A drop of incentive for your morning coffee

First off, let’s dispense with imitation vanilla — and when we say dispense with, we mean ‘throw in the trash.’ Not only does it taste as artificial as it is, it’s made from a chemical derived from wood pulp, and stored in the same chemical used in the antifreeze in your car.

Throw. It. Away.

Vanilla extract is something to behold. Real vanilla beans, steeped in neutral grain alcohol, with dozens of aromas and flavors melding into a flavor that can’t compare to anything. The scent alone can immediately transport you back to your grandmother’s kitchen and a fresh batch of cookies.

Wait…neutral grain alcohol? Well, yes, that’s what they typically use, so as not to interfere with the flavor of the vanilla itself. But what if you didn’t interfere — what if you accentuated?

That’s exactly what Kate Banks and Charlie Hammond of Vain Foods of Kansas City, Mo. did. By pairing the flavor profiles of vanilla beans from specific regions with different spirits, they created an assortment of extracts that can raise your baking game in amazing ways. Tahitian Vanilla in Cane Rum. Mexican Vanilla in Apple Brandy. Indian Vanilla in Ginger Spirits.

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You can see why people rave about them.

But then they got really creative. They put the extract — some in Kentucky Bourbon and some in Irish Whiskey — in a bottle with an eye dropper. So you can more easily put a few drops in your morning coffee. Coffee Drops. How clever is that?

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Available at Larder & Cupboard in assorted flavors, $14-15 for 3.75 ounces, and $8 for 2-ounce Coffee Drops.

Whooo knows how to mix a drink?

Some say that you only really need three ingredients to make a cocktail: a spirit, a mixer, and a drop of bitters. The alcohol and mixer usually combine sweet and sour flavors while thinning out the alcohol a bit, and the bitters add just a touch of, well, bitter — just a couple drops is all it takes.

You probably already have your favorite liquor — or you’re always on a quest for the next one to be your favorite — and you’ve got some bitters on hand, because they last pretty much forever. (You can check out our selection, too.)

But mixers become more complex, and interesting, the further you get into crafting cocktails. Sure, you can use fruit juices or syrups, some type of soda, maybe even dare to use a shrub. But have you ever thought about using tea — yes, the stuff you get when you steep leaves and flowers in water — in your cocktail?

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Luckily for you, the folks at Owl’s Brew have already thought of that, and gone right ahead and made some great tea specifically for crafting into cocktails. They wanted something less sweet than fruit juice, something lighter than typical mixers, and they thought, hey, why not do something with tea.

The result was a selection of mixers made from tea, to enjoy with your favorite liquor:

  • Coco-Lada, made with black tea, chai spices, pineapple and coconut, and especially amazing with rum (and also vodka, and even champagne)
  • Pink & Black, which is fresh-brewed with black tea, strawberries, lemon peel and hibiscus, all perfectly blended to mix with tequila, vodka, or whiskey (including Scotch and bourbon)
  • White and Vine, a blend of white tea, pomegranate, lemon peel and watermelon, which mixes exceedingly well with tequila, gin, wheat beer (yep!) and vodka.
  • The Classic, a smooth English breakfast tea infused with lemon peel, ready-made for cocktails using tequila, gin, and vodka (seriously, you can mix just about anything with vodka, right?)

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Two parts Brew and one part booze, and you’ve got a really great drink. Bonus: your new drink has one-third (or less) the calories of a comparable drink. Bonus bonus: you’ve got no artificial flavors and no weird additives. Bonus #3: it’s made from completely purified water.

Of course you can get more complicated if you like, and start layering and all that. We’ve even got recipes for you to use. But it starts with Owl’s Brew, available at Larder & Cupboard in 8-oz bottles (enough for four servings) for $10, and a special three-pack for $25.

As they say at Owl’s Brew…Drink Wisely.

Butter FOR Wood, Not FROM Wood

You know Larder & Cupboard carries meaningful specialty foods — those from small producers, award-winners, things you won’t be able to find elsewhere in St. Louis. We also carry some nifty kitchen gadgets that we personally use so much we can’t live without them.

You might not know that Larder makes some fantastic products, too, and one of them isn’t for eating, even though it comes in a canning jar and is called Wood Butter.’

