Overcast with rain showers at times. Thunder possible. High 76F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%..

Scattered thunderstorms during the evening. Partly cloudy skies after midnight. Low 67F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

Fresh chocolate covered strawberries are photographed on Thursday, May 30, 2019, at Kakao Chocolate in Maplewood. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Shaye Kwiecinski, production manager at Kakao Chocolate in Maplewood, adds another fresh chocolate covered strawberry to cool on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Fresh chocolate covered strawberries are photographed on Thursday, May 30, 2019, at Kakao Chocolate in Maplewood. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Shaye Kwiecinski, production manager at Kakao Chocolate in Maplewood, adds another fresh chocolate covered strawberry to cool on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

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Q • I was wondering what is the best recipe for chocolate covered strawberries? — Gabrielle Desits, St. Louis

It’s strawberry season at Kakao, and owner Brian Pelletier is more than happy to share a recipe for delicious chocolate-dipped strawberries home cooks can easily make at home. In fact, Pelletier believes the freshest, best-tasting berries dipped in chocolate are best made at home and enjoyed within a few hours.

“Once you dip any kind of fruit in chocolate, the shelf life drops to about four hours,” Pelletier says. “The chocolate coating doesn’t allow the berry to breathe, so it starts to get mushy. Refrigeration takes a lot of the flavor out of both the fruit and the chocolate. The fruit loses its crisp bite. It’s best to get some fresh berries and make your own.”

It’s unusual for a chocolatier to tout that something would be best made at home, but Pelletier is an unusual guy. He’s as much an educator as he is a chocolate artist. He’s a savvy marketer who knows his customers expect the best from Kakao. While our featured recipe dishes are normally on the menu every day for two weeks, Pelletier can’t guarantee he’ll always have fresh dipped berries in stock.

“We buy our fruits fresh each week at the farmers market,” he says. “What we make depends on availability.” Kakao is known for buying local whenever possible. It doesn’t use preservatives or chemicals, only natural flavorings and colorings.

Although cooks may be dipping berries at home, readers will still want to stop by either the Maplewood or the Clayton shop to find real strawberry goodness. Kakao has plenty of shelf-stable handmade candies like truffles with strawberry ganache centers and jewel-like strawberry pates de fruits, dipped in sugar or covered in chocolate. Kakao’s handmade strawberry marshmallows and house-made strawberry sauces from their ice cream toppings selection are big sellers.

When the staff makes dipped fruits, Pelletier advertises their availability on the Kakao Facebook page. Early birds get the berries, which quickly sell out. “We first add a strawberry pates de fruits to the berries, we add a layer of chocolate ganache next, then dip both in chocolate.”

Both the Clayton and the Maplewood shops offer summer specialties too fun to pass up. Add more flavors to your strawberry sauce like burnt caramel and chocolate fudge for your ice cream desserts. Organize a chocolate tasting party after hours at the stores with a minimum of eight friends and a maximum of 30 people. Details of this and other events appear on their website.

Head for the market, find fresh berries, buy some really good chocolate, and get to work. If you stop by Tower Grove farmers market, you may find Pelletier the chocolatier in the Kakao booth.

To request recipe • Would you like to request a recipe from a restaurant that is still open in the St. Louis area? Send your request along with your full name and the city you live in to reciperequest@post-dispatch.com.

Sister Cities Cajun’s shrimp & grits on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. Photo by Johanna Huckeba, jhuckeba@post-dispatch.com.

• Use regular grits, not quick-cooking grits, for this recipe. The grits will be a little stiff as they will be made into cakes.

• Chicken and clam base are soup bases, available at better grocers. Better than Bouillon, Minor’s and Knorr are brand names for these bases.

• Cajun barbecue sauce brand names include Russell’s, Daigles and Bulls-eye. You can make your own by adding a Cajun spice rub like Zatarain’s to a tomato-based smoky sauce.

• Sister Cities is planning to sell their proprietary Creole rub. For this recipe we used Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. There is also a Creole seasoning from Zatarain’s.

1. To cook the grits, bring water to a boil, then stir in 1½ teaspoons each of clam and chicken bases. Slowly pour in the grits, stirring continuously until the grits are well-mixed. Return the pot to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir continuously until the grits are done, about 25 to 30 minutes. Pour grits into a large mixing bowl, then stir in both cheeses until thoroughly absorbed. Set aside.

3. To make the corn salsa, combine corn, red onion, poblano pepper, parsley and sliced green onions. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of SPG. Squeeze lime juice over all, then stir to blend, cover and set aside.

4. Next, make the compound butter for cooking the shrimp. Mix 1 stick of softened butter with Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce and hot sauce until evenly incorporated. Set aside.

5. Prepare the clam gravy/sauce for the dish next. Melt the remaining stick of butter in an 8- or 9-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is just melted, add diced white onion, sage and chopped garlic. Stir together, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the cooked mixture and stir it in. Continually stir for 5 minutes to make a light roux. Continue stirring and slowly pour in the milk. Add the remaining clam base to the gravy and stir in. Bring mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover pan and keep warm.

6. To make the grits cakes, use a large nonstick griddle pan or two nonstick skillets. Wipe the surface of the pans with vegetable or canola oil on a paper towel. You will be cooking 16 grits cakes. Heat the pan first. Scoop out the grits mixture using either a No. 20 disher/scoop or scant ¼ cup measure.

7. Place scoops flat side down on the cooking surface. Do not press them down. When the grits cakes get a good sear on the bottom, flip them gently, then form them to make ½-inch thick patties. When both sides are seared, remove to a plate and keep covered in a warm place until done.

8. Next, cook the shrimp. Add the compound butter to a cold large 10- or 12-inch nonstick skillet or large sauté pan. Top with shrimp. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1 teaspoon SPG and Creole seasoning.

9. Have dry white wine and ½ cup clam gravy ready at the side of the stove. Cook shrimp over medium heat until the shrimp are about three-quarters done, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Turn up heat to high. As soon as the butter begins to sizzle, add white wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer. Swirl in 4 ounces of the clam gravy and simmer on low until the shrimp are done.

10. To plate the dish, you will use 4 grits cakes and 6 shrimp for each serving. Place a small mound of salad greens (optional) on each plate. Top greens with corn salsa. Place cakes on plate, top with shrimp and pour remaining clam gravy over the shrimp and grits cakes, not over the greens and salsa.

Per serving: 1,273 calories; 80g fat; 46g saturated fat; 477mg cholesterol; 57g protein; 80g carbohydrate; 17g sugar; 9g fiber; 3,284mg sodium; 867mg calcium

Granola from Winslow?s Home in University City on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Photo by Johanna Huckeba, jhuckeba@post-dispatch.com.

Notes: Use a spatula to get all the honey and maple syrup out of the cup, or use an adjustable measuring cup, which is made to push out sticky ingredients with little left behind.

• Winslow’s Home vacuum-seals this granola. You can store it in an air-tight container for up to a week before the mix begins to soften.

2. Spread pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds on 2 large parchment-lined baking sheets, keeping each nut or seed together in separate sections. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle nuts evenly with salt while still warm.

