Though I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I have Texas DNA in my bones! And, though I love California Mexican Food, my heart sings when Bill and I have the opportunity to dine Authentic Tex-Mex somewhere deep in the heart of Texas! If I could, like Tex-Mex expert, Robb Walsh, I would wander the state checking out every small eatery in every town. So, on a recent trip to Houston, we – like homing pigeons - made our way to the oldest Mexican Restaurant in that town, Molina’s and to their Enchiladas de Tejas!
Californians love fresh healthy food; accordingly they top their cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese enchiladas with tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and shredded lettuce. Texans, on the other hand really do love dark n dirty! Chili ‘gravy’ tops their Kraft Velveeta or Land O’Lakes Extra Melt stuffed enchiladas! “Velveeta? Land O’Lakes? You ask, shocked? Yes, my dear. Processed cheese melts differently - more elegantly – and is the real ‘authentic’ cheese of choice (irony intended). Still shocked? Bless your heart!
Many Iranians will tell you that breakfast is their favorite meal of the day. No matter how early people have to get up—Iran is a nation of pre-dawn risers—taking time to enjoy the first meal of the day is considered essential.
The delight of a Persian breakfast lies in the variety of different flavors you can put together for each bite. Breakfast will always include toasted flatbread, salty feta, and creamy butter, washed down with small glasses of sweet black tea. There may be homemade jams from local fruit such as quinces, figs, blackberries, and sour cherries, as well as honey, fresh dates, tahini, and perhaps, if you are in luck, a slab of thick, wobbly whipped heavy cream or crème fraiche.
Walnuts and almonds, soaked in water overnight to make them easier to digest, are offered in little bowls alongside platters of fresh herbs and thin slices of tomato and cucumber for those who prefer a savory start to the day. Eggs are boiled, fried, or whisked into an omelette for those who want something more substantial. As ever in Iran, a bowl of seasonal fruit will always be nearby to end the meal.
Jack Benny (who was famously cheap and made fun of himself for it) gave out silver dollars on Halloween.
Lucille Ball used to answer the door herself.
A witch lived in the witches’ house on Walden Avenue and gave out apples on Halloween.
Don’t know the answer because “the witches’ house” was so scary that none of us ever made it down the walkway. But the witches’ house wasn’t really a witches’ house. It was really offices and dressing rooms at a silent movie studio in Culver City before someone (don’t ask me why) relocated it to a corner lot in Beverly Hills in the 1930s and moved in.
I was in my early 20’s. I had been invited to Dean Martin’s daughter’s Halloween party. Yes, at her father’s house. A big ass Beverly Hills home. I planned to be Elton John. The girls — Gina and Donna — who had invited me to the party were very close with Shaun Cassidy, and I was told Shaun owned Ziggy Stardust-style silver lame’ rock & roll boots. I didn’t know him or what size shoe he wore, but I boldly called and asked to borrow them: “Hi, I’m Fredde Duke, you don’t know me but….”
I picked up the rock & roll boots at his mother’s house on North Oakhurst. Found it on my Map to the Stars’ Homes. Kidding. I enlisted the wardrobe department where my dad had a studio deal to write “Elton John” in a sequined signature on the back of my satin, emerald-green man’s coat. A friend worked for Bernie Taupin and Elton at Rocket Records, and he gave me a stack of unsigned Elton John headshots. At the toy store on Beverly Drive, I bought a child’s baby grand piano. By now I’m realizing it would have been a lot easier to go as Pat Boone. Then I scored a man’s wig in Hollywood, but cut it at the crown to make me look like I was balding. The piece de resistance was the blacked out Elton gap tooth. Voila, I was suddenly a gay rock star!!!
The gluten free cupcake had become my nemesis. Until these. Several failed attempts at making both vanilla and chocolate, gluten free cupcakes did not discourage me. Cupcakes are a household favorite and not having these in our recipe binder has made not only my kids sad, but me as well (well, maybe not so sad, more disappointed).
I originally came up with these for one of the many Halloween parties we were invited to this year. They were so good that I recreated them again, for an event, last week.
A new, favorite teacake recipe is now the inspiration for many wonderful cakes and cakelettes. Infusing seasonal flavors and ingredients into the original base (which is the perfect combination), allows me to introduce old favorites using whole and gluten free ingredients.
Omitting maple from the original recipe while adding fall spices gave me the end result I was looking for. Topping them off with a dulce de leche buttercream was, literally, the icing on the cake!
