Archive for October, 2009

Mizzou Meat market – consumed

October 30, 2009

So I’ve had the opportunity to try the ground lamb, the bacon and the pork tenderloin.  The tenderloin was good.  I prepared it 2 ways: the first was a simple dice and stir fry with sprouts, noodles and black bean sauce. The second was more of a roast.  I didn’t brine it when roasting like I normally do, and that makes a big difference in my opinion, tough to give it a fair shake I guess.  Overall I liked the flavor and the tenderness would’ve been fixed with the brining.

The bacon was great.  I’m not a fan of super-smokey bacon, I want to taste meat.  Their bacon fried up nicely and was that great mixture of chewy and melty/crispy.  Granted that’s more of how it’s cooked, but I found it to be flavorful and not overly-smoked, which I liked.

For the lamb I made a quick bastardized version of gyros.  I made a sort of lamb meatloaf concoction and roasted it at a higher temperature and sliced it, with onions, tomatoes and cucumber sauce on pitas.  It’s tough to say flavor-wise how the lamb is on it’s own with this dish because of the amount of seasoning I used, but I enjoyed the dish and will definitely buy it again.

Ribeye this weekend I think!

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Mizzou Meat Market Part 2

October 21, 2009

I stopped by the market today and went just a little overboard.  I picked up: prepared pulled pork with bbq sauce, bacon, ground lamb, fresh ribeyes, pork tenderloin, bone-in porn chops, sirloin-tip filets, and tiger tails (homemade bratwurst stuffed with cheddar cheese).  All of this for $40.  Their prices are unbelievable and frankly, the ribeyes at $7.49/lb counted for $16 of my total.  So the rest of the items were basically $24…try doing that at a grocery store.  I’ll report on the taste later.

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Mizzou Meat Market

October 21, 2009

Is anyone familiar with the Mizzou Meat Market?  It’s run by the College of Agriculture.  The cattle, lambs and pigs are raised and slaughtered by the college, meet USDA standards and are Choice grade beef.  A link is below, I urge you to check it out.  Their prices are outstanding and they’re more of a butcher shop than any other place in town.  They can do custom cuts.  Does Schnucks offer custom cuts?  Not really.  From what I understand the taste is generally outstanding and for the price and knowing that it’s grown locally, it can’t be beat.  I’ve yet to try it but it’s high on my list of things to do.

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http://mizzoumeat.missouri.edu/

Pumpkin Ice Cream Happening!

October 17, 2009

I’m all giddy because I’ve got some Pumpkin Ice Cream happening right now in the ice cream maker.  It’s fairly simple: take your favorite ice cream base (like you were making vanilla ice cream) and substitute brown sugar for the white.  Add about a cup of pumpkin puree for every 2 cups of cream in your custard base and about a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. (Separately it’s ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon I think).  Then give it a churn and burn in the ice cream machine and you’re all set.  The pumpkin adds a richness to the ice cream that makes it feel amazing in your mouth.  Enjoy!

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A review of Grand Cru

October 17, 2009

I’ve always felt it to be unfair to completely write off a restaurant after giving it only 1 chance.  I can see the argument I suppose.  After all, people from out of town staying in the Stoney Creek Inn may only be in town this once and wander over to have a bite.  Good restaurants don’t have bad days; they should be “on” all of the time.  Like I said, I can see the argument on both sides.   However, having worked in the business I guess I’m more sympathetic.

Unfortunately, more often than not this philosophy just means that I get burned not once but twice.  I had high hopes for Grand Cru when it opened.  Their location was prime, their atmosphere intriguing and their menu innovative.  I’ve now dined and been disappointed twice; I’ll lump both reviews into 1 giant complaint session here.

Both times I’ve gone, the dining room was basically empty, save for the table next to where I was sitting.  A whole dining room full of empty tables and they sit the only 2 couples RIGHT next to each other.  I’ll never understand that, it’s incredibly annoying.  The live music was terrible, simply put.  A 1-man band singing tired Barry Manilow and Dave Mathews songs blared at full-on volume level 11, singing his heart out not 5 feet from his 4-person audience. Amazingly, requests to turn down the volume were relayed and ignored.

The service was slow and uninspired both times.  It didn’t send the message that we were the server’s only table, it sent the message that we were their ONLY table.  They were pissed that it was empty as it was and I don’t know that I blame them.  However, it was obvious how they felt.  Everything seemed to be in slow motion, from water to wine to food.

Speaking of the food,  I mentioned earlier that when they first opened I thought their menu to be innovative and thoughtful.  After eating there twice I now see things differently.  They’ve worked hard to make the menu sound impressive but upon further review, it’s obvious that it really only sounds impressive. Take their “house signature” appetizer “Poblano pepper stuffed with a duck confit and gruyere cheese blend, tempura fried and topped with our sriracha and gruyere sauce.”  This thing is a train wreck if I’ve ever seen one.  French cheese and duck confit, a Mexican pepper and Asian chili sauce and tempura batter.  Each of the individual ingredients is a big flavor and when they’re all put together it’s a 40-car pile up.  Especially if this bastardized version of a bad chili relleno is under-cooked and soggy.  It’s one of the worst things I’ve seen on a plate.

