Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Texas and Sauces

One week unil we leave for the beautiful drive across Arizona, New Mexico, then Texas to Austin. I firmly believe that the hill country, with its rolling hills, crystal clear rivers and abundant bright wild flowers, was created as a reward for anyone who dared traverse across the states. I do admit that Las Cruces (Hi Tammy) was a bright spot in last years trip. The State Trooper that pulled us over in Texas for 45 minutes, (no, I was not wearing my seat belt, I was asleep, but he just wanted to find a reason to search our truck) was not.

Adventure Cycling, with much help from Austin native Steve Coyle, has created a cycling tour through the hill country that is a must for any cyclist. The road system we follow is made up of rarely used country roads, winding through farm land, up and down rolling hills, meandering along sparkling rivers, and of course across blanketed acres of blooming wild flowers. Thank you Lady Bird Johnson for your passion of Texas wild flowers. (If you are in Austin before or after the tour the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center is a must see!)

More on Texas later. Being a foody I must try and share my passion with you as we go along. So: one of my favorite subjects: SAUCES. I taught two classes on sauces last year and just "skimmed the surface!"

Sauces are both simple and complex: they are multipurpose: they are the splendor of cooking: they are not at all mind boggling as many believe. There are half a dozen definite groups of sauces: once you master the basics of each group you have a whole new world of cooking open to you.

The mother groups in the sauce family are:
White sauces, brown sauces, tomato sauces, Hollandaise sauces, mayonnaise, oil and vinegar sauces, and butter sauces.

For dinner a couple of nights ago I prepared Dungeness crab cakes with a basic Buerre Blanc. (My family eats pretty well when I'm home.) I spiced it up by adding a couple of tsp. of sweet chili sauce with the shallots! Yumm. This sauce is fabulous with any white fish, crab, shrimp or lobster dish.

BUERRE BLANC: 1/4 cup white wine: 2 tsp white wine vinegar: 1 tsp fresh lemon juice: 1 Tblsp minced shallot: 2 Tblsp heavy cream: 1/2 cup unsalted butter: 1/4 tsp salt: freshly ground white pepper to taste. Combine the wine, vinegar, lemon juice and shallot in a saucepan: bring to a boil over medium heat: reduce until syrupy. Add the cream and reduce by 1/2. Turn heat to low: gradually add the butter, stirring (Do not whisk) until incorported. (Do not boil or it will break). Season with salt and pepper, strain through a fine sieve, serve with your fish. (If you're having lobster be sure to invite me.)

Go home tonight and prepare a Buerre Blanc. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh yes

Before I forget I want to share a couple of great places that we found along the way just in case you find yourself roaming the South!

Candied Apple Bakery in Julian, California: fabulous artisan breads, pastries, soups and sandwiches.

Old Bisbee Brewing Company, Bisbee Arizona. Opened the week of March 14th. State of the art brewery with all the bells and whistles and fabulous beers as well. The owners' daughter studied in Europe and is brew master. Her Stout outshines Guiness! It is worth a trip to Bisbee to taste her beers. And it's the only place to find them.

Two down! 9 to go! We have completed the first two of our winter tours and are on to the third.
Southern California Winter Warmer was all but warm for the first two days: torential rainpour in Chula Vista and freezing cold in Julian. But all was comfy in Borego Springs, albeit the wind. Don't you love cooking - or cycling for that matter- in the wind? A pot of water takes twice as long to boil! The desert wild flowers were just popping out, and if you're ever there the hike into Palm Canyon Oasis is amazing.
I promise in the future to blog the food as we go, as I can now not remember what was cooked on what day! A few highlights though:

Honey glazed pork chops with a homemade apple Brush the pork chops with honey then season them with a combination of: ground cumin, sea salt, smoked chipotle chili powder, ground corriander, paprika, ground garlic and black pepper. Grill them until just done, and serve with apple chutney. (peel and core apples and cook with diced green chili, cider vinegar & sugar) Want the whole recipe? I can post it next week when I am back to my truck which houses my books.

Texas Pecan Pie Bars. Totally yummmmmy.

Southern Arizona was a beautiful trip. The weather was great the whole trip and the desert in the spring has such unique beauty. The food mirrored that of California. New to the menu:

Curried eggplant and potatoes! A great yellow curry full of plump eggplant and yellow poatatoes.
Greek lemon chicken joined us once again from being on vacation for a couple of years.
Peanut butter and walnut sandwiches on Raisin bread were all the rage. Something so simple, yet sooo good.

On to Texas and a daily update of places, wild flowers and food! Much more on the food. Recipes anyone?