Tag Archive | "Texas Hill Country Cuisine"

The Best Recipes from 2014

The year 2014 offered plenty of good eats, which made it hard to pick our favorites. Yet here is a collection of what we liked best from the last 12 months. They run the gamut from soup to desserts, and include dishes from local favorite Luca Della Casa, who had a memorable run on “Food Network Star,” and Ross Burtwell, who published his “Texas Hill Country Cuisine” cookbook. There’s even a recipe inspired by the research Bonnie Walker and I made for our “Barbecue Lover’s Texas.”
White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet's White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet’s White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet Garcia, or simply Chef Hamlet to the lovers of TV food programs, was in San Antonio Wednesday as part of a fundraiser for KLRN. The star of “Vme Cocina” presented a cooking demonstration of the various dishes that were presented in a lavish dinner held at La Taquilera del Patron, 17776 Blanco Road.

One of the dishes from his Venezuelan homeland was a velvety white bean soup topped with queso fresco, bacon, chives and the earthy brilliance of a few drops of truffle oil. The soup is easy to make, though it takes a day to let the beans soak.

12 slices of bacon
2 pounds of white beans, preferably soaked in water for 24 hours and drained
2 large ribs celery
1 large white onion, chopped in squares
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh thyme
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 gallon chicken broth
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Queso fresco, cut into small cubes, for garnish
1/2 cup sliced chives, for garnish
4 tablespoons truffle oil, for garnish

Cook the bacon in the oven or in a pan until it is very crisp. Remove from the pot and save the fat for later. Finely chop or crush the bacon in a food processor; reserve for garnishing the dish.

In a saucepan, add the bacon fat and briefly cook the onion and celery in it; stir constantly without browning. When the onions are translucent, add the drained white beans, thyme, garlic, butter, cream and chicken broth. When the liquid is boiling, simmer the beans for 90 minutes, stirring and mixing the ingredients occasionally in the pot. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

When the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for one hour. Then, reserve a little of the broth and add the mixture in a blender or food processor; blend until it achieves a velvety texture. Then add the reserved broth and add salt and pepper as necessary to achieve the desired texture or taste.

Garnish each serving with queso fresco cubes, chives, bacon pieces and a few drops of truffle oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Chef Hamlet

Luca’s ‘Franz’ PaninoLuca's PaninoKnown for his work at Nosh on Austin Highway, San Antonio chef Luca Della Casa made it to the finals of “Food Network Star” this year. One of the dishes he made was this panino, which spices up cured Italian meats with a chile paste, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard blend. Then it’s finished off with a caprese treatment, with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. The best of both worlds!1/4 cup cut up red onion
1 garlic clove
6 black olives
Salt, to taste
Pinch, black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chile paste
Juice from half a lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 baguette
4 slices mortadella
4 slices sopressata
2 slices fresh mozzarella
2-3 slices tomato
Several basil leaves

Chop together the red onion, garlic and black olives; combing this mixture with the salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.

Mix together the mayonnaise, chile paste and lemon juice, along with the Dijon mustard. 

Slice a baguette in half, spread with the mayonnaise/mustard mixture, then spread on the chopped onion and olive mixture. Layer on the sliced mortadella and sopressata. Put the baguette in a panini press for 5 minutes. When the panino is ready, add to it the fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil.

Buon appetito!

From Luca Della Casa

Photo courtesy Luca Della Casa/Food Network

Noodles with Walnuts (Gnocchi alla Granerese)

Noodles with Walnuts

Noodles with Walnuts

This Italian dish goes together quickly and makes a great side dish or a meatless main course. You can also serve it year-round.

1 cup ground walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound broad noodles
Chopped walnuts, for garnish

Roll or pound the walnuts and the garlic on a board or in a mortar until a paste is formed. Place in a large bowl. Add the Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, salt and pepper. Mix well. Boil the noodles in salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Add to the walnut mixture and toss lightly with two forks until the noodles are well coated. Place on a heated platter and serve.

Use a few chopped walnuts for garnish.

From “The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook” by Myra Waldo

Bohemia Pork Tinga Tacos

Tinga is a shredded meat dish that’s been braised with chipotle sauce. This pork tinga recipe gets an extra kick from the addition of Bohemia Beer, plus it’s attractive because it’s made in a slow cooker. Just gather your ingredients and let it cook on its own until it’s ready.

