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Ceasar Salad Competition Winners

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by fcasio

Friday, October 9th was the 31st Annual Caesar Salad Competition. Each year, the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College organizes the competition inviting Houston’s best culinary experts to duke it out for the 1) Best Presentation 2) Classic Caesar 3) Most Creative 4) Consumer’s Choice.

This year, Executive Sous Chef Javier U. Lopez and team presented a Southern Creole Caesar with collard greens, crispy sweet potatoes and tasso ham gravy dressing taking home both the Most Creative and People’s Choice Awards.

Celebrate National Ice Cream Month

Posted on: July 13th, 2015 by fcasio

Executive Sous Chef Javier U. Lopez shares a spiked version of his family’s Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream recipe for National Ice Cream Month.

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream


1 Quart

    • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 4 ounces sweet chocolate
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • Pinch salt
    • Pinch cayenne
    • pinch cloves, ground
    • 1 tablespoon espresso coffee
    • 6 ea egg yolks, lightly beaten
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 tablespoons Tequila (optional)


    1. Heat one cup of cream in a small saucepan (1 qt). Whisk in cocoa powder. Bring to a simmer. Whisk until cocoa powder is well incorporated. Remove pot from heat. Stir in chocolate until completely incorporate.
    2. Put mixture into a metal bowl and add the remaining cup of cream. Set that bowl over a larger bowl half-filled with ice water to help cool it down. Place a mesh sieve over the bowl with the chocolate mixture.
    3. Put one cup of milk, the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cayenne, espresso powder (or instant coffee) into a saucepan and heat until steamy (not boiling), stirring to incorporate the spices and dissolve the sugar. Place egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk and mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the heated milk, but not cooked by it. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
    4. Stir the milk egg mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot your burner is. If the custard base doesn’t coat the back of the spoon, it’s not ready. The custard base coats the back of the spoon.
    5. As soon as the mixture coats the spoon, remove it from the heat and immediately pour it over the mesh sieve into the bowl of the chocolate cream mixture. (The sieve is there to catch any curdled bits.) Stir into the cream mixture.
    6. Add a teaspoon of vanilla. Let the mixture cool a bit in the ice bath and then chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled, a couple hours or overnight. Right before churning, add 3 Tbsp of tequila to the mix. This is an optional step, but it will help keep the ice cream from getting too icy if it is stored beyond a day. If you are planning on eating the ice cream the same day you make it, you can skip this step.
    7. Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Would you rather try the ice cream along with other spiked treats? Join us on Thursday, July 23rd at Yellow Rose Distilling for an upcoming event Spiked by the Scoop. 

For tickets, visit the event page here >>>


Event Recap: Bubbles in my Drink (recipes)

Posted on: June 20th, 2015 by fcasio

When the weather is hot, adding a some bubbles in your cocktail is a sure way to lighten up any drink. For our June Spirit Roundtable, Richard Middleton and Ronnie Stidvent showcased a few. Make some or all this summer and let us know how you like it. Enjoy!

Flight with a Bite:

1.5 oz Avion Reposado Tequila

3 oz. Agave Quinine Water

Wedge of Lime

Method: Build in an ice filled double rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge & black lava sea salt


Kumquat May!

2 oz. Snow Leopard Vodka

0.25 oz. Kumquat Gran Gala Syrup

2 oz. Ginger Ale

Method: Build in an ice filled shaker & serve up. Garnish with a Kumquat slice


The Classic Bellini

1 oz. Peach Nectar

1 oz. Peach Schnapps

4 oz. Brut Champagne

Method: Served in a flute. Garnish with a peach slice.

Fiddlehead Cellars Wine Dinner 3/11/2015

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015 by fcasio

Any Pinot Noir Lovers Out There?

Speaker Kathy Joseph, Proprietor & Winemaker

Kathy Joseph established Fiddlehead Cellars in 1989 to capture the pure essence of two distinguished grape varietals – Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Her intent was to incorporate European beauty by working with grapes grown in the right place and wines managed with respect in the cellar.

She was one of the first to plant grapes in Santa Barbara County.

Today, Kathy is recognized as a pioneer among women winemakers. She inspired the director of “Sideways” enough to highlight her wine in the movie. The Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc was also a favorite among the crew.

At Fiddlehead, Kathy annually produces only 5,000 cases of wine, with personal interest in each grape cluster, each barrel of wine and every bottle that finds its way to your table.

