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Nov 28, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Drink This Weekend Edition: I Don’t Want No Shrubs

November 27th, 2014

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One of the most exciting things about creating cocktails is rediscovering old techniques and ingredients. Shrubs have been around since the Colonial period and were enjoyed by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Martha Washington.

Consisting of vinegar, sugar and fruit, shrubs were originally used to preserve and incorporate fresh ingredients in the days before refrigeration. Now they add excellent flavor and dimension to cocktails. I Don’t Want No Shrubs combines a homemade apple shrub with rye whiskey, Benedictine and Velvet Falernum to create a sweet-yet-tangy, boozy, smooth drink that’s perfect to warm you on a chilly day – and it makes dealing with your crazy uncle just a little bit easier during the holidays.

 
I Don’t Want No Shrubs
1 serving

2 oz. Rittenhouse rye whiskey
½ oz. Benedictine
½ oz. Velvet Falernum
½ oz. apple shrub (recipe follows)
2 dashes Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
Orange twist to garnish

• Combine the whiskey, Benedictine, Velvet Falernum, apple shrub and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until cold and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Apple Shrub

4 to 5 apples, cored and sliced
Sugar to coat
Apple cider vinegar

• Toss the apple slices in a bowl with enough sugar to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 day.
• Strain the sugar syrup into a measuring cup. Reserve the sweetened apples for another use or discard. Add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to the sugar syrup, pour into a resealable jar and let sit 1 day. Apple shrub will keep up to 1 year.

 

Drew Lucido is a member of USBG St. Louis and bar manager at Juniper.

Sneak Peek: Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions

November 26th, 2014

Chris Bolyard announced in February that he would be leaving his post as chef de cuisine at Sidney Street Cafe to open a butcher shop with his wife, Abbie Bolyard. Some 10 months later, the Bolyard’s are ready to unlock doors to Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions at 2810 Sutton Blvd. The boutique butcher shop opens this Friday, Nov. 28 in Maplewood.

Old-school, artisanal and whole-animal all figure into the Bolyards’ approach to their business. Animals are sourced from smaller family farms in Missouri and Illinois that raise their hogs, cows, lambs and chicken on pasture and without hormones, antibiotics or grain. Chris Bolyard got a taste for whole-hog butchery at Sidney Street and honed those skills further, staging at butcher shops in Chicago, Nashville and New Orleans.

At their new shop, a glass window provides a view to the cut room, where Bolyard will don a scabbard and break down whole animals like cows into sections like the chuck and brisket, rib and plate primal, hanger steak, short loin and sirloin.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute and a member of the Ones to Watch class of 2011, Bolyard will also put his charcuterie skills to work. Among prepared meat products, Bolyard will make sausages like chorizo, andouille, bratwurst, hot dogs, Toulouse (a French sausage of diced pork) and kielbasa. Also behind the deli counter, look for bacon, porchetta di testa and deli meats such as mortadella, pastrami, Bastardo (a bastardized style of salami made with beef and pork), ham and roast beef. Liver cheese, head cheese, pork rillettes and braunschweiger will be among pressed and pulled meat offerings. The shop even offers to-go cups of hot beef, chicken or pork broth, bags of fresh, house-made chicharrónes (pork rinds) and beef jerky.

Not sure what meat to buy? Need a special cut? The Bolyards aim to be a service-oriented, custom butcher shop. “It’s our job to let them know what’s in, what we have,” said Abbie Bolyard, who worked as a maitre d’ and server at Niche for five years before leaving the restaurant in 2013.

As for provisions, Bolyard’s refrigerator is filled with house-prepared kitchen staples like lard and stocks, condiments such as Worcestershire, ketchup and harissa, and fresh eggs from Vesterbrook Farm in Clarksville.

The airy, window-lined space (most recently the Black Cat Theatre lobby) rounds out its inventory with beef tallow soap, hand and lip balm made by Maplewood neighbor Maven, Woodside Urban honey, Missouri charcoal and wood chips and Yellow Tree Farms wooden kitchen utensils and cutting boards. There’s even something for four-legged friends: smoked pig ears and beef trim dog food. (A portion of profits from dog products will benefit Humane Society of Missouri.)

Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

 

 

 

Baked: Maple-Black Pepper Cookies

November 26th, 2014

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Fill your home with the scent of maple, a lesser heralded but truly wonderful fall flavor when you bake these cookies. This recipe calls for high quality grade B syrup for the richest flavor and a surprise ingredient: black pepper. This spice is such an underrated tool for baking, adding a subtle kick at the end. Since maple can be rather sweet, pepper tempers it nicely.

These crisp buttery cookies are perfect for dipping in afternoon tea in the afternoon, a light dessert or even a great addition to your holiday cookie party. Enjoy and happy baking!
Maple-Black Pepper Cookies
Adapted from a Gourmet recipe
Makes about 30

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugard
½ cup grade B maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add the yolk and the maple syrup and beat again until combined.
• Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt and pepper, until a slightly clumpy dough forms, using your hands if necessary. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 4 days.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness and use cookie cutters to create various shapes. Place cookies on the baking sheets and reroll the dough as needed until it is all used.
• Bake 8 to 11 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cookies will keep in an airtight container about 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 1 month in the freezer.

The Scoop: Ferguson community bands together for storefront clean up

November 25th, 2014

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{Volunteers cut sections of plywood for boarding up broken windows at Snappy’s Bar and Grill}

 

Rocked by protests and looting in the wake of Monday’s grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, the Ferguson community turned out in force today, Nov. 25, to help local restaurants and businesses sweep up and rebuild. South Florissant Avenue swarmed with volunteers, who boarded up broken windows, cleared away glass and comforted the distraught.

 

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{At left, Natalie’s Cakes & More owner Natalie DuBose, and at right, family friend Cynthia Smith}

 

Natalie DuBose, owner of Natalie’s Cakes & More greeted visitors outside her storefront at 100 S. Florissant Road, while volunteers nailed sheets of plywood to an empty window frame. A chair had been thrown through it in the middle of the night. “This is not going to stop us,” said Cynthia Smith, a family friend.

Up and down the street, the outpouring set a vastly different tone from the near-deserted West Florissant Road corridor, which as of this morning was roped after several buildings were set ablaze during the night. Police checkpoints turned around individuals attempting to enter the area, including members of the press.

On South Florissant Road, however, the sidewalks thronged with business owners, journalists, protesters and volunteers, cleaning up or simply observing the scene. Restaurant industry professionals, among others, each had their stories.

Joel Flores, owner of El Palenque, said he closed his doors several hours before the grand jury decision was announced and watched the subsequent protests from home on TV. The restaurant at 254 S. Florissant Road sustained several broken windows, though Flores said nothing was damaged inside. “This morning, everybody was helping to clear,” he said. “Neighbors and friends.”

Next door, a large group of volunteers was busy boarding up more than a dozen broken windows at Snappy’s Bar and Grill. Among them was Ken Jenkins, a Florissant pastor and brother of Jerome Jenkins, co-owner of nearby Cathy’s Kitchen Restaurant & Diner. The popular American diner is known for its community outreach efforts: the kitchen was seen serving free food to assembled protesters before Monday night’s grand jury decision. A witness said that later, several individuals linked arms in front of the restaurant to prevent it from being damaged, an incident documented frequently on social media outlets.

Ken Jenkins confirmed that Cathy’s storefront suffered minimal damage, only a broken window or two. Meanwhile, local volunteers quickly gathered to help. “It’s been really neat to see the community come together,” Jenkins said, adding that “over 100 people, black, white, every nationality” had turned out. “That’s Ferguson,” he added. Jerome and Cathy Jenkins were not immediately available for comment.

At Queen’s Chop Suey, owner Xiaojiang Yang said he packed up the restaurant’s ordering computer and left Monday evening before the grand jury announcement, later watching the protests on TV. “I was scared. I couldn’t go outside,” he said. This morning, he discovered two large windows had been broken. Around 10 volunteers showed up to help nail plywood.

 

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{Fire damage at St. Louis Fish & Chicken Grill}

 

Mahmoud Wardeh, whose family owns the St. Louis Fish and Chicken franchise on South Florissant and Chambers avenues, boarded windows and cleared the debris from a trash can that had been set on fire inside. The rest of the building sustained only minimal damage. Wardeh said he was grateful for the sporadic groups of volunteers that were assisting with clean up.

“We can’t judge a community by an individual’s actions. We were against boarding the stores, but sometimes you have to protect the property. Business owners and community members have to pay for this,” he said, gesturing up and down the street.

