RSS Feed

Category Archives: Recipes

Bryan Caswell’s July 4th Watermelon Gazpacho

As the Texas summer drags on, it’s hard to think of anything better than this refreshing chilled spin on the Spanish classic by chef Bryan Caswell of Reef.  The recipe is from the book Lone Star Chefs, coming soon from Bright Sky Press.

1 5- to 6-pound seedless red watermelon, rind removed

1 pound red bell peppers, seeded and stemmed

1 Thai chile, chopped

1 ¼ pound cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes

4 teaspoons salt 

White pepper to taste

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 pound fresh Thai basil

½ cup grapeseed oil

½ cup lump crabmeat

¼ cup minced watermelon

¼ cup minced cucumber

¼ cup minced red onion 

Using a food processor, puree the watermelon, red peppers, chile, and cucumbers. Strain the mixture and season with the salt, white pepper, and vinegar. Blanche the basil in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, then shock it in ice water to stop the cooking. Squeeze out all the water you can, then roughly chop. Process it with the grapeseed oil to form a smooth puree. Strain out anything solid, leaving only the green basil oil. In individual soup bowls, arrange small mounds of minced watermelon, cucumber, and red onion on the bottom. Also place lumps of crabmeat on the bottom and “connect the dots” of crabmeat with the basil oil. Serve the gazpacho chilled for adding to the bowl at table. Serves 6-8.


Recipe for Key Lime Seafood Pasta

Posted on

Here’s one of the best things I tasted during my recent journey through the Florida Keys. The recipe is a favorite at Sundowners on Key Largo, where the Upper Keys start blending into the Everglades.                                                                                   

20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails removed

2 fresh Florida lobster tails, removed from their shells, and cut into large chunks

½ pound jumbo lump crab meat

2 tomatoes, diced

6 scallions, diced

6-8 fresh Key limes, juiced

4 tablespoons lightly salted butter

5 dashes Tabasco sauce (add more or less to taste)

¼ cup white wine

4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 pound penne pasta

Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste 

In a large pot, begin to boil water for pasta.  In a large sauté pan, add butter, garlic, Key lime juice (to taste), white wine and Tabasco sauce, and stir over medium heat until butter has melted.  Add pasta to boiling water and begin to cook until al dente (see instructions on package, should take approximately 12 minutes). Add lobster tail to butter mixture and sauté for 3 -4 minutes until lobster chunks have begun to turn white.  Add shrimp and tomatoes and sauté until shrimp and lobster are just done.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Do not overcook.  Add jumbo lump crab and scallions, stir gently so as to not break up the jumbo lump crab pieces, and remove from heat.    Strain pasta.  In a large bowl, place hot pasta, and contents of sauté pan.  Toss well and top with parmesan cheese.   Serves 4.


Recipe for Crawfish Festival Pasta

1 pound linguine or fettuccine

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped yellow onions

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chunky tomato salsa

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound crawfish tails

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Return to the pot and toss with the olive oil and reserved cooking liquid. Cover to keep warm.

In a large saute pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Essence, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook over high heat until nearly all evaporated. Add the cream, salsa and lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced. Add the crawfish tails and cook, stirring, to warm through. Add the onions and parsley and cook for 1 minute. 

Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat with the sauce. Cook until the pasta is warmed through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup of the cheese. Turn out into a serving bowl and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Serves 6.

Recipe for Chef Brett’s Marfa Meatloaf

Posted on

The key to this dish, created by my fictional alter ego Chef Brett Baldwin of Mesquite Restaurant in Marfa, is the use of pulverized tortilla chips where the breadcrumbs typically (but much more boringly) are. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll note that “taco seasoning” would work instead of the itemized spices. I often use taco seasoning in such cases, because it tastes so good, but it’s probably totally uncool to admit it. 

2 pounds ground beef

2 cups pulverized (pulsed in a food processor) tortilla chips

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup plus 1 cup chunky tomato salsa

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon ground oregano

Salt and black pepper

1 cup beef stock

1 teaspoon instant roux (or cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon part water) 

In a mixing bowl, combine the beef with the tortilla chips, onion and egg. Stir to incorporate the 1 cup salsa along with the cumin, garlic and onion powders, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer meat mixture to a loaf pan and cook in a preheated 380-degree oven until crispy on top and done, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the beef stock with the remaining salsa in a pan. When it bubbles, add the instant roux or cornstarch, letting the sauce thicken into a light gravy. Reduce heat to a simmer. When meatloaf is cooked, let cool till safe to handle and carefully slice it into servings. Transfer to the gravy. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.

Recipe for Shiner Son of a Gun Stew

Well, that’s not quite the real name this beef stew picked up in the Old West, but it’s enough to give you the idea. On the trail, this stew was made with meat plus many organs – including something truly gross called the “marrow gut.” Thankfully, this modernized version is a bit sanitized as well. And as any cowboy who actually says “son of a gun” would happily tell you: It’s dang good! 

3 pound boneless beef stew meat, fat trimmed

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup dry red wine

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

1 quart regular strength beef broth

12 ounces Shiner Bock beer (1 can or bottle)

2 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

4 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick

2 cup coarsely chopped cabbage

1 cup coarsely chopped celery

2 bay leaves

Salt to taste

Hot sauce to taste 

In a 6-8 quart pan or Dutch oven, combine beef, onions, garlic and Worcestershire. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 30 minutes. Uncover and stir often until liquid evaporates and its residue turns dark brown. Add wine and stir to release browned bits. Smoothly mix flour, sugar, thyme and peppers with one cup of the broth. Add to beef along with the remaining broth. Add beer, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, celery and bay leaves. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced. Season with salt. Serves 8-10.

