Robust's Pan-Seared Scallops with Ham in Tomato-Truffle Sauce: A Recipe from Joseph Hemp V

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Joseph Hemp V of Robust. Read part one, a profile of Hemp, here. Read part two, a Q & A with Hemp, here.

The scallops with ham atop creamy polenta at Robust | Corey Woodruff
Joseph Hemp V, the chef of the popular wine bar and restaurant Robust (227 West Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-963-0033) and its new downtown outpost (635 Washington Avenue; 314-287-6300), has come a long way from helping his mother cook Sunday breakfast for the family. Yet all his years of cooking and watching others cook has paid off with an attention to detail evident on the plate and in the instructions he provides for this recipe.

When I reviewed the new downtown location of Robust earlier this year, one of my favorite dishes was the seared scallops with ham in a tomato-truffle sauce. Here Hemp tells you how it's done.

See Also:
- Ian Froeb's RFT Review of Robust (2013)
- Adrenaline Junkie Joseph Hemp V Finds a Home in the Kitchen
- Being Happy While You Cook and Learning to Love Bourbon: A Q&A with Joseph Hemp V of Robust

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Mai Lee's Peanut Sauce: A Recipe from Qui Tran

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Qui Tran of Mai Lee. Read part one, a profile of Tran, here. Read part two, a Q & A with Tran, here.

The interior of Mai Lee | Jennifer Silverberg
Qui Tran of Mai Lee (8396 Music Memorial Drive, Brentwood; 314-645-2835), doesn't place himself among the St. Louis chefs he so admires.

"I respect those guys and love them to death," he told me when we sat down earlier this week. "I can't do what they do. I'm a self-taught cook. I learned from my mother. They create stuff. I just imitate stuff."

Anyone who has eaten at Mai Lee -- and that's more than a few of you, if the daily crowds at St. Louis' first Vietnamese restaurant are any indication -- would disagree. Tran's food is a tribute to his mother, who founded the restaurant in University City in late 1984, but if you know nothing of Mai Lee's remarkable history, you will still find it delicious.

Here Tran shares the recipe for one of Mai Lee's essential condiments, peanut sauce.

See Also:
- Qui Tran Lives the American Dream and Continues His Mother's Legacy at Mai Lee
- Loving Las Vegas and MSG: A Q & A with Qui Tran of Mai Lee

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Pastaria's Bucatini All'Amitriciana: A Recipe from Brian Moxey

Chef's Choice profile of Brian Moxey of Pastaria. Read part one, a profile of Moxey, here. Read part two, a Q & A with Moxey, here.

Courtesy: Brian Moxey
Though the menu at Pastaria (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-6603) is largely the creation of Gerard Craft and Adam Altnether, executive chef Brian Moxey has been able to add his own touches through daily specials as well as his additions to the regular rotation of pastas and pizzas. Diners have noticed.

"I put the bucatini all'amatriciana on" the regular menu, he explains. "But then I took it off and ran carbonara for a week or two. I got positive reviews on that, but we had multiple people every night ask, 'Where'd the all'amatriciana go?'

"So it was like, wow, I was super happy they were that into that dish."

See Also:
- Brian Moxey Journeys from Starry-Eyed Young New York City Cook to Executive Chef of St. Louis' Hottest Restaurant
- Pimento Cheese, Heavy Metal and Learning to Salt Your Food: A Q & A with Brian Moxey of Pastaria

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Vino Nadoz's Roasted Golden Beet Salad: A Recipe from Chris DiMercurio

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Chris DiMercurio of Vino Nadoz. Read part one, a profile of DiMercurio, here. Read part two, a Q & A with DiMercurio, here.

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The roasted golden beet salad at Vino Nadoz | Beth Clauss
Chris DiMercurio nearly walked away from cooking after a miserable experience at a corporate hotel chain. His wife reminded him that cooking was his passion, and now diners can experience his food at Vino Nadoz (16 the Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-726-0400).

Although dishes like this roasted golden beet salad may seem daunting, DiMercurio says that each step is quite simple. He suggests breaking down each part of the recipe and preparing some components ahead of time to make plating painless.

See Also:
- Chris DiMercurio of Vino Nadoz Wants You to Trust Him
- Loving Pig's Face and Learning to Leave His Roast Chicken Alone: A Q&A with Vino Nadoz's Chris DiMercurio

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Farmhaus' Smoked BBQ Ham Hock Terrine: A Recipe from Andrew Jennrich

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Andrew Jennrich of Farmhaus. Read part one, a profile of Jennrich, here. Read part two, a Q & A with Jennrich, here.

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The smoked ham-hock terrine at Farmhaus | Andrew Jennrich
Andrew Jennrich, chef de cuisine of Farmhaus (3257 Ivanhoe Avenue; 314-647-3800), describes this smoked ham hock terrine as "my half- ass, feeble attempt at an homage to the greatest barbecue empire in the world, Mike Emerson and Pappy's Smokehouse, while still using some of that Farmhaus tradition."

"We actually do a similar version of this dish [at Farmhaus] from time to time as well," he adds, though his recipe includes suggestions for home cooks who might not have the full arsenal of tools (a vacuum sealer, for instance) that Farmhaus does.

