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Oh JOY-full table

Oh Joyful TableThe holidays are full of JOY.  The joy of gathering with family and friends, the joy of giving, and most importantly, the joy that comes from a delicious meal.  Spread joy around your family table this season with our chef-prepared holiday meals.

We offer three complete dinners, sides packages, family packs and individual items by the pound.  Here are the highlights:

FRESH Turkey Dinner (serves 6-8)
12-14 pound turkey, brined and roasted to perfection with Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $99.99.

FRESH Ham Dinner (serves 6-8)
Spiral cut, glazed ham with Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $89.99

Beef Tenderloin Dinner (serves 6-8)
Roasted whole thyme scented beef tenderloin with Cabernet demi-glace, Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $169.99

Side Dish Package
Side dish package includes Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $49.99. For our whipped sweet potatoes, we actually use organic garnet yams!  Each side dish is also available in family packs or by the pound from the chef case.

In addition to full meals, we offer a large selection of small bites, party platters, and desserts.  Whether you are hosting a cocktail party or needing some appetizers to hold over the crowd until dinner, our amazing hors d’oeuvres are perfect for any gathering, whether casual or elegant.  Try some Freshie favorites — our unique potato sliders or assorted petit four platter.

Ordering is easy. All you need to do is pick up our Oh JOY-full table Holiday Guide and select the complete meals, sides or small bites that you desire and call our Catering Department at 903-747-3512. Or, you can stop by the Catering desk at FRESH to place your order.





FRESH and Festive: Oh JOY-full Table

The holidays are full of joy.  The joy of gathering with family and friends, the joy of giving, and most importantly, the joy that comes from a delicious meal.

Spread joy around your family table this season with our chef-prepared holiday meals.

We offer three complete dinners, side packages, family packs and individual items by the pound.  Here are the highlights:

FRESH Turkey Dinner (serves 6-8)

12-14 pound turkey, brined and roasted to perfection with cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, whipped sweet potatoes, green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce

FRESH Ham Dinner (serves 6-8)

Spiral cut, glazed ham with cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, whipped sweet potatoes, green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce

Beef Tenderloin Dinner (serves 6-8)

Roasted whole thyme scented beef tenderloin with cabernet demi-glace, cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, whipped sweet potatoes, green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce

Side Dish Package

Side dish package includes cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, whipped sweet potatoes, green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce. For our whipped sweet potatoes, we actually use organic garnet yams!  Each side dish is also available in family packs or by the pound from the chef case.

In addition to full meals, we offer a large selection of small bites, party platters and desserts.  Whether you are hosting a cocktail party or need some appetizers to hold over the crowd until dinner, our amazing hors d’oeuvres are perfect for any gathering, from casual to elegant.  Try some Freshie favorites — our unique potato sliders or assorted petit four platter.

Ordering is easy. All you need to do is pick up our Oh JOY-full Table holiday guide and select the complete meals, sides or small bites that you desire and call our Catering Department at 903-747-3512. Or, you can stop by the Catering Desk at FRESH to place your order.

And here is the best news of all — our Holiday Tastings are going on most weekends between now and Christmas.  Come by and sample our holiday offerings and see for yourself why you should choose FRESH for the holidays.  Click here to check our calendar of events for all of the details.

FRESH makes it easy to entertain like a chef this holiday season!





FRESH and Festive: I’ll have what their having

It isn’t too often that I get caught up with a new Smartphone App. There just aren’t enough hours in the day! However, I recently learned of a very useful app that can be a great tool for finding amazing eats while traveling to select big cities across the country. Called “Chefs Feed”, it houses information from hundreds of our nation’s greatest chefs such as Thomas Keller, Mario Batalli and Wolfgang Puck.

Here’s a little background information:

Jared and Steve, the founders of Rivera Public Relations in San Francisco, became frustrated with the lack of up-to-date resources in the food industry. Because guidebooks go out of date so quickly and Yelp is mediated by average folks (i.e. not chefs), they decided to create a tool to divulge the best dishes in a city, according to those that know food best. Jared toured the U.S. for nine months, interviewing more than 100 chefs about their favorite dishes. He says that in the first 3 months, he had gained 25 pounds. Sounds like a job that I could get used to!

Chefs Feed is available for the following cities:

Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Coming soon: Atlanta, Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, Las Vegas, London, Miami, Montreal, New Orleans, Paris, Portland, Toronto and Vancouver. Sounds like he may gain a lot more than 25 pounds by the time this is over!

