Tag Archive | "Pearl Farmers Market"

WalkerSpeak: Pork and the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie

With the economy still in the tank and some of us marginally employed, why would we purchase Czech bacon at the price of $7 for a half pound?

First, it’s pork. Second, it’s one of our favorite artisan foods: charcuterie. This is the preparation of pork (mainly, though other meats can be prepared similarly) specialties such as pâtés, rillettes, sausages, and, of course, bacon.

If the product is made by those who adhere to a “slow-food” ethos, it becomes even harder to resist. This was our pleasurable predicament after sampling from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market.

The Kocureks have been selling prepared sandwiches and packaged sausages, bacon and other hand-crafted foods at the Pearl market for some weeks now. Their stated mission is to “preserve the art of traditional charcuterie using local, free-range, hormone-free meat and game, and above all else, the preservation of our happiness in making authentic food with our family.”

Czech bacon, thickly sliced and seasoned with herbs and spices, comes from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie in Austin.

Lawrence and Lee Ann Kocurek met at culinary school a decade ago, then moved to New York. Lawrence is an honors graduate from The French Culinary Institute and Lee Ann is a certified sommelier from the American Sommelier Association. They have a young son, born in 2009, who was their inspiration, after careers with top restaurants and wine merchants, to go into business for themselves in Austin.

As Lawrence described it, the bacon is not as salty as American bacon. It is seasoned, however, with a lengthy list of herbs and spices. The flavor was plenty bacon-y, and we didn’t miss all the salt we have become accustomed to. It sizzled nicely in the pan and turned very crisp. It was utterly delicious with scrambled eggs, green chile salsa and hot corn tortillas for breakfast, and in BLTs at lunch.

Later on Sunday, my husband and I pan-broiled the Kocurek’s Saucisse de Toulouse, a half-pound French sausage made with pork, wine, garlic, nutmeg and other seasonings. Served with an herb-scented pilaf of tiny green French lentils seasoned with salt pork and sliced fresh tomatoes, it was a perfect Sunday supper.

John Griffin took home with him his own packages from the Kocurek booth, not being able to resist the Boerewors sausage, a taste of South African-seasoned beef, pork and bacon with red wine, garlic, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and Worcestershire sauce among the spices. We’ll look forward to the report on that— or, better still, a taste!

To look at a comprehensive product list of the Korcurek family’s charcuterie, a schedule of the farmers markets they visit, and to sign up for their newsletter, click here.

Saucisse de Toulouse, pan-grilled and served with French Lentil Pilaf with Wine.

For the French Lentil Pilaf with Wine recipe that we served with the Saucisse de Toulouse (see below), click here.

Photos by Bonnie Walker

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Learn How to Preserve the Freshness of the Season

Want to learn how you can enjoy tomatoes, squash, peaches and more seasonal favorites year-round? The answer, of course, is canning.

Connie Sheppard of the Texas Agrilife Extension and Marilyn Magaro of the Texas Department of Agriculture are teaming up for a class set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market, 200 E. Grayson St.

Their demonstration is one of three on canning planned for the summer. The remaining two will be at 9:30 a.m. July 16 and Aug. 13.

By controlling what goes into the canning jar, you know exactly what it is that you are eating, a release from the market says.

A “Beginner’s Guide to Canning & Recipe Booklet” will also be available at the Pearl information table.

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Luis Morales Pesto Takes Prize at Basil Fest

Crowds at the San Antonio Herb Market’s Basil Fest on Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market, and the Pesto Challenge named a new winner.

Luis Morales, of Humble House Foods demonstrates making pesto.

Luis Morales of Humble House Foods demonstrated his “secret recipe” Basil Pesto earlier in the day. The difference? Morales uses walnuts in the popular Mediterranean sauce, made of fresh basil leaves, olive oil and cheese.

“Walnuts are less expensive than pine nuts,” Morales explained as he demonstrated how to make his pesto in a food processor. He was handing out recipe cards at the demonstration, so the secret of his pesto was soon revealed. (Click here for recipe.)

Chef Michael Flores also shared his recipe for Piquant Citrus Sauce with Basil & Spinach. It incorporates goat cheese, ricotta cheese, fresh spinach and chiles, and can be a spread, a dressing for a bean salad or tossed with pasta. Check out Flores’ recipe by clicking here.

Malabar Spinach grows as a vine.

Sunny weather and a steady breeze kept things comfortable at the market as customers made their way through the stands and tables. John Marrs had big, healthy basil plants for sale from Marrs’ Garden. Nature’s Herb Farm had a large selection of all types of herbs, as well as some flowers and even a hot weather-friendly green, called Malabar Spinach, that produces spinach-like leaves on a sturdy, climbing vine.

