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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Syrah Red Blends

The Syrah grape creates a wine that has a range of flavors that primarily depend on where they are grown. Cool-climate Syrah is light-bodied with more delicate flavors of soft fruit and earthy tones. They come from wine regions in cooler climates like Washington State, Northern Rhone, Sonoma and Chile. Warm-climate Syrah creates a full-bodied darker wine with heavier tannins, bold fruit flavor and notes of warm spice. These grapes are grown in warmer climates like Argentina, Spain, Napa, Paso Robles and Australia, where Syrah is known as Shiraz.

Petite Syrah is another hybrid grape from France. Despite its name, Petite Syrah is a distinctly different grape than Syrah. It possesses deep color and strong flavors of blueberry, sugar plum, black pepper, dark chocolate and black tea. It’s also a rare grape that is difficult to grow, and it’s primarily found in California and the French Alps.

Featured Wine of the Month: Freakshow Red Blend
Created by Michael David Winery, brothers Michael and David are fifth-generation grape-growers from the Phillips family in the Lodi region of California. They produce a variety of different wines, but the Freakshow lineup has been very successful.

The 2015 Freakshow Red is a blend of Lodi Syrah and Petite Syrah. “Very robust, this wine features aromas of campfire smoke and just a pinch of spice. Flavors of ripe plum, caramel and blackberry-infused maple syrup. Velvety smooth on the mouth with a bold finish. This wine is well balanced, just like a tight rope walker!” – Michael David Winery

Food Pairings:
Syrah grapes create bold, full-bodied wines with high tannins. They pair well with beef, pork, cured meats and vegetables with umami flavors like mushrooms, asparagus, sweet potatoes or winter squash. Pairing the wine with grilled meat helps match the intensity of the wine and smooth the tannins. The umami flavors also bring out the fruit in the wine.

Black & Bleu Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade

4 FRESHmade Black & Bleu Burgers
4 FRESH Bakery Hamburger Buns
1/4 lb Point Reyes Bleu Cheese Crumbles
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs light brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

To make the red onion marmalade, heat oil over medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid browning. Reduce heat if necessary. Add salt, brown sugar, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Continue to stir and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool before serving.

To serve the burgers, grill to desired doneness. Spread some of the bleu cheese over each burger. Top with some of the red onion marmalade. Place on the bun and serve.

Serves 4

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Market

Favorite Foods for Fourth of July

Sweet & Tangy Asian RibsWhat’s your favorite part about the Fourth of July? Is it the fireworks, watermelon, lake time or the food? I must admit that I get really excited about making all the traditional dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, I’m going to surprise everyone and add some ribs to the menu.

Since the grill will be filled with all the hot dogs and burgers, I will do the ribs in the oven the morning of the party. One hour before the party, I can reheat the ribs and leave them wrapped in foil to stay warm.

This recipe is a bit different than the traditional one. Instead of barbecue sauce, I’ve created an Asian sauce that is sweet, tangy and spicy. These ribs have always been a hit anytime that I’ve served them, and I hope they will make your Fourth of July even happier.

Sweet & Tangy Asian Ribs

1 (2 to 3 lb) slab baby back ribs
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbs Sriracha
3 cloves garlic, minced

Remove excess fat and membranes from the backside of the ribs; discard. Place the ribs in a large foil-lined baking pan. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and pour over the ribs. Cover the pan with foil. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place the ribs, still in the marinade, on the counter for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 300° F. Turn the ribs, top-side down. Leave the marinade in the pan. Cover with foil, and place in the oven. After 1 hour, open the foil. Turn the ribs over (top-side up); cover again with the foil. Cook for 1 more hour. Check the ribs for doneness. A knife should be able to pierce the meat with no resistance.

Raise the oven temperature to 400° F. Remove the foil. Baste the ribs with some of the sauce from the pan. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 more minutes until the sauce is caramelized.

Once the ribs are done, they can be served immediately, or cover and hold in a 150° F oven for up to 2 hours. Baste occasionally with pan juices. If you are serving several hours later, refrigerate and then reheat, covered with foil, in a 200° F oven for 1 hour.

