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Jay Francis

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  1. I actually had this several years ago in Teotitlan del Valle when Dai Huynh of the Houston Chronicle and I were spending a day learning to make tejate and other historical beverages from scratch. The taste of the tamales was very earthy and mildewy. My guess is that if anyone has a recipe, Zarela Martinez has one in her book on Oaxaca. That would be where I would start. Jay
  2. If you can get hold of a copy of Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook, there is a foolproof recipe for San Antonio style puffy tacos. No baking powder required, I believe. It has more to do with the precise thickness of the masa.
  3. Were one to do a tour of Tex-Mex in Houston to get a sample of the subtle variations, the places to visit would, in my opinon, be: Lopez on Wilcrest Ninfa's on Navigation Felix on Westhemer Fiesta Loma Linda on Telephone (but for the crispy puffed up tacos only) Spanish Village on Alameda
  4. Cafe Caspian. Any of the wonderful Iranian stews on the menu. Lafayette Seafood. Oyster Poor Boys or just about anything on the menu.
  5. I'm guessing that the Houston restaurant serving antojitos mentioned above is probably Gorditas Aguascalientes on Bissonnet.
  6. Addenda. For the record, the Wolfert recipe is in her latest cookbook, on Slow Mediterranean cooking. It is very possible that her recipe, albeit inedible, is the correct one. However, for tasty canele, with a sweet center, and a chewy crispy exterior, that is, a dessert that is enjoyable, go with the Food Network recipe I posted. Also, don't worry about the souffle rise I mentioned, just fill the canele molds to the top. They will shrink a bit. What I found was that with the Gastoplex silicone mold I have, it will not be possible to get visually perfect canele, so don't sweat it. They will be uneven and each have their own shape. Next, I cheated and did not use vanilla bean when I cooked my milk. I actually used Clear Van imitation vanilla, based on a recent Cooks Illustrated evaluation that, in cooked high heat baking, the imitation vanilla actually holds up better and delivers a better vanilla taste. I concur with their assessment, and save my better quality vanilla extracts for non-heat use such as whipped cream.
  7. Success. It was good to hear that my description seems to fit the traditional canele. However, in the interim, I have tried another recipe which calls for more flour and more sugar, such that the canele's rise like souffle's or genoise's. The baking time is less, one hour. Using my silicon canele mold, I decided to try the first batch doing everything wrong. No oiling of the mold, batter only rested overnight in the refrigerator, mold not properly cooled. This recipe makes a lot of batter, and with the one hour cooking time, I knew that I could trash the first batch and have plenty of batter left over for the next run. Well, they came out fantastic after one hour. Not as black as Wolfert's recipe, but creamy, sweet, with a chewy outer surface. This recipe called for 'don't fill all the way to the top'. Since the Wolfert recipe canele had major shrinkage in the molds, I did fill to the top, and the canele souffle'd up. Lesson learned. Flavor is terrific. On the sugar side. Here's the web link http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_16275,00.html
  8. Your question was about which Diana Kennedy book to buy and in answer to that, I would recommend her latest one, with its nice pictures. There is another great book author, who publishes with a smaller publishing house so he isn't as well known. Jim Peyton has several wonderful books on Mexican cooking out and should be able to find him on amazon.com Also, Robb Walsh's book comes out soon, The Tex-Mex Cookbook.
  9. Your question was about which Diana Kennedy book to buy and in answer to that, I would recommend her latest one, with its nice pictures. There is another great book author, who publishes with a smaller publishing house so he isn't as well known. Jim Peyton has several wonderful books on Mexican cooking out and should be able to find him on amazon.com Also, Robb Walsh's book comes out soon, The Tex-Mex Cookbook.
