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Discover for Yourself How Good Bienmesabe Tastes

Discover for Yourself How Good Bienmesabe Tastes




Bienmesabe is a Spanish phrase that essentially means “tastes good to me.” You’ll discover this for yourself if you have the dessert at Nao Restaurant, 312 Pearl Parkway, which is celebrating the cuisine of Venezuela through July 7.

Or you can make it for yourself at home.

Essentially, the dish is a simple cake soaked in marsala or madeira, layered with coconut pastry and then topped with meringue, which you can finish with a blowtorch or under the broiler. Watch it closely, so it doesn’t burn.


3 eggs
75 grams sugar (about 1/3 cup)
75 grams flour (about 2/3 cup)

Blanch the eggs and the sugar (whisk until pale yellow) until risen and soft (about 5 minutes). Fold in the flour slowly and pour in a sheet pan lined with a Silpat. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and reserve.

Coconut pastry cream:
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons coconut flakes
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
¼ cup cornstarch

In a sauce pan heat the milk, the sugar, the coconut milk, the coconut flakes and the butter, season with a pinch of salt. When it comes to a boil, add the cornstarch (diluted in a bit of water). Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the texture thickens. Transfer to a plastic container and continue stirring until the mixture has cooled down. Reserve.

To set up Bienmesabe: Cut out a piece of bizcocho using a PVC mold or fill in a ramekin. Pour sweet marsala or madeira wine over the bizcocho until it is moist. Fill with coconut pastry cream and top with another piece of wine-soaked bizcocho. Place in the freezer.

100 grams sugar (about 1/2 cup)
2 egg whites, whipped

Cook the sugar into a caramel and bring the temperature up to 250 degrees. Pour over the whipped egg whites and continue to whip until the meringue is ready and cool down.

To plate the dessert: Unmold the bienmesabe. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Before serving, use a piping bag and form a crest of meringue (like spikes) all over the “cake.” Use a blowtorch to “brûlée” the meringue and decorate with dehydrated coconut shavings.

Serve with a scoop of mango sorbet, if desired.

From Nao Restaurant


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Chefs’ Corner: Boiler House’s Kraken Rum Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly

Chefs’ Corner: Boiler House’s Kraken Rum Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly

Are you in need of an appetizer recipe that will impress your guests and that you can make largely ahead of time?

Kraken Rum Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly

Kraken Rum Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly

That’s the beauty behind chef Jeff Wayne White’s Kraken Rum Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly, which takes three days to get together. Most of the work, however, is done in advance. All you have to do is heat and assemble, before sending the hot plates out of your kitchen.

Haven’t got three days? White has just added this exciting dish to his menu at the Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden in the Pearl Brewery, 312 Pearl Parkway, so you can let him prepare it for you.  Either way, you’re sure to love this version of pork belly.

You can also shorten the recipe by using a store-bought whole grain mustard, but don’t skimp on the glaze, the pickled radishes or, least of all, the pork belly itself.

You can find Kurobuta pork belly through Williams-Sonoma, but you might also want to ask your butcher or contact the folks at South Texas Heritage Pork about getting some from them.

Kraken Braised Pork Belly

1 teaspoon pink curing salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 sheet pork belly, preferably Kurobuta
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 quarts smoked ham hock stock
1 quart pineapple juice
2 cups Kraken rum

For plating:
Kracken Rum Sauce (recipe follows)
Pickled Radishes (recipe follows)
Micro arugula
Grain Mustard (recipe follows)

Mix pink salt, brown sugar, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Rub pork belly with seasoning mix and let cure for 24 hours.

The next day, heat your oven to 275 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, oven-proof braising pan.

Sear belly on both sides.

Remove from pan and set aside. In same pan, caramelize onion, carrots, celery and garlic.

Add peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves, then deglaze pan with ham hock stock, pineapple juice and rum.

