Everyday Gourmet

Everyday Gourmet
We've got a whisk, and we know how to use it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bed and Breakfasts That I Have Met

       In my limited travels I have met some good Bed and Breakfast Inns. On a short vacation to the coast of Maine my husband and I stayed in a lovely home, not luxurious, but lovely, near the town of York.We ate the obligatory lobster and waded in the cold Atlantic while the temperature in Texas was 100+, toured the town's old jail, put our heads and hands in the stocks that were meant to humiliate the law-breaker. Breakfast times provided good food and interesting conversations with a mix of people. Some were interested in our "take" on the U. S. Civil War since we were from the "South." The War gets fought over and over! The tour book had proclaimed this B&B breakfast an event. It was!  The most memorial dish was the ORANGE-THYME PANCAKES. I cannot remember the name of the inn, The travel book is packed away. The best I can do is to provide the recipe for the pancakes.

      Another good  B&B was The Hale House in Jefferson, Texas. Jill and Vaughan, our B&B lover friends, met us there for a mystery weekend in town. The dinner-mystery theatre was so-so, but the house had it's own ghost which added a nice dimension to our stay. AND for breakfast we were served FRUIT SOUP. That recipe is included.

        Good stops in Waco include Pam and Rick Allen's COLCORD HOUSE and the JUDGE BAYLOR HOUSE  owned and operated by Bruce and Dorothy Dyer. Both of these hosts/owners are gracious, accommodating, and the houses have ample room for eating and visiting.

        In my limited B&B experience I've met only one bad one. We were trying to save money. We didn't. My husband went out for breakfast every morning. The breakfast at the inn consisted of cereal in a bowl whose sanitation was suspect or toast, coffee and maybe orange juice from a carton. The rooms were unbearably cold. I have forgotten the name. I haven't even tried to remember. I just remember the adage--"You get what you pay for."

Orange Thyme Pancakes
Recipe modified from several sources on the internet.
2 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 salt
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t  ground thyme (or 1 t dried thyme)
1 3/4 c orange juice
2 eggs
1/4 melted butter

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Add orange juice and melted butter and mix well. Stir liquids into the dry ingredients. If batter seems stiff, add a little more orange juice. Do not over mix. Drop batter on griddle by spoonfuls. Turn when bubbles start to form on top. Serve with maple syrup or try with the Maple and Orange Pancake Sauce.

Maple and Orange Pancake Sauce
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c butter
Juice and grated peel of 2 oranges

Put the maple syrup into a small, heavy-based sauce pan. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir over low hear until smoothly blended and warm. Serve immediately.

Tropical Fruit Soup
Recipe from the Hale House
1 large can crushed or tidbit pineapple, with juice
1 can Coco Lopez 1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup water
Bananas, kiwi and/or strawberries
1/2 c toasted almonds for garnish and crunch

Combine first four ingredients in a blender. Blend 15-20 seconds. Chill overnight. When ready to serve, add sliced fruit. (I think some fresh blueberries and peaches would be good, too)

Please leave me a note and let me know of a good B&B--anywhere!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recipe for a Wonderful, Unexpected Vacation

by Jo Ann Miller (The Grandmother)

The following is a new recipe that I found over the weekend:

Gather a bunch of family (Your own mixture will work))
Mix together one State Mock Trial Competition for one day. (Almost any activity to bring you together)
The following cannot be changed:
Add at least 2 members not willing to go home after one day.
Mix in a spirit of adventure.
Stir up enthusiasm for finding an unbeaten path.
Results: A wonderful weekend.

All of this started with two grandsons participating in Mock Trial at Waco High. The team advanced to the State finals in Dallas. The Miller family, minus a few who had other things to do, went to Big D for the finals. By Friday Night we had all arrived and some of us found the way to Pappadeaux for a Mardi Gras dinner. (We choose to go there often when in "the city.") Mardi Gras celebration was in full swing. Lots of beads and lots of people. After a l-o-n-g wait we had crawfish etouffe, bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp stuffed with jalapena served over dirty rice, and  different desserts--turtle cheesecake and key lime pie.

To bed late and up early for the trial. Shivering we drove downtown, parked at the old Dallas County Court House and walked the George Allen Court House. Grandsons performed well and placed eighth in the state. Good work, David and Matthew, aka Buckeye Pawpaw.

Next stop--the free parking at Neiman-Marcus's valet lot and a visit to the Zodiak Room for a early lunch. We were treated to delicious chicken broth with a tiny cheese biscuit*, beautiful popovers with strawberry butter, shrimp and corn chowder, sliced chicken sandwich on ciabata and tiny shell pasta with a light alfredo sauce. Yum. Granddaughter tried on hats in Millinery, and then we were ready to head home.

