Restaurant Sneak Peek – Z’tejas

First off, a quick update on the range situation.  Still oven-less at the wasp’s nest.  The electrolux I was so excited about was delivered last Thursday, but unfortunately it had a big crack in the top.  There is also some concern about if it will fit into the space where our old range resided.  Back to the drawing board.  I’m sure I’ll be able to cook again by Thanksgiving??!!  Fingers crossed.

Luckily, my kitchen appliance woes haven’t completely hampered my foodie lifestyle.  This past Saturday I got to attend a sneak peek of the new Z’tejas which is scheduled to open in San Antonio on November 1st.

We got a private tour of the restaurant, including a quick walk through of the kitchen….

RANGE ENVY!!!!!

The restaurant’s decor is lovely.  A mix of southwestern/organic elements and modern finishes.  The huge patio area will be great for happy hours.

Did someone say happy hour?  After our tour we sampled their margaritas and some munchies, even though it was 10:30am and I had just finished breakfast.  Who says you have to wait till noon for a cocktail?

I tried Z’tejas’ famous skillet cornbread, vegetarian quesedillas and these “Leo Street” tacos, which were my favorite.

I’m really looking forward to the full opening of Z’tejas, I’ve enjoyed their Austin location on several occasions and I’m glad that the Alamo city will have one too!

*FYI – this is not an endorsement or compensated review.  I was contacted to see if I wanted to participate in a preview tour and attend the soft opening, but I have not been asked to blog about or plug my participation in the Z’tejas opening.

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CIA Grand Opening in San Antonio

This past Saturday was the grand opening celebration for the CIA here in San Antonio. I’ve had several friends ask me if it is like the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, VA. Nope. It’s not much like that at all. This CIA is the Culinary Institute of America, a top culinary university. San Antonio is home to their newest campus, “El Sueno” which means “the dream”. The focus of the San Antonio CIA campus is Latin American cooking, and I’m so excited that our city will play host to so many budding chefs as they live the dream.

The new CIA campus is located at an exciting new development called the Pearl. It’s formerly the home to where Peal and PBR were brewed and bottled!

The architecture is gorgeous, and I’ve so enjoyed watching them breathe life back into this space over the last 5 years or so.

Until recently, I was living just 2 blocks from the Pearl complex. Part of me wishes I was still close to all the action, especially on a fun day like the grand opening of the CIA. Located in the Pearl is a weekly farmers market, several fine dining establishments, a yoga studio, a bookstore, an amazing kitchen and home goods store, an authentic Mexican street food restaurant, and the Aveda institute just to name a few.

It was a beautiful day! Sunny, breezy and not too hot. Aren’t The Waspy Parents precious? As a nice surprise my Dad joined the Waspy Mom and I after he finished playing golf. We strolled around checking out the grounds and enjoying food samples from dozens of booths spread out over the lawn.

Slow cooked pork tacos with avocado cilantro sauce.

My next kitchen needs to have one of these flat top griddles. Obviously.

My favorite dish was this red snapper in a creole broth served over rice. So flavorful and light.

The red snapper was prepared by this delightful woman.

She is a native of Guadalupe which is a small island nation in the French Caribbean. Here I’m trying to document my father having a hilarious conversation with her. I swear I felt like I had been transported into an awkward Wes Anderson movie ala Royal Tennenbaums. He asked her if she made her “lovely outfit”, complimented her on the savory dish and then ended the conversation by saying “Vive La France”. I couldn’t make this stuff up people.

There were hundreds of people who turned out for the all-day event. In addition to the tasting booths and the regular weekly farmer’s market there was a book signing pavillion with several guest chefs. Of particular note was the presence of RICK BAYLESS!!!

I loves me some Rick Bayless! I’ve cheered for him throughout his participation on Top Chef Masters, I’ve gone out of my way to eat at Frontera Grill when visiting Chicago for only a day and a half, but I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. I was so excited to see him that I may have freaked him out a tad. He was gracious (of course) and waved to me and said hello, but I totally think I creeped him out. See the uneasy look on his face as I pull my paparazzi chef stalking maneuver? I’m not weird or dangerous Rick, I promise. Just a big fan.

Such a great day. If you’re a San Antonio native and haven’t been down to the Pearl complex – get down there. If you’re planning a visit from out of town, be sure to try and stop by!

