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Top Brazilian Chef Yara Roberts at CIA and NAO This Month


The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio says that critically acclaimed Brazilian chef, Yara Roberts, will serve as a visiting instructor in the college’s Latin Cuisines Certificate Program. She will be here Aug. 10 and 11.

Yara Roberts

In addition to teaching students in the program about the cuisines of Brazil, she will offer food lovers a unique opportunity to taste her cuisine with two special dinners at the college’s restaurant NAO: New World Flavors. These will be Friday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, Aug. 11.

A five-course tasting menu will be offered for $65 a person, some of the dishes include: chicken with cerrado sour heart of palm and Brazilian truffled béchamel rice, stuffed pork loin with creamed beans and crispy collard greens and seasonal greens, mango and baru nuts with a passion fruit vinaigrette.

NAO: New World Flavors, is at the Pearl, adjacent to the CIA. Reservations are encouraged.  Reserve your seats today on opentable.com, or by calling Nao at 210-554-6484.

 

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Who Can Say No to a Free Chocolate Chip Cookie?


For the past 25 years, anyone who has checked into a DoubleTree by Hilton, such as the one in downtown San Antonio, has received a chocolate chip cookie as a welcome treat.

To celebrate that silver anniversary, DoubleTree by Hilton is embarking on a Cookie CAREavan and will be handing out free cookies from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. July 9 at various locations around the city. It’s part of a 10-week, 10,000-mile, 50-city tour.

Among the downtown locations will be Alamo Plaza. To confirm times and cities of the rest of the Cookie CAREavan, visit www.facebook.com/Doubletree. The downtown DoubleTree by Hilton is at 502 W. Durango Blvd.

 

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The Cake Boss’ Pecan Wedges


Pecans

Buddy Valastro, also known as the Cake Boss to his legions of TV fans, is coming to San Antonio in November. He’s set to appear at the Lila Cockrell Theater at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12.

If you can’t wait until then to get a taste of his baking magic, try this recipe for Pecan Wedges, which appears in his new cookbook, which is not surprisingly titled “Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia” (Free Press, $25.99).

“These are decadent little treats,” he writes, “with a number of textures and flavors packed into fairly tight quarters: the pastry itself, a caramel-pecan mixture that’s pour into its center, and a chocolate shell.”

For tickets, which start at $96 apiece, click here.

Pecan Wedges

6 sticks (1 1/2 pounds) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided use
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
4 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 cup light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 cups whole pecans
2 cups finely chopped semisweet high-quality chocolate

To make the dough, put 4 sticks of the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, and paddle on low-medium speed until thoroughly mixed, approximately 1 minute. Add the eggs all at once and paddle until incorporated, approximately 1 minute. Add the milk and the flour and mix until thoroughly blended, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until stiff enough to be manipulated, about 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out each piece of dough into an 18-inch log, 1 1/2 to 2 inches high. Transfer to a baking tray and flatten the center of the log out so it looks like a ravine. It should be about 3 inches wide, fatter at the end than at the center. Crimp the edge on both sides. Repeat with all four pieces of dough, leaving about 2 inches between the logs (you  may need to do this in batches) and set aside.

To make the caramel mixture, put the remaining 2 sticks of butter, the brown sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Spoon the pecan-caramel mixture int hte ravine in the center of the logs. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove trays from the oven, transfer the bars to a cutting board, and cut each bar crosswise into 4 or 5 wedges.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler set over medium-high heat. Dip half of each wedge into the chocolate and let cool and dry on a wire rack or parchment paper for 30 minutes. These are best enjoyed the same day, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 16 wedges.

From “Cake Boss” by Buddy Valastro

 

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Griffin to Go: The Upper Crust


No-knead Bread

Shortly after I moved to San Antonio, I gave up hope that I’d ever be able to find a loaf of bread with a truly dense crust. After all, the bread of this city is anything but hard. It’s the tortilla, and the best tortillas, handmade and oh-so-pliable, can’t be beat.

