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Archive | March 10th, 2010

Griffin to Go: A Misguided Guide to Breakfast Tacos

Griffin to Go: A Misguided Guide to Breakfast Tacos

Poor John T. Edge.

The food writer who has headed up the Southern Foodways Alliance has issued a pronunciamento so misguided that he must have made it with a foot shoved halfway down his throat.

In the Wednesday New York Times, Edge has an article on breakfast tacos in which he declares, “When it comes to breakfast tacos, … Austin trumps all other American cities.”

And he seems to base his argument on the fact that he was able to find breakfast tacos at a few different places across the city.

Gee!

If he would come to San Antonio, he would obviously find breakfast tacos on most every street corner, many with handmade corn and flour tortillas as well as exceptional salsas and fillings.

But that doesn’t seem to be on his agenda or the New York Times’. In the mind of many at the Gray Lady of American journalism, San Antonio doesn’t exist. (One other example of this comes from the fact that another writer for the paper, Jayson Blair, felt he could plagiarize an article from a local publication and no one would know it.)

Both are interested in Austin only because the hipoisie are gathering for South by Southwest, and minor attention must be paid to the quaint customs of the area during that time.

Obviously I disagree with Edge’s assessment. But what do you think? Is Edge right? Is Austin the breakfast taco capital of the U.S.? Where in Austin can you find a breakfast taco that outshines San Antonio’s best? Please, post your answers below.

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Chefs’ Corner: Shrimp With Garlic and Vegetables

Chefs’ Corner: Shrimp With Garlic and Vegetables

This shrimp dish from chef Michael H. Flores comes together quickly and requires only one pan, so cleanup is easy. Serve it as a main course or as an appetizer.

Shrimp With Garlic and Vegetables

1/2 cup olive oil
15 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon crushed red chile flakes
1 zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup fish stock or clam juice
1 pound raw Texas shrimp, peeled, tails off
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, packed
2 teaspoons salt

In the olive oil, sauté the garlic and chile flakes for 5 minutes over low heat. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and continue sautéing for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Pour in the wine and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the stock or clam juice and bring to a boil. Once it has boiled, add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the cilantro and salt.

Serve immediately with crusty French bread for dipping.

Makes 6 entrée or at least 8 hearty appetizer servings.

From Michael H. Flores.

Photo and recipe supplied by Texas Department of Agriculture (www.GoTexan.org).

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A Creamy Dessert That’ll Leave You Weak in the Knees

A Creamy Dessert That’ll Leave You Weak in the Knees

Panna cotta, which is Italian for “cooked cream,” is one of those desserts that cooks either get so right you want to play kiss the chef or so wrong that you want to deliver a swift kick.

There is no in-between. I’ve had versions ruined with the likes of grana padano cheese, rosemary and pistachios, which destroyed both texture and flavor. I’ve also ruined one or two myself by using too much gelatin. The end result was more like Cream Jell-O rather than a dessert that can be a form of culinary seduction.

I was surprised to discover just how easy Thomas Keller’s version was in “Ad Hoc at Home.” The celebrated chef, who also owns the French Laundry, didn’t dress his panna cotta up, except by using sour cream, buttermilk and crème fraîche to give it a tangy taste.

His version doesn’t really “cook” too much, which is fine. Just don’t expect to up-end this version onto a serving plate. It’s better to use a martini glass or a special bowl for each serving.

As Keller says, “Panna cotta can be served plain or enhanced with a compote or a sauce.” And I’ve included my own at the end.

Panna Cotta

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk or 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

Put the gelatin in a small cup and add the water. Let stand for about 5 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring, just to warm. Add the softened gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers; it should not feel gritty. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes; then stir the gelatin mixture into the sour cream mixture.

Whip the crème fraîche in a mixer until it thickens and holds a shape. Fold in the sour cream mixture, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Spoon into six 4- to 5-ounce martini glasses, ramekins or bowls. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 2 days.

Top with your favorite sauce. For one variation, see below.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

Blueberry Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet wine, red or white
1/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
About 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, but don’t let it burn. Add white and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then reduce by half. Add blueberries, a generous squeeze of juice from a lemon, a pinch of salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

From John Griffin

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