When you download the app (for free), you will find a way to search a city’s best chefs along with their profiles and their favorite dishes. It also includes details like the “Feed Me Now” feature that uses the iPhone map to locate the best dishes nearby. Users can filter results, so one can, for example, easily find the closest chef-recommended cheap vegetarian Chinese food while lost in Chicago.

Not only is it pretty cool to know that Paul Qui of Uchiko in Austin (maybe the best place I’ve ever eaten) loves the Classic Burger at Hopdoddy Burger Bar and the Roast Duck at First Chinese BBQ, but you can see his own comments about these dishes and why he loves them. If you choose a particular dish, you can share it, rate it, or plan it (add to an itinerary in your profile).

Even if you’re not planning to visit one of these cities and eat out, it’s just fun to keep up with your favorite chef’s eating habits. Check it out!





FRESH In: Pancakes At The Café

Kids still enjoying Christmas vacation? Family still in town? This weekend, get everybody off to a good start on their day – and get them all out of the house at the same time – with our new, all-you-can-eat pancake event.

We’ll be serving up our fresh hotcakes from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., this Saturday and Sunday, and every weekend.

We just started these pancake breakfasts a couple weeks ago, and they’ve been a huge hit.

How could they not be? Fresh, hot pancakes, made to order by our chefs right in our Fresh Taste Kitchen. And it’s all the same price ($6.99 per adult, $4.99 for kids 12 and under) whether you eat a few or stack after stack.

You can get your pancakes plain – but what fun is that? Ask for a mix-in. We usually have several, including bananas, strawberries, blueberries, pecans, chocolate chips, and granola.

Once they’re served, you can top them yourself from our topping bar. Butter and maple syrup? Of course. But you can go for something a little more exotic, including lemon-blueberry syrup, caramel-rum bananas, whipped cream, peanut butter, yogurt, or even gelato.

The FRESH Taste Kitchen is right next to our ReFRESH bar, where you can order up coffee or espresso drinks to go with your breakfast. Caffeine buzz, sugar high, and no pots, pans or plates to clean up afterward – that’s a great start to any weekend.





A FRESH Point of View: All About Olives

For the longest time, I was indifferent to olives. Then I figured it out that it’s just because I had only been eating plain, canned black or green olives, which mostly taste like salt to me.

But there’s a whole world of more interesting olives out there – dozens of varieties from just Italy, Spain and Greece alone. At our olive bar, we’ve gathered some of our favorites, so you can mix and match and sample them all until you find your favorites. Here’s what’s what:

Taggiasca: Native to northern Italy, this is a very small reddish-black olive. They are mild, almost a little fruity in flavor, and are often served with fish. (Try sautéing some onions, tomatoes and bell peppers in olive oil, then adding lemon juice, herbs and some taggiasca olives, and serving this with poached or baked fish or over pasta.)

Kalamata: The star of Greek salads, kalamata olives have a deep purplish color and a salty, meaty flavor. They pair perfectly with feta cheese or hummus, or make a very flavorful tapenade.

Cerignola:  Another Italian variety; you can get red, black or green ones. What they all have in common is hugeness – they are twice as big as most olive varieties. They are meaty and intense; the red ones, for instance, have almost a slight fish flavor. The green ones are very firm. Great for snacking, served with a wedge of cheese and some flatbread.

Nicoise: Small, blackish olives originally from France, these are most often used in the famous French salad named after this olive. (Salad nicoise has many variations, but traditionally includes tomato wedges, hard-cooked eggs, cold green beans, canned tuna and these olives.)

Gaeta: Small black olives, again native to Italy, that taste somewhat like a kalamata, but a little less intense.

Castlevetrano: Big, bright-green olives from Sicily. Their flavor is mild and almost sweet; they make a big splash in martinis or fit well on an antipasto platter with Italian cured meat, salami and cheese.





A FRESH Point of View: Modern Fondue

Fondue is one of those things that seems to go in and out of fashion every few years. Me, I think it should always be popular, especially this time of year. Warm gooey melted cheese, served with crusty bread and best enjoyed with friends – what’s not to like?

Nothing, I say, especially when you consider fondue is a super-easy way to entertain. You don’t need a fancy fondue set – a slow-cooker or any container that holds heat well will work for serving, along with simple wooden or metal skewers. (Give each guest one skewer for dipping, plus utensils for eating their fondue-d food, so they don’t double-dip.)

And you don’t have to rely just on the old bread-and-cheese combo. In addition to the traditional crusty baguette, experiment with vegetables or even fruit as dippers – mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, and even apple and pear slices make a pretty platter. Or add something flavorful to your fondue as it’s melting. A bit of oven-roasted tomato, dried fruit, or roasted shallots will give the fondue a modern edge.