Bring contents of braising pan to a boil, remove from heat and cover pan with foil. Place in oven and braise for 3 hours.

When done, remove belly from pan and place on sheet pan.

Place another sheet pan on top of belly and weigh down with canned food or something of weight and refrigerate overnight.

Strain braising liquid and reserve for sauce.

Remove belly from refrigerator and cut into even 2-inch squares.

For each serving, sear 3 squares in hot sauté pan skin side down. Flip over and roast in 275-degree oven for 4 minutes.

Place squares on plate.

Heat Kracken Rum Sauce in pan then mount with butter.

Pour sauce over pork belly. Garnish with plenty of Pickled Radish and micro arugula. Serve with Grain Mustard on the side.

Kraken Rum Sauce

2 yellow onions, sliced
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup Kraken rum
Braising liquid from the pork belly pan
Salt, to taste

In 2 tablespoons oil, caramelize onions.

Add cider vinegar and sugar, and reduce by 75 percent.

Add rum and reduce by half.

Add braising liquid and reduce by 75 percent.

Season to taste.

Pickled Radish

Bouquet Garni:
1 sprig tarragon
1 sprig mint
1/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 cups white balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar

1 pound red radishes, sliced

For bouquet garni, wrap tarragon, mint, cumin, fennel and peppercorns in cheese cloth and tie closed with twine. Add to a saucepan containing brine ingredients: white balsamic vinegar, water and sugar.

Bring brine to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place sliced radishes into a glass jar.

Pour hot brine over radish and let cool to room temp.

Once cool, seal jar tightly and refrigerate for 1 week.

Grain Mustard

½ cup ground brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup ground yellow mustard seeds
½ cup whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup whole yellow mustard seeds
¼ cup mustard powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup champagne vinegar
1 ½ cup water

Combine mustard seeds, mustard powder, salt, sugar, vinegar and water. Mix well, and leave covered at room temperature for 2 days before refrigerating.

Makes about 3 cups.

From Jeff Wayne White/Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden



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Chefs’ Corner: Aaron Gonzalez’s Cinnamon-Basil-Black Pepper Ice Cream

Chefs’ Corner: Aaron Gonzalez’s Cinnamon-Basil-Black Pepper Ice Cream

Cinnamon-Basil-Black Pepper Ice Cream

We came to know Aaron Gonzalez when he was the chef at Pike’s Place in Pipe Creek. He has now taken over the space, just off Highway 16, and rechristened it Backyard Bistro.

He has teamed with Blanca Cruz, a fixture on the local dining scene for the last few years, for the venture, which combines Hill Country cuisine with Mexican favorites.

One item on the menu that he has carried over from one restaurant to the other is his Cinnamon-Basil-Black Pepper Ice Cream, an irresistible combination of flavors that is quite easy to make if you have an ice cream maker.

Backyard Bistro is at 167 Panther Ridge, Pipe Creek, and is open 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday. Sunday brunch is 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Closed Wednesday.

The restaurant is offering a three-course prix fixe meal for $20, or $17.95 for early bird dinners.

Call (830) 535-4094.

Cinnamon-Basil-Black Pepper Ice Cream

6 basil leaves (minced)
3 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a saucepan, heat the basil and cream to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add sugar and whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Finish in ice cream maker, using manufacturer’s instructions.

From Aaron Gonzalez, Backyard Bistro


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Chefs’ Corner: Two Approaches to Sweet Potatoes, One Great Taste

Chefs’ Corner: Two Approaches to Sweet Potatoes, One Great Taste

Lemon Sweet Potatoes

At the recent San Antonio Cellar Classic, those who got past the vast array of wines found themselves faced with two similar sweet potato dishes that were simple yet sublime.

Yet the road each chef took to get that dish to the table was different, even if the end results mirrored each other.

