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When Life Takes Away Your Limes …

When Life Takes Away Your Limes …

Have you priced limes lately? At one grocer this week, a single lime was selling for 70 cents. Can you imagine how much a real margarita made with fresh lime juice would cost? That’ll put a damper on your Fiesta get-together in a hurry.

Raspberry Collins cocktail

Raspberry Collins

Not to worry. The folks at Partida Tequila have come up with three light and lively cocktail recipes that use fresh lemon juice. So, enjoy your next cocktail party with a few extra cents in your pocket.

Abejas Rodillas (The Bee’s Knees)

1 3/4 ounces reposado tequila, such as Partida Reposado
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce honey syrup (1:1 dilution of honey and water)
Two dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish

Shake tequila, lemon juice, honey syrup and bitters with ice and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass or serve up in a chilled cocktail glass.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Partida Reposado

Partida Raspberry Collins

1 3/4 ounce blanco tequila, such as Partida Blanco Tequila
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce agave nectar syrup (1:1 dilution with water)
8 to 10 raspberries
Lemon twist, for garnish
3 raspberries, on a pick, for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice into a highball glass. Top with sparkling water or club soda.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Partida Blanco Tequila

Repo Cup

Repo Cup

Repo Cup

1 ½ ounces reposado tequila, such as Partida Reposado
¾ ounce yellow chartreuse
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
Fever Tree Bitter Lemon
Sliced cucumbers, for garnish

Build tequila, chartreuse, lemon juice and soda with ice in a highball glass. Garnish with cucumber.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Partida Reposado

Posted in Drinks, Featured0 Comments

Nothing Beats Handmade, Even at NIOSA

Nothing Beats Handmade, Even at NIOSA

Whipping the beans with an immersion blender.

Whipping the beans with an immersion blender.

When Steve Guerrero started running NIOSA’s bean taco booth about six years ago, the product just wasn’t up to his standards.

Steve Guerrero is the chairman of the bean taco booth.

Steve Guerrero is the chairman of the bean taco booth.

The corn tortillas were store-bought and the beans were out of a can. So, he set out to convince the organizers of A Night in Old San Antonio that his team could do much better.

A bean taco, NIOSA-style.

A bean taco, NIOSA-style.

So, they started soaking their own beans and whipping them into a fine mash, and they rolled out their own balls of masa, which were then flattened into tortillas and cooked on comals over burning charcoal.

The result was a hit with more than the committee. Guerrero’s Tacos de Frijoles booth has developed a local following that grows a little bigger each year.

I had the chance to work with Guerrero, his wife, Cynthia and a host of family and friends on Tuesday, NIOSA’s opening night. Most every year for the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of working in a series of different NIOSA booths, where I’ve helped make items such as Shypoke Eggs, Horseshoe Sausage, Fried Mushrooms and Bongo K-bobs. This year, it was time to try my hand at bean tacos, and it was a case of love at first bite.

Gene Arevalos gets some coals burning.

Gene Arevalos gets some coals burning.

For the ones who do the prep work before the gates open, the beans need to start cooking at around 2:30 p.m. In the large pots, which hold about 8 pounds of beans, go plenty of bacon grease, fresh onion and a heap of spices, all of which need time to cook together. When the beans are ready, one of the volunteers will take out that immersion blender and go to work, punching it up and down in the mixture until the texture is the consistency of peanut butter, says Victor Gutierrez, who has been volunteering with Guerrero somewhere on the NIOSA grounds for about 26 years.

Together with Gene Arevalos, they have worked tamales, wine, ice cream, enchiladas, quesadillas, you name it. They’re like family. They may only see each other once a year, for NIOSA, but it’s always a reunion that they look forward to, even if they work all four nights of the event, Gutierrez says.

Whenever a task needs to be done, you’ll likely find someone putting on a pair of gloves in order to go to work. It could be preparing the masa, which requires someone to add some of that beloved bacon grease as well as water to the corn mixture and then work it all together so that it is pliable enough. The corn dough is then rolled into balls before being pressed out to the right thickness. Each tortilla is then slapped on the hot griddle and left to cook until golden and perfectly hot to the fingertips.

Teresa Gonzales Ramon displays her Fiesta hat.

