When Latin American dishes are on your menu, skip the usual, commonplace Tex-Mex and prepare this palate-pleaser from Chef Carmen Orta. It’s a fresh take on eggrolls via Puerto Rico.

“I grew up on the island,” Orta, 27, said. “I started cooking at age 8, and Grandma and other family members taught me the basics. I baked pastries from home here in Killeen, and then my husband and I opened Sweets del Encanto.”

Now incorporated into The Crescent Lounge, Orta has expanded her repertoire to include the club’s traditional items, her signature desserts and new menu selections — many with a distinctive Caribbean flair.

“We’re keeping the best of the old menu and adding new dishes,” she said.

One eye-catcher is the egg burger: a generous grilled beef patty, fully garnished and served open-faced to display the perfectly placed, over-easy fried egg that somehow precisely fits the circumference of the sandwich. It’s served any time of day, along with other breakfast offerings.

Orta said her cheesecakes have been a hit with customers. “White chocolate and passion fruit cheese-

cake is one of my top sellers,” she said.

Anthony Rodriguez, one of the Crescent’s owners, said being able to partner with Orta was a fortuitous event.

“We were thrilled at our good luck. Carmen’s Latin menu fits in perfectly with our Latin-themed events, and we’re inviting everyone to our food tasting this Thursday,” he said.

The event is free and starts at 8 p.m.

One of the new menu selections, Chicken Avocado Eggrolls, is an uncommon entree, blending Asian and Latin American influences.

“Some of our recipes are more difficult,” Orta said, “but this is one that most cooks can successfully make in a home kitchen. As a mom as well as a business owner, I know that quick and easy are important.”

With two cooks in the Crescent’s kitchen to assist her, Orta said she’s able to prepare and serve her specialties “without delay, and with the high quality our customers are used to.”

She takes pains to buy “all local produce, and organic whenever possible — it’s got to be as fresh as we can get.” When asked her main goal, Orta doesn’t hesitate. “I want to bring more of the Latino community to the Crescent, and I want to do it through my food.”


Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

1 pound chicken breast

1 can drained black beans, 15.25 ounces

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 large ripe avocado

1 package spring roll wraps

Season and cook chicken; cut into small pieces. In a mixing bowl, shred the cabbage. Add salt, pepper, garlic to taste.

Cut avocado in quarter-inch slices.

Begin assembling eggrolls:

Add avocados, cabbage mixture and chicken.

Roll tight, moistening edges with water to seal seams well.

Deep fry in 350-degree oil for 5-6 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Recipe from Carmen Orta

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