Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Posts and Holding

Wow, I thought, I'm already at 10 posts.  Then I looked up and saw it was 5:22 pm and I'm still sitting in my pj's.  In my defense, I've also stopped to print about 70 extra New Years Eve menus for the restaurant since it turns out we've got a very busy evening ahead.  I've done all the easier posts on my list, the ones left may take more time to properly write than I have time left.  So I'm first going to shower and change, then see what I can do from there.  And I may post a few to kick off the New Year tomorrow as well.

Rear Window - that makes Hitchcock movie number 5 for today.

UPDATE:  No more time for more posts, but am posting an update to "Too Much Cheer?  Take A Cab".  Tomorrow look for chocolate bacon, Robin Haas, "C is for Capacity", and midlife crisis - not all at once.

Cooking Classes for a New Decade

The most wonderful Freda Ballas sent me the Winter 2010 schedule for the 16th year of cooking classes at the Dallas Farmer's Market, co-produced  by the Dallas Farmers Market Friends and D/FW Chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food.  Classes begin Saturday January 9th through Saturday February 6th and the cost is $25 if you prepay ($30 at the door) or you can buy a five-class package for $110, call 214-653-8088 for more information.  The lineup:

Jan. 9 - James Neel of Tramontana "Soulful Winter Cooking"
Jan. 16 - Joanne Bondy of Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord "The World of Cheese"
Jan. 23 - Billy Webb of Opio at the Park Cities Hilton "Opio Cooks at the Farmer's Market"
Jan. 30 - Dan Landsberg of Tillman's Roadhouse "Super Bowl at the Farmer's Market"
Feb. 6 - j W Foster of the Pyramid Restaurant and Bar at the Fairmont Hotel "Foraging the Texas Landscape"

If you happen to go to Billy's class, ask him "how to cook" those award-winning show dogs he raises.

What's Going Up at the Dallas Zoo?

Glad you asked.  A mid-December ZooTube update from Sean Greene takes you through the new additions to the Giants of the Savannah exhibit.  From a cafe with a side of windows that have an up-close view of lions and cheetahs, to the observatory being built above the elephants' "Tembo Janga" home.  All due to be finished by Spring 2010.

Home Cooking - Monkey Bread

Sunday after Christmas we had our extended family breakfast at my sister-in-law's home, she cooked for 11 adults and kids and I confess we did not bring one thing to eat (bad).  She made two batches of Monkey Bread, and during the meal mentioned that they now sell Monkey Bread "kits" at certain retailers for around $20.  Which is interesting, because all you really need is a bundt pan, and Tom Thumb sells those for about $12 if you don't already have one. 

So to save you anywhere from $20 to $8, here's the recipe you can make in less than 10 minutes at home.

1 can refrigerated Country Biscuits (large can of the large biscuits)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix sugar and cinnamon in bowl.  Open biscuit can and slice each biscuit into 6 wedges.  Roll each wedge into a ball, roll in melted butter and then in sugar mixure.  Place in bottom of ungreased bundt pan, layer by layer.  When finished sprinkle remaining sugar around top and pour remaining butter over sugar.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Invert immediately on plate, let set 1 - 2 minutes before removing bundt pan.

10 out of 11 monkeys loved this recipe.

100 Years Ago

Let's take a moment to look back at cooking a century ago.  The Alfalfa Cook Book (Second Edition, 1909) compiled by the Ladies of the Roswell Cemetary Association gives us a glimpse into "what was cooking" in the Southwest at the time.  The advertisements point to an era where kitchen cabinets were what we later called "cupboards" - furniture pieces transportable by families should they move.  There are ads for differing stoves, the Garland Stove competed against the Majestic Range in this market, both appear to be wood-burning.

