Thursday, October 30, 2008

They ran out of dessert!

My mom & I attended KRLD's 82nd anniversary party last night at the Dallas arboretum.  We really enjoyed ourselves- great catered food, full open bar, notable speakers, pretty flowers & a great place to people watch!  One of the highlights for me was the avocado bar: They served up a half of a Haas Avocado still in the rine sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil.  Then you choose from a variety of toppings to "stuff" your avocado like black bean & corn salsa, shrimp and cucumber ceviche, pineapple pico, bacon!, sour cream or habanero cream.  While the concept was amazing, the habanero cream was freaking HOT!  I can stomach hot food (thai food, super hot salsa, etc), but for your average eater, I know they had to be turned off.  This stuff had a serious kick & definitely should have come with a warning.  But, I really liked the idea.
After all the salty and spicy food, we were craving some dessert.  We went to the dessert station & they had run out- no plan B, just plain out!  My mom & I were joking that we would throw some butter & cinnamon sugar on some tortillas & come up with something!  They were still serving dinner, so people were not happy that they ran out that early.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cool weather, warm food

As we had our first "cold-front" and the temperature here in Texas dropped into the 40s, everyone quickly pulled out their scarves, heavy coats and even some people pulled out their gloves.  As we left for work for our lunch break, we all decided since it was "so cold," that we needed something warm- soup!  We drove over to Panera which apparently everyone in Dallas thought the exact same thought.  The parking lot was jammed & there was not a free table.  Every tray that I saw go by had soup on it.  I got the creamy Tomato soup with chunks of Sourdough bread in it:

Tomato, Cheese and Bread Soup

8ounces crusty Sourdough croutons
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
9garlic cloves, minced
3large onions, finely chopped
8cups chicken stock or low-salt chicken broth
228oz cans peeled plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
1/4cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Parmesan Reggiano rind (optional)
1/4cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (for garnish)
1/4cup Parmesan cheese shavings
1/4cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

 in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until very tender, about 25 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, cheeses and cheese rind. Simmer soup uncovered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For smoother texture, puree in blender or food processor before serving.

Ladle soup into Panera Bread Sourdough bread bowls. Add croutons, torn basil, and Parmesan cheese shavings just before serving.


So as the season starts to change into fall & colder temperatures, there are just certain foods that sound so great that I always look forward to.  
  1. Hot Chocolate- My favorite: Williams Sonoma Hot Chocolate (worth every penny & the extra time on the stove)
  2. Soups & Chili- I was always intimidated to make soups, but it is quite easy.  You can start almost any soup with a little olive oil in the bottom of a pan & then throw in some diced onion, celery & carrot (the french call it a mirepoix, but who really cares).  A lot of soup recipes called for diced or crushed tomatoes.  I like to throw these in for a little kick: Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (can find these at Central Market & Tom Thumb).  Then just follow your favorite recipe or combine a few together that sound good.
  3. Baked Goods- I guess because the holidays are getting close, I figure "Hey, maybe this year, I'll bake cookies for everyone I know!"  Yea right...  But I do tend to bake a bit more around the house at least.
Hope you are enjoying some of fall's foods!