Larder & Cupboard Wood Butter, $12

While you could eat it — it’s made from food-grade mineral oil and beeswax — we don’t recommend that at all.

We DO recommend that you put it on wood — cutting boards, wooden utensils, even wooden tables. In fact, the farmhouse table at Larder has only L&C Wood Butter on it.

Farmhouse table, restored with Wood Butter

You’ll need a little elbow grease to apply it, and a soft cloth, but that’s all. Smear some L&C Wood Butter on that wood, and take the cloth and rub it in. You’ll notice an immediate difference as soon as you start, just like we did when we applied it to a dried out cutting board.

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Before – a bit dried out

After one application of L&C Wood Butter

One application of L&C Wood Butter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, it’s kind of like magic!

If the wood is really dry, you can let it absorb for a day or two, and then apply another coat. After that, you can just wipe it down with water, use only a little soap if necessary, and reapply if you notice the wood drying out. (And you never put wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher, right?)

Larder & Cupboard Wood Butter comes in an eight-ounce jar for $12.

Father’s Day Gifts for Dads Who Like to Grill and Chill

June is for grilling and chilling, and for celebrating Dad. We’ve got you covered on all fronts.

Got a dad who’s the master of the grill? Let him take the day off and grill for him! We have German Links from Mac’s Local Buys, and our Williams Brothers Andouille is 25 percent off. Top it with any of our three naturally fermented sauerkrauts from The Brinery, throw in some of Serendipity‘s new Latte Frozen Yogurt made with locally-produced Windcrest Yogurt and Stringbean Coffee for some grilled and chilled pampering.

Speaking of serendipity, Ryan Maher from Missouri Wild Edibles recently delivered more of his in-demand smoked ramp mustard. We had a huge waiting list for this mustard while it was out of stock. Get it while it’s here, and make sure to set up your dad while you’re at it. Throw in some locally-made catsup from Juniper or Zimmerman’s.

If you really want to show off your grilling chops to the old man, Bon Appetit featured a recipe for a gorgeous grilled porcini-rubbed rack of veal this month. We have Ozark Forest Porcini Powder and SaltWorks smoked sea salts to make the dish sizzle.

While Dad’s waiting for your creation, he should be sipping on a Brewed Mary. That’s a Bloody Mary with beer instead of vodka. Sound weird? Think about the extra layer of flavor a pot of chili gets when you add beer to it.  We can set you up with best ingredients for it.

BLOODY MARY ESSENTIALS

Brewed Mary

Serves 8

1 container SaltWorks Hellfire Smoked Habanero Sea Salt (It won 3rd place in last year’s Scovie Awards for Condiments)

8 lime wedges

2 cups Zimmerman’s Tomato Juice (made locally in Vandalia, Illinois)

8 tablespoons Stu’s Bloody Mary Concentrate (any flavor – we have Original, Smoked Jalapeno, and Jamaican Jerk)

Col. Pabst All Malt Amber-Lager Worcestershire Sauce

8 12-ounce cans light-bodied beer (Schafly Summer Lager is a perfect match, available down the street at Bottleworks.)

8 strips of Scrumptious Pantry Heirloom Beaver Dam Peppers

Pour SaltWorks Hellfire onto a saucer. Rub the rims of eight pint glasses with the lime wedges. Dip rims in Hellfire to coat. Fill each glass with ice.

In each glass add ¼ cup Zimmerman’s Tomato Juice, 1 tablespoon Stu’s Bloody Mary Concentrate, a dash of Col. Pabst Worcestershire Sauce, and a can of beer. Garnish with Scrumptious Pantry Beaver Dam Pepper strips and the lime wedges.

If your dad loves the Hellfire rim on on the glass, give him SaltWork’s gift pack. It includes Bonfire, a sea salt smoked over 14 different woods, fiery Hellfire, and herb-infused Wildfire, packaged with three salt spoons.

Or add to his grilling supplies with our selection of Spiceologist spice rubs.

If your dad’s more into chilling than grilling, stock his bar with Dutch’s Spirits Bitters. This small New York State company makes bitters that are as fantastic as their story – they’re built on the site of a Prohibition-era distillery hidden in the Catskills.

