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Jay Francis

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Everything posted by Jay Francis

  1. I had what I consider to be one of the best espressos that I have had in Houston. This is a little place, struggling to make it. It's between West Alabama and Westheimer on Sage, facing the west exit of Macy's. The owners are Swiss and Italian. The coffee comes from a manufacturer in Italy. I can't recommend the lunches though. Although the pasta dishes are home-made, they have to reheat them in a microwave and it really doesn't work. But the coffee is wonderful. They also sell the coffee beans. Worth a trip.
  2. I have had very good luck with the Krups and have been able to pick them up second hand at second hand stores for as little as $10
  3. I've been using The Alligator from Williams Sonoma for upwards of two years now and have never looked back. I use a lot of onions and only wish this device had been around when I was helping recipe test for Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook! Get thee to Williams Sonoma (or Sur La Table) for an Alligator :>)
  4. CINCO DE MANGO MANGO MARSHMALLOWS! Here is the link to youtube. I've pasted five parts and will follow up with the cornstarch/confectioner's sugar coating and the slicing of the marshmallows next: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=JayPFrancis You should be able to see all of the five clips by accessing my youtube name: JayPFrancis
  5. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread over the past several months and have become pretty adept at making the little guys. A couple of tips. When you pull the marshmallow creme from the bowl, use a spatula and/or your hands and have the water tap running to keep the spatula and your hands wet. I have recorded today's MANGO MARSHMALLOWS preparation for my Cinco de Mango party and have uploaded the videos of the process to youtube. I am currently loading the five or six parts ofvideo instructions for making MANGO MARSHMALLOWS. As soon as finished, I will post the link to youtube.
  6. Mango Marshmallows Mango Marshmallows: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=JayPFrancis http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=JayPFrancis Keywords: Candy ( RG1969 )
  7. Just a heads up that The Texas Cowboy Cookbook by Robb Walsh is out. I picked up my copy at the River Oaks Bookstore but it's certainly on Amazon, too. Hey, I even got an 'honorable mention' on page 32!
  8. Kolaches. I've added a short clip of Weikel's Bakery in La Grange, Texas.
  9. Kent, I look forward to doing more research in order to answer your question for myself. I'm not sure if this is the only small community that still uses these cast iron kettles or if other communities do to. It will be fun doing the research.
  10. Half and half will work fine, but it will be very creamy tasting. All that is really happening in yogurt making is that the bacteria is devouring the available sugars (lactose) and forming a fine spidery network of the available milk proteins. Half and half has more fat in it so the consistency will be different, as a matter of fact you may not know that your yogurt has 'completed' as it will not be a solid mass as would occur with milk only or low fat milk. You may wish to add several teaspoons of dry milk powder to help.
  11. I have wonderful memories of the fried chicken and stews, when I would stay with my grandparents. On Sundays, my grandfather would take my grandmother and me to whichever small town or church was having a picnic or fund raiser. Recently I had the good fortune to come across one of these, still frying chicken in the tried and true traditional method. It was absolutely delicious. Here is a link to some video clips I took. And while you're there be sure to check out Tom Faulkner's wonderful song about Fried Chicken Skin. http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=JayPFrancis
  12. I'll just toss this out for your evaluation. For the absolutely best coffee, I wouldn't go with anything other than a Chemex. You'll need to get a teapot and bring the water to a boil separately. And then pour a bit over the coffee to allow it to "bloom" before adding the rest of the water. But, this is the only way that I know of to control the temperature of the water hitting the coffee grounds (I can't remember seeing any automatics with a temperature control option) and this amount of control that you'll gain will result in delicious coffee. Also, you'll want to track down a Vacu-Vin canister for keeping your coffee beans. You can find retro Chemex'es on Ebay (the glass used to be hand blown and thicker up through the 70's) resulting in longer life.
  13. Food Safety: I agree with everything said but want to add a little comment on food safety. We sometimes forget that it is not the bacteria that does us in but the toxins that the bacteria produce as a byproduct. Thus, one must be aware of which types of toxins are broken down by high heat (re-boiling the soup) and which ones aren't. I have been travelling in Mexico for upwards of 40 years and when in a remote area, I know that I will be safest consuming stuff from that boiling pot on the stove. But there is not 100% guarantee. Which is why I am always nervous about sushi. The sushi may have been stored and prepared properly. But, if the food handler exposes it to bacteria from their unwashed hands, and the sushi sits for awhile, well, there you have a perfect growth medium.
