National Watermelon Day

Written by A Fare Extraordinaire, one of our Museum’s exclusive caterers.

Watermelon Tomato Feta Salad

Happy National Watermelon Day! A Fare Extraordinaire is excited to celebrate this amazing fruit (and vegetable) with you. In honor of this day and the last month of summer, we would love to share some facts, tips and tricks to this refreshing treat.

Watermelon Refresher


  1. The first ever recorded watermelon was found 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  2. There are over 300 varieties of watermelon in the US and up to 1,200 varieties world-wide.
  3. The watermelon is the most consumed melon type in the United States.
  4. The largest recorded watermelon in The Guinness World Record book weighs in at 350.5 pounds.
  5. The watermelon is cousins to the cucumber, pumpkins and squashes.
  6. The watermelon grows from a vine-like flowering plant.
  7. Because the watermelon is cousins to these vegetables as well as being a sweet, seed-producing plant, it is both a fruit and a vegetable.
  8. Watermelons are 92% water.
  9. The watermelon is 100% edible. You are able to eat the entire rind as well as the seeds.
  10. The seedless watermelon was invented only 50 years ago.

Melon Crab Poke1

Our exclusive full-service caterers are trained in the policies and procedures of the Museum – making your event-planning process effortless. Each caterer is full-service and can customize your event to meet your specific needs. Learn more…

Cheese Please! Selecting Cheese for the Perfect Cheese Platter

Written by Chef Kevin Morris, Abuso Catering Co., one of our Museum’s exclusive caterers.

cheese 1

Cheese platers have been around for ages, and are a great staple to have whether at a formal event, or a casual gathering at your home. But with so many options how to you make a cheese plater everyone will remember?

Try to include a variety of textures and flavors. Most cheese belongs to one of four basic categories: aged, soft, firm, or blue. For a good variety, choose at least one from each group.

aged cheeseAged: Aged Cheddar, Comte, Goat Gouda

soft cheese

Soft: June’s Joy, Triple Cream Brie from Cowgirl Creamery, Cremont

Heap of diced semi-firm cheese on plate

Firm: Manchego, Texas Gold Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano

blue cheese

Blue: Gorgonzola Dolce, Buttermilk Blue, Red Rock, Stilton

You can also try selecting cheeses by the type of milk used (cow, goat, sheep). This will ensure a range of different flavors on the plate. Also be sure to serve at least one very interesting cheese like Barely Buzzed (Cheddar rubbed with a mix of ground coffee beans and French Lavender.

How Much Is Enough?
It really depends on the event. For display during cocktail hour, use 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per guest. If I am doing a party where the cheese display is the star, I use about 3 to 4 ounces of cheese per guest. If you are going to bring a cheese platter to a pot-luck style party, then you should be safe bringing 1 to 2 ounces per guest.

cheese 2Accompaniments
Offer a selection of breads, including sliced baguette, bread sticks, and crackers in all different shapes and sizes. It’s a good idea to vary taste and texture among the breads as well as the cheeses. (I personally like to toast or grill some sliced baguette)

Jarred condiments and vegetables are quick and fuss-free. Try sweet fig preserves or honey, tart chutneys, and spicy mustards. You can also add artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and caponata. If you have a bit more time, prepare caramelized onions, which complement most cheese plates (I make this great cherry tomato jam that I like to put out with my cheese displays). One thing you could try is infusing the honey with interesting flavors like thyme, lavender, or even ancho chili.

Various other sweet and salty items are also great additions. Try cured meats such as prosciutto and salami, or candied nuts and pistachios. I like to use Marcona almonds, which I season with fresh herbs and olive oil. Assorted seasonal and dried fruits can include figs, cherries, apples, berries, melons and pears. I use fruit to make garnishes for my trays and displays as well.

cheese 3

Serving Tips

  • Set out a separate knife for each cheese, especially the soft varieties. Soft cheese spreads well with a butter knife; firm cheese might require a paring knife; and aged cheese often requires a cheese plane. We all have that set of cheese knives that someone gave us – you just need to find it in the closet.
  • Remove the cheese from the refrigerator an hour before serving―cold mutes flavor.
  • Spread out the displays. Place the cheese platters and the other nibbles on several tables to avoid guest gridlock.
  • Label each cheese so you won’t need to recite the names all evening. If you like, also jot down a few poetic adjectives describing its flavor.
  • When I need cheese for my clients I always call Houston DairyMaids. They can help you with your next cheese tray.

