Kolaches: A Love Letter to Texas Breakfast

Foreign & Domestic Kolaches 2

Back in Feburary 2013 I wrote about Texas’ obsession with kolaches and breakfast hot dogs. The novelty of the kolache has worn off at this point, not in a bad way, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m surprised by them anymore. Sausage in a sweet bun? Been there, done (eaten) that. (And don’t read too much double entendre into that, please.) I guess after almost three years in this state, nothing surprises me anymore, especially where meat is involved.

Well, I guess almost nothing. I heard that one of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Foreign & Domestic, was hosting a kolache pop-up a couple Sundays ago. I’ve been to their previous bake sales and knew firsthand how legit delicious they are, so obviously I couldn’t pass up this one. While F&D was hosting the event, the kolaches themselves were from Rebecca Masson of Houston’s Fluff Bake Bar (but made fresh that morning in the F&D kitchen).

Foreign & Domestic Kolaches 1

These were no run-of-the-mill kolaches. We sampled sweet: peach & bourbon caramel, apple & miso butterscotch, coconut lemongrass; and savory: local sausage, Cubano (ham, swiss cheese, and pickle – crazy good) and everything bagel. Weirdly, that last everything bagel flavor turned out to be my favorite, full of cream cheese, onion, and poppyseed flavor.

Foreign & Domestic Kolache Everything Bagel

I guess all I’m saying is, don’t take your city’s local favorites for granted, because the best chefs and restaurants will always find ways to surprise and delight you. Also, next time you’re in Texas, hit up Foreign & Domestic or Fluff Bake Bar.

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Endless Road Trip Marfa: Padre’s Bar & Grill

Marfa Highway Welcome Sign

If you haven’t heard of Marfa, Texas, I can’t blame you. I didn’t know much about it until I moved to Austin a couple years back, but then I learned quickly enough: Marfa is a little town in the West Texas desert which has turned into an art enclave in the past few decades. It has some glimmers of weirdness because it was the setting of an old James Dean movie way back in the day, and it’s also home to the Marfa Lights, a mysterious phenomenon in the sky… basically, if you are looking for a scenic, artsy, and perhaps slightly creepy wild west desert roadtrip, West Texas (and specifically Marfa) is the place for YOU!

And the place for ME. I loved our trip so much. It’s funny because Marfa really is a teensy town, but I felt like there was way too much to do in the short amount of time we spent in the town (2 days out of the 4 we were in West TX). And by “do” I mean “eat” obviously, because Marfa actually has a great (albeit small, I mean come on, it’s like a 4-street town) food scene! So many cute food trucks and hole-in-the-wall spots only open for breakfast or lunch. There are like three “fancy”-ish restaurants and three bars as well. At least five days’ worth of solid eating and drinking, is what I’m saying.

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Looking for Love in Gut-Bomb City

(Illustration by Anna Haifisch for Narratively)

(Illustration by Anna Haifisch for Narratively)

Have you ever waited in line for the bathroom behind six drag queens, two unicorns, a seahorse princess and an evil monkey on stilts after downing a bowl of spicy hot gumbo? Have you ever tried to remove a fake fur coat, leotard and tights in a tiny dirty bar stall even when you’re not on mushrooms? Have you ever fantasized about installing a flatscreen TV in your bathroom?

Gwendolyn Knapp has done all of those things. As the editor of Eater New Orleans and a longtime sufferer of IBS, Gwendolyn finds herself in the unique position of living in the fattiest, saltiest, most deep-fried and delicious city in the world…while dealing with a chronic condition that has her constantly battling the outcome of said deliciousness.

Her hilarious essay about living and dating with IBS in NOLA is up on Narratively today:

Looking for Love in Gut-Bomb City.

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Friday Fuck-Up: Two Steps is Clearly Too Many

bread

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Friday Fuck-up around here.  It’s not that I haven’t blown it in the kitchen lately.  I cook dinner nearly every night of the week, so naturally, things don’t always go as planned.  However, my flubs have been rather run of the mill: soupy lasagna, over/undercooked rice, spills, etc.  But then, the bread happened, and it was just too epic not to share.

Let me just say, before I get into the details, that I blame my children.  If not for their constant shenanigans, particularly in the middle of the night, I might have two brain cells left to rub together.  They bring great joy to my life,  and all I have to give them in return is ten of my IQ points.   Not a bad deal, but it can lead to problems.  Like the one you see above.

On Saturday, my husband took the kids to the park.  He has gotten in the habit of making bread using a book (more on that soon), and all I needed to do was take off the plastic bags resting on top of the loaves and put them in the oven.  Apparently I have not yet reached the developmental milestone of following two-step directions because I failed to remove the plastic from one of the loaves before putting it in the oven.  Yes, that’s right.  The lovely glaze in the photo above is a melted Ziplock bag.  The green squiggle next to it?  That would be the melted zipper.

Fortunately (and illogically), I only screwed up one of the two loaves, and the odor of burnt plastic only lasted a few hours.  And in exchange, I have this lovely post to share with you.  You are welcome.

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Top 5 Super Bowl Recipes for Seahawks Fans

OKAY. This Sunday is the Super Bowl to end all Super Bowls. Seahawks vs. Broncos. If we had a Denver writer on our staff, things might have turned out differently here on Endless Simmer today. But we don’t, we have ME, a ride-or-die West Coaster for 25/27 years of her life, most of those in Washington. This means we’re going to talk about Seattle-themed Superbowl recipes today, and you’re going to read it and you’re going to cook it and most importantly, you’re going to LIKE IT. Even if you aren’t a Seattle person, unless you’re a die-hard Broncos fan, your NFL team of choice is already out of the running so you might as well take this opportunity to embrace the glory of the Seahawks and just enjoy the ride.

