Fogo de Chao Dressing

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In New York City last week, we tasted a series of new fall items at our favoritre Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao. Those wonderful flavors made us wonder what they were cooking for Thanksgiving and how we could beg, borrow or steal the recipe. As it turned out, they figured we’d probably rather eat there for Thanksgiving than whip up their dressing of Brazilian sausage and Granny Smith apples. Actually, we can’t wait to try this recipe at home. It says it serves about 24 but, well, not if we’re around.

1/2 cup corn oil

20 ounces Brazilian Sausage

1 quart celery, 1/4” diced

1½ quart onions, 1/4” diced

1/2 cup chopped garlic

1 quart green apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2”cubes

2 quarts chicken broth

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 gallon seasoned croutons

2 cups chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place large pot on a burner on medium heat. Add oil and heat. Remove the casing of the sausage and break into small pieces. Add to pan and sauté until just cooked, about 3 minutes. Measure and add celery, onions, and garlic to the pot and sauté until onions are soft. Place apples in into the pot. Add chicken broth, poultry seasoning and salt. Mix well and remove from heat. Add croutons and mix until they are soft. Add parsley and mix well. Spray a large baking with vegetable spray and fill with stuffing mix. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serves about 24.


Turkey and Sausage Gumbo

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Yesterday my daughter Sara Heald called to complain that, after a lifetime of enjoying my turkey and sausage gumbo, she couldn’t find a single published recipe that reflected how I actually make the stuff. So I talked her through the batch she made and wrote up the “updated” recipe. The photo Sara sent me is proof in the pudding.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound smoked sausage, cut in chunks or coins

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

Creole seasoning to taste

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 pound frozen cut okra

1 cup chunky tomato salsa

3 cups chopped cooked turkey meat

10 cups turkey or chicken stock

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Louisiana hot sauce

Steamed white rice

Chopped green onion

Heat the olive oil in a kettle or soup pot with the sausage over medium-high heat, cooking until the sausage is crispy and brown around the edges. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook until softened. Season sausage and vegetables with Creole seasoning, crushed red pepper, lemon pepper, garlic and onion powders. Stir in the cut okra and cook 1-2 minutes, then add the salsa, stirring to incorporate 1-2 minutes. Add the turkey meat and the stock. Stir and heat just to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.

In a separate pot, combine the flour with the oil to form a thick paste. Cook over Stir over medium high heat, stirring often, till it begins to darken where it touches the pan. Stir to bring up the brown and mix with the still white roux until paste becomes thick and dark brown, 12-15 minutes. To stop roux cooking at desired color, carefully add a cup full of liquid with vegetables from the gumbo pot. Stir, being careful not to get burned by steam. Add more liquid and vegetables until a smooth, reddish mash is achieved. Incorporate this into the gumbo in increments until it reaches your desired thickness. Add hot sauce to taste, along with additional Creole seasoning if needed. Let simmer for 1 hour for flavors to meld. Serve in bowls over steamed white rice. Sprinkle with green onion. Serves 8-10.

Salmon Quesadillas

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This wonderful recipe was created by culinary partner in crime Nancy Marr, for a cookbook we’re doing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Fischer & Wieser’s Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. The sauce brings a special tang to the fresh salmon, which in turn adds a lot of interest and satisfaction to these quesadillas.

4 large shallots, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and black pepper

4 flour tortillas

1/4 pound fresh salmon, skinned

1/4 pound smoked, uncured salmon (preferably oak smoked)

½ avocado, sliced lengthwise

½ cup Asadero or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons raspberry chipotle sauce, plus more for serving

Butter for grilling the tortillas

Cilantro leaves for garnish

For the shallots, in a small sauté pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the

shallots and sauté for 2-3minutes. Season with salt and pepper and continue to sauté

about one minute more, until almost completely translucent. Sprinkle the sugar evenly

over the shallots and continue to cook until golden brown and caramelized. Taste, and

adjust seasoning, if needed.   Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat the fresh salmon dry and season with salt

and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cover with the 2 tablespoons of Sauce, ensuring

that all sides and the bottom of the fish are brushed with the sauce. Roast the salmon for

15-20 minutes, or until pink inside and medium rare. (The fish will continue to cook in

the quesadilla.)   Cool completely.

Using your hands or two forks, gently flake the smoked salmon into a small bowl. Flake the cooled, roasted salmon, in the same manner into the same bowl. Pour in any residual roasting juices and sauce. Gently toss the flaked salmon with the sauce. Butter all four tortillas on one side each. Heat a skillet or flat griddle to medium-high heat. To assemble one quesadilla, place the buttered side of one tortilla down in the skillet or on the griddle and sprinkle grated cheese on top, carefully making sure that the cheese reaches the edges of the tortilla. The cheese will serve as the “glue” and hold the top and bottom tortillas together.

