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Archive | April, 2011

Chefs’ Corner: Don Strange’s Brioche French Toast and Bananas Foster

Chefs’ Corner: Don Strange’s Brioche French Toast and Bananas Foster

Brioche French Toast and Bananas Foster

Looking for a brunch dish that goes way over the top? Try this recipe from Don Strange of Texas.

“The very thought of this dish is enough to make you hungry,” says Frances Strange in “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” (Shearer Publishing, ) written with Terry Thompson-Anderson. “Don had a flair for creating elaborate, extravagant brunch dishes. This is one he served at a lovely wedding brunch outside of Fredericksburg.”

It’s perfect for Mother’s Day or anytime you want to start the day off with something special.

Brioche French Toast with Bananas Foster

1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
4 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Butter
8 (5/8-inch-thick) slices day-old brioche
Bananas Foster (see below)
Sweetened whipped cream
Cinnamon or nutmeg for garnish
Mint springs to garnish

Bananas Foster

1/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup banana flavored liqueur
1/2 cup dark rum, divided use
4 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

For the French toast, combine the milk, cream, eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; whisk until eggs are well beaten and the batter is smooth. Melt some butter on a flat griddle over medium heat. Dip the brioche slices in the egg batter, coating both sides. Allow excess batter to drip off. Place the battered bread on the hot griddle without touching. (Cook in batches in necessary to avoid crowding.) Cook until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Keep hot in a warm oven while cooking the remaining slices.

For the Bananas Foster: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon with fork and set aside. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon sugar mixture and stir until sugar dissolves. Add banana liqueur and 1/4 cup of the rum. Cook, stirring, until syrupy and thickened (about 5 minutes). Add banana slices and lightly coat with the syrup. Add the remaining rum. Quickly swirl the pan, tilting it toward the flame, to ignite the rum. (If you are using an electric stove, light the rum with a long match.) Swirl the pan, basting bananas with the sauce, until flame subsides. Remove pan from heat, set aside and keep warm.

To serve, stack slices of the French toast on each serving plate. Place banana slices on each serving and drizzle some of the pan sauce over the top. Top with a generous dollop of the whipped cream. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, then add a mint sprig. Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” by Frances Strange with Terry Thompson-Anderson

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M Is for the Many Restaurant Options for Mother’s Day

M Is for the Many Restaurant Options for Mother’s Day

On May 8, it’s all about Mom. Remember all she’s done for you and treat her right. Treat her to the dinner of her choice. The following restaurants range in style from prime steakhouses to extensive buffets to barbecue in the great outdoors.

Reservations are required unless otherwise noted. Tax and tip are not included.

Whether Mom wants a light lunch or an extensive buffet, San Antonio resaturants are ready to please.

Achiote River Cafe, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, 600 Market St., 201-224-1234 — Mother’s Day buffet is 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Begin with spring greens, a Tomato-Thai Basil Salad, Barley and Papaya Salad, Calamari and Shrimp Couscous Salad, and fruit cocktail in ginger syrup. Entrees include Shiner Bock-battered Atlantic Scrod Fillets, Miso-glazed Grilled Chicken, Coconut-Ginger Lamb Curry, prime rib, bone-in ham and an omelet station. Other dishes include a hot and sour tomatillo soup, roasted local harvest vegetables, steamed asparagus in black sesame soy, and garlic horseradish mashed potatoes. Seasonal pastries, mousse and cakes as well as Chef Daniel’s chocolate creation round out the meal. Cost: $30, adults, and $15 for children ages 3-12.

Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., 210-225-0722 — Brunch hours on Mother’s Day are 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. A buffet of appetizers, salads and artisan breads precede an entrée from a menu. Options include a Maine lobster omelet, an organic Eggs Benedict, curried spiced mini lamb meatloaf with spring vegetable ratatouille, brioche Texas toast,  seared Atlantic salmon, pork goulash, pan-roasted wild Alaskan halibut, and smokey garlic roasted prime rib ($3 supplemental). A dessert buffet closes out the meal. A kids’ menu, with choices such as chocolate waffle and chicken fingers with fries, is available. Cost: $49 for adults, $27.50 for kids.

BIN 555 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Artisans Alley, 555 W. Bitters Road, 210-496-0555 — A special four-course Mother’s Day brunch will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The menu features choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert and will include a cheese course served family-style. Drink specials, mimosas and sangria will be available. Cost: $29.95. Children’s menu: $11.

