Tuesday, July 31, 2007

gnocchi can't be beet!

Over the weekend I was going through a stack of loose recipes that I keep in a binder. I really need to organize that thing. Anyway, I came across a page torn out from Bon Appetit from October 2004. One of the recipes on the page is Beet Gnocchi with Rosemary. Sounded good to me. I've never made gnocchi from scratch. Jack has...the regular (but unbelievably delicious) potato kind. I thought the beet gnocchi would be fun because of the deep red beets. I had no idea how fantastic and surreal the color would be! These fellas were bright pink! Here's the dough (before I added some more flour because it was way too wet):

This photo has not been altered in any way. It was THAT bright!

Here's the recipe. I'll put my personal notes in bold type.

Beet Gnocchi with Rosemary

8 first-course or 4 main-course servings

3 small beets, trimmed
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese (I used part skim ricotta from the grocery store)
1 large egg
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour, divided (I had to add more flour to the dough. use your judgement)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 3-inch-long fresh rosemary sprigs

Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour.
Cool 15 minutes. Slip skin off beets; discard skins. Coarsely grate beets. Place 3/4 cup grated beets in large bowl (reserve remaining beets for another use). Stir in ricotta, egg, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix in 1 cup flour. (Gnocchi dough can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Lightly dust baking sheet with flour. Place remaining 1/2 cup flour in small bowl. Using tablespoon measure as aid, scoop dough into rounds; transfer to bowl with flour, then roll each into 1 1/2 inch log. Hold in palm of hand and gently
press centers with fingertips to make slight indentations (I formed the gnocchi using this method. The way the recipe had them seemed way too big). Transfer gnocchi to prepared baking sheet. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Melt butter with rosemary sprigs in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes. (I took the rosemary springs out at this point. the butter had been infused with plenty of rosemary flavor.)Set aside.

Working in batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of simmering salted water until gnocchi float to surface, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet with butter and rosemary. Heat butter and gnocchi over medium heat, stirring gently to coat. Transfer to plate; sprinkle generously with additional Parmesan cheese and serve.

Check out this army of little pink pasta:

To go with them, I cooked a roast in the crock-pot. It was a chuck roast, and I added about 1 1/2 cups of Chianti, a few sprigs of rosemary and 5 garlic cloves which I crushed a little bit. I cooked it on low for around 8 hours.

For something green, I cooked the beet tops and some spinach. I cut the beet top stalks into small pieces (about half inch) and sauteed them for a few minutes with 3 chopped cloves of garlic and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I added about 1/4 cup of water and a tablespoon of sugar and some salt and pepper and let it cook down for about 3 minutes. Then I added the torn up beet leaves and spinach and let them wilt and cooked everything for about 2 more minutes.

The gnocchi was the highlight of the meal. Not only was the color delightful, the slight beet flavor went really well with the rosemary butter. The greens had good beet flavor, too, and I liked the way they went with the richly flavored meat.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pork & Sons & Ratatouille

Oh...what could be in this envelope?

About a month back I was tickled to learn I had won a copy of Pork & Sons from Serious Eats. I was even more pleased when the book came in the mail.

I LOVE this cookbook! It's all pork recipes, first of all. And most of the recipes are pretty simple and non-fussy. I also love all the stories of the people, and the delightful little piggy drawings, and the mouth-watering photos of every recipe. It's a great cookbook.

So we saw the movie Ratatouille a couple weeks ago. Loved it. Just like everyone else, it seems. My favorite person, Tony Bourdain, even went so far as to call it the best food movie ever. Wow! Well, it was pretty darn good. Slashfood linked to several recipes for Ratatouille, here and here. However, the recipe they supposedly used for the movie was Thomas Keller's Byaldi from his French Laundry Cookbook. World on a plate has that recipe here. I plan on trying it out once I get my sticky little hands on a mandoline. Meanwhile, check out this video about the complexities of making computer generated food.

Okay, Here's where the new cookbook and the movie come together. After seeing the movie, I thought the first recipe I should make from Pork & Sons was the one that included Ratatouille! Pork & Citrus Fruit with Ratatouille, to be specific.