4. Using a large heavy-bottom pot, heat butter over medium heat until just melted. Remove from heat and add maple syrup and honey. Whisk to blend.

5. Place oats in a large mixing bowl. Add the toasted and salted nuts and seeds and stir or toss to combine and mix evenly. Pour half of the butter mixture over all and mix to combine evenly.

6. Next, divide the nuts, oats, and butter mixture into 4 equal parts. Spread on 4 large baking trays lined with parchment. Bake in the 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.

7. Remove the trays, and place the baked mixtures into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining butter mixture and combine evenly.

8. Divide the mixture again into 4 equal parts. Spread on 4 large baking trays lined with parchment. Bake in the 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. The granola should be evenly roasted and golden brown.

Deviled eggs with bacon, at Salt + Smoke, on Hampton Ave., in St. Louis, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Salt + Smoke makes the smoked tomato aioli from tomatoes that they smoke in house. We are using sun-dried tomatoes and liquid smoke as a substitute for this ingredient. Cooks may want to smoke fresh Roma tomatoes at home instead of using the sun dried tomatoes and liquid smoke. Recipes for smoked tomatoes may be found online. They are usually made in 1- or 2-pound batches. You would use the same amount, 4 tablespoons roughly chopped, and omit the liquid smoke if you use this method.

• All pickled vegetables are made in-house at Salt + Smoke. The restaurant suggested a sweet gherkin for the pickled ingredient in this recipe.

• The eggs rest on a cushion of pimiento cheese. Don’t use a processed food product for this. Buy a better brand of real cheese spread or make your own. We like this recipe: tinyurl.com/y74lv3pw.

1. Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove egg yolks and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Place the egg halves on a platter or baking sheet and set aside. Pulse yolks until they are in small crumbles.

2. Add mustard and pulse until just incorporated. Place egg mixture in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Place the chopped garlic and the sun-dried tomatoes in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse to a paste.

4. Add the mayonnaise to the bowl and pulse to just blend with tomatoes and garlic. Remove to a small mixing bowl.

5. Mix the smoked paprika with the salt. Add to the mayonnaise mixture and gently fold and stir to blend the powdered spice evenly throughout. Add the finely minced gherkin and the liquid smoke, and stir to blend.

7. Cook or bake 10 strips of bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. When cool, break each piece into thirds.

8. To assemble the eggs, pipe in or fill each egg hollow with a generous dollop of the yolk mixture and place on a tray or plate. Lightly sprinkle the top of the egg paste with sweet Hungarian paprika and chopped parsley. Add a bacon strip to the center of each just before serving.

9. To serve, place a tablespoon of pimento cheese on the plate and set a filled egg on the cushion. At Salt + Smoke, they are served 3 to a boat plate.

Per serving: 354 calories; 34g fat; 10g saturated fat; 222mg cholesterol; 10g protein; 2g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; no fiber; 513mg sodium; 48mg calcium

Guacamole is featured at El Toluco Taqueria and Grocery on Manchester Road in St. Louis on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Notes: El Toluco uses a hand-operated vegetable dicer that cuts piles of tomatoes and onions into perfectly uniform pieces about 3/8-inch square. At home, use a serrated tomato knife to dice the tomatoes and onions, aiming for quite large, similarly sized pieces.

1. In a large bowl, collect all the ingredients. With a spatula, stir the ingredients quite vigorously, pressing against the mixture so that the avocados soften and form a sort of sauce that binds the guacamole.

Per (2 tablespoon) serving: 18 calories; 1g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 2g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 74mg sodium; 4mg calcium

Shrimp Spring Rolls at Nudo House on Wednesday May 23, 2018, Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

• Sambal oelek and hoisin sauce are available in better groceries, in specialty stores, at Global Foods in Kirkwood and at Jay International on South Grand.

• For the shrimp, the numbers 21/25, called the count, refer to the number of individual shrimp in one pound. Grocery stores with a fresh fish counter will often steam the shrimp for you at no charge.

• Rice stick noodles are available in better groceries, in specialty stores, online, at Global Foods in Kirkwood and at Jay International on South Grand.

• Rice paper spring roll wrappers are round and sold in a variety of diameters from 8.5 inches to 12 inches. For this recipe the size needs to be 10 inches or larger.

1. To make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together well. Refrigerate if making ahead. Just before serving, top with crushed peanuts if desired.

2. For the spring rolls, fill a 5- or 6-quart pan with 3- to 4-quarts cold water. Bring to a hard boil on the stove. Add the rice noodles, sliding them into the pan down the sides. Allow the water to just come to boil, turn off the heat and wait 12 minutes for the noodles to cool. Drain, then rinse the noodles under cold water to remove the starch. Place cooked noodles in a colander and set aside until ready to roll.

3. Prepare to make the spring rolls. Lay out the cut shrimp, shredded lettuce, cilantro and bean sprouts on a clean surface.

4. Fill a large bowl with hot water. You will be working one wrapper at a time. Remove one wrapper and dip it in the hot water for one second to soften. Place the dipped wrapper on a clean, flat work surface. It will absorb the hot water and become soft, pliant and translucent.

5. Working from the edge closest to you, place 4 shrimp halves across the center, rounded side to the wrapper, leaving 4 inches open on the side edges. For the additional ingredients, you will be leaving 3 inches open on each side to complete the roll.

6. Add a handful of rice noodles across the wrapper next, leaving a 1½-inch space to pull the wrapper over the ingredients. Follow with shredded lettuce, sprigs of cilantro and bean sprouts, keeping in mind you are making 10 rolls.

7. Pull the edge closest to you over the filling to start the roll. Tuck the side edges in, as you would to roll a wrap or a burrito, then tightly roll the wrapper around the filling to the opposite edge. Set aside.

Per serving: 235 calories; 10g fat; 1g saturated fat; 33mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 48g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 2g fiber; 411mg sodium; 32mg calcium

Deviled eggs at Grace Meat + Three, 4270 Manchester Avenue, in the Grove neighborhood. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Notes: Grace Meat + Three makes their own Creole mustard and cures the country ham, but both are easy to find at local grocers. The country ham brand used for the test was by Burger Smokehouse, found in the cold case at a local grocer. Zatarain’s makes a Creole mustard, but there are other brands as well at specialty stores and at some grocers in the condiments aisle.

• The egg yolks may be mixed by hand with a fork and a whisk, but the deviled ham must be made in a food processor.

2. Peel, then cut each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove egg yolks and place in the bowl of a food processor. Lay out the egg halves on a baking sheet and set aside. Pulse yolks until pureed.

4. Add ½ cup mayonnaise and pulse until incorporated. Don’t overwork this step or the mayonnaise may separate. Remove egg mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

5. Clean and thoroughly dry the bowl and blade of the food processor. Attach bowl and blade to machine, then add diced ham, remaining tablespoon of Crystal hot sauce and pinch of cayenne pepper. Pulse until the ham turns into a paste.

6. Add remaining ½ cup mayonnaise and pulse a few times. Scrape down sides and pulse again just until the mayonnaise incorporates. Take care not to overwork this step or the mayonnaise may break. Remove to a small mixing bowl.

