Everyday Gourmet

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

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Now We Are Four"

On August 15, 2008, a dream came true. After months, yea, even years, of planning, Gourmet Gallery Waco, opened for business. At the time no one realized that August 15 was the anniversary of Julia Child's birthday. Frankly, we had worked so hard that I hardly remembered MY birthday. Nor did we know that 2008 would begin the economic downturn that we have all experiened these years. However, the dream has lasted.

A recap of what has happened in those four years: our first class was on a Saturday in September. Loren Lee  taught the group to make Creme Brûlée. (still one of our favorites.) However, since that beginning we have had 350+ classes and private parties and at least 3500 participants. Some of those "students" are repeat attendees. Still that seems to me to be a remarkable number of classes and participants. One of our most faithful participants is Janice Runyons who was not at the first class, but was still living in Kentucky or some other foreign country. When she did get here, she has been an enthusiastic person for our classes and trips. Oh, yes, what were and are the classes? I'll mention a few: Tamales by Rachel; Farm to Table by Juanita; Sushi by Dee and Reiko; Seasonal Soups and Salads by Rachel; Quick Breads by Frank D; Date Nights by Kim and Stan, Salley and Chris, and others; Mediterranian Food by Karen; Paella by John and Carla; kolaches by Frank M and others too numerous to list. Karyn continues to use her creativity to find new and interesting topics and knowledgable chefs.

Included in the listing of classes is an idea we stole (pinched) from other kitchen stores. We call it COOKING THE BOOKS. At least 12 different books have been reviewed and food served from recipes taken from the book. In some cases there are no recipes, but any food mentioned is "fare" game.( Lisa Wingate, Clifton author, came to review SUMMER KITCHEN. The only food mentioned was PB&J and sandwiches; so, we did 'Variations on a Peanut Butter Theme.--(Have you tried a Peanut Butter and onion sandwich?) JULIE AND JULIA brought forth Potato and Leek Soup, Boeuf Bourguignonne, and Crepes. BTW our classes are informative and fun. You may even bring the beverage of your choice to any class except KNIFE SKILLS CLASS

During these years we have bought merchandise from over 350 vendors, and we regularly order from 100-200 different companies. Our inventory includes over 5000 different items. Rachel keeps up with all of them. AMAZING!!!!  We have moved from being a pick-up place for Epicurean  gourmet dishes to having our own in-house chef, Juanita Barrientos, graduate of TAMU and Le Cordon Bleu. She and her sous chefs prepare our take-out dishes. If you are vegan or vegetarian, gluten intolerant, or like regular foods, come and try her delicious menu. The weekly menu is sent to our email list of customers. The items are "first come, first serve."

We have sponsored three trips to various parts of the world to provide opportunities for tasting food and wine and seeing the sights in Texas, the United States of America and abroad. Our first trip was to Rome, Assisi, Florence and other places in Italy. Second, we took a group to Washington and Oregon, and this past spring our group visited Fredericksburg to experience wonderful foods and wines in the glorious Hill Country right here in Texas. Although I promised myself I would not do another group trip (It's not my talent) I AM  thinking about planning trips to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Sweet Potato Queen's Annual Parade, to 1000 Islands, New York, to enjoy the fresh fish and NY wines, oh, and Ireland and Scotland

Our staff is our greatest asset. Rachel Solano came to work July 8,2008..She helped with pricing inventory both on the new system and helped price every single item in an unair-conditioned space next to the new store. Her spirit, work ethic, loyalty and organizational skills are invaluable (and she likes good wine.) As mentioned, Juanita and her sous chefs Mrs Yu, Leah and Virginia have added a new dimension to our business and to Waco's food choices. The Millers, too numerous to name.-----have been wonderful to fill in, take over, drink the wine, take out cardboard, mop, provided original art work and opportunities for charitable acts, to whatever else needs to be done.

Last but most important are those of you who have been our patrons and have remained faithful through these four years. Please come Saturday, September 8, so that we may say THANK YOU in person for these years.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thousand Islands' Thousand Island

My husband was predictable when it came to food choices. He chose green beans and corn when available; any dessert was just fine as long as there was plenty of it; the coffee should be served hot, preferrably in a heated cup; the dressing for a green salad--a "little dab of 'Thousand Island'."