Still, I longed for a crust that was so thick I had to bite it with my side teeth, bread as rustic as I remember at my grandmother’s house in Germany. She didn’t make it herself. It came from a neighborhood bakery that produced the most beautiful rounds of rye I’ve ever seen or tasted.

Until a few years ago, I never really gave much thought to the idea of baking my own bread. I rarely eat it at home, so most of an entire loaf would likely go to waste. Yet several years ago, my friend, the late Mary Singleton, taught me the basics. She showed me how to knead the dough (and not overknead it) and to practice enough patience to let it rise several times before putting into the oven.

She also taught me how to add whole wheat to the mix, which would bolster the fiber count. I’m diabetic, so my daily bread, with all those carbohydrates, could literally be a killer. Added fiber is said to help cut down the effect of the carbs.

My only problem with her recipe was the crust was soft. I know plenty of people who remove the crusts from even Wonder Bread. I’m sort of the opposite. You can give me the crusts and keep the center.

Fast forward to early this year. Fellow food writer Ron Bechtol had a party in which he served up a loaf of just-made bread. It had the best crust imaginable, hard and chewy, plus a soft center without being spongy. It was no-knead bread, he said.

I had heard talk of this recipe ever since it ran in the New York Times a few years ago. But I had never tried it. So, when I saw Jim Lahey’s book, “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” (W.W. Norton & Company, $29.95), I decided to give it a shot.

(For those of you who have tried the version that ran in the Times, take note: Lahey, who opened the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City,  has revised his method somewhat. So, you may want to compare the two. The book version, for example, calls for a higher oven temperature.)

The dough needs to sit for about 20 hours total, plus an hour or so for baking, then the bread needs time to rest before cutting into it, so think about starting a day in advance.

No-knead Bread just out of the oven.

The dough goes together in a matter of seconds, as the recipe says. All I have to do is let it rise, or ferment, as Lahey calls it. There really is no kneading. If you want to use a wooden spoon instead of your hands, you can do that, though I prefer the tactile pleasure of getting my hands in the dough. (I also enjoy the kneading, which is therapeutic, but that creates a different bread.)

Then you wait. You wait 18 hours. Just when you’ve almost forgotten the dough, you have to remove it from its bowl, shape it and let it rest again for two more hours. (The recipe says you could do the first step after 12 hours and the second after one hour, but then Lahey says it’s better to wait a full 18 hours and then two hours more. Why argue with someone who knows what he’s doing?)

Toward the end of the second rise, you need to heat your oven to 475 degrees with a Dutch oven in it. (If you are using Le Creuset, which I don’t have, read Lahey’s instructions first so you don’t ruin the handle.) When the dough is ready, carefully remove the Dutch oven. I say carefully because the handle on mine was so hot that it burned through the silicone mitt I was using.

Then you place your dough in the scorching hot Dutch oven, cover it and bake for 30 minutes. After that, remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is done, about 15-30 more minutes.

That’s it. The hardest part of baking this bread was handling the Dutch oven.

  • The best was having bread so good I could eat half a loaf in one sitting — not something I should do on my diet, I know. Thankfully, friends have gladly welcomed halves of loaves, each time I’ve tried the recipe.

Now the fun begins. Add to the recipe. Add rye flour (with a touch extra yeast). Or chocolate. Or olives. Or apricots and almonds. Lahey offers ideas to get you started. He also offers some pizza recipes that demand your attention. But that’s another story …

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Culinary Institute of America SA Recognized for Diversity


Hyde Park,  NY– The  National Restaurant Association on Wednesday presented its 2011 Faces of Diversity Inspiration Award recognizing programs at the CIA’s campus in San Antonio.

CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan and San Antonio entrepreneur and philanthropist Kit Goldsbury shared a dream they call “El Sueño” — a dream of a future where Latino chefs have greater opportunities in the food world.

Tim Ryan, left, CIA President, and Kit Goldsbury of Silver Ventures investment firm, celebrate at the Grand Opening of the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio last year.