Boardwalk Bistro, 4011 Broadway, 210-824-0100 — Mother’s Day brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A three-course menu will be offered, varying in price from $20 to $32 a person depending upon the entrée selected. Appetizer choices include lobster-asparagus bisque, tomato-basil bisque, a mini-Belgian waffle and Waldorf salad. Entrée options: Eggs Benedict, three-egg omelet, smoked Black Forest Ham on pumpernickel French toast, crab cake, honey-glazed spiral baked ham, and Chateaubriand. Desserts: cheesecake, strawberry tiramisù, chocolate pecan caramel torte, brandied apricot croissant pudding and fresh berries in mascarpone sabayon.  An optional flight of wines accompanies the meal for $16. Flamenco guitar and percussion will also be featured. A child’s plate for $8.99 is available.

Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, 219 E. Houston St.,  210-472-2600 — On Mother’s Day, Bohanan’s open at 5 p.m. with its full menu. In addition, all Mothers will receive a yellow rose and gift box of truffles. www.bohanans.com

Coco Chocolate Lounge and Bistro, 18402 U.S. 281 N., 210-491-4480 — Brunch will be served 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bottomless Champagne or mimosas will be served alongside a buffet of starters featuring smoked salmon and bagels, tomato and mozzarella, shrimp cocktail, mushroom dip, goat cheese dip, hummus, and daily selection of green, Caesar, potato, red pepper, chicken, white truffle and fresh lemon penne salad as well as a selection of charcuteries and cold cuts and a platter of imported and domestic cheeses. A crêpes station will feature sweet and savory selections, including eggs and bacon; smoked salmon with chives and cream; ratatouille and egg; roasted red pepper with tomatoes , potatoes and egg, Nutella banana, chocolate, and roasted pear and crème Chantilly. Egg and entrée choices include  scrambled eggs with apple wood smoked bacon country breakfast sausage and sautéed potatoes; eggs Benedict with smoked Canadian bacon or smoked salmon; and tagliatelle with lardons, English peas, Asiago and chicken. A dessert buffet with a chocolate fountain and more closes out the meal. Cost: $35 for adults, $15 for children under age 12.

Crumpets, 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, 210-821-5600 — Chef Francois Maeder is giving Mom a weekend of celebrations. Special menus will be offered for lunch and dinner May 7 and brunch and dinner May 8. Dinner menus on both evenings will feature hors d’oeuvres, such as Marinated Gulf Shrimp, Scottish Smoked Salmon and Mousse Truffle Pâté. Entrées include Chicken Chasseur, Fresh Rainbow Trout, Shrimp Lyonnaise, New York Strip and the Trilogy, featuring Lobster Tail with Lemon-Garlic Butter, Rack of Lamb Provençal and Beef Tenderloin Rossini.  The May 7 special lunch menu will be served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and will feature a variety of salads, pasta dishes and entrées such as Rosemary Chicken, Fresh Rainbow Trout, Tenderloin of Beef and more. The Mother’s Day brunch, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes entrées such as Shrimp Salad on Avocado, Eggs Benedict, Veal Scaloppini, Shrimp Lyonnaise and more. The Trilogy will also be available. Children’s menu available.  www.crumpetsa.com

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Hwy., 210-822-3358 — Mother’s Day hours are 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. with a special menu from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Two breakfast specials are Earl’s Famous Thins topped with strawberries and served with bacon or house-made pork sausage and Bananas Foster & Walnut French Toast with bacon and maple syrup. For lunch and dinner, specials include a new field greens salad with citrus, jícama and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette; a 6-ounce filet mignon with a Torre di Pietra Port sauce; Beef Lasagna; and Rainbow Trout Amandine. Fried chicken, roast turkey and a select menu of favorites will also be available. Dessert specials include red velvet cake and Earl’s Boston Crème Pie. Children’s menu available.

814 A Texas Bistro, 713 High St., Comfort, 830-995-4990 — Mother’s Day brunch is 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The menu includes grilled petite filet mignon with sweet potato mash and bistro steak butter ($22),  Sautéed Norwegian Salmon with Sweet Pea Risotto and Tomato-Shallot Vinaigrette ($19),  Shrimp & Grits ($18), and Apricot-Herb Glazed Duck Breast ($18). All entrées include choice of salad or soup and a complimentary mimosa for Mom. www.814ATexasBistro.com

