Thursday, March 10, 2016

Texas, My Texas

I'm a little late for Texas Independence Day, celebrated on March 2, when 59 (American) settlers in 1836 signed a declaration separating them from Mexico (as opposed to April 21 when General Sam Houston defeated General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.  And to think, I had ancestors living in the state way back then!  Yep, 5th-generation Texan.)  

I've been gathering my favorite recipes from home, ones I might consider typical Texas fare, at least for my family. (Which means there's no iconic chicken-fried steak, because we never made that at home.)  There are some kolaches from the Germans and Czechs of central Texas, some beef and barbecue, seafood, some family staples handed down through the 20th century, a few Louisiana dishes, and, of course, Tex Mex Chocolate Sheet Cake.  I will confess that my Chili Frito Pie recipe in no way reflects real Texas chili, which has no beans or tomatoes or even ground, but exactly replicates what I remember from school and football games.    I mostly included my favorites.

Makes me hungry just typing it.
For a more comprehensive and gourmet exploration of Texas food, see Homesick Texans blog or cookbooks!)

Great-Grandmother's recipe for Kolatches (her spelling) from Her Friend Mrs. M

(Start the rich yeast dough first, then make all three of the fillings if you want to make a big to-do of coffee-time--any hour of day or night!)

Place in large mixing bowl and blend until softened
1 cake compressed yeast
2 tablespoons water
Add the following and beat until smooth to form a sponge . . .
2 tablespoons sugar
tall can of evaporated milk (note: 12 oz)
1 cup flour (not sifted)
Set above in warm place to double in bulk. Then return to mixer, punch down and mix in the following producing a smooth satiny dough, actually too soft to be handled . . . .
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft shortening
2 1/2 cups flour (approximately, not sifted)
Cover dough and let rise until doubled, then punch down in bowl and work out air bubbles. Turn onto floured board (using minimum to retain softenes of dough), and pat or roll out to 5/8-inch thickness. Cut in rounds of desired size; en route to cookie sheet dip in melted butter or margarine. Filling (one or all of the follwing should be cooled and ready to add not (my note: ??confusing??)--pressing a spoonful in center of each round. Makes approximately 4 dozen 2 1/2 to 3 inch kolatches.

Prune or Apricot Filling
Combine as listed in saucepan--then cook, stirring constantly, until thickened . . . .
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
#2 or 303 can of "stewed" dried prunes or apricot halves
Cool before using--with "sweet topping" (details later). Makes enough to fill approximately 2 dozen.

Cottage Cheese Filling
Blend together in bowl, mixing thoroughly with a fork;
1 cup dry ( note: well-drained) fine-curd cottage cheese ("homemade preferred")
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste) (my note: it might read 1/4 cup; hard to decipher)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
Filling is ready to use--with "sweet topping". Makes enough to fill approximately 1 dozen kolatches.

Meat Filling
Place in skillet and cook slowly until well-done and lightly browned;
1 lb bulk pork sausage
1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon pepper
salt (to your liking)
Drain off excess fa (or remove mixture from skillet) and cool Spoon on dough rounds, but instead of baking open, bring dough up around filling to form rolls--then place, seam downward, on cooking sheet. Makes enough for approximately 2 dozen "rolled" kolatches.

Sweet Topping to be sprinkled over fruit and cheese-filled kolatches is made as follows:
Combine in bowl and mix with pastry blender until light and crumbly:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
Now, in this order, top each of the fruit and cheese kolatches with "some" of the following:
Sweet topping
Chopped nuts
Melted butter or margarine
When filled, likely the dough will have risen the necessary 10 to 15 minutes--therefore kolatches will be ready to bake.
Bake kolatches (all types) in 400-degree oven 20-25 minutes, or until puffed and nicely browned. Remove and brush or dribble over tops at once melted butter or margarine.
Serve warm or cold--with coffee a must!
For quick kolatches, the up-and-coming Mrs. M uses roll mix, sayin git's not as rich but will do in a pinch.

