Archive | November, 2009

Restaurant Openings and More

Restaurant Openings and More

The restaurant scene in the area continues to grow and change:

  • Goomba’s Pizzeria is getting ready to open a fourth location. It will be on Southwest Military across from Southpark Mark. The local chain, owned by Rick Perno, has locations on Blanco Road near Loop 410, Bandera Road and Loop 410, and Kitty Hawk at Loop 1604.
  • Tuscany Italian Grill & Restaurant has opened at 8685 U.S. 281, Spring Branch. Call (830) 885-6107.
  • Water Street Oyster Bar has become Thurmunz Seafood, 7500 Broadway. Call (210) 829-4853.

If you have restaurant news, e-mail

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Sandbar Opens Tuesday

Sandbar Opens Tuesday

The Sandbar will open at the Pearl Brewery off Grayson Street on Tuesday.

Chef and owner Andrew Weissman will feature various oysters from the Atlantic and Pacific as well the roasted lobster bisque and clam chowder that were hallmarks of the restaurant when it was at 152 E. Pecan St. and St. Mary’s Street.

In addition, the new space will also offer some dishes formerly at Weissman’s Le Reve, including the onion tart and the house salad as well as cooked seafood dishes and one beef dish.

The new , at the back of the Full Goods Building, is larger than the old space, he said. Up to 75 can dine there.

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Turkey Divan, Divine Way to Use Leftovers

Turkey Divan, Divine Way to Use Leftovers

TurkeyDivan6SavorSA thanks Julia Rosenfeld, a San Antonio food writer, for sharing these two recipes. First is the classic Chicken Divan her mother made. The second is one she has developed along the same general theme, but lightened up somewhat, Turkey Divan.

Chicken Divan

In this recipe, it’s pronounced “dih-van” – like the sofa you’re sure to collapse onto afterward. My mother usually made this on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving (the original recipe, cut from the Bergen Record, is still in her old recipe book), and served it over Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice. The curry added an exotic touch to the all-American weekend. I loved whisking together the sauce because it meant I got to lick the bowl. Below is my version (Turkey Divan) with my take on the dish after years of tinkering, and the original recipe, Chicken Divan, published in the “the late ’60s” according to my mother’s cookbook notes.

— Julia Rosenfeld

3 large chicken breasts, boned
2 (10-ounce packages) packages frozen broccoli, cooked according to directions
2 (10.5-ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ cup cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wipe chicken breasts with a damp cloth (cooked leftover chicken may also be used). Place cooked, drained broccoli in a greased, 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Top with the chicken breasts. In a bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice and curry powder. Pour over chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle top with cracker crumbs and cheese. Dot with butter. Bake in oven until heated through and cheese has melted, about 25 minutes.

Serves 6 or more.


Chunky broccoli


Chunky turkey


Sauced up

Revised Turkey Divan

Leftover turkey – whatever you’ve got – sliced
2 pounds fresh broccoli, cooked al dente, and cut into bite-size pieces
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup (low sodium, light, whatever)
1 cup mayonnaise (light is just as good)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder (or, to taste)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 13-by-9-inch Pyrex casserole with cooking spray. Layer the broccoli in the bottom, then top with a layer of turkey. In a bowl, whisk together the soup, mayo, lemon juice, curry powder and cayenne. Spread the sauce over the entire surface, “sealing” the turkey with the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake until heated through and cheese has melted, about 20-25 minutes. Serve with brown rice.

Serves 6-8.




Hot from the oven


Ready to serve

From Julia Rosenfeld

(Photos: Julia Rosenfeld)

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Cooking Sous Vide – No Longer Under Wraps

Cooking Sous Vide – No Longer Under Wraps


Sous Vide Baby Beet Salad with Heirloom Orange Supremes, Crème Fraiche, Marcona Almonds, Garlic Chips and Chervil

Article By Chris Dunn

There’s nothing better than the aroma of roasting meat, garlic, onions, and herbs wafting around the kitchen rafters–right?