El Jarro de Arturo Mexican Restaurant, 13421 San Pedro Ave., 210-494-5084 — The Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet is from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.    Chef-prepared omelets, chilaquiles, spiral ham, potatoes, waffles with Bananas Foster, fajitas, Tex-Mex tacos, enchiladas, pork cascabel, Mexican sides, salads, fresh fruits and desserts will be featured. Cost:  $18.95, adults; $9.95, children under age 10. Regular menu available from 3 to 9 p.m. www.eljarro.com

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, 255 E. Basse Road, 210-824-WINE (9463) — The Mother’s Day brunch is 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The special meal begins with a choice of fruit salad or wedge salad. Entrée choices include mushroom, cheddar and filet mignon frittata; berry-stuffed French toast; smoked salmon and toasted bagel; asparagus, Swiss cheese and lump crab frittata; and filet Benedict. Dessert choices include walnut turtle pie, New York-style cheesecake and  crème brûlée. Cost: $32.95, adults; $15.95, children ages 12 and younger. Moms receive a $25 gift card for a future visit.

Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St., 210-227-1700 — The Brazilian steakhouse will be open for special hours on Mother’s Day. Lunch is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at a cost of $32.50 a person while dinner is 3:30-9 p.m. at a cost of $42.50 a person. Children ages 5 and under are free, and children 6-10 are half-price. Valet parking will be available.

Frederick’s Restaurant, 7701 Broadway, 210-828-9050 — The restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with a special menu. A few of the dishes include New York strip with grilled shrimp, pan-seared salmon, shrimp with Pernod saffron sauce, Korabuta pork chop veal T-bone and more. www.frederickssa.com/

Frederick’s Bistro, 14439 N.W. Military Hwy., 210-888-1500 — The restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-3 pm. for lunch and 5-9 p.m. for dinner. Appetizer specials include, but are not limited to, Baked Oysters Casino ($9), spring rolls in a lettuce cup ($8), crab cake ($9), and beef carpaccio ($8). Some of the main course options include lobster and lump crab meat asparagus salad ($29), Parmesan-crusted rainbow trout ($17), grilled lamb chops ($19), filet mignon with crab and béarnaise ($27), and Eggs Norfolk with smoked salmon and crab ($18). www.fredericksbistro.com/

The Hilton Palacio del Rio, 200 S. Alamo, 210-224-3357 — There will be three seatings for the brunch: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. The soup and salad bar will feature  Cream of Butternut Squash Soup, Cucumber-wrapped Mesclun Mix Salad and Romaine and Pesto-Goat Cheese Bundles. A bread display will be set up alongside omelet and carving stations. Entrées include Chocolate Pecan Waffles, Grilled Salmon, Teriyaki Glazed Chicken, Herb-crusted Pork Chops,  Confetti Jasmine Rice, Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Grilled Carrot Sticks and Shallot Smashed Potatoes. A dessert bar rounds out the meal. Complimentary valet parking and a special chocolate gifts for mothers included. Cost:  $29.95 for adults, $24.95 for seniors,  $15.95 for children ages 6-10 and free for children 5 and younger. www.palaciodelrio.hilton.com

Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, 210-767-7999 — The Mother’s Day Brunch, which runs 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., features high tea dishes, pasta and paella, local and artisan cheeses, salads, sides and more. Egg and breakfast dishes include smoked salmon benedict, brisket hash with poached egg and hollandaise, rosemary brown sugar bacon, country sausage links, cheese blintz with orange marmalade, personal omelets, and pancakes with syrups and roasted fruit. Surf and turf dishes: fresh shucked oysters, oak-smoked mussels and salmon, iced shrimp and roasted chile cocktail, whole fried snapper with chimichurri, grilled flank steak, whole roasted barbecued spiced chicken. From the bakery: pain au chocolat, almond-filled croissants, Palmier, tarts, petite carrot cakes, decadent chocolate truffles, crème brûlée, vanilla bean panna cotta and an ice cream sundae bar. Children’s table offered. Cost: $46.95, adults; $37.95, seniors; $22.50, children ages 5-12.

The Lion and Rose, various locations — Mother’s Day brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eggs Benedict, a breakfast burger, Irish Hash and Eggs, Wimbledon French Toast and more will be offered. Some of the drink specials:  Mimosa, $3.49; Bloody Mary, $3; Irish Bulldog, $5; Pimm’s Royal, $4.99; and Pimm’s Punch, $4.99. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, 1746 Lockhill Selma, 210-349-8466 — The restaurant is celebrating its 10th year of honoring mothers with a brunch served served 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. A five-course menu, with plenty of the restaurant’s signature dishes, will include choice of appetizer and entrée, followed by cheese course and choice of dessert. The Lodge will feature a Farmers Market-inspired Mimosa. Cost: $37.95. Children’s menu: $11.

Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road, 210-561-9700 — Mother’s Day brings a three-course meal from noon to 5 p.m. Start with your choice of Insalata di Mare (cold seafood salad), Arancini di Riso (Italian rice balls), Polenta con Carciofi (polenta cakes with artichoke hearts),  Cozze Fradiavolo (sautéed mussels)  and Carpaccio Cipriani (thin-cut beef tenderloin) among others. Entrée options include Salmone al Caperi (salmon with pasta and a lemon caper sauce), Linguine con Frutta di Mare (linguine with seafood), Pesce Fresca (pan-seared Chilean sea bass),  Carciofi (sautéed chicken breast with artichoke hearts), veal piccata, Agnello Scottadito (parsley- and garlic-brined New Zealand lamb chops), Osso Buco, and Bistecca di Manzo (grilled center-cut New York strip steak). Dessert options:  Tiramisù, cannoli, and fresh berries with cream. Cost: $27.95.

Max’s Wine Dive, 340 East Basse Road., Suite 101, 210-444-9547 — Service hours are 10 a.m.–10 p.m.. All items are available all day, through brunch, lunch and dinner. The menu includes Almond, Strawberry, and Spinach Salad ($9), Orange and Fig Glazed Ham, Roasted Asparagus, Glazed Carrot Purée ($15), and Warm Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Fondue ($8).

Mike’s in the Village, 2355 Bulverde Road, Bulverde, 830-438-2747 — Mother’s Day brunch will be 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be an omelet station while entrées on the buffet will include carved-to-order Creole-seasoned Rib-eye, Herbed-roasted Turkey Breast, Miso-glazed Salmon with Lemon Butter, Southwestern Eggs Benedict plus sides and desserts.  Cost: $39.50 for adults, $15.50 for children ages 5-12, and free for children 4 and younger.

Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., 210-228-0700 — A special Mother’s Day menu is available 3-9 p.m. It includes a choice of Morton’s Salad with Morton’s blue cheese dressing, chopped egg and anchovies or Caesar Salad;  a choice of Single-cut Filet Mignon, Filet Oskar with Asparagus and Jumbo Lump Crab, Broiled Salmon Fillet with Beurre Blanc, Colossal Shrimp Alexander or Chicken Christopher; and choice of vegetable or potato; and a choice of Crème Brûlée or Double Chocolate Mousse. Cost: $59. Regular menu also available.

Paesanos, 555 E. Basse Road, 210-828-5191 — Service will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the regular menu.

Paesanos 1604, 3622 Paesanos Parkway, 210-492-1604 — Service will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the regular menu and a Mother’s Day special: a complimentary Bellini, a small Caesar salad, a five-piece order of Shrimp Paesano and cheesecake and seasonal berries in a Grand Marnier sauce. Cost: $31.95.

Paesanos Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., 210-227-2782 — Service will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the regular menu.

Pike’s Place Restaurant, 167 Panther Ridge, Pipe Creek, 830-535-4442 — Mother’s Day brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A few of the items from the menu are bacon and fontina risotto with a poached egg, eggs Benedict or crab cake Benedict, buttermilk fried chicken, ham and Swiss eggs en croute, vegetarian quiche, steak and eggs, brioche French toast, buttermilk pancakes and mesquite-smoked prime rib. Prices range from $9 to $20. Endless mimosas are priced at $12.

Q on the Riverwalk, Downtown Hyatt, 123 Losoya St., 210-222-1234, ext. 4241 — Service is from 11 a.m.  to 3 p.m.  On the salad bar: fresh spring greens, taboulleh, grilled asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, cold smoked and pressed foie gras, venison brats on cornbread croutons and chipotle aioli, salmon tartar with avocado cream, fresh fruit parfait. Antipasti: assorted domestic and international cheeses, fruit and compote garnishes, variety of charcuterie and patés smoked trout and ale mousse, country pork paté with truffles and pistachio croccantinis with fennel and lavosh, melba toast. Breakfast favorites: made-to-order omelets and eggs, applewood bacon, grilled breakfast sausage, buttermilk waffles with spiced peach compote and maple butter. Entrees: beef sirloin with creamed horseradish, fresh grilled gulf mahi mahi with avocado and smoked mango salsa, green Thai curry with jasmine pilaf, apple chili bbq pork loin with Ranger Creek ale demi, saffron and English pea risotto. Assorted sweet, savory breads. Dessert table. Complimentary champagne and mimosas. Cost: $40, adults; $34, seniors; $19, children ages 5-12. Complimentary self-parking available at the Central Parking garage located across from the hotel.