1 ½ pounds lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
½ cup Bohemia Beer
1 pound (about 5 medium) red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 large white onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices (preferably fire-roasted)
1 cup chipotle salsa
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or farmers cheese
1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from skin and diced
Warm corn tortillas

Bohemia Pork Tinga Tacos

Bohemia Pork Tinga Tacos

Pat pork dry with paper toweling. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet until hot. Add the pork in a single, uncrowded layer. Cook, turning until brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pork to a plate as the remainder browns. Afterward, pour Bohemia into pan and boil gently while scraping up all the browned bits from the pan.

Put browned pork and pan juices into a slow cooker. Add the potatoes.

Combine the onion, tomatoes, salsa, Worcestershire and ½ teaspoon salt in large bowl. Mix well. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker and stir to mix thoroughly.

Cook for 6 hours at the highest temperature. After 6 hours, gently stir the tinga. If it seems really thick, add a little water. Taste and season with more salt.

Serve the pork tinga in a large bowl, sprinkled with fresh cheese and diced avocado. Pass warm tortillas for making tacos.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Bohemia Beer


Brisket Chiles Rellenos

Brisket Chiles Rellenos

Brisket Chiles Rellenos

If you love brisket tacos, odds are good you’ll like another Tex-Mex innovation, Brisket Chiles Rellenos.

As for getting that brisket, you might make your own at home. Just picking up brisket from the local barbecue joints is a good idea, too. We have our local favorites, of course, but now we also crave barbecue from places discovered driving around the state for our book, “Barbecue Lover’s Texas” (Globe Pequot Press, $21.95).

This idea occurred while we were using up leftovers from the mail-order Rustic Iron BBQ in Odessa.

Make these chiles rellenos as you would in the usual Texas style: peel roasted, meaty poblano chiles, stuff with chopped brisket and some cheese, too, if you like. Dip in egg batter, fry and serve with salsa.

One hint: Warm up the brisket, then chop, and stuff into room-temperature chiles before cooking. You want the cheese and brisket filling to be plenty hot. Another hint: If you don’t have time to make your own salsa, try Julio’s. It’s made in San Angelo and is our current favorite ready-made.  (No, they’re not paying us to say that!)

Sausage would work just as well in these rellenos.

2 large chiles poblanos, roasted and peeled, with seeds scraped out (cut a slit the length of on broad side of the chile and carefully pull seeds out or scrape out with a spoon)
8-10 ounces chopped smoked brisket, warmed
2-4 ounces cheese — longhorn, colby cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc. — grated or sliced into narrow pieces
1 tablespoon minced onion
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking oil for frying (about an inch to 1 1/2 inches deep in a roomy sauté pan or skillet)
Salsa, for serving

After preparing the chiles, set aside at room temperature while you prepare the brisket. After chopping the brisket, mix with the grated cheese and onion. Then, stuff each pepper with half of the mixture. Press the chile around the filling, making sure you can still close the sliced sides together over the filling.  Set aside on a plate.

Put the oil in a sauté pan or skillet and turn the heat on to medium.  Keep an eye on the oil, you don’t want it to overheat. As the oil is heating, put the egg whites into a mixer, or use an egg beater, and whip the whites up to a fairly stiff peak, but not too dry. Beat the egg yolks in another bowl with a whisk until they lighten in color, at least a minute or so. Fold the egg yolks into the beaten whites and gently combine.

Put the flour into a shallow bowl and add salt, mixing together. When the oil appears hot but not smoking, put a little bit of the egg into it. The egg should sizzle around the edges and fry quickly but not get brown too fast. Put the shallow bowl with the flour and the bowl with egg mixture near the stove.

Carefully put the sliced side of each stuffed pepper down in the flour, then carefully roll around, holding the sliced side closed with your fingers. Then, dip into the whipped egg mixture. Get plenty of the fluffy mixture on the chile, then place it sliced side down into the oil to fry. Repeat with the second chile. You can spoon some of the leftover egg mixture onto the top of the chiles, if you wish. Turn the chiles when you can lift one end and see that the bottom side has turned golden brown.  When they are done, lift the chiles out of the pan, place briefly on some paper towel and then transfer to plates. Spoon over a little salsa and serve more on the side.

Makes 2 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

Chicken Breasts with Artichokes (Petto di pollo at carciofi)

“The Venetians have always been meat-eaters. In times past they ate the whole animal, and were thus able to satisfy both their taste and their pockets.”

That quote comes from Roberta Pianaro, who created the recipes in “Brunetti’s Cookbook,” which is based on the popular mystery series.