I must confess that since I never eat that particular dressing (my choice is vinaigrette or a rich, creamy bleu cheese) I hadn't given its origin any thought whatsoever. However, some friends of mine recently visited Thousand Islands, New York, and brought back information about how the salad originated. I got to keep the information and to look at the jar of dressing.

The Thousand Islands Inn graciously gave me permission to tell the story of the true origin of the dressing as found on the back of the menu of the Thousand Islands Inn located in Clayton, New York as well as to post a picture of bottles of the dressing. My sincere thanks for their prompt and positive response.

Thousand Island Dressing, made in Clayton, New York, is the only salad dressing named for any region of the United States..the dressing was first made by Mrs. Sophie LaLonde whose husband was a popular fishing guide named George LaLonde, Jr. He, as his father before him, guided tourist fisherman through the 1000 Islands waters for northern pike, muskie, black bass.

These fishing excursions could include shore dinners which were prepared on the surrounding islands, and  were popular then, as now. George, Jr. served a different and unusual salad dressing at these dinners. George was guiding a prominent stage actress, May Irwin and her husband who was impressed with the distinctive taste of the dressing. She asked for the recipe and Mrs. LaLonde, flattered by the request from a New York celebrity, who incidentally was a renown cook and cookbook authoress, gave it willingly to Miss Irwin, who in turn gave it to at least two other people, the Bertrand family and George C. Boldt.

Miss Irwin named the dressing "Thousand Island Dressing." It was first served to the public in the dining room of the Herald House owned by the Bertrands. George Boldt, owner of the Waldrof-Astoria Hotel in New York and the Bellview-Stratford in Philadelphia, directed his world famous maitre d', Oscar Tshirky to place the 1000 Island Dressing on the hotel menu at once. Thus Oscar earned credit for introducing  the dressing to the "world."

The dressing is still served at the "Herald House" which is now known as the Thousand Islands Inn. "Patrons continually comment about the remarkable flavor and, as May Irwin did, request the recipe. In 1990s the Inn began to bottle the dressing  from their "Original" for sale to the public. It is available at the Inn and on line at www.1000-islands.com/dressing.

When you come to Gourmet Gallery, ask me for a taste. I've ordered some. My husband would have loved it!!!! I think the complex flavors of the dressing are perfect for a simple salad of Romaine or the not-so-favored in gourmet food circles, a wedge of iceberg lettuce. Chef Juanita suggested using it on a Cobb or grilled chicken salad. One of our customers, after a taste, said, "Roast beef sandwich. My mother always put mayonnaise and sweet relish on our left-over roast beef sandwiches!!"

Do you have other suggestions?

Be advised that the original has little similarity to many of the Thousand Island Dressings you will find on the grocery store shelf. Come by and taste. If  you want to have the original, go www.1000-islands.com/dressing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fredericksburg with Fourteen Fun Friends

We place the reporting of the Spain Adventure on hold to write about "Fredericksburg with Fourteen Fun Friends." Early on the Thursday before Easter fourteen friends of Gourmet Gallery loaded onto a luxury coach from Brazos Valley Travel that took us on a four day adventure.

You know us! Emphases--food and wine. We have some recommendations to pass on to our friends who did not get to go with us. And let me tell you that you missed a great time with lovely travelers.

Three Cheers for the Top Three 

1. The three wineries:
 Texas Hills Winery, Johnson City. Kathy Gilstrap gave us a private tour and we tasted five wines for $5.00. Their Kick Butt Cab is one of their best-known wines and one of our favorites. (They also had some cheap Pinot Grigio that accidentally missed a step in the wine-making process. The Cab was better.) A mid-sized winery, the grapes are grown there and in other parts of Texas,.
Becker Winery, just off of US 290. We bought sandwiches from Dutchman's Meat Market, and had a picnic under the porch. The lavender was in bloom, a band played part of the time we were there. Six wines for $10 and we got to keep the glass. Many of Becker's wines are available here and in some restaurants in Fredericksburg. A beautiful setting, a lot of visitors on that day before Easter.
Sister Creek Winery, just north of Boerne at Sisterdale. David, the tasting room manager, had an employee who knew the wines well, conducted the tasting. The Burgundy and Bordeaux wine-makng techniques are used for making the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines. These traditional wines are aged in 60 gallon oak barrels for up to three years. Look for the old cotton gin between East and West Sister Creek. Not fancy buildings, but some good wines. They also have a tasty pinot grigio.
We made a surprise stop at Pedernales Cellars. this winery is being enlarged; so, there was more construction than wine-tasting. A glass of viognier a treat on the front porch and the view was quite nice.

