Archive | May 10th, 2011

Culinaria Begins! Sip, Savor & Shop is Wednesday

Culinaria Begins! Sip, Savor & Shop is Wednesday

Wine tastings, food sampling and even shopping happen tomorrow as Culinaria kicks off its 2011 main lineup of events.

The Shops at La Cantera offer a splashy setting for Culinaria's Sip, Savor & Shop event.

The Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, is the setting for the Sip, Savor & Shop, which gets underway at 6 p.m. Last year’s Sip, Savor & Shop was a great success for the non-profit food and wine festival, says Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, Culinaria’s president and CEO.

“It is food, wine and fashion in a casual atmosphere. It has amazing energy—you’re outside, it’s spring and there are great shopping discounts, people to see and great tastes,” says Etheredge.

For Sip, Savor & Shop, pay $35 in advance, or $50 at the door, sample wines and taste the food — and shop — for three hours. Ticket prices are inclusive—so you won’t be spending money on coupons. Click here for Culinaria ticket purchasing. Some of the upcoming events have sold out.

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Ask a Foodie: What’s the Secret to Making Crisp Bacon?

Ask a Foodie: What’s the Secret to Making Crisp Bacon?

Q. I like bacon to be really crisp, but when I cook it on the stove it always seems to have some soft spots. Is there a remedy for this? — W. Anderson

Pan-fried bacon: Nearly everybody likes it crisp.

A. Well, W.A., some people actually like that crispy-soft bacon … but it might be they grew up in a household where the breakfast cook was in a rush. (And, if the cook was absent minded, they might also have developed a taste for blackened toast.)

It is heat and time that get bacon crisp, as well as using a good cooking surface that is flat and distributes heat well. Cast iron skillets are good for this, or enameled cast iron or copper. I also like a well-made nonstick skillet. Sometimes, if the heat distribution is uneven, watch the bacon and when it appears to be getting cooked more, say, in the middle than on the ends, you can move it around in the pan so that all of the bacon is exposed to the hot spots and it gets uniformly cooked.

The fat rendering out of the bacon is what turns it crisp. I sometimes pour the rendered fat off partway through cooking, which seems to make the bacon cook more quickly and get more crisp. When it is well browned on both sides, lift it out of the pan and put it on some folded paper towels on a plate. The towels will absorb excess fat.  Or, drain it on wire mesh.

A way to make crisp bacon for a crowd is to put it on a bake sheet (the kind with sides, obviously) in the oven. Line the strips of bacon up on the sheet (OK if the pieces touch slightly) and put it in a 350-degree oven. Keep your eye on it; in fact, do not move too far away from the stove! You might even set a timer for a couple of minutes just so you don’t wander off.

Have a metal pan or ceramic bowl ready for draining fat into about halfway through the cooking. This is actually not hard to do if you take the baking pan out of the oven and carefully tilt it up so that the grease pours out one corner into the receptacle. Wipe that corner lightly with a towel and put the pan back in the oven and the bacon will resume cooking, quickly and crisply.

This brings another question to mind: Should an inexperienced cook try making bacon in the oven? And, if they spill grease on the oven floor and it catches fire, what should they do?

I’d suggest to never let an inexperienced child, or any child or inexperienced cook, be in charge of any major frying without plenty of supervision, and that would include frying bacon in a pan. (Don’t show them the oven trick until they are young adults!)

If they, or you, spill bacon fat on the bottom of a hot oven, causing a flareup, remember that you do not want to pour water on it. The water will sizzle and spatter all that hot bacon grease onto you. Instead, after turning off the oven, smother the flames by setting a large pot lid put down over the grease fire. Or, douse it with baking soda (and, you’ll need to use a lot of it) and/or salt.

If a grease fire starts in a pan, turn off the burner but don’t move the pan. If it is safe, set a lid down over the flames.  Again, don’t pour water into the pan, as it will send up a hot spatter.  Douse the fire with plenty of baking soda and/or salt.

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A Burger’s Not Enough? Try a Deep-Fried Twinkie Afterward

A Burger’s Not Enough? Try a Deep-Fried Twinkie Afterward

A deep-fried Twinkie with a deep-fried Oreo on the side.

At Big Bob’s Burgers, 2215 Harry Wurzbach, the stars have always been the flame-broiled burgers and the fries. But there’s a new item on the menu that is gaining in popularity: deep-fried Twinkies.

Owner Robert Riddle and his staff dunk the cream-filled confection in funnel cake batter, then fry it until golden brown. The final version is served on a stick, fot from the fryer, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

But why stop there? A deep-fried Oreo, also topped with powdered sugar, appears on the side along with a chocolate syrup dipping sauce.

The dessert sells for $1.95, and it seems to speak to something deep inside people, because it has proven to be a big hit.

Big Bob’s sells more than 200 a week, Riddle says, adding that one customer came in last weekend and picked up 10 orders to go.

For more information, click here.

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