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Archive | January, 2010

Party Flavors: Get Your Game Day Snack Recipes Here

Party Flavors: Get Your Game Day Snack Recipes Here

With the game a week away, don’t just rely on the same old chips and salsa, order-in pizza and bean dip out of a can. SavorSA will be putting up a week’s worth of daily Super Bowl snack suggestions and recipes. Check them out right here, starting with today’s creamy avocado dip that doubles as a salad dressing, plus favorites from our recipe files!

Recipe: Creamy Avocado Salsa

Recipe: Date Bars

Last minute snacks, little or no work

Recipe: Sugar Cream Pie

Recipe: Pecan pralines a new orleans treat for almost 400 years

Recipe: Tomatillo salsa, easy to make.

Recipe: Skewered crisp shitakes with garlic.

Recipe: Vegetarian chili with cheese and scallions.

Recipe: Truffled Goat Cheese Spread

Great slider buns and easy mini subs.

Recipes: Popcorn

Recipe: Bonnie's Guacamole

Recipe: Make your own Muffuletta

Recipe: Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Recipes: Wings, Three Ways

Recipe: A Trio of Colorful Salsas

Recipe: Grilled Pizza

Posted in Cooking, News4 Comments

Score Points With Spicy, Creamy Avocado Salsa

Score Points With Spicy, Creamy Avocado Salsa

A creamy variation on guacamole.

This  salsa is one of my standbys for taking to potlucks and parties. The ease of making it in a blender is just part of the appeal.  I like this dip thick, but if you want to stretch those avocados further, add more of the Herdez Salsa Verde (canned tomatillo salsa).

I also use this as a salad dressing. Make it up fresh and use right away, otherwise, your pretty green dressing will go the way of guacamole left out too long and become brown dressing.

Finally, the Texas chain Ninfa’s, that used to have a restaurant in San Antonio, had a famous table sauce that is much like the one I make.  I don’t know exactly how they make theirs, but this is how I was making mine before I set foot in a Ninfa’s. Nevertheless, here is a friendly nod to Ninfa’s Green Sauce.

Creamy Avocado Salsa

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
4-6 sprigs, without stems, fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sour cream (light is OK)
2 large Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Herdez Salsa Verde (a little more than half of a 7-ounce can)
2 dashes of Tabasco sauce
Juice from 1 lemon (no seeds) or lime
1 roasted, peeled anaheim (Hatch) chile
1/4 teaspoon finely minced serrano chile, optional
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Put the garlic, onion, cilantro, sour cream, avocados, salsa verde, Tabasco sauce and lemon or lime juice into a blender. Pulse and blend until the ingredients are well puréed. Scrape into a medium bowl, then fold in the minced serranos. Cover right away with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator so the flavors can blend, 15-20 minutes or so. When you take out, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper now, to taste. If you’re serving with chips, remember these are salty, so don’t over-salt the dip.

For salad dressing: Make the same way, but leave out the minced chiles if you don’t want the heat (I like the heat, though). Scoop sauce on top of fresh greens and toss gently to distribute. Serve right away.

Makes about 3 cups of dip.

From Bonnie Walker

Photos by Bonnie Walker

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Ask a Foodie: What Is So Golden About Goldenberries?

Ask a Foodie: What Is So Golden About Goldenberries?

Q. I found a bag of something dried at the health food store called goldenberries. All it said on the back was that they were high in flavonoids and that they were from Peru. But what are they?

-Sue

A. Goldenberries are a fruit originally from Peru and Colombia but are now grown in warm climates around the world.

Here’s a bit of background information from the website BeOnLiving.com: “Also known as Inca Berries or Incan Berries, these sweet and tangy dried fruits were a staple of the Peruvian ancients but were nearly lost to history. Luckily, this delicious, nutritious berry has been rediscovered and is once more making culinary conquests.

“Dried, goldenberries are like chewy, citrusy raisins. Tart, sweet, and highly nutritious, they’re great for snacking right out of the bag.

“They’re bursting with nutrients – especially phosphorous and Vitamins A, C, B1, B6, and B12. They also deliver a healthy dose of bioflavonoids (known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties).”

