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Oloves Are Easy to Love


Oloves

Have you been looking for a low-calorie, low-carb snack that actually tastes like food? And that’s also good for you? That’s the beauty of Oloves, pouches of green olives stuffed with your choice of flavors.

These tart treats are vegan as well as kosher. They aren’t packed in juice, either, so you can nibble on an entire packet without getting your fingers wet. You don’t need to cool them down, either, because they are shelf table; so, you can pack them up for a picnic, put them in your lunch box or grab them whenever you need a quick bite.

Oloves come in three flavors:

  • Hot Chilli Mama, or habanero
  • Lemon Lover, or lemon and garlic
  • Light-Hearted Vinaigrette
  • Tasty Mediterranean, or basil and garlic

I tried the basil and the habanero varieties, and both were pleasant treats that satisfied a mid-afternoon snack craving.

The price is $1 a pouch at H-E-B.

 

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Cauliflower Popcorn. That’s No Typo.


Toss the cauliflower in olive oil and salt.

For those who are looking to give up or at least cut back on corn in their diet, this recipe from Bob Blumer’s “Glutton for Pleasure: Signature Recipes, Epic Stories and Surreal Etiquette” (Whitecap, $29.95) offers a good substitute for popcorn. The flavors are remarkably similar once you coat the cauliflower in olive oil and a good salt. (Add the mashed cauliflower to replace potatoes and you can cut back on carbohydrate levels.)

Surprised? You’re not alone. “Everywhere I go I sing its praises,” writes the star of the TV shows, “The Surreal Gourmet” and “Glutton for Punishment.” “Usually I am met with skepticism when I boast that it’s so good even kids devour it. After all, who woulda thunk that cauliflower could actually become addictive? But it’s true.”

It is true. But you need to watch the cooking time. I had a slightly smaller head of cauliflower than usual, which meant cutting back on the oil, the salt and the cooking time. Mine was ready in 45 minutes, instead of the hour that Blumer mentions. But, oh, it does taste good.

Play with the flavors. Add curry powder or black pepper, Parmesan cheese, whatever you would put on popcorn.

By the way, Blumer suggests making this dish with James Brown’s “The Popcorn” playing in the background.

Cauliflower Popcorn

Cauliflower Popcorn

1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

1 popcorn container

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut out and discard cauliflower core and thick sterns. Trim remaining cauliflower into florets the size of golf balls. In a large bowl, add cauliflower, olive oil and salt. Toss thoroughly.

Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper, if available, for easy cleanup). Roast for 1 hour, or until much of each floret has become golden brown. (That’s the caramelization process converting the dormant natural sugars into sweetness.) The browner the florets, the sweeter they will taste. Turn 3 or 4 times during roasting.

Use crumpled up aluminum foil or paper towels to create a false bottom in your popcorn container, fill it with cauliflower, and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From “Glutton for Pleasure” by Bob Blumer

 

 

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Great Beginnings: 7 Appetizers to Kick Off Your Meal in Style


Panela en Salsa Roja at Aldaco's.

Starting off a meal with a bite of food, whether you call it an appetizer, a tapa, or a small plate, can really whet your appetite for the meal to come. Here is where you’ll find many a chef letting his or her imagination run wild with the freshest ingredients and the most flair. Or, you will find pure comfort in tradition.

Here are seven great starters to enjoy. Several are new, one has been a San Antonio tradition for years, others are ethnic comfort foods. All are a wonderful prelude to your main course, whether it’s burgers, sushi or a gyro platter.

The dishes on the list are not the only great appetizers to be had in town. They are not listed in any order. They are merely meant to remind you of what the city’s restaurants have to offer.

1. Grilled Chinese Chicken Wings at Nosh, 1133 Austin Hwy., 210-824-8686 — Chicken wings are nothing new. But these beauties, with a taste of both peanut oil and sesame oil, are plump and juicy. You’ll be licking your fingers to catch every last drop of the Asian sauce or the creamy cilantro sauce on the side.

The sampler platter at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.

