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Brighten Your Meal with an Easy Appetizer of Ceviche de Corvina Panameño


This ceviche recipe, which Panamanian chef Elena Hernández shared at the recent Latin Flavors, American Kitchens symposium at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus, is an easy appetizer that is colorful, bright and refreshing.

Ceviche de Corvina Panameño

1 pound white sea bass (corvino),  fillet
Salt, to taste
2 ounces celery, finely chopped
4 ounces red onion, finely julienned
Juice of 8 limes
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ají chombo  (see note)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Thinly slice the fish.

Mix fish, salt, celery, onion, lime juice, cilantro, ají chombo and olive oil. Allow the mixture to cool for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Note: Ají chombo is a Panamanian pepper akin to habaneros, which can be used as a substitute.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Elena Hernández/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

 

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Chefs’ Corner: Rudolfo Martinez’s Shrimp Ceviche and Chicharrones


Tapa Tapa's Shrimp Ceviche and Chicharrones

Rudolfo Martinez, who owns the Tapa Tapa truck that can be found at Boardwalk on Bulverde, is a Culinary Institute of America graduate serving up extremely flavorful dishes that combine comfort foods in unique, playful ways. On a recent evening, he mixed watermelon and mint with old-fashioned Pop Rocks candy for a salad that gave your mouth a little extra burst of flavor.

For his shrimp ceviche, he takes fresh tomatoes flavored by serranos and mixes them with pickled onions and shrimp. He serves the mixture over pork rinds for a lively variation on this seafood specialty.

More of Martinez’s food will soon be featured at Counter Culture, which is opening in a few weeks next to the Spectrum Club at 20144 U.S. 281 N. at Evans Road.

Shrimp Ceviche and Chicharrones

1 medium white onion, sliced thin
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (reserve lime peels for broth)
1 cup medium diced tomatoes
2 serranos, cut into thin coins
1 bunch cilantro leaves, torn
1 pound 16/20-count shrimp, shell on
Salt, to taste
1 bag pork rinds or chicharrones (see note)

Rudolfo Martinez

Mix the onions in lime juice and marinate at least 6 hours (overnight is best).

Mix the tomatoes with the serranos and cilantro and perfume at least 6 hours (overnight is best).

Boil shrimp in a broth of juiced limes and water for 90 seconds.

Remove and shock in a ice water bath to stop cooking. Remove from water bath, shell and reserve meat.

When ready to serve, mix all the ingredients together, salt to taste, and serve over chicharrones. Serve immediately.

Note: You can serve this ceviche with tostadas or corn chips. Serve it on avocado halves or on nothing but a plate.

Makes 4-5 appetizer servings or 2-3 main course servings.

From Rudolfo Martinez

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Chefs’ Corner: Johnny Hernandez’s Ceviche Verde


Ceviche Verde

In the newly redesigned Bon Appétit magazine, the August Challenge for four chefs was to come up with a dish using avocado. One of those chefs was San Antonio’s Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria.

His recipe was for a sensational Ceviche Verde, which calls for tomatillo, green olives, cilantro and jalapeño in addition to avocado.

The other recipes are from Carly Groden of Proof in Des Moines, who offered an avocado smoothie, Greg Baker of the Refinery in Tampa with Avocado Salad with Peaches and Shaun McCrain of Book Bindery in Seattle with Avocado and Crab Soup.

By the way, Hernandez was also honored recently by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Business Owner of the Year.

Congratulations to him for both honors.

Ceviche Verde

1 pound fresh Pacific halibut or other firm-fleshed fish, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3/4 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup diced tomatillo
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tostadas or tortilla chips, for serving

Place the fish in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Add lime juice and toss to coat. Marinate until the edges of the cubs begin to turn opaque, about 30 minutes. Add avocado, olives, tomatillo, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, if using. Add olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Serve over tostadas or with tortilla chips for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

From Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria/Bon Appétit

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Stephan Pyles to Bring His Southwestern Cuisine to San Antonio


Chef Stephan Pyles talks with guests at a reception for Éilan, the development that will house his new restaurant.

Celebrity chef Stephan Pyles is bringing his “new millennium Southwestern cuisine,” as his website calls it, to San Antonio.

The chef, who, along with Bruce Auden and others, helped popularize the regional cuisine, will open a restaurant later this year at Éilan, the new Tuscan-influenced hotel and living complex that is being built off La Cantera Parkway, north of Loop 1604.