According to LiveSuperfoods.com,  goldenberries are also high in protein. Each serve offers 16 percent of the daily recommended allowance.

Use goldenberries in most ways you’d use raisins, yet want that more citrusy flavor: oatmeal cookies, rice pudding, granola, smoothies, pies.

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Heavy Rains Can’t Hold Back the Drive for a Free Breakfast

Heavy Rains Can’t Hold Back the Drive for a Free Breakfast

Thanks to the rain, lines were not long.

Thanks to the rain, lines were not long.

The annual Cowboy Breakfast, the unofficial start of the San Antonio rodeo season, arrived Friday in the midst of a heavy rain. Temperatures were in the low 40s, and an icy wind sliced through the air. But none of that stopped thousands of San Antonians from showing up for some free food, coffee and a chance to party.

Space under the tents and overhangs was at a premium for much of the morning, which started at 4:30 a.m. Workers had to show up at least an hour earlier than that.

The desire to stay dry meant that while there were plenty of people on hand, few were willing to stand in line for any one food item. So, you could walk up and grab a pair of Delicious Tamales or a Johnsonville Brat, even the Pioneer Mills’ biscuits and gravy without having to wait.

Space heaters provided some warmth.

Space heaters provided some warmth.

That pleased more than a few, who would dart from their dry spots to grab a snack or a cup of McDonald’s coffee and race again for cover.

After the Cowboy Breakfasts I’ve attended in the past, I never thought I would envy the food workers. But watching them under their dry tents, near the warmth of the charcoal, made me rethink that. It just might be a good idea to volunteer next year.

Many grabbed a bite, then headed for cover.

Many grabbed a bite, then headed for cover.

The only thing in short supply was adequate trash receptacles, forcing people to stack their trash high on the few counters in the parking lot.

Time to cook the sausage.

Time to cook the sausage.

Rain can't stop a party in San Antonio.

Rain can't stop a party in San Antonio.

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Two Restaurant Openings Set

Two Restaurant Openings Set

Two new restaurants will open in the coming weeks, offering diners new tastes from two of the city’s finest chefs.

• Damian Watel of Bistro Vatel, Ciao Lavanderia and others will be opening Cafe des Artistes at the San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Ave., on Feb. 15.

The restaurant will be open for lunch in the beginning, Watel says, with hours until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays when the museum is also open late.

The menu will include pressed sandwiches, salads and more. The space, which opens up onto the new extension of the River Walk, can seat up to 100 and is available for catered events, including weddings, brunches and more.

• Chef Bruce Auden says his new restaurant, Auden’s Kitchen in the Stone Oak area, will open Monday, Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. for dinner. It will be closed Feb. 7, then reopen Feb. 8 at 11 a.m., for lunch and dinner.

The restaurant, located in the Plaza at Concord Park, 700 Sonterra Blvd. at Sigma Drive, will be contemporary in concept, with an open kitchen, and moderate in price, according to Perney Shea, sales and catering manager for Biga on the Banks, Auden’s restaurant on the River Walk. “It has a great look, (local artist) Jill Giles did our design.”

Lunches, featuring entrees such as fish and chips, burgers, pizza, chicken pot pie and so forth, will be in the $12-$15 range, and dinners at around $25.

“It will be comfortable and casual, just as if you were sitting in the kitchen at a friend’s,” Shea said.

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The World’s Largest Free Breakfast Friday

The World’s Largest Free Breakfast Friday

Friday marks the annual return of the Cowboy Breakfast, an unofficial start of the rodeo season in San Antonio.

This year, the free breakfast runs from 4:30 to 9 a.m. at Cowboys Dancehall, 3030 N.E. Loop 410 near the Perrin Beitel exit. This is the latest location for the event, which has been held at places such as the Rim off I-10 and at Northstar Mall in the past.

The event, listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest free breakfast in the world, is sponsored each year by the Cowboy Breakfast Foundation, which raises scholarship funds distributed within the community.

Free coffee and breakfast are offered while numerous bands play in the background, helping warm up the usually chilly morning. (KENS 5 predicts the weather will be “cold, windy and wet” with showers likely and a low of about 38 degrees.)

