Sunday, August 31, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The September issue of Esquire magazine features a mouthwatering spread entitled The Esquire Almanac of Steak, including a listing of The 20 Best Steaks in America by John Mariani. "This may be the last article worth reading about American steak," reads the prologue, and Mariani proceeds to list a score of meaty meals from restaurants across the country. Wishing to represent what he refers to as "Diversity of Preparation", Mariani includes not only classic seared steakhouse sirloins, but various other regional and international specialties.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but get excited about stopping in West, Texas (just North of Waco and South of Hillsboro) to sample some of the famous kolaches from the Czech Stop. For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of sampling one, a kolache is a traditional Central European dish of a pastry roll filled with any number of things, from fruit to meat to cheese. They are popular in West (and a few other towns in Central Texas) due to their large Czech populations. These heavenly pillows of pastry and various fillings make any road trip down 35 worthwhile.
I love the plain sausage (no molten American cheese, thank you very much), which pair perfectly with a cold bottle of Dr. Pepper. The sausage has just enough smokiness and spiciness to make it interesting without overwhelming the pastry, and the sweetness of the Dr. Pepper really rounds out the meal.
My absolute favorite, however, is the cream cheese kolache. These are pretty good when you get them mixed with fruit (strawberry, blueberry and apricot are a few of the choices they offer), but I prefer just the plain cream cheese. It tastes like a cross between cheesecake and a dinner roll, and while that may not sound all that appetizing, it takes both of those standards to new heights. The cream cheese is rich and sweet, so the flaky, buttery pastry cuts that a little bit while adding some texture. I highly recommend you give one a whirl the next time you venture down 35.
I’m sure many of our readers have had the pleasure of visiting West, and I’d like to hear if you all love it as much as I do…
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The problem is—those pastries and muffins they sell at Starbucks really don’t appeal to me. They’re just sugar-laden obstacles in the way to getting my Triple Grande Soy Latte. So, basically, I end up drinking my breakfast every morning, and am starving by 10:30.
Starbucks, however, has introduced a new drink that has changed my life. It’s called the Banana Chocolate Vivanno, and it has revolutionized my breakfast routine. The shake combines a whole banana (Fruit! Actual, honest to goodness fruit!), 2% milk (Calcium!), bittersweet cocoa (Chocolate!), fiber powder (Powdered regularity!), and whey protein (Hello, South Beach!). But the best part is, if you ask, they will also blend in a shot of espresso (Caffeine!), making it the most well-rounded and efficient breakfast I’ve ever consumed.
On top of that, this is no uber-sweet and sugary Frappuccino. It’s actually relatively low in fat and calories (5 g/270 calories), especially considering that it works as a meal substitute. And with 6 grams of fiber and 21 grams of protein, it actually keeps you full all morning.
Thank you, Starbucks! You’ve once again earned my love, along with my $5 a day.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
My favorite dish that we tried was called Shireen Palow, which is a chicken and rice dish (think of it as an Afghani Paella) flavored with saffron, orange peel and apricots. A little sweet, a little spicy and a lot delicious--to me, this dish is comfort food defined. It seemed like it would be pretty simple to make myself, so when I got back to Big D, I scoured the net for recipes to help me try to duplicate this dish at home.
I have made versions of this dish five times since my trip (trying to perfect it to share with our DallasEats faithful), and I have to say, I don’t think either my husband or I are even the least bit sick of it yet. I am calling the final version of this dish “Orange Chicken and Rice with Exotic Spices” because I took some liberties with the traditional recipe, and thus it is more “inspired by Shireen Palow” than actual Shireen Palow. But whatever you call it, it’s freakin’ good.
*Please note--there is not nearly as much saffron in this recipe as there is in the pictured spoon. I'm not Rockefeller, people.
Orange Chicken and Rice with Exotic Spices
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger (this looks like a lot, but it will help flavor the entire dish.
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind (or the rind from one medium-sized orange)
- ½ Cup orange juice (or the juice of one medium-sized orange)
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
- 8-10 dried apricots, sliced
- 6 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Rub chicken down with 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, ginger, and allspice. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook 5 minutes, browning on both sides. Don’t worry about cooking the chicken all the way through—it will be going back in the pot with the rice and will have plenty of time to get cooked through. Remove chicken from pan; cover with foil to keep warm.
In the same Dutch oven, melt the other tablespoon over butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 10 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. There will be lots of spice and brown bits from the chicken left in the bottom of the pan, so as you’re cooking the onions, try to scrape the bottom of the pan a little to loosen them. They will add a lot of flavor to the dish.
Once the onions are done, add saffron, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. The saffron will add its distinctive aroma and color to the dish, and the garlic and red pepper flakes will add a little kick.
Stir in sugar and rind; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, orange juice, broth, rice, and apricots; bring to a boil. Add the chicken that you set aside and cover, reducing heat to low/medium. Simmer 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Take the pot off the heat and add the pistachios. Let the pot stand off the heat for a few minutes before you serve.
I dare you to try not to go back for seconds...