Roaring Fork, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W., 210-479-9700 — Brunch is served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with dinner available after 4 p.m. In addition to its regular brunch menu, Roaring Fork will offer Pecan-crusted Pork Loin with Molasses Apple Glaze, Oven-baked Snapper over Watercress and Arugula Salad. Dessert options include Key Lime Pie with a Cointreau Raspberry Sauce. www.roaringfork.com

Texas de Brazil, 313 E. Houston St., 210-229-1600 — The doors open at 11 a.m. Mother’s Day with the full array of meats and the salad bar with more than 50 items plus dessert. Also special for Mother’s Day are Brazilian mimosas, a frozen cocktail made with house Champagne, blended with a choice of fruit purée and a touch of orange juice. Mango, papaya, wild berry, strawberry, pomegranate, passion fruit, and guava flavors are among the purées available.

Tost BistroBar, 14425 Blanco Road, 210-408-2670 — A three-course brunch will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will begin with the following: appetizer choice of Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese, Mint and Watercress; Shrimp Bisque with Crème Fraîche; or Crab Cake with a Jicama Slaw. Entrée choices: Pan-seared Petit Filet with Goat Cheese Mash Potato, Grilled Asparagus and Bleu Cheese Béarnaise; Seared Sea Bass with a Crab Citrus Butter Sauce and Curried Cauliflower Purée; or Truffled Lobster Risotto with Roasted Sweet Corn. Dessert choices:  S’mores Chocolate Tart or Homemade Sorbet. Cost: $27.

Tre Trattoria, Fairmount Hotel, 401 S. Alamo St. 210-223-0401, and 4003 Broadway 210-805-0333 — A five-course Mother’s Day brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Signature mimosas and Chef’s Bloody Marys will also be available. Cost: $34.95 a person. Children’s menu: $11.

TriniCakes Cupcakery, 999 E. Basse Road, Suite 178, 210-229-2107 — The Mother’s Day box includes a dozen specialty cupcakes – three lemon, three strawberry, three milk chocolate, and three orange cupcakes – adorned with flower decorations handpicked with her in mind. Cost: $36 a dozen.

Two Bros. BBQ Market, 12565 West Ave., 210-496-0222 — All Moms with a complimentary glass of sangria with dine-in orders over $18. Kids can play in the large yard covered by a canopy of oak trees. No reservations.

Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.,210-493-1600 — Brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a menu that ranges from Chef Steve’s Sashimi Tasting, Maine lobster bisque and broiled oysters to Lemon Sole in Parmesan Crust, Jumbo Georges Bank Scallops, and prime New York Strip. The full menu and dinner will be available after 5 p.m. www.wildfishseafoodgrille.com

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, Suite 25100, 210-690-3334 — Mother’s Day brunch will be served from 10 a.m.  to 3 p.m. Z’Tejas favorites, such as the Chicken and Potato Hash and the Breakfast Quesadilla, will be offered. The weekend fun bar, featuring make-your-own Bloody Marys and mimosas cost $3.50. Until 3 p.m., the Z’Tejas staff will be taking and printing complimentary keepsake family photos, and all moms will receive a free dessert. Reservations are recommended but not required. sanantonio.ztejas.com

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Meet New Coco Bistro Chef Eyhab Hatab

Meet New Coco Bistro Chef Eyhab Hatab

Coco Chocolate Lounge & Bistro welcomed a new chef, Eyhab Hatab, earlier this month. He’s had a couple of weeks to get settled in, but look ahead for interesting cuisine to come as this well-trained chef hits his stride at Coco.

Coco Chocolate Lounge & Bistro welcomes chef Eyhab Hatab.

Raised on the East Coast, Hatab  holds a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University and a Bachelor of Science in Food Science from Rutgers University.  A classically trained Four Diamond Cuisine French Chef, Hatab will lead the restaurant’s culinary team in the development of an upscale yet unpretentious classic French bistro menu.

Hatab was executive chef at Barcelona Wine Bar in Connecticut and executive sous chef at the famous Philadelphia restaurant Le Bec-Fin under French chef Georges Perrier.  He also spent time in the kitchen of Aquavit with executive chef Marcus Samuelson and studied molecular cuisine under the tutelage of New York City’s Daniel Boulud.  Hatab’s culinary philosophy is to use as many fresh, locally grown products as possible while maintaining a commitment to the elements of classical French cuisine.

