Tag Archives: St. Louis

Best hits and what may come for the Gruel: Opinions wanted

31 Dec

20131230-163916.jpg

Happy happy! It is a new year. Yayza. In this delightful little post I am going to recap part of vacay, make a proposal, and then recap a few favorites on this lil’ blog of mine.

I went to St. Louis for Christmas. Whilst there, with my lovely fwife Eleanor I went to the MOST awesome of places, Blood and Sand. The MOST friendly of people work there. They can deduce exactly what you MOST want to drink, even if you do not know.

I drank the two MOST fantastical drinks, along with eating some MOST delightful truffled tater tots. One of the drinks had the MOST awesome of names: “Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives”. It was so much the MOST of the most-ousitous of times. The drink consisted of Rittenhouse rye, brown sugar simple, Punt e Mes, lemon juice, allspice dram and rosé sparkling. If rye and apple pie had an alcoholic child, this would be it. I am contemplating if the different elements of the name stand for different ingredients of the drink, and if so, which. I intend to recreate this come heck or high water. Clearly high standards I have for 2014.

I want to get y’all’s opinion on something. What if I did little restaurant/bar/food reviews from time to time? I do like to get out of the house to dine, shockingly enough. Between trying new recipes for the Gruel and also for my Hello Giggles column The Book Cook, I am getting a bit stressed. And much as I love writing and food-oriented opportunities I want to keep my mind on the acting game and not get too distracted. I still would still do mostly recipes, and I have some exciting theme weeks like a “Carrot Caked” week planned, but I’d like to have the options. I’d like to try new things, maybe even recommend a wine or two from time to time. Could be fun. Why am I nervous about this? I feel like I am asking you to go on a date or something.

It’s my blog and I can do what I want, obviously, but I want to know if there are any major objections out there to the review thing. Ooh, I may not be asking you on a date but maybe I could even go on some blogger dates and tell you about them. There are some LA bloggers I’d like to meet. That would be fun for all. I think.

Okay, now a little bit of year end wrap-up. Because I can. I am going to link you up with some of your most favorite-est recipes. I’m basing popularity, or at least reader interest, on the stats of what was clicked on the most. I’d also like to round up some of MY favorite things, especially from the early days of the blog when my photography sucked even more and not many folks were reading. I could revisit the less viewed recipes and get some better shots of them. Maybe next week. The blog may be a bit more sporadic in January and February, so don’t freak out or anything. I’m still here.

Oddly enough, the recipe that got THE MOST hits this year was this one for a clear chocolate martini. Quite frankly I am a wee bit distressed by y’all’s standards. Is a clear chocolate martini really what you want? With a photo like this?:
20120930-002719.jpg
I am disturbed. But my hope was renewed when I saw the second most clicked upon recipe was for Mark Bittman’s Creamed Bulgur and entitled Bulgur Not Vulgar which of course means it was NOT a chaste entry. But delicious:
20131009-210958.jpgNext up was a Pumpkin Polenta Pizza I would deem to be worthy, taste-wise if not aesthetically, of a few more clicks:
20120404-010431.jpg
Next-most clicked upon this year, and the most clicked upon of all time is this pumpkin soup:
20120423-220546.jpg
It helps that the photo was pretty, I imagine. But I was proud of my recipe too.
The least popular recipe, at least as I write this, was from the long-ago waffle week. I waffled a bran cracker. Enough said.
20120225-015123.jpg

Advertisements

STL I <3 U

10 Jul

20130705-135857.jpg

TOTES forgive me for, like, my cray use of stuff like <3's, but I just luv my hometown-you can find a beginner’s guide to my fave StL places here.
But I also went to new places this time and the new places convinced me of one thang.
I luv StL even mo because it is ON the craft cocktail thang.
2 many ccktls explain y I’ve devolved 2 so many abbr. words.

Okay, time lapse, I am better now. Bear with me and this post, for there is a drink for you at the end of the road.