BUT WAIT! Two of us wanted to delay that. And we did. We started searching at Waxahachie where we encountered a Mardi Gras parade and caught beads and doubloons, for a bed and breakfast. The Mother (the Final Decider) nixed the regular type hotel. All the way to Hillsboro we searched via cell phone,and took  a chance on finding a B&B at Whitney and Meridian. No luck. Undeterred the Grandmother suggested Glen Rose. Viola. Not a B&B but a hotel with a warmer atmosphere and better rates than the big city hotel.
So Glen Rose it was on a Saturday Night. We could have gone to a rodeo, but chose instead to go to the Texas Beer Garden and The Green Pickle. We had a surprisingly good Bleu Cheese Hamburger and, of course, fried pickles. And, of course, we drank beer and sat shivering in the Garden to hear some country music.That wasn't all! Next day we giggled our way through the Fossil Rim Wildlife Preserve where we fed emus, zebras, many different types of deer and giraffees.

Hopeful that we could have a light supper at Red Caboose Winery in Clifton, we stopped. Alas, no food, but a nice glass of one of their great reds and a close and delightful encounter with a Wire-haired Pointing Griffon named Bear Hug. We fell in love with him. And after that--home.

Thanks to the small towns in Central Texas for exciting adventures. There may not be a Mardi Gras Parade or a rodeo, but I would bet that with a little research, you will find great adventures  not too far away.

*Helen Corbitt's** Cheese Biscuit Recipe:

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup grated sharp cheese
3/4 cup milk

Sift flour, baking powder, and slat together; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir grated cheese into mixture. Ad all milk and mix to smooth dough. Turn out on lightly floured board. Knead lightly. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake  in very hot oven at 450 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes.
Note: For small biscuits cut with doughnut hole cutter.
**Helen Corbitt  was in charge of food service at Neiman Marcus for a number of years.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And Even More Pancakes

Since writing the first ":Pancakes" blog, several pancake variations have come to our attention fLAVORS OF MOROCCO has a recipe for "Semolina Pancakes--beghir." These are served with honey and butter. From TAPAS to MEZE showcases two pancake recipes that are not the usual sweet treats. 'Shrimp and Green Onion Pancakes" are featured at Bodego La Alboriza in Seville. These pancakes, made with chickpea flour, are served with golden, deep-fried sardines. The other recipe from this source is "Chickpea, Olive Oil and Cumin Pancakes." These cakes, crispy and brown, are cut into wedges, drizzled with flavorful olive and sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper.

In the vein of savory as well as sweet, pancakes, Julia Child,  Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck  give us the paths to crepes for desserts AND crepes for entrees. Crepe rcipes for the main dish with a variety of filling such as spinach, cream cheese, mushrooms, chicken, cooked fish, shellflish, veal, ham with added vegetables using appropriate sauces are in their first cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Desserts crepes are in the cookbook with detailed instructions for making crepes ala Julia.

Having a concern for our friends who have an intolerance for gluten, I tried oat flour pancakes. I didn't find oat flour at the grocery, I made my own in a food processor. Let me just say that the oat flour pancakes that I made have a lot of fiber!!! There are recipes galore on the internet for gluten-free baking, and your grocery store has some mixes on the shelf. And what about Johnny Cakes? Would that be a gluten-free choice?  Help me here.

Some of  the pancake recipes mentioned  follow:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
3/4 cup chickpea flour*
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Large pinch cayenne pepper
8 ounces small fresh shrimp, shelled and finely chopped
1 1/2 cup cold water
Olive oil for frying
Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, covered until soft, about 3 minutes.
Combine the chickpea and all-purpose flours, baking powder, salt and pepper.
Add the green onions, parsley, cumin, cayenne, shrimp and water. Stir well. The batter should be the consistency of very heavy cream. Let rest1 to2 hours at room temperature.
Heat the oil 1/4 inch thick in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drop 2 tablespoons of batter into the oil. spreading it out to form a 2 1/2 inch pancake. (Put as many pancakes as the pan will hold with them touching.)  Fry until golden brown, turning once, 2 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining batter. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately..
This is served with fino, a fine sherry.
*Chickpea flour is available at any health food store. Chickpeas were introduced to the Spaniards by the Moors.

1 cup stone ground cornmeal 
1 cup boiling water--add only enough to make a rather thick mixture
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Milk--1/2 to 1 cup
Butter, bacon fat or oil for frying
Whisk together cornmeal and salt.  Bring water to a boil and pour over the mixture, whisking to prevent lumps. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
Butter or oil a large skillet or griddle and heat it to about 375 degrees, just to a sizzle (do not burn butter or oil.) Add enough milk (1/2 to a cup) to the batter to make it the consistency of mashed potatoes. Drop by spoonfuls to make cakes about 2 or 3 inches wide and several inches apart (they will spread.) Let the cakes gently sizzle on the grill for about 6 minutes or as long as 11 minutes until you bring them to a deep golden brown on the bottom and slightly firm on the top. Add some more butter to the griddle and/or place a thin pat of butter on each cake, before turning them over and cooking for another 6 minutes (or longer) until they are the deep golden brown color.
Serve with butter and maple.
Makes about 8 cakes.
Recipe borrowed and changed.

Think I'll go practice with these right now. Easier than doing a blog. I haven't quite caught on to all the computer stuff.
Call me about another pancake recipe--Orange-Thyme Pancakes.