St. Louis loves their regional specialties including toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake, but now comes the Gerber Sandwich. This sandwich, first created by Ruma’s Deli and supposedly named after a
customer, is nothing more than an open faced ham and cheese on garlic bread with a sprinkling of paprika to jazz it up. The entire thing is broiled so the bread gets brown and toasted and the cheese gets warm and melted. Fancy? No. Delicious? Yes.
What kind of ham? Doesn’t matter, use whatever is on sale at the deli. What kind of cheese? In St. Louis, provel is used (a processed cheese food that is a combination of Swiss, provolone and cheddar), but because it is hard to find outside the region, we used provolone. The StateEats Kitchen churned these out for a few days last week and we were met with nothing but raves and kudos.
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- 4 or 6 inch section of French or Italian bread
- 2-3 teaspoons butter
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2-4 slices of ham
- 2 slices Provolone cheese
Slice French bread long ways. In a small dish, mash garlic with butter. Spread on bread. Add ham, then cheese. Top with a sprinkle of paprika. Broil open faced on top rack of oven until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.
Toasted ravioli is one of those regional dishes that hasn’t made the jump to national prominence. And it should, because these fried pillowy pasta pockets are easy to like.
The origins of toasted ravioli are unclear, with several restaurants making the claim that they were the first including Angelo’s (now Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill) and Oldani’s (located where Mama’s on the Hill now stands). The underlying theme with these stories is that T-rav, as it’s affectionately known, was an accident of a hapless cook who mistook boiling oil for boiling water. Funny that St. Louis’ other famous export, Gooey Butter Cake, also was the result of a blunder.
This dish is typically served as an appetizer. If you want to get all fancy and hand make your ravioli with all sorts interesting fillings like these restaurants, knock yourself out. But frozen work just fine, too.
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- 10 frozen ravioli (half of 16-oz. package)
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
- 1 cup marina sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2-3 teaspoons parsley, minced
- Vegetable oil
Whisk together the eggs and milk in a shallow dish. In another dish, place the flour. In a third dish, place the breadcrumbs. Take a frozen ravioli and place in the egg wash, covering it completely. Place in the flour. Coat thoroughly. Place in the egg wash again. Remove, then dip in the breadcrumbs, coating thoroughly. Place on a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining ravioli. Place ravioli in batches in oil heated to 400 degrees, making sure not to crowd them. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Remove onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan. Serve with warm marina sauce.
Definitely a mistake. A mistake turned delicious anyway. Gooey Butter Cake is to St. Louis as deep dish pizza is to Chicago. According to the New York Times, fork-lore has it that in the 1930s,
a St. Louis baker added too much shortening, butter or sugar while making a cake. Not wanting to waste the ingredients this being the middle of the Depression, the baker tried to sell the cake anyhow. Customers loved it and Gooey Butter Cake was born.
Continue reading Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri