Archive | May, 2011

Saturday is Mezze (Tapas) Day at Sandy Oaks

Saturday is Mezze (Tapas) Day at Sandy Oaks

A glimpse of the new construction at Sandy Oaks, tour of the ranch and a spread of wine and mezze are in store on Saturday.

Take a drive down to Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard Saturday to enjoy the Mezze Day Delights, an afternoon of relaxing on the patio at the ranch with a glass of wine and a plate of chef-prepared mezze. Mezze are Mediterranean-style appetizers, like tapas. The hours are noon-3 p.m.

Chef Cathy Tarasovic will put on a spread of treats that will, of course, include olives and olive oil-garnished dishes. The patio area is a nice place to enjoy the peaceful country ambiance, while the gift shop offers everything from olive oil, herbal salves, lotions and handmade olive oil soaps. Dishes, Provençal-design tablecloths and aprons, olive wood serving- and cookware,  books on olives and olive tree growing, flavored balsamic vinegars and other food items prepared by the chef are also for sale.

Also, check out the new construction at the ranch, near Elmendorf, by taking the 11 a.m. tour of the orchard, ranch grounds and nursery. Many varieties of olive trees are offered for sale as well.

The price is $10 per person. Sandy Oaks is at 25195 Mathis Road, in Elmendorf. Call for more information at 210-621-0044 or click here for a map and calendar of upcoming events.


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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Brasserie Pavil Closes

Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Brasserie Pavil Closes

Hot and hotter. Good thing some cool specials are happening indoors.

Brasserie Pavil

The restaurant, at Huebner Road and Loop 1604, closed its doors on Tuesday.  A sister restaurant, Watermark Grill, closed in February. Both restaurants were owned by Watermark Hotel Co. Inc.

Sangria and more at Azuca this summer

Azuca is offering sangria as a way to battle the heat.

Head over to Azuca’s website for a coupon, and then go to the actual restaurant for two of Spain’s most delicious treats: sangria and tapas (savory little snacks).

Azuca is at 713 S. Alamo St. Call 210-225-5550 for information.

Tejas Steakhouse to open this week

Tejas Rodeo Company is opening the Tejas Steakhouse and Saloon on its property at 401 Obst Road, Bulverde. (Just take Blanco Road north to Specht Road, about 10 miles from Blanco and 1604, and turn right. Follow the road for two miles and you’ll see Tejas Steakhouse and Tejas Rodeo on your left.)

Opening night is set for Friday.

Steaks are obviously a part of the menu, with a 20-ounce bone-in rib steak the star attraction. But it also offers burgers, catfish, chicken, salads, tacos and more. There’s also a kids’ menu.

The steakhouse will be open for dinner Thursday-Sunday as well as lunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Open Thursday-Sunday for Dinner; plus lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Details at

In addition to dinner, the Tejas Rodeo Company offers live music plus open mic night under the stars.

Call 830-980-2226 for more information.

The kitchen at the Esquire is offering lunch specials.

Now at the Esquire Tavern

Check out the lunch specials offered 11 a.m.-3 p.m.  Monday-Thursday at the Esquire, 155 E. Commerce St. Select entrée and side are available for $12, served with iced tea and daily ice cream.

Fridays are for martinis: Have the house martini along with steak and frites and the daily ice cream for $18. And yes, we llike the sounds of the daily ice cream as much as you do.

Also, happy hours are 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Select local draft beer is priced at $3.50; select cocktails at $4.50.

Yes, it’s cool inside, but the small balcony overlooking the River Walk is pretty, too, and might even be breezy.

This week at Fig Tree Restaurant

The Fig Tree’s Tuesday and Wednesday dinner specials are among the best deals in town. It’s a great chance for we who live here to get down to the River Walk and enjoy one of the best destination restaurants in town.

The three-course prix fixe menu is $39 per person; if paired with wine, it’s $49. Selected wines are $29 per bottle. (The regular menu is available, as well.) Valet parking is for free. The Fig Tree is located at 515 Villita Street on the San Antonio River Walk. For reservations call 210-224-1976.