2. Panela en Salsa Roja at Aldaco’s Stone Oak, 20079 Stone Oak Parkway, 210-494-0561, or 100 Hoefgen St., 210-222-0561 — It’s hard to describe just how good this appetizer is, given that it is simply a slab of fried Mexican cheese topped with salsa. But put the two together and you’ll discover culinary alchemy.

3. Scotch Eggs at the Lion and Rose, various locations — The Cardiff Clam Strips and the English Chips with Guinness Cheese often call us, but not as often as the Scotch Eggs. The pub grub favorite is made from a hard-cooked egg wrapped in sausage and cheese before cooking. Serve it with a mustard sauce on one side and a pint of Smithwicks or Newcastle on the other.

4. Sampler platter at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, 19239 Stone Oak Parkway, 210-497-8500 — You want a lot of food? This sampler has it. Dolmas filled with beef and rice, hummus, eggplant dip, spanikopita and more fill the platter. As vast and varied as it is, a party of three managed to clear it and have a fine dinner afterward.

5. Ham and Tomato Shypoke Eggs at Timbo’s, 1639 Broadway, 210-223-1028 — When was the last time you had a skypoke egg? This Alamo City classic originated at Little Hipps Bubble Room and can be found at its descendant, Timbo’s. It’s essentially a nacho made to look like a fried egg, but the addition of silky ham and bright tomato takes it to a new level.

Onion pakoras from Pavani Express.

6.  Beef Sashimi at Sushi Zushi, various locations — Who among us carnivores doesn’t love a generous portion of beef? In this Asian equivalent of Italy’s carpaccio, the seared beef is served with a lively soy dipping sauce, ginger and onions. After one taste, you’ll clear the plate quickly.

7. Pakoras at Pavani Express, 5755 Evans Road, 210-680-3134 — San Antonio’s newest vegetarian restaurant offers several appetizers, including perfect pakoras. These crispy, deep-fried snacks are made with a variety of vegetables, a favorite of which onion.  The tangy tamarind sauce and the cilantro sauce both add to the fun.

Bonnie Walker contributed to this report.

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A Trio of Spiced Nuts Brightens Any Fiesta


A trio of spiced nuts.

During Fiesta or any party time of the year, it helps to have a few recipes you can make ahead and be able to serve whenever guests drop by.

And what goes better with margaritas than something with a little bite?

I recently tried three spiced nut recipes from celebrity chef Rick Bayless, which he has included in his new cookbook, “Fiesta at Rick’s” (W.W. Norton & Son, $35). Each one can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight jar until needed.

A few words to the wise when it comes to making any candied or spiced nut. Don’t let your attention stray, or you could end up with a burnt tray of nuts. If you don’t know if the nuts are ready yet, err on the side of caution and removed them sooner than later. The heat of the cookie sheet will continue to cook the nuts even after it has left the oven.

Chilied peanuts with toasted pine nuts

When I made Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts, I left them on the tray for a second or two too long, and the color darkened. They weren’t burnt, but they weren’t as pretty as they could have been.

My test of the Chipotle-Roasted Almonds also had a little too much sauce on them, which make the nuts sticky in the humidity. The flavor was great, but make sure your almonds are sparingly coated. If they feel too gooey going into the oven, then you may want to add a few more almonds into the mix. (You might also want to blanch the almonds first, a step I forgot somewhere along the way.)

Most importantly, get creative. Recipes are guides, not blueprints. For the Chilied Peanuts and Pumpkin Seeds, I didn’t have pumpkin seeds to go with the spiced peanuts, but I did have pine nuts. I toasted the same amount and tossed them into the mix. You could use anything from buttery Chex Mix to tiny pretzels to fried peas, and get good results.

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Chilied Peanuts and Pumpkin Seeds


Chilied peanuts with toasted pine nuts

“You can buy tangy chilied peanuts from street vendors all over Mexico,” Rick Bayless writes in “Fiesta at Rick’s” (W.W. Norton & Company, $35). “The vendors will likely have salted toasted pumpkin seeds, too, which I like to mix with the peanuts. A very good (and quite good for you) snack — so good, in fact, that we’ve set a bowl of the stuff on every table in Frontera Grill for nearly two decades.”

