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RebeccaT

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Everything posted by RebeccaT

  1. I've tried two more recently, and wasn't nearly as happy as I have been with earlier offerings. First, I picked up the Cheese Crackers - CM's version of Cheese Nips. I was hoping to love them since they are trans-fat free and they have a bit of cayenne. Well, they just didn't have enough taste! The cheese flavor is a little too understated for me, and they were harder and not as flaky as I would have liked them to be. I prefer Late July's cheese crackers. I also tried the CM Organics Honey Nut O's. These were pretty good, although they were a little on the hard side. I enjoyed my box, but I think I will be going back to Cascadian Farm Honey Nut O's instead. I am looking forward to trying the Raisin Bran next.
  2. Hey there! Churrasco's is so very good. You must get the tres leches, it's incredible. I highly recommend it for that part of town. If you're willing to come in a little bit, Masraff's on South Post Oak is really good, too. Churrasco's would probably be more fun for Emma, though, since it tends to be busier and have more going on inside. I have other recommendations for you, but they might be farther than you'd want to drive (although I can give you alternate directions so that you can avoid I-10 traffic!) Have a great weekend!
  3. Not a question (though I thank you for answering my previous questions), but I just have to provide a testimonial as one who has eaten at t'afia a number of times... I think that the simplicity of philosophy that you have described so many times on this thread is what has made t'afia my favorite restaurant in Houston. There are lots of restaurants I enjoy for various reasons, but when I get to pick that's where I want to go. I don't feel razzle-dazzled, I don't get wide-eyed at the spectacle or event... instead I settle in for food I can think about and enjoy as the sum of its parts AS WELL AS the whole. That's not to say that t'afia is comfort food... not at all. I have never been there that I haven't been challenged. But it's more that I feel free when I'm there - I don't wonder if I'm having the experience the chef is trying to make me have, I don't feel that pressure. I don't know if this makes sense... it's just food that makes me really happy. Oh, and my favorite Texas wine was a t'afia discovery during a pairing meal - Peregrine Pinot Noir 2001 :)
  4. I don't even know how to jump into this discussion, so many good points have been raised. And many, many points that I take issue with based on my experience. So I'll just throw this stuff out there, do with it what you will... 1) Junk food is not necessarily less expensive than fresh food, in fact, sometimes it is more. However, it has a shelf-life of eons, and is already prepared for you saving you the time/effort/education required to make something from raw ingredients. This makes it cheaper. THis is a key reason why lower-income families often rely heavily, too heavily, on prepared foods. If I don't have to worry about it spoiling, then my $$ won't go down the drain. If I don't have to do anything to it to make it taste good, then I can be fed that much faster. 2) I am a fence-straddling moderate. The conservative side of me says, no, I don't need your stinkin' gov't regulation, give me choices, give me personal responsibility. However, I have worked in an inner-city elementary school. 100% minority, 75% on free breakfast AND lunch program. 2/3 of these children's food during the week came from the government. And that meant that they actually ate twice a day... some of my students didn't eat again. As a public school, they only had to do what the government regulated. The government had to make sure that they got meals, that there was a vegetable... this included french fries. But a low-income school in such a low-income neighborhood didn't have resources - so the kids got hot dogs, french fries, sausage biscuits, chicken wings... I never saw a piece of fruit on a child's tray, never saw anything green. Government regulation might have meant that these kids didn't just get fed, but got fed nutritious food 2 meals a day, and that could have made a huge difference. 3) I can guarantee you that these kids didn't get much more than the most cursory coverage of nutrition information in their classes. And since most of their parents were from the same neighborhood and circumstances, they hadn't learned it in school either. They had bigger issues, like keeping their families together and off the streets. It's a hierarchy of needs, you know? That's all. I don't know where I come down on this argument for government regulation of the food industry... I don't like it on principle, I HATE that frivolous lawsuits are clogging up the courts. But then I think of those kids...
  5. Monica, thank you so much for joining us! I am a humongous fan of all you do... the farmer's market, t'afia, all of it. I appreciate that you get out and touch your clientele directly, not hiding in the kitchen, and that they feel like they are getting to know you by watching you work with food. I also thank you for you description of Naxos. I was there just a year and a half ago, and your description brought back so many memories. I can't tell you if Ellie's is still there... there are so many restaurants there on the waterfront and just behind up into the Castro. It was there that we fell in love with Kitron, the local, very sweet liqueur... that would make an excellent cocktail with one of your ratafias, I'm thinking! I have two questions (actually, I have loads, but these are the two I can get my head around at the moment). FIrst, do you mind telling us just a little more about Plum? Is this an "on the side" way for you to continue to peddle your wonderful salad dressings and oh that AMAZING pimento cheese like you do at the market? Or will it be more organized, more of a side business than that? Also, have you ever taught classes anywhere in Houston, such as Sur la Table or Central Market? Would you consider doing them in your own kitchen? I think that home cooks can really learn a lot from a chef such as yourself, since so many of your simple preparations rely primarily on seeking out the best ingredients, not on working with restaurant-grade equipment and an army of line cooks. Thanks!
  6. Yes, it is, and they now have market on Wednesdays from 4-7PM as well as on Saturday mornings. I went by last Wednesday, it was quiet, but they had AWESOME tomatoes (I tried a variety called Cherokee Purple, I think, and it was wonderful - almost smoky tasting), fresh berries (way expensive at $4 for a half-pint, but very plump and tasty) and some excellent Texas peaches (I am hard to please on peaches, being from Georgia, but these were great!) I meant to go on Saturday but didn't make it, which is scandalous since I live less than a mile away. They have music on Saturdays, too, which is fun, and many of the same vendors as Midtown Farmer's Market. I am excited about Monica's participation in a chat this week! I love the Midtown Market. I had my second annual birthday dinner at T'afia last week, got the tasting menu as usual, and again it was great (although, at 34 weeks pregnant, I CAN'T WAIT until I can get the wine pairings again!) Thanks for the great pictures, fifi and Food Man!
  7. Hi Anna! I am excited to try your ginger cookies! I love that they have cayenne in them, I think that will add a great bite. How do you think they will work as smaller cookies? I can't be trusted around gigantic cookies because I hate leaving anything behind - it's easier for me to eat 1 small cookie and stop there than eat 1/2 of a large cookie and no more... KWIM?
  8. Kristin and Anna, thank you so much for the continued description of the class, and thank you Dana for the additional suggestions! I am going to keep an eye out for that cookbook. It doesn't look like Rebecca is scheduled to come to Central Market in Houston in the near future, but I will keep checking for her classes. Thanks again!
  9. oooh, Anna, those look great! I will have to check out that book. Was this a hands-on class, or more of a demonstration? Off to check out CM's site to see if she's coming to Houston...
  10. Yes! Please post it in RecipeGullet and link it here. ← Texas Sheet Cake Oh, gosh, I hope I did it right! I went ahead and posted the entire recipe (with edited directions, in an attempt to appease the RecipeGullet gods). Please let me know if I did it incorrectly; it was my first RG entry!
