Sunday, December 29, 2013

What's up 2014? Let's "hear it" for silent meal trend

What’s up 2014? Let’s “hear it” for silent meal trend

Happy New Year to Culinary Thrill Seekers. I love hearing from you and together, we can “keep the flavor” of Southeast Texas. Here’s some news on the trends that will feed and inspire us in 2014:
Ugly produce is fine with me. Southeast Texans make salsa out of that. But now, it’s trending for the rest of the country.

JWT, marketing communications brand, has released its ninth annual forecast of key category trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in 2014:
Some topics of interests include:
·  Edible Packaging: A tool being used by marketers that utilizes new technologies to create edible wrappers.
·  Infused Ice Cubes: Concoctions are created with infused ice that enhances the look of the beverage while adding complimentary flavors as it melts, rather than diluting the drink.
·  Silent Meals: Restaurants are starting to hold silent meals, asking patrons to remain quiet and focus on the taste of the food, sounds of the food prep and details of the room.
                     ·  Ugly Produce: Imperfect produce is gaining more appeal as         retailers start selling “nonconformist” produce and embracing imperfection as a good thing.

McCormick announces Chilies Obsession
I heard it from my mom first: Carolina Reaper from South Carolina is currently the world’s hottest pepper. I thought it was the ghost pepper from India, but that’s old news from just a few years ago. I think my mom still thought the habanero, but a couple more have become “hotter.”
This goes in with McCormick & Company’s Flavor Forecast of 2014. This125th Anniversary Edition leads with chilies: Their global menu news:
5 TOP TRENDS                       
Chilies Obsession: Food lovers everywhere are seeking out their next big chile thrill.
Modern Masala: Indian food is finally having its moment, breaking free of its traditional confines with modern interpretations.
Clever Compact Cooking: Proving that big flavors can come from small spaces, cooks in urban kitchens are making the most of what’s available.
Mexican World Tour: Mexican flavors are making their way around the globe, with people everywhere discovering new aspects of this bright, casual cuisine.
Charmed by Brazil: The world’s attraction to Brazilian cuisine is heating up, thanks to its seductive mix of global and native I nfluences.
Aji Amarillo: A hot Peruvian yellow chile with bold, fruity flavor.
Kashmiri Masala: An often homemade blend of spices from northern India featuring cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and ginger.
Tea: Not just for sipping anymore, this natural ingredient is making its way into rubs, broths and marinades.
Chamoy Sauce: A unique Mexican condiment—made from apricot, lime, chilies and spices—just beginning to gain a following in the U.S.
Cassava Flour: Also known as manioc or tapioca flour, this gluten-free alternative is a Brazilian staple prized for its versatility.
Visit for 12 more flavors to watch in 2014 and beyond.

Best Brownies at the bake sale
We’re on a trend with the lists here. McCormick offers these flavor twits for head-of-the-class bake sale ideas:
         Raspberry BrowniesAdd 4 teaspoons Raspberry Extract to brownie mix and 2 teaspoons to chocolate frosting for a fruity alternative to this bake sale staple. Garnish with a raspberry.
Orange Kissed Brownies For citrus-infused delights, add 1 tablespoon Orange Extract and chocolate chips to brownie mix and 1 teaspoon of the extract to chocolate frosting. Top with an orange slice.
Almond Brownies – For a nutty flavor, use 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract in the brownie mix and 1/4 teaspoon in the chocolate frosting. Add colorful sprinkles on top.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pie and coffee Christmas

Happy Christmas to all. I hope you all are feeling great about the good things in your life and help others feel some joy. Being well fed is a good feeling and here’s some ways to get that going:

Pumpkin Trending Update
The American Pie Council, (great place to work?) features recipes for Real Pumpkin Pie, Octoberfest and Tasty Pumpkin Pies, some with maple and raisin and walnuts and other combos.

America’s Best Harvest Pies: Apple, Pumpkin, Berry, and More! (Skyhorse Publishing)  offers 70 recipes that have won awards at National Pie Championships in Celebration, Fla.  Linda Hoskins, who has this “sweet” job, spreads the word about this competition. These pies of all flavors look amazing, and have “real people” ingredients like Cool Whip and Jell-o brands.
A fun one that caught my eye is The Engagement Ring, a pile of blueberries surrounded by candy jewels covered in diamond dust. Guess who’s ring it a nod toward: Kate Middleton’s, also worn by Lady Diana.