Lay half of the caramelized shallots on around the tortilla on top of the cheese. Follow with the mix of salmon and avocado slices. Add one more layer of cheese, covering edges previously missed. Top, with another tortilla, buttered side up. Repeat with the remaining two tortillas and fillings. Grill each quesadilla for 2-3 minutes per side, pressing down with a spatula to “glue” the quesadilla together with the melted cheese.

When both sides of the quesadilla are golden brown and the cheese is fully melted, transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and let sit for 3-5 minutes before cutting into 1/4th or 1/6ths for smaller quesadillas. Arrange the slices nicely on a platter and scatter the cilantro leaves on and around the quesadillas. Serve with additional Sauce, for dipping. Serves 2-4





Greek Village Salad

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Almost every restaurant in America has, at one time or another, served something called a “Greek salad.” At the brand-new Helen Greek Food and Wine in Houston, though, the trick is not only using the freshest local produce but using olive oil, olives and oregano from Greece. And yes, for this particularly authentic salad, the lack of lettuce is intentional.

2 cups diced heirloom tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced red onions

1 cup sliced Persian cucumbers

1 handful of Kalamata olives

1 cup Greek extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dried wild Greek oregano

4 ounces Greek feta cheese

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Combine tomatoes, onions and cucumbers with all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Carefully toss together without breaking up the feta cheese too much. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Let rest for at least 15 minutes for flavors to meld. Transfer salad to a serving bowl and garnish with more feta, olive oil and dried oregano. Serves 2.

Grilled Shrimp BLT

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At this time of year, more and more people head to Round Top TX for a variety of reasons – but one of those reason is to eat at the café run by Bud Royer and his family. Once there and seated, another reason is to order this Shrimp BLT, one of the café’s longtime signature dishes.

1 stick butter

1 pound (16-20) shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

9 slices thick-cut bacon

Smokin’ Mesquite Mustard

1 red onion, peeled and sliced in rings

1 tomato, sliced

3 pieces green leaf lettuce

3 sourdough hoagie rolls, preferably Shelia Partin’s jalapeno

Melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the shrimp. Season with garlic powder and lemon pepper. When just pink and cook through, drain on paper towels. Cook the bacon in the skillet until crispy, then drain on paper towels. Spread both sides of the roll with the mustard, then lay out onion, tomato and lettuce on the bottom half. Add the shrimp and top with the other half of roll. Slice the sandwich into 2 halves, pinning each with a toothpick. Makes 3 sandwiches.


Island Lobster Feast

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We’re working away on a new Fischer & Wieser cookbook that’s due out in Spring 2016. All the recipes use the Fredericksburg company’s iconic (and much imitated) roasted raspberry-chipotle sauce. Here’s our latest recipe effort, and it’s proving quite the hit.


½ stick butter

½ cup roasted raspberry chipotle sauce

Juice of 1 large orange

Juice of 2 large limes

1-2 teaspoons Jamaican jerk paste, such as Walker’s Wood

1 teaspoon dehydrated onion

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon lemon pepper


1 ½ pound lobster cut in 1-inch chunks

1 zucchini, cut in 1-inch chunks

1 yellow squash, cut in 1-inch chunks

1 red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch chunks

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Lemon pepper

Prepared yellow rice

Black beans and corn

Lime slices for garnish

Soak bamboo skewers in water at least 30 minutes. Preheat a grill to medium-high. To make the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan with The Sauce, then stir in the citrus juices and jerk paste. Season the liquid with the onion, parsley and lemon pepper.  Make skewers by alternating lobster with the vegetables, then dousing with olive oil. Season with lemon pepper. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil across the grill and cook the skewers with the lid closed until virtually done, about 8 minutes. In the last 2 minutes of that, brush generously with the glaze. Close lid in between brushings. Transfer the skewers from the foil to directly to the grill, letting the ingredients sizzle and caramelize, still brushing with more glaze. Serve the skewers hot with yellow rice and a mixture of black beans and corn. Garnish with lime slices. Serves 6-8.


Spiced-Up Stroganoff

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If the Russian czars had grown up along the Gulf Coast, they might well have demanded (on pain of death, no doubt) that this fellow named Stroganoff pour more flavor into his namesake dish. Happily for those of us who live here today, it isn’t very hard to do.