  10. I thought I would share my canele experience with you from this week-end. I first heard about these from Clotilde's www.chocolateandzuchini.com website. Then, as I was cruising the sale item section of Williams and Sonoma, I came across a close-out for a silicone canele pan. I made mine by following the Paula Wolfert recipe to the letter, except, not having a source for virgin beeswax to make my white oil, I just lubricated the canele molds with vegetable oil. I placed the mold on a silpat sheet and then on a stainless steel cookie sheet. Poured in my very liquid batter, wondering how something so liquid would work, and put them in the oven at 400 F for two hours. They came out looking exactly like the pictures I have seen. Visually perfect. White top where the indentation is, brown to black exterior that hardened up into a crispy crust, and a custard-y interior. Visually perfect, but the taste? Blecch. The caramel was so dark and bitter and center had no sweetness. I finished them off convincing myself that this was an exotic taste that one would acquire. And indeed, they did seem to get better, though not by much. Now, I have three other, different recipes to try, to see if this is just a pastry that doesn't taste good to me or what, having never tried an authentic one. Hope that helps. Jay
  11. I don't know if Monica has a recipe in her cookbook, so you may want to have a look. Suneeta has a good one based on cream of wheat in her cookbook, on page 26, that I've actually done, with excellent results.
  12. Here's an idea for a future show, Alton. We are lucky enough to have a standby car in our driveway for emergencies. It gets pretty hot here in Houston, and I've found that, with the windows rolled up, it gets to be about 110 degrees inside that parked vehicle. Several years ago, I started finishing my yogurt in my car. I would bring about a quart of milk to 185 F, add some milk powder, let it cool to 105 F, add my yogurt starter and then transfer the pot to the floor of the car and leave it there all day while I was at work. The yogurt came out fantastic. Next, in an effort to avoid bugs, I laid out a towel on the dash, put a cooling rack down, and started 'sun drying' my tomatoes and red ripe poblano and jalapeno peppers in my car. Think you could come up with some other ideas for using a car for food processes? Regards, Jay
  13. I would use dried chili's. Here's a cheap method. Those packets of dry chili flakes that the pizza delivery people always leave? Well, I mean, I don't actually eat pizza but when it gets deliverd to our office, I grab the Pizza Hut packets of dried chilis. That is what I put into a clean, neutral oil like safflower or corn oil. I don't like canola cause it gives off this fishy smell when it heats up.
  14. Here in Texas, well to be blunt 1. It is hot most of the year. 2. Just about everyone has an automobile. We have a spare auto that is always parked in our driveway, used for emergencies or on the week-end because she now has a company car. So, we keep it in case we have car problems and need an emergency car. With the windows closed, the temperature inside of this car gets up to around 110 F to 115 F. I discovered that I could slice and lay out ripe tomatoes on a stainless steel drying rack on the dashboard of the car, and, voila, have sun dried tomatoes in a day or so, without having them exposed to the air (flies, etc.). So, I have become famous among my friends for cooking in my car. After the success of the tomatoes, I also started making yogurt in the car, to great success also. My procedure for yogurt is to bring my milk, typically a quart of milk plus two tablespoons of dried milk powder to 180 F in a non stick pot. Then I allow it to cool to 105 F. I spoon off a cup and stir in 1 heaping tablespoon of Dannon's store bought yogurt. Then, return the cup of liquid to the pot, but don't agitate it too much, I just swirl it in, and let the bacillus spread out. The yogurt sits in my car at 100F to 110F for the day. And is ready when I come home at night.
  15. I bought a pile of chocolate at the gift shop of the The Chocolate exhibition here in Houston. My favorite turned out to be Vosges of Chicago's gianduja bar. Today, I used the recipe from the latest issue of Fine Cooking for the chocolate bourbon cake, but substituted Abuelita brand Mexican chocolate (Nestle's) and Irish whiskey and the results were spectacular. The recipe is a genoise, with just a little flour to hold the cake together, 350 F in a water bath in the oven, eggs seaparated beaten and then reblended whites. Check out Fine Cooking this month for the recipe.
  16. Houston. I know I've posted this before, but, feeling lazy, I thought I'd post the Ethnic Markets Guide here. My favorite places to shop? Patel Brothers right next to Bombay Sweets and Phoenicia. http://www.b4-u-eat.com/ethnic/markets/markets.asp
  17. For making tamales, a 4" plastic plastering tool. Has a handle and a wide flat area like a spatula. Pick them up in a hardware store for about $4. Will cut your tamal making time in half. Just make a large mound of tamal masa, and use the tool just like you were handling wall plaster, except you're spreading the masa on the tamal husk.
