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Jay Francis

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Posts posted by Jay Francis

  1. My first question, respect to the Bradley is, how cost effective is it. Do those little briquets raise the cost to do barbecue significantly?

    Here is my method. I have a Brinkman electric smoker. Sorry to see that it got only one star at the Amazon site, I'm very happy with my brisket.

    I use pecan wood, soaked at least 24 hours that I lay on top of the electric grid. I smoke my brisket for the three hours or so that the wood lasts and then typically transfer it inside, to wrap in aluminum foil and continue a slow cook in the oven at 300 F for several hours to break down the protein and make the brisket pull apart tender. I would have no problem using my electric smoker for the entire process, and would continue to feed wood as needed, perhaps even turning off the electricity once the wood had started burning on its own.

  2. O.M.G

    I have died and gone to heaven. What a fantastic place. Props to Neverfull for getting those great photos. They're a little skittish about photos so surreptition is the buzz word.

    When you check out, you'll get a giant pack of sponges and other cleaning type things.

    I had never seen before and bought some Korean melons, mini yellow melons that are kind of a cross between the texture of a cucumber and the flavor of a melon. You peel the skin but can eat the seeds. There's a lady making fresh kimchee, samples given freely.

  3. I second Bruce's recommendation for Mi Tienda. It isn't that far from Hobby Airport. Alternatively, check out the H.E.B. at Gulfgate. You will be able to find everything you'd want here, I suspect.

    And don't forget the Farmer's Market on Airline for Flores Spices, El Bolillo and everything else.

  4. I was reading a History of Food book a yesterday and the French author had a section on breadmaking in Egypt. They poured a fairly wet dough into a heated inverted pyramidal container and stacked several of these. What I found interesting is that he says that the Greeks gave the name pyramid to the burial structures because of the similarities to the baking containers. I am having a hard time getting a visual idea of what these baking containers looked like. Buit it's interesting that the no-knead bread recipe has its precursors in ancient Egypt.

  5. I bring back cacao from Oaxaca. I roast the beans, peel them, and then use my high power Vita-Mix to create a chocolate liquor. It is hard going as the Vita-Mix will shut off to protect against overheating. But the alternative of grinding with a heated metate just isn't an option for me. In Oaxaca, the shops have motorized grinding stones that do the job in minutes. If you do a search for Oaxaca Chocolate on youtube, you'll probably find some good videos to watch.

    I found a Champion juicer at a second hand store for $15 and bought it specifically to make chocolate liquor. It worked okay but was really messy.

  6. I've come to the conclusion that the sub-categorizations of "Gringo-Mex" or "Tejano-Mex" are unnecessary. I just don't think that there is a need for this. There are more interesting questions to explore.

    One could do better just going through old menus to verify what was traditionally served in a Tex-Mex restaurant, beginning with the early "Original" Mexican restaurants that proliferated after the success of Otis Farnsworth's in San Antonio. Some dishes have disappeared over the years (example: 'fritoque'). With the closing of Felix's in Houston, doubtful you'll find spaghetti as a side dish on any Tex-Mex menu though at one time it was on most menus. So, let's take a trip back to the early 1900's and a menu that features a regular supper of tamales, chile con carne, enchilada, frijoles, tortillas de maiz and sopa de arroz. Or, the special supper that adds ensalada de aguacate and chile relleno (lost forever is whether this was a poblano chile or a bell pepper, we'll never know).

    Gringo-Mex, defined as catering to the general population doesn't work for me. Nor does Tejano-Mex as the identifier of other restaurants catering to the Mexican population.

    A more interesting study would involve setting up a spreadsheet with all of the dishes currently offered by all the Tex-Mex restaurants here in Texas and try to link each to a region. One could look at their geographical roots, and ask questions about whether, say a chalupa in Texas bears any resemblance a chalupa in Mexico and further, what area of Mexico. Or, how does the Tex-Mex combo compare to the traditional plato Tampiqueno of Tampico? How did spaghetti make its way up to Texas from the menus of Puebla? What dishes that became popular at Mexican resorts have made their way onto menus in Texas? Does chile con carne have its roots in the chilorio of Sonora? Is there a regional cuisine in Mexico that uses cumin as extensively as in Texas? How does the yellow corn used in Texas result in unique corn products (chips, puffy tacos, etc.) not seen in Mexico? Have guisados always been available at Tex-Mex restaurants? How did cheddar cheese enter the picture? Or Quick- Melt? When did green salsa start showing up in Tex-Mex restaurants? How did the ancho chile puree dipped tortilla ('enchilada') evolve into the red-dyed enchilada tortilla of San Antonio, or into the fried-in-oil-to-soften tortilla (with no chile puree) that is more typical of the Tex-Mex restaurants today? When did Tex-Mex restaurants shift to paprika instead of ancho chile purees? When did onions start being boiled rather than grilled for salsas? Etc. etc. etc.