7. To assemble the eggs, pipe in or fill each egg hollow with a dollop of the yolk mixture and place on a tray or plate.

8. Pipe or top each filled egg with a small amount of deviled ham. Store leftover deviled ham in a tightly closed container and refrigerate. Use within a week.

9. Lightly sprinkle the eggs and the plate with Everything Seasoning. Store leftover seasoning in a tightly covered jar. Top with prepared chives, parsley and basil on both eggs and plate. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 190 calories; 17g fat; 3g saturated fat; 193mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 1g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 636mg sodium; 43mg calcium

Pozole’, a Mexican soup or stew, at Cleveland Heath Restaurant in Edwardsville on Thursday Feb 1, 2018.

Notes: Chiles de árbol (pronounced ar-boll), are slender chiles up to about 3 inches long that ripen to a bright red color. Fresh ones are often used in colorful, prickly wreaths, dried ones for cooking. Cleveland-Heath chose this chile for its clean, neat heat and recommends using more/fewer chiles to adjust the spiciness to your own taste. I found them in the produce department at Schnucks, packaged by Frieda’s, the small ones are about an inch or so long.

1. Braise the pork and make pork stock. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place pork butt in a roasting pan with garlic and bay leaves alongside. Sprinkle generously with salt. Pour boiling water into pan, filling halfway. Cover with foil and braise in oven for 5 to 6 hours. Remove from oven and let cool. Reserve pan juices (the “pork stock”) and use two forks to “pull” the pork, separating strands. Reserve 2 cups pulled pork for the pozole, use the rest for sandwiches and more.

2. Make pozole. In a blender, combine tomato and chile de arbol until smooth and the chile breaks up and “disappears.”

3. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot such as a Dutch oven until shimmery, stir in onion, carrots, celery and salt and let begin to cook.

4. Stir in hominy, 1 1/3 cups pork stock and tomato-chile mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

5. Stir in pulled pork and return to a simmer. Taste and if needed, adjust with additional pork stock and salt.

6. Make spicy aioli. While soup simmers, whisk mayonnaise and sriracha and transfer into a squeeze bottle.

7. To serve Cleveland-Heath-style, ladle 1-½ cups pozole into a bowl. Top with about a half cup of shredded cabbage and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon spicy aioli. Garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.

Per serving (based on 6): 488 calories; 33g fat; 9g saturated fat; 85mg cholesterol; 24g protein; 24g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 6g fiber; 531mg sodium; 95mg calcium

The House Salad, comprised of bibb lettuce, house-made pork rinds, radish, bacon lardons, pickled shallots and chives with buttermilk dressing, is a menu favorite at Frankly on Cherokee, a restaurant on the Cherokee Street corridor in the Gravois Park neighborhood of St. Louis, as photographed Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 Photo by Sid Hastings

Notes: Purchase thick-cut slab bacon and pork skin (for the homemade rind) from a specialty butcher. Cawthon recommends Bolyard’s in Maplewood.

• Bibb lettuce leaves are generally smaller and cup shaped. If you need smaller pieces, tear it. When arranging the salad, place them in the bowl with the edges up for looks.

• Breakfast radishes are mild, long and cylindrical. If you can’t find them, substitute a mild globe or other radish.

• Mexican groceries often have freshly made pork rinds. There is also a stand at Soulard Market that cooks them each Saturday.

1. The day before assembling the salad, make the dressing by thoroughly mixing the lemon juice, mayo, buttermilk, crème fraiche and chives together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

2. The pickled shallots are also made a day or two ahead of time. Clean and slice the shallots and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then add the sliced shallots. Turn off the heat and cool to room temperature in the pan. Place in a covered glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use. You will only use a portion of the shallots for 2 servings, but they remaining shallots may be used in sandwiches and side dishes as well.

3. One hour before assembling the salad, cook the bacon lardons. Add diced bacon to a cold pan. Cook slowly over low heat until the bacon is done crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Drain the fat and place cooked lardons on a paper towel-lined plate. Hold at room temperature while you assemble the salad.

4. Build the salad in individual bowls, layering lettuce, chives, radishes, lardons and pickled shallots in a pleasing pattern. Add dressing. Top with fresh pork rinds and serve.

Per serving: 245 calories; 14g fat; 5g saturated fat; 30mg cholesterol; 11g protein; 18g carbohydrate; 9g sugar; 3g fiber; 1,230mg sodium; 84mg calcium

The clam chowder at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab restaurant, is photographed on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Peacemaker is located at 1831 Sidney StreetSt. Louis. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Use a vegetable peeler to slice two peels of lemon skin, the yellow part only, about the length of the lemon.

• At Peacemaker, for freshness, an ounce of clams is sautéed-to-order for each serving; the same could be done at home as well.

1. Make a light roux. In a medium-size heavy saucepan, melt 1 ¼ cups butter on medium heat. Whisk in flour and let cook, whisking often, until flour turns light gold. Spread thin on a sheet tray and let cool. (The roux may be made in advance. You may not use all of the roux; use what’s left to make a roux-thickened soup or sauce.)

2. Make sachet. Wrap thyme, peppercorns, fennel, lemon peel and bay leaf in two layers of cheesecloth, sealing the sachet with kitchen twine.

3. Make chowder. Melt ½ tablespoon butter in a large, heavy saucepan on medium heat. Stir in bacon and gently cook, just until beginning to soften without crisping. Stir in onion and celery and gently cook, just until beginning to soften. Stir in garlic and let cook for just a minute. Stir in Worcestershire and Tabasco, let liquid cook down by about half. Starting slowly, stir in clam juice, chicken stock, white wine and lemonade. Stir in sachet. Bring to a gentle boil and let boil until liquid reduces by about 1/8.

4. Remove sachet and increase heat to bring liquid to a heavy boil. A large spoonful at a time, stir in about three-fourths of the light roux; stir until liquid returns to a heavy boil before adding the next spoonful. Once three-fourths of light roux is added, the mixture should be the consistency of a thin gravy; if not, add some or all of the remaining light roux, remembering that the mixture will continue to thicken as it cooks. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, let mixture simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

5. Stir in potatoes and let simmer until potatoes are fully cooked. Stir in cream and half-and-half, bring just to a boil. Add salt to taste.

6. Cook clams. Just before serving, heat a skillet on medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon butter until sizzling. Drop in clam strips and cook just until done. Chop into bite-size pieces and stir into chowder. (See note.)

7. To serve Peacemaker-style, pour a cup of chowder into military-style tin soup cups. Garnish with fresh chive, serve with oyster crackers on the side.

Per serving: 292 calories; 17g fat; 9g saturated fat; 11mg cholesterol; 18g protein; 26g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 2g fiber; 1,204mg sodium; 85mg calcium

Curried Sweet Potatoes, with lemon yogurt polenta cake, roasted broccolinis and fried chick peas, is photographed on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, as created by Chef Matthew Borchardt at Edibles & Essentials, Market & Cafe. Edibles & Essentials is located at 5815 Hampton Avenue in St. Louis. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

1. Place the onion, garlic, ginger, oil, garam masala, cumin, cardamom and chili in the bowl of a food processor and puree until a paste forms.