In the section labeled "Mexican Dishes", Higinia Paredes submitted a recipe for Green Chile with Cream
Roast about eight green pepper pods on top of stove.  Place in cold water till you can slip the skins off, cut off stem ends.  Place in a bowl and mash fine, add two medium sized tomatoes, skinned and mashed.  Place in a frying pan a very little lard, when hot cut up one onion fine and fry until tender.  Then add chile and tomatoes, cook a few moments and add a cup of cream.  Salt to taste and serve hot.
Mrs. S. L. Ogle submitted a recipe titled Texas Lyonnaise Potatoes
Put two tablespoons butter or bacon grease into a frying pan.  When melted add an onion chopped fine, cook two or three minutes.  Add six cold boiled potatoes sliced into strips, seasoned with salt and pepper, fry to a light brown.  The addition of a little chopped parsley and a few drops of lemon juice gives a savory flavor.
I'm not quite sure what made that "Texas".  Mrs. J. P. Dyer submitted Chile Sauce as follows: 
Two quarts ripe tomatoes, four cups vinegar, four quarts onions, three tablespoons sugar, four red peppers or cayenne, two tablespoons salt, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.  Boil all together.
Peach Sweet Pickles?  Apparently so, by Mrs. Otto Hedgcoxe: 
If desired sweet take 7 pounds of peeled peaches to 2 pounds sugar, or if preferred sour, use 10 pounds of fruit to 3 pounds of sugar.  1 quart of apple cider, stick whole cloves in peaches and put allspice and cnnamon in muslin bag and cook with fruit sugar and vinegar.
But my favorite, written by Minnie B. Sharp was for Potato Split Biscuit, written in rhyme and with a sense of humor:

I start at nine o'clock, that is, have potatoes baked by then,
At nine in the morning have baked to a turn
Two large, white potatoes - be careful not to burn;
Half and half mix a teacup of butter and lard
With a pinch of fine salt, nor the process retard
Till you add the potatoes, mashed fine and still hot
      (I rice my potatoes)
And two well beaten eggs, but yet you must not
Forget that a teacup of milk you will need
Which you scald and then cool - 'tis a trouble indeed;
In this you dissolve one cake compressed yeast
And a large spoon of sugar, and last but not least,
Add one quart of flour and stir all together.
     (Stir at first, then lightly knead.)
And set away to rise until light as a feather
At noon you must stir in one pint sifted flour
Then leave quite alone till five, at which hour
Turn carefully out on your bread board the dough
With a wee bit of flour, not more you must know,
Roll thin and cut small, then arrange them by twos
One on top of the other and then if you choose
Bake them quickly, when once they are risen again
And they will soften the hearts of the crossest of men.

Gift and Take

Favorite thing I gifted?  A Mexican lime tree duded up with decorations.

Favorite thing I got?  A cupcake tree, which has been eaten and refilled once already.

Four Posts, Four Movies

Turner Classic Movies is having a series of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, so far I've seen Marnie, Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, and now Vertigo.  Time for some popcorn in our nifty new popper, a gift from brother-in-law Mark. 

And it's not as hard to clean as I thought it would be.

Opportunity Missed

We had "date night" last night, went to a very crowded Dallas mall to see Sherlock Holmes, so crowded was this mall it took us over 20 minutes to find a parking place.  On our way up the escalator, hubby noticed tucked in the back corner a chain restaurant, well, that I had quite a rant about earlier this year.  Sister was going to a movie that was ending an hour later than ours, we figured we'd be hungry after, so hubby asked, "Do you want to give it a try?"

Hesitant after our last visit (at a different location), I agreed in the interest of follow-up.  Seven o'clock we exit the theater, mall's even fuller and the restaurant was on a 30 minute wait - people in their large waiting area were lying down, so apparently they had settled in.  We decided to check out their bar - all bar seats and tables full, then we looked in their back room.  Not a staff member in sight in the room for the two minutes we looked, but the manager made two full rounds of the rest of the restaurant, doing what I couldn't figure out.  Every single of the 20 or so tables were devoid of guests, the only occupants were the unbussed plates and glasses on about half.  Apparently at one point in the day they had somebody waiting on these tables, why would they stop?

We left, shaking our heads at this missed opportunity.  You pay the top rent, you have to turn the tables - all of them - in this economy, which requires appropriate staffing.  How can such a large, publicly traded company afford to miss such opportunities and stay in business?

It turned to our advantage for the evening however, we crossed Central Expressway to the new Park Lane development and visited a new brewpub, enjoying wonderful service with good food comparably priced to the restaurant's inside the mall.  And satisfied we didn't miss the opportunity to experience someplace better.

Too Much Cheer? Take A Cab Tonight

Seriously, nobody wants to hurt anyone else and it is such an easy option to either 1) limit consumption or 2) get a cab .  And I watch TXCN almost every morning between 3:30 and 5:00, it sounds like every single police force possible will be on patrol tonight looking for overimbibers.  Here's a site to help you plan ahead to stay below the drunk driving limit, it also has some handy FAQ's about getting sober "myths".

One of my girlfriends adds about 1/3 club soda to her wine, personally if it's not exquisite wine I've been known to add a couple ice cubes to the last half of a glass of chardonnay.  It's about enjoying consumption, but also being able to drive safely.