Here is the menu for today and Wednesday:  Escargot Ravioli with tomatoes, olives and garlic butter, or, Summer Rolls with Thai prawns and peanut sauce: optional wine is Chateau D’Esclan “Whispering Angel” Cotes de Provence 2010.  Lamb Noisettes with  raspberry demi, Potatoes Borex, upland cress: wine is Main Street Merlot, Sonoma 2006; or, Grilled Sturgeon with yazu butter, carrot mousse and thyme jus served with St. Francis Chardonnay, Sonoma 2008. For dessert, a choice of Passion Fruit Mousse or Molten Chocolate Cake.

Fig Tree is at 515 Villita St. Call 210-224-1976.

Burger lovers, make way for a Chicken Club

Whataburger is about more than burgers. That’s why it has introduced its Honey Mustard Chicken Club.

The folks who work hard to make you want to try these limited-time options — the folks in the marketing department, that is — have described the new sandwich as follows: “It’s your choice of a grilled or crispy chicken breast with bacon, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and Swiss American cheese topped with sweet Honey Mustard sauce.”


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Sandbar Announces New Hours, Reservation Policy

Sandbar Announces New Hours, Reservation Policy

The Sandbar Fish House and Market announced that it will be modifying hour its hours. Beginning Tuesday, The Sandbar will close briefly  between lunch and dinner services. New hours of operation are: lunch 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; and dinner 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday.

Also, the restaurant at the Pearl Brewery will be changing its strictly “walk-in” policy to accommodate guests on a reservation basis.

The most popular and requested dining times are between 6:30-8:00 p.m.  These reservation times have the highest demand and as such, get booked very quickly.  Owners Andrew and Maureen Weissman suggest that allowing at least a couple of days lead time to book during these premium times for weekdays and a week or so for Friday and Saturday evenings. For dinner reservations, call  210-212-2221.

Also, executive chef Chris Carlson will be taking advantage of salmon season now with upcoming specials focusing on this popular fish.

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Avocado Adds a Silky Touch to Eggs San Antonio

Avocado Adds a Silky Touch to Eggs San Antonio

Eggs San Antonio before baking.

Looking for an easy centerpiece for a brunch that you can make ahead of time? Try Eggs San Antonio, a combination of turkey, avocado and what is, essentially, pico de gallo, all baked into heartily whisked eggs.

The basic recipe can be tailored to your tastes of what you have on hand. Instead of turkey, try ham and cheese. Or use crabmeat with a confetti of diced, multi-colored peppers. Or try an all-vegetable version that uses celery, onion, tomato and torn spinach leaves (sauté the spinach lightly for best results).  All you need are the eggs and your imagination.

The avocado was included in this version to give the dish a silky texture that is both elegant and flavorful. Plus, avocados are filled with monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol.

You can make this dish ahead of time and serve it at room temperature, in a manner similar to a Spanish tortilla. (That’s an egg dish, not a bread.)

The eggs will rise in the oven before settling down.

Eggs San Antonio

6 jumbo eggs or 8 large eggs
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
3 slices deli-style turkey breast, shredded
3 scallions, including most of the green, chopped
1 serrano pepper, finely diced (optional)
Salt, to taste
Red or black pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Eggs San Antonio

Whisk the eggs until yolks and whites are fully blended and fluffy. Stir in tomato, avocado, turkey, scallions and serrano, if using. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into four ramekins. Top with cilantro, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until eggs set. Remove from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

The eggs should rise while baking. They will settle down. This is not a bad thing.

If you are serving these later, cover each ramekin and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before serving to allow to come to room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

From John Griffin

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Watermelon Margaritas Ice Down the Heat

Watermelon Margaritas Ice Down the Heat

Summer brings on the craving for watermelon, and we loved these  Watermelon Margaritas from Ambhar Tequila at one of Culinaria’s Grand Tastings.  These were very refreshing … potent, but refreshing.

Their recipe is below, plus another one from Emeril Lagasse.  The last recipe doesn’t have watermelon in it, but Blackberry and Fresh Thyme Margaritas looked intriguing, and blackberries are seasonal. (You can always garnish it with a nice, thick slice of watermelon, too!)

Watermelon margaritas









Ambhar Tequila’s Watermelon Margarita

2 ounces Ambhar Platinum or other tequila
1 ounce Marie Brizard Watermelon Liqueur
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and pour in a hurricane glass.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Ambhar Tequila

Emeril’s Watermelon Margarita

1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 lime wedge
1 cup watermelon purée (see note)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup premium tequila
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier or triple sec)
1 cup ice

In a medium saucepan, combine the lime zest, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature and strain out the zest. (Can be made in advance; keep in a covered container in the refrigerator.)

Chill a margarita glass in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place the coarse salt in a shallow dish or saucer. Wet the rim of the glass with a lime wedge and dip the glass into the salt, coating the top edge.

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 tablespoons of the cooled lime syrup with the watermelon purée, lime juice, tequila, orange-flavored liqueur, and ice. Shake until frothy and well chilled, at least 1 minute. Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

Note: To make the watermelon purée, remove seeds from fresh watermelon and cut into large chunks. Place in a blender and process until smooth and well puréed.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Food Network/Emeril Lagasse

Blackberry Thyme Margarita

4 large, fresh blackberries
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 ounce tequila (Ambhar Platinum or your choice)
1/2 ounce Cointreau or orange liqueur
1/2 ounce agave nectar

In a glass shaker, muddle berries and thyme with the lime juice. Add the tequila, Cointreau and agave nectar. Shake then strain over ice and garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Ambhar Tequila



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Ask a Foodie: What Is Longhorn Cheese?

Ask a Foodie: What Is Longhorn Cheese?

Q. Does the term “longhorn” for a cheese refer to the type of cheese it is or the cow it comes from? — M.W.

Longhorn Colby or cheddar cheeses are good for melting. This mac and cheese is from Auden's Kitchen.

A. The term “longhorn” really doesn’t refer to either of these. It is made from cow’s milk, rather than sheep or goat. But the type of cheese is usually a mild Colby or cheddar. The term “longhorn” refers to a cylindrical shaped mold in which it is made, which produces a cheese that is 13 pounds and is 1 and 1/2 feet long. When the cheese has aged its proper amount,  it then is cut into rounds or half-moon shapes to be sold.

As an aside: White cheddar cheese is becoming more popular, but many Americans are most  familiar with the orange color, which comes from additives.

From Wikipedia: “One commonly used example (of the coloring substance) is annatto, extracted from seeds of the tropical achiote tree. The largest producer of industrial cheddar-style cheese in the United States, Kraft, uses a combination of annatto and oleoresin paprika, an extract of the lipophilic (oily) portion of paprika.”



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Black-Eyed Peas and Smoked Ham Macaroni Salad

Black-Eyed Peas and Smoked Ham Macaroni Salad

Here’s a side dish with a difference. The flavors are strong, sweet-and-tangy, and the black-eyed peas add a taste of the South.  You’ll need the smoker for about a half-hour to season the ham and a half hour (or as long as overnight) to let the flavors meld.

Use fresh ham, not cured or smoked, in this recipe.

Black-eyed Peas and Ham Macaroni Salad

1 12-ounce fully cooked ham steak, about 1/2-inch thick
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoons packed brown sugar
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
12 ounces small shell macaroni, or other small shaped pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 1/2-2 cups fresh-cooked or canned black-eyed peas, drained
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet or other mild onion
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
6 tablespoons corn or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
A few splashes Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup minced parsley

Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200-220 degrees. Rub ham steak with mustard, brown sugar and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the ham to the smoker. Cook until the sugar has melted onto the surface and the ham is heated through and well-perfumed with smoke, about 20-25 minutes.

Stir together in a large bowl the macaroni, black-eyed peas, celery, onion and bell pepper. When the ham steak is ready, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, discarding fat and any bone. Add the ham to the macaroni mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and a little pepper vinegar, and pour over the salad. Toss to combine. Chill for 30 minutes or up to overnight. Stir the parsley into the salad shortly before serving (chilled).

Makes 4 servings

From “Smoke & Spice,” by Cheryl and Bill Jamison



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Mezcal-Rubbed Ribs on the Grill, for a Memorable Barbecue

Mezcal-Rubbed Ribs on the Grill, for a Memorable Barbecue

Mezcal Magic Baby Back Ribs

We turn to Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison for three recipes with a difference for that Memorial Day barbecue. Mexican mezcal is available at most liquor stores (it’s the one that has — or used to have — the worm in the bottle). It has its own smoky flavor, but the Jamisons say use tequila if you must. Its flavor is somewhat more refined, but the Chile Rub Rojo that also goes on these slabs of ribs is decidedly less so. Serve with a Black-eyed Peas and Smoked Ham Macaroni Salad. Which is just about all the smoke you can get in two hearty dishes. Add a savory Colby Cheese and Cornbread Pudding to take away some of the burn.

