Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mousse instead of Reindeer, oh my....


That is Chocolate Mousse, a dandy dessert, that is great at Christmas or anytime.  I got the recipe from The NY Times several years ago. It is easy to make and well, do I need to say it, tasty, too. Just make sure you have plenty of mixing bowls on hand.

Chocolate Mousse

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (I use brandy or cognac)

1. Place a double boiler or small saucepan over low heat, and melt butter and chocolate together. Just before chocolate finishes melting, remove pan from stove and beat chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth. (a sauce pan works just fine, if you keep your heat on low.)
see no sticking!!

2. Transfer chocolate mixture to a bowl and beat in egg yolks with a whisk. Place bowl in refrigerator.

3.  Beat egg whites with half the sugar until they hold stiff peaks but are not dry. Set aside. Beat cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla until it holds peaks.

4. Stir a couple of spoonfuls of egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit, then fold in remaining egg whites thoroughly but gently. Fold in cream and refrigerate until chilled. If you are in a hurry divide mousse in individual dishes.. It will chill much faster.
Serve with in a day or two of making it.

It is a creamy fun dessert.
Yield: 4 servings.

Quote of the Day:
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Boston Cream Pie hits Topeka...

for a birthday bash.
My great niece, Cassidy,  turned 18 in November. We had a delayed celebration this week. I made Boston Cream Pie.

Here is the recipe:

Boston Cream Pie
Photo: Boston Cream Pie Recipe Total Time:
2 hr 0 min
1 hr 15 min
45 min
8 to 10 servings
For the cake:
  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the pudding:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
For the glaze:
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch-round cake pan. Fold a sheet of parchment paper into a square, then fold it in half into a triangle. Fold the triangle in half. Put the tip of the triangle in the center of the pan; trim the parchment, following the curve of the pan. Unfold the parchment circle and line the pan.
Make the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until pale and tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Gently fold in the flour mixture in two additions using a rubber spatula, scraping down the bowl.
Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and beat with the mixer until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack. Invert again and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the pudding: Heat the milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat (do not boil). Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and salt and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then gradually whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture.
Pour the egg-milk mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until thick and pudding-like, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, using a rubber spatula to push the pudding through. Let cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Stick toothpicks around the side of the cake as a guide for cutting two even layers, then slice the cake in half horizontally with a long serrated knife.
Place the bottom half of the cake cut-side up on a platter. Top with the pudding, spreading it to about 1/4 inch from the edge. Carefully place the other cake half on top, cut-side down, pressing gently.
Make the glaze: Heat the chocolate, cream, vanilla and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes, then pour over the cake and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours before serving.

Quote of the day: How old would you be, if you didn't know how old you are? Satchel Paige

Friday, November 23, 2012

Asparagus and Beet Salad, can't beat it......

and it's so pretty!!!!

I was invited to a Thanksgiving gathering and part of that invitation included bringing along a side dish, which is such a great thing, everyone sharing in the preparation of a meal, community in its best design. I thought this over a lot, this side dish. I thought green beans with almonds, broccoli with orange sauce, country beets, Brussel sprout hash and on and on. Nothing was sounding right, so I went online and came across this recipe. The good thing about this dish, I didn't have to worry about how to keep it warm and it offered up a variety of veggies. (Also, when i arrived at the dinner, there were green beans and brussel sprouts already represented, whew. Glad I went with my gut.)

I altered the recipe somewhat, but I will share the original with notes.

Asparagus and Beet Salad

  • 1/2 pound asparagus (I used 1.25 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (6 tablespoons and a splash)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) sliced beets (fresh beets)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzos
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons roasted, salted pistachios (used unsalted)
  • Salt (just a sprinkle)


Boiling water
Icy water
  1. Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Cut spears diagonally into 1-inch lengths. (The asparagus I found was very thin, so I did not cut it up.)
  2. 2. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, bring about 1 inch water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook just until tender-crisp when pierced, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water. Lift out when cold.
  3. 3. Dry the frying pan and add cumin. Stir over low heat just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour cumin into a wide bowl and add lemon juice.
  4. 4. Drain beets and garbanzos, rinse with cool water, and drain again. Add to bowl along with asparagus, onion, cilantro, and pistachios. Mix and add salt to taste.

