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Shop the Sale: Hass Avocados


Hass avocados are the Mercedes of avocados – beautiful  and consistently high-quality. But they’re also an affordable luxury, especially this week, as we’ve just started a special 5-for-$5 deal on large Hass avocados in our produce sections.

These avocados are highly recognizable because of their dark green, pebbly skin, sometimes with a deep purple or blackish tinge. But the color of the rind isn’t the best way to choose them, according to the experts at the Hass Avocado Board.

Instead, you should gently squeeze the avocado in the palm of your hand, without using your fingertips (to avoid bruising the fruit), to determine if it will be ready when you are. (You don’t want the disappointment of bringing home a bunch of beautiful avocados and realizing they haven’t ripened enough for the guacamole you planned for supper!) Here’s their guide to choosing:

Firm avocados: If the avocado will not yield at all to gentle pressure, they’re not ready to eat. They will ripen at room temperature in up to four-five days, so buy these if you’re not planning to eat right away.

“Breaking” avocados: Avocado isn’t rock hard, but doesn’t quite yield to gentle pressure. These will be ready to eat in two or three days.

Ripe avocados: These yield to gentle pressure, but don’t feel too mushy or soft. You can eat these right away. Store them in the fridge to keep them from softening too much.

Hass avocados make great fresh guacamole, of course, but there’s so much else you can do with fresh avocados. Make a BLA sandwich – bacon, lettuce, and slices of creamy avocado.  Puree them into soup or salad dressing. Make a chunky pico de gallo for fish or shrimp, or just to serve with chips.

Or try this recipe for an out-of-the ordinary vegetable dish, an interesting side dish idea for the holidays, from the Hass Avocado Board. (They have lots of other recipes, which you can find here. (hyperlink to http://www.avocadocentral.com/avocado-recipes)

Holiday Vegetable and Hass Avocado Saute

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ripe fresh Hass avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks (about 8 ounces)

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot and thyme, sauté for 3 minutes.

Mix in zucchini, bell pepper and lemon peel, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Lower heat and cover, cooking for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice with avocado. Add to skillet and gently mix. Cook for 2 minutes to allow flavors to blend.



Product Talk: The gift of fruit


The tradition of giving fruit as a holiday gift is an old one, but it’s just as good an idea today as it was 50 years ago. In these days, when everybody seems to be avoiding sugar, developing food allergies, or going on a diet, fruit is one food gift that just about every person on your gift list will appreciate.

We are making it even easier this year to finish your holiday shopping, by carrying fruit gift packs that are ready to give to family, friends, clients or neighbors. Most of our stores have several gift ideas available, so look for these in your neighborhood store or ask your produce manager to see what gift packs may be available this season:

Spanish Clementines: Sweet, seedless and easy to peel, clementines have a smaller window of availability than most other citrus fruits. They’re at their peak from about November through January – which might be why they’re sometimes called “Christmas oranges.” Available in five-pound gift crate.

California Navel Oranges:  Perhaps because they were once available only to the wealthy, oranges continue to be associated with prosperity and luxury, and remain a traditional Christmas treat. Of course, oranges are also at their peak, and most delicious, at this time of year.   Available in gift crate, approximately 24 to 36 count.

Texas Rio Star Grapefruits: Texas’ shining contribution to the citrus industry, these are the sweetest, juiciest grapefruit you can find; the kind that even people who swear they don’t like grapefruit end up loving. Available in holiday gift pack, approximately 12-18 count.

Red Delicious Apples: Shiny, picture-perfect red apples are always a good gift-giving choice; have you ever heard of anyone who didn’t like apples?  Didn’t think so. Available in holiday gift pack, featuring Washington-grown apples, approximately 18-22 count.



Product Talk: Pomelos


If you’ve noticed the giant, greenish pomelos in the produce department, you may have just thought these citrus fruits were just freakishly large, unripened grapefruit.

Actually, the pomelo is just a distant cousin of the grapefruit – but you may find you like them even better.  Most people will find them juicier, sweeter and milder than most grapefruit.

In fact, if it weren’t for pomelos, we probably wouldn’t even have grapefruit today. Pomelos (sometimes called “pummelos” ) are native to southeast Asia, and were particularly common in  Malaysia, Indonesia and southern China, even as far back as thousands of years ago.

According to the authoritative Oxford Companion to Food, food historians believe that sailors brought pomelos to the Carribbean West Indies in the 17th century. There, they were cultivated, cross-bred and refined until the modern grapefruit was produced.

Only in the last few years have pomelos been common in U.S. supermarkets again. Maybe that’s because of appearances: The pomelo does look like an ungainly stepsister to more common, petite citrus fruits. Its skin is usually green or yellowish-green, and slightly rough.  Pomelos are usually at least an inch or two larger in diameter than even the largest grapefruit.