Cost: $ 120 (plus tax & gratuity)

Reception: 6:30 p.m.,

Passed Horsd’oeuvres & 2013 Pick Fiddle Rose, Santa Rita Hills, California

Dinner: 7:00 p.m.

Presented Menu:

Diver Scallop and Caviar
Louisiana sweets, Alligator pear, Covey Rise greens, hearts of palm, and Petrossian caviar
2011 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, California

Sweet Breads & Breaux Bridge Crawfish
Homestead goat cheese grits, Morel mushrooms, melted leeks and English peas with sauce Acadian
2011 Oldville Reserve Pinot Noir, Oregon

Buffalo Bayou Honey Roasted Duck
Duck egg fried rice, duck cracklin, and Huckleberry duck sauce
2010 “728-Fiddlestix” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California

44 Farm Beef Belly Ravioli
Forever braised Texas beef, root vegetable confetti, Trotter stewed Collard greens and Hickory smoked Oxtail jus
2010 Lollapalooza Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California

Froberg Strawberry Jubilee
Strawberry & Creole cream cheese cannoli, strawberry ice cream in waffle cone and strawberry dark chocolate moon pie
Coffee Service

To purchase tickets, please visit our Fiddlehead Cellars Wine Dinner Event site HERE.

Bon Vivant 2015

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by fcasio No Comments

The Dream Dinner: 22 top chefs come together to cook for high rollers in a foodie carnival night

By Shelby Hodge

1.29.15 | 10:06 am

24 Danny Trace of Brennan’s at the Bon Vivant dinner January 2015

Brennan’s Danny Trace. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com


Reef’s Bryan Caswell was on a culinary high Monday night as he and 21 other chefs gathered in the Royal Sonesta Hotel ballroom for the annual Bon Vivant Houston dinner party benefiting Youth Development Center.

Caswell was coordinating chef for the evening that is so popular among H-Town’s top toques that they actually volunteer for the dinner benefit. “It’s extremely unique,” Caswell explained. “You have 22 chefs cooking 22 dinners all at the same time and they’re completely independent of each other.”

The draw of this evening for both chefs and diners is that each chef cooks for only 10 paying guests (20 if a table is sold twice) and it’s up to the chef to create to heart’s content. Thus, Corner Table’s Ja’Nel Witt took her diners on an international journey, complete with passports at each plate. Each of her five courses represented a different international cuisine.

Oceanaire’s Rocco Nankervis featured Chilean sea bass with lemon risotto and purple cauliflower while L’Olivier’s Olivier Ciesielski served pan seared scallops on beluga lentils and lamb chops with baby ratatouille.

“I participate every year,” said Silver Stone EventsElizabeth Stone. “It’s so special that we really get to cook out of the box with only 10 people. With 10, you really get to showcase what you do.” Her entrée course — bone-in, herb-crusted veal chop.

The event, at which each chef has his own station with teaching mirror overhead so that diners can see the preparation, was chaired by Kristen Barlen, Richard Flowers, Sabrina and Rob Hallett, Kirby McCool and Candice Wells.

Bon Vivant is basically one big party with the chefs having as much fun as the guests. Consider Max’s Wine Dive’s carnival atmosphere with a fire eater, knife juggler and lighted hula hoops as dinner entertainment while  Radical EatsStaci Davis, aka Lady Gaga on this night, created a rock star backstage experience for her diners.

As Brennan’s Danny Trace noted, “It’s awesome. It’s a great cause for the children. All of our brothers are out here. We all have a good time raising money for a good cause.”

Rounding out the entourage of chefs were Mark Decker of Down House, Ricardo Vargas of Capital Grille on Westheimer, private chef Soren Pedersen, La Griglia’s Luis Rubio, Mark Holley of Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Antoine Ware of Harold’s Restaurant, Peter Laufer of the Royal Sonesta, Tanner Lucas of 1600 Bar+Grille, Jonathan Wicks of Hotel ZaZa’s Monarch Bistro, Randy Evans of Southern Son Consulting, Jacques Fox of Artisans, Brian Evans of the Tasting Room at CityCentre, Richard Knight of Hunky Dory, Maurizio Ferrarese of Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel, Greg Martin of the new Bistro Menil and Kevin Naderi of Roost and Lillo & Ella.

Revana Wine Dinner

Posted on: May 2nd, 2013 by fcasio No Comments


By Jason Sherman

After a year or two of putting off a wine dinner with local Cardiologist, Dr. Revana, we finally got him in the books. For those not familiar with his wines, he has wineries in both Napa Valley and Willamette Valley (Oregon).

The Napa Valley winery is now lead by the talented Thomas Rivers Brown (Heidi Barret made the wine there previously), who has worked at such wineries as Turley, Schrader and Outpost, while the Oregon operation is headed by Lynn Penner-Ash, of Penner-Ash fame.

Dr. Revana will be in attendance to talk about both wineries, as well as some new releases and some old friends. We will be pouring the new vintage of Willamette Valley Riesling and pinot gris, alongside two pinot noirs—a single vineyard Alexana Dundee Hills 2010, and a 2008 Sitar, a small production wine made at Alexana Winery by Tony Rynders, formerly of Domaine Serene.

Lastly, we will be enjoying the 2009 Revana Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. These wines are very hard to get and some I have saved for this occasion for a few years. Chef Danny and I have worked hard to prepare a great menu and hope to see you there.

Revana Wine Dinner at Brennan’sDate: May 21, 2013
Time: 6:30 – 9:30
Price: $145 plus tax & gratuity
Tickets required

To purchase tickets to this event and see the menu, follow the link to the Revana Wine Dinner event page>>>


A touch of New Orleans at Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair with Brennan’s family reunion dinner

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments

REPUBLISH: from CultureMap

4.25.13 | 1:38 pm
Former and current chefs from Brennan’s of Houston with Carl Walker and Alex Brennan-Martin Photo by © Shannon O’Hara

Family Affair at Sugar Land Food & Wine April 2013 Former and current chefs from Brennan's of Houston with Carl Walker and Alex Brennan-Martin

It wasn’t the French Quarter, but a little bit of New Orleans still spiced up Sugar Land Wednesday at the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair kickoff dinner on the grounds of the Imperial Sugar Factory.The seated dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair was part celebration, part Brennan’s family reunion with chefs Mark Holley, Jon Hebert, Randy Evans and Danny Trace combining their culinary talents in six-course meal that paid homage to Brennan’s restaurateur Alex Brennan-Martin.

It was a fitting start to the evening then, that the party started in the Old Imperial Sugar Mill Char House, a red brick building that was both warm and rustic, with white twinkling lights and a jazz band playing.

“(Alex) was about local, before local was cool. He’s my inspiration and why I do what I do,” Evans says.

The Brennan’s inspired dishes started with Oyster BLTs, Roasted New Potato with Dill Cream and Louisiana Caviar, Crawfish Empanadas and Shrimp and Tasso. In true Louisiana style, guests created a spontaneous parade, filing behind the band en route to the spacious white Gallery Furniture tent.

The evening benefited the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Restaurant and Hotel Management and students from the program served as staff, guiding guests through the chef’s dishes, starting with Holley’s crab and corn bisque that was paired with Stags Leap Chardonnay and could have doubled as dessert. Herbert’s course of Texas Wild Shrimp Remoulade balanced the creamy sweetness of the bisque and was paired with Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

Haven owner Evans, anchored the fourth course of grilled Texas Quail that he served with a Honeycomb Balsamic Gastrique that encouraged guests to play with their food by crushing the honeycomb and combining with the quail. That was followed by Brennan’s executive chef Trace’s take on oysters and steak—the O Rockin 44 Farms Petite Filet, served with CYRUS wine.

It was fitting too that the dessert course was Brennan’s Bananas Foster, served with Iron Horse sparkling wine, but the sweetest moments came when the chefs recalled moments from their times at the culinary institution.

“When Chris Shepherd and I were lucky enough to be sous chefs, Alex brought into his office and asked us what we want to change on the Brennan’s menu. Nothing was off the table,” Evans says. “We were saying to each other, ‘”Even the turtle soup? Bananas Foster?’”

It turned out Brennan posed the question to the young chefs as a way to  “unchain us from the 40 years of Brennan’s history” Evans says. And no, the menu did not change.

“He was about local, before local was cool. He’s my inspiration and why I do what I do,” Evans says.

The High Tech Texan and Sugar Land resident Michael Garfield emceed the event which included Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson and wife Gay Thompson, Rita and Kevin Simon and other city and county officials.

The Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair runs through Sunday, with such activities as the On the Rocks Bartender Challenge, the Sip & Stroll, Bistro Lunch, the Grand Tasting and wine and scotch seminars.