Teresa Gonzales Ramon displays her Fiesta hat.

My first assignment was to help with rolling out the masa balls. We finished off a batch of masa, which resulted in several hundred balls, which were refrigerated until needed. Then Guerrero, Gutierrez and others led me through the paces of pressing them using a metal press. To keep the masa from sticking to the press, each ball of dough was placed between two sheets of plastic that had been slicked down with a little, you guessed it, bacon grease. Gutierrez mentioned how his mother used to use waxed paper for that, which would make sense because the tortilla wouldn’t stick to that.

Once the hot tortillas were fully cooked, they were then wrapped in a towel inside a basket in order to stay warm until one of the women in the front line needed to fill an order. At that point, a steaming hot corn tortilla was placed on a plate, then smeared with plenty of beans before being crowned with shredded lettuce, tomato and cheese. Salsa and salt are available if you want to dress your taco up.

There were few questions asked, though a couple wanted their tacos without beans but extra cheese. Cynthia Guerrero, Steve’s wife, and her team in front were happy to oblige.

Cynthia Guerrero samples a bean taco.

Cynthia Guerrero samples a bean taco.

Of course, a taco or two had to be sampled, for purposes of quality control, you understand. And the answer is a resounding yes. I’m glad I hadn’t tasted these six years ago when everything was processed and prepared in advance. The creamy smooth beans with their cumin, garlic powder, onion and bacon grease was made even better by the addition of the hot tortilla as well as the cheese that just melted into everything else. Tomatoes, lettuce and salsa just made it all the more wonderful.

Tacos de Frijoles is on the way to anticucho booth. Make sure you stop for a taco to give you strength and patience while you’re standing in the long line there. You’ll really be glad you did.

Frijoles NIOSA-Style

Steve Guerrero shared the outline for his family’s recipe for beans, which are made each night of NIOSA at the Tacos de Frijoles booth. You can make them using canned beans, but they’re better if you soak your own pintos overnight and then start.

Assembling the bean tacos.

Assembling the bean tacos.

1 pound pinto beans, soaked overnight or canned
1 onion, finely chopped
½ cup bacon grease
Salt, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

In a large stock pan, add the beans and onion with the bacon grease and the seasonings. Bring to a boil, then let simmer covered for at least 2 ½ hours or until the beans are soft. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Using an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot until it resembles creamy peanut butter in sight and texture.

Spread the beans on a hot corn tortilla. Top with cheese, tomato and lettuce, if desired. Serve with salsa.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Adapted from Steve Guerrero

Corn tortillas on the comal.

Corn tortillas on the comal.

Go, Spurs, Go!

Go, Spurs, Go!

Victor Gutierrez spots a friend in the NIOSA crowd.

Victor Gutierrez spots a friend in the NIOSA crowd.

 

Posted in Featured, Griffin to Go0 Comments

It’s a ‘Lone Star Smoke War’ on Destination America Saturday

It’s a ‘Lone Star Smoke War’ on Destination America Saturday

Three Texas pitmasters, JD Davidsmeyer of San Antonio, Matt Pittman of Waxahachie, and Junior Urias of Midland, will battle it out for the title of BBQ Pitmasters Texas Champion Saturday on the Destination America channel.

pitmasters1The winner gets to move on in the “BBQ Pitmasters” competition, which has a $50,000 grand prize.

The episode, “Lone Star Smoke War,” airs at 8 p.m. CT on the Destination America channel.

Davidsmeyer is the found of JD’s Team Xtreme BBQ, which has been catering in the San Antonio area since 2003.

Urias is the owner of Junior’s Up in Smoke Catering in Midland.

Pittman is behind the barbecue-based website MeatChurch.com.

The show’s hosts are barbecue experts Myron Mixon, Moe Cason and Tuffy Stone.

To watch a video of the teams discuss their approach to brisket flat, click here.

Posted in News0 Comments

Josephine Street Cafe Marks 35th Anniversary This Month

Josephine Street Cafe Marks 35th Anniversary This Month

The original Fincke Meat Market, where Josephine Street Cafe now stands.

The original Fincke Meat Market, where Josephine Street Cafe now stands.

