Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's Wednesday, Restaurant101 at DMagagazine SideDish

This officially marks the first week of The Dallas Cook Book, inspired by a weekly "column" on aspects of the restaurant industry posted on DMagazine's SideDish weblog. This week's blog at SideDish, Investing in a Restaurant, co-written with my husband Jim, is number six in the series. Many thanks to DMagazine and my industry compatriot, Nancy Nichols for giving me this opportunity to express myself.

If you've missed the first five, click on the link to read:
Week 1 - Texas' Revised Franchise Tax
Week 2 - Staffing
Week 3 - Club Membership in Texas
Week 4 - Minimum Wage Increase
Week 5 - Necessities of a Good Accountant

Have a great day and stay cool, Dallas!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Heart Helen Corbitt - And Dallas Should Too

Helen Corbitt, Dallas resident and chef extraordinaire was the food name in Dallas before Anne, Dean, Stephan, Kevin, Kent, and Casey. Shoot, she was even pre-Julia, and sold almost as many cook books worldwide. It took Stanley Marcus eight years to convince her to head up the Zodiac Room restaurant at Neiman Marcus, which she did in 1955. He even wrote a miniature book in her honor, Helen Corbitt-The Balenciaga of Food (Somesuch Press, 1992).

So strong-willed, she turned down overtures from LBJ and Lady Bird to become the White House chef. University of Dallas awards two students each year the "Helen Corbitt Award for Excellence" in recognition of seniors who have produced an outstanding body of work. Over 50 years have passed since she made her footprint and they still serve some of her specialties at Neiman's (hungry for a popover with strawberry butter?).

She passed away in 1978, 30 years ago, of stomach cancer of all things. I've contacted my councilwoman to see if this great lady has ever been honored by the City of Dallas for her contributions to Dallas culinary arts. Because if she doesn't deserve it, nobody in the food world of Dallas does.

So Helen, tonights glass of wine is a salute to you.

Snapefest in Dallas, Who Knew?

No, the book at right is not in The Collection (yet), but I found it while doing some other research, and I've been watching the Harry Potter/Phoenix movie on TV with my kids (way better than the first movie).

My research also came across Snapefest a one day conference that is "all Snape all the time" where fans celebrate and honor Professor Severous Snape - and it was here, in Dallas, earlier in July. What I really didn't realize was that we'd been snaped at the restaurant.

According to servers present that evening, a group of mature adults arrived, dressed in costume a la Harry Potter characters, and enjoyed a fine meal in the PDR. No magic was allowed or performed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Conrad HS Cook Book Drive

Located along the greenbelt on Fair Oaks Avenue, the library at Conrad High School (DISD) was well designed, serene with plenty of natural light. The high school opened in 2006 with only freshman and sophomore classes, this year will include all four grades and begin the Restaurant Management magnet program. What you can't see in the photo above is their need for more books, especially cook books to use as reference resources. This school does not have a PTA (yet) as a resource, and with the culinary "love" that the city of Dallas shares, I was hoping that neighbors who have a few extra, unused, unloved cook books lying around might donate them. If this is YOU, please bring them by the restaurant, we'll take it from there. Many thanks.

Coming soon to Conrad will be the Conrad Culinary Club, which will explore the relationship between food and other subjects (journalism, art, science, math) with some of Dallas' top food professionals, and exposing students to flavors and cuisines that might be new (I'll be busy contacting those chefs and begging/blackmailing/coercing them soon). AND, since the ethnic background of the students spans over 36 countries, they'll be busy producing a Heck-of-a-cookbook themselves.

