Posts tagged ‘Texas’

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 19, 2011

Globetrotter | Braised Brisket

Sometimes, the heavens align to make my cooking for the week a little easier.  Enter the brisket.  Such a great cut and so flexible.

Sidenote: I’m in serious trouble if Zeus is reading this post, because in the country I was raised, brisket can be prepared one way only.  Small exceptions are made one day out of the year – March 17th – when it is acceptable to consume corned beef.

A brisket is a great, inexpensive cut of meat that’s superbly tender if it’s been given some low and slow cooking (just like bbq, y’all).  And if you cook a really big piece of meat one day, you are left with the lovely proposition of leftovers.

Tonight, this simply-braised brisket was served in generous slabs lacquered with the cooking liquids.  Partnering it was a silken parsnip and potato puree and the world’s greatest (hyperbole, perhaps) spiced purple cabbage.  A bit like a dinner in Alsace.

The excess brisket will be the base of two more days of worldly deliciousness.  Look later this week for recipes in which the leftovers will be dressed up in tight Mexican Mariachi pants and a big hat and then subsequently looking demure in a separate Philippine dish.  Globetrotting indeed.

Simple Long-Braised Brisket

1 – 3 pound  brisket

1/2 onion, chopped

2 carrots, scrubbed and cut in thirds

6 cloves garlic (I used some garlic confit that was in the fridge – you don’t have to, of course)

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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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December 16, 2010

South Texas Locavore | Mushrooms on Toast, Poached Backyard Egg

I am so happy to have a friend who is raising beautiful chickens.  Her name is Mylene, and her urban “farm” in a North San Antonio neighborhood produces all manner of vegetables and flowers, and as of November, the little jewels that star in this dish.  Upon arrival, I found her chickens happily pecking around Mackey Farms, softly clucking their pleasure.  Cherub had a fantastic time following them around and tempting them with deep green leaves of kale, like chicken catnip.  I had fun holding them and watching them.  It’s like an avian version of an aquarium.  But make no mistake, these birds aren’t a quirky diversion.  Just like the vegetables in her beds, they’re there to put food on her family’s table.

I will never, ever turn down a few fresh eggs.  I will honor every ounce of the effort that chicken gave to produce that egg and eat it with all the reverence of a holy meal.  So when she offered me five, including one that was laid while I visited, I knew exactly how I would use them – mushrooms on toast.  It’s a true bistro classic, elevated here by earthy Texas mushrooms and, of course, those transcendent eggs.  It’s a simple, humble dish – you can have it for lunch, you can have it with your tea.  Please, I urge you, try it.

Mushrooms on Toast with Poached Backyard Egg, Serves 2

4 cups of fresh, local mushrooms, diced.  I used 2 cups of crimini and 2 cups of shiitake.

1 shallot, finely diced

2 thick slices of the crusty bread of your choosing.  I used a buttermilk sourdough.

Vermouth, a splash

1 leaf of Texas sorrel, cut into ribbons, for garnish

1/2 t butter

olive oil, salt, pepper

2 beautiful Mackey Farms eggs

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan very generously with olive oil, and heat until shimmering.  Add the mushrooms, allowing them to sear, about 3 minutes.  Deglaze with the vermouth.  Then add the chopped shallots and turn the heat to medium-low.  Season well with salt and pepper, and stir regularly for another 3-4 minutes.  This is a good time to make your toast.

Now poach the eggs for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes in simmering water – long enough from the white to be firm, but without cooking the yolk through.

Add the butter to your mushrooms and give it a stir to incorporate

Spoon the mushrooms onto your toast, and top it with the egg and a tiny sprinkle of sea salt.  Garnish with the sorrel ribbons.  There is no doubt you will enjoy this.

Playlist included Maybe Sparrow, by Neko Case.

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December 13, 2010

Dining Out | Lunch at Lüke

South Texas has a long growing season, plentiful meats, feathered and furred game, and lots of space to grow and roam.  Why has it been so hard to find it?  I had an opportunity to meet CIA-trained  Chef Steve McHugh after a demo at the Pearl Farmer’s Market.  He may be planting the flag for San Antonio’s late- blooming local-food movement.  Having grown up on a Wisconsin farm, Chef McHugh knows a thing or two about how great local, fresh-from-the-farm produce can taste.  He sources many of his ingredients for Lüke from vendors at Pearl, all of whom are within 150 miles of San Antonio.  The salad he made at the market, which is on the menu, included Humble House baby blue cheese – some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen – snuggled up next to chili-spiced pistachios and candied beets.  I looked over the menus and decided we would cancel our lunch reservations to eat at the three-week-old bistro, Lüke. 