Now to the food:
August E's,  San Antonio Street, Fredericksburg. This was recommended and worth the visit. Our group's food choices ranged from egg rolls to New Zealand lamb. The service was near perfect, the food well above the average and the wine list offered an adequate selection.
Fredericksburg Herb Farm,  on Whitney Street. This lunch stop was included in the cost. I had eaten there more than once and was confident of the quality. We were given the choices of quiche and fruit, chicken salad and fruit, meatloaf and veggies and chicken potpie. I was a little dubious of the meatloaf, but all the offerings were tasty. One drink order was confused, but that was easy to correct. Flowers were in bloom, the gardener helpful with explanations, and the new Sunday Houses are a charming addition to the property.
Cabernet Grill, on the Kerrville Hwy just across from the airport. Food was excellent from the crab cake, Curried Pheasant, Sausage and Apple Chowder to the sesame crusted fried shrimp with mango slaw, or the pan-seared trout or the Golden Fried Eggplant Pirogue topped of with Chicken Fried Pecan Pie with Jack Daniels ice cream. Wonderful food and perfect service! Many Stars!

Food and wine were the focuses, but other adventures included the First Friday Art Walk, a performance at the Rockbox Theater, a late night stop at the Lincoln Street Wine and Cigar, a little time for shopping, quick lunch and viewing of the poppies and other blooms at the Wild Seed Farm, a drive over the Willow Loop Road (the bluebonnets were in decline, but the white poppies were spectular) dinner at the Gin on Nolan's Creek in Belton.

A busy four days with fourteen great traveler--the bus driver included. Now aren't you sorry that you missed it!!!

I am including the recipe for the chowder at served at Cabernet Grill.

Curried Pheasant, Sausage and Apple Chowder

1/3 salad oil
1 cup celery, cut in 1/2 dice
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 cup, yellow onion, cut 1/2 cide
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons madras curry powder
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup flour
5 cups pheasant braising liquid, chicken stock or water
1 1/2 cups potatoes, cut 3/4 inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup smoked polish sausage, sliced
2 cups braised pheasant meat
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried apples, diced

Heat salad oil in a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat and add in celery, carrots, onions and garlic.  Cook the vegetables slowly, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften and onions begin to turn translucent

Add curry powder, thyme and bay leaves to the pan and stir into the vegetables.  Allow to cook for about three minutes stirring frequently until the mixture becomes very fragrant. Do not burn the spices.

Add the flour to the pan and stir until incorporated

Add the braising liquid or combination of liquids to equal five total cups) to the pan one cup at a time, stirring in each time until fully incorporated.

Add the potatoes to the soup and allow soup to simmer for about twenty minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Add cream sausage and pheasant to soup and simmer for about five minutes.

Adjust season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Add a little dried apple to each cup or bowl and ladle hot soup over. Serve immediately.

If you are completely out of pheasant, braise chicken thighs and drumsticks with salt, yellow onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme and chicken stock or water. Substitute the shredded chicken for the pheasant. Different taste, but entirely pleasant!

Happy traveling and happy eating.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Well, I Did It. Reduced My To-Do List By One

OMG= Oh, My Goodness. I visited Spain and Por-tu-gal.(Learned that the name has not "chu" in it.) What a week. Where shall I start?

Flight-- relatively uneventful and long. Tour company Insight Adventures--topnotch. Tour director-- punctual, competent, knowledgeable, helpful, and charming as well as handsome.  Many beautiful sights. Have pictures to prove it. I just hope that I can sort through and remember where I was when the picture was taken. One of our fellow-travelers took copious notes, and now I wish that I had asked for a copy. The history of Spain and Portugal is fascinating to me, and I think it may be because I studied so much of it in World History--the discoveries--and I see  how our own country was and is affected by that history. (Italy was interesting, but it never colonized.) We saw some of the important art, architecture and holy places in several cities in both countries. What a treat for me! I can't say enough about the pleasure of getting to travel with some of my family and about the entire group that took this tour with us.

I learned a new word. I know how to ask, Where is the bathroom? Now, I know how to ask, Where is the toilet? In fact, while on this tour, I almost decided to do this blog about los aseos. However, I'm sure any reader will be glad to know that I changed my mind. I will say that the toilets were clean and there was not a charge to use them. That is certainly enough of that.