If you want to work ahead, use fresh, preferably vacuum-sealed peanuts and pumpkin seeds. “The finished mixture will keep for several weeks in a tightly closed container,” Bayless writes. “For longer storage, keep them in the freezer (I’d vacuum-seal them with a Food Saver or the like if one is available).”

I didn’t have pumpkin seeds on hand when I made this dish, and it was approaching midnight, so I made do with what I had on hand: pine nuts. I toasted them lightly and tossed them with the peanuts. The end result worked well, especially for the pine nut fans, who loved the heat that the chilied peanuts brought to their favorite nut.

Chilied Peanuts and Pumpkin Seeds (Cacahuates y Pepitas Enchilados)

2 cups roasted peanuts (preferably without salt)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons ancho powder or guajillo powder, plus a little árbol chile powder if you like it spicy
Salt, to taste
1 cup hulled, raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas

Turn on the oven to 250 degrees and position a rack in the middle. In a medium bowl, toss the peanuts with the lime juice until all the nuts have been moistened. Sprinkle evenly with chile powder, then toss until the chile evenly coats the nuts. Spread the nuts into a shallow layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Slide into the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the chile has formed a light crust on the nuts. Remove from the oven and sprinkle generously with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.

In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds. Spread the seeds into the skillet and, when the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to oval, about 5 minutes. Scoop on top of the peanuts, toss the two together, allow to cool, then scoop the mixture in a serving bowl.

Makes 3 cups.

From “Fiesta at Rick’s” by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless

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Finish the Game Off With Something Sweet


Pecan Pralines

4No party table, whether it’s for the Super Bowl or any other occasion, is complete without something sweet to finish off the meal.

This year, the two teams have plenty of choices to choose from.

New Orleans has myriad offerings, from bread pudding to beignets. We narrowed down the list to a fan favorite that has stuck to many a tooth outside the Big Easy: pecan pralines.

Indianapolis has its contenders, including chocolate cream pie and serious milkshakes, but there’s really only one dessert with the Indiana state legislature’s approval: sugar cream pie.

Sugar Cream Pie

Why not enjoy the game with a little of each? You’ll come out a winner regardless of which team captures the crown.

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Dip into Something Creamy and Delicious


Dips are not the most visually attractive foods on the planet. Yet few dishes are as easy to make and versatile at parties. So, whenever we can, we haul out the sour cream, the mayonnaise, the cream cheese, the mustard and whatever seasonings  we choose to create something you can sink a carrot or a tortilla chip into, stuff into a rib of celery, or just eat by itself (please, no fingers).

The possibilities are endless. You can even create themed dips to reflect the occasion. Think of a red and blue berry mixture with white yogurt for the Fourth of July, as an example, or pairing red and green salsas for Christmas.

Today, we offer three dip recipes for Super Bowl Sunday. All can be made in advance, all taste much better after the flavors are allowed to meld together. The Bacon and Cheddar Dip is for Colts fans, a reminder of the city where bacon, cheddar and hot sauce are all part of chili. So why not feature them in a dip of their own?

The Saints’ home turf is a known a bit more for its culinary treasures. In its honor, try New Orleans-style Muffuletta Dip or Cajun Shrimp and Artichoke Dip.

But what should you serve to dip with?

For vegetables, think of spears of raw asparagus, pepper slices, radishes celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower as well as strips of jícama, snow pea pods, fennel matchsticks and slightly shocked green beans (blanch with boiling water and set immediately on ice).

For crunchier bases, you can use pita chips, toasted baguette slices or crostini, hearty tortilla chips, hearty potato chips, pumpernickel and rye cocktail squares, bagel chips, crackers, black bread, and melba toast.

Recipe: Cajun Shrimp and Artichoke Dip.

Recipe: Muffuletta Dip

Recipe: Bacon and Cheddar Dip

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Truffled Goat Cheese Spread


Want to get a little fancy on Super Bowl Sunday? The aroma and flavor of truffle oil make this simple dip simply irresistible. It can be made days ahead of time, too.

