Posted on

Easter, Grandchildren and Fried Chicken

When Grandson requests fried chicken so that his international friend can experience it, what does Grandmother do? You know. of course. Buys whole chickens, cuts them so that there will be Pulley Bones (Some of you call them Wishbones.), gets out the cast iron skillet and gets cookin’.

Last year Bon Appetit , February Issue, printed “the only fried chicken recipe you will ever need.” It’s true. I’m changing it a little to suit my taste, but the method is essentially the best I’ve ever done. Granted, when I made fried chicken often, I never used a recipe, but, you know, one gets “out of practice.”

If your family on a special occasion wants fried chicken, try this one.

THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER

2 T Kosher salt, divided
2 t plus 1 T freshly ground pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cayenne (optional to me)
1/2 t paprika (optional to me)
1- 3 to 4 lb frying chicken, not Kosher, backbone and wingtips removed. (10 pieces)
(Tip: look for free-range chickens. The hormone enhanced ones have such large breast pieces that it is hard to get them done without getting them too brown.)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 T cornstarch
3 c all-purpose flour
Deep-fry thermometer
Oil for frying.

Whisk 1 T salt, 2 t black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic and onion powders in a small bowl. Season chicken pieces with the spices, put in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerator. (A ziplock bag works well for this.)

The next day l

et chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 T salt and remaining 1 T black pepper in a 9X13X2 baking dish. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl.

Pour oil into cast iron skillet to a depth of 3/4″. Heat until 350 F. on thermometer.

Set a rack inside a large-rimmed baking sheet for placing the chicken after it has finished frying

Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture. Dredge in flour mixture. Place 5 pieces into skillet. Fry chicken turning with tongs every 1-2 minutes. Maintain a steady temperature of 300-325 degrees F. 10 minutes for wings, and 12 for thighs, legs and breasts. Transfer to rack. Let set for 10 minutes.

During that ten minutes I make the gravy. Be sure to make the gravy in the same cast iron skillet used for frying the chicken. Drain off extra oil leaving enough for making the roux. Use equal parts oil and flour. Stir in  flour and heat allowing the flour to a light brown. Add milk gradually and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Salt and pepper to taste.
.
What to say? This in not something that I cook every week, but once in a while this comfort food just seems to be a must–especially when requested by a Grandson.

Posted on

A Palm Sunday Excursion

Palm Sunday at San Jose Church
on the San Antonio Mission Trail

Several months ago some friends asked if I had ever been on the Mission Trail in San Antonio. My answer was, “No, but I would like to do that.” This past weekend was my opportunity to do just that–with these friends as my guides. They are San Antonio “lovers” and have visited many times. So, they “know the ropes.” That means, among other things, they know how to navigate the streets.
Since our “mission” was to visit the missions, we were set to do just that. Our first stop in the city was San Jose Church as shown in the picture. (It does not tilt. That’s my inept picture taking.) At noonish this church has a Mariachi Mass. Although we did not get there for the entire service, we did hear the mariachi band and some of the hymns sung at the Mass. We did get to “Pass the Peace.” After a tour of the grounds and some picture taking, we drove back into town to have our late lunch, early dinner at the El Mercado Restaurant, Mi Tierra. A brief wait for there was a crowd, but well-worth it. Good pork tacos with charro beans and guacamole. The flour tortillas were soft, almost fluffy, and served HOT. All the important things for a good Mexican meal including the margarita. PLUS my host had the guitarist play for us. Muy bueno!!!!!!
Our evening’s entertainment was good conversation, good wine and the Lady Bears’ Game.
On Monday we visited the Alamo and the other four missions. Each mission is different from the other–has its own charm and served its own purpose when established in the area. Each one still has its own congregation to serve. If you have not taken this tour that is not so far away, I recommend it. I hope that you can experience it with someone as knowledgeable as my friends!! Be sure to swing by Lockhart for some barbecue–it’s the BBQ capital. Try Kreuz. My kind of barbecue–no sauce, but they have added a few sides. Not needed!!!
At the Alamo my relative’s name has been taken off the wall for some renovation. However, I did find a family cookbook from Los Barrios Restaurant. This was named one of Esquire’s top restaurants in America.(Didn’t eat there this time, but next time………)
Homemade Flour Tortillas 

