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Product Talk: A cook’s best friend – Buttermilk


I grew up in the Deep South in a time and place where all tea was sweet and all sodas were called “co-colas.” I can also remember my grandmother’s answer every time I asked her for a glass of milk: “Butter or sweet?” 

And as stereotypical as it sounds, it really wasn’t unusual for us to sit on her screened porch and enjoy a glass of cold buttermilk – maybe even with some leftover cornbread or biscuits crumbled in it as well.  

I don’t know when I grew out of the habit of enjoying buttermilk as a beverage, but I’m guessing it was probably around the time chocolate milk hit the market. Suddenly buttermilk was nothing but sour! 

Thankfully, I never gave up my appreciation for buttermilk as one of the most versatile ingredients in my cooking. From brining to baking and all points between, buttermilk adds a dimension of flavor you just can’t get from “sweet” milk. 

I hope you’re already familiar with how delicious buttermilk is in biscuits and pancakes, and I really hope you’ve discovered the heaven on earth known as buttermilk pie. But next time you’re cooking, think about choosing buttermilk instead of milk in your mashed potatoes, homemade salad dressings, blueberry muffins, and even your chocolate sheet cake icing. 

And just like my grandmother taught me, I always use buttermilk to soak my chicken breasts and chicken fried steak before dipping them in flour and frying them in the cast-iron pan she left to me when she passed away. 

Brookshire’s Southwest Dairy makes the Food Club buttermilk you can find in our stores. Our churns may be a bit bigger than the old days, but the taste and quality is as good as it gets. From savory to sweet, our buttermilk’s slightly tangy flavor has been the secret best friend for generations of cooks  ̶  and doting grandmothers  ̶  across the south. 

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 

Ingredients:
3 large or 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, halved, and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup Food Club buttermilk, warmed
2 green onions, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper 

Directions:
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Drain, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Using a potato ricer, gently press the potatoes over a large bowl. (If you don’t have a potato ricer, use a sieve and wooden spoon. For best results, don’t use an electric mixer.) Mix in butter, 1 teaspoon salt, buttermilk and green onions and gently stir to blend. Add a tablespoon or 2 of cooking liquid if necessary to obtain desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.



Product Talk: Atlantic salmon


Scared of cooking salmon at home? Don’t be. With our precise instructions, anybody who can set a timer can sear salmon like a pro.

Salmon is a popular fish for a reason – it’s meaty, tasty AND heart-healthy. (It’s full of those Omega-3 fats we’re all supposed to be eating.) And yet it’s one of the easiest, most forgiving fish to grill, sauté or sear.

With this precisely timed recipe, all the salmon needs is a few minutes in a hot pan, plus a squirt of lemon juice or a sprinkle of fresh herbs to “finish” it if you desire.  Serve with a side of rice and a green vegetable for a heart-healthy meal worthy of a restaurant chef, but at affordable, cook-at-home prices.

PAN-SEARED SALMON

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets (skin-on), each about 6 ounces and 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick
Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet for 3 minutes over high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and ground black pepper.

2. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. When oil shimmers (but does not smoke) add fillets skin side down and cook, without moving fillets, until pan regains lost heat, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue to cook until skin side is well browned and bottom half of fillets turns opaque, 4 1/2 minutes. Turn fillets and cook, without moving them, until they are no longer translucent on the exterior and are firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed: 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3 1/2 minutes for medium. Remove fillets from pan; let stand 1 minute. Pat with paper towel to absorb excess fat on surface, if desired. Serve immediately.



Product Talk: Don’t tap out with Kona Deep


Brookshire’s has a new bottled water on our shelves, Kona Deep.  And this water has a cool story behind it. In fact, it’s an ice cold one.

Kona Deep is natural glacial water found 3000 feet below the earth’s surface off the Kona coast in Hawaii. You might be thinking that Hawaii doesn’t have any glaciers, and you’re right. Kona Deep’s water is part of a glacier that sank off the coast of Greenland more than 1000 years ago. A natural undersea current brings it to Hawaii, fresh and flowing all the time.

What makes Kona Deep different from the other bottled waters crowding the market is that no other water offers such a rich source of natural electrolytes, minerals and nutrients. The water picks up significant levels of these electrolytes and minerals as it travels deep under the sea.

My first question when I heard about Kona Deep was, “Isn’t sea water going to taste salty?” But Kona Deep does not. For all of your science buffs, Kona Deep runs through a desalination process and uses reverse osmosis to remove the salt without losing any of the benefits. For all of you like me, you just need to know Kona Deep’s taste is pristine, almost sweet in its purity. It’s perfect to drink alone, and it also makes my morning coffee taste even better.

And for all of you CrossFit athletes out there, you might be interested to know Kona Deep was the presenting sponsor for this year’s Fittest Games in Austin, Texas.