Upcoming Fall Wine Dinners

Posted on: September 28th, 2012 by fcasio No Comments

By Jason Sherman

Brennan’s will be hosting a few wine dinners in coming months, each with a different focus on certain varietals. For Pinot Noir and Chardonnay lovers, Domaine Serene will be in town October 4 to share some back vintage wines from their own cellar in Oregon along with some new favorites. Founded in 1989 by Ken and Grace Evenstad, Domaine Serene will be starting its 23rd harvest any day now (literally). The winery production includes 95% Pinot Noir with small amounts of Chardonnay and Syrah…both of which will be poured for the dinner. As always, Chef Danny Trace and I have put together an adventrous menu to compliment the wines perfectly. I even spoke with Danny into making rattlesnake chili. This will be one of the smallest and most intimate wine dinners I’ve done at Brennan’s, so get your tickets fast!!!

Early November will bring Jones Family Vineyards from Napa Valley to Brennan’s. For those who convet great Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc, this dinner is for you. Established in 1996, the winery sits on a hillside between Calistoga and St. Helen in the northern  Napa Valley. This hillside exposure and location provide the ideal combination of soil and climate for the development of world-class Cabernet. Vineyard manager David Abreu (Colgin, Staglin, Araujo) and winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown (Outpost, Revana) have worked together to produce three outstanding wines; a Cabernet, a Cabernet blend called “The Sisters”, and one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I have ever had. I will be pouring from a few magnums, and maybe even some half bottles, for the dinner.

What to do with leftover Crawfish Boil?

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012 by fcasio No Comments

It’s summertime and one of our favorite Summer feast include a crawfish boil. If, by chance, you have leftovers here is a soup recipe that will bring those leftovers to life.


Atchafalaya Basin "Crawfish Boil" Bisque

Atchafalaya Basin "Crawfish Boil" Bisque

Crawfish & Corn Bisque

Yields: 8 servings


  • 1 oz                grapeseed oil
  • 3                      ears of corn, shucked (crawfish boiled)
  • 1/2 c              onions, small dice (crawfish boiled)
  • 2 stalks         celery, small diced (crawfish boiled)
  • 1 oz                mushrooms, small diced (crawfish boiled)
  • 1 oz                carrots, small diced (crawfish boiled)
  • 5 cloves       garlic, minced
  • 4 oz               Andouille, small diced
  • 1 oz                butter, unsalted
  • 1 ea                red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 ea                green bell pepper, small diced
  • 2 ea                bay leaves
  • 1/2 c              Chardonnay
  • 1 oz                 sugar cane vinegar
  • 2 tsp               Creole seafood seasoning
  • 1 Tbl                thyme, fresh
  • 1/4 c               flour, all purpose
  • 1-1/2 qts       crab stock or chicken stock
  • 1 c                    heavy cream
  • 4 oz                 artichokes, small diced (crawfish boiled)
  • 4 oz                 red bliss potatoes, small diced (crawfish boiled)
  • 1 lb                   crawfish tail meat
  • 1 bunch          green onions, sliced thin
  • 6 dashes         hot sauce or to taste
  • as needed      Kosher salt
  • as needed      black pepper, freshly ground


  1. In a large, heavy guage pot, add oil over medium heat and then add celery, onion, bell peppers, garlic and Andouille. Stir well.
  2. Cooking until onion is translucent and the Andouille is render, about 3 minutes. Do not brown. Then, add flour 1/4 at a time, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.
  3. Cook about 2 minutes or until all flour is well incorporated. It will have a nutty smell and a pale color. Deglaze with Chardonnay and add bay leaves.
  4. Whisk crab stock, Creole seasoning and sugar cane vinegar into pot until well incorporated. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes. Add cream and thyme, constantly stirring.
  5. Gently add artichokes, potatoes, carrots, corn and crawfish tail meat. Season with hot sauce and adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of green onion.


This was just one of the dishes Chef Trace cooked up during our debut 2012 Cooking Class. Click here to see more photos of the Crawfish Jubilee Cooking Class or join us on an upcoming Cooking Class event:

Jun 08: Farmer’s Corner

Jul 27: Picnic Basket

Aug 24: On the Sauce

Sep 28: Stirring the Pot

Glenmorangie Spirit Tasting Recap

Posted on: April 3rd, 2012 by fcasio No Comments

This past Wednesday, we partnered with Glenmorangie for an amazing event. Event goers enjoyed

Glenmorangie 10
Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or
Glenmorangie Artein
Glenmorangie 18
Glenmorangie Signet

and were treated to a special guest, Andrew Nagelbach, Regional Marketing Manager as host.

Glenmorangie Line Up

Glenmorangie Line Up