Coco Chocolate Lounge & Bistro is at 18402 US Hwy 281, Suite 114.

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Dress Up Your Leftover Ham

Dress Up Your Leftover Ham

Ham-and-Pineapple Slaw

Do you have plenty of ham left over from Sunday and don’t know what to do with it? Try this nontraditional salad recipe, from Southern Living’s new cookbook, “101 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95) It gets a lively crunch from cabbage and a touch of sweetness from pineapple.

I found the pineapple a little too sweet for my tastes, so I added a half cup of chopped celery. It provided balance and a crisp texture. Onion would also work.

Cabbage for the slaw.

Ham-and-Pineapple Slaw Sandwiches

2 cups chopped cooked ham
3 cups shredded or chopped cabbage
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Lettuce or greens, optional
4 French sandwich rolls

Combine ham, cabbage, pineapple, mayonnaise, cheese, salt and pepper, stirring gently. Place lettuce or greens to bottoms of rolls, if using. Spoon on salad; cover with tops and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Southern Living’s “1001 Ways to Cook Southern”

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Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad Mixes Two Favorites

Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad Mixes Two Favorites

Avocados go great with pecans in this salad.

Texans love pecans and avocados. So, why not use the two together? That’s the secret of this simple salad, which can be made any time of year, yet it has an appealing array of spring colors. It comes from Southern Living’s latest cookbook, “1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95).

Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad

1 head Bibb lettuce
2 avocados, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Tangy Dijon Dressing (recipe follows)

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Top evenly with avocados and bell pepper slices; sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.

Makes 8 servings.

Tangy Dijon Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2/3 cup dressing.

From Southern Living’s “1001 Ways to Cook Southern”

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Great Beginnings: 7 Appetizers to Kick Off Your Meal in Style

Great Beginnings: 7 Appetizers to Kick Off Your Meal in Style

Panela en Salsa Roja at Aldaco's.

Starting off a meal with a bite of food, whether you call it an appetizer, a tapa, or a small plate, can really whet your appetite for the meal to come. Here is where you’ll find many a chef letting his or her imagination run wild with the freshest ingredients and the most flair. Or, you will find pure comfort in tradition.

Here are seven great starters to enjoy. Several are new, one has been a San Antonio tradition for years, others are ethnic comfort foods. All are a wonderful prelude to your main course, whether it’s burgers, sushi or a gyro platter.

The dishes on the list are not the only great appetizers to be had in town. They are not listed in any order. They are merely meant to remind you of what the city’s restaurants have to offer.

1. Grilled Chinese Chicken Wings at Nosh, 1133 Austin Hwy., 210-824-8686 — Chicken wings are nothing new. But these beauties, with a taste of both peanut oil and sesame oil, are plump and juicy. You’ll be licking your fingers to catch every last drop of the Asian sauce or the creamy cilantro sauce on the side.

The sampler platter at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.

2. Panela en Salsa Roja at Aldaco’s Stone Oak, 20079 Stone Oak Parkway, 210-494-0561, or 100 Hoefgen St., 210-222-0561 — It’s hard to describe just how good this appetizer is, given that it is simply a slab of fried Mexican cheese topped with salsa. But put the two together and you’ll discover culinary alchemy.

3. Scotch Eggs at the Lion and Rose, various locations — The Cardiff Clam Strips and the English Chips with Guinness Cheese often call us, but not as often as the Scotch Eggs. The pub grub favorite is made from a hard-cooked egg wrapped in sausage and cheese before cooking. Serve it with a mustard sauce on one side and a pint of Smithwicks or Newcastle on the other.

4. Sampler platter at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, 19239 Stone Oak Parkway, 210-497-8500 — You want a lot of food? This sampler has it. Dolmas filled with beef and rice, hummus, eggplant dip, spanikopita and more fill the platter. As vast and varied as it is, a party of three managed to clear it and have a fine dinner afterward.

5. Ham and Tomato Shypoke Eggs at Timbo’s, 1639 Broadway, 210-223-1028 — When was the last time you had a skypoke egg? This Alamo City classic originated at Little Hipps Bubble Room and can be found at its descendant, Timbo’s. It’s essentially a nacho made to look like a fried egg, but the addition of silky ham and bright tomato takes it to a new level.

Onion pakoras from Pavani Express.