Kona Deep is available now in all Brookshire’s Stores. Look for the cool blue bottle.

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Posted in: Product Talk


Product Talk: Quinoa


Quinoa – you pronounce it keen-wah – sounds exotic, but it’s really not.

And if it’s not in your cooking repertoire, it should be.

Quinoa is actually a seed, but it can be used like a grain – as a substitute for rice, couscous, or any similar grain. Popular among vegetarians because it is the most complete protein of any grain, it is catching on with the rest of us because it’s easy and fast to cook, very nutritious, and just plain tastes good.

If you’ve never tried it, quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor, and cooks up light and creamy, with just a bit of a crunchy texture as contrast. It works in pilafs, salads, tabouli and just about any dish calling for rice.

Quinoa cooks even faster than most grains – it can be ready in about 20 minutes. Before cooking, you should always rinse it well first, to remove any residue, which can give quinoa a slightly bitter flavor. (If you’ve tried it before and didn’t like it, this may be the reason!) Also, to bring out an even nuttier flavor, you can toast the quinoa, as you would nuts; just heat it in a dry skillet for three-four minutes, over medium heat, being careful not to burn it.

Quinoa with black beans and tomatoes

Serves 4 as main dish

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup canned tomatoes
3/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen; if using canned, rinse and drain)
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Sour cream, fresh avocado, and pepper-jack cheese, to garnish

Directions:
Rinse quinoa in cold water. (Because it is very fine, cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer works better than a typical colander.) Set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook for about five minutes, until slightly softened. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook for another five minutes or so, until all vegetables are soft and lightly browned. Add tomatoes.

Add quinoa and broth and stir. Stir in cumin, chile powder and chile flakes. Bring all to a low boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid.

Remove lid, stir well, and add black beans and corn. Cook another five minutes or so, until entire mixture is heated through. Season with salt and pepper, and squeeze lime juice over all. Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices and pepper-jack cheese as garnishes.

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Posted in: Product Talk


Product Talk: Brookshire’s Best Coffee


If you like coffeehouse quality coffee – but not coffeehouse prices – take a bag of our Brookshire’s Best premium coffee home today! We start from the finest beans grown in exotic origins around the world and then expertly roast and package them to lock in the flavor and freshness.

Just like the beans you find in a coffee shop, all of our Brookshire’s Best coffees are 100% Arabica beans hand-picked at the peak of ripeness. They come from the most prestigious coffee-growing regions in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Indonesia (just to name a few!) often by coffee farmers that have been growing coffee for generations.

You can choose from as many as 20 origins, blends and flavors in our Brookshire’s Best line.  From the bold and rich flavor of French Roast to the fragrant and sweet flavor of Hazelnut Crème;  you can find them in the whole bean format or pre-ground for convenience.  We offer a variety of sizes to satisfy every customer and every occasion.

The only thing easier would be if we would come home with you, and make your coffee.  Actually, we sort of do: Brookshire’s Best is the brand we brew at our Java Jams in-store coffee shop and in our bakery areas. Pick up a quick cup when you’re on the go or savor a cup as your shop all of our great products.

To really get that coffeehouse experience at home, try this easy recipe for a gourmet-style mocha, made with regular brewed coffee. (I like it with a flavor like pecan praline or heavenly hazelnut.) If you like really strong, espresso-style drinks, brew the coffee at double strength.

Coffee Mocha
Makes one serving

Ingredients:
6 ounces strong, hot Brookshire’s Best coffee, your choice of flavor
1/3 cup milk, warmed
2 teaspoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional
Cinnamon and whipped cream, to garnish

Directions:
Brew coffee of your choice, but use about twice as much coffee as you’d use when drinking coffee straight. Meanwhile, warm milk in microwave or over stove.

In large mug, combine cocoa powder and sugar. Pour hot coffee and hot milk over mixture, and stir very well. Add vanilla, if desired. Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Product Talk: Yukon Gold potatoes


Restaurant consultants and food writers are calling 2012 the “Year of the Potato.” Well, personally, I think pretty much every year is the potato’s year, at least in the United States. Year in and year out, we eat more potatoes than any other vegetable.

Of all the potatoes out there, however, the one that is probably getting the most attention right now is the Yukon Gold. And there’s a good reason for that. These yellow-skinned, yellow-fleshed potatoes are naturally buttery and creamy, and are good just about any way you cook them.

You may have just heard of these golden potatoes in the last few years, as chefs and restaurants have discovered them, but they are not all that new. In fact, in much of the rest of the world, yellow potatoes have been the gold standard for centuries.

In the U.S., however, we have traditionally preferred potatoes with white flesh. That began to change only about a generation ago, after Canadian researchers developed the Yukon Gold by crossing North American white potatoes with yellow varieties from South America.

