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What Do You Do with Mamey Sapote?

What Do You Do with Mamey Sapote?

Mamey sapote in the market.

I was walking through the produce section of my neighborhood H-E-B the other day when I first spotted them. They looked like overgrown sweet potatoes crossed with a football, but they weren’t with the tubers. They were in the exotic fruit section, next to layers of dragon fruit, guavas and fingerling bananas.

Mamey cut in half

The sign indicated that they were mamey sapotes and the price was close to $4 a pound.

Pricey to be sure, but I can’t resist something new — or at least new to me. So, I Googled the fruit on my phone and found out that I wanted one that was soft without it being bruised. I took one of the smaller ones, which still rang up at about $12.

Despite the size, the mamey can be cut in half lengthwise, like an avocado. There is a long black pit at the center, also like an avocado. You don’t eat the peeling, but you do eat the soft flesh inside. But there the similarities between the two fruits end.

Mamey tastes earthier, more like an dryer papaya. That could be a polite way of saying it is boring or too subtle to be truly enjoyable by itself. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the thick texture and the almost dehydrating pucker that it brought to my mouth. 

A mamey milkshake with ice cream and milk

But you don’t have to eat mamey by itself. Many of the recipes I found online referred to mamey milkshakes, so I hauled out the Vitamix and filled it with a bit of fruit, milk and vanilla ice cream as well as an extra splash of vanilla. You’ll want a strong blender, because the fruit is dense and absorbs a lot of extra liquid, so you’ll need a strong motor as you add more and more milk to dilute it to get the texture you want. The result was comforting without being especially exciting — which I find strange when you consider that it had ice cream in it. What isn’t made more wonderful by the addition of ice cream? 

I read up on the fruit. It grows in Mexico and Central America as well as Australia on trees that can gain up to 148 feet in height. That is, at least, if you believe the Wikipedia entry on pouteria sapote.

Just add rum

So, it likes tropical climes. It might like complementary tropical flavors, like coconut milk. So I started over and created a non-dairy milkshake with a can of coconut milk and a little water. I also added cinnamon this time, which brought out a really comforting, pumpkin pie like flavor. That was what the first milkshake needed, not more vanilla.

And then I got an even better idea.

Out came the spiced rum and suddenly everything fell into place. That was the real lift the mamey milkshake needed.

Or maybe it was just the lift I needed.

By the way, I thought about planting that pit, but I doubt I will. I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate a tree approximating Jack’s beanstalk shooting up out of my backyard. 

So what do you do with mamey sapote?


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How to Prepare Jackfruit

How to Prepare Jackfruit

Jackfruit at the market

Jackfruit at the market

If you’ve been in an H-E-B produce section lately, you’ve probably seen them. They look like something monstrous left over from a 1950s sci-fi flick, such as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” where enormous pods threaten to take over civilization.

Strands of fresh jackfruit flesh

Strands of fresh jackfruit flesh

The sign up above says it’s something called jackfruit. But it might help if you knew what to do with it, even beyond the short list of directions at the market.

So, let’s start at the beginning.

Jackfruit is grown in Southeast Asia, and each fruit can weigh any where from 10 to 100 pounds. A single tree can bear dozens of fruit, which makes it ideal for feeding starving masses, that is, if they know what to do with it, too.

It takes an effort to work up jackfruit.

It takes an effort to work up jackfruit.

If you’re shopping for a jackfruit, look for one with no outside bruises or cuts. It should also have a fairly distinct aroma, which will become stronger when you cut into it.

If you buy a jackfruit that is too green, it will ooze a sticky latex, according to an Australian group, The Sub-Tropical Fruit Club of Qld: “The quantity of latex decreases as the fruit ripens. Try to cut a fruit that is green and you will have latex all over you. Cut into an over ripe fruit and there is almost no latex.   If you do get the sap on your hands you can easily get it off using lanoline soap, the kind they use in industry.”

There's plenty of skin, seeds and core.

There’s plenty of skin, seeds and core.

If you have time, cut a few gashes into the fruit a couple of days before you prepare it and let the latex ooze out on its own.