A note: "From article in newspaper"
(the recipe was typed on lined school paper with a few handwritten notes and faxed to me by Aunt T)

People always compliment my mom’s guacamole.
2 ripe avacados
3 tablespoons minced onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Tabasco
½ teaspoon salt
2 tomatoes 

Mix; leave in pit to keep from turning brown.  Let chill before serving.

Dad’s Salsa Recipe
It’s too hot for most people but Ginia and Dad love it—they made it together during our trip over July 4, 2000.
can of diced tomatoes
jalapenos (without seeds)
black pepper
In blender, mix tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapenos.
Pour into dish and cover top with black pepper.  Stir.
Serve with tortilla chips.

Seven Layer Dip
1 can refried beans
1 tomato, chopped
1 small can chopped black ripe olives
1-4 oz. can green chilies, chopped
grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 small jar picante sauce
1 pint sour cream

Layer ingredients in order listed.  Serve with chips.

Mom’s Pimento Cheese
I just finished reading Being Dead is No Excuse about Southern funerary foods, of which pimento cheese is a staple.  I remember my mom’s, by looks only, because pimentos were suspiciously tomato-looking and I wouldn’t eat it (12/08).
Grated cheddar cheese
1-2 tablespoons Hellmann’s mayonnaise (really just enough to bind it)
1 container pimentos, drained
Chunky salsa (this is a very recent addition)
Salt and pepper, if needed

Mix, chill, and spread on bread or crackers.


Texas Black-Eyed Pea Dip
1 stick butter
5 scallions, chopped
8 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cans black-eyed peas (I used Sylvia's Specially Sesasoned Black Eyes, at Shop and Stop in the "Southern" section; Trappey's is traditional but not available here), drained 
1-4 oz. can green chilies, chopped (like Old El Paso)
1 clove garlic, minced, or garlic powder to taste

Heat butter in saucepan until melted, adding all remaining ingredients.  Heat through, stirring occasionally.  Mash beans to desired consistency (I like to leave it half-chunky).  Serve immediately with corn chips.  Can be reheated in microwave if it gets too cool.

Cheese Dip (Queso)
2 lbs. Velveeta
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilies

Combine til melted and heated through.  Eat with corn chips.

(The slower version has you sauteeing some onions in a bit of oil and then adding the cheese and tomatoes. Eh).

traditional Texas party dip

"Fancy" Cheese Dip
1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 lbs. Velveeta
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 teaspoon garlic power
1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

            Brown meats and onion.  Add remaining ingredients and cook until onion is tender and cheese melts.  Serve warm with corn chips.

Gommie Hungry

Ramen Salad

2 packages ramen noodles, crumbled
1 large package broccoli slaw
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup sunflower kernels
1 cup toasted sliced almonds
½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
seasoning packets
Combine noodles, slaw, green onions, seeds, and nuts. Mix oil, sugar, vinegar, and seasoning packet together. Pour over salad and toss. Note: this makes a ton; you can cut the recipe in half.
Mr. G

Aunt Janie’s Hush Puppies

A staple of bay fish fries!  And Aunt Janie’s are the best ever.

2 ½ cup cornmeal
2 cup flour
1 ½ tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon sugar
1 cup grated onion

Add milk until stiff.  Fry.
Aunt Janie

Mr. Campbell’s Barbecue Sauce
Very tart but real BBQ sauce, from Grandad's good friend, Mr. Campbell.
I remember the green-handled wire brush and the bay leaf floating in the saucepan on the stove where Mom kept it warm between bastings at the old Weber kettle.