Jesse Perez of the upcoming Arcade at the Pearl Brewery served his lemon sweet potatoes as a foundation for flank steak with a chimichurri sauce. To make the sweet potatoes, he roasted them in a convection oven at 400 degrees for 90 minutes until they were tender. Then he puréed them with lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and a little cream.

A handful of tables away, Stefan Bowers of Feast, 1024 S. Alamo St., had a similar recipe but a different approach. He roasted his sweet potatoes for 10 hours at 200 degrees. “Sweet potatoes loved to be cook slow and low,” he said. Then he added lemon juice, salt and a touch of cream.

The choice of cooking the sweet potatoes is yours — you could use a crock pot, if you wanted — as long as they’re tender. The beauty of this recipe goes beyond its simplicity. It has no added sugar, and it doesn’t need any. You’ll taste for yourself how naturally sweet these bright and colorful tubers really are, perfect for fall dinners including that great sweet potato day, Thanksgiving.

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Herb-Roasted Chicken from Zach Lutton of Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go

Herb-Roasted Chicken from Zach Lutton of Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go

Zedric’s Herb-Roasted Chicken

Do you love roast chicken with crispy skin? This recipe from Zach Lutton of Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go is an easy way to get just that.

You can vary the herbs to suit your tastes. I tossed in a tiny bit of tarragon, dill and sorrel to taste.

The real secret is to use the best chicken you can find. Lutton uses Vital Farms, which is from the southeastern side of Austin. Any naturally raised chicken should have the flavor you’re looking for.

Zedric’s Herb-Roasted Vital Farm’s Chicken

1 whole Vital Farms chicken
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, divided use
1/2 cup of a blend of Italian parsley, chives and thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 carrots, peeled
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 pint of chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup flour

Stuff the herbs under the skin before roasting.

Preheat oven to 400.

Take the chicken and run your hand in between the skin and breast to make space for seasonings. Take the olive oil and blend with the herbs and garlic to form a paste, then season the chicken’s cavity and breast with salt and pepper. Once seasoned add the paste inside the cavity and outside in between the skin and breast and also on the skin.

Take the celery, carrots and onion and toss them in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Take a small sheet pan and spread all the mirepoix across the pan. Lay the chicken on its back. Place it in the oven for 1 hour. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it is cooked to 165 in the deepest part of the breast.

Let the chicken rest on a cutting board, and take a strainer over a small sauce pot and strain the cooking juices into the sauce pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and slowly sprinkle the flour across the liquid (this is called the singer method) and stir to incorporate until it becomes the consistency of sand. Take the stock or broth and slowly add while stirring the roux. The final product will be a sauce that will be really nice with the chicken. Make sure that the sauce simmers for 15 minutes to allow the flour to cook out.

Makes 1 chicken.

From Zach Lutton/Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go

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A Dessert So Easy You Can Make It Without Turning on the Oven

A Dessert So Easy You Can Make It Without Turning on the Oven

Tapa Tapa’s Watermelon Poprocks

Are you looking for a fun, fresh and blessedly easy dessert this summer? Take a tip from Rudolfo Martinez, who operates the Tapa Tapa food truck at Alamo Street Eat Bar, 609 S. Alamo St.

Martinez, one of the crew in the truck wearing a “Not Rudolfo” T-shirt, has made a great many fans in the past year with his Watermelon Poprocks dessert, a simple creation that would take no time for you to make at home.

All it takes is some cubes of watermelon, which you can even buy already cut up, plus a few fresh mint leaves. Then top the mix with Poprocks, that childhood favorite that explodes on the tongue with an effervescence that is whimsical  and welcome. That’s it.You’ve got a simple treat that’s actually quite complex on the tongue.

You won’t want to add the candy until each individual serving is ready to be eaten. In other words, don’t sprinkle the Poprocks over the whole bowl of fruit and let it sit. The candy will get get soggy and lose its sparkle.

I hadn’t see Poprocks in stores for years — that is, until recently, when I found them at Spec’s, which is now at 5219 DeZavala Road as well as 14623 I-35 N. That means you can make this carbonated candy-crowned confection any time you’d like — and without having to turn the oven on.