  14. Well, the only real pay-off is that you won't be able to taste any sweetness. Unfortunately, if you still consume the marshmallow, your little body is still getting the hit of sugar. I agree that carb craving is a real culprit. and would recommend to anyone interested in losing weight that they go cold turkey on flour products, white rice (brown rice is allowed), and white potatoes for just 10 days. It isn't easy but it is very rewarding at the end of the time period. If you are like me you will be able to sit at a dinner table and 'pass' on the bread. I find that what I do now is save my bread eating for when something is really worth it, for example, well prepared naan or crunchy sourdough. And I pass up the rest of the stuff. The hard part is, most of the really convenient foods are in sandwich form, making it a little trickier to eat out at lunch time. Fortunately, at my new job, my best new friends are from India, several are vegetarian, and we can usually find really cool combinations of foods that don't include bread or rice. I just double up on the vegetables and skip the rice and have a taste or two of freshly made naan. Also, I have found that microwaved or baked pappadums (lentils based) are a good snack food when I want something crunchy.
  15. I just tried this herb and it does exactly that, it really does shut down the tastebuds that detect sweetness. Amazing. (Gee, I hope it isn't permanent!). I was out at my mother's house which is about an hour's drive from my home. At The Vitamin Shoppe near her home I purchased the store brand of Gymnema Sylvestre, each capsule containing 250 mg of the leaf in powder form. I had eaten shortly before and was developing that craving for something sweet. I opened up one gel cap and sprinkled the powdered leaf on my tongue. It tasted like alfafa or numerous other dried grassy herbs. The immediate effect was to neutralize my sweet tooth craving. However, as I was making my drive back to Houston, I started thinking about oranges and chocolate brownies, so at some blood sugar level it wasn't working. I remembered the person who had said the effect lasts 15 minutes so maybe 15 minutes after the first dose on I poured the ingredients of another pill onto my tongue and thought nothing more of the experiment. That is until I got home. We are about an hour now from when I took the first one. It turns out that I was making marshmallows to take to a friend tonight. Well, I popped one in my mouth and surprise, what a surprise, literally, I could not sense any sweetness. When I first bit into the marshmallow I thought, hmmm, that is very salty, did I mix up the sugar and the salt? And then, I remembered. At this point in time, I can't guess how long the effect will last. But I will update as time goes on. No need for a double blind test in this case, the effect is so profound.
  16. My own recent experience, based on following The Fat Smash Diet by Dr. Ian Smith protocol was to follow the 10 day 'detox' in which I eliminated my craving for bread and substitution of fruits for sugary sweets. Within the 10 day period I was able to get rid of my cravings for sugary sweets, replacing them with fruits as needed and losing my appetite for chocolate and desserts. Sugar free Lifesavers and CVS's brand of sugar free hard candies also are very beneficial.
