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Chefs’ Corner: Chama Gaucha Has a Tangy, Unique Chimichurri Sauce


Grilled salmon topped with Chama Gaucha's Chimichurri Sauce.

Q. Could you possibly get me the recipe for the chimichurri sauce at Chama Gaucha?

— Cindy

A. Long Phu, the general manager at Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, 18318 Sonterra Place, was happy to share the basic recipe for this chunky sauce, which he was quick to point out is not like the traditional chimichurri sauce from Argentina.

The Argentine version is made with fresh parsley, garlic and olive oil, while Chama Gaucha’s is made with sautéed bell peppers and onions with a touch of dried herbs while getting a lively kick from vinegar and tomato sauce.

The difference took a few friends by surprise, but most warmed to its tangy charms.

Beef at Chama Gaucha topped with its chimichurri sauce.

Phu didn’t offer any proportions of the ingredients, because part of the fun is playing with it until you get the flavors adjusted to a level that’s right for you. We offer a version to get you started.

This version is great with steaks, such as the many skewered versions that are served at Chama Gaucha, a Brazilian steakhouse. You could also use it with chicken, firm seafood or even grilled portobello mushrooms.

By the way, Chama Gaucha is quietly becoming a chain. The first is the Sonterra Place location, while a second opened in Chicago in 2008. A third opens in Houston on Aug. 24, Phu says.

To reach the restaurant, call (210) 564-9400 or click here for more information.

And if you have a recipe you’d like, email Bonnie Walker or John Griffin.

Chama Gaucha Chimichurri Sauce

Chama Gaucha’s Chimichurri Sauce

1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to taste, divided use
1/2 cup white wine vinegar, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried mint, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley, or to taste
4 ounces tomato sauce, or to taste

Lightly sauté the peppers, onion and garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil. You want the vegetables crisp, so don’t overcook them. Remove from heat and add vinegar and more olive oil, to taste. The amount of each is to taste, but it also stems from with how much sauce you want around the vegetables. “It’s almost like a vinaigrette the way it’s prepared,” Phu says, adding that the ratio of oil and vinegar is close to even.

Stir in basil, mint, cilantro, oregano and parsley, and adding more of each to taste. Stir in tomato paste. Adjust seasonings to taste.

The end result should be chunky. It should also be very thick. “This is not a light sauce,” he says.

For those who want it spicier, think of adding jalapeño or spicy paprika to the mix, Phu says.

Adapted from Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse

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Culinary Christmas Gifts: From Truffle Shavings to Inflatable Meatloaf


Are you struggling with what to get the foodie on your list who already has a stainless steel composter or an Olivator, that nifty gadget that allows you to stuff your own olives? You know the person we mean, the one who received two pairs of silicone-tipped tweezers for stir-frying last year. Here are a few suggestions to lead you in the direction of something unique and something that will be greatly appreciated.

A few of the balsamic vinegars are GauchoGourmet.com.

Paella party packs and more

If someone on your Christmas list is a devoted paella maker but lacks the ingredients to make it, then check out the Spanish items on GauchoGourmet.com. The San Antonio-based website specializes in gourmet foodstuffs from Argentina, Spain and Italy that are not available anywhere else in the region.

From Italy are artisan olive oils, some of which are organic, cold-pressed bottlings. One from Puglia comes in a hand-painted jug that can be reused. Honeys, chestnuts in grappa, handmade pasta, balsamic vinegars and coffee are also available, along with cans of truffle shavings. Keep your breath fresh with Amarelli, pure licorice candies that have no sugar added.

Spanish delicacies range from cheeses and sausages to La Chinata pimentón and El Faro anchovy-stuffed olives.  Order an entire boneless jamón serrano or piquilla peppers. For the paella lover, GauchoGourmet.com can put together one of its  gift baskets,  one that includes the paella pan, rice, chorizo, saffron and oil needed to make this iconic dish.

The Argentine foods include jarred chimichurri sauce, empanada dough mixes, sausages, dulce de leche and Terma Amargo Cuyano. Not familiar with the latter? The website offers information about each product, explaining that Terma Amargo Cuyano is an herbal mixture you drink with ice, water and maybe a slice of lemon. It “contains herbs from the Andes range in Cuyo region, such as juniper and gentian” and is thought to have “invigorating and energizing qualities.”

