Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Treats At "The Grill"

Friday October 3rd debuts a new menu at Sevy's and since I just proof-read it, I thought I'd share a few of the new dishes.

At lunch: a jumbo lump Crab Cake Salad with Thousand Island dressing; Five-Spice Duck Salad with duck confit, apricot vinaigrette and crispy wontons. New lunch entrees include: Griddled Smoked Turkey Sandwich on a seven grain bread with blue cheese and caramelized onions; Beef Tenderloin Lasagna with layers of ricotta, mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms and a tomato cream sauce, and Meat Loaf Sevy Style (which I find amusing because in 20 years of marriage, we've only ever eaten Meat Loaf Amy Style - can he be telling me something?) which includes truffle whipped potatoes, green beans and a wild mushroom sauce.

New dinner appearances include a Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with dilled green beans; a Hill Country Venison Sausage appetizer with (my favorite) fresh pickled veggies; Mozzarella and Heirloom Tomato Salad, creamy basil dressing and drizzled aged balsamic. For those who are hungrier, dig into the new Blackened Bone In Ribeye, a 20 oz. cut served with three potato hash and crispy jumbo onion ring.

Mmmmm, dessert. How about the White Chocolate Mousse Cake, layered with raspberry puree; or the Warm Chocolate Almond Torte, toasted almonds, chocolate sauce and green tea ice cream. Too heavy? Enjoy an espresso and savor the new Sorbet Duo of pear cinnamon and blackberry sorbets.

If none of this sounds as yummy as before, well we've kept many of our old favorites untouched, and some have been slightly modified (Warm Mozzarella Crostini, Portabella with Goat Cheese). Unchanged is our commitment to satisfying every guest's needs, so we can make you anything. We're Here For You!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cooking In The Eruv

What creates the flavor of your neighborhood? The ingredients: homes, families, location do not necessarily ensure a uniformity of taste. In my neighborhood, an Eruv with a deeply faithful Jewish population, the weekly devotions and annual celebrations are a distinctive spice that adds an exotic richness to our lives. While not participants in their beliefs, we value the depth of commitment our neighbors have to their religion.

Taste of Rosh haShana seemed to be a perfect opportunity to gain insight into this important holiday, and apparently about 75 others thought so too. Presented by Community Kollel of Dallas, the speakers, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and neighbor Barry Wernick hosted a fabulous discussion of food, song, God, meditation - and even a joke or two were plated up. I don't think I was the only shiksa in attendance, nor was the audience all white but we were all there to gain deeper understanding about the holiday that in the Jewish faith represents a "renewal" of life.

Food plays an important role in the Jewish religion, the weekly Shabat dinner and the multi-course annual Passover Seder is a connection to their heritage and a symbols of their faith. At Taste of Rosh haShana a long table was laid out, and after the speaker's presentations the guests were invited to stand and learn about the food and accompanying blessings. Dates are a hope that enemies and sinners will "disappear" and be no longer; carrots represent a deliverance from the decree of the Jew's sentence; the pomegranates many seeds represent a multitudinous quantity (of money, children, years); a fish head is a wish to become the head and not the tail; and apples dipped in honey represent the sweetness of the end of the drought, and survival for another year.

We have had several reasons in the last 20 years to move out of our neighborhood, bigger housing needs, shorter commute times were enticements to relocate. But we love the flavor of our little "hidden" area and have made other accommodations to make our lives work. So we're staying for now, because it just wouldn't be as delicious somewhere else.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dallas Raw Food Fiesta - October 5th

The Central Dallas Radical Health, Vegan, Raw Food Meetup Group is having a meeting/pot luck. Their website touts 191 "raw foodists" as members, so there should be some tasty goodies there. Or, if raw's not your thing you could join some of the 177 "spiritual warriors" at the DFW-Arlington Altered States Meet Up Group, whose lessons in firewalking today (9/28) could produce some burnt meat. IJS.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Landlocked In Dallas - It's A Clam-ity

Ok, so people who know me are going to wonder why a non-seafood eater would post about seafood. Well I do know what delicious looks like, and the clams, above, came in an email from one of our seafood vendors, Steve Connolly Seafood in Boston who ships their premium products to the restaurant overnight express.

I asked our salesman Willy Warner where non-restaurant folks could buy their goods, and it turns out it's available right on my little Preston-Forest corner at TJ's Seafood Market. They are the only retail seafood market in Dallas that Connolly's ships fresh seafood to. Willy says they can ship anything, including the clams above to TJ's. Currently they have a fresh shipment of Patagonian Toothfish (more commonly called Sea Bass) in.

Growing up we had a HoJo's restaurant in our neighborhood, and my sisters loved the fried clams. They are not a complicated dish and with the invention of the FryDaddy, easy to make at home. According to Willy, "Fried clams are to New England what barbecue is to the South..... All [recipes] work with the same four elements: soft-shell clams, a dipping liquid, a coating and oil According to almost all cooks the liquid is usually evaporated milk, and the coating is nothing more than some combination of flours; regular, corn or pastry."

A Pie For Dr. H

Full disclosure - the Boy's fall baseball coach is also Superintendent of DISD and I've never met a person who believes in kids, education and Dallas more than he does. I hope he takes the stress of this "losing streak" in stride, the reports of the board meeting from yesterday would have made someone like me just walk away. But I think he's made of stronger stuff, if you shaved his head he'd look exactly like my very stern German grandfather, Carl Conrad Franz Kressbach who as a sailor knew how to weather a storm.

