A Hungry Texans Crawfish Boil

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Being home in Texas means three things for certain: there will always be someone cooling off in the swimming pool, my daddy’s favorite playlist (self-titled Eggman) will always be on the outdoor speakers, and we’ll always be grubbing on the screened-in porch.  One of my favorite such grubs happens to be when we pull out the 80 quart pot, fill it with fresh seafood, and enjoy a good old-fashioned crawfish boil.  Blue crabs, Gulf shrimp, Louisiana Crawfish- all perfectly seasoned and served with sweet corn and potatoes to soak up the spice.  There’s really no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon with family and friends than over a steaming bowl of shelled crustaceans.  This is a pot of deliciousness that I’ll probably leave up to my dad, who humbly claims that there’s no secret to it, but has obviously mastered the art.  Still, it struck me as so simple, that anyone at home with access to a few mudbugs could recreate this Cajun delight.

boil & fish

We made our way to the Vietnamese Fish Market for our supplies.  This bustling Bissonet mainstay houses hundreds of Vietnamese staples and has a spread of fresh (usually still swimming) fish and seafood.

picking crabs

For larger Crawfish Boils with the extended family when we need huge quantities of crawfish, my dad will venture out to Beaumont (about 45 minutes from Houston) for a surplus batch.  But to feed 6 people, you can manage with a more local supermarket- you’ll need 2.5 pounds of shrimp, 10 pounds of crawfish, and 6 crabs.

You’ll need
2 to 3 lbs Gulf Shrimp, heads off
10 lbs Crawfish, still kickin’
6 blue crabs, alive and plump
½ bag (3 cups) Crawfish Boil
4 lemons, cut in half
1 stick butter
5 lbs red potatoes
6 ears sweet corn

Fill the crawfish pot 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil.  Add your seasoning, lemons, and butter.  Let the seasoned water come together for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove the inner basket.

daddy with crawfish

If your crawfish need to be purged, be sure to do so!  Fill a bucket (or cooler) with cold, very salty water, and add your un-purged crawfish.  Let them sit in the purging water for about 10 minutes before tossing them in the pot.

purging

Fill the basket with your crawfish, crabs and shrimp.

fillin up the pot

Carefully lower the basket of seafoody goodness into the pot, and cover.

all boiling

 

Let the pot boil for 7-10 minutes, then remove (enlist the help of 3-4 strong gentlemen) and pour your drained boil into a cooler.  Toss the crawdads with as much seasoning as you like/can handle (we used ~1/4 cup) and laissez le bon temps rouler!  You can pour ice over the seafood to cool it off before peeling.

In a separate large pot of boiling, salted water, cook your potatoes and sweet corn ~30 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  If you are brave, you can plop those potatoes and corn right in with the crawfish, but it will light you up, so take caution.

Drain your potatoes and corn, toss with salt and pepper, and throw the whole mess out on a newspaper-covered table so that everyone can dig in.  Or be a tad more civilized and serve the seafood in bowls.

finished product

Just be sure to have plenty of wet napkins lying around to towel off, a few trashcans strewn about to make cleanup easy, and remember- never touch your eyes!

Happy Peeling!
Liz

bourbon & brown sugar pop tarts

PopTarts title page

Whew!  That was quite a break.  Between moving houses and switching jobs, winter has thawed into spring, and I’ve been a Hungry Texan on hiatus.   But no fear!  I’ve emerged with a whole slew of new recipes.

These pop tarts are not one of them.  To be honest, homemade pop tarts have been done before.  From fruit fillings to chocolatey ganache to savory, you’ll probably find these pastries on the menu of your neighborhood restaurant.  No, homemade poptarts may not be the most wildly innovative recipe in the world.  But they’re delicious and flaky and can probably be made with pantry ingredients in a pinch.  And they finish off a brunch spread like you wouldn’t believe.

Plus, this dough was the perfect first recipe for my new KitchenAid Stand Mixer, a birthday gift from my doting boyfriend.  Before now, I’ve never been the one to throw together my own crusts or breads.  But it’s so easy (and way less expensive than storebought) and makes a great, refrigeratable, flaky crust.

poptarts ingredients

Makes 8 poptarts

For the pastry:

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
1 egg
2 tbs milk

For the filling:

1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tbs flour
1 tbs bourbon

Mix the sugar, flour, and salt together in your stand mixer.  Add the butter, in cubes, and blend until the dough looks like sand, with chunks of butter still visible.

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Whisk the egg and milk together, then add to the dough.  Mix for a few more seconds, until the dough has come together.  Then divide the dough into two equal parts.  Roll out the dough to 1/8 in thick , then cut even rectangles.

Pop the pastry into the fridge to keep it from getting all melty (especially if you have a teensy kitchen that gets quite warm).  Then, whip up your filling!

poptarts filling

You can fill these with almost anything- savory leeks and goat cheese, balsamic cherries, homemade nutella etc.  For the brown-sugary filling,  whisk together the brown sugar, flour, and bourbon.

brown sugar filling

Pile ~1 tbs of the filling on each tart shell, then seal with the other half of the pastry.  Seal the edges with a fork (some of the filling will probably spill over in the oven- it happens, you’ll live.)

process

Bake on a parchment-lined tray for about 25 minutes at 350°.

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Serve warm with ice cream or on their own!

Love,

Liz

chess pie

title page southern chess pie

Oh Pi Day- the most delicious contribution from mathematics since Avogadro’s Number.  Get it?  Avogadro sounds like Avocado?

What kind of food nerds would we be if we didn’t celebrate?  And celebrate we did.  I hosted a Pi Day bake-off at the office, and while I may have fudged the scores a bit because of Bakeoff Rule #451 (Though shalt not win thine own bake-off), I think I can spill the beans here: my Chess Pie won!  

Now y’all, I thought I was up a creek without a paddle attachment when I realized that my roommate had taken the stand mixer.  But this classic southern Chess Pie is not only scrumptious, you can also make it with a fork.  No fancy mixer needed here!  Although you can, of course, use a Kitchen-Aid to make your life easy and breezy.

For the Filling:

2 cups sugar
2 tbs cornmeal
1 tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 squeeze of lemon or 1 tbs white vinegar (you could also replace milk + lemon/vinegar with buttermilk)
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Pie Crust: Use your favorite!  I’m really not the baker in this friendship, so I would go with any of Julia’s pie crusts.

 

Preheat the oven to 425° and bake your pie crust in a pie pan (you can line with foil and fill with beans, or you can not) for ~5 minutes.

pre baked crust

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt, melted butter, milk, lemon/vinegar, and vanilla.  Then lightly beat your eggs and add them to the mixture.  Ok, are you ready for the hard part?

Stir.

add your eggs and stir

Pour into your pie crust.

pre-baked pie

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, wrap the edges of the crust in foil so the edges don’t get too brown.  Once your Chess Pie has cooled completely, enjoy a slice.  Or two.  And then take it to your Pi Day bakeoff and win because it’s basically cheating to make a pie out of butter and sugar.

out of the oven

If you want to mix it up, you can add baking chocolate, lemon, raspberry, or top it with whipped cream or powdered sugar.  You can vary it all you want, but this pie will always be delicious and old-fashioned.

post-baked pie

xoxo,

Liz

A Hungry Texans Inaugural Feast!

Hungry Texans Seal(1)Ah, America.  It’s a good time to live in DC, a district buzzing with excitement for the 57th Inauguration.  The Secret Service is in their dry-run stage for Monday’s big event, but we’ve already put together our Inauguration menu fit for the president himself.  Sure, we could have gone with a red, white & blue theme or made 12 versions of apples pie (trust us, we could have).  But we think this POTUS is just about the cutest thing since President Bartlett, so we decided to draw on inspiration from Obama himself.  A man who governed in food-loving Chicago, steals away to his native Hawaii for vacations, and now calls our very own DC his home.  A president who escapes the White House for crowd-drawing trips to Ben’s Chili Bowl and Komi, and, with his lovely Michelle, has reinstated the important White House garden (the produce from which is used not only in the family’s own dinners, but also donated to Miriam’s Kitchen- go WH!)  Yes, I’d say we’ve got quite the foodie president on our hands.

So we created a menu that incorporates many of the POTUS’s foodie roots- from the Windy city to the Big Island.  To escape the crowded Mall (or before you head to a ball), try this Hungry Texans Inaugural Feast!

Inauguration Feast

Featuring:

Chicago Style Half Smokes

Hawaiian Deep-Dish Pizza

Coconut & Pineapple Cupcakes

inauguration dinner hungry texans

We The Pizza.

hawaiin deep dish pizza

Continuing our Obama-inspired menu, we drew from POTUS’s island roots and decided to make a Hawaiian pizza- fresh pineapple, thinly sliced ham (proscuitto would be delicious as well), and two varieties of mozzarella make Hawaiian pizza one of the most popular in the States.  And then we got crazy and paid homage to his Chicago life ALSO, throwing those Hawaiian toppings on a traditional cornmeal deep dish crust.    Check out our recipes for homemade pizza crust and marinara sauce also!

You’ll need:
Deep Dish Pizza Crust
6 oz. shredded mozzarella
2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
6 slices of thinly sliced ham or proscuitto
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup sliced pineapple
2 cups marinara sauce

Start by rolling out your pizza crust to a 13-inch circle.  Rub the inside of a spring form pan with olive oil and set the crust inside the pan, working it two inches up the side of the pan.

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Layer on the shredded mozzarella and the sauce on top.  Seriously people- cheese FIRST.  Sauce SECOND.  The cheese sort of melts into the crust and creates this gooey perfection.

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Now, layer on your toppings.  We were looking for a traditional Hawaiian pizza, but obviously you could use a variety of other toppings:

  • Pepperoni
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Roasted bell peppers
  • Kalamata olives
  • A bevy of cured meats
  • Shrimp
  • This list could literally go on forever.

Bake at 425° for 20-30 minutes, or until, you know, the pizza is ready.  If you don’t know when a pizza looks gooey and crispy and perfect, then shoot us an email and we’ll come to your house and tell you.  We charge in pizza slices, if you catch my drift.

Love,

The Hungry Texans

Chicago-Style Half Smokes

chicago style half smokes

In honor of Obama’s re-inauguration, we set out to create a Barack-inspired dish that highlighted his ties to both Chicago and our lovely DC.  This Chicago-Style Half Smoke combines the prez’s roots in Chi-City with his new home in DC.

The half smoke is an interesting sausage, popularized by DC’s Ben’s Chili Bowl and named aptly because it is usually half pork, half beef.  We found a half smoke that was produced in the DMV, and the nutrition facts are kindly out of focus, just like my mind treats all sausage.

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So what happens when you load a DC-native half smoke onto a poppy seed bun and heap on Chicagoan toppings?  A culinary mixture fit for the President himself!

You’ll need:

8 Poppy Seed buns (make your own with our recipe here!)
8 half smoke sausages
Tomatoes
Atomic relish
Dill pickle spears
Chopped onion
Yellow mustard

Once your poppy seed buns are out of the oven, this recipe is really all about assembly.  Heat the half smokes on a grill or on the stovetop, just until they have a bit of color and are heated through.  Then pile your Chi-Town toppings- tomatoes, relish, yellow mustard, a dill pickle spear, and chopped onion.

Since we couldn’t decide between a 312 and a DC Brau, we treated ourselves to both!

Poppyseed Hot Dog Buns

Well Hot Dog, these buns are delicious.  The best part?  You get to personalize the bun size.  And everyone deserves a perfectly sized bun for their sausage.  We adapted this recipe from Serious Eats and pulled our dough together in a Kitchen-Aid mixer, although you could use your hands!

You’ll need:

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup instant mashed potato
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
Poppy seeds
Egg wash

To start, combine your water, yeast, sugar, and instant potatoes in your stand mixer.  Let this mixture stand for 15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.  Then, add the salt and flours, kneading until the dough is smooth.

yeast and mixture

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.  Knead the olive oil into the dough, cover the bowl again, and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes, until it has doubled in size.  DSC_0199

When the dough has doubled, knead it on a floured surface, then divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.

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Form these 8 pieces into cylinders, then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.  You’ll notice that we tried a few different sizes, not really knowing how each would expand or contract during baking.  It really depends on the size of your sausage, but we liked how  the shorter, fatter buns turned out.

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Pop the buns into a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, then slice down the middle and fill with your favorite sausage-y treats.

DSC_0329xoxo,

Hungry Texans

 

easy marinara

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This marinara is so quick and easy, it has become a fast friend in my kitchen.  You can add to it whatever ingredients you like and have on hand- fresh zucchini, carrots, or basil are just a few.  I’m rarely picky about my canned food brands, but in this case, don’t settle for anything less than San Marzano.  I use their crushed tomatoes to eliminate the blender step, but feel free to use the whole tomatoes.  As long as they’re San Marzano.  Ok, plug over.

You’ll need:
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs died oregano
1 tbs basil

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onions and garlic.  Let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onions and garlic are soft and translucent.  Add the crushed tomatoes and dried herbs.  Stir and let simmer on low for 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.  Before serving, stir in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Chicago Style Pizza Marinara Sauce

Use as pizza sauce, over pasta or veggies.

xoxo,

Hungry Texans

nommable: scratch dc

scratch_dc_boxMaybe one of your resolutions for 2013 is to cook at home more often.  And maybe it isn’t.  Either way, Scratch DC is making it easier for busy Washingtonians to cook a seriously stellar dinner for a fraction of the time and money required.

Here are three reasons Scratch DC is awesome:

1. Price per ingredient.  The ingredients are fresh and locally sourced.  They even outline which farms their cheeses & produce came from (ours were from Farmdale Organics, Natural by Nature, Trickling Springs Creamery, and White Swan Acres, all in PA).  The price for our two-person brunch (full disclosure: we got a great dinner offer with friends Friday night, so we made our bundle for brunch this afternoon.  even more disclosure, we poached eggs and threw them on top) was only $26.00, and I can easily see myself spending twice that at Whole Foods on the same meal.  But since Scratch pre-portions all of the ingredients, there are no leftover bunches of parsley or sad can of chipotle peppers of which you only used one.  Genius!

2. Time saver.  Ordering is easy as pie online, delivery is free and straightforward, and the cleanup & prep work that Scratch DC takes care of for you is incredible.  From start to finish, this took us 40 minutes.

3. It’s nom-nom-nommable!  The fresh ingredients shine and the guys at Scratch are not afraid of flavor.  They tell you which ingredients are most spicy or powerful so that you can add to taste and the components are marinated and seasoned well.  Plus, they now include general nutrition facts for each meal.

We chose Friday’s meal- Shrimp and Veggie Enchiladas with a Creamy Jalapeno Sauce.  And listen- I’m a Hungry Texan, people, so shrimp and enchiladas are my life blood.  I make shrimp of most every variety, and these enchiladas were truly great.  Here’s our story in pictures:

The bundle is cute, succinct, and biodegradable:

Scratch_DC_Ingredients 2

We made our sauce from the sour cream, chicken stock & jalapenos and sauted our cabbage, spinach & carrots.
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And thanks to Scratch’s surprises & delights, we enjoyed surprise cookies and mimosas

(the cookies were a gift from Scratch, and since we didn’t have to worry about prep, we could focus on mimosas!)

scratch_dc_mimosas_cookies

And the whole thing turned out beautifully!

scratch_DC_enchiladas

Sure, there were a couple things they need to improve on- pictures in the instructions would be nice for unseasoned chefs who don’t make roux on the reg.  But this is the first iteration of a company that is fit to succeed.  Can’t wait to try it again!

xoxo,

hungry texans

new year’s day supper: grilled pork chops with apple & peach chutney

pork title

Pictured clockwise, from pork: Grilled Pork Chops with Apple-Peach Chutney (progress), Braised Cabbage (wealth), Pan Seared Red Kale & Rainbow Chard with Bacon (prosperity), Black Eyed Peas (luck), Potato Mash (yummy), Ginger-Cabbage Potstickers (multicultural wealth).

Whew!  We sure felt lucky this morning.  Was it from finishing up a year full of adventure and friendship, starting countless new projects, or finishing up the year with old friends?  Maybe.  Or maybe it was the symbol-ripe supper we whipped up last night.    We covered all of the basics- pork for progress, cabbage for wealth & black eyed peas for luck.  And we even found new meaning for mashed potatoes (potato –> irish –> famine –> perseverance?)  Special thanks to Man Chef Alan for bringing his perfect pecan pie and Tex-Pat & Boston Boy for peeling themselves away from the couch long enough to churn out a few cabbage dumplings.

This recipe is for the grilled pork chops, but more New Year’s Day recipes will follow.  I urge you to try this pork for your next lucky supper or just a quick weeknight dinner!

You’ll need:

4 thick, boneless pork chops (you can use bone-in if you’d like)

For the Brine:

4 cups water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp red pepper flakes

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Combine ingredients for the brine in a large bowl.  Place pork chops in a large ziplock bag, then add the brine and be sure the pork chops are covered in the liquid.  Let them sit in a bowl overnight.

For the Chutney:

2 apples, diced

2 peaches, diced

1 jalapeno

2 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs vinegar

2 tbs minced ginger

1/2 cup red onion

1 tsp curry powder

Heat olive oil in small pan and add red onion and jalapeno.  Cook until soft, then add other ingredients and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes, until soft.  Mash with a potato masher or with an immersion blender, leaving the mixture slightly coarse.

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Remove the pork chops from the brine ~30 minutes before cooking.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat your grill (or a cast iron grill pan) to medium low heat and cook the pork chops for 4 minutes on each side.  After ~10 minutes, glaze the chops with the apple chutney on both sides.  Pork gives me a bit of anxiety because I’m always afraid to overcook it, so I use a meat thermometer and take it off the heat when the internal temperature is 160°.  Let them rest off the grill for 10 minutes before serving.