 

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{The burned storefront at Little Caesars}

Perhaps the hardest hit restaurant on South Florissant was a Little Caesars Pizza franchise, which was set on fire during the protests and gutted completely by the blaze. Robert, a manager of the franchise who requested that his last name be withheld, said that unauthorized volunteers had attempted to help put out the flames last night before police ordered them off the premises. On Tuesday morning more than a dozen volunteers, including employees of the franchise, could be seen helping with the clean-up effort. Others passed out bottles of water or collected debris with wheelbarrows. Robert said he was concerned for the safety of volunteers, but “I appreciate having the community. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Still, the optimism and unity of the moment was not without a sense of foreboding. Many of the restaurant owners reported dramatic fluctuation in business since the unrest began in August. Most were not certain, at present, whether their businesses would be able to open their doors tomorrow and sensed that a long road lay ahead: Three years ago, the Little Caesars required seven months to rebuild after it was leveled by a tornado. “It may go quicker this time, if we decide to rebuild,” Robert said. “That’s a big if.”

 

Click here to read how the South Grand and Clayton communities regrouped after yesterday’s events.

-photos by Garrett Faulkner

 

The Scoop: South Grand, Clayton restaurateurs and community regroup after day of tension, protest

November 25th, 2014

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Restaurants and businesses in the South Grand district are cleaning up after sustaining damage late last night, Nov. 24, following the protests near Interstate 44 and Grand Boulevard. People assembled in the Shaw neighborhood there after St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Volunteers gathered today to collect paint and supplies to decorate the boarded up businesses, encouraging people to support their community through patronage and online donations.

Natasha Bahrami, owner of Cafe Natasha’s, located at 3200 S. Grand Blvd., said nine of the restaurant’s windows were shattered around 12:40 a.m. Bahrami said she was across the street at the time of the incident. “We have too many windows and it was a prime spot to get hit,” she said. “Mom and Dad are a little bit hurt about it, and of course, I am too, but we’re going to make it through this one.”

Bahrami said the support from community residents and the Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association was overwhelming. “As I was coming across the street, (TGENA members) were already coming to clean up the glass,” she said. “The support we felt immediately made me feel better.” Although the restaurant is currently boarded up, Bahrami said Cafe Natasha’s would will be open for business today.

 

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Dave Bailey, who opened his second Rooster location last month at 3150 S. Grand Blvd., said people also broke 10 or 11 large windows at the restaurant, though nothing was stolen from inside. “I boarded up the entire façade (this morning.) I really didn’t want to,” he said.

Rooster closed an hour early last night, but despite the damage, doors opened this morning to welcome diners for breakfast. Bailey plans to resume business as usual unless circumstances warrant otherwise. “We’re getting quite a show of solidarity from the neighborhood,” he said. “If we have to close early, we will make that call on a nightly basis depending on what’s going on … Obviously the safety of my staff is my primary concern.”

MoKaBe’s, located at 3606 S. Arsenal St., served as a safe space for Shaw protestors, where they gathered before and during the protests. Calls for comment to MokaBe’s were not immediately returned.

Other restaurants that reported damage include Baida at 3191 S. Grand Blvd., Saint Louis Bread Co. at 3114 S. Grand Blvd., Basil Spice at 3183 S. Grand Blvd., and King & I at 3155 S. Grand Blvd. While all are open for business today, some may close early depending on circumstances today.

Meanwhile, Clayton restaurants are regrouping after many closed doors early yesterday, pending the grand jury announcement at the courthouse in their community. The Wheelhouse co-owner Stephen Savage closed his sports bar after lunch service yesterday, citing safety concerns for customers and employees. “Staff and customers: they are the two most important aspects of our business,” he said.

Chef-owner Gerard Craft noted similar concerns when he opted to close Pastaria and Niche, both located in the Centene building in Clayton, along with his two CWE restaurants, Brasserie and Taste. “It’s really important to keep all our employees in mind. We have close to 200 employees that live in all parts of St. Louis. Whether protests or difficulty getting around, there were a million reasons to close,” Craft said.

After a night of tension and unrest in Ferguson and St. Louis’ Shaw neighborhood, Pastaria and Niche remain closed today, Nov. 25, along with other restaurants in the Centene building, Cantina Laredo and Kakao. Other Clayton business district restaurants closed today include The Crossing, Bocci Bar, Mad Tomato, Half & Half and Companion.

