Ventanas Magazine  
follow us: facebook twitter newsletter
Top Leaderboard  
Subscribe to
Advertise in
Pick it up at
Back Issues
2012 - Spring Issue
¡Comidas Sabrosas!
Entertaining at Home
Article: Bob Skolnick
Photos: Jesse Ramirez
Share |
There is nothing like a tasty cheese, a crispy cracker and a piece of fruit to stimulate your palate prior to having your brunch. We selected three cheeses, Manchego, Morbier and a Petite Munster Gerome. We accompanied our world cheeses with a platter of fresh vegetables, marinated vegetables and assorted cured olives. We added several hearth breads and French baguettes as a good complement to the cheeses.

    Resource for world cheeses & hearth breads:

Greenery Market
Sunland Park Mall
El Paso, TX  79912

Toucan Market
1701 E University Ave.
Las Cruces, NM  88001
Manchego - A cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain. It is made from sheep's milk and can be aged up to two years. Manchego has a firm, compact consistency and a buttery texture, and often contains small, unevenly distributed air pockets. It has a brown rind and a white to yellow coloration of the cheese. Manchego has a distinctive flavor that is well-developed, but not too strong.

Munster Gerome - This cheese is from the Alsace region of France. The milk for production of Munster Gerome comes from the Vosgiennes cows, a breed that was imported from Scandinavia in the 18th century. Rind and aroma are the keys to Munster's maturity. The rind is a rich, red-orange color with a distinctly sticky (but not slimy) surface and an assertive, pungent smell. The texture of a ripe Munster Gerome is pale cream in color, firm (yet smooth) and slightly brittle. Flavors of Munster Gerome are very rich, smooth and slightly tangy on the finish.

Morbier - A semi-soft cow's milk cheese made in France in the small village of Morbier. Traditionally, it has a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. It is ivory-colored and soft. Morbier has a recognizable layer of tasteless ash separating it horizontally in the middle. Its rind is yellowish and leathery. The aroma of Morbier is strong, but the flavor is rich and creamy.

We also selected two sparkling wines; a Segura Viuvas Cava sparkling wine from Spain, and a Carpene Malvolti Prosecco sparkling wine from Italy, as well as a luscious Decoy Pinot Noir. Spain produces many fine sparkling wines, called "cava" after the cellars in which the wine is produced. These wines are made in the "méthode champenoise" or "Champagne method," which is the same method that is used to make Champagne.

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling white wine generally dry or extra dry. Unlike Champagne, its main commercial competitor, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks making the wine less expensive to produce than Champagne. If you prefer a sparkling Italian wine on the sweeter side, then choose Prosecco spumante.
  Click on any "Spring Brunch" course below to reveal or hide its cooresponding recipe.

• Apple Celery & Cashew Slaw - Serves 6

  1   head   Napa cabbage – trimmed and shredded
  1   head   celery – trimmed and thinly cut on angle
  2   each   red bell peppers – trimmed, cleaned and cut julienne
  3   each   red apples (medium to large) – cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
  1   cup   cashews – unsalted
  ¾   cup   rice wine vinegar
  ½   cup   peanut oil
  3   tbsp   sesame oil
  3   tbsp   soy sauce
  ¼   cup   toasted sesame seeds
  To Prepare
  1.   Combine the oils, vinegar and soy sauce in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, and then take off of the heat and let stand.
  2.   Combine the shredded cabbage, julienne red bell peppers, celery cut Chinese style, sliced apples and cashews and sesame seeds in a stainless
mixing bowl. Toss to mix all ingredients.
  3.   Pour warm dressing over the vegetable mix in the stainless bowl and toss until all vegetables are coated with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
  4.   This salad is best when assembled just a few hours before service.