The menu generally includes breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy, tamales and more. But it’s San Antonio’s willingness to party at any hour of the day that makes the event so much fun.

See you there, rain or, well, not shine.

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Say ‘Aloha’ to Good Hawaiian Eats

Say ‘Aloha’ to Good Hawaiian Eats

Kalua Pork and Cabbage

House made potato chips with mango-papaya salsa

Some time ago we visited this family-owned restaurant, then called the Aloha Kitchen, when it was on Austin Highway. It was at the rear of a flower shop. You walked past the counter where you ordered bouquets, through a small room where you could buy Hawaiian shirts and, if I recall correctly, macadamia nuts and other such items.

After taking a few turns in a maze of hallways you got to a large room filled with tables. Now, you were in the one place in town that you could sit down and order authentic Hawaiian favorites.

The family business recently moved in to a small restaurant space on Harry Wurzbach Road. There is no flower shop to negotiate here, but at the Aloha Grill we found the same big, friendly spirit that we had before, and some very good food.

Food: 4.0
Service: 4.5
Value: 4.5

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

The two sisters serving tables in the dining room called out “aloha” when we entered and when we departed. They were happy to answer our questions about Hawaiian cuisine, and our server, Renée, did so with obvious interest and detailed information.

Our first question was about the three-color fried chips that we ordered with a bowl of sweet, spicy and fruity Mango Papaya Salsa. These were potato chips, but the color differences were because of where they were grown in Hawaii. The various types of volcanic ash in the soil lent them their hues of off-white, purple or terracotta, we were told. The potatoes are sliced and packaged in Hawaii, but The Aloha Grill fries them in house. They were a little greasy, but that’s never stopped us before from liking house-cooked chips. (In fact, salt sticks better to greasy chips than dry ones.) The salsa was simple but satisfying.  I am sure we’ll order it when we return.

Nalu's Teri Burger

Looking at their list of “Local Kine Favorites” we skipped the poi, a starchy paste that is a Hawaiian staple, and moved down the list to the Spam Musabi. Spam is another popular food in Hawaii, and we weren’t being snobs (well, not too much) by not ordering it.

Instead, we’d seen something more appealing, the Lomi Lomi Salmon. This dish was a reminiscent of pico de gallo or ceviche. Diced fresh salmon was mixed with similarly cut onion and tomato. The result was an ultra-fresh, mild-tasting mixture that we ate by the spoonful. It would also have been good as a dip or a topping for bruschetta.

My companion’s eyes are trained to go first to the pork on any given menu. Hawaiians love pork, and the dish that caught his eye was the Kalua Pork and Cabbage. The shredded roast pork, in a light pork-flavored broth, was mixed with perfectly cooked fresh cabbage mounded on top of sticky rice. It was so lovely to behold that I almost abandoned my Teri Burger, a half pound of hand-pressed Black Angus served on a toasted bun with teriyaki mayonnaise.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

We ended up sharing, as we generally do. The pork and cabbage was simple, but sheer comfort, all the way down to the broth-soaked lumps of warm rice. The burger was a perfect medium, the trimmings were fresh. I really liked the teriyaki mayonnaise.

When we go back (and we definitely will be back) the next pork venture will probably be the Pork Adobo; the beef lover will probably give the Mauimarkie Cheese Steak Sandwich (sliced grilled rib-eye, marinated in Teriyaki sauce, topped with melted Swiss cheese) a try.

Dessert was a choice between Mango Pie or Pineapple Cake.  We had both, it only seemed right. Had this been a contest, I think the fresh, creamy flavors of the pie pushed it just ahead of the cake – even though the cake tasted freshly made, heavily frosted (a good thing) and rich in pineapple flavor and macadamia nut texture.

The Aloha Grill offers much to go back to – we didn’t try the Aloha Maid juices, with choices like strawberry guava and passion orange. We were almost hooked by the Crab Quiche, too, or Uncle Choona’s Beef Kalbi, a Korean specialty that was served at the Aloha Kitchen, too.

