Tag Archive | "Bonnie Walker"

Look for ‘Barbecue Lover’s Texas’ Now in Bookstores

East Texas barbecue, such as this three-meat plate from New Zion Missionary Baptist, is one of several styles of barbecue in Texas.

East Texas barbecue, such as this three-meat plate from New Zion Missionary Baptist, is one of several styles of barbecue in Texas.

It was tough work, but someone had to do it, just to make your lives a little easier. So, San Antonio authors and SavorSA co-owners John Griffin and Bonnie Walker spent a little over four months on the Texas barbecue trail last fall for publisher Globe Pequot Press.

Barbecue Lover's TexasThey sampled a lot of pit-smoked meats from the Panhandle to Brownsville, from El Paso to Port Arthur. They took hundreds of photos and put thousands of miles on their cars, all to write “Barbecue Lover’s Texas” (Globe Pequot Press, $21.95), a guide to some of the state’s most popular and beloved food.

Along the way they found restaurants and food trucks, converted gas stations, plate lunches sold from residential yards and even a church-run operation — all offering Texas’ great brisket, ribs, sausages, sandwiches, side dishes and more.

In “Barbecue Lover’s Texas,” which is officially released Aug. 19, you’ll read about the people they met, hard-working folks with histories to tell about what they do and how they do it, people who taught themselves and folks carrying on traditions handed down through generations.

Also, the book differentiates areas of Texas and how the concept of what exactly is considered “barbecue” changes from region to region and sometimes by ethnicity.

Lovers of Texas barbecue can find the book in stores now. SavorSA will also post book signings and more over the next months.

Indulge your inner carnivore with this mouthwatering tour of Texas.

Indulge your inner carnivore with this mouthwatering tour of Texas.

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‘Food Lover’s Guide to SA’ Sale, Signing at Godai Friday

It’s only right to hold a (food) book signing among the delectable scents, smack in the center of the noise and bustle of a popular restaurant.

So, thanks to our friend and sushi guru, William “Goro” Pitchford, this signing of our new “Food Lover’s Guide to San Anotnio” will happen this Friday, from roughly 6-9 p.m. at Godai Sushi Bar and Japanese Restaurant, 11203 West Ave.

This 400-page book covers San Antonio, area by area, listing our favorite restaurants and markets, places to learn to cook, local events and festivals foodies love, as well as recipes from top local chefs and more.

Authors John Griffin and Bonnie Walker look forward to hustling copies of our books, of course, but also to see friends, followers of the SavorSA website and Twitter, and anyone else who just wants to show up and say ‘hello’. And, perhaps sit down and order dinner at one of the city’s most popular sushi bars.

If you were given or purchased a book that hasn’t been signed, bring it by and we’ll be happy to sign it for you.

The next book signing will be at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market in the Whole Foods parking area at the Quarry, on Nov. 4.

This is the market’s 2nd Annual Holiday Unwrapping, featuring both edible and non-edible gift ideas, holiday menu inspirations and traditions. Nearly 30 market members will showcase, sample, sell and accept orders for the holidays. Among the special seasonal items: All-natural skin care products, cranberry salsa, pâté de Campagne, pumpkin spice French macarons, smoked King salmon, vegan and gluten-free pies, gift boxes of grass-fed beef steaks, local pecans, orchids and specialty plants and a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and sides.

We’ll soon post an update for the Quarry market signing, as well as a full list of the sellers and treats available during the Holiday Unwrapping.

Other signings: Look for “Food Lover’s Guide to San Antonio” in other locations coming up next month and early December. We humbly believe “Food Lovers” makes the perfect (and very affordable!) gift for San Antonio foodies.


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SavorSA a ‘Must Read’ Blog: San Antonio Magazine’s Insider’s Guide

SavorSA is one of three local blogs deemed “must read” in the new August/Newcomer’s Guide edition of San Antonio Magazine.

The latest issue of San Antonio Magazine, a trove of info for newcomers to our city.

Thank you and muchas gracias! We humbly and gratefully accept this recognition. And, we thank our readers who help keep us on track and being our extra eyes and ears (and taste buds!) in the community.

We are also honored to be named along with our colleagues and friends, Rene Guzman (Geek Speak) and Debi Pfitzenmaier (SABusyKids).

Here’s what San Antonio Magazine says:

For foodies

Billing itself as a “one-stop center for all things related to food and wine,” it showcases the blogs of its founders, John Griffin and Bonnie Walker. Serious eaters and casual diners can get an interesting take on the city’s food scene.

They write: “The Grilled Cheese Sandwich at The Monterey, however, was purely an adult pleasure: stacked and tall, toasty and dripping with cheese and inviting you to smash your face in.”

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We Missed You!

Technical difficulties have plagued us for the past month, but we are happy to welcome readers back to SavorSA.

John Griffin and Bonnie Walker will be bringing you more restaurant news and reviews, events, food news, tips and recipes. Look for some new features and promotions in the weeks to come, too.

Please contact us at and, and let us know what you most would love to see on the website in the weeks and months coming up.

Thanks for reading, and please pass the word about on to your friends and fellow foodies.