We get a lot of questions about bitters. They’re super-concentrated flavorings with a bitter base that’s made from infusing alcohol with naturally bitter botanicals. Their bite is tempered with aromatics. Just a few drops add depth to drinks – cocktails and non-alcoholic – and they can even be used in cooking.

Dutch’s Spirits crafts their bitters to match different eras in American cocktail history, each with a unique flavor and composition. Start Dad with a three-pack of small bottles if he’s new to artisan bitters. If he’s a mixology pro, we have large bottles of Colonial, Boomtown, and Prohibitters. He’ll love ending his chilled-out day with this summery drink:

Colonial Southside

Makes 1 drink

2 ounces gin

½ ounce lemon juice

2 teaspoons Bourbon Barrel Mint Julep Sugar

5 fresh mint leaves

Dash of Dutch Spirits’ Colonial Bitters

Combine everything but the bitters in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and add a dash of bitters.

Feed Mom for Mother’s Day

You mean you haven’t bought something nice for your mom for Mother’s Day yet? Getting down to the wire, you know.

That’s okay. Larder & Cupboard has you covered. We’ve made a selection of gift baskets that cater to your mom’s excellent taste. They’re available at the shop, ready to go. Or we’ll help you customize a basket.

Baking With Mom – $55.50

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 My first cooking experience came from playing bakery every Friday with my mom. We’d make cookies, and my grandparents would call the house to place orders. That’s how you raise your kid for a career in the food service industry. If that was your childhood, your mom will be filled with memories from this basket with decidedly more grown-up flavors – Seed Geeks local honey, Hammons Missouri-grown black walnuts, and a selection of smoked and flavored sugars and barrel-aged vanilla from Bourbon Barrel Foods. Really want to take Mom down memory lane? Spend the day baking our honey blondies with her.

Herb Gardener – $57

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It’s prime gardening time. If your mom loves cultivating the earth, give her hand with six packets of locally-sourced, non-GMO heirloom herb seeds from Seed Geeks. For harvest time, there’s a selection of Chef’n fresh herb tools – the ZipStrip makes separating herbs from stems a breeze, while the Herbsicle and Spice Trays help her preserve her bounty into the winter.  We also have Seed Geeks specialty garden seed gifts – Greek, Indian, Mexican, Salsa, and Italian – packaged in a sturdy reusable tin.

 Cheese Lovers – $68

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If your mom still reminds you that she was forced to give up certain cheeses while pregnant with you and uses this information to inflict heaps of guilt, you can make it up to her with our Cheese Lovers Basket. It includes two Boska Professional cheese knives – one for soft cheeses and one for hard – a box of Formaticum cheese bags to extend the life of her favorite cheese for up to three weeks, a Formaticum Cheese Log so she can journal about the great cheeses she samples, and a Grace & I Fruit and Nut Press – the perfect accompaniment to a cheese plate. With our big selection of raw milk and blue cheeses, you can make up for some of the cheeses she gave up for you way back when.

Picnic Basket – $50

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Even though it’s supposed to rain on Mother’s Day, there’s no reason why you can’t spread a picnic blanket on the floor or find shelter under a porch or patio and share a picnic lunch with your mom. This basket has everything for a shared springtime snack – 2 bottles of all-natural Spindrift Soda, and locally-made benne crackers from Juniper to be topped with Salume Beddue salume, Legacy Date Night Chutney, and slices of Grace & I Fruit and Nut Press.

Local Foods Challenge Starter Kit – $68

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 Give your locavore mom a head start on June’s St. Louis Local Food Challenge with a collection of St. Louis-based pantry staples and treats. Legacy Chutney, Ozark Forest Shiitake Soy Sauce, Juniper Catsup, Missouri Wild Edibles Norton Mustard, Salume Beddu ‘Nduja spreadable salami, and an Ozark Forest meal kit will cover her for condiments and give her a meal or two. Got an extra $25 in your gift budget? Sign her up for the challenge so she can get the perks: an invitation to the opening party at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company and the closing party at Tower Grove Farmers Market, commemorative beer glass, a pound of Missouri-grown organic rice, free tastings and classes, a $20 discount on a Fair Shares CSA subscription, a totebag, and a free meal coupon from Chiptole.