It has a rough skin that’s fairly solid, so you’ll need a strong knife — or machete — to break into it. Don’t use your best kitchen knife for that job. Once inside, you’ll find strands of pale yellow fruit flesh surrounding more rock-hard seeds. An equally hard core can be found at the center. So, you have to skin it, seed it and core it before you can enjoy it. Believe me, this takes a little work. And it creates no small amount of waste.

I have to confess that I didn’t buy a whole jackfruit. There was a cut piece in the refrigerated section, which still weighed about 8 pounds, which was more than enough for one person.

But I learned almost immediately that while you’re working up the jackfruit, it has an overripe, almost-fetid aroma — sort of like durian light, if you’ve ever smelled that fruity horror.

You can eat the fruit raw and some have made jerky of it, but the texture might seem a little tough for either.

Unless you’re used to it, jackfruit might be best encountered first after sauteing it. In this way,  it can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.

Jackfruit Barbecue

Jackfruit Barbecue

For savory dishes, you could try it in your favorite stir-fry as a substitute for tofu or chicken. You could also try it in a vegan barbecue dish. All you have to do is season the fruit with your favorite barbecue rub and saute it for a few minutes. Then cover the fruit with barbecue sauce and let them cook together over a medium to medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes. The end result was supposed to taste like pulled pork — at least to vegans. How many of them have been eating pulled pork lately is anybody’s guess. It certainly looks like pulled pulled in a certain light, but the end result proved to be incredibly sweet, as cooking released the fruit’s natural sugars, but it was also cloy. So, proceed with caution.

Jackfruit cooking in sugar

Jackfruit cooking in sugar

Perhaps you’d prefer to try the fruit in a sweeter context. I first tasted jackfruit back in Port Charlotte, Florida, where a local ice cream maker decided to showcase several flavors of his native land, the Philippines. His menu included a purple sweet potato called ube as well as jackfruit.

To get started on this side of the fruit’s personality, I sauteed it in sugar (4:1 ratio of fruit to sugar) for about 30 minutes. When I was ready to use it, the fruit went into a food processor where it was rendered into a thick puree. I froze most of it, but I used a cup for jackfruit ice cream.

This time, the fruit showed off its best flavors clean and strong. Even a few people who were dubious about trying the ice cream ate their fill after having a taste.

Jackfruit-Peach Ice Cream

1 cup jackfruit puree
1 cup finely chopped fresh peach
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Jackfruit-Peach Ice Cream

Jackfruit-Peach Ice Cream

To make the jackfruit puree, saute 1 cup jackfruit with 1/4 cup sugar for over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes or until soft and a syrup forms in the pan. Cool.

When ready to make the ice cream, puree the jackfruit in a food processor. Chop the peach and add to the jackfruit puree. Chill.

In a saucepan or bowl with a lid, mix coconut milk, cream and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the jackfruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Freeze according to ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes a little more than 1 quart ice cream.

From John Griffin



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How to Use Loquats

How to Use Loquats

loquatsThe winter rains have resulted in an explosion of loquats. Across the city, trees are laden with dark yellow fruit just waiting to be harvested.

For many, eating them straight off the tree is the perfect way to enjoy these beauties, which are often called Japanese plums. (If you’re not familiar with loquats, click here to learn more.)

loquat pickles1

Several types of loquat pickles.

There are so many this year that you have to have a plan of what to do with them. And no one wants to see that much fruit go to waste.

From my single tree, I picked more than three gallons. First I froze some whole, with the peelings and the seeds intact. You get sweeter and firmer fruit when it comes time to use them than if you seed them before freezing.

But what should I do with the rest? In the past, I’ve made wine, cobblers, pies and empanadas with the fruit. This year, I decided to pickle them, but the recipes had to be quick and easy, because, lately, time is a four-letter word in my book.

So, here are three recipes that are easy to make, if you have more loquats than you know what to do with.

Enjoy them while they last.

Spicy Pickled Loquats

Shred these pickles, jalapeños and all, and add a little to the slaw on your fish tacos.