5 medium globe artichokes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1  3/4 pounds chicken breast
2 tablespoons white wine
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Remove the tough stems from the artichokes, trim the tips and peel the stems. Plunge into a bowl of cold water with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Cut into fine slices, starting from the stems, and place in nonstick pan or casserole with the oil, salt, garlic, pepper and at least 3 1/2 cups of water. Cover and cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Place the 2 chicken breasts at the bottom of the pan among the artichokes and after 2 minutes add the wine and continue cooking. Be careful to not burn the artichokes. When the chicken is cooked, remove and cut into thin slices. Add slices to the artichokes and let season. Drain and serve hot.

From “Brunetti’s Cookbook”

Texas Tarragon Shrimp Scampi with Jalapeño Three-Cheese Grits

Chef Ross Burtwell

Chef Ross Burtwell

This recipe come from chef Ross Burtwell’s cookbook, “Texas Hill Country Cuisine,” and it has quite a lot of Lone Star flavor in it.

Texas tarragon is an herb generally called Mexican mint marigold, but it’s probably used in Texas more than in other parts of the United States. So, we claim it as ours.  If you don’t have any growing in your garden, use a mix of dried or fresh tarragon along with some minced fresh mint or dried mint (spearmint or garden mint, not peppermint).

Shrimp Scampi

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large Texas wild-caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Texas tarragon (Mexican mint marigold), minced
20 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup Texas viognier white wine
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
Jalapeno Three-Cheese Grits (recipe follows)
2 scallions, green tops only, thinly sliced

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Immediately add shrimp and top with garlic. Shake the pan to keep the shrimp from sticking.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add the tarragon. Saute until shrimp starts to curl, turn pink and begin to turn opaque in the center.

Add the grape tomatoes (if using) plus lemon juice and zest. Stir. Add wine.

Once the liquid is simmering and the shrimp are about 90 percent cooked through, add butter, shaking the pan back and forth to form a creamy sauce.

Jalapeño Three-Cheese Grits

2 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup quick grits (not instant)
1/3 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup Texas goat cheese
1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 fresh jalapeño, finely minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring chicken stock to a full boil and whisk in grits.

Turn heat down to medium-low; allow grits to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove grits from heat and stir in all cheeses, cream, butter and jalapeños. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Dish assembly: Place a heaping spoonful of Jalapeño Three-Cheese Grits into warm bowls. Ladle shrimp and sauce over the top and garnish with sliced scallions. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Texas Hill Country Cuisine” by Cabernet Grill chef/owner Ross Burtwell with Julia Celeste Rosenfield

Ultimate Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn’t want the creamiest mashed potatoes imaginable? America’s Test Kitchen delivers with this recipe.

Why this recipe works: Sometimes we want a luxurious mash, one that is silky smooth and loaded with cream and butter. But there’s a fine line between creamy and gluey. We wanted lush, creamy mashed potatoes, with so much richness and flavor they could stand on their own — no gravy necessary.

For a creamier, substantial mash, we found that Yukon Golds were perfect — creamier than russets but not as heavy as red potatoes. Slicing the peeled potatoes into rounds and then rinsing away the surface starch before boiling helped intensify their creamy texture without making them gluey. Setting the boiled and drained potatoes in their pot over a low flame helped further evaporate any excess moisture. Using 1 1/2 sticks of butter and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream gives these potatoes luxurious flavor and richness without making the mash too thin. We found that melting the butter and warming the cream before adding them to the potatoes ensured that the finished dish arrived at the table piping hot.

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 medium), scrubbed, peeled and sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
2 teaspoons table salt

Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cool running water, tossing with your hands, for 30 seconds. Transfer the potatoes to a large Dutch oven, add cold water to cover by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to heat to medium and boil until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and return to the Dutch oven. Stir over low heat until the potatoes are thoroughly dried, 1 to 2 minutes. Set a ricer or food mill over a large bowl and press or mill the potatoes into the bowl. Gently fold in the warm cream mixture and salt with a rubber spatula until the cream is absorbed and the potatoes are thick and creamy. Serve.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. This recipe can be cut in half, if desired.

From “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015″

Looking for a way to add a little twist to your cranberry sauce? Try this spiky variation, which uses tequila and jalapeños. Best of all, it’s easy to put together.  

Tequila-Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce

Add some tingle to your cranberry sauce with tequila and jalapeños.