Lüke, on the Riverwalk, is the new sister to the original in New Orleans.  As a John Besh restaurant, Lüke has definite French Quarter flavor.  But there are menu touches here and there that make you remember you are in South Texas.

We started with cocktails, a French “75” for me and a Sazerac for Hades.

To start, I couldn’t resist the pâté de campagne of wild boar.  Served with watermelon pickles, mustard and a gelee, the pâté was luscious spread on crispy olive oil toasts.  Equally intriguing in terms of a first course would have been the fried Texas quail, which I will be sure to try next visit.

Hades ordered from the express lunch menu, which included a cup of soup.  He wisely chose the shrimp and sausage gumbo.

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December 12, 2010

Pearl Farmer’s Market | San Antonio

“Back when I was growing up, there were no farmer’s markets in San Antonio.”  This should be said using your grumpiest old person’s voice.  For my recent visit I wanted to know: where can you get local produce?  Is there a Slow Food chapter?  What restaurants are doing local sourcing?  Where can a food nerd like Persephone get really excited?  Crickets.  I realized I had to get my old Texan-do-it-yourself attitude and figure it out for myself. 

I had heard that there was a farmer’s market at the old Pearl Brewery, so we headed there Saturday morning with the full intention of spending 15 minutes making a quick round.  I was not expecting to see that old lot and building transformed into a vibrant space being used simultaneously for a morning farmer’s market and a tamale festival

Walking in, I passed il Songno and was lured by the views through tall windows to the kitchen where the chefs were making pasta, into its entryway to study the menu.  When I come back to San Antonio, this eatery run by James Beard nominated Andrew Weissman, will be tops on my list. 

We wandered towards the market and passed the Twig Bookshop (where Cherub was just in time for story hour).   The covered alleyway had vendors from Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, and Sol y Luna Bakery.  We walked a bit further into the open courtyard that overlooks an extension of the Riverwalk and hit the motherlode.  Dozens of farms all from a 150 mile radius with everything from vegetables, to pecans to grass-fed bison, to yard eggs, and heritage pork.  I wept just a little bit.  It’s here.  I am so happy that San Antonio has this.  Now every visit home will include a trip to Pearl on either Wednesday afternoons or Saturday mornings.

The fact that Pearl is anchored by a CIA campus (one of only three in the US with the other two being in Napa and Hyde Park) says to me that San Antonio has made a real committment to food.  It is not just bar-b-que and enchiladas anymore.  I’ll say it again: not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Demeter made enchiladas yesterday and I’ll be posting her recipe for the enchilada “gravy” in the next few days.  And as I write this post, Zeus is smoking a brisket.

 To wrap up the trip to Pearl, we stopped at the demo tent where Steven McHugh, executive chef at the three-week-old Lüke, was sampling his Bluebonnet organic greens salad with Humble House baby blue cheese (HH is a vendor at Pearl), cane syrup dressing, spiced pistachios and candied beets.  We talked local sourcing, which he is very passionate about, and who’s doing it in San Antonio.  Turns out there’s not too many, but it’s growing.  I told him we’d be by later in the afternoon for lunch and I can say easily, it was the best meal (outside Demeter’s enchiladas) I’ve ever had in San Antonio.  I’ll do a post about it in full, complete with pictures, a bit later.

I’m having fun down here in San Antonio.  You should come.

December 9, 2010

Dining Out | Nosh

I have been meaning to get to Silo and its small plates/bar little sister Nosh for oh, well, forever.  Cue the heroic Zeus and Demeter who, very kindly, took little Cherub to see Yo Gabba Gabba Live.   We are, after all, a rock and roll kind of family. 

It’s lovely to have lots time.   We ordered started early with the cocktail menu and then ordered several times at a leisurely pace from the shared plates section of the menu. 

Nosh turned out to be everything I kind of hoped for: creative, local flavors with a bit of comfort thrown in.  It makes you realize that San Antonio is not all bar-b-que and enchiladas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I will be having and posting about both in the next few days, to be sure.) Nosh is a perfect spot to hit if you’re a foodie from out-of-town.  It’s not far from Alamo Heights and the McNay, it’s got a decent happy hour and a creative cocktail menu.  I love Nosh’s concept of a flight of cocktails.  Especially if several are looking alluring.  Which they managed to do pretty easily.  The service is thoughtful and eager without being intrusive.

We will certainly be back again next time we’re in town, and if we lived here, it’d be a regular favorite.

 

Shrimp “corn dogs”: Tempura battered shrimp on a stick with spicy mayo
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