• Artichokes Braised in White Wine - Serves 6

  4   each   fresh artichokes (medium to large)
  2   each   Spanish onions – diced small
  2   each   fresh garlic cloves – crushed
  4   each   carrots (medium) – diced small
    cup   olive oil
    cup   chicken stock
    cup   white wine
  To Prepare
  1.   Put half of the oil in a large deep sauce pan with the onions, carrots and garlic. Sauté about 4 minutes until soft. Add chopped parsley and salt and pepper.
  2.   Add all of the wine to the sautéed vegetables.
  3.   Clean the artichokes and with a knife, cut off an inch or so of the top and the stem so the artichoke sits flat. Then with a pair of scissors, cut off the tips of each of the leaves. With a spoon or paring knife remove the choke center. Then rub fresh lemon juice over the outside of each artichoke.
  4.   Place the artichokes upright in the pan with the sautéed vegetables, and pour the chicken stock over them and the remainder of the olive oil.
  5.   Cover and simmer for 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours. While simmering, baste the artichokes every 15 minutes with the onion-carrot-wine mixture. Cook until the artichokes are tender.
  6.   When the artichokes are tender, remove from the cooking liquid and place on a platter to cool. Strain the onion-carrots out of the cooking liquor and spoon them over each artichoke. Spoon a little of the liquid over each artichoke, reserve the remainder of the cooking liquid.
  7.   Prepare an aioli and add a little lemon juice. Arrange the cooked artichokes on a platter pulling off the outer leaves to make it convenient to each for your guests.

• Spring Salad with Red Pepper Dressing - Serves 6

  4   pkg   spring salad mix
  2   each   Roma tomatoes – cut into wedges
  1   each   red onion – cut julienne
  2   each   red bell pepper – cored and trimmed
  1   cup   extra virgin olive oil
  ¾   cup   red wine vinegar
  1   tbsp   oregano
  2   tbsp   fresh garlic – minced
          salt and pepper to taste
  To Prepare
  1.   Trim, seed and cut the red bell peppers into a blender and pulse until pureed.
  2.   Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and oregano and blend until fully emulsified.
  3.   Chill for a few hours and then serve with the spring salad mix.
  4.   Place the spring salad mix in a salad bowl, garnish with red onion and Roma tomatoes.

• Spinach-Bacon-Potato Frittata - Serves 6

  2   each   eggs (jumbo)
    cup   Better-Than-Egg mixture
    cup   half & half
  1   cup   shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheese
  ¼   lb   butter – salted
  3   slices   turkey bacon
  3   each   red potatoes (small, skin on) – cooked and diced
  2   cups   fresh spinach – torn into pieces
  8   each   white mushrooms – sliced
  1   each   Spanish onion – minced
  To Prepare
  1.   In a medium size mixing bowl, place the torn spinach.
  2.   Fry the bacon in a medium sauté pan until done; then chop and add to the spinach in
the mixing bowl.
  3.   Sauté the minced onion in 1 tablespoon of butter until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, remove the browned onion and add to the bowl with the spinach.
  4.   Sauté the diced potato in 2 tablespoons of butter. Cover until soft, then uncover and sauté until browned. Remove the browned diced potatoes with a slotted spoon and add to the spinach mixture.
  5.   In a blender, mix the whole eggs and Better-Than-Egg and the half & half.
  6.   Add the cheese to the spinach sautéed vegetables and toss until blended.
  7.   Pour in the egg/half & half mixture and mix well.
  8.   Spray a square glass baking dish (8" by 8") with a pan spray and pour in the mixture. Place the baking dish with the mixture in a water bath and place in a pre-heated oven.
  9.   Bake in a 350-degree oven until a knife inserted in the center of the frittata comes out clean. The frittata should be nicely browned on the top. Approximately 1 hour.
  10.   Allow to cool and then cut into squares. Serve with fresh warmed croissants.

