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Learning the Joys of Greek Salads Firsthand

Learning the Joys of Greek Salads Firsthand

Horiatiki

Horiatiki (Greek Salad)

HERSONISSOS, Crete -- When a friend with a timeshare calls and invites you to spend two weeks with her on the island of Crete, you don't say no. At least, I don't. So, I found myself on an island in the Mediterranean Sea surrounded by some of the best food I've had in ages.
Tomatoes drying in the sun in front of Marianna, a taverna in Mesa Potami, part of Crete's Lasithi Plateau

Tomatoes drying in the sun in front of Marianna, a taverna in Mesa Potami, part of Crete's Lasithi Plateau

One advantage that Cretans have is that they grow or raise most everything that they use in their diet. Almost everywhere you look, there's food growing, whether it's olives on the many acres of trees that run up and down mountains, grapes in the growing number of vineyards or orchards filled with apples, oranges or pomegranates. We didn't see all of the family gardens bulging with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more; some of those items were just after season for our visit, but we were given freshly harvested grapes, persimmons and walnuts by some of the wonderful people we met. In the mornings, I could hear the bells of the goats roaming through the undeveloped lands nearby, reminding me of how close one source of all the feta and yogurt was. Lambs and sheep often grazed close to the road, while the Mediterranean offered the promise of untold seafood specials. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the eating was built on the numerous herbs that were oh so easy to forage. It seemed that most every time Carol stopped our rental car, I could find something worth taking back to our kitchen, whether it was oregano or mint, dill, arugula or thyme. I used those in the series of Greek salads, called horiatiki (hor-ee-ah-tee-kee), that I made most every day. There is no hard and fast recipe for this beloved dish, and you can make plenty of substitutes to suit your tastes. But the foundation for ours included tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and olive oil. To that, we added green bell pepper and olives. The first supermarket we went to only sold onions by the large bag, so we used scallions until we found another place where we could pick up a red onion. We also tried lettuce in the mix; it worked, but it wasn't necessary, so we left it out after one or two tries. Cabbage worked much better, adding crunch in a way that was different from the cucumber or the bell pepper. The olive oil was so good that red wine vinegar or lemon juice wasn't necessary to dress the salad with. Plus, if you find the freshest, most flavorful ingredients, especially the tomatoes, you didn't need much oil, either. A little salt brings out the juices of the various vegetables, making it's own dressing that the olive oil only takes to another level.
A Cretan salad with greens and pomegranate seeds

A Cretan salad with greens and pomegranate seeds

We discovered a variation native to Crete. It is, of course, the Cretan salad, and it adds rusk, potatoes, hard-boiled egg, capers and sun-dried tomatoes to the mix. See, even they don't follow a single recipe. And in the case of the rusk, you'll see them using up every last scrap of bread rather than throwing it out. That, to me, has been the secret of some of the best meals I've had in my travels. The third salad recipe you'll find below is for a Socrates salad, which Carol's friend, Clairy Panagiotou, made for us when she joined our group. Clairy runs the Bouradanis Hotel on another Greek island, Kos, where she makes the meals nightly for her 70 guests. On the basis of this salad alone, I am ready to make a trip to her hotel. It's named after the Greek philosopher, Clairy said, because it's supposed to open up your brain cells and make you smarter. I don't know that my IQ shot up any while eating it, but my happiness level certainly did. Again, there is no hard and fast recipe for the dressing or for the salad. Just make it to taste. Just make sure you're using the best ingredients you can find, ingredients that tasted like they were grown in your own backyard and tended with care. You can taste the difference. Horiatiki (Greek Salad) Make this salad to suit your tastes. If you don't like or don't have bell pepper on hand, leave it out. Want to add lettuce or shredded cabbage? Go ahead. I added anchovies and occasionally some slices of radish to mine. Capers would also work.
Horiatiki (Greek Salad)

Horiatiki (Greek Salad)

Tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces Cucumber, sliced Green bell pepper, sliced Red or white onion, sliced Olives Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste Feta, crumbled or cut in a slab about 1/3-inch thick Extra virgin olive oil Red wine vinegar (optional) Herbs, fresh or dried Mix the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and olives. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, if using. Top with feta. If using a slab of cheese, drizzle olive oil on top. If you're using vinegar with the oil, drizzle these on before you add the cheese. Top with herbs. Herbs both dried and fresh can be used. A few to consider are oregano, parsley, mint and thyme. Or you could serve with the oil and vinegar on the side. From John Griffin Cretan Salad with Rusk Cretans love rusk, dried clumps of leftover bread that soak up olive oil and tomato juice. They serve as a foundation for this salad, a variation on horiatiki that, once again, can be made using whatever ingredients you have on hand. One version we had used various field greens and was crowned with pomegranate seeds.
A Cretan salad with hard-boiled eggs, rusk, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.