Our cheese department carries what you need to make a great fondue, including some “kits” that are as simple as just melting cheese!

Emmi fondue blend: This mixture combines the traditional cheeses – Emmental  and Gruyere – with some natural flavors and ingredients that help create a smooth, consistent fondue. You can add a bit of white wine and melt over low heat, or in a fondue pot, for a classic fondue flavor.

Ermitage French Brie Fondue: This comes in a lightweight wooden bowl; you simply pull back the paper wrapping, cut a slight X in the cheese, and heat. (Two minutes in the microwave, or 15 minutes in the oven.) You can serve it right in the bowl, which we found enough for an appetizer portion for four to six people. This tastes more like a liquid melted Brie than true fondue, but it’s delicious, and could not be any easier.

Premium cheese fondue kit: From Swizerland, this ready-to-melt mixture already has white wine and Kirsch flavors, along with the classic Swiss cheese. Again, heat and serve.

Classic fondue cheeses: If  you’re a do-it-yourself kind of cook, or you have a favorite recipe, our cheese department has the classic cheeses. In my opinion, the best cheese fondue comes from a mix of velvety Gruyere and mild Emmental (sometimes called Emmenthaler) cheese.





A FRESH Point of View: Updated Holiday Traditions

At FRESH, we’re all about tradition when it comes to holiday meals – but we also think that some old favorites can be improved upon. So with our holiday meals and holiday sides, we’ve updated and modernized some traditional family holiday dishes, using fresh ingredients, from-scratch techniques and bright flavors to create new classics.

Many of these dishes are now regularly available in the chef case through the holidays, but you can also place orders for your holiday meals at our chef-prepared counter, for pickup at your convenience.

And this weekend, Dec. 10-11, we’ll be sampling many of these dishes; just come by and have a taste. Have you tried any of these yet?

Green bean casserole: No canned soup or dehydrated onion flakes here. For this rich dish, we make our own mushroom cream sauce, combine it with fresh green beans, and then top the casserole with onion strips we fry ourselves.

Whipped sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are roasted, then whipped till creamy and fluffy with butter, fall spices and real maple syrup.

Citrus-glazed Brussels sprouts: A sophisticated side dish, this brings together caramelized onions and sundried cherries with Brussel sprouts roasted in a light citrus-spiked glaze.

Southwest dressing: We make croutons out of fresh bread, then spice things up with chiles, pumpkin seeds and roasted butternut squash.

Cornbread dressing: House-made, sweet cornbread is the base for this traditional, simple dressing, with onion and celery.

Green beans amandine: Again, no cans here. We use fresh green beans, toasted almonds and a bit of garlic and olive oil to bring out the flavor

Giblet gravy: Roasted giblets in a traditional, thick gravy, seasoned with fall spices like sage.

Roasted root vegetables:The best, freshest winter vegetables – onions, parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes – slowly roasted, so they’re slightly caramelized and go perfectly with ham, turkey or a nice prime rib.

Cranberry sauce: No mass-produced, gelatinous sauce here. We cook fresh, whole cranberries with fresh-squeezed orange juice and our own secret blend of spices. (Sorry. Can’t tell you what they are. You just have to come try some.)





FRESH and Festive: Five Ideas For Leftover Turkey

Does your family lose interest in the leftover Thanksgiving turkey once you run out of gravy – or the minute it goes in the fridge? Don’t let it go to waste. Try one of these ideas to go beyond the turkey sandwich and use up those holiday leftovers.

  1. Turkey Salad – Shred turkey and add dijon, mayonnaise, green onions, celery and a splash of cider vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper. Or, make a curried version – make a dressing of mayonnaise and curry powder, and combine with shredded turkey, halved grapes, finely diced onions, and toasted walnuts or pecans.
  2. Turkey Quesadillas – Top a FRESH flour tortilla with shredded turkey, leftover cranberry sauce, shredded white cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of parsley.  Fold in half and brown in a skillet until the cheese is melted and turkey is heated through.
  3. Turkey Mulligatawny Soup – A FRESH take on chicken soup flavored with curry and coconut milk.  Delicious served with Basmati rice.
  4. Turkey Strata – A crust-free quiche that’s great for brunch.  Mix the shredded turkey with bread cubes, asparagus or broccoli, cheddar and chopped onion.  Add a mixture of eggs, milk and dry mustard. The dish can then be left in the fridge overnight, and baked in the morning.
  5. Turkey Tetrazzini – A popular casserole in the ‘60s and ‘70s, tetrazzini is actually even older than that – thought to be invented by a San Francisco chef in honor of a 1900s-era opera singer, Luisa Tetrazzini. Today, most recipes called “tetrazzini” seem to involve lots of canned soups and other shortcuts. But our recipe, simplified from a version by the great Emeril Lagasse in his book New New Orleans Cooking, uses fresh veggies and dried herbs and, yes, some butter and cream (but, no, not as much as Emeril’s).