It's a more rustic version of ratatouille than Keller's, to be sure, but it tasted great! It was much more rich than I thought a bunch of veggies could be...even before I added the pork's roasting juices. I used thick-cut pork steaks instead of the pork loin because, well, pork loins are pricey and pork steaks are cheap. I figured since this was a slow cooking dish, the fatty poek steaks would work well. The only other difference I made in the recipe was using dried thyme instead of fresh, and cutting out one of each vegetable, because my dish would not hold so many veggies. Maybe they have smaller veggies in France (where the book was written) or bigger casserole dishes and ovens.

Here's the recipe:

Pork and citrus fruit with ratatouille

2 1/4 pounds boneless pork loin
grated rind and juice of 3 oranges
juice of 1 grapefruit
7 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 zucchini, diced
3 eggplants, diced
6 tomatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
1 fresh thyme sprig

Put the pork in a non-metallic dish. Sprinkle with the orange rind and pour the orange and grapefruit juice over it.
Let marinate in a cool place for 2 hours.

preheat the oven to 350

Heat 5 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, flameproof casserole. Add the onions, garlic, zucchini, eggplants and tomatoes and cook over low heat,
stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until softened. Add the bay leaves and thyme and cook in the oven, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring frequently.

Drain the pork, reserving the marinade. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Add the pork and cook over high heat, turning frequently, for a bout 10 minutes,
until eavenly browned. Tranfer to an oven proof dish and pour in the reserved marinade. Place in the oven and cook,
basting frequently, for 1 hour.

Transfer the pork to a plate. Mix the ratatouille with the roasting juices, then place the pork on top. Return to the oven
and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove and slice pork, then serve it on a bed of ratatouille.

The pork turned out nice and tender, and very...well, porky flavored. I'm not sure if the marinade helped bring that out, or, more likely, the cut I chose, with all it's fat and bone and connective tissue helped the flavor. Either way, I liked it. And I really like the ratatouille. What a great side dish.

Also this weekend I baked these pistachio shortbreads from CHOW. They were tasty, although I over cooked them a bit. I think this would be better served as a crust for a cheesecake, though. Crumbly, buttery and nutty. Next time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

ice cream preparedness

I ordered this little guy a couple days ago, and in anticipation of his arrival I have been gathering lots and lots of ice cream recipes to try. I'm very excited about having an ice cream maker. We had one when I was a kid...it was one of those old-skool wooden bucket ones where you had to continually turn a crank and add ice and rock salt. The results were unbelievably delicious, but we rarely made ice cream because of all the labor involved. Now I can make it often thanks to modern technology! Woo! I had better get more frozen yogurt and sorbet recipes, though, or all my clothes will get too small. Here's the recipes that have caught my interest so far:

Tiramisu ice cream via desert candy

The Kitchen's mint chocolate chip ice cream

Delicious Days' ice cream showdown: Blueberry frozen yogurt vs. white choclate & lime addiction...they both look like winners to me!

Brooklyn Chocolate Stout Ice Cream and Spiced Oatmeal Cake

Toasted coconut ice cream!!

Maison du Miel's Heather Honey Ice Cream Recipe thanks to 101 cookbooks

a frozen yogurt recipe to rival pinkberrys recipe-again from 101 cookbooks. I've never had pinkberry's, but this sounds yummy.

Red bean ice cream from CHOW...for sushi nights!

"Uneven Pavement Ice Cream" from my husband cooks. Cashews, crunchy toffee, marshmallow creme...goodness gracious!!

Have you seen the Pepto Bismol Ice Cream and the Mylanta Mint chocolate chip ice cream? Yikes! Though, both writers said the results were suprisingly tasty...hmmmm..

Ginger Ice cream and Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream, both from Slashfood.

Orange Chilli Ricotta frozen yogurt from Jada's Steamy Kitchen. I bookmarked this on my de.li.cious a while back.

Peppercorn icecream from foodgoat.

Coconut Avocado ice cream. Two of my favorite fruits in one!

I can't find a recipe, but a couple of years ago Isaac Mizrahi went to a make your own ice cream flavor place and he made strawberry balsamic vinegar ice cream! It sounded so good to me. I would just use a basic vanilla ice cream base, and add something like this recipe to it, I suppose.