1 pound loquats, stems and seeds removed
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 limes, juiced
4 garlic cloves, whole
1/2 teaspoon salt

Have a sterilized quart jar with a tight fitting lid at the ready – You can sterilize yours in the refrigerator.

Layer the loquats and jalapeño slices in the sterilized jar.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic cloves and salt. Pour mixture over the loquats and jalapeño slices.

Place the lid on the jar and give it a good shake.

Refrigerate for 1 week before eating.

Makes about 3 pints pickles.


Pickled Loquats

I made these beauties several years ago. It’s well worth revisiting this recipe.

2 1/4 pounds loquats
3 heaped tablespoons of cooking or rock salt
Fresh bay leaves
Stems of fresh rosemary, about 4 inches in length
2 generous cups vinegar
2 generous cups water

Loquats growing at the top of the tree.

Loquats growing at the top of the tree.

Pick yellow to orange loquats without blemishes. Halve the fruit.

Remove all seed pits and the blackish end of each fruit (end opposite the stem).

Leave the skins on.

Don’t worry if the cut fruit browns. Rinse the prepared loquats with water.  Place in a bowl and add salt.

Leave for 24 hours in a bowl. Stir whenever it is convenient to allow the fruit to make contact with the salty juices.

Drain the salty juices. Rinse the loquats with water to remove excess salt.

Mix vinegar and water in a stainless steel saucepan; bring to boil and allow it to cool for 3 minutes.

Put a fresh bay leaf and two stems of rosemary into each jar. Firmly pack the washed salted loquats into the jars.  Carefully pour hot mixture of vinegar and water over the loquats. Ensure that there are no trapped air bubbles. Fill to the top of the jars.

Seal jars with thin plastic wrap to stop any rusting under jar lids. Place in the fridge and store for at least a week before using.

Makes about 2 quarts.


Sweet Pickled Loquats

If you like a sweeter pickle, add a little more sugar and cut back slightly on the vinegar.

1 1/2 pounds loquats
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
A few cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
1 cardamom, optional

Halve the loquats, removing the seeds and stems, but keep the peels on. Combine the sugar, water, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom, if using, in a large saucepan. Add the loquat halves.

Cook the loquats gently over medium heat until they are soft. Put them in the jar, fill the jar with the hot syrup. Tighten the jar lid and store in the fridge.

Makes about 1 quart.

Adapted from

Here are two other ideas for how to use your loquats:


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Pear and Cranberry Crostada Is an Easy Holiday Pleaser

Pear and Cranberry Crostada Is an Easy Holiday Pleaser

Pear and Cranberry Crostada

Pear and Cranberry Crostada

Cranberries are good at more than just Thanksgiving dinner, as this crostada recipe shows. It was freely adapted from an Ina Garten to include nuts and fresh berries as optional alternatives. The photos below offer you a step-by-step guide on how to make this easy yet refreshing dessert.

Pear and Cranberry Crostada

For the pastry:
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, diced
Scant 1/4 cup ice cold water flavored with 1 tablespoon nocino (walnut liqueur) or 1 teaspoon almond extract (flavor optional)

For the filling:
3 pounds Bosc pears
1/2 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh cranberries or 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground allspice
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter (1 stick), diced
Chopped walnuts or slivered almonds (optional)

For the pastry, place the nuts, if using, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to grind as finely as possible. (If you let the blade run, the nuts could release oil and dampen the bowl.) In a dry food processor bowl, add nuts, if using, flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with the flour. Pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the 1/4 cup ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and form into 2 disks. Wrap the disks with plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.


Roll each pastry disk into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer them to 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper.


For the filling, peel, core and quarter the pears. Cut each quarter into big chunks. Toss the chunks with the zest. Divide the pear chunks between the pastries, covering the dough and leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle half of the cranberries over the top of each tart.


Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together.

crostada5Sprinkle evenly over the top of the two tarts. Sprinkle ground nuts over top.

crostada4 Gently fold the border of each tart over the pears, pleating it to make a circle.

crostada3Bake the crostatas for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the pears are tender. Let the tarts cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer them to wire racks.

Makes 2 crostadas.