My steak was over-cooked, the date’s chicken was somehow incredibly over-cooked and yet cold at the same time.  It tasted vaguely as I imagine chewing on rubber bands would taste and feel in my mouth.  I imagine they felt very vogue when serving steamed broccolini, except that it was over-cooked, boiled and and sitting in a large pool of its own cooking water.  Lovely.

On top of this the whole meal was incredibly overpriced.  I did my good duty, gave it 2 chances to impress and left disappointed.

3/10…it was edible.

Wine On Washington

October 15, 2009

Note that a new wine store is open in Mexico, MO, Wine on Washington.  Opens today!

Just an addition for those getting here from google: 🙂

1015 S. Washington

582-0969

The purpose of this site…

October 13, 2009

I feel I should probably explain what it is that I’m doing here. The name of the site implies that this blog will have something to do with restaurants, and it will. Initially I was just going to do restaurant reviews, but I think I’d get bored with that. So for now my plan is to include random thoughts on food, pictures and recipes of stuff that I’m making and yes, restaurant reviews as well. That way I can mix it up a bit.  Up next is a review on Grand Cru and won’t be complimentary, stay tuned! 🙂

A perfect day for chili-recipe included

October 13, 2009

I’ve always been proud of my chili.  It’s unlike what my Mom made when I was growing up and really unlike what most people make here. I don’t brag about my cooking very often, but this is one that I’m proud of and it’s all mine.  Most chili recipes are very similar, but mine was written through trial and error and finding what works for me and my tastes.  It’s one of the few recipes that I’ll actually follow. I decided to include the recipe for those interested.  Enjoy!

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Chili

Ingredients:

* About 3 lbs of any kind of beef roast, cubed into ¼ inch cubes (I like sirloin or tri-tip)

* 4 cups of diced yellow onion

* 2 green peppers diced

* 4 T minced fresh garlic

* 4 T chili powder

* 2 T seasoning-mix (Essence, Mrs. Dash or something similar)

* 1 t plus 1 pinch kosher salt

* 4 t ground cumin

* 2 t Mexican Oregano

* ½ t Cayenne

* 2 15 oz cans of crushed or whole tomatoes

* 1 small can of tomato paste

* 2 t white or brown sugar

* 2 cups of water

* 2 cups of beef stock

* 2 Jalapeno peppers (1 split, cored and sliced, the other split and sliced with seeds intact)

* 4 cans of chili beans, or about 32 oz

Mix all dried spices in a bowl.  Sear the meat in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and add a third of the spice mixture, working in batches. The pan should be very hot and the meat should brown quickly, not turn gray and steam. When just browned, remove from pot.  Add onions, green peppers, garlic and jalapenos, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Season with a bit of the seasoning mixture.  Add tomatoes, beef, and beans into the pot, cook for a few minutes and then add water and stock.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for a few hours.  Adjust spices with the seasoning mixture until it’s right for your tastes.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  A few hours before you’re ready to serve, put on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Serve with sour cream, cheese, chives, or pickled jalapenos.  Coronas and corn casserole are great sides for this.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Waffles

October 11, 2009

I made pumpkin waffles this morning with a pumpkin pie-spiced whipped cream.  Not bad, but if you try them just note that they take almost 50% longer than regular waffles to cook and are chewier too. Pumpkin pie ice cream is next up.

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Consistency

October 11, 2009

I feel I should write a piece on consistency, mostly because this is one of the most under-appreciated qualities that a restaurant should have. It’s also the biggest reason that I hated cooking in restaurants!  As patrons we develop favorite dishes and expect to see them on the menu and expect it to taste the same or better.  For me it’s Chicken Poblano at Murry’s, The Super Strip at CC’s City Broiler, and the Nachos Bianco at Addison’s.  Things that I almost always order and know how they should taste.

From a line cook’s standpoint, consistency makes us bored.  Making the same things the same way, night after night.  Doing that well is what makes us good.  Not doing that well can have us hunting for new jobs.  There’s a tendency to play with things just slightest bit though.  More garlic here, more salt, less basil.  In the absence of an expediting chef tasting these dishes, these things will go unnoticed. Slowly this experimenting can change a dish to where a frequent patron knows that something is off.  The dish isn’t as good as they remember the next few times they eat it and, worst case scenario, they stop coming as often or at all.  It happens.

It’s not as fun to cook the same stuff, believe me.  Order up and you see, great, another lobster pasta.  You already know that this dish takes you less than 2 minutes to cook and plate because of the prep work you did.   Clarified butter and garlic, tomatoes, pasta, lobster and cream, basil, salt and pepper.  Toss, plate, garnish, what’s next? Oh, another lobster pasta… You already know that this dish takes you less than 2 minutes to cook and plate because of the prep work you did.   Clarified butter and garlic, tomatoes, pasta, lobster and cream, basil, salt and pepper.  Toss, plate, garnish, what’s next?  Oh, another lobster pasta…you get the point.

A chef doesn’t cook every dish that’s cooked in his restaurant, but his influence over the staff should help to keep them focused and consistent.  They should trust, but verify.  Taste what’s going out to diners and if it’s not right, get it done right.  I think Murry’s does this better than any place I’ve seen so far.  Just me on a soap box for a moment.