Serves 6

Calories per Serving : 747, Fat: 54 g (20 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 178 mg, Sodium: 1807 mg, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 41 g

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Posted in: Holidays, Market, Recipes

WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Rhone Valley Red Wines

Morgan Cotes du CrowWine has been produced in the Rhone Valley for over 500 years with some of its steeply terraced vineyards among the oldest in France.

The Rhone Valley produces some of the world’s greatest red wines, but the valley is divided into two distinct regions. The Northern Rhone produces powerful, complex and age-worthy red wines, generally in very limited quantities, from the noble Syrah grape.
The Southern Rhone is a nearly bottomless source of more rustic and often richer blends based on the Grenache grape. They offer a richer mouth feel with more roasted and sometimes liqueur-like fruit character, plus notes of wild herbs and spices. More than 90 percent of the Rhone Valley’s production comes from the South, and this area is one of the world’s great sources of red wine value.

French AOC laws (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) establish the geographic limits of each appellation, permissible grape varieties, methods of production, minimum alcohol level and maximum crop yield per hectare.

Rhone Valley wines are divided into four levels:

  • Cotes du Rhone AOC: Accounting for 50% of the valley’s production, this is the entry-level classification. Most are red blends based on Grenache or Syrah, and the vineyards are planted on a variety of different soils. Production rules are not as strict as other levels, but wines must have a minimum of 11 percent alcohol and be made from the 21 sanctioned grape varieties. These wines are easy drinking, food-loving wines that are perfect for every day.
  • Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC: The next step up are the village wines that are a bit more complex with lower yields and slightly higher alcohol. These wines are great for aging.
  • Cotes du Rhone Named Villages AOC: The next level of exclusivity includes Rhone village wines with labels bearing the name of one of the 18 villages that are allowed to declare their names.
  • The Crus: These 18 distinctive regions – eight on the north side of the valley and 10 on the south – truly express their individual terrain and are responsible for only 20 percent of the Rhone’s production.

Morgan Cotes du Crow
Although this wine is grown and produced in Monterey County, California, Cotes du Crow’s is a unique blend of the two noble, predominant red varietals of France’s southern Rhone Valley: Syrah and Grenache.

The wine was fermented in open top tanks and received manual punch-downs. This enabled good extraction and structure development with pleasant tannins. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to French oak barrels. The 12 percent new oak gives the wine subtle spice and vanilla characters without overpowering the elegant fruit profile.

This Rhone-style blend has a rich ruby-red color highlighted with purple edges. Coffee cake, dates and raspberry aromas jump out of the glass. The wine is medium-bodied with soft tannins; it offers a mouthful of pomegranate, black cherry and cranberry. Its weight and balance make it a perfect pairing with anything off the grill.

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Thighs

8 boneless chicken thighs
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
several toothpicks, soaked in water

Squeeze excess water out of spinach, and add to a bowl. Add goat cheese, breadcrumbs, parmesan, mushrooms, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Lay chicken thighs flat on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Add a small amount of stuffing to the middle of a thigh and roll tightly. Do not overfill or the stuffing will fall out during grilling. Season outside of thighs with salt and pepper.

Heat grill to high. In a small bowl, combine remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Place thighs on grill, seam-side down. Turn grill to low; close the lid. Watch for flare-ups. Periodically baste with olive oil and lemon juice. Cook for about 10 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through completely.

Serves 4

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BREW CLUB Style of the Month: Imperial Stout

North Coast Ale Old Rasputin Russian Imperial StoutDescription:
Inspired by brewers back in the 1800s to win over the Russian Czar, this is the king of stouts, boasting high alcohol by volumes and plenty of malt character.

Imperial stouts are packed with lots of intense flavors and aromas such as coffee, fruit, dark chocolate, burnt grain and currant.

It has low to moderate levels of carbonation, and hop character can vary. Many Imperial Stouts are barrel-aged, mostly in bourbon or whiskey barrels, while some are infused with coffee or chocolate.

Alcohol ranges vary, but they tend to be quite big. Most tend to have cleaner alcohol flavors, higher hop levels and more residual sweetness: very full-bodied with rich roasted flavors far surpassing normal stouts.

Featured Beer:
North Coast Ale Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: Produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It’s a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.

The Old Rasputin brand image is a drawing of Rasputin with a phrase in Russian encircling it — A sincere friend is not born instantly.

