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Product Talk: Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil


I have a confession to make: I have lived in Texas for 15 years and I lived in parts of Louisiana for four years as a child and I have NEVER been to a shrimp boil.

Since it’s almost an official state pastime, I’ve been more-than-a-little embarrassed over my lack of shrimp-boiling prowess. I decided summertime was the perfect time to rectify that problem.

First stop: Brookshire’s for Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil, gorgeous 16/20 shrimp in the shells, earthy red potatoes and bright ears of corn on the cob. Let me just tell you, I love me some Zatarain’s. And while I’m at it, I have another confession: I always thought my mom’s red beans and rice was the best in the universe, but Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice gives it a run for its money! (Please don’t tell my mom). So it was practically a no-brainer to use a Zatarain’s product for my first shrimp boil.

Second stop: My very own kitchen to dig out my beautiful blue and white enamel stock pot, the one I’d use if ever called upon to cook for a small army.

I was ready.

The Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab boil is exactly as its name promises: a concentrated, spicy blend of red pepper, bay, clove, black pepper, thyme, marjoram and other spices. It comes in an 8-ounce bottle and you really only need a capful per two quarts of water, unless you really want to spice up your party. It’s easy to use and you don’t need any other spices or flavorings.

A shrimp boil is an extremely quick, easy party meal and fun for the whole family. I’d recommend spreading newspaper out on your table so you can dig in and enjoy your shrimp and not worry about the mess!

Southern Shrimp Boil

Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
2 quarts water
2 Tbs salt (optional)
2 lbs large shrimp with shells on (21 to 30 count)
4 ears of corn on the cob, shucked and sliced in half
8 red potatoes, whole
1 lb cooked smoked sausage (optional)
2 tsp Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil

Directions:
Bring water and salt to boil in large stock pot.
Add potatoes and corn, cook for about 5 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Stir in shrimp, sausage if using, and Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil. Return to boil; cover. Cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Drain well. 



PRODUCT TALK: Blueberry Crumble


Blueberries are bursting with flavor and are in peak season across the South right now.

When my boys were younger, we’d go pick blueberries straight from the bushes, eating as many as we bagged to bring home (blueberry bushes are naturally insect repellent, so farmers rarely use pesticides on them and you can eat while you pick). These days, I live within walking distance of a Brookshire’s store, so at the beginning of the summer, I walk straight to the store and buy pints of the beautiful, juicy berries.

One of my favorite things to make with them is a blueberry crumble. I have to admit, I love the brown sugar crust almost as much as the sweet, gooey filling. My mom had the best crumble recipe. In fact, I remember emailing her, asking for it, the day before I ran my first staff meeting as the supervisor to three other employees, some 11 years ago. I planned to serve it warm, with a healthy dose of re-organization.

She emailed back the recipe, adding, “You’re a good boss, Amy.”

I didn’t know about all that. My strategy was to earn my way into their professional hearts through their stomachs. It must have worked; we remain friends to this day and when I left the company some time later, they all paid me kind compliments that had nothing to do with my culinary skills. Apparently the Blueberry Crumble – or the massive reorganization of the department – must not have been too bad. 

View this recipe to print or add items to your Shopping List.

BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE 

Ingredients:
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 Tbs lemon juice
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Spread blueberries in square, 8 x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix remaining ingredients, sprinkle over berries.

Heat oven to 375 F. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is light brown and berries are hot. Delicious served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.



Product Talk: Cilantro, Pesto-Style


People seem to have a love-hate relationship with cilantro, with very few people I know having the opinion of “take it or leave it” when it comes to how they feel about its distinct taste. 

I definitely fall in the category of those who adore the flavor of the vibrant green herb also known as coriander or Chinese parsley. But until recently, I only thought of adding fresh cilantro to my Tex-Mex or Asian recipes, brightening my salsas, salads and stir-fry dishes. 

Cilantro is much more versatile than I realized until recently when a good friend introduced me to the delicious taste of cilantro pesto. She had replaced the traditional basil in pesto with an abundance of cilantro from her garden and served  it drizzled over grilled salmon. The flavor combination was amazing, and it opened my eyes and palate to many possibilities of cooking with cilantro that I had been overlooking.