But what if you used a cooking method that captured all those delectable smells and gently basted the food with them as it cooks?  Then, you could have your aroma and eat it, too.

SousVide4Bruno Goussault, one of the scientists who developed the sous vide cooking method, which is French for “under vacuum,” contends that when flavor is in the air, it is no longer in the food; but if you hermetically seal food in a plastic bag under vacuum, and then gently cook it in a controlled temperature water bath for an extended period of time, all the aroma, flavor, and texture is preserved and delivered to the plate.

Furthermore, sous vide provides more nutrition (because the vitamins don’t leach out during the cooking process); it uses less energy than traditional cooking methods (about the same energy as a 60-watt light bulb); and it requires less additives, such as salt and fat, because the pressure created by the sous vide method actually forces flavor and juices into, rather than out of, the food.

Sous vide first appeared in the late 1960s when French and American engineers developed food-safe plastic films in which foods could be vacuum packed and heated at pasteurizing temperatures for the purpose of extending their shelf life.

The food industry quickly embraced the idea.  If you’ve ever traveled by plane, train, or cruise ship, been in the military, attended the Super Bowl, or had the braised pork at Chipotle Mexican Grill, you’ve had food that was prepared sous vide.

SousVide5Ironically, it didn’t make much of a splash (except in its own water baths) until the last 10 years, when a number of high-profile chefs began experimenting with it.  Thomas Keller of the renowned French Laundry has even written a book on the subject.

Amanda Hesser, writing for the New York Times, says, “At Charlie Trotters in Chicago, the intense heat and scrape of pans against the stove is giving way to an almost placid atmosphere, the barely audible hum of water baths that run 24 hours a day.”

Restaurants in San Antonio are also beginning to explore the possibilities of this cooking method. Chef Scott Cohen uses it at both Brasserie Pavil and Watermark Grill, while Jeffrey Balfour has used it Citrus in the Valencia Hotel.

Executive chef Jason Dady and chef de cuisine Robbie Nowlin of the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills recently hosted “A Study in Sous Vide,” which mixed both sous vide and traditionally prepared ingredients for a memorable multi-course dinner.


Sous Vide Maine Lobster Tail with Roasted Cauliflower, Carrot Buttons, Black Garlic Coulis and Port Reduction

The first course was Sous Vide Maine Lobster Tail with Butternut Squash, Roasted Cauliflower, Black Garlic Coulis and Vanilla Potato “Maxim.”  Unlike the often-stringy quality of a boiled lobster, the sous vide version had the tender texture and pearlescence of Japanese ama-ebi (sweet shrimp). Its subtle flavor was nicely contrasted by the earthy tartness of a black garlic coulis and a brushstroke of tart sour cherry glaze.  Garnishing the lobster was a perfect little flower of overlapping, crispy potato discs. I could have eaten a bowlful of them.

Next was Sous Vide Baby Beet Salad with Organic Arugula, Red Radish, Goat Cheese Mousse and Garlic Chips. The rich, fluffy goat cheese played nicely against the sweet and sour red, gold, and striped baby beets, whose colors and flavors were brightened and intensified by the cooking method.

The third dish was The Whole Damn Rabbit, a roulade containing a rabbit tenderloin and a farce (forcemeat) made from everything else (sans ears) wrapped in a house made prosciutto.  The delicate white meat tenderloin was exceptionally moist.  Sauteed mushrooms, endive braised in citrus, and a light, slightly sweet jus lié (thickened meat juices) made from white wine and rabbit stock made this my favorite dish of the evening.


Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bone Marrow Agnolotti, Yukon Golds, Turnips and Sauce “Bordelaise”

The Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bone Marrow-Yukon Gold Agnolotti, Globe Carrots, Turnips and Sauce Bordelaise underscored the unique attributes of sous vide.  Because of the low and slow cooking method, the tenderloin was beyond fork tender and a uniform rosy color.  Its insubstantial texture was contrasted nicely by the crunch of the Celtic sea salt garnish. The pearl shaped, parisienne cut turnips and the mini ravioli (agnolotti) showcased the kitchen’s time intensive dedication to detail.