2. Gently heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a 4- or 5-quart pot. Transfer the onion and spice mix to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture darkens and becomes aromatic.

4. Add 3 cups of vegetable broth and all the brown sugar. Stir all the way down to the bottom of the pot. Mix well.

5. Add the diced potatoes, sliced carrots, tomatoes, salt and pepper. If needed, add more vegetable broth to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, adding hot broth as needed, until the vegetables are tender.

1. Lightly coat a 9-inch by 9-inch or an 11-inch by 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Bring water and salt to a full roiling boil in a 4-quart saucepot. Slowly add the polenta, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture back to a medium boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer very gently simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Quick-cooking polenta cooks in 5 to 7 minutes.)

4. Carefully pour the polenta in the prepared dish and spread it evenly in the pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula.

7. The polenta cakes can be warmed in an oven or griddled in a sauté pan, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to heat.

Per serving: 381 calories; 12g fat; 2g saturated fat; 4mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 62g carbohydrate; 15g sugar; 9g fiber; 1521mg sodium; 142mg calcium

The avocado salad, two avocado halves in seasoned panko crumbs, chopped romaine, spicy samba dressing, question fresco and pico de gallo, is photographed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, at Southwest Diner. Southwest Diner is located at 6803 Southwest Avenue in St. Louis. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Sambal oelek, a hot chili paste, is available in international stores. You may substitute sriracha sauce for sambal oelek, but the texture of the dressing will be smoother and runnier.

• If you don’t have a deep fryer, the avocado may be pan fried in about half an inch of hot oil in a cast iron of heavy-bottom pan big enough to fit. If choosing the pan-fried method, you may want to cut the avocado in quarters, then dip, coat and fry.

• Fresh pico de gallo is available at some delis and is easy to make at home. Daniel Neman’s recipe for pico de gallo in our Aug. 2 issue shows you how, tinyurl.com/ycuh2zcc

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, using a sharp knife and starting at the stem end, cut until you hit the seed, then rotate the knife around it. Twist the two halves to open the avocado. Carefully whack the seed with the knife, twist the knife and remove the seed. Use a large spoon to gently scoop between the skin and the fruit to remove each half.

4. Dip one half of the avocado in egg, coating both sides, then roll in seasoned panko to coat. Dip and coat the other half.

5. Deep fry at 350 degrees, following instructions with your fryer, until the panko just turns a light golden brown. Do not overcook. Remove from the fryer to a paper plate and drain.

6. To make the dressing, place sour cream, sambal oelek and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Whisk with a fork or small whisk to combine.

7. Place the chopped romaine lettuce on a salad plate. Top with sambal dressing. Add avocado halves, queso and pico de gallo to finish. If desired, add a lime wedge to squeeze over the avocado.

Per serving: 710 calories; 51g fat; 11g saturated fat; 122mg cholesterol; 16g protein; 51g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 9g fiber; 1,313mg sodium; 255mg calcium

Cranberry sangria, served with a sugared sprig of rosemary, is a seasonal menu favorite at Sister Cities Cajun restaurant in the Marine Villa neighborhood of St. Louis, photographed Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. Photo by Sid Hastings

Notes: Rhubarb bitters are available at Friar Tuck’s liquor store in Crestwood and at Intoxicology in the Grove.

1. Combine lemon juice, water, apple cider, ¾ cup of sugar, cranberries and 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary in a nonreactive pot. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

2. Boil just until cranberries pop, about 10 minutes. Don’t overcook. Remove from stove and cool the mixture until warm.

3. Place remaining granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Coat remaining sprigs of rosemary in the warm cranberry mixture. Roll sprigs in granulated sugar and remove to a parchment paper to cool.

5. Place cooled cranberries in a large bowl. Add both red and white wine, gin, bitters, and brandy to the mix and stir to blend. Add the club soda just before serving and mix.

6. To serve, add ice halfway up a stemless wine glass or other wide-mouth cocktail glass and ladle in the sangria. Be sure to get a little of the popped cranberries in each glass. Garnish with a sugared rosemary sprig and a slice of lemon.

Per serving: 297 calories; no fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 36g carbohydrate; 31g sugar; 1g fiber; 12mg sodium; 18mg calcium

Spicy kimchi soup with a side of rice sits on a plate at Seoul Taco in University City, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Photo by Austin Steele, asteele@post-dispatch.com

Notes: This hearty stew is a staple in Korean households. It can be customized to taste, adding softened garlic and yellow onions, or by adding more heat with Korean pepper flakes or Gochujang.

• Korean pepper flakes have a different flavor than regular red chili flakes. Look for them and for the Gochujang hot pepper paste at international stores or Korean grocers.

• The kimchi should be fermented at least two weeks. For this test, we purchased both the meaty pork belly and the kimchi, which is made in house and fermented for 4 weeks, from Bolyard’s Meat and Provisions in Maplewood.

1. Two to 3 hours ahead of cooking time, press the water from the tofu block to remove excess water. Fold a clean dish towel (or layers of paper towels) into fourths and place on a plate. Open and drain the liquid from the package and carefully remove block of tofu to the prepared plate. Top with a second layer of absorbent towels. Place a second plate over the first and weight with a heavy book, a 32-ounce can or weights. Allow the tofu to sit, draining the plate every half hour, until the water is removed. The process should take from 1 to 3 hours.

2. Place a strainer over a medium sized bowl and drain the jar of kimchi, reserving ½-cup to 1 cup of the juice for the stew. When the kimchi is completely drained, measure out 2 cups and set aside.

3. Add the cut pork belly cubes to a 3- or 4-quart nonstick pan and toss over high heat to sear and cook down. When the pork belly is browned, add the drained kimchi and sauté together on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium high, then add the pressed tofu, kimchi juice and 3 cups of water and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Taste, then add Korean red pepper flakes and a tablespoon of gochujang for a extra heat, if using.

Per serving: 718 calories; 65g fat; 23g saturated fat; 82mg cholesterol; 23g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 3g fiber; 402mg sodium; 343mg calcium

Bread pudding made at Stellar Hog photographed in St. Louis on Thursday Jan. 25, 2018. Photo by Austin Steele, asteele@post-dispatch.com

12 ounces of marshmallow fluff, store-bought or make your own. (Find the Stellar Hog’s recipe at stltoday.com/food)

Notes: Start the recipe two nights before you plan to bake this dish by trimming the crusts and cubing the loaves of bread to allow them to get stale. Brioche, soft white and French bread all work, but the finished texture of the pudding varies.

• Make the custard 8 hours ahead of baking time and pour over bread. Allow to sit, refrigerated, for eight hours or overnight to absorb.

1. The day before you plan to bake the pudding, prepare the bread by trimming the crusts and cutting it into 1-inch cubes. The diced bread should fill a 9-inch-by-13-inch-by-2 ½-inch pan. Once you have measured the bread into the pan, spread it out on cookie sheets in a single layer and place in a cold oven to get stale.

