Archive | March 17th, 2010

What Would You Pay to Watch a Taping of ‘Iron Chef America’?

What Would You Pay to Watch a Taping of ‘Iron Chef America’?

Want to buy a 1945 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, often considered one of the greatest wines of the last century?

Or would like to get two VIP passes to a taping of “Iron Chef America”?

These are but two of the items currently featured in the Culinary Institute of America’s online auction, which is a complement to the school’s annual leadership awards gala.

The culinary school is accepting bids through April 1. Other items include dinner for six at José Andrés Minibar, a six-seat restaurant in Washington, D.C.; dinner for four at New York’s Le Bernardin; and a Chicago weekend package.

Johnny Hernandez, Sheri Noland and James Sanchez have donated a San Antonio weekend package that includes a two-night stay at the Hotel Contessa, a dinner for two at Hernandez’s La Gloria, which is expected to open in May, and dinner for two at Acenar, where Sanchez is executive chef.

Click here for the full list and for details.

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Grilled Veggie Pitas With Feta Cheese

Grilled Veggie Pitas With Feta Cheese

This concession, which I introduced at last year’s first Olives Olé, featured  an array of fresh vegetables seasoned, grilled and doused with lemon juice and olive oil. We used freshly baked pita bread from Ali Baba International Market’s bakery. Feta cheese topped off the sandwiches. Also, you might include kalamata or your favorite olives as garnish.

Grilled Veggie Pitas With Feta Cheese

6-8 pieces pita bread, warmed
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1 medium Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices
1/2 bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and sliced in about 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into medium dice
1/2 orange, yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into medium dice
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium crookneck squash, sliced
10-12 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
6-8 green onions, trimmed, with about 4 inches of green left on
2 lemons, cut in half
Vegetable seasoning blend of your choice, or just salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese for garnish
Kalamata or other olives, optional garnish
Additional feta cheese, olive oil, and lemon wedges to pass

Heat oven to 200 degrees.  Wrap the pita in foil and warm in the oven while vegetables are cooking.

Warm 3 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan or on a flat-top grill or griddle. When medium-hot, add the eggplant, fennel, and onion, and sauté, turning gently once or twice (you want the veggies to pick up a fresh-roasted, grilled color and be tender, but not mushy, at the end). When the eggplant and fennel are about half done (2 minutes or so), add the rest of the vegetables, and as much of the rest of the olive oil as needed. You may wish to sauté the vegetables in batches if you don’t have a large flat-top grill. As the vegetables are cooking, season lightly with your favorite seasoning that includes salt. (See note.)

When vegetables are lightly browned, tender, and well seasoned, squeeze the juice from one of the lemons evenly over all. Place one warm pita bread on each plate and fill with vegetables, taking care to include a little of each one.  (We didn’t split the pita breads — they were fresh and pliable so we just topped them and folded them over.) Sprinkle about one tablespoon of feta cheese on each. Pass more lemon, feta, and olive oil for people to add as they wish.

Note: Experiment with purchased seasoned salts, such as garlic and onion salt or vegetable-flavored salt. Create your own fresh herb and salt mixes, such as dilled salt, but use fresh rosemary sparingly.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

Photo by Tracey Maurer Photography

Styling by Bonnie Walker, June Hayes and Tracey Maurer

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Chicken, Chorizo and Mushroom Paella

Chicken, Chorizo and Mushroom Paella

Few dishes are more festive than a paella cooked outdoors. Fire up the grill and enjoy a warm evening with friends. The entire paella can be cooked on the grill; just cover with foil during the last 5 minutes of cooking, and let the foil remain while the paella rests. This dish, created by Leslie Horne of Les Dames d’Escoffier, will be served at the 2010 Olives Olé  on March 27 at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.

Chicken, Chorizo and Mushroom Paella

Terry Thompson Anderson’s Secret Poultry Spice Rub:
1/4 cup cumin seed
2 tablespoons coriander seed
1 1/2 teaspoons Tellicherry peppercorns
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons Spanish smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons salt

6 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
3 tablespoons spice rub
Kosher salt
6 chicken thighs
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 links Aurelia’s Spanish Style Chorizo or other Spanish-style chorizo, sliced into ¼ inch thick sliced (see note)
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 medium tomato, grated or finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
3 cups short grain rice
2 cups green peas
Roasted red pepper strips for garnish (Can be purchased in a jar, or roast your own)

To make the spice mix, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until very aromatic.  Grind them to a powder with the peppercorns.  Transfer to a small bowl and blend in remaining spices, mixing thoroughly.  Store in airtight container.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine chicken broth and saffron in large pot and heat to almost boiling. (Do not let it boil, or it will evaporate.) Dust spice rub and salt over chicken thighs.

In a 15-inch paella pan, over 2 burners, heat olive oil.  Brown chicken on all sides, but do not cook through. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion and bell pepper, cooking until onion is wilted and translucent. Add chorizo and mushrooms, cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato, garlic and parsley. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms begin to soften and garlic becomes aromatic.

Add 3 cups rice; stir to coat with pan drippings. Return chicken thighs to pan. Carefully add the hot saffron chicken broth. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Bring the stock to a boil; cook for 5 – 7 minutes rotating pan over two burners. Scatter peas evenly over entire pan but do not stir. Garnish the top of paella with strips of roasted red peppers.

Place in preheated oven and continue to cook for 15-20 min. or until rice is al dente. Remove from oven and cover with foil and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

(Photo: Tracie Maurer)

Note: Mexican-style chorizo cannot be substituted in the recipe.

Paella serves 6.  Spice Rub makes about 3/4 cup.

From Leslie Horne

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Celebrate Olives Olé, a Festival in the Orchard

Celebrate Olives Olé, a Festival in the Orchard

Recipe: Grilled Veggie Pitas With Feta Cheese

Do olive trees grow in Texas?

At Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard near Elmendorf, around 11,000 olive trees of different varieties are proving that, yes, fruit-bearing olive trees not only can grow here, but more and more of them are being planted and successfully grown in many other climate-friendly areas of Texas.  In fact,  there are now 65 or more growers in the state.

Now, it’s time to celebrate this growing industry.

On March 27, Olives Olé, the International Olive Festival of Texas, springs to life at Sandy Oaks.  From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the festival presents tastings, including olive oils and the region’s largest olive tasting bar, and gourmet food concessions presenting everything from paella and grilled veggie pita sandwiches to olive oil cake.

Festivalgoers can attend cooking demonstrations, health and nutrition seminars offered throughout the day and tours of the ranch, plus shop for products made from olives or purchase olive trees.  Also, a new olive jewelry and fashion line will be launched at this year’s festival.

Recipe: Chicken, Chorizo and Mushroom Paella

“Last year’s event was a huge success,” says Saundra Winokur, owner of Sandy Oaks and one of the pioneer olive growers in the state.  “We expect this year to be even better.”

Winokur has a 258-acre ranch that sprawls across a gently rolling landscape off Mathis Road south of San Antonio. With 40 acres planted to olive trees, Winokur has been a strong supporter of an olive industry in Texas for more than a decade.  Last fall was a landmark harvest for her, as she had just installed a brand new Italian olive press.

Last year’s festival was the first Olives Olé, the annual fundraiser for Les Dames d’Escoffier San Antonio. The local group is affiliated with Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a service organization of women involved with the culinary arts. Funds raised at the event go toward scholarships and community outreach programs.

Olives Olé tickets cost $10 at the gate. Or, they may be purchased at the customer service centers at area H-E-B stores. There will be ample free parking. Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is at 25195 Mathis Road.

Photos by Tracey Maurer, Les Dames d’Escoffier

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