Time will tell if sous vide can make the transition from the professional to the home kitchen.  But one thing for sure, the quiet hum of its recirculating water baths is creating quite a buzz.

(Photos: Nicholas Mistry)

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Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

OliveOilCookiesA cookie recipe that calls for no butter or vegetable shortening?

This one uses olive oil, specifically new olive oil. While you might not be able to get brand new, freshly cold-pressed olive oil, extra-virgin cold-pressed will work.

The cookies are reminiscent of Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, and were created by owners of the McEvoy Ranch in Northern California. The ranch produces organic olive oil. The recipe was published in “The Olive Harvest Cookbook,” (Chronicle Books, $35) by Gerald Gass and Jacqueline Mallorca.

I made a couple of slight adaptations to the printed recipe. I added salt—I think cookies taste better with just a pinch or so of salt to put a little edge on all that sugar. Also, I added a small amount of sugar for sprinkling on the cookies before baking.

We kept these cookies in a covered container for the few days it took to consume them, and they seemed to taste better every day. You can taste the olive oil in the cookies, but it is a subtle, nicely balanced flavor.

Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup olio nuovo (fresh-pressed new olive oil) OR extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1/8 teaspoon pure lemon oil, such as Boyajian bran
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking sheets.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into medium-sized bowl. In another small bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then stir until mixture comes together in a uniform mass. Using your hands, roll dough into balls 1-inch in diameter.  Sprinkle on a little sugar and roll the cookie balls gently in your hands to distribute it. You don’t want a heavily coated cookie, just enough sugar to give them a little sparkle. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time until they are just cooked through, the bottoms lightly browned, between 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Pack them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Adapted from “The Olive Harvest Cookbook”

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Ask a Foodie: Is White Part of Orange Peel Nutritious?

Ask a Foodie: Is White Part of Orange Peel Nutritious?

NavelOranges (1)Q. I’ve heard that the white part of an orange peel has nutritional value. Is that true?

A. From sources I’ve checked, the white part of the orange, technically called the pericarp, has almost as much vitamin C as does the orange fruit.  The pericarp includes the white, thready material that is called the pith. The seeds are called pips.

While looking up information on this everyday fruit, I remembered my second grade teacher, Mrs. McKinney, telling us that before oranges were widely grown in the United States, they were a very special, sought-after treat at Christmas. Children looked forward to finding oranges dropped into the toes of their  Christmas stockings.

More interesting facts about oranges:

  • The fruit of the orange tree, as are all fruits in the genus Citrus, is considered a berry. That is because it contains seeds enclosed in soft, fleshy fruit, and come from a single ovary.
  • What about the seedless orange, the navel orange? This orange came about as a mutation from a single tree in an orchard at a Brazilian monastery in 1820.  It is called “navel” because on one end, where a small “twin” orange begins to grow inside the peel, the protrusion looks a bit like a belly button.
  • Because this orange was seedless, the only way to propagate it was to take cuttings from this single tree and graft them onto other trees. According to Wikipedia, all navel oranges are basically clones, having the same genetic makeup as the fruits from that original tree.

If your curiousity about this fruit is piqued, pick up a copy of John McPhee’s fascinating book, “Oranges,”  first published in 1967 but reprinted in paperback form since. McPhee, a longtime staff writer at the New Yorker and a Pulitzer Prize-winner, began writing about oranges for a magazine article. But, he found such a wealth of interesting material that it grew into a book. I’d recommend it not simply for the information, but for absorbing, entertaining reading.

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Turkey and Dressing Casserole

Turkey and Dressing Casserole

TurkeyWithDressing (1)We almost always roast a large turkey. There are two reasons for this. First, leftovers are so good we like to send some home with any guest who wants them. Second, we make this casserole (or two) to freeze. It’s easy to unpack from the freezer and put in the oven for an effortless, wonderful meal a few weeks later, or even a month or two down the road. Make this in any size you like; just remember that the deeper it is, the longer it takes to bake, so allow time.