3. Separate yolks from whites for 6 eggs, leaving yolks in a large mixing bowl. Store and refrigerate the whites to use in the fluff part of this recipe. Crack two whole eggs into the yolks. Whisk eggs and yolks together. Set aside.

4. Pour the milk, cream and granulated sugar into a 3- or 4-quart sauce pan. Whisk to blend, then heat over medium heat until the sugar melts and the milk is scalding hot but not boiling. You should see small bubbles foaming at the edges of the pan and a light steam rising from the mixture. Don’t allow it to come to boil. Remove from heat.

5. Slowly pour a small amount of the cream and sugar into the whisked eggs in a very thin stream, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. You don’t want them to curdle. Don’t rush this part of the prep. Whisk constantly while you slowly incorporate the remaining hot milk mixture into the eggs. Set aside.

6. Grease the side and bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch-by-2 ½-inch pan. Add a third of the bread cubes to the pan and spread in a single layer. Evenly distribute a third of the chocolate chips across the layer. Repeat with two more layers. Pour prepared custard evenly over the bread layers. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours.

7. The following day, preheat oven to 350 degrees, 325 degrees for glass pans. Lightly dust the top of the bread pudding with raw sugar. Bake uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes until the top is lightly golden brown, the edges pull slightly away from the pan and the custard has a slight uniform jiggle.

8. To make the graham cracker topping: place the graham crackers in a plastic bag and crush to crumble.

10. In a small bowl, mix together crumbled graham crackers, brown sugar and cinnamon. Combine melted butter and vanilla, then stir in. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle white sugar and salt over the top. Bake in 350 degree oven until golden brown, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

11. To assemble the finished pudding: Cut the pan into 12 equal pieces. Remove with a spatula, top with marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crumble. If desired, place pudding with fluff under the broiler or use a torch to “toast” the marshmallow top.

Per serving: 530 calories; 29g fat; 17g saturated fat; 181mg cholesterol; 10g protein; 61g carbohydrate; 29g sugar; 2g fiber; 291mg sodium; 121mg calcium

Nduja Risotto Balls photographed on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at Pastaria in Clayton.Photo by Laurie Skrivan | lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Notes: ’Nduja (pronounced n – DOO – juh) can be best described as a spreadable, spicy salami. It is made by Salume Beddu and available at Parker’s Table.

• Shelton uses panko breadcrumbs, which is a Japanese staple. She pulses them in the food processor to a finer texture. These flaky, crispy breadcrumbs add a bit of crunch to coatings. They are available in better grocery stores.

• At Pastaria, the chefs season with salt and pepper at each step to build flavors. In the directions you will see “season lightly with salt and pepper.” After the rice is all mixed, taste and adjust if needed.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the vegetable mixture, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until they are soft. If the vegetables begin to brown, reduce heat further and cook until soft.

5. Next, add the dry rice and cook. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir often until the rice becomes translucent.

8. Once the water has evaporated, add more water to cover the rice and continue in this manner until the rice is tender.

12. Add the ’nduja, mozzarella and fontina cheese and mix until incorporated. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

14. Next, set up a breading station. Whisk the eggs with a touch of water and pour in a shallow dish or pan. Place the flour and breadcrumbs in separate shallow dishes or pans.

15. Place the balls in the flour and coat them all around. Dip balls completely in the eggs, and immediately place in the breadcrumbs. Take care to coat the balls completely each step of the way.

16. Fry the balls at 350 degrees until golden brown and toss with salt. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of honey on each of 8 serving plates. Top with 4 balls. Serve with lemon aioli or dips if desired.

Per risotto ball: 203 calories; 4g fat; 3g saturated fat; 19mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 19g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 1g fiber; 207g sodium; 60mg calcium

The beet salad is a hit at the restaurant Olio on Tower Grove. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Sottaceti (also sotto’ceto, sott’aceti, sotto l’aceto and other variations) are vegetables pickled Italian style. The direct translation means “under vinegar,” and Olio’s relish-like version combines celery, fennel and onion (and often, other extra vegetables) blitzed in a food processor and pickled overnight in white wine vinegar.

• Piquillo peppers are sweet (not hot) Spanish chilis and when roasted, have a sweet, spicy flavor. They’re easily found online in jars or cans, but roasted red peppers are an acceptable substitute.

1. Roast Beets. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove tops from beets leaving 1 inch of stem, gently wash beets, leave tails intact. Arrange in a baking pan with sides. Add rosemary, thyme, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Cut a piece of parchment the same size as the baking pan, place over beets, then cover baking pan with foil. Roast until tender, about 60 minutes for smaller beets, about 90 minutes for larger beets. (Beets are notorious for unpredictable cooking times so allow lots of time and check for doneness every 30 minutes. They’re done when a thin knife inserts easily into the centers.) Let cool slightly, gently peel off skins; use a paper towel or gloves to avoid hand stains. Cool completely, then cut into bite-size cubes, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Make Chermoula. Hand chop mint, parsley and cilantro. In a bowl, stir herbs with pepper, lemon zest, preserved lemon and sottaceti. Makes about 1½ cups; leftovers are easy to use with fish, pasta, sandwiches, grilled vegetables, etc.

3. To serve Roasted Beets Olio-style, spread ricotta in a ring in a shallow rounded salad dish. Toss Roasted Beets with Chermoula, lemon vinaigrette and salt in a small bowl and mound in center of ricotta. Drizzle with chive oil and sprinkle with the herbs.

Per serving: 541 calories; 39g fat; 9g saturated fat; 31mg cholesterol; 13g protein; 39g carbohydrate; 25g sugar; 10g fiber; 478mg sodium; 215mg calcium

Special Request : The ‘Naked Pig’ sandwich photographed on Thursday, June 8, 2017, Mac’s Local Eats in Dogtown. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Notes: The pork stock should be made at least one day ahead of time. Finished pork stock will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days. Extra pork stock may be frozen in smaller units for future use for up to 1 year.

• The horseradish aioli should also be made a day ahead of time. You may substitute commercial mayonnaise mixed with horseradish if desired.

• Pasteurized eggs are available at most grocery stores. They are safe to eat uncooked if that is a concern.

• Choose a high-quality pork loin for this sandwich. Mac’s uses local pork, humanely raised, from Meadowlark Farms.

• Mac’s uses the sous vide method to cook its pork tenderloin. Food is sealed in bags and cooked in a circulating water bath at low temperatures for long cooking times. Small sous vide units are available for home use at prices from $100 to $500 each. The pork loin may be roasted or grilled for this recipe.

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pork bones in a single layer in roasting pans. Cook bones until charred and browned, which should take about an hour, checking once or twice to gauge progress. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Deglaze the roasting pan on the stovetop, adding a cup or two of water and heat. Using a spatula, dislodge any browned bits remaining in the pan. Transfer to the stockpot.

4. Add cold water to the stockpot to cover the ingredients and cook, loosely covered, over medium high heat for 4 to 6 hours. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. Add boiling water to the stockpot as needed to keep ingredients covered.

6. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Strain the stock into large bowls, using a colander lined with cheesecloth or other method to trap solids. Discard solids.