The district hired a whole bunch of new teachers (good) because the CFO told the district leadership that the money was coming in to cover it. Then they received a report that costs were high, but the state would be sending money to cover it. Then they received a report that costs were even higher, and there wouldn't be the money to cover it. Then they fired the CFO, and now have to remove teachers that were hired with the money they didn't have.

This is a "silver lining" blog, I like to try to see the good side of things whenever possible (which isn't always), but this lining is shining unbelievably bright. Because the money was spent on additional teachers, not on sports facilities, not on field trips, not on travel expenses for board meetings - teachers. And the students benefitted from those additional teachers for the period that the district could afford them. And the district did have the money - $125 MILLION sitting on the sidelines as reserve for a bond market that's been pigging out on "Zero Qual" mortgage packages.

So coach, I've been trying to figure out a pie entry for the North Haven Gardens Pie Contest, and came up with this one, dedicated to you. If I can get it to work, it may be a winning recipe.


In a baked graham cracker crust, pour a 1/2 inch layer of bittersweet chocolate and let set. Mix marshmallow fluff with crunchy peanut butter and pour on top. Cover with whipped cream and place a cherry on top. Serve with milk chocolate ice cream.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Did Someone Say "PIE"?

North Haven Gardens is having a pie contest, Saturday November 15th.

Game On. See you there.

How To Cook A Smile

I just emailed my volunteer shift requests for the upcoming AIWF Days of Taste. It's been a few years, but both the Boy and Sister participated in this wonderful eating program when they were in 4th grade. While I don't have kids participating this year, I can't wait to spend a half-day down at the Dallas Farmer's Market doing something that makes me leave with a big, big smile.

Covering three days, the kids learn about flavors from real chefs, growing food from real farmers, and then they get to spend a day at the farmer's market - that's the part I like to help with. They are split into groups with an adult leader, given a small amount of cash, and let loose to shop for ingredients for a Harvest salad. My group will have a slight advantage - I've learned (and teach to the kids) to barter with dealers for smaller quantities and to negotiate with other groups to "split" items. By doing so, we'll have enough to create a fruit salad for dessert as well.

They can use all kinds of help for this program, and if you're needing a reason to smile or know someone else who does, This Is It. October 27th - 30th, or November 3rd - 6th from 9 am to 1 pm, at the Farmer's Market Resource Center (upstairs).

How do we teach kids today to eat healthy?
It's not a question of if you are wealthy.
High sugar, sat-fat, too much sodium too,
often the choice of kids through fifty-two.

Days of Taste is a program that helps youngsters see
fresh and healthy options. It certainly must be
considered as tasty and easy to fix
for kids to agree to a McDonald's nix.

Support this great program, help it grow through Big D
by sponsoring schools in this fun opportunity.
Contact your neighborhood school and request,
a Days of Taste sponsorship, bring them the best!

IJS, Amy S

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can You Spell *W*I*N*N*E*R*?

Doing a snappy happy dance this morning. Received an email from Snappy Salads letting me know I was a snappy winner of a free Half Snap. Been getting take-out there 3-4 times per week and finally they drew my business card out of the free salad bowl.

Snappy Salads is a newish concept on the corner of Forest and Preston (2nd location in NorthPark), in front of The Mercury Grill, and next to Paciugo Gelato. From the looks of things business is good, I've never been there when the place is empty. It's not self-service - you pick the size, choose between 4 types of lettuces and the toppings you want, their employees mix and dress it for you while you watch. They also have ginormous (enough to share) stuffed potatoes and a daily soup.

Not a fan of a lot of lettuce in my salad, I usually get the Half Snap (which comes with 3 toppings) and load it with about 8 more toppings (request a larger to-go box so it doesn't get smushed). Eggs, tomatoes, celery, all the standard fare of toppings are available - but they also have artichoke hearts, water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, capers, and my favorite, cornichons.

If you don't feel like making up your own salad they have a long list of "created" salads to choose from, like their new Fried Chicken Salad, with spring mix, mushrooms, red and green peppers, red onion, tomato, corn and topped with BBQ Ranch and Firecracker Aioli dressings. Did I mention they make most of their 14+ dressings themselves? I've been nagging the owner to get them bottled, they are delicious.

Of course I don't review restaurants on this website, this is just a "Thank You" to Snappy Salads for making my day very snappy. Everyone loves free food.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Deep Ellum By Day

Yesterday, running down to pick up some cheese I had to stop and take a second look at how nice Deep Ellum looked - no vagrants, clean storefronts, new businesses. I want to go back. So some day this week I'm going to play hookey from work (again), and go downtown to do some marketing.

I think I'll start early at the Farmer's Market, before temps get uncomfortable and buy a few fresh vegetables, maybe they'll have some early brussels sprouts and broccoli. Then heading north, I'm going to take a right on Main street and maybe stop for a bite to eat at Cantina Dallas, it looks like a nice early lunch place.

Elm Street is another major thoroughfare for Deep Ellum, but it's one-way going into the city. If you continue down Main Street to Walton and take a left, you'll be on the corner of Elm that has some great marketing. The Mozzarella Company is a Dallas food treasure, they are open and sell their goods to the public - don't leave without picking up some Pecan Praline Mascarpone Torta. Right next to the cheese shop is Rudolph's market, they carry some of the best meats in town (yeah, I know Jimmy's is great too, but he doesn't have a cheese factory next door). Plus they have a parking lot.

I noticed one other place that I'd like to stop and try, Rush Patisserie. I could see their neatly painted building in the distance and thought I'd see if there were any reports. From what I've read it might be the perfect end to a day of marketing.