Adapted from Ina Gartin/Food Network

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Make Barbecued Pulled Pork Easier

Make Barbecued Pulled Pork Easier

America’s Test Kitchen has done its homework on this recipe, simplifying the pulled pork process as much as possible to give you a treat you’ll love any time of year.

Barbecued Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Why this recipe works: Pulled pork is classic summertime party food: slow-cooked pork roast, shredded and seasoned, served on the most basic of hamburger buns (or sliced white bread), with just enough of your favorite barbecue sauce, a couple of dill pickle chips, and a topping of coleslaw. However, many barbecue procedures demand the regular attention of the cook for eight hours or more. We waned to find a way to make moist, fork-tender pulled pork without the marathon cooking time and constant attention to the grill.

After testing shoulder roasts (also called Boston butt), fresh ham and picnic roasts, we determined that the shoulder roast, which has the most fat, retained the most moisture and flavor during a long, slow cook. We massaged a spicy chile rub into the meat, then wrapped the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for at least three hours to “marinate.” The roast is first cooked on the grill to absorb smoky flavor (from wood chips — no smoker required), then finished in the oven. Finally, we let the pork rest in a paper bag so the meat would steam and any remaining collagen would break down. We also developed a pair of sauce recipes to please barbecue fans with different tastes.

Pulled pork can be made with a fresh ham or picnic roast, although our preference is for Boston butt. If using a fresh ham or picnic roast, remove the skin by cutting through it with the tip of a chef’s knife; slide the blade just under the skin and work around to loosen it while pulling it off with your other hand. Four medium wood chunks, soaked in water for 1 hour, can be substituted for the wood chip packets on a charcoal grill. Serve on plain white bread or warmed rolls with dill pickles and coleslaw.

1 (6- to 8-pound) bone-in Boston butt roast
3/4 cup Dry Rub for Barbecue (recipes follows)
4 cups wood chips, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained
1 (9-by-13-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan
2 cups barbecue sauce (recipes follow)

Pat pork dry with paper towels, then massage dry rub into meat. Wrap meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

At least 1 hour prior to cooking, remove roast from refrigerator, unwrap and let sit at room temperature. Using 2 large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in 2 foil packets and cut several vent holes in top.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chips packs on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Place wood chip packets directly on primary burner. Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature around 325 degrees.)

Set roast in disposable pan, place on cool side of grill, and cook for 3 hours. During final 20 minutes of cooking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Wrap disposable pan with heavy-duty foil and cook in oven until meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Carefully slide foil-wrapped pan with roast into brown paper bag. Crimp end shut and let rest for 1 hour.

Transfer roast to carving board and unwrap. Separate roast into muscle sections, removing fat, if desired, and tearing meat into shreds with your fingers. Place shredded meat in large bowl and toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Makes 8 servings.

Dry Rub for Barbecue

You can adjust the proportions of spices in this all-purpose rub or add or subtract a spice, as you wish.

1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

Makes 1 cup.

Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

This sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon hot sauce

Mix vinegars, sugar, pepper flakes and hot sauce together in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 cups.

Mid-South Carolina Mustard Sauce

This sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Mix vinegar, oil, mustard, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

From “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015”


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Whip Up the Ultimate Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Whip Up the Ultimate Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn’t want the creamiest mashed potatoes imaginable? America’s Test Kitchen delivers with this recipe.

Ultimate Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Why this recipe works: Sometimes we want a luxurious mash, one that is silky smooth and loaded with cream and butter. But there’s a fine line between creamy and gluey. We wanted lush, creamy mashed potatoes, with so much richness and flavor they could stand on their own — no gravy necessary.

For a creamier, substantial mash, we found that Yukon Golds were perfect — creamier than russets but not as heavy as red potatoes. Slicing the peeled potatoes into rounds and then rinsing away the surface starch before boiling helped intensify their creamy texture without making them gluey. Setting the boiled and drained potatoes in their pot over a low flame helped further evaporate any excess moisture. Using 1 1/2 sticks of butter and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream gives these potatoes luxurious flavor and richness without making the mash too thin. We found that melting the butter and warming the cream before adding them to the potatoes ensured that the finished dish arrived at the table piping hot.

