June 28, 2013

Thai Shrimp with Chili, Mint, Basil & Parsley

A few days ago, my friend Rachel posted this on her Facebook page:
Thinking of going to no-cooking for July. I'm tired of doing so many dishes every day and spending time over my stove! What are your favorite healthy, no-cooking (or little-cooking) recipes?
I then remembered that I have a cookbook called No-Cook Pasta Sauces, and I went in search of a new recipe to try and to share with Rachel. I adapted their Shrimp Sauce with Basil, Mint, and Cilantro...taking out the sugar, adding some fresh garlic & red pepper flakes, and substituting some parsley for the cilantro.

As with any recipe, switch out or leave out whatever you (or your kids) don't like. Try this with chicken instead of shrimp, add Sambal for a spicier kick, or substitute sesame oil for the sweet chili sauce.

Thai Shrimp with Chili, Mint, Basil & Parsley

June 21, 2013

Summer 2013 Cooking Classes

I'm teaching many classes this summer, including a couple new classes. One is a demo class featuring my favorite recipes from vacations (Recipe Redux: Road Trip Recollections on July 15), and another is a hands-on baking class where we'll make all fruit desserts (Fruit of the Bloom on August 1).

I'm also teaching a fun summer cocktail party, Cajun food and ciders, several Date Night and sushi classes, and a couple kids' classes.

Here is my schedule through September. Hope to see you there!

To register, call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online.

June 16, 2013

Strawberry Pie with Basil & Mint

Ahhhh....summer break. I've been out of school for two weeks now. So far, it's been a pretty happy-inducing/heart-mending vacation (which I desperately needed). I got the initial tattoo on my finger redesigned into a lotus flower ("Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted"), saw Shakespeare's Twelfth Night performed in Forest Park (my favorite St. Louis summertime event), and bought a new VW Beetle (an early 40th birthday present to myself).

I've been spending my time enjoying leisurely breakfasts on the front porch, reading (finished two new novels about Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald), and cooking...working my way through the ever-growing stack of books on my nightstand and the never-ending list of recipes I want to try. This list includes most of the recipes on my new favorite food blog Yummy Books, where author/butcher/voracious reader Cara recreates dishes from various books. Food + literature = heaven!

I read through all of the posts on Yummy Books last week and decided to try the strawberry pie inspired by Steinbeck's East of Eden (one of my favorite authors). Cara's recipe is unique because she adds basil and mint to the strawberries. Brilliant. 

This isn't one of those strawberry pies in which the fruit is drowning in a thick, cloying syrup or gelatin. The fresh berries are simply mixed with sugar and herbs (I added some flour to thicken the juice as it baked instead of letting the berries macerate & then straining the juice out before filling the pie).

This is the first strawberry pie I've ever made AND the first time I've attempted a lattice top. The crust is way easier than I expected...and so pretty.

photo by Corey Woodruff

Strawberry Pie with Basil & Mint
adapted from Yummy Books

For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter (cut into tablespoons)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 pounds ripe strawberries, hulled & quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
zest of a small orange
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 egg, separated

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • To make the crust: Mix the flour & sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut the butter & shortening into the flour until you have pea-sized pieces. Mix in the water, one tablespoon at a time, just until the dough holds together. Cut the dough into two equal pieces & form each into a disk. Wrap one in plastic wrap & chill. Roll the other disk out & fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Brush bottom crust with beaten egg white. Chill while you make the filling.
  • To make the filling: Mix everything together. Pour into chilled pie plate, then return it to the refrigerator.
  • To assemble the pie: Roll out the chilled disk of dough bigger than your pie plate. Cut into 12 strips. Place 6 strips, evenly spaced apart, on top of your pie. Fold every other strip in half over itself. Add another strip of dough across the top, folding the strips back into place. Repeat, alternating strips of dough, to form a lattice weave (see pictures below). Trim the strips & press the edges into the rim of the bottom crust. Brush top dough with beaten egg yolk.
  • Bake for about 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown.

More fruity desserts:

June 9, 2013

St. Louis Food Media Forum

Last year, some of my awesome food blogging friends put together the Food Media Forum, "the first ever food media conference to be held in St. Louis." The conference is returning bigger and better this summer. 

This year's conference features keynote speakers Aki and Alex from Ideas in Food. The schedule includes sessions on restaurant reviewing, recipe writing, blog design, photography & video, using social media, and marketing & branding. Since the conference is being held at a culinary school, there will be hands-on plating & style, knife skills, and photography sessions as well.

There are also several writing workshops: feature writing & interviewing, freelance writing, and cookbook writing. I am teaching a session on the craft of writing (on Saturday, August 10, from 9:00-10:00 am), focusing on descriptive writing. My plan is to include a couple activities involving tasting and writing to stimulate your creativity.

The Forum is being held August 9-11 at The Culinary Institute of St. Louis at Hickey College. Special early bird pricing runs through the end of the month. You can purchase tickets online.

Hope to see you there!