What Was Lost Is Found

It's a happy day when you open an anonymous file and find something you thought you'd accidentally deleted - like a new recipe your boss/husband gave you for his new Ancho Chile Red Pepper Relish. Typing it for his Austin HEB appearance, I swear (hand on bible) that I saved it, but later couldn't find the recipe anywhere. So for safety's sake, even though this isn't a cooking blog, I'm going to post it here so I can find it For Sure next time.

12 ea. 15/20 shrimp, peeled & de-veined
1 TBL. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tsp. shallots, minced
1 TBL. lime juice
4 TBL. Sweet Ancho Chile Relish
2 TBL. fresh cilantro, chopped

Warm skillet to medium heat, add oil, when hot then add shrimp. Season with sea salt and saute slowly, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. Add garlic and shallots and saute 1 minute. Add lime juice, Ancho Chile Relish, reduce heat to low and simmer 1-2 minutes. Toss with cilantro and serve.

Chef Sevy's "Star Chef" line of products (Sweet Ancho Chile Relish and Caesar Salad dressing) are sold exclusively at HEB. But since there are no HEB stores in Dallas, you can purchase them at the restaurant or through Canyon Specialty Foods. Also available at "The Grill" is our Bitchin' BBQ sauce, Pumpkin Seed Salsa and spice shakers containing our Sevy's Seasoning Mix.

Restaurant School - Things Are Cooking

Classes are going strong and the restaurant opens soon at Conrad High School.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Eating Santa Fe - Or How To Dine At 8 Restaurants In One Day

A weekend in Santa Fe in September was a regular thing for me for several years. My mother (in her 70's) would drive out west in her Toyota with her two dogs and travel around the national parks in Utah, Nevada and Colorado, then drive down to Santa Fe where I would fly in to meet her. We'd spend a couple days shopping on the square, eating at any place that would allow dogs on the patio, and just lazing about. But this year I visited in May with my husband, we were on our way back to Dallas from Aspen, and I insisted we visit this wonderful city for a day.

On the drive we assembled a list of restaurants that we really wanted to try, a modest 14 or so. Shopping and other entertainments were not included unless they fit in the regional area where we would be "fooding". Arriving late at night (OK, we were a little delayed by a casino along the way), we decided to devote our entire next day to delving into the SF restaurant scene. First on the list was Cafe Pasquale's for breakfast, in the April/May '08 edition of the Santa Fean local chef's voted it "Best Breakfast Burrito". Definitely worth the wait for a table.

Walking back to the hotel, we passed by the Santa Fe School of Cooking located on W. San Francisco St. just off the square. I noticed this little sign out front that said "Walking Restaurant Tour Today", hmmmmmm - interest piqued we walked up the steps, and signed up when we heard the list of restaurants. The tour (totalling about 12 people) began at the Cooking School, Chef Rocky served Duck Tamales and explained the program. Each restaurant on the tour included a private tour of the restaurant, a house specialty and a glass of wine.

At Amavi we were served Scallops by owner Tomas Odai, at La Casa Sena it was Trout in Adobe with a wonderful historical account of the restaurant by Chef Patrick Gharrity. At Santacafe, we were fed their Tiger Prawn Tempura, and at this point I'm feeling a little hungry - and buzzed, I don't eat seafood. Finally at Rio Chama it was short ribs - satisfaction! And it also turned out that Chef Kerpon, who used to live in Dallas had played golf many years previously with my husband.

The entire tour took about 3 hours, with about 2 miles walked, but this was an incredible behind the scenes look and feel for some of Santa Fe's premier restaurants. Afterwards we were in serious need of a siesta, then it was back up and into the car for the rest of the list. We shared a pate appetizer at the bar of The Compound, great food but the atmosphere had no pizzazz. Then we went to La Boca, where Chef Campbell (who previously rocked at El Farol) has opened his own tapas restaurant - and it's keeping him very busy from the looks of things.

Last but not least we had to go back to Coyote Cafe. Having enjoyed national recognition over the first few years it was open, it became a mainstay and fell off the "cutting edge" list of restaurants. Until Chef Eric DiStefano and his wife Sarah took it over, and put everything they had into it, including revitalizing the menu. Formerly of Geronimo's, Chef DiStefano left his comfy job to take the risk of his own place, and in return was named "Most Innovative Chef" by his fellow SF chefs this year. I recognized Chef at the front door the moment we walked in, we introduced ourselves and from there progressed a culinary feast. I only hope that we have the opportunity to show chef (and his lovely young wife) the same hospitality they showed us. The food was stellar, if I had to pick only one restaurant to return to, this one would be IT.

Santa Fe in September is beautiful, some year's I've been there they've had snow up in the mountains. The chile's are in, aspens are beginning to turn, and while the days can get in the upper 80's, the nights are pleasantly cool and dry. The shopping on the square and at quirky little places like Jackalope can't be beat. And the food never goes out of season.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Post-Football Food Fun

There was a time when everyone went to the former Slider's & Blue's after the game, and even though service was slow and the best thing on the menu was cheese fries, they could handle (hand wobbles up and down here) a large disorganized group of adults and adolescents. Now Slider's location is a big hole in the ground, and we locals have been searching for new post-game digs. In our area of North Dallas we've been splitting time between Goff's Hamburgers and Prego Express, and after Thursday's JV game it was Prego's turn.