  11. I was at Central Market on Westheimer on Saturday and saw Tyler along with a modest line of folks waiting to talk to him and get him to autograph hie cookbook. There was some AM talk radio show broadcasting there as well. I am not certain why they did the book signing in the store, as it was a beautiful day outside and the setup made it pretty crowded (they put him at a table in front of the bulk dips/ice cream freezer section). He's a cutie! I decided that I wasn't interested enough in his book to wait in the line, however. He seemed like he was really talking to people, letting them take his picture, etc. I would have loved to have made it to any of the events in Sugarland, but I had a nursery to paint! :)
  12. Texas Sheet Cake Serves 16 as Dessert. This recipe is based on a Cooking Light recipe. It's not very light, though! I use butter instead of margarine, and whole or 2% milk in the frosting. I also like to increase the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp. Cake Cooking Spray 2 tsp all-purpose flour 2 c all-purpose flour 2 c sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp salt 3/4 c water 1/2 c butter or stick margarine 1/4 c cocoa 1/2 c buttermilk 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 large eggs Icing 6 T butter or stick margarine 1/3 c fat-free milk 1/4 c cocoa 3 c powdered sugar 1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted 2 tsp vanilla extract Preheat oven to 375°. For the cake, coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set prepared pan aside. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine water, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; pour into flour mixture. Beat in mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 17 minutes or until done. While cake bakes, prepare icing. Place cake in pan on a wire rack. To prepare the icing, combine butter, milk, and cocoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in powdered sugar, pecans, and vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack. Note: You can also make this recipe in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 375º for 22 minutes. Keywords: Chocolate, Dessert, Cake ( RG1229 )
  13. Texas Sheet Cake Serves 16 as Dessert. This recipe is based on a Cooking Light recipe. It's not very light, though! I use butter instead of margarine, and whole or 2% milk in the frosting. I also like to increase the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp. Cake Cooking Spray 2 tsp all-purpose flour 2 c all-purpose flour 2 c sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp salt 3/4 c water 1/2 c butter or stick margarine 1/4 c cocoa 1/2 c buttermilk 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 large eggs Icing 6 T butter or stick margarine 1/3 c fat-free milk 1/4 c cocoa 3 c powdered sugar 1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted 2 tsp vanilla extract Preheat oven to 375°. For the cake, coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set prepared pan aside. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine water, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; pour into flour mixture. Beat in mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 17 minutes or until done. While cake bakes, prepare icing. Place cake in pan on a wire rack. To prepare the icing, combine butter, milk, and cocoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in powdered sugar, pecans, and vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack. Note: You can also make this recipe in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 375º for 22 minutes. Keywords: Chocolate, Dessert, Cake ( RG1229 )
  14. I love this cake, but my first exposure to it was from Cooking Light of all places. They have an excellent recipe with a hint of cinnamon. It's not exactly "light" fare, but it's not as deadly as some versions, and it's very good. I don't ever make mine in the jelly roll pan that it calls for, though; I make it in a 9x13 pyrex, which just makes it thicker (more like 2" I guess). And the frosting, oh the frosting... so good! This is a great thing to take to a summer cookout. Editing now that I've read the article... I don't really like the fact that they use a regular buttercream, and just say to "frost while the cake is warm." Every recipe I've seen, including mine, makes a liquidy frosting that is pourable, so it pretty much spreads itself. And I like mine with the pecans incorporated into the frosting, not sprinkled on top.
  15. I am from Atlanta, born and reared. While I miss my Vidalias, I will concede that 1015s are an acceptable substitute. I like to use them in a simple cucumber salad. Peel, seed, and slice paper thin a cucumber or two. Thinly slice half a 1015 (or Vidalia. Sigh.) and toss together. Add white vinegar, rice vinegar, kosher salt and pepper to taste. Chill in fridge for an hour or two and serve with burgers or barbecue chicken.
  16. RebeccaT

    Pizza--Cook-Off 8

    I can't compare it to a woodburning oven, but I have made grilled pizza many times. I am not a total purist, in that I have a gas grill (I think getting the temp right w/ charcoal would be really difficult, though I am sure others have managed). It is not difficult at all to do as long as you have fast reflexes! Basic method is this (can be done with any crust recipe in my experience): - Preheat grill on high - Get all pizza components ready to go... sauce, toppings, crust (all rolled/tossed/spread as you like it)... but not assembled. Crust should be on a peel or rimless baking sheet w/ plenty of cornmeal beneath, same as for oven. - Get a nice long-handled spatula ready to go - Brush hot grill rack with plenty of olive oil - Slide crust onto grill rack, and close grill. Don't go far. - After about 2-4 minutes, use spatula to remove crust back to peel, grilled side up. Step away from the grill, and quickly sauce and top your crust as desired. - Carefully slide topped pie back onto grill, close. Again, stay close. - 2-4 minutes later, check to make sure cheeses are melted, and bottom is nicely baked w/ grill marks. Remove to peel using spatula, and dig in ASAP!!! We love using this method with a BBQ chicken pizza. Made with local Texas BBQ sauce, leftover rotisserie chicken, red onions, and smoked gouda or mozzerella. Yum! Best crust recipe overall, IMO, is Wolfgang Puck's: http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/recipedetail.php?Alias=RE_WP0096 I also have a good, easy whole wheat crust if anyone is interested.