Good Luck and Happy Eating!

Our exclusive full-service caterers are trained in the policies and procedures of the Museum – making your event-planning process effortless. Each caterer is full-service and can customize your event to meet your specific needs. Learn more…

Summer Grilling Museum Style

Summer Grilling party 101 as done by the professionals! Take your summer grilling to the next level, learn what dishes are our exclusive Museum caterer’s favorites, and how they do it!

Skinny Pinchada
Recipe by City Kitchen
“Perfect amount of nuttiness to balance out the sweet!”



Grilled Watermelon Salad
Café Natalie
“This is our favorite summer dish as grilling the watermelon caramelizes the sugar providing a sweet, yet refreshing snack for any Summer BBQ.”


Grilled Caesar Salad
“It’s the new summer trend we are really excited about”

grilled ceasar salad
Dressing (Or use your favorite brand Caesar Dressing)

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (found near the tuna fish in the supermarket)
  •  2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I like the brand Maille)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined.
  3. Taste and adjust to your preferred flavor. The dressing will keep well in the fridge for a little under a week.


  • One large head of Romaine, sliced in half
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  •  A liberal pinch of salt and pepper
  •  ½ Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • 1 or 2 pieces of your favorite baguette or white sandwich bread
  • Lightly oil, s&p, grill to desired doneness.
  1. Preheat your grill to high heat. The hotter the grill, the better the lettuce will caramelize.
  2. Rub each side of the Romaine with the EVOO and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper
  3. Once your grill is ready, carefully place your romaine on it.
  4. Flip after 45 seconds to a minute. The lettuce should be dark brown with a nice char. Do not burn or wilt.
  5. Chop lettuce and toss with croutons, cheese and dressing.


  1. Lightly oil your bread and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill bread on both sides to desired doneness
  3. Crumble or cut to desired size

Feel free to customize your salad with some fresh touches, such as diced tomatoes, corn, avocado, or even grilled chicken. Once you’ve grilled your first head of romaine, we guarantee you’ll make this salad again and again!


Bone-In Ribeye
A Fare Extraordinaire
“The perfect way to get your family and friends together for a summer soiree”


Executive Chef, Ryan Bouillet

The most important thing to know about grilling your steak is that there are lots of methods to the madness. If you are new to grilling, keep practicing, and eventually you will find your grilling, seasoning and temperature method of preference. Regardless of your experience, a steak grill out is the perfect way to get your family and friends together for a summer soiree.

The Grill: The first step to grilling the perfect ribeye is deciding on your preferred cooking method. We prefer a good old fashioned charcoal grill, but for you new-time grillers it might be easier to start with the gas grill. Both methods will cook your steak perfectly, but there are pros and cons to each method.



45 Minute Start Time
More Complicated to Master
Intense Flavoring from Charcoal and Wood Chips Infused into Meat



20 Minute Start Time
Easier and More User Friendly
Minimal Flavor, For Cooking Purposes Only


Seasoning: Set your meat out right as you’re lighting the grill or turning the grill on. If you allow your meat to sit out and come to room temperature, this will help in the cooking your steak faster. Once your grill is ready, season your meat with salt and pepper. We prefer to use Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper on our steaks. Some people also prefer to use olive oil to give their meat extra tenderness and moisture.

Grilling: We prefer diamond grill marks for the perfect grilling effect. Place your steak on the grill at a 45 degree angle for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, rotate your steak to 90 degrees for another 2 minutes. Once you have totaled to 4 minutes on one side, flip your steak over and repeat the 45 degree and 90 degree for another 4 minutes, totaling to 8 full minutes on the grill. There are many ways to tell if your steak is to the correct temperature. The most accurate way is to read the temperature of the meat. Your doneness will increase by 5 degrees.



125 Degrees: Rare
130 Degrees: Medium Rare
135 Degrees: Medium
140 Degrees: Medium Well


Cook Time: Your meat temperature is a personal preference. For most steaks, we prefer a nice medium rare. However, for Ribeyes, we have a personal preference of medium. Bone-In Ribeyes are a much fattier cut of meat. Cooking the ribeye a little longer, to medium, will allow the fat to render and avoids any gristle.

