Tag Archives: texas

Sweet Heat BBQ Breakfast Hash

Sweet Heat BBQ Breakfast Hash
New potatoes, bell peppers, sausage and barbecue sauce unite to create one amazing brunch meal.

New potatoes, bell peppers, sausage and barbecue sauce unite to create one amazing brunch meal.

Here’s a twist on the classic breakfast potato hash that gets a kick of flavor from smoky sausage and barbecue sauce. This sweet potato BBQ hash makes for an easy and hearty, one-pan brunch dish, especially when served with some sunny-side-up eggs on top. You can use any barbecue sauce that you please; my favorite is Stubb’s Sweet Heat Sauce.

Want the recipe? Get the full recipe here on the Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q website and and be sure to check out the other delicious dishes (some of them by yours truly) featuring their tasty products.

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Street Inspiration: Recreating Chi’lantro’s Korean barbecue kimchi fries

Street Inspiration: Recreating Chi’lantro’s Korean barbecue kimchi fries

SIMPLY ADDICTIVE: Korean bulgogi, caramelized kimchi, Cheddar cheese, cilantro, magic sauce, sriracha and sesame seeds atop of a pile of crispy fries.

Back in March, I covered the burgeoning food truck scene here in Austin, Texas, during the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film and interactive festival. There’s a food truck/trailer for just about every type of cuisine here, including many that offer their take on fusion fare. Due to a word limit for print, I didn’t get too in depth about the actual food that these mobile eateries proffer, but I felt like it was time to highlight a few of my favorite dishes (and recipes for recreating them).

For my first installment, I feel it’s necessary to feature the first food truck dish I fell in love with: Chi’lantro’s Korean-American fusion kimchi fries. Though I can appreciate a wide range of cuisines and top-notch ingredients, it’s simple comfort food that I end up craving at the end of the day (or after a long night hitting the local bar scene) and this dish is just that. Exotic and tangy Korean barbecue and kimchi is piled atop a bed of warm, crispy French fries and topped with cheese, cilantro, “magic sauce”, Sriracha and sesame seeds. Not the healthiest pick, but it’s for darn sure one of the best eats in the city.

I had been itching to recreate this recipe at home but couldn’t figure out their exact formula for some of the elements in it. Lucky for me, Chi’Lantro’s chef and owner Jae Kim shared his secret recipe in the May issue of Food & Wine Magazine. While the original formulation is divine, I can never follow a recipe without putting my own spin on it. So here’s my take on this Korean barbecue junk food treat. Try it once and I promise you’ll be hooked.

One quick note on the kimchi (or “kimchee”): While fermented cabbage may not sound very appetizing, this element is key to the dish. If you’re ambitious and have the necessary ingredients on-hand — like Korean chili powder and salted shrimp — and a month to ferment it, make your own at home. Otherwise, you can most likely find it already prepared at at your local Asian market. It’s a fabulous condiment to have in your fridge whether you’re making this, serving it alongside a traditional Korean dish, or even slapping it in a grilled cheese sandwich (which is also amazing).
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Top food truck spots of SXSW 2012

Top food truck spots of SXSW 2012

Coolhaus' mobile gourmet treats include this red velvet ice cream sandwich.

The following is an article I wrote for the newspaper that I freelance for, Creative Loafing Tampa. There were plenty more of my favorite food trucks that I could have added to this list, but I unfortunately had the restraint of a 650 word count. Check back later for more musings on the fabulous food trailers and my culinary adventures here in Austin, Texas!

The food truck revolution was late rolling up to the Tampa Bay area, but here in Austin, Texas, it has its roots firmly planted and is one of the city’s main attractions — besides the amazing music scene, of course. Like most things in Texas, the food truck community is big here — one of the biggest in the country, actually, right up there with Chicago and San Diego as the top spots to find mobile eateries. Having moved to Austin from the Bay area almost a year ago, I’ve missed out on the great new food trailers I keep reading about that have been popping up in Tampa and St. Pete, but luckily I can get a taste of trailer food here — and plenty of it.

Like their compatriots in Tampa Bay, Austin’s food trucks aren’t just serving up hot dogs and hamburgers. Fusion food, ethnic eats, American diner classics, gourmet ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts and so much more are available at the “around 1,350″ food trucks and trailers in and around Austin as of today. (That’s according to MSNBC.com, which based its count on the number of permits given out by the Austin/Travis County Department of Health.)

Since there are way too many rolling restaurants to sample during the South By Southwest (SXSW) music/film/interactive festival going on in downtown Austin this week, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my many top spots that had either fantastic fare or free munchies (which are not mutually exclusive in all cases). So read on and pay some of these trailers and restaurants a visit the next time you’re deep in the heart of Texas.

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No beans about it: Deep in the heart of Texas, the chili is all beef

No beans about it: Deep in the heart of Texas, the chili is all beef

Now that winter is officially here, there’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of stew to warm the body and the soul. My go-to is chili. It’s hearty, comforting and just about foolproof to make.

I had always been a fan of chili with beans, as those little legumes add nice texture and have a fair amount of fiber in them (yes, I care about these things). But since moving to Texas, I’d been meaning to give the state’s signature bean-less style of chili (aka “chili con carne”) a try in the kitchen.