Pineapple cake

Pineapple cake

Mango pie

We never did try the poi. My friend had been to Hawaii and didn’t just love the poi he’d had there, and I was similarly unimpressed with my experience of it. But we’ll trust Aloha Grill to show us, next time, just what good poi should taste like.

While I’d really like to mention every other dish on the menu, I hope you’ll go discover them for yourselves. You will be glad you gave this warm little restaurant a try. The ambience is pared-down simple, but the real atmosphere comes from the good aromas, tastes and friendliness of the personnel, as well as the authenticity of the food.

The Aloha Grill
1151 Harry Wurzbach Road (and Burr Road)
(210) 826-7426
www.thealohagrill.com
Lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Dinner: Tue.- Sat., 5-8 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Posted in Featured, Restaurants5 Comments

WalkerSpeak: ‘Still Waters’ Not Exactly Foodie Mystery, But Very Tasty

WalkerSpeak: ‘Still Waters’ Not Exactly Foodie Mystery, But Very Tasty

Synaesthesia: When one type of sensation evokes another sense. For example when a sound is experienced in part as a color, or when a color prompts a sound, or, when sounds evoke certain tastes.

Though I have a profound love for well-written police procedurals or crime dramas, I am lukewarm on mysteries that feature a cook or caterer, or a lot of cooking right up there with all the angst and gore.

I do like a well-plotted and absorbing mystery in which good food is of importance to the protagonist, however. Nero Wolfe comes immediately to mind. He was not a great cook himself, but his personal Swiss chef, Fritz Brenner, was. Wolfe was a great detective and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic eater.

Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s heroine in her A-B-C mystery series, is someone you want for your best friend, or at least someone to have at your back in a fight.  Grafton frequently has Millhone digging into a Hungarian dish at her favorite restaurant and moaning in pleasure. She makes the same sounds when she bites into her favorite sandwich, sliced hard-cooked eggs, still a little bit warm, with lots of mayonnaise and salt.

I also liked writer Phyllis Richman’s dining critic/amateur detective series simply because Richman was a long-time food critic herself. Her character, Chas Wheatley, rang true most of the time, including her struggle to remain able to fit into her clothes.

[amazon-product]0307377032[/amazon-product]If you are a die-hard mystery fan and a foodie, I suggest checking out the book, “Still Waters” (Pantheon, $23.95).  I picked up a a well-used copy at a bookstore last weekend and finished it in short order. Then, I headed to Google to see if the author, Nigel McCrery, had written another book about the protagonist, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie.

McCrery, a Londoner and former police officer, has written a number of other series, including the best-selling, five-book Samantha Ryan detective stories. To my delight, his second in the DCI Lapslie series is due out in the United States in February.

Lapslie has synaesthesia, and it’s a somewhat more fascinating disability than TV detective Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Lapslie tastes sounds. The sound of his fellow officers chattering away in the squad room brings an unpleasant taste of blood to his mouth. The memory of a murderer he interviewed years ago brings back the sensation of too-sweet, rotting lychees. The voice of his assistant, police sergeant Emma Bradbury is, fortunately, a citrus taste, lemons and limes.

McCrery is a disciplined writer. The disability isn’t allowed to take over the narrative, but it is ever-present, just as it is for Lapslie.

[amazon-product]0307377024[/amazon-product]Synaesthesia has played havoc with his job and his personal life. His wife and children had to move away because the constant mingling flavors of their noise and voices drove him to distraction. Though a talented and relentless detective, he was sidelined from his job for the same reason, but is brought back to pursue an unusual but exceedingly sly serial killer: a little old lady.

As the book jacket blurbs say, the book does bring to mind “Arsenic and Old Lace,” but on steroids. And, as you might suspect, Lapslie’s synaesthesia can be both a disability as well as an unusual super-ability for a police detective.

“Still Waters” is a page turner. Some of its charm for me, though, was amusement at various descriptions of the detective’s tastes of sound — children playing at a distance “sounded” like the faint flavor of warm vanilla; the chief pathologist’s voice tasting like “brandy and soda.”