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WalkerSpeak: Company’s Coming, Dining Dilemmas Ahead

A full bar is a requirement for some.

I come from a family of foodies with a lineage going back two or three generations. My grandmother was a caterer. My mother is an excellent cook and tries to feed the world, despite the fact that, at 83, she is a busy music teacher and director of a light opera company.

My brother is an executive chef in Phoenix, and I take no small measure of pride remembering how he (used to) rely on me for guidance, since I began cooking professionally before he did.

When he began his cooking career at the age of 17, I would get phone calls at 2 a.m., waking me from a sound slumber. I would then be asked to recite recipes for anything from blue cheese dressing to green chile stew.

Once, he blew through my former hometown of Tucson, Ariz., with two friends while I was away. My roommate kindly let the three of them stay at the house overnight. When I returned, after they’d gone, I found they’d demolished a full pot of cazuela, a wonderful Mexican soup based on chiles, tomatoes and shredded dried beef, that I’d left in the refrigerator. Soup I was looking forward to eating. What I found was the empty pot and a note asking for the recipe.

My brother has long since passed me by. He’s finishing up an MBA and runs his own catering business. Now, I call him.

So, when these folks come for a visit, where do I take them out to eat?

If you think this should be easy for me, think about your own family. What do you do when each one is going to be critical of where you go for his or her own personal reasons? How do you deal with various allergies, political statements, current fad diets and so forth? Or, the fact that if you take them to an excellent high-end restaurant, they’ll complain about prices, but if you take them to a reasonably priced restaurant, they’ll ask, “Don’t you have any good restaurants in San Antonio?”

With my mother, it’s been a requirement that the restaurant have a full bar. Problem is, many good restaurants serve beer and wine only. So, we have handled this: I keep a bottle of Grey Goose vodka in my freezer so it will be here when she visits, and she can have her martini before we go to dinner.

Other than this one peccadillo, my mom is critical, but can set it aside to enjoy a meal out.  So can my brother, as long as someone doesn’t try to pull a fast one on him, like serve chicken Parmesan disguised as the advertised veal Parmesan or endure a condescending or too-familiar waiter, the chef’s natural enemy.

Puffy tacos have their charms.

Earlier this week, my information was that they were both going to be here at the same time for a few days. Visions of food issues loomed. Should I try to take them to a fine-dining place with no hard liquor or just sit them down to some good Texas barbecue? Should we go to Rosario’s or my favorite unassuming neighborhood Tex-Mex place? Or, should I take them to Ray’s Drive-Inn and hope they recognize the amazing qualities of a perfectly made puffy taco? Should we go to a high-end restaurant? Or should we save money and collaborate on an ambitious meal at home?

While I was thinking about these things, my brother called to say there had been a change of plans — he would be going to Idaho to accompany his wife on a business meeting.

My mother, in the meantime, will be delighted with something simple, as long as we drive out to see wildflowers and get some shopping in. She’s also be happy sitting on the back porch with a sandwich and a glass of iced tea, talking. And, she’ll love the puffy tacos.

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Recipe: Bonnie’s Potato Salad

potatosalad3Bonnie Walker’s potato salad recipe incorporates poblanos and serranos to sizzling effect.

Bonnie’s Potato Salad

4-6 large russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into eighths
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white OR red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon powdered dry mustard
Pinch white pepper
Pinch salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, including some of the green
1 cup diced celery
4 large hard-cooked eggs, diced
2 medium poblano chiles, roasted and peeled, seeded and cut into small dice
1 serrano chile, minced (optional)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Paprika, for garnish

Cook potatoes until tender. Strain and let cool a few minutes.  Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and salt the potatoes. You don’t need to use a lot of salt, but all the potatoes should have a little. Put potatoes back in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, dry mustard, pepper and salt until it makes a creamy dressing. Pour into the potatoes and toss around with your hands until all of the potatoes are coated with a little of the dressing. Add diced scallion and celery and mix in.

Gently mix in hard-cooked eggs, poblano chile and serrano, if using. You can use more or less serrano, depending on whether you want it to burn a little or not. Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard. Stir into the potato mixture so that it is well blended in.

Just before serving, shake paprika over the top.  (It’s common as a garnish, but the flavor is really good,  so shake on a little extra.)

Makes 8-12 servings.

Source: Bonnie Walker

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Breakfast Treats Any Dad Can Love

blueberriesonplateWant to treat Dad to a great breakfast for Father’s Day? Here are two suggestions from writers that should please not just Dad but the whole family.

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Somewhere, there is a dad who would turn down blueberry pancakes for breakfast. But we’ve never met such a fellow.

So, this Father’s Day, try out this gussied up version and see if he can guess the secret ingredients.

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes are really not much harder to make than the usual, from-scratch recipe. The ricotta adds to the tender richness of the pancakes. Orange juice is a good, complimentary flavor. If you want even more intense orange flavor, add the optional orange zest called for in the recipe.

Blueberries are fresh on the produce aisles now. One of our favorite fruits, blueberries are rich in antioxidants and, raw or cooked, taste fabulous.