Recipe for Onion Cheeseburger Roulades

Meat Mixture:

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

1 Roma tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Flour, for dusting

2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted but kept chilled (see Chef’s Note)

4 egg yolks, whipped

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Abbot’s Gold Cheddar with Caramelized Onions, divided

2 tablespoons goat cheese, divided

2 egg whites, whipped in a small bowl

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan, divided 


1 small onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups ketchup 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat. Add the beef and pork to the oil, stirring to cook until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Then add the tomato, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, and reduce the heat to low and cook for additional 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully strain into a bowl. Transfer the meat mixture to a clean bowl. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes. (Mixture must be cool before adding to the pastry.) While the mixture cools, roll out the puff pastry

For the roulade: Sprinkle some flour on your counter or cutting board. Lay the sheet of pastry over the flour. With a rolling pin, roll the pastry out from the center, from the top to the bottom, and then out to the sides to make it a large rectangle, about 1 1/2 times the original size. 

Stir the egg yolks and breadcrumbs into the cooled meat mixture, stirring in well. Place half the cooled meat mixture onto the bottom third of the pastry sheet, keeping the bottom 2 inches empty. Top with half the cheddar and goat cheeses and roll tightly. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pastry with a light coating of whisked egg whites. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and half the Parmesan. Repeat with the second piece of pastry.

Place the roulades on a sheet pan covered with parchment. Bake in the oven until golden brown, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. For the sauce, in a small bowl, stir the chopped onion and ketchup together. To serve, slice the roulades into thin rounds and serve warm with a dollop of sauce on each slice. Makes 35-40 slices.

Recipe for Spring Asparagus Bacon Tart

5 slices bacon
¼ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 lb.), thick ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb. puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
1 cup soft goat cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add bacon and cook until lightly crisped, 5 minutes. Remove. Add onion and thyme to skillet and cook until just softened, 2 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until slightly crisp and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Roll the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. Using hands, spread goat cheese evenly over the surface of the pastry, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges. Layer the asparagus mixture and bacon strips over the cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg. Bake until golden and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Recipe for Chef John Armstrong’s Wild Boar Lollipops

Posted on


Executive chef John Armstrong of the Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio uses strawberry preserves made with berries in the peak of the season, sliced strawberries, locally grown sylvetta arugula, as well as locally harvested huajilla honey and wild boar.   “Utilizing fresh local grown produce,” he says, “not only ensures produce is fresher because it ripens in the field instead of on a truck;  in essence in eating this spring dish you are contributing to shrinking our carbon footprint and helping our local Texas farms.”  

wild boar chops:

2 wild boar chops- (frenched- we receive ours from Broken Arrow Ranch)

Coarse ground black & kosher salt

Texas pecan oil (to coat- canola oil can be used instead)

Coat wild boar chops with pecan oil, season liberally with kosher salt & course ground black pepper.  Place chops on a preheated grill for two to three minutes per side.  Remove from grill and reserve to be plated . 

strawberry & white balsamic vinaigrette:

1 ounce strawberry preserve

1 ounce pureed chipotle                              

1/2 ounce honey

5 ounces white balsamic vinegar

1 cup Texas pecan oil

Kosher salt to taste

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk as the pecan oil is slowly streamed into mixture. -(we use in house made or strawberry jam or jam from Uncertain Farms made with Wheeler Farm berries in Poteet but store bought will work as long as it is of good quality)  Vinaigrettes should be highly seasoned so when utilizing them the need for seasoning the final salad is almost unnecessary.

sylvetta & strawberry salad: 

3 thinly sliced strawberries

1/2 ounce sylvetta arugula

1 teaspoon smoked strawberry & white balsamic vinaigrette 

Gently mix all ingredients. To serve, place rested seasoned grilled lollipop boar chop on a small plate.  Place dressed salad that is approximately the same size of the chop on the plate next to the bone of the chop.  Place decorative design on the plate with the smoked strawberry & white balsamic vinaigrette.  Serves 1.

Recipe for John Besh’s Grilled Flank Steak

Posted on

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ginger, minced


1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1¼ cup over ripe peaches, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sambal chili paste
1/2 cup Grey Goose® Citron Flavored Vodka
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

3 pounds flank steak

In a small sauce pan cook the canola oil, shallot, garlic and ginger over medium heat until the shallot becomes translucent but not brown. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil on high, before removing and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Season flank steak with salt and pepper. Coat with olive oil and grill over medium heat. Cook until rare or desired temperature. Slice flank steak thin and serve with glaze. Serves 6.

Recipe for Patatas Bravas – A Tapas Favorite

1 pound small new potatoes (about 1″ diameter)

1/2 red or green bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon dark beer

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 dried New Mexico chile, seeded and broken into pieces

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked hot Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar

Salt to taste 

Boil potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and quarter. Using a blender or small food processor grind together garlic, cumin, chilies, and paprika. Add vinegar. Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add potatoes and bell pepper and brown potatoes.  Add beer and cook until almost dry. Stir in vinegar/spice mixture, taking care to coat all potatoes. Add salt to taste and serve. Serves 6.