Brunch in a Box – $54

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 Your mom probably doesn’t want to go to a crowded restaurant for a brunch buffet on Mother’s Day. I know I’d much rather my kid bring brunch to me. Especially this brunch: lots of Kuva Coffee, Juniper’s buttermilk biscuit mix dripping with Grace & I Raspberry Champagne Preserves or dipped in Blis Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup, with a bowl of Banner Road’s original granola on the side. Bring it to her in bed to make up for all those years you brought her burnt toast and soggy Cheerios.

Cocktail Party – $80

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A toast to Mom with this collection of the most popular cocktail mixers! Introduce her to Wineforest Wild Elderberry Shurb, a Cherry Pickford with Quince and Apple’s Tart Cherry Grenadine (which makes the best cherry soda she’s ever tasted), a brunch favorite with Stu’s Bloody Mary Mix, a selection of classic American whiskey and gin options with Dutch Spirits’ American Era Cocktail Bitters, and a sampling of sweet and savory rimmers from Bourbon Barrel Foods.

Did your mom see St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe on Great Day St. Louis today? We have all the great goods he demonstrated, and they all make fantastic gifts for food-loving moms – the Boska Cheese Curler and P’Tit Basque sheepsmilk cheese, P&H Hibiscus Soda Syrup (which makes an easy version of Diabolito’s Flora Margarita), Tonewood Maple Cube, and Grace & I  Fruit and Nut Presses.

If you really want to impress Mom, cook for her. We have everything you need – including instructions – for making pasta alla carbonara with Pastaria fresh pasta, or hot wings and blue cheese dip. For dessert, treat her to fig and sweet tea bread pudding or lemon thyme shortbread with pink peppercorn.

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You’re totally Mom’s favorite.

Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday!

Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday? On the same day?!

That’s right! Larder & Cupboard has lots of new ways to create Mexican flavors, whether it’s for your annual celebration or your weekly taco night, starting with locally-made tortillas made from organic Missouri corn.

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We recently lowered the price on our frozen La Tortilla Buena corn tortillas. Use them instead of your conventional tortillas in your favorite taco and enchilada recipes. Or, try some hyper-local huevos rancheros.

Huevos Rancheros

Serves 4

4 La Tortilla Buena corn tortillas

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon Mission Taco Joint Morita hot sauce

1/2 cup of your favorite salsa

4 large eggs, fried

1 log Heartland Natural Chevre, cut into 8 rounds

Heat oven to 425° F.

Put the tortillas on a baking sheet and place in the oven to warm, about 5 minutes. (Cover with foil if you don’t like crisp tortillas.)

Toast the cumin in a small, dry saucepan over medium heat until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and hot sauce.

Remove the tortillas from the oven. Spoon some beans onto each, then top each with some salsa, 1 fried egg, and some cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted.

Surely we don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo just to have a reason to drink Mexican-inspired cocktails, right? But since it is a celebratory occasion, we can get you started. For a cool margarita twist, try Quince & Apple’s Cucumber Margarita, flavored with their Lime and Cucumber Syrup and Orange Marmalade. To give it some spice, rim the glass with Spiceologist’s Chile Margarita. This rub’s peppers and citrus notes adds heat to your drink, and is also delicious on grilled pork for tacos.

If you’re serving those Huevos Rancheros for brunch, pair them with a spicy Bloody Maria by the Sea, made with Stu’s Smoked Jalapeno Blood Mary Mix Concentrate.

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Bloody Maria by the Sea

Makes one cocktail

2 ounces tequila

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce (We love the offerings from Bourbon Barrel Foods and Colonel Pabst.)

3 dashes Mission Taco Joint Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce

½ ounce fresh lime juice

6 ounces tomato juice

2 ounces Stu’s Bloody Mary Concentrate No. 3 – Smoked Jalapeno

3 Wineforest Sea Beans, for garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients except the sea beans, and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with sea beans.

