Archive | September 4th, 2011

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day

SavorSA will take break on Monday to celebrate Labor Day.

We’re grilling, looking forward to the “cold snap” and planning to enjoy it outside.

Have a great day off!

— John Griffin and Bonnie Walker


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Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples

Red apples like gala work well with onions.

The combination of onions and apples can’t be beat. So, when I saw this appetizer recipe in the new “Real Simple — Dinner Tonight: Done!” (Real Simple, $24.95), I knew I was going to give it a try. This dish also works as a main course vegetarian meal for one or two.

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red apples (such as Braeburn or Gala), cut into small pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 sheets frozen puff pastry [1 (17.3-ounce) package, thawed
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the apples, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 2 minutes.

Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the crème fraîche, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is browned and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut each tart into 12 pieces.

Makes 4-6 appetizer services.

From “Real Simple — Dinner Tonight: Done!”


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Griffin to Go: Time to Get Back into the Kitchen

Griffin to Go: Time to Get Back into the Kitchen

Zucchini makes a great soup that can be served hot or cold.

It’s been a busy few weeks. First, Restaurant Week came and offered too many good meals to pass up. Then a combination of work and meetings made cooking impossible. Besides, who really wanted to cook when the temperature was in the triple digits?

The closest I got to cooking something in earnest was throwing a few hot dogs on the grill — and then running for the air conditioner while they cooked.

But the more time I spend away from the kitchen, the more it seems to call me.

Everywhere I look, there are recipes galore that just begged to be tried. The New York Times offered the idea of grilled peaches with dukkah, an Egyptian nut and spice blend. Yahoo wrote about avocados. The Los Angeles Times offered a refreshing take on icy granitas, a perfect antidote to the heat.

Even a collection of essays from Leo Tolstoy that I picked up at the Borders going-out-of-business sale included a lengthy piece on vegetarianism that made me want to eat every vegetable in sight.

So, this holiday weekend has been a good time to get back to where I feel best.

I started out by making a Zucchini and Fresh Ginger Velouté from Patricia Wells’ great new cookbook, “Salad as a Meal” (William Morrow, $34.99). This soup went together in minutes and is just as good cold as it is warm, so I can have it both ways.

Something easy is exactly what I need when stepping back into the kitchen after an absence, even if it’s only several weeks. There’s no need to have to think about anything tricky. There’s also no need to have to think about whether certain flavors go together. That’s why I always try a new cookbook or pull an old favorite from the shelf and select something I’ve never tried before.

My other two get-back-to-work dishes are also from new cookbooks. Next up is a plate of Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples on puff pastry from “Real Simple — Dinner Tonight: Done!” (Real Simple, $24.95).  There’s nothing too extravagant here. Nothing requires a special trip to the store, except maybe the puff pastry, if you don’t have that handy in the freezer. That’s the point of the book, and it’s what helps make it a welcome find.

That will be followed on Monday by cake, which I will write about in a day or two. This recipe is slightly trickier, so I won’t write about it until after I’ve given it a try and can hopefully offer you a tip or two. This one will exercise a few culinary muscles that have atrophied. I haven’t baked anything in more than four months and I can’t remember how to cream sugar and butter properly.

What’s the longest time you’ve taken off from cooking or baking? What are you cooking in this heat? Post your answers below.


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Zucchini and Fresh Ginger Velouté

Zucchini and Fresh Ginger Velouté

Zucchini and Fresh Ginger Veloute

“This magical five-ingredient soup is delicious hot or cold , and can be assembled in a matter of minutes,” Patricia Wells writes in “Salad as a Meal” (William Morrow, $34.99). “When fresh zucchini is is in season, I always have a batch of this in my refrigerator, ready for welcoming sips to accompany a meal, or a quick and healthy snack. … Even though the soup is called a velouté — because of its creamy, velvety smoothness — the only cream is an optional dollop anointed at serving time.”

Zucchini and Fresh Ginger Velouté

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 small spring onions or scallions, white part only, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced
Fine sea salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 pounds firm zucchini, rinsed, trimmed and cut into small pieces (do not peel)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock
Crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)

Zucchini cooking into soup.

In a stockpot, combine the oil, spring onions and salt, and sweat — cook, covered over low heat utnil soft and translucent — for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the ginger and cook briefly. Add the zucchini and stock and bring to a low boil. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and purée to a smooth liquid in a food processor or blender or with an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning. Serve, hot or chilled, in soup bowls, and garnish with crème fraîche , if using. (Store without hte garnish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reblend at serving time.

Makes 8 servings.

From “Salad as a Meal” by Patricia Wells

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Hot but Fun, Becker Grape Stomp Drew Crowds

Hot but Fun, Becker Grape Stomp Drew Crowds

The wine, shopping and certainly the air conditioning all made the Becker tasting room as popular as the shaded patio outdoors this weekend at the annual Grape Stomp.

The tasting room at Becker Vineyards Saturday was full of visitors, tasting and shopping. It was the next-to-last day of the annual Grape Stomp at the Texas Hill Country winery, and outside the temperature hovered around 103 degrees.

This didn’t seem to bother those who wandered across a short stretch of grass outside, over to a canopy which provided a little shade if not protection from the heat. Here, they hopped into and out of wine half-barrels, squashing grapes, taking pictures and helping one another step out onto fresh, clean T-shirts.

Ashli P. enjoys some wine while daughter, Elli, gets into the grapes.

The shirts provided the canvas for purple footprints; a nearby clothesline was available for pinning the shirts up to dry. Kids liked it, college students loved it, parents stepped in and got their own feet purple.

“We came out last year and loved it,” said one Dallas couple, helping one another to wipe gooey grape off each other’s feet. Nearby, a little girl in shorts and a pink top held a pose for a camera —and didn’t find the mass of fruit between her toes at all disturbing.

“Weekends have been pretty busy out here,” said Becker employee Nichole Bendele. Judging by the uproar around the air-conditioned tasting room, the sampling was the biggest draw.

For $10, one was able to purchase a large wine glass and get six tasting tickets to sample Becker wines. Where we were, demand was high for the crisp, cold Becker Provençal rosé, the Tempranillo, a medium-bodied Spanish varietal, the Reserve Cabernet and a crisp, aromatic Gewürztraminer.

The highlight Sunday was the costume party, “Lucy and the Italian Woman.”

“Last year we had someone who got into the parking lot and started selling Lucy wigs,” said Bendele, who will be keeping her eye out for such shenanigans this year.

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