8. Store finished stock in the refrigerator overnight. Remove fats that solidify on the surface and discard.

9. Make the aioli: In a small mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice together until well-combined.

10. Begin whisking vigorously and very slowly drizzle in oil until all the oil is incorporated and fully emulsified.

11. Lightly whisk in garlic and horseradish. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered, airtight container for up to 1 week.

12. To cook using a sous vide circulator: Place pork loin, garlic and thyme in a plastic bag. Vacuum seal the bag. Place in circulator and cook for 3 hours in a 135-degree water bath. Remove loin from bag, rinse under cool water and pat dry and let cool. Slice meat into very thin slices.

13. To roast pork loin: About 24 hours ahead of roasting, place pork loan, garlic and rosemary and vegetable oil in a plastic storage bag with a seal. Squeeze out excess air, seal bag and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. To cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove loin from bag and place on a rack in rimmed sheet pan. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. Slice meet into very thin slices.

14. When you are ready to make the sandwiches, in a small saucepan, heat the pork stock and keep warm.

16. Spread soft butter on both flat sides of the sliced baguette. Grill in the skillet until melted and browned.

18. Top buttered bread with Provel slices and thinly sliced onions. Place under broiler until the cheese melts.

Sous-Vide Pork Loin, per serving: 933 calories; 47g fat; 19g saturated fat; 164mg cholesterol; 58g protein; 69g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 4g fiber; 1,177mg sodium; 403mg calcium

Roasted Pork Loin, per serving: 1,013 calories; 58g fat; 20g saturated fat; 164mg cholesterol; 58g protein; 69g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 4g fiber; 1,177mg sodium; 403mg calcium

Pumpkin soup at Brasserie by Niche on 4580 Laclede Avenue in St. Louis on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Photo by Cristina M. Fletes, cfletes@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Heirloom Spookie pumpkins have a sweet, deep-colored, fine-textured flesh and are especially revered for pie. Substitute two small sugar pumpkins (about 4-½ pounds combined) to yield more roasted pumpkin than you’ll need for soup, a good excuse to make pie. To soften the pumpkins a bit before cutting in half, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

• Brasserie’s Pumpkin Seed Granola is an unusually addictive concoction. As written, the granola recipe makes 5 cups, about 4 cups more than called for to garnish the soup. To forgo granola leftovers, divide the recipe by 4.

1. A day before serving, heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkins in half, scoop out and discard the seeds. Drizzle cut sides with olive oil, salt and pepper, arrange cut-side up on a baking sheet, place a thyme sprig atop each half. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, discard thyme and scoop out flesh. Measure 4 cups roasted flesh for the soup, use remainder for another purpose.

2. Meanwhile, add a film of olive oil to a large, heavy pot and heat until shimmery. Stir in onion, leek, celery and garlic; sprinkle with a little salt and cook until translucent. Add wine to deglaze the pot (it should hiss), let cook for a minute or 2 to cook off most of the alcohol.

3. Stir in roasted pumpkin, water, bouquet garni and a little salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and let cook until pumpkin is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and return almost to a boil. Taste, then add brown sugar and salt to taste.

4. Let soup cool. Remove bouquet garni. Puree soup in a high-powered blender, then for extra smoothness, press it through a fine-meshed strainer.

6. Make granola. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, combine honey, brown sugar and butter. Stir in oats and pumpkin seeds, really turning to coat every surface. Spread mixture evenly across baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Let mixture cool without breaking apart. Transfer to a tightly covered container.

7. Make salted grapes. About an hour before serving soup, cut grapes lengthwise into thin slices and toss with a little salt.

8. To serve, heat soup almost to a boil, taste and adjust seasoning. To serve Brasserie-style, pour hot soup into white French crocks. Arrange salted grapes in a line across the center, top with pumpkin seed granola and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil.

Per serving: 313 calories; 17g fat; 9g saturated fat; 37mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 36g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 1g fiber; 599mg sodium; 40mg calcium.

Biscuits and Gravy photographed with an egg over easy and hot sauce on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, at Southwest Diner . Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Notes: If the gravy thickens too quickly, stir in a little more milk. You want to end up with about 5 cups of gravy.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk or stir to blend.

5. Scoop mix into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter resembles small pebbles. Do this in 3 or 4 batches. Return to mixing bowl.

7. Make a deep well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and egg mixture to the well.

8. Mix the ingredients with gloved hands or turn dry ingredients into the wet with a rubber spatula or a big spoon. At Southwest Diner, they mix by gloved hands to a uniform consistency so as not to overwork the dough. The dough will be sticky to the touch.

9. Line an 18-by-12-inch rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop biscuit dough using a No. 2 ice cream scoop, which is almost ¼-cup, onto parchment-lined sheet. Place 3 biscuits across and 3 biscuits down for spacing.

10. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes. Turn the sheet and continue baking an additional 5 minutes. Check for doneness. The tops should be a light golden brown and dry to the touch. If the biscuits need additional bake time, check at 2-minute intervals and remove promptly when lightly golden brown.

11. Remove the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Allow the biscuits to sit on the sheet until they are cool enough to handle. Remove to a platter and reserve.

12. To make the gravy, add bacon fat to a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, sauté pan or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until melted. Add ground pork and cook fully, taking care to break up the meat into crumbles as it cooks.

13. Sprinkle flour over the meat mixture and stir until it is fully absorbed. The consistency will be paste-like. Cook the flour into the meat completely to avoid a raw flour taste in the gravy.

14. Add the heavy cream, 1 ½ cups of milk and sage, garlic, rosemary, black pepper, salt, brown sugar and crushed red pepper to the cooked pork. Stir often after you add the cream and milk as the mixture could scorch easily.

15. Stir constantly over medium until the gravy reaches the desired thickness. If the gravy becomes too thick, stir in the reserved milk.

16. To assemble: split the biscuits in half with a serrated knife. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pot and brush on a griddle or skillet as needed to toast the biscuits. Place cut side down and toast until lightly browned. Repeat and grill remaining biscuits.

17. Place 2 biscuits, 4 halves, on each plate. Use ½ cup of gravy for each plate, ladling gravy over each half. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 538 calories; 30g fat; 16g saturated fat; 111mg cholesterol; 17g protein; 48g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 2g fiber; 795mg sodium; 112mg calcium.

Roasted brussels sprouts with pork belly sit in Beast Craft BBQ Co. on Friday, June 17, 2016, in Belleville, Illinois. The restaurant is best known for their hand-smoked meats and brews. photo by Shelby Kardell, skardell@post-dispatch.com

Notes: If using a deep fryer, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for amount of oil. If using a smaller deep fryer, cook this recipe in two or three batches.

• If frying in a large pot on the stove, use a special candy/deep fry thermometer. Lower ingredients into pot in a long-handled fry basket that fits the pot or with a long-handled mesh skimmer or slotted spoon.

• Never leave either a deep fryer or a pot of hot oil on the stove unattended. Do not allow hot oil to come in contact with direct flame. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and never try to put out a grease fire with water. It vaporizes instantly into super-heated steam.