½ cup tequila
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
2 fresh sliced jalapeños in thin rings (seed and all)

Heat tequila over medium heat until reduced by half. Place cranberries, sugar, water and jalapeños in the sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir often. Let cook for about 15 minutes. Take off heat and let it rest for 30 minutes occasionally stirring while resting.

Makes 8-10 servings.

From chef James Draper/Hyatt Hill Country

Two-Ingredient Biscuits

Two-ingredient biscuits

Two-ingredient biscuits

Biscuits are a cornerstone of Southern cooking. But, of course, they should never be hard as a stone; only light and airy will do.

You can do that in your kitchen, using only a couple of ingredients.

In “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” (Gibbs Smith, $$45), Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart write that “it’s miraculous to make a biscuit with only two ingredients, particularly when making such an impressive biscuit, light and tender, capable of convincing anyone that the cook was born holding a biscuit bowl. This recipe is a good fallback for anyone who hasn’t made a biscuit for a while or has to hurry up and get some baked. If using a cream with less fat (heavy cream has 36 percent), start with less and use only what is needed to make a moist, slightly sticky dough. Half-and-half just doesn’t work well enough to use by itself. This is really and hurry-up recipe, but the directions are detailed.”

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour, divided use
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided use
Butter, softened or melted, for finishing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Selecting the baking pan by determining if a soft or crisp exterior is desired. For a soft exterior, use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, a pizza pan, or an ovenproof skillet where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking. For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and create a crisper exterior. Brush selected pan with butter or oil.

Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining 1/4 cup. Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Slowly but steadily stir 1 cup of the cream, reserving 1/4 cup, into the hollow with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the cream. Mix just until the dry ingredient is moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in just enough of the reserved cream to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Lightly sprinkle a plastic sheet, a board or other clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour if sticky. With floured hands, folks the dough in half and pat it into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if sticky and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round for normal biscuits, a 3/4-inch-thick round for tall biscuits , or a 1-inch-thick round for giant biscuits. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although they will be tougher.

Using a metal spatula, if necessary, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 10 to 14 minutes, until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back, and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard the browning. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown. When they are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with softened or melted butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.


  • For Sour Cream or Cream Cheese Biscuits, substitute 1 cup sour cream or cream cheese for the heavy cream. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. This makes a moist biscuit.
  • For Yogurt and Cream Biscuits, use 1/2 cup yogurt and 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • For Yogurt Biscuits, add 1 teaspoon salt to the flour and 1 cup plain yogurt for the heavy cream. Add a bit of milk or cream to moisten if a “drier” yogurt is used. Yogurt biscuits are a bit “bouncy.”
  • For Strawberry Shortcake, add 1 or tablespoons sugar to the dough. Line a cake pan with parchment paper. Pat the dough into the lined cake pan. Bake as above. Remove from the oven, brush the top with butter, and turn upside down on a rack to cool slightly. When cool. slice in half horizontally. To serve, sandwich with sugared strawberries and cream or serve a bowl of each separately.

Makes 14 to 18 (2-inch) biscuits.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

Triple-Threat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Threat Chocolate Chip CookiesPack a box of these cookies for your loved one in lieu of store-bought treats. That little bit of personal effort makes a gift a whole lot better, and this recipe from Pastry Queen Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman is one of the best.

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coasely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the pecans and walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Cool the nuts completely.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray.

Melt the butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir occasionally, watching carefully to make sure the chocolate does not burn. Remove the pan from the heat to cool.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 3 minutes until fluffy.  Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes, until the dough is thick and glossy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, which makes it easier to scoop.

Use a 1  3/4-inch-diameter scoop to drop spoonfuls of dough on the prepare baking sheets, spacing them at least 1  1/2 inches apart. Wet your fingertips lightly with water and gently flatted the cookie dough (no need to press hard, just press out the hump). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes before removing them from the baking sheets.

Rather Sweet Variation: Tor Triple-Threat Rocky Road Cookies, a favorite with elementary school kids, add 1 cup quartered mini-marshmallows to the dough along with the nuts and chocolate chips. Bake as directed.

Makes 4 dozen.

From “The Pastry Queen” by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Rich? Yes. Delicious? How could it not be?

Also, if you’ll notice in this recipe for Doughnut Bread Pudding, it calls for dried fruit. This isn’t the fruit that goes into fruit cakes, and it isn’t freeze-dried fruit, either.  As you’ll see in the instructions, Nature’s Eats of Bourne makes a mixture that you can purchase at H-E-B and it works well in this recipe.  Enjoy!