Post-brunch coffee goes south of the border, too, when you swirl a spoonful of rich buffalo milk dulce de leche from Annabella Buffalo Creamery into a cup of Stringbean’s bright, naturally sweet Mexican coffee.

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The dulce de leche’s also fantastic with Pastaria’s Askinosie Dark Chocolate or Vanilla Bean gelatos for an easy dessert. If you want to go all-out and conjure up some Tex-Mex restaurant nostalgia, we’ve got a spin on fried ice cream with Banner Road Baking Company Granola. This granola, made in St. Louis by Pastaria pastry chef Anne Croy, has been the must-have item at Larder & Cupboard this month. With bittersweet Askinosie Chocolate and rich Sump Coffee in the mix, Banner Road Kickstart makes an unexpected fried ice cream breading.

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Fried Gelato

2-4 servings

1 pint Pastaria gelato

2.5 cups Banner Road Baking Company Kickstart Granola, lightly crushed and divided

1 egg

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

½ tablespoon milk

Bolyard’s Lard for frying

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form half-cup balls of gelato on the sheet, and freeze for two hours or until gelato is very hard.

Roll gelato in half of the crushed granola. Freeze for another 30 minutes.

Whisk together egg, sugar and milk. Brush over granola-coated gelato, then roll the gelato in remaining granola to thoroughly coat. Return to freezer for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Melt lard in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan until it’s three inches deep. When lard reaches 400 degrees drop gelato balls in one at a time. Fry for 30 seconds each. Drain on paper towels. Serve drizzled with Seed Geeks Honey.

Derby Day

Celebrating the Bluegrass State on Derby Day

 

Get your fancy hat and stock up on your favorite bourbon, because the Kentucky Derby’s around the corner on May 2nd. Larder & Cupboard’s stocked with great Kentucky products and ideas so you can celebrate in style without making the trip to Louisville.

For you cheese table, check out Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. From their farm 115 miles south of Louisville in Barren County, Kenny Mattingly and his family are regulars at the Louisville Farmers Market, where they sell their raw milk, traditionally-made cheeses.

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Kenny’s Kentucky Swiss will make you forget every flavorless, rubbery Swiss cheese you’ve ever eaten. It’s strong enough to replace some of the Pecorino in your homemade version of Louisville’s beloved Hot Brown. Their decadent St. Jerome is strong and funky, a perfect match with wood-rich bourbons. It’s buttery richness and lingering sweetness pairs well with juleps.

We love Bourbon Barrel Foods. This Louisville-based company embraces the same small-batch ethos as Larder & Cupboard. The make a variety of seasonings that use reclaimed bourbon barrels in the production process.

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Soy sauce, Worcestershire, and vanilla are aged in the barrels.

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Dry seasonings – sugar, sea salt, pepper, and paprika – are given an extra flavor wallop by being smoked with fire fueled by old bourbon barrels. The results are deeper, smoky flavors. We love using all of these items in place of their less-smoky counterparts, but it’s fun to get lost in the company’s recipes. For Derby Day we like their salty Bourbon Pecan Sandies with smoked sea salt, barrel-aged vanilla, and smoked sugar (try the Mint Julep Sugar to tie them in with your cocktails).

Speaking of … Bourbon Barrel and Woodford Reserve make some fine cocktail fixings.

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If juleps aren’t your thing, try their Smoky Old Fashioned with smoked sugar, cherry bitters, and bourbon cherries. Or go north with their Classic Manhattan.

If you’re going to someone else’s Derby Day party, we’ve got the perfect gift for your host – a gift pack of Bourbon Barrel’s smoked seasonings in tiny tins.

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In St. Louis, Juniper captures the flavors of the south, and we have a wide selection of their Gift Horse line.

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Sorghum Butter’s a must-have for Derby Day brunch. Pimento cheese? That’s good for any time of day. Do a sampling with Gift Horse’s version and Martha’s Pimento Cheese. Or make Sean Brock’s pimento cheese with Milton Creamery’s Prairie Breeze, Irene’s Mayonnaise, and Juniper’s hot sauce. They ferment it in the barrels from their proprietary Four Roses Bourbon. And don’t miss Juniper’s next candy box, featuring a Derby-friendly treat.

