Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An "eye" for pizza

Istanbul
              We couldn’t get over our pizza being shaped like an eye, kind of oval with pointed ends. Istanbul Grill in Houston’s Rice Village had outdoor seating and available parking, so that was our quick pick for a culinary adventure to tide us over for a luncheon appointment at an undetermined time. We chose wisely. “Hospitality is our nature,” the card reads. The pizza was cheesy and rich with perfect crust. Everyone else’s choices on the patio looked just as tempting.

              “The Great Big Body Book”
              Little ones may love sweets, but later we may prefer olives or coffee. We should keep fit and also look for the big-eared cat on each page of “The Great Big Body Book.” With reminders that even the Queen was a baby, mums, spelling of the word “colour” and references to dreaded teen spots (facial interruptions), grownups can pick up that Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith have British ties. They wrote and illustrated this colorful, educational and politically correct book for wee ones. The cat was a super-cute touch I’d say. It’s a good one for foodie parents to have on hand to remind us that food is fuel for our wonderful bodies. I’ll close with the book’s opening joke:
              “Why didn’t the skeleton go to the disco?”
              “He had NO BODY to dance with!”

              Not going back for that Jack
              You know that commercial for the Jack in the Box Brewhouse Bacon Burger? Where Jack is in disguise by wearing a big hipster moustache? My husband and I think that commercial is hilarious. It seduced me to try one of those burgers. The commercial was immensely better, we thought.  About a year ago we tried a Buttery Jack and liked that pretty good. This new one reminds me why I avoid fast food restaurants. 
              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nourising Noodles and Tamale Company support

 

Nourishing Noodles
         Fancy a zoodle pizza? A zucchini noodle topping is the gateway ribbon to ginger coconut soup,  Japanese sweet potato noodles with two sauces, polenta and garlic hemp sauce and carmelized noodles. Chris Anca, creator of “Tales of a Kitchen,” leads the way with “Nourishing Noodles: Spiralize Nearly 100 Plant-based Recipes for Zoodles, Ribbons and Vegetable Spirals.”
         It’s easy, colorful, adventurous and most importantly, delicious and healthy to create dishes that look so amazing and have so much texture. I don’t have a spiralizer, but I’m starting with my knife skills and mandolin and getting carrots and cucumbers into quick and flavorful dishes that go Asian, Italian and to all parts of the globe.
         Of course you think of salads for this technique, but Anca has drawn my attention to smoothie bowls, which have vegetable and fruit liquids topped with bits of granola, oats, blood orange, berries, nuts, etc. It’s breakfast art. Once you see the recipes and photos, you may be inspired to improvise with what you have in your kitchen (or garden).  I love this book and could eat from one page each day. Just think how healthy I’d be at the end, even though that’s where desserts are, like sweet potato brownies.
         One tip I got was for coconut bacon, shavings that are crispy and sweet that vegetarians go for. Here’s another:
Dressing for Cucumber and Sprouts Thai Noodle Salad
1 tablespoon tamari
Juice and pulp of one half lime
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
one half teaspoon grated ginger
one fourth tablespoon cold-pressed sesame oil
one half teaspoon chia seeds
1 pinch chili flakes

Great tamales; customer service
         Texas Tamale Co. is billed as The Mexican Deli with Texas sampler mail orders that bring the flavor to your door. I received a gift card a couple of years ago that I carried with me every time I hit Houston, which was typically for a big holiday meal. But I kept track of that card.
         When I arrived at the little restaurant on Fountainview, I scanned the menu imagining all the barbacoa/taco combos I could get. Then, the card would not scan. I scaled back my luncheon order and workers, who even tried wrapping the card in a plastic grocery card for a better scan, asked me to call the company.
         I’m not a mail-order kind of woman, but I am a tamale woman. Diana in customer service has my thanks for friendly, efficient service in getting tamales to my door. They came in little cloth bags that I’m sure Pinterest fans could turn into amazing things. And, those tamales were worth the wait.