The skin, or rind, is also very thick and soft, with a thick white pith. Rather than eating it on the half-shell like a grapefruit, it’s easier to eat a pomelo like an orange, by peeling away the rind and separating the fruit into sections. The flesh doesn’t have the tart edge of a grapefruit or the high acidity of other citrus fruits.

You can use pomelo in just about the same way as you would a grapefruit, in a salad or by itself. Peak season is now through late winter.



Shop the Sale: Texas grapefruit


Everything is bigger and better in Texas – even the grapefruit.

I’m talking of course, about Texas Rio Star grapefruit, which are just now coming into their peak season, and which you’ll find on sale starting today at Brookshire’s.

To me, Rio Star grapefruit are just better than other kinds out there. The deep-red flesh is sweeter and juicier than the typical pink or white grapefruit from other parts of the country. Much of that is because these grapefruit have been bred to have a high sugar-to-acid ratio, but it also is due to the way they are handled. They are allowed to ripen on the trees down in south Texas, and then picked at peak freshness and rushed to the store.

You probably eat grapefruit by themselves, or maybe squeezed into juice, but this Vietnamese-inspired salad is a really interesting fusion of sweet, spicy, savory and tart, all in one refreshing salad. 

Fish sauce and chili sambal are available in the Asian section in many larger stores. You can substitute the more common Sriracha sauce (commonly known as rooster sauce) for the chili sambal, but it will not be quite as hot. You can skip the fish sauce entirely, if you want, but the salad won’t be as complex or interesting without it.  If you skip the fish sauce, you may need to add a bit of salt to taste, as fish sauce is quite salty.

Vietnamese Style Grapefruit Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 large grapefruit
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 medium size carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped, roasted peanuts 

Dressing
Ingredients:
2 Tbs Fish sauce
1 1/2 Tbs lime juice, fresh-squeezed
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp chili sambal 

Directions:
Section and clean grapefruits.

In a large bowl, toss cucumber strips with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the salt to draw out excess water.

Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.

Place a small sauté pan on medium high heat and cook the shallots and garlic until shallots are caramelized, about 3 minutes, don’t burn.

Drain any excess water from cucumber and mix with carrots, caramelized shallots and garlic.

Add the mint, chopped peanuts, and dressing and toss well. Transfer to a plate or large bowl and serve.



Dine-In: Rustic Corn Chowder


I know that most people think of corn as a summer vegetable – and yes, it’s hard to beat fresh roasting ears, just steamed or grilled with butter.

But as an ingredient in other dishes, I really enjoy corn most during the fall. There is something about its sweetness and hearty flavor that goes especially well in soups and casseroles and cold-weather dishes like savory corn pudding. This corn chowder is really too thick, rich and filling for a summer supper – but it’s perfect now that temperatures have finally started to cool down just a bit.

Thanks to extended growing seasons and better shipping and handling, you can find good, fresh sweet corn-on-the-cob in the produce section year-round these days. You can substitute good-quality frozen corn in this recipe if you really must, but the taste won’t be quite as bright and the texture may not be quite as good. If you are substituting frozen corn, you’ll need about five cups; keep two cups whole and use as is, and run the other three cups through your food process or blender briefly to get a roughly pureed texture. 

Corn Chowder

Ingredients:
10 ears corn husks and silks removed
3 to 4 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 Tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 Tbs  Unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
3/4  lb large red potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Bay leaf
1tsp thyme leaves, chopped fine
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp table salt
ground black pepper

Directions:
Stand corn on end. Using chef’s knife cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (you should have about 3 cups); transfer to medium bowl and set aside. Grate kernels from remaining 6 ears on large holes of box grater, then firmly scrape any pulp remaining on cobs with back of knife (you should have 2 generous cups kernels and pulp). Transfer to separate bowl and set aside.

Sauté bacon in Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, until crisp and golden brown. Reduce heat to low, stir in butter and onions, cover pot, and cook until softened, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add stock. Add potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, milk, grated corn and pulp; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved corn kernels and heavy cream and return to simmer; simmer until corn kernels are tender yet still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Makes about 2 quarts. 



German Cabbage


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves:8

Ingredients:
2 Tbs Food Club Canola Oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs red cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Food Club White Vinegar
1/4 cup Food Club Light Brown Sugar
4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled 

Directions:
In a skillet, over medium heat, add oil and garlic; cook garlic for a few seconds. Add cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Increase heat to high and add vinegar and brown sugar; mix until cabbage is evenly coated. Continue to cook until liquid begins to reduce. Remove from heat and add cooked bacon. 

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 92, Fat: 4 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 83 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 3 g. 

© 2011, Brookshire Grocery Co.  Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number.  All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician. 

