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Everything posted by apronless

  1. We are into day 3 of our trip and are heading out from Las Cruces this morning. Yesterday we stopped at Cattleman's Steakhouse which was great. The views were wonderful and the steak cooked perfectly. The split plate charge (5.50!) deterred anyone from splitting a meal and it ended up being cheaper on most dishes just to order one per person. The views were outstanding! They have a patio and I wish I had asked to eat outside. It was beautiful. We'll stop in Gallup next, I think at Jerry's and report back.
  2. I'm glad to have pointers on the proper conduct in a different cultural setting. One of my biggest worries when arriving in a new area is inadvertently offending someone. Common sense normally gets me through situations unscathed, but its always nice to have extra help. The paper bread sounds intriguing.
  3. My curiosity is piqued. Can you generalize about the differences among the 4 and explain why NewMexMex is your favorite? ← Yep. But that'll have to wait for another day. It's late and I'm kinda tired and I have two more states to go... Apronless - will you be checking in from time to time as you travel? If so, I'll finish up tomorrow. ← Don't wear yourself out! Yes, I will be able to check in as I travel. We are all from Texas. I spent some time in Mexico and love MexMex food (and TexMex every now and then). I'm not familiar with New MexMex or CaliMex but I too would be interested in a thread about the different types. I am beyond excited at everything you've laid out. Thank you so much for sharing and stepping into the role of food tour-guide. I was worried that we'd end up settling for fast food, but this is just wonderful!
  4. Jaymes, you are my hero. I am printing out your responses to take make plans with and take along.
  5. I'm marking down Hill Top Cafe and Cattleman's Steakhouse. They both look like great places to stop in. It looks like its a good idea to call ahead for Hill Top so I'll see about their lunch schedule. I've been dreading that stretch of I-10 so it will be nice to have Cattleman's to look forward to. We're stopping in Austin to see family before we head out, so I think my mom's feelings would be hurt if we bypassed them. It is a good thought to possibly take 71 though, especially with the promise of kolaches.
  6. Currently the only thing on our list is breakfast at El Tovar at the Grand Canyon. Everything else is wide open.
  7. You say, "immediate future." When? I've driven that route many times, and as a matter of fact, have lived in several spots along the way. I can do a little research, if it's not too late. ← That would be fantastic! We leave this Saturday.
  8. We've just added a pit stop in Austin (old stomping grounds) so I think we're actually going to go through Fredricksburg over San Antonio since it's a more direct route. I will keep Bayseas in mind though for next time I'm in San Antonio. Lotus of Siam looks great. I don't have a lot of experience with Thai food, so I might as well start with the best, ha.
  9. I'm making a road trip from from Houston to Los Angeles in the immediate future with some friends and family (all adults). I've been given the following route and responsibility to find out where to eat for this trip. Help is much appreciated, seeing as we'll end up eating Little Debbie snacks and Funyons if we can't find places worth stopping! I'm familiar with the eats along 290, but any other suggestions would be fantastic. From Houston, we're going 290 to I-10, then to I-25N with a stop in Las Cruces. From I-25N we're heading to I-40W and making a jaunt up to the Grand Canyon via 64. After that it's back on 64 to Vegas via US 93 and 95. We'll make a pit stop there and then head into LA, taking I 15 then I-10. Apparently traffic may play a role in which direction we come in, so I'm not sure how we're coming in that day- we may brown bag it. I'm not the navigator on this trip (for good reason) so I hope our route is clear enough for food suggestions. We'd like to splurge on two or three meals during the trip, but are trying to keep the other meals under $10/person if possible. We're taking 5 days for the drive so the more suggestions the better! Looking forward to any ideas.
  10. I made the brownie cake with peanut and caramel topping for a Snickers lover this week: I topped this the night before serving and should have popped the whole thing in the microwave for a minute or so to loosen the topping before serving. It was a bit difficult to eat with plastic utensils at room temperature. It was still delicious though. I did have caramel left over and added a touch of vanilla to it and had it over some ice cream. yum.