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Fall Farmer’s Market Salad

I took a trip to the Pearl Farmer’s Market this weekend.  There were some special events going on (more about that later this week), and it was a gorgeous day in San Antonio. We call 81 degrees fall. Kind of ridiculous, I know – but anything cooler than the 90′s is a welcome change after the brutal summer months.

I’ve never been much of a radish fan, but these were super interesting.

The woman working the stand promised that they were nice and mellow. And she was right. They were so much better than the gross dried out radishes I’m used to on lame chopped salads. We picked up some arugula and okra, too.

My mom made a lovely salad for our Sunday dinner with the arugula, radishes, some pomegranate seeds and a simple dijon vinaigrette. Who knew that not baking would be no big deal at all. With great options by the way of salads, soups etc, I think me and the little blog will be just fine.

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Shiner Oktoberfest Cheddar Beer Bread

If you can’t make it to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest, you might as well bake yourself some beer bread. Beer bread is so incredibly simple. It requires no time to rise and best of all no kneading! The yeast in the beer and some baking powder is all the leavening you need.

I chose Shiner Oktoberfest, but you can use any beer you like. I would recommend a darker beer like a brown ale or a bock to provide the most flavor, but that’s just my personal preference. I wanted to make a cheesy buttery herby bread that would be a snack in it’s own right – no topping or sammich fillings required. I decided to add some dill spice blend and aged English white cheddar. I was really pleased with the results. You could make the recipe and omit both the cheese and the dill and it won’t affect the preparation.

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dill spice blend*
1 cup aged white cheddar, grated
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and the cheese. Stir with your fingers to incorporate everything well. Add the beer all at once, mixing as little as possible; the batter should be lumpy.

Pour the batter into a 9-x-5-x-3-inch loaf pan and brush with the melted butter. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle an additional few tablespoons of shredded cheese on top and return to the oven and switch to broil on high. Be sure to watch the bread closely, and to keep the oven door ajar. Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese on top has turned a golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 20 mins then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

*I used the Spice Hunter brand deliciously dill blend (I received this in a swag bag at some foodie event – can’t remember which, but thanks Spice Hunter!). The blend of spices includes dill weed, garlic, lemon peel and chives. Yum!

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Curried Lentils With Spinach

While I know for sure that I could never be a strict vegetarian, the idea of eating less meat appeals to me.  I dabbled in vegetarianism in my tween and early teen years when I was a seriously into ballet, but once we moved to Texas – land of the chicken fried steak, I quickly gave up that battle.  I still enjoy a plant based diet to change things up for a short stretch, but I can only really lean into it.  My folks are on a bit of a vegetarian kick right now, perhaps they were inspired by President Clinton?  To be supportive of their efforts I decided to try out a new vegetarian recipe – I was really pleased with how it turned out.  I think you’ll like it too.

Indian food is one of my favorite things.  I only let myself dine out for Indian a few times a year, I have no self control at the buffet.  I pile on the saag paneer, tikka masala and other delights as if it is my last meal.  I’ve only tried on one occasion to make Indian food at home.  I tried a recipe for chicken tikka masala, and I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out. The only downside to trying to replicate Indian flavors at home is that it requires a little bit of an investment in spices you might not normally have in your pantry.  But once you stock them, you’re set for several dishes.  This lentil dish was soooo easy, and incredibly satisfying – I didn’t miss meat at this meal even one bit.  I served it over quinoa, but you could serve it over basmati rice or brown rice if you prefer.

Ingredients:
2 cups green lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock (I’m not actually a vegetarian so I didn’t mind using chicken stock – you could use vegetable stock if you are a legit vegetarian)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbs curry powder
2 Tbs ground tumeric
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of all its liquid
1 24 oz can of crushed tomatoes

Directions:

Rinse the lentils in cool water then combine with the water and chicken stock in a large pan.  Bring to a boil then stir a few times and cover with a lid.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender.

While the lentils are cooking saute the onion and garlic in a large skillet with the olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add the spices and saute for a few more minutes. This is about the time your house will start to smell heavenly. Add the drained spinach and crushed tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cooked lentils and cook for 3-5 minutes until all the flavors have come together.

Serves 6 as a main course, 8+ as a side. It’s a LOT of food. If you don’t want leftovers, I recommend halving the recipe. I wanted the leftovers!

5 Comments + Posted in: Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegetarian

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