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.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mom at the hooka lounge


A sampler plate at Al Basha in Beaumont.  Courtesy photo by Darragh Doiron
Mom at the hookah lounge
Lemony yogurt, lamb, roasted peppers, and a falafal “muffin” is a sample of the flavors that danced through our heads at Al Basha in Beaumont. We had a Mediterranean feast, sharing and dipping our bread into a colorful mixtures. I couldn’t resist a Facebook posting tagged Mom’s first course at the hookah lounge, the second function of this establishment. We did peek in the window of that area until someone encouraged us to walk in and tour the spacious lounge with cushy couches as seating. It would get busy later, they promised. We went for the food.
"Later" we were at home watching “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” about an Indian family who opens a restaurant across the path from a swanky French establishment. We actually planned to be savoring the spices of one culture as we enjoyed the movie about two other culinary traditions. We loved it all.

I cannot contain my excitement over the hot news from McCormick Gourmet shakers. In fact, it makes me sneeze. I pulled out samples of jalapeno pepper powder, then got more excited with basically crushed, red chipotle pepper grounds, then yelped over a sriracha powder. My daughter’s going to fight me over that one. I’ve been liberally dusting these blends over eggs and everything else every morning and can’t get enough.
They’ve also got new grinders with smoked, lemon zest, sweet onion and chipotle sea salt blends. Love it times four.
Burger auce mix-ins they offer include Montreal Steak, Brown Sugar Bourbon, Sweet Mesquite & Carmelized Onion and Roasted Garlic & Sauteed Onion.
This spring McCormic has released 21 new products inspired by flavor trends on the rise. You’ll want to play with these.

I’ve got bacon heating very slowly in a covered skillet and plan to rescue the fat for future projects. I’m hoping to spiral partially cooked bacon onto partially cooked sweet potato planks and hope they’ll cleave together for crunchy goodness. Some of that McCormick flavor mentioned above will finish off the flavor explosion.