The result was a yellow-fleshed potato with skin so thin you don’t really have to peel them, and a tender flesh that is especially good for pan-frying, boiling, and mashing.

That probably has a lot to do with the unique texture and starch content. Yukon Golds do not have quite as much starch as a traditional baking potato like an Idaho or a russet, but they have a little more starch than a red potato, which is often boiled or mashed. They cook fairly quickly, so you do have to watch them, as they can get too soft and fall apart if overcooked.

Also, unlike some potatoes, they don’t turn grayish when cooked. In fact, they often turn a little more golden, so your mashed potatoes will have a pretty golden hue, even if you don’t use much butter to flavor them. 

Which, right there, is part of the reason potatoes are popular again in some circles. Now that the “low-carb” diet fad has died down, more people have realized that potatoes can actually be pretty good for you, as long as you don’t overload them with fat and salt. (A medium uncooked potato has only about 100 calories, but good chunks of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.)

And that is where the Yukon Gold really stands out. You may find you that Yukon Golds have a richer flavor and creamier texture than other potatoes, so you can get by with less butter, cream, cheese or bacon in your favorite potato dishes. 

 

 



Product Talk: Exploring Hispanic cheeses


Cheese is an important part of Mexican and Latin American cooking –but not just any cheese. There’s a whole world of specialty Hispanic cheeses out there. Mild crumbly cheeses to garnish a salad. Creamy, rich, meltable cheeses for sauces and pasta. Hard, intensely flavored cheeses to perk up any dish.

Smart U.S. cooks are finding out just how versatile these cheeses are, too. They not only make your Mexican dishes more flavorful and authentic, but they are a good, value-conscious substitute for many other kinds of commonly used cheeses. Here’s a starter guide to some of the most commonly found Hispanic cheeses – look for these varieties in the market section of your local store.

Asadero: Traditionally used in queso fundido – a kind of Mexican fondue that is similar to the chile con queso that’s popular in the U.S. It’s smooth, has just a bit of a bite, and melts easily, so it’s a good substitute for any melting cheese like Monterey jack, Colby-jack, fontina or American cheese.

Cotija: This is a firmer, stronger-tasting cheese that is typically crumbled or grated. Often called the “Parmesan cheese of Mexico,” it can be sprinkled over pasta or refried beans, over salads, or used to flavor tostadas or tacos. It’s salty and flavorful so you don’t need to use very much. Use instead of Parmesan, Romano, grana padano, or other hard, stronger cheeses.

Manchego: Creamy and meltable, with a nuttier, slightly stronger flavor than many of these other types. It’s good in sandwiches, pastas, or simply served with bread, crackers or olives. Mexican-style manchego is softer and milder than most Spanish-style manchego cheeses.

Panela: Mild and soft, this fresh cheese is often crumbled into tacos and burritos, or is good as a snack. It’s so mild that children will eat it like string cheese. It doesn’t melt well, though.

Oaxaca: The state of Oaxaca, in the southern part of Mexico, contributed this mild cheese, which is sometimes referred to as Mexican string cheese, as you can separate it into strands before eating or cooking. It’s somewhat similar in taste and texture to mozzarella, and good in quesadillas or even pizza.

Queso Fresco: A mild, crumbly cheese that’s often used atop beans, salads or tostadas; it doesn’t have the bite of cotija. You can substitute it for feta, which has a similar texture, but queso fresco doesn’t have quite as strong a taste as that traditional Greek cheese.

Quesadilla: A very mild, meltable cheese, perfect for grating and using in quesadillas, but also good in sandwiches, panini, or even melted on cheeseburgers. You may also find this cheese in a jalapeno flavor; it’s got the same texture but a hint of heat. It’s a great substitute for American, Monterey jack or Colby cheese.



Product Talk: Home-grown milk


When I say that Food Club milk, produced right in Brookshire’s hometown of Tyler, Texas, is some of the best you can buy, I’m not just bragging.

I’m talking about the awards it has won – most recently, at the dairy products championship at the World Dairy Expo, in Madison, Wisconsin, a kind of Super Bowl for milks, dips, yogurts and cheeses. There, we competed against some of the biggest producers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and took third place for our 1 percent milk. (And we placed even higher with our blueberry yogurt, sour cream, and sour cream ranch dip, all starting with our great milk – but that’s a story for another day.)

And I’m also talking about the high standards we hold for every drop of milk that comes through our plant.

It starts with our suppliers. We work with a dairy cooperative that provides our plant with farm-produced milk, most of it from the dairy farming areas around Texas. Because of our relationship with these dairies, some of them small family operations, we receive only the highest-quality milk they produce.