Brilliantly colored cut flowers for vases and fresh vegetables were available, as always, from Oak Hill Farm, and Sol y Luna Bakery did a brisk business with its whole grain baked

Fresh eggs, in a variety of colors, offered at the Pearl.

products. Other sellers had farm-grown tomatoes as well as squash, eggplants, cucumbers, beans, sweet corn, eggs and cuts of grass-fed beef. Indoors, Imagine Farms sold lavender products and olives, olive oil and olive-leaf products were available from the Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard’s table.

The Pearl Farmers Market is every Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.







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Humble House Foods Basil Pesto

This is a simple recipe, but rich and versatile. You can use it as a spread or a sauce, a dip or to toss into hot pasta. It’s become a summer classic, but this one, by chef Luis Morales, is made with walnuts instead of pine nuts. You can substitute pine nuts for walnuts in this recipe if you want the more traditional pesto.


Humble House Foods Pesto

8 ounces fresh basil leaves
1 pound Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
8 ounces walnuts
2 ounces fresh, peeled garlic
2 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt

Basil is the main ingredient in a classic pesto.8 ounces walnuts”2 ounces fresh, peeled garlic2 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until desired consistency is achieved. Use immediately or freeze for later. It will last about six months in the freezer, too.

Makes about a quart of pesto.

From Luis Morales at Humble House Foods



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Michael Flores’ Piquant Citrus Sauce with Basil and Spinach

Michael Flores, chef.

Michael Flores, chef and cooking teacher, offered this recipe at the Pearl Farmers Market Saturday. It uses lots of fresh basil, which is flourishing right now. And, calls for two types of cheese along with fresh spinach and some red chile flakes to give it bite.

Piquant Citrus Sauce with Basil and Spinach

1 1/3 ounce fresh basil, trimmed and washed
16 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
15 ounces ricotta cheese (fat free)
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves, trimmed, washed and drained
2 teaspoons red chile flakes, or to taste
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Store in refrigerator and use as needed.

Note: Serve tossed with cannellini beans over salmon fillet, toss with cooked noodles for a pasta salad, mix with diced tomatoes and serve atop toasted croutons for bruschetta, or present alonside grilled or boiled shrimp as a dipping sauce.

From Michael H. Flores (

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Basil Fest is Saturday at the Pearl

Basil is one of the top herbs that cooks keep in their kitchen gardens.

If you’re going to the Pearl Brewery’s farmers market this weekend, you have the added enticement of the San Antonio Herb Market’s Basil Fest, with lots of information, plants for sale, a Pesto Challenge and recipes by chef Michael Flores.

The Basil Fest will be during the same hours as the farmers market, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. There is no entrance fee.

For a complete list about the events happening during the day, click here.

Below is an unusual cookie recipe calling for cinnamon basil. If you don’t have cinnamon basil, regular basil would work.


Cinnamon Basil-Lime Cookies

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh cinnamon basil, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped lime peel (zest)
1 cup pistachios, chopped

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In large mixing bowl beat butter at medium speed until light. Gradually beat in sugar; add egg, vanilla basil and lime peel, beating until very light and fluffy.

At low speed, beat in dry ingredients in 3-4 additions. Mix in chopped nuts, using hands if necessary.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape each half into a roll 6-7 inches long. Roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut dough into 1/8-inch slices and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned around bottom of cookies (do not overcook). Immediately remove from sheet with spatula and place on wire rack to cool. When completely cool, store in airtight containers.

Note: Rolls of dough may be frozen. Thaw for a short time before baking.

From “Southern Herb Growing” by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay with Jean Hardy

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Bagel Boxes to Be Available at Sandbar on Saturdays

Bagels boxes will be available on Saturdays.

Had a hankering for traditional bagels, gravlax and cream cheese? The Sandbar at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., Suite 117, will be offering these during the farmers market each Saturday.

Orders for bagel boxes will be taken during the week, chef Andrew Weissman said. Then people can pick them up during the farmers market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This Saturday marks the beginning of the venture.

In the beginning, Weissman promises two to four varieties of bagel, white fish salad and chopped liver salad in addition to the gravlax and cream cheeses.

The menu will be available at the restaurant and on Sandbar’s Facebook page, he says.

The Saturday pickup will be available for the first six weeks. If there’s enough interest, home delivery on Sunday morning will be phased in, Weissman says.

The chef, who also owns Il Sogno, has long wanted to start a deli. Here’s hoping this is a first step toward that.

To place an order, call Sandbar at 210-222-2426.

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Learn about Foodways Texas While Enjoying Earl Abel’s Pie at the Pearl

Foodways Texas is a new organization with the mission of promoting, preserving and celebrating the diverse food cultures of Texas.

