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Feast for the Senses

Written by | Published February 20, 2014

Looking ahead to spring, the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, which will take place April 25-27 in Austin’s Butler Park, is gearing up for a full slate of cooking demonstrations, interactive fire pits, live music, and wine-and-cocktail tastings featuring internationally known chefs, sommeliers, and culinary personalities. 

28B WineThe news couldn’t be any timelier. As we’re planning our April issue’s coverage of the red-hot Fredericksburg Wine Road 290, a string of 13 wineries near the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, we received word that the Texas Hill Country was named among the top 10 wine destinations for 2014 in the February issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine, which boasts a readership of more than 800,000. (That’s a lot of wine enthusiasts!) Texas is in very, very, very good company—the other destinations include Greece’s Aegean Islands; Languedoc, France; Sonoma, California; Baden, Germany; and Mendoza, Argentina. In fact, only one other U.S. destination—Walla Walla Washington—made the cut. (You can read the whole story at www.winemag.com.)

And read more about the wineries of Texas at www.gotexanwine.org, and more about Wine Road 290 at www.wineroad290.com.

 

Stay tuned for our take of the Hill Country’s grape ways in the April issue. Until then, cheers! 

A Tower of Power

Written by | Published November 1, 2013

Yes, according to the calendar, it has been “officially” fall since September 22, but it sure hasn’t felt like it yet. But somehow, cooler temperatures have arrived just in time to set our clocks back this weekend, meaning that—among other advantages—there’s one extra hour of enjoy evening happy hours! Here’s a suggestion for those of you in the Bastrop area: Make tracks to the Bastrop Brewhouse, whose multi-level deck overlooks the Colorado River. (Weather reports indicate a low temperature of 52 on Saturday night; that’s a practically perfect condition for al fresco dining.)

By Lois M. Rodriguez

For the past few years, I've enjoyed the opportunity to be part of Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest's Cooking School. It's hard to explain how much I enjoy sharing a few baking tricks to let others discover their own baking skills, but I do enjoy it." It's fun to open up the inner-chef in people who think they cannot bake.http://www.texashighways.com/administrator/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&cid=7217

In the December 2013 issue, we’re running a story on San Antonio’s annual Tamales! Festival, which takes place this year on December 7 at the former Pearl Brewery complex, a 22-acre site that now boasts restaurants, shops, apartments, and—soon!—a boutique hotel. With free admission, free parking, and more than 40 vendors offering treats ranging from tamales to kettle corn, Tamales! is a great kick-off to the December holidays. I attended the event last year in preparation for this year’s story, but first—to get an idea of the hard work involved in making tamales—I attended a tamales-making workshop at the Witte Museum hosted by longtime tamales queen Gloria Solis.

Refried Deep-Fried Blog

Written by | Published August 21, 2013

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I’m not sure I understand the competition to come up with the next best fried thing, and I’m not here to judge, but every year, when the State Fair of Texas (Sept. 27–Oct. 20) announces its list of fried food offerings, my ears perk up. I am excited to know what’s being tossed into the vat next.

Recipes:  Corn dogs, fried coke, funnel cakes and more. Try these fair faves at home.

Hot Chocolate

Written by | Published August 16, 2013

I know it sounds crazy to drink hot chocolate when the temperature is still regularly above 90 degrees. But on a recent trip to Houston, I couldn’t resist the chocolate confection—with chocolate made in-house from cocoa beans imported from Oaxaca— at Hugo’s, which serves its frothy cup with fresh, hot Mexican churros. Look for our story on Hugo’s and its terrific hot chocolate in the Drink section of the December issue. Until then, do you know of any other spots in Texas that serve amazing hot chocolate?

Hot Chocolate at Hugo's, with ice cream and churros; Photo by Lori Moffatt Hot Chocolate at Hugo's, with ice cream and churros; Photo by Lori Moffatt

The Owl in Elgin

Written by | Published August 2, 2013

I recently made the short drive from Austin to Elgin, a town about 25 miles east of the city via US 290. I’d heard about a new wine bar and home décor shop on the town’s historic downtown strip, and I realized: While I frequently pass through Elgin on my way to Houston, I’d never really explored the town except to stop for barbecue at Southside Market or Meyer’s.

Welcome to the Fried Food Capital of Texas! aka the State Fair of Texas. (Photo/State Fair of Texas) Welcome to the Fried Food Capital of Texas! aka the State Fair of Texas. (Photo/State Fair of Texas)

You’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t try this at home.” Well, that warning may also apply to these recipes, but each year it's hard to not be overcome with a mix of disgust, amusement and even a curious craving at the fried offerings of the Texas State Fair. For some, it's THE reason to attend year after year.