Texans take much pride in their “bowl o’ red,” hence rules number one and two for Texas chili: absolutely no beans included, and it must have a tomato base, be it from the addition of tomato paste and/or canned tomatoes. No white, green or bean-laden types can be called true Tex chili here. Typically you’ll see Texas chili made with beef chuck or brisket, but if you don’t have all day to wait for it to cook, use ground beef (and don’t even think about using that lean stuff).

As for the cooking vessel, cast iron is the way to go. Its even heat distribution means everything inside gets cooked evenly — no scorched bottom and lukewarm surface. If you don’t have a cast iron, don’t fret; just make sure you stir your chili occasionally so that the bottom of the batch doesn’t burn. To finish off the dish, fresh cilantro, shredded cheese and onions are great options. I used a smoked cheddar to top mine and it added a smoky kick that nicely complemented the toasted chiles and spices in the dish. A side of cornbread or warm, soft tortillas to dip in the chili also make tasty accompaniments.
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Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Not to be confused with carna asada (which is marinated flank or skirt steak) carne guisada (CAR-nay gee-SA-da) is a Mexican-style beef stew that’s braised low and slow with chilies, onions, tomatoes, spices and, in this case, beer for hours until it creates its own “gravy” sauce. While fantastic on its own, carne guisada makes an amazing filling for tacos and one great cure-all for anything that ails you — from a cold to a hangover to a bad mood.

It’s often found in Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries in the Southwestern states, and is also offered as a filling at roadside taco stands and food trucks. Besides making a perfect comfort food (and even better leftovers), carne guisada is inexpensive — cheap stew meat is the most expensive component — and easy to prepare. It’s one of those unfussy, “set it and forget it” type dishes.

The ingredients and methods of preparation vary from cook to cook — some use only dried chili powders, while others swear by fresh green chilies; some add an array of veggies, and others simply simmer the beef in chilies and water. It’s all a matter of personal taste, but no matter the differences in ingredients, I bet you’ll never come across a bad version. (Unless, of course, it’s a burnt batch.)

To pay homage to this Tex-Mex staple, I opted for a true Texas beer, Shiner Bock, as braising liquid in place of water or broth. For preparing it in taco form, as I’ve done below, it’s best to keep the toppings simple as to not lose the flavors of the stew: cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salty cotija cheese.

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Migas aren’t just for the morning: A simple, tasty Tex-Mex favorite that’s great at any hour of the day

Migas aren’t just for the morning: A simple, tasty Tex-Mex favorite that’s great at any hour of the day

Credit: kthread via Flickr

Way out yonder in the Texas hill country (namely in Austin), a little dish called “migas” is an item found on almost every restaurant menu. I’d actually never even heard of it before visiting the area.

“Migas” is Spanish for “crumbs.” This simple Tex-Mex dish is comprised of eggs, sauteed tomato/onion/jalapeno mixture, fried tortillas or tortillas chips (hence, the “crumbs”) and cheese scrambled together, and it’s simply delicious.

What’s great about migas is that they can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and even make for a great pre-hangover meal after a long night out at the bars (which is why you can find many a person ordering them at the late-night diners in Austin). Quick to whip up, migas take less than 10 minutes to prepare and you can even cheat and use salsa from the jar instead of chopping and cooking the vegetable components. And for added flavor, some cooks fry up Mexican chorizo with the vegetables.
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Restaurant trend alert: Tableside Guacamole (plus recipe)

Restaurant trend alert: Tableside Guacamole (plus recipe)

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Forget tableside Caesar salad (so ’80s), it seems the hot new trend is tableside guacamole. Right in front of your eyes, your server will whip up a batch of fresh guacamole with your choice of mix-ins: onions, peppers, jalapenos, tropical fruit, cilantro, etc.

I’ve seen this trend at higher-end Mexican and Latin restaurants lately, like the renowned Boudro’s Texas Bistro in San Antonio, TX (read about my culinary adventure), and Cantina Laredo in Wesley Chapel, FL. But be prepared to shell out around 10 bucks for it, which seems to be the average. It’s all for the novelty and the show, I suppose. Read the rest of this entry

Culinary Adventure: San Antonio, Texas

Culinary Adventure: San Antonio, Texas

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Last weekend I was able to fulfill a long-standing dream of mine: visiting San Antonio, Texas. Why San Antonio, you ask? Well, there’s the historic Alamo, the touristy River Walk, and many other cultural and historic sights. But this city has also been the mecca of Tex-Mex food in my eyes (and also a stop on my “BBQ of the U.S.” tour) for longer than I can remember.

I had been planning this culinary pilgrimage for almost two months, as soon as I found out I was going (courtesy of wonderful boyfriend and free airline tickets), and did extensive research on just about every Tex-Mex/barbecue/Mexican restaurant in town. My main goal was to stay away from eating on the River Walk as much as possible, since it contained mostly overpriced tourist traps with bland interpretations of the authentic Tex-Mex food I sought. This weekend getaway made me feel like Giada on one of her “Weekend Getaways” (minus the camera in my face). Read the rest of this entry