Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Memory is a strange thing. For years I’ve been obsessed with a chocolate brownie ice cream that I ate when growing up in Houston. It was made by Blue Bell and I used to pull the half gallon out of the freezer, scoop out a big bowl, and then sit on a stool at the kitchen counter eating it in the afternoon on summer days. But I hadn’t seen it for years and wasn’t quite sure that it was real or not.

When I was nine and moved to Houston from Dallas, I had Blue Bell ice cream for the first time. It was the late 1970s and Blue Bell was strictly a Houston-area brand, so I’d never heard of it until my parents came home from the grocery store with the signature gold-rimmed half-gallon tub and explained that Blue Bell was the preferred ice cream in Houston. For some reason, I was dubious at first (in Dallas, for store bought we’d eaten Braums and Haagen Dasz) but after my first bowl I was a convert. Blue Bell was sweet, cool, and refreshing—it was very good.

Back then, there weren’t too many flavors available. Homemade vanilla was popular, as was chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and my favorite—that chocolate ice cream with little pieces of brownies swirled throughout the base. While having ice creams packed with other stuff is common now, in the 1970s it was a novelty. And so each time your spoon dug up one of the small pieces of brownie in the chocolate base, it was like finding a secret treasure.

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Here’s the thing, however. I haven’t been able to find any record of this exact flavor anywhere and when I asked several friends if they recalled it they said that they did not. For some reason, I failed to ask my mom, but finally I did and received the answer I’d been seeking. “It was chocolate on chocolate,” she said, being a huge chocolate fan and all. “Of course, we ate it!”

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Shrimp and avocado salad with remoulade dressing

shrimp and avocado salad remoulade dressing

Crisp iceberg, cool shrimp,and creamy avocado, all tossed with a tangy dressing is what you want on a hot and sultry day. Though what also makes this dish such a treat is that it has a sense of place—Houston to be exact.

I first encountered this recipe for shrimp and avocado salad a few months ago when I was in Waco speaking on a panel about Texas food at Baylor University. The talk was presented by the Texas Collection, which as the name implies, is a large set of Texas books found in The Carroll Library at Baylor.

The collection, which is lead by director John Wilson and librarian Amie Oliver, has books about all aspects of Texan life—from history to food. And it’s the latter that made me very happy, as in the collection are almost 4,000 cookbooks focused on Texan cuisine. I had no idea that many were even in existence! The opportunity to spend two days going through just a few of those books was like being in cookbook heaven.

While there are some New York-city published Texas cookbooks in the collection, the vast majority are locally published community cookbooks—books that were produced by Texas churches, schools, civic clubs, and other organizations. These cookbooks are a treasure, as the recipes not only reveal what a community cooked at a certain point in time, but they can also give you a sense of the community’s values and will often have names of the community members listed, as well.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Chorizo and jalapeño breakfast pizza

breakfast pizza chorizo jalapeño

“You need to start blogging again,” said my grandma.

“Yes,” I replied. “I know.”

If you look at the last post I published, it was back in late February. But that wasn’t even a recipe or a story; it was simply a round-up for Texas Independence Day. The last recipe I shared with you was way back in January. And while it was a fine dish, it certainly wasn’t hearty enough to keep you satisfied for this long.

This year has been a whirlwind for me, and it wasn’t until I spoke with my grandma that I realized so much time had passed. It’s always good to try new things but after a few months of being away, I realized that my favorite place to be is in my kitchen at home.

During that same conversation with my grandma, she talked about a pizza that Uncle Austin had made her recently at the farm. “I loved it,” she said. As she described the pizza, she mentioned that it had been topped with sausage. She paused for a minute and then said, “I love sausage on pizza. And you know what would also be great? A breakfast pizza also with sausage on it. There could be eggs, too,” she added.

breakfast pizza chorizo jalapeño

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