31 October 2008

for your halloween eating pleasure

since it is halloween today, I thought that I would give you a recipe that you could use some of that halloween candy in. enjoy!!

deep fried candy bars

when I read this original recipe from nigella lawson, she said we have all heard of deep-fried mars bars in the south. well I had not, so being a true Southern girl; I had to try them. so far, the only candy we have tried that does not work is three musketeers. the fresh pineapple goes great with this because it cuts the sweetness of the candy, but you can definitely serve this without it. also, we like to serve this with shots of rum, the combination of rum, coconut, and pineapple is a time-honored one.

oil for deep-frying
1 ripe pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup self-rising flour
about 1 cup club soda
8 fun-sized almond joy bars, or any fun-sized candy bar you want to try (the small cadbury cream eggs work as well)

1. heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to maximum heat.
2. measure the flour into a bowl, and whisk in ¾ cup of the club soda to make the batter, adding the rest of the soda if the consistency is still too thick; you want this just thick enough to adhere easily. the best way to check is to turn a candy bar in it; if the batter sticks, it’s fine.
3. fry the batter-dipped candy bar in the hot oil for about 3 minutes until the batter is puffed and golden.
4. place on pieces of paper towel to absorb excess grease, then pile up on a plate to sit on the table alongside the cut-up pineapple.

30 October 2008

eating in san antonio -- day 4

well, this is michael's last day as a guest blogger! hope you have enjoyed it!

This is our last day in San Antonio, so I suppose it is my last guest post for now.

I started off the day by strolling over to the Starbucks on the riverwalk, carrying with me the campechanas purchased yesterday from Mi Tierra. I got a decaf americano and sat out on the patio overlooking the river. Starbucks is not the greatest coffee on the planet. It seems as if all their coffee is over-roasted. That kills the flavor of the coffee. My favorite is the fresh roasted coffee I buy from Intelligentsia online and brew at home. Ok, back on point, Starbucks coffee is serviceable. The apple and pineapple campechanas were just as good as yesterday afternoon.

The riverwalk has some of the most aggressive birds around. Anytime you are eating outside along the river, you can expect to be surrounded by ducks, pigeons, and some other real small brown spotted bird. Those little guys are quick suckers. They swoop down from the trees, outmaneuver the fat ducks and pigeons, snatch the food, then retreat to their trees. The ducks and pigeons just gather around and stare at you as if to say, "you gonna finish that?"

I experienced the birds at breakfast and lunch.

Not really feeling like venturing out to find a new place to try for lunch, I decided to go back to Las Ramblas, the restaurant at the Contessa. The salad I had there yesterday was excellent. I was seated in their outdoor section. After perusing their menu, I was thinking this was a mistake because nothing really jumped out at me. The waitress came by and mentioned that in addition to the menu items, they also had a lunch buffet. I'm not a huge buffet fan, but I was curious, "what do you have on the buffet today?" She rattled off the buffet items, and I think my eyes got bigger with each dish she mentioned. I figured since I had plenty of time to kill and a book to read, I could make this a multi-course meal. There were several things on the menu that sounded good, so that is what I did. I stuck with the small salad plates so that I wouldn't get too much at one time, and I read a chapter of my book between each course.

First course was Apple Waldorf salad with maple dressing. This salad had green and red apples, walnuts, dried cherries, and a light, creamy maple dressing. It was a good way to start off lunch.

The second course was Paella Valenciana. Paella is a Spanish dish that originated on the southern coast of Spain. It is a rice and seafood dish flavored with saffron. This paella had mussels, shrimp, sausage, carrots, tomato, and peas. I love paella, and this was a pretty good rendition. It was a little skimpy on the seafood, but tasty nonetheless. I hope someday to be able to enjoy some paella in its natural habitat, sitting at an outdoor restaurant near the beach on the island of Majorca, Spain.

The next course was green beans and parmesan polenta. The green beans were just barely blanched and not seasoned very much. One of my peeves is vegetables that are overcooked and mushy, so these slightly crunchy green beans were refreshing. The polenta was smooth and flavorful. The somewhat bland green beans balanced out the strongly flavored polenta nicely.

For the meat course, I had a couple slices of the pork tenderloin with balsamic demi glaze. The pork was tender and juicy, and the basalmic glaze added sweetness and depth to the flavor of the pork.

Wanting some coffee to go with dessert, I asked the waitress if they served espresso drinks. She said yes, so I asked for a decaf americano. She looked at me and said, "A what?" I responded, "how about a decaf latte." Success, kinda.

Once the coffee arrived, I got a slice of chocolate meringue pie. The meringue was not as light as it could have been, and the crust was also a little heavy, but the chocolate tasted great -- smooth, cold, and not too sweet -- good stuff.

That concludes my notable dining experiences for the day. I did have a bag of italian flavored gardettos from a gas station south of Austin. If you ever get the opportunity -- pass. I guess that was dinner.

Overall, I really enjoyed our trip to San Antonio. I love a walkable downtown with nice hotels, plenty of attractions and dining. For me, the gold standard is the French Quarter, but San Antonio doesn't have to make any apologies.



eating in san antonio -- day 3

my hubby mike is the guest blogger again today,

Yesterday was a good food day, and it would be difficult to match or beat.

After walking Caryn to the Westin next door for her morning meeting, I decided to ask the Westin concierge for a breakfast recommendation. His first suggestion was this deli around the corner called Schilo's. I said, "Yes, I'm a fan, ate there twice yesterday." His next suggestion was the Blanco Cafe. It is a Mexican place about 6 blocks that way. I'm thinking: do I want to walk 6 blocks for breakfast at a Mexican restaurant when I frequently eat the excellent $0.99 breakfast tacos from the restauant across the street from my office? The concierge continued to describe the restaurant, and when he mentioned fresh tortillas hot off the grill, I think I hit the door in a full sprint. Which direction was that again?

There is a side story here. When I was very young, the lady that kept me made fresh flour tortillas for me every day. I don't remember much about staying with her except sitting in her kitchen, watching her make the tortillas and eating them right when they had cooled off just enough. So, for my entire life the litmus test for an exceptional Mexican restaurant is whether they have great, fresh flour tortillas.

So, with that description from the concierge, how could I not go? I was not disappointed.

After perusing the menu, I settled on Machacado con huevo. For those not familiar, Machacado is dried brisket that is scrambled with eggs. The waitress asked if I would like it "a la mexicana," which would be with pico de gallo mixed in and likely very spicy. I passed and told her I would like it normal. "Oh yeah, can I have some extra flour tortillas?"

After a short wait, out came the Machacado. It was served with crispy fried potatoes, refried beans, and a good, spicy Salsa Verde on the side. I don't like refried beans, so I didn't try them, and the potatoes were good, but I only ate a couple because that is not what I came for. The Machacado was beefy and a little salty, which is how I like it. I've never had bad Machacado, and this was no exception, but in my book it is only a compliment to the most important part of the meal -- the tortillas.

So how were the tortillas, you ask? They were hot, soft, thick, and just a little crispy on the outside so that you know they just came off the grill. In a word -- wonderful. It was just what I was looking for. The waitress came and refilled my coffee about 5 times as I enjoyed my tortillas in a trance-like state.

After getting some work done at the hotel, I decided to take a look at the tapas menu in the bar downstairs. I had a rather big breakfast, and I knew that our dinner would also be filling, so I thought a smaller lunch would be good. The restaurant at the Hotel Contessa is called Las Ramblas, which is a Spanish style restaurant. After agonizing over several appetising choices, I settled on the frisee, pear, and manchego cheese salad. The salad also has candied walnuts, dried cherries, and is dressed with a sherry shallot vinagrette.

I ordered a Dos Equis to drink with the salad. The waitress tries to pull a Dos Equis and comes back, "all out of Dos Equis." I look again at the taps and decide on a Stella Artolis. The waitress tries to pull a Stella and says, "Sorry, no Stella either, would you like a Sam Adams or Shiner?" "Sam Adams," I respond, hoping they have some. I'm not sure how well a Shiner Bock would go with a salad. Thankfully, I didn't have to find out because they did have Sam Adams.

The salad had pear slices on the bottom with dried cherries on the pears. There was a huge mound of frisee with candied walnuts scattered on top and manchego cheese shredded over it all. The dressing was so light you could taste it but you couldn't see it. Just about perfect.

Growing up, my grandparents would send us the Harry and David fruit of the month thing for Christmas. I remember eating those pears that melt in your mouth and leave juice running down your chin. Well, these pears weren't as good as that, but I can't complain.

I could have used some more manchego cheese, but I happen to like manchego more than the average person. Overall, it was an excellent salad. I would have liked to have a Dos Equis with it rather than a beer as "hoppy" as Sam Adams.

After lunch I decided to go out and see the sights west of the hotel, having been east to the Alamo yesterday afternoon. I left hoping to see the San Fernando Cathedral and the Spanish Governor's Palace. The Cathedral was cool. It was started in 1738. The marker said it was the oldest cathedral in the US.

The Spanish Governor's palace was less palatial than I imagined. It is a one story adobe structure with three bedrooms, a small "ballroom," chapel, family room, kitchen and "chamber of law" room. The house did have large courtyards and gardens. I suppose in the 1700's this would have been a very large residence.

When Col. Travis fired a cannon at Santa Anna's quarters from the Alamo, Santa Anna raised a red flag over the San Fernando cathedral to indicate that no-one would be spared. The Battle of the Alamo weakened Santa Anna's army and held them up for 13 days while Sam Houston assembled the army that ultimately defeated Santa Anna's much larger army at the Battle of San Jacinto, which was the final battle in the war for Texas Independence in 1836. Ok enough history lesson, back to the food.

After cruising through the cathedral and the governor's palace, I realized that I still had about 2 hours to kill, so I decided to continue on to El Mercado. I walked through the Alameda art museum and coninued into El Mercado and saw Mi Tierra restaurant and panaderia (bakery). Caryn loves pan dulce, which is Mexican sweet bread. She has not been able to find decent pan dulce in Waco, so she is always on the lookout wherever we go. I picked up some pan dulce for Caryn, three campechanas for me and some dulce de leche. After texting Caryn about my find, I walked back to the Westin. Hanging out on a patio overlooking the riverwalk, I broke out the campechanas and tried one. A campechana is like a turnover made with a type of pastry dough. They are filled with various sweet fillings. I bought one pineapple, one apple, and one vanilla creme. I ate the vanilla creme campechana, and I am saving the other two for breakfast tomorrow. The campechans are dusted with sugar before they are baked, so the sugar carmelizes on top. So you get a flaky, crunchy, sweet bite with a smooth, creamy filling. It pretty much cures whatever ails you.

We had previously arranged to meet some old friends for dinner at PF Changs. We started off with drinks. I had sake and Caryn had a poolside. I'm not sure what all a poolside entails, but she seemed to think it was good.

We had barbecue spareribs for an appetizer. They had a sweet Chinese barbecue sauce and were cooked prefectly. Caryn ordered a grilled shrimp salad that had big shrimp and walnuts on a bed of mixed greens. It looked good. I had the Singapore Street Noodles. This is rice noodles with chicken and shrimp, cabbage and tomatoes with a curry sauce. This sounded better on the menu than it tasted in my mouth. I wasn't a fan of the texture of the rice noodles, a little too half-cooked for my taste. I could have used more chicken and less shrimp in the dish as well as a little more sweetness to balance out all that heat from the curry.

Don't get the impression that dinner was a bomb, though. We had great conversation and banana spring rolls for dessert. Banana spring rolls are just what they sound like -- 3 inch banana slices wrapped in spring roll wrappers and fried. It is served with ice cream, strawberries, and caramel sauce. It's why we keep going back to PF Changs.

I don't want you to think I am knocking the entree I had at PF Changs. As far as I can tell, the dish was prepared exactly as it should have been by the kitchen, it just did not suit my taste exactly. If you are not willing to try things you don't like, you will never find anything new that you do like.

So overall, another very good food day.