10 stale glazed doughnuts
1 cup bite-size dried fruit (see note)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs, room temperature
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Whiskey sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
3/8 cup whiskey, divided use
Pinch of salt

Note: Use the dried fruit of your choice, such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries or cherries. Nature’s Eats of Boerne does a Dried Fruit Medley that includes pineapple, apricots, raisins, cherry-flavored cranberries and papaya, all in bite-size pieces.You can find it at H-E-B.

Cut up the doughnuts in a 9-by-13-inch dish. Sprinkle dried fruit, almond slivers and zest over the top and mix in.

In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk, then add vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon and mace. Incorporate thoroughly. Pour over the doughnut mixture. Let set for 15 minutes.

Eight or 10 minutes before it’s ready to bake, heat your oven to 350 degrees. When the dish is ready, place in a larger dish and add water to at least halfway up the sides. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with whiskey sauce.

To make whiskey sauce: Warm cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan oven medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and 1/8 cup of whiskey until the starch is thoroughly dissolved. Whisk into the cream mixture and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is ready, stir in a pinch of salt and the final 1/4 cup of whiskey. Let cook for another minute over low heat. Serve warm.

From John Griffin

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GauchoGourmet Holidays! Book Signing, Toy Drive for the Kids

Gaucho Gourmet’s Saturday Market this week will feature a Texas-sized Holiday Book Signing, with six authors present and signing four great Texas food books.

This is a one-time chance to pick up gifts for the food-lovers on your holiday gift lists, and have them signed. The following authors will be on hand Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.:
Texas Hill Country Cookbook• Chef Terry Thompson-Anderson, veteran chef and culinary instructor, will be present to sign her cookbook “Texas on the Table: People, Places and Recipes Celebrating the Lone Star State,” destined to become the definitive book on Texas cooking.
• Chef Scott Cohen, former executive chef of Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio Hotel and current instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Austin, is signing his “The Texas Hill Country Cookbook – A Taste of Provence” for the discriminating palate and lover of local products.
• Renowned Hill Country Chef Ross Burtwell and contributing author Julia Celeste Rosenfeld are signing their striking “Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant,” perfect for all Hill Country cuisine and Texas wine connoisseurs.
• Bonnie Walker and John Griffin will be signing their recently published “Barbecue Lover’s Texas – Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions” for the guys and gals who are meat lovers (especially barbecue!) on your Christmas list.

Toys for Tots Benefit now through Dec. 13 — win a giant Pannettone

GauchoGourmet is also accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys between Mon, Dec. 6 through Saturday Dec. 13 to benefit Toys for Tots and ultimately the less fortunate children in our community. This toy drive is in conjunction with Groomer’s Seafood.

panettone albertengoWith each donation dropped off at GauchoGourmet, the donor’s name will be entered into GauchoGourmet’s biggest and best giveaway yet. The winner will be announced Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. and will receipve a specially ordered 22 pound Panettone Christmas cake, made by artisanal producer Albertengo, from Italy.

Bring toys, sample some of the great holiday gourmet items at GauchoGourmet and pck up gifts — all this Saturday.


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New Cookbook: Chef Ross Burtwell’s ‘Texas Hill Country Cuisine’

After more than 25 years in Texas, I’ve learned that most of us residents, though many of us may travel widely and cook adventurously from many cuisines, are deeply devoted to Texas food.

Count me among them, and count chef Ross Burtwell’s new book, “Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill” (Creative Noggin Press, $35.95),  as a great source for us all. It’s especially appealing as it encompasses a less-frequently explored area of the state when it comes to cuisine — the Texas Hill Country.

Texas Tarragon Shrimp Scampi

Texas Tarragon Shrimp Scampi

Ross Burtwell and Julia Celeste Rosenfeld will be signing “The Texas Hill Country Cookbook”  Saturday (May 10) at GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also, they will be at the Twig Book Shop to sign on May 31, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Well-known writers collaborated with Burtwell — Terry Thompson-Anderson wrote the forward; Julia Celeste Rosenfeld, freelance writer and “The Food Chick” for San Antonio Magazine, researched, wrote and edited. Food photography, a delectable part of this almost 200-page book, is from Jennifer Whitney.

Cabernet Grill Chef Ross Burtwell

Cabernet Grill Chef Ross Burtwell

The Cabernet Grill, A Texas Wine Country Restaurant, is in Fredericksburg, where the cuisine reflects Burtwell’s lengthy career in the Lone Star State. Here, he explores new flavors and reinvents some of our favorite foods while sourcing the best possible ingredients from “local farmers, vintners and entrepreneurs.”