Some Clayton eateries did open today, including Barrister’s, Avenue, Barcelona, Sauce on the Side, Remy’s and Five Star Burgers. The latter kept its regular hours of operation yesterday as well. “I’m not one to close my doors. I think it’s important to stay open,” said owner Steve Gontram. “I’m not going to fold under pressure and close my doors … I’m going to stay open and be a business that serves the community and, of course, be cautious and lookout for the safety of my employees.”

While the Thanksgiving week is typically one of the busiest of the year for restaurants, several owners noted that business had slowed in the week’s leading up to the grand jury’s decision. “We’ve had fewer pre-Thanksgiving orders than in the last 10 years,” said Companion owner Josh Allen.

After much discussion among themselves, most Clayton restaurateurs anticipate returning to regular hours tomorrow, Nov. 26. “We’re all in it together,” Allen said.

Click here to read how the Ferguson community regrouped after yesterday’s events.

 

Catherine Klene and Ligaya Figueras contributed to this report.

 

 

 

Extra Sauce: 6 Thanksgiving recipes for gluten-free guests

November 24th, 2014

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The turkey usually isn’t a problem for your gluten-free guys and gals, but stuffing and rolls are definite no-gos. Welcome them with a starter of Apple Cheese Pleasers and make sure to have at least two sides they can enjoy with their bird.

 

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Dishes like Beet and Carrot Salad, Roasted Sweet Brussels Sprouts and Grapes or Butternut Squash Stew will satisfy all your guests with any dietary needs.

 

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And why pumpkin pie is a must on Thanksgiving, make sure your GF guests end on a sweet note, too, with Hold-the-Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Meatless Monday: Vegan Green Bean Casserole

November 24th, 2014

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Your Thanksgiving green bean casserole can still hearken back to Aunt Susan’s classic recipe – without resorting to a pile of canned goods. Even vegans can enjoy this version, which subs creamed soup for puréed red potatoes and mushrooms that blanket fresh green beans in velvety goodness. And those fried onions you always stole from the top when no one was looking? We crisp up quinoa flakes and shallots to get that salty sweet crunch you know and love. Get the recipe here.

 

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Guide to the Holidays 2014: How Not to Be a Potluck Jackass

November 23rd, 2014

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Hooray! Someone likes you enough to invite you to his potluck dinner. But don’t screw it up by being a nitwit. Not clear on what exactly constitutes such behavior? Read on for a comprehensive list of potential potluck party fouls. Avoid them, and you’ll secure an invite to next year’s shindig before the night is over. Commit them, and you better hope the host appreciates your better half.

1. Do recon. Ask around, then prepare a dish that complements the other guests’ offerings. Don’t be the lazy twit who whips up slice n’ bake cookies while someone else sweats over mini creme brulee. Presenting a posh pate to an onion dip crowd is an equally boneheaded move.

2. Don’t ask to use the oven. Your hosts have carefully timed the prep and cooking of their own dishes. If they can’t cook their lasagna because you’re baking your brie en croûte, you’re a self-important dolt. Slow cookers are a great way to keep food warm – if your host has available electrical outlets. Better yet, choose a dish that is served at room temperature.

3. Do supply your own serving spoons. It’s poor form to assume your host has enough serving pieces for everyone. But as potluck gaffes go, this is a relatively minor infraction. If you accidentally leave your cake cutter at home on the kitchen counter, don’t sweat it. You’re only kind of a jerk.

4. Do keep your food issues to yourself unless you have a life-threatening allergy. Otherwise, use common sense to determine what you should pile on your plate. People who make a production about what they can and can’t eat are attention-seeking blockheads. Bonus jackass points go to anyone who declares food to be “clean” or “unclean.” Leave the paleo platitudes at home.

5. Do be transparent about the ingredients if asked. This is the flip side of the previous faux pas. Always disclose what’s in your dish. Anyone who says there’s no meat in something made with chicken broth – even if it’s “just a splash” – is a certifiable jackass.

6. Don’t get drunk. Let this be your party mantra, and not just at potlucks. Getting so sloshed that you tumble down the stairs, fling your cocktail, and land on another guest’s husband is the jackass trifecta. If you find yourself in that undignified position, immediately redeem yourself by offering to host the potluck next year. Then compliment the host’s lasagna.