Chocolate sandwich cookies were my favorites as a kid. Though I haven't had them in years, I still crave them. To settle my sweet tooth this Halloween, I decided to create my own grown-up version with a peanut butter filling. They are far better than the ones I remember eating as a kid. And I'm sure if you give kids a choice between these and the store-bought kind, they will choose these. Don't be fooled though, these cookies may look whimsical with their fun cut-out shapes but they are just as much made for the adults as the kids.
This quick dough can be put together in minutes and made even a couple of days ahead of time. Rolling them may get a little sticky, so be sure to flour the board and then simply dust off the excess before baking. At the slightest sight of stickiness, just slip the dough back into the refrigerator or better yet the freezer. The best part comes when filling them. I like the cookies with just a bit of filling, but feel free to spread as much as you like. They go great with milk and if you're so inclined twist one apart and lick the filling. Sometimes it's great to feel like a kid again.
When I think of Halloween, I think hot dogs. People tend to find this association odd, some are even angered by it, but to me it feels perfectly natural. When I was younger, my mother used to grill hot dogs in our driveway for the trick or treaters and dole out beer in red plastic cups to the adults, providing a bit of a respite for parents whose kids were running around the neighborhood injected with copious amounts of sugar.
I was never much of a walker and I never got off on travelling in packs (why I live in New York I don't know), but even more importantly, I loved and still adore a good hot dog. Essentially, this ritual made my Halloween quite perfect.
The ritual ended, sadly, when I moved to New York to go to college. There are very few driveways in Manhattan, and there is a bar or a Gray's Papaya on every street corner, so if people need a beer or a frank, they are basically set year round. Nobody shared my passion for hot dogs at Halloween, unless they were terribly after drunk taking too many orange jello shots at some themed downtown party, in which case that little beef wonder became something of a valuable commodity, a bonafide savior in fact.
I am a person who remembers absolutely everything. I remember being sick when I was two years old and believed (one, hopes, due to fever and not psychopathology) that tiny men were marching out of my laundry hamper. I remember the first day of kindergarten, the exact words in the note from Eric saying he didn’t like me that way in fifth grade, the way the flap of skin looked after I jumped on a clam shell in Maine when I was ten, and the phone numbers of all my friends from high school. I remember the way the air smelled in Boston on a day when it carried the ocean into the City, and the diesel smell of the streets in Europe. I remember slights and offenses and try hard to forget them. I remember generosities and kindnesses, and try to cherish them. I remember to do the things I say I’m going to do, unless I’m under enormous stress. (That’s a whole different issue).
So remembering things about Halloweens past should be easy, right? All of the pumpkins, and costumes, and cobweb-covered porches should transport me back, like Proust in Rememberance of Things Past:
And suddenly the memory revealed itself: The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane.
No dice. I love Halloween; in general I prefer the autumn holidays because they don’t happen in summer (which I dislike) and I don’t have to buy gifts, decorate the house or forget to send cards again.
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon chili powder (That’s CHILI powder, not CHILE powder. Chili powder is a combination of spices used in making chili. Chile powder is straight ground chiles. Please be careful here. If you used a tablespoon of pure chile powder in your rub you would learn to hate me very quickly!)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons oil
Mix together in bowl
2 boneless rib eye steaks, approximately 1 pound each
1 teaspoon oil
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 yellow pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
salt and pepper, to taste
I first tried this exotic guacamole a couple of years ago at my good friend Robert’s Christmas party. His mother was in town that year and helped prepare some most of the incredible food on the buffet table.
His mother Anita is the kindest woman and has had an extraordinary life -- a true treasure and absolute delight. We bonded at that party by sharing recipe secrets and continue to correspond to this day about favorite foods and cooking techniques. When I asked if she would tell me how to prepare her famous pomegranate guacamole, she graciously emailed me the instructions, explaining that it was a recipe from her mom´s hometown, Guanajuato.
I’ve taken the liberty to list some precise measurements, but in full disclosure, Anita sent the list of ingredients and just put “to taste” after each item (she wrote, “No real amounts, but you are an excellent cook and I am sure you can eyeball it perfectly”.)
by James Moore
The real secret to a great Margarita is choosing the best tequila, so save these for special occasions with just a few friends. Start this recipe the day before your party – it’s worth it. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas - the full 24 hours is best,...Read more...
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My house wine is sweat tea, but there are a couple concoctions I simply relish as much as tea. One is Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade and the other, a “James Farmer” – this Farmer’s version of an Arnold Palmer.
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