  17. I use Diamond Crystal - it's lighter than Morton's, and slightly stickier, so I find that it works for a larger variety of dishes. I still bake with standard issue Morton's Idozied, though.
  18. Papa Roja, which CM do you work in, or are you at the corporate office? I am at the Westheimer location every week, and I'd love to say hello!
  19. For a restaurant that specializes in regional ingredients, check out T'afia in midtown. I wouldn't call it "fine dining" per se, it's a pretty casual atmosphere, but Monica Pope changes her menu daily to focus on what is available from her local purveyors. Get the Texas wine tasting menu - it's great. For breakfast, go right next door to The Breakfast Klub to get the most fantastic fried chicken, waffles, biscuits, etc. If there's a line, stand in it. It's worth it. For cheap eats, another recommendation is Niko Nikos, a short-order Greek place on Montrose. Yummy fries and gyros!
  20. I went looking for "my" olive oil yesterday as I just finished off the bottle I'd been working on, and it looks like they stopped carrying it! Of course, I had already thrown out the bottle, and since I was looking for it based on recognizing the label I am helpless to request that they bring it back. I guess it's back to the drawing board... I picked up a different bottle of Greek OO and I will see how it compares. I am really annoyed, as I had been using this brand for about a year and was very happy with it, and now I have to find something different. I may check in at Antone's in Rice Village on the off chance that they carry it there. If I get really desparate, I might even trek out to Phoenecia market and look there, but I'm not sure I am to that point yet.
  21. Hi Scott, thank you so much for joining this forum! I met you once, you did a cooking demo at the Midtown Farmer's Market in the kitchen of T'afia. Which leads me to my question... how frequently are you able to collaborate with your colleagues in Houston? Or is the market too competitive to allow that? Also wanted to offer my compliments for Kraftsmen Bakery - it's my husband's and my favorite sandwich place in Houston!
  22. Elie, I usually get a Greek EVOO at CM, I can't remember the name of it right now, but it's a good sized bottle (maybe 800ml?) for $9.99. It's a beautiful grassy color, and it works both for drizzling and cooking (although if it was a really special dish, I would try to get better OO for drizzling). I will try to remember to get the name of it for you if you are interested.
  23. Interesting... I immediately thought Charleston, but maybe that's just because my recipe originated there. I have had it there in a casserole style - baked in a gratin dish all mooshed together and fluffy from the addition of egg, but my Charleston recipe serves the shrimp mixture over regular stone-ground grits.
  24. Now it seems like a natural combo, but I never would have thought of it on my own... A restaurant here serves enchiladas filled with sweet potato puree and swiss chard, covered in mole sauce and queso fresco. Heaven on a plate, I tell you!
  25. I do think that the inconsistency in the CDC cafeteria offerings vs. their position on healthful eating is interesting. One might expect them to be the shining example of healthy, diverse, seasonal institutional food. As a native Atlantan (and resident of Texas, who has never lived outside the South) I can attest to the fact that when I think of "Southern food," I don't necessarily think of what was actually on my plate growing up... I think of what my parents talked about being on their plate... the fried foods, buttery biscuits, gravy-smothered everything... those were rare, anticipated, relished occasions... not everyday eating (not everyday eating for them growing up, either, it's just what they talked about and craved when they wanted "Southern cookin'"). At least not 25 years ago. So I think that the reputation for what Southern food is all about has some merit, and it's certainly propogated by a lot of Southern FN chefs with national attention... Paula Deen, Emeril, etc. But the reputation and the reality of everyday eating are far apart from one another.
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