Josephine Street Cafe, 400 E. Josephine St., is celebrating its 35th year of business this month. The building that once housed Fincke’s Meat Market was purchased in April 1979 by Pat Molak and Mary Jane Nalley and reopened as the Texas roadhouse that continues to operate today.

Steak and shrimp, the Josephine Street Cafe way.

Steak and shrimp, the Josephine Street Cafe way.

Fashioned after the legendary Hoffbrau Steakhouse on West 6th Street in Austin, Josephine Street Café is a simple yet unique mainstay for many San Antonio residents. Longtime classics like “Steaks” and “Whisky,” as the signs in the windows read, as well as chicken-fried steak and onion rings mix with newer dishes like the beef tenderloin salad, club sandwich and fried shrimp.

Many recognize the space by the large oak tree that still stands in the center of the building. Like the iconic tree, Josephine Street Cafe holds strong to its original roots: home-cooked comfort food, friendly service and affordable prices. Those aspects are what Molak credits to the restaurant’s success.

“The secret to our long-lasting, and hopefully, continual, success is great food at very reasonable pricing and our wonderful staff, who, despite the casual atmosphere, take their job of providing outstanding service very seriously,” says Molak.

Situated on the corner of Josephine Street and Avenue A, Josephine Street Café is located in the heart of what is now known as Midtown and Pearl Brewery. However, the area has not always been the buzzing district it is today.

“We’ve seen quite a few businesses come and go in the area since 1979,” Molak says. “Of course, the largest impact has been the transformation of the Pearl Brewery into a full-blown food, retail, housing and destination complex. We are proud to have been a pioneer in this fabulous midtown neighborhood and are looking forward to many more years serving this area.”

For more information on Josephine Street Café, click here. Look below for more photos.

Fincke Meat Market, before it became Josephine Street Cafe.

Fincke Meat Market, before it became Josephine Street Cafe.

Josephine Street Cafe today. (Credit: David Kerstein)

Josephine Street Cafe today. (Credit: David Kerstein)

Posted in News, Restaurants0 Comments

Helping the Food Bank Earns County Line the Restaurant Neighbor Award

Helping the Food Bank Earns County Line the Restaurant Neighbor Award

Fourteen years ago, Randy Goss, known to barbecue fans as “the Rib King,” wanted to offer live music at the County Line at 10101 I-10 W. So, he asked the company’s president, Don A. “Skeeter” Miller, about it.

Honoring the County Line: Eric Cooper (from left), Skeeter Miller, Julie Goss, Roger Creager and Michael Guerra.

Honoring the County Line: Eric Cooper (from left), Skeeter Miller, Julie Goss, Roger Creager and Michael Guerra.

What they came up with was a summer music series that does more than give music lovers a chance to hear some fine country music. It’s also a fundraiser for the San Antonio Food Bank in that guests are asked to make a donation of food or money in lieu of a ticket price.

The success of the event has been so great that the I-10 location of the County Line has been honored with the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award, which is given for outstanding community service.

Country music star Roger Creager was on hand before his concert Wednesday to present the award to Miller and Goss’ widow, Julie Goss. Eric S. Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, and Michael Guerra, chief development officer of the Food Bank, were also there to honor the success of the program.

Over the years, the music series has collected 800,000 pounds of food, which translates into 617,150 meals. Last year alone, the barbecue joint collected 105,000 pounds of food for those in the greater San Antonio area who are in need.

“We love to play shows which benefit the local community and we are glad to play a part in the County Line’s commitment to the San Antonio Food Bank,” says Creager, who has been performing as part of the concert series every year since 2001. “It just makes our show that much more fun.”

“County Line BBQ has been an integral partner in our mission to fight hunger,” Cooper says. “The rising cost of groceries coupled with the ongoing drought is impacting our community, and families are struggling to put food on the table. We look forward to fighting hunger and feeding hope with the County Line and its patrons this summer.”

For more on this summer’s series, click here.

Posted in News0 Comments

Lidia Bastianich Returns to San Antonio on May 7

Lidia Bastianich Returns to San Antonio on May 7

Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich will return to San Antonio on May 7 for a luncheon benefiting KLRN.

Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich

The meal will be offered by Joseph Buonincontri at his Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road. He has hosted the PBS culinary star on several visits to the city.