A Cretan salad with hard-boiled eggs, rusk, sun-dried tomatoes and capers

Rusk or zwieback Tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces Cucumber, sliced Green bell pepper, sliced Red or white onion, sliced Olives New potatoes, boiled, peeled and quartered Hard-boiled eggs, quartered Sun-dried tomatoes Salt, to taste Feta, crumbled or cut in a slab Extra virgin olive oil Red wine vinegar (optional) Capers Herbs (optional) Place the rusk at the bottom of your salad bowl. Top with a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, olives, potato, egg and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle salt to taste over the salad. Top with feta, then a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle capers over the top and finish off with a sprinkling of dried or fresh herbs. From John Griffin Socrates Salad Open your brain cells to the wonders of this salad laden with dried fruit and nuts.
Socrates Salad

Socrates Salad

Dried figs, cut into bite-sized pieces Dried cranberries Lettuce Radicchio Pine nuts Tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces Apple, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces Parmesan cheese Dressing: Balsamic vinegar Honey Olive oil Water Salt Toss the figs, cranberries, lettuce, radicchio, pine nuts, tomatoes and apple in a salad bowl. Make the dressing from a mixture of balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, a little water and salt to taste. Whisk together then lightly toss with the salad. Top with Parmesan cheese shavings. From Clairy Panagiotou/Bouradanis Hotel

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Don’t Stop at Cucumbers. Squash Can Make Great Pickles, Too.

Don’t Stop at Cucumbers. Squash Can Make Great Pickles, Too.

I spent some time with family in Louisville recently and had the chance to make some pickles with my mother, using a version of her beloved bread and butter pickle recipe, which I have feasted on since I was a kid.
Let the squash sit in a vinegar solution for 2 hours before canning.

Let the squash sit in a vinegar solution for 2 hours before canning.

The only difference this time was that we didn't use cucumbers. We made them with fresh yellow squash that a friend of hers had given them. The end result tastes almost exactly the same. Both are available throughout the year, so whether you get squash from the market or your fall garden, you can enjoy these year-round. Next time, I'll try them with zucchini. Squash Pickles 2 1/2 pounds yellow squash, sliced thinly 1 small red bell pepper, cut in strips (see note) 1 small green bell pepper, cut in strips 1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced 1/4 cup salt 2 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar 2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons mustard seed 1 teaspoon celery seed 1 teaspoon turmeric Note: You'll only need 1 bell pepper of your preferred color, if you're using one of the large ones from the supermarket, In a large non-aluminum bowl, add the squash, bell pepper and onion. Cover with salt and stir together. Let sit for 2 hours. Stir occasionally. While the vegetables are sitting, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When the 2 hours are up, squeeze the vegetables dry. Then add the vegetables to the saucepan. Stir to incorporate everything together and let sit for 2 hours more. When the 2 hours are up, bring the vegetables to a boil. Remove immediately and separate into 4 (1-pint) jars. Fill almost to the top with liquid. Seal using your preferred method or top with a jar lid and refrigerate immediately. Wait a day or two before eating.
Seal the jars, if you like, or cover and refrigerate them immediately.

Seal the jars, if you like, or cover and refrigerate them immediately.

