Sunday, June 28, 2015

Corn or flour? I used to say flour until my calculations show corn as being slightly in my weight loss favor.
My husband still picks flour tortillas.
I would have thought that H-E-B Mixta would work in our favor. They’re fluffy and have speckles of corn and look old world and taste great. He still picks flour, so more Mixta for me.
One of the treats I made up is lightly frying the tortilla in oil, try coconut oil, and adding a measured spoonful of raspberry jam. It’s a breakfast or a dessert delight. 

Frozen Asparagus
If you haven’t tried asparagus since the mushy canned varieties from your youth, check out the frozen foods section. I found different thicknesses that were not too-pricey and firm to the bite. Just add a little olive oil and heat to serve with eggs, or thaw for a summer vegetable plate.

Wiener skewers
Really don’t remember how those wieners got in the fridge. I’m not a fan. But they are a summer kind of thing. So I threaded some on fancy skewers with cherry tomato, purple onion and mushrooms. I broiled them in the oven until they were crispy and served with a homemade honey-mustard dipping sauce.
I enjoyed it, but won’t need to eat another wiener for at least a year.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mediterranean Diet: What a way to live

Living it up Mediterranean style
            If honey-fig jam, steamed mussels and avocado in my deviled eggs is the healthy way to go, count me in.
“Living the Mediterranean Diet: Proven Principles & Modern Recipes for Staying Healthy” offers tips on how to enjoy these great flavors with friends and family. Did you need any help to thing seared scallops over spinach would work?
            Recipes are easy, because your just dealing with real food and real flavors. Remember to eat real food, make plants the star and slow down to enjoy your meal and visit. It’s easy stuff and Nick Nigro, Bay Ewald and Rea Frey will walk you through it. I hope the walk ends with these chocolates:

Dark Chocolate Tangerine Slices
Author’s note:  We find a simple, juicy tangerine to be one of the great pleasures of life. They are the perfect endto a meal, especially topped with a little dark chocolate and a sprinkle of se salt.
8 tangerines (clementines are best)
3 an one half to 4 ounces dark chocolate (with at least 70 percent cocoa)
Sea salt
How we create
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the tangerines. Using a double broiler, melt the dark chocolate. Dip each tangerine slice halfway into the melted chocolate and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and repeat with all the slices. Refrigerate for 10 to15 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened.

Boiled Peanuts?
         Maybe you’ve heard of  boiled peanut stands or seen them in cans of brine. What is that? I met a woman with Georgia ties who was thrilled to find a bag at a Vietnamese market in the area, so I tried some, too. Not bad at all. So you remove the wet shell and get to the wet nut, which you can pinch flat with your finger.  It’s got a savory, seasoned taste. There’s a little juice inside. Kind of like peeling crawfish.
         That just doesn’t sound right to someone used to the aroma of a flat pan of nuts roasting in the kitchen oven.  Then you take your toasted goodness outside and get all dusty peeling to get to the crunchy nuts.
         But go ahead and get into the boil. The nuts came from the market featuring Saigon Sandwich, 1020 Ninth Avenue in Port Arthur.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

BBQ purists welcome to play

Purists can experiment
         A Southern Living cookbook is going to give you some good background, technique and style. Think you know how to barbecue? I don’t care how long you’ve been at it, I’ll bet their new “Ulitimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling & Smoking,” will give you some ideas. Pitmaster Christopher Prieto helped put this book full of recipes, photos and inspiration together.
         So barbecue brings out the purists. I’m all into that. But hey, does one have to have the same beans, same one-color glob of slaw every time one fires up the pit?
         If your brood fears experimentation, go slow. They probably would not object to potato salad. Soon you can add a colorful grilled peach and avocado salad. Then anything goes when they start appearing with somoky pimento cheese deviled eggs. The combinations are limitless. And if one of these side dishes for some reason doesn’t get rave reviews, there are pages and pages of more ideas. Here are a couple of very easy variations to begin your summer over the fire:

Drizzles for grilled chicken wings:
Cider Vinegar-Brown Butter Honey Drizzle
One half cup butter
One half cup honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar.
1.Cook  butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl and cook 5 minutes.
2. cook honey and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Horseradish-Honey Mustard Drizzle
One half cup honey
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard
Cook honey, horseradish and mustard ina small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Cracked Pepper-Rosemary Honey Drizzle
One half  cup honey
1 tablespoon cracked blaked pepper
1 three-inch fresh rosemary sprig
Cook honey, two tablespoons water, pepper and rosemary sprig in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Discard rosemary.

