For the past 10 years, we’ve cooked up a long list of creative, delicious dishes for our customers. Some have graced our main menu, and others our special menus for features throughout the year. Our chefs have come up with many of the dishes. Often, we come up with a theme, introduce the idea and ask for their take on it. We hold a tasting with our staff and chefs and ask for input. The best items are added to our menu, and honestly, there’s rarely, if ever, a dud. It’s usually a tough decision to pick the best for the menu. It’s usually not taste that makes the decision. It’s the quality of the ingredients we can get, whether or not particular items are in season and a few other factors that rule out various dishes. Bill Humphries, founder of Eddie Merlot’s, has helped shape the menu into a collection of great dishes that surprise and delight our guests and changes fairly frequently to keep up with current dining trends and tastes.
Because we are fortunate to have all of this great talent, we get requests often for recipes. So we decided to indulge our diners by creating a cookbook. Executive Chef Matthew Nolot of our Fort Wayne location spent most of the year compiling this cookbook, and we’ve introduced it just in time for the holidays. You can buy it at our restaurants or in our online store, which you can find here: our store. The cookbook is $29.95 in our online store; you can save on shipping and buy it in person at our restaurants for the same price. This is a special introductory price just for December. The price will go up to the listed price of $34.95 in January.
In addition to being a cookbook, it’s a nice book all on its own. Nearly every other page throughout the book is a beautiful photo of a delicious dish. The colors of the layout coordinate with the food photography throughout, lending it a palate of warm hues that are similar to the look and feel of our restaurants. It’s sizable and substantial enough to serve as a handsome coffee table book.
We divided the book into chapters that have color-coded tabs, so it’s easy to flip to a different chapter and find the recipe you want. Chapters include:
- Basics (sauces, stocks and marinades)
- Butters and Spices
We sat down to talk to Matt Nolot, who has been with us since 2003. As one of the longest-serving chefs in our organization, he’s helped shape our menu more than any other of our chefs.
How did this cookbook come about?
“Bill has always envisioned a cookbook. We’ve talked about it for a few years. This past summer, we began pulling together the recipes and writing the cookbook. We worked with Margy Hooker, who was a former General Manager here, who contracted the layout, design and printing of the book.”
What do you think are some of the highlights of the cookbook?
“Our bourbon marinade for ribeye. That is one of our most sought-after recipes. Some of our salad dressings are also something people ask for quite often. Our recipe for the maple cider vinaigrette and the ceasar salad dressing is in here.”
So why give away all the recipes?
“When you really think about it, people dine out not just for the food, for for the whole experience. We provide a whole entire service. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had I can’t even tell you what I ate. It was the atmosphere, the company, the location, and the entire experience.”
Are there a lot of Eddie Merlot’s guests who love to cook?
“We have our fair share of foodies, people who love to make a good meal. We have quite a few people who want to know the details of how a dish is prepared and what is in it. This cookbook is designed to answer a lot of those questions.”
We’re hoping to set up some special signings and events in the near future. If you own a bookstore and you’d like to host a signing, by all means, get in touch with us. Leave a note in the comments and we’ll contact you.
Meanwhile, here’s a recipe from the book for Christmas Mud Pie, which is one of the most extravagant desserts on our holiday lunch menu. It’s absolutely gigantic, and it looks extremely impressive, just the kind of indulgence the holidays demand. Perfect for kiddos and adults alike.
Christmas Mud Pie
Makes 1 Pie
1 pre-made Oreo cookie crust shell
1/2 cup Gooey Fudge Sauce (recipe below)
1/2 gallon mint chocolate ice cream
1 1/2 gallons peppermint ice cream
Crushed candy canes
Spoon half of the fudge sauce into the bottom of the Oreo cookie pie shell. Cut the peppermint and chocolate ice cream tubs in half vertically with a large two-handled knife. Then cut the halves into 1/2-inch thick slices. (Do not do this too far ahead.) Place two 1/2-inch slices of the mint chocolate ice cream on top of the fudge in the pie pan. Place three more 1/2-inch slices of mint chocolate ice cream standing up to make sides of the mud pie. Put pie in freezer until firm.
Remove pie from freezer. Fill inside of pie with chunks of peppermint ice cream and the remaining fudge (do not leave spaces). On the outside of the pie, put pieces of peppermint ice cream to cover the mint chocolate ice cream. Smooth the outside with a spatula, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for four hours until hard. When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and cut into eight pieces. Garnish with a sprinkling of crushed candy canes.
Gooey Fudge Sauce
Makes 3 1/2 cups
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Over medium heat, combine milk, butter and vanilla until the butter has melted. Add dry ingredients to the milk mixture, constantly whisking. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth, about five minutes. Remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate any unused portion.