Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Day Migas with black-eyed peas and bacon

migas black-eyed peas New Year's Day

Migas for breakfast are welcome anytime, but I have especially fond memories of eating them with friends in Austin as our first meal of the New Year.

When I was younger, no matter where I happened to be living in Texas, it always seemed that I ended up in Austin for New Year’s Eve. So naturally, on New Year’s Day, my friends and I would go out for breakfast and enjoy big platters of migas along with fluffy flour tortillas and refried beans.

This year, I’ll be in New York and sadly I have to admit I haven’t had migas on New Year’s Day for a long time now. Why is this, I wondered? Even though I’m in a place where I can’t easily go to a restaurant and get my fix, there’s no reason why I can’t whip up a batch of migas at home.

migas black-eyed peas New Year's Day

Now, there are as many ways to make migas as there are stars in the sky—the possibilities are almost endless. That said, there are two things that define all migas and this is the presence of scrambled eggs and tortillas. While usually people do add other things to their eggs, such as chile peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cheese, if there are not tortillas in the eggs, then they’re not migas—they’re simply some other type of egg scramble.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Chipotle lime Texas trash snack mix

Chipotle lime Texas trash

A couple of years ago, a reader asked me if I had a recipe for Texas trash that was different from the usual. Now, if you’re not familiar with Texas trash, well, it’s similar to Chex party mix, except—it being Texas and all—we tend to spice it up with chili powder and dashes of hot sauce, like Tabasco. Plus, we often use bacon grease as the fat, along with the usual butter.

At heart, though, Texas trash is your typical addictive snack mix comprised of crunchy things like cereal, crackers, and pretzels, along with a variety of nuts. As for seasonings, besides said chiles and hot sauce, there’s also lots of garlic and Worcestershire. If you’ve been in the United States during the holidays anytime since 1953, when Chex first posted its famous recipe, I’m pretty sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Chipotle lime Texas trash

Ever since I received that email, I’ve become kind of obsessed with Texas trash. Was it possible to make a different kind of Texas trash? Not that there’s anything wrong with the standard recipe, as I grew up eating it and I have fond memories of poking through the large tin that my mom kept it in, looking for my favorite nuts. But I do like a challenge.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

gift cards for preorders of The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Some of you have been asking if my new book will be ready in time for Christmas. The Homesick Texan’s Family Table will not be published until April 1, 2014, but it is available for preorders.

The Homesick Texan’s Family Table will be available wherever books are sold and if you do preorder, you’ll be one of the first to receive it! You can order it from some of these fine establishments:

Barnes & Noble

If you do choose to order it for someone as a gift, here are some cards you can download to let the recipient know that it’s on its way. Just click on the image and it will take you to a separate page where you can print it or move it to your desktop:

I think it's a mighty fine book but of course, I'm biased. So in case you were wondering, here's what some other folks have had to say:

“Lisa Fain’s new book, The Homesick Texan’s Family Table, takes readers back to the origins of her inspiration—the family celebrations and community gatherings where platters of enchiladas, bowls of ranch-style beans, and great conversations combine to create lasting memories. It’s a magical place that’s changed the way we entertain—bring on the chiles, the masa, the chorizo!”
—Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of the Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

“Who doesn’t want to wake up to chilaquiles, enjoy a spicy soup for lunch, dive into a plate of peppery ribs, and finish up with a delicious, zippy version of cowboy cookies? With Lisa Fain’s recipes, anybody, anytime, anywhere can rustle up down-home Tex-Mex fare— be it for an everyday meal or a special celebration. Now I just need a Texas-sized table to hold it all!”
—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen and The Sweet Life in Paris

“I’ve always admired Lisa Fain’s remarkable ability to express sentiment through flavor—and with her latest book, this talent is on full display. Her beautifully photographed recipes inspired me to not only revisit some of my own family favorites (which I dressed up with the help of the salsas, jams, and in her ‘Accompaniments’ chapter), but also introduce her family’s classic flavors into my home. Hello, Frito Salad!”
—Martha Foose, author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea and A Southerly Course

“She had us at potluck! The fact that Lisa Fain says her most memorable meal was a family potluck warms our heart. We share with her a mutual desire to get people back around the table, since enjoying a meal with family and friends really is the best way to create lasting memories. Lisa invites you in with stories of her family and their connection to the recipes, and her warm, personal writing envelops you like a comforting blanket.”
—Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock, authors of The Casserole Queens Cookbook

My publisher hasn’t given me any preview page images just yet, but as soon as I have them I’ll post them on the site. That said, I’m real excited about my new book and can’t wait to share more with you!

