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Posts posted by RebeccaT

  1. We have passive-agressive dishwasher wars, in which I quietly come behind him and rearrange his arrangement, and later he'll come back and rearrange my re-arrangement. No one wins. But neither of us can give it up.

    We also have battles over chocolate chip cookies. I like 'em interesting - with coconut, oats, nuts, or some combination therof. He likes 'em nekkid, nothing more interesting than the Toll House recipe, please. I say if he wants them that way he can make them himself.

    But I love him, so I do occasionally make the Neilsen-Massey recipe, which is much better than the Toll House but he deems simple enough to be acceptable.

  2. I knew ya'll would come through with some great ideas! I wish I were comfortable with fondant, but I have never tried it before. Is it hard? I love the idea of a present cake...

    I really like the checkerboard and fall theme ideas as well. I had another friend suggest white chocolate leaves... how would I make those? Can I buy the marzipan acorns already made?

    He's an attorney, and his hobbies are movies and music. I feel most comfortable making cakes that look like cakes, and not shapes... I did a cowboy boot last year for this same family's son's birthday, and it about killed me. So anything I can do on top of 3 9" layers is what I'd prefer. Although I do have square pans as well, so I might consider that for something different - good suggestion amyd!

    You all have got my wheels turning... any other ideas out there? Cakes for guys are hard!

  3. I am in charge of birthday cakes in our group of friends, a task that I really enjoy. My dear girlfriend is throwing her first dinner party in honor of her husband's birthday, and she has requested a lemon-flavored birthday cake since that is his favorite. No problem - I will do my favorite white cake recipe (which I actually did for her birthday just last month, with different frosting), fill with lemon curd, and do a lemon cream cheese frosting that I love involving lemonade concentrate. Yum.


    How do I make this look like a guy's birthday cake? Everything I can think of involves fruit, flowers, and pastel colors!

    Or is there a better lemony birthday-ish cake idea out there that would be easier to make look like a boy?

    Thanks in advance!

  4. I have to admit that I consider pecan pie to be a seasonal treat. I just don't crave it in the spring and summer months, too sweet, but from October - December I love it in all forms, current fave being a chocolate bourbon from the Jack Daniel's cookbook.

    I noticed the recipe in this month's Cooking Light, which I just received yesterday. Looks fairly standard, with the exception of brown rice syrup instead of Karo. I wonder how that affects the flavor? Might have to investigate... :cool:

  5. I missed this morning's installment (it's pledge week, and while I donate I get really annoyed by the telethon-sounding programming that gets in the way of the regular shows) but I heard the George Foreman episode. It was wonderfully done; I loved the way it was edited to weave together commentary with interview. I also learned a lot about George!

  6. So all I do is to poke a hole or two, then put them on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for a couple hours.

    We like to cook them a long time until they get nice and soft and caramely.  Then just slice them open and top with some butter and salt and pepper.

    This is how my great-grandmother used to prepare them (hailing from Perry, GA, since this is on the Southern Food Culture forum), and my mom (who learned from her). Great-grandmother was a terrible cook, but she always got these right. She called them "Candied yams." They seriously were in the oven for about 4 hours on no more than 200 degrees.

    I like to cube them up, boil them, drain and mash them, and stir in some butter, minced chipotle (with adobo sauce), a bit of cinnamon and a bit of lime juice. And kosher salt or course. Yum.

  7. My poor mother-in-law. She still hands out that nasty peanut butter taffy, you know, those nasty rounds of chewy gross-ness wrapped in orange or black waxed paper? Poor hubby used to get made fun of for that, and he insists that he is scarred for life. Doesn't she get that the peanut butter taffy is what's leftover in the bottom of the bowl three weeks later, because no one likes that stuff??? :huh:

  8. At one of the multitudes of fall festivals I have attended in recent years, can't remember which one (Round Top, maybe?) I got some incredible Peach Jalepeno Preserves and Strawberry-Rhubarb Jalepeno Preserves. Absolutely delicious.

    My favorite way to enjoy these last fall was Hot Brie Kisses. Very simply, puff pastry cut into 2" squares, and arranged in mini-muffin pans. Add 1/2" (seriously, don't add too much or it overflows) square of brie. Top with dollop of one of the above pepper preserves, and bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Serve hot. Amazing, although kind of embarrassing since it completely overwhelmed just about everything else I slaved over for that particular cocktail party in its popularity.

  9. I associate Banana Pudding with family reunions in Jackson, MS. I associate family reunions with Cool Whip. Therefore, by the transitive property, I associate Banana Pudding with Cool Whip.

    Although I really shouldn't take that too far, or else I will also be forced to associate Banana Pudding with Jello Pretzel Salad or Green Bean Casserole. :raz:

    Apparently Paula Deen makes hers with Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies instead of Nilla Wafers. Has anyone tried this? I love the idea of shortbread cookies as a change of pace...

