Heirloom Tomato & Roasted Beet Gazpacho

This recipe is featured today in Luri & Wilma, a smart magazine for smart ladies run by native Texan Charlie Heck.  I love the way they shot and featured this recipe, and just as much, I love this Tomato & Beet Gazpacho!  Click through the article below to read the whole issue online (there’s great stuff about fashion, body issues, and vintage duds inside) and scroll down for the full recipe!

Gazpacho Luri Wilma

 

Heirloom Tomato & Beet Gazpacho

Aside from being the perfect make-ahead, quick-cleanup recipe, I love this gazpacho because it relies on fresh ingredients for a bright and complex flavor.  The raw veggies lend a subtle spice to the cold soup, and garden herbs leave it freshly flavored.   Red and golden beets impart a deep magenta hue while keeping the soup slightly sweet.  Plus, this silky staple requires zero cooking and limited utensils, so you can stay cool in the kitchen while impressing your guests with a light supper.  This recipe will serve two as a main course or four as an appetizer.

You’ll need:

  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ large cucumber, seeded
  • ½ red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 beets (try for a mix of red & golden)
  • Handful of fresh herbs: basil, parsley, lemon thyme, chives.
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil

First, finely dice the cucumber, red onion, and garlic.  Seed the tomatoes and dice them as well.  When it comes to tomatoes for this gazpacho, I opt for heirloom, but any blend of particularly juicy ones will do- Green Zebras and Brandywines are favorites.  Combine the vegetables in a large bowl and use an immersion blender to puree the veggies until smooth, adding the olive oil slowly.  To flavor the gazpacho, use any herbs you have on hand- I snipped a handful of basil, parsley, garlic chives, and lemon thyme from the window box.  Add 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, then cover the bowl and pop it in the refrigerator.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Because the flavors of this gazpacho intensify with time, I like to keep it in the fridge for up to two days, then strain it using a fine sieve when I’m ready for a quick weeknight dinner.  Of course, if you don’t want to strain the veggies, you’re welcome to serve it chunky, but I’m always impressed with silky soups.  Serve it up in bowls with roasted shrimp, a creamy burrata, or toasted ciabatta for a simple supper.

gazpacho

xoxo,

Liz of The Hungry Texans

watermelon mint julep popsicles

This recipe is featured today on Fortique, a fun DC startup that offers an online marketplace for local talent and creative services.  When Stephanie, their founder, asked me to dream up a Fourth of July cocktail, my mind immediately went to grenadine and blue curucao.  But you don’t need a sugary mess to show your stars & stripes!  Opt instead for a fresh, cool cocktail that highlights America’s bounty.

Nothing says “America” like watermelon.  Except for maybe bourbon.  Okay, let’s face it: together, they’re like the Star Spangled Banner in a glass.  And on a scorching Fourth of July, these polar pops are worth their weight in A/C, packing punches of watermelon, mint, and bourbon, all frozen to summery perfection.  title page

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups of seedless watermelon (about half of a medium watermelon)
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water)
  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup bourbon (adjust to your desired strength)
  • 24 Dixie Cups
  • 12 Popsicle Sticks (cut in half)

Makes 24 lil’ pops.

This recipe is so simple, and most of your time is spent waiting for the pops to freeze.  Dice your watermelon and add it to a pitcher (or a blender if you’re not using an immersion mixer).  Want to know the key to finding the sweetest watermelon amongst mounds of the fibrous fruit?  Search for the melon with a large, white spot on it’s side.  You want a watermelon that has been ripening on the ground for a while, and the larger the white spot (that’s where the sun couldn’t hit it), the juicier and sweeter your fruit will be.

Alright, Farmer Liz, we’ll get back to the recipe.  Add your simple syrup and juice of a lime to the pitcher.  I also added a couple extra tablespoons of sugar on top.

chunks in pitcher

Using an immersion blender on high speed, mix the contents of your pitcher until your watermelon looks like melon-colored-water.

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Add your mint and bourbon, give the whole thing a quick stir, and you’re ready to fill your popsicle molds!  While there are a slew of modern gadgets designed to pop out the perfect popsicle, you don’t need a store-bought popsicle mold to dazzle your Fourth of July crowd.  Use 3 oz Dixie cups and wooden sticks to make perfectly miniature frozen treats.  The wooden sticks keep the look classic while the small size ensures your guests don’t overindulge on the sweet nectar too early in the afternoon.

Fill the dixie cups with your watermelon-mint-bourbon goodness and pop the ‘sicles in the freezer for about 45 minutes.  Once they are semi-frozen, stick the popsicle sticks in the center of each one and then let the popsicles freeze over night. Depending on the amount of bourbon you use, these little guys could take up to 24 hours to get good and frozen, so plan ahead!

in cups frozen

When your guests are ready, just tear off the disposable cup and watch the fireworks fly!

watermelon mint julep popsicles

Whew, was that easy.  And you didn’t even have to break out the blue curucao & grenadine to capture the spirit of Independence Day.