Makes 4 (1-pint) jars. (If you aren't sealing the lids, the pickles will keep up to 2 months in the refrigerator.) From Annaliese Griffin and John Griffin  

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A Trio of Bright and Bold Indian Salads

A Trio of Bright and Bold Indian Salads

cucumber-salad My Bible study group recently decided to have an Indian themed dinner, and it fell to my lot to bring a salad. When I started to do my research, however, I couldn't stop at one. So, I made three. Each of these is easy to make, which is always a plus. But their greatness, individually and collectively, lies in the bold, clean flavors that will add to any meal, Indian or otherwise. I have already made the Mango Salad and the Onion and Tomato Salad twice since then. If you're looking for a fresh alternative to a lettuce salad, check out these options. Cucumber Salad 2 cups cucumber, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons cashews coarsely ground (optional) 1 tablespoon mint, finely ripped Dressing: 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon juice ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon sugar 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons ginger juice (see note) 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground For the dressing: In a bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar, black pepper, ginger juice and fennel. Set aside. For the salad: Peel the cucumber, leaving strips of skin. Slice thin, crosswise. The slices should look like half-moons. Toss the cucumber with ground cashews, if using, and mint to coat the slices. Just before serving, add the dressing. Mix it well. Note: To make the ginger juice, shred the ginger using a fine shredder or zester. Squeeze the shredded ginger with your fingers to get all the juice out. Or you can place a piece of peeled ginger in a sturdy lemon juicer and press hard several times. Adapted from ManjulasKitchen.com/Manjula Jain Onion and Tomato Salad (Piaz aur Tamatar ka Salad) red-onion-and-tomato-salad"Marinating the onions in salt and lemon juice reduces the pungency and makes them sweet and tangy," says Madhu Gadia in "New Indian Home Cooking" (HPBooks, $20). 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch wedges 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt, divided use 2 medium tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch wedges 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Combine the onion, lemon juice and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a bowl. Cover and marinate for 20 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally. (Editor's note: Having made the recipe twice, I would suggest marinating the onion at least 30 minutes.) Drain and discard the juice. Add the tomatoes and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Toss lightly to mix. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 6 servings. Approximate nutritional value per serving: 17 calories, 4 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g dietary fiber, 1 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 182 mg sodium. From "New Indian Home Cooking" by Madhu Gadia green-mango-saladMango Salad (Aam ka Laccha) "In season, the swee4t and sour taste of an underripe mango when combined with salt and cayenne peppers adds and excellent taste to any meal. It is eaten more like a pickle, in a small quantity, rather than a salad," writes Madhu Gadia in "New Indian Home Cooking." 1 firm, underripe mango (3/4 pound) 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt Wash and peel the mango. Slice the mango flesh into 1-inch strips. Discard the seed. Toss the mango with the cayenne pepper and salt in a bowl. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator. Serve cold or refrigerate for up to 2 to 3 days. Makes 16 servings. Approximate nutritional value per 3 tablespoon serving: 12 calories, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.5 g dietary fiber, 0 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 67 mg sodium. From "New Indian Home Cooking" by Madhu Gadia

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Weeknight Porchetta Is Bursting with Flavor

Weeknight Porchetta Is Bursting with Flavor

This porchetta dish is easy to make.

This porchetta dish is easy to make.

What's in a name? We've been asking ourselves that since Shakespeare proffered the question in "Romeo and Juliet." We asked it again when we spied this recipe for Weeknight Porchetta from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Yes, it was the name "porchetta" that attracted our attention, but there were so many differences in approach that we were skeptical, despite Alison Roman's introduction: "Sometimes it's OK to cut corners. Here we make the classic Italian dish with bacon and skip the multiday air-drying process. It's not traditional, but it sure is delicious." We gave it a try anyway and was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying the dish was on so many levels. The roasted garlic is perfect by itself, if you want an appetizer to spread on toast; or you could pair it with another cut of meat, such as a juicy steak or a thick slab of prime rib. Roman offers this insight into why you wrap the tenderloin in bacon: "As the bacon cooks, the fat renders, basting the tenderloin with flavor and ensuring it stays juicy (all while cooking perfectly itself). To keep the bacon in place, wrap the slices around the tenderloin, tucking ends underneath each other." One time we made the dish, we varied it by adding slices of apples at the last minute. The slices added to the overall dish; whether you like the baked apple slices depends on your fondness for rosemary, because they absorbed a lot of the herb's flavor. Weeknight Porchetta
Use apple if you'd like.

Use apple if you'd like.