The garbanzos are a bit problematic. They have a tendency to sink to the bottom of the bowl. So, the salad needs to be tossed often. Next time I make this, I may cut way back on the garbanzos, maybe add more beets or find another something to substitute them altogether. Any suggestions?????
Quote of the day:Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.  Henry Van Dyke

Oh, a little trivia, I was listening to NPR yesterday and they said that if a person prepared a Thanksgiving meal from start to finish with all the fixings and desserts that the preparer would burn 700 calories.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Buckwheat and pancakes, Buckwheat in pancakes,....

Buckwheat is for pancakes, and buckwheat is gluten free, ya'll!!!

I woke up early, 3:30ish. Don't know why, but it's been a productive morning: Laundry done (well most of it), dishes done, dogs walked (poo and pee; no, that is not their names), journal writing (three pages) and a run to the grocery store for some Grade A dark amber maple syrup and Hodgson Mill Buckwheat Flour. I had a hankerin' for some pancakes, substantial pancakes with flavor and texture. Buckwheat fills the bill and they are pretty, too.

I followed the pancake recipe on the back of the buckwheat flour sack with a few minor modifications.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 heaping tsp. cinnamon (modification)
1 heaping tsp ground ginger (modification)
1 egg beaten
1 cup milk (modification, I used hemp milk)
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat griddle of large skillet (cast iron works great!!) on med high, grease lightly with oil. Griddle is ready when small drops of water  sizzle and disappear almost immediately.
Mix dry ingredients together; add egg, milk and butter, beating each well after each addition. Pour 1/4 cup on griddle, as many as it will take without pancakes touching. Watch for the bubbles on top of the pancake, when there are a lot, flip and let cook for a minute more.
Mmm, mmm, good!

Quote of the day:

I happen to know everything there is to know about maple syrup! I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit on my hair when I've had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick? Jeremy Grey "Wedding Crashers"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Foghorn Leghorn size wings at the Hay Merchant...

...and I ain't telling no tall tale. Just look at the size of those wings!!!! Lordy, Lordy, I swear that ol' chicken hawk caught up to Foghorn Leghorn, but I think Foghorn is a bit too crafty for that.

The wings at the Hay Merchant are huge. They come three to a plate and they fill up the plate nicely. Since, I'm not telling any tall tales, I will tell you why I ended up at the Hay Merchant in the first place. I was craving a Korean Fried Chicken dish that I used to get at Nabi's. Sadly, Nabi's has left the city, but it didn't stop the craving. I was driving around in my neighborhood, trying to figure out where I could find something similar. My taste buds told my car to drive to the Hay Merchant. Smart car for listening!!! I found a parking place straight away, a good sign, if ever there was one. The parking lot was full except for the one spot.

I sat at a table near the bar, great service by the way!!!! I looked over the menu. Immediately saw fried chicken, but that wasn't exactly the fried chicken I was looking for. I wanted chicken with a kick to it. Then I saw the Vietnamese Chicken Wings.

The description sold me right away. Wings lightly dusted with flour fried up in a caramelized fish sauce with local honey. My taste buds knew that we had landed in the right place. I ordered some fries, to go along with the wings. Got to get those veggies in somehow. (I say that tongue in check.)

To wash it all down, I had the Bombshell Blonde Shandy. This drink was mixed with Bombshell Blonde Ale and house made lemon-ginger soda. It was the perfect drink for the meal; tangy, sweet and perky.
Sometimes it pays to let your taste buds do the driving.

Quote of the Day: "Walky, Talky, Hawky" A Loony Tunes cartoon. http://vimeo.com/34727339

The Hay Merchant
1100 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 528-9805

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm just wild about Harry and Harry's just wild.....

about breakfast!!!!!!

 I stopped in Harry's on Tuam, which turns into Fairview, for a late breakfast.

The place was packed, a line for a table, so I took the empty seat at the counter. It was on the end, so I had plenty of room to pull out my camera (phone) and notepad. The very best thing about Harry's is the fresh squeezed orange juice. They have a juicer out in plane view, squeezing OJ like there's no tomorrow.

Something else I like about Harry's, they make Buckwheat pancakes. Something that is good for wheat sensitive people like me. (I still eat wheat, but the Buckwheat offers a nice break.) They have great basic breakfast and I love breakfast. The pancakes come with two eggs and two strips of bacon.

