Sunday, June 16, 2013

St Louis Summer

Summers in St Louis are usually hot, humid and sticky. This year, we've actually had a string of good luck with some cooler days, mostly in the 70s and 80s. As a result, we're already doing more things out doors, like Shakespeare in the Park

The best part about high culture outside? You get to bring your own wine. 
We opted for tinto de verano, my favorite summer drink.

Stocking up

The STL Art Museum at night

Summer is a great time to try other new refreshing drinks, like DeMun Oyster Bar's Lavender 75 - a mix of gin, sparkling wine, lemon juice, and lavender simple syrup. 

 Justin and I also celebrated our 3rd anniversary recently, and we went to 5 Bistro on the Hill. We both got the prix fixe menus, which I think allows you the best value for this restaurant. My only complaint is that I wanted more of everything.

Course 1:

Hers: asparagus with fried egg, Baetje Farms couer de la creme cheese, focaccia croutons, and balsamic reduction - 

His: Porcini mushroom fettuccine with microgreens

Course Two:

Hers: seared halibut with roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spring onion

His: Roasted leg of duck with mashed potatoes and jus

Course 3:

His: Bread pudding with vanilla ice cream

Hers: Chocolate pot a creme with honey crispies (don't know the proper term, but they tasted kind of like even-better Heath bars)

This meal inspired Justin and I to buy some goat cheese from Baetje Farms, a local cheese farm. We assembled a platter one night with the coeur de la creme cheese (a mild brie-like blend), olives, grapes, peaches, crackers, and proscuitto and speck from DiGregorio's on the Hill. 

I can personally vouch for the proscuitto di Parma from DiGregorio's as being the BEST I've had since I lived in Italy. Plus, they had 10-lb bags of pasta for $10. You know I bought one.

I could eat two of these for dinner.

Next on the STL Summer bucket list: Ted Drewes, a Cardinal baseball game, the Whittaker Musical Festival at the botanical garden (more wine and picnics!), the Zoo, and farmers markets galore.

What are your plans this summer?


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lemon-Herb Pasta

I love making homemade pasta. It's the perfect weekend food: not too time-consuming once you get the hang of it, and so much more satisfying than the boxed kind.

This summer, I've taken to adding more flavor to my pasta. I.e., lemon-herb pasta.

I make homemade pasta in a bowl (rather than on a cutting board like many chefy people - way too much cleanup and potential for disaster in my opinion), but you can also throw all the ingredients in a food processor or stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Same results!

First, I mix some fresh herbs with olive oil and blitz it in a mini food processor. I'd say about 1/4 cup oil and a good handful of basil, lemon-oregano, lemon zest, and parsley.

Then, the base of the pasta: I always go 2 cups flour, 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup white wine, and a good pinch of salt. 

But since this is a special pasta: I add the herb oil.

Mix well with a fork until fully incorporated.

Tumble it out on a floured surface. It's ok if it's a little crumbly.

Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until the dough bounces back when you press it.

Run it through your pasta roller/cutter OR roll it quite thin with a rolling pin, then cut it into strips with a pizza cutter. I once rolled out a ball of pasta with an empty wine bottle. That...did not work out so well.

Blanch pasta in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Toss with sauce. Enjoy.

Here's some herby pasta I made with (blanched) spinach, basil, and topped with a lemon-butter sauce and crab:

The point is to add your favorite flavors to pasta, and not be afraid. Master the base, then play with the extras. Other combos to try: lemon-pepper, beet, saffron, mushroom (be sure to blend well into a smooth paste), and tomato (using tomato paste would work, I bet)!

Where will your imagination take you?


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