At Big Sky Café (47 South Old Orchard Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-962-5757), chef Colleen Clawson believes in using local ingredients to create food that is, in her words, "delicious and simple." Watching her cook is like watching a dancer perform; all the muscle movements are innate, and she adds pinches of salt and cups of oil without precise measurements. "It's just natural now," she says; of course, that could also be said of Clawson's commitment to using ingredients that are in season and to not over-complicating her dishes.
Clawson combines her love for good French bread with one of her favorite foods, mushrooms, for a chanterelle mushroom bruschetta, adding a smoked-pear vinaigrette to bring out the taste of the peppery pan-seared trout. Clawson tells us that Ryan Maher, a notable St. Louis forager, provided the chanterelle mushrooms. Both dishes are topped with herbs grown at Big Sky and presented plainly yet elegantly on a white china plate. Clawson describes Big Sky's summer dinner menu as "exciting and fresh," which is exactly what you can expect when sampling this delicious appetizer and entrée.
Recipe for Pan-Roasted Troutdale Farms Rainbow Trout
For two Filets of Trout:
Salt and pepper trout Pan sear until golden on skin side Flip and rest to finish
Fresh spinach Five halved cherry tomatoes Crumbled Heartland goat cheese to taste
For Smoked Pear Vinaigrette:
6 oz. honey 6 oz. sherry vinegar 1 Tbs. chopped garlic 1 ½ cups oil 1 teaspoon salt 3 oz. shallots 3 smoked pears
Combine all ingredients in blender except oil. Blend and add oil to emulsify. Toss with fresh spinach and halved cherry tomatoes. Lay fish atop and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.
Chanterelle Mushroom Bruschetta:
Grill a nice, crusty piece of bread. In a hot pan, sauté chanterelle mushrooms in a little bit of oil. Add a pinch of herbs and a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper. Add some white wine. Finish with two small pats of butter. Put the mushrooms atop the bread and garnish with parsley and fresh diced tomatoes.