Or you can just head to South Alamo Street and order up Martinez’s terrific fish tacos or 9-cheese macaroni and follow it with a taste of summer that’s light and perfectly refreshing.

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Make Your Own Scotch Eggs

Make Your Own Scotch Eggs

Two Step's Seafood Scotch Egg

Chef Steve Warner of Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 W., has given Scotch eggs a makeover. Instead of rolling the eggs in sausage, he has created a seafood coating that mixes salmon and shrimp together.

Two Step’s Seafood Scotch Egg

¼ pound fresh salmon fillet
1 ounce smoked salmon
¼ pound black peeled tiger prawns
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium eggs, soft-boiled for 6 minutes
¾ cup flour seasoned
2 medium eggs beaten
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 quart vegetable oil

Dice salmon fillet, smoked salmon and tiger prawns, then chop finely. Mix together with chives and salt. When mixed, place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Peel soft-boiled eggs, being careful not to break. Take seafood mix out of the fridge and divide into four equal parts.

With wet hands, mold seafood mix around soft-boiled egg, making sure that the mix is equal thickness around the egg. When all eggs are covered with the seafood mix, place in the fridge on grease-proof paper for 30 minutes.

In three separate containers, you should have;

  • Seasoned flour
  • Beaten eggs
  • Bread crumbs

Pass the seafood scotch eggs from flour to eggs then to bread crumbs.

Heat the oil in a fryer to 160 degrees. Put scotch eggs into the flyer and cook until golden brown. Take out and put into an oven tray and finish in an oven preheated to 200 degrees for 3 minutes.

Take out of the oven, cut in half and serve with green salad and caper relish.

Makes 4 eggs.

From Steve Warner/Two Step Restaurant and Cantina

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Chefs’ Corner: Two Step El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

Chefs’ Corner: Two Step El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N. (at Braun Road), is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a dessert that’s guaranteed to melt any chocolate lover’s heart. Chef Steve Warner’s El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard is a type of flan with the mysterious density of chocolate added.

Warner uses El Rey Chocolate, the Fredericksburg chocolate company that produces world class chocolates. They help make this a treat that would be welcome any time of year.

For more information on Two Step, call 210-688-2686 or visit

El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

1/4 chocolate liqueur, divided use
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups El Rey 58.5 percent dark chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Set out 6 soufflé cups. Pour 1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur into each cup.

Over a low flame, melt 1/2 cup sugar to the hard crack stage. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted sugar into each of the cups.

Over a low flame, bring the heavy cream to a steam. Add the chocolate and the vanilla. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and remaining chocolate liqueur. Then temper the eggs with the chocolate and egg mixture.

Put the chocolate custard into the soufflé cups. Place the cups into a water bath and bake until the internal temperature of the custards reaches 185. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, heat a thin knife in boiling water. Run around the edge of each custard. Upend each custard on a plate and serve.

Makes 6 custards.

From Steve Warner, Two Step Restaurant


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Chefs’ Corner: A Pair of Margaritas from Two Step

Chefs’ Corner: A Pair of Margaritas from Two Step

Two Step Restaurant has a whole menu of margaritas.

At Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N., chef Steve Warner offers up some hearty Texas fare, including fork-tender chicken-fried steak, as it’s called on the menu, fried catfish, bacon-wrapped pork loin and barbecue, all in a building that was fashioned around two 19th century landmarks.

To wash down that food, he has a full menu of margaritas to suit every taste. And he has shared a couple of recipes.

“The key to all our margaritas is the fresh squeezed juice,” says Adrienne Muñoz, who is Warner’s wife and manager of the restaurant. “We tried several options of store bought, non-pastuerized juice and the flavor just isn’t the same.”

If the limes are too bitter for you, add a touch of agave nectar to provide balance, she says.