SteamBrew and iCoffee make the cut

Consumer Reports has beat me to bragging about the Remington iCoffee, listing it as a “best product.” It has a big, maybe giant, basket on top that reminds me of a space alien head from the movies. Don’t worry, I’m not the first reviewer to mention the “big” basket. Instead of dripping, this method uses SteamBrew to allow hot water jets to soak and stir grounds, like a French press (which I already love). This is serious news to those who love, need coffee. Another cool aspect is that the machine is so efficient, you can often cut down on the amount of coffee you put in, so your most expensive beans can last a little longer. I usually avoid talking technology, but this is a steamy case of success. iCoffee made my ordinary beans taste markedly more smooth and gourmet. Turns out ilike iCoffee.

It has to be good
Smucker’s got a little fancy on us, and I’m happy to invite them to holiday spreads. I’m trying these ideas and making up my own, and maybe there will be a tad left in the jar to enjoy on an “ordinary” day’s breakfast. I have started in on Orchard’s Finest Lakeside Raspberry, Cranberry Preserves. What’s below is easy, but if you’re still at the “spread preserves over a block of cream cheese” level, you’ll still be good. The flavor, texture and color of these preserves is a cut above. I’m even drizzling it on yogurt.
These pairings use just a few ingredients and are ready in about 15 minutes. That’s my kind of entertaining:
·         Fresh Cranberry Orange Pecan Relish Try out NEW Smucker’s Natural Fruit spreads by adding some seasonal flavor to your cheese board.  Pair relish made with cranberries, pecans with Smucker's Natural Orange Marmalade.
·         Cherry Filled CamembertCamembert’s rustic flavor pairs beautifully with tart cherries, creating a unique, creamy holiday appetizer spread.
·         Fruit Fondue- For a decadent dessert, serve chocolate fondue infused with sweet orange marmalade or red raspberry preserves.

Coconut in your kitchen
LouAna puts Cajun in their press release, noting its 100 plus-year history which began with Cajun settlers in Opelousas, La. It is now the nation’s largest independent cooking oil refinery, so wonder what those founders would have thought of its latest release, LouAna All Natural Pure Coconut Oil. Made by extracting oil from the meat of the “ripest, most mature coconuts, freshly fallen from the coconut palm tree plant.” It’s not a neutral taste for sweet and savory baking and can make your popcorn and pies taste heavenly. I warmed some of those Matlaw’s fish sticks I was telling y’all about in the oil and loves a brown egg over-easy cooked in a drizzle of this oil. Coconut oil has proven to raise HDL levels in the body, makers say. I think the original Cajuns would have been as excited about pure coconut oil as I am. I can’t help thinking how well it pairs with the Island Fever theme of our 2014 Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Turnip souffle rescue

When reader Peg asked for a shout out  on a turnip soufflé from the contry club, we got some responses. She said she wanted to surpise her husband for a family meal, so I’ve been holding on to them. I’m told the Trotter version went over well at her hose. Here is what we got:
Glenda Durkay sent Turnip Souffle made by Mary Trotter at the Port Arthur Country Club
10  turnips (white)
2 carrots
1 egg
1 and one fourth to 1 and one half cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk

Boil turnips and carrots together until tender; mash and add other ingredients. Bake 30 minutes at
at 350 degrees.
“I am sure this is the recipe. Mary worked for PACC for 32  years and was known for her Turnip Souffle.
This is simple but wonderful. I had her make an extra one for my family for Christmas Dinner for many years.
 By the way the picture is not her dish, I copied it from She did not have chunks of carrots in hers...everything was mashed.”
Glenda Durkay

Joyce Philen sent two recipes from her files and she says both are delicious:
TURNIP SOUFFLE by Jewel Carruth
10 small turnips  
2 tablespoons butter or oleo
2 carrots 
1 teaspoon bacon fat
1 egg                     
Salt and pepper to taste            
2 tablespoons milk         
Bread crumbs
1 teaspoon sugar 
Boil turnips & carrots together until tender. 
Drain, mash and add other ingredients. 
Pile into greased casserole and top with bread crumbs. 
Bake for 30 min in a 350 degree oven.

