Everyday Gourmet

Everyday Gourmet
We've got a whisk, and we know how to use it!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Palm Sunday Excursion

Palm Sunday at San Jose Church
on the San Antonio Mission Trail

Several months ago some friends asked if I had ever been on the Mission Trail in San Antonio. My answer was, "No, but I would like to do that." This past weekend was my opportunity to do just that--with these friends as my guides. They are San Antonio "lovers" and have visited many times. So, they "know the ropes." That means, among other things, they know how to navigate the streets.

Since our "mission" was to visit the missions, we were set to do just that. Our first stop in the city was San Jose Church as shown in the picture. (It does not tilt. That's my inept picture taking.) At noonish this church has a Mariachi Mass. Although we did not get there for the entire service, we did hear the mariachi band and some of the hymns sung at the Mass. We did get to "Pass the Peace." After a tour of the grounds and some picture taking, we drove back into town to have our late lunch, early dinner at the El Mercado Restaurant, Mi Tierra. A brief wait for there was a crowd, but well-worth it. Good pork tacos with charro beans and guacamole. The flour tortillas were soft, almost fluffy, and served HOT. All the important things for a good Mexican meal including the margarita. PLUS my host had the guitarist play for us. Muy bueno!!!!!!

Our evening's entertainment was good conversation, good wine and the Lady Bears' Game.

On Monday we visited the Alamo and the other four missions. Each mission is different from the other--has its own charm and served its own purpose when established in the area. Each one still has its own congregation to serve. If you have not taken this tour that is not so far away, I recommend it. I hope that you can experience it with someone as knowledgeable as my friends!! Be sure to swing by Lockhart for some barbecue--it's the BBQ capital. Try Kreuz. My kind of barbecue--no sauce, but they have added a few sides. Not needed!!!

At the Alamo my relative's name has been taken off the wall for some renovation. However, I did find a family cookbook from Los Barrios Restaurant. This was named one of Esquire's top restaurants in America.(Didn't eat there this time, but next time.........)

Homemade Flour Tortillas 

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon powder
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup hot water, or as necessary

1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the shortening and hot water, mixing until a soft dough forms.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape into a ball (these are called testales). On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball to a 6 inch circle.
3. Heat a griddle until hot. Place a tortilla on the griddle and cook until the bottom is slightly browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes; the tortilla will puff up. Turn and cook until lightly browned in spots on the second side. Place in a towel-lined basket and cover with the towel to keep warm while you cook the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.

These will keep, well-wrapped, for 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer.

I'll let you know tomorrow if this is a good method.  The good homemade ones at Mi Tierra made we want to try it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


 If you can't get to all the Baylor Basketball Games-Go Baylor!!!!--have some good munchings on hand.
Wackym's Kitchen Gourmet Cookies are winners.

Try the Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread topped with just a tad of a softened butter-bleu cheese mixture. Just great paired with an Earl Grey Tea.

Double-dip Lemon Butter Cookies  dipped in some lemon, lime or raspberry curd. Lemon Velvet Tea goes nicely.

The unique Salted Caramel pairs nicely with Scotch----I hear.

The Margarita Cookie with--well, that's obvious.

And Chocolate Snicker Doodle  with some robust good, freshly brewed Coffee. Easy with the Keurig.

Easy tasting to follow any appetizers you've whipped -- popcorn, or dips, cheese balls, fruits--whatever you like.

Happy munching.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Shirley Ann Craigen West

Drove to Brownwood yesterday to say goodbye to Shirley West. She died on Sunday after a long stay in the hospital following surgery. Shirley had lived in Brownwood for 50 years, moving there with her husband, Kenneth, who was on the "Gordon Wood Coaching Staff." Listening to Richard Hetzel and Dallas Huston talking about her many talents and virtues, I reminisced about our years in Brownwood where football was king and you knew that in the fall when every Friday Night was spent going to a game, eating the peanuts that Homer and Guy Nell West (no relation) brought from their peanut farm, cheering on the home team, the band, the drill team.  Sometimes I wished that these things were not so important, but they were. Enjoying the excitement,  a winning team and the camaraderie of the community was a way of life there in the 70s. 

Shirley epitomized all of that. Her door was open to all. She feed, housed, loved all of those big, and not so big boys who played for the home team and all of us who made up the BISD family. Although it has been almost 30 years since I moved from there, I still felt something of that spirit, Shirley's spirit of love and caring, as her life was honored by those who love her dearly.

"Well, done, thou good and faithful servant. And she entered into the joy of her Lord."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


After all the search for Irish appetizer and writing about it and making the picture and posting, I did not use recipe. I decided to make "Mini Potato Bites" from the KRAFT FOODS website.

The recipe:

15 small red potatoes
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Boil potatoes until done, but not mushy. Cool slightly. Cut in half. Cut a little from the bottom of each half. Mix cheeses and sour cream. Place a dollop on each half. Sprinkle chives and crumbled bacon over each half. Can be served warm or cold.

Now here's what I did.  Did not find small red potatoes at the store; so, I bought a bag of fingerlings. Sorted and got enough for a double recipe. Cooked in salted water. These potatoes are an assortment; so, each kind cooked differently. The Yukons and the "pink" ones cooked just right. The baking and the dark ones were crumbly, but I used them all. Some of them did not need to have the little bit take off the bottom. They just sat up nicely. Of course, I used all the 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (Neu--the lower fat one), half a cup of low fat sour cream, 1/2 cup fresh parmesan that I grated myself and 1/2  cup grated cheddar from Ireland. Sprinkled some freshly ground black pepper. Followed directions and put the plate in the microwave and heated about 1 minute on high. Stayed warm enough for me to drive the 5 blocks to the party. Tasted good with the Guinness.