“One of the major aspects of the dream is to provide a world class culinary education to young Latinos, so they can rise through the ranks of the industry to leadership—and hopefully ownership—positions,” Dr. Ryan said. “The second part of the dream is our desire to elevate the quality and exposure the American dining public has to the depth and breadth of all forms of Latino foods.”

Mr. Goldsbury donated $35 million to the CIA to help the dream become a reality. That happened when The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio officially became the college’s third campus in 2008 and opened expanded facilities there two years later.

The CIA San Antonio now offers an associate degree program based on the same proven curriculum offered at the college’s main campus in Hyde Park, NY. In addition, the facilities include the Center for Foods of the Americas, where chef-researchers document and teach traditional cooking methods of Mexico and Latin America for professionals and food enthusiasts.

The National Restaurant Association presented the CIA and Goldsbury’s Silver Ventures investment firm with its Faces of Diversity Inspiration Award during its 2011 Public Affairs Conference in Washington, DC.

“The accomplishments of the CIA in helping young students achieve better education and career options are admirable and inspiring. Their action exemplifies what is best about our industry and the many opportunities it provides,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Since the CIA San Antonio opened, it has graduated 180 students from its culinary arts program, with many choosing to continue their degree education by transferring to the Hyde Park campus.

“We can make a real difference and help young Latinos assume positions of leadership and ownership, and we’re quite confident that will happen,” Dr. Ryan said.

For more information about the National Restaurant Association Inspiration Award, and a complete list of 2011 Faces of Diversity Award winners, visit www.restaurant.org/diversity.

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Bruce Auden Earns Another James Beard Nomination


Bruce Auden

Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., is among the five finalists for best chef in the Southwest, according to the James Beard Foundation.

Auden has been nominated several times in the past for the award, which is the culinary field’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Auden is up against several Texas competitors, including Bryan Caswell of Reef in Houston and Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin. Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas and Ryan Hardy of Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., are the other nominees.

Another Texan to make the list is Robb Walsh of Houston, who is nominated in the journalism division for Food Culture and Travel writing. He shares the nomination with Rick Bragg and Francine Maroukian for a piece in Garden & Sun titled “The Southerner’s Guide to Oysters.” They are up against Bill Addison for a piece in Atlanta Magazine on “BBQ 2010″ and Matt Gross for an article in Saveur on “Tapei, Family Style.”

The journalism awards will be announced May 6. The restaurant awards will be announced May 9. For the full list of nominees, click here.

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CIA Grand Opening Saturday


The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, celebrates its official opening of the newly expanded campus Saturday.

10-foot CIA chef's toque heralds culinary events.

Live entertainment and competitions, a healthy snack competition among high school teams, demonstrations and tastings, as well as exhibits will highlight the daylong event. You may also join the tours, from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.,  and sample snacks from the outdoor kitchen.

The Pearl Farmers Market will go on as usual, in the breezeway and behind the Full Goods building as usual, from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m.  The CIA is in the Pearl Brewery, 312 Pearl Parkway.

Schedule of Events:

9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. High School Healthy Snack Competition
10:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. New Campus Tours
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Demos and Tastings from Outdoor Kitchen
11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Guest Chef Demonstrations and Tastings
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Live Entertainment
9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Food and Beverage Exhibits
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Pearl Farmers’ Market

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Rice Rules at Pearl Paella Party



Waldy Malouf’s Paella is artfully arranged with seafood and vegetables on top.

It was a beautiful day for a cook-off Sunday and the Pearl Brewery, in front of the Culinary Institute of America, offered a perfect setting for the first ever Cocina de las Americas. The big event was a Paella Cook-Off.


Rene Fernandez of Azuca stirs rice into a paella that he made out of competition during Sunday’s paella cook-off.

When the flames under the huge paella pans were extinguished in the afternoon, judges chose their winners. First place went to chef and restaurateur Ben Ford, of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, CA. Peter Holt and crew from Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurant in Houston,  took second place and San Antonio chef, Jeffrey Balfour of Citrus, at the Valencia Hotel, took third.