However on the way there I mentioned to hubby how a lovely martini would help wash the taste of defeat from our tongues. What about sticking money in Sister's hand and dropping her at Prego's, while we (adults) slide into Woodlands Grill, three doors down? I do not review restaurants or their food on this site, but I will say that the energy at the little place was very high; patio busy, bar busy, restaurant busy. The jeans and t-shirts we wore in were just fine, we didn't feel out of place, and best of all, it was quieter than the place with all the teenagers.

So now all we need is a restaurant with a full liquor license up by Goff's for the every-other Thursday visit.

Scholarship Dinner Update

The "Sevy" Severson scholarship dinner went very well, raising over $5,000. I don't review food or restaurants on this site, but the AIWF did, here. Thank you to all who came, the funds raised will help students further their culinary education at El Centro.

Yo! Helen - Dallas Giving You Love Yet?

Tracking down local information about Helen Corbitt has become a mission for me - was she ever in Les Dames? AIWF? Any "Helen Corbitt Day" ever named for her by the city? Besides the undying adoration of Stanley Marcus (he called her "My Wild Irish Rose") did Dallas give her any love? During my investigation, I was referred to Debbie Ryan by friend Paula Lambert, they grew up together in Fort Worth and both have been Dallas residents for many years. Helen was the Ryan's tenant from 1976 to 1978, renting the upstairs half of a duplex at Armstrong and University Blvd.

During these days Helen was no longer Director of Food at Neiman Marcus, but she was still close to and would dine often with NM executives. Post-Neimans she worked for a few years for the Greenhouse in Dallas and The Hedges, a cooking school in Fort Worth. According to Debbie, when Helen moved in she immediately insisted that the gas stove had to be replaced with a new General Electric range. She also preferred working with men both in business and at her "men-only" cooking classes she held regularly at her upstairs unit.

Debbie was also an employee at Neiman's when Helen was the Food Director there. Every day in the employee lunch room there would be experimental dishes that she was perfecting available at a very low cost. She did not believe in scrimping on product and had high standards on presentation of food - her food typified Dallas, Big Food, Big Impact. "Salads at Neiman Marcus used a whole head of lettuce, and large chunks of chicken so you would know what you were eating", recalled Ms. Ryan. At the same time, her food was not considered fancy, Thanksgiving hams at Ms. Corbitt's duplex unit were from Kroger and she served pancakes stacked to look like a cake for breakfast.

University of Dallas was the beneficiary of most of Helen's personal items after she passed away, including an extensive majolica collection that Stanley Marcus had presented to her, one piece at a time over the years. Current restaurant director and NM V.P. Kevin Garvin was instructed to "get to know Helen Corbitt", even though she had died 16 years previously, and so went to UD to study her personal recipe collections. He credits her with a food vision that extended beyond her years at Neiman's utilizing only fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, necessitating only an updating of some of her classic recipes, not a full bore revision of the menu when he started there.

I'm not giving up on this search, like I really want to see her 1961 Golden Plate Award - she was the first woman to win this distinction by the IFMA, so maybe I'll see if I can get in to see her stuff at UD. And who knows, maybe I'll get her a "Helen Corbitt Day" yet, the city seems to be in a naming mood lately.

How To Cook For Dogs

Promising the kids a new puppy when Jim was diagnosed with cancer was such an easy thing to do. It was the follow through that took a while, like almost a year - not that we didn't check out weekend adoption clinics at the neighborhood pet store. We already owned an eight year old English Springer Spaniel, and nothing we saw seemed to match the standards set by our Hunter. After eight months of hearing "When are we getting that puppy?" over and over and over, Mother's Day ‘08 I sent Sevy off to serve 500 people brunch and took the Boy, Sister and Hunter to Operation Kindness in Carrollton.

We were drawn immediately to two black and tan brothers (10 weeks old), which is strange because I've always been more of a "purebred" dog owner, but their temperaments were exactly what I'd been searching for. How to choose? One was so lovey and sweet, the other handsome and gentle, both extremely attached to each other. Wait! It was Mother's Day - so I called Jim (in the very middle of his kitchen rush) and asked if in addition to the propane gas grill he'd given me, could I double down on the puppy thing? I think he said something like "Whatever, I'm in the weeds", but when he came home he understood - these dogs were special.

Well, it's not like we don't have the ingredients for this recipe. Nice fenced back yard, pool, great-friend-who-is-a-vet (and another one in the family), teenagers, lady-home-all-day, man-who-comes-home-with-delicious-smelling-shoes every night. Hunter has even adapted, he has no choice since at 6 months they are physically bigger than he is. He's taken on the role of Yoda-dog, teaching the youngsters how to be fierce toad warriors and how to dig out an entire shrub.

But it hasn't been all easy, I travel to Walmart every week to get another big bag of Iam's, things have been eaten that shouldn't have, and I've invested $120 in a "spot-bot" carpet cleaner. Also, they've needed treatment for worms, one has already required stitches and boarding three dogs when traveling is about the same as the room rate at a hotel.

This recipe is so delicious, I'm not sure if three bites are enough. Maybe I can talk Jim into a 4th small bite, something lap-sized. But my days of cleaning up puppy pee are almost over so the next one will have to be a grown adoptee.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wolfgang Dishes on Julia's Breasts

Among other things, I kid you not. Krys Boyd (who happens to be the best talk radio show host in Dallas) interviewed him today on Think (90.1 FM, 12:00 - 2:00, Mondays - Fridays). A witty, honest and entertaining interview with a God of food who is here for the Nasher Speaking Series event tonight - and he's probably checking up on one or two restaurants he's got working here. Well I don't have tickets to tonights event, we're watching Sister cheer for the JV team, so I'm going to settle for the podcast to catch up on the parts I missed.