Reviewers have commented that Old Rasputin is filled with a special dark chocolate-coffee flavor, with hints of brown sugar and chocolate-covered coffee bean mingled with a pop of fresh berries. The body is robust, and it is best served not-quite-cold. As it warms up, you’ll start to taste rich espresso, black pepper and burnt caramel.

Color: Black, ABV: 9%, Bitterness: 75 IBUs

Imperial Stout Food Pairings
While it is an intense beer, the smooth texture helps it match, not overpower, foods, and the big bitter finish does a great job at cutting sweetness. It pairs well with red meat, smoked meats, chocolate desserts, and aged Cheddar or Gouda.

Steak Au Poivre for Two

2 (6 to 8 oz) Certified Angus Beef ® tenderloin steaks
2 Tbs whole peppercorn blend (black, white, red, green)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 Tbs butter (dice 2 Tbs into small cubes and keep refrigerated)
1 Tbs shallot, minced
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup beef stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs sour cream

Crack peppercorns with the back of a skillet. Cut strip steak in half. Press cracked pepper firmly into both sides of each steak. Season with salt.

Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When butter foams, place steaks in pan, pressing firmly. Lower heat to medium and sear about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer steaks to a clean plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add shallots to the pan, and add brandy while holding the pan away from the heat. Return pan to medium-high heat. Expect a flame while the alcohol burns off. Cook 1 minute until brandy thickens. Add stock. Bring sauce back to a boil, and reduce until thickened to a sauce consistency.

Whisk in Dijon, sour cream and cold butter. Taste sauce and add salt to taste; remove from heat. Spoon sauce on plates and place steaks on top.

Recipe from

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Easy Entertaining with a Holiday Ham

Easy Entertaining with a Holiday Ham‘Tis the season for holiday entertaining and one of the easiest ways to feed a crowd is with a glazed ham.

Fully cooked, bone-in hams are abundant during the holiday season and many of them also come spiral-sliced. This makes presenting and serving your ham an exercise in effortless entertaining. Something we all need during this busy time of year.

I like to create a homemade glaze to give it a personal touch that is both delicious and memorable. This recipe includes some of the great flavors of the season, like apples, maple syrup and apricots.

It’s simple, delicious and made with Full Circle organic ingredients. Best of all, it creates the type of flavor your guests will love and brings plenty of holiday cheer to the table.

Apple-Maple Glazed Ham

1 bone-in, fully-cooked ham
1/2 cup Full Circle Organic Apple Juice
1/2 cup Full Circle Organic Maple Syrup
1 cup Full Circle Apricot Jam
1/4 cup Full Circle Balsamic Vinegar

Allow ham to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place ham in a large roasting pan.

Place the apple juice, maple syrup, jam and cider vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds until jam is melted and all ingredients are incorporated. Pour half of the mixture over the ham. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer registers 135° F.

Spoon juices over the top of the ham about every 20 minutes. Remove ham from oven. Spoon remaining apple juice mixture over the surface and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Allow ham to stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Optional: Pour remaining juices from the bottom of the pan into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let the mixture reduce to 1/2 its volume. Serve as a sauce that accompanies the ham.

Note: For testing purposes, a pre-sliced ham was used. It was 9 pounds and had 15 to 20 servings.

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Posted in: Holidays, Market, Recipes

FRESHmade Italian Meatballs

FRESHmade Italian MeatballsThis month, FRESH is celebrating a Taste of Italy, and I am inspired to cook some favorite Italian dishes. Many Italian recipes remind me of comfort food, so this is the perfect time of year to break out some warm and cozy recipes.

For a quick weeknight dinner, I like to get the FRESHmade meatballs from the meat case. They are filled with seasoning and Italian cheeses, and they just need to be cooked through.

Sometimes I like to make meatballs without the pasta. They are very delicious when baked with a favorite tomato sauce, and then topped with fresh mozzarella and parmesan. Don’t forget to grab a loaf of rustic Italian or garlic bread from the bakery. You will need it to sop up all of the sauce.