 

-illustration by Vidhya Nagarajan

 

 

The Scoop: Taco Circus to offer quick-serve tacos in Bevo Mill

November 22nd, 2014

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The tacos will fly when quick-service restaurant Taco Circus opens in early December. As reported by Ian Froeb of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Taco Circus is a project by Mikey Carrasco and Christian Ethridge, both transplants from Austin, Texas. The long-time friends settled on 4258 Schiller Place in Bevo Mill as the space where they will give St. Louisans a taste of what they ate as kids: tacos.

“When we were growing up, if we had $5 we would go to taco places,” said Ethridge, who left his job as commissary manager for Baileys’ restaurant group this summer to get Taco Circus up and running. Ethridge said he wants Taco Circus to be a legitimate alternative to current fast food choices. The duo chose the restaurant’s name because it suggested “controlled chaos, family-inclusive and light-hearted – and just wanting to convey the message that it’s a fast-food place and not a restaurant with servers.” In fact, it will be just Ethridge and Carrasco cooking, ringing up orders and wiping down the few tables in the 700-square-foot space.

The menu will be limited; look for just a handful of tacos (including a breakfast taco featuring eggs, potatoes, house-made chorizo, breakfast sausage and local bacon), a couple fajitas, side dishes like beans and rice, a salsa bar and perhaps a dessert. With only 15 or 20 seats, Ethridge and Carrasco expect Taco Circus to do more carryout that dine-in business.

Ethridge anticipates opening Taco Circus in early December after brightening the space with a lively paint job, a neon sign and vintage circus posters. “No clowns,” he added. “We’re not to the point of kitsch.”

 

By the Book: Ben Towill and Phil Winser’s Leek & Peekytoe Crab Gratin

November 22nd, 2014

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Full disclosure: cooking intimidates me. My culinary skills pale when compared to my family’s kitchen queens, my mother and aunts. There’s nothing better to this starving college student than visiting a relative’s house, where there are sure to be tasty, homemade dishes waiting. It’s a nice alternative to my fallback, the $6.51 large pizza around the corner. My large Italian family gathers monthly to swap stories, celebrate birthdays and cook and consume substantial amounts of food. My “honorary Nana,” Pat, has dubbed one my family’s perennial favorites “that effin’ crab dip,” as in, “Why do we always have to bring that effin’ crab dip to the party?”

Even family favorites can use an update now and then; that’s why I was excited to see a new variation on one this staple in The Fat Radish: Kitchen Diaries. Co-authors and chefs Ben Towill and Phil Winser showcase recipes featured at the NYC restaurant, The Fat Radish. While meat dishes do make appearances, vegetables and seafood steal the show in this new cookbook.

 

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The recipe was simple enough for even a hesitant college cook like me. If I could simmer leeks in a pan, I could handle this. I did find the dip a bit dry for my liking, so I added more liquid to smooth everything out. I am also a huge fan of cheese, so a few extra shreds of sharp white cheddar may have found their way into the pan. After all, when has extra cream and cheese ever been a bad thing?

 

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Overall, this dish was impeccable. The delicate crab and leeks were aromatic, and the dip was warm and filling. A drizzle of oil olive on top and a pinch of lemon were the perfect garnish – though an extra crack of black pepper on top wouldn’t hurt, either.

 

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Nana Pat may moan when she sees I brought yet another crab dip to our next family get together, but after one bite, I think she’ll be talking about that “effin’ good crab dip” for a long time.

 

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Leek & Peekytoe Crab Gratin
8 servings

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and finely diced
½ cup sherry
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. cleaned crab meat (use whatever type you like)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Pinch grated nutmeg
Pinch red chili flakes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving
Toast for serving

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Place the butter in an ovenproof skillet set over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring now and then, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the sherry, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until the sherry is nearly evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the cream to the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer until the cream is slightly reduced, 5 minutes. Allow the cream mixture to cool. Stir the crab into the cooled cream mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, cheese, nutmeg and chili flakes. Cover the crab mixture evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with lemon wedges alongside and plenty of toast.

Have you put a twist on one of your family’s classic recipes? Tell us about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Fat Radish: Kitchen Diaries.

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