Serve with fresh juice, and if your dad is like mine, he’ll want a breakfast pork product on the side.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup blueberries
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest, optional

In a bowl, combine the flour with baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, ricotta cheese, egg, orange juice, milk, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients just until blended. Gently stir in the blueberries and orange zest, if using.

In a skillet or griddle, heat oil over medium heat. Spoon a small amount of batter onto the hot skillet and spread gently with the back of the spoon. Flip when the batter starts to bubble on top.

Serve with your favorite syrup.

Serves 4.


Mom’s Omelet

John Griffin’s father has lived with diabetes for more than 40 years. One successful approach has been to cut down on carbohydrates, so this omelet of his mother’s — or frittata, as culinary linguists would argue — has long been a family treat.

The secret is to whisk the eggs until they are really light and fluffy.

6 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup grated cheese, such as Cheddar or Monterey Jack
1/8 cup diced celery rib tops, including leaves (see note)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat broiler. Position rack in middle of oven.

Whisk eggs extremely well. Stir in evaporated milk, then add ham, cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Melt in cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture and cook on stove top until it begins to bubble. Then place under the broiler with the pan on the middle rack and bake, watching, until it is brown on top.

If you want to upend it on a plate, take a knife and run it around the edges of the skillet. Then turn over onto serving plate. Or cut and serve from skillet.

Note: Annaliese Griffin has always diced the top of celery ribs, including the leaves, for this dish. You can use onions, various colors of bell pepper, or whatever vegetable you wish to use.

Source: Annaliese Griffin

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Chefs’ Corner: Seafood Cannelloni from Soleil Bistro & Wine Bar


Seafood Cannelloni shows off fresh, summery herbs.

A rich, decadent and tasty Seafood Cannelloni is one of the French-influenced specials that chef Nicolas Lebas is preparing at Soleil Bistro & Wine Bar these days.  The flavors of truffle, tarragon and a dash of Pernod lightly season this dish.

Nicolas Lebas, formerly sous chef at Bistro Vatel, also worked at L’Etoile. He trained in Lyon, France, considered the gastronomic capital of that country. He is assisted in Soleil’s kitchen by Nolan Pierce.

Soleil Bistro & Wine Bar is at 14415 Blanco Road (click here).

Seafood Cannelloni with Mushroom Sauce

1/2 pound tilapia or flounder
1 cup cream heavy cream
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
1 cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of Pernod, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

4 (6-inch) squares of pasta, cooked OR 4 cannelloni cylinders, cooked

For serving:
Mushroom Sauce (see recipe below)
8 spears fresh asparagus, sliced lengthwise and steamed, for garnish
Minced parsley, dill or tarragon to garnish

Put tilapia, cream, egg, dill, tarragon, shallots, garlic powder, Pernod, salt and pepper into a food processor and work to a fine purée.  Place a fourth of the mix into each square of cooked cannelloni pasta and roll it into a cylinder. Or, if using cooked, cylindrical pasta shells, carefully stuff each one with a quarter of the seafood filling. When all four cannelloni are rolled or stuffed, place on a rack in a large pan that has a little simmering water on the bottom. Cover the pot and steam the cannelloni until the filling is just firm, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the bottom of a medium baking dish, then cover with a thin layer of Mushroom Sauce. When cannelloni have firmed up, carefully transfer each to the baking dish. Mask with more of the Mushroom Sauce, leaving enough remaining sauce to put on plates. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven until the sauce is lightly browned and the cannelloni are hot.

Before serving: Put some sauce on each of four plates and place one of the cannelloni on each. Top with steamed asparagus slices and chopped fresh herbs.


Chef Nicolas Lebas comes to Soleil by way of Bistro Vatel.

Mushroom Sauce

1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon truffle oil
2 tablespoons minced parsley or dill
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Spray nonstick sauté pan with cooking oil. Saute mushrooms until they are golden. Add cream, truffle oil, minced parsley or dill, salt and pepper, to taste.  Reduce  sauce at a gentle simmer until it has slightly thickened.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Nicolas Lebas, Soleil Bistro & Wine Bar

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Wondering About Wine: Chardonnay by Another Name

White WineQ. If I have a recipe and it calls for a dry white wine, such as Chablis, can I use another white wine instead? What is Chablis, anyway?

A. Two things to think of right away:  Remember that dry means the opposite of sweet. That lets out a few white wines that might be sweet and therefore wouldn’t work (at least according to the terms of your recipe).

Also, cast aside (maybe just throw away) any white wine labeled “cooking wine” you may have on your shelf.  It is not good wine and is likely to be oversalted.

Next, if you don’t have Chablis a dry chardonnay might work, but you want one that is lightly oaked. Or even non-oaked. Ask a wineseller for one and he or she can lead you in the right direction. Unoaked chardonnay is usually identified as such on the label. Why unoaked? Oak adds some heavy flavors of its own, such as vanilla, which might be fine for drinking but will interfere with flavors in a delicate sauce.

Chablis is chardonnay (from the grape by that name) grown in the Chablis region of Burgundy, France. The cool weather here produces dry, crisp wines that usually are unoaked, though some o

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