TURNIP CASSEROLE (Clipped from a newspaper...PA News I think)
6 cups turnips and/or carrots  (Boiled, drained and mashed)
One 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
One fourth cup sugar
One half cup margarine
Bread crumbs

Combine ingredients.  Pour in buttered casserole. 
Top with bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees about 25 min until lightly browned.
Hope these are helpful.  Enjoy!

Turnip Fluff
This one is from Norma BeDaw, who says it is a family favorite they used to order from The Brisket Room in Port Arthur:
Equal volume of turnips (5 large) and carrots
Olive oil
2 or 3 packages of Splenda or sugar to desired taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil peeled turnips or carrots
Pour off water after cooked.
Mash until no lumps or process.
Add butter & oil.
Add Splenda or sugar
Add salt and pepper to taste.
(That’s all that was written down on the paper, but of course you bake it.)

Turnip Souffle
This one came in the mail with no name:
Boil peeled turnips in salted water. Whencooked drain and mash. Add shredded carrots, 1 tablespoon butter and a pinch of sugar. Beat egg in small amount of milk. Stir into turnip mixture. Place in greased casserole. Top with bread crumbs. Bake at 325 degrees until firm.

Have a Dolly Parton
Did you ever drink some tea out of a canning jar and have someone tease you that it was moonshine? Here’s the stuff they must have been talking about:
 Ole Smokey Tennessee Moonshine comes in those jars full of a 100-year-old recipe. They say Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine is like drinking dessert out of the jar, with hints of pure apple juice, ground cinnamon and other spices blended with homemade moonshine to for an authentic Appalachian recipe. It’s 40 proof. When I brought some to a family’s house, they hauled out some of their own family recipe. Everybody thought the apple was a nice twist and some experimentations went on with lemonade and lemon-lime soda. Here’s some takes makers suggest:

Southern Hooch
Equal parts Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine and sweet or unsweetened tea

The Dolly Parton
Equal parts Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine and ginger ale, splash of lime juice, garnish with 2 Ole Smoky Moonshine CherriesTM

Candied Apple
2 parts Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine and 1 part butterscotch schnapps

Monday, December 9, 2013

Condiments for Christmas

Did you realize there were once outspoken activists against condiments? Dietary reformer Sylvester Graham accused them of being “highly exciting and exhausting” while physician and temperance leader Dio Lewis encouraged followers to shun mustard, ketchup and other flavor enhancers railing “Everything which inflames one appetite is likely to arouse the other also.” I had to stop reading Jessica Harlan’s new book, Homemade Condiments, for a minute after that, out of reverence to freedom of choice we now have in America. But Harlan is set to make our mouths water and make us aware we can make fresh choices and avoid chemicals found in mass-produced products. Ready?
For fig-infused vinegar? That’s the whole ingredient list. How about lemon-infused oil for dips, salad dressing, pound cake or grilled salmon?
I want to make lime-cumin dressing, but not before Cilantro-Almond pesto. This book is all about keeping it fresh.

Cookie confessions:
The press release for Hannah Max Cookie Chips is a confession, as in Dear Santa, I cheat with these cookies because people think I made them. My daughter texted me a confession she had opened and tasted the chocolate chip and salted peanut butter versions of these crispy cookies from a bag and deemed them the best things ever. When I finally got my share, I tasted the hoopla. No hype. They’re as crispy and good as promised. But I pick dark chocolate chip as my fave in this all-natural line that “Tastes like a cookie, Eats like a chip.”  Don’t judge, Santa.

Seafood season
 "Matlaw's All-Natural Fish Sticks" celebrated October as National Seafood Month (did you know there was such a thing?) by spreading the world in their Stuffed Clams, new , All-Natural Crunchy Fish Sticks and Crunchy Fish Squares, Breaded Shrimp, Wild Salmon and more. Whole Foods is one of the nationwide suppliers. I  tried the clams, which look glamorous in their own shells, dressed for the holiday season. The Texas and Louisiana coast is famous for oysters on our shells, so the clams were a visual treat. The fish sticks and squares came out crunchy in a jiffy, just like the directions promised. A microwaved quick meal also delivered results. Next, I want to play with chopping up a square and making it really crisp as a topping for some sort of Tex-Mex taco. Think of the colors involved.  These are handy deals for your freezer stock.