6.  Beef Sashimi at Sushi Zushi, various locations — Who among us carnivores doesn’t love a generous portion of beef? In this Asian equivalent of Italy’s carpaccio, the seared beef is served with a lively soy dipping sauce, ginger and onions. After one taste, you’ll clear the plate quickly.

7. Pakoras at Pavani Express, 5755 Evans Road, 210-680-3134 — San Antonio’s newest vegetarian restaurant offers several appetizers, including perfect pakoras. These crispy, deep-fried snacks are made with a variety of vegetables, a favorite of which onion.  The tangy tamarind sauce and the cilantro sauce both add to the fun.

Bonnie Walker contributed to this report.

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La Vie: A Good, Varied Menu in a Sort-of-French Setting

La Vie: A Good, Varied Menu in a Sort-of-French Setting

Let’s say you want a pot roast sandwich, your husband is into salads and the kids want pizza or wings.

Quick, you can think of a place, right? Wrong?

We’d suggest thinking La Vie Cafe in the Alon Towne Market, 10003 N.W. Military Highway.

La Vie Cafe serves sandwiches on a long plate, with good fries and a pickle.

There was nothing wrong about the lunch I had with my husband the other day. No children were with us, but our eyes stray to the pizza menu as often as any teenager’s. The pot roast sandwich was deliriously good. A shrimp po’boy was also very good, and we had absolutely nothing but positive things to say about the sides of fries, the homemade chips, and the “right” kind of garlic dill pickle wedge. Even the freshly brewed black tea, to my utter contentment, was clear and strong.

While a light menu is something I should seek out far more of than I do, the thought, and usually the listings, depress me. Sure enough, there they were, the Caesar Salad, Spinach Salad, the Chef Salad, the Ultimate Chef Salad. And there was the soup menu with Tomato Basil and French Onion by another name — La Vie Potage. I like both of these soups and most of the salads, but I rarely order them because they inspire in me nothing but boredom.

Wouldn’t I once love to see something different. Maybe homemade duck sausage soup with fresh sorrel and chestnut quenelles? Or charred baby bok choi with spicy pork dumplings and a few drops of sesame ginger oil floating on top? But no: Tomato (zzzzz) Basil.

The salads going past on the server trays did look good enough to order, though. They were colorful and lively on the plate, not beaten-down lettuces topped with a slump of tired vegetables.  The salad list did depart from the ordinary as well, with the Pacific Wave, for instance — wild-caught Honolulu Ahi Tuna grilled with mango slices, avocado and red onions on a bed of mixed greens, drizzled with lemon basil dressing. Well, OK. That’s somewhat different. And the Balsamic Steak Salad, with grilled tenderloin, greens and other veggie ingredients and a balsamic feta vinaigrette would work for the low-carbers.

Back to my Pot Roast Sandwich. I always have a wistful hope, when I order pot roast, be it in a sandwich or swimming in gravy on a plate, that what appears will be thick slices of fork-tender, flavorful pot roast with straightforward beef gravy, nicely fried onions, maybe even some not-canned sautéed mushrooms. If it is a sandwich I hope the bread will be flavorful but not impede the teeth on their way to the important part.

This fantasy came to life at La Vie. The onion roll was very fresh, soft and flavorful (though it was a tad too sweet) and it was grilled panino style on the outside so it was hot. The pot roast (thick slices, but some tender shreds) was very warm and all good beefy flavor. The onions were tender in the right way (not soggy) and the gravy didn’t taste like it had something weird in it, like sugar or molasses or anchovies. (One never knows …)

My husband’s Not So Po’ Boy had large, nicely firm shrimp and appeared to be (surprise!) hand breaded. The breading did not outweigh the shrimp inside it; it was crisp. The sandwich roll, tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato and everything else about it was fresh and compactly put together. The homemade chips were not overfried to that unappetizing dark brown; they were not underfried either, with the unwelcome appearance of raw potato.

So, to us, La Vie Cafe was a find. We would most certainly go back. I’m not sure if I am quite ready to try the “Albutuerque Sandwich”, though, until I figure out if that is a particularly horrible typo or an attempt at cute. Whichever, the sandwich will probably taste just fine.

A good-sized cafe lunch crowd enjoys La Vie, at the Alon Towne Market.

Oh, perhaps a word about decor. Here we have to say “odd.” Like someone set out to make it look something like an early last-century French cafe, hung some period lighting (I am not sure which period), put up some sort-of-French wall art — and then gave up. In fact, most of the “French” happens about nine feet above your head and stops before it gets to the exposed ductwork on the ceiling.