1. Begin heating oil in a deep fryer or in an 8- to 10-quart pot. The oil will heat to 275 degrees for cooking.

2. While the oil is coming up to temperature, rinse and dry Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end. Slice sprouts in half lengthwise. Set aside.

4. When the oil comes to temperature of 275 degrees, gently place the pork belly into the oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove pieces to drain on paper towels and set aside.

5. If necessary, bring the oil temperature back to 275 degrees. Gently lower the cut Brussels sprouts into the oil. Take care as the sprouts may splatter for the first few seconds.

8. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sprouts and pork belly pieces. Add salt, pepper and butter and toss to mix and serve.

Per serving: 376 calories; 36g fat; 11g saturated fat; 37mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 4g fiber; 518mg sodium; 47mg calcium.

Special Request Recipe: White Cheddar Cracker Mac at Salt + Smoke photographed on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in University City. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Notes: If making ahead of time, make extra sauce to stir in just before baking. Salt + Smoke is selective about all of its ingredients, including the salt and pepper. The kitchen uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper in a 3:1 blend.

3. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to cook off the floury taste. A quarter cup at a time at first, slowly stir in cream, incorporating each addition before adding more. Bring almost to a boil; do not allow to boil.

4. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in cheddar, salt and pepper until cheese melts. Stir in hot pasta.

Per serving: 802 calories; 48g fat; 28g saturated fat; 137mg cholesterol; 20g protein; 70g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 4g fiber; 486mg sodium; 332mg calcium.

photographed on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Farmhaus. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Sorghum is not interchangeable with molasses. It is available in better groceries and specialty stores. Roasted Garlic oil is available at better supermarkets. Use a variety of hearty greens for this salad. Farmhaus uses a mixture of seasonal greens including tatsoi, red mizuna, baby collards, field spinach, mustard and arugula.

2. Cut the bacon into chunky cubes, about ¼-inch square. Gently brown bacon pieces in a large 8- or 9-inch skillet until evenly brown and crispy, not burnt. Drain pieces and reserve fat; set aside bacon pieces.

3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat to the skillet; add diced onion, leek and shallot mixture to the pan. Cook the onions over low to medium-low heat to caramelize them.

4. Add cooked bacon pieces to the pan with onions. Pour in the cider vinegar. Deglaze the pan by gently dislodging the brown cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Reduce the mixture to about three-fourths of its original volume. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

5. Whisk in the sorghum, the reserved bacon fat, ¾ cup of roasted garlic oil and the lemon juice. Taste. If needed, add salt to taste. Set to the side in a warm place.

6. Prepare the mushrooms for roasting. Tear out the stems from the shiitakes and the fibrous core of the oyster mushrooms and reserve both for another use.

7. Mushroom caps 2 inches in diameter should be left whole. Loosely tear the larger ones in pieces, about 2 inches.

8. Toss the mushrooms in a medium mixing bowl with ½ cup roasted garlic oil to lightly coat them. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

9. Place prepared mushrooms, leaving space between, on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 425 for 8 to 12 minutes. Rotate them twice during cook time and remove smaller pieces as needed when they are slightly crispy and done. When all are roasted, remove from the hot cookie sheet to a warmed dish. If there is oil left on the pan, scrape it off and you will have garlic-mushroom oil for another dish.

11. Top first with the roasted mushrooms, followed by toasted pecans. Add crumbled fresh goat cheese and serve.

Per serving: 1,015 calories; 98g fat; 19g saturated fat; 62mg cholesterol; 28g protein; 17g carbohydrate; 6g sugar; 7g fiber; 1258mg sodium; 167mg calcium.

The Veggie Burger at Edibles & Essentials on 5815 Hampton Avenue in St. Louis on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. . Photo by Cristina M. Fletes, cfletes@post-dispatch.com

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8- or 9-inch skillet or similar sauté pan over medium-high heat until the oil just shimmers. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until they are soft. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and allow to cool completely.

2. Turn heat to medium-low and add the onions and celery, using an additional tablespoon of oil if needed. Cook until the onions are translucent. Stir as needed. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Allow the onions, celery and garlic to cool completely.

3. In a large bowl mix the cooked vegetables along with the black beans, lentils, quinoa, sugar, salt, paprika, cumin and pepper.

4. In small batches, using the pulse function of the food processor, process the vegetable mixture to a course meal. Place the mixture back into a mixing bowl and fold in the bread crumbs and egg. Mix well.

6. To prepare the vegetable burgers, preheat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook each burger for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Per serving: 478 calories; 15g fat; 6g saturated fat; 97mg cholesterol; 15g protein; 73g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 10g fiber; 1,019mg sodium; 53mg calcium.

Pepper and samba deviled eggs ($4) at the Urban Chestnut Brewing Company on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 in St. Louis. Photo by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Fair recommends a tablespoon of kosher salt for every cup of water for boiling. He uses the same ratio for a salted ice bath, filling a bowl with ice, sprinkling it with salt, then swirling with cold water. Urban Chestnut makes its own mayonnaise with 1 egg yolk, 1 ½ teaspoons champagne vinegar, salt and 1 cup minimally processed rice bran oil. Sambal is a southeast Asian spicy condiment; find it at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood or an Asian market.

1. Cook eggs. In a large, heavy pan, bring eggs, water and salt to a hard, rolling boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 11 to 13 minutes. While eggs cook, prepare salted ice water bath. Drain hot water and “knock eggs around” in the pan to crack the shells a bit, then drop eggs into ice bath until eggs are cool, at least 10 minutes. Move eggs to dry atop a couple layers of paper towel on a baking sheet. Peel eggs (preferably without running water) and let dry on fresh paper towels. Once dry, cut eggs in half lengthwise and pop out the yolks.

2. For Plain Filling: In a food processor, pulse yolks until crumbly. Starting with 3 tablespoons, add mustard and process until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Taste and add about 2 tablespoons more mustard, processing until very smooth. Do not continue with food processor, instead, transfer yolk-mustard mixture to a bowl and use a spatula to work in mayonnaise.

3. For Red Pepper Filling: In a food processor, pulse yolks until crumbly. Add roasted peppers, sambal and mustard and process until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Transfer yolk-red pepper mixture to a bowl, use a spatula to work in mayonnaise, parsley and salt.

4. To serve Urban Chestnut-style, just before serving, use a pastry bag to fill egg halves with fillings like a swirl of soft-serve. To plate, squeeze three dabs filling onto a wood board, top with three egg halves and garnish.

Per serving (Plain, based on 8 servings): 154 calories; 12g fat; 3g saturated fat; 283mg cholesterol; 10g protein; 2g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 266mg sodium; 43mg calcium.

Per serving (Roasted Red Pepper, based on 8): 147 calories; 10g fat; 3g saturated fat; 282mg cholesterol; 10g protein; 2g carbohydrate; no sugar; 1g fiber; 599mg sodium; 59mg calcium.

