, stemmed and torn in quarters
Notes: Grace Meat + Three makes their own Creole mustard and cures the country ham, but both are easy to find at local grocers. The country ham brand used for the test was by Burger Smokehouse, found in the cold case at a local grocer. Zatarain’s makes a Creole mustard, but there are other brands as well at specialty stores and at some grocers in the condiments aisle.
• Grace chefs use Duke’s Mayonnaise for this recipe.
• The sesame seeds may be toasted to bring out their flavor and add texture.
• Grace uses a small dab of the egg yolk mixture to seat each egg to the plate.
• The egg yolks may be mixed by hand with a fork and a whisk, but the deviled ham must be made in a food processor.
1. Mix all ingredients for the Everything Seasoning in small bowl. Set aside.
2. Peel, then cut each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove egg yolks and place in the bowl of a food processor. Lay out the egg halves on a baking sheet and set aside. Pulse yolks until pureed.
3. Add mustard and 1 teaspoon of Crystal hot sauce to eggs and pulse until smooth.
4. Add ½ cup mayonnaise and pulse until incorporated. Don’t overwork this step or the mayonnaise may separate. Remove egg mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
5. Clean and thoroughly dry the bowl and blade of the food processor. Attach bowl and blade to machine, then add diced ham, remaining tablespoon of Crystal hot sauce and pinch of cayenne pepper. Pulse until the ham turns into a paste.
6. Add remaining ½ cup mayonnaise and pulse a few times. Scrape down sides and pulse again just until the mayonnaise incorporates. Take care not to overwork this step or the mayonnaise may break. Remove to a small mixing bowl.
7. To assemble the eggs, pipe in or fill each egg hollow with a dollop of the yolk mixture and place on a tray or plate.
8. Pipe or top each filled egg with a small amount of deviled ham. Store leftover deviled ham in a tightly closed container and refrigerate. Use within a week.
9. Lightly sprinkle the eggs and the plate with Everything Seasoning. Store leftover seasoning in a tightly covered jar. Top with prepared chives, parsley and basil on both eggs and plate. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 190 calories; 17g fat; 3g saturated fat; 193mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 1g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 636mg sodium; 43mg calcium
RECIPE: J’s Pitaria House Salad
Yield: 1 large serving (2 smaller servings)
1 medium, ripe Roma tomato
1/3 of a 10- or 12-inch English cucumber
½ small red onion, 2-inches or less in diameter
1/3 cup of a bunch fresh curly parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/6 of a large lemon, cut lengthwise into a wedge
Notes: This composed, layered salad shows best in a deep clear bowl as seen in the photos.
• It is large enough for two people as a side salad. It can be divided into two bowls easily.
• For the test, the red onion was a bit hot, so we soaked the cut cubes in ice water for 20 minutes to soften the flavor. We then carefully removed the pieces and blotted them dry with a clean dishtowel (or paper towel) before adding to the salad.
• If the lemon isn’t seedless, remove seeds or wrap each wedge in cheesecloth as the lemon is squeezed directly onto the salad.
1. Wash and core, then cut the tomato into 3/8-inch cubed pieces. Place in the bottom of the serving bowl.
2. Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise, remove seeds and ribs, and then dice into ½-inch square pieces. Cover the chopped tomatoes with pepper pieces.
3. Cut the English cucumber into quarters and then into 3/8-inch pieces. Spread evenly over the peppers.
4. Cut the red onion into chunky pieces, about 3/8-inch. Layer on top of the cucumbers.
5. Scatter the feta cheese over all.
6. Trim the woody stems from the parsley bunch, then finely chop leaves and fine stems. Place a mound in the center of the salad.
7. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all.
8. Add the lemon wedge to the bowl and serve.
Per serving (1 large serving): 433 calories; 37g fat; 10g saturated fat; 33mg cholesterol; 9g protein; 22g carbohydrate; 13g sugar; 6g fiber; 366mg sodium; 256mg calcium
RECIPE: Juniper Baked Pimento Cheese Dip
¼ pound yellow cheddar cheese
¼ pound white cheddar cheese
¼ cup southern-style mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup cream cheese (optional)
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fermented pickle juice
2 tablespoons cornbread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
Notes: Keep the cheeses cold in the refrigerator until ready to grate them.