Amusing, but ever so often the author uses the disability to send a cold trickle of fear down the reader’s spine. I’m looking forward to reading McCrery’s new book, “Tooth and Claw.”

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Ask a Foodie: How Did Hushpuppies Get Their Name?

Ask a Foodie: How Did Hushpuppies Get Their Name?

Q. I love hushpuppies, especially when they have a little chopped onion and cayenne pepper in them. But I’ve always wondered why that are called that.

— A.R.

A. You might be able to guess why these delicious, deep-fried cornmeal dumplings are called by this name. According to “The Food Lover’s Companion,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst,  tradition has it that the name comes from the fact that, to keep hungry dogs from begging for food while dinner was being prepared, cooks would toss scraps of fried batter to the pets, telling them to “Hush, puppy!” Hushpuppies traditionally accompany fried catfish in Southern cooking.

In “The Dictionary of American Food and Drink,” by John F. Mariani, the author mentions another reference, the “Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” that cited the phrase as referring to deep-fried salamanders, sometimes called “water puppies.” This was a particularly lowly food, often used as bait. The phrase might have come about because a Southern wife might not want her neighbors to know she was making it for dinner, and so changed its name.

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Griffin to Geaux: Almost Too Easy in the Big Easy

Griffin to Geaux: Almost Too Easy in the Big Easy

The Peanut Butter Burger at Yo Mamma's

Do not try this at home.

If you do, just don’t tell your doctor.

That’s the message I came away with after spending a few days in New Orleans recently.

The Big Easy — or Who Dat Nation, as fans of the Saints call it — is easy on the eye and palate when it comes to food. And I seem willing to give in to temptation every time.

There’s never enough time on any trip, though, to sample the amount of food there is to be had, so I told myself I would just have to squeeze in an extra meal somewhere.

That meant two dinners in one evening.

I’m a professional, I told myself. I can do this.

Well, the first, at a soul food restaurant called the Praline Connection, consisted of a mountain of fried fish, fried shrimp, fried oysters and deviled crab perched atop an equally daunting pile of french fries. On the side – yes there were side dishes – was an overgrown order of crowder peas with rice as well as a bowl of the most sinful-looking macaroni and cheese I had seen in some time. (I say sinful, because as a diabetic, pasta is strictly verboten. I shouldn’t have the breaded seafood, either, or the carb-heavy potatoes, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, I avoided the rice because I simply had to make some slight acknowledgment to my diet.)

Though I filled a large to-go container for breakfast the next morning, I still managed to put away more food than I would have liked. And yet I just had to get to Yo Mama’s,

Why?

Because of the Peanut Butter Burger.

The assorted seafood platter at the Praline Connection

That’s right, a burger with warm peanut butter on top and then crowded with plenty of crisp bacon. It’s one of the specialty burgers at Yo Mamma’s, alongside the Burger Romanoff with sour cream and caviar or the Texas Burger with barbecue sauce. (Is that all Texas has to offer the outside world? The owner needs to discover the bean burger as a better representative of what the Lone Star state has to offer.)

But back to the peanut butter burger: If the idea sounds terrible, then think about who peanuts are used to such great effect in Thai food.

The thought of that sent me dashing off from the Praline Connection at one end of the Quarter to Yo Mamma’s toward the other.

I was glad I made the effort. The burger itself was spectacular. I wish I knew the secret of what made it so great, served medium to order and bursting with more flavor and juice than you find most places nowadays. It really landed in the top five burgers I’ve had in my life.

I just wish the peanut butter had melted just a little more into the meat. The two didn’t quite coalesce into a whole. I kept tasting the peanut butter and the beef separately. But it really didn’t matter. I can play with the recipe and the idea at home.

I just wish I knew what made the burger so good. The entire half-pound patty was gone all too quickly, even though my stomach was telling me, “Enough, already.”

I took the salad on the side to go. I could eat it on the ride home the next day, I told myself. Except I left it in the refrigerator. And there would have been no room. I had the leftovers of a pulled pork po’ boy, and that was enough for the road. Well, that and a cupcake with almond frosting. And the 10 pounds of sausage I picked up on the road …

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