Besides, Seattle has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to signature regional delicacies: salmon, shellfish, cherries, apples, craft beers, fine wines… need I go on?

For your Super Bowl XLVIII party, represent the great state of Washington with one (or all!) of these crowd-pleasing recipes, each showcasing one of the state’s beloved flavors. Even if you and your friends aren’t Seahawks fans, you’ll be fans of these snacks.

5. Duke’s Clam Chowder from Smashed Garlic (& originally from Duke’s, of course)

Duke's Clam Chowder

I know lots of people think that the East Coast runs the show when it comes to chowder, but I guarantee you the Pacific Northwest can give it a run for its money. Washington clam chowder is thick, creamy, and chock full of fresh clams. The two most well-known and beloved recipes are from Ivar’s and Duke’s chowderhouses. If you’re an Ivar’s fan, you can find their recipe online, too.

Anyway, most of the country is still cold and miserable, so a bowl of piping hot clam chowder (maybe even in a bread bowl?!) is sure to keep your party guests warm and happy.

4. Washington Apple Martinis from Santa Barbara Chic

Washington Apple Cocktail

Do people in other parts of the country know about the Washington Apple? When I moved to Austin, I was shocked to learn that most of my Texan friends had never heard of it. This was a staple of my college years—of course, back in those days, we drank it as a shot, not a cute little cocktail like this one. (I completely condone imbibing in either fashion!) While this boozy beverage isn’t exactly the same as a fresh, organic Honeycrisp apple plucked from a Washington orchard, it gets you much more drunk. And that’s important when watching sports.

3. Chipotle Cherry Chicken Wings from The Foodie Couple

Chipotle Cherry Chicken Wings

Why this recipe? The reasons are threefold: 1. Wings are a quintessential sports-watchin’ food. Everyone can agree on a good wing. 2. Cherries are one of Washington’s top crops – have you ever had a Rainier cherry? Delicious. 3. There are lots of cherry BBQ wings recipes out there, but this one is from a blogging couple in Tacoma, and you KNOW these people are rooting for the Hawks on Sunday. Credit where credit is due.

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How Do You Squish Your Squash?

squash

Piles of super-cheap gourds at the grocery, a morning chill in the air, and some delicious looking round-up posts can only mean one thing:  squash season is upon us. While my husband is partial to butternut (particularly as soup), I embrace all winter squash varieties, from spaghetti to acorn to pumpkin (read: not just for jack o’lanterns, eaters). Reading Snebbu’s post about ways to use butternut squash the other day got me thinking, though…squash is not always the easiest to cook with.  It requires more time and advanced planning than my other go-to produce items of the season, apples.  So I thought I’d share my tried and true squash preparation method, and then see if you all had any suggestions to add.

Now, you may be aware that it is possible, particularly in the case of butternut squash, to peel the raw squash, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into chunks, then cook.  I do not like this method for several reasons.  First, peeling a big, unwieldy, rock-hard vegetable is a slippery pain.  Secondly, I end up with this weird sticky sap on my hands.  Third, half the time I have to peel it a second time to remove the stringy green layer.  If I fail to plan ahead and absolutely must have cubes of squash in the next half-hour, I’ll suck it up and use this method, but I avoid it if I can.  Instead, I use a method introduced to me by my mom years ago.

What I prefer to do is this:

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Running for Cheese

photo

As some of you know, over the last two years I have made an attempt to balance out my outrageous amount of pork belly consumption by training for a marathon. For the most part, I’ve used this as an excuse to eat as much food as I want to, but with the New York City Marathon just around the corner this weekend, I’ve actually been taking it easy on the eating and drinking front, trying to do the right thing for at least the week leading up to the race. So when I went to pick up my bib and other materials at the marathon expo yesterday, I was pleased to receive an “Insiders Guide” tucked in the official marathon “Start Village Bag.” It includes a nutrition section with lots of helpful tips about what to eat before the race. This one caught my eye:

For breakfast, a “great option is bread or a bagel with two ounce of Grana Padano.”

Oooh, what is this Grana Padano? Is this a new superfood I haven’t heard of, rich in antioxidants and run-fueling protein? Better make sure I get some before the run! The guide goes on:

After the race, “Good choices include salty soups, tomato juice, pickles, Grana Padano, and fresh fruit.” There are also three recipes for Grana Padano meals, along with a primer on how you should eat it while training: “mid morning: 1.5 ounce of Grana Padano and 1 sliced apple or pear….pre-evening run: 1 to 1.5 ounces of Grana Padano on 2 slices of whole-grain bread with sliced tomato…” and on and on and on. The best way to succeed at marathon running, according to this guide, is to eat Grana Padano morning, noon and night.

As you may have realized, Grana Padano is not a superfood, but merely a salty Italian cheese. Yes, according to this “insiders guide” the secret to succeeding at distance running is to eat cheese all effing day. Now, my first reaction was “what the eff have I been doing eating gross, chewy power bars, when cheese is actually the best thing for me?” My second reaction was: this is a scam.

Yes, I get that this is an advertisement. We have those here on Endless Simmer too. But here’s the thing: The New York City Marathon costs $266 for each runner to enter ($358 for foreign runners). It is actually called the “ING New York City Marathon” due to a lucrative sponsorship with a financial institution, and every inch of the race is covered in advertisements for various brands. Do they really, really need to accept advertisements (posed as editorial content) that tell runners to eat as much cheese as possible??

If I’m missing the point here, just let me know and I will gladly spend the next 48 hours cheese-loading.

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