Category: food & recipes

on the 5th day of Christmas

my kitchen turned into a cookie shop.

OK, let me back up to the 1st Day of Christmas. I’ve lately been on a bit of a baking kick. Although my summer resolution to bake a loaf of bread a week has been rejected in favor of more pressing life work, I still have ended up scrolling through bread and cookie recipes, and stocking my cabinet with baking supplies for some future rainy day. Well, that rainy day came Monday, when it dropped to a bizarre 32 degrees (bizarre for Austin), looked overcast and about to snow and I figured that instead of writing, I’d spend the day baking.

This year I’ve decided to make cookie ornaments and gingerbread men, so the first day of Christmas was spent assembling lots of baking stuff. Icing bags, extra eggs, lots of flour and way too many sugar sprinkles.


3rd day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, the kitchen was a mess…

with pierogies.

And what serendipity, exactly 12 pierogies! I was a bit confused about when the “12 Days of Christmas” actually started. And do you count backwards or forwards? Isn’t today the 10th day before Christmas?


food adventures diary: paté

As some of my friends know, I love to cook and especially like tackling really big and exotic meals I’ve never prepared before. It seems like anything I’ve ever made for a gathering of people was my first time making it. Cardinal rule #1: never try out a new recipe for a big party. Or so the cooking wisdom goes, which I have ignored. If I get some big idea, there is no stopping me from trying to pull it off, and expecting a glamorous outcome.

I am remembering several of these memorable meals. Cooking a big Indian curry feast for my friend Sandie’s 40th birthday, which included my first attempts at naan, chicken masala, and even mango lassies. I still haven’t figured out naan. There was also the big Spanish-themed meal for Jessica’s birthday, in which I made my own saffron-spiced mayonnaise (whipping egg yolks to perfection!), coriander-spiced creme sauce for seared salmon, etc. I even attempted–for this same meal–to make my own roasted New Mexico green chile sauce, roasting the chiles from scratch, boiling them down into a pork-flavored stew. Which, I discovered, is just no the same with Hungarian peppers. (We were in Czech Republic.)


Czech goulash – a recipe!

Andrew Jones makes the best goulash (next to the Czech moms and kitchens who have probably been making it for centuries!) and also this great dish called svickova, both of which I dared not try until the Jones left Prague and I was faced with only a few months left of having all the “right” local ingredients on hand. So I did, and actually it’s not hard. I mean, goulash is a stew. Every nation has a version with some mix of vegetables and meat and then some kind of thing that holds it all together and makes a sauce.

The hard part is the dumplings. The German tradition has spatzle, little potato dumplings. And some Europeans like little egg noodles, which I think Hungarians use but I can’t say because I’ve never really had a Hungarian goulash in Hungary. But the Czechs have these awesome and really simple flour dumplings that they make by boiling a loaf-like bread for a while and they come out all soft and chewy and soak up all the last bit of goulash goodness.

So tonight I tried to make the goulash in Texas, which shouldn’t really be that hard because Texas was the point of one of the largest German and Czech immigrations. You can get really authentic sweet Hungarian paprika, essential for a good goulash (sez Andrew and he is right because you can add a ton of it–it adds all the color and flavor of paprika without the intense heat overload). And how can you go wrong with Texas beef? The beef in Prague is much more timid than the healthy tasty big meats here. Well, I’m happy to say that my goulash has made it across the pond and still tastes pretty darn good. But alas, the dumplings sucked. They were rock hard and Derek did his best to be polite, but as I write they have made it into our garden to decorate the edges of the herbs.