Old Cook Books, Hidden Treasures

Old cook books usually contain more than just the recipes, things like 50th Anniversary napkins for Harry and Elizabeth (1894 - 1944) and hand written family recipes such as Mock Maple Cookies from Marfala. My favorite fell out of a copy of Mrs. Putnam's Receipt Book and Young Housekeepers Assistant (1867), a clipping from an unknown newspaper which was originally published by the N. Y. Tribune - Remedy for Diptheria. Thank goodness modern medicine has progressed:

"Make two small bags that will reach from ear to ear, and fill them with ashes and salt; dip them in hot water, and wring them out so they will not drip, and apply them to the throat; cover up the whole with a flannel cloth, and change them as often as they become cool, until the throat becomes irritated, near blistering. ........ at the same time use a gargle made of one teaspoonful of cayenne pepper, one of salt, one of molasses, in a teaspoonful of hot water, and when cool, add one fourth as much cider vinegar, and gargle every fifteen minutes until the patient requires sleep. A gargle made of castile soap is good to be used part of the time."

Ouch and Yuk.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cheerleader Chocolates

They even had a business plan:

Buy the chocolate, melt the chocolate, pour the chocolate, sell the chocolate!

Seriously, if 4 girls can make 41 chocolate suckers in one hour, just think of what the entire squad can do (and it sure beats a car wash in July). The "H" of course, stands for Hillcrest, as in Panthers - but we'll make these for anyone! Woodrow Wildcats and Lake Highlands Wildcats, place your orders now, it's going to be a busy fund raising year. Photos by Jennifer Severson

My Favorite Cookbook - This Is For Duncan

Duncan asked, in an earlier post, for the recipe for Sevy's "rub", which I assume is the Sevy Seasoning we use at the restaurant. Well it happens to be published in my favorite cookbook, and it is also the only book in The Collection that has a page devoted to golf tips (when one has a putting green on the patio, what do you expect?). If you don't feel like making it yourself, we sell Sevy Seasoning shakers, each shaker comes with a bag of flavor within. The cookbook is also available for sale, ask for a few "lucky" Sevy's golf tees to go with it.

1 c. salt
1/2 c. season salt
2 TBL. garlic salt
2 TBL. onion salt
2 TBL. black pepper, salad grind
2 tsp. red pepper (cayenne)
Mix, use for everything and enjoy!

My favorite golf tip? "On the first tee make sure to announce the injury of the day."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Home Kitchen - Chicken Sliders

In the year since my husband's cancer diagnosis our family's diet has made a great shift from mostly beef to mostly chicken. I've become a big fan of Whole Food's ground chicken breast, using it in spaghetti sauces and casseroles instead of ground beef. But because it's extremely low-fat, burgers tend to be dry - of course unless you introduce a fat, which isn't good. So even though my cooking skills are far below those of my husband's, I've made it a personal goal to develop an easy, delicious recipe for home cooks.


2 TBL. Olive oil
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 c. Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing

Olive oil pan spray
1 lb. ground chicken breast
3 slices Pepper Jack cheese (optional)
Sevy Seasoning (or other seasoned salt if not available)

12 dinner rolls

Heat olive oil, saute mushrooms and onion on medium high heat until soft, add dressing and cook on medium low heat until most of moisture has evaporated (don't let it get dry). Let cool for a bit, enough time to enjoy a 1/2 glass of wine. Mix mushrooms and onions with meat in a bowl. Spray pan and place on medium high heat, when hot begin forming slider patties (about 1 1/2" across) and placing them in pan (your hands will get a little sticky, this isn't like working with beef). Sprinkle with seasoning and flip them when the chicken is caramelized on the bottom. Top with 1/4 of each cheese slice per burger.

Wine Recommendation: R Collection Chardonnay, 2005, Monterey, by Raymond Estates

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Texas' "Star Chef" Line of Products Debuts at HEB

Our 17 year old son has been working at Canyon Specialty Foods this summer, earning money to pay for a car stereo that makes our home's windows rattle. He was so tired yesterday, and I had some sympathy for him, working all day in a hot warehouse. "No Mom," he said, "I've been typing all day." Spec sheets for the new line of "Star Chef" products that will be exclusively sold (for now) at HEB stores throughout Texas. New products include: Dried Cherry Steak Sauce, Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade, and Tomato Coriander Dressing (all by Chef David McMillan - available at Canyon in NE Dallas); and Sevy's Caesar Salad Dressing, and Sweet Ancho Chile Relish (by Chef Sevy Severson - available at our restaurant). According to Anne Connally, owner of Canyon, more chefs, products and stores will be coming on-line soon. Hopefully HEB's sister store, Central Market, will help gourmands in Dallas get some of these goodies!

