The Next Chapter from Tara’s Taste of the Town by Tara Ambrose…
As I sit behind my computer screen, brainstorming for what I could possibly share with all of the amazing readers of Culination Magazine, it suddenly struck me that without those behind the scenes people, we as a community wouldn’t have the palatably pleasing fertile creature comforts that we do in our region. It’s with those dedicated hands, backs, minds and hearts, putting themselves on each plate, behind each tray, pouring each glorious beverage that we indulge in at each sitting. It is those who have selflessly committed to serving each patron that walks into the doors at any restaurant or dining establishment – it is your server, cook, or chef, for without each of them there would be no refinement in dining nor the sheer pleasure one feels after having an elegant meal. That’s when it hit me, over the years I have seen some of the most creative culinary minds – and I have seen them collaborate with one another and share their kitchens.
Picking up the phone, I knew at that point who I wanted to involve in this month’s edition of Culination Magazine – two of my closest culinary friends and two completely amazing culinary minds – Chef Rachel Genusa and Chef Anthony Miltello.
Genusa’s has been a longstanding staple in the Twin Cities for as long as I can remember, founded by Rachel’s grandmother more than 50 years ago. The legacy was passed down to Francis Genusa and his lovely wife, Cherry, upon the retirement of Rachel’s grandmother, Eunice, who they lovingly referred to as “Nunnie”. Genusa’s family recipes and traditions are still served with elegance and style on each plate that comes forth out of their immaculate kitchen. With a wine selection like none other, it is quite easy to ascertain the level of fine dining that exudes from the Genusa family.
Jumping across the mighty Ouachita River to the West Monroe Convention Center, Chef Anthony Miltello’s Italian flare and style have catapulted him to frontlines at the helm of his WMCC crew. Chef Miltello’s creativity have been shown through many forefronts over the years as he has peppered his culinary resume throughout the years with such accolades as being featured on a morning spotlight with KNOE’s “In the Kitchen”, as well as having had the distinct honor of competing in the 2015 Louisiana Seafood King cookoff in New Orleans, Louisiana. But Chef Miltello doesn’t just wow his many gala events with fabulous food with southern Italian flare – he is also one of the most compassionate chefs who has volunteered his many talents through the years at events such as the March of Dimes’ Signature Chefs Auction, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and even taken time out of his schedule to volunteer healthy eating habits for children through his young chefs classes.
All in all, with these two amazing chefs I have never ceased to be amazed at their kindness or their culinary creativity. Looking back, I couldn’t help but reflect all the many times that I’ve been invited into both of their kitchens and benefited from their amazing hospitality, as I know each patron of both of these chefs feel when they step foot into their respective establishments.
In closing, Chef Anthony Miltello shared a recipe with the readers of Culination Magazine, New Orleans-Style Calas, the recipe for which is outlined below. Bon appetite and enjoy!
New Orleans-Style Calas (Rice Beignets)
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup cooked white rice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for serving
For best results, begin preparing this dish the night before.
Place the water, sugar and yeast in a medium non-reactive bowl and allow to stand until foam sets, about 10 minutes. Add the rice to the water and yeast and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to proof at room temperature for at least 4 hours and up to overnight (8 hours).
The next morning/day stir the rice and mash it against the side of the bowl with the back of a spoon. You want to create a contrast in texture, with some grains remaining whole and some crushed. Add the eggs, salt, vanilla, nutmeg and flour to the bowl and stir with a spoon to combine. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm, draft free place for 1 hour.
Preheat at least 4 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or a deep fryer to 360 degrees F. Use a large spoon or scoop to drop about half of the dough by 2-tablespoonfuls into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes, turn over and continue to fry until cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, remove the calas from the hot oil and transfer to paper towel-lined plates to drain briefly. Sprinkle the calas liberally with the powdered sugar before serving hot. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Special thanks to Chef Anthony Miletello and Chef Rachel Genusa for their humbleness and hospitality, as well as to my amazing cohort in culinary crime – Gary the Gastronaut!
Story and Photos by Tara Ambrose of Tara’s Taste of the Town