Chili-Lemon Honey Drizzle
One half cup honey
One half cup bottled chili sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cook honey, chili sauce and lemon juice over medium heat, stirring often, 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

It’s not even January
Now that it’s summer you’ll want to stock your freezer with…
Did you say soup? Tabatchnick hopes you did, because they’ve come out with very low-calories frozen soups to shape you up for beach season. Microwave a pouch of cream of mushroom for 100 calories and stay in that range for flavors like barley & Mushroom to Wilderness wild Rice.  They were created to offer flavor and make you feel satisfied, especially when paired with leafy green salads. These frozen offerings also tend toward lower sodium canned options, makers say. It’s an easy work lunch.
            Barley & Mushroom Soup reminded me how filling a handful of barley can be in your meal. They cooked up just right.
       New York Style Chicken Broth with Noodles & Vegetables – They do it a little differently in New York, with wider noodles, I learn. I have to respect.

Prince of Peace
Tea can fill you up and fortify you and it doesn’t have to be full of sugar, or even honey for that matter. Someone has shared with me a few bags of Prince of Peace 100 percent oolong tea and one bag makes a pretty strong pitcher. I’m calling it full-on tea. It’s full of flavor and keeps the energy up.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Have you had Kizmet for breakfast?
Tina and Scott, new owners, will be happy to fill you in on the art gallery, art lessons and white chocolate mocha or waffle sandwiches.
This couple is a friendly pair who love to socialize about Kizmet Koffee’s menu. You’ll love chatting with them and they aim to make every customer feel welcome.
Later, move on to more than a dozen sandwiches based on flavors of the world, from Cajun and Jamacian to Hawiaan and Greek.
But be sure to ask about the chicken salad, with a touch of tropical fruit.  
“It’s amazing,” said Mel Murray, who ought to know.
“I make it,” she said.

Should you be eating that?
Soft Molassas Cookies, Fettuccine with Chili-Mushroom Stroganoff Sauce, Sicilian Beef and Rice and Pinto Bean and Avocado Dip… does this sound like I’m reading from a diabetic cookbook?
A thick and tempting book, the newest edition of 1,001 Delicious Recipes for People with Diabetes (Agate Surrey; 978-1-57284-170-3; $20.99), is a plenty-to-offer collection of recipes tailored to a diabetic diet and lifestyle. 
More perks: This third edition has been enlarged and beautifully repackaged with a sleek, updated cover design and a broader, more useful format that sits flat when open for maximum convenience. Recipes range from appetizers to desserts and each one has been kitchen tested, for simple, reliable preparation. It  is part of the bestselling 1,001 series, which as sold more than 750,000 copies across all titles. 
            The above is with book promoters say. I say I’m thrilled that all these adventurous recipes full of healthy flavors should inspire anyone who needs a diabetic diet or not. The fact that nutritional breakdowns come with each offering, from appetizers to desserts, make it so handy for those keeping track of what is good for them.
            In other words, no excuses. Get one of these books and get the family involved. Here’s an easy one to start with that should make you feel you’re at a nice restaurant:
Curried Scallop and Potato Chowder
This chowder has a lively curry flavor and a bright yellow color. Four servings
1 11-ounce bottle clam juice
one half cup dry white wine or water
one pound potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 teaspoon curry powder
one half teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound sea scallops
1 cup frozen peas
 one fourth to one half cup low-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat clam juice, wine, potatoes, curry powder and garlic to boiling in large saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Process about half the mixture in food processor or blender until smooth; return to pan. Stir in scallops, peas and milk; cook over medium heat until scallops are cooked, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Prince of Peace
Tea can fill you up and fortify you and it doesn’t have to be full of sugar, or even honey for that matter. Someone has shared with me a few bags of Prince of Peace 100 percent oolong tea and one bag makes a pretty strong pitcher. I’m calling it full-on tea. It’s full of flavor and keeps the energy up.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Year's nearly half over, time for bubbly

‘Black Bottle Bubbly’ goes with breakfast

         Tastes mature over time. You may be surprised how a $12 bottle of brut can class up your brunch. Freixenet’s Cordon Negro Brut is a crisp cava (sparkling wine) that makers say is known around the world as the “Black Bottle Bubbly.” 
         If you get bubbly on New Year’s Eve only, note that 2015 is nearly half past, so break out some Freixenet for this light and fruity blend that looks so good fizzing up a tall flute glass. It sounds and smells and tastes like elegance with a touch of ginger, and also pairs with spicy cuisines.
         Why it’s good: Grapes are hand picked and brought to the winery; the first fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. The secondary fermentation is bugunin the bottle. Cordon Negro is aged for up to18 months in a cave.
         Add a touch of orange juice to make your brunch pop, with something like this:

Almond Toasted Brioche
*Courtesy of Food & Wine magazine
1 and one fourth cups sliced blanched almonds
one half cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
one fourth teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
one fourt cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
Six 1-inch-thick slices of brioche, cut from a 1-pound loaf
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
Berries, for serving
1.       Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine 1 cup of the sliced almonds with the granulated sugar and process until powdery, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 2 tablespoons of the butter and the pure almond extract and process until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the food processor on, add the milk and process the custard mixture until blended. Transfer the custard mixture to a shallow baking dish.
2.       Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter evenly on one side of each slice of brioche. Dip the unbuttered sides of the brioche into the custard and transfer to a baking sheet, custard side up. Spoon any remaining custard over the bread and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of sliced almonds. Bake the almond brioche for about 20 minutes, until the bottom is golden and crisp and the almonds are lightly browned. Transfer the brioche to plates and dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Top with fresh berries and serve.