• Juniper uses Duke’s mayonnaise for this recipe, which has a distinctive flavor.
• Be sure to use smoked paprika for this dish.
• Juniper uses Crystal Hot Sauce as the hot sauce.
• While Juniper uses a flavorful garlicky juice from the pickles they make in house, any pickle juice will do.
• The optional ¼ cup of cream cheese adds an extra creaminess and keeps the dip from separating, but it is not used in the Juniper recipe.
• The dip is baked and served in cast iron at Juniper, which helps it retain heat. You may use individual 6- or 8-ounce ramekins for this appetizer. Adjust the timing of the bake accordingly.
• The bread Juniper uses with this dip is similar to a pita or to the Indian bread naan. Choose your favorite breads or crackers here.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees for glass pans.
2. Rinse, then roast the red pepper, using your favorite method — oven roasted, broiled, flame roasted or charred on the grill — until the skin is evenly blistered. Place roasted pepper in a paper bag and let rest 10 minutes.
3. Remove, then cut the pepper vertically down one side and open it flat. The stem and seeds should pull away easily. Wipe away any loose seeds with a paper towel. Turn the pepper skin side up and work the blistered skin away from the flesh. Cut the roasted pepper in a ¼-inch dice and set aside.
4. Grate the cold cheddar cheeses using the large holes on a box grater or a food processor fitted with a grating disc. Toss the cheeses together in a mixing bowl. Add the diced red peppers and fold into the cheese.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, blend the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. If using the optional cream cheese, add it in this step.
6. Stir the mix into the cheeses. Add hot sauce and pickle juice and stir to blend evenly.
7. Taste. Add salt if needed.
8. Transfer the mixed dip into a 1-½ quart baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and top with cornbread crumbs. Return to the oven and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes.
9. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly.
10. Top with chopped parsley.
11. Serve with assorted pickles, breads or crackers.
Per serving: 198 calories; 18 fat; 8g saturated fat; 41mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 3g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 281mg sodium; 224mg calcium
RECIPE: Katie’s Pizza Cannellini Bean Dip
Yield: Makes 2 generous cups
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kalamata olives and fresh basil, for serving
Freshly baked pizza points or pitas, for serving
1. In a food processor, mince garlic until fine.
2. Add beans, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and process until smooth and creamy but still retaining some texture.
3. Cover and refrigerate to allow flavors to meld for a minimum of 4 hours.
4. To serve Katie’s Pizza-style, fill 2 small ramekins with bean dip, top each ramekin with 3 kalamata olives and a basil leaf. Place ramekins on each end of a rectangular platter, mounding pizza points between.
Per (¼ cup) serving (calculated without pizza crust): 239 calories; 16g fat; 2g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 7g protein; 18g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 5g fiber; 1,179mg sodium; 53mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: Louie’s White Bean Hummus
Yield: 6 cups hummus; ½ cup per serving
For the herb sachet that cooks with the beans
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, 4- to 5-inches long or 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme (not ground)
2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed in skins
1 strip of kombu, approximately
1 ¾ cups dried Great Northern Beans
7 to 8 cups water to cover beans (4 times their volume)
1/3 cup roasted garlic cloves, squeezed from their skins
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons salt to taste
4 to 5 fresh mint leaves chopped in half inch pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons buttery extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
Notes: You will find dried kombu, which is a form of seaweed, at Whole Foods and at Global Foods in Kirkwood. The amino acids in kombu help soften beans and makes them more digestible, as well as add a pop of umami to the dish. Nori is not a good substitute for this.
• The day before, roast whole heads of garlic according to your favorite method. Roasting produces a smooth, flavorful and creamy paste that is very mild.
1. The night before, cover the beans with water (4 times the volume of the beans) and soak overnight.
2. Make an herb sachet. Use a double layer of cheesecloth 6-inches-by-6-inches or a small paper coffee filter to hold the herbs. Place the bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, garlic cloves and kombu strip in the center of the cheesecloth or filter, draw the sachet together to enclose the herbs, then wrap and tie it closed with kitchen twine.