While we don’t sell cookbooks, we have been perusing some of Kentucky’s finest in the store – “Splendor in the Bluegrass – A Cookbook by the Junior League of Louisville” and “The Kentucky Derby Museum Cookbook”. They’re both compilations of recipes from Louisville residents that are full of inspiration, including Hummingbird Cake. This now-classic made its debut at the 1978 Kentucky State Fair and went on to become Southern Living’s most-requested recipe of all time. The original Hummingbird Cake used a heavy dose of black walnuts, but they often get replaced with pecans since black walnuts can be hard to find. That’s not the case here, because we always have Hammons Black Walnuts from Missouri in stock.

Bourbon slush punch is the right way to cool off after the adrenaline rush of the race. We give our version a little twist with Quince & Apple’s Honey Lemon Syrup. It’ll knock the fancy hat right off your head.

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Bourbon Slush Punch

Yield: 8 one-cup servings

1 cup water

2 iced tea bags

1 cup bourbon

¼ cup Quince & Apple Honey Lemon Syrup

1 ½ cups fresh orange juice

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

17 ounces small ice cubes

Mint springs or lemon slices for garnish

Bourbon Barrel Mint Julep Sugar for rimming

Boil water for tea bags. Steep until cool. Pour tea into a pitcher. Add bourbon, Quince & Apple Honey Lemon Syrup, and juices and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve: Place tea mixture and ice in a blender and blend until the ice is crushed and slushy. Pour into one-cup punch glasses. Garnish with mint, lemon, and Mint Julep Sugar.

Savory Shortbread the Hard Way. Grilled Cheese the Easy Way

Mistakes were made.

I used to make shortbread all the time, and had the ratio of flour, butter, and sugar memorized. When I decided to make a savory version with Spiceology’s Pink Peppercorn Lemon Thyme Rub, I thought I’d be fine by double-checking my memory with an online recipe.

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 Mistake number one: trusting my memory.

Mistake number two: not going to one of the reputable cooking websites that I normally frequent. No, I won’t give the name of blog whose savory shortbread recipe I used to refresh my memory. Suffice it to say that I should have known better when I saw that the ingredients were out of order and the sugar wasn’t listed. I assumed the half-cup of nothing in the recipe was sugar, because I’ve done this a million times, right?

 Not a mistake: combining this bright, floral, slightly spicy blend into a buttery cookie.

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 The ratios from the first recipe left me with what I optimistically called “butter crisps”. They weren’t shortbread, but they were still a tasty way to move this spice blend beyond the barbecue grill.

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It’s entirely possible that the blogger’s recipe works for her because of difference in climates. Or differences in the liquid content of the butter. These things can make a difference.

Also not a mistake: this recipe for Pink Peppercorn Lemon Thyme Shortbread. It took some tinkering to get it to work, but I can safely say this version works. The result is a crumbly cookie with a hint of the spice in rich butter.

Mistake number three: limiting shortbread cookies to the realm of sweet. Sure, chocolate-dipped shortbread’s delicious (especially when made with the following recipe, substituting Spiceology’s Raspberry Chipotle Rub for the Pink Peppercorn Lemon Thyme. Go down the street to Kakao to get the chocolate to melt.). So’s shortbread sprinkled with mapley-sweet Wine Forest Candy Cap Mushroom Sugar. But savory’s an interesting twist, and a great option if you’re don’t have much of a sweet tooth but still want a little dessert. This pairs well with chai for a spicy twist on afternoon tea.

Pink Peppercorn Lemon Thyme Shortbread

Makes one 9″x9″ baking pan

  • 1.5 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon Spiceology Pink Peppercorn Lemon Thyme Rub
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″x9″ square baking pan.

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mix in salt and Spiceology Pink Peppercorn Lemon Thyme Rub.

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Add flour and mix until the mixture’s combined and crumbly, but holds together when pressed.

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 Press mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Lightly score with a knife.

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 Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, then cut into squares.

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 Mine are but wee Scottish shortbread, because we gave them away on Sample Saturday. You can cut yours whatever size you like.

