Metro-East Living

Two local female chefs get nod from prestigious culinary foundation

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

A big shout-out to Executive Chef Ashley Shelton, of Pastaria in Clayton, Mo., for being nominated in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category by the James Beard Foundation for 2017. The category is for “a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”

Ashley, who was born and raised in St. Louis, was hired by restaurant guru Gerard Craft (himself a James Beard winner) before Pastaria opened in 2012, then worked her way up from line cook to executive chef (2015). Interestingly, when asked by the Riverfront Times in a 2015 interview, she said her St. Louis food crush was Jesse Mendica, who now runs the kitchen at Olive + Oak in Webster Groves and was nominated this year by the James Beard Foundation, in the 2017 Best Chefs category.

Having two women executive chefs from our region nominated in these categories is a wonderful thing, especially in a culinary world where men tend to take most of the honors.

Back to the Best Chefs category: It’s for chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region.

Other chefs nominated from our area in that category are Kevin Willmann, of Farmhaus in St. Louis, who originally hails from Greenville; Kevin Nashan, of Sidney Street Cafe in St. Louis; and Mike Randolph, of Público in University City.

Get your reader recipe request here

Going through some snail-mail and emails, I realized I missed some requests from late last year. I’m trying to catch up now.

So, Bill, I found the Slow-Cooker Korean Beef Stew recipe you wanted. Talk about easy!

Laura from Kirkwood, Mo., asked me about favorite email newsletters that I recommend for easy meals and family dinners. is one I get daily. She wanted a cool dessert, so I’m including here Brownie Bottom Cheesecake, which was Kraft’s most pinned recipe in January.

Keller, who lives in Fairview Heights, said she’s obsessed with Mexican food, especially tamales. I know the feeling; they’re my favorites, too. She wanted an easy tamale recipe that also might be healthy. That was a tough one, until I came across Skillet Beef Tamales from Plus, it can be ready in 30 minutes.

And finally, for this week anyway, Mike, of Belleville, said he was trying to convince his fiancee that pork chops didn’t have to be dry and tasteless. (Seems she grew up with her mom overcooking them.) He wanted to make an easy dish — he said his cooking skills were OK — that would change her mind. I’m suggesting a Better Homes & Gardens recipe, Apple-Pecan Pork Chops.

Contact me at, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

Slow-Cooker Korean Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 bag (16 ounces) ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots

6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup tomato juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons cornstarch

4 teaspoons cold water

3 cups hot cooked rice

Spray 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, mix beef, carrots, onions, garlic, tomato juice, soy sauce, sugar, oil and pepper.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 9 to 11 hours (or on High setting 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 30 minutes).

In small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water until blended; stir into beef mixture in slow cooker. If cooking on Low heat setting, increase to High. Cover; cook about 20 minutes longer or until mixture is slightly thickened. Serve with rice.

Yield: 6 servings.

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

1 package (4 ounces) unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

2 1/4 cups sugar, divided

5 eggs, divided

1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla, divided

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

24 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar; mix well.

Add 2 of the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Add milk and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla; mix well.

Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture, mixing after each addition just until blended. Spread evenly into greased and floured 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake 25 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add remaining 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over brownie layer in pan. (Filling will come almost to top of pan.)

Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Yield: 16 servings.

Skillet Beef Tamales

1 pound lean ground beef (90 percent lean)

1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1/3 cup chopped green pepper

2 cups salsa

3/4 cup frozen corn

2 tablespoons water

6 corn tortillas (6 inches), halved and cut into 1/2-inch strips

3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

5 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook beef and peppers over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, breaking up beef into crumbles; drain. Stir in salsa, corn and water; bring to a boil.

Stir in tortilla strips. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10-15 minutes or until tortillas are softened. Sprinkle with cheese; cook, covered, 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream.

Freeze option: Freeze cooled meat mixture in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary. Serve with sour cream.

Each serving (1 cup meat mixture and 1 tablespoon sour cream): 329 calories, 11 grams fat, 59 mg cholesterol, 679 mg sodium, 28 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams sugar, 6 grams fiber), 25 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

Yield: 5 servings.

Light & Tasty February/March 2008

Apple-Pecan Pork Chops

4 boneless pork loin chops, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick


Ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup thinly sliced red apple (1 medium)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Trim fat from chops. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat until it sizzles. Add apple; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Push apple to sides of skillet. Add chops; cook for 4 minutes. Turn chops, moving apple aside as needed. Spoon apple slices over chops. Sprinkle with pecans and brown sugar.

Cook, covered, for 2 to 4 minutes more, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of chops registers 145 degrees. Serve chops with apple slices and cooking juices.

Yield: 4 servings.