Our entertainment was also of great interest. We saw a Flamenco show in Seville had a dinner with a Fado concert. Fado is Portuguese folk music.. Somewhere in our souvenir stash are some CDs that we just could not resist.

About the food--we had numerous experiences with food and wine. Perhaps the most interesting was our farewell meal with our group. It was in the old town of Madrid and our meal consisted of tapas. Yes, we had tapas all over. Actually, it means a small serving. You can get anything on the menu as tapas. Just ask for a smaller serving. There were eight different tapas dishes along sherry to begin and unlimited wine both white and red. The dessert was a flaming baked Alaska. Such fun!  The first tapas I met was around the corner from our hotel in Madrid. The description was jamon iberico y pan con tomate. The "spread" is an interesting ingredient that was served on every breakfast buffet that we had. The recipe for this simple spread was found with several variations on a Fodor's question and answer website.

Two Ways to Make Tomato Spread

Toast a slice of rustic bread
Rub with a clove of garlic
Rub with a very ripe tomato
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
Place a slice of Iberian ham, Iberian bacon or Manchego cheese on top of the bread.

To make a larger amount:

Ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
High quality olive oil
Grate tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Salt to taste.
Serve with any cheese, ham or other toppings of your choice.
Refrigerate any that might be left over.

More recipes later.


BTW, "the rain in Spain stayed mainly" in Portugal.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A To-Do List

The term bucket list, came into it's own when the movie, The Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nickleson, came out. You probably know the story: two terminally ill men decided to do the things they wanted to do before they "kicked the bucket."  Unlike a "bucket list" I have a list to do while I can still enjoy doing them. The main object of my list is to go as many different places in the world, see as many works of art, beautiful scenery, magnificent architecture, learn about as many different foods and wines and cultures as possible while I can still hear, see, feel, taste and smell.

My current position as the ABW (assistant bottle washer) at Gourmet Gallery has given me the opportunity to have many different food experiences--and a little wine, and in the next two weeks, I will get to add to those experiences some new ones. I get to go to Spain and Portugal. The art at the Prado and in Toledo, the architecture all around including the beautiful Baroque and Gothic cathedrals and the Alhambra and other structures of the Moors, the Manueliene (hope I got that right) influenced architecture in Portugal await. The visits to Fatima and Avila, the night in Salamanca where the purest Castillian is spoken--Oh, my, what A FEAST to get to partake. I am thankful for the opportunity.

As you might guess my focus will also be on the food. In preparation I've not learned the language as I had hoped, but I've been reading a cookbook. MADE IN SPAIN by Jose Andres has recipes from the different states and many of them are not where we are going, BUT some are. We will be in Andalucia several days and expect to have some tapas, wine and a relaxed attitude. I even expect to eat some anchovies. From the Madrid section in the book there are wonderful cold soups, and roast lamb in Castille-Leon

All of the above is anticipation. There will be more about how it really is for me. However, I do want to include a recipe for cold soup from the MADE IN SPAIN cook book.

Cold Almond and Garlic Soup with Figs and Marcona Almonds

Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pounds blanched almonds
6 cups flat mineral or filtered water
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup aged sherry vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 1/2 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
5 slices of rustic bread, crusts removed, about 2 ounces
4 fresh black figs, quartered
4 tablespoons roughly chopped Spanish Marcona almonds
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Put the blanched almonds into a bowl, cover with the mineral water and let soak overnight.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add the garlic and boil for 1 minute, then, drain the garlic and cool.

Drain the soaked almonds, reserving the soaking liquid, and put them in a food processor. Add the garlic, reserved soaking liquid, 3/4 cup of the sherry vinegar, 2 1/2 cups of the olive oil, and bread. Pulse until smooth. Place a colander over a large bowl and line it with cheese cloth. Pour the soup into the colander. Once most of the liquid has passed through the colander, gather the cheesecloth around the remaining solids and squeeze gently to release as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Pour the soup into a pitcher and chill for 30 minutes.

To serve, divide the fig pieces and Marcona almonds among soup bowls. Pour in the cold soup. Sprinkle with chopped chives, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

I hope to find this soup or a gazpacho or potato soup to sample.