See Also:
- Andrew Jennrich of Farmhaus Sees St. Louis on the Precipice of National Recognition
- No, He Meant the Champagne of Beers and Not-Poisoning a Prince of Saudi Arabia: A Q&A with Andrew Jennrich of Farmhaus

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Sassy JAC's Collard Greens with Applewood-Smoked Bacon: A Recipe from Andrew Ladlie

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Andrew Ladlie of Sassy JAC's. Read part one, a profile of Ladlie, here. Read part two, a Q&A with Ladlie, here.

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Sassy JAC's collard greens with the grouper sandwich | Jennifer Silverberg

"I knew I wanted to cook homestyle -- soul, stick-to-your ribs foods," Andrew Ladlie says of Sassy JAC's (1730 South Eighth Street; 314-932-1280), the restaurant that he and his wife, Jennifer, opened in Soulard last May. The Sassy JAC's menu already has a deeply Southern bent -- an accent that will only strengthen as Ladlie rolls out new dishes in the coming weeks. Here he offers his take on a classic side dish: collard greens.

See Also:
- New Orleans Panache and the Dishwasher Who Imitated the Incredible Hulk: A Q&A with Sassy JAC's Andrew Ladlie
- Andrew Ladlie Finds the Beating Heart of the Tiny Kitchen at Sassy JAC's

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Cleveland-Heath's Sharp Cheddar-Jalapeño Bread Pudding: A Recipe from Eric Heath

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Eric Heath of Cleveland-Heath. Read part one, a profile of Heath, here. Read part two, a Q&A with Heath, here.

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Cleveland-Heath's pork "porterhouse" with bread pudding | Jennifer Silverberg

The best of the many great dishes I sampled when I reviewed Cleveland-Heath (106 North Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-307-4830) last year was the pork "porterhouse" served atop a large slice of cheddar-jalapeño bread pudding. The pork was terrific, but it's the bread pudding that I've found myself craving time and again since I ate it.

And now I -- and you -- have the recipe.

See Also:
- Eric Heath Destroys a Giant Vase and Bans Death Metal in His Kitchen: A Q&A with the Cleveland-Heath Chef
- Chef Eric Heath of Cleveland-Heath Calls Edwardsville "An Awesome Place"
- Top Ten Dishes 2012 #4: The "Pork Porterhouse" at Cleveland-Heath

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Natasha Kwan of Frida's Deli: Recipes for Vegetable-Stuffed Zucchini Boats and Baby Spinach Salad with Champagne-Mango Dressing

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Natasha Kwan of Frida's Deli. Read part one, a profile of Kwan, here. Read part two, a Q & A of Kwan, here.

courtesy of Frida's Deli
Natasha Kwan, owner of Frida's Deli in University City.
Natasha Kwan, owner of Frida's Deli (622 North and South Road, University City; 314-727-6500), doesn't create a dish by deleting the meat from a traditional recipe and then replacing it with a vegetarian or vegan substitute. She takes a broader view, looking to create healthy recipes from whole foods -- recipes that honor the actual flavors and textures of fruits, vegetables, grains and other ingredients.

Or, as she notes in describing these recipes to me, "We've done both of these things for catering and I guarantee no one knew that there was no oil or salt -- just another way we sneak in health."

See Also:
- Chef's Choice Profile of Natasha Kwan, Part 1
- Chef's Choice Profile of Natasha Kwan, Part 2
- "Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)" 2012: Frida's Deli

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Rick Lewis of Quincy Street Bistro: Recipe for "Chicken 'n Biscuits"

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Rick Lewis of Quincy Street Bistro. Read part one, a profile of Lewis, here. Read part two, a Q&A with Lewis, here.

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via Facebook
"Seeing as how we are a comfort-food restaurant, I thought the 'Chicken 'n Biscuits' may be a fun one for the at-home cook," says Rick Lewis, chef of Quincy Street Bistro (6931 Gravois Avenue; 314-353-1588).

"Plus, it is purdy tasty."

Having sampled the soup and biscuit during my recent review visits, I can confirm Lewis' opinion. This is a delicious soup, and the biscuits make for a perfect pairing -- or you can just eat them by yourself. All alone. At one sitting. Or maybe that's just me.

See Also:
- Chef's Choice: Rick Lewis of Quincy Street Bistro, Part 1
- Chef's Choice: Rick Lewis of Quincy Street Bistro, Part 2
- Ian Froeb's RFT Review of Quincy Street Bistro (2013)

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Matthew Daughaday of Taste: Recipe for Lamb Sugo

​This is part three of Holly Fann's Chef's Choice profile of Matthew Daughaday of Taste. Part one can be found here. Part two, a Q&A with Daughaday, is published here.

Holly Fann
Taste's savory and comforting Lamb Sugo.
This dish can be paired with grilled country bread as served at Taste, or in a more traditional way, atop a pasta dish.

Lamb Sugo

5 lamb necks or legs
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 cup green olives, diced
76 ounces tomato, diced
1 cup white wine
1 herb sachet (1 sprig of thyme, sage and rosemary, bundled with butcher's twine)
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
1/4 Tablespoon chopped mint
Fresh zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

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