Archive | July 2nd, 2009

Sabor de Mexico: Torta Delight

Sabor de Mexico: Torta Delight

sabor1The restaurant Sabor de Mexico may be small, but the tortas served there are not.

In fact, the tortas may be the best I have found in town. The foundation is a telera bread with a lightly crisp crust and soft interior that has been covered with mayonnaise, delicious refrieds, tomatoes, lettuce and, best of all, perfectly ripe avocado slices.

Once these are heated, you don’t need an additional filling, which is why you’ll find an aguacate version available on the menu.

I opted for the chile relleno torta, which I thought an odd combination — that is, until I took my first bite. The cheese-filled pepper with the eggy batter on it was a perfect complement to the rest of the sandwich. It was also served so hot it practically seared your fingertips.

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Value: 4

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

Tortas can be messy to eat, and those at Sabor de Mexico are no exception. The fillings love to slide out into basket and across your fingers. That makes me happier to be eating one, actually. But if that bothers you, just use your fork and knife.

We also tried the Milanese torta, which boasted the same excellent foundation, including plenty of avocado. Except in this case, the breaded meat was overcooked to the point of being burnt. We would have sent it back except we had so much food that we didn’t need it.

The tortas are priced from $3.25 to $4.50 apiece, and one is large enough for most for lunch.

My friend ordered the San Antonio Supreme for breakfast, and his plate was doubly blessed. It had two eggs (a perfect over-easy with nary a trace of brown edge), two fluffy pancakes, two slices of crisp bacon, two slices of ham and potatoes. The dish ($5.75) even appeared on two plates.

sabor2To finish off our fine mid-morning meal, we had a pair of icy licuados, most of which are named after favorite singers. The Alejandro Fernandez, for example, was made with a refreshing combination of mango and milk. The Vuelve a la Vida (literally “return to life”) was a hearty mix of mango, strawberries, banana and milk with oatmeal added. It was a real eye-opener, as was much of what we had at this bright little breakfast-and-lunch spot on Austin Highway.

SavorSA will be returning to Sabor de Mexico.

Sabor de Mexico
1367 Austin Hwy. No. 2
(210) 829-1101
Open daily for breakfast and lunch.

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Jack in the Box: Mini Sandwiches

Jack in the Box: Mini Sandwiches

jackintheboxminiburgersYears ago, our appetite for burgers grew beyond our belt sizes. Remember when a quarter-pound burger was an enormous sandwich? Now, it’s a lightweight.

So, the concept of mini-burgers or mini-chicken sandwiches, now offered at Jack in the Box among other places, might seem like a great idea. Smaller is better, right?

After all, you can eat a tiny sandwich much easier while driving a car. One mini is great for a kid, which leaves you two in a three-pack. And they’re cute, right?

I will admit Jack in the Box’s Mini Sirloin Burgers are visually appealing. You open the box and the three sandwiches on their side practically call out to you. Eating three little burgers is like reflexing rumaki off an appetizer tray.

Food: 2.5

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

Plus, the flavor is what you come to expect from Jack in the Box: juicy, dependable, consistent. The mini sandwich was also cleaner to eat while maneuvering the car. (If you’re looking for a hand-formed patty in a homemade bun, look elsewhere. This is a fast-food place I’m writing about.)

The drawback, for me, at least, is that there is now so much bread– and sweet bread, to boot — that I was left with a carb overload. Diabetics, beware. These are not for you. After eating a Mini Sirloin Burger and two Mini Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwiches, I felt bloated, not full and not satisfied.

The nutritional analysis on the company’s website shows that a three-pack of Mini-Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwiches has 92 grams of carbohydrate, while the Spicy Chicken with Cheese has 61 grams. The Mini-Sirloin Burgers have 77 grams of carbohydrate while the Ultimate Cheeseburger has 52 grams.