Pyles was in town Tuesday sharing his signature sweet-hot Passion Chile Margarita — made with passion fruit, jalapeño and agave nectar, plus tequila, of course  — with a host of invited guests, including a few who braved the heat to look at the new facility, which will feature a 186,000-square-foot hotel, a series of condominiums, various dining areas, a dance studio run by someone from TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” shops, office space and more.

Pyles' Passion Chile Margaritas

He says he’s glad to be joining the city’s culinary scene, which he thinks has taken off in the last couple of years. “There’s some really good cooking here,” he said. “There’s a real renaissance going on.” He singled out Auden and chef Jason Dady, the latter of whom offered a team from his various restaurants, from the Lodge Restaurant of Castle hills to Bin 555, to serve a series of ceviches to the guests.

Pyles' pizza oven is in a kitchen that has yet to be built.

Ceviches displaying Pyles’ penchant for bold flavors will be a centerpiece of the eponymous new restaurant. In fact, there will be a ceviche bar with freshly made examples for all to try. Bronzini with fennel and vanilla, sea scallop migas, lobster with avocado and guayaba, a 21-ounce cowboy rib-eye with red chile onion rings, and coriander-cured rack of lamb are among the many items currently on his menu.

The new restaurant will seat about 120 plus more on the patio. That’s a little less than the Dallas flagship, but the kitchen will be the same size. There will also be a private dining area for parties that offers a 21st century take on the chef’s table. Instead of sitting in a kitchen corner, near the chef while he works, the guests will be able to watch all of the kitchen action on closed-circuit TV, which allows them to see the action of preparing a meal up close.

Jace Heady of Bin 555 prepares ceviches.

Pyles said his cooking has evolved over the years to include new ingredients from his global dining adventures. Recent trips to Spain and Peru have brought new flavors into play, as have the spices of the Middle East. He’s headed to South Africa and Mozambique soon, so who knows what lies in store when Stephan Pyles the restaurant opens here at the end of the year.

“As long as the flavors are big and bold,” he said, in keeping with his Southwestern roots.

Though construction is far from complete on the restaurant, the wood burning-style pizza oven has been delivered.

Pyles hasn’t decided who the chef will be, but he did say it will be somebody who has worked for him and knows his style of cooking. We can also expect to see more of him in town on special occasions, much in the same way it has been good to see John Besh drop in on Lüke on the River Walk.

Éilan will offer residential housing as well as a hotel.

Johnny Hernandez is also mentioned as one of the chefs who will be on the Éilan scene with a variation on his La Gloria restaurant.

The first phase of the development is well under way, according to David Leff of Wereldhave USA, a Dutch-based developer that also has projects in San Diego, Dallas, Austin and Washington, D.C.

The main building is a hotel that will feature 165 rooms as well as 10,000 square feet of meeting space. A fitness area and a spa, open to both hotel guests and residents of the complex, will also be included. The developers want to have a market as well, but details will not be announced until someone has signed a lease.

One of the office buildings at Éilan.

Corky Ballas, who partnered with Cloris Leachman on “Dancing with the Stars,” will be opening a dance studio in Éilan.

“We have 539 living units,” Leff said; those include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio units, and they will be completed after the hotel. Two office buildings are also under construction.

The entire Éilan project covers 120 acres. In case you’re curious, the project’s name is derived from the French word for “ ‘élan,’ meaning vigor, liveliness and distinctive elegance,” according to the press material.

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Daily Dish: Soleil Offers Sunny Bargains


Soleil Bistro & Wine Bar,  14415 Blanco Road, is offering delectable dishes, as well as wine and Champagne deals, that you might want to pay some attention to.

On the bar snacks, check out the great big 50 percent off from 5-7  p.m.  Some of the bar items to consider while you’re starting out the weekend — marinated olives, pommes frites, onion strings, house ceviche, mussels and fries, Trio Provençal (olives, goat cheese and marinated artichoke), Champagne brie fondue, fried calamari, Margharita Pizzette, sweet and sour chicken wings and Asian egg rolls … the list goes on.

Check out daily wine specials and listen to live music, Tuesday through Saturday nights.  Wine specials include, on Tuesdays, 30 percent off bottles of wine over $30 and on Thursdays, 30 percent off Champagne bottles over $30. On Fridays, 30 percent off wine and Champagne bottles until 6:30 p.m.  A shaded patio, too, is a great place to sit in the evening and sip.