Baked Meatballs

8 FRESH meatballs
2 Tbs Brookshire’s Pure Olive Oil
1 jar Gia Russa Pasta Sauce (I like Alla Vodka flavor)
1/2 lb FRESH mozzarella, torn into pieces
1/4 cup Sartori Parmesan Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large sauté pan, add the oil over high heat. When oil is hot, add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Pour a cup of sauce across the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Add the meatballs and pour remaining sauce over meatballs. Place in the oven; cook for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Remove from the oven and add the mozzarella. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the parmesan and serve. Meatballs and sauce can be spooned over pasta or served with garlic bread.

Note: Because the meatballs contain ground pork, they need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F.

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Posted in: Market, Recipes

Great Gifts for Dad: Nordic Ware Grilling

Nordic Ware Grill AccessoriesIn the housewares department at FRESH, you will find a whole section of quality grill products. My favorites are the grilling accessories by Nordic Ware. I always have great success baking with Nordic Ware products in the kitchen, so when I saw they had pans and toppers for the grill, I was very excited.

Nordic Ware has been an American tradition since 1946. It’s most famous product, the Bundt pan, paved the way for a complete line of quality cookware and bakeware.

Most of the products in the Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Grill line are made from heavy cast-aluminum and have an eco-friendly, nonstick coating. A few of the pieces are also available in stainless steel. All products are designed to be used on the grill, but they can also be used indoors on the stove or in the oven.

The Nordic Ware products available* at FRESH include :

  • Grill Topper
  • Fish Griller
  • Texas Searing Griddle
  • Grill ‘n Shake Bake
  • Beer Can Roaster
  • Chicken Leg Griller

*while supplies last

Pair a Nordic Ware grilling product with a new set of tongs, Dad’s favorite grill sauce or seasoning, or a gift card for his favorite cut from the meat counter. You’ll have the perfect gift for Father’s Day – one-stop shopping for a great day for Dad!

Get Grilling for Memorial Day

Memorial Day GrillingMemorial Day weekend is often considered the unofficial start to summer. When you think about summer, some of the first things that come to mind are cookouts and grilling. The FRESH market is full of great ideas for grilling, from grass-fed beef and lamb to natural pork, organic chicken and fresh-from-the sea fillets and shellfish.

The grilling choices are endless, but this Memorial Day, I am looking forward to grilling a tri-tip steak. It’s a great choice for feeding a crowd and is a well-known cut of meat in Argentinian cuisine and gaucho-style grilling.

The tri-tip is a triangular section of the sirloin and comes from the point where the sirloin meets the round and flank. It’s a cut that is full of flavor because of excellent marbling and is more tender than flank or skirt steak.

Grill to medium doneness, and serve with a chimichurri sauce. Your summer will kickoff in a delicious way. Chimichurri is a traditional South American sauce that would be great on any grilled meat or fish. If you don’t have time to make your own, it is always available on the FRESH Dip Bar.

Grilled Tri-Tip Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

2 lb tri-tip steak
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano
1/2 tsp dried chili de arbol, crushed
salt and pepper, to taste

Place meat in a 9 x 13 pan. Add marinade ingredients and rub into the meat on both sides. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, heat a grill to high and place the meat on the grill. Sear and seal on both sides. Preheat oven to 375° F. Take meat off the grill and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the meat reaches medium temperature. Medium can be detected by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and cooking until the thermometer reaches 155° F. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Move to a platter and top with a few spoonfuls of sauce. Serve remaining sauce at the table. Feeds 4 to 6 people.

Chimichurri Sauce:
6 oz red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs fresh oregano leaves
2 small dried chili de arbol, crushed
2 bunches Italian parsley
4 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow flavors to combine.

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FRESH and Festive: FRESH Market and Seafood

At FRESH, we know there isn’t one type of meat or seafood that’s best for everybody, or every occasion. So we take pride in offering a wide selection of the finest types available, so you can always find what’s right for you and your family – whether you prefer beef cuts that are steakhouse-tender or seafood fresh from the water.

Here is a snapshot of our FRESH Market and Seafood offerings:


Natural Prime Beef
With  all of the qualities and health benefits as Fresh Natural beef, it has been awarded the USDA Prime grade due to its outstanding marbling and eating qualities. This is our top of the line product.

Certified Angus Beef
Considered better than USDA Select, Choice or Prime due to the ten additional selection criteria. The top selling Angus brand commands 80 percent of the Angus sales in the U.S.