3. Rinse the soaked beans and cover with fresh water to a depth of 2 inches over the beans. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer, add the sachet, cover and vent, and cook beans until tender and soft.
4. Remove the sachet and discard. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid to thin out the hummus if needed.
5. Blend the beans in 2 to 3 batches, with proportionate amounts of garlic cloves, olive oil, tahini and half of the lemon juice to an even smoothness, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed.
6. Once everything is smooth, check for consistency of texture throughout and blend as needed.
7. Taste and add half the salt. If more of a lemon flavor is desired, stir in remaining lemon juice. Taste again, then add salt if needed.
8. To serve, spread on a plate, then dot evenly across the top with mint leaf pieces. Sprinkle with pinches of smoked salt. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with pita, if desired.
9. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
Per serving: 221 calories; 14g fat; 2g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 7g protein; 20g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 6g fiber; 250mg sodium; 68mg calcium
RECIPE: Mai Lee’s Nuoc Mam Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon sambal oelek chili sauce
1 medium juicy lemon or lime, peeled
Notes: Fish sauce and sambal oelek are available at most international food stores. Any fish or chili sauce will do. Mai Lee uses either the Three Cranes Brand or Squid brand of fish sauce and the Huy Fong brand of sambal oelek.
1. Combine the fish sauce, sugar, water, garlic, sambal oelek and vinegar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir to blend.
2. Squeeze the juice from the citrus as well as the pulp into the bowl and stir to blend.
Per serving (based on 2 tablespoons): 28 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 1g protein; 7g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; no fiber; 364mg sodium; 4mg calcium
RECIPE: Southern Greens & Pork
1 ½ pounds collard greens
1 cup ¼-inch cubes pork butt
2 teaspoons black pepper or to taste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
Scant ½ cup diced yellow onion
4 teaspoons minced garlic
7 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (see note)
1/3 cup smoked chicken drippings (see note)
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Notes: Southern calls its chicken drippings “chicken love.” They come from Pappy’s Smokehouse. It’s the drippings left from smoking chickens, part gelatinous meat juice, part smoked chicken fat; sorry, there’s no real substitute. That said, my family loved the greens cooked in a rich homemade chicken stock made from the carcass of a smoked chicken, I also added a little schmaltz (rendered chicken fat).
• More than two tablespoons salt may sound like a lot. But Diamond Crystal’s salt-crystal structure packs more loosely so that by volume, it’s less salty than other salts. To use the more common Morton Kosher Salt, use half the stated amount, then taste the cooking liquid before adding the greens and adjust to taste.
1. Clean the collard greens well; soak the greens in cool water for 30 minutes, then swish, then rinse; repeat the process until the cleaning water runs clear. With a socket wrench, strip the leaves off the heavy stems and discard the stems. (Alternatively, use a knife or your hands to remove the stems.) Roughly chop the leaves; it helps to stack several leaves, roll them tightly into a cigar shape, then cut crosswise, then chop. You should have about 1 pound of chopped collards.
2. In a large, heavy Dutch oven or a large, wide and deep skillet (sorry, no nonstick), brown the bacon and pork; avoid stirring so as not to disturb the browning; once the meat begins to turn color, sprinkle the top of the cooking meat with both black and red peppers.
3. Put the onions on top of the meat. As the meat gets hot, stir in the onions, garlic and salt; cook until the onions begin to soften and sweat.
4. Stir in the brown sugar and chicken drippings until both dissolve into a syrupy sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in the vinegar and bring back to a simmer. Add the water and bring back to a simmer.
5. Stir in the greens, carefully pressing them into the hot liquid; for consistency in flavor and texture, add the greens all at once, not in batches. Cook the greens uncovered on medium heat until the leaves begin to soften; timing will depend on the age and tenderness of the greens but 30 to 60 minutes should do it; look for color that remains dark green but taste without bitterness; the leaves should still have some crunch but also have lost some firmness.