  17. Ah, yes. That's the problem. I didn't get a chance to actually taste one. But the description was pretty specific that these were lentil based not rice (dosa) based. The thought of a bubbly crispy lentil pappadum wrapper had me really interested in pursuring this. I just went into the kitchen, pulled a pappadum and held it under the kitchen tap running cold water. Certain areas were thicker than others after being hit by the water. However, I was able to take the softened pappadum and fold it into a spring roll shape. I then microwaved it on high for 45 seconds. Sort of success. I was able to shape and crisp up the re-shaped pappadum. So, maybe that is all there is to it. Softening with cool water and then gingerly shaping it. Next, I happened to have some Dal Makhni, bhindi and rice in the fridge so I quickly threw together a stuffing. I successfully made a pappadum pocket. I put it into the microwave, setting it on top of a flat pappadum instead of a plate, just for fun. Microwaving on high. Indications are that the filling should be more dry than moist so that the pappadum has an opportunity to crisp up. Next step, deep fry experimenting. Like so many things in cookery (hand pulled Chinese noodles for example) this may be something that, the more one does it, the more proficient one becomes. If, however, anyone knows the tricks and techniques, please don't hesitate to respond to this posting. Regards, Jay
  18. I was in a little Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City. Their menu was huge and the friend I was visiting confided in me that they had really bitten off more than they could chew. One listing caught my eye. It was for a pappadum spring roll, deep fried, stuffed with all sorts of goodness. I was intrigued. When I got back to Houston I made some attempts to soften a pappadum to the point where it could be folded. I wasn't as concerned about the filling, I knew that I could fill the papadum with hot filling and then proceed to experiment with either deep frying or baking or microwaving it to get the pappadum to puff out. None of my efforts to soften the pappadum worked (heat, steam). I went to visit my buddy Kaiser at his restaurant. He suggested that I try softening the pappadum in a light bath of cool tap water. Still no success. The pappadum started disintegrating in the center before the outer edges were sufficiently softened. So, I throw myself at your feet. First, has anyone ever been to a restaurant that does these? How do they taste? Do they just have a potato and pea, samosa style filling? Next, has anyone mastered the technique to make these? Best regards. Jay
  19. I use the Bonjour frother (the one with the screen mesh at the bottom) with great success. I heat my milk in the microwave and then whip it with the unit. I am very pleased with it.
  20. I live in Houston and twice a year, Chantal, that is based here has a big sale at their warehouse. So, many years ago I began with Chantal cookware. It seemed perfect. The enamel coating was non-stick but did not have a teflon type base that could turn into a gas in high heat (the Chantal non-stick came out later) and was non-reactive to acids (tomatoes). The problem with Chantal is that the pans has to have stuff in them to protect the enamel from heat cracking: oil, vegetables or meat. Thus, the most useless piece in the world becomes a Chantal wok, since you can never superheat it before throwing in your ingredients. The advantage of Chantal as I see it is in the fact that you can buy cookware in colors and so it becomes an attractive serving piece for dishes. And the fact that it is available very cheap here in Houston. I have, over the years passed on all of my Chantal cookware to friends, only keeping two Chantal serving dishes to take to parties. I have defaulted to several beautifully seasoned cast iron skillets and one cast iron pot for deep frying. My everyday cookware (stockpots) is non-stick Meyer Anolon and the cast iron for all high heat application. I have one Le Creuset piece, which is a square griddle that I use for everything from toasting bread to quick grills. I love this piece. I have a friend who purchased the Emile Henry high temperature ceramic stockpot, the one that uses the new lighter weight high temperature ceramic alloy. She advises that it develops hot spots and burn rings, and she is not at all happy with it. Money no object, I think the heavy duty Le Creuset is a superior choice. Regards.
  21. Sorry about that. Yep, Gorditas Aguascalientes and Sandong Snacks. Here is another one to add to the list. I had forgotten about this one. Jarro Cafe on Gessner. Great hot sauce(s) http://www.houstonpress.com/2004-04-29/din...blaze-of-glory/
  22. When I get back to Houston, I will pass on to you a place on Telephone road for home-made tamales that I just remembered. The ladies set up in front of an appliance store near the Tel-Wink Grill, but I don't have the physical address with me. Rico's Triangle Cafe is pretty cool. For many years it was just too beat-up on the inside. But they did a terrific remodel and it is really nice, includes a great outdoor patio area. Lopez isn't as far as Highway Six, which is good news. It's just past the Beltway on 59 exit Wilcrest. I think you may be pleased. There are some other places that weren't mentioned that might be worth checking out. They are no longer favorites of mine (that's what happens when you do a year and a half of recipe testing for a Tex-Mex cookbook [:>)] but they deserve noting: Spanish Village (tend to overfry their chips, but good salsa as I remember) Fiesta Loma Linda (probably the last place in Houston that makes crispy tacos in puffed up taco shells. Greasy though). Los Tios (they went really down-hill for awhile, using commissary prepared sauces but I've heard they are back up to speed) Yep, it's Franco's. They vary their lunch specials each day. The ladies in the kitchen and the family members out front make for a really nice ambience. I like the place. I hope it gets discovered by the people in our neighborhood and developes a good clientele.