In his forward, Burtwell says, “I gravitated to these honest ingredients since my early days as a chef in Dallas, just as the Southwestern Cuisine movement took root.”

That cuisine includes wine, of course, as Texas is one of the top five wine-producing regions in the United States and the Hill Country is second only to Napa Valley in popularity among wine tourists.

“Texas Hill Country Cuisine is the ultimate dining synergy for food and wine lovers,” writes Burtwell. And the book’s recipes offer explicit, step-by-step instruction, making the more complex recipes approachable to most cooks.

It was a little hard picking recipes from his repertoire, Burtwell admits. “It’s like picking your favorite children!” After cutting quite a few out of his initial list, the book ended up with about 125 recipes. Otherwise, he’d have had a 400-page tome on his hands.

“We did it all in-house — we had a very, very good team,” the chef says. “I’m on cloud nine — the book exceeded my highest expectations. I’m really overwhelmed.”

Texas Hill Country CookbookA key team member, San Antonio writer Rosenfeld said she enjoyed the process of working with Burtwell and collaborating on the book, a process that took seven to eight months.

“It was a unique opportunity to put my 30-plus years of experience together into one project,” she says.

“I didn’t know Ross and hadn’t eaten at Cabernet Grill,” she says. She was one of several writers whom he interviewed for the project.

“We met for the first time in his restaurant and that night I tried a variety of his dishes. We chatted for a while about the food scene, about our views on ingredients, about preferences, about styles. I was one of three candidates for the job and felt elated and honored when selected.

“Ross is so well respected that it was important to me that I do him justice. He had already done a lot of work on the recipes, reducing them to home-cooking proportions. Now it was my job to make it all cohesive,” she says.

Burtwell suggests that this book is not simply a compendium of recipes, but an “idea book.” It is organized as a menu would be — appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, desserts and extras. (Extras include such accompaniments as the Burtwell Family Table Mustard and Green Peppercorn Horseradish Cream Sauce.)

Cohesive it is. While we all have our favorite ways to plunge into a new cookbook, you’d do well to take Burtwell’s advice and go from the appetizers through all of the sections down to desserts and design your own Cabernet Grill-style Hill Country meal.

Here’s just an example: Appetizer: Warm Texas Goat Cheese (with herbs, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and roasted garlic); Soup: Crispy Fried Texas Oyster Chowder with Roasted Hatch Chiles; Salad: Ginger Mango Carrot Slaw; Entree: Texas Tarragon Shrimp Scampi; Dessert: Salt and Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta.

You can pick up a copy of Burtwell’s “Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill,” at his restaurant in Fredericksburg, 2805 S State Highway 16,  or at a number of markets in that area. To order directly, go to the website at by clicking here.


Texas Tarragon Shrimp Scampi

Salt and Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta





Posted in Cookbooks, CookingComments Off on New Cookbook: Chef Ross Burtwell’s ‘Texas Hill Country Cuisine’

Salt & Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta

Dried strawberries, soaked in Texas Port -- a great Hill Country garnish.

Dried strawberries, soaked in Texas Port — a great Hill Country garnish.

This recipe features Port Sundried Strawberries, flavors that really will go great with a dessert glass of — you guessed it — a good Texas-produced Port.  The caramel ice cream topping, a little salt and dark chocolate make this dish sound irresistible.

Salt & Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping, jarred
4 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Torre di Pietra Tango Port
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1/3 cup Ported Sundried Strawberries (see recipe)
Freshly ground black pepper
Ported Sundried Strawberries
1/2 cup sundried strawberries
1/4 cup Torre di Pietra Tango Port

For the panna cotta: Place the water and gelatin in a small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes to soften.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine heavy cream and half and half. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat immediately.

While still hot, stir in caramel topping and chopped chocolate, mixing well until melted and fully incorporated.

Add soften gelatin and stir to dissolve completely. Add Port and sea salt. Stir to incorporate.

Divide mixture evenly between 6 large martini glasses. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until firmly set.

For the Strawberries: Combine berries and Port in a small bowl. Allow to marinate for 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Dish assembly: Just before serving, grind a little black pepper on the surface of the panna cotta. Top with a few of the Ported Sundried Strawberries.

Serves 6.

From “The Texas Hill Country Cookbook” by Cabernet Grill Chef/Owner Ross Burtwell

Posted in Cookbooks, Cooking, RecipesComments Off on Salt & Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta