Saturday, February 28, 2015

My menu for Texas Independence Day

chicken-fried steak homesick texan

While it may still be chilly and cold, I love this time of year, as the promise of spring is so close. Dreaming of wildflowers and warmer weather helps me get through the iciest and coldest of days. And just think, in a few weeks we’ll be seeing bluebonnets!

Some of you have asked where I’ve been lately. Well, the past month I have been away from my kitchen working on a project, and haven’t been able to make any new recipes to share with you. (This project is very exciting, though, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!)

That said, Texas Independence Day is coming up on March 2. While you never need an excuse to celebrate Texas, here are some favorite dishes from my archives that are perfect for honoring such a momentous day.

Happy birthday, Texas! And I'm looking forward to spending more time with y'all soon!

Bacon jalapeño cheese ball
Bob Armstrong Dip
Texas trash

Main dishes:
Beef enchiladas
Chicken-fried steak
Dr Pepper pulled brisket
Frito pie
King Ranch casserole
Peppery pinto beans with sausage
Seven-chile chili
Steak fingers with jalapeño cream gravy

Flour tortillas
Jalapeño cheese bread

Chocolate pie
Pecan pie
Ruby Red grapefruit and pecan sheet cake
Ruby Red grapefruit cookies

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chile verde con carne (beef green chili)

chile verde con carne beef green chili

Like most people, I grew up eating food cooked in a slow cooker. Whether it was an easy way to have dinner on the table after a long day of work, or a place to park your queso during a party, slow cookers were a large part of my life in Texas. Yet for some reason I never bought my own. I’m not quite sure why though I think it’s probably a space issue more than anything. My kitchen is small and as it is now, my stand mixer lives on my desk. Whenever I thought about getting a slow cooker I wondered where it would go.

Then a bunch of friends started reading a popular book about tidying up and only keeping objects that bring you joy, and I opened my hall closet and realized it was filled with empty shoe boxes and other silly things that would make room for a slow cooker if I threw them away. So I did.

The next morning, I went to the cookware store and bought my slow cooker. As I was checking out in line the cashier asked me what was the first thing I was going to make and I told her I had no idea. She suggested chili. “It’s perfect this time of year.”

chile verde con carne beef green chili

Indeed, a few weeks ago I’d made a chile verde con carne (beef green chili) on the stove, which I’d loved and had been eager to make again. And fortunately at home I had all the ingredients to make this green chili, and so began the process of adapting my stovetop recipe for the slow cooker instead.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Smoky black-eyed pea and sausage soup

smoky black-eyed pea and sausage soup

A few weeks ago I was visiting family in Oregon. I was staying at my dad’s and as a fellow homesick Texan who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, he has an extensive collection of cookbooks on Texan cuisine. One morning I was flipping through one of his books and saw a recipe for black bean enchiladas. I thought to myself, “That would be fun to make with black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day,” and then started scribbling down notes.

After I returned to New York, I started testing my recipe for black-eyed pea enchiladas. Like most enchilada dishes made from scratch, there were lots of pots, pans, and dishes involved, as well as a list of ingredients as long as my arm. After several hours of cooking and assembling, (with a few emergency trips to the grocery store thrown in for additional ingredients) when I finally sat down to actually taste the enchiladas, I was completely underwhelmed.

Now, it’s not that the enchiladas tasted terrible—I mean, how bad can a molten stack of corn tortillas, salsa, black-eyed peas, and cheese be? But I didn’t love them and after all that time and effort invested, I felt I should be happier about the enchiladas. Perhaps it was that old problem of the cook never appreciating her own food, but I usually enjoy what I make and these did not make me smile.

smoky black-eyed pea and sausage soup

So, it was back to the kitchen if I was going to come up with something new to serve for the New Year. Fortunately, I still had some dried black-eyed peas on hand, as well as bacon, smoky kielbasa, and a bundle of kale. If I added some smoky chipotle chiles and a few spices, I figured I had the workings of a very good soup.

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