I also wish the chicken sandwiches had been dressed with lettuce, ranch and whatever they were supposed to have on top. Our order had only chicken and Frank’s RedHot Sauce. That’s a great combination, considering I’m a sucker for anything with Frank’s on it, but the lack of dressings made the bun seem bigger, too big for a mini.

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Recipe: Bonnie’s Potato Salad

Recipe: Bonnie’s Potato Salad

potatosalad3Bonnie Walker’s potato salad recipe incorporates poblanos and serranos to sizzling effect.

Bonnie’s Potato Salad

4-6 large russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into eighths
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white OR red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon powdered dry mustard
Pinch white pepper
Pinch salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, including some of the green
1 cup diced celery
4 large hard-cooked eggs, diced
2 medium poblano chiles, roasted and peeled, seeded and cut into small dice
1 serrano chile, minced (optional)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Paprika, for garnish

Cook potatoes until tender. Strain and let cool a few minutes.  Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and salt the potatoes. You don’t need to use a lot of salt, but all the potatoes should have a little. Put potatoes back in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, dry mustard, pepper and salt until it makes a creamy dressing. Pour into the potatoes and toss around with your hands until all of the potatoes are coated with a little of the dressing. Add diced scallion and celery and mix in.

Gently mix in hard-cooked eggs, poblano chile and serrano, if using. You can use more or less serrano, depending on whether you want it to burn a little or not. Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard. Stir into the potato mixture so that it is well blended in.

Just before serving, shake paprika over the top.  (It’s common as a garnish, but the flavor is really good,  so shake on a little extra.)

Makes 8-12 servings.

Source: Bonnie Walker

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Recipe: Dorothy’s Potato Salad

Recipe: Dorothy’s Potato Salad

Potato saladDorothy’s Potato Salad from Casbeer’s is an old-fashioned treat with mustard and mayonnaise.

Dorothy’s Potato Salad

8 large russet potatoes cut into 1-inch dice
4 ribs celery, diced
1 cup diced dill pickles
1 large onion
1 4-ounce jar minced pimentos
1 cup French’s yellow mustard (no substitution!)
1 (32-ounce) jar mayonnaise, any brand
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Cook potatoes in 4 quarts water until very tender. Drain and cool (they do not need to be cold, just easy to handle.)  Stir in, one ingredient at a time, celery, pickles, onion, pimentos, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. This will cause the potatoes to become creamy, resembling very lumpy mashed potatoes.

Makes 16-20 servings.

Source: Steve Silbas

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Recipe: Two Bros. Potato Salad

Recipe: Two Bros. Potato Salad

twobrospotatosalad2Mustard powder gives the dressing of Jason Dady’s potato salad an extra kick.

Two Bros. BBQ Market Potato Salad

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Coleman’s Mustard Powder
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced red onion
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In large stockpot, cover potatoes with cold water, season the water with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and bring to a simmer.  Be careful not to boil.

Once at a simmer, cook potatoes until soft.  Cook until a knife can skewer all the way through the potato.  It is essential not to overcook the potato.

Once done, remove from water immediately and allow to cool at room temperature.

Once the potatoes are cool, using your hands, break potatoes into bite size pieces in a large mixing bowl.

Add the mayonnaise first.  Toss the potatoes into the mayonnaise and mix well. Once mayonnaise is well incorporated, add the Dijon mustard and Coleman’s mustard powder.  Mix thoroughly. Once mustard is added and mixed in, fold in the onion and celery. Adjust seasoning as needed with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

The potato salad is ready to serve.  It can be served immediately, or chilled and held for up to three days.

From Jason Dady and Two Bros. BBQ Market

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Recipe: Egyptian Potato Salad

Recipe: Egyptian Potato Salad

potatosalad2Use russet or Yukon Gold potatoes in Egyptian Potato Salad.

Egyptian Potato Salad

1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
6-8 cloves garlic
1 cup extra-virgin oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Put potatoes in water to cover by a couple of inches. Simmer on stove until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy.

