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A FRESH Point of View: Don’t mind if I Fondue!

Fondue is an elegant medley of food and culture. The traditional cheese fondue originated in the 1600s in the Alpine region – that delicious culinary melting pot of French, Italian and Swiss cuisine. Each culture is cheese-crazed, and each culture celebrates the family meal.

But oh, the chocolate fondue – it’s uniquely American, conceived in New York in the 1960s by a Swiss restaurateur. And a couple of weeks ago, my niece, Karlee Grace, and I perfected this recipe. Should we share it? Yes!

Dispense with the double-boiler toil and trouble. And by that, I mean, do not use your double boiler, certainly not for a chocolate fondue, ever again.

This fondue recipe takes out all the treachery (I’ve served mutilated, lumpy, curdled chocolate before under the guise of “Hey, it’s chocolate.”). But 100 percent of the time this fondue will be a silky-smooth success. Statistics don’t lie.


1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp honey
2 (4 oz) bars Ghirardelli milk chocolate
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


Heat the cream in a large bowl in the microwave until it’s steaming but not boiling. Then pull it out of the microwave and stir in the honey. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and whisk them into the cream, allowing the chocolate to melt into the cream. There will be a lot of whisking. Reheat the mixture in the microwave as needed (you’ll need to do this a few times because the mixture cools quickly). If it starts to get curdled or too thick, just add a little more cream, and it will smooth right out. Stir in the Grand Marnier and vanilla extract, and you’re done.

Now comes the really fun part – finding treats to dip in your chocolate concoction.

All of these are delicious: Strawberries, sponge cake, Peeps, marshmallows, raspberries and almost any kind of fruit.

The Fon-don’ts: Sharing is the goal of fondue, generally. And who better to share with than friends and family? Let us review etiquette (rules, rules, there are always rules!). Think of fondue like your bowl of salsa – the same rules apply:

1. No double dipping!

2. Use your fondue fork only for dipping, not for eating.

3. Don’t hog it all (no matter how badly you want to)

4. And whatever you do, don’t spill the fondue. Major party foul.

This is the kind of recipe that’s perfect for the whole family, for a sleep-over or for a pregnant lady with a very big craving (me).


Click here to print this recipe or add items to My Shopping List.


A FRESH Point of View: Viva Italia!

Viva Italia! At FRESH March 15 – 24, we will celebrate local flavors with international flair. Come savor the best of Italy this year.

You can learn about Italian wines and how to cook just like Momma Mia!  And, we will keep you entertained at our 801 Grill on the Patio with live, local music each Friday and Saturday evening.

Be prepared for a tasting tour all throughout FRESH. During Global Flavors Italy, there will be dozens of Italian products to sample, including new Chef Prepared items and gelato flavors, cooking demos, guest chefs, and join us at our first ever Pizza Party on the Patio.

We will have two Italian wine tastings during this event to showcase wonderful Italian wines and charcuterie and cheese that pair well with them.  These wine tastings will be held on Friday, March 15 and Friday, March 22 from 5-7 p.m.  Stop by during this time to experience the wonders of Italy! 

Join us Saturday, March 16 for Pizza, Painting and Pinot Grigio on our back patio!  This is an event you will not want to miss!  Learn how to make Italian-style pizza from scratch with guest chef James Bradshaw of Double Dave’s Pizzaworks accompanied by FRESH’s Myste Snow.  Our friends from Cavit Collection will showcase their revered pinot grigio from Italy. All the while, you can help paint a wine-inspired masterpiece with a Pinot’s Palette artist guiding you along the way.

What better way to learn Italian cuisine than from our talented guest chefs? Join Christine Gardner in our taste kitchen as she shares her secrets to making homemade gnocchi and classic marinara on Saturday, March 16 from 3:30-4:30 p.m.  Then, mark your calendars and come back again on Saturday, March 23 for guest chef Sarah Baumert.  She is a graduate of Le Cordon Blue, and she will be bringing her enthusiasm, passion for the best fresh ingredients, and the pure joy of cooking authentic Italian to FRESH.  You won’t want to miss this!