Fresh cilantro doesn’t last long at all, but this recipe for Cilantro Pesto stores well in your refrigerator. If the olive oil in the pesto hardens, just return to room temperature or heat and stir before using. Pecans also taste great instead of walnuts…and I’ve now experimented with adding a handful of shelled pumpkin seeds or “pepitas” when I happen to have some in the pantry. Enjoy! 

Cilantro Pesto 

Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and dried well
5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Directions: 

In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, vinegar, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, walnuts and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and blend into the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches desired consistency. Store in refrigerator up to two weeks.

Serving Ideas:
Serve over cream cheese with crackers for an instant appetizer. 

Toss with hot, cooked bowtie pasta. 

Drizzle over grilled salmon or shrimp. 

Serve as a dipping sauce with grilled chicken tenders. 

Spread over pizza crust instead of traditional tomato sauce. 

Spread thin layer inside corn tortillas when making cheese enchiladas. 

Spoon a little into tomato or tortilla soup.



Product Talk: The Year of the Baguette


If you are like me and enjoy reading food and cooking magazines, then you have to have noticed that this month’s covers are covered in baguettes. I’ve seen these crusty French bread loaves on at least three major magazines, and being that the baguette is probably my favorite way to enjoy bread, I’m thrilled.

Of course, you can always make your own baguettes at home, but to be honest, I don’t see the point unless you are a well-trained baker and you have all the right ingredients and pans. It used to be that only the best boutique bakeries in our towns offered authentic baguettes, but these days it’s easy to find a notable selection at your local Brookshire’s.

I love to bake my French bread to a hard crusty crunch, breaking off bites and dipping them in cold butter sprinkled with sea salt. If I’m not careful, I can eat the entire loaf before realizing what I’ve done. There are many nights I am content to enjoy French bread and some good cheese and want nothing more for dinner.

Baguettes are also my go-to ingredient for appetizers. It’s so easy to slice the loaf in thin slices, toast for about 10 minutes at 350°F and then top with all kinds of delicious spreads and salsas.

Here are a few of my favorites: Honey Goat Cheese with Strawberries:

Baguette Topping: Honey Goat Cheese with Strawberries

Ingredients:
6 oz soft goat cheese
2 Tbs honey
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly but leaving tops intact
16 to 20 toasted baguette slices

Directions:
Stir goat cheese and honey together in a small bowl; spread about 1 tablespoon onto each bread slice.

Place strawberries on bread fanning strawberry over cheese. Repeat with remaining bread slices. 

Baguette Topping: “Smashed” Tomato and Olive Bruschetta 

Ingredients:
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I love using multi-colored tomatoes)
1/2 cup black olives
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1 Tbs dried oregano
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1/2 loaf French baguette, cut into slices and toasted with 1 clove garlic rubbed into one side of each slice Fresh Parmesan cheese, for shaving.

Using your hand, carefully smash the tomatoes in a medium-sized bowl.  On a cutting board, gently smash the olives as well, removing any stones. Add olives to tomatoes and toss.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add oregano and basil leaves and mix gently.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  To serve, top each baguette slice with tomato topping and finish with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.



Product Talk: HOLY MOLY GUACAMOLE


Guacamole was probably the first dish I ever taught myself to make. I was about 14, and had recently moved to East Texas with my family from Corpus Christi. I really missed the authentic Mexican food I grew up on in South Texas, and one day, when I was craving guacamole, I figured I could just make it myself. Avocados, lime juice, a little pico de gallo–how hard could it be?

I wish I could say that’s the day I knew I would become a chef, but that’s not exactly true. Eventually, I did graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, and set out to cook my way across North America. I worked in restaurants, hotels, and gourmet markets in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Cozumel and Fort Worth before joining Brookshire’s in 2008.

But, that first guacamole turned out pretty good, and that small success did jumpstart my interest in the kitchen, encouraging me to try to cook more. Lucky for me, I picked a first dish that’s pretty forgiving, and can be as simple as you want it to be.

Good guacamole depends on just one main thing– avocados that are perfectly ripe. Too hard, and they won’t mash up smooth and creamy. Too ripe, and the guac may taste bitter or “off.”  From there, the only must-haves in my book are fresh lime juice and salt. Everything else is up to you–tomatoes, fresh cilantro, jalapeños, onions, garlic, or your own secret ingredient.

Now, as Brookshire’s corporate chef, I develop recipes for a living–I create most of the recipes you see in Celebrate Cooking every month, as well as work to bring you new, interesting, and delicious foods in all our Brookshire’s stores.