  7. There are very few places in Texas that continue to make the crispy puffy taco shell that I remember from my youth. In Houston, only Fiesta Loma Linda on Telephone Road is still doing this. I discovered the secret of making these this week.

    When I was helping Robb Walsh with recipe testing for The Tex-Mex cookbook, we tried to duplicate the taco shell using Maseca without any success.

    Recently I was enjoying my tacos at Loma Linda and I asked who they bought their masa from. They told me and a week later I went by that facility and asked "I'd like to buy the masa like Loma Linda uses to make their crispy tacos." The guy told me that they "only do the yellow corn masa on Mondays". Here, I finally had my smoking gun. On the drive back down Harrisburg to my home I pulled into another tortilleria and bought 5 lbs of yellow corn fine grind masa. I pressed out some tortillas, deep fried them and they puffed up magnificently.

    So, the 'secret' of crispy puffy taco shells is preserved for future generations.

  8. If you see a restaurant with 'regiomontana' in its name, it is going to offer tostadas in the style of Monterrey, Mexico. Hence, this would be authentic Mexican food, neither 'Tejano-Mex' nor 'Gringo-Mex'.

  9. You're right. Her home-made desserts aren't anything to rave about. I usually pick up my brisket and leave the sauce. I like to make a home sauce with (South African) All Gold cane sugar ketchup and Vietnamese Sriracha hot sauce to go with the brisket.

  10. The reason that I like the Loma Linda taco is the taco shell. They get their masa from Super Lopez on Harrisburg and are able to make a thin tortilla that, when it immediately goes into the deep fat fryer, causes the tortilla to puff up. I tried doing this at home with Maseca and was never successful. Here's hoping that Loma Linda stays in business for a long time as they are one of the last if not the last Mexican restaurants that still serves chile con queso and tacos on a puffed shell.

    Loma Linda went through a period a couple of years ago when their beef filling wasn't very good (lots of grease). It's really good now.

  11. The Boathouse or Lakeside, not sure what it is called exactly, didn't work out in my opinion. I had the special hot dog. It had a nasty texture to it. The bun, which really can make or break a good hot dog (love those steamed buns at James' Coney Island) was not up to snuff. It was flavorless. My favorite buns of all time were in the basement snack bar of Foley's downtown, when I was growing up. They would shave the hot dog bun sides and toast the buns so you got this wonderful, crispy hot dog bun.

    My best guess is that the Boathouse is being staffed by people who don't have a clue about how stuff is supposed to taste. Someone set up their menu for them and they aren't doing the little tweaks that make for a great hot dog. I'd love to hang out in their kitchen and troubleshoot their food for them.

  12. I own a Kyocera chef's knife. I was at Linens and Things and noticed a set of three ceramic knives for $50 and there's always a 20% off coupon floating around. I've used them for upwards of three months now and can vouch for them as a real bargain. The Kyocera retails for $80.

  13. Thelma's is the only place where I enjoy eating catfish. I don't know if she soaks it in buttermilk to get rid of the muddy taste but it always tastes really clean. And the cornmeal crust is excellent.

  14. It's been a while since I've been to Thelma's for barbecue, maybe a year and a half. I pick up a pound of brisket to go. In the past it always seemed like I was getting more than a pound of barbecue. Today, I drove straight home and weighed the order. It came in at one pound and 10 ounces! Best deal in town, $10 for more than a pound of excellent barbecue. But could someone please tell Thelma that she needs to replace her scale for a more accurate one?

  15. One of the best recipes that you will find for the breadmachine (hopefully you have the Breadman Plus brand) is the oatmeal bread recipe on the back of the King Arthur bread flour bag. Here is another foolproof recipe for a bread machine loaf:

    1 tsp instant yeast

    500 grams King Arthur bread flour

    1 tbs sugar

    25 grams unsalted butter

    2 tbs milk powder

    1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (if you like a saltier bread, use regular salt)

    350 millileters filtered water

    Also, I have some notes and tips on making bread at the following youtube site. I've been working on breadmaking for a while now and love using my Breadman to do the kneading and mixing for oven baked loaves. This recipe was just a simple French bread recipe using water, flour, salt, yeast and a touch of sugar. I watched over it while it was being kneaded and added liquid or flour to keep the dough at 'just tacky but not sticky' surface. Take a look at some of my written notes at the site.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAcoG5aqGDA

    Note: when you are starting out be sure to weigh your ingredients until you get to the point where you can touch the dough and know what is needed. I prefer metric, it's just easier to work with and do any recalculations. I have a digital scale and the excellent Cuisinart Precison Portion Scale (limited to 300 grams, but you can work around that by weighing your flour in two batches...dollar for dollar, the best choice of scale if you don't want to bit the bullet and buy a digital scale). Stay away from spring loaded scales.

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