Mezcal Magic Baby Back Ribs

1/4 cup mezcal or tequila
Four 1 and 1/4-pound slabs pork baby back ribs, the thin membrane on the lower side stripped off

Chile Rub Rojo

1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt or other coarse salt
2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder
2 tablespoons ground mild to medium-hot dried red chile, such as New Mexican, ancho or pasilla, or a combination
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Mexican Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cup ketchup
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mezcal or tequila
1 cup water
1/4 cup canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, with any whole chiles minced
1/4 orange juice
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or other coarse salt

At least 6 hours and up to 24 hours before you plan to grill, bake the ribs. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drizzle the mezcal over the ribs and rub it in thoroughly. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and coat the ribs liberally with the spice mixture.

Wrap the ribs tightly in two layers of foil and bake for 1 hour. Cool the ribs, opening the foil to speed the process. Re-wrap the ribs in the foil and refrigerate them for at least 4 1/2 hours.

For the sauce: Melt the bacon drippings in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup and 1 cup of the mezcal, reserving the remaining 2 tablespoons. Stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer it for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced to the consistency of thin ketchup. Just before removing the sauce from the heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the mezcal. Reserve the sauce at room temperature if you plan to grill the ribs within the hour, otherwise refrigerate it. If it gets too thick, thin with a little water.

Fire up the grill, bringing the temperature to medium. Remove ribs from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grill ribs uncovered over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, turning every 8-10 minutes. Base the ribs with sauce in the last 5 minutes of cooking. The ribs are done when very tender with a surface that’s crisp in some spots and gooey with sauce in others. Serve ribs hot with more sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Born to Grill” by Cheryl Alters and Bill Jamison


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Colby Cheese and Cornbread Pudding

Colby Cheese and Cornbread Pudding

This is a savory pudding, in which you can use stale cornbread or buy at the bakery. It also has corn kernels (we’d use kernels freshly scraped off the cob) and Colby cheese.


Colby Cheese and Cornbread Pudding

8-inch square pan of stale cornbread, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or canned
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram or thyme
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup grated Colby cheese, longhorn or mild cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish.

Place cornbread in a large bowl.

Warm butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in the corn and marjoram and cook another minute. Spoon this mixture into the cornbread. Then stir in the eggs and milk, followed by the cheese. Pour the pudding into the prepared baking dish. The pudding can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated. Let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before proceeding.) Dust the top of the pudding with paprika and bake 30-35 minutes until it is lightly firm and golden.

Makes 8 servings

From “Born to Grill” by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

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Ask a Foodie: Can Any Pork Be Cooked at Lower Temps?

Ask a Foodie: Can Any Pork Be Cooked at Lower Temps?

Q. I read the news this week that the USDA has now said it is safe to cook pork to 145 degrees, rather than to 160 degrees. My first question is: Will chefs now be making all pork so that it is pink inside? What about those of us who don’t like pink in any cooked meat?  Also, what about pork that is served braised, like pork belly?   — L.M.

Pit-roasted Pork Pibil is an example of pork that is cooked thoroughly before it is shredded.

A. Don’t worry, you certainly have the right to tell your waiter to have the chef cook your pork to order, just as you would a steak. If something such as a pork roast is served pink on a buffet carving table, you can ask them to cook your slice a little bit more (and they can say “yes, we can” or “no, we won’t.” If they won’t accommodate your request, then of course you can choose not to eat the pork or even not to visit that buffet in the future.)

While chefs and plenty of home cooks have been cooking pork to lower temperatures for some time, the USDA does recommend letting the meat rest for 3 minutes or more after it’s cooked to let the temperature rise a few degrees. Also, just as with hamburger, ground raw pork products, like bulk sausage, should be thoroughly cooked (to 160 degrees). The reason for this, when cooking ground meat, is that pathogens lurk on the surface of meat. When the meat is ground, these are more likely to be transferred throughout the meat.

Remember to use a digital meat thermometer to check the temperatures on meat.

Pork is a naturally tender meat, which is generally true even if cooked to 160 degrees. But, some cuts really need to be braised, and pork belly is one of these. It is juiciest and most tender with this type of cooking. Also, when making pulled pork, the meat is usually cooked slowly and thoroughly to the pull-apart stage. Carnitas and items such as Pork Pibil are other examples.

For more on cooking pork, from the USDA, click here.

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