Archive | March 18th, 2013

Jesse Perez to Cook for James Beard Foundation

Jesse Perez to Cook for James Beard Foundation

Jesse Perez

Jesse Perez

Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen, 312 Pearl Parkway, has been invited to cook at for the James Beard Foundation in New York.

He and his team will be serving dinner for the prestigious culinary foundation on June 20.

It is his first invitation, he said, displaying a great deal of excitement at the prospect of bringing his cuisine to New York.

In other Beard news from this morning, no one from San Antonio made it to the finalist’s round this year. Several restaurants and chefs had been among the semifinalists, but not one made it to the finals round.

Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., was included on the list of Outstanding Service in the entire country.

Included in the list of semifinalists for Best Chef in the Southwest were Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn, 152 E. Pecan St., and David Gilbert, who recently left Sustenio at Éilan Hotel, 17101 La Cantera Parkway.

The nominees for best chef of the Southwest:

Kevin Binkley
Binkley’s Restaurant
Cave Creek, AZ

Bryce Gilmore
Barley Swine

Jennifer Jasinski

Hugo Ortega

Chris Shepherd

The awards will be presented May 3 and 6 in New York City. The list of finalists can be found at the foundation’s website:

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Fine Swine, Cold Beer and a Prelude of Summer in One Event

Fine Swine, Cold Beer and a Prelude of Summer in One Event

Members of the the Art Institute of San Antonio prepare a paella for guests of the second Fine Swine Cook-off.

Members of the the Art Institute of San Antonio prepare a paella for guests of the second Fine Swine Cook-off.

FLORESVILLE — The temperatures hit new heights for the year Sunday and the sun was somewhat unforgiving at the South Texas Heritage Pork farm as three culinary schools prepared pigs for the second annual Fine Swine Cook-Off and Flavor Fest.

Guests line up for lettuce cups filled with pork and rice.

Guests line up for lettuce cups filled with pork and rice.

But withstanding the heat of the kitchen — even an outdoor kitchen — is something all chefs-in-training learn how to handle, so there were few grumbles, though most welcomed the shade of their tents while they cooked away.

The teams from the Art Institute of San Antonio, the Culinary Institute of America and the San Antonio Food Bank were all trying to be the most creative with every last bit of meat found on the pig. So, the ear might be fried and used as a garnish on a salad. Or the heart could be turned into jerky (see recipe below). One group even bottled its own … mmm … Bacon Soda.

These dishes were all for the judges. Meanwhile, the rest of the guests treated themselves to an assortment of treats available in another competition. A group of chefs from Corpus Christi offered a seafood sampling that included an oyster on the half shell with a lemon grass and horseradish gelée, shrimp headcheese, shrimp shell stock with lemon foam and shrimp sausage. Where Y’at’s Pieter Sypesteyn served crispy pork boudin balls and steaming hot bowls of goat and hominy gumbo, while Brandon McKelvey of Say.She.Ate fried chicken in duck fat. James Canter, who won last week’s Paella Challenge, showcased quail in an oyster kimchee sauce with watermelon radish.

Local beers from Ranger Creek, Alamo, Guadalupe and Saint Arnold were on tap, while Pedernales Cellars wines were available.

Cutting up every bit of pork flavor.

Cutting up every bit of pork flavor.

In the end, the judges’ panel gave top pork prize to the Art Institute while their favorite of the open contest from the rest of the chefs on hand went to the team from the Corpus Christi area, which included Paul Morales, Audie Morris and David Graham. (This was a second win for Morales, who was part of the award-winning pork team from last year, also the Art Institute.) The people’s choice award went to the team from the Texas Cooks Co-op. (The judges’ panel included celebrity chef John Besh as well as local chefs Steven McHugh, Michael Sohocki, David Gilbert and John Russ among others.)

But the real winners were those who got to sample these local foods, whether it was the pork at center stage, the goat, the chicken or the quail. All of it came from Texas, if not specifically from the region south of San Antonio where South Texas Heritage is located. It had to be prepared on site, but it also had to be humanely raised, which also means healthier for those eating the food.

Pig Heart Jerky

Brian West of the CIA bastes a fresh ham.

Brian West of the CIA bastes a fresh ham.

1 pig heart
3 1/2 ounces soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red chile flakes6 ounces crushed black peppercorns or red chile flakes (optional)

Pat dry the heart and remove all fat and veins from the heart. Cut into thin slices, approximately 1/4 inch thick. Mix soy sauce, liquid smoke, granulated garlic, Worcestershire sauce, granulated onion, 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon red chile flakes together in a zip-lock bag. Add the heart slices and marinate for 24 hours. Flip the bag over every 5 hours or so to get even distribution of the marinade.

Remove the heart slices from the marinade and pat extremely dry. If you want a more peppered jerky, roll the slices in crush black peppercorns or red chile pepper flakes.

Lay out the pieces in an even layer on a food dehydrator. The slices are done when they shrunken 30 percent to 40 percent and are dry but pliable.

From the Art Institute of San Antonio


A member of the Art Institute's team prepares to serve the judges.

A member of the Art Institute’s team prepares to serve the judges.

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Griffin to Go: At SXSW, Forget Food Trends and Focus on Comfort

Griffin to Go: At SXSW, Forget Food Trends and Focus on Comfort

Rachael Ray talks with two young fans, including one girl who wants to be a chef.

Rachael Ray talks with two young fans, including one girl who wants to be a chef.

