Sunday, November 25, 2007

Now We're Talking Turkey

The boyfriend and I traveled to Houston for the Thanksgiving holiday. In addition to catching up with his family there, we had time to sample the "legendary Tex-Mex" at Pappasito's Cantina. Kwesi worked here back in the day, and has always spoken highly of the food. He wasn't kidding! At his recommendation we ordered the chicken and spinach quesadillas and the beef fajitas. Both were absolutely delicious. The quesadilla was stuffed with big chunks of chicken, and the fresh spinach was just beginning to soften under the swathes of cotija and jack. The beef for the fajitas was perfectly cooked--medium rare--and the tortillas were literally hot off the press. They were being made just behind our table. We finished with the capirotada--a chocolate bread pudding served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream. The portions were definitely Texas-sized. We split these two meals and the dessert between three people and we were stuffed!
On the way home from Pappasito's we stopped to grab a few last minute ingredients for the holiday table and at the last minute I thought it would be fun to make a pie for dessert. Thanks to my mom for supplying the recipe as we drove to the market!

As we started home, we passed this sign for another Tex-Mex restaurant. I couldn't resist stopping to take a picture.

Once home, I got to work on the pie. We couldn't decide between the two Thanksgiving classics--should we make pumpkin pie? or pecan? What about one pie that combined the best of both?

The new Gourmet cookbook has a lovely recipe for a pie, with a creamy pumpkin layer hiding beneath a gooey pecan topping. The lemon zest in the pecan layer added an unusual but festive zing to the pie. After the traditional turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, dressing, and cranberry sauce we enjoyed a slice of the double-decker pie with cups of coffee.

I had been looking forward to warmer weather in Houston, but we must have brought Seattle's November with us. It was cold cold cold and windy, but absolutely clear and sunny. Kwesi and I took advantage and spent Thanksgiving morning just down the road at Brazos Bend State Park. I was surprised that it was open on the holiday, but it was a gorgeous day to explore. The park is known for its alligator population but they were hibernating under the mud. We did see plenty of hawks, a huge vulture and some water birds.

This is the view from the top of a lookout tower that was at the west side of Forty Acre Lake. After a short hike around the lake, and through the Hoot Hollow trail (seriously, who could resist?) we headed back to the house to the feast and family.

Three for the Road

One last picture with the delightful Nigella, courtesy my cousin Darby Vigus. My aunt Shirley is the lovely lady on the right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

She Oughta Be in Pictures!

It's midnight, post-Nigella, and all I can say is: wow. What a nice lady--and how gorgeous is she?
We had a lovely crowd at UBS to celebrate the release of Nigella Express. We had a little Rosemary Clooney to soothe the masses, and people snacked on the salmon, tomato salad and rocky road bars. They also sampled virgin "ginger pom" punch (equal parts gingerale and pomegranate juice, add pomegranate liquer if you're over 21).
As promised, Nigella answered a few questions, and then signed books for two hours before jumping on a plane. (Some answers to the pressing questions she addressed: oysters, a bowl of nuts and a glass of wine; Dickens' David Copperfield, Austen's Persuasion, Venetian chicken from How to Eat, preparing soup helps her get her thoughts in order before she sits down to write).
She was absolutely delightful, despite her hectic schedule. She's one class act!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Up to my eyeballs

This is already a great week! I was anticipating a food friendly moment tomorrow, when UBS hosts one of my favorite Food Network stars, Nigella Lawson.
But today I was surprised at the book store by Babbo's pastry chef, Gina de Palma! I love her cookbook so much that I have a little trouble keeping it to myself. (Check out the rave I gave it in my last post!) She stopped into the store to sign stock, and one of the intrepid booksellers remembered that I loved her book, and promptly called my desk to see if I wanted to say hi. Heck yeah! I gushed all over Gina and her book. It's a little embarrassing in retrospect, but hey, who doesn't love a fan?

I've been preparing for my next foodie favorite, Nigella, for some time now. About 9 months ago I was chatting with her publicist about the possibility of a Seattle tour. I put together a proposal and in their infinite kindness, her publishers are sending Nigella to town.
One fun offshoot of the event was a recipe contest that UBS ran in partnership with the Seattle Post Intelligencer. We asked readers to submit their favorite "express" recipes, in honor of Nigella's new book, Nigella Express. Teams from the book store tested and tasted recipes (tough gig, I know!) and we culled the submissions down to nine finalists. These were judged by three famous local foodies (the always delightful Tom Douglas; the man with the flakiest croissants in town, James Miller and Seattle PI food writer, Rebekah Denn). You can read more about the contest here.
Now that Nigella's event is drawing near, I have been cooking in preparation. I spent the weekend shopping for supplies--we're featuring some delicious treats from Nigella Express--and I spent today cooking. If you swing by the event tomorrow you'll be able to sample Mirin-glazed Salmon bites, "Moonblush" Tomatoes and Rocky Road Bars. I'll have pictures tomorrow, and will post as soon as I'm able.

Until then, I'm up to my eyeballs in foodie fun!

the perfect balance