Resting: Once your meat is off the grill, it is very important to let it rest before cutting into it. If you do not allow enough resting time, then most of the juices will run, creating dryness in your steak. We recommend a resting time that equals half the cooking time. If you cook your steak for 8 minutes, then let it rest for 4 minutes.

skewers 1

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

(Recipe makes 4 skewers)

  • 1/2 pound angel food cake
  • 12 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla zest of 1 lemon

These can be made ahead of time and grilled just before dessert.

1. dip
2. strawberries
3. cake
4. grill and serve!


  1. Whipped cream dip – Mix together the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Beat until soft/medium peaks form. Caution – don’t let it go too long or it will turn into butter.
  2. Prepare the strawberries – Remove the hulls. You can do this with a paring knife the traditional way, or you can even use a regular straw. Push the straw up through the bottom of the strawberry.

    Melt some strawberry preserves in a small bowl. Dip the strawberries into the melted strawberry preserves. Use a fork to get them out and “drain” them as you go.

  3. Prepare the angel food cubes – Cut your angel food cake into cubes. You want them to be roughly the same size as the strawberries, and the same size as each other. If some are really large and some small, the smaller ones won’t touch the grill. Size and uniformity does matter in this one.

    Now just put them together. I am using these double skewers. If you are using singles, use two at a time. Hold them slightly apart while threading the food onto them. This will keep the fruit and cake from swiveling around.

  4. Grill and serve – When you are ready to grill them, brush the cake with melted butter on each side. The butter will help to prevent the cake from sticking, and it will also help form that lovely crust. Grill the kabobs on a medium grill or grill pan about 4 minutes per side. You should see some really nice grill marks on the cake. The berries will also get a slight char on them. Serve hot with the lemon scented whipped cream dip.

skewers 2

Harry Potter Midnight Madness at HMNS!

This post is from Julia, the HMNS Education department’s resident Harry Potter expert.

Finally! <3
Creative Commons License photo credit: worak

Harry has spent the last 6 years at Hogwarts uncovering the truth of his past and discovering his monumental role in defeating You-Know-Who, and it’s finally come down to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Harry, Ron, and Hermione have set out to finish the task Dumbledore started: find and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. Without his horcruxes, Voldemort can finally be defeated by The Chosen One, putting an end to the epic battle between good and evil that has plagued the wizarding world for decades.

But it’s no easy task. As Voldemort and his followers gain control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, and Hermione face numerous obstacles from curses and hexes to Death Eaters to the sometimes dwindling faith and doubts they have in one another. However, throughout his journey Harry realizes that he has the full support of the wizarding world and is not alone in his quest to stop the Dark Lord once and for all. Witches and wizards around the world are joining together to stop Voldemort and the Death Eaters in their vengeful plot to take over the entire wizarding world.

So, now it’s our turn to show Harry our support! If you’ve been a dedicated follower of The Boy Who Lived from his first year at Hogwarts you can’t stop now!

Come to the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 18 at 10:30pm for a Harry Potter Midnight Madness premiere party that will surely give Harry Potter fans something to celebrate! With live animal presentations that would make Hagrid proud (although there are no dragons or hippogriffs), tasty treats that would leave the Weasley boys satisfied, and potions demonstrations that even Snape would approve of, you have to be here! And don’t forget about the costume contest complete with fabulous prizes and Harry Potter trivia for the true HP fan to test their knowledge! It’s all happening right here for the 12:01am screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. So where should you be for the beginning of the end? Why the Houston Museum of Natural Science of course!

Here are few details for the Costume Contest:

To enter the costume contest you must arrive, in costume, by 10:45pm to register at the table just inside the main entrance to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Once registered you will receive a number; this is the order in which you will be called before the panel of judges. Each participant will be judged based on the ABC’s of great costumes: Authenticity, Believability and Creativity! Judges will score each participant and we will award the prizes just before the start of the 12:01am movie for each of the winners – Best Adult Male, Best Adult Female, Best Male under 13 years old, Best Female under 13 years old. So dust off your dress robes and we’ll see you at HMNS for the Harry Potter Midnight Madness Costume Contest!