Month of February Goals

February 3, 2015

It seems that I get food smell memories since my stroke.  The most recent is a good sauerbraten with braised red cabbage.  So I’ll do a little shopping tomorrow after physical therapy and then start making some. I am going to use Alton Brown’s recipe. My ex used it as a base once, and it was quite delicious.

I also want to make soup dumplings.  I first read about them 4 years ago when dating my now-husband. Since they’ve gained popularity in the last few years, I figure why not try them? The nearest place to get them is in Washington, DC, though, so I’ll make them myself. I figure I can use part of the liquid and meat from the sauerbraten to make a mix for the filling.    Pictures and recipes to follow.

Texas Baklava

I had once seen a movie that featured people of Greek descent. (Guess which movie it was.) It got me thinking about Greek food and a conversation I had a couple of years ago with a fellow pastry chef about phyllo dough. My colleague was of the opinion that phyllo is passé, an opinion that I do not share. Now, food trends come and go, but when a dish is truly delicious it endures. People come up with variations, but the basic components of a classic dish are still the same. Baklava is one of those dishes. The basic recipe has been around for centuries — layers of crisp buttery phyllo dough and honey-sweetened nuts. This is my Texas version. It satisfies my yen for sweet, a bit...

Tres Leches Cake: Mystery Solved

Another yummy blast from my past.  With something as delicious and easy-to-make as Tres Leches Cake, you’d think I would have long experience with it, but that’s not the case. As a dessert chef, the world of sweets is familiar territory, so my lack of knowledge about this cake added to the intrigue. I decided to explore the history of Tres Leches Cake — one of many Mexican dessert recipes that are commonplace to some, while foreign to others Tres Leches Cake History I first heard of this dessert from a baker who has been baking here in Austin for about fifty years. He didn’t really describe it, but just gave me a slice to try. I am always willing to try a new dessert, but milk cake?...

Fruitcake Subculture Conspiracy Revisited

Once upon a time wrote for a website called  My articles are still up there but I figured I would post up some of them here.  This first one is one of my favorites.  I hope you  enjoy it too. Somewhere in the recent past, society took a turn and a long-standing holiday tradition was transformed into a joke. So complete was this societal change that those daring to speak up for or defend fruitcake were virtually stoned by an angry mob. Fruitcake lovers were outcast, rejected and ridiculed by popular culture. So vitriolic was the anti-fruitcake feeling that those with differing views were forced to quietly seek out others who, like them, still appreciated the fruitcake. Soon, the outcasts began to find each other, and so,...

Recent Events

Sorry for the lack of updates. I had a stroke on August 30th, and although I’m able to get around I have some residual problems. Most seriously, I have a blind spot in my left eye. It’s been a slow recovery, but I am recovering. I actually cooked my first meal last week, a potato and pea soup.  I’m going to make a potato and corn chowder today.  Something with a bit of heat to battle the fall chill.

Mom’s Pasta Sauce

My Mom is probably one of the best chefs I’ve ever known.  She makes some mom staples: spaghetti and meatballs, beef stroganoff, peanut butter chicken, big breakfast, pirogi and stuffing are the dishes that I look forward to eating when I go home. Some of them even bring out my sisters and their families for dinner. I’ve decided I need to write down how she makes these items while she’s still willing and able to share the recipes with me.  Everyone is familiar with meatballs and red sauce, but there’s something about my Mom’s sauce, the flavor of her meatballs that just melt in your mouth. Never too spicy but with a flavor that dances on your tongue. They marry well with the sauce, which she sometimes enhances...

Showing Off My Collection

I have an addiction.  It can be pricy, it is heavy at times, and it can be totally gross too. I collect cookbooks. Very specific ones.  Older than I am.  Full of colorful pictures. With well-written recipes and information about their history. I have Vincent Prices’ cookbook just because he was AWESOME! I inherited a few of those pamphlet cookbooks, ones given out by grocery stores and food companies to promote their own products.  I love the kitschy art and the very traditional recipes, many of them are chock full of information. The first one to show off is The German and Viennese Cookbook by the Culinary Arts Institute. This is the front cover. (I just noticed I did not unfold the bottom properly.) The back cover is...

Planning a Wedding

Planning a wedding takes time.  You want to do it right so on the day of the event you can just hit auto-pilot and enjoy all that you have planned. So far we have a tight control on the numbers, about 150. That so far is just the folks I think might come or it would be rude to not invite.  It can be a messed up part of any event where money is on a strict budget and you do not want to be rude to family.  I feel that you do need to consider how a person or family member has interacted with you in the last 10 years or so to help decide if they are really worth having at an event.  I have decided...

Divorce, Engaged and a Wedding

This last month has been hectic. After five years my divorce was finalized. I was engaged a few days later. And that following weekend we went to Dave’s brother’s wedding. I will post about my own wedding plans later, this post is more about what I liked and disliked about the food experiences I had in Philly for this wedding. First off, with my recent diagnosis of diabetes I am trying to avoid all bread, pasta, and potatoes (at least until I get my glucose numbers down).  At home I have been fairly successful. I’ve also found several restaurants with low-carb options, extra fruit, salads instead of the starch or double veg.  I have to admit, I love Italian, LOVE it.  Pasta, which gently carries a sauce… creamy...

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

The movie of the week: I can’t begin to explain how great this movie is.  If you appreciate what a person can do with their innate talents, those who just luck into a job and strive to become the pinnacle of what they do, this is one of those movies for you. This movie tells the story of Jiro Ono, the owner of a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo, Japan.  He seeks to perfect his sushi preparation skills, and is considered a National Treasure of Japan. The film also touches upon his two sons, a former apprentice (who downplays the sons in a slightly smarmy way), his current apprentices, the tradespeople he deals with on a daily basis, and a restaurant critic. You’re shown how Jiro...