              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Nourising Noodles and Tamale Company support

 

Nourishing Noodles
         Fancy a zoodle pizza? A zucchini noodle topping is the gateway ribbon to ginger coconut soup,  Japanese sweet potato noodles with two sauces, polenta and garlic hemp sauce and carmelized noodles. Chris Anca, creator of “Tales of a Kitchen,” leads the way with “Nourishing Noodles: Spiralize Nearly 100 Plant-based Recipes for Zoodles, Ribbons and Vegetable Spirals.”
         It’s easy, colorful, adventurous and most importantly, delicious and healthy to create dishes that look so amazing and have so much texture. I don’t have a spiralizer, but I’m starting with my knife skills and mandolin and getting carrots and cucumbers into quick and flavorful dishes that go Asian, Italian and to all parts of the globe.
         Of course you think of salads for this technique, but Anca has drawn my attention to smoothie bowls, which have vegetable and fruit liquits topped with bits of granola, oats, blood orange, berries, nuts, etc. It’s breakfast art. Once you see the recipes and photos, you may be inspired to improvise with what you have in your kitchen (or garden).  I love this book and could eat from one page each day. Just think how healthy I’d be at the end, even though that’s where desserts are, like sweet potato brownies.
         One tip I got was for coconut bacon, shavings that are crispy and sweet that vegetarians go for. Here’s another:
Dressing for Cucumber and Sprouts Thai Noodle Salad
1 tablespoon tamari
Juice and pulp of one half lime
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
one half teaspoon grated ginger
one fourth tableslpoon cold-pressed sesame oil
one half teaspoon chia seeds
1 pinch chili flakes

Great tamales; customer service
         Texas Tamale Co. is billed as The Mexican Deli with Texas sampler mail orders that bring the flavor to your door. I received a gift card a couple of years ago that I carried with me every time I hit Houston, which was typically for a big holiday meal. But I kept track of that card.
         When I arrived at the little restaurant on Fountainview, I scanned the menu imagining all the barbacoa/taco combos I could get. Then, the card would not scan. I scaled back my luncheon order and workers, who even tried wrapping the card in a plastic grocery card for a better scan, asked me to call the company.
         I’m not a mail-order kind of woman, but I am a tamale woman. Diana in customer service has my thanks for friendly, efficient service in getting tamales to my door. They came in little cloth bags that I’m sure Pinterest fans could turn into amazing things. And, those tamales were worth the wait.



              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Daddi0's, the big batch and stressed wine

 
Daddi     DaddiO’s
              Before my flavorful goat cheese burger arrived to my table at DaddiO’s, on Calder Avenue in Beaumont, much of our attention went to the parade of Waitr App orders going out the door. This delivery system has hit the ground running. Lauren Bebeau would be proud.  After my burger came, I concentrated on that.


              Large-batch cooking?
                      If you didn’t need a big old IMUSA stock pot with steamer insert for loads of corn on the cob and seafood this summer, think ahead to all the tamales you’ll need for Christmas.
                      I sampled one with cool-touch handles to try some of it’s options for beans, soups, pasta, etc. Down here, everybody needs a gumbo pot, or an extra one. Target.com can connect you. IMUSA reports it is the leading Hispanic & International cookware company with innovative, authentic & affordable products which perfect for whipping up delicious meals in a pinch. I used to walk by grocery store displays of this brand, and after reading up I notice the options more. Their big-batch pitch includes an electric double burner for cooking outdoors, an electric pressure cooker that speeds cook time and a set of caldero, or caldrons. Hopefully you’ll see this particular pot as part of an upcoming silent auction.

                  Go ahead and stress
         Holman Ranch “stresses the vines” of the fruit with emphasis on reproduction. That stops growth and ripens fruit, makers say, as morning fog and proximity to the ocean are also perks. What that means to Virgin Chardonnay of 2013 is a bright, crisp sparkle that lightened my mood. Always read up on your label and you’re sure to have a better experience. But this background all goes to promote new wines from Holman Ranch and Jarman Wines, two of Central California's most-celebrated wineries.

Vintners  introduce two estate-grown wines from the 2015 growing season .5 Degrees Brix and Rose of Pinot Noir  as the newest additions to a menu that already includes 2013 Chardonnay, Unoaked Virgin Chardonnay, Kelly's Press Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sweet Love Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc,  2012 Heather's Hill 12HH and Pinot Noir, 2011 Hunter's Cuvee Pinot Noir and Big Daddy Fortified Late Harvest Pinot Noir.
darraghcastillo@icloud.com 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Peggy's on the Bayou stepping up menu

 

         Peggy’s on the Bayou is now a Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce member. Peggy Albair and family serve of Cajun fried goodness and hamburgers that taste like real meat. All of that is right on the water. Literally. If you step out of the back porch screen door you have gone too far. George the gator will be waiting for you.
At this point, just go back inside to enjoy good stuff like crab cake, oysters, catfish and chicken fried steak.
Albair says pumpkin pancakes are on the way to her breakfast menu and a jalapeno, garlic cheddar biscuit is also about to roll out. I want to be there to catch it. What does she already do with her jalapeno bread? She makes it into bread pudding, and adds whiskey sauce.