1 quart vinegar (apple cider)
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Coleman mustard
2 tablespoon paprika
salt to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 Bay leaf
1 lemon sliced
¼ cup worcestershire
red pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper

            Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add ¼ lb. butter or oleo; cook until melted.  Can be frozen. 
            Brush on chicken before and during barbecuing.
                                                                                                            Mr. Bill Campbell

My Recipe for Baked Beans

4 slices bacon
½ cup chopped onion
2-1 lb. can Pork and Beans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon ketchup
chopped bell pepper

Cook bacon until crip, drain and crumble. In 2 tablespoons of drippings cook onion and bell pepper unil tender but not brown. Add with bacon to beans and other, mixing well. Put in 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 20-45 minutes.

Mommy Hungry's Mom

Black-Eyed Peas
As tradition goes, you have to eat all your black-eyes on New Year’s. 

1 bag black-eyed peas
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
garlic, minced.
salt, pepper 

olive oil

Soak peas overnight in salted water.  In morning, drain and rinse peas. 

Saute onion, optional pepper, and garlic in oil. Add peas. Cover with water (water is double the amount of peas or more). Cook until tender, about 2 1/2 hours.  *Goya's jambon bouillon makes this tasty if you don't use a ham bone.


1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cups yellow corn meal
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup skim milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400°F. Leave cast iron skillet in oven while preheating. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil, and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. Pour into skillet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown and pick inserted comes out clean.


My Playgroup Frito Chili Pie

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can Ranch style beans (there will be an homage to these later. I literally "import" them from Houston everytime my folks come up. It's the one thing I just cannot find up here, now that the stores have Pace Picante sauce and Rotel tomatoes. If only Blue Bell ice cream travelled as well.)
1 can light kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 packet McCormick chili mix
14 oz can diced tomatoes
shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground meat, draining fat. Brown onions. Add all the beans plus the packet of chili mix and tomatoes to meat and onions. Add water if necessary (I like my chili soupy, so the Fritos can absorb some). Simmer. Serve with lots of Fritos and cheese.

King Ranch Chicken
1 chicken, cooked and cut in pieces (or, bake 3 breasts in oven at 350°F for 30 minutes)
2 cup grated cheese
1 dozen corn tortillas, torn into fourths (Gommie used corn chips)
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom/celery
1 cup chicken broth (or bouillion cube and water)
½ can Rotel tomatoes/chilies

            Spray 9 x 13 pan with Pam.  Layer tortillas, chicken, onions, sauce, and cheese.  Bake 350°F for 30 minutes.

Gommie Hungry

Shrimp Remoulade
We eat this every Christmas Eve when we get back from looking at lights; it’s a tradition from Mom’s family. Dad always wonders why we don’t eat it on other days. I didn’t like it much as a child but it is a tradition and it’s growing on me.

4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons vinegar
4 tablespoons prepared mustard (French’s)
2 teaspoons horseradish
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoons pepper (dark, cayenne)
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 cup salad oil
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped green onions
2 –3 quarts cooked and peeled shrimp

Combine first 8 ingredients. Gradually add oil, beating with beater. Add shrimp, celery, and onion. Chill. Serve on shredded lettuce with crackers.


Muffaletas/Muffuletta/Muffalatta (who knows?!)
Very similar to those at Central Grocery, which I remember eating on our trips to New Orleans.

1 jar salad olives, drained
1 jar cocktail onions, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
celery—chopped fine
meats (cheap lunchmeats--ham, bologna,salami)
mozzarella cheese

Bake at 350°F until brown and cheese melts.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
I didn’t really love gumbo when I was younger but it has certainly grown on me now. So, for the first time, the night before the crash of Flight 587, I made gumbo, based on my mom’s recipes and my New Orleans cooking school class notes. And you don’t really need Andouille sausage—just any smoked sausage. Note: My mom adds a can of diced tomatoes; I don't.

4-5 chicken breasts
½ cup flour
½ cup oil
2 large onions chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 lbs. sausage
6-8 cups chicken stock
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Tony’s (approximately)

Saute sausage medallions. Saute onions, celery, pepper in sausage grease.
Make roux (Mom says you can microwave til brown, stirring after every minute; I tried this to start but then but it in a pot to finish). Add chicken broth. Add onion, celery, pepper, and sausage.
Saute chicken until dry and stringy. Add to pot. Add bay leaf, garlic, Tony’s. Simmer for 2 hours.
Serve over rice. Freezes really well.


