April 26, 2016

Farro & Spring Vegetable Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

This dish is so good that I made it twice last weekend...in my Girls' Night Out cooking class and as a side dish for a BBQ.

Consider the recipe a guideline, not something to follow exactly. On Saturday, I used arugula, asparagus, peas, green onions, fresh radishes, dill, mint, and Parmesan cheese. On Sunday, I added spinach, peas, radishes, zucchini, tomatoes black olives, parsley, and feta to the farro. The possibilities are endless. Really.

As a side dish or main course, this salad is delicious...light but filling...and keeps well in the fridge. I took leftovers for lunch yesterday and today.

Farro & Spring Vegetable Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

April 3, 2016

Maple-Dijon Salmon


I brought back some maple syrup from Montreal. Of course. While I plan to make waffles (mmmm....waffles) soon, I wanted to make something else to showcase the syrup.

I've baked a maple pie in the past. I considered a maple-glazed roasted pork tenderloin, sesame-maple tofu, maple donuts (mmmm....donuts), peanut butter-maple fudge, some cocktails, or another batch of maple granola. Since I have several cups of syrup, I'm sure a few of these will happen as well.

But, I decided on Nicoise salad with maple-dijon salmon for a simple Sunday supper.

Maple-Dijon Salmon
recipe slightly adapted from Joyful Healthy Eats

March 29, 2016

Eating (and Drinking) In Montreal


We spent Easter weekend in Montreal, thanks to Nick who gave me the trip as a Christmas gift. Our reason for going was two-fold: To get my first passport stamp and to eat. Specifically, to eat at Joe Beef. Nick booked the flights, our hotel room, and made dinner reservations for Friday night. The rest of the planning was up to me.

I did a lot of research before our trip. I annotated a travel book, read the Joe Beef cookbook, watched all of the food shows that featured Montreal, spent hours browsing online, and had dinner with some friends from Montreal to get the scoop. There is so much to do in Montreal, and I knew we couldn’t fit it all into just three days, so we tried to hit all the highlights. We didn’t go to any museums or whatnot; our itinerary was full of eating and drinking.

Day One: On Friday, we walked 2+ miles, uphill, in the snow (literally) to have breakfast poutine at L'Oeufrier. Nick ordered the “ménage à trois” (with chorizo, Italian sausage, and pork sausage) because he could pronounce it in French. Funny guy. I chose the “La du Canard SVP!” (that means s’il vous plaît or “if you please”...thanks to Nick for teaching me that one) with duck confit, caramelized onions, and mushrooms.  

A ménage à trois is so sexy.

Then, we walked a couple blocks over to Dieu Du Ciel for some local beers. I liked everything we tried (mostly stouts and dark beers) and would highly recommend this microbrewery to everyone who visits Montreal and wants to try good local beer in a cool, happening atmosphere. We showed up when they opened, and it was absolutely packed when we left a few hours later.



Dinner at Joe Beef that night was incredible and worth every bit of the hype it gets. We were seated at a cozy table in the bay window near the bar. Our server Alexe offered to choose our menu, tastes and smaller portions of different dishes and wines. We gladly accepted her offer.



We started with cocktails. Nick ordered the Bloody Caesar that comes “excessively garnished,” and I had a Gin Gimlet. Dinner began with a half dozen oysters, followed by smoked sturgeon croquettes breaded in cornflakes and topped with caviar. Next was a pastrami-style veal tongue topped with escargo and aioli. This was followed by a roasted quail with sweetbreads and mushrooms (my favorite of the night). 


Then, the éclair arrived: puff pastry stuffed with ham and seared foie gras all topped with a melty cheese sauce. It was absolutely over the top. We also tried two pasta dishes, the spaghetti with lobster (one of their most popular entrees) and Polish braised beef with rye pappardelle and mushrooms. They were both excellent, though the creamy lobster sauce was so rich. I wish we hadn’t eaten so much before the beef arrived, because it was damn delicious but at that point I was so full I could only eat a few bites. We ended with vanilla ice cream swirled with lingonberry sorbet and topped with meringue pieces.