But the simple recipe I’ve created here for guacamole isn’t all that far off from the one I remember making in my parents’ kitchen in East Texas so many years ago. It’s creamy, bright and fresh, and when I eat it, it makes me think of home.

Ingredients:
2 perfectly ripe avocados
1 Tbs red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small jalapeño, minced
2 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves,chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbs lime juice 

Directions:
Halve avocados, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Using fork or potato masher mash lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and kosher salt until just combined, but still chunky. 

Sprinkle lime juice over and mix lightly with fork until combined. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve. Can be covered with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of mixture, and refrigerated up to one day. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.  

Nutritional Information:  Calories per Serving: 109, Fat: 10 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 199 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 5 g, Protein: 1 g 



Product Talk: The Season for Spring’s Sweet Onions


It only takes a bite to realize that not all onions taste the same. There are differences – sometimes subtle but sometimes huge – among yellow, white and red onions. Here are a few of the basic things to remember about which onion you want to choose in your cooking:

White Onions: Milder than the yellow onion, used frequently in Mexican cuisine, not powerful in flavor

Red Onions: Best eaten raw, perfect in salads and sandwiches, cooking will diminish most of the flavor

Yellow Onions: Most popular for cooked dishes, higher sulfur content makes your eyes water, pungent and difficult to enjoy raw

This time of year, sweet yellow onions are coming into play, and I find myself looking for any reason at all to add their delicate flavor to all kinds of recipes! I have been making pots and pots of French Onion Soup right now for this reason alone. Thankfully, my family loves it!

One of my favorite recipes to make right now is a sweet onion dip using Greek yogurt as the base instead of sour cream. Caramelizing the yellow onion mellows and sweetens their flavor even more. Greek yogurt is a bit tangier than sour cream, so if you don’t want this added zing, use half sour cream alongside the yogurt. 

Sweet Onion Dip

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs salted butter
2 medium sweet yellow onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 (16 oz) container of plain 2% Greek yogurt
2 tsps light brown sugar
salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large pot, add olive oil and butter over low heat. When melted, add chopped onions, garlic and salt, stirring until all onions are well coated in the oil/butter mixture. Cover the pot and cook for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and cook 5 minutes, until onions are caramelized. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt and caramelized onions, stirring in additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with potato chips, sweet potato chips, fresh vegetable sticks or pita chips. Also wonderful as a substitute for mayonnaise on hamburgers! Makes 2 cups. Store in refrigerator.



Product Talk: The joy of anticipation


I cannot hear Carly Simon’s song, “Anticipation,” without thinking of ketchup. Heinz ketchup. 

One of the smartest things that the marketing people at Heinz did was to take what could have been a weakness—slow-pouring ketchup—and make it the product’s strength. 

Condiment lovers everywhere began to believe that having to wait for their ketchup must mean it was better than the ones that poured quickly. 

Anticipation seems to make an experience more meaningful, even something as simple as a wonderful meal at your favorite restaurant. In my life, I have found that my good feelings intensify when I have had time to think about and enjoy something before it becomes a reality. 

Think about how you felt on Christmas Eve as a child. The butterflies you felt waiting for your first real kiss with someone you love. Or even just planning dinner and a movie with friends after a long week. 

Who would have guessed that the marketing for Heinz Ketchup would remind me of a truth I hold onto as often as possible: There is great joy to be found in anticipation. 

Busy Day Pork Chops 

Ingredients:
1 cup Heinz ketchup
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 thick center-cut pork chops
 

Directions:
Combine ketchup, water, brown sugar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Place chops in a two-quart glass baking dish and pour sauce over pork chops. Do not cover. Bake at 250°F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serve with hot, cooked rice.



Product Talk: A Chili Sauce Worth Crowing About


A few years ago as I was shopping on the Asian aisle at Brookshire’s, a clear squeeze bottle decorated with a bright green top and a rooster on the label caught my eye. I was looking for the usual ingredients to stir-fry for my family that night when I noticed the cool bottle and its unusual name: Sriracha Sauce. You pronounce it “sir-ra-cha,” which comes from the coastal city Si Racha in Thailand.