In the meantime, put a smaller pot of water on the stove, add the (unpeeled) garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Immediately drain the water, add more cold water, and repeat the procedure two more times. (Blanching the garlic three times, says Winokur, will reduce the sometimes-bitter flavor of raw garlic.) Peel the blanched garlic and trim off the root ends. Mince the cloves very finely.

When potatoes are cooked, take them off the stove and drain well. Put them in a large bowl. Add the minced garlic and mix it in well. The potatoes will start to break up, but that is OK. Begin drizzling in the olive oil, mixing as you pour. Start with a half cup, or so, and mix it in well. Then, drizzle in the second half cup, if you wish, depending upon how creamy you want the texture.  Just don’t let it get soupy or drippy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This potato salad is good warm and also good served at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Source: Saundra Winokur

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Daily Dish: Rachael’s Visit to San Antonio

Daily Dish: Rachael’s Visit to San Antonio

“Rachael’s Vacation,” the Food Network show featuring Rachael Ray, will air a new episode on her trip to San Antonio later this week.

The show will air at 10:30 p.m. July 3 and 1:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 4.

The Food Network’s site doesn’t say which restaurants or foodie spots she visited. Instead, it says, “Rachael proves once again that everything’s bigger in Texas as she shows us what makes San Antonio a can-do traveler’s destination!”

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Particular About Potato Salad

Particular About Potato Salad

twobrospotatosalad1It’s not a picnic, a barbecue or the Fourth of July, for some, unless the potato salad is there. And, not just any potato salad.

“It has to be my potato salad,” says an acquaintance of ours. In this case, it must be made with Best Foods mayonnaise and have some form of dill in it.

For every cook whose recipe is like this person’s, there are just as many who require salad dressing not mayonnaise, or ballpark mustard rather than Dijon. Some don’t put white or yellow onions in — they only use scallions. Some (and we find this hard to imagine) are annoyed when they encounter a crunchy bite of celery in the mix.

So good is potato salad, however, that despite the tedious actions of peeling potatoes, mincing onion and celery, boiling and peeling eggs, making and mixing in the dressing, most of us want it homemade. If not our way, then we want it the way our mom, aunt or an in-law made it.

Steve Silbas, who owns Casbeer’s at the Church, 1150 S. Alamo St., with his wife, Barbara Wolfe, makes his mother’s recipe. The technique that distinguishes this recipe is stirring in every ingredient individually, turning the salad into a creamy, mustardy, delicious blend.

“We had it at every family cookout, picnic and get-together —  even Thanksgiving and Christmas. My sister, Sylvia, now also carries on the tradition,” he says.

An unusual potato salad recipe, offered by Saundra Winokur of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, near Elmendorf, comes from her late husband, who was Egyptian. It also is a flavorful, creamy concoction, using only three ingredients, plus salt and pepper. The steamy cooked potatoes are blended with minced, blanched fresh garlic. Then, olive oil is drizzled in, while stirring, until it has a moist, loose texture.

Jason Dady of the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills and other restaurants is a big fan of potato salads. They’re “way way too underutilized for the backyard barbecue,” he says. “I prefer mayonnaise/mustard based, but that’s not to say a great vinaigrette base isn’t delicious as well.  Potato salads are relatively cheap to make, not too much prep, and can be a great compliment to a wide variety of grilled or barbecued meats.”

The version Dady serves at Two Bros. BBQ Market, 12656 West Ave., gains an extra punch from dry mustard powder.

My own potato salad has changed over the years, as I discovered and added ingredients that only made it better. The addition of sour cream to the mayonnaise makes the mixture seem less oily. A bit of vinaigrette mixed in with the steamy potatoes while they are still warm adds a real boost of flavor.

Finally, I like to put in at least 2 freshly roasted poblano peppers, and a little bit of minced serrano. The green chile flavors will really come through if this is held in the refrigerator overnight.

John Griffin contributed to this report.

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