Which reminds me of my Julia story, it would have been around 1993 or '94 and Julia came to town for a book signing and AIWF dinner in her honor at the Crescent Club (Richard Chamberlain had just returned there from the Little Nell in Aspen). It was a seated dinner, so other than your table-mates, the opportunity to meet and greet was limited. At one point I went to the restroom, as I was washing my hands who should come out of one of the stalls but Herself. I felt like Julia Lewis-Dreyfus in a Seinfeld episode - I mean what do you say, "Here's a towel, I watched you in black and white when I was younger?" So instead I cooly nodded (like she should know who I was) and returned to my table - they were about to serve the Foie Gras course. I kid you not.

After dinner a group of us took Julia to Primo's, to experience the "real Dallas" and to sip and talk about food on the patio. Julia had a beer. I kid you not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How To Cook For Your Wife

And it requires no food, Thank You Honey!

Other posts in the "How To Cook" series include:

How to Cook An Eagle
How to Cook For Kids

Coming soon, How to Cook For Dogs

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And You Thought Just Her Food Was Nasty

Apparently so are her hands. Here.

I Blame Betty Crocker

My grandparents gave me my first cookbook in 1968, it was a Betty Crocker Boys & Girls Cookbook, with recipes like Whirligig Cinnamon Rolls (using Bisquick), Skillet Pizza-Wich, and Polka-Dot Macaroni and Cheese. That summer I made Brownies from the book and entered them in the Ingham County Fair, winning third place. The next summer I made the same recipe, but included a prettier plate, a doily and sprinkled powdered sugar and won first place (talk about a lesson there).

Encouraged by my enthusiasm for baking, in 1969 Grandpa and Aunt Susie (technically she was a step-grandma and her name was Mildred, but we all called her Susie) gave me the book that I'm sure they hoped would further inspire the "budding chef" in me - but instead it led to a life down a different path. The Betty Crocker Cooky Book contained 151 pages of recipes and pictures that thrilled my imagination of flavors and creation but didn't inspire me to cook, it inspired me to read. I did try several of the recipes over the years, and with the exception of one recipe, it confirmed my actual dislike for the act of baking - especially the clean up part. However I still like to read cookbooks, especially the ones with lots of pictures.

The one cookie that I've made for almost 40 years (and led to me actually keeping a cookbook that long) has also become my kids favorite, and their friends favorite - and it's actually relatively healthy. Even though this isn't a cooking blog, I'll share it here with you.

2 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Heat oven to 325. Stir together oats, sugar and oil in mixing bowl. Beat egg whites until frothy and add to oat mixture. Stir in salt and almond extract. Drop by teaspoonfuls on lightly oiled baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Editor's Note: I would add that these cookies are very gooey and difficult to remove from a baking sheet (even oiled) unless parchment paper is used. If you're not using parchment, remove the cookies from the sheet while still warm. You can also add 1/2 cup of roughly chopped macadamia nuts for a richer cookie.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chef Richard Chamberlain Does New York

I missed him Friday on the CBS Early show, he prepared a three-course steak dinner for a family for $39.27 (the host couldn't stop eating the steak, it was perfect). I am sticking around this morning to catch him on the Today Show, sometime between 9 and 10.

Hurry, turn on your TV now. Or wait and I'll post a link later.

Here is the Today Show link, he cooked with the assistance of Marco Pierre White, host of "Chopping Block", which will be premiering on NBC sometime next summer. Richard gets an "A", Marco gets a "G", as in Getouttatheway!

But my all-time favorite Chef Chamberlain performance was with his 12 year old son Stephen last December, the kid's a natural.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Now That's REALLY Helpful

A handy cooking tip, this is certainly one I can use. Forwarded to me by "The Syndicate" sister Ginger Simmons, How To Peel An Egg Without Peeling, click on the link, here.

It's very cool, can't wait to try it myself.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arugula Is In At NHG

And it's baby arugula, at that (foreground). After weeks of harrassing the staff with repeated phone calls and visits to see if the fall greens have arrived, I decided to run over to North Haven Gardens in between rain belts and wind gusts.

And they have tender little mesclun lettuces and dill and cilantro and pineapple sage and broccoli and cauliflower and brussels sprouts and chrysanthemums and before you can say "Hey you, dumb dog get out of my garden!", I'd spent $97. At least Ike should cooperate by assisting them with a little H2O, and next weeks high temps in the '80's is the perfect getting-started weather for them.

I also needed some Skullcap for a garden I'm re-planting (Thank you Deuce, Tres), which the expert-gardener-disguised-as-a-sales-assistant helped me find. "You know," he said with a gleam in his eye, "This plant is known for it's properties." I was expecting a line about it being a smokeable herb, but he went on to explain that it apparently has been used historically to make a "tincture." Huh? So I came right home to look it up, and it does have some medicinal qualities. I think I'll continue to take my medicine from a glass with a stem, thank you very much.

Friday Night Tailgating - It's A Doozie

Last night's pre-game tailgate featured the usual, parents, kids, veggies and dip, hot dogs, jalapeno sausages ........ and the Doozie (thank you Debbie Jo!). A popular Dallas party sandwich for years, the Doozie was created by the late Bertha Spiritas, a caterer, and (practically)on her deathbed (so the legend goes), she gave her secret recipe to one person.