Pumpkin update
I found green tea pumpkin seeds at an Asian store. They were not crispy. So I put Cajun seasoning on them, toasted them and put them in Chex mix. Still not so good.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Southern Po' Boy Cookbook offers history you can eat

My mama sure will forgive Todd-Michael St. Pierre for being verbose in defending the perfect soft-inside, crisp-outside bread for a po’ boy sandwich. She does the same thing. He asks for such forgiveness in his Ulysses Press release, “The Southern Po’ Boy Cookbook: Mouthwatering Sandwich Recipes from The Heart of New Orleans. You just want to start crying a few pages in when reading about “history you can eat,” and how the sandwich makers Bennie and Clovis Martin offered free ones to those “poor boys” on strike from conducting street cars. They said they’d feed them ‘til hell froze over, then they’d offer blankets. Before that an oyster loaf was called a peace maker, when men brought them home to wives to stop complaining about their coming home late. Now the author loves a classic dressed or scantily  clad, and also shares some twists like the Who Dat barbecued shrimp variations of muffuletta and debris and The Algiers Boy with fried scallop and chipotle. The Italians, Vietnamese and Mexican cultures want in on this po’ boy thing, too. You can pull open a bag of Zapp’s chips with just about any of them.
The Lafayette is made with boudain and the Plaquemines edition features turkey and stuffing. Now here’s where I insert my weekly pumpkin trending update. Have a slice of P pie after your sandwich.

New Stubb’s stuff
Sticky Sweet Stubb’s All Natural Bar-B-Q Sauce. Sound good to you? My daughter is marrying a Stubb’s-lovin man, so she was more excited than I was to try it. When my mother asked if she could prepare us all a meal on her recent visit, we suggested she do any old thing with this bottle of new Sticky Sweet I got, featuring brown sugar and molasses. She showed us up by saying she already had a jar. So we all slept tight waiting for barbecue on Sunday. Imagine our surprise when we opened the door and smelled . . . Mexican food. It’s the other Texas comfort food. A misunderstanding, but still delicious.
So the next time we all got together, I understood she was picking up a box of Chinese food to go with a pot of rice I made. She showed up with a roasted chicken. Another misunderstanding, but our family can get on board with a food switch pretty quickly. Jasmine and I took the opportunity to slather our chicken with the long-awaited Sticky Sweet and can say, old Stubb’s has done himself proud. If you didn’t know, Stubb’s is an Austin thing.

Downton Abbey Red and White
There were literal gasps as I announced the guest at this party: two wines with the donton Abbey label. Fans devoured information on Mr. Carson bringing wine on a silver platter and info on the notes of wild berries. It was a hit all the way around, with samplers commenting that these flavors may not be what  they would normally reach for, but they enjoyed this step up into another world. My favorite is the red, which poured a lovely purple in my glass. No wonder, as it features black and blue berries, red currents and aromas of spices and violets in the notes. The white Bordeaux features apricot notes. Grapes used to create the new Downton Abbey Wine Collection were grown in the same Bordeaux region as was imported by the British aristocracy in the 1900s, Is that a conversation starter, or what. This is fun stuff.

Chinese are buying American
Here’s the story as makers tell it. NYC based entrepreneur Sol Wahba says that the several of the colorful and tasty products in the NuvoSport Smart Meal-SNX line are striking a chord with people in China.

“We’re seeing significant and growing interest in two of our high density nutritional drinks,” he said. “We’re shipping more and more orders on a regular basis.”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Donut is here

For years I’ve passed a little sign in a field announcing “donut, coming soon.” It’s here. The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce helped Paul and Judy cut the ribbon on Donut Hole, at 7217 Ninth Avenue. Paul told me the boudain kolaches are best sellers and with that huge fresh bun around the link, I can taste why. They also did a great job on a crispy apple fritter, a personal favorite of mine. Bavarian cream? Yes. There are plenty of other flavors as well as big breakfast sandwiches. The couple is from Cambodia and the extended family also runs Donut Hole bakeries in Groves and Orange.

