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Show Off Your Grill Skill – Beringer’s Great Steak Challenge


Jamie and Bobby Deen, stars of the Food Network and sons of southern cooking queen Paula Deen

What is your secret for the perfect grilled steak?  It could be worth $15,000.

Your recipe can compete against other backyard grill masters in the regional contest for the Beringer Great Steak Challenge.  Ten finalists will be selected based on the following criteria: taste appeal (25 percent), wine pairing (25 percent), and simplicity (50 percent).

From 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 14, these 10 contenders will show off their skills at the JW Marriott San Antonio.  The winner will receive a trip to Napa Valley to compete in the grand finale at Beringer Vineyards on Oct. 8.  Nine other cities from coast to coast are also hosting regional competitions.

In the finals, regular grills will not be used; instead the finalists will be cooking on the Carnivore, a Chevy truck that has been converted into what is being alled “the ultimate grilling machine.”  The Deen brothers will judge the competition with a grand prize of $15,000 and a special appearance on the Cooking Channel.  Jamie Deen says, “Bobby and I are looking for the ultimate gourmet griller who can bring the best out in a steak simply by making use of what they consider to be the tastiest ingredients and the right wine.”

The deadline for recipe submissions is June 30; for complete rules and to enter, go to the competition’s website:  www.greatsteakchallenge.com.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa
23808 Resort Parkway
San Antonio, TX 78261
www.greatsteakchallenge.com
August 14, 4 – 6 p.m.

Photo: Mary Steinbacher Photography

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How to Roast a Bell Pepper


roastedpepperWhy buy roasted peppers in a jar when you can roast them yourself? There are several easy ways to do this, you don’t need any fancy equipment, and the freshness of the flavor can’t be beat.

You can roast peppers on the grill or in the oven. You can even roast them on top of the oven, if you have a gas stove top and are careful.

If you are using your grill, get it hot before starting. Then just put your freshly washed peppers on and close the lid. Let it set for a couple of minutes before turning. Keep repeating this procedure until all of the sides have been well charred and the pepper has softened somewhat from the heat. (It is only the skin that chars and you are going to remove that.)

Remove the peppers and place in a paper bag or plastic bag with a little air in it. Let them set for at least 10 minutes to let the peppers steam. Then let the peppers cool enough to where you can touch them, so that you can peel them with your fingers. Not every last speck of peeling will come off, and if that bothers you, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife for those tiny spots. Just don’t scrape the pepper away in your AR zeal.

“The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook” — the not-so-new but well-used 1986 edition on my shelf — offers the following tips for roasting green and red peppers in an oven: “Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prick each of the green and red peppers in several places to prevent them from bursting when roasting in oven. Place peppers on cookie sheet, making sure peppers do not touch each other. Roast about 20 minutes or until skin puckers, turning peppers occasionally so they won’t burn.”

“Remove peppers to medium-sized clean brown paper bag; fold top of bag to seal it, and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes (keeping peppers in bag to steam makes it easier to peel off skin). Remove peppers from bag; peel off skin and discard seeds.”

I would also add that you need to remove the veins from inside as well before you cut them into your desired shape.

What is not in these instructions? Any mention of washing the pepper after it is roasted. Do not do this.

So do, but it affects the flavor of the pepper, says Moe Lazri, general manager of Fig Tree Restaurant and Little Rhein Steakhouse. He knows whereof he speaks: He created the most attractive antipasti plate I’ve ever seen, and his roasted peppers were excellent.

If you are using your gas stove top, hold each pepper using a set of tongs directly on top of the flame. I’ve seen cooks place the pepper in the flame; if you do this, make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy, just in case it goes flying.

You can do any of these steps with chile peppers, but adjust the cooking time to fit the different size. And be careful with handling those. You don’t want to peel them with bare hands.

No matter how you have roasted your peppers, you can enjoy them plain or dressed with a  drizzle of olive oil, some salt and maybe a few fresh herbs or crumbled feta cheese. Add them to recipes, garnish your favorite burger or sandwich with them, use them in salads. They can be as versatile as your imagination.

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Love ya, Dad!


Weber Summit S-650 from Jeff's BackyardIf the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach, then here are some tasty ways to show your dad just how much you love him. These gifts come in all shapes and prices, depending on how much you have to spend.

You don’t have to wait for Father’s Day, either. You can treat him any time of year.

If Dad likes to grill, he’ll appreciate a pair of Winco aluminum tongs, which make handling meats and vegetables so much easier. Jeff’s Backyard, 435 W. Nakoma, offer these for $2.99 a pair, so you could get him an extra set, one for placing the meat on the grill and the other for removing it. Another affordable gift idea at Jeff’s is a GrillFloss ($18.99), a tool that scrapes off the rungs of a grill more thoroughly than a brush. If you have a heftier budget, check out the charcoal-fired Big Green Egg ($999.95), which gets so hot, you can cook a turkey in three hours, or the Mini Big Green Egg ($299.95). For propane lovers, there’s the Weber Summit S-650 ($2,299), a powerful six-burner grill with more than 5 square feet of cooking space.

Prime steaks from Coopers Meat MarketAt Cooper’s Meat Market, you can put together a gift basket of food favorites for Dad. Start with a Yeti cooler in sizes that range from 15 quarts ($159) to 250 quarts ($749). These ice chests are so strong they are said to be bear proof. Fill it with a bottle of wine — the list includes such stalwarts as Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon, Duckhorn Merlot and Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet. Add a few of Cooper’s special spice blends, made by Bolner’s Fiesta Spices. Add a few steaks, of course; the prime filet mignon sells for $29.99 a pound while the prime rib-eye costs $18.99 a pound.

Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon from Gabriel'sIf Dad would rather relax over a glass of bourbon, then treat him to a bottle of Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which has been aged for 10 years. Gabriel’s liquor stores has this bronze beauty for $27.99 a bottle. Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal has this to say of Eagle Rare: “Easily one of the most tactile yet assertive and expressive bourbons I’ve tasted in the last two years; fasten your seat belts.”

For dads who enjoy smoking a pipe, Finck’s Cigar Factory Outlet, 6100 West Ave., has a Caleb Church Bent pipe for $24.95. The stag’s head cigar stand costs $14.95. Cigar lovers should appreciate the Finck’s Brand Sampler ($49.95), a series of 24 cigars made by the local company. Humidors for storing cigars start at $29.95 and go up depending on size, how many cigars you want to store, and whether you want the box customized. Visit www.finckcigar.com.

For the father who loves to cook, stop by any of the area Ace Mart Restaurant Supply stores. Chefs’ toques — the big hats — are available in several prices and sizes ranging from $4.95 to $5.95, while chefs’ coats start at $12.95. You can also find a series of color-coordinated cutting boards that will help prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen. The green boards are used for fruit and vegetables, while the yellow are for chicken and poultry. The costs are $8.48 for a 12-by-18-inch board or $11.48 for a 15-by-20-inch board. If you want to get a little more serious, the Chefmate meat grinder is listed at $645.95. Or if Dad has a new home theater, get him an traditional movie theater popcorn popper; prices start at $576.

Cigars from Finck’s Cigar Factory OutletWhat dad doesn’t like gadgets? At Melissa Guerra’s Tienda de Cocina in the Full Goods building at the Pearl Brewery, you’ll find Peugeot battery-operated salt mills and pepper grinders ($49.95 each). A wood chip smoker ($12.95) from Grillware by Outset is a great way of adding a woodsy quality to meat cooked on a gas grill . If Dad needs a better set of knives, the store offers the three highest-end lineups of J.A. Henckels cutlery, considered to be among the best in the world. Also available is a set of paella pans, ranging from a personal pan size ($13.95) to one that feeds 75 ($499.95) with plenty of pans in between.

Whatever you get Dad, just make sure you let him know how much he means to you.

Paella pans at Melissa Guerra’s Tienda de CocinaJ.A. Henckels cutlery at Melissa Guerra’s Tienda de CocinaWinco aluminum tongs from Jeff's BackyardChefmate Meat Grinder from Ace MartColored cutting boards from Ace MartCaleb Church bent pipe and stag's head stand from Finck’s Cigar Factory OutletHumidors from Finck’s Cigar Factory OutletYeti cooler from Coopers Meat MarketCharcoal-fired Green Egg from Jeff's Backyard

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Griffin to Go: Feasting at Folklife Festival


img_9760The kids dancing with glasses on their heads were cute. The booths with handmade baskets and Polish pottery caught our eye more than once. And the air-conditioned inside exhibits were blessed relief from the sweltering temperatures.

But let’s face it, the Texas Folklife Festival is about eating. At least to me, it is.

Several hours after leaving the UTSA HemisFair Campus, I’m still full. But I’m glad I ate every bite.

img_9709My camera-toting colleague and live-blogger, Nicholas Mistry, and I also enjoyed talking with most everyone we met at the various booths, including Susie Tolman with her painted eggs at the Czech booth; Chip Liu, who wrote out SavorSA in Chinese caligraphy for us; or Robin Pate at the Chuckwagon Gang’s booth, where coal-topped Dutch ovens were filled with steaming hot gingerbread. (On Saturday, the latter group promises free tastes of apple pie.)

img_9747James and Marieta Baer were full of ways to modify the recipe for their Wendish group’s celebrated noodles. The traditional method is to serve the noodles in a chicken stock with parsley on top. But if you prefer beef, use beef stock. Add a touch of onion or celery, even some fajita seasoning, if you like it spicy. (For the basic noodle recipe, check our recipe file.)

Now that’s a true melding of cultures, which is what Folklife celebrates each year.

I just wish some of the booths had had all of their food ready when we passed. We missed trying a few dishes  because they simply weren’t there.

But we did enjoy the finely diced chicken with chiles and coconut that makes up the Guamanian kelaguen as well as that booth’s grilled chicken skewers with a healthy dose of fresh ginger in the seasoning.

A poppy seed kolache and a Pilsner Urquell at the Czech booth was most welcome, as was the shaded table offered to some weary wanderers.

We also heard people rave about the anticuchos at the Peruvian booth, the pupusas at the Salvadorian booth and the spice-sprinkled Luling watermelon from the San Antonio Men’s Garden Club, among others.

img_9813I cannot sing the praises high enough of the men who tend the grills at the various booths offering meat on a stick. This extends from Baldemar Garza grilling perfectly seasoned, tender fajitas for San Alphonsus Catholic Church to Richard Gonzales preparing shish kebabs for St. George Maronite Church’s Lebanese booth. (And, no, I did not see a woman working the grills. I think they’re too smart for that.)

Recipe hunters should be on the lookout, because a few groups were more than willing to share their recipes, from bread to wine. One was Theda Sueltenfuss, who offered her recipe for homemade sauerkraut, which Nick dubbed “German kimchee,” as well as free samples. (Check our recipe file for the recipe).

The heat, though, must be acknowledged. Though a few booths handed out paper fans, all they did was stir up more hot air. So, drink plenty of water — or the Lebanese booth’s cooling mint tea — and stay out of the sun as much as you can. At least one booth benefited from the heat in an unexpected way: at the East Texas Yamboree, the warm yam pie tasted as if it had just been removed from the oven. It was so good, my inner Homer Simpson was calling for a second slice.

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