I’ll try most anything at least once, so I brought the bottle home and thought we would give it a taste. I would be lying if I said it didn’t take some trial and error before I discovered how deliciously addictive this sauce is for me. I now find reasons to add it to everything from burritos and pizza to burgers and Chinese food!

Sriracha Sauce, or “Rooster Sauce” as it is known by its cult-like followers, is basically a puree of sun-ripened chiles, along with a fairly strong garlicky flavor and a little hint of sweetness. It definitely packs some heat, which is why you need to play with it a while to find your sweet spot.

Start with just a little, maybe adding it to your mayonnaise or ketchup to kick them up a notch. It is fantastic mixed with soy sauce for Asian dishes, and I love mixing it with grilling spices to make a wonderful paste for smoking brisket and pork butt. I even add it to my spaghetti sauce, deviled eggs, and Bloody Marys!

The more I have researched Sriracha Sauce, the more I realize that the sauce is the secret ingredient in not only my kitchen, but many popular chefs across the world. There’s even a cookbook out now completely devoted to the sauce.

To help you get started, try this delicious Honey Sriracha Glaze for your favorite grilled meats:

Honey Sriracha Glaze

Ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce



Product Talk: New fresh-made pizza


Another Monday. Back to work, back to school, back to trying to figure out what the heck to feed the family tonight.

Can’t help you with the first two, but I’ve got dinner tonight covered: Introducing our new, take-and-bake Colossal Pizzas.

In family-friendly cheese and pepperoni flavors, these new ready-to-bake pizzas are truly family-sized.

Each oversized pizza can serve up to 8 hungry people – for just $6.99!

These super-sized pizzas are hand-crafted in our store delis, with plenty of toppings on a traditional pan-style crust. (I describe it as a hybrid; it’s not quite as thick as a Chicago-style pan pizza, but thicker than a New York pie.) They bake up hot and fresh in your own oven in about 18-25 minutes. Or, plan ahead, and buy one today for a no-fuss dinner later in the week. (They also freeze well)

Today is the first day these new pizzas will be available in our delis; look for them in the refrigerated deli case in your neighborhood store. And starting Wednesday, you can get an extra-sweet dinner deal: Buy one Colossal Pizza, get a Digiorno Parmesan or Asiago cup for only 99 cents. (That’s a savings of $3.)

So, OK, it’s still Monday. But with dinner plans made, you have one less thing to worry about today.



Product talk: Tomatillos


Tomatillos may look like they’re just little green tomatoes, but that’s not exactly correct. They come from the same family as tomatoes, and their name means “little tomato” in Spanish, but tomatillos have a quite different texture and flavor from a standard-issue tomato. They’re tarter, more acidic, with almost a citrusy taste that you will recognize from some of your favorite Mexican dishes, like enchiladas verdes.

Once available mostly in specialty markets and in Texas, tomatillos are now pretty widely available throughout the U.S., as our taste for authentic Mexican cuisine has grown. (The CDC has even named them veggie of the month for April, through an education program that encourages people to add new and interesting vegetables to their diet.)

Even if you’ve never bought fresh tomatillos, you’ve almost certainly eaten them. They are a main ingredient in green salsas, and their tart, bright flavor goes especially well with sour cream, cheese, tortillas and other creamy or blander foods that cut their acidity. And like tomatoes, they are low in calories and high in nutrition – a whole cup of fresh tomatillos is just 40 calories, but provides 30 percent of your day’s Vitamin C.

To select fresh tomatillos, look for those that are firm to the touch and still have a light brown, fresh, papery husk attached. If the husk is shriveled or looks dry or crumbly, the tomatillo may be past its prime. You will need to remove the husk before using, but if you are storing them for a few days, leave the husk on, and keep them on the counter or in the fridge’s vegetable drawer.

This is a classic tomatillo salsa. Serve it alone with chips or as a taco or burrito sauce. Or you can cut it with sour cream and use it in place of your favorite enchilada sauce for green chicken enchiladas.

Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients:
6 cups tomatillos, whole (about two pounds)
3 cups onions, roughly chopped (about 1.5 pounds)
3 jalapeno peppers, whole
6 cloves garlic
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Place tomatillos, onions, jalapenos and garlic in a large pot with enough water to cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Drain and place on a sheet pan and put in refrigerator to cool.

When mixture has cooled, place in blender along with cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Slowly add lime juice, a little bit at a time, until the desired acidity level is reached.  Taste and add additional salt if desired.

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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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