And for Kelly, well, I don’t have anything for you, but I promise if you are ever at my house I’ll make the mocktail of your dreams.
After chilling with my parents and some corn in the cob, I started the partay-ing segment of Friday night at Basso, a new gastropub. In true St. Louis fashion it took all of five minutes for me to run into a ghost from the past. The creator of the “Philharmic” drink, Phil, and I worked at a restaurant together when I was in college. I had been in the mood for wine but the cocktail list was too dang interesting. Why have grapes when you could get a Criminale, made with bourbon, pistachio, pear, lemon and cinnamon? Between the three of us we sampled quite a few things. Almost all of them were a bit more sweet than I’d have liked, but were still tasty, if not quite balanced. That is balanced for those of us with bitter tastes in beverages.
I managed to avoid getting into the booze all day Saturday, which began by heading to The St. Louis Art Museum which is magically amazing and free.

20130705-142305.jpg
The SLAM has an Ahhhh-mazing new modern wing that was opening that very day. Again, in StL fashion I bumped into another old ghost, my high school art teacher who now works at the museum and was a part of the creation of the new wing. Ahhhh, Rothko:

20130705-165937.jpg
I began to reminisce about how my high school had neither a football team nor cheerleaders, but a killer chess team and my father informed me that St. Louis is actually considered the chess capital if the world.

The more you know.

After SLAM we traversed Forest Park aka one of the top ten urban parks in the world to the zoo (also free) to see the new sea lion exhibit. Such cute sea kittens.

Back home it was Clue-playing time with the rentz. I am always Miss Scarlett. Don’t even TRY to be her, she’s mine. I do get bossy sometimes. Seeing as I am queen.

I lost the game.

On with cocktails! One of my most highly anticipated activities was a date with my fwife (definition here) at Taste by Niche where I wanted to try every single one of Ted Kilgore’s cocktails. Taste is getting quite known, and rightfully so. Eleonor learned what Cynar was and I learned to pronounce it. Chee-NAHR. Not SIGH-nar.
Whoops-a-daisy.

Lemme tell you. I need to figure out the Old Flame. My beverage (please pronounce that bev-ehr-RAUGE in your head) included cognac, rye, cocchi rose, dolin dry, solerno blood orange, and absinthe. I had to look up some of those. I would need to buy most of those. But it might just be worth it. It was enough, more cocktails there and I’d have been under the bar, and I wanted my wits about me to enjoy my fwife night.

And yet after some pizaa dinner at the solid Central Table Food Hall, ince back at home we decides to continue the cocktail madness and I raided my parents’ liqueur supply to make a dessert drink. Actually, my mom had requested I make something to use up the vanilla vodka in the freezer so I HAD to oblige.

The recipe awaits your thirsty tongue at the end of this post.

We also made chocolate chip cookies (actually I ate the dough, Eleanor went for the cookies). From the only recipe you really need.

Like, in life. For-evah.

Sunday day included the best damn cup of coffee in the world with my fwife and two of my best damn friends in the world. Meshuggah I have been faithful to you since the wee coffee-swilling age of 13, and I always will, at least when I visit St. Louis.

Next up, a movie with the rents’. I thoroughly endorse Whedon’s version of Much Ado. Much fun.

More Clue. I love that game. Lost one, won one.

Dinner and more cocktail madness came with Andrew, another of the best friends in St. Louis (I have about 3, plus the fwife, I hope that is ok-I realize it is several “bests” but it doesn’t seem too excessive). Andrew is also the fearless leader if the taiko group I used to play with. I miss being in the band.

On with the cocktail madness. Sanctuaria had an out of this world program. I can’t even begin to discuss the merits if the Manhanzerac and all the other delights we drank. Come to think of it, the Old Flame I drank at Taste had elements of a Manhattan-Sazerac mash-up, but also mashed with an Old Pal. I need to figure out my own perfect mash-up of said beverages.

And I want to go back to Sanctuaria. And I want the book. Matt Seiter done good.

Whilst you await my own Manhattan-erac-a’-pal, please accept a very sweet beverage.

FWIFE-NIGHT (makes two. duh.)
1 oz. vanilla vodka
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. clear creme de cacao
1/2 oz. amaretto
1 oz. half and half
8 raspberries
orange twist
Add everything but 4 raspberries and the orange peel to a mixing glass. Muddle the berries then add ice and stir the shit out of it. Strain into dainty cups. Float raspberries. Run peel around rim, twist, and drop in. These are very sweet, pretty, SMALL drinks. Probably the way that super-sweet dessert drinks should be.
I hear-tell recently that you shouldn’t drop the citrus peel in the drink unless it is one of those classics like a horse’s neck and the spiral peel is important. But I like a peel in my drink, dammit. And the orange of the peel next to the deep red raspberries is so becoming.

