Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Beer just ain't as cold in old Milwaukee

warm golden kolaches
The Tournament of Cookbooks started at Food52. My Super Bowl.

I didn't need to cook as much as I did on Sunday, but I wanted to get The Homesick Texan out of my system. I succeeded.

Pour yourself a drink, tilt back the barcalounger. It's a long road to the bottom of this post.

I began Sunday by baking kolaches, a soft, yeasty sweet roll of Czech origin that, according to Lisa Fain, is a specialty of the Texas town of West. After reading the naysaying on Chowhound about Homesick Texan, I briefly questioned my love for this book. I tried to find a flaw with the kolaches recipe, but apart from the dough needing a little extra flour, it was flawless. The kolaches themselves were flawless. The recipe is here and you should try it. I made the cream cheese filling, but the fruit alternative looks tempting.

As soon as breakfast was over I started on snacks and dinner for the family Super Bowl party.

Aversions are intractable and unpredictable.
smoky deviled eggs I feel about deviled eggs the way others feel about tripe. I couldn't even bring myself to taste the filling to ensure it was properly seasoned. Mark did it for me and when he said it was perfect, I added a little more salt. I don't know anything about deviled eggs, but I know my man! Owen complained that these were overstuffed, but everyone else must have liked them because there weren't any left over. I can't describe what they tasted like, but will quote Fain: "My deviled eggs are on the simpler end of the spectrum, although lime juice, smoked paprika, and garlic give them a lift beyond the classic mustard and mayonnaise combination." Recipe is here.
proper Texas nachos Not long before my mother died, when she was still feeling bouncy and awesome, we went for a drink at my cousin Billy's fancy hotel on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Billy asked if we'd like some nachos. My mother said, "Oh yes, nachos are my passion!" My sister and I looked at each other. Only our mother. Three years later, I can't see a plate of nachos without thinking, "Nachos are my passion!" Sometimes I say it aloud.

Anyway, I don't think my mother would have been passionate about Fain's proper Texas nachos. They're too proper, maybe even uptight.

To make these you quarter corn tortillas, fry, salt, top each segment with a modest little pile of cheese and a single slice of pickled jalapeno. Instead of arriving in a big, slovenly heap under seven pounds of salt, fat, and refried pinto beans, each trim little nacho stands on its own. Like a canape. Who could ever feel passion for a canape?

They're good canapes, though. Recipe is here.
 second time out of the box in 14 years
chile con queso  It's overkill to serve both nachos and chile con queso at a party, but I had to make queso before I quit this book. Eight years ago we went to Austin on vacation and noticed everyone was eating this  melted cheese dish they called queso. I'd never even heard of it. We went queso crazy for a week and then came home and haven't had it since. Until Sunday. Fain effectively apologizes for using cheddar instead of Velveeta in her queso. Is she worried it makes her look like a food snob? Not to me it doesn't. I thought this was delicious. The recipe makes a lot. She says it serves 4 to 6, but I would double or even triple that estimate.

guacamole  If you have a good guacamole recipe already, you don't need Fain's. But you could do a lot worse. You'll find it here.

ceramics by Justine Reese
carne asado Carne asada is grilled beef. Carne asado is cubed pork shoulder braised for hours in dark purple chile paste. A West Texas specialty, according to Fain. I'd never heard of it before and didn't love it. The recipe on her blog is close to the recipe in the book, but her carnitas are a better use of pork shoulder.

frijoles a la charra Pinto beans doctored with bacon, chipotle, and tomato. Delicious. Recipe here.

a few people I love
fried apple pies To make these cute little turnovers, you mix a lard pastry dough, cube some apples and saute with butter, sugar, and cinnamon until soft. Roll dough and cut in circles, put some apples in the middle of each circle, fold into a half moon shape, seal. Fry until puffed and golden, dust with powdered sugar, serve warm. Mark compared them favorably to McDonald's apple pies and my father said he could have eaten the whole batch. This may be the only recipe from The Homesick Texan that isn't online and I'm not going to change that. There needs to be some incentive for people to buy this book.

I hung up my apron on Sunday night and haven't put it on since.


  1. Can I come to your super bowl party next year???

  2. The beans made up for the rest. Thanks for staying with it!

  3. we had 5 Guys for the Superb Owl. I would rather have eaten with you guys--even if you HAD used Velveeta. And those kolaches look more delicious than any I ever ate in TX.

  4. What a feast! I like this cookbook, but I think maybe some people don't like it because it is the Mexican side of Tex-Mex. I cut all the pepper usage at least in half. I am not masochistic about my eating experiences. As for fried pies, I can tell you that if you are inclined to make them again, they are much better with dried apples. Reconstituted dried apples make a smoother, thicker, less messy filling, much better than McD's. When I make fried pies, I never use a recipe. Thanks for the complete review of this book. Oh, and never question your own taste. Who cares what others say, if you like it, you like it!

  5. Ceramics by Justine!!! Awesome...

  6. I checked out your link to Fain's recipe for kolaches, and noticed she called for 1 tsp kosher salt without specifying which brand. I've never seen a recipe that did specify. Therefore I don't think you should fault yourself for not specifying in your book!

    If you don't like deviled eggs, do you also not like egg salad sandwiches? I love both.

  7. Kristin -- egg salad? Perish the thought.
    I feel like maybe that bread is on the edge of being too salty bc this was the second person who had a problem. (The first had used table salt.) I think it's perfect, but I like salt.

  8. How you cook that much in one day is mind blowing to me. but I'm so glad you did! I bought this book, by the way, and like the looks of it. I do have the recipe for La Paz cheese dip, which is by far the best version on the planet. Let me know if you want it. Thanks!

  9. Just wanted to pop in and say I LOVE your blog! It is easily one of my favorites and I subscribe to many (the blogs outnumber my cookbooks). I'm also a passionate home cook with hundreds of cookbooks, but rarely cook from them. You have inspired me to branch out a bit in '13 and start using them.

    Ok, so I'm from Texas and lived there for a little over 30 years (Houston and Austin) before moving to LA 9 years ago. I consider myself something of a queso connoisseur. I also made Fain's queso for the Superbowl. It is outstanding! Easy to make and blows the typical block of Velveeta/can of Rotel version out of the water. And I agree, it definitely serves double or triple the people. So glad you have enjoyed her book and the many flavors from my homeland! I'm looking forwards to yor posts on the Tournament of Cookbooks.

  10. Okay, I need another book like I nee more dental surgery but I am buying this one! Steve used to make nachos exactly like those but he added chopped onion and neither of us had ever been to Texas.
    Wish I could have eaten your food too!

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  12. Smile Mexico dentists helps your dental tourism in Mexico to be a GREAT experience. I’m Canadian and my wife is a Mexican dentist in Mexico.