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon powder
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup hot water, or as necessary
1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the shortening and hot water, mixing until a soft dough forms.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape into a ball (these are called testales). On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball to a 6 inch circle.
3. Heat a griddle until hot. Place a tortilla on the griddle and cook until the bottom is slightly browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes; the tortilla will puff up. Turn and cook until lightly browned in spots on the second side. Place in a towel-lined basket and cover with the towel to keep warm while you cook the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.
These will keep, well-wrapped, for 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer.
I’ll let you know tomorrow if this is a good method.  The good homemade ones at Mi Tierra made we want to try it.
Posted on

MARCH MADNESS MUNCHING

 If you can’t get to all the Baylor Basketball Games-Go Baylor!!!!–have some good munchings on hand.
Wackym’s Kitchen Gourmet Cookies are winners.

Try the Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread topped with just a tad of a softened butter-bleu cheese mixture. Just great paired with an Earl Grey Tea.

Double-dip Lemon Butter Cookies  dipped in some lemon, lime or raspberry curd. Lemon Velvet Tea goes nicely.

The unique Salted Caramel pairs nicely with Scotch—-I hear.

The Margarita Cookie with–well, that’s obvious.

And Chocolate Snicker Doodle  with some robust good, freshly brewed Coffee. Easy with the Keurig.

Easy tasting to follow any appetizers you’ve whipped — popcorn, or dips, cheese balls, fruits–whatever you like.

Happy munching.
JAM

Posted on

BIDDING A FRIEND GOODBYE

Shirley Ann Craigen West
1940-2013

Drove to Brownwood yesterday to say goodbye to Shirley West. She died on Sunday after a long stay in the hospital following surgery. Shirley had lived in Brownwood for 50 years, moving there with her husband, Kenneth, who was on the “Gordon Wood Coaching Staff.” Listening to Richard Hetzel and Dallas Huston talking about her many talents and virtues, I reminisced about our years in Brownwood where football was king and you knew that in the fall when every Friday Night was spent going to a game, eating the peanuts that Homer and Guy Nell West (no relation) brought from their peanut farm, cheering on the home team, the band, the drill team.  Sometimes I wished that these things were not so important, but they were. Enjoying the excitement,  a winning team and the camaraderie of the community was a way of life there in the 70s. 

Shirley epitomized all of that. Her door was open to all. She feed, housed, loved all of those big, and not so big boys who played for the home team and all of us who made up the BISD family. Although it has been almost 30 years since I moved from there, I still felt something of that spirit, Shirley’s spirit of love and caring, as her life was honored by those who love her dearly.

“Well, done, thou good and faithful servant. And she entered into the joy of her Lord.”

Posted on

CONFESSION TIME

After all the search for Irish appetizer and writing about it and making the picture and posting, I did not use recipe. I decided to make “Mini Potato Bites” from the KRAFT FOODS website.

The recipe:

15 small red potatoes
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Boil potatoes until done, but not mushy. Cool slightly. Cut in half. Cut a little from the bottom of each half. Mix cheeses and sour cream. Place a dollop on each half. Sprinkle chives and crumbled bacon over each half. Can be served warm or cold.

Now here’s what I did.  Did not find small red potatoes at the store; so, I bought a bag of fingerlings. Sorted and got enough for a double recipe. Cooked in salted water. These potatoes are an assortment; so, each kind cooked differently. The Yukons and the “pink” ones cooked just right. The baking and the dark ones were crumbly, but I used them all. Some of them did not need to have the little bit take off the bottom. They just sat up nicely. Of course, I used all the 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (Neu–the lower fat one), half a cup of low fat sour cream, 1/2 cup fresh parmesan that I grated myself and 1/2  cup grated cheddar from Ireland. Sprinkled some freshly ground black pepper. Followed directions and put the plate in the microwave and heated about 1 minute on high. Stayed warm enough for me to drive the 5 blocks to the party. Tasted good with the Guinness.

Mini Potato Bites=Big Hit!

Posted on

ST. PATRICK’S DAY APPETIZERS

I never thought I was Irish, but in the last year or so, I learned that my ancestor with the Scottish name immigrated here from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I guess that counts as Irish. In fact, my plans for the next big trip will be to Scotland and Ireland, That’s another story.
kl
In the meantime I’ve been invited to a St. Patrick’s Day Party and I need to take an appetizer. I will find our trusty “500 appetizers” cookbook and begin my search.
 Voila! Or Faith, and I’ve Found It!!!

  Prociutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Mayo**

These sophisticated bites make and irresistible  nibble with apertifs or as a more formal appetizer. You can prepare everything ahead, then simply pop them in the oven when your guests arrive.

1/2 cup mayonnaise                                                      8 asparagus tips
Grated zest of 1 lemon                                                 8 wafer-thin slices prosciutto, cut in strips*
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice                                              Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 tbsp. snipped fresh chives                                      Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest. juice and chives in a serving dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Wrap each asparagus tip in a strip of procuitto, arrange on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and roast for 6-7 minutes, until tender.

Transfer the prociutto-wrapped asparagus to a platter and serve with the lemon mayo.

I think I’ll try some ham slices.  Seems a little more “Irish.”

Happy eating on Saint Patrick’s Day.

**Picture and recipe from 500 appetizers by Susannah Blake

Posted on

Spring Break Thoughts

What is this Spring Break thing? I am about to find out. Some family and some friends are headed to Wimberley, Texas.  We’ll stay at a place with a full kitchen, and though we plan to critique some of the eateries, we will cook some, too. Now that’s a surprise, isn’t it? (We cook with wine, you know, and ……you know the rest of the quote.

One of our go-to dishes is CHICKEN PICCATA. We discovered the recipe when Karyn lived in southern California where we had “right-off-the-tree” lemons.

This is the recipe from my collection of recipes.

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. butter or olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. chicken bouillon granules
1 t. paprika
2 T. dry white wine
Parsley, cilantro and lemon slices (optional)
My addition: 2 t. capers
Place each piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4″ with mallet or rolling pin.
Combine flour and paprika; dredge chicken in flour mixture
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; add olive oil or butter. Heat to medium. Cook chicken about six minutes or until brown (and until done). Remove from skillet and keep warm
Add wine, lemon juice, capers and bouillon  to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Pour over chicken. Garnish with parsley, cilantro and lemon slices..

This is so quick and easy and, so good. For a meal, add the ubiquitous green salad (or one that you’ve dressed up with all kinds of good things) some crusty bread and, oh,. yes, the rest of the white wine.

More about Wimberley in the next blog.
Good eating!
Jo Ann Miller

Posted on

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the January, 2013, issue of Bon Appetit, pp.19-20, the margarita is not Mexico’s most beloved cocktail. Did you know that? The Paloma, which features grapefruit juice, is the Mexican drink of choice. Now, I’m no expert on this subject, but I wanted to give it a try. When my friend took twenty grapefruit sectioned to a church retreat, she gave me the left-over juice. “Waste not; want not.” A good reason to “indulge.”

The BA writer gives his favorite rendition of the Paloma with some variations that work OK, but his use of the smokier mescal and real grapefruit juice, provide a different, but pleasant result.

Recipe borrowed from the aforementioned article:

PALOMA

Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim with a grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt.
Combine 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1 tsp. sugar in a glass;stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup mezcal* or tequila, add ice and top off with 1/4 cup club soda.
Garnish with grapefruit wedge. Makes 1.

Substitutions: Grapefruit-flavored soda  (Jarritos is the brand of choice, but Fresca will work.)
Sugar syrup for the granulated sugar.
Tequila for the mezcal.
*A note about mezcal. Very smoky. My first attempt tasted like bacon. Next try, used a jigger (2 T.) and the taste was better to me.

Hope my tee-totaller mother will forgive me for posting this.

Posted on

Tea & Cookies – A Simple Dessert Solution with Not-So-Simple Flavors

Last Friday, two of our favorite vendors graced Gourmet Gallery with a Tea and Cookie Pairing. We had a full house, and we tasted some wonderful treats. Since then, I have tasked our Gourmet Gallery crew to come up with some fun, simple recipes that are nice enough to serve to guests.

Below are two recipes. One from our friend Paul Wackym at Wackym’s Kitchen, and the other from our own kitchen. We have paired both of these with some of our Sterling Teas for a refreshing small dessert.

Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread with Bleu Cheese

12 Wackym’s Kitchen Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (available at Gourmet Gallery)

½ cup bleu cheese at room temperature

1 teaspoon softened butter

½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix bleu cheese and butter until well-combined. Pipe or spread cheese mixture onto shortbread cookies and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle fresh rosemary lightly over cookies. Serve with Sterling Earl Grey Lavender Tea or a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lemon Butter Cookie with Raspberry Mousse

12 Wackym’s Kitchen Lemon Cookies (available at Gourmet Gallery)

½ cup whipping cream

2 Tablespoons Curdelicious Raspberry Curd (available at Gourmet Gallery)

Fresh lemon peel for garnish

Whip cream until firm peaks form. Fold in curd. Pipe or spoon on top of lemon cookie. Garnish with fresh lemon zest or peel. Serve with Sterling Lemon Velvet Tea (hot or iced) or with ice-cold champagne.

Paul Wackym also makes a delicious Margarita Cookie. He says it’s even better dipped in tequila. Try this one at your own risk.

Happy Cooking!

Karyn

Posted on

“Now We Are Four”

On August 15, 2008, a dream came true. After months, yea, even years, of planning, Gourmet Gallery Waco, opened for business. At the time no one realized that August 15 was the anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday. Frankly, we had worked so hard that I hardly remembered MY birthday. Nor did we know that 2008 would begin the economic downturn that we have all experiened these years. However, the dream has lasted.

A recap of what has happened in those four years: our first class was on a Saturday in September. Loren Lee  taught the group to make Creme Brûlée. (still one of our favorites.) However, since that beginning we have had 350+ classes and private parties and at least 3500 participants. Some of those “students” are repeat attendees. Still that seems to me to be a remarkable number of classes and participants. One of our most faithful participants is Janice Runyons who was not at the first class, but was still living in Kentucky or some other foreign country. When she did get here, she has been an enthusiastic person for our classes and trips. Oh, yes, what were and are the classes? I’ll mention a few: Tamales by Rachel; Farm to Table by Juanita; Sushi by Dee and Reiko; Seasonal Soups and Salads by Rachel; Quick Breads by Frank D; Date Nights by Kim and Stan, Salley and Chris, and others; Mediterranian Food by Karen; Paella by John and Carla; kolaches by Frank M and others too numerous to list. Karyn continues to use her creativity to find new and interesting topics and knowledgable chefs.

Included in the listing of classes is an idea we stole (pinched) from other kitchen stores. We call it COOKING THE BOOKS. At least 12 different books have been reviewed and food served from recipes taken from the book. In some cases there are no recipes, but any food mentioned is “fare” game.( Lisa Wingate, Clifton author, came to review SUMMER KITCHEN. The only food mentioned was PB&J and sandwiches; so, we did ‘Variations on a Peanut Butter Theme.–(Have you tried a Peanut Butter and onion sandwich?) JULIE AND JULIA brought forth Potato and Leek Soup, Boeuf Bourguignonne, and Crepes. BTW our classes are informative and fun. You may even bring the beverage of your choice to any class except KNIFE SKILLS CLASS

During these years we have bought merchandise from over 350 vendors, and we regularly order from 100-200 different companies. Our inventory includes over 5000 different items. Rachel keeps up with all of them. AMAZING!!!!  We have moved from being a pick-up place for Epicurean  gourmet dishes to having our own in-house chef, Juanita Barrientos, graduate of TAMU and Le Cordon Bleu. She and her sous chefs prepare our take-out dishes. If you are vegan or vegetarian, gluten intolerant, or like regular foods, come and try her delicious menu. The weekly menu is sent to our email list of customers. The items are “first come, first serve.”

We have sponsored three trips to various parts of the world to provide opportunities for tasting food and wine and seeing the sights in Texas, the United States of America and abroad. Our first trip was to Rome, Assisi, Florence and other places in Italy. Second, we took a group to Washington and Oregon, and this past spring our group visited Fredericksburg to experience wonderful foods and wines in the glorious Hill Country right here in Texas. Although I promised myself I would not do another group trip (It’s not my talent) I AM  thinking about planning trips to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Sweet Potato Queen’s Annual Parade, to 1000 Islands, New York, to enjoy the fresh fish and NY wines, oh, and Ireland and Scotland

Our staff is our greatest asset. Rachel Solano came to work July 8,2008..She helped with pricing inventory both on the new system and helped price every single item in an unair-conditioned space next to the new store. Her spirit, work ethic, loyalty and organizational skills are invaluable (and she likes good wine.) As mentioned, Juanita and her sous chefs Mrs Yu, Leah and Virginia have added a new dimension to our business and to Waco’s food choices. The Millers, too numerous to name.—–have been wonderful to fill in, take over, drink the wine, take out cardboard, mop, provided original art work and opportunities for charitable acts, to whatever else needs to be done.