But, who cares? If you’re happier paying for good food than than impressive ambience, you’ll like La Vie.

La Vie Cafe
10003 N.W. Military Hwy., Ste. 2115
In the Alon Towne Market
210-492-0606
11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

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Warm Eggplant (Aubergine) and Anchovy Salad (Ensalada Templada de Berenjenas y Anchoas)

Warm Eggplant (Aubergine) and Anchovy Salad (Ensalada Templada de Berenjenas y Anchoas)

Use small egplants in this warm tapas recipe.

Look for small eggplants to use in this recipe, not the ones generally used in eggplant Parmesan.

Warm Eggplant (Aubergine) and Anchovy Salad (Ensalada Templada de Berenjenas y Anchoas)

3 eggplants (see note)
1 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and crush
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Peel the eggplants – although this dish is delicious if they are not peeled – then cut them into slices about ¾ inch thick, sprinkle with salt and place in a colander. Leave for 1 hour to draw out the juices, the rinse off the salt and pat dry.

Heat the oil in 1 or 2 skillets or frying pans over low heat and arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer so they have plenty of room. Cover and cook, turning once, for 20 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender and softened. Drain off nearly all the oil, leaving just enough to prevent the slices from sticking. Sprinkle the garlic, parsley and salt over them.

Mix the anchovies with the lemon juice and season with a little pepper. Pour this over the eggplants, covering them evenly, and serve.

Note: Don’t look for the large eggplants often used in eggplant Parmesan. Look for smaller eggplants, about 8 inches in length and 3-4 inches in diameter.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From “The Book of Tapas” by Simone and Inés Ortega

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Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee (Fricasse de Setas con Anchoas)

Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee (Fricasse de Setas con Anchoas)

Use oyster mushrooms or a combination in this tapas recipe.

This tapas recipe gets a kick from garlic mixed with anchovies into a paste.

Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee (Fricasse de Setas con Anchoas)

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ¼ pounds porcini or other wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces
12 canned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 cup stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a flameproof earthenware casserole or a large skillet or frying pan, add the mushrooms and pan-fry over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the anchovies and garlic in a large mortar and crush them to a paste.

Stir the stock and the contents of the mortar into the mushrooms and season with pepper. Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley into the pan, re-cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot, either in a serving dish or on small plates.

Makes 4 servings.

From “The Book of Tapas” by Simone and Inés Ortega

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Give Your Appetizers an Added Richness with Anchovies

Give Your Appetizers an Added Richness with Anchovies

You never know who the anchovy lovers will be.

“Tapas originated in Andalusia, southern Spain, but they are now common all over the country,” Inés Ortega writes in “The Book of Tapas” (Phaidon, $39.95). “Originally a small, free tapa was served with drinks in bars, and it was often a piece of sliced cold meat such as cured ham or chorizo, or a piece of cheese. According to culinary legend, these tapas were used to cover wine glasses to keep the aroma in and to keep the flies and insects out. The word ‘tapa’ originally meant ‘cover,’ a reference to this practice. Nowadays, however, tapas can also be small portions of any of the dishes that make up Spain’s wide and varied cuisine. For example, it is common to find paella being served in small portions as a tapa.”

Tapas, or small plates, are now served worldwide. But the versions you find in Spain still set the standard. One ingredient that you’ll find in many tapas is anchoas, or anchovies, which are used in numerous ways. Some of the recipes that the mother-daughter team of Simone and Inés Ortega use in this book call for fresh anchovies, others call for salt-cured. The recipes linked below all call for canned anchovies, the easiest version to find on our shores. In each of these, the fishes are used to add a richness of flavor to sauces or dressings and won’t be as noticeable as the main ingredients, such as figs or eggplant.

There is always someone vocal in opposition to these salty little treats, but also be aware that there’s at least one anchovy lover in most every bunch. I put out at least one tin’s worth at every party I throw, and the dish never fails to be clean by the end of the party.

If the salt or the oil from the tinning is too much for you, rinse the anchovies in gently running water and dab dry with a paper towel.

Hard-boiled Eggs with Anchovies and Mayonnaise (Huevos Duros Rellenos de Anchoas y Mayonesa)

Fig, Anchovy and Cheese Tapa (Tapa de Higos, Anchoas y Queso)

Warm Eggplant (Aubergine) and Anchovy Salad (Ensalada Templada de Berenjenas y Anchoas)

Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee (Fricasse de Setas con Anchoas)

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