29 October 2008

eating in san antonio -- day 2

We're down in San Antonio, and Caryn says that since I am eating better than her (convention food) that I get to guest post.

When we checked into the Hotel Contessa yesterday (I highly recommend it), the bellhop mentioned that there was a good place around the corner called Schilo's deli. They have good breakfast and lunch, he says. So Caryn and I went there for breakfast this morning.

Schilo's is a German deli that has been around since 1917. I had potato pancakes and eggs. The potato pancakes were served with fresh applesauce. Potato pancakes are finely chopped potatoes, onions and other stuff made into a batter and grilled like a pancake. Imagine a dense, savory pancake. They are usually served with applesauce, sour cream, or ketchup. I haven't had them very many times, but these were definetly the best. I asked Caryn if she wanted a bite, and she informed me that she has had enough potato pancakes to last a lifetime. Grandma Berger used to always make potato pancakes, apparently.

Caryn had eggs, bacon, hash browns, and biscuits. Considering I love making -- and eating -- biscuits, I was curious to see what theirs would be like. When the waitress brought her biscuits to the table, I had biscuit envy. On the plate were two biscuits that were about 4 inches tall by 2.5 wide and deep. These are about twice as tall as my biscuits. I'm still wondering how they get that kind of rise and still had them cooked all the way through. Maybe lower temp for a longer time, and probably double acting baking powder, too? So, I had to try a bite of the biscuit. I would say that their biscuits had a more uniform consistency than mine and about the same density. Where mine win, in my opinion, is taste. My biscuits are much more buttery. These biscuits are are probably made with lard or vegetable shortening. I know that's the traditional way, but I like my biscuits made with butter, thank you.

One comment on their bacon: it was very meaty, perfectly cooked, not greasy, and just the right amount of saltiness. So often bacon is an afterthought, but really good bacon gets my attention.

I liked Schilo's so much for breakfast that I decided to come back for lunch. I saw a lot of intriguing German fare on the menu that I wanted to try. Also, they have Spaten on tap, which is probably my favorite German beer. (I know they probably would have been happy to serve me one for breakfast, but that is frowned upon in most cultures.)

When I came back for lunch, I had a difficult time deciding: polish neighbor, reuben, corned beef special, and on, and on, and on. I finally settled on the Kraut Dog with hot potato salad, a cup of split pea soup and the mandatory Spaten.

I wouldn't normally order split pea soup off the cuff, but I already knew this place was high quality. I also knew this soup was one of their specialties. This was confirmed by the fact that at every table around me, at least one person was enjoying either a cup or bowl of the soup. So, I joined the crowd and did not regret it. Once you get past the disturbing color (for those of us not too far removed from having small children), the soup is great. Theirs was very well seasoned and fulfilling. They serve the soup with a slice of fresh rye bread. Now, I am usually not a fan of rye bread -- at all. I thought to myself when she brought it out that I should have asked her for sourdough instead. I can't stand the bitter bite that most rye bread has. Apparently, I've just never had great fresh rye bread because this bread was awesome. I was enjoying my cup of soup and bread so much that I forgot there was more food on the way. I thought about asking for the check and leaving right then. I'm glad I didn't.

The Kraut Dog is a grilled frank split lengthwise served on a toasted sub roll, piled high with the best saurkraut I have ever had. Now, I like saurkraut, but I don't get to eat it very often. Also, I cannot say that I have ever truly had great kraut, until today. The hot potato salad was good, and it appeared pretty simple: Boiled potatoes, slightly mashed with smll pieces of crunchy celery and a little dill. There may be a secret ingredient or two that I am not aware of, but that is the gist of it. All of this was complimented nicely by the Spaten.

So, early evening we bummed a few free drinks off of the conference mixer at the Westin. "Scotch rocks, how about a double?" We made a pass through the hors d'ouvre line, which was tapas style and pretty good for hotel food. We hung around just long enough to say hi to one of Caryn's Rackspace reps and finish our food and drinks.