So if you want to order this great sandwich, you need to call Chef James Burdett at the Jewish Community Center to order them. With thin, thin, thinly sliced bread, multiple meats and a secret sauce they are delicious. He makes the sandwiches out of his home kitchen (they are definitely NOT Kosher), and can deliver them to your home on weekends.

Sevy and I have ordered them for years for an annual post-golf Superbowl get together. They are very "energizing" and soak up the excess libations the golfers may have consumed while competing for the annual championship title. They are so thick we cut the quarters in half to make them more bite-sized.

Well somebody must have fed the opposing team a few Doozies, especially their #3 who kept breaking through our defensive line, wiggly little thing. Final score Hillcrest 21, Parish Episcopal 38, it was a doozie of a game.
(Pictured left, Pershing 5th grader Ford Sherrington tosses the ball with HHS senior Mattia J. Flabiano, IV).

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Things We Gift Away

In today's NeighborsGo section of the DMN there is a nice story about the garden revitalization at Arthur Kramer Elementary (DISD) and it made me smile. I was PTA President at Kramer the year the Jonlyn Mitchell Garden was built, thanks to the efforts of parent John Tatum, the Dallas chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, and the Chez Panisse Foundation - in conjunction with it's Edible Schoolyard Project. These organizations paid for much of the construction and a few years of funding of a "Master Gardener", he met with staff and parents who were interested in the garden. Unfortunately, that wasn't many, and the original intent of the gardens, to grow sustainable food for the children's consumption was never fulfilled.

Being PTA President, and since Chez Panisse founder/Chef Alice Waters was coming to Dallas, it was only fitting to present to her a thank you gift from the school for her generous garden. But what do you give a goddess of food? Well if you're me you give an old cook book, and I happened across the perfect one at an antique store. Rather "organic" for it's time, (1940ish) it was about growing your own fruits and vegetables, and turning them into fine spirits, wine and beer. Perhaps, I even thought, it might inspire a new concoction or two from this palately gifted lady.

Poor Sister was dragged along, we were en route to a dance recital when Chef Waters was going to be at the Farmer's Market for a book signing. She was a little young to realize the impact that Ms. Waters has made on the food movement, there is no pre-organic food days for her generation. But a few weeks later, arriving in the mail was an autographed copy of "Fanny At Chez Panisse", inscribed to Sister. That very week, she and her dad planned and executed together a four course dinner for the family using recipes from the book, and she's been interested in creating food ever since.

It's nice how a gift to a school led to a gift to a generous donor led to a gift to my daughter. Maybe now, with a new caretaker, the garden will achieve it's original goal of community gardening to supply produce for the school. And I still look for a duplicate copy of the book I gave away, I really, really, really wanted to keep it. But I can't argue that I didn't receive much more in exchange.

Galveston Horror - A Dallasite's View

On a recent trip to Canton I purchased an ancient, brittle copy of "The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror" as told by the Survivors, a recounting of the September 8, 1900 category 4 hurricane that took an (estimated) 8,000 lives. Apparently it was a best-seller of it's day, having contacted the Galveston Historical Society to see if it was a donatable book they assured me that they have several copies in much better condition than mine. With Ike bearing down on the same path 108 years (almost to the day) later, I began reading some of the letters sent to families recounting experiences of the catastrophe.

One was written by a Miss Maude Hall, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emory Hall, who was visiting Galveston on school vacation from Dallas.

".....at about 11 o'clock it began raining, and the wind rose a little. Sidney Spann and two young lady boarders could not get home to dinner. After the dinner the men left and we sat around in dressing sacks watching the storm. All at once Birdie Duff (Mrs. Spann's married daughter) said: 'Look at the water on the street; it must be the gulf.'

"There was water from curb to curb. It rose rapidly as we watched it, and Mrs. Spann sent us all to dress. It rose to the sidewalk, and the men began to come home. The wind and rain rose to a furious whirlwind and all the time the water crept higher and higher. We all crowded into the hall of the house-a big, two story one-and it rocked like a cradle. About 6 o'clock the roof was gone, all the blinds torn off, and all the windows blown in. Glass was flying in all directions and the water had risen to a level with the gallery.

"Then the men told us we would have to leave and go to a house across the street at the end of the block, a big one. Mrs. Spann was wild about her daughter Sidney, who had not been home, and the telephone wires were down. The men told us we must not wear heavy skirts, and could only take a few things in a little bundle. ........ It took two men to each woman to get her across the street and down to the end of the block. Trees thicker than any in our yard were whirled down the street; pine logs, boxes and driftwood of all sorts swept past, and the water looked like a whirlpool. Birdie and I went across on the second trip. The wind and rain cut like a knife and the water was icy cold. It was like going down into the grave, and I was never so near death, unless it was once before, since I have been here. I came near drowning with another girl. It was dark by this time, and the men put their arms around us a down into the water we went. Birdie was crying about her baby that she had to leave behind until the next trip, and I was begging Mr. Mitchell and the other man not to turn me loose."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zoo Fundraiser Revisited

Why have a party (inside or out) when no one can come? Instead of fighting the weather predictions of a stormy Saturday evening, the decision has been made to change the date of the Zoo To Do fundraiser to November 1st. Many of the chefs will be able to now focus on taking care of their own businesses should the weather create problems for electricity, flooding, etc. that evening.