More than enough to cover breakfast and lunch, which is exactly what it did.  I have never had any other meal at Harry's, perhaps I need to try lunch. They are not open for dinner.

Quote of the Day: I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.---Steven Wright

Harry's Restaurant & Cafe
318 Tuam Street 
Houston, TX 77006

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Los Dos Amigos, it is worth a visit....

Los Dos Amigos is a small Mexican restaurant on Washington. It is right across the street from Wabash Feed Store. You can't miss it with its extreme Pink exterior. Today I went there with my friend Bob. He is the one that convinced me to go there years back. Glad I took him up on the suggestion. Today, I had the Caldo del Res (Vegetable Beef Soup). It comes with large freshly chopped carrots, cabbage, zucchini, potato, topped with cilantro.  This is goooooooooooood soup.
Bob had the Menuto, which he says is the best anywhere.

They have excellent breakfast, too.  It's a lip smacker, I'm telling ya!!!

Quote of the Day: All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Los Dos Amigos
5720 Washington Avenue  
Houston, TX 77007
713. 862. 0462

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cheeseless Quiche of the day; you may ask why....

...you'll find the answer at The House of Tea.  I love quiche, but cheese and I don't always see eye to eye, so it was a pleasure to find a really great tasting quiche without cheese.

It was loaded with fresh asparagus, garlic, red pepper, dill, onion, mushrooms and avocado. Nice flaky crust, too. If you order the Quiche Delight it comes with a cup of soup and tea for $10. What a deal. I'm sure that other days there is cheese in the quiche for  traditional quiche lovers, but today was my lucky quiche day. The soup today was potato leek.

The House of Tea is a great tea shop as well as a place for healthy lunch items. The menu is small, but the items are well prepared and flavorful. The atmosphere is quiet casual.

 Quote of the Day: “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
Mark Twain

House of Tea
1927 Fairview St.  
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 522-8868

Friday, September 7, 2012

Nabi has left the building.....

Sadly, one of my very favorite restaurants has closed. The scuttlebutt around the lower Westheimer area is that Chef Ji Kang is striking out in a new direction. That he sold Nabi to pursue a new concept in dining. I have not a clue what that is, but I wish him the very very best. Ji is a talented chef with an exceptional table-side manner. He will be missed in the neighborhood.

I stopped by the Nabi building just to see for myself what was going on, the door was a jar, I called in to see if anyone would come to the front of the restaurant, a young man did. "What happened to Chef Ji Kang, to Nabi?" I asked, trying not to sound too whiny. He didn't know the details, but he did tell me that Nabi will be transformed into a Mexican Restaurant in two months. I am a bit unsure about this new development, but maybe it stems from my disappointment that Nabi is gone. I will not pass judgement until I have taken fork to mouth and tasted the food at this new Mexican restaurant.

Chef Ji Kang all the best to you. Don't be a stranger. Let us know where you plan to cook next. Love your food.

Thanks for the memories!!! Yummmm!!!

Quote of the day: Parting is such sweet sorrow..... W. Shakespeare

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's get JUICED at Roots Juice...

the happy sister of Roots Bistro and right next door, too.

Think Sunday Brunch, think fresh Quail Eggs, whole kernel polenta mixed with goat cheese, a freshly squeezed glass of organic juice called The Fuel (carrot, ginger, apple, beet, spinach, lemon) and you will be sitting squarely in the middle of Roots Juice.
Quail Eggs and Polenta with Goat Cheese

It is so pretty and oh so good.

I went with friends Flora and Cath to celebrate Flora's birthday. It was a perfect day for a celebration, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, conversation and laughter poured from us as we enjoyed our farm to table BRUNCH. Lovely!!!!!
Cath had the Quail Egg and handmade biscutt

Flora had the grill pork with polenta (different from the polenta I had)

If you haven't tried either one of these restaurants, please do.

The atmosphere is friendly, casual and comfortable. I love the tables and chairs. I believe they are re-purposed. The coasters are former menus, cut up in squares. The food is fresh. What more could you ask for?

The menu changes daily and in accordance to what is available at the market.

Quote of the Day: 
"We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are." Adelle Davis
I was standing in line waiting to order and a young man was standing in front of me. "I guess the secret is out about Roots Juice," smiling broadly.


Roots Juice
Roots Bistro
507 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006