Can you tell I'm sooo excited about this new gadget? Feel free to share your favorite ice cream flavor or recipe in the comments!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

my new pal Sandy

While making sandwiches this morning, I found this slice of awesome. I should start carrying googly eyes with me everywhere I go.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

pepita pesto

For dinner last night I tried the Pumpkin Seed Pesto recipe from the the Baking and Books blog. It was simple to make and had great flavor. I followed her recipe pretty close, except I added salt and pepper and more lemon juice. I had it on spaghetti squash as she suggested, but this would also work on whole wheat pasta or bruschetta or as a dip/spread. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Monday, July 23, 2007

dulce de leche duos cookies

I made the Dulce de Leche Duo cookies from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Kitchen to Yours. last night. I looooove caramel, and Dulce de Leche is the ultimate. I bought the premade kind, because I'm a little scared to try making it myself...plus there was no time for that.

The recipe:

Dulce De Leche Duos

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup store-bought dulce de leche, plus more for filling
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Getting ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed until soft. Add the Dulce de Leche and both sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Don't be concerned if the mixture looks a little curddled, it will smooth out when the flour mixture is added. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.

Spoon the dough onto the baking sheets, using a heaping teaspoon of dough for each cookie and leaving 2 inches between them.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be honey brown with a light sugar crust, but they will be soft, so remove the sheets from the oven but don't touch the cookies for another minute or two. Then, using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure you cool the baking sheets before spooning the dough onto them.

When the cookies are completely cool, spread the flat bottoms of half the cookies with a small amount of dulce de leche, and sandwich with the flat sides of the remaining cookies.

I didn't make all of them into sandwiches, as they were sweet enough on their own. They are very buttery and you can totally taste the dulce de leche in them.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

back to bentos

I've not neglected my bento making, don't worry. I just haven't taken pictures of every single one. I've been reading this book, and it gave me a hankering to make sushi. Sushi is perfect for my bento! I haven't made it in years, and am not all that good at it, but it tasted good, so there. I made one roll with an imitation crab stick and some pickled daikon. The other has masago and carrots. Simple little rolls. Here is the resulting bento:

For more on making your own sushi, check out the "Wake up Little Sushi" episode of Good Eats. It's quite helpful. And while we're on the subject, I love these little ball-shaped sushi on Just Hungry.

With my leftover rice from the Sushi-making, I made fried rice. Day old-rice is best for fried rice, and I had some Smart Dog fake hotdogs that I was scared to try. I figured hot-dog fried rice would be a good use of them. It worked well. I don't think I'd like the smart dogs as just hotdogs, though. I also found some pickled garlic that is pink! It's so pretty, so I made a flower out of it. Here is that bento:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

vacation day tamales

I had a vacation day on Monday with no plans. I had a big bag of masa flour left from this vacation day food project, and I had some chicken breasts I needed to use. Well, I had no choice but to make tamales, right? I have made tamales once before, but from a kit. This was my first try from scratch.

I used the masa recipes from here and here as references for mine. In the end, I ended up using 12 cups (!!!!) of the masa flour, 2 sticks of butter, one cup of vegetable oil, 8 cups of chicken broth and probably another cup and a half of water to get my big giant bowl of tamale dough.

For the filling, I made Jack's tequila lime chicken on the grill, then shredded it with two forks and added it to the leftover marinade, which I had reduced and added more sugar to.

Here is a tamale before it gets all bundled up:

And, this is a bunch of tamale buddies hanging out in thier steamer:

Earlier in the day I had made a sort of salad/salsa concoction with tamatillos, red bell pepper, garlic, jalepeno, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, rice wine vinegar and sugar. It was quite tart, but complimented the sweet corny tamales really well...although it did overpower the chicken filling a bit.

I completed the meal with some pigeon peas from a can, to which I added some cumin, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and a dash of cinnamon. Pigeon peas are sooo good. Look for them, try them. I then crumbled some queso fresco over everything...because cheese only makes things better.

I really enjoyed making tamales. It was time consuming, but meditative. It was extremely fruitful, too. I have at least 5 more hearty meals worth of tamales in my freezer, plus a couple lunches worth in the fridge. What a great way to stretch 4 chicken breasts, huh?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

well read, well fed (installment 9) Summer Reading Update

I've managed to read a couple more books from my Summer Reading for Food Lovers list. I'm not getting as much reading in as I'd like, but so far the books have been very good, so no complaints.