As I read through this cookbook, I become more and more excited about the adventure ahead.Wish us godspeed, traveling grace, good companionship and good food and wine to talk about when we get home. I also will see if the "rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Tarte Tatin

What in the world is a Tarte Tatin? In the world of France it is a famous upside-down apple tart.  This dessert was created by two French sisters who lived in the Loire Valley and earned their living making it. This  The French call this dessert tarte des demoiselles Tatin, "the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin." Information is found in FOOD LOVERS COMPANION, pp686-7
les light corn syrup

Though traditionally made with apples, the tart can be made with any fresh fruit. The first time I made it I used pears with my own handmade crust and cooked it in an iron skillet. The next time I used both apples and pears with a Pillsbury crust and cooked it in my new tarte Tatin pan from Le Creuset. I have found two recipes that look better than either of the ones I have made, and I plan to make one of them on Thursday of this week--all things being equal!

TARTE TATIN (from Gourmet, March 2001)
Serves 8
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr

frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
7 to 9 Gala apples (3 to 4 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
Special equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet
Preheat oven to 425°F.Roll pastry sheet into a 101/2-inch square on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. Brush off excess flour and cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer round to a baking sheet and chill.
Spread butter thickly on bottom and side of skillet and pour sugar evenly over bottom. Arrange as many apples as will fit vertically on sugar, packing them tightly in concentric circles. Apples will stick up above rim of skillet.
Cook apples over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until juices are deep golden and bubbling, 18 to 25 minutes. (Don't worry if juices color unevenly.)
Put skillet in middle of oven over a piece of foil to catch any drips. Bake 20 minutes (apples will settle slightly), then remove from oven and lay pastry round over apples.
Bake tart until pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool at least 10 minutes.
Just before serving, invert a platter with lip over skillet and, using potholders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto platter. Replace any apples that stick to skillet. (Don't worry if there are black spots; they won't affect the flavor of the tart.) Brush any excess caramel from skillet over apples. Serve immediately.
Cooks' note:·Tart can cool in skillet up to 30 minutes. It can also stand, uncovered, up to 5 hours, then be heated over moderately low heat 1 to 2 minutes to loosen caramel. Shake skillet gently to loosen tart before inverting.

II am including the following recipe from Bon Appetit just to give a different method

ROASTED PEAR TART TATIN (from Bon Appetit, December, 2008)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons corn syrup
4 large Bosc pears (2 1/4 to 21/2 lbs), peeled, halved and cored
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3 oz package), thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons pear nectar
Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Sprinkle sugar evenly over bottom of heavy 9-inch diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides.Scatter butter cubes over sugar, then drizzle with light corn syrup. Arrange pear halves, cut side up and narrow end pointing toward center, snugly in cake pan (pears may not lie flat, but will shrink during cooking and fit evenly).
Place pan on center rack in oven. Bake pears until tender and dark brown in spots, about 2 3/4 hours.
Meanwhile, line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold thawed puff pastry sheet on work surface. Using another 9-inch-diameter cake pan as guide, cut 9-inch round from pastry sheet. Place pastry round on prepared baking sheet. Place baking sheet on upper rack in oven and bake pastry round until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool pastry round completely.
Using slotted spoon, carefully lift pears from syrup in cake pan and transfer to large plate to cool. do ahead Pears and pastry round can be made 4 hours ahead. Reserve cake pan with syrup. Let pears, pastry, and syrup stand at room temperature. Before serving, place pastry round, flat side up, on platter. Carefully arrange pears, cut side down and narrow end in center, atop pastry round. Place pan with syrup over medium-high heat. Boil until syrup turns dark amber color, whisking occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add pear nectar (mixture will bubble up). Whisk until caramel is smooth, then spoon over pears.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Making a Tagine in a Tagine

Cold weather calls for stews or soups, and since I have a Moroccan tagine, I cooked a chicken tagine. That sounds like some sort of puzzle, and, in a way, it is. A tagine is a cooking vessel used by the Berbers, the indigenous people of Northern African who populated the territory west of the Nile River. The meat or vegetable cooked in the vessel is called a "tagine." This cooking pot is shaped like a pie plate with a cone-shaped lid which allows the steam to gather and "descend" onto the food in the bowl. Traditionally, cooking vessel was made of clay, and the heat source was a charcoal burner. A heavy saute pan or cast iron skillet with a lid will work, too. However, there just seems to be something almost magical about using the old type of dish for the dish. The tagine can be cooked on the range top and finished in the oven, or cooked entirely on the range, Modern tagines are usually made of clay, but Le Creuset makes one of cast iron coated with enamel. (It is a beauty!!!)