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 medium), scrubbed, peeled and sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
2 teaspoons table salt

Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cool running water, tossing with your hands, for 30 seconds. Transfer the potatoes to a large Dutch oven, add cold water to cover by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to heat to medium and boil until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and return to the Dutch oven. Stir over low heat until the potatoes are thoroughly dried, 1 to 2 minutes. Set a ricer or food mill over a large bowl and press or mill the potatoes into the bowl. Gently fold in the warm cream mixture and salt with a rubber spatula until the cream is absorbed and the potatoes are thick and creamy. Serve.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. This recipe can be cut in half, if desired.

From “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015”

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Yes, You Can Make Rich and Creamy Scrambled Eggs

Yes, You Can Make Rich and Creamy Scrambled Eggs

Getting your scrambled eggs just right is not hard, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen tell us. But you have to pay attention. “When your spatula just leaves a trail through the eggs, that’s your cue in our dual-heat method to turn the dial from medium-high to low,” they write in “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015” (America’s Test Kitchen, $45).

Rich and Creamy Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs

Why this recipe works: Scrambled eggs often end up as either tough, dry slabs or pebbly, runny curds. We wanted foolproof rich scrambled eggs with fluffy, moist curds so creamy and light that they practically dissolved on the tongue.

The first step was to add salt to the uncooked eggs; salt dissolved some of the egg proteins so they were unable to bond when cooked, creating more tender curds. Beating the eggs until just combined, using the gentle action of a fork rather than a whisk, ensured our scramble didn’t turn tough. For the intense creaminess we were after, we chose half-and-half over milk; it produced rich, clean-tasting curds that were both fluffy and stable. To replicate the richer flavor of farm-fresh eggs, we added extra yolks. Finally, when it came to the cooking process, we started the eggs on medium-high heat to create puffy curds, then finished them over low heat so they wouldn’t overcook. Swapping out our 12-inch skillet for a 10-inch pan kept the eggs in a thicker layer, trapping more steam and producing heartier curls.

It’s important to follow the visual cues in this recipe, as pan thickness will affect cooking times. If using an electric stove, heat one burner on low heat and a second on medium-high heat; move the skillet between burners when it’s time to adjust the heat. If you don’t have half-and-half, substitute 8 teaspoons of whole milk and 4 teaspoons of heavy cream. To dress up the dish, add 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, chives, basil or cilantro or 1 tablespoon of dill or tarragon to the eggs after reducing the heat to low.

8 large whole eggs
2 large yolks
1/4 cup half-and-half
Table salt
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

Beat the eggs, yolks, half-and-half, 3/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with a fork until the eggs are thoroughly combined and the color is pure yellow; do not over-heat.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until fully melted (the butter should not brown), swirling the coat the pan. Add the egg mixture and, using a heatproof rubber spatula, constantly and firmly scrape along the bottom and the sides of the skillet until the eggs begin to clump and the spatula just leaves a trail on the bottom of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and gently but constantly fold the eggs until clumped and just slightly wet, 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately transfer the eggs to warmed plates and season with salt to taste. Serve immediately,

Makes 4 servings.

Rich and Creamy Scrambled Eggs for Two

Follow the recipe for Rich and Creamy Scrambled Eggs, reducing the whole eggs to 4, the yolks to 1, the half-and-half to 2 tablespoons and the salt and pepper to 1/8 teaspoon each. Reduce the butter to 1/2 tablespoon. Cook the eggs in an 8-inch skillet for 45 to 75 seconds over medium-high heat, then for 30 to 60 seconds over low heat.

From “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015”


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Grow A Mediterranean Garden; Seminar at Sandy Oaks

Grow A Mediterranean Garden; Seminar at Sandy Oaks

It’s prime time in Texas to prepare to start a fall garden, but common pests and climate-related problems may have you hanging up your gardening gloves for the season.

Don’t fret! Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard and horticulturist Robbi Will come to the rescue with information on how to deal with these challenges and much more, this Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Sandy Oaks Garden SeminarWill is going to lead a discussion on growing a Texas-style Mediterranean garden and will provide tips and tricks on how to successfully grow and harvest fall herbs and vegetables from your own space.

