I’ve always been intrigued by authentic poke, however, sushi-grade tuna in St. Louis, Missouri can be a roll of the dice unless you’re a sushi restaurant. So for this light yet filling dish, I elected to first poach the tuna in olive oil until it was just pink in the center, then I finished the ‘cooking’ ceviche-style using rice wine vinegar and lemon juice along with aromatic and bold flavors like shallots, jalapeno, pickled ginger, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. The delicate rice paper was the perfect vehicle to pull all of those wonderful flavors together.
This recipe is inspired by a dish served at one of my favorite local St. Louis restaurants and is the only item on the menu I order when I go there. The combination of the wonderfully briny and beautifully black squid ink pasta, delicate scallops, tender lobster meat, and sweet, succulent prawns immediately draw you in, then you’re surprised with the perfect finish of an added layer of acidity using lemon-infused olive oil, lemon juice, fresh parsley, and just a bit of heat from the chili flakes. Sweet, salty, acidic, and spicy!
No, I did not have a ‘little chef’ helping me prepare this recipe. However, I did think about the movie as I was slicing and arranging the vegetables, hoping to achieve that colorful visual that makes ratatouille such a beautiful dish.
You may notice I haven’t included eggplant on my list of ingredients which is a common ingredient in ratatouille. Baby eggplants work great in this dish, unfortunately, I rarely find baby eggplants where I live, only the larger eggplants which don’t scale well with the size of the squash and Roma tomatoes. If you’re fortunate enough to have an abundance of baby eggplants in a store near you, by all means, slice a couple of them up and add them to the mix!
I was never a huge fan of the vegetables I found in my pot pie when I was a kid, mainly the peas and carrots. However, I absolutely loved, loved, loved the flaky crust, the tender chunks of chicken and the rich, flavorful gravy.
This recipe is a more adult version of my childhood favorite, instead, I used sweet, tender lobster, delicate shrimp and briny crawfish as the proteins, and replaced the chicken broth with clam juice. The clam juice adds another layer of that great briny seafood flavor without it tasting too fishy. And much to my mother’s delight, I now have no qualms eating peas and carrots, in fact, they’re an absolute must for that nostalgic look and flavor.
There’s nothing like the flavor of an authentic Greek gyro sandwich. The marriage of the flavors and textures from the slow roasted tender lamb, the warm, chewy pita bread, the creamy, tangy Tzatziki sauce, and the crunch from the fresh spinach and red onion hit all the senses.
Cauliflower is a very mild vegetable and is most often seen on veggie trays because it has a great crunch and holds up well with thick dips. Roasting cauliflower brings out a sweet, nutty flavor that’s quite unexpected the first time you try it. The preparation in this recipe by keeping the cauliflower head whole creates wonderful little pockets for the spicy green curry sauce to seep into while it bakes. And look at the beautiful caramelization on the outer crust!
I was first drawn to forbidden rice due to its health benefits and beautiful deep purple hue, but after one bite, I quickly fell in love with its flavor. For those of you who haven’t discovered forbidden rice yet, keep reading!
Americans love fried chicken. The conundrum for anyone trying to eat healthily is the word ‘fried.’ This recipe is my healthier play on ‘General Tso’s Chicken’ using tempeh which is a fermented soy product. Tempeh’s fermentation process retains the whole soybean which gives tempeh a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. The outer crunchy coating on the tempeh is a mixture of cornstarch and aromatic ingredients like ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. I kept the sauce fairly traditional to continue the deep flavors of the ginger, garlic, and green onions, plus a generous amount of chile paste for a little kick.
Here’s one more chili recipe for the season, this time inspired by flavors of Mexico and just in time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. After slow cooking for hours, and filling the house with an amazing aroma, this chili is infused with smoky Mexican spices and the deep, slow roasted caramel malt notes from the beer. The addition of the sweet potatoes adds a healthy dose of vitamins B and C, plus their inherent sweetness balances the heat from the poblano peppers.
The chili itself is very hearty and filling; however, if you have a noodle-head at home as I do, the addition of the pasta works great here. Either way of serving, it’s sure to be a family favorite.
I had a lot of fun creating this recipe because I had never cooked with fresh coconut before but had always wanted to. I had no idea what to expect as far as the availability of fresh coconuts in St. Louis, so, fortunately, my local grocer sells whole coconuts which have been previously scored. After only a few firm taps with a hammer on the score lines, the shells broke open, and the room was filled with the wonderful aroma of fresh coconut. When I saw the gorgeous interior of the shells, I knew that was going to be the vessel for serving.
The flavors in this dish are classic Thai with an intricate blend of texture, color, strong aromatic components, delicate seafood, and a spicy edge at the finish.