There’s a new kitchen tool on store shelves this holiday season that should excite the St. Louis home chef. It’s not a fancy food processor or even a durable, super-useful knife. Co-authored by chef Clara Moore and Ladue News food writer Matt Sorrell, Shop Like a Chef is a guide for St. Louis food lovers to local products and produce, gourmet and specialty foods, and so much more in communities and neighborhoods throughout the city and county.
“With this book, I wanted to encourage people to not only cook, but to get out and enjoy the shopping part of process,” Moore says. “I think it's important for people to think about where they are sourcing their ingredients.”
Sorrell, who met Moore through his coverage of the St. Louis restaurant scene while she was working as executive chef at Local Harvest Café & Catering, points out that the guide is presented in a user-friendly format that looks at neighborhoods, equipment, types of foods and ethnicities. “We say in the introduction that this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide or history,” explains Sorrell, who wrote the Neighborhoods chapter of the book. “We are not the Missouri Historical Society by any means. But Shop Like a Chef is meant to give people an entry point to discovering our different neighborhoods. This book opens up a whole new world of creativity, in my opinion, because Clara goes into so much detail as far as all the different, little markets around town.”
And for two individuals who were both born and raised in St. Louis and who thought they knew a lot about the local food landscape, this project proved there was still plenty to learn, Sorrell says. “Working on this book got me out, and I found that there are many communities, like in north city and north county, where there are so many things happening in cool, little neighborhoods—just off the main drags. Typically, when we get into our cars, we think all we have to do is drive down Manchester and pop in here and pop in there. We're not used to making that left turn and going somewhere else.”
Moore, who has been cooking since age 17 when she started her career at Duff’s, also includes a good variety of her own original recipes in the guide to provide inspiration in kitchen. “I brainstormed about what I thought would be approachable to the home cook, but at the same time, would maybe push them a little bit beyond that meatloaf boundary line,” she notes.
With so much useful information, a good question might be: Where should this book be kept? In the kitchen, or in the car?
Sorrell has that answer: “Just the other day, someone told me that their plan was to keep their copy in their glove compartment, so that when they are out and about and thinking, Hey I need to get something to make for dinner, then they could take a look at where they are and grab the book. But then there's the recipe component—I guess people will need to buy two!” he ends with laugh.
Clara Moore’s Crawfish Stuffing (a Midwestern take on the traditional oyster stuffing)
10 c crusty French bread, cubed
7 T unsalted butter
2 T bacon fat or olive oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
6 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 lb crawfish tail meat (raw or precooked)
2 c chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 c dry vermouth
2 T fresh sage, chopped
2 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 t Tabasco or other hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet and place in oven for about 20 minutes. Put five tablespoons of butter, plus the bacon fat or olive oil, in a large skillet on medium heat; add shallots and celery, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Add crawfish tail meat to pan. If precooked, simply warm the meat; if raw, cook until bright red. Add sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute to release the flavors of the herbs, then add stock, hot sauce and dry vermouth. Toss mixture in a bowl with the bread cubes. Let stand for 15 minutes and raise oven temperature to 400 degrees. Grease an oven-proof pan with one tablespoon of butter. Transfer the stuffing into the pan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Melt remaining one tablespoon of butter. After removing the stuffing from the oven, take off the foil and drizzle the butter on top. Bake for 30 more minutes. Serves 10 to 12.
Matt Sorrell’s Shopping Suggestions
French bread, Companion
Olive oil, An Olive Ovation
Herbs, Soulard Farmers Market for fresh, if available; Soulard Spice Shop for dried
Crawfish tail meat, Bob's Seafood