Viki’s Granola
Can you possibly restrain/reward yourself with just one tablespoon of Viki’s Granola a day? If the original, with pecans, almonds and honey proves too much for you, you may not be able to resist the blueberries, almonds and honey version. It’s 100 percent natural and gluten-free. Why just a tablespoon? I’m topping Greek yogurt desserts with this satisfying spoonful. Oh sure, some people eat granola for breakfast. Fine. Mine will last longer this way. But, you can always get more. of Bethpage, New York is where you can learn more about why “love” is their first ingredient. There’s a heart image where I put the word “love,” but one taste and you’ll know what they mean.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hi, How Are You?

Hi, How Are You?
Do you know the famous frog on Guadalupe, across from University of Texas in Austin?
Daniel Johnston’s painted work with the eyes on stalks and the “Hi, How Are You?” greeting has a great history.
I always check on it when I pass by. Not only is it still there, but the building now houses a restaurant that acknowledges the guy. It’s called Thai, How Are You?
It is seriously fun. I loved the food and also that students filled the place discussing their summer plans. The soundtrack included “Do You Remember” by Earth, Wind & Fire. I was jamming, but I couldn’t help but thinking all these students loved to go there for the “vintage” music.

Museum of the Gulf Coast
What, me worry? I’d never linked Mad Magazine to the Atomic Age. After a lecture highlighting both the fear and humor of the duck and cover age, I learned this attitude fit in during an era where cities such as Houston performed walk outs so office workers could find their way to the nearest fallout shelter. Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow is a temporary exhibit up through May 24.
Visit the fallout shelter mock up erected in the museum for an eerie experience you won’t soon shake. Now, here comes the culinary note: An Atomic Cocktail Hour after the lecture included samples of  ’50s-era concoctions such as the Sputnik, Oppenheimer Martini and the Duck and Cover.
The event was a blast.

How do they shred the Kataifi?
Reading this is not going to that question, but it may introduce you to shredded fillo dough. Don’t worry, Athens does it for you. I cannot describe the flaky, buttery goodness that comes from crunching into a nest of baked shreds.
The box shows shreds wrapped around shrimp. Or think about chocolate, cheese, and anything the Greeks, or you, might like. Make a nest or a wrap, butter it up and bake a bit. Even an inexperienced baker like me can make an impressive showing. I know others could create even more wonders.
Just filling Athens Mini Fillo Shells with cheese has made my family several sets of appetizers and made breakfast special. Those come out of the box ready to fill with sweet or savory goodness.
Look also for Athens baklava, spanakopita and fillo sheets. Don’t be intimidated. It takes just a little bit of skill to get started and your creations get easier and more beautiful and more delicious every time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blanco breakfast burger

            After coffee on a Texas Hill Country porch started my day. After a quick drive to the town square I nabbed a table under a glowing Budweiser sign at the Blanco Bowling Club Café. The joint was full of regulars and I couldn’t help but ask if they were serving burgers during breakfast hours. No problem.
            Tourist that I was, I snapped photos through a square in the wall between the front dining area to more tables in a second area. A woman from another table motioned to me and said we were allowed to go behind the curtain to take pictures of the actual bowling alley. Oh, good. I’d wanted to ask what her husband’s T-shirt wording meant, but he’d stepped away and she didn’t recall which one he was wearing. They were travelers, too, from Minnesota, enjoying a spring in the hills. The man came back and showed me his shirt from a nearby craft brewery. He wasn’t quite sure himself what the wording meant, but he’d liked the beer.
            Back at my seat, I noted the table top was printed with area business ads. How vintage. Paneled walls and neon beer/Texas signs gave this café some vintage charm. At the bar I noticed a man with a Mason jar full of red stuff. I sprung up to ask if he had brought his own salsa to the restaurant. He had. He didn’t offer me any, but noted the café had some of their own that wasn’t bad, and I should ask for it. I did and it added to my burger and onion rings experience.
            Then I noticed the two regulars next to me. One was downing a slice of pecan pie. The other just had coffee. The second assured me he had eggs on the way, cholesterol be dashed. Turns out the pie was just a dessert-first technique. He also had eggs on the way. We agreed you ought to enjoy a little pie, because you don’t know what life will bring you. There’s some saying about all the women on the Titanic who did not order dessert.
            I’m usually about salads, protein, Greek yogurt and exercise. All that is so that sometimes you can have your pie. Or, a burger and onion breakfast in downtown Blano.