Also not a mistake: Larder & Cupboard’s new made-to-order grilled cheese sandwiches. Five bucks gets you buttery toasted Great Harvest bread loaded with our proprietary blend of aged white cheddar, whole-milk mozzarella, and gouda. We’ve got this recipe down-pat. It’s a great $5 lunch. Add a Spindrift soda for $2. It’s a good decision.

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And the Winner is … These Oscar Party Snacks!

I’m not a movie person. Or an award show person. But I’m a snacker, so any excuse for a party with salties and sweeties is okay by me. This weekend’s Oscars offer a chance to glam up some old favorites.

You need popcorn, of course. Go super-luxurious and easy by tossing popped corn with Ozark Forest Truffle Butter or Wine Forest Fennel Salt.

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The fennel salt’s sweet and aromatic, perfect for a late-winter hint of spring.

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In Februrary Bon Appetit published a recipe for spicy-sweet Buffalo Wing Popcorn, which we’re loving with Gift Horse Hot Sauce from Juniper.

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Or, if you don’t want to mess with baking your popcorn, make buttered popcorn with a good dose of Spiceologist’s Black and Bleu Rub. We just got our first shipment of it yesterday, and it’s delicious!

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We’re doing a smoky take on kettle corn with Bourbon Smoked Sugar and Salt:

Smoky Kettle Corn

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

1/3 cup Bourbon Smoked Sugar

3/4 teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Salt

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn and sugar. Give the kernels a quick stir and then cover with a lid.

Once the popcorn starts popping, carefully pick the pot up and give it a quick shake every few seconds until the popping slows down, between 3-4 minutes. Remove immediately from the heat and pour the kettle corn into a large bowl.

Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

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If you’d prefer all sweet, we have some flavorful twists on the Honey Blondies recipe that ran in Martha Stewart Living in January with bourbon barrel-aged vanilla, Seed Geeks local raw honey, and Missouri-grown Hammons black walnuts.

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Honey Blondies, L&C-Style
Makes 16

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for pan

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

⅓ cup Seed Geeks Honey

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ cup Hammons recipe-cut black walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8″ square baking pan. Line with parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides, then butter and flour the parchment.

Melt butter and honey in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar, then transfer to a bowl. Stir in egg and vanilla, then flour, salt and black walnuts until just combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

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Bake until browned on edges and set, about 28 minutes. Let cool completely in pan set on wire rack, then lift blondies out of pan using parchment overhang. Cut into squares. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container up to three days.

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Top off your Hollywood-style celebration with a classic cocktail named for classic Hollywood honcho, Mary Pickford. Originally pomegranate grenadine gave her signature drink its pink blush, but we’re giving it an award-winning cherry twist with Quince & Apple’s Tart Cherry Grenadine. It won a 2014 Good Food Award – that’s like Best Picture!

Cherry (ahem) Pickford
Makes 1 cocktail

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1.5 ounces white rum

1.5 ounces pineapple juice

1 tsp Quince and Apple Tart Cherry Grenadine
dash of liquid from Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries

1 Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherry for garnish

Combine everything but the cherry in a shaker filled with ice. Shake, pour into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with the cherry.

Happy MardiValentines Day!

Laissez bon temps roulez, Valentine!

Every few years mid-February explodes with reasons to celebrate, when Mardi Gras coincides with Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day a week from Saturday, Fat Tuesday on the 17th, and lots of people being off work on the 16th for President’s Day, we’re in a tizz coming up with tasty ways to let the good times roll.

Valentine’s  Day should be about spending time with your beloved, not about sweating in the kitchen, so we’re not going to make you feel guilty with recipes. Instead, we’ll set you up with the goods to make your Valentine’s Day delicious. Set the mood with wine and cheese. Vermont’s award-winning Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s limited edition heart-shaped camembert arrived this week, along with Missouri’s own World Cheese Award-winner –  Coeur de la Creme goat cheese hearts from Baetje Farms in Bavarian Lemon Creme and Dark Chocolate Raspberry. Serve along with the Choco’Berry Press from Grace & I. These hand-crafted, all-natural bars feature raspberries, strawberries, coconut, white chocolate, and almonds.

Go the traditional route with a box of candy from Juniper, including their cherry divinity. Need flowers? Alice Blue Co. will have bouquets in the shop on Valentine’s Day.