  11. I'm looking forward to this too. My TCB is all falling apart!
  12. Now I will! I was just thinking the other day that I don't like using parchment because of the wrinkly factor and didnt even THINK about this. Pie crusts and I don't get along, and its always at this stage. Maybe now I will be less tempted to throw my pie crust across the room when working with it...
  13. Is it too early to be thinking about menus yet? I've been thinking about mine since the beginning of September. Ever since I've been on my own I've made exactly what my mother has made for the past 25 or so years, and while its tasty and familiar, I'm ready to change it up. Family recipe stuffing stays, some tasty baby peas stay, but the cranberry jelly, regular ol' mashed potatoes, grapefruit cocktail, and sweet potato casserole need to go. My husband nearly threw a temper tantrum when I told him that I didn't want to do the sweet potato/marshmallow casserole, but calmed down when I told him I was thinking about doing a creme brulee take on the sweet potatoes (creamy potatos in ramekins with carmelized tops). Has anyone tried this with succesful results? I found a recipe in either a Bon Appetit or Gourmet mag, but havent heard much else about it. What else is everyone thinking about for their menus? Same old, same old? or shaking it up?
  14. I cook for two and I've found that meal planning is really key. I have two days designated as "Leftovers." This really translates to my husband picking out whatever he wants from the fridge preparing it by himself with no help from me (as long as he's not eating a crucial ingredient for a meal that week). It doesn't have to be something that is left over from the previous days, sometimes he just eats cereal or makes himself a sandwich. Roasting small whole chickens is great, you can do alot with them after a nice roast chicken meal (I never consider what I do with the left over chicken a "Leftovers" meal since I make a new meal). I usually use it shredded: Chicken salad sandwiches on croissants with pickles and chips on the side Chicken pot pies (you can make mini ones and freeze the remaining ones for later) Chicken quesadillas with salsa verde Lots of different Salads with chicken on top etc I also make CI's beef stock which leaves me with a whole lot of left over beef but that is superb. That's always a fun week because I'll usually make a beef noodle soup, pulled beef sandwiches, and throw together a saucy Mexican dish and serve it with rice (I try and throw some chicken/fish in that week to balance out the red meat). Having a freezer with ample room also helps. If you make too much food for you to use up quickly, you can pop a lot of it in the freezer to use later (obviously this has limits. Frozen lettuce = not so good). I make a lot of soups and freeze half of it for later, and I too freeze half of my pizza dough when I make it. It thaws beautifully! Since I follow a lot of recipes vs improvising, its important to note how many servings the dish is going to make. This is kind of an obvious thing to take into consideration, but it helps tremendously when cooking for two and trying to figure out what to do with leftovers. I tend to halve many recipes so our fridge isnt stuffed to the gills with tequila chicken or lentil soup or something. Also (if you're a meat eater), when you buy your meats, repackage them in individual/two person portions. This will knock a lot of time off of prep work and save you from having to use up 4 pounds of thawed meat or risk texture quality by refreezing. As you keep cooking, you'll know which dishes the two of you might gobble up and have no leftovers after, or ones that tend to hang around in the fridge for a while. Whew. Sorry for the long post.
  15. Houston Chowhounds is very active with people who know their stuff. Its a Yahoo group, found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/houstonCH/?v...sec=group&slk=1 If you don't want to join, I can post on your behalf. edited for spelling.
  16. I think I just passed the 90 mark this week. Most of those have been amassed in the past 3 years. I'm TRYING to slow down because I've already filled up my allotted bookcase. When I did that about 15 books ago, I complained, thinking I needed to pare down the collection. My husband said "No, you just need another bookcase." THIS is why I married the man.
  17. I've been to Tortas El Angel just once, wasn't that impressed, but Mexico's Deli is great. BTW, Jay Francis posted recently on Eating our Words about his search for the Torta Ahogada and Robb Walsh replied that they have it at Mexico's Deli. I've been to MD since Jay told me about the quest and looked for it but didn't see it - maybe it's time for a visit to the eye doc. Yeah, Jazzie really went down hill. I think the owner thought I was the one (Walsh) who had published a pretty negative review, she dogged me everytime I was there. That and the declining quality of food was why I stopped going.. ← I read about Francis looking for a torta ahogada as well. I have been looking for 4 years to find one and I havent found a great one in Houston yet. There is a torta ahogada bus at the beltway and Beechnut in the parking lot beside City Pets, but I was not too impressed with the one I had. All heat and no flavor. Sigh. The search continues.