Also at the demo, Sandy Oaks’ Executive Chef Chris Cook will present a cooking demo with fall herbs and vegetables discussed in the seminar, fresh-picked from the Sandy Oaks garden.

If you’re still unsure if you’re ready to absorb all of this information and venture out on your own, don’t worry; herbs will also be available for purchase in the Sandy Oaks shop. You’ll want to pick some up so you can , so you can practice Chef Cook’s lessons at home right away.

There is no charge for the demonstration or the samples. Please call ahead to register for the event at 210.621.0044. Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is at  25195 Mathis Road, about a 20 minute drive from downtown San Antonio.  Visit the website by clicking here.

About Robbi Will

Robbi Will grew up in central Texas and has been playing in the dirt, smelling the flowers, and exploring the outdoors as long as she can remember. Loving plants, she earned a degree in Horticulture from Texas A&M University. She currently works as a sales representative for the Antique Rose Emporium. In the past, she has managed the award-winning retail store for the same company in San Antonio, Texas. Robbi has been in the Green Industry for over 30 years, working with native plant production, buying for a plant brokerage, overseeing landscape construction, and lecturing on a wide variety of plant related topics. Occasionally she eats roses for breakfast.

About Sandy Oaks

Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is located on 40 acres in Elmendorf, TX just 20 minutes south of San Antonio. Sandy Oaks is best known for its olive trees, olive oil, and olive leaf based skin and beauty products.  With over 1,000 olive trees and a nursery that can contain up to 10,000 or more olive seedlings at any given time, Sandy Oaks offers exceptional hospitality and educational services based around the various uses of olive oil.



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Put on Your Aprons: Cooking Classes in SA

Put on Your Aprons: Cooking Classes in SA

Chef Steven McHugh at Cured

Chef Steven McHugh at Cured

Kiddie Corner at Cured with Chef Steve McHugh

Chef Steve McHugh of Cured will be offering cooking classes for kids ages 7 to 12 at the Pearl Farmers Market on Saturday, July 26 at 9 a.m.

Children will shop the market for seasonal produce and learn how to safely prepare each ingredient and create dishes they can easily reproduce at home.

The class will last for 30 minutes and cost $15 per child. All proceeds will be benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger.

To reserve your spot please call 210.314.3929.

Summer in Tuscany at Sur La Table

Rustic yet refined, Tuscan cooking is famous for using simple ingredients and preparations to create delicious, authentic flavors. Our instructor will teach you the techniques behind these satisfying recipes as well as a few tips to make their preparation a breeze.

Great cooking isn’t about recipes—it’s about techniques. In our classes you’ll work together with other students in a fun, hands-on environment led by our professional chef instructors. Class time is 3:30-5:30 p.m., July 27. The cost is $69. Reserve you place by phone (18 years old and older) at 800-243-0852.  Sur La Table is at the Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway.

In this class you will:

  • Learn fundamental skills for a lifetime of great cooking
  • Work side-by-side with other students to prepare each dish
  • Interact with classmates and the instructor for a rich learning experience
  • Classes are 2 to 2 1/2 hours, unless otherwise noted above, and each student enjoys a generous taste of every dish
  • Held in our professional teaching kitchens, each class is led by an experienced chef instructor
  • Hands-on classes are limited to 16 participants
  • Students receive a 10 percent discount coupon to use the week after the class

Cooking at Central Market: Stone Fruits

Join Sustenio chef David Gilbert at Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market for a tour of the offerings at hand Sunday (July 15) and then brunch.

Hannah Smith, CM Cooking School Instructor, will demonstrate three healthy recipes that are also a delicious way to use these summer fruits. The class is for students ages 18 and older. The cost is $25. These recipes will be demonstrated:

  •  Summer Stone Fruit Gazpacho;
  •  Brandied Peach &  Pork Kebabs;
  •  Burrata Stone Fruit Salad; and
  •  Roast Plums with Almond Crunch, Basil Syrup & Cream.


