Archive for ‘San Antonio’

July 24, 2012

Despite the Heat | Tortilla Soup

Eating soup when it’s hot out can strike people as odd.  But think French-inspired Pho in steamy Vietnam, or British-influenced Mulligatawny in India.  There’s a point to eating something hot and spicy when it’s hot out: it makes you sweat (I glow).  And that helps you cool off.  So while it may seem counter-intuitive, now is certainly the season to give some spicy soup a go.

It’s always hot in Texas.  So it’s not surprising that tortilla soup is on just about every menu you peruse in San Antonio.   There’s something about it that San Antonians can’t seem to get enough of, no matter the season.   Perhaps it’s the mix of textures, but like Pho and Mulligatawny, it’s spicy and hot and a treat to eat.  (It also happens to the be the exact thing I was eating when Hades first fell in love with me fifteen years ago.  I even spilled it all over myself and he still loved me.  Magical stuff this is.)  And summertime is when the produce that comprises the bulk of the ingredients for tortilla soup are at their peak.

I like to play around with ingredients: if there’s corn, add some, if there’s not, no worries.  Zucchini and summer squashes work wonderfully, too.  Tomatoes, however are a requirement. 

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March 21, 2012

(Fairly) Wordless Wednesday | Dough Pizzeria

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Dough Pizzeria | 6989 Blanco Road, San Antonio, Texas | 210.979.6565

March 20, 2012

Persephone’s Drinks Cabinet | Texas Savvy Firefly

Even a cocktail can be local and seasonal.  Especially if it has lovely ruby red grapefruit juice in it along with a super smooth locally distilled vodka, in this case Savvy, out of Austin.  The recipe: grapefruit juice and vodka in a two to one ratio.  A splash of grenadine.  Stir.  Pour over ice.  Superb.

Playlist included Look at Miss Ohio, covered by Miranda Lambert.

July 21, 2011

Roots | Tex-Mex Enchilada Gravy

It almost pains me to give up this recipe.  Almost.

But I think everyone should try hyper-local specialties: Texas style enchiladas with chili gravy; Taylor ham, egg and cheese; mirabelles.  It’s a taste of place.  It should be a bite that makes you say, “Yes, this is what it tastes like in San Antonio.”  “This is what it tastes like in northern New Jersey.”  “This is what it tastes like in Nancy.”  It’s one way of understanding the world in a deeper way.

This recipe harkens from my father’s mother, passed to my mother, passed to me, passed to Cherub.  (She still likes my Mom’s better than mine.  But she’s not wrong.)  To me, this chili gravy that smothers corn tortillas that cuddle spoonfuls of ground beef, chopped onion and cheeses tastes not only of San Antonio, but of childhood and tradition and family.  And love.  Lots of love.

Enchilada Gravy, makes enough for approximately 48 enchiladas

1/2 c flour

1/2 c vegetable oil (or lard)

1/2 c chili powder (what your powder tastes like will be the dominant flavor of the sauce, taste for sweetness, heat, etc.)

2 heaping T ground cumin

3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Salt to taste

2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 6 to 8 c very warm water

In a large pan (ideally a cast iron skillet) over medium heat, warm the oil or lard and brown the flour lightly.  Remove from heat.  Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic and salt.  Return to medium heat with enough water to make a gravy.  Simmer for twenty minutes.

{To assemble enchiladas, warm corn tortillas in oil, then roll, filling with any combination of grated cheese, diced white onion and ground beef.  Place in a baking pan in in close rows that had a ladleful of gravy covering the bottom.  Ladle more gravy over the tops of the enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese or whatever fillings you’ve chosen.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.}

Playlist included Blisters May Come, by Centro-Matic.

January 24, 2011

Puffy Tacos | Leftover Brisket Part 3: Son of Braised Brisket

This is a seriously regional favorite.  So seriously regional that much of Texas won’t even know what these are.  Only the folks from San Antonio will smile knowingly and nod their head, saying, “Yes.  Puffy tacos.  We go way back.”  San Antonians love their puffy tacos.  So much so that the local minor league baseball team The Missions has a secondary mascot: a puffy taco.  PK tip: A bizzare seventh inning stretch tradition involves a small child that circles the bases in furious pursuit of the taco.  They almost always manage to tackle the taco just before the it reaches home.  Good times. I keep telling you to visit.

Some say they were originally created at Henry’s in San Antonio.  It’s different from a regular taco in the sense that the raw masa tortilla is simply fried, not griddled then fried as in most gordita, taco and chalupa shells.  The resulting shell is, well, puffy.  And delicious.  And like no other taco you can buy anywhere outside San Antonio.  You know you’re curious.  Go on, fire up that fryer.

N.I.O.S.A. Puffy Tacos, serves 4

For the filling:

Last bit of that braised brisket, about 3/4 pound, shredded, not chopped

1 T chile powder

2 T cumin (or comino, people)

1/2 c homemade chicken, beef or vegetable stock, otherwise use water.  Really.

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January 16, 2011

Breakfast Tacos, San Antonio Style

I grew up eating breakfast tacos.  Notice I did not refer to these as breakfast “burritos.”  You won’t find vegetables in these.  They are not some sort of fancy omelet in a flour tortilla.  They are typically leftovers and eggs wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.  They usually consist of some combination of the following : Meat (carnitas, chorizo, bacon, brisket, carne guisada), beans (usually refried), cheese (usually grated cheddar), potatoes, and eggs (scrambled).

In San Antonio, where I spent my early years, breakfast tacos are more popular than donuts.  There are places you can pick up a dozen for work (you’ll always get brownie points for this).  My favorite little taco place (read: hole in the wall) has housemade flour tortillas and a seemingly endless variety of fillings for your taco.  My favorite: bean, egg and bacon.

Thousand Oaks Breakfast Tacos

Refried Beans (mine were pinto, that I pureed, then reheated in bacon drippings and seasoned with chili powder and ground cumin)

Scrambled Eggs (I used Holistic Acres)

Slices of meaty fried bacon (mine was Neuske’s)

Small (not burrito sized, y’all) flour tortillas (I heat mine directly over my gas burners on the stove. Use tongs if you must, but I’ve got asbestos fingers and do it by touch, flipping and rotating until they bubble).

Assemble your taco with a base of beans, a spoonful of egg and a slice of bacon.  Fold in half as you would a soft taco.  Nothing more complicated than that.  Serve with hot sauce or pico de gallo.  This morning I didn’t have salsa so I used Sriracha for the heat.

Playlist included Give Back the Key to My Heart, by San Antonio boy, Doug Sahm.

 

December 19, 2010

Holiday Party Detox | Tomatillo Salad with Oak-Grilled Snapper

By this point in the Holiday Season, we may be reaching our fill of cocktails and nibbles.  Here’s a light, fuss free, midweek meal, inspired by South Texas, that’s designed to give you a break between the Food Court, the office break room spread, and the eighth family feast this month.  Just arrange the salad, blend the sweet and spicy dressing, then grill the romaine and fish (outside, with a handful of oak chips, for those of you living somewhere your Webber isn’t under a snowdrift. If it is, the grill pan is fine).  Helpfully, the ingredients for the salad are still in season in Texas.  As a result, you’ll get some bright flavors and a sunnier mood.  And won’t that be nice before your final mall run.

Oak-Grilled Red Snapper with Tomatillo Salad and Guajillo Dressing,

Serves 2

For the Dressing:

5 T. olive oil

2 T molasses

1 dried guajillo (or your personal favorite) dried pepper, covered with boiling water and soaked for 30 minutes

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