So people, stock up on batteries, flashlights and water and stay home.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Membership Has It's Privileges

Joining the AIWF allows some "foodie" opportunities outside of the D/FW area, like the opportunity to volunteer for the Food Network New York Wine & Food Festival, October 9th - 13th. Featuring impressive chefs at the many events and seminars, some of which may be sold out to the public, volunteers can attend as long as they are working that event. Sure you have to cover your own travel/lodging expenses, but I've seen Foodinista's shell out thousands for a "behind the scenes" opportunity at fundraisers.

Maybe participating in something like this is not your thing, in which case consider this a warning that New York City will be a very busy food place for those 4 days. Make your reservations now.

Zoo Fundraiser Gets "Sp-Iked"

Hullabaloo turned out to be a prophetic name, too bad since so many people have gone to great efforts to make this another successful fundraiser for the Dallas Zoo. Not a cancellation, just a change in location from the zoo grounds to the Hyatt Regency Ballroom. Sevy is busily contacting the other 23 restaurants who agreed to spend their Saturday evening handing out plates of specialties, it's still going to be a delicious evening.

Of course this would have to be some of the nicest September weather ever, tickets are a sell-out, and the chef's were all "good to go" with their dishes for this fun event. But the latest weather report places an inland target on the Big D, and those whipping winds might not be so tent-friendly. Not to mention that the zoo staff will be a little busy tending to the animals that need to be protected from any severe weather.

I still think the alternative fundraising model should be considered - burgers, anyone?
*** Update - due to the severity of the weather forecast, the decision was made to postpone the zoo fund raiser to November 1st.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's Raining Cook Books Around Here!

Not that I'm complaining. No sooner did I drop off the last batch of cook books than I got some help getting the word out from Preston Hollow People Newspaper, Back Talk Preston Hollow blog, and the Eats blog (Dallas Morning News). While it didn't bring as many "hits" to the website as the post about free Mojito parties, I did get a great deal of community support.

A big thank you to those who dropped off books, Kathy, Pete, Georgia, and persons anonymous who helped me accumulate this batch. I've learned a really great new thing - Half Price Books gives away free books to teachers and non-profits Saturday mornings at their distribution center (limit 2 boxes), so thanks to them for a boxful of books.

I was glad to see someone else had an affinity to the minimalistic miniature 1950's Peter Pauper Press books, and the "Madame Wu's Art of Chinese Cooking" was actually autographed by the Madame. There were two Helen Corbitt cook books and one was inscribed "Donated in Loving Memory of Molly Waites by Sally Votteler and Family, 2008".

We're at about 150 donations so far, and there's more that have been pledged but not yet dropped off. Thank you all!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Arlington Grape Virgin Mary (No, It's Not a Drink)

Baseball took up a great deal of my weekend, so I missed this story on the news. I'm going to check my food a little closer before consuming, either I'd end up damned or missing out on a great E-Bay item.

How To Cook For Kids

Saturday morning, the sky was clear and a cool 70 degrees, what a wonderful day to dedicate the Dave Andres Ballpark. Apparently Mayor Leppert and Dr. Hinojosa agreed - they were there as was former Lt. Governor (Maryland) Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, because the ballpark was at the John F. Kennedy Learning Center down where Henderson meets Ross. The program lasted 1 1/2 hours, or about five good cries - there's a lot that's honorable and "American" in baseball and it all was mentioned.

So impressive was Carolina Leon, JFKLC's amazing principal, and future star 5th grader Stephanie Jaramillo, who gets credit for one of my cries with her speech. Jack Lowe, Dr. Hinojosa, Adam Medrano, Dale Petroskey and Ms. Townsend all had very nice things to say and the school choir sang the school song. Marc Andres, son of Dave, and his mother get credit for another cry when they spoke of Dave's passion for baseball and kids and Dallas. But three cry credits go to the young man who invited me, the one who worked to build the field, someone I've known since he was a kindergartener, Greenhill senior Paul Stanley.

Paul was one of the kids in my earlier post about cub scouts, and his mom was one of my fellow den mothers, we've had lots of fun watching these boys grow up. Paul may not have made the Eagle rank in scouts, but he made it in his heart by completing this project of bringing a quality baseball field to a school located in a low income neighborhood. He acknowledged that he was overwhelmed by the response of his Dallas community, kind of an "Ask it, and they will give", take on his dream of a field. Raising almost $60,000 of money well spent, Paul took it beyond construction, arranging a partnership with the Texas Rangers to "team up" for future baseball clinics.

Paul has obviously learned how to cook for others but I don't think "Chef" will be a word in his future as he heads off to college. I only hope "Dallas", is.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I'm Ready To Be Veep Now

Recent events have led to an evaluation of the talents I've accumulated in my XX years. I've been PTA President, cub scout den mother and run a family of 4 for many years. I'm even a small business owner, I oversee and maintain the financial operations of a restaurant.

Do you know the difference between a pit bull and an accountant? The dog smiles.

Everyone on the PTA knows I'm a fiscal conservative, drove my mini-van for 8 years and faint when spending money over 4 digits is discussed. Done the budgets for the business, the PTA and a house, and still able to save some for the kids college education and retirement. My political views are mixed - how convenient is that - I can appeal (or not) to people in both parties.

I even have a great slogan, "Everyone Works, Everyone Eats, Everyone Bowls".

So Dude, just give me a call, I'm ready to be in the race.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Out of Four Chefs Recommend.....

For cinema entertainment portraying the restaurant industry, the majority of the vote went to (drumroll), Ratatouille! I won't say which two chefs, but yes, they have small children. I like Ratatouille very much but don't know if I'd call it my favorite.