Turkey and Dressing Casserole

Turkey leftovers, slices or chopped, for 2
2  cups gravy
2 cups dressing
2 cups mashed potatoes

Use a good baking dish, one that can go from the freezer to the oven.  (I use pottery rather than glass.) Spread gravy on the bottom of the casserole. It doesn’t have to be very thick. Lay down slices and/or chopped pieces of turkey, enough for two people. Dot or pour over gravy just to cover over the turkey. Now, add slices or crumbles of dressing thickly over the turkey and gravy. Put more gravy over the dressing — enough to cover but not to drench. Put scoops of mashed potato on top of the dressing and smooth over with a spatula, like frosting. Cover with plastic wrap and, if you have a big enough freezer bag, put into the bag.  (If not, just a double layer of plastic wrap will do.)

When it’s time to reheat the casserole, you can either take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before, or just take from the freezer to the oven. Set the oven at 350. The frozen casserole will obviously take a longer time, up to an hour. When the casserole is bubbly and very hot, take it out. If it was frozen, check the middle with a fork to be sure it’s hot throughout.

Serves 2

From Bonnie Walker

(photo provided by Butterball)

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Hot Brown a Rich Way to Use Leftover Turkey

Hot Brown a Rich Way to Use Leftover Turkey

HotBrown2There are endless variations on this recipe. Some omit the tomatoes and the parsley. Others use biscuits instead of toast. Feel free to adapt it to your tastes. The following recipe comes from the website of the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., where the dish originated.

The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe

2 ounces butter
2 ounces flour
1 quart heavy cream
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
14 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast
2 slices of Texas toast (crust trimmed)
4 slices of crispy bacon
2 roma tomatoes, sliced in half
Paprika, for garnish
Parsley, for garnish

HotBrown3In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk whipping cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to cover the dish completely. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross 2 pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

From the Brown Hotel

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Griffin to Go: A Southern Approach to Using Leftover Turkey

Griffin to Go: A Southern Approach to Using Leftover Turkey

In “A Christmas Story,” the narrator gleefully describes all of the leftover turkey dishes that won’t be served in his household that winter after the neighbors’ dogs have made away with their dinner: “No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, all gone!”


Hot Brown

Not on his list of leftover ideas is one that I grew up with in Louisville, Ky. It’s known as the Hot Brown, and it originated at one of the city’s finer hotels, the Brown.

According to the dish’s history on the hotel’s website, chef Fred Schmidt created the Hot Brown in the 1920s after patrons of the nightly dinner dance grew tired of the same ham and eggs to sober them up before leaving. He combined a Mornay sauce and bacon with turkey breast meat and broiled the dish until it was bubbly. A culinary tradition was born.

The state also had something of a signature dish with the Hot Brown, which I remember in my younger days being served at political functions, at fancy dress dinners, at derby parties, in people’s homes. It was, and is, a staple.

As with any good dish, variations have cropped up over the years. If one is to believe the recipe offered by the Brown, Texas toast is used as the base. I have had it served more often on homemade biscuits. Food Network star Bobby Flay’s gussied up variation uses an egg-batter bread.

Some swear the original did not come with slices of tomato. I like the addition because the freshness and brightness of the tomato’s acid cuts through the rich sauce.

The Brown’s recipe is also served with parsley on top. I don’t recall ever seeing that on a Hot Brown in the past, even when I’ve had it at the Brown Hotel. Nothing about this dish calls for a touch of green. And why would you want to hide the bacon?

I even devised a low-fat version one year using fat-free half-and-half, reduced-fat cheese and turkey bacon. It wasn’t bad, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as more than an experiment.