So do whatever it takes, maybe for some that means staying home and enjoying the holidays to their utmost.  Just don't take it on the road.

UPDATE:  Apparently there's "An APP for that", was catching up with today's Wall Street Journal about an application you can download to let you know if you're too drunk to drive.  Brilliant.   I don't have an I-Phone but I'm going to see if there's something like that for mine.

Delights From Michigan

It's become so easy to ship food to relatives in other states, in prior years we've been the sender and recipient of The Mozzarella Company, Lou Malnati's Pizza Hot Damn Tamales, and Steve Connolly Seafood.  This year we received something new from our Michigan brethren, and from the time we opened the plain  box exterior, this gift was a delight.

Jim and I grew up in Michigan, but in the Green/White part of the state, not the Maize/Blue part, so Zingerman's Deli was new to us.  Within this box, 100% covered with art, were four crusty loaves of flavored breads.  They came wrapped in similarly artistic paper bags that included instructions for heating or freezing for later consumption.  Also included were enough large plastic bags and twistees to double bag each loaf should they not be able to be consumed immediately. 

Our box arrived on the eve of Christmas Eve so we enjoyed a loaf of Cranberry Pecan Bread and half a  Roadhouse Loaf on Christmas morning, baked to the instructions on the bag they were outstanding. We froze the other half of the Roadhouse as well as the Chocolate Sourdough and 8 Grain to enjoy on New Years morning.

I see from their website that they have many more delicious products that can be shipped, including their Peppered Bacon Farm Bread and items especially for the New Year.  I can see ordering this as a gift again in the future, maybe even to gift to ourselves!

Let's Get This Party Started

I started my New Years Eve Blog-A-Thon last year thinking I would be spending the evening at home while Sevy worked down at the restaurant.  There were so many New Years A-Thons going on, and I had a to-do list of posts that had been growing not shrinking - it seemed like a fun way to end the year.  I ended up being invited to my own restaurant by friends and spending the evening with those I love, but I still managed to get in 10 posts during the day.  

This year I thought the same, an evening as a work widow, but was invited to dine at the home of some friends later this evening so I'll be working with the same time period to complete my posts as last year.  While I have a list, I have not pre-written any of these, except in my head.  And because I am very bad about editing before posting (STOP, reread, post), several errors will have to be revisited and corrected.

Part of being married to a chef is not minding that he works nights.  And some of those nights are holidays.  It's never been a problem, we have many other nights that we can spend celebrating and to tell the truth, for an early bird like me midnight is not so attainable, nor desireable.  Because it is the busiest night of the year for most restaurants (Valentines comes in second) those who love the heat and the scurry of a busy, well-running kitchen love being at work on this evening.  That would be the man I married.

Welcome to my Blog-A-Thon, and yes this counts as post #1.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!

Come and celebrate the end of a forgettable year and toast the beginning of 2010, we'll be open from 5:00 - 11:00! We've put together a special four-course menu (below) with our best specials for $69.95 - with multiple choices in each course to satisfy all tastes. If you're planning an earlier dinner, we are also offering a three-course menu for $49.95 available from 5:00 - 6:30 pm. We take reservations for all size get-togethers, make yours today! Contact Jimmy, Stefaan or Amy M. at , (214)265-7389, or at .

Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Crostini

Choice of:
Fresh Baby Greens, Shaved Fennel, and Red Onion with Warm Mozzarella Croutons and Citrus Vinaigrette
Crispy Calamari Rings with Zesty Cocktail and Tartar Sauces
Our "Award Winning" Caesar Salad (add "The Works" if you wish)
"Chunky" Lobster Bisque, Creme Fraiche and Fresh Tarragon
Caramelized Onion and Mascarpone Tart with Balsamic Fig Reduction
Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Dilled Tiny Green Beans, Remoulade and Cocktail Sauces
Grilled Kobe Beef Skewers, Sevy's Steak Sauce and Crispy Sweet Potato Shoestrings
Truffled Duck Confit Hash, on bed of Wild Mushrooms and Blackberry Thyme Sauce
Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops over Corn and Smoked Bacon "Chowder" Sauce with Crispy Green Onion