We walked on down to the other side of the riverwalk loop, where all the action is. We poked our head in Dick's Last Resort and decided to go to Joe's Crab Shack next door instead. I know what you're thinking, "tourist trap," and you would be right. But, they do have consistently good shrimp (bbq peel & eat for me and popcorn for Caryn), fruity drinks for my lady, and bananas foster crepes for dessert (don't knock them till you try them). For me, that food was worth the too loud music, terrible service, and obnoxious patrons -- as long as you know what you are getting yourself into.

That finished off a day of good eats for me. We'll have to see what tomorrow brings. . .


27 October 2008

eating in san antonio -- day 1

one of the best parts of being married to a foodie is; traveling together and getting to eat food in different places and today was one of those days.

we went to whataburger for lunch which I know is not all that special or some may say not all that good, but for this southern girl, french fries with cream gravy and fried apple pies are a little piece of heaven.

for dinner, we tried out the republic of texas on the riverwalk. we were trying to decide what to eat and this restaurant was recommended to us by some friends who live here in san antonio. when we looked the restaurant up and saw that they had a blue cheese burger, we knew this was our place. we had really good margaritas and nachos to start us off and the burger was one of the best I've had. it wasn't as good as zax's in austin, but it was a close second. I would recommend trying out republic of texas if you are looking for a good place to eat in san antonio and if you are in austin, you HAVE to try zax's.

as we were walking back to the hotel, we noticed that there was a ben and jerry's shop close by, so we stopped by for a treat and it was really good. we need a ben and jerry's in waco!!

good food is in the mouth of the beholder

mike made his famous biscuits for my parents this morning. it was one of those times, when everything did not work right. we did not have any butter or self-rising flour. we were out of my home-made baking powder and I just did not have time to make anymore, so mike had to use the store-bought baking powder. needless to say, the biscuits were not there usual wonderfullness. don't get me wrong, they were good, just not his best.

of course, my parents still thought they were great because they have not had his biscuits enough to know what they were really missing out on. this reminded me of something that I realized when I moved to waco, for the most part the food that we consider good is simply the best that we have had. for example, my dad makes amazing bar-b-que and growing up around houston, there was always lots of good bar-b-que. when I moved to waco, I kept trying these restaurants that people were saying had good bar-b-que and I was not impressed. I realized then, that these people had never really had good bar-b-que, so they didn't know how good it could be. so, thanks dad for spoiling me for all the other bar-b-quer's out there!!

22 October 2008

the cookbook fairy visits

I read cookbooks like novels and I have more cookbooks than anyone I know, I love them!!

so today was a very good day when I got to the mailbox and there were two (yes, count them 2) boxes from amazon.

I had pre-ordered tyler florence's new cookbook along with his tyler's ultimate cookbook earlier this month and had forgotten about them. then, I had to order the dvd my 5 year old wants for his birthday from amazon because we can't find it her in waco (typical!) and of couse I ordered two more cookbooks so I could get free shipping; martha stewarts cookies and cooking light holiday cookbook. I will let you know once I start reading and trying out recipes from these new cookbooks.

19 October 2008

blender mac and cheese

I love macaroni and cheese and until recently, it wasn't something that I tried to make myself. I have perfected a wonderful mac and cheese recipe (it has blue cheese in it, doesn't that just make your mouth water) and I will share that recipe with you later. but when I am feeling lazy, I make my version of nigella lawson's mac and cheese recipe from her nigella express cookbook. this recipe is really good and really easy!

blender mac and cheese

8 oz macaroni (cooked and strained or uncooked if fresh pasta)
lard or butter for greasing pan
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
8 oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch or couple of grates of nutmeg
2 cups coarsely chopped and 1/2 cup grated cheese (I use sharp cheddar and colby-jack, but you can use whatever your favorite cheese is)

1. pre-heat ther oven to 425 and grease with lard or butter a 10-inch baking dish (wide and shallow is best for lots of crispy edges)
2. in a blender, put the milk, whipping cream, ricotta cheese, eggs, salt, nutmeg, and chopped cheese and pulse until blended
3. pour a thin layer of the blender mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish
4. pour all the macaroni over the blender mixture in the dish
5. pour the remainder of the blender mixture over the macaroni
6. top evenly with the grated cheese
7. bake for about 10 to 15 minutes until it is bubbling and beginning to brown

serves about 4, enjoy!!

praise the lard and pass the biscuits

being a southern girl, I love homemade biscuits. while I enjoy making biscuits for breakfast on the weekends, I am not an early riser on the weekends (unless I have to go into work), so usually when I made biscuits for breakfast, they usually ended up being ready about lunch time. because of this, mike decided to start making biscuits for breakfast on the weekends. he has since become determined to make the greatest biscuits, tweaking my recipie (which I thought was pretty good) and reading everything that he can find on how to make biscuits. he even read the book called, the rise of the southern biscuit (trust me, I could not make this stuff up!). here is his current version that he makes in a 9" pie plate. it is constantly evolving.

mike’s famous biscuits

2 cups self rising flour (alternative: 2 cups cake – low gluten – flour and 1 tablespoon baking powder; see recipe for caryn’s homemade baking powder below)
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces, plus 3 more melted for brushing
1 cup buttermilk

1. preheat oven to 450°
combine sugar and buttermilk, stirring slightly to dissolve.
3. in a large bowl, combine flour and salt. using your fingers, a fork, or pastry blender cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. add buttermilk all at once and stir with a fork or wooden spoon until mixture holds together
4. gather dough into a ball. turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. pat dough into 9” circle and transfer into pie plate

5. using pizza cutter, cut dough into 2” squares. this makes soft biscuits that rise well. you can also roll out dough about ½ inch thick (be careful not to overwork the dough, this will make the biscuits dense) and cut biscuits into 2 ½ inch circles or squares and place on ungreased baking sheet, 1 inch apart for crusty biscuits or closer together for biscuits with soft sides
6. reroll scraps and cut for additional biscuits
7. brush tops of biscuits with ½ of melted butter
8. bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes
9. brush with remaining butter while still warm from the oven and serve immediately

caryn’s homemade baking powder

this may seem a little extreme, but mike’s hates the metallic taste of store-bought baking powder, so I make this to keep him happy and more importantly baking wonderful biscuits. this will keep for about 6 weeks.

¼ cup cream of tartar (use bakewell cream if you can find it)
2 tablespoons baking soda

1.sift together cream of tartar and baking soda 3 times
2.transfer to a clean dry jar and seal tightly

18 October 2008

rudy's and the cupcake store

so, I'm not just going to write about what I cook here, I'm also going to write about what I eat and today was a good eating day, which is rare when I don't cook and we don't leave waco.

first off, I took the boys to the new cupcake shop, what about cupcakes, and I enjoyed two cupcakes. her cupcakes are so good, not only are they very well made, but she has some very unique flavor and flavor combinations. so far I have tried her red velvet, italian cream, pecan praline, and strawberry and they were all wonderful.

then, we met michael at rudys for our mid-afternoon meal (we usually only eat breakfast and one other big meal on the weekends). of course we had the prime rib. rudy's is a BBQ chain out of austin that has really, I mean really good BBQ, but friday to sunday, they have prime rib until it runs out and it is some of the best prime rib that I have ever had. as usual, we had rudy's creamed corn and butter potatoes with it to round out a great meal. I talked mike (I didn't have to try real hard) into getting extra prime rib so we can eat some later this week with mac and cheese.

10 October 2008

chicken tortilla soup

I have my friend julie to thank for introducing my to chicken tortilla soup. you see, I am a very picky eater (that's why I cook so much) and I would have never tried chicken tortilla soup, but we were at julie's house for dinner one night and she made chicken tortilla soup and I didn't want to be rude so I tried it and it was love at first bite. since then, I have been perfecting my chicken tortilla soup recipe.

when I make chicken and matzo ball soup, which is quite often, I always have a lot of the chicken broth and cooked chicken leftover and this is my favorite thing to make with the leftovers. if you live in waco, jessies tortilla factory on 13th and webster is the best place to get fresh tortillas

chicken tortilla soup

1 ½ cups cooked chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup seeded and diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup peeled and diced carrot
½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (I like Hunt’s fire-roasted)
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels
10 corn tortillas, torn into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup cheese whiz or velveta
½ cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
tortilla chips
sour cream

1. pour the olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat. add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots and sauté for about 4 minutes, stirring often until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.