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Friday, December 06, 2013

Pecan date fruitcake

pecan date fruitcake

How do you feel about fruitcake? For some, it’s a cherished Christmas tradition but for others it’s more of a joke. We’ve all heard the one about the 20-year-old fruitcake that people keep giving away.

There are several different types of fruitcake. There are those that are so loaded with dried fruit and nuts that you need a tall glass of milk to make it through a slice. Then there are the fruitcakes that that have been soaking in spirits since the summer, and one juicy bite makes you feel crazy and wild. There are sticky fruitcakes and dry fruitcakes, heavy fruitcakes and light fruitcakes. If you think you you’re not a fan of fruitcake, just keep looking, as I’m sure there’s at least one out there that you might like.

In my family, fruitcake doesn’t play too prominent a role, as it’s usually shuffled to the side, hiding behind all the tins and platters filled with cookies, candies, crunchy snacks, and other types of cake. But it wasn’t always this way.

pecan date fruitcake

When I was writing my new book and going through my great-grandmother Blanche’s letters, she would mention fruitcake often. She’d either be baking one and then sending it to someone in the mail, or a friend of hers may have dropped by for a visit and brought fruitcake as a gift.

As I was looking through her papers I found a recipe for fruitcake she attributed to her friend Mrs. Ollie Edwards. I never met Mrs. Edwards but I did know her husband, a man I called Mr. Edgar. He was a neighbor who helped my great-grandma plant her crops, and I have fond memories of him driving around her farm on his tractor, always quick to offer a kind word or a big smile.

Now, Mrs. Edwards’ fruitcake was unusual in that there weren’t any eggs, oil, or leavenings. Instead, it was simply dates, pecans, and coconut all held together by a bit of flour and some sweetened condensed milk. When I asked my grandma about it, she said this fruitcake wasn’t my family’s usual one, but as the recipe was in my great-grandmother’s collection, I assumed as some point it had been made. I was curious and decided to try it.

The results were not what I was expecting. Instead of being a soft cake studded with fruit, this pecan date fruitcake was chewy, gooey, and yet a little crisp. Are you a fan of dolly bars? Well, then this is the fruitcake for you. While this dessert is a bit more virtuous as it’s filled with dates instead of chocolate chips, it’s just as good. And while the basic recipe is fine on its own, to make it even more seasonal I added some orange zest, cinnamon, and ginger.

What I like about this pecan date fruitcake is that it tastes decadent but also healthy, the latter enabling you to eat more than one slice without feeling too guilty. For instance, as I baked mine up in a Texas-shaped pan, I soon found that I’d eaten most of the Panhandle and was well on my way to finishing up everything between Lubbock and El Paso, but because it’s full of wholesome ingredients like dates and pecans, I didn’t feel too bad.

pecan date fruitcake

This is definitely not a traditional fruitcake, though for some I suppose that will be a virtue not a fault. Though welcoming flavors aside, I believe my favorite thing about this pecan date fruitcake is that it was a recipe shared between two friends, perhaps as they sat at my great-grandmother’s table enjoying a slice or two. And for me, being with those that you love is what truly makes the holidays a delicious time of year.

Pecan date fruitcake

4 cups chopped dates
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and flour or line with parchment paper a 9-inch baking pan (square, round, or Texas shaped) or a 9x5 loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl together the chopped dates, pecans, coconut, flour, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, and ginger until well combined. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk, and stir until a thick, sticky batter forms.

Spread the fruitcake batter into the baking pan and then bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly brown. Be careful not to over bake it, as it will harden as it cools. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing. The cake can keep in an airtight container for several days. It also freezes well.

16 servings


Note: I used unsweetened coconut because I didn’t want my fruitcake to be too sweet, but if you prefer a sweeter cake, either use sweetened coconut or perhaps add a little sugar to taste.



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