FRESH has planned a magnificent trip for you through Italy to touch all of your taste buds.  For more detailed information on all of our events during Global Flavors Italy please visit our website at 

So please, step aboard our journey through Italy!

A FRESH Point of View: Hoppin’ John

We all know that eating black-eyed peas brings luck on New Year’s Day.  But instead of the same old same old, try something new with these delicious lucky peas from my department.  Hoppin’ John, rice and black-eyed peas with pork, is a Southern tradition that I recently tried making myself with a recipe from Melissa’s produce.

Try it this year for yourself!

Hoppin’ John

1 lb spicy sausage
1 large onion chopped
3 peeled garlic cloves minced
1 lb Melissa’s Blackeyed Peas
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
4 cups beef broth (homemade or store bought)
2 Tbs butter
3 cups long grain rice

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, cook the sausage, onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring often to break up the sausage, until it loses its raw look, about 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat.

In a large pot, add peas, enough water to cover, and red and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the peas are tender, per package directions. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.

Meanwhile, bring the beef broth, butter, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff the rice and transfer it to a deep serving bowl.

Pour the peas over the rice, mix well, and serve immediately.

A FRESH Point of View: Merry Christmas to All

Our second Christmas season has been a special time for all of us at FRESH. Our team has been busier than ever making sure all of our Freshies have the best product selection, the most delicious chef-prepared foods, and the freshest ingredients to create those memorable holiday meals. We have enjoyed seeing the store go through a transformation as we have added a new category to our store – beer and wine. We are happy that we will be able to offer a large and diverse selection and are anxious to hear any and all feedback from you on our offerings as well as our pairing suggestions, promotions and the like.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your support of FRESH. We wish you and your family a very merry Christmas. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.



A FRESH Point of View: Holiday Meal Planning

We all know how challenging it can be to keep all of the details of the holidays in our heads.  And while a great number of us are no good at making lists and keeping up with them, it really is important during this time of year to stay organized.  There are a few lists that you really need to help make your holiday parties and dinners a success.

Start with your guest list(s).  Write down names, dietary restrictions, and any notes for seating arrangements.  Be sure that you take an accurate count so that you can plan your dishes and appropriately double or triple recipes as needed.

Now move on to your menu.  Write down all of the dishes that will be served, including those that will be brought by guests, so that you have a full account of the structure of the meal.  This is crucial when you get last minute calls from your friend (who failed to make a list) asking what dish he or she signed up for!  Be sure to include beverages and make sure the bar is fully stocked.  It is important to also offer nonalcoholic drinks, like sparkling apple cider, which can be served in a wine glass or champagne flute and is perfect for toasting.  Healthy options are also a must on your menu.  Try a crudité platter before the meal and include a nice big green salad or fruit salad.  We all know enough butter is enough sometimes and it is a nice gesture to offer up something to make your guests feel like they are indulging, but not over-indulging!

When you start to make your shopping list, get your recipes out and do your best to put the items in order by area of the grocery store.  Create a produce list, a meat market list, etc. That way you can check off the items a section at a time and limit your risk of running back and forth across the store for things you overlooked on the list.  Be sure to check your spice rack and be sure that your holiday must-haves (nutmeg, sage, thyme, etc.) are plentiful and fresh.  If not, run over to FRESH and get just the right amount from our bulk section.

Make a cooking list, which is really a plan.  Figure out the tasks that can be done in advance like baking cornbread or chopping veggies.  Be sure to allow time to thaw and brine your turkey.  Consider purchasing a few dishes to complement your menu as well.  It is also perfectly acceptable to even purchase the entire meal so you can focus on enjoying time with family and friends rather than stressing out in the kitchen. Remember: this is your holiday too!  FRESH definitely has you covered in this area!

Finally, be sure you have an overall “to do” list that includes other important items such as purchasing a floral centerpiece, cleaning your house, polishing sliver, etc.

While list-making may feel like a daunting task, it will save you loads of stress when you want to focus on relaxing with your friends and family.  Take my advice and get out that pen and paper and get to work!