For more information on Two Step Restaurant, click here.

El Jefe

This is the cantina’s best-selling margarita, Muñoz says.

1 1/4 ounces Gran Centenario Reposado Tequila
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
1 1/4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

Add tequila, Cointrea, Grand Marnier and lime juice to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold. Pour into a chilled margarita glass rimmed with lime and salt. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Steve Warner/Two Step Restaurant and Cantina

Two Step Restaurant is on West Loop 1604 North.

The Silver Spur

This is the staff favorite.

1 1/4 ounces Espolon Silver Tequila
1 1/4 ounces Cointreau
1 1/4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

Add tequila, Cointrea and lime juice to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold. Pour into a chilled margarita glass rimmed with lime and salt. Garnish with a slice of lime.

“The key to all our margaritas is the fresh squeezed juice. We tried several options of store bought, non-pastuerized juice and the flavor just isn’t the same.”

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Steve Warner/Two Step Restaurant and Cantina


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Marioli’s Sugar Skulls Sweet Twist on Tradition

Marioli’s Sugar Skulls Sweet Twist on Tradition

By John Bloodsworth

Pan de Muerto, from Mariana Oliver at Marioli.

When it comes to Dia de Los Muertos, Mexican Le Cordon Bleu chef and Marioli owner Mariana Oliver doesn’t do boring.

In the glass display cabinets bursting with pastries and cakes at Marioli, an upscale delicatessen in Stone Oak, white chocolate sugar skulls adorned with bright pink and marigold flowers peer out at customers.

But unlike most traditional sugar skulls seen in Mexico, Oliver’s skulls are filled with chocolate frosted flakes that are only revealed when the skull is cracked.

“I thought it would be more tasty than (a hollow skull),” Oliver said.  “The skulls are very traditional in Mexico.  Every store has them.  But Americans are intrigued; they come in and tell me how cute and pretty they are.  It’s like they’ve never seen them—because they never have!”

The celebration of this Mexican holiday takes place on Nov. 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. As the day approaches, bakers and confectioners throughout the city will prepare the traditional treats and bread.

Along with loaves and mini loaves of traditional pan de muertos, sweet bread with bones embossed on top, the sugar skulls come in white and regular milk chocolate at Marioli.   The skulls are decorated with brightly colored sugar flowers ranging from pink to marigold.  A set of 10 skulls takes Oliver four hours to complete, from pouring the chocolate mold to filling the skulls and decorating them.   She often comes in as early as 8 a.m. and leaving at midnight to complete around 20 skulls a day, along with the other treats sold at her store.

Candied skulls, merrily decorated for Dia de los Muertos celebration.

The colors make the skulls much prettier than the plain skulls often seen in Mexican stores, though Oliver had a more significant purpose.

“Dia de Los Muertos is a big celebration in Mexico,” Oliver said.  “We celebrate our dead loved ones by creating a shrine with their favorite things and everything they loved to eat.  You’re supposed to lie a path of marigolds so (the spirits) can find their way home.  I think that’s my way of bringing people home.”

While some people purchase the skulls for party centerpieces, Oliver hopes they’ll use them for what they were made for—eating!

“Eat them!” she laughs.  “It’s a lot of work not to enjoy it.  First enjoy it with your eyes, then enjoy it with your tongue.”

In addition to holiday pastries such as pan de muertos and sugar skulls; Marioli offers traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos al pastor and enchiladas.  The sope, a thick corn tortilla topped with refried beans, shredded chicken and Monterrey Jack cheese with lettuce and freshly drizzled Mexican cream is very popular, as is their lasagna.

“It’s an eclectic mix—we have sandwiches, traditional Mexican dishes and French pastries,” Oliver said. “It’s very different, but it works.  It’s like a Mexican deli!”

For more information about Marioli or the sugar skulls, visit its location at 18730 Tuscany Stone Suite 2103 or call (210) 496-1111.

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