American, Americano

20 Feb

20120903-023906.jpg
It’s a two-fer! You get a drink, and a dish. An some random facts about me.
The “American” salad got me thinking about this here country, which got me thinking about race issues, which got me to pondering how I seem to have an affinity for being the minority, which is somewhat of a feat for a white girl from the Midwest.
I grew up in a school where being white put me in the minority. In college I played taiko drums, so I hung around a lot of Japanese folks. I acted with the St. Louis Black Rep (token white chick?). So when I moved to LA I moved to Koreatown because it felt good to be in the minority. Now I’m just East of K-town, almost downtown, in a pretty diverse neighborhood.
In general I think I am accustomed to not quite fitting in, to the point that I am actually more comfortable feeling like I am not blending in.
The exception being a trip to, say, Whole Foods, where white English speakers abound but no matter how nice I thought I looked before going I will never measure up to the super-hip clientele in all their lululemon glory. I may be in my demographic but I’m itchy as all get-out.

I get my chia seeds and run.

Safely at home I might just mix up some nibbles. And an almost-a-Negroni drink to make myself feel better. Which is inevitably dumped out before I’m done because I cannot drink too much alone. Nor should I drink whilst trying to chop potatoes for a nice potato salad and simultaneously working on scenes for an audition.

20130220-141434.jpg

And so it goes.

Americano from The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich
1 1/2 oz. Campari
1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
3 oz. club soda
Twist of lemon peel
Twist of orange peel
Stir Campari and vermouth over ice, strain into glass of ice. Add club soda. Stir. Twist peels over and drop in. Salute. And salud.

American Potato Salad (adapted from The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition)

1 pound potatoes (not the starchy type)
1 celery rib, dice dice baby
A couple Tbsp. diced bread and butter pickles
6 Tbsp. reduced fat mayo
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of dried parsley
Boil taters in salted water until cooked. Drain, chop into whatever bite-sized means to you. Toss with remaining ingredients. Put in fridge until cool.

Almost a pizza…but not: un-pizza week day 5

27 Jan


Thank you to all who followed along on un-pizza week! There will be more theme weeks in the future, including a waffle week and the second year of pumpkin-week-in-spring. In spring.

Anyway, hope un-pizza week was enjoyed. I’m taking Saturday off but will be back next week on Wednesday with your regularly scheduled posts twice a week.

And now, to take un-pizza week home, I am going home. Or rather to a blog written in my hometown.
When I happened upon this blog, written by someone in St. Louis I was an instant fan. Particularly because she is not native to St. Louis her fondness for the city seems genuine. And St. Louis is a terrific town.

And we will keep on keepin’ on. Even without Pujols.

Have you been to or are you from St. Louis? What do you think of it? Any favorite places? Please pretty please leave me a comment and tell me!
Of the many recipes of darling Natalie’s I have bookmarked, this one for a polenta pizza seemed easy and, well, I had the stuff to make it so…well minus the pepperoni seeing as I don’t eat that.

For you gluten-free folks(you’re so liberated! I’m gluten’s bitch), I think this is ok? There is no wheat, at any rate.
This is a knife and fork affair. But calling it pizza makes it taste better.
Polenta Pizza(from The Sweets Life blog)
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 cups H2O
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup marinara(I used a roasted onion and garlic flavored pasta sauce)
1/4 tsp. dried oreganp
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella(I used reduced fat)
Spray a 9″ pie pan with nonstick spray. Put water, cornmeal and salt in a saucepan and stir it up well. Bring to a boil then stir constantly for several minutes until it is thick. Pour into pin pan and spread evenly, then cover and refrigerate until cold.
Spray a skillet, heat to medium-high then saute onion and bell pepper until soft, add spinach and stir until wilted.
Spread 1/2 cup marinara over the cornmeal base in the pie pan. Spread veggies on top and sprinkle with oregano. Place in 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Add cheese and bake a few minutes more.
Give a hefty grind of sea salt and pepper in there at some point.

St. Louis goodness/resolutions!