Times are tofu
I’ve heard lots of stories about vegetarians and turkey lovers not getting along during the holidays, but Nasoya can help bring unity to the table. Tofu is nothing to laugh about and our younger generation is favoring it as a healthy option. Packages of Nasoya brand extra firm tucked away in the back of the fridge are a handy option for when you can’t think of anything else, as well as when you want to create. A serving has 80 calories, and you can flavor it into just about any culture’s tastes. I usually opt for Asian, but just got up from an Indian curry with some Nasoya bulking up the spinach and onion concoction. Here’s an idea straight from the makers that can use meat, or not:
1 package Nasoya Won Ton Wraps
8 ounces ground turkey
8 ounces whole cranberry sauce
1 fourth cup finely chopped walnuts
1 fourth cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion
1 fourth cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
half teaspoon  salt
gravy for dipping
Preparation Method: 
        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all ingredients in medium mixing bowl. Brush edges of Won Ton Wrap with egg wash (1 egg and one fourth  cup water mixed). Place 1 teaspoon of turkey mixture on wrap then pinch corners together. Place filled wraps on non-stick baking sheet. Brush top of wraps with remaining egg wash or lightly spray with vegetable oil. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until wraps are golden brown. Serve with gravy for dipping.

        Hint: Cover unused wraps with a warm, moist cloth in between batches to keep from drying out.

·        Vegetarian Version: 1 package of Nasoya Extra-Firm tofu instead of ground turkey Crumble tofu into a large skillet and lightly brown with olive oil and a dash of celery salt. Let it cool. Mix together the remaining ingredients and follow the directions above.

Spray Thin
Have that New Year’s Resolution ready? I’ve been playing with Spray Thin, taseless, scented crystals that you spray on food and your nasal sense receptors trigger your brain to make you believe you are full faster. Some of the same people who made Sensa and Sprinkle Thin have created Spray Thin. Read up on the studies before you try the sweet or savory sprays. Savory is designed to give off a Parmesan cheese aroma. Makers offered to send a sample and I sure wanted to try it. It’s a very interesting to read about the product and I can say it doesn’t have a flavor. As a Weight Watcher I portion my food in a different system, so It’s difficult to say how the product worked on me. Portion control is what Spray Thin is about, so those who have issues, especially at tempting holiday time, may want to view

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Culinary explorers, slow down for tea

Numi Organic Tea
Of course I love the Jasmine Green from China, with “hints of moonlight,” because that’s my daughter’s name. But Chamomile Lemon from Egypt gives it a run for the money.
Opening the black bamboo box of Numi Organic Tea’s World of Tea Collection is a surprise and a treat each time, though I’ve come to memorize which section holds Gunpowder Green from Taiwan and Breakfast Blend from England. Numi says it’s a great gift for the culinary explorer, hey’ that’s us! But I’d consider it a gift for my own, private self. Might share if it brought the promise of good company. Makers invite you to travel the world sip by sip through organic, non-GMO and fair trade certified teas. Fall is perfect for a warm cup of Golden Chai for India with cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. There’s more of the globe to travel through these flavors that smell and taste so enticing. This is a box of both quantity and quality.
Numi has plenty more to offer. Here’s a beverage you can make with another Numi product.

Created by James Labe
1 Numi Orange Spice Tea Bag
8 ounces Apple Cider
2 ounces dark rum
Heat Cider until very hot. Steep 1 Tea Bag directly in Cider for 5 minutes, covered. Uncover, add Rum and stir. Garnish with Cinnamon Stick.

Salba’s chia is smart
Salba’s Chia Seeds packets call you names. “Hey Smarty Pants!” the back label begins, and describes how the ground and whole seeds “respect your brain and your body.” will tell you more about Omega-3 and such. Smarty Pants also need to know what to do with these seeds. I like the slight crunch they make topping a slice of apple and peanut butter. Of course, you can mix them into smoothies. They can get “hidden” in lots of foods, but hey, I respect these tiny guys like they respect me, so bring on the chia. Go ahead, make chia pet jokes. These grains can take it. I want more.

Look who went ranch
StarKist Tuna Creations has a new 80-calorie ranch flavored single serve that brings a little summer into your  meal routine. Rip open a bag and sprinkle it over a lettuce salad or make it the focal point of your plate with fresh veggie sides. This is a cut above the same-old tuna and mayo deal. It’s light and different and the pouch makes eating healthy very convenient. I ate one for lunch and couldn’t wait for lunch the next day.

