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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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buttermilk ice cream

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I was so excited to dust off my ice cream maker last weekend for the first batch of the summer! Big Daddy and I first enjoyed buttermilk ice cream at Restaurant Nora a few years ago, and I was so smitten with the unique flavor that I was quick to attempt to recreate it a few weeks later. This buttermilk ice cream is creamy with a refreshing tang from the buttermilk and makes the perfect accompaniment for your summery cakes and cobblers (or will steal the show as a standalone scoop)!

Borrowed from Smitten Kitchen, you’ll need:

ButtermilkIceCreamIngredients

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
10 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt

Start by whisking together your egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar. Then combine cream & one cup of sugar in a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer.

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Gradually, pour your hot cream mixture into the eggs gradually tempering them (you don’t want scrambies!). Return your creamy, eggy, sugary mixture to the heat.

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Stir continuously until your mixture just starts to slowly bubble as a thick custard that coats the back of a spoon.

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Remove custard from heat and stir in your pinch of salt, vanilla, and buttermilk.

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Let mixture cool completely and then chill until ready to freeze & churn in your ice cream maker.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

xoxo,

Julia

lemony pea toasts


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I imagine many readers’ childhoods were filled with dinner table commands, “Eat your peas!” Not this girl. It helps when your own mother never overcame her childhood trauma of peas. Because Mommy Cat has such an intense aversion to ’em, green peas were always absent from the Lovett dinner table and for years I assumed I’d hate them too! When I finally gave peas a chance, I was delighted by their texture and fun burst of fresh flavor.

This lemony pea mash on toasts makes an easy peasy app, and the lemony pea mash would make a scrumptious spread for a veggie sandwich (I’m dreaming of a goat cheese, lemony pea mash, avocado, and sprouts concoction). 

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2 loaves of crusty bread, sliced (we used ciabatta)
olive oil for drizzling on sliced bread
1 2-cup bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves of garlic smashed
2 tbs lemon
2 tbs chives
1/4 c parsley (I used the squeeze parsley for the first time! amazing!)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt to taste

In a large pan, heat olive oil, garlic, parsley and chives. Add your peas and squeeze in your lemon. Add red pepper and salt to taste. Heat mixture until your peas are thoroughly cooked, but before they’re too mushy.

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Pour pea mixture into your food processor and give it about 8 good pulses – I wanted to maintain some semblance of pea texture so opted for a coarse mash over a pea puree – but do whatever floats your boat.

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Slice (or solicit a sous chef, thanks One Sock Wonder!) your bread to desired width – I recommend ~1/2 inch – and generously drizzle on olive oil and toast.

Heap room temperature pea mash onto toasts and enjoy!

Peas out,

Julia

bourbon & brown sugar pop tarts

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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.)

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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

red velvet cake

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Last night the Saucy San Diegan grilled a full aquarium (squid, oysters, swordfish, salmon, cod) in honor of Amy Boo Boo’s birthday celebration, and the Hungry Texans were in charge of apps and zerts. SSD requested red velvet, so red velvet it was! I was a little apprehensive as more often than not I feel like red velvet kind of dry, lackluster cake whose primary purpose is to make copious consumption of cream cheese frosting socially acceptable. That said, I put my biases aside and made a few modifications to a Saveur recipe that turned out super moist, flavorful, and good enough that I went straight for a slice for breakfast this morning.

For the cake:

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

For the icing:

Icing Ingredients

1 stick butter
1 package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

This cake couldn’t be quicker to whip up. Start by preheating your oven to 350. Combine all your dry ingredients – sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer combine – vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar.

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Add your food coloring and combine.

Red Batter

Add your dry ingredients to your sanguine red batter.

Wet & Dry

Pour batter into two round parchment-lined and sprayed cake pans.

Finished Batter Batter in Pans

Bake for 25-30 minutes until your cakes pass the toothpick test. Set cakes aside to cool.

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While cakes are cooling, make your icing. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Gradually add your powdered sugar until the icing reaches the desired flavor and consistency.

Assemble your cake. I achieved the coveted double-flip for this cake – making sure the round part was on top. I recommend, you do your first flip onto a plate, then flip back into your cake pan, and then flip on top of your first layer. Cake flipping is a delicate art, so you do you and figure out what works.

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Ice and decorate as desired.

