Saturday, February 02, 2013

All cooking business today

winter lettuce on the deck: a rare gardening triumph
No bobcat for 3 days. Fingers crossed.

I made one last Homesick Texan shopping list, bought one last load of serrano chiles, cilantro, pork shoulder, fire-roasted tomatoes, and limes. Mark thinks we're having a family Super Bowl party tomorrow, but we're actually having a Homesick Texan finale party.

A list of recent Homesick Texan dishes and how they turned out, with links when available:

biscuits. Very good and basic. If you already have a biscuit recipe you love, you probably don't need this one. Not sure what is accomplished by beating the dough with the rolling pin. Recipe here.

tortilla soup. Rust red, cheesy, packed with crunchy tortillas strips, wicked good. Recipe here.

gorditas with picadillo. The English translation of gorditas is "little fatties." You mix a masa dough, form buns, fry, split, and fill with picadillo. Top with cheese, lettuce and salsa. The buns are adorable and have an amazing crispy golden crust. However, the picadillo, a Latin American ground beef hash, was dry and lacked personality. I used to make a Cuban picadillo with rum-soaked raisins and pimento-stuffed olives that I much prefer. It came from a book called Cooking Caribe and if anyone wants the recipe, I will provide. I served it with rice and cornbread and it was one of the staples of baby Isabel's diet. That makes it sound like pablum, but it's an exciting and delicious dish. I served this to the same friends so many times in a row that it was embarrassing.

Uncle Richard's hot sauce. This is Fain's family hot sauce and entails doctoring crushed tomatoes with onion, garlic, pickled jalapeno, cumin, cilantro, chili powder, and lemon juice. The recipe on her blog is quite different from the one in the book. She implies it's an improvisational salsa, one you make differently every time depending on what ingredients you have around. It was good. Not something I'd go out of my way to make again, but good.

black-eyed peas. Excellent and full of bacon. Again, the recipe on her blog isn't exactly the same as the one in her book, but it's hard to mess up black-eyed peas.

  definitely an 8x8 inch pan next time
lime shortbread. Fain says to pat out the dough in a "large baking pan" then cut into squares. This is awfully vague. Maybe she just means to bake the dough free-form? But that doesn't make sense because it's hard to cut neat squares if the dough isn't tightly packed into a pan. Anyway, it didn't fill a 9x13 pan, as you can see. Next time I'd try an 8x8 brownie pan or an 8-inch cake pan and go with wedges. Great, gritty shortbread, perhaps on account of the tablespoon of cornmeal. Not overly limey. Might benefit from a little more salt.

steak tacos. BLOCKBUSTER OF THE WEEK. I saved this for last to reward patient readers who made it all the way to the end of this list  Mix a simple lime juice marinade and let skirt steak soak for 2 to 8 hours. Cook the steak in a super-hot skillet and finish under the broiler. Let rest 10 minutes then slice your tender, juicy, super-flavorful meat and wrap in tortillas or, if you're on a diet, a lettuce leaf. Just as good cold the next day. Make this. It's easy and spectacularly delicious and I couldn't recommend it more enthusiastically. Recipe is here


  1. After that endorsement its kind of mean that your actually making s ask for the Piccadilly recipe. You had me at rum soaked raisins!

  2. I shall put the recipe in the next post!

  3. The bobcat will keep checking since it knows there's a food source in your yard, even if not reliable. A coyote got my cat in our front yard and months later I found it out front snooping around (this was in very suburban Irvine). I'd never seen one in the neighborhood before, so I'm pretty sure it was looking for another 10 lb meal.

    You know, Homesick Texan didn't get much love on Chowhound, but I'm going to have to try some of her recipes. The guisada looks good.

    Is anyone else getting a malware alert when they try to access this site from Google Chrome?...

  4. Anonymous -- yes, a friend said she got a malware alert. I wonder what's going on. I'll check.
    I fear you are right about the bobcat. We have 3 months until the goat kids to figure this out.
    Anyway, I went to Chowhound and people were really down on this book as you mentioned. Or maybe lukewarm is the word. She does have issues with omitting pan sizes (for pies as well as shortbread) and there are funny things, like 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican chocolate which I can't imagine adds anything to the giant pot of chile. But I love this type of food so much I don't mind any of it. I actually don't have favorite recipes for a lot of these dishes. (While reading the Chowhound summary reviews I came upon the name of my own blog and my blood ran cold and I almost had to slam shut my laptop for fear of reading something that would stab me in the heart. But it was all very nice. Whew.)

  5. I've gotten a malware alert every time I've come for the last week.

    Your recommendation of The Homesick Texan has filled me with the desire for Tex-Mex all the time, which is difficult, because I think the only place I could get the necessary peppers would be in a small downtown Latin American grocery store. Canada isn't full of Mexicans. Perhaps I should order over the internet.

  6. I was getting a malware alert, but this morning, it is gone. I have missed you! As to the bobcat problem, I sincerely hope you find something that works. Being terrorized by wildlife does not tend to make anyone into a conservationist! I know. Theoretically, I am all for wild life, but then I moved into the country for 16 years. After that, not so much. I am for the least intrusive solution, but there has to be a solution. I have made the chili from the HT, but we actually did not like it as well as my old chili recipe. I will say that making it was an experience!

  7. No bobcats when we lived there,only owls trying to snatch a cat off the deck. She was smarter. Btw I have had trouble w.your blog on my laptop freezes up.No prob on my cell ph
    Alot of my friends like to add a little piece of chocolate to their chili too. Beats me!

  8. Dear Jennifer, I just want to thank you for your blog because I love, love, love it. I read tons of stuff on food, both on the internet and in print, but your blog is a treat for me because of your authentic tone. I don't even care much what you are writing about. I just love all of it. When I go online, and you have a new entry, it feels like a present.

  9. Anonymous, that just made my day.

  10. That lettuce is beautiful!!!

    (and I love shortbread!)

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