• Seafood Thermidor Over Puff Pastry - Serves 6

  2   pkgs   Puff Pastry shells
  24   each   shrimp (15 to 20 count, raw, shell on)
  12   each   sea scallops
  1   each   Maine lobster (1½ lb live)
  1   pkg   imitation crab meat
  1   lb   butter – salted
  1   each   Spanish onion (large) – diced small
  3   cloves   fresh garlic – minced
  ¾   cup   sherry cooking wine
  6   cups   shellfish stock (strengthened with lobster or shrimp base)
  ½   cup   Wondra flour
  ½   cup   grated fresh parmesan cheese
  1   tsp   dry mustard
  2   tbsp   leaf thyme
  1   tbsp   Spanish paprika
  To Prepare
  1.   Bake the Puff Pastry shells following the baking instructions on the package. When browned, remove from the oven and transfer from the baking sheet to a platter. Brush lightly with butter and cover.
  2.   Heat 6 cups of water (enhanced with lobster or chicken stock) in a sauce pan.
  3.   Place the 24 shrimp into the stock and simmer for 6-8 minutes until the shrimp are cooked. Remove the shrimp from the cooking liquid and plunge them into an ice water bath to shock them and stop the cooking. Remove them within a minute or so from the ice water.
  4.   Place the whole lobster in the cooking liquid and simmer for 15-18 minutes until the lobster is bright red. Remove the lobster from the cooking liquid and place on a platter to air cool. Strain the liquid and set aside for later use.
  5.   Peel the cooked shrimp and devain. Remove the meat from the lobsters tail and claws. Cut the lobster meat into bite-size pieces.
  6.   In a medium sauce pan, place a ¼ lb of salted butter and melt, then add the minced onion and garlic and sauté until transparent. Add the quartered fresh mushrooms and toss and sauté slightly. Add the dry mustard, leaf thyme and Spanish paprika.
  7.   Add the scallops and sauté until the scallops are firm and remove to a plate and keep warm.
  8.   Add the sherry wine to the sauté pan and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  9.   Add 4 cups of the seafood stock and bring to a boil. Add in Wondra flour, stirring vigorously with a whip to slowly thicken the sauce. Thicken to the consistence of syrup. Stir in the grated fresh parmesan cheese. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in the shrimp, lobster meat, scallops and imitation crab and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  10.   To serve, place a pastry shell with center removed and spoon the Seafood Newburg over the top of the pastry shell.

• Fregola Sarda Pasta with Spring Vegetables - Serves 6

  12   oz   Fergola Sarda pasta (you can substitute orzo)
  6   cups   vegetable stock
  1   cup   extra virgin olive oil
  1   each   red onion – diced small
  1   each   red bell pepper – cleaned and diced small
  1   each   orange bell pepper – cleaned and diced small
  2   each   yellow squash – diced small
  2   each   zucchini – diced small
  8   each   white mushrooms – sliced
  6   each   green onions – cut ¼ inch
  1   each   eggplant, (small) – diced with skin on
  1   cup   fresh parsely – chopped fine
  2   tbsp   fresh oregano – torn
  2   tbsp   fresh basil – torn
          salt and pepper to taste
  To Prepare
  1.   Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, and add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse off the starch, and place in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Apply ¼ cup of the olive oil and the fresh oregano and basil, and toss until the pasta is fully coated. Season with salt and pepper.
  2.   Heat a half cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan until near smoking. Add all of the small diced fresh vegetables and quickly sauté them until somewhat browned.
  3.   Pour the sautéed vegetables over the cooked pasta and blend thoroughly. The pasta and fresh vegetables can be served hot, warm or refrigerated as a salad. Serve with crusty French bread.

• Irish Bacon Roast - Serves 6

  4   lb   Irish Bacon Roast
      The Irish bacon we used was purchased from the Greenery Market in El Paso. Essentially, it is a boneless pork loin wrapped with fat back or unsliced bacon, tied and cured. The roast is soaked in a brining mixture for at least five days to cure the meat and set the flavor. Every good Irish cook or butcher shop has their own brining mixture with their favorite spices. When the Irish bacon is removed from the brine, it is cured like a ham. It needs to sit under refrigeration for at least a day to dry out a little.
  To Prepare
  1.   For service, the roast needs to be placed in a pre-heated 375-degree oven and roasted until fully browned on the outside.
  2.   To serve, slice the Irish bacon into slices and serve as any other buffet roast.