Crescent: A Novel by Diana Abu-Jaber

Crescent is the story of Sirine, a California woman whose father was from Iraq and mother from California. She is a cook at a Persian restaurant by a University and lives with her Uncle who is a professor. She is 39 and single. She is intelligent and beautiful. Food is a big part of Sirine's life. It's part of her culture, it reminds her of her parents, who died tragically when she was young. Food also is what her circle of friends is centered on...the restaurant, it's regular patrons, her co-workers, the atmosphere of political/social debate that takes place at it's tables, the new people who show up. Sirine's cooking also is her way of centering herself and expressing herself. The book has mystery, love, lore, culture and great characters. It's lush and sensual, both in its story and its descriptions. Everything you want in a summer book, right? Plus, lots and lots of gorgeous food talk. Here is an excerpt that I particularly like:

He says, "This reminds me."

"It reminds you? Of what?"

He nods. "The kitchen. I never much wanted to be up in my father's orchard. I liked this. I liked the kitchen. The table. Stove. Where the women were always telling stories. My mother and my aunts and the neighbors and-my sister.” He smoothes another sheet.

Sirine butters it, then pours a thick filling of ground walnuts, sugar, and spices over the layers. She strokes her palm over the top to level it. :My mother too," she murmurs. "Well, it was usually just her and me. She talked to me while we worked. Told me stuff."

Han glances at her. "Like what sort of stuff?"

She smiles and shrugs, a little shy. "Oh silly things, like whether you pour hot syrup over cold baklava or cold syrup over hot."
"That's quite serious, that's metaphysical."

She considers this, surprised by the memories that start to come to her-the way her mother's small lessons felt like larger secrets when Sirine was a girl: how instructions in the fine dicing of walnuts and the way to clarify butter were also meditations on hope and devotion. "Yes," she says, a soft, dawning recognition in her voice. "I think so too."
"Oh, definitely. My mother told me that if I knew how to make good baklava I would be irresistible to any woman," he says.
"Ah, so she taught you how to make baklava, "Sirine observes.

"No. So she refused to teach me."

Sirine laughs. "But somehow you learned how to make it anyway. Lucky for me."

"Actually, I'm learning how right this second."

Another layer. Butter. She glances at him, then back at the baklava. "You miss it?"

He looks up. "I miss...? The kitchen? My home?" He accidentally tears a corner of a sheet of dough-it's starting to get dry.”’ I miss my mother's coffee / I miss my mother's bread.'"

Sirine raises her eyebrows.

"It's a poem. Not mine." He grimaces, trying to reattach the dough. "No, I miss everything, Sirine. Absolutely everything."

You can check out another excerpt here. And speaking of Baklava, I'm adding Abu-Jaber's memoir The Language of Baklava to my list of books to read. I enjoy her writing, and I like learning more about Persian/Middle Eastern foods. In fact, I did a little post a long time ago about visiting a local Persian place...take a look back.

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford

Heat come highly recommended from all over the place. Basically, it's Bill Buford's account of working at Babbo, Mario Batali's restaurant, and his quest to learn more and more about food and cooking. It all started out as research for a feature article on Batali, but the cooking world drew Buford in, and he couldn't seem to learn/cook/sweat enough. It reminded me a lot of Micheal Ruhlman's book Soul of a Chef, in that it became a personal pursuit to find out some vague "secret" into the world/mind of chefs. Buford is funny, and the book shows the side of Batali that you do not see on Iron Chef America or Molto Mario. Mario is a chef, and being such, he is often vulgar and loud and can drink lots. I like him more, now it seems :) Buford also details several trips he took to Italy to work for places there and learn more about specific Italian specialties, such as fresh pasta and sausage and butchering. It's an exciting, often touching, often humorous and darn informative read. There's history lessons, and stories of heartbreak. There are lessons on cuts of meats, and lessons on what really goes on in restaurant kitchens. An eye-opening experience, this book...a reminder that although I love food, I don’t have what it takes to be a professional cook. I would cry a lot.