Mini Potato Bites=Big Hit!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I never thought I was Irish, but in the last year or so, I learned that my ancestor with the Scottish name immigrated here from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I guess that counts as Irish. In fact, my plans for the next big trip will be to Scotland and Ireland, That's another story.
In the meantime I've been invited to a St. Patrick's Day Party and I need to take an appetizer. I will find our trusty "500 appetizers" cookbook and begin my search.
 Voila! Or Faith, and I've Found It!!!

  Prociutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Mayo**

These sophisticated bites make and irresistible  nibble with apertifs or as a more formal appetizer. You can prepare everything ahead, then simply pop them in the oven when your guests arrive.

1/2 cup mayonnaise                                                      8 asparagus tips
Grated zest of 1 lemon                                                 8 wafer-thin slices prosciutto, cut in strips*
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice                                              Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 tbsp. snipped fresh chives                                      Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest. juice and chives in a serving dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Wrap each asparagus tip in a strip of procuitto, arrange on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and roast for 6-7 minutes, until tender.

Transfer the prociutto-wrapped asparagus to a platter and serve with the lemon mayo.

I think I'll try some ham slices.  Seems a little more "Irish."

Happy eating on Saint Patrick's Day.
**Picture and recipe from 500 appetizers by Susannah Blake

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Break Thoughts

What is this Spring Break thing? I am about to find out. Some family and some friends are headed to Wimberley, Texas.  We'll stay at a place with a full kitchen, and though we plan to critique some of the eateries, we will cook some, too. Now that's a surprise, isn't it? (We cook with wine, you know, and ......you know the rest of the quote.

One of our go-to dishes is CHICKEN PICCATA. We discovered the recipe when Karyn lived in southern California where we had "right-off-the-tree" lemons.

This is the recipe from my collection of recipes.

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. butter or olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. chicken bouillon granules
1 t. paprika
2 T. dry white wine
Parsley, cilantro and lemon slices (optional)
My addition: 2 t. capers
Place each piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4" with mallet or rolling pin.
Combine flour and paprika; dredge chicken in flour mixture
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; add olive oil or butter. Heat to medium. Cook chicken about six minutes or until brown (and until done). Remove from skillet and keep warm
Add wine, lemon juice, capers and bouillon  to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Pour over chicken. Garnish with parsley, cilantro and lemon slices..

This is so quick and easy and, so good. For a meal, add the ubiquitous green salad (or one that you've dressed up with all kinds of good things) some crusty bread and, oh,. yes, the rest of the white wine.

More about Wimberley in the next blog.
Good eating!
Jo Ann Miller

Thursday, March 7, 2013


According to the January, 2013, issue of Bon Appetit, pp.19-20, the margarita is not Mexico's most beloved cocktail. Did you know that? The Paloma, which features grapefruit juice, is the Mexican drink of choice. Now, I'm no expert on this subject, but I wanted to give it a try. When my friend took twenty grapefruit sectioned to a church retreat, she gave me the left-over juice. "Waste not; want not." A good reason to "indulge."

The BA writer gives his favorite rendition of the Paloma with some variations that work OK, but his use of the smokier mescal and real grapefruit juice, provide a different, but pleasant result.

Recipe borrowed from the aforementioned article:


Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim with a grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt.
Combine 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1 tsp. sugar in a glass;stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup mezcal* or tequila, add ice and top off with 1/4 cup club soda.
Garnish with grapefruit wedge. Makes 1.

Substitutions: Grapefruit-flavored soda  (Jarritos is the brand of choice, but Fresca will work.)
Sugar syrup for the granulated sugar.
Tequila for the mezcal.
*A note about mezcal. Very smoky. My first attempt tasted like bacon. Next try, used a jigger (2 T.) and the taste was better to me.

Hope my tee-totaller mother will forgive me for posting this.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tea & Cookies - A Simple Dessert Solution with Not-So-Simple Flavors

Last Friday, two of our favorite vendors graced Gourmet Gallery with a Tea and Cookie Pairing. We had a full house, and we tasted some wonderful treats. Since then, I have tasked our Gourmet Gallery crew to come up with some fun, simple recipes that are nice enough to serve to guests.

Below are two recipes. One from our friend Paul Wackym at Wackym’s Kitchen, and the other from our own kitchen. We have paired both of these with some of our Sterling Teas for a refreshing small dessert.

Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread with Bleu Cheese

12 Wackym’s Kitchen Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (available at Gourmet Gallery)

½ cup bleu cheese at room temperature

1 teaspoon softened butter

½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix bleu cheese and butter until well-combined. Pipe or spread cheese mixture onto shortbread cookies and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle fresh rosemary lightly over cookies. Serve with Sterling Earl Grey Lavender Tea or a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lemon Butter Cookie with Raspberry Mousse

12 Wackym’s Kitchen Lemon Cookies (available at Gourmet Gallery)

½ cup whipping cream

2 Tablespoons Curdelicious Raspberry Curd (available at Gourmet Gallery)

Fresh lemon peel for garnish

Whip cream until firm peaks form. Fold in curd. Pipe or spoon on top of lemon cookie. Garnish with fresh lemon zest or peel. Serve with Sterling Lemon Velvet Tea (hot or iced) or with ice-cold champagne.

Paul Wackym also makes a delicious Margarita Cookie. He says it’s even better dipped in tequila. Try this one at your own risk.

Happy Cooking!