6. To serve Southern-style, serve the greens hot with Nashville hot chicken or buttermilk biscuits.
Per serving: 164 calories; 11g fat; 3g saturated fat; 18mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 12g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 4g fiber; 1,039mg sodium; 218mg calcium
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: Pastaria Red Wine Braised Beef and Garganelli
½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 pound boneless beef short ribs
750 milliliters dry red wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can tomato puree
4 ounces (¼ pound) mascarpone cheese
1 pound fresh garganelli or fresh or dried pasta of your choice
1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, cut in half lengthwise
1 to 2 tablespoons finely grated Grana Padano cheese
Notes: This recipe takes 3 days to complete. The short ribs are seared and marinated overnight on day 1; braised on day 2; and shredded and cooked in sauce on day 3.
• For the test we ordered boneless beef short ribs from Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions in Maplewood.
• For this recipe, seek out the tomato puree, which has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor than tomato sauce. For the test, we used the Red Gold brand, which was available at Schnucks.
• Mascarpone cheese adds a lush mouthfeel and richness to this beefy sauce. It is commonly available in supermarkets. Ricotta is considered a substitute, but as a drier cheese it lacks the mouthfeel and tartness of mascarpone.
• Bright green Castelvetrano olives, from Sicily, have a meaty flesh and a buttery mouthfeel. They can be found at better grocers.
• Grana Padano cheese is an aged cow’s milk hard cheese available at Pastaria Deli & Wine in Clayton.
• Although any pasta may be used with this dish, penne is considered a good substitute for garganelli, which is rolled and ridged crosswise. Freshly made garganelli is available at Pastaria Deli & Wine in Clayton.
1. Day 1: Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Preheat a Dutch oven on medium low for 5 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high, add the oil, and heat until a drop of water skitters on the surface. Raise heat to high, add prepared short ribs and sear well on all sides. Transfer the meat to a container or bowl large enough to hold the beef and the bottle of wine. Pour the wine over the beef. Cover, then refrigerate overnight.
2. Day 2: Preheat the oven to 350. Transfer the beef to a braising dish. Pour the wine marinade into a 4-quart saucepan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the red wine vinegar. Pour liquid over the beef, cover with foil, and braise for 3 ½ hours. Allow the braised beef to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight, uncovered.
3. Day 3: Remove the beef from the braising liquid and shred by hand. Set aside.
4. Bring the braising liquid to a full boil, reduce heat to maintain a low boil, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces by about half.
5. Stir in the orange juice and the tomato puree. Break the mascarpone into 4 or 6 clumps and stir in until it dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer until it reaches a nice saucy consistency.
6. Cook and hold the pasta.
7. Add the shredded beef, chopped parsley and olives to the sauce. Stir in your favorite cooked pasta shape, then garnish with the orange zest and Grana Padano.
Per serving: 1,080 calories; 35g fat; 15g saturated fat; 127mg cholesterol; 47g protein; 112g carbohydrate; 15g sugar; 7g fiber; 539mg sodium; 156mg calcium
RECIPE: Union Loafers Little Gem Salad
1 1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
5 heads bibb or other lettuce, rinsed well and dried, then torn in bite-sized pieces
2 heart of romaine, rinsed well and dried, chopped in pieces about 1¾-inches squares
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped chervil
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped chives
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Notes: The pickled shallots must be made a day ahead. The shallots will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for a month.
• The lettuces should be spun dry or towel dried for best results. Union Loafers spins the lettuces dry, then pats with paper towels if needed.
• If fresh chervil is unavailable, substitute smaller, curly parsley leaves.
• Union Loafers makes toasted bread crumbs from scratch, but toasted panko works well for this salad.
1. The day before, peel and thinly slice 8 shallots crosswise, using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Separate into rings. Place sliced shallots in a colander, rinse with cold water, and let drain. Place in a tempered glass bowl or other nonreactive bowl and set aside.
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a 2-quart pan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear.
3. Pour hot liquid over the prepared shallots and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. To make the dressing, peel and roughly chop the remaining shallot. Place it in a blender then add the garlic clove, buttermilk, sour cream, egg yolks, lemon juice and remaining teaspoon of salt. Blend on high for 20 to 30 seconds.
5. Reduce blender speed to medium and stream canola oil in until the dressing is emulsified.
6. The dressing should be used within 2 days if made with regular egg yolks; within 5 days if using pasteurized eggs.
7. To pan toast the panko, wipe a 6-inch skillet with olive oil and heat over medium high until the skillet is hot. Add panko and stir until the flakes brown.