You can read an excerpt here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

tarts gone wild

While I was making potato salad and zucchini muffins on the 4th, a friend of mine was hunting for wild Chaterelle mushrooms. They just came into season in Missouri, and that season lasts only a few weeks, probably. Anyway, he gave me a baggie-full of his finds! Wasn't that nice? It was my first time trying/cooking with Chanterelles. I was gonna do a simple pasta and saute the shrooms with garlic, oil and butter, but Jack (smarty pants that he is) suggested I make a tart, like I did with asparagus. Brilliant! This worked really well. I got to taste the mushrooms without any other strong flavor interfering, it was pretty, and it was simple! You can follow the links to the recipe, originally from fer food, but basically, you roll out a sheet of puff pastry, score around the edges to creat a crust, dock the inside of the score with a fork, pre-cook it for 15 minutes or so, put down shredded gruyere (about 3/4 cup), top it with the mushrooms, some pepper and drizzle it with olive oil and bake the whole thing for another 25 or so minutes.

I ate the tart with a simple salad of romaine, tomatoes and red onion dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Simple but quite lovely with my rich tart.

Apparently, the shroomin' pal is having a lot of luck with his hunting...so I may be getting some more of these earthy, buttery, delicious morsels of fungus soon. So I'll continue doing some recipe research. I am open to suggestions, of course.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July-potato salad and muffins

This year Independence Day was on a Wednesday. So what to do on a middle of the week holiday with scattered thunderstorms? COOK! I made potato salad in the morning and whittled down my zuke child in the afternoon.

The potato salad was completely dreamed up. I had a bunch of small red potatoes to use up, and I have been craving some sort of potato salad involving capers. I love capers. So here's what I came up with (my recipe writing skills are wanting...please taste as you make this):

Iron Stef's Italian-ish Potato Salad

13 small red potatoes, boiled whole for about 20 minutes, peel on
Handful of diced prosciutto
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of a 3.5 oz. jar capers-drained through hand
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar)
2 tsp. olive oil

1/4 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp. Dijon mustard
Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

To Make: while potatoes are cooling, sauté prosciutto for a couple of minutes, then add olive oil and garlic and cook until everything just starts to brown. Set aside to cool. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces, put into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together. Add capers, roasted red pepper, prosciutto mixture and vinaigrette to the potatoes and stir (I used my hands, because my potatoes were overcooked and I didn't want to mash them too much). Refrigerate until it's time to eat!

The muffins were kind of a combination of this recipe for "savory zucchini bread" and Just Hungry's Basil Parmesan Zucchini muffins. Here's my final recipe:

Parmesan Basil Zucchini Mini-muffins

2 1/2 cups biscuit mix
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. each garlic powder, red pepper flake and nutmeg
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Dash of hot sauce
2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten (I used egg substitute, because I had it and needed to use it)
3 cups shredded zucchini (I didn't drain mine, which is why there is so much more bisquick than the original recipe)

Combine ingredients, fill mini-muffin tin (about 3/4 full per cup) and bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. Enjoy!

thrifty gourmet

So another fun thing I did on my vacation last week was visit garage sales and thrift stores and such. Thrifting is one of my favorite things to do. Just about my entire wardrobe is thanks to Goodwill. Going in to normal retail stores for clothes has become nearly impossible...$15 for a shirt? Whatevs, I won't pay more than $4. :)

Anyway, ever since I found these crazy 60's cookbooks at a church rummage sale a couple months ago, I have been keeping my eyes peeled for cookbooks and kitchen items while I'm thriftin' it up.

So, Wednesday I got up early and hit some garage sales. I was only able to find 3 sales...must plan better next time. Oh well, still got some good stuff. At one I got 4 Frugal Gourmet cookbooks for $1 a piece. And, no, I was not aware of Jeff Smith's legal issues when I bought them. Now I don't know that I really want to use them. I mostly got them for Jack, as he grew up watching the show every Saturday morning after cartoons. He seemed to thing it was a pretty cool purchase.

And in two of the books there were bonuses from the previous owner! A 1989 magazine article and a handwritten deep-dish pizza recipe. I love finding tidbits like these in old books!

At another sale I got one of my favorite finds, a stack of old tupperware sandwich boxes with a handle to connect them all. I love the 60's colors! I love the handle! I can't wait to use this for a picnic. I'm imagining it filled with various antipasto. The brown one is missing it's lid, but I can use it for something, I'm sure...

Speaking of Tupperware, check out these awesome old catalogs and ads!