  18. david, I am nervous now, but I think I will be collected when I get to get into the kitchen. I am always anxious about the unknown, especially when this opportunity landed in my lap so I don't want to lose it. At my day job, I have to multi task and remain composed under stress in a high pressure environment, so I feel like I have a good foundation for the stress of the kitchen. Obviously its a different setting, but I enjoy being insanely busy and having to perform on the spot. I don't think any one has ever described me as high-strung. Maybe a perfectionist, but I havent heard high-strung. I would love to grab a menu Timh, but I am not sure how much that would help me since their menu changes very, VERY frequently. Your suggestion of meeting up with the chef to see a quick mise en place is a great idea, but we fly out tomorrow morning early so that's out of the question. Everything about being offered this job was very last minute unforntunately. stealw, I did read that thread and found it helpful. I do try to work clean, and am pretty obsessively organized, but I'm sure it will be a whole different set up when I get out of my own kitchen. I will keep that in the front of my mind. I wish I could have the chance to talk with the chef before getting thrown in the mix, but that isnt panning out. I will have to go in there and fly by the seat of my pants without ticking anyone off, but I would feel a million times better if I knew whether I'd be chopping onions, deveining shrimp, plating salads, or all of the above.
  19. I managed to get offered a part-time position pending a trial-run at a wonderful restaurant here in Houston. The executive chef said I'd be at the cold station. I've done my research and know that this is a position where they usually put someone who doesn't have a lot of experience in a restaurant kitchen. I have zero years of restaunt experience, so I am very happy with starting there. Despite being very happy, I am so nervous I could puke. My knife skills need some work, but (I think!) I can handle plating salads and desserts. I wanted to ask the chef more what to expect, but our conversation was cut short. He did let me know that he wouldn't let me drown when they threw me in the deep end though, which was somewhat comforting. I work full time in a field completely unrelated to restaurants and cooking, but this is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in what I love to do the most. I thrive in a fast-paced environment that requires attention to ten different things, so I am really looking forward to working in a kitchen. I am going on vacation for a week starting tomorrow and I start the trial run the day after I get back (probably just a Saturday and maybe labor day). I will be going in there with what I know, but not acting like I know everything (I am there to learn, to help, not to show off). Non-slip, water resistant shoes- check. Black pants- check. Jewelry off, hair back, nails clipped-- check check check. Every restaurant kitchen runs things differently, but what are some of the things I should expect while working at the cold station? Do I need to be agonizing about my knife skills? Should I go over eCI's plating post again? Should I pack my knives and cutting boards and practice dicing onions, mincing garlic, and cutting mangoes on the sunny beaches in the Bahamas? cause right now, I have "knives and cutting board" listed on my list of "things to bring on vacation." edited for formatting
  20. NVNV, I was in the exact same boat as you! My mother and my grandmother both knead out beautiful, delicious bread and mine always ended up thrown angrily into the side of the sink with the garbage disposal. I made a New Year's resolution to try to make breads and pie crusts (ooo dont get me started on PIE CRUSTS ) and have come a long way with bread since the beginning of the year. Do you have a standing mixer with a dough hook? That really took a lot of the fear away from making bread for me, I was always afraid to add too much flour while kneading or mess up the whole kneading process. I had so many failures with bread I was afraid of EVERYTHING. I started out with the CI recipe too. The first time was a failure (didn't pinch it closed correctly), the second time was a little bit better but pretty dry, and the third time was great. I really agree with everyone who is saying just stick with one recipe until you get it right, especially with a CI recipe. You can do it, and don't get put off if it doesn't come out right the first time; just keep at that same recipe until you whip it, and whip it good.
