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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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gingerbread doughnut muffins

gingerbread doughnut muffins

There’s a doughnut store around the corner from me, and while I’m not usually tempted by their doughnuts (my best strategy is to just look the other way when I walk by their shop), this time of year they sell a gingerbread doughnut that I have been curious about.

Unfortunately, this doughnut shop has a tendency to sell out of their more popular doughnuts, and by the time I finally gathered the courage to actually go to the shop and get a gingerbread doughnut, they no longer had any on hand.

Yes, I say courage because this doughnut shop’s doughnuts are all very appealing and yet they’re also very expensive. Whenever I do make it in there I never make it out without spending a small fortune on fried treats. It’s a dangerous place! In any case, because of this, I decided that I would take matters into my own hands.

gingerbread doughnut muffins

When I first started blogging almost 10 years ago, doughnut muffins were all the rage. It seemed almost every food blogger at the time was doing some variation of these baked little cakes, but for some reason I never got around to making my own. Well, as Christmas is approaching and I like to have lots of treats on hand for breakfast, I decided that a gingerbread doughnut muffin just might be the way to go.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spicy pecan brittle

spicy pecan brittle

This is the season of giving, and one of my favorite things to give is candy. Texans have a long tradition of making and sharing candy at the holidays, and my family is no different. When I was young, a Christmas visit wasn’t complete until a tin of homemade candy had been passed around, and we’d enjoy everything from pralines to divinity.

One of my favorite candies, however, is nut brittle. Typically in the past, I’ve usually made it with peanuts. This, of course, is the traditional nut brittle and it’s no wonder as those nuts go very well with the crisp candy coating. That said, there are a couple of people on my list this year who can’t have peanuts because of allergies, and so I decided that my nut brittle this year would have to be made with something else instead.

spicy pecan brittle

Texas’s state nut is the pecan, so it didn’t take me long to decide to make pecan brittle. While you don’t see it quite as often as you do peanut brittle, pecan brittle definitely has its place in the pantheon of Texan confections. Matter of fact, when I was doing research I found a host of candy-store advertisements from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and whenever they mentioned pecan brittle, they showcased it as an especially rare treat.

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