During the winter that we had two weeks ago I made the following stew from a  recipe that I found at simplyrecipes.com.


     2 teaspoons paprika
     1 teaspoon ground cumin
     1 teaspoon ground ginger
     1 teaspoon turmeric
     1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
     1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
 I also added 2 teaspoons of Ras El Hanout, a combination of some of the above spices  and is used  in tagines.
     2 tablespoons olive oil
     1 chicken, 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces (or 3-4 pounds of just chickien thighs and legs; the dark meat is more flavorful.) I used boneless, skinless thighs. The bone and skin add more flavor, but I couldn't pass up the convenience. I cut the thighs into about four pieces each. However, there was a little more meat than was needed. 2 1/2 to 3 lbs would be better, I think.
     3 cloves garlic, minced
     1 onion, chopped
     The peel of 1 preserved lemon, minced in cold water, pulp discarded, peel cut into thin strips (This such a wonderful addition that you will want to find or make some.)
     1 cup green olives, pitted
     1/2 cup water
     1/2 cup raisins

     1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
     1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 1. Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well withh the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet , heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle lightlt with salt (go easy on the salt, the olives and lemons are salty), and brown, skin side down for five minutes. (If you are using a clay tagine, you will skip the browning step, heat only to medium heat and use a heat diffuser on the heating element to prevent the tagine from cracking.) Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and onions. cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

3, Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives raisins, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to low, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the achickien is cooked through and quite tender. This can be finished in a 300 degree oven.

4. Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving Adjust seasons to taste.

Serve with coucous, rice or a rice pilaf.

I served the chicken with Jasmine rice. And I added more chicken broth because the sauce is so good that I wanted to get more of it for the rice.

Good cooking to you. Next I want give an account of making a Tarte Tatin.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just in Time for Valentine's Day: I Don't Love Chocolate

I know. I know. I am in the minority. I am weird. I do not know what is really good or good for me. Nevertheless, I really do not love chocolate. The reasons for this food bias may be any one or all of the following. First reason is genetic. My mother and my grandmother, the matriarch of the kitchen in our family, did not make chocolate things. and a biology teacher told me that not liking chocolate is genetic. Second reason is Chocolate Soda. I had to pay for a Coke or Dr. Pepper. I could have Chocolate Soda for free at my dad's store; so, I would try one occasionally. BAD. Third reason is my appendix.  An appendicitis attack was misdiagnosed as a virus. My treatment was, you guessed it, chocolate-flavored medicine. BAD..

The story of cocoa is a long and interesting story.  An extensive time-line of the discovery and development of chocolate is on The Gourmet Chocolate of the Month www.chocolatemonthclub.com/chocolatehistory.htm).

A quote from that website: Chocolate has impacted the ways in which some humans worshiped and expressed their values.
Certainly chocolate has become an important part of our food experiences.
 Another quote from the website: Secret Techniques in blending and roasting beans, traditional family recipes and creative interpretations and innovative candy making techniques  have been handed down generation to generations.

Chocolate's reputation as an aphrodisiac has flourished at times in history. Currently we look at the medical benefits of the bittersweet in helping the body with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Remember, only the unsweetened!!!

From the Mayans in Central and South America to the Aztecs to Spaniards to other European countries to the world, chocolate has made important contributions to economics, traditions and gastronomic endeavors in our world          

Now it's not that I never eat chocolate. I do have a favorite Brownie Recipe from "Keepers,"  a book self-published by my friend, Frances Payne. (Her comment about the recipe: This is Marie Wiggnins' recipe and I don't believe that I have ever tried one that is any better. If you get a real craving for chocolate, it is guaranteed to give you that chocolate fix.) I know you don't who Marie Wiggins was, but it doesn't really matter. The brownies are g-o-o-o-d.


4 eggs,slightly beaten                                           3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar                                                        2 sticks butter
1 cup flour                                                           1 cup nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick butter                                                     1 square unsweetened chocolate
1 pound powdered sugar

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the sugar; continue to stir well. Mix flour and salt and add to the creamed mixture. In the meantime, melt the two sticks of butter and 3 squares of chocolate over low heat until blended. Cool slightly and add to the other mixture; add nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 10 X 15 inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 325F. for 35 minutes. Cool slightly and ice.

To make icing, melt the margarine and chocolate, add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and spreading consistency. (This is a little dry; so, I add a little cream.)