  10. I greatly admire these designs, am utterly fascinated in fact, but not as much from an artistic POV but from the "human factors" perspective. The serveware you are developing is a perfect example of a problem (how do I make sure that diners experience food in the way that enhances their experience) leading to a solution, rather than a solution (hey, I made this cool-looking thing, let's see what kind of food we can serve with it!) in search of a problem.

    I have worked with industrial designers who were too artistic to be practical, and with designers who were too practical and ignored the "experience" aspect of their designs. This seems to strike a critical balance between the two.

    I hope to find myself in Chicago so that I can try it for myself!

  11. I ate my way through the Cyclades last September - the food was incredible. Fresh feta, capers the size of my head, tomatoes that turned me from a tomato-hater into a tomato-lover, fresh fish hot off the grill...

    My favorite dishes:

    - Lamb Kleftiko (a lamb casserole-type thing in phyllo)

    - Ghalatoboureko (Greek Milk-pie - custardy filling in phyllo with lemon syrup)

    - Saganaki (lightly breaded Greek cheese that's fried and then flamed with brandy and squirted with lemon juice)

    - Greek Salad (specifically, the one served at a little oceanfront taverna on Red Beach on the southern tip of Santorini. It had the best feta I tried anywhere - must be what they feed their sheep. It also had these capers that were the size of marbles, that almost had an anise flavor to them... they were amazing. That type of caper is a Santorini specialty.)

    - Keftedes (tomato croquettes)

    My favorite drinks:

    - Kitron

    - Vinsanto (dessert wine) from Santorini

    - Ouzo, of course. :biggrin:

    For an EXCELLENT description of the foods and culinary traditions of Greece, check out this book: Lonely Planet World Food: Greece

    It was my bible while I was there.

  12. Thank you both for your ideas. When the kids were introduced to the mix, we knew right away that a true "fine dining" experience was out. We just want to find a way to celebrate and do something a little more out of the ordinary.

    I actually think that my FIL will be more pleased that he gets to celebrate his birthday with his grandchildren than he would be at a really nice restaurant. :smile:

  13. My father-in-law will be marking his 70th birthday this weekend. A big milestone by any measure, one that my husband and I wanted to celebrate in fine style. We had considered many of the usual suspects in Houston - Mark's, Cafe Annie, Brennan's...

    The good news is that it's looking like my brother-in-law and his family may be able to come in from Baton Rouge and join us. However, this makes places like Mark's seem a little, well, inappropriate, since his children are 9 and 3 years old. These are not children who have had much exposure to dining out in nicer establishments.

    Does anyone have any ideas for where we could go to celebrate FIL's big day, but still include the whole family? Or is this asking too much?

  14. Hi Robb,

    First of all, I want to thank you for writing such great restaurant reviews in the Houston Press. Your review of T'afia was responsible for me going there for my birthday, and the Texas Wine Tasting menu that night was one of the best meals of my life. I am forever in your debt.

    My question is regarding seafood usage in Tex Mex foods. It seems that one rarely sees anything beyond the odd shrimp fajita dinner when it comes to seafood offerings in Tex Mex restaurants. Why is this? Is it because those most likely to make their way north across the border were not from the coast? Or is there some other reason?

    Thanks so much for your time!


  15. Thank you so much for posting this review! My dad is coming to visit from Atlanta 4th of July weekend, and he fancies himself to be quite the Southern Breakfast Connoisseur. We will definitely make a stop here on Saturday, and then wander next door to the T'afia Organic Market. We'll probably need the ruffage anyway!

  16. Adele, thanks for the info! Pecan Pie is often sticky-sweet (to me, that's just short of sickly sweet!) but if it's made with the right amount of butter (and maybe some bourbon to cut it!) then I think it treads the line without crossing it.

    I have seen Lyle's Golden Syrup in Central Market here in Houston. I am having a hard time understanding it's flavor, so I guess I will just have to sample it! Do you think that I could just substitute 1:1 for corn syrup in my favorite PP recipe, or would I have to find a recipe that was developed especially for Lyle's?

  17. Sounds like a successful baking weekend, Adele! In looking at your pictures, it appeared that one of the ingredients in your pecan pie was Golden Syrup... am I correct? How is Golden Syrup different from regular Karo (the pecan pie ingredient of choice here in the South!)

    Glad you went with the vanilla ice cream. I need to break out my ice cream maker again - last year I was disheartened by my numerous attempts at lower-fat ice cream that never set up, resulting in very cold creamy soup. I think I just need to get over the fat content and make the real thing. Perhaps I'll bring some to the beach this weekend. ;-)

  18. As far as the ice cream question - I think that a Dulce de Leche ice cream would be delicious with Pecan Pie. It would accent the carmelized flavors nicely. Could be too sweet, though... hmmm...

    Another option could be to go with vanilla, but stir in a ribbon of caramel at the end. Although if I remember correctly, that's exactly what you were going for when you wound up with bitter caramel, correct?