Day Two: We opted to skip an early breakfast and head to Schwartz’s when they opened at 10:30 for an infamous smoked meat sandwich (bread, smoked brisket, yellow mustard). Surprisingly, there was absolutely no line and few people there, so we sat at the counter and were served almost immediately. When we left about a half hour later, the place was filling up. Afterward, we walked directly across the street to The Main Deli to try their smoked meat sandwich, because we were told it was just as good (so, if Schwartz’s has a line, go there). We split a sandwich and ordered the potato verenekes (fried pierogies).



Next, we hit a couple other local microbreweries: Le Saint-Bock and L’amere a boire, which were just a few doors apart. So. Much. Beer.

Dinner that evening was huîtres (oysters), charcuterie, and fromage at La Champagnerie. My favorite was the pickle juice mignonette served with the oysters. Surprisingly tasty! However, the highlight of the night was getting to saber a bottle of champagne. It’s much easier than I expected! The saber isn’t at all sharp. In fact, we were told that you can “saber” a bottle with a butter knife, an iPhone, or even a metal wristwatch! You simple find the seam that runs up and down the bottle, face that part up, loosen the cage, and run the saber across the length of the bottle confidently with one smooth motion. The whole top comes off, glass and all. I was amazed. “Look at that!”

video
Watch me whack that bottle!

March 6, 2016

Spring 2016 Cooking Classes


Kitchen Conservatory's spring schedule is now available online! 

My classes include two new Girls' Night Out menus: French-inspired cuisine on April 23 and a shrimp feast on June 25. 

I'm also teaching a new brunch class for Mother's Day featuring savory French toast, hash brown-crust quiche, and mimosa sorbet.

Below is my schedule through June. To register, call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online.

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEERS - Sunday, April 10 @ 5:00-7:30 pm (hands-on)
  • This hands-on class will enjoy beer cheese fondue with soft pretzels, local lager with spicy sriracha chicken wings, fruity Belgian wheat beer with grilled scallops and corn salad, plus creamy stout with chocolate hazelnut cake and vanilla ice cream.
SATURDAY NIGHT SUSHI - Saturday, April 16 @ 6:30-9:00 pm (hands-on)
  • Menu includes tempura vegetables, miso soup, edamame salad with ginger-soy dressing, crab and mango rolls with teriyaki glaze, spicy tuna hand rolls, crunchy shrimp rolls with avocado-chile cream, and sweet plum ice cream.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: OUI, OUI, PARIS - Saturday, April 23 @ 6:30-9:00 pm (demonstration)
  • Enjoy a rosemary-lemon vodka fizz, blue cheese-walnut-port wine pâté served with crostini, farro and spring vegetable salad with lemon vinaigrette, feta and herb-crusted salmon, French lentils with spinach and red wine, plus orange-ginger beer cake with chocolate sorbet.
MOM'S THE WORD  - Sunday, May 8 @ 1:00-3:30 pm (hands-on)
  • Surprise Mom with a tasty brunch menu featuring savory ricotta and spinach-stuffed French toast, smoked salmon mousse on cucumber canapés, gruyère-pancetta quiche with hash brown potato crust, asparagus tart with bacon jam, mimosa sorbet with strawberry Pavlovas, plus spiked grapefruit-mint sodas.

February 8, 2016

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake Bars

Yesterday, I made a quick and easy dessert to take to a friend's house for Superbowl watching. I didn't take any pictures. I am a bad blogger. However, I want to post the recipe with some suggestions on how to substitute ingredients.

In my weekend cooking classes, students will often ask about substituting ingredients. Recipes are just guidelines, I tell them. Use what you like or what you have. Yet, people are often hesitant to change recipes, fearing they will mess them up.

So, below is the recipe I used to create a decadent, sophisticated dessert...with several ideas to change it up. I had some espresso-flavored shortbread cookies I wanted to get rid of, along with some sour cream in the fridge, and several bars of bittersweet chocolate that I got for Christmas. This recipe was developed using the things I had on hand.

I created the chocolate espresso version from a recipe I found on Pinterest from Sally's Baking Addiction.


My cheesecake bars are not at all "skinny," but her recipe was a good one to follow so that I got my ratios correct. Baking is, after all, very much like chemistry. I modify recipes like this all the time. It makes cooking easier, less stressful, and much more fun.