Last but most important are those of you who have been our patrons and have remained faithful through these four years. Please come Saturday, September 8, so that we may say THANK YOU in person for these years.

Posted on

Thousand Islands’ Thousand Island

My husband was predictable when it came to food choices. He chose green beans and corn when available; any dessert was just fine as long as there was plenty of it; the coffee should be served hot, preferrably in a heated cup; the dressing for a green salad–a “little dab of ‘Thousand Island’.”

I must confess that since I never eat that particular dressing (my choice is vinaigrette or a rich, creamy bleu cheese) I hadn’t given its origin any thought whatsoever. However, some friends of mine recently visited Thousand Islands, New York, and brought back information about how the salad originated. I got to keep the information and to look at the jar of dressing.

The Thousand Islands Inn graciously gave me permission to tell the story of the true origin of the dressing as found on the back of the menu of the Thousand Islands Inn located in Clayton, New York as well as to post a picture of bottles of the dressing. My sincere thanks for their prompt and positive response.

Thousand Island Dressing, made in Clayton, New York, is the only salad dressing named for any region of the United States..the dressing was first made by Mrs. Sophie LaLonde whose husband was a popular fishing guide named George LaLonde, Jr. He, as his father before him, guided tourist fisherman through the 1000 Islands waters for northern pike, muskie, black bass.

These fishing excursions could include shore dinners which were prepared on the surrounding islands, and  were popular then, as now. George, Jr. served a different and unusual salad dressing at these dinners. George was guiding a prominent stage actress, May Irwin and her husband who was impressed with the distinctive taste of the dressing. She asked for the recipe and Mrs. LaLonde, flattered by the request from a New York celebrity, who incidentally was a renown cook and cookbook authoress, gave it willingly to Miss Irwin, who in turn gave it to at least two other people, the Bertrand family and George C. Boldt.

Miss Irwin named the dressing “Thousand Island Dressing.” It was first served to the public in the dining room of the Herald House owned by the Bertrands. George Boldt, owner of the Waldrof-Astoria Hotel in New York and the Bellview-Stratford in Philadelphia, directed his world famous maitre d’, Oscar Tshirky to place the 1000 Island Dressing on the hotel menu at once. Thus Oscar earned credit for introducing  the dressing to the “world.”

The dressing is still served at the “Herald House” which is now known as the Thousand Islands Inn. “Patrons continually comment about the remarkable flavor and, as May Irwin did, request the recipe. In 1990s the Inn began to bottle the dressing  from their “Original” for sale to the public. It is available at the Inn and on line at www.1000-islands.com/dressing.

When you come to Gourmet Gallery, ask me for a taste. I’ve ordered some. My husband would have loved it!!!! I think the complex flavors of the dressing are perfect for a simple salad of Romaine or the not-so-favored in gourmet food circles, a wedge of iceberg lettuce. Chef Juanita suggested using it on a Cobb or grilled chicken salad. One of our customers, after a taste, said, “Roast beef sandwich. My mother always put mayonnaise and sweet relish on our left-over roast beef sandwiches!!”

Do you have other suggestions?

Be advised that the original has little similarity to many of the Thousand Island Dressings you will find on the grocery store shelf. Come by and taste. If  you want to have the original, go www.1000-islands.com/dressing.

Posted on

Fredericksburg with Fourteen Fun Friends

We place the reporting of the Spain Adventure on hold to write about “Fredericksburg with Fourteen Fun Friends.” Early on the Thursday before Easter fourteen friends of Gourmet Gallery loaded onto a luxury coach from Brazos Valley Travel that took us on a four day adventure.

You know us! Emphases–food and wine. We have some recommendations to pass on to our friends who did not get to go with us. And let me tell you that you missed a great time with lovely travelers.