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 2 bulbs, halved crosswise 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 4 sprigs 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use Freshly ground black pepper 1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin 6-8 slices bacon 1-2 apples, cored and cut in small slices (optional) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, fennel seeds, salt and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with pepper. Rub garlic mixture over all tenderloin (if you have time to do this in the morning, great; refrigerate pork until dinner). Scatter rosemary sprigs in a large baking dish and set tenderloin on top. Wrap bacon slices around tenderloin, tucking ends underneath, so bacon stays put. Nestle halved heads of garlic around tenderloin and add apple slices, if using. Drizzle everything with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of tenderloin registers 145 degrees for medium, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Approximate nutritional value per serving: 300 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g fiber Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2015  

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This Chocolate Fig Tart Tastes Even Better Than It Looks

This Chocolate Fig Tart Tastes Even Better Than It Looks

Mom's birthday was last week, and I made the trek to Louisville to help the folks celebrate. I didn't have time to work up all the figs from the backyard, so I filled my suitcase with tins of fresh fruit. (In a way, it was like bringing coals to Newcastle, to use that old cliche, because their fig bushes were covered with enormous, juicy figs.) fig tartWhat to do with them? I know she likes chocolate, so I had to include that somehow. That's when I got the idea of making a ganache and serving it with the figs and a crust using my go-to pastry recipe. Here's the end result, which was more beautiful than I had imagined and the flavor was even better. Chocolate Fig Tart Crust: 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt 1/8 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or your choice of flavoring 1 1/2 cups flour Oven-roasted figs: 12 fresh figs (I have black mission figs) 2 tablespoons honey Ganache: 1 (85 g) bar 70% or darker chocolate, to taste 1/2 cup canned milk, plus more Pinch of sea salt For the crust: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.   In a stand mixer, cream butter and add sugar, sea salt and flavoring on medium. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour to create a dough. Press the dough into a 9-inch circular tart pan. Cover the dough with a sheet of aluminum foil and weight it down. Bake for 8 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 5 minutes or until golden brown. (If you don't want to overbake, turn the oven off 2 or 3 minutes before you think it will be done.) Set aside and let cool. Once it's cool, remove from the tart pan and place on a serving plate. For the figs: Pre-heat the broiler with the rack as close to the top as possible.   Take half of the figs and slice them thinly lengthwise. Quarter the rest of the figs. Place on a rack. Brush them with honey. Place under the broiler and let them roast. Watch closely and remove as soon as the honey on top starts to boil. Set aside and let cool. For the ganache: When ready to assemble, set up a double boiler and melt the chocolate. Stir in the milk at little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Add a pinch of salt. fig tart3 On the crust, lay out the fig slices in concentric circles, starting at the outside and building in until the top is covered. Carefully spread the ganache over the center and out just to the edge of the fig slices. Top the tart with the quartered figs, starting at the center with three fig quarters and working out to the edge of the chocolate. fig tart2 Serve with whipped cream, raspberries or raspberry sauce, if desired. Makes 1 tart. From John Griffin  

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Big Red Cake. Of Course.

Big Red Cake. Of Course.

Big Red Cake

Big Red Cake

If you live in the San Antonio area long enough, you'll come to know that Big Red has seeped into the culinary fabric of the city in a big way. It's easy to see why. In addition to its pleasant vanilla flavor, it's bright red color and over-the-top level of caffeine make it a genuine eye-opener on several levels.
It's a poke cake, so poke it good.

It's a poke cake, so poke it good.

Needless to say, Big Red has been adapted for uses beyond merely drinking with barbacoa on weekend mornings. One way is this Big Red Cake, the recipe for which I found in the 1991 "Market Trail Heritage Cookbook," a collection from a number of cities in and around San Antonio, including Hondo, Castroville, D'Hanis, Pearsall, Devine, Somerset and more. I knew the book was a treasure when I saw this recipe from someone named Thelma Ramirez, who has combined a number of favorites, including the ever-popular poke cake, into one outrageous treat. It's not just a poke cake. There's a layer of pudding on top, then it's capped off with Cool Whip and finally fresh fruit. (That makes it healthy, right?) I made a few variations to the original when I tried it. I made the box cake with melted butter instead of oil, milk instead of water, an added egg and a splash of vanilla, all of which helped create a more homemade richness to the cake mix. I also used blueberries instead of strawberries on top, because it's the Fourth of July weekend and I wanted a red, white and blue cake to help celebrate. Big Red Cake 1 box yellow cake mix 1 (6-ounce) box strawberry-flavored gelatin 12 ounces Big Red, cold 1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding 1 (8-ounce) tub Cool Whip Fresh strawberries or blueberries Prepare cake mix as directed and bake in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Let cool.
Make the cake however you want to. I changed a few ingredients to make it denser.