Choice of:
Seared Snapper Fillet a la "Lobster Oscar", Asparagus Spears, Maine Lobster, Hollandaise Sauce and  Creamy Orzo Pasta
Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp, Tarragon Linguini, Roasted Red Pepper Butter and Tiny Green Beans
Marinated Pair of Quail, Creamy Jalapeno Grits, Chipotle Raspberry Sauce and Grilled Corn Pico
Beef Tenderloin Filet, Truffle Whipped Potatoes, Roasted Portabellas, and Cabernet Sauce
Herbed Lamb Chops, Creamy Roasted Garlic Polenta, Ratatouille, and Minted Zinfandel Sauce
Sea Bass Fillet, Artichoke Whipped Potatoes, Lemon Caper Butter, Smoked Salmon Salad
Dry Aged New York Strip, Grilled Vegetables, "Loaded" Stuffed Potato, Bearnaise Sauce
Fresh Maine Lobster Tail with Fresh Asparagus, Angel Hair Pasta, Drawn Butter and Lemon
Half Maine Lobster and Half Beef Tenderloin, The Best of Both Worlds!

Choice of:
Dark Chocolate Mousse with Toasted Hazelnuts
Fresh Berries with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream (Also available simply plain)
Warm Flourless Chocolate Torte with White Chocolate Ice Cream and Chocolate Streaks
Three Citrus Pie with Fresh Berry Puree
Crispy Apple Pecan Chimichanga with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Have a Happy and Safe New Years Holiday!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2nd Annual Blog-A-Thon New Years Eve

I'll have a few between now and then, but I think I'll try to beat last years 10 posts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Art of the Toast

Some say the toast originated as an ancient offering of blood or wine to the "Gods", held up while offering a plea or wish from the deity.   The word "Toast" was given to this action at a much later date, and is believed to be linked to the floating of spiced toasted bread on wine (of which there are claims that this was to offset the flavor of wine gone bad).  By the end of the 19th century, it became a poetic art of gentility as well as a randy source of humour, and many were published in books until prohibition.

Recently I purchased such a book, "Over the Nuts & Wine, A Book of Toasts" by James Clarence Harvey (1906, H.M.Caldwell Co. publishers), who in his foreword claims,  "It should be a coherent, cohesive pastel in prose or verse, illuminating some one particular thought or line of thought, and when that is complete - sit down.  Many a man has overturned an excellent reputation by not knowing when to sit down", or in poetic form in his The Soul of the Toast:

It isn't so much what you say,
    Or the word - that is heard;
It's the spirit within and the way
    That the heart-strings are stirred.

It isn't so much what you drink,
    Nor the how-nor the where;
It's the truth, in the things that you think,
    That is fair - that is rare.

It isn't the drink, in the bowl,
    With its flow - cheers you so;
It's the radiant glow of the Soul
    Of the Toast - don't you know!

Or this toast, from "After the Town Goes Dry" by Henry C. Taylor (1919, The Howell Publishing Companty), written during the first years of prohibition:

Little drops of water,
    Little drops of rye,
Make a darned good highball
    When a man is dry.

Or here's my favorite, from "Buttered Toasts" by Fred Emerson Brooks (1916, Forbes & Company publishers) called A Human Prayer:

May all the weary ones find rest,
    And those who mourn be comforted;
Those lonely be with friendship blest;
    And every hungry soul be fed.
Let those who toil have fair reward;
    All homeless ones get shelter kind;
God grant no task be made too hard;
    And may each prayer its heaven find.

To which I can only say, "Hear, hear"!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December Food and Wine Dinner

Happy Holidays!

Sometimes the season just doesn't have enough evenings to see old friends, so we're having our monthly Food and Wine Dinner on Monday, December 28th, to give you another evening to enjoy sharing time with those you love. Reception begins at 6:30 pm, four specially created dishes paired with wines that compliment each course, $59.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Seating is limited, reservations are required (no OpenTable reservations, please), contact Jimmy, Stefaan or Amy M. at , or (214) 265-7389.

Additionally, Sevy's Grill will be open all day and evening on Christmas Eve, and for dinner on Christmas night. We will be offering special holiday items, such as Herbed Prime Rib and Maine Lobster Tail, along with our regular dinner menu.

Holiday Crostini
Valditerra Gavi

Jonah Crab Gratin with Sourdough Toasts
Talley, Chardonnay, Arroyo Vista, 2004

Crisped Duck Confit, Braised Lentils and Duck Sausage
XYZIN “50 Year Vines” Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, 2005

Peppered Beef Tenderloin, Sweet Potato and Wild Mushroom Hash with Roasted Shallot Cabernet Sauce
Buehler Cabernet, Napa Valley, 2006

Apple Pecan Tart, Brule Sugar Crust, Cinnamon Ice Cream and Caramel Streaks
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise

and Catering!
8201 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75225

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Park Cities Prime Now Preston's?