31 Dec

Yea, StL won(one of 2011’s highlights for me)!:

Warning:there is a distinct lack of food and recipes in this entry. Instead you must read my self-indulgent banter about me, me, where I’m from, and what makes me happy about where I’m from.
Although you don’t have to.
You could stop reading right now.
But you shouldn’t.
Two things to discuss today:
1)I got to visit St. Louis and MUST tell you a couple of awesome things I cannot miss in my fair hometown, home of world champions the Cardinals, also home of the most awesome 20th century architectural achievement aka the Arch(check out the Monument to the Dream documentary sometime) and home of the best coffeehouse in the history of history. I’ll get to that shortly.
2) I have New Years resolutions. To gain a couple pounds and take the risk of asking for what I need more.
Career-wise and life-wise.
Stop thinking you’re not worth it, Clifford!
To take risks in general. Nothing to fear but fear itself.
Well, that and brain injury.
But I can handle that.
As for the weight gain, I lost a few this year half due to a springtime depression and then to an ultra-busy fall. As someone who has struggled with anorexia I know when I’m too low, and am determined not to stay there. Cause anorexic Ellen is no fun for anyone including her. Ok, time to stop creepily talking in third person and get back to the Lou.
Meshuggah
The place I’ve gone since I was 13. My favorite coffee on earth. Do yourself a favor and go there.
It’s rich. It’s strong. It’s delicious. No drip coffee. They handmake each cup like an americano. Expect to get wired. And addicted.
The Tivoli:

20111224-175834.jpg
Across the street from Meshuggah in the famous University City Loop. I was raised in the U. City loop. Me and Nelly. From the Lou and we’re proud.
St. Louis winter tap water:
I jest not. St. Louis tap is the best. Ice cold and eau so delectable.

20111224-171516.jpg
Other places I adore include Sasha’s Wine Bar, Forest Park(which includes the zoo, the art museum, the Science Center, the Boathouse), The Chocolate Bar, Pi, The St. Louis Bread Company, The City Museum(craziest place on earth, possibly), the Botanical Gardens, performances by the group I used to drum with

Yes, I am showing off. I kicked taiko arse, back in the day…
There is too much St. Louis awesome-ness to write up in one post on a cooking blog.
But if you do one thing in St. Louis, check out the Loop. Drink some coffee. Chase with some tap water. Hard core St. Louis, baby.

Balls for Birds, Especially Pujols

23 Oct

Oh happy night last night! I’m talking about Pujols’ three homers. Take that Rangers!
And in honor of Cardinals baseball, I give you cookie dough balls.

Oh Katie, you feed my addiction. For dough. You have so many variations on dough on your blog it makes me dizzy. And giddy. And removes my ability to filter my 13-year-old boy sense of humor which is why I giggled(like a school girl, how’s that for irony) when I came to the instruction to “insert lollipop sticks(or any long object, really)” into these. I fell down on inserting things into these Cookie Balls that were supposed to be Cookie Dough Pops. Cause I prefer balls to long objects. When it comes to food! Don’t let your mind slip into the gutter mine occupies. Or do. Sometimes it’s fun.
I enjoyed these balls. They are quite healthy, raw, and for my mom, gluten-free if made with the correct flours. I opted for a mix of oat flour and whole wheat.
They were not so photogenic which is why I put them on this adorable cat plate(a smashing gift from Eleanor, the fwife i.e. best friend I’d marry if I were gay and she was not married) and played around with photoshop…
Oh yikes, just realized Katie lives in Texas. Sorry. Hope you’re not a Rangers fan although since you are awesome, I’ll forgive that if need be.
So go to Katie’s blog, get the recipe and mix em’ up.
Unless you are a Rangers fan. No balls for you!
Sorry. Normally I am not like this. Two games won, two to go!

3.14159265358979…

17 May

That is, Pi. Which is, most importantly, a restaurant in St. Louis that serves pie. That is, pizza pie!
I was in my old hometown this weekend for the nuptials of the lovely Eleanor and the wedding food was brought in from Pi. Pi makes terrific deep dish(well they have thin crust too but I didn’t try it-crust is where it’s at!)pizza with a unique crust recipe including cornmeal. I had the Berkely, a deep dish with mozzarella, portobellas, onion, olives(that I picked off), bell peppers, garlic and zucchini. Phenomenal. But don’t take my word for it. Take our presidents. He loved it so much he’s had the chef flown in to cook it for White house staffers, and being as he is a Chicago man that says a lot. Go to Pi’s website
To learn how to get yourself some!