I visited my folks at the beginning of the month, and we shared a Thanksgiving feast a little early. The next day, Mom whipped up some Hot Browns for us, and she offered a new version: To cut the carbs somewhat (though not completely when you count the flour in the sauce), she left the bread out completely. No biscuits, no Texas toast, nothing. She also served the leftover cran-raspberry relish on the side, which added to its luster. A glass of white Burgundy and you’re all set for some good eats.

So, don’t feel tied to tradition when making your own version. The beauty of this dish is that it will make you forget you’re using leftover turkey.

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WalkerSpeak: The Thanksgiving Panic

WalkerSpeak: The Thanksgiving Panic

TurkeyGraphicHad humorist James Thurber experienced Thanksgiving at my house last year, he would have immortalized it in his classic book, “My Life and Hard Times.”

The reason was that almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Yet, it was a very good day. We’ll remember it for the good food, friends and fun that accompanied the slips, cuts and scrapes, explosions, burns, cat scratch, broken dishes, false smoke alarms, forgotten ingredients, dishes left at home, dishes not served (because of forgetfulness), and so forth.

How could such pandemonium turn out to be a success for the hosts? It was simply because of the good things involved:

  1. Our friends each possess a fine sense of humor.
  2. The food was delicious. The turkey was one of the best I’d made. Friends brought outrageously good side dishes and desserts, from steamed fresh clams for appetizers to the best sweet potato pie we’d ever eaten.
  3. The weather was crisp and cool, so guests could relax on the back patio before dinner.
  4. The wine was terrific, the conversation brilliant.
  5. No one got sick, and no fistfights broke out.

The least serious events might have been the cuts and scrapes. These are expected on big food holidays. Someone nicked fingers with a knife. One person scraped her hand on a door frame as she was leaving her house and was bleeding by the time she got to ours. This happened to our friend June, running late because she’d left the evaporated milk out of her sweet potato pies and had to make them over.

The cat scratch might be construed as an accident, as the cat in question, Otis, and my friend, John, are well acquainted and on quite good terms. I believe what happened was that John didn’t pick up on some subtle communication from the cat, warning him that a claw was imminent. We washed and bandaged the minor yet terribly bloody wound, admonished Otis (although to what avail this was I have no idea) and that was that.

I’d venture a guess that very few people have ever driven across town only to find that they’d forgotten to bring the Thanksgiving clams. But our friend Cecil got back into his truck to make the 35-minute trip home to retrieve them.

Meanwhile, I had turned the heat off under the pressure cooker, which I’d decided to use to cook potatoes. It is an ancient pressure cooker that had belonged to my husband’s late mother. But it was in good working order, especially after I put new rubber gaskets in it.

It really is too embarrassing to say much more – it might have been my fault when I asked my husband, David, to open the pot and mash the potatoes. He opened it before it had completely cooled and, ka-blam!, the thing exploded, burning his hand and sending blobs of hot, wet potato flying. The room turned into a skating rink as we slid around on slick potato water coating the ceramic tile, trying to clean it all up.

I’d like to report that David’s  scar from that burn, which disturbed me terribly for months afterward, is now nearly invisible. My husband had iced down the burn immediately but refused any other treatment and now seems proud of the scar. Which I think is weird.

The great crash of broken crockery didn’t come from the kitchen that night. David had gone digging around on a bedroom dresser in the dark looking for Band-Aids he thought he’d seen there. He somehow slipped and knocked a heavy pottery dish holding my jewelry onto the floor. By this time, the shrieks of alarm in the living room were followed almost immediately by disbelieving laughter.

That night, after everyone had gone home, I was cleaning up the kitchen when I discovered the cornbread dressing still in the now-cold oven. It had never been served.

The final event that I’ll report actually happened first thing in the morning. The smoke alarms in two rooms of the house went off.  As they shrieked and shrieked (a distressing quarter-tone apart from each other), we were clueless as to what had set them off. The stove wasn’t even on yet.

Later we decided they’d gone off for a good reason – to give us a raucous warning about what lay ahead on that chaotic Thanksgiving Day.

May yours this year be a little more peaceful, but no less joyous or tasty.

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