Make the cake however you want to. I changed a few ingredients to make it denser.

Mix the strawberry gelatin with 1 cup of hot water and the cold Big Red. Poke holes in the cake and pour the gelatin mixture evenly over the cake. Pour the entire mixture over the top. The cake will eventually absorb all of the liquid. Let it set for at least 30 minutes.
See the air bubble? It takes time for the cake to absorb all of the Big Red-gelatin liquid.

See the air bubble? It takes time for the cake to absorb all of the Big Red-gelatin liquid.

Prepare the vanilla pudding according to the directions on the box and spread evenly over the cake. (If you are making this ahead, cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
Cover it with vanilla pudding and let it set until you're ready to eat. This looks so good, I think I'm ready to eat now.

Cover it with vanilla pudding and let it set until you're ready to eat. I'm ready now.

When you're ready to serve, spread the Cool Whip over the top and garnish with fresh strawberries. If you want a red, white and blue look, use blueberries on top.
Cool Whip covers any imperfections below it.

Cool Whip covers any imperfections below it.

Add blueberries, strawberries or your favorite berry.

Add blueberries, strawberries or your favorite berry.

Makes 1 cake. Adapted from Thelma Ramirez/"Market Trail Heritage Cookbook"   Save

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Enjoy a Make-Ahead Salad Filled with Freshness

Enjoy a Make-Ahead Salad Filled with Freshness

tomato saladA friend recently went through a lifetime of cookbooks and gave me 11 cases to go through. Needless to say, it's going to take some time, especially when I pause all the time to read through a recipe for this or that. I'm not going to keep all of them, of course. After all, there are a few duplicates in there. But you never know where you're going to find a treasure. The following recipe for Green Pepper, Olive and Tomato Salad comes from "Pantry Pleasures," a fundraiser for the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary in Grand Rapids, Mich. The year the cookbook appeared is a mystery, though my guess would be in the early 1970s. I was drawn to it because of the freshness of the ingredients, many of which are personal favorites. But the real appeal is that you can make this a day ahead. So, if you know you're going to be running short on time, here's one course that you won't have to worry about. It's also easy to play around with the ingredients to suit your tastes. I added an English cucumber. Radishes and cabbage would also be good additions. (If you use red radishes, add them shortly before serving because the color of the skin will run and turn the whole salad pink.) Green Pepper, Olive and Tomato Salad 2 green peppers, chopped in thin strips or small pieces 1 cup sliced olives (green or black or a combination of both) 3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges or bite-sized pieces 2 ribs celery, chopped 1 large red onion, cut into thin half-rings 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as grapeseed or avocado 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper In a large bowl, mix together peppers, olives, tomatoes, celery, onion, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Marinate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 12-15 servings. Adapted from "Pantry Pleasures: Mercy Hospital Auxiliary"

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Treat Your 1015s Like Potatoes

Treat Your 1015s Like Potatoes

onion2

Oven-roasted onions make a low-carb substitute for a baked potato.

Baked potatoes are not on a low-carb diet. So, if you have diabetes or eating Paleo, what are you going to have for a side dish to that steak?  
1015s in the oven