Buonincontri’s menu begins with contemporary deviled eggs and tomato and ricotta crostini, followed by Belgian endive and walnut salad. Wild Alaskan halibut with braised fennel will be served with contorni of sautéed celery, Yukon gold potatoes and grape tomatoes. Fruit-filled fried half-moons will be the dessert.

Bastianich will talk with guests during the lunch and each person will receive an autographed copy of one of her cookbooks.

The meal begins at noon. Tickets are priced at $125 apiece. Call (210) 270-9000 for reservations.

Posted in Daily Dish0 Comments

By the Light of the Red Moon

By the Light of the Red Moon

The red moon is fast approaching — and what better way to greet this than with a cocktail so red that it shines by the light of the moon?

red moonThe Red Moon is a variation on the classic Singapore Sling with the cherry flavor given a pop in terms of both flavor and color. So, you need a bright red soda, such as Cherry 7-Up, as opposed to Dr Pepper, which is too dark. In the same way, you want the sweeter maraschino or the drier kirshwasser, both of which are clear.

Red Moon

1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces gin
1 ounce clear cherry liqueur, such as maraschino or kirshwasser
Bright red cherry soda, such as Cherry 7-Up or Frostie Cherry Limeade
1 maraschino cherry

Fill a Collins glass with ice.

Squeeze in lime juice.

Add gin and maraschino. Stir.

Fill the rest of the glass with cherry soda. Add a straw.

Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From John Griffin

 

Posted in Drinks0 Comments

Easy Elegant Baked Fish, South Texas Style

Easy Elegant Baked Fish, South Texas Style

Fiesta cookbookWhile covering the barbecue trail across Texas last fall, I managed to pick up a few cookbooks from various regions that offered culinary pictures of what people in the area made at some point in their history. One of these was a 1978 edition of “Fiesta: Favorite Recipes of South Texas,” which had been produced by the Junior League of Corpus Christi.

One of the great features of the book is that the easier recipes are marked with an asterisk, so they can be “prepared quickly and easily at the end of a busy day.” Here’s one, and it’s a great way to prepare fish that doesn’t lose its flavor in a heavy sauce. I made a few substitutions based on what I had handy, including celery leaves for parsley and lime for lemon. It was still an easy, flavorful dish, though my presentation may be anything but elegant.

No matter how you prepare the dish, you’ve got to love a recipe that tells you how to dress it up in style with this simple instruction: “To be really elegant, surround fish with hot boiled shrimp and a sprinkling of capers.”

Easy, Elegant Baked Fish

Easy, Elegant Baked Fish

Easy Elegant Baked Fish

1 (3-4 pound) fish
Butter
Salt
Cayenne pepper
Lemon wedges
Parsley
Shrimp (optional)
Capers (optional)

Clean, scale, wash and dry fish. you may cut off head, if desired. Put generous amount of butter in cavity, spread more butter on outside. Sprinkle with a little salt and cayenne pepper. Place in generously buttered shallow casserole and cover with well-buttered brown paper cut the shape of the casserole. Bake 400 degrees about 10 minutes per pound, or about 20 minutes for fillets. To serve, garnish with lemon wedges and parsley. To be really elegant, surround fish with hot boiled shrimp and a sprinkling of capers. Sheepshead is especially good prepared this way, but redfish or snapper is fine. You may also use several small whole trout instead, or even fillets, but 1 fish is prettier.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Mrs. Max J. Luther III (Maxine Jenkins)/”Fiesta: Favorite Recipes of South Texas”

Posted in Recipes0 Comments

Fiesta Specials Capture the Color, Flavor of SA’s Favorite Party

Fiesta Specials Capture the Color, Flavor of SA’s Favorite Party

lilys fiesta1

Fiesta runs through April 27. Here are a few food and fun events happening that you can enjoy in between the parades, the Oyster Bake, NIOSA or whatever your favorite event is.

Lily’s Cookies Add Color to Your Fiesta

Lily’s Cookies, 2716 McCullough Ave., is getting into Fiesta in a huge way.

The bakery is offering all sorts of colorful cookies, from sombreros to colorful attire to flowers that you can enjoy throughout Fiesta.

For more information, call 210-832-0886.