2. add the garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne and sauté, while stirring, for about 2 minutes. add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.

3. turn down the heat to low and add the frozen corn kernels and 5 of the torn tortillas. let the soup simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until; the tortillas have disintegrated and the soup has thickened.

4. add the chicken, cheese, cream, and the remaining 5 torn tortillas. season with salt and pepper. simmer for 15 to 30 minutes longer until ready to serve.

5. to serve, ladle the soup into soup bowls. top with tortilla chips and sour cream if desired.

08 October 2008

pralines and beignets

I love new Orleans food and one of my favorite things there is café du mondes beignets. After an unsuccessful try at making beignets at home the other morning, I went to café du mondes web-site and saw that they had a mix that I could order from there site, so I ordered a box along with New Orleans Classic Desserts cookbook and a box of aunt sally’s pralines. The box came in today and I have already eaten one (OK, three) of the pralines and looked through the cookbook. The pralines are just as good as they are in New Orleans and I have already started tagging recipes that I want to try after flipping through the cookbook. I am waiting (very impatiently) for my fry daddy (aka, Michael) to make me the beignets, I will let you know how they turn out.

05 October 2008

jewish comfort food

my ultimate comfort food is chicken and matzo ball soup, even though I never had this as a kid, it is very comforting to me. this is what I always cook for anyone in my family whenever they are sick and it is what I always crave when I am sick. the problem is that my recipe is an evolution from the neiman marcus chicken stock and I had not bothered to write it down until recently. I took the time to write it down a few months ago, so my hubby would not have an excuse not to make it for me when I am sick. well, my allergies are really bothering me and my sweet hubby made this for me today, so I will share the recipe with you.

Homemade Chicken Soup

usually when I take the time to put down a recipe, it is for someone else’s benefit, but this one is for mine. my chicken and matzo ball soup is the best thing to cure you no matter what ailes you. the only problem is that I am the only one that can make it. so, now that I have the receipe down mike has no excuse not to make it for me the next time that I am sick.

2 to 3 pounds cut up chicken
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
½ cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup onion wedges
4 garlic cloves, mashed
5 black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh sage leaves
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
1 tablespoon kosher salt

1. rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and place in a heavy-bottomed stockpot. add the remaining ingredients and add about 1 gallon cold water or enough to cover the ingredients by about 2 inches.
2. bring to a boil over medium-high heat. turn down heat to medium-low and let simmer for 3 to 4 hours, skimming the surface occasionally to remove fat. partially cover the pot with a lid, but do not let cook above a slow simmer; this ensures a clean soup.
3. pass the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean saucepan and skim again. ladle the warm broth into soup bowls.

timeline for caryn’s chicken and matzo ball soup

(this takes about 4 hours from start to finish)
1. start chicken soup
2. wait one hour
3. mix together matzo balls and place in fridge to chill
4. wait one hour
5. remove chicken from soup and set aside to keep warm
6. put chicken bones back in soup
7. wait one hour
8. strain soup
9. make matzo balls and place into soup

Matzo Balls

These in my chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food. these matzo balls are what are called “floaters” they will float to the top of the soup when they are done.

1 egg
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
3 tablespoons water or soup stock
½ cup matzo meal
pinch of salt
grind of pepper (white pepper if you have it, if not, black pepper will work just fine)

1. whisk the eggs in a bowl and then whisk in the melted butter or margarine. continue to whisk as you add in the water or soup stock.
2. stir in the matzo meal, salt, and pepper. stir until you have a thick paste (adding more water or matzo meal if needed).
3. cover and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
4. remove from the refrigerator and shape into about 20 walnut-sized balls (or smaller if you want to, they will almost double in size as they cook).
5. drop the balls into boiling salted water or directly into the soup stock. let the balls cook for about 20 minutes or until they rise to the surface.