Fresh Natural Beef
This Never Ever beef has never been given growth hormones, antibiotics, or fed animal proteins. Also, no pesticides or fertilizers are used in raising this beef.

Fresh Natural Pork
This pork is scientifically selected by Ph balance. By passing this selection process it is processed naturally and shipped with no added chemicals and no water weight. It has also been raised naturally with no hormones, pesticides or antibiotics.

Ground Meat Products
We grind all of our beef and pork products in house. We have our own line of gourmet meatballs and beef patties. We also grind turkey daily and produce turkey link sausages in-house.

Other House Recipes
We produce our own products like chicken and beef fajitas, meatloaf, stuffed pork chops and chicken breasts. All of our products, in the full service glass case, are made in house.

Our over 50 recipes of sausage are made fresh in-house. We use no nitrates or nitrites. We use no MSG and no meat by products. Our sausage is exclusive to FRESH, meaning you will not find this in any other retail store in East Texas. It is fresh made from fresh products with no chemicals and no preservatives. 


Most of our Seafood comes in fresh, typically two days out of the water when we get it. Most other retailers buy and sell only frozen fish.

We carry the largest variety of seafood in East Texas and the only fresh Gulf shrimp in East Texas, when available. To ensure freshness, some of our fish is shipped whole four times weekly and cut in our market.

For traceability, quality and their ability to provide fresh wholesome product time after time, we’ve selected our seafood vendors very carefully. Our farm raised ocean fish are raised in large pens built in the ocean in clear water with natural currents. It is the latest state-of-the-art  aquaculture.

Our ready to cook seafood entrées are prepared fresh from chefs’ recipes and made daily. All FRESH Seafood is all natural. No chemicals added.

Family Central: Tom Tom Turkey Gets a Holiday Break

There’s nothing I look forward to eating more during the holidays than the iconic Greenberg Turkey, smoked right here in Tyler, Texas. It’s the best bird I have served on our holiday table, and the leftover sandwiches (from fancy grilled Panini’s to mayo/white bread simplicity) are just as important to my family as the holiday meal!

But there comes the day when you just need to make something completely different from all the traditional fare you’ve enjoyed. There’s only so much cranberry sauce a person can eat.

My mom was here visiting us during Thanksgiving week, and by Friday, we decided to give the Tom Tom Turkey a rest and look to the East for inspiration for our Tom Kha Soup. The ingredients combine here to bring unbelievable flavors to your taste buds, and the warm broth is one of the most comforting soups I’ve ever enjoyed.

The recipe calls for some ingredients you might not be familiar with in your everyday cooking, but I think this soup will quickly become one of your favorite, easy go-to winter dishes. You strain the lemongrass, shallots and cilantro from the broth after it has simmered, leaving a beautiful creamy coconut milk base for the shrimp and mushrooms.

If you like your food a bit spicier, simply add another teaspoon or two of the Thai red curry paste. If you don’t eat shrimp, chicken works just as well.

And talk about leftovers! The soup just seemed to taste even better the next day when the flavors had had a bit of time to meld.


Tom Kha Soup

1 tsp vegetable oil
4 stalks fresh lemongrass, chopped
3 large shallots, finely chopped
8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped coarse
3 Tbs fish sauce (on the Asian aisle)
32 oz chicken broth
2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk (can use light)
1 Tbs sugar
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
50 -60 raw shrimp (thawed, peeled and deveined)
3-4 Tbs fresh lime juice
3 tsp Thai red curry paste (on the Asian aisle)
Hot cooked jasmine rice

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add lemon grass, shallots, cilantro and 1 Tablespoon fish sauce; cook, stirring frequently, until just softened, 2 to 5 minutes (vegetables should not be brown).

Stir in chicken broth, 1 can of coconut milk and remaining fish sauce; bring to simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until flavors have blended, 15 minutes.

Pour broth through fine mesh strainer and discard solids in strainer. Wipe out saucepan and return broth mixture to pan. Return pan to medium-high heat. Stir remaining can coconut milk, curry paste, and sugar into broth mixture and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms, and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add shrimp and lime juice. Let simmer until shrimp is just cooked through.

Serve over Jasmine rice. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves if desired.

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