Pumpkin trending update:
The Almond Board of California is in on the pumpkin trend. Their website includes a recipe for Almond Crusted Pumpkin Cheese Pie. Go to

Monday, November 4, 2013

My sister's chips

My sister has been on a chip quest while visiting relatives across the country. After searching in Alabama, Rhode Island and Massachusetts for Lay’s Wavy Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt chips, she finally found them in our neck of the woods in Texas. She and my husband loved her chip find, but, ironically, my mom and I liked the garlic kettle chips she was using to fill in better. Takes all kinds.
There are new wavy chocolate potato chips on the market. I wish someone would let me know if they are as good as they sound.
Crock season
Fall puts me in slow cooker mode. Crock-Pot® Seasoning Mixes has new flavors including a good-smelling Original Chili. While I ripped open the packet for a spicy whiff I decided on Savory Herb Chicken, which I cooked up with carrots and onion and served over brown rice. NEW Beef Stroganoff, Hearty Beef Stew, Savory Pot Roast and BBQ Pulled Pork are also in this line. Makers suggest them for crowd-pleasing tailgating fare. Keeping these on the pantry shelf are as easy as firing up the slow cooker. I always feel free to add my own spices to “make it my own.”
Turnip Souffle
A reader, Peg, is seeking the recipe for a turnip soufflé from a Port Arthur club. Here’s what she recalls:
“My husband said it had carrot in it making it orange but was more of the turnip flavor with the consistency of mashed potatoes. “
Contact me at the e-mail below if you know about it.

Pumpkin Update
I’m very much in love with Siggi’s healthy yogurt after just one bite. I had it while actually writing this part of my column on a laptop from the Lover’s Lane Central Market in Dallas. A thick, creamy serving of coconut has 200 calories and is extremely satisfying. I made the yummy sound, for sure.
The company sent me a coupon to taste it and talk up how a serving of this yogurt has way fewer calories than pumpkin pie, but this store didn’t have the pumpkin and spice flavor. I figure shoppers bought it up like they are buying every other pumpkin blend this season. I   enjoyed every other thick and fruity blend I tried.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Prawn plans & pumpkin news

Prawn plans
I love exploring the Vietnamese Markets in Port Arthur. I checked out at one with a can of minced prawn in spices, for about $1.15 and the woman at the counter asked my plans for it. I told her I planned to warm it and serve it over steamed rice with a slow-cooked egg in the center.
She approved, and I felt like an insider. It was colorful and delicious with a few green onions from my garden sprinkled on top.
This particular brand of minced prawn, and there are many, included spices like peanut, chile, lemongrass, sugar, garlic, onion and (too bad) MSG. I plan to keep one in the pantry because it is a super-quick way to jazz up noodles and rice to make you feel like you’re in a restaurant.

Fresh 20
Stock up on 20 fresh ingredients and plan your next several meals for a happy, healthy family. Melissa Lanz profiles her own and other families are doing fine enjoying seasonal fresh foods like a cultural fusion of red beans and quinoa. I love what fall menus bring in “The Fresh 20” cookbook, but I can look forward to winter with mushroom polenta and cabbage pork stew.
Lanz even makes her own ketchup (that tastes like tomatoes) and tortillas. She shares how in this beautiful book. The photos convince you that you can do this, too.
Here’s another twist: Strawberry Gazpacho with Feta Cheese Crostini and spring rolls in a bowl so you can cut out that pesky rice paper step.
For this week’s “Pumpkin trending” update, try her pumpkin hash, pumpkin shepherd’s pie or roasted pumpkin. Here’s one with another vegetable you may not think of:
Radish Butter ( to serve with flatbread and steamed artichokes)
12 to 16 red radishes
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 fourth teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add all but 2 radishes and boil for 10 minutes. Thinly slice remaining two radishes.
Drain the radishes and place into a food processor or blender. Pulse to puree, then add the butter and salt and pulse to blend.