Soleil Bistro is  at the corner of Cadillac Drive and Blanco Road, one block south of Bitters.

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Recipe: Tuna Ceviche With Coconut Milk, Mint and Cilantro


ceviche1This refreshing ceviche has a light Asian touch, thanks to the addition of coconut milk and cilantro.

3/4 pound sushi A-grade yellowfin tuna
2 medium shallots, peeled and minced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into fine dice
1 serrano chile, trimmed, seeded and cut into fine dice
1/2 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Juice of 1 lime
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (see note)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves removed, cut crosswise into fine ribbons (chiffonade)
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves removed, cut crosswise into fine ribbons (chiffonade)

Trim away any sinew from the tuna. Cut the tuna into neat 1/4-inch dice, and put in a medium stainless bowl. Add the shallots, pepper, chile and scallions. Season well with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Add the lemon and lime juices, coconut milk, cilantro and mint and combine gently. Marinate for 2-3 minutes. Check seasoning. Serve immediately.

To make ahead, simply refrigerate the tuna until guests arrive. Have the vegetables ready (store the serrano separately from the others). Toss, then create the marinade and stir it fresh for your guests. Serve with pita crisps or a sturdy corn chip, if serving as an hors d’oeuvre.

Note: Because the tuna is cut in a small dice, it marinates very quickly. It doesn’t have to sit for a long time, as a more traditional method of preparing ceviche requires. Unsweetened coconut milk is available at Asian groceries.

Wine suggestion: Viognier

Adapted slightly from “The Manhattan Ocean Club Seafood Cookbook” by Jonathan Parker

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Cool Hors d’Oeuvres When It’s Hot


ceviche2The caller was urgent. “What kind of hors d’oeuvres should I serve at a cocktail party this time of year?” he wanted to know.

The gathering would be later in the evening and feature little more than snacks and drinks. “I’m hoping everybody’s had dinner by then,” he said.

Yet he also wanted to serve something meaty.

My first thought was pork tenderloin, which you can season to your taste and make ahead of time. Just slice it up and serve cold or at room temperature with a few condiments, ranging from mustard to pickled red onions.

Ceviche also came to mind. This marinated seafood dish looks great, is coolly refreshing, and can be put together at the last minute, all the while suggesting you’ve been slaving over the food.  (The accompanying recipe is from Jonathan Parker’s “The Manhattan Ocean Club Seafood Cookbook.” Parker has cooked in several San Antonio restaurants, including Pesca on the River and Ounce.)

If you want to rely on the deli to help, find the best roast beef you can afford, such as the house-made version at Central Market, 4821 Broadway. Have it sliced relatively thin (not as thin as prosciutto) and fold a piece on top of a garlic bagel crisp. Crumble blue cheese and toss some arugula on top. Serve horseradish sauce, a flavored mayonnaise or two, chimichurri sauce and/or mustard on the side. Your entire snack is done and you didn’t have to turn on the oven.

Grilled PineappleItalian lovers might want to get together an antipasti selection, including grilled or oven-roasted asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese on top as well as grilled squashes, roasted peppers, tomatoes, skewers of garlic potatoes, eggplant, and jalapeños. This is another approach that should be done ahead of time, because the vegetables taste best when served at room temperature.

Complement the tray with various salami, olives and rustic cheeses, both hard and soft.

Don’t forget the power of fruit. So much is in season now, from melons to cherries. Serve strawberries with chocolate-flavored whipped cream. Stuff fresh figs with goat cheese and wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Grill peach halves and pineapple slices (see the accompanying recipe for Grilled Pineapple With Sweet Rum Glaze).

Here are a few other ideas from SavorSA writers that are easy yet elegant for summer parties:

  • If you are serving crudités, add some color to the tray with an old Cuban recipe that friends and I have enjoyed on many occasions: Take ham slices and wrap them around pickles. Vary that with asparagus or hearts of palm.
  • Pick up empanadas from Beto’s Comida Latina, 7325 Broadway.
  • Chicken salad sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches, tea party-style, are great with many white wines.
  • Last, but certainly not least: Salsa, guac and chips — c’mon, it’s San Antonio!

What do you like to serve at cocktail parties during the summer? Post your comments below.

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