There are also dozens of varieties of yerba mate and related accessories for those who love the herbal tea from the Argentine.

If you order more than $50 worth of food, GauchoGourmet.com will deliver it to you. Or you can arrange pickup at its warehouse on North Loop 1604 near Stone Oak Parkway.

Embroidered linen towels from Volant

Savory stitches

“America’s first embroidered art studio” is Volant at 315 E. Commerce St., and it is offering three towels bearing humorous depictions of chefs at work that will leave you in stitches (sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun). This handsome set is made of fine linen and sells for $15.

There are also fine linen cocktail napkins with Texas icons, from peppers to cactus, stitched in.

For more information, call 210-212-2333 or click here.

Cataplana has kitchen items galore

Cataplana, 810 Hwy. 90 E., Castroville, has recently moved next door to a larger space, which means more room to house its lineup of kitchen goods.

You’ll find a large array of cookware from Emile Henry, appliances from Viking and specialty items, such as the store’s namesake, a Portuguese dish make for cooking an intoxicating mixture of clams and pork. (Below is a video of proprietor Cecilia Fetty talking about her selection of Emile Henry products.)

You’ll also find items for every budget, including great stocking stuffers such as Trudeau slotted spoons with crooked handles to rest on the side of jars or a series of multi-colored salts.

Fetty also offers its own line of jams in a host of flavors including pineapple mandarin, cranberry jalapeño and strawberry rhubarb. Other food items include oils from coconut, spearmint and anise as well as Peruvian hot chile or ginger in safflower oil.

Want something fresher? Fetty also works on a food co-op that brings fresh vegetables from the farm as well as grass-fed beef, lamb and goat. For more information, call 830-538-3300.

Inflatable meatloaf? Yup.

Looking for a great foodie gag gift, such as a voodoo doll-shaped toothpick holder or a zombie brain gelatin mold?

Then check out the options at PerpetualKid.com, the home of the reluctant groom cake topper and Rubik’s Cube salt and pepper mills.

There’s even a Gin and Titonic Ice Cube Tray that makes it seem as if the Titanic is sinking amid the ice cubes in your drink.

Beyond the kitchen items, there are bacon-shaped bandages and even a lump of coal-shaped soap, for those on your list who have been more naughty than nice.

From birdseed to … wine aerators and free trade coffee?

We were surprised and pleased to find coffee beans and wine accessories in an unexpected location. At Wild Birds Unlimited and Nature Store, 14602 Huebner Road, you can find some pretty nifty holiday birdseed feeders as ornaments — such as bells and “gingerbread men” to hang outside for the birds. We found a wine aerator that fits into the top of a wine bottle and aerates as it pours, as well as coffee, wine glasses and coffee accessories.

What’s the connection? Backyard birdwatchers take their coffee outside with them in the morning to watch birds and have a glass of wine  at the end of the day. Lots more is in this store for nature lovers and those who love them. www.wbu.com

Visit Michael Flores’s Web store for Christmas Gift Baskets, too

San Antonio chef Michael Flores makes gift giving easier this holiday season. For a limited time, his Chef Michael Christmas Gift Baskets include free shipping for San Antonio residents to meet holiday budgets.

You can create your own basket with gourmet items, or choose from nine pre-made baskets ranging in price from $12 to $94.

“Surprise that foodie on your shopping list with my Gift Sampler Basket, Sweet & Spicy Christmas Gift Set, Holiday Border Dash and more,” says Flores. He also offers three different felt stockings which you can fill with one of his seasoning blends.

Shoppers can find the complete list of Chef Michael’s Christmas Gift Baskets at www.cookwithmichael.com/baskets. Order before Dec. 22 for guaranteed delivery by Dec. 25.

Paesanos spice blends available

Chef Clark McDaniel of Paesanos 1604 has introduced a line of spices that he uses at the restaurant. They make great stocking stuffers.

There are two blends, his signature herb blend and Black & Blue.  The spices are for sale only at the restaurant at 3622 Paesanos Parkway for $9.95 per bottle.

You may also purchase the spice blends online at www.paesanos1604.com.

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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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