Ocho Dishes Up the Fiesta Specials

The Hotel Havana and Ocho, 1015 Navarro St., have gotten into the Fiesta spirit. Guests receive a Fiesta wreath on their doors, while medal collectors can purchase the hotel’s third annual collectible.

Meanwhile, Ocho’s chef Toby Soto has created a special Fiesta menu that includes:

  • Pork and Golden Raisin Empanadas with Salsa Roja, $8
  • Pollo Verde Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Mole Negro,$8
  • Albondigas de Res with a Smoked Tomato Broth, $8
  • Martinated Vegetable Skewers on a bed of Yellow Rice, $8
  • Mini Funnel Cakes, $8

Drink specials include:

  • Havana Margarita, $5
  • Cuban Breeze, $5
  • Sangria, $5
  • Sol, $4

Art and a Drink at a Great Price at Barriba Cantina

barriba1Barriba Cantina on the Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., is ready to party in style.

Barriba is again featuring renowned local artist and designer H. Michael Karshis with his Countdown to Fiesta creation.

“Fiesta is the iconic San Antonio event that belongs to visitors and residents alike, so we are teaming with Dulce Vida tequila to offer anyone that brings in a Fiesta medal—old or new—our ‘Skinny Rita’ drink, one of our signature handcrafted drinks, for $3.25 (half off the happy hour price),” says Barriba Cantina general manager Gina Hartbarger. “We are limiting this offer to one discounted drink a day, during Fiesta only (through April 27), but the customer also gets a keeper glass with the recipe on it and a Fiesta-pink Barriba Koozie….what a deal! We will also post the medals on the Fiesta Wall near the Countdown to Fiesta artwork.”

“Fiesta is part Texas, part Mexico—just like Barriba Cantina,” says Karshis. “This installation has been up for a few months and I love it that customers are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries at Barriba and taking photos in front of the countdown.”

For information, call 210-228-9876

Earl Abel’’s Goes Global

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Highway, is celebrating Fiesta with a new globally inspired dish every day through April 27. The special will be priced at $9 and will be available for both lunch and dinner.  Here are a few of the specials being offered:

  • 4/11: Greek cuisine featuring a Gyro Sandwich with Fries or Chips.
  • 4/12: Mexican cuisine featuring a Beef Taco, Cheese Enchiladas, Rice & Beans.
  • 4/13: German cuisine featuring Venison Sausage, Red Cabbage & German Potato Salad.
  • 4/14: Carribean cuisine featuring Fish Tacos with a Mango Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries or Chips
  • 4/15: Italian night featuring Spaghetti and Meatballs and a Dinner Salad.
  • 4/16: Texan theme with BBQ Beef Ribs, Baked Beans and Potato Salad.

Call 210-822-7333 for information.

 

Posted in News, Restaurants0 Comments

Wine Expert Writes a Culinary Coloring Book for All Ages

Wine Expert Writes a Culinary Coloring Book for All Ages

André Hueston Mack, a winemaker and sommelier who began his career at several San Antonio restaurants, including the Palm and Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, has a new culinary coloring book on the market. It’s meant for all ages.

small thyme cooks“Small Thyme Cooks: Culinary Coloring & Activity Book” is available on amazon.com for $10.91 a copy. The website describes the book as follows:

“This culinary coloring and activity book, by designer/winemaker Andre Hueston Mack, pulls together some of the most innovative chefs, ingredients, and techniques. Food nerds of all ages will relish the chef coloring pages, mushroom word search, sous vide math problem, chef coat design, madlib restaurant review, farm-to-table-maze, and other delicious wastes of time. Part of the proceeds of the book go to the Charlie Trotter Culinary Foundation, which provides scholarships and mentoring to young people interested in food-related careers.”

The roster of featured chefs includes:

  • Eric Ripert
  • Dan Barber
  • Sean Brock
  • David Kinch
  • Anthony Bourdain
  • Roy Choi
  • Graham Elliot
  • April Bloomfield
  • Suzanne Goin
  • Wylie Dusfresne
  • Alex Stupak
  • Daniel Boulud

Mack is now making Mouton Noir wines. The success of the label for the wine led to his creation of Get Fraiche Cru, a graphic design firm, Wikipedia says.

Posted in Cooking2 Comments

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