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Give Your Ranch Dressing a Lift with Jalapeños and Goat Cheese


Who doesn’t love ranch dressing?

On a trip to the Terrace Grill at Riven Rock Ranch in Comfort a few months back, one of my favorite tastes in an evening of fine food was chef Joseph Brantley’s Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing, which was used on a salad and as a dipping sauce alongside an order of fried avocado.

A salad dressed with Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch.

A salad dressed with Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch.

I’ve since made my own version of the dressing, which I vary slightly depending on how I plan on using it. For salads, I cut the amount of goat cheese in half. The dipping sauce is richer and thicker, perfect for dipping anything from carrots and celery stick to fried zucchini strips.

It’s also a chance to use ingredients fresh from the garden. I flavored my last version with a red serrano instead of the jalapeño as well as the chives and parsley.

Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, depending on use
1 jalapeño, minced, or less, to taste
2 tablespoons chives, minced
3 tablespoons celery leaves or flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons vinegar

Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

In a jar with a secure lid, add buttermilk, mayonnaise, goat cheese, jalapeño, chives, celery leaves, salt, pepper, garlic and vinegar. Shake thoroughly and check flavor, adjusting to taste. If dressing is too thick, add a splash more buttermilk. If dressing is too thin, add more goat cheese.

Refrigerate leftovers. The dressing will keep up to 3 days.

Makes about 2 cups dressing.

From John Griffin

 

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Chefs’ Corner: Max’s Wine Dive Truffled Ranch Dressing


Max's Wine Dive Truffled Ranch Dressing

This dressing has been served on special occasions at Max’s Wine Dive, 340 E. Basse Road, and it’s a great way to dress up your ranch dressing. Pour it on salads  or use it as a dip for crudités. Or indulge yourself: Grab a spoon and dig in.

It’s a perfect fit for Max’s, where fried chicken and Champagne go so well together.

For more information on Max’s Wine dive, call 210-444-9547 or click here.

Max’s Wine Dive Truffle Ranch Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped black truffle shavings (see note)
2 teaspoons white truffle oil
2-3 dashes of Tabasco

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, garlic powder, dill, parsley, basil, chives, oregano, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, truffle shavings, truffle oil and Tabasco in a bowl and mix well.

Note: If you can’t find truffle shavings, try a little extra truffle oil to taste.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups dressing.

Source: Max’s Wine Dive

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Griffin to Go: At NIOSA, It’s Always Time to Make the Mushrooms


Fried mushrooms with cream gravy at NIOSA.

Mushrooms are serious business at A Night in Old San Antonio.

When Donald Ewing and Wayne Hartman became co-chairmen of the fried mushroom booth four years ago, they knew some changes had to be made.

Claudia Blanco batters mushrooms while booth co-chairman Donald Ewing breads them.

People loved the fried button caps with a spicy breading and some cream gravy on the side, but servings of the hot, crispy treats were not getting into their hands quickly enough.

So, Ewing, who had worked at the booth for six years already, and Hartman, who also had a one or two years’ experience under his belt, began to streamline the assembly process. Almost immediately, people were getting their mushrooms quicker than ever, and after four years, sales had doubled.

Breaded mushrooms fit for frying.

They determined that it takes 20 people each shift to make sure the process runs smoothly, which means 160 volunteers over the course of the event. That’s a lot of people, so Ewing starts recruiting in February.

I joined the list a little late in the process, and when I showed up early Tuesday evening, people were quickly signing in, washing hands and reporting to stations. Though the gates hadn’t opened, a few customers from other booths wanted their ‘shrooms, and it was the perfect time to get the process down pat. There was little formality to the procedure. A few of us saw where work needed to be done, and with a little instruction, we began.

I dredged fresh mushrooms in a soupy egg batter that managed to get all over the place, including up my arms and on my shirt, despite wearing an apron. I then moved them on to a bowl where fellow worker Phil Stanley rolled them in a breading mix pungent with lemon pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Excess batter was then shaken off by Victor Castillo, who then piled them into a fry basket. Kelly Forster was in charge of the frying, making sure they stayed in the hot oil for “4 minutes and 20 seconds exactly,” the time it took for them to get a rich golden brown.