A FRESH Point of View: Holiday Spices

There are three spices that, to me, are the true flavors of the holidays.  These are cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  While these spices are all important when they stand alone in a recipe, the combination of the three is even better.

Cloves are indigenous to Indonesia but also come from Malaysia, India and Madagascar.  They are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree.  Cloves are often used in Asian, African and Middle Eastern cooking to add flavor to meats, curries and meat marinades. Whole cloves are great for flavoring syrups or stews, but the most common use is in ground form and used in holiday baking.  It must be used sparingly because of its intense flavor that easily overpowers other spices.

Nutmeg comes from the nutmeg tree which grows in tropical climates.  It has a peppery flavor that is rarely used on its own in baking.  You can purchase ground nutmeg, but the best flavor results from grating the whole nut yourself.  When purchased whole and kept in an airtight container, it will keep almost indefinitely.  It is most commonly used in rich fruit cakes and desserts, but it can also be a good addition to stews.

Cinnamon is indigenous to Sri Lanka and is made from rolled, pressed and dried tree bark.  It has a warm and sweet flavor in both whole and ground form.  You can use whole cinnamon sticks to infuse ciders, but ground cinnamon is what you need for holiday baking.  It combines great with apples, bananas, chocolate and coffee.  It is also a staple in Middle Eastern or Moroccan recipes, such as tagine.

Make sure that your spices are fresh and of the best quality you can find.  It will make a huge difference when you pull them out of the pantry to use them.  If you are unsure about how long you have had a particular jar or tin of any spice, take a quick inventory and do some cleaning.  Most people say that spices have a maximum shelf life of 2 years, assuming they are stored away from heat, humidity and light.

A FRESH Point of View: PLAYhouses

Have you noticed a recent addition to the green space in our north parking lot? If you haven’t walked over to check them out, you must take a look at the four PLAYhouses that are temporarily housed here at FRESH.  These architectural wonders are not only fun to look at, but are helping raise money for one of our favorite local charities, Habitat for Humanity.

Fitzpatrick Architects, the local firm that designed FRESH, has teamed up with Tyler high school students to lend hands-on design and construction experience.  More than 20 Robert E. Lee High School students, involved in the architecture and construction programs, designed and built the playhouses that will be auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Smith County.

Fitzpatrick has a long history of engaging with local organizations to get involved in mentoring and education in Tyler.  As luck would have it, Deanna Harrison, director of development for Habitat for Humanity, approached them with the idea of building playhouses to auction off and the two missions converged into PLAYhouse.

A true model for mentoring, this project has allowed the participating students to get a true to life experience.  These students, should they choose to move forward and pursue a career in architecture, have a great advantage.  They have experienced a very similar environment to their first college class.  They have seen an architect’s office, and know how the joys and frustrations of seeing a project through from start to finish.  And now, they have something to add to their entrance portfolio.

The project also took life in the construction department. Local contractors sponsored each of the PLAYhouses (RPR construction, WRL construction, Garrett Construction, and HGR construction).  The contractors have worked tirelessly with the students, donated materials, and mentored them in the building process.

Take a look at the story on Facebook:  PLAYhouse

The silent auction for the four PLAYhouses began on November 9th.  You are able to bid and see renderings of the PLAYhouses at this website:

I encourage everyone to come out to FRESH and take a look at these impressive structures and then go online and bid!  One of these could make the perfect Christmas gift!

A FRESH Point of View: Heavy Metal

My mother had a cast-iron skillet that she used religiously.  I think her appreciation for this skillet came from the fact that it was virtually non-destructible and could be used for most anything from searing to simmering to deep frying.

I now own this skillet and I can honestly say that it is the most practical item in my kitchen.  Lifting it is a chore, especially for my wife, but it is a small price to pay for the perfect food that comes out of it every time!

The really cool thing about cast-iron is the “seasoning.”  When oil seeps into the surface of the iron over time, it creates a non-stick surface.  Not so long ago, we decided to bring in a line of cast-iron to our FRESH housewares department.  It is made by Lodge, the largest maker of cast-iron cookware in the United States.