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We’ve been putting together lots of sweet little gifts, too: sets of Quince & Apple preserves, adorable mini tins of smoked sugar, sea salt and paprika from Bourbon Barrel Smoked Foods, and breakfast in bed gift boxes with Juniper biscuit mix, Stringbean Coffee, Kakao chocolate hearts, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, and preserves.

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Are you finished basking in the glow of your love yet? Because there’s Mardi Gras cooking to do! Today our tiny kitchen is filled with wonderful aromas of wild mushroom andouille gumbo, and fig and sweet tea bread pudding. Come into Larder & Cupboard on Saturday, February 7th to sample both, along with cheeses from Fox River Dairy and chutneys from Legacy.

I’ve always loved making gumbo, even though it can be a bit time-consuming. It’s a meditative process, stirring the roux. I don’t make it very often, but when I do I go for a big batch and plan for a party. If you know how to make a roux, your gumbo flavoring options are endless. For this batch I used Williams Brothers Andouille sausage from Washington, Missouri, Ozark Forest’s Oriental Mix of Missouri-grown dried wild mushrooms, and an unexpected flavor boost from Missouri Wild Edibles‘ mushroom miso paste.

Wild Mushroom and Andouille Gumbo

Yield: 5 quarts/10 servings

1 quart boiling water

2 1-ounce packets Ozark Forest Oriental Mushroom mix

½ cup butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 green pepper, chopped

1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 lb. Williams Brothers andouille, cut into 1″ rounds

2 tablespoons Missouri Wild Edibles Mushroom Miso Paste, or more to taste

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  1. Pour boiling water into a large bowl. Add Ozark Forest Dried Chanterelles and Dried Woodland Medley. Let sit at least 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms. Strain any grit from the water. Reserve remaining liquid.IMG_9445.JPG
  1. Make the roux: melt butter in a heavy-bottomed stockpot. Slowly whisk in flour. Stirring constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot, cooking until the roux until it’s the color of peanut butter, then lower heat. Keep cooking and stirring until the roux’s dark copper. This entire process will take 30-45 minutes.

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  1. Add pepper, onion, and celery. Increase heat and stir vegetables into roux for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sausage, and cook for another two minutes. Add hot sauce.

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  1. In another pot, heat reserved mushroom water, plus two quarts of water. Slowly whisk water into the roux mixture. Add mushrooms. Bring gumbo to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an hour.

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  1. Whisk in miso paste and add andouille. Heat through, but don’t boil.

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  1. Serve in bowls over rice and season with hot sauce.

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Bread pudding’s the quintessential New Orleans dessert, and it’s not hard to find it on menus. It’s a simple dish designed to utilize leftover bread. The combination of bread and custard makes a great palette for so many other flavors. I started my batch with Harvest White from our neighbors at Great Harvest Bread Company, which has a great balance of sweet and sour, and is soft enough to soak up the custard. From there, I searched our shop for flavors that make me think of Louisiana – figs and sweet tea.


Fig and Sweet Tea Bread Pudding

Serves 6

1 Earl Gray teabag

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 loaf day-old French bread, torn into 1″ pieces

2 cups heavy cream

3 eggs

1 cups sugar

1/2 Grace + 1 Fig and Nut Bar, coarse chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated

½  6-oz jar Quince & Apple Figs and Black Tea Preserves

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon Seed Geeks honey

  1. Steep tea bag in 1 cup heavy cream, covered and chilled 8-12 hours.

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine bread and 2 cups heavy cream in a large mixing bowl. Squish bread into cream until it’s completely absorbed.
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add sugar, Fig and Nut Bar, and lemon zest. Pour over the bread mixture. Stir to combine.

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  1. Pour melted butter into a 9″x9″ baking pan, swirling to coat the bottom and sides. Press half of the bread mixture into the pan. Spread Figs and Black Tea Preserves over the bread layer.

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Top with remaining bread mixture. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the pan.  

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  1. While bread pudding is baking, remove teabag from cream. Whip with 2 cups heavy cream and honey. Use to top bread pudding.

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And now you have yourself a party fit for three holidays.