12 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped or 12 oz. dark chocolate morsels
Small balloons. Blow until about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.
Parchment paper

Melt 1/2 chocolate a small double-boiler. Stir until smooth. Add the remaining chocolate , melt and mix until smooth
Blow up balloons to about 2-1/2 inches in diameter and tie.
Drop a teaspoon of the chocolate onto the parchment paper to make a disk.
Dip the balloon into the chocolate to cover 1/3 of the balloon.
Place place each the disk set.
Chill. Pop the balloon and remove.
Viola!! A chocolate bowl
Makes 8 or 10 bowls..

How to make a moo--no, a mousse

2 T. butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3 eggs, separated
1/4 c sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Melt butter with chocolate in a double-boiler.
Slightly whisk egg yolk and add to the butter, melted chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites for 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 sugar. Then, beat another 3 minutes until stiff peaks form.
Beat cream for 1 minute. Add remaining sugar and vanilla until soft peaks, about 2 more minutes.
Add beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture, fold gently. Then, fold in whipped cream in the same manner.

Spoon the chilled mousse into the chocolate bowls.  Garnish with a fresh raspberries and mint.

We're trying this tonight. Hope it works for us and you, too.

Happy eating,

Jo Ann Miller,
ABW and Consultant
Gourmet Gallery



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking Back at Christmas

Looking at Back at Christmas. Perhaps just 11 days after Christmas 2011 is not long enough to give any perspective to the holiday. Yet, this is my self-assigned task today. All of the important statements about the significance of Christmas have been stated and restated.  We're in the newest new year, resolutions are made, or not,  and we move on to whatever the year, the day, the moment brings.

This Waco Miller Family celebrated Christmas twice.Christmas Eve, after church, we went to Karyn's for a rather impromptu party. (Somehow we always manage to go there for a party.) Some gift-giving took place at that event. And on New Year's Day all of the ones in town came to my house. For several years we've just given stocking-stuffers and donated to a charity of our choice.Those have included the John Tracy Clinic, Montgomery County Clinics, Asbury House Child Development Center, Family Abuse Centers and others.

However, over and above the gifting and any other occasion of getting together, I must admit that the real emphasis is always on FOOD. Oh, big surprise! Let's face it. So much tradition hinges on the food that we eat and that connection to the special day. In the old days we ate what was in the garden, the yard and the smokehouse. Celery was not in our dressing until Aunt Nellye brought it from Houston. We didn't raise turkeys; so, the hen went into the boiling pot, was de-boned and put into the dressing. Consequently, I am really not a turkey fan. The dressing--not stuffing since there was nothing to stuff--was made of cornbread and biscuits, onion, apples, eggs, butter, the chicken broth--I don't remember any spices. Oh, and celery when Aunt Nellye brought it. And so forth, and so forth and so forth.

This year when the turkey ordered for Thanksgiving did not arrive until two weeks after, an HEB turkey that didn't wander around in a yard or pasture somewhere was our entree. BUT for Christmas we had  turkey again.  This one had been free to roam. Was it better? I don't know. I ate the spiraled sliced ham, black-eyed peas with pea sauce* and scalloped potatoes, cornbread and butter, bread-pudding with whiskey sauce. Two pinot noir wines from the wineries we visited this summer along with a champagne toast and the inevitable Kendal Jackson chardonnay were also present at our gathering. (This was not a tradition in my own family. My mother would heartily disapprove.)

 Pea Sauce. It is a fresh addition to the peas and could be used on any kind of field or beans. (Borrowed from a class participant.


2 red onions
3 tomatoes
2-3 green bell peppers
1/4 cup sugar
White vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice vegetables. Add sugar. Cover with vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Simple and simply delicious. If you like "heat" with the peas, dice a hot pepper. This makes it like a pico de gallo.

My Favorite Cornbread
"Joy of Cooking"

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon sugar
 A scant teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 egg

Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat together the milk, egg and oil. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until all dry ingredients are moist.
Bake in a heated, greased cast iron skillet at 425 F until lightly brown on top.
Turn over in the skillet, slice a wedge and butter. Eat. Wonderful!!!
I sometimes use the cornbread stick pans. Be sure that they are well-seasoned and have plenty of time to heat in the oven with a liberal teaspoon of oil in each stick. So good because there is a lot of crust.

Again, happy eating.

Hope I am through with turkey for the year. Happy cooking to you. Let me know what will be cooking at your house this New Year.