Turkey Tetrazzini
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 Tbs butter, divided
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3- 4 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups milk (we used 2 percent)
12 oz egg noodles
About 3/4 lb to 1 lb, leftover turkey
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Pepper, to taste
3/4 cup Parmesan or Grana Padano or other hard cheese, grated, divided
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Sauté onions in a large skillet or saucepan over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes in 2 tablespoons butter. Add bell peppers and sauté slowly for another 15 to 20 minutes, allowing vegetables to slightly caramelize. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft. Finally, turn up heat to medium and add mushrooms, and cook until soft. Sprinkle vegetable mixture with oregano, garlic salt, crushed red pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and combine with flour to make a paste; thin with a bit of milk if too thick. Add flour-butter mixture and chicken stock to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce starts to thicken. Add cream and milk and allow mixture to cook for up to 30 minutes, but do not allow to boil. Sauce should become thicker as it cooks.

Meanwhile, prepare egg noodles as directed on package. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Add noodles, turkey, salt, and 1/2 cup grated cheese to thickened sauce mixture and combine well. Add pepper and additional salt to taste. Place this mixture in casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheese. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.





Fresh and Festive: A Chef Prepared Holiday

Have you hit your full-tilt, holiday-mode panic yet? The one where you start wondering when you’re going to find time to bake pies, clean the house, make a full-course Thanksgiving dinner AND find time to sleep between now and next Thursday?

Let us help! You still have time to get chef prepared dishes for your holiday table. Let us cook the whole meal, or just provide delicious desserts or side dishes so you can concentrate on the main event.

You won’t want to wait until the last minute, when you see some of the delicious new holiday dishes we have planned this year:

Decadent desserts and breads: From fruit pies to traditional pecan and pumpkin pies, to our French-inspired pastry case, we have the perfect ending for your celebration. And our breads, like our riche brioche rolls, will make you forget all about those old-fashioned, brown-and-serve frozen dinner rolls.

Sumptuous sides: Our chefs have come up with traditional favorites and new takes on classics _ like green beans amandine, Southwest dressing with squash and pumpkin seeds, hearty roasted root vegetables, citrus-glazed Brussels sprouts, traditional cornbread dressing, and oyster dressing with Cajun tasso. Always run out of gravy before turkey? Pick up some of our giblet gravy and you won’t have that problem this year.

Full gourmet meals: We have three full holiday menus, each designed to serve from 6 to 8 diners. Choose a traditional brined and oven-roasted turkey; a spiral-cut, glazed ham; or an herb-scented beef tenderloin. Each comes with specially selected side dishes to create a fully cooked meal, so you can concentrate on the celebrating part of the holidays.





FRESH In: A Greener Way To Sample

We built FRESH around the idea of sharing the wonders of food – and that means we love to share samples of new and interesting foods and our chef-made specialties.

And now, we’ve found a way of making our frequent samples more environmentally friendly. We are now using Ecotensil sampling spoons – a new, greener alternative to plastic or other disposable tasting spoons.

These smart little paperboard tasting spoons create less waste AND are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. The parent company says these spoons break down in five weeks or less. That compares to the indefinite lifespan of a plastic spoon once it’s shipped to a landfill.

Made in the U.S, Ecotensils are made from renewable paperboard, which is considered sustainably forested. Also, their ingenious design allows twice as many to fit in a shipping box as comparable spoons, so there is less packaging, less material, less transportation cost, and less waste.

These new spoons are just one way that the FRESH team is committed to creating the most sustainable, environmentally conscious venue possible. Other “green” news:

Ionater: Our cleaning efforts have gotten greener with the use of the Ionator EXP in place of traditional chemical glass cleaner. This innovative tool turns plain tap water into an efficient sanitizer, eliminating the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. Using ionized water reduces energy consumption and pollution, yet destroys more than 99.999 percent of common bacteria including salmonella, E. coli and listeria. And, there are no chemical residues, fragrances or dyes left behind.

Food bank donations: We continue to partner with the East Texas Food Bank on initiatives to help feed those in need. One way we do that is by donating fresh, nutritious food that is safe to eat, but that has approached its “sell-by” date. We regularly donate hundreds of pounds of food each month, which the food bank then distributes to low-income East Texas families who are struggling to put food on the table.





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