Steen’s syrup trick
Who’s familiar with the yellow can of Steen’s? One always came back with us from Louisiana trips, along with loaves of French bread.
Now, here’s what Greg Rodgers said his Nanna did with her syrup: She mixed it with sour cream and put it on biscuits.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sprouting lettuce and diabetes


                      I have a habit of cutting off every onion root and planting it. A fairly good percentage have come back to give me green onion tops, which are tops with me.
                      I recently tried to sprout lettuce. My husband was pretty impressed. I just put the root in a dish of water and there was soon a tiny, tiny future salad sprouting. Those who claim they don’t have a green thumb may be setting their sights too high. Give it a shot.

              “Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy”
             
                      Try adding sherry to a marinade for chicken or meat. Dress up coffee with a spot of hazelnut liquer.
                      Did you imagine these tips came from a book for diabetics?
                      The message is that you can experiment with a little bit of alcohol for flavor and not fat by, say, adding orange liqueur to a fruit salad or poaching fruit in red wine.
                      Hope Warshaw presents “Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy,” with the charts and tips you need to get to the store and stock your pantry for success.         
                      So now maybe you have this new diagnosis, or you finally started to eat how the doctor suggested a long time ago. This book can in spire you to get your flavor from lemon juice, horseradish, vinegar, etc. and be responsible and secure in your serving sizes.
                      Sure it’s a mind set. A delicious one. Are you worth it?
                      Here are a few more tips:

              * Choose low-fat or fat-ree milk and yogurt.
              * Eat more plant-based protein foods.
              * Choose reduced-fat and part-skim cheeses.
              * When you eat in restaurants, order water, diet soda, 100 percent fruit jice or low-fat milk.

Star
                      Stabucks
 Vers     Armed with a passel of stocked-up gift cards, we headed to my Mom’s Sunday morning birthday breakfast for her first experience at a stand-alone Starbucks. She hadn’t tried one that wasn’t already “in” another space. We had an adventure at the new big one at 3850 College Street in Beaumont and got our fill of icy, chocolaty coffee and shared bites of various pastries.
        



                      You can have some good personal time all alone at a Starbucks, power up your tablet and connect to the world or enjoy the company that came with you. We visited with a bunch of Austin teens who were glad to be back home to Texas, even though they enjoyed a week at a Young Life camp in Georgia.
                      It was just good to get out and chat with people. The best part, we still have $5 bucks left on the a gift card. That’s one more coffee.
              darraghcastillo@icloud.com

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Boss Burger goes for nostalgia, Frito Pie is a Texan thing

 
 Who’s the boss at Boss Burger? Joe Oates and Mary Fuller are owners of the Nederland-based food truck offering burgers made from ribeye and chuck roast. Go on Facebook to find out where they’ll be. Oates said downtown Port Arthur will be getting their flavor often. I had a slider the other day with what I believe fans call bacon-infused sriracha mayo. It all smelled so enticing and I want to head back for the full-on burger.
Oates said he wants to “bring the burger back” to people. He elaborated by saying he wants his customers to be taken back to a burger the enjoyed on the porch as children. He’s after nostalgia.
“I guess I want to hear them say that,” he said.
Do you have a waffle iron?
I do not need the temptation of a waffle iron. Here’s an idea for those of you who do. I recently attended a breakfast buffet where chefs put little rounds of cinnamon rolls into irons and produced a waffle-print delicacy with optional toppings of bourbon syrup, whipped cream and candied pecans. The table was strangely devoid of conversation because diners were so focused on this meal. At one point I was using my bacon strip like a chip to scoop up the fluffy cream.
Frito Pie
Some non-Texans at an event were baffled by Frito bags already opened on a table. They picked them up and they were heavy, with meat and spices. “Tacos in a bag” is what they called them. Bless their hearts. Down here in Texas, Frito Pie is a real thing. It was a pleasure to witness their experience.