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Posted in: Produce


Caprese Salad


Simple and Classic!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6 

Ingredients:
2 tomatoes, sliced
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil
1/4 cup Food Club Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Food Club Balsamic Vinegar 

Directions:
In a row alternate tomato slices and mozzarella cheese. Garnish with basil leaves. In a small bowl combine oil, salt and pepper; mix well. Serve salad with oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Nutritional Information:  Calories per Serving: 203, Fat: 17 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 20 mg, Sodium: 299 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 10 g.

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Posted in: Cooking, Produce


Light & Refreshing


Chicken and fruit salad with orange vinaigrette!

Prep Time: 15 minutes    Cook Time: 12 minutes 
Serves: 4 

Ingredients:
2 Tbs flour
1 3/4 tsp Lawry’s® 25% Less Sodium Seasoned Salt, divided
3/4 tsp Lawry’s® Seasoned Pepper, divided
4 small boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
6 Tbs canola oil, divided
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
8 cups salad greens
1 (8.25 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries 

Directions:
Mix flour, 1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt and 1/2 tsp seasoned pepper in shallow dish. Coat chicken evenly in flour mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Mix remaining 4 tablespoons oil, orange juice, vinegar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each seasoned salt and seasoned pepper in small bowl until well blended. Toss salad greens and fruit in large bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette; toss to coat well. Top with chicken. Serve immediately. 

Recipe provided by McCormick®



Tex-Mex cheese steak nachos


Ingredients:
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup chopped poblano pepper
1 cup chopped white onion
6 oz sirloin, flank steak or rib eye, sliced into strips and then cut into bites
1 jar Leigh Oliver’s White Queso, any flavor
Salt and pepper
1 can refried beans or refried black beans
6 oz tortilla chips 

Garnish: sour cream, chopped tomato, guacamole, chopped onion, jalapeño

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions
and sauté for about 4 minutes, until tender. Remove peppers and onions from
skillet and set aside. Sprinkle sirloin with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook
over medium-high heat until brown, but still medium-rare, about 4 minutes.
Remove from heat. Heat refried beans in microwave until warmed throughout,
about 2 minutes, stirring once. 

Arrange chips on serving platter and top each with a dollop of refried beans and a slice of sirloin. Drizzle with Leigh Oliver’s White Queso and garnish as desired. Serve immediately.



Family Matters: Feeding Baby Safely


It’s a big step in the care and feeding of your baby: The day you begin feeding solid foods.

While you may receive lots of well-meaning advice from grandparents, friends, and even the occasional stranger, you should recognize that recommendations may well have changed since the advice-giver was feeding their baby.

Always consult your pediatrician before starting your infant on solid foods. And brush up on some of the current prevailing wisdom on safely feeding solids.

When to start: Most babies can start eating solid food when they are between four and six months of age. That’s when they are able to swallow foods, as opposed to pushing back with their tongue against a feeding spoon. Yes, Grandma may say that she started feeding cereal when her baby was just six weeks old and it helped the baby sleep through the night, but today, pediatricians recognize infants can’t properly digest or swallow solids that young, and cereal served from a bottle can be a choking hazard.

Veggies first? You may have heard you should offer vegetables before trying fruit, so a baby used to applesauce doesn’t turn up her nose at the stronger tastes of things like pureed cauliflower or peas. Guess what? Researchers say it doesn’t really matter.  Babies are born with an innate taste for sweet foods, and that preference doesn’t change whether they’re fed peas or peaches first.  

Don’t hold the spice: The preference for bland, un-spiced baby food is largely a cultural issue. In other parts of the world, babies are served food that’s spiced the same way as adult food, and there’s little research that spicy foods harm children. Use common sense and stay away from really spicy things that may harm babies’ sensitive mouths and noses – no wasabi or habaneros – but a little cinnamon, ginger, cumin or even mild chiles like poblanos may tickle your baby’s palate and help them learn to eat a wider variety of foods while young.

Safety first: Baby-food recalls are often a parent’s big worry, but they’re actually quite rare. A much bigger safety issue is just following safety rules for proper feeding and food-handling.   

• Do not feed baby directly from the jar of food, unless you plan to use the entire jar at one meal. Saliva from your baby’s mouth can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria in the food. If you must serve from the jar, throw away any uneaten portion.
• Never microwave baby food. Uneven heating can cause hot spots that can burn baby’s mouth.
• Never leave a baby alone with food _ not even for a minute, while running to answer the phone.
• Don’t feed honey to a baby under 12 months; some pediatricians, in fact, now recommend 18 months as the cutoff.
• Slowly introduce potentially allergenic foods like peanut butter, eggs and wheat. A few years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that research does not support holding off on allergenic foods until after age 1, clearing the way to offer them to babies sooner. However, many pediatricians still suggest going slowly, especially if your baby has eczema or there’s a family history of food allergies or asthma.



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Copyright © 2010-2014, Brookshire’s. All rights reserved.
The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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