As I was sobbing over No Reservations the other day, I tried to recall all the restaurant/food movies that have been made over the years. There's Waiting, a slacker flick with Ryan Reynolds, who doesn't love him? (Well maybe not everyone). Then there was the pie movie, Waitress, with Keri Russell, who's trying to figure her way out of a small town life. Depicting a restaurant's imminent death is Big Night, with Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci portraying immigrant brothers who bring it to life one night.

My fav? Dinner Rush with Danny Aiello and a sexy cast, showing a different kind of heat in the kitchen. But somehow I feel like I'm missing some so give a shout out if you can think of any, it's always nice to share.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Now THAT'S A Burger - Have It Your Way

THE Burger, to be exact, by Burger King and only available (currently) in London, at the price of (lets see, today's exchange rate was about $1.79 per Pound) $169 American (give or take).

It's a fund raiser, folks, so besides the cost of the ingredients: flame grilled Wagyu beef, white truffles, Cristal Champagne onion straws, Pata Negra ham drizzled in Modena Balsamic vinegar, lambs lettuce, organic white wine and shallot infused mayo, pink Himalayan rock salt, enclosed in an Iranian saffron and white truffle dusted bun; the leftover proceeds go to Help a London Child charity. Available for sale one day per week, the goal is to sell 10 each day it goes on sale.

So why not in Dallas - what would the ingredients consist of? Lately the joke has been about Jenny Burgers, but what about Jenny Burgers (made out of some other product than elephant, c'mon) to help give the "J" a brand new home? It could happen.

Home Kitchen - Creamy Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

I'm a happy camper today, the temperature is only going to get into the low-to-mid '80's - I can smell fall in the air! Warm or chilled, this soup makes a great meal and this recipe only takes about 30-40 minutes, start to finish. Originally from The New Good Housekeeping Cook Book (a wedding present), over the years I've modified it to reduce the amount of butter and half-and-half it calls for, but then I've added cheese, go figure.

If you have kids that turn up their nose at cauliflower, this will change their minds - at least it did for my two.

2 TBL. butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cauliflower, stemmed and cut in peices
1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash ground red pepper
1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
1/2 c. half-and-half
1/2 c. skim milk
2 cups shredded Extra-sharp cheddar cheese (pre-shredded product not suitable, too much flour used as a sticky-stopper in it).

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion until transluscent. Add caulflower and stir thoroughly to coat with melted butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper, again stirring thoroughly to stick to all the butter on the cauliflower. Gradually add in broth, bring to a light boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (until cauliflower is very tender).

You can either blend the mixture in a blender or food processor, which will make it very smooth (and disguise the cauliflower from kids), or you can use an immersion blender, which will leave small tidbits of cauliflower in the soup - your choice. I would say the immersion method is much easier clean-up, which is a big deal in my cooking.

Place the soup back on the stove in the pan, add the half-and-half and milk. Keep on medium heat and once it's hot (steam begins to rise), gradually add the cheese. Don't let it boil, it's ready to serve once the cheese has melted.

If you want to serve this soup chilled, it thickens as it cools and you may need to add some additional milk to thin it out a bit.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Urban Food Trends - City Chickens

Meet Miss Lucy. To the delight of eight kids under the age of 10 she was one of the hosts of the party I attended this weekend. To my delight, Lucy got busy and actually laid an egg while we were hanging out by the pool. A creamy orangish-brown globe, it was only slightly larger than the eyes of the kids as they all got to touch the still warm egg.

I've noticed that the Dallas Morning News has a columnist, Mariana Greene who includes her chickens in her articles about gardening. And another acquaintance (Hey Lynnette!), even has a blog about her Dallas city chickens.

When Miss Lucy was released from her cage, about half of the adults present said, "I want one", including me. After all, her owners Richard and Lisa Chamberlain have the benefit of a daily fresh egg, and Lucy takes her job seriously at insect control. Having said that, chickens can be tough on vegetable gardens in their search for tasty grubs, and my two (6 month old) puppies might find one just a little too entertaining (right Deuce, Tres?). A chicken coop or structure is necessary to protect them from predators and the elements, and you need to stock special chicken food.

David Holben, dad to Sterling (14), Avery (12) and Noah (7 and 3/4) has already been scoping out chicken coops. Growing up with chickens and rabbits, he wants his own kids to have the same experience raising food. "It's a great feeling to go out and collect an egg every morning, and really know where it comes from". They are starting with four chicks, not as pets, eventually the chickens themselves will be on the home menu.

Word of the Day - FREE

As in mojito party, for 25 or more people. No Kidding. We went to a party this weekend where the Bacardi Mojito Mix Team set up, stocked and served for two hours, teaching people how to make mojitos. This promotion is only going through September 28th, and the reservations for these parties is booking up quickly (they have a total of four teams). Drink responsibly (and remember to tip).

Click on the link, here, and enter your preferred date and time, the Party code to enter is Mix021130. They will contact you to verify (you may need to be a little flexible on start and end times) - and don't put down more than 2 hours, you won't get it. And people, they are only bringing the mojito ingredients, not a full bar. Any beer and wine needs to be supplied by the house. Drink responsibly.

Can't get the team? They also gave out handy mojito making cards, so here's their 4 easy steps:
1. Muddle 12 fresh mint leaves & 1/2 lime; 2. Cover with 2 Tblsp. of simple syrup or 4 tsp. sugar and top with ice; 3. Add 1 1/2 oz. Bacardi Superior Rum & top with club soda; 4. Stir well & garnish with lime wedge & sprig of mint.

And drink responsibly.