Love,

Liz & The Hungry Texans

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

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

 

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.
scratch_dc_veggies_sauce

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.

leek & fennel bread pudding

leek and fennel title pageSavory bread puddings can render a few funny looks, but this Leek and Fennel Bread Pudding couldn’t be a more appropriate addition to a family style dinner (I made it both for Thanksgiving and Christmas).  The first time I made it, I followed Thomas Keller’s recipe to the very last sage leaf.  And trust me, it did the trick.  I let the leeks steam under a parchment lid, carefully toasted my brioche (Whole Foods makes an excellent one if you don’t have an extra day to make this recipe), and used his exact measurements.  But we did notice a couple of improvements to be made- namely that there could have been more leeks.  So the second time I made this recipe, I doubled the leeks.  And why not?  Leeks are a delicious little savory treat, perfect with the gruyere and cream.  And as an added level of substance in an otherwise decadent cream-filled bread pudding, I threw in a bulb of sliced fennel.  I also tried using a challah as an alternative to the brioche.  Both are sweet and eggy and somehow dense and light at the same time, so both worked for this bread pudding.  The following recipe is a combination of my two attempts.

You’ll need:

12 cups brioche or challah, sliced into one inch cubes

4 large leeks

1 bulb fennel

4 tbs butter

3 eggs

3 cups milk

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Salt, to season

Preheat the oven to 350.  Slice your brioche or challah into one inch cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Pop into the oven and let toast for 20 minutes.

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While the bread is toasting, slice your leeks and fennel.  You only want to use the white part of the leeks and the bulb of the fennel.  Slice into 1/3 inch thick slices.  Place the leeks and fennel into a large bowl and cover with water.  Let them soak for a couple minutes to allow the sediment to fall out into the bottom of the bowl (they are, after all, root veggies).

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Lift the vegetables out of the water and place them into a large pan over medium heat.  The water will release from the leeks and allow them to start steaming.  After 5 minutes, add the butter and stir.

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Create a parchment lid (the second time around, I didn’t have parchment so I just used a lid- the world didn’t end) and set on top of the mixture.  Reduce heat to medium low, add a bit of salt, and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes more.

parchment lid

While the leeks are simmering, whisk eggs, milk, and cream in a large bowl to create the custard.

custard YUM

When the custard is made and the brioche is toasted and the leeks are soft, it’s time to combine them all.  Toss the leek mixture into the bread cubes and add ½ cup of shredded gruyere cheese.  Pour out into a 9×13 baking dish and pour 2/3 of the custard over the mixture.  Press down to be sure that the bread soaks up the custard, then let sit for 10 minutes.
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Pour the remaining mixture over the bread and add the rest of the gruyere.  Sprinkle with salt and pop into the oven for 80-90 minutes. 
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silky moroccan eggplant soup

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I found this recipe at the back of the most recent issue of Food & Wine and it looked too spectacular not to try myself.  I love the idea that it’s a spin on a traditional mezze, incorporating eggplant, lemon, radish & green peas.  Between steeping your garlic in half & half and roasting your eggplant, the soup is going to take a little over an hour to make properly, but it’s definitely worth it.

You’ll need:

2 large eggplants
2 cups half & half
6 cloves of garlic
1 rind of parmesan (although I just used a handful of parmesan)
1 lemon
1 cup sliced radish
1 cup green peas

Start by preheating your oven to 450.  In a small saucepan, combine the half & half, garlic, and parmesan and bring to a simmer.  Turn the stove off and let the mixture sit, off the heat, for 1 hour.

steeping

Oh, you have an hour to kill while the garlic steeps in the cream?  I have the perfect suggestion to help pass the time- roast an eggplant or two!

Slice your eggplant (hotdog style) and brush each cut side with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Place the eggplant cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the inside is tender.

eggplant roast

While the steeping and the roasting is happening, slice up your radish and thaw your green peas.  Store them in cute measuring bowls like the ones pictured below until you need them for garnish- if you don’t have cute measuring bowls, then you probably need to get a boyfriend who has sweet grandparents who will give some to you for Hanukkah.  But that could take a while, so just put it on the backburner.

bowls

After an hour of steeping, put the half & half mixture through a sieve, tossing out any solids. seive

When your eggplants are ready, scoop the insides into a food processor or blender (discarding the skin) and puree until smooth.  Food & Wine says to pass this mixture through a sieve, but I quite like the texture of a few eggplant seeds so I omitted.

eggplant puree

Stir the eggplant mixture into the half & half, add juice of lemon, and bring to a simmer, until the soup is heated.  Season with salt and serve with radishes & green peas.