  21. I always use Swanson's reduced sodium. Last time I checked, it was CI's top pick. For beef broth, they rate Pacific pretty highly too, but I tend to think all canned/boxed beef broth is pretty tinny tasting. You CAN get away with using doctored chicken broth in beef soups though.
  22. That's what my first thought was, but I was under the impression that the Tunnel of Fudge cake was pretty gooey inside. Shows you how much experience I have with the Tunnel of Fudge cake.
  23. A coworker pointed out this recipe in our local newspaper to me. Boxed cakes have not made it into my kitchen in about ten years, but is anyone else familiar with the technique of mixing in a can of (or homemade) frosting into cake batter? It calls for oil in addition to the frosting so it seems to me like this would be a pretty oily cake. I don't think it's a typo because the finished cake isn't frosted, but I might end up sending an email to the section editor if no one else can fill me in on this. My curiousity has been piqued. edited for spelling
  24. We were a party of four at VOICE last night. They couldn't find our reservation (after confirming it the day before??), but seated us promptly anyways. The place was quiet which surprised me because I thought it would be more crowded for restaurant week. Our server didn't seem to know much about the wine pairings at all, but found out the answers to all of our questions after disappearing for 10 minutes after each. This got to be a little much as we had several questions about the wine and he would run off before we could grab him to tell him we had more questions. The manager ended up talking to us for a while about wines and doing the first pour for us when 3/4ths of us settled on buying a bottle instead of the wine pairing (we went with a bottle of what was being paired with the short ribs, the name escapes me at the moment). We were provided with bread (first round tasted like hockey pucks! I don't know how long those had been sitting around. The second round was fresh and much better.) with a garlic paste, butter, and sun-dried tomato/olive spread. It took a while for the bread to come out and the water didn't arrive at the table for quite some time. I had the Summer Risotto which was pretty disappointing. It tasted like regular long grain rice was used and it was not creamy at all. The teeny tomatoes in the dish were fantastic, but the corn was pretty unremarkable. I tried a bite of the bleu cheese salad and wished I had gotten that instead. The greens were very fresh and crisp. My husband reported that the bleu cheese was steller. One of us got the mushroom soup and ended up having to fight off his wife and my husband (I'm not very big on mushrooms) to be able to finish his own dish. He said the truffle cream really put it over the top. For entrees, it was three plates of the braised short ribs and one plate of the pork loin sous vide. The entrees were delicious. The potatoes were beyond creamy and the beef had a beautiful crust and tender insides. Our friend said he didn't care of the apples on top, but I thought they complimented the celery and tangy flavors of the au jus. The pork loin was on the sweeter side and received high marks, especially the pancetta and beans served along with. Dessert was a bit of a let down after the high of the entrees. We ended up sampling all the available choices on the HRW menu. The chocolate cake was served with a 'crispy' vanilla ice cream quenelle. The cake was ok, a bit dry on the outside and 'molten' on the inside. The ice cream was custard based with a lot of yolks and rolled in what tasted like wafer-thin fortune cookies. I liked it a lot better than the cake. The chocolate pie tasted like it had a shortbread crust that had gone kind of stale and my husband was not impressed with the rest of the pie (I just tasted the crust). He said the topping was a bit flavorless and the chocolate was unremarkable. He did like the ice cream that came with his dish though. The creme brulee was said to be 'good', but that's all I could get as a review for that dish. The head chef came by and talked with us for a few minutes, which was nice. He was personable and open to all of our questions. Overall it was a pleasurable dining experience. We were treated very well and left alone but not forgotton. The manager was by a few times to make sure everything was Ok throughout our meal and once our waiter got all of our wine questions figured out he seemed to get a handle on our table. The portions were very generous and the entrees were top notch, but the desserts and risotto could use a little bit of work. Next time I'd go with a salad for the first course and skip dessert entirely for the homemade ice cream I have in my freezer. Next up, Le Mistral on Thursday. Yum. edited for formatting.
  25. Baby zucchini, definitely. Something about seeing those big honkin' ones in a bin, and then right beside them, the wee tiny ones. There is always an internal 'aww' when I see those.
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