Class is 12-1 p.m. Aug. 1. To reserve a place call 210-368-8617. Or follow this link.

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Thrill of the Grill: Plus 5 Steps to a Really Good Burger!

Thrill of the Grill: Plus 5 Steps to a Really Good Burger!

Fourth of July means grills will be fired up all over the state. Pits will be smoking, too, but we’ll offer some tips here on keeping things safe on and around the grill, plus some cooking and planning tips for your cookout from caterer Don Strange of Texas.

Also, below are some simple tips from a chef to cooking great burgers.

Grill Safety

  • Keep your setting in mind. It’s dry, which means that a fire could start easily from an ember or spark. So, have your garden hose, a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand handy in case a fire does start.
  • Build your fire under only one side of the grill.

    Build your fire under only one side of the grill. You can move steaks to the warm (but not sizzling hot) side of the grill to hold.

    Watch out for children playing in the area.

  • Don’t wear loose clothing around a lit grill.
  • Don’t leave a grill unattended.
  • Don’t have your grill too close to your house or another building. Don’t place it under tree branches or wooden trellises that could easily go up in smoke.
  • Don’t light your fire with gasoline. Don’t spray lighter fluid on already-lit coals.
  • When you’re finished, make sure the fire will go out. If you’re using coals, close all of the vents on the grill.


Article from Edible Austin on Grilling Veggies click here.
Recipe: Mr. Strange’s Barbecue Sauce


Burger on grillOne Chef’s Five Steps to a Really Great Burger

1. Bun should be smaller than the burger so that the meat drapes over the sides. Pretzel buns best, they soak up juice of the burger without falling apart. Brush with butter, grill and keep hot until ready to top with burger.

2. Grind bacon (partially cooked with caramelized onion and garlic), white, yellow cheddar or smoked gouda, cheese and roasted garlic mixed into the ground meat. Favorite meat grind: Strip loin and tri-tip, using the bacon for the fat and keeping the lean-to-fat ratio at 80-20.

3. Shape the burger: Put a little water on the burger before you shape, helps with the handling. Don’t overhandle the beef as you form into patty.

4.  You might be making your burgers on the grill on July Fourth. That’s great. But, burgers also are very good either griddled or cooked in a cast-iron skillet.  Look for an internal temperature of 120 degrees in the center — this seems to be optimal for flavor profile. Also, do not press down on the burger with spatula as it will press out moisture — and you want a moist burger. If you want cheese, put it on top of the burger as soon as you flip — and only flip once!

5. Take off grill and put in bun that you have already grilled and have your toppings close by. You want to assemble as quickly as possible. Also, keep condiments at room temperature, so they don’t chill down the burger. Other toppings such as grilled poblano peppers, etc., should also be at least room temp or warm.


Tips from Don Strange of Texas on general grilling.

• Know your grill — all grills are not alike.  “No matter where or what we’re grilling, on the spot timing is the key. For things to be served at precisely the right time, the fire must be started on time and allowed to reach the right temperature before we start to grill,” says Vice President of Sales and Culinary Vision for Don Strange of Texas Catering Di-Anna Arias.

“Timing and temperature vary depending on your tools: charcoal, smoker, wood, gas grill—you can’t treat them all the same. Just because they each produce a flame, don’t expect them all to cook the same way or require the same amount of time.”

Grill Strip Steak• Not only does the type of grill have to be considered, but the type of meat as well.  Don Strange cooks grill tenderloins to medium rare and hold them in a warming area where they continue to cook. They have to be constantly monitored to be sure they’re not overcooked, then allowed to rest so they can be carved perfectly and served for dinner.

• Fish is another great option for grilling, and hint from the seasoned team at Don Strange of Texas: keeping the skin on the fish for grilling is the best option unless you have a fish basket. Spray the fish with cooking spray or vegetable oil and voila, unless you’re serving salmon. Try grilling the fish in foil with fresh herbs, citrus, whole peppers or chile flake sea salt for a savory taste that isn’t overwhelming.

Posted in Daily Dish, How To, In SeasonComments Off on Thrill of the Grill: Plus 5 Steps to a Really Good Burger!