There were as many imaginative takes on paella as there were teams — 16 in all. These included celebrity chefs Waldy Malouf of New York (Beacon and Waldy’s restaurants in New York City) and Ford. Each team drew long lines, as attendees waited patiently for tastes of the famous, saffron-laced Spanish rice dish.

SavorSA was there, too. The writers of this article admit they had a few minutes of high excitement when the chef we’d been assigned to help ran late. Michael Gilleto, chef of a private club in New Jersey, flew in Sunday and arrived in the nick of time, but not before his two nervous assistants had dashed off to the huge food pantry in the middle of the grounds to snatch up ingredients. If Gilleto didn’t make it, we figured we’d pinch hit and make our own paella.


Chef Michael Giletto plates his paella for judging.

Gilleto showed up, though, and we were off — slicing, dicing, killing lobsters, cutting up whole chickens, cleaning shrimp and dashing around looking for a few ingredients we’d missed during the first mad rush.

Gilleto liked a classic-style paella, one traditionally more about rice and olive oil than about masses of seafood, chicken, chorizo and more ingredients piled high. We were with him on that.

Along with the usual ingredients in the pantry we noticed bags of chopped pineapple, hoja santa plants (sometimes called the root beer plant), ancho chiles and more. We said “yes” to the ancho chiles, which Gilleto wanted to flavor the stock, but we all tacitly agreed “no” on the pineapple.

One crew decorated their paella with julienned carrots. Another crew had help from one of their member’s grandmother, who hailed from the northern principality of Asturias, Spain.


bout 1,000 people, including families, turned out to the first paella cook-off.

Shelley Grieshaber, culinary director at the Pearl Brewery and CIA graduate, made her way from table to table doing the “color” interviews for the day. Johnny Hernandez, chef and owner of Pearl’s upcoming La Gloria restaurant, and driving force behind the cook-off, alternated roles between host and trouble shooter.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day,” said Grieshaber, who was excited at the success of the event.

San Antonio Food Bank culinary students were on hand to assist. Chef Rene Fernandez of Azuca made a huge paella prior to the contest to serve to the hungry masses. Other San Antonio chefs in the competition included Jason Dady, Dave Souter and Brian West, as well as a crew from the R.K. Group and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.


Ben Ford, right, shakes hands with a fellow chef after winning the paella cook-off.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be going toward scholarship opportunities at the CIA San Antonio to benefit local chefs.  A portion of proceeds will also go to the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the Honorary Council to Spain for educational initiatives benefiting San Antonio students. H-E-B/Central Market were presenting sponsors of the community event, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America.

It was a fun competition, and one we hope to see again next year.

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Biga Offers Pre-theater Menu for ‘Lion King’


Beginning today, Biga on the Banks will be offering a pre-theater menu specially suited for “The Lion King” audiences.

Available before 6:30 p.m. and after 9 p.m. nightly, the special menu is priced at $37 and includes a treat for you to take along and enjoy during intermission or on your way home.  The BigA Menu for SmallA Guests includes an entrée, dessert, and drink for $12 available for kids 12 and under.

Also, Biga offers valet service for $9. That means after dinner you can take a quick walk to the Majestic and return to pick up your car after the show.

For reservations call (210) 225-0722.

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Diana Barrios Treviño’s Sweet Potato Soufflé


SweetPotatoSoufflé2

DianaBarriosTreviño's

Diana Barrios Trevino

This recipe is one that the Barrios-Treviño family looks forward to ever year at Thanksgiving. A touch of almond extract in the recipe is the “secret” ingredient that helps make this dish a standout. To watch a video of Diana Barrios Treviño making this dish, click here.

Sweet Potato Soufflé

2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and divided equally between 2 small bowls
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

[amazon-product]0375760970[/amazon-product]Combine sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, half the butter, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and almond extract in large bowl, mixing well. Pour into a buttered baking dish or pie plate and bake 20-25 minutes until set.

Combine cornflakes, brown sugar, nuts and remaining butter, mixing well.  Spread over the sweet potatoes and return to oven to bake for another 10 minutes.

Makes 10-12 servings.

From “Los Barrios Family Cookbook” by Diana Barrios Treviño

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