AUSTIN — In the past few years, food has emerged as an important element in the two-week celebration of South by Southwest.

Macklemore performs at Stubb's.

Macklemore performs at Stubb’s.

It may lack the weighty discussion that surrounds the computer and electronic portion of the festival or the cachet of the film festival, but it is almost as all-pervasive as the music. After all, what’s a party without food? And what’s food without music?

Whereas previous years showcased new culinary trends, this year’s offerings were far more willing to serve up comfort food, plain and often fairly simple.

Corzo Paloma

Corzo Paloma

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray, who throws two parties each year that are worth investigating, continued her big Saturday bash at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q on Red River, bringing together some musical fun with a generous mix of Tex-Mex and Texas favorites. So, while the crowd listened to chart-topper Macklemore with Ryan Lewis perform “Thrift Shop” and some Irish rap (in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, of course), many waited for more than an hour to load up on sliders, pulled pork tacos, corn soup with Mexican pesto and Mexican fried chicken.

Ray graced the stage, too, but only to introduce her husband, John Cusimano, and his band, The Cringe. The lively set included a wonderful surprise for the classic rock lovers in Stubb’s backyard: Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon joined the band on stage for a version of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” that had many singing along.

Coconut water at the VH-1 party.

Coconut water at the VH-1 party.

Among the many sponsors of the event was Corzo Tequila, which presented a potent cocktail called a Corzo Paloma. Fill a glass with ice, then pour tequila about halfway up. Add a splash of grapefruit juice to lend the drink an ethereal gleam of pink and finish off with Fresca. A couple of those would have you have you singing along with anyone on stage, no matter if you knew the lyrics or not. (I would make one slight change and go for Mexican Fresca for two reasons: The aftertaste is cleaner and, well, the aspartame in the American diet Fresca left me feeling as if something had delivered a swift punch to my kidneys.)

No cakeballs, just comforting cupcakes.

No cakeballs, just cupcakes.

After leaving Stubb’s, I wandered through the various parties that spread along River Road and Sixth Street, before ending up at a makeshift food truck park that popped up just for SXSW. On Sunday, the neat park, which played host to more than a dozen trucks, was to have been a vacant lot once again. But on Saturday afternoon, folks had started to gather for everything from Korean barbecue tacos to an outpost of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Salted Caramel continues to be a popular flavor — and was scooped up by both Jeni’s and folks from Lick at Rachael Ray’s other party.

Next to Jeni’s was the DUK Truck, Jason Dady’s wheeled kitchen, which had made the trek from San Antonio and found audiences receptive to its brisket chili Frito pie and to Rice Krispie Krack, a spin on the favorite treat in which the puffed rice is joined with salt and vinegar chips and Sugar Babies in a coating of marshmallow goo. Kiddy cuisine crack, indeed.

Sampling sausages at Banger's.

Sampling sausages at Banger’s.

“Top Chef” winner Paul Qui had a truck, too, with what is likely the next big trend: kimchi. He used the fermented cabbage on fries. It would pop up again at Ray’s house party and a day later in Floresville at the second annual Fine Swine Cook-off. My only problem with it being trendy is: What’s new about kimchi? We’ve been eating it for years and not just at Korean restaurants?

On my way to the Driskell to meet friends, I wandered into the Dorito’s sidewalk music venue, only to try Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which left my fingers red for several hours, and Cheddar BBQ Cracker Jack’d, neither of which begged to be tried again.

A brief respite in the Driskell’s air conditioned corridors left me ready for more music, more walking and more treats. We hit Rusty’s for Lucy Rose’s set, then headed off to Moonshine, where VH-1 was holding its annual party. Cupcakes were the only treat to be had there, but they were moist, thanks to a noticeable addition of cream into the vanilla cake and frosting. But there was plenty of coconut water from Vita Coco to keep you hydrated. Or you could have Ty Ku Coconut, a flavored sake, mixed with pineapple juice. This cocktail had little alcohol punch and could have made for a smooth slide to oblivion.

From there, we headed down to Banger’s on Rainey Street, where Ray was having her house party this year. By the time we got there, a mere hour after it opened, there was a lengthy line waiting to get in, as the spacious patio was already filled to capacity.

Rachael Ray listens to her husband's band perform.

Rachael Ray listens to her husband’s band perform.

Ray was there, of course, as she always is, and she walked about the beer garden, talking with her guests while Cusimano played another set. This time, he left the stage during one song and leaped up on one of the long communal tables to shrieks of surprise and laughter from the crowd.

The food for this get-together was Banger’s series of sausages, which is pure comfort food to many, though how many were expecting Kung Pao chicken sausage or Duck, Bacon and Fig sausage. There was even a vegetarian sausage made of beets and goat cheese, though I would recommend a bit of reworking here. The links we tasted were far too dry, as if not enough fat had been included. So, more cheese or olive oil or something to keep it moist.

Sure, there were plenty of toppings just made for sausage, from peppers and onions to kimchi and a series of spicy mustards. But it was also fun to see a trio of ketchups — curry, pepper and regular — to go on the sausages or the corn dogs that were passed around.

To finish the snack off, what could better than an ice cream float? Honest Fizz, a new line of stevia-sweetened sodas from Honest Tea, was poured over Lick’s handmade ice creams. So, root beer with caramel salt ice cream or orange soda with Hill Country honey and vanilla ice cream were just the right refresher to ease back into the night before the ride home.



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