Brussel sprouts is the featured dish at Cleveland-Heath Restaurant on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Edwardsville. The brussel sprouts are deep fried or pan fried and tossed with a lemon vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon and salt. Then, the chef adds capers, minced shallots and a little more salt before adding sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

Notes: In Cleveland-Heath’s small kitchen, cooks use the fryer to briefly cook the Brussels sprouts, then finish in the oven. At home, Cleveland and Heath use the skillet method specified here.

2. Trim Brussels sprouts by trimming rough stem end, removing any gnarly outer leaves. Cut through the core into halves if sprouts are small, into quarters if large. You should have about 5 cups.

3. Heat an oven-safe skillet with a large surface area until hot. Cover with cooking oil about 1/8 to ¼ deep, heat just to the smoking point; it should be “super hot.Carefully arrange Brussels sprouts cut-sides down (they should sizzle), sprinkle with salt and let cook without turning until color turns dark brown, almost but not quite burning.

4. With a spoon, carefully turn sprouts until new cut-sides are face down; again cook until color turns dark brown. If there is “significant” oil in the skillet, pour it off and place skillet in oven until Brussels sprouts are tender, about 5 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and capers. Turn in hot Brussels sprouts. Taste and be generous with salt.

Per serving (based on 1 serving): 1128 calories; 106g fat; 19g saturated fat; 20mg cholesterol; 23g protein; 32g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 13g fiber; 1054mg sodium; 541mg calcium.

Orange Salad at Pastaria on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in Clayton. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Note: Fleur de sel is a French hand-harvested sea salt used for finishing a dish. Look for it in high-end grocery stores and specialty food stores.

1. Slice ends off oranges, then slice off skins on the sides, removing all the white pith. Working over the serving plate to collect the juices, “supreme” the orange by inserting a knife along the membranes, separating the sections to remove the orange flesh. Arrange sections loosely around the plate, top with onion.

Per serving: 256 calories; 5g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 4g protein; 45g carbohydrate; 28g sugar; 8g fiber; 7mg sodium; 280mg calcium.

The Cannellini Bean Dip ($9.50) with Kalamata olives and pizza points at Katie’s Pizza, photographed on Friday, June 12, 2015 in Clayton. Photo by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com

2. Add beans, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and process until smooth and creamy but still retaining some texture.

4. To serve Katie’s Pizza-style, fill 2 small ramekins with bean dip, top each ramekin with 3 kalamata olives and a basil leaf. Place ramekins on each end of a rectangular platter, mounding pizza points between.

Per (¼ cup) serving (calculated without pizza crust): 239 calories; 16g fat; 2g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 7g protein; 18g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 5g fiber; 1,179mg sodium; 53mg calcium.

Ancient grain salad is the highlighted food at the Brasserie Restaurant in the Central West End on Thursday, April 9, 2015. The salad contains farro, blood oranges, pistachios, parsley, chives, tarragon, and a ginger vinaigrette dressing. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

1. Cook the farro. In a large, heavy pot, bring farro, water, garlic and bay leaf to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; let simmer until farro is cooked. Remove garlic and bay leaf. If there’s excess water, drain. Arrange farro in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cool. Makes 4 cups.

2. Make the vinaigrette. Peel the ginger (the edge of a spoon works surprisingly well) then dice fine. In a blender, combine ginger, vinegar and honey for about 30 seconds on medium high speed. Turn blender to low speed, slowly pour in oil until well-combined. Season with salt. Makes 1 cup.

3. Prep salad ingredients. For celery, peel off celery strings and dice. For pistachios, toast pistachios on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees and roughly chop. For blood orange, slice off skin and pith; slice cross-wise, then into small pieces. For fines herbes, tear individual leaves off parsley stems and tarragon stems, discard stems; cut chives in 1-¼-inch batons.

4. Just before serving, stir together farro, celery, pistachios, blood orange, fines herbes and vinaigrette. Season to taste. To serve Brasserie-style, mound salad in the center of a round, scalloped bowl. Carefully sprinkle salad with additional herbes.

Per serving: 474 calories; 17g fat; 2g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 15g protein; 73g carbohydrate; 15g sugar; 12g fiber; 24mg sodium; 88mg calcium.

The Cherry Bomb Pancakes which features two of Southwest Diner’s Buttermilk Cornmeal Pancakes Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Photo by Cristina Fletes-Boutte, cfletes-boutte@post-dispatch.com

1. In a bowl, use a wire whisk to stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In a second large bowl, whisk eggs until whites and yolks are completely combined, then whisk in buttermilk.

3. Gently whisk in half the flour mixture, just until combined. Whisk in remaining flour mixture, just until combined (a few floury bits are fine). Slowly pour butter in a steady stream into the bowl with one hand while gently whisking it in with the other.

4. Heat a lightly greased griddle until hot, about 350 degrees. Scoop a half cup pancake batter onto griddle, cook just until golden on bottom and air bubbles “pop” on top. Flip and cook until golden.

5. To serve Southwest Diner style, serve pancakes hot in a short stack (2 pancakes) or tall stack (3 pancakes) topped with whipped salted butter and pancake syrup or maple syrup.

Per pancake: 355 calories; 10g fat; 5g saturated fat; 99mg cholesterol; 9g protein; 57g carbohydrate; 15g sugar; 2g fiber; no sodium; 488mg calcium.

Street corn from Mission Taco Joint on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in the Delmar Loop of St. Louis. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford elunsford@post-dispatch.com

1. Husk corn. Grill corn ears on a wood-fired grill with apple and hickory wood, turning occasionally, until kernels begin to char in places and corn cooks through. Cool slightly, then slice kernels off the cob to yield 4 cups grilled corn kernels. Let corn rest until ready to serve.

3. In a skillet on medium high, re-warm corn kernels until very hot, then stir in mayonnaise mixture.

4. To serve simple Mission Taco-style, transfer corn to a flat serving dish and top with queso fresco.

Per serving: 330 calories; 24g fat; 4.5g saturated fat; 15mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 28g carbohydrate; 9g sugar; 3g fiber; 480mg sodium; 40mg calcium.

Broccolini from Cleveland-Heath in Edwardsville, Ill., on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford elunsford@post-dispatch.com

1. Make nuoc cham dressing. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic and ginger, stir until sugar dissolves. Makes about 1 cup. Keeps for 4 or more weeks in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before serving.

2. Make crispy farro. Cook farro like rice in boiling salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Strain and let dry completely in a single layer on paper towels. In a deep fryer, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry farro until crispy. Cool and drain on paper towels.

3. Make salad. A bunch at a time, drop broccolini into fryer and fry until stems are soft and tips are crispy. (Alternatively, roast broccolini on a baking sheet at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes.) Toss warm broccolini, jalapeño rings, cilantro and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing along sides of the bowl, toss together.

4. To serve Cleveland-Heath-style, arrange broccolini in a shallow white bowl, top with crispy farro.

Notes: Farro is a nutty-flavored Italian wheat. Fish sauce is a salty, fishy liquid used in Asian cuisines. Both may be found at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood.

Per serving: 405 calories; 25g fat; 4g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 7g protein; 41g carbohydrate; 16g sugar; 5g fiber; 1450mg sodium; 75mg calcium.

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