    An interesting flavor combination could be a coffee ice cream with the pecan pie. I love nutty flavors with coffee, and I think that the coffee wouldn't be too sweet with the pie.

  19. Wanted to add a review of T'afia, since we went there last night for my birthday. It was sublime!

    We started our meal with cocktails made with ratafia - mine was called Ratafia Royale and was made with champagne and strawberry/meyer lemon ratafia, and DH's was called Ratafia-tini and consisted of black currant ratafia, Absolut Kurant, and lime juice. Both were amazing! I left there wondering if I could make ratafia at home...

    DH and I both selected the Tasting Menu with a Texas wine pairing for each course. Here's what we had:

    * Cucumber Tzatziki and Artisanal Feta - The tzatziki was made with local goat's milk yogurt and fresh herbs, and was perfectly refreshing paired with local goat's milk feta and homemade sage crackers.

    Wine Pairing: Becker Fume Blanc, 2002 (Fredericksburg) Fruity but acidic, made a nice foil to the cucumber and salty feta.

    * Shrimp and Roasted Pepper Bisque - This was unreal. Monica goes very easy on the cream, making this bisque, served just above room temperature, velvety without being at all heavy. Served with just a sprinkling of chives, this was possibly my favorite course.

    Wine Pairing: Peregrine Pinot Noir, 2001 (Ft. Stockton) This was easily my favorite of all the wines we tasted. It had an earthy, almost chocolatey bouquet, but tasted light and complex.

    * Tempura Squash Blossoms - These were delightful. The squash came from a vendor at Monica's weekly Midtown Farmer's Market, and the little fried pillows consisted of chopped squash blossoms with risotto and herbs, coated in panko and deep fried. They were served over paper thin strips of squash that had been lightly sauteed with olive oil and fresh herbs (dill and thyme). They were savory and light-tasting, but filling.

    Wine Pairing: Travis Peak Due Ami, 2003 (Marble Falls). A slightly richer white, this was very smooth but still quite dry.

    * Gulf Crab Cakes over Guacamole with Lemon Beurre Blanc - This was my least favorite course, but was still delicious. I think it had to wait us as we finished the previous course (we were chatting with our server) and might have suffered a bit in a warming oven. Still, these crab cakes were barely held together with bread crumbs, and were perfectly browned and full of sweet lump crab meat. The guacamole was good, but what really made these cakes shine was the lemon beurre blanc, which Monica makes with a preserved lemon essence.

    Wine Pairing: Becker Claret, 2002 (Fredericksburg) This wine was a very close second to the Peregrine for my favorite. Fruity, light-tasting, but with a wonderful, lingering finish.

    * Selection of Organic Pastries from Pastry to the People - These included homemade, vegan marshmallows, an amazing square of baklava, a wine-poached Texas peach and a soft rich praline. My favorite of all of these was the baklava. Wine Pairing: Haak Port (Dickinson) A lovely port that was the perfect finish to our wonderful meal!

    I am reading back over my write-up here, and I realize that my descriptions do not do this meal justice. I mean, who here hasn't had tzatziki, or crab cakes? I think that what I loved the most about this meal was not the innovation, but rather the simplicity of each course, and the knowledge that the chef had made decisions to showcase the local ingredients available to her. The menu was perfect for a hot late-May evening, and I am fully aware that were I to return in September, or December, that the menu would be completely and totally different each time, but just as perfect. And I will most certainly be back.

  20. I just made this with some fantastic blackberries over the weekend. I like cobblers, but I prefer the cake-batter-ish ones over the pie pastry or biscuit topped variety. This one was wonderful; I particularly liked the flavor added by the brandy syrup tossed with the berries.

    It's from King Arthur's Baking Companion

    Fruit Cobbler

    Cobbler is a distinctly American dish. Its name is said to come from the phrase "to cobble," meaning to patch something together roughly; to "cobble up," put something together in a hurry; or perhaps from the fact that the combination of fruit and dough on top of the dish looks like cobblestones.

    Cobbler can be made with many different fruits, alone or in combination. Fruit is placed in a pan and a pastry crust, sweet batter, or biscuit dough is placed atop it; or batter is poured into the pan, and the fruit placed on top. Either way, the two end up mixing and mingling, the fruit mixture absorbing some of the cake-like dough, the dough absorbing the fruit juices, and the finished product resembling nothing so much as a very, very moist fruit cake.

    1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    2 eggs

    1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar

    2 tablespoons margarine, softened

    2 tablespoons milk

    1/2 cup sherry or brandy

    3 to 4 cups fresh fruit (large fruits sliced; berries left whole)

    whipped cream or ice cream

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan or 11-inch round quiche dish.

    Mix flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

    Beat together eggs and 1 cup of sugar. Add margarine and milk. Add flour mixture, stirring just to combine. Pour batter into pan.

    Simmer together sherry and remaining 1/2 cup sugar for 3 to 4 minutes. Add fruit. Pour hot mixture over batter in pan.

    Bake 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

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