Dot’s Trout

Butter and parsley makes fish extra-tasty.  I haven’t managed to reproduce the recipe yet; Mama Hungry tried but there was perhaps too much flour.
Bread fillets in flour.
Fry in butter and parsley.
Sprinkle with parsley.
Pour lemon juice and butter over fish.
Aunt Dot

Mom’s Fried Fish
Gommie made this during her October 2004 visit—we experimented with different fish we could buy at the grocery.  The catfish and flounder were the best; the tilapia was nasty.

My Mom’s email correcting the recipe:  After I rinse the filets I put them on a paper towel with newspaper underneath to dry.  I actually salt and pepper the fish on one side before putting it in the cornmeal, placing that seasoned side down in the cornmeal and seasoning the other side.  Some of the seasoning does get into the cornmeal.

The main thing is to have the oil hot (Uncle A.J. believed that to fry oysters (much the same) you should be able to ignite at match in the oil. It should also allow the fish to float in the oil. But... it can be tested by dropping a pinch of the cornmeal in the oil and it will sizzle when
ready.  The burner should be medium high-to-high, but the oil should not smoke.

The fried filet can be placed on a paper towel-over-newspaper to absorb the oil.

Main rule:  Serve immediately.
4-6 fish filets (in Connecticut, best to worst:  flounder, catfish, cod, tilapia; try rainbow trout and sole.  Mom has speckled trout)
            Heat approximately 2-3” of oil in pot.
            Wash filets.  Mix cornmeal with salt and pepper to taste.  Coat fish filets.
            Fry fish in oil until golden brown.  Dry on paper towels.
            Serve with ketchup or homemade tartar sauce.
Gommie Hungry

This can be shrimp or ham.  We had extra ham and Mom mentioned this adaptation.  I barely remember it from childhood, recalling the shrimp version.  But it’s tasty and worth repeating.  If you don’t have crushed tomatoes, you can use 8 oz. of tomato sauce and ½ a can of Rotel.
1/3 cup olive oil (do not use with ham)
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
dash of cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 lb 4 oz. can tomatoes
1 ½ pounds shrimp, shellled and deveined (or leftover ham)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)
cooked rice

Heat oil in large skillet or saute ham.  Saute onions, green pepper, celery and garlic for 5 minutes.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaf, and tomatoes.  Bring to boil; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in shrimp, sugar, and parsley.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked.
Serve on rice.


Frijoles Borrachos, or Pinto Beans Stewed in Beer

1 cup chopped tomatoes or lightly drained canned diced tomatoes
2-16 oz cans pinto or pink beans drained and rinsed, or 4 cups cooked pinto or pink beans (about 1 1/2 cups raw. I just used 16 oz).
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (NOT in my beans!)
4 oz can mild green chilies
3 tablespoons pinto bean seasoning (I picked this up in Texas; not sure what goes in it but will look)

Combine all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

adapted from Nava Atlas's The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet

Miss B's Red Beans and Rice

This recipe comes from Miss B, complete with tips on ingredients—Camellia beans and Tony’s Creole Seasoning. I think this was my first Cajun food, sitting at her kitchen table with a bowl ladled from a simmering pot. Mama and I made it at the end of the 9/11 week and the beginning of fall—with Goya beans and Chicken Apple Sausage. And it was perfect! Just what we needed.