Truffled Goat Cheese Spread

1 (9-ounce) log goat cheese, at room temperature
2 to 3 teaspoons truffle oil, or to taste
4 radishes, trimmed and grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Place the cheese, oil, radishes and chives in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork to combine.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

[amazon-product]1558322787[/amazon-product]Variation: Use an 8-ounce package of cream cheese instead of the goat cheese.

Garnish with more scallions or radish slices, if desired.

Serve with cucumber rounds, slices of celery or triangles of thinly sliced pumpernickel.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

From “Party Dips!” by Sally Sampson

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WalkerSpeak: Great Slider Buns and Easy Mini-Subs


In case you hadn’t noticed, our major endeavor of the week here at SavorSA is seeing how many snack and party ideas we can come up with before Super Bowl Sunday.

I felt I really needed some practice, so tonight I made a batch of mini-cheeseburgers, wrapped in bacon, along with meatballs in tomato sauce and sausage and peppers.  All easy to do in one roasting pan.

The not-easy part was finding mini-hamburger buns for those mini-burgers. Sliders, in other words. But luckily for us all, Bunsen Burgers, 5456 Walzem Road, a quirky but seriously good burger shop,  will make them to order.

Thank owner Kevin Cacy and baker/owner Christopher Cullum for these. The buns are topped with flax seeds and very good — I’ve had them.  If you want some before Sunday, pre-order by calling (210) 590-6066. ( They are 50 cents each; $4.99 a dozen.)

If you can’t make it over to Bunsen Burgers, look for Target’s bake and serve ciabatta rolls or small rolls sometimes called silver dollar rolls or mini-kaiser rolls. I also like Roman Meal’s new sandwich thins.  A friend of mine makes her finger food-style cheese burgers on regular hamburger buns,  then cuts them into quarters and sticks a toothpick in each one.

Another friend told me that the folks at Bolner’s Meat Market on South Flores Street also take orders for the diminutive buns. Call (210) 533-5112 to place an order.

Here’s a guide to setting up a bar of mini subs and sandwiches:

Take a large roaster and lightly oil the bottom. Turn the oven on to 375 degrees.

For the sausage: Buy fresh Italian sausages and cut them in half. Spread on the top third of the pan. Slice onion, red and green bell pepper and toss lightly in oil. Scatter them over the sausages.

For the meatballs: Buy your favorite small meatballs from the frozen food section at the store. I really like the Rosina brand Italian-style meatballs at Target, and keep a bag of them in the freezer for those times I don’t want to make my own.  Scatter those on the middle third of the roasting pan.

For the mini-burgers: Make 3-ounce burgers, wrap each with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Line them up on the bottom third of the pan.

Put the pan in the oven. Heat the rolls in aluminium foil. Heat a jar of your favorite Italian tomato sauce (I like Muir Glen Italian Herb sauce) on the stove. When the meats are hot and sizzling, put cheddar cheese on the burgers. Pour warm sauce over the meatballs and cover them with grated Mozzarella and Jack cheese. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes. Serve right from the pan, along with extra tomato sauce, condiments and hot rolls.

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Party Flavors: Get Your Game Day Snack Recipes Here


With the game a week away, don’t just rely on the same old chips and salsa, order-in pizza and bean dip out of a can. SavorSA will be putting up a week’s worth of daily Super Bowl snack suggestions and recipes. Check them out right here, starting with today’s creamy avocado dip that doubles as a salad dressing, plus favorites from our recipe files!

Recipe: Creamy Avocado Salsa

Recipe: Date Bars

Last minute snacks, little or no work

Recipe: Sugar Cream Pie

Recipe: Pecan pralines a new orleans treat for almost 400 years

Recipe: Tomatillo salsa, easy to make.

Recipe: Skewered crisp shitakes with garlic.

Recipe: Vegetarian chili with cheese and scallions.

Recipe: Truffled Goat Cheese Spread

Great slider buns and easy mini subs.

Recipes: Popcorn

Recipe: Bonnie's Guacamole

Recipe: Make your own Muffuletta

Recipe: Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Recipes: Wings, Three Ways

Recipe: A Trio of Colorful Salsas

Recipe: Grilled Pizza

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