  23. Houston does have representation of the Tex-Mex genre. Sylvia Casares is on her way to becoming the de facto "Queen of Houston Tex-Mex" so give Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen a try. Although the word enchilada comes from 'tortilla enchilada', that is, a tortilla that has been chile'ed, there are some distinct camps respect to cheese enchiladas. 1. Many restaurants cook the corn tortillas in oil to soften them, and stack them until they are ready to use. They then pull off several tortillas, roll them with yellow cheese and onions, cover with a Tex-Mex chile gravy typically made with a flour roux, water or broth, and either paprika (cost saver, you'd be amzed how many restaurants use paprika), ancho chile powder, chili powder, or an ancho chile puree, heat til the cheese is melted and serve. 2. Other restaurants soften the tortillas, then dip them in an ancho chile puree, roll with cheese and onions, cover with more sauce, heat until the cheese is melted and serve. 3. A third method is to dip the tortilla in the ancho chile puree, then put it into the hot oil. I've never seen the purpose of this as you lose a lot of the puree in the oil, and, if you're making a lot, the chile puree will eventually start to burn. But, if you can control the process, the final flavor is awesome. So, before proceeding further, let's determine which style of tortilla enchilada you prefer. I also live in the (Woodland) Heights and can recommend the little Mexican restaurant that just opened where North Main, Studemont and Airline meet, in that their cheese enchiladas are dipped in a classic ancho chile puree as opposed to Tex-Mex chili gravy. And incredibly cheap. For a superb cheese enchilada based on a Tex-Mex chili gravy, try Lopez. For an ancho based chile puree, I can recommend the El Paso style stacked enchiladas at Sylvia's. Honestly, I do think Houston holds its own against the other cities in Texas, respect to Tex-Mex. Of the restaurants that you mentioned above, you're right. With the exception of Molina's, none of these others you mentioned are spectacular. I hate Spanish Flowers. I'll go there to pick up fresh tortillas for parties but won't eat there. Lupe Tortilla's was extremely rude to us and I won't go back there. If you want to try a more (Northern Mexico) meat oriented menu, try Alma Latina on Shepherd near the big Fiesta. Or, the new, spic and span Taqueria Aranda's on Shepherd near the Kroger shopping center. For breakfast style Mexican food, try Laredo's on Cavalcade just east of I-45. And for Mexico style antojito's, try Gorditas Aquascalientes on Irvington ( I haven't had a chance to try the new Gordita's on North Main near Michaux). For wacky, 1960's era Tex-Mex, make the trek out to Larry's in Richmond. To learn more about Tex-Mex, check out Robb Walsh's 'The Tex-Mex Cookbook' which is really a history of Tex-Mex with recipes. Tamale's? Nope, you aren't going to find terrific tamales anywhere in this town unless you get to know me real well and show up at the house after I've made a batch :>). Most restaurants have to go with the extruded machine made ones, even Berryhill's, although they then wrap them in corn husks. Most tamales I've tasted taste like shredded roast beef with some garlic powder and lots of salt. I used to swear by Dona Tere's which makes the Mexico City style BIG tamales, but I am off of them too, now. But no one makes those light cake-like tamales like one would find in Querretaro or Oaxaca here. Just the norteno style thin style from Monterrey.
  24. I had set out to do an instructional video on youtube on making chocolate at home but never got very far with it. However, there are a couple of short clips showing me toasting and shelling the cacao in my cast iron skillet. The clips are no big deal though. www.youtube.com and type in Jay and Irene Make Chocolate.
  25. Here are some places, unique to Houston, that I typically introduce to my out of town visitors. You can find more details and addresses at www.b4-u-eat.com Himalaya Indian Restaurant Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen Tampico Seafood Las Gorditas on Bissonnet Kasra Persian Cafe Caspian Persian Molina's Mexican on Buffalo Speedway The orignial Ninfa's on Navigation Goode Company on Kirby Goode Company Seafood on I-10 Kelly's Country Cooking on Park Place Vieng Thai on Long Point El Hidalguense on Long Point (cabrito..go on Sat or Sun morning only) Arirang Korean San Tong for dumplings Jasmine for Vietnames fish 7 ways The food court at Hong Kong City Mall on Bellaire for Banh Xeo Rainfrop Chocolates for gelato Glass Wall for upscale Corkscrew for wine
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