  18. Oh yeah, and anything by Melissa Guerra. I think it was called The Texas Provincial Kitchen. She had a terrific show on PBS to go with the book, and I think she still has a website.
  19. I'd recommend to anyone, to try to track down a copy of The Only Texas Cookbook by Linda Eckhardt. Maybe Half Price Books? It's a winner.
  20. Leeks and asparagus? One could alway do tasty pakoras.
  21. I guess that my first Indian cookbook was a little 30 cent paperback that I picked up in New Delhi, way back in 1973 when I had just finished college, save some money and went overland to India via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Over the years I never had an Indian cookbook proper, it was easier to go to the Houston library and check something out. Around 1983, when I moved back to Houston after working for my company in Greece for a few years, I came across Suneeta's article in Bon Appetit. Her recipe for curried cheese potato balls became a show stopper at pot lucks that I would go to and became part of my repertoire. I'm very surprised that this spectacular dish did not make it into the cookbook. Around this time I started teaching cooking classes for fun, and started going to Suneeta's classes. So I have her recipe print-outs going back 20 years, from many many classes. In respect to your request for recipes, here is a good source. This is the website of her publicist, that I found on the web, and noticed that as part of the site, several recipes are printed for each book that she represents, including Suneeta's. Just go down to the book listing for her and click on recipes. http://www.lisaekus.com/food_media_resources.htm
  22. I had checked out the organic market at taffia on a recent visit to The Breakfast Klub, but I did not know that the inside of the restaurant also had booths set up. Today, I bought exquisite chocolate from brownbag chocolates, some baklava and good conversation from Michael Gurnas ( had taken an excellent pastry class from him at Fiesta recently), and talked about salt with Monica Pope. Her restaurant has a table salt which includes this magical smoked salt as one of it s components. She gave me some smoked salt and some apricot coloured salt from Australia (they use that one in their butter). This was a great morning.
  23. Sorry that it sounds like a publicist's blurb. I'm not a very good writer.
  24. I guess Suneeta has been working on her cookbook for upwards of 20 years. It is out now. I've done a bunch of recipes from it, and I know many of them from her cooking classes here in Houston. The book is excellent. I love the way the book is laid out, it is designed to make following the recipes fast and easy. There are three columns for each recipe, the left column has the measures listed in English units, the center column lists the ingredients, and the right column has the measures listed in metric units. The cooking instructions are excellent. The headnotes consist of information on the dish and tips for the dish. This is a cookbook by a teacher who knows how to put a recipe together. Here's the beauty of the book, by way of example. How many times have you seen a cookbook recipe that calls for, say, "1 onion chopped"? What size onion would that be, exactly? Here in Texas an onion can be pretty bid. In Europe, they aren't as big. What Suneeta has done is demystify the list of ingredients by using measures of cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons, or, metric weights. This is awesome! It makes the recipes foolproof. And it gives you a baseline for later changing the recipe up to suit personal tastes. I own 5 Indian cookbooks, and I have read quite a few more. But this is the one that I will default to. This book should be in every cook's collection. It is that good. I would recommend starting with the following: Chicken in Cashew Saffron Gravy North Indian Lamb Curry on Bread Whole Baked Masala Cauliflower Bell Peppers with Roasted Chickpea Flour Dhokla (a fast and easy recipe using cream of wheat that produces beautiful results) Split Yellow Peas with Tamarind Chutney Gena's Kababs (flavored with green onions, ginger, cilantro, crisp fried onions)
  25. Re: Hot Air Popcorn Poppers. The best one I have ever found (second hand store price $5) is the Wear-Ever Popcorn Pumper. This one has ribs that will swirl the coffee beans during the roast. Typical roast volume is three tablespoons of green beans and a 7 minute roast. Warning. I once bought one that produced so much heat that the coffee beans were burned in minutes. It's identifying marking is that it has a metal slide out tray for melting butter.
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