Dallas Zoo To Do Hullabaloo, It's Fun for Kids Too

They don't write any better than Bob, he's my favorite DMN columnist (after Kevin Sherrington, of course) and he wrote about the upcoming (September 13th) event in yesterdays column, so follow the link. I would like to add that since our kids became teenagers we've enlisted their (and a few of their friends) help in our booth, now it's their favorite event of the year. And last year I noticed many guests bringing young'uns, I mean how cool is it to have a private party at the zoo? At night? And with unlimited Paciugo? So this year, show your kids that excellence doesn't "just happen", it takes work - but sometimes the work can be fun. Buy a seat for your kid, bring them along and help us help the Dallas Zoo. Find out more here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do You Know Any of These People?

I've always said that for a big city, Dallas is a small town. I found a copy of Cocktails to Coffee (1936), by the Dallas Council of Jewish Women at Half-Price Books one day, and since then have wondered if anyone's treasured family recipes are within.

Here's a roll call of active contributors: Mrs. Milton Loeb, Mrs. Helen Haas, Mrs. Julius Adler, Mrs. I. Levy, Mrs. Chas. A Levi, Mrs. Albert Kramer, Mrs. Gus Roos, Mrs. Irvine Weil. Anyone you recognize?

From Mrs. Helman Rosenthal, a drink recipe called Tutti Frutti: This is made in a large Mason jar using the fresh fruit as it comes into season. First, a layer of strawberries on the bottom of the jar, completely cover the fruit with sugar, alcohol and one half water. Put the top back on the jar and put aside until another variety makes its appearance. Fresh pineapple cut into pieces, large black cherries and white grapes are added in turn each time adding some sugar and the alcohol and the water until the jar is filled. The fruit will become quite firm and the mixture will keep indefinitely, if one desires.

Editors Note: Yum, but I would add the step of refrigerate, refrigerate, refrigerate. And while no type of alcohol is noted, I would say that this sounds "Absolut"-ely delicious!

Great Food Reads for Summer

Maybe you're headed out, maybe you're staying in, but nothing is as enjoyable in the summer as a good book. Sharing a few of my favorites, here's the short list.

Hey Waitress!: The USA From the Other Side of the Tray, by Alison Owings. A mosaic of interviews that combine waitress profiles with national historical events (think Five and Dime waitresses in Alabama in the 1960's). This is not a "slam the low tipper" book, but elevates the profession through insightful perspectives on human nature.

The Food Lover's Guide to France, by Patricia Wells. On a budget and can't make it out of town, let alone France? This book will transport you there. You'll find yourself flipping back to each regional map to pinpoint where that beautifully described dish is served (and it includes recipes). Thank goodness there's Bijoux and Toulouse you can visit, if the budget allows.

Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl. The author, famous for her New York Times reviews while heavily disguised, includes in her memoir events and recipes that formed her love of food. Each chapter is a separate vignette, making it easy to stop and start when you need to hop in the pool to cool off.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
, by Ruth Reichl. A juicier recount of her days dressed up in elaborate disguises and the restaurants she reviewed, than were published in the New York Times reviews. She didn't become one of the best by being a poor writer, it's great.

The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, by Michael Ruhlman. Another former New York Times writer, who originally did an article about the CIA, then took a leave of absence to write a first person account of being a student. Having spent time there while my hubby attended this school, it is a spot-on story about the heart and soul it takes to be in the program. This is not a story about a bunch of kids, most people attending are adults and their reasons for becoming chefs are fascinating.

OK, I don't claim to know it all, so if you'd like to share your favorite reads, please do!