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Light the candles, slice and serve with ice cream. We served with homemade buttermilk ice cream! Yum!

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Make a wish!

Julia

tofu lettuce wraps

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Last night Boston Boy, Boston Sister, and I ate our weight in sushi and tots (that’s right sushi and tots under the same roof!) at Sticky Rice, one of our favorite H Street haunts. Sticky Rice has some of the most unique sushi rolls I’ve ever enjoyed – like the Godzirra (crunchy shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, spicy sauce, cucumbers + crunch) or the Drawn and Buttered (no big deal, just some lump crab sushi you dip in butter! that’s right…sushi dipped in butter. Big Daddy, take notes!) – but in spite of their cornucopia of creative rolls, one of my favorite of their dishes is their tofu lettuce wraps! Chunks of fried tofu mixed with a delicious soy ginger sauce with just the right amount of crisp from the lettuce and crunch from huge chunks of water chestnuts. Delish!

24 hours later and I was hungry for more, so I whipped up my own rendition of this veggie delight. For ease and health, I opted against frying my tofu (although, it would be delish! If you want to try these with fried tofu hunks, I recommend borrowing the frying method from our Soy Ginger Tofu with Bok Choy). Grab these ingredients and you’ll be crunching away on these tofu lettuce wraps in no time! Also…for anyone suffering from tofu-phobia, this dish is a great gateway!

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1 pound extra firm tofu
5 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tbl ginger chopped (I love ginger, so if you’re less of a ginger nut you may want to reduce)
1 tbl lemon grass
1/2 chopped onion
2 tbl olive oil
1 package of mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 tbl hoisin
4 tbl soy
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
romaine lettuce hearts
garnishes: carrots, peanuts

Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onions, garlic, lemon grass, and ginger. Let cook for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and tender.

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While those are cooking, combine soy, hoisin, red pepper, and sesame oil to make your sauce.

IMG_1792Add your mushrooms.

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Cook for about 4 minutes before adding tofu and water chestnuts.

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Pour sauce over everything and mix to combine.

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Cook for another 5-7 minutes until everything’s thoroughly hot, combined, and saucy.

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Scoop heaps of your tofu mixture into romaine lettuce hearts. Garnish with your choice of toppings – I recommend carrots and peanuts!

xoxo,

Julia

apple bundt cake

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I know this recipe might have been better saved for the fall, but ever since Boston Boy and I peeled and chopped dozens and dozens and dozens of apples for applesauce at Miriam’s Kitchen I’ve been craving a sweet, cinnamon apple treat. I volunteered to bake dessert for a dinner party our esteemed Ragnar captain, LatinThunder hosted this weekend and this bundt cake is a convenient and easily-transportable (read: won’t Cake Wreck tossed into a bag and hanging from the handles of my bicycle).

Gather the following:

ingredients

Your favorite baking spray
2 cups flour
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (I used Fugi)
1/2 cup raisins (not pictured, these were a game time addition!)

I started by making a half batch of Liz’s yummy applesauce. The rest is a glorified dump cake. You need one bowl, a stirring utensil, and you’ll be golden delicious (couldn’t pass up the opportunity for an apple pun!). In a large bowl, melt butter in the butter melter (read: microwave). Stir in sugar.

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Add your eggs.

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Then your cinnamon.

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Then your applesauce.

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Then your fresh apples.

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Then your raisins (I might also recommend pecans or walnuts if you have any handy!).

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Then your dry ingredients.

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Mix it all up, and then pour into a well sprayed (or buttered and floured) bundt pan.

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Cook at 350 for about 40 minutes (or in my case a little over half of Denise Austin’s yoga tape – streaming on Amazon Instant thankuverrymuch!). Let your cake thoroughly cool before wiggling around the edges with a knife. DSC_0649

Say a little prayer and hope she comes out easy! Thankfully my bundt came right out. Slice & serve! The cake’s delish and makes a great simple dessert that won’t leave you sugar-rushing, side-split, buckled over lamenting whoever initiated the fairy tale that there’s “always room for dessert”, but it’d also make a great breakfast! If you’re looking for a little more presentation and want to glam this cake up a bit – I recommend (in increasing level of difficulty) either a) sifting powdered sugar on top, b) whipping up a quick powdered sugar glaze, or c) getting fancy and making a caramel/dulce de leche sauce to drizzle on top. Get creative!

You’re the apple of my eye!

Julia