Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cupcakes coming up roses

  Rosemary and other blooms topped Chic Chef Carly Andrews' cupcakes at The Port Arthur International Seafarers' Center cocktail party. Bruce Branick and Judge Jeff Branick invited supporters to the center this past Thursday for music and mingling all in support of the good works this group offers. Grace Liu Anderson provided violin music while guests caught up on seafarer news and Chef Carly Andrews Oubre's spead included a purple hit: spicy glazed chicken meatballs with crispy red cabbage. Quite a presentation. Warm Bloody Mary gazpacho in a cup topped with a fried oyster was also a conversation starter. For information on seafarer projects, contact

                  Dine out
                             Rodair Roadhouse, Reel Cajun and Neches River Wheelhouse were, I’m guessing, among top spots Mid-County residents took their holiday visitors for our area’s flavor. I’m guessing Tia Juanita’s will be another favorite. I’ve had an eye on their construction.
                             Other spots I’ve had a taste of recently include Koi Japanese Sushi Bar & Lounge with friendly service, bold flavor and matcha ice cream; Bruno’s Italian Kitchen with an upscale atmosphere; Amacate Tortilla Bar for an affordable Sunday brunch in a festive atmosphere; and Crown Pizza, your only cozy-in-a boxcar offering in the area. These are down the road in Beaumont. Got to say, all of Southeast Texas is known for creative dining.

                              Coffee Connection
                                If holiday travel puts you in Texas City, look for Coffee Connection, with the tagline “Touching Lives One Cup at a Time.”  I stopped in ever-so-briefly and enjoyed a welcome from patrons and servers who were a mix of genres and ages all chatting together. Christian projects and discussion were part of the atmosphere along with a heavenly aroma from Geva Premium Coffee, roasted in Houston. If their tagline doesn’t move you, try a message from their web site: Coffee: Because you can’t win friends with salad.

                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready for Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, which will hit Port Arthur Feb. 28-March 3. Contact her at

Sunday, January 13, 2019

January is soup (or gumbo?) month

What could be more satisfying than a hot bowl of soup on a cold January evening?
                             I actually have an answer to that: gumbo. Of course in some regions where gumbo comes out of a can, those two phrases may be akin. Around here we call soup a hot meal and gumbo a festive occasion. It’s hardly ever a one-person affair.
                             I can also go on about chili. It’s another great meal-in-a-bowl option.
                             January is deemed soup month and for some folk that means a can of chicken noodle. For others its about beef stock, bone broth, boiling down carcasses and combining leftovers from the fridge. While I still consider “soup” to be a more plain option than my gumbo and chili affairs, I sure do appreciate that soup made one day is often still there the next, and usually better, as the flavors steep. It’s the cooking day that keeps on giving.
                             Since the calendar always “reminds” me that it’s soup month, I foraged in my pantry to move potential soup ingredients to the forefront, and I’ve put a can of fish powder, bullion cubes and dried mushroom strips to the forefront. Looks like we’re going Asian. Egg drop maybe?
                             May I suggest some other options that will warm you up and give you more space in the pantry?
                             * Lentels – If you have some colorful yellow, green and tan lentils displayed in a glass jar so that it looks like you cook that way a lot, go ahead and cook like that this week.
                             * Cans of corn and/or beans – They’re there for “emergencies.” A quick soup can be one. If using canned beans, try mashing up some along the inside rim of your cooking pot with the back of your spoon to make a creamy texture.
                             * If you’ve ever used a can of tomato sauce as a soup base, it’s not a stretch to try using up a bunch of collected ketchup packets instead.
                             * Stuff you didn’t like much to begin with. Did you ever whip up, say, a vegetable side dish, not enjoy it and yet freeze the rest of  it? Try it again in the soup. Run it through the blender first if you have to. The other ingredients should overwhelm what you didn’t care for.
                             * Like pho at your favorite Vietnamese restaurant? Port Arthur markets sell the seasoning in blocks, so you can recreate this at home.
                             * Menudo:  When I was younger I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I’ve had some great homemade stuff with my husband’s family and I’ve enjoyed it in from a can. It’s also considered a hangover remedy. Ironically, his people in the Valley may liken canned menudo to my dismay over canned gumbo.
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is ready to have a bowl of any variety of gumbo in any calendar month. Talk soup to nuts with her at

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Golden seasoning fizzles (and suds)

The T
                             The golden seasoning   I'd already made seasonal labels and gift bags for Bacon Chipotle pretzels and toasted them with olive oil. A little more olive oil is always good, so I added more golden liquid from a little dish I’d set out. After they cooled, I decided to taste them. That’s something I rarely do because I could end up eating it all. Well, that pretzel was not good at all. Tasted like soap. The second one was still not good. Worse. I deduced that the golden liquid was lemon dish soap I’d set out. The olive oil was still in the bottle.
                             The silver lining here is that when I start concentrating on dietary resolutions, I can just imagine that dish soap taste and steer clear of the snacks.

            Watermelon Radish: At a December birthday party, my friend served a dish of watermelon radish. Ever heard of that? No one had. We all loved the bright pink center with green edges and the crisp, earthy taste. What crunch, and healthy, too. That's until I started spreading baked brie on every bite. These radishes are the size of billiard balls.

                  Another season(ing)
                             Here’s  how the golden seasoning incident happened. *See above.
                             A recent Free Friday Download from Kroger connected me to a bottle of McCormick Grill Mates in Bacon Chipotle flavor. So now I’m set for a sea salt-based blend of smoky-sweet to spice up baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and eggs. A baked butternut squash was the first item to receive the treatment. It became the main part of the meal accompanied by baked jalapeno and onion with the same sprinkle. It was so good I ate more than I should have.
                             Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who is sometimes a little too adventurous in the kitchen. Reach her at