Last month I found this blue bakeware set at a garage sale for $6. It matches all my current bakeware! I was excited because I did not have a loaf pan, a pie pan, nor custard cups. And I can always use another bowl and casserole dish, right? Pretty!

Back to my vacation...after eating at Carl's Drive-In, my mom and I ducked into the little used bookstore across the street while it poured rain outside. It was a nice little shop, sort of maze-like with shelves of books to the ceiling everyware. The prices weren't that great though...that's a girl's spoiled by dirt cheap books at garage sales and thrift stores opinion. I did end up finding two to buy. The Moosewood Cookbook, which I had been wanting for awhile now. If you're not familiar, it's a 1970's all vegetarian cookbook which was all hand written. It's got lots of cute illustrations and the recipes are supposed to be good. I paid $7 for it. I also got my favorite find of the whole week, the Mafia Cookbook. It was published in 1970 and written by a guy name Joe Cipolla, who was actually a cook for many mafia families. It's a crazy book, the exact opposite feel of the Moosewood cookbook, what with illustrations of guns, handcuffs and guys on meathooks. This book will get it's own Iron Stef entry, for sure. I got it for $2.25. I googled it, and the only person I've found so far who's selling one has it for $91!!! Score!

Here's a picture one of the Moosewood pages:

and in contrast, a preview of the Mafia Cookbook:


Monday, July 02, 2007

Classic St. Louis

For my vacation, since I was not going out of town, I asked around as to where I should visit as a tourist in my own city, St. Louis. Several people told me I had to go to Crown Candy Kitchen and Carl's Drive-In. I've wanted to go to Crown for some time now, but I had never heard of Carl's (although once I got there I realized I had passed by it many many times...for shame!).

I went to Carl's with my mom. Warned that it was crazy busy at lunchtime, we went a little later in the afternoon when it was down time. We saddled up to the small counter and placed our orders. A cheeseburger, fries and small root beer float for my mom and a tamale, onion rings and large float for yours truly. The place is tiny. there's a counter with about 6 stools on one side, and the same on the other, each side only accessible by it's individual door from the outside. In the middle is where the magic happens. The cook prepares your food there right in front of you, while the waitress pours your root beer from the big barrel which is the center of the whole place. Did I mention that they make they're own root beer? Well they do. It's the original IBC recipe, and they make the syrup every morning. Awesome.

Here's my meal at Carl's. My favorite was the root beer float. I could drink that all day. The tamale was good, too. Everything was served on little paper or Styrofoam plates with plastic utensils. I don't think that's very environmentally friendly, but I don't think a place like Carl's worries about it too much.

A close-up of my tamale. Chili, cheese, deliciousness.

my mom's cheeseburger. She let me have a bite. So good. Notice the crispy edges. They really smoosh those patties on the hot griddle. My mom said she should have gotten a double. Next time. She also turned down my offer to get a Curly-Q dog to share. I'll have to get one next time...I asked the cook what exactly a Curly-Q dog is..."Deep-fried hot dog." Whoa.

A couple days later, my aunt, cousin, grandma and I headed to Crown Candy Kitchen. Such a neat place. OLD. With great tin ceilings, dark, well-worn wooden floors, and small uncomfortable booths. I was told I should get the BLT. So I did. It was more like a BBBBBBBLT. So much Bacon! So much yumminess.

Here's my meal at Crown. Seems simple, served with potato chips and a pickle half, but it was really tasty and made me feel warm and fuzzy. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the old candy/ice cream shop, or the fact that I was enjoying this experience with some of my favorite people.

Or perhaps it was all the BACON!!

For desert I had the Crown Sundae, which has pretty much the best caramel and chocolate sauces you'll ever have. The chocolate, especially was soooo good...really rich and flavorful.

On my way out of Crown, I got some of their famous candy, of course. Chocolate covered espresso beans, chocolate covered raisins and heavenly hash. They make the chocolate there, of course, and man, is it good chocolate. I wish I would have gotten more to last a little longer, but I guess I'll just have to visit more often.

I can't believe I grew up here and had never been to either of these places! They are both like stepping into time-machines. Not cheesy theme-restaurant faked time machines. You can feel, taste and smell the history. And you can get some good eats at the same time. I highly recommend visitors and residents go to both of these places. I also recommend being a tourist in YOUR own city. Every place has somewhere that tells a great story.