• Strawberry Margarita - Yields 4 cocktails

  2   cups   crushed ice
  ½   cup   strawberry puree – frozen or fresh strawberries
  1   cup   tequila – try Dos Lunas, a great local tequila
  2   each   limes – juiced
  2   tbsp   triple sec – orange liqueur
  4   tbsp   simple syrup (equal amounts of sugar and water)
  To Prepare
  1.   Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  2.   Place into a chilled stemmed margarita glass with a salted rim.
  3.   Garnish with a slice of fresh lime and a fresh strawberry.

• Bloody Maria - Yields 4 cocktails

  2   oz   tequila – try Dos Lunas, a great local tequila
    cups   tomato juice
  1   tbsp   fresh lime juice
  2   tsp   white horseradish
  1   tsp   Worchester sauce
  1   tsp   chipotle pepper puree
          For garnish, you can use a celery stalk, a piece of jicima, a slice of avocado,
or a combination of the three garnishes.
  To Prepare
  1.   Place all ingredients (except the garnishes) in a blender and pulse slightly to mix the cocktail, but be careful not to aerate.
  2.   Place into a chilled stemmed glass over about a half cup of ice.
  3.   You may elect to salt the rim of the glass before you pour in the Bloody Maria mixture.
    Sumptuous Desserts

Lemon Cake with
Italian Meringue &
Fresh Berry Torte

We chose not to make our
own desserts, but turned to
Mark Heins of the Greenery
Market and his talented
pastry chef, Eric de
Santiago, to supply us
with two perfect choices;
a mixed-berry torte and a
lemon cake with an Italian
meringue. These were their
recommendations and good
ones. You can make your
own selections that are
both tasty and palate
cleaners. If not a bakery
item, a fruit sorbet would
be a good choice.

The Margarita – A Perfect Brunch Refresher

For our brunch cocktails, we selected a Strawberry Margarita and a Bloody Maria. Both cocktails require tequila. Selecting the brand of tequila to use is a very deep conversation and there are many opinions. We will not add our opinion to the passionate preferences.

The margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila mixed with an orange-flavored liqueur, most often Triple Sec, and lime or lemon juice. This cocktail is typically served with salt on the rim of the glass. A margarita cocktail can be served shaken with ice, on the rocks, blended with ice (frozen margarita) or without ice (straight up).

There is no solid proof who first created the margarita. The most accepted of all stories is that the margarita was invented in October 1941, at Hussong's Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, by bartender Don Carlos Orozco. One slow afternoon, Don Carlos was experimenting with mixing new drinks when a prestigious visitor arrived: Margarita Henkel, the daughter of a German ambassador, who lived with her husband Roy Parodi near the city in Rancho Hamilton. Don Carlos offered the drink to Margarita and named it after her for being the first person to taste it.

When sweeter fruit juices or freshly puréed fruits are added to the margarita, the amount of orange-flavored liqueur can be reduced or eliminated entirely. In addition to an orange-flavored liqueur, secondary liqueurs may occasionally be added to the cocktail, including melon-flavored, strawberry or black raspberry-flavored.

Freshly squeezed lime juice is the key ingredient. Margaritas in Mexico are generally made with Mexican limes called key limes. These are small, thin-skinned limes and have a more tart and often bitter flavor compared to Persian limes. A margarita made with lemon juice tends to have a softer taste.

Fruits and juice mixtures can also be used in a margarita. Many recipes call for a splash of orange juice. When the word "margarita" is used by itself, it typically refers to the lime or lemon juice margarita, but when other juices are used, the fruits are typically added as adjectives in the name. ///
Ventanas Promotions
like us on facebook
Medium Rectangle #1
Medium Rectangle #2
Medium Rectangle #3
Medium Rectangle #4
Southwest Subscriptions
Newsletter Sign-Up
Las Cruces Magazine