What’s the buzz?
Bottle tops look like bee hives and a beekeeper-hive-bear scene plays out in the bottle of a new liquor that is sweet on fall nights. Bärenjäger, the original honey liqueur, introduces Bärenjäger Honey & Tea, a blend of premium honey and tea liqueur; and Bärenjäger Honey & Pear, a delightful combination of premium honey liqueur and Williams pear brandy. With an old world feel and taste, sippers will realize they’ve hit a serious blend that’s not like the colorful nightclub fluff. Don’t play with this stuff.
Of the two, my favorite is Bärenjäger Honey & Tea, made from all natural ingredients and no artificial flavors. The new spirit offers an herbaceous nose, a sweet black tea and honey taste and a long finish of lingering black tea notes, makers say. I served it in a tall shot glass with an oversized blackberry soaking up the golden fluid.

Bärenjäger Honey & Pear is made with generous amounts of pure, real honey and high quality pear brandy sourced from Germany. The brandy is distilled exclusively from Williams pears, which are highly aromatic and flavorful. It put my tasters in mind of a high-end cough drop, and we all know people who like that sort of thing. It’s soothing and comforting.
Look up this brand and learn all about bears, too. In the 15th century, beekeepers and farmers made a mead-like moonshine to aid hunters attract bears and lure them from their dwellings.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin is trending

My mom and I have been joking about noticing pumpkin flavored everything this season and I think I “won” when I heard the Car Talk brothers joke about something like pumpkin spice brake fluid on NPR. I think I could mention pumpkin in every column for the rest of the year, so if you see me out, tell me what you have experienced.
Pumpkin crème brulee, in an adorable little canning jar, showed up in the dessert book discussed below:

Vegan Desserts
Unless you routinely have bacon with your pie, vegan desserts sounds on track. But remember, you won’t be cracking eggs or softening butter. Pie is a lifestyle, author Kris Holechek Peters shares in the book “Vegan Desserts in Jars.” Anyone can soften up to a little Mason jar of s’mores, raspberry brownie bombs and lemon blueberrys scone domes. I hear the raw pecan pie is very rich and Peters can make a “meringue”  of wonders.
Many recipes begin with a ganache from non-dairy versions of chocolate chips, coconut oil and milk. Elvis is in a jar, so you better let out this peanut butter and banana heavenly mix.

 A cup of donut
It’s true, knowing a great coffee is in the pantry can motivate you to hop out of bed. Dunkin Donuts ought to get some kind of science and humanity award for getting the flavors of jelly and chocolate glazed donut flavors into a coffee. I’m telling you, Dunkin Donuts new Bakery Series Coffee delivers a tantalizing aroma and the warm flavor of your favorite pastry without caloric guilt. It could be a new habit, though. Blueberry Muffin is one of my favorite flavors in the flour edition. It’s great as a coffee, but I might pick Caramel Coffee Cake as my favorite in a cup. Old Fashioned Donut is another option. Everyone I have served these to can’t seem to believe all that flavor can get into coffee beans.

Bring on the truffles
I’m pretty good at rationing out good things, so I don’t eat a box full at a time. My husband had already tried Organic Velvet “melty silky goodness” dark milk chocolate truffles and black truffles in dark chocolate before me. Before I’d had even one, he asked for more. What the heck, he’d just mowed the lawn. When I finally popped a ball and let the chocolate wall melt, exposing the promised melty stuff inside and all resistance was futile.
Before I finished that one bite, all I could think of was that husband over there was two truffles ahead of me in this one life we live. I laid down the law. Only one of each kind within a 24-hour period. It’s too good.

Alter Eco Foods has infused organic ingredients, adding pure lauric acid-rich coconut oil, instead of palm kernel oil, to fair trade chocolate. Packaging is compostable. When this box is empty, by the end of the day I write this, it can go in my garden compost. Guess what. These flavors are just the launch. More flavors are coming.

Coffee with your rum cake?
Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes offer a taste of the islands that often showed up at Port Arthur’s Cayman Fest activities. If you miss those festivals, order up a little coconut cake. Thank goodness for mail-order shopping and not messing with a good thing. News to me, because I’ve never been on a cruise, is that there are coffee beans, too. Tortuga selections have been lauded in “Porthole Cruise” magazine for nine consecutive years as Best Cruise Souvenir and in 2013 was named Greatest Caribbean Gift.
A burlap  sack encases a bag of 100 percent Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee beans. Mornings are made better with a quick grind and a rich brew that will take you back to the islands if you’ve been there. In my case, the fantasy is a projection. I aim to enjoy this coffee on the beach some day. It’s plenty good right here in my Texas kitchen.