1015s in the oven

The answer is easy, according to "Hullabaloo in the Kitchen II," a cookbook from the Dallas County Texas A&M University Mothers' Club. Use Texas 1015s instead. These recipes come from former Gov. Rick Perry and use 1015 onions, which were developed by Aggies to showcase the vegetable's natural sweetness. The recipe is also a great way to use leftover brisket, should you have any after a barbecue. Later in the cookbook is a vegetarian version stuffed with broccoli and Parmesan cheese. onion1Lone Star-Style Whole Roasted Onions 4 (14- to 16-ounce) Texas 1015 onions Olive oil Place whole, unpeeled onions in as small a baking dish as possible. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Roast uncovered at 375 degrees. Onions are done when easily pierced with a fork (soft but not mushy), about 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on size. To serve, cut an X through the top of each onion and squeeze slightly at the bottom so it opens like a baked potato. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with sour cream and chives, or try with your favorite baked potato toppings. Makes 4 servings. From "Hullabaloo in the Kitchen II" from the Dallas County Texas A&M University Mothers' Club Texas Barbecue Beef-Stuffed Onions 4 Lone Star-Style Whole Roasted Onions without X cut, at room temperature 6 ounces lean deli roast beef or leftover brisket, cut into 1/2-inch squares 1/4 cup barbecue sauce 3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated Cut a thin slice off the top of the cooked onions. Gently squeeze each onion from the root end (editor's note: I did the opposite, cutting the root end off and it worked well). Remove center to leave a shell of about 1/2 inch. Finely dice the onion centers. In a medium bowl, toss diced onion with roast beef, barbecue sauce and cheese. Stuff each shell with 1/4 of the mixture or as much as will fill each onion. I sprinkled a little extra cheddar on top. Reheat at 375 degrees until hot, about 15 minutes. Makes 4 servings. From "Hullabaloo in the Kitchen II" from the Dallas County Texas A&M University Mothers' Club 1015 Onions Stuffed with Broccoli 3 Lone Star-Style Whole Roasted Onions without X cut, at room temperature 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup mayonnaise 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons margarine or butter 2 tablespoons flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup milk 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened Peel and cut a thick slice off the top or bottom of the cooked onions. Halve the onions. Remove centers leaving 3/4-inch edges. Chop center portions to equal about 1 cup. Set aside. Cook broccoli according to package directions. Drain. Combine chopped onions, broccoli, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Spoon into centers of onion halves. Place in a casserole dish. Melt margarine in saucepan over medium heat. Blend in flour and salt. Add milk and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and blend in cream cheese. Spoon over onion halves and bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 6 servings. Adapted from "Hullabaloo in the Kitchen II" from the Dallas County Texas A&M University Mothers' Club

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Give Your Terrine a Texas Twist

Give Your Terrine a Texas Twist

Here's an easy appetizer recipe that showcases the best of what Texas has to offer, which has come to include goat cheese as well as both black and green olives. terrine1You can also adapt it to suit your tastes. If you don't like black olives, double up on the green. Don't want the green olives stuffed with jalapenos? Then use them with pimentos or anchovies or whatever you like -- except for pits, of course. You have to make this dish ahead of time, which frees you up to attend to other details before your party begins. Texas Goat Cheese Terrine with Olives 15 ounces fresh goat cheese 3/4 cup heavy cream, or more, as needed 3/4 generous cup jalapeno- terrine2and garlic-stuff green olives, finely chopped 3/4 cup salt- or oil-cured black olives, pitted and finely chopped Fresh herbs, such as thyme or chives, minced, for garnish (optional) In a bowl, mix the goat cheese and 3/4 cup heavy cream to make a smooth, rather light spread. If it is too dense, add more cream. Evenly spread 1/4 of the mix across the bottom of an 8-inch square serving dish or bowl. Spread the green olives evenly over the surface of the cheese. Spread another 1/4 of the cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle the black olives evenly over the top. Spread another 1/4 of the cheese mixture on top and flatten it out. terrine3Use the remaining goat cheese like frosting to spread an even white layer on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. You can do this a day in advance. Before serving, bring the terrine to room temperature. Sprinkle the herbs on top, if desired. Serve with your choice of corn chips, pita chips, crackers and celery sticks or other crudites. Makes 10 servings. Adapted from "Olives, Anchovies and Capers" by Georgeanne Brennan

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Ghirardelli Brings Its Chocolate to the River Walk

Ghirardelli Brings Its Chocolate to the River Walk

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has opened a store at the Shops at Rivercenter, 849 E. Commerce St.
Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

It features chocolate, of course, in the form of gifts as well as a fountain, where guests can enjoy Ghirardelli World Famous Hot Fudge Sundaes, shakes and floats and a full line of espresso beverages. Store hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, click here.
 
“As we continue to expand our restaurant and retail division, Ghirardelli Chocolate is honored to open our flagship location in Texas, bringing visitors and shoppers an unforgettable, sweet experience,” said Marty Thompson, president and CEO of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. “We have been bringing quality chocolate to the public for over 164 years and are excited to continue this tradition in the great state of Texas.” To celebrate, here's Ghirardelli's recipe for Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies. They're easy to make and easier to devour.
Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
12 ounces Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 10 ounces Ghirardelli 60 Percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/3 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup chopped walnuts
In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long. As dough will be quite soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough in log shape. Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into 3/4 inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week. Makes 2 dozen cookies. From Ghirardelli Chocolate Save Save

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