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ pounds round steak, cut into strips

Salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

10-12 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 cup beef broth

¾ cup tomato salsa

½ cup dry red wine

1 ½ cups sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Cooked egg noodles

In a large pan, melt the butter with the olive oil, then stirfy the beef strips. Season as you to with salt and pepper, lemon pepper and garlic powder. Pour the beef and most of its liquid into a bowl and add the mushrooms to the remaining liquid in the pan. Splash in a little of the red wine and saute until mushrooms soften; pour them into the bowl with the beef. Saute the chopped shallot, carrot and celery the pan just until caramelized, then return the beef and mushrooms.  Add the broth, salsa and red wine. Once the liquid is heated through, stir in the sour cream to thicken. Stir in the parsley. Serve hot over egg noodles, garnishing with additional parsley and, if desired, crushed red pepper. Serves 6-8.

Seafood Acqua Pazza

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I first heard of “crazy water” from chef Andrea Apuzzo in New Orleans. For years, it was my favorite dish in his restaurant, Andrea’s, and we even featured the recipe in the cookbook we wrote together, “My Home Is Your Home.” But I never tried to make it at MY home until now. Turns out, it’s a not-difficult and totally delicious thing to do with fresh Gulf fish and shrimp. Here’s my variation on the Andrea’s original. It really packs a flavor punch. 

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

3 tablespoons dehydrated chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 (6-ounce) snapper or other mild- white-fleshed fish fillets

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

¾ cup dry white wine

¾ cup seafood or vegetable stock

8 cups cooked angel hair pasta, warm

In a bowl, mix the parsley, oregano, dehydrated onion, garlic, red pepper, lemon pepper, salt, Italian seasoning and Creole seasoning with the 1 cup olive oil. Stir to incorporate and let sit at least 30 minutes. When ready to cook, spread the herb mixture over the fish fillets and the shrimp; and let sit about 10 minutes. In a separate pan, combine the tomatoes, wine and stock and bring to a quick boil. Remove from heat. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan. Saute the fish on both sides, turning carefully, about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp, cooking just until pink, 4 minutes more. Pour in the tomato mixture and stir to heat through. Divide the pasta over 6 shallow bowls and top each mound with a fish fillet. Spoon shrimp and sauce over the fish and pasta, filling the bottom of the bowl with “crazy water.” Serves 6.


Soy-Glazed Ahi Tuna

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I’ve always loved the elemental flavors of Chinese cooking in America, which I suppose mean those we all learned to love here in (or taken out from) restaurants. Our tastes have gotten a lot more sophisticated over the decades, not to mention branched out to embrace Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and other Asian cuisines. But I still adore those elemental flavors. And I can still eat my weight in fried rice.

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons sherry

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon lemon pepper, plus additional

½ teaspoon sriracha or crushed red pepper

1 pound ahi tuna steaks

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups shrimp or vegetable fried rice

In a bowl, combine the soy sauce with the sugar, sherry and sesame oil, then add the green onions, garlic and fresh ginger. Season with the lemon pepper and sriracha or crushed red pepper. Let sit for about 30 minutes for flavors to meld. Season the tuna steaks with lemon pepper. Heat the oil in a pan or skillet over high heat until it pops. Add the tuna and sear quickly, no more than a minute or two on each side for rare inside. Remove hot pan from heat. Being careful to avoid splatters, pour in the sauce and turn the steaks one more time to coat them thoroughly. Remove tuna to a cutting board and let rest for about 2 minutes, then slice and quickly serve with hot fried rice. Spoon sauce from the pan over the top of the fish. Serves 4.

Moroccan Chicken Couscous

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There was a time that a restaurant meal built around North African couscous was the first thing I wanted to eat in Paris – and the second, and possibly the third. Now that I’ve learned to make this healthy chicken stew myself at home, I can settle for eating mostly French food in France.

3 carrots, cut in segments

1 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced in two

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 stalks celery, cut in pieces

1 large onion, roughly chopped

4 boneless chicken breast halves, cut in bite-sized pieces

Salt and pepper, or Creole seasoning

Mediterranean (or in a pinch, Italian) seasoning to taste

4 cups chicken broth

¾ cup diced or chopped tomato

1 can chick peas

Cooked quick or instant cous cous, preferably plain

Cook the carrots and Brussels sprouts in boiling water (or in microwave) until just softening, then saute in olive oil with the celery and onion until vegetables begin to caramelize. Season with both blends. Remove from pan and cook the chicken pieces until golden brown, seasoning with both blends as you go. Return the vegetables to the pan. Add the broth, tomato and chick peas. Reduce hit to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, letting flavors blend and deepen. Serve over warmed cooked couscous on dinner plates. Serves 6-8.