Joseph Lodge opened his first foundry in 1896 and his legacy lives on through his great grandsons who now run the company.  They continue to expand plant capacity to keep up with the strong demand for their products.

Lodge actually pre-seasons its cookware at the factory.  They bake vegetable oil into the iron at a high temperature versus using a chemical nonstick coating.  This process enables use of your cookware for 100 years or more because you are able to maintain and repair the seasoning as needed.

To maintain the seasoning, you simply need to wash out your cookware with hot water and a sponge.  Dishwashers, strong detergents and metal scouring pads are not recommended, as they remove seasoning.

Always be sure to dry the cookware completely so that it does not rust, then apply a light coating of oil to restore the sheen.  Do not put so much that it creates stickiness on the surface.

Some other basics to follow, per Lodge, are:
• Gas flames should not extend up the sides of cookware.
• Match pan size to burner size.
• Don’t use in the microwave.
• When deep frying, fill cookware only to 1/3 of capacity.

If you are looking for a unique yet perfect gift this year, take my advice and buy some Lodge cast-iron.

A FRESH Point of View: Fall Fruits

I love fall fruits but sometimes get tired of the same old recipes that I have used for years – apple pie, fig preserves and green salads with sliced pears or grapes.

Believe it or not, a number of fall fruits are perfect for roasting, just like their vegetable cousins!  Figs, grapes, apples, pears, quinces and persimmons are a few examples.

Roasting fruit deepens its flavors by concentrating the natural sugars.  You want to be sure that you always choose fruit that is ripe, but still firm. Roast in a hot oven at a minimum of 375° F.  I also like to toss my fruit with a citrus juice, wine, spiced rum, or even olive oil to ensure that the roasting produces a flavorful sauce.  You can also sprinkle sugar or spices over the fruit before roasting.

Fall fruits with edible seeds, like figs and grapes, are excellent roasted whole. Larger fruits like apples and pears should be cored before roasting whole.  Try stuffing them with raisins, hazelnuts and brown sugar.  You will not believe your taste buds!

It is also great to chop up larger fruits before roasting so that they get a nice brown and crispy exterior.  I recently chopped up some apples and placed them alongside a pork roast during the last 20 minutes of cooking.  And since I am such a fan of fruit salads, my next adventure is going to involve roasted fruit drizzled with a bit of honey and served warm.  How good does that sound?

A FRESH Point of View: Slice by Slice Instructions

If you are like most of my friends and acquaintances, you excuse yourself to the next room at the mention of carving the turkey at Thanksgiving.  It is an intimidating task and often truly sets the tone for the big feast.  No one wants their perfectly cooked bird hacked to pieces by an improperly trained carver!

There are two cardinal rules that you must follow:  1) make sure the turkey is done and 2) make sure you have a long, SHARP knife.

Once the turkey is taken from the oven, don’t slice into it right away.  It is best to let it rest for at least 20 minutes.  If you carve too soon all of the delicious juices will run out, leaving the turkey meat dry.

To start off, remove the drumstick.  Grab the end and pull gently away from the turkey.  Slice through the skin and meat, down to the joint.  Once you find the joint, cut it firmly but smoothly. Most people leave the drumsticks intact for the kids to enjoy but you can also slice the meat into medium sized chunks.

Next, remove the wing.  Pull it away from the body to expose the point of attachment then cut all the way through the joint, skin and meat.

Make a horizontal cut along the breastbone.  Place your knife at the bottom curve of the turkey breast and slice in toward the rib cage until you reach the bone.  Use your free hand to steady the bird by holding onto the thigh.

Slowly and smoothly carve the turkey breast in downward-slanting slices. Start with a small slice.  As you cut, the slices will get larger. As they come off the bird, stack the slices as neatly as possible on a serving platter.

Remove the thigh by slicing down between thigh and body until you hit the joint.  Once you have made this cut, use your hands to pull the thigh away from the turkey until you hear the ball joint pop.  Once that happens, pick up your knife again and cut through the joint.  You can slice the thigh meat by cutting parallel to the bone.

Repeat on other side of bird and you will be the new hero of Thanksgiving!

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