We test all of our milk before it arrives in our plant, to weed out any that contains several different antibiotics or high microbial counts, which would indicate unhealthy cows or unsanitary procedures on the farm, among other things. We want our milk to be natural and healthy, so we don’t accept milk that shows traces of these substances.

Once it arrives at our plant, we process it using our state-of-the-art technology. Then we rush it on to our stores so you get it at the peak of freshness. And because we keep the whole process in-house, we are able to offer our Food Club milk at a value-conscious price.

But don’t just take my word for it – or even the word of those judges at the World Dairy Expo. Our Food Club milk comes in comes in fat-free, 1%, 2% and whole milk, as well as chocolate milk, buttermilk and Bulgarian buttermilk. (Those last two are terrific for baking.) Pick up the variety your family drinks and give it your own taste test.

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Product Talk: Whole grains and General Mills


A new year often prompts us to make new pledges about living better and eating better – but we all know how hard those promises are to keep out in the real world.

So here’s some help, from some products that are probably already on your family’s table, Big G Cereals from General Mills.

Big G cereals include many favorite brands, such as Wheaties, Chex, Cheerios, Fiber One and Lucky Charms. Most cereals are already a low-fat, healthy breakfast option, but over the past few years, General Mills has been working hard to improve the nutritional content of their cereals. They’re boosting the whole grain content, lowering sugar, decreasing sodium, and adding ingredients with health benefits.

For instance:

  • All General Mills Big G Cereals now list whole grains as the first ingredient, and contain more whole grain than anything else. This is in keeping with a USDA recommendation that consumers look for products that list “whole grain” as the first ingredient listed on the nutrition information panel.
  • All Big G cereals advertised to children – like Trix, Reese’s Puffs and Cookie Crisp – now have 10 grams of sugar or less per serving. This reflects an ongoing effort to reduce sugar content in these products over the past five years. There has been an average sugar reduction of 14 percent on Big G kids’ cereals since 2007; some cereals have had their sugar content reduced by up to 28 percent. What’s more, General Mills continues these efforts, and is committed to reaching single-digit sugar levels on all its cereals advertised to children under age 12. And somehow, they’ve done this while maintaining the flavor and texture you and your children enjoy.
  • All Big G kid cereals provide a good source of calcium and many other vitamins, along with at least 8 grams of whole grain in every serving. You can learn more about General Mills’ nutrition initiatives here and here.  

Why is this important to you? Well, you already know the importance of lowering your sugar consumption, and taking in the recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals. But whole grains are increasingly recognized as an important factor in healthy eating, and most Americans don’t eat enough.

 Simply put, whole grain means the complete grain. When grains are refined, as in white flour, the bran and germ are removed, so you don’t get their nutritional benefits, which include B vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.

Recent USDA recommendations suggest adults should get about 48 grams of whole grains daily – which means whole grains should make up about half of all the breads, cereals and other such products you consume.

That sounds like a lot. But when you consider that a bowl of Big G cereal has at least 8 grams of whole grains – and often as much as 16 – you can get a good start on that daily requirement just by eating breakfast. And suddenly, that New Year’s resolution to eat better doesn’t seem quite so impossible.



Product Talk: Darling clementines


Don’t confuse a clementine with an orange.

Yes, they’re part of the same family; a clementine is just a tiny type of mandarin orange, small enough to eat in just a few bites. But they are very sweet, juicy, have virtually no seeds and a very thin edible membrane. Plus, their thin peel just slides away with almost no effort. They are the perfect citrus fruit for kids – small enough to fit in little hands, and so easy to peel that children can do it themselves.

Only a few years ago, clementines weren’t that easy to find in supermarkets. Up until about a decade or two ago, most clementines we got here were imported, often from Europe, where their growing season is short and sweet.

But  once U.S. consumers started getting their hands on clementines, the demand grew. U.S. growers began planting more, especially in California. Today, at Brookshire’s, we carry two main brands of clementines:

Bagu: These are Spanish-grown clementines, and come in a five-pound wooden crate. Consistently sweet, and you’ll almost never run across a seed. Their season, however, is shorter, lasting only through January or February.

Cuties: California-grown, these are mandarin oranges, available in three-pound bags. Cuties have been developed to have a slightly longer harvesting season, and will likely be available through April. (Later in the season, Cuties are actually Murcott mandarins, which have the same small size, sweet flavor, thin skin and virtually seedless interior as the clementine.)

Which type you like better is largely a matter of taste. I’m partial to the Spanish ones, because I think they’re slightly sweeter, but either type makes a great snack or light dessert, especially this time of year, when you may be trying to atone for weeks of holiday indulging.

As a matter of fact, clementines are a great fruit to add to your diet. They are low in calories and high in Vitamin C. Eat three of them (and believe me, that’s not hard to do) and you will take in only about 100 calories, but you’ll meet your daily recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.



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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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