Earl Abel's pies, such as this lemon meringue, to be featured at the Pearl Saturday.

And what could be more Texas than pie?

You can sample some of Earl Abel’s famous pies during the Pearl Farmers Market on Saturday. All 16 of the restaurant’s award-winning pies will be on display, and samples will be available. In addition,  Foodways Texas will be screening one of its first film projects. The short film features Tony Sanchez, baker and pie maker at Earl Abel’s for 50 years.

The restaurant was a fixture for decades on the southeast corner of Broadway and Hildebrand. It is now at 1201 Austin Hwy. at the Terrell Plaza Shopping Center, under the ownership of Roger Arias.

The pie social and coffee begin at 10 a.m. and run until 1:20 p.m. in the Studio at the Full Goods Building at the Pearl, 200 E. Grayson St. The film will be shown at 10:30 a.m.

This is the time to learn about, and join, the new Foodways Texas.

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Dill, a Many-Splendored Herb for Fall, Winter

Herbs are one of nature’s most bountiful gifts, providing scents for our homes and cosmetics, flavors for food and medicinal uses as well.

Dill's feathery leaves impart herbal flavor for everything from pickles to sauces.

Dill, which was reportedly used in the Middle Ages to fend off the spells of witches, adds its own charm to food items such as bread, pickles, salad dressings. It’s a useful  ingredient for making rubs for meats such as veal and chicken.

This herb was cultivated in the Mediterranean regions and southern Russia, “as far back as 3000 BC by the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians,” says Ian Hemphill, in “The Spice and Herb Bible”. He also notes that the word “dill” comes from an old Norse word, “dilla”, which means to soothe or lull. Now, dill is used in many cuisines throughout the world, especially those in Scandinavia, Germany and Russia.

In addition to using the feathery leaves, you can also use dill seed. Add it to the water when cooking potatoes for potato salad, grind it with other herbs and spices for a meat marinade. Or, make a tea with it to help settle your stomach.

• Make dilled cucumbers by snipping dill leaves into a bowl of salted cucumber slices. Let the slices sit until they give off liquid. Drain the liquid, then add a few tablespoonsful of plain yogurt, sour cream or Mexican crema agria to the cucumbers, stirring in carefully. Season with salt and pepper. This is a good salad for serving with fish.

• Add a couple of teaspoonsful of dill seed to a recipe for rye or marbled rye bread.

• Use fresh dill in an herbal mix for an omelet. It will taste good mixed with other green herbs such as parsley and/or cilantro.

• Add dill to cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, soups, vegetable dishes, chicken, fish and veal. It is also good used in tuna or chicken salads.

• Make an herb-infused vinegar using dill weed.

• Use minced dill with capers as a garnish for smoked salmon, whitefish salad or crab cakes.

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Farmers Market News Briefs

The Pearl Farmers Market is now selling pork.  South Texas Heritage Pork will be selling chops, ribs, sliced pork belly (uncured bacon), ground pork, and fresh ham steaks.  The farm, located southeast of Floresville, raises Tamworth, English Large Black, and their crossbreeds.  Their website is

Today, Pearl will also be hosting the San Antonio Herb Society’s Basil Fest.  There will be a seminar on growing and harvesting the herb, a Mediterranean cooking demonstration, a youth gardening event, as well as a cooking competition among local chefs, the People’s Choice Pesto Challenge.  More information is at their website:

This week, the farmers market at San Antonio Botanical Gardens only had two vendors plus the plant sales.  Celia Rios of Peralta Farms said that there are usually five sellers and that this week was an anomaly.  Even though there was a limited number of booths, her farm offered a great selection including potatoes (Idaho and red), squash (zucchini and yellow), okra, jalapeños, onions (1015 and white), pickling cucumbers, beans (green, purple hull, and black-eyed peas), and melon (watermelon and cantaloupe).  Anthony Micheli of Hillside Farms in Stonewall brought tomatoes, green beans, squash, and Gala peaches.  He said that he anticipates that his freestone varieties will be ready in 3 weeks.

Leon Springs Farmers Market has posted on Facebook some of the produce items available today:  tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, okra, potatoes, onions, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pecans.  They are also offering fresh seafood, grass-fed beef, honey, eggs, and goat cheese.  For the garden, there will be plants and herbs.  The market features live music.

Leon Springs Farmers Market
24133 Boerne Stage Rd.
Leon Springs, TX
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – noon

Pearl Farmers Market
200 E. Grayson St.
San Antonio, TX 78215
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

San Antonio Botanical Garden
555 Funston Place
San Antonio, TX 78209
Thursdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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