Three Cheers for the Top Three 

1. The three wineries:
 Texas Hills Winery, Johnson City. Kathy Gilstrap gave us a private tour and we tasted five wines for $5.00. Their Kick Butt Cab is one of their best-known wines and one of our favorites. (They also had some cheap Pinot Grigio that accidentally missed a step in the wine-making process. The Cab was better.) A mid-sized winery, the grapes are grown there and in other parts of Texas,.
Becker Winery, just off of US 290. We bought sandwiches from Dutchman’s Meat Market, and had a picnic under the porch. The lavender was in bloom, a band played part of the time we were there. Six wines for $10 and we got to keep the glass. Many of Becker’s wines are available here and in some restaurants in Fredericksburg. A beautiful setting, a lot of visitors on that day before Easter.
Sister Creek Winery, just north of Boerne at Sisterdale. David, the tasting room manager, had an employee who knew the wines well, conducted the tasting. The Burgundy and Bordeaux wine-makng techniques are used for making the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines. These traditional wines are aged in 60 gallon oak barrels for up to three years. Look for the old cotton gin between East and West Sister Creek. Not fancy buildings, but some good wines. They also have a tasty pinot grigio.
We made a surprise stop at Pedernales Cellars. this winery is being enlarged; so, there was more construction than wine-tasting. A glass of viognier a treat on the front porch and the view was quite nice.

Now to the food:

August E’s,  San Antonio Street, Fredericksburg. This was recommended and worth the visit. Our group’s food choices ranged from egg rolls to New Zealand lamb. The service was near perfect, the food well above the average and the wine list offered an adequate selection.
Fredericksburg Herb Farm,  on Whitney Street. This lunch stop was included in the cost. I had eaten there more than once and was confident of the quality. We were given the choices of quiche and fruit, chicken salad and fruit, meatloaf and veggies and chicken potpie. I was a little dubious of the meatloaf, but all the offerings were tasty. One drink order was confused, but that was easy to correct. Flowers were in bloom, the gardener helpful with explanations, and the new Sunday Houses are a charming addition to the property.
Cabernet Grill, on the Kerrville Hwy just across from the airport. Food was excellent from the crab cake, Curried Pheasant, Sausage and Apple Chowder to the sesame crusted fried shrimp with mango slaw, or the pan-seared trout or the Golden Fried Eggplant Pirogue topped of with Chicken Fried Pecan Pie with Jack Daniels ice cream. Wonderful food and perfect service! Many Stars!

Food and wine were the focuses, but other adventures included the First Friday Art Walk, a performance at the Rockbox Theater, a late night stop at the Lincoln Street Wine and Cigar, a little time for shopping, quick lunch and viewing of the poppies and other blooms at the Wild Seed Farm, a drive over the Willow Loop Road (the bluebonnets were in decline, but the white poppies were spectular) dinner at the Gin on Nolan’s Creek in Belton.

A busy four days with fourteen great traveler–the bus driver included. Now aren’t you sorry that you missed it!!!

I am including the recipe for the chowder at served at Cabernet Grill.

Curried Pheasant, Sausage and Apple Chowder

1/3 salad oil
1 cup celery, cut in 1/2 dice
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 cup, yellow onion, cut 1/2 cide
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons madras curry powder
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup flour
5 cups pheasant braising liquid, chicken stock or water
1 1/2 cups potatoes, cut 3/4 inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup smoked polish sausage, sliced
2 cups braised pheasant meat
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried apples, diced

Heat salad oil in a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat and add in celery, carrots, onions and garlic.  Cook the vegetables slowly, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften and onions begin to turn translucent
Add curry powder, thyme and bay leaves to the pan and stir into the vegetables.  Allow to cook for about three minutes stirring frequently until the mixture becomes very fragrant. Do not burn the spices.
Add the flour to the pan and stir until incorporated
Add the braising liquid or combination of liquids to equal five total cups) to the pan one cup at a time, stirring in each time until fully incorporated.
Add the potatoes to the soup and allow soup to simmer for about twenty minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Add cream sausage and pheasant to soup and simmer for about five minutes.
Adjust season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Add a little dried apple to each cup or bowl and ladle hot soup over. Serve immediately.
If you are completely out of pheasant, braise chicken thighs and drumsticks with salt, yellow onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme and chicken stock or water. Substitute the shredded chicken for the pheasant. Different taste, but entirely pleasant!
Happy traveling and happy eating.