"What will they fry next!?" Check out the September 2013 issue and also stay tuned later this month for another blog exploring the menu of this year's State Fair, slated for Sept. 27-Oct. 20.

Til then, we've trolled the sources and made some adjustments, but here are a few recipes for some of the more popular State Fair items over the years.

What's your favorite fried State Fair dish? Do you have a similar fried recipe to share? Please do! We’ll be glad to share more.

Corn Dogs

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • About 16 beef hot dogs (2 packs)
  • 16 wooden skewers

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk and egg to the bowl and whisk well. Insert skewers into hot dogs, then dip into the batter to cover hot dog completely. Cook battered hot dogs in a large pot of vegetable oil until golden brown.

Fried Butter

  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  •   1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper (to taste) until smooth. Form small balls of the mixture and arrange on a parchment-paper lined pan, then freeze them. Coat the frozen balls in flour, egg, and then breadcrumbs and freeze again. Fry (oil at 350 degrees) balls for 10 to 15 seconds until just light golden.

Fried Coke

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups cola
  •  1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cola syrup

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, and then add the cola and sugar. Blend together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to cola mixture until batter is smooth. Fry (oil at 375 degrees) small dough balls for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Dust hot coke balls with powdered sugar. Drizzle with cola syrup.

Funnel Cakes

  •   1 egg
  •   2/3 cup milk
  •   2 tablespoons sugar
  •   1-1/2 cups flour, sifted
  •   1/4 teaspoon salt
  •   3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  •   Vegetable oil
  •   Confectioners' sugar

Combine beaten egg and milk. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt and baking powder together. Slowly add the egg/milk mixture and beat until smooth. Pour batter into a funnel, using finger to keep tip closed. Hold funnel over hot oil (375 degrees), remove finger and allow batter to drop into oil (about 1/4 cup of batter at a time). Build a circular funnel cake starting from the center moving outward. Turn once, and remove from oil when golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve warm. Additional topping suggestions include cinnamon, strawberries, chocolate sauce, etc.

You can also use the funnel cake batter to make Fried Snickers.

Fried Snickers

  •   Snickers candy bars
  •   Popsicle sticks
  •   Funnel cake batter (see above)
  •   Oil

Insert popsicle sticks into Snickers bar from the bottom about half way up. Freeze Snickers until frozen solid. Dip frozen Snickers in the funnel cake batter. Fry until golden brown. Top with powdered sugar or caramel sauce if desired.

Fried Twinkies The Twinkie went away in November, but a private equity firm took over the Hostess brand after Hostess filed for bankruptcy. Twinkies are back on shelves. But, just in case, Little Debbie Cloud Cakes are apparently Twinkies’ twin. I personally, don’t like either.

  • 6 Twinkies (frozen)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • Flour for dusting

Freeze Twinkies for several hours or overnight. Combine milk, vinegar and oil. In a separate mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. Add wet ingredients into dry mixture and blend until smooth. Dust Twinkie with flour and dip into the batter. Place battered Twinkie into hot oil. Because the Twinkie will float, use a fryer-safe cooking utensil to keep it submerged and cooking evenly. Cook until it reaches a golden brown color.

Dust with powdered sugar. Optional: Strawberry topping.

Strawberry topping

  •   1 pint of strawberries
  •   1/3 cup sugar

Clean and cut strawberries in quarters. Combine strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

A Visit with the Vintner

Written by | Published July 3, 2013

For the August 2013 print issue of Texas Highways, I wrote about a Madeira tasting, held at Austin’s Red Room speakeasy, which featured the wines of Haak Vineyards in Galveston County. Haak is the only Texas winery that makes Madeira—a richly flavored fortified wine that is usually produced on the Portuguese islands of Madeira.

Use Your Noodle!

Written by | Published June 21, 2013

The nightlife scene continues to heat up on Austin’s Rainey Street, a former residential byway in the shadow of downtown. Transformed in recent years with bars, restaurants, and food trucks, Rainey Street draws crowds interested in craft cocktails, local beers, and food ranging from authentic Oaxacan fare (at El Naranjo) to Indian (at G’Raj Mahal). And now, Rainey Street boasts Austin’s first food truck devoted to Southeast Asian Noodles, DFG Noodles.

Foodies, unite!

Written by | Published June 19, 2013

If I ever had any doubt that the foodie culture has become firmly established in Texas, now I'm fully convinced otherwise.

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