At the annual holiday meeting for our investment club, The Syndicate, somebody mentioned that Park Cities Prime had changed to Preston's.  I claimed "Not", since I had driven by their location the day before and could swear the sign still said Park Cities Prime.  But my fellow club member, and wife of a steakhouse owning chef, promptly whipped out her latest Passbook savings book and showed me the ad.  Same address.

"For a Truly Organic Experience, It's Preston's", where they explain they are utilizing the most natural food ingredients, but nothing about steaks.  Anyhow the coupon is worth up to a $47 value (Purchase one menu item at regular price, get one lesser-priced menu item FREE - one per table) and if $47 is the lesser-priced item, I'd guess the price point for their entrees is rather high.

UPDATE:  Just drove by, and the sign does say Park Cities Prime, and Teresa Gubbins at Pegasus News has the real scoop of what is actually transpiring.  And I swear, swear I did not know about Gene's involvement before the previous post - it has always been a joy to be his neighbor.

Yet Another Reason To Love Gene Street

His holiday decorating.

Why even try to outdo the decorations his neighbors put up?  They hire professionals and it takes about 3 weeks to decorate so he's found his own brand of holiday colorful cheer.

I'll take a neighbor with a multi-color sense of humor any day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Applause Elfs Needed

I can't write this any better, so I'm just cut/pasting the e-mail I received from Abacus yesterday:
On Saturday, December 12, Abacus will be hosting its 6th annual Seats for Soldiers event where we provide a three course meal to military personnel that have either been wounded in combat or have recently returned home from a year of active duty overseas. Over 150 soldiers will arrive at the Abacus parking lot at 5 p.m. and we would like to ask you to join us in giving them a standing ovation as they make their way into Abacus and to their seats. This is truly a great opportunity for us all to get into the holiday spirit and show our appreciation for all that they do. Happy Holidays and I hope to see you on Saturday!

No RSVP necessary for those wishing to participate, if you want to welcome the deserved troops you need to be at Abacus by 4:30 pm. And dress appropriately for the weather, you'll be outside - the restaurant is closed to all but the service personnel until 7:30 pm.  
(Note - Best wishes to my nephew Kenny who is leaving Dallas for basic training in San Antonio this weekend.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Home Cooking - Smells Like the Holidays

The wafting scent of turkey soup followed me from the house to Tom Thumb this morning, apparently a "seller" there as well, the lady ahead of me in the check-out had purchased a quart of theirs.   The air was heavy with the same aroma that permeated my own home, having simmered our turkey carcass for most of Sunday evening.  I'm a turkey soup traditionalist - a must have at the holidays when an easy home meal is desired.  It's such a waste not to squeeze the most out of the deliciousness of Thanksgiving, and the flavor delivers on the promise of the odor. 

Also today I'm making a batch of my Grade A Snack Mix to send to a few of the boys in the Class of 2009 - a week ago or so we (The Moms) had a meeting to pack 29 finals study-aid boxes to ship to our freshmen.  There were a few boys who did not have a mom to represent them at the party, so I'm making an extra batch of my treat to send them for their finals and including notes from some of their old teachers within.

So much holiday goodness comes to us through our sense of smell, and while there are many, many good turkey soup recipes out there, there is only ONE Grade A Snack Mix recipe to make your home smell delicious.  And it makes a terrific holiday gift for friends, neighbors or hostesses.

1 stick (8 TBL) butter
4 TBL Worcestershire sauce
3 TBL Sevy seasoning
2 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Cumin
8-10 shakes (1/2 - 1 tsp?) Tabasco (depends on how much heat you prefer)
3 generous cups Corn Mix cereal
3 generous cups Rice Mix cereal
3 generous cups Wheat Mix cereal
1 1/2 cups pretzel sticks
1 1/2 cups peanuts (optional - you can also substitute Cheez-Its for non-nut eaters)

Heat oven to 275 degrees, put butter on sheet tray and let melt.  Add Worcestershire, Tabasco and seasonings to butter on sheet tray, stir for a few minutes and allow salts to dissolve.  Spread butter mix evenly over sheet tray.  In bowl, mix remaining ingredients and pour over butter mixture.  Stir delicately to coat all with butter mixture.  Place in oven, stir and turn mixture every 20-30 minutes for about 90 minutes to 2 hours - coated cereal should be crunchy, not soggy.

One batch makes approximately 7 zip-lock sandwich bags full of mix.