Two locals win H-E-B Quest for Texas Best

To continue my stroll through fantastic contestants in the H-E-B's Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best winners, I’m so excited I actually spent some delicious time with two of the top winners. To top it off, they are both from the Houston area. A total of four contestants were chosen as H-E-B's Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best winners. Out of more than 700 entries and a final two-day judging/presentation round, these entrants won not only cash prizes but also the opportunity to sell their products in H-E-B stores. The Grand Prize winner also took home keys to brand-new Toyota Tundra!

First-place winner, “Chef Rey” Reynold Darthard, won for his cheesecake at Chef Rey Inc.-Sugar Land.

• Grand Prize Winner ($25,000, featured placement as a Texas Best Primo Pick, keys to a Toyota Tundra): Frozen handheld empanadas, Mmmpanadas-Austin

• First Place Winner ($20,000): “Chef Rey” Reynold Darthard, cheesecake, Chef Rey Inc.-Sugar Land

• Second Place Winner ($15,000): Lucienne Duforets and Veronica Amaya, ice cream, Bellefontaine-Houston

• Third Place Winner ($10,000): Tiffani Diorio, Pennymade biscuits, Pennymade-Austin

Now as hard as I tried I couldn’t get a single one of them to divulge their secret recipes. So you will just have to “Please Join My Table” as we enjoy a great recipe from one of our readers in the style of “Chef Ray” Cheesecakes… and one of mine using lemons as a tribute to Lucienne Duforets, owner of Bellefontaine Ice Creams. She is committed to using centuries-old traditions to create her French-style ice cream, and her beautiful accent enhances the French flair during her presentations. I personally loved her dairy-free lemon sorbet made with real lemons and lemon zest. The first recipe comes from a long-time friend, Martha Pappas, a former Spanish teacher at Christian School of Kingwood. It isn’t Chef Ray’s recipe but I guarantee you will like it!

Martha Pappas’ Classic Cheesecake

Karen … this is the recipe I use for regular plain cheesecake. I now cut the sugar in the crust to 2 tablespoons and cut the sugar to 3/4 cup. I also add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to it.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter
4-8 ounce packages of cream cheese (not low fat)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Set aside. In a large bowl beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla until blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven. Loosen cake from rim of pan and cool before removing rim. Place in fridge for at least four hours before serving.

I don’t have a lemon ice cream recipe, but I think my Greek Creamy Lemon Custard-Filled Pastry (Bougatsa me Krema) would be nice accompaniment to Lucienne Duforets’ lemon dairy-free ice cream.

Greek Creamy Lemon Custard-Filled Pastry

This is a favorite Greek street food and snack. It is usually made into triangles of YiaYia’s large, handmade phyllo sheets that are folded over multiple times before being folded over the filling. I like this one because I can use store-bought phyllo dough. I like it warm with a bit of confectioner's sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.


4 1/4 cups of whole milk
Sliced peel of 1 1/2 lemons
1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of semolina (available at H-E-B)
4 eggs
1/3 teaspoon of vanilla extract
12 sheets of phyllo dough
6-8 ounces of butter, melted


Confectioner's sugar
Ground cinnamon


Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and add to the pan, stirring over medium-low heat until it looks like creamy custard. Remove from heat, take out and discard lemon peel, and let it cool completely. Stir it from time to time to keep the custard from forming a skin on top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush a 13x9x2 baking pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with eight sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet well with the melted butter. Add the custard filling. Fold the excess phyllo that overlaps the pan in over the custard. Top with the remaining phyllo, brushing each with butter. Use scissors to trim the top sheets to the size of the pan. Spritz the top lightly with water and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and cinnamon while hot, and serve warm. Note: I find it easiest to cut it with a pizza cutter. This is not a dessert that reheats well, so enjoy it while it is fresh!

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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