Volunteers scoop mushrooms into paper trays.

“We go from fridge to fryer in less than two minutes,” says Ewing with great satisfaction.

After the mushrooms had drained, they were poured out on a table where another round of volunteers quickly scooped them into paper trays and moved them to the front, where the ticket takers topped them with cream gravy if desired. New this year was ranch dressing as an alternate topping. That was what I opted for when I tried these juicy little morsels with a beer after my shift.

Not rocket science, certainly, but everything moved quickly and surely throughout the shift. We got the job done with minimal fuss. That meant a constant stream of satisfied customers who didn’t have to wait in a long line. What could be better than that? Within a couple of hours, we had moved through about half of the 60 boxes of button caps that had been stocked for the evening. Over the course of NIOSA, the chairmen plan to use more than 200 of the 10-pound boxes. Last year was the first time more than 1 ton of mushrooms had been sold, Ewing said. That’s a lot of mushrooms, when you consider how light each one is.

This was Stanley’s first NIOSA, and he was ready to party, but like the rest of us, he made sure the work got done. Castillo had worked the booth last year; like most of the people I’ve met at NIOSA food booths over the years, he got involved through a friend who had been volunteering.

Rose Moran got involved the same way about 20 years ago. She started working at the beer booth and soon became its chairman. Three years ago, however, she was placed in charge of the entire International Area, which features Maria’s Tortillas as well as the mushroom booth.

“I love it,” she says. “My husband thinks I’m crazy and my friends think I’m crazy. But it just amazes me how much everybody pitches in.”

Mushroom booth co-chairmen Wayne Hartman (left) and Donald Ewing.

The mushroom booth is, far and away, the best seller in her area and is “one of the top two or three booths in NIOSA,” she says.

That’s great news for the San Antonio Conservation Society, which uses funds from the event for historic preservation.

“The bottom line is, we’re all here for the cause,” Moran says.

Photos by Bonnie Walker and John Griffin.

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Carrot Pepper Salad with Tex-Mex Ranch Dressing


Carrot Pepper Salad

“This brightly colored garlicky slaw tastes great with grilled chicken and pork,” writes Robb Walsh in “The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbarcoa Cookbook.”

The dressing makes all the difference. “Homemade ranch dressing is vastly superior to — and a whole lot cheaper than — the stuff they sell in bottles at the grocery store,” Walsh writes. “I make this stuff in a plastic quarter container and keep it in the refrigerator. My kids slather it all over everything.”

Carrot Pepper Salad

4 cups grated carrots
2 cups finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup Tex-Mex Ranch Dressing (recipe follows)
3 gloves garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Put the grated carrots and the chopped bell pepper in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the ranch dressing and the garlic, and mix well. toss the vegetables with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or more. toss well and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Makes about 6 cups.

From “The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbarcoa Cookbook” by Robb Walsh

Tex-Mex Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup best-quality buttermilk
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground Mexican oregano
1/4 jalapeño, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, red onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, jalapeño and green onions. Salt to taste. Cover and chill. The dressing will keep for about a week.

Note: Seed the jalapeño if you want to cut the heat.

Makes about 3 cups.

From “The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbarcoa Cookbook” by Robb Walsh

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Potato Salad for Ranch Lovers


Ranch Potato Salad

Here’s a potato salad that’s sure to please the ranch dressing lover in your house. The secret is to find the balance between the pickled ingredients and the fresh. You can also use items like artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers in the mix. I also added a touch of cayenne to give it greater heat

Ranch Potato Salad

2 pounds red or new potatoes
1/2 cup hot dill pickle relish
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup salad olives or 1/2 cup combination of salad olives and pickled jalapeños
3/4 cup ranch dressing, or more, to taste
Salt, to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are soft when pricked with a fork. Drain and let cool for a few minutes. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized bits and mix with relish, celery, onion, olives and ranch dressing. Salt to taste. Let settle. Serve warm or refrigerate until about 20 minutes before serving, allowing time to come back to room temperature.

Source: John Griffin

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