8. To assemble the salads, toss the torn bibb lettuce with the chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 cup of buttermilk dressing and toss to coat evenly. Add toasted panko crumbs and 1/3 cup pickled shallots, drained, and toss to distribute.
9. Place half the lettuce mixture into each of 6 large salad bowls. Divide the chopped herbs in half. Sprinkle one half over the bottom lettuce layer.
10. Add remaining lettuce to the bowl and place remaining chopped herbs. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 660 calories; 52g fat; 5g saturated fat; 66mg cholesterol; 13g protein; 46g carbohydrate; 24g sugar; 17g fiber; 742mg sodium; 297mg calcium
RECIPE: The Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market Lentil Soup
2½ cups (16 ounces) red lentils
1/3 of a medium yellow onion, diced
Vegetable oil to cover (about 4 tablespoons)
1¾ Maggi-brand chicken-flavored bouillon cubes
Scant ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For each serving for garnish, fresh cilantro, chopped parsley and olive oil
Notes: Red lentils are a mild, soft quick-cooking lentil; do not substitute other lentils. Look for 1-pound bags at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood, also a source for Maggi-brand bouillon, 2 cubes per tiny box. The Vine uses vegetarian chicken-flavored bouillon, but we found only chicken bouillon.
1. Bring 8 cups water to a boil on high heat in a large, heavy pot.
2. Rinse lentils 3 times under running water until the water runs clear. Soak lentils in clean water until water boils, then drain and add lentils to the boiling water. Bring back to a boil on high heat; stir often to prevent sticking and burning and use a slotted spoon to remove foam that collects on top. The lentils are cooked when they turn slightly soft and can be easily mashed. To gently mash the lentils, stir them with a wire whisk while still cooking; they should be creamy but still retain some texture.
3. Meanwhile, while lentils cook, in a small saucepan (not a skillet), cover onions with oil and bring to a boil. Boil hard until onions turn translucent. Turn down heat and stir in bouillon, salt, turmeric, curry and pepper; let simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.
4. Stir onion mixture into cooked lentils, cook for 5 more minutes, using the wire whisk to stir and mash slightly. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and let simmer until some of the liquid evaporates.
5. To serve Vine-style, pour 1 cup hot soup into squat, square white bowls. Garnish the top with 2 pretty sprigs of cilantro, a sprinkle of parsley and a swirl of olive oil.
Per serving: 270 calories; 8g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 16g protein; 35g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 9g fiber; 514mg sodium; 34mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
RECIPE: Beast Craft BBQ Brussels Sprouts With Pork Belly
1 gallon corn oil, for deep frying
1 ½ pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
½ pound uncured pork belly
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Notes: If using a deep fryer, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for amount of oil. If using a smaller deep fryer, cook this recipe in two or three batches.
• If frying in a large pot on the stove, use a special candy/deep fry thermometer. Lower ingredients into pot in a long-handled fry basket that fits the pot or with a long-handled mesh skimmer or slotted spoon.
• Never leave either a deep fryer or a pot of hot oil on the stove unattended. Do not allow hot oil to come in contact with direct flame. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and never try to put out a grease fire with water. It vaporizes instantly into super-heated steam.
1. Begin heating oil in a deep fryer or in an 8- to 10-quart pot. The oil will heat to 275 degrees for cooking.
2. While the oil is coming up to temperature, rinse and dry Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end. Slice sprouts in half lengthwise. Set aside.
3. Dice the pork belly into ½-inch pieces.
4. When the oil comes to temperature of 275 degrees, gently place the pork belly into the oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove pieces to drain on paper towels and set aside.
5. If necessary, bring the oil temperature back to 275 degrees. Gently lower the cut Brussels sprouts into the oil. Take care as the sprouts may splatter for the first few seconds.
6. Fry until the outer leaves start to crisp and brown slightly and the center becomes tender.
7. Remove sprouts from oil and drain on paper towels.
8. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sprouts and pork belly pieces. Add salt, pepper and butter and toss to mix and serve.
Per serving: 376 calories; 36g fat; 11g saturated fat; 37mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 4g fiber; 518mg sodium; 47mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.