1 lb. kidney beans
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons ground bay leaf [or 2-3 whole leaves]
1/3 cup bacon drippings [or 3 pieces of bacon]
2 lb. smoked sausage
garlic salt, salt, pepper [or 1 tablespoon Tony’s]

Wash beans. Fill pot with water (2-3 quarts). Add onion, celery, green pepper, parsley, bay leaf, and bacon drippings. Bring to boil uncovered. Simmer and keep adding water until beans are softened, and gravy and beans are desired consistency (we added 1 quart more), approximately 2 hours. Add sausage, then Tony’s. Simmer uncovered about ½ hour longer. Turn off heat, let rest for 30 minutes. Make rice. Serve.

Miss B

Bread Pudding and Bourbon Sauce
I got this from Southern Living. Mom makes it now for all of her events and gets raves of compliments from real Southern chefs. I usually decrease the number of raisins, which will burn on the bottom if not floured. I know some people insist on adding fruit cocktail; I don't.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup butter, melted
2 ¾ cup whipping cream
4 cups cubed French bread
¾ cups raisins (or less)

Combine first 4 ingredients. Stir in butter and cream. Gently stir in bread and raisins. Pour in lightly greased 2-quart deep dish. Bake 375°F for 50-55 minutes, shielding with foil after 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Southern Living magazine

Bourbon Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup sugar
1 cup cream (whipping, heavy, half-and-half)
2 (or 1) tablespoons bourbon (or your favorite--rum works well)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt butter in a small saucepan; whisk in flour and cook 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and cream; cook 3 minutes. Stir in bourbon, vanilla, and nutmeg, and simmer 5 minutes.

Family Circle

Tex-Mex Chocolate Sheet Cake

1 stick margarine or butter
½ cup vegetable oil
2-1oz. squares unsweetened chocolate or 6 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk (to sour regular milk, place 1 2/2 teaspoons white vinegar in ½ cups measure, fill with milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine margarine, oil, chocolate and water in a saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted. Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl, then blend with first mixture. Pour batter into a greased 12 x 18 sheet cake pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until cake is down (top springs back when touched lightly). Leave cake in pan and frost with Mexican Chocolate Icing while cake is still warm.


1 stick margarine or butter
2-1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate (or 6 tablespoons cocoa plus 2 tablespoons
of margarine or butter)
6 tablespoons milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans

Combine margarine, chocolate, and milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, a little at a time (this is important). Stir in vanilla and pecans. Beat to a spreading consistency. Spread warm icing on warm cake.

Banana Pudding

 It’s not traditional banana pudding—with the cream cheese—but I like the not-so-sweet rich texture.

12 oz. vanilla wafers
tub of Cool Whip (large)--I used 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, whipped
package of cream cheese (large)
package of Jello Instant Vanilla pudding (large)
5 bananas, sliced in rounds

            Line the bottom of the dish with wafers
            Make the pudding. Make the whipped cream. Add cream cheese, beating with mixer, and fold in the whipped cream.  Add bananas and more wafers and stir very gently.
            Spoon pudding mixture on top of wafers.  Cover with remaining wafers.
            Refrigerate and serve.

Mommy Hungry

Pecan Pie
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo syrup (light or dark; I usually have light)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cup whole pecans
1-9 inch unbaked or frozen pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In large bowl, stir the first five ingredients until well blended.  Stir in pecans.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake 50-55 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between crust and center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.
 Karo syrup bottle

Fruit Pie (adapted from Aunt T's Dewberry Cobbler recipe)

2 frozen pie crusts


3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour, to thicken

2-10 oz. bags frozen mixed berries

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove both crusts from plastic bag. Place one on a cookie sheet. Cut the edge off the other so as to leave a circle of dough.
Mix sugar and flour together and then toss into frozen berries, mixing well (there is no need to defrost; the flour absorbs the extra liquid). Crush berries to extract juice.
Fill the pie crust with the berries. Remove the second pie crust (sans edge) and place it on top of the filled crust; it will overlap the edge of the filled crust. Pinch edges together and the impress with fork. Puncture the center to allow steam release, dab with pats of butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Cover edges with foil and bake 1-1 ½ hours, with cookie sheet below to catch spills, or until bubbling.

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