Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hamburger Delight

A couple of weeks ago when I was doing the Link rice recipes I had leftover pork and beef so I made some patties along with dehydrated trinity and garlic, seasoning and crumbled blue cheese. I knew I would not get to them any time soon so I threw them in the freezer. Just recently I got them out and over a few days cooked them. The one below was seared in an iron skillet then steamed. I served it regular hamburger style on a Ciabatta roll.

Below is one grilled on my table top appliance slather in BBQ sauce.

Finally one cooked again in the cast iron skillet (I liked that result) topped with a pineapple mango chipotle salsa from the Pace upscale line. It was great)

I intend on doing Link's meatloaf again as I thought it was great. This time since I have ground beef, pork and goat in the freezer I will use them. Anything left over will be made into burgers like these

Vickie T's

Vickie T’s Cafe Connection
1004 Broad St
Lake Charles, LA
Monday - Saturday 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM $1 to $8
This old gas station has been converted to a donut shop/plate lunch place. At this time the plate lunches are only available three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They also stay open an hour later until 1 PM when serving the lunches. I popped by one morning to sample the donuts and some breakfast items they have. I opted for a mixed dozen of their choice for work. I received regular, chocolate glazed and cinnamon rolls. The ones I tasted were above average. A nice venue if you work in the area and like to treat the office. I also got a Jalapeno Cheese Sausage Kolach. They use biscuit dough and bake them. That puts them ahead of the fried ones but behind ones using regular dough in my opinion. The Bacon Egg Cheese Croissant was a disaster. They nuke and it was like rubber by the time I ate it. As a food buyer I recognized every part of this item as coming already made and just slapped together. Not a bad option for a small place like this except they want to nuke it instead of using a oven to heat it up
I passed through on a Monday for the plate lunch. It was Sausage and Red Gravy over rice with yams, green beans, roll and a chocolate eclair. It turned out to be a decent meal. Mid grade sausage and a slightly spicy tomato based sauce on a pile of edible rice. Both the yams and beans came from cans but they doctored them up so they tasted fine. The eclair was a nice surprise. I would suspect they are finding a use for unsold product, not a problem with me. In general this is a convenient establishment for me to whiz through. Helps that they don’t serve terrible food.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phil & Leona's

Wednesday plate lunch. Braised turkey wing, mac and cheese, and string beans. Not too bad the leg part could have cooked some more but it was flavorful, Good mac and cheese and wonderful beans. Nice and spicy with pork flavor
You also get a butter on top roll. Made a difference.
This is their bread pudding. Very moist with loads of cinammon, raisins, and some nuts. Not bad for $7.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Donald Link Style Black Drum

A run into Beaumont yesterday at Floyd's Cajun Seafood and Texas Steakhouse with a blowout on the interstate and a two hour wait for the tire change left me hot and not wanting to blog. I cannot say too much about the lunch except everyone agreed that it was good enough to go back.
I had some wild caught black drum which I though was skin on so I was going to try the redfish on the half shell recipe. However it was skinned. So using the flavor profile of Chef and a little trick that Joe Heacook (director of Sowela Culinary program) taught me years ago I did my own riff.

Below is the ingredients

I seasoned the pan and not the fish

Since I was using my tabletop appliance that has a light technology component I could not cook skin side down. So I cooked skin side up and put my special salad dressing for a little protection. It is basically made of oil right.

The finished product and it was great. May do this treatment on fish fillet again. Wonderful flavor and cooked just right.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vickie T's

I am back. I have a backlog of pics that I will whack away at. Below is a plate lunch from the donut shop on Broad. When I started to write the review currently in Lagniappe I realized it would be mega short so I headed out to try another plate lunch. Alas for me and them they were on vacation. When they came back I gave a pass by to see what the plate lunch was. Remember they only do it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This was a Friday. When I saw shrimp stew I had to have it. It was a decent interpretation although it could have used a little more spicy. The deep rich shrimp and roux flavor was there and the corn had been smothered to almost caramelization. The dessert was a lemon filled donut that I ate on the way home. The only complaint and it is not a serious one is that there is too much rice. It is good rice and I tend to stuff myself on it

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gordita Slop

As promised I went drive thru for a gordita at Que Pas and as I suspected it was terrible. There is enough stuff here to make at least 6 gorditas. Gordita means "little fat one". It is a thick corn tortilla grilled and then split like pita bread. Meat, beans, lettuce, cheese and perhaps avocado and salsa added. Besides too much stuff the meat supposedly carnitas was pork loin with no flavor and chewy instead of pork shoulder or butt braise until fall apart tender. At this point I will not be darkening the door here until I hear it has changed hands or gone back to what it should be. Which will probably be never

Pho Tien

A blog by Allison Cook a food critic out of Houston made me hunger for our local version

What you get is a rice flour crepe stuffed with sauteed shrimp, pork strips and bean sprouts. On the side you get basil, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon with lettuce leafs and nuoc cham. Traditionally you eat as a lettuce wrap. Cut off some of the crepe and put in a torn off piece of lettuce with whatever you want to stuff in there. You did in the fish sauce sauce and eat it up. Very light and refreshing on a super hot day. It provides a variety of textures and flavors.

Monday, July 13, 2009


All this cooking with buttermilk has reminded me of my youth. Before my paternal grandmother's death they keep a milk cow on the farm. When I would come down there would be bowls of milk sitting on the counter waiting for the wild flora and fauna to turn it into a cultured product they called clabber. That is what buttermilk today. It is a milk product inoculated with a standardized culture. It is not what is left over from making butter which it used to be. I am on a whole milk kick now and so I bought whole milk buttermilk. Drinking what remained from making the recipes brought clabber back to my mine because it taste just the same.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Que Pasa Taqueria

I have not been to this place since it first open. The only thing that drew me back was the fish taco. It has changed a bit. No longer counter service and the condiment bar has been eliminated. The menu is heavily Casa Manana with bastardizations of the true Mexican dishes. A sure sign of that was the customers. No longer Hispanic families just middle age gringo women. Service was good but pesky. I do not need to be asked every 5 minutes if I need something. The chips were hot and the salsa good

The tacos al pastor were fine but like most Americanized ethnic food too heavy on the meat and if the pastor pork was sliced off a tompo I am a monkey's uncle. This dish is Mexico City street food meant to be a snack of two bites per taco eaten while waking. Below is not that. It was not in balance and that is important to me

Now for what I came for. They started off alright. I prefer fried fish in my fish tacos but everything after that was just wrong. It should have been plain shredded cabbage and not huge hunks of in a nasty little sauce. Again too much protein thus the need for two tortillas and it could have used a nice sour creams with herbs. Unless major changes occur here and I doubt it will I will not be a regular customer. Although I may do drive thru for a Godot to see how they have messed that up.

This I enjoyed. Called sopapilla strips. A doughnut dough cut in strips and fried then topped with your choice of cinammon sugar, honey, or powdered sugar. I got mine cinammon sugar and a side of caramel dipping sauce. Not as good as churros but nice.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fried Oyster and Bacon Sandwich (Donald Link)

Ingredients below
Oysters fried, bacon done, bread toasted, tomato sliced, lettuce ready

Finished product
While not to bad looking it was wrong on many levels. All my fault. From the lousy bacon that the slaughter house cured, to using a rosemary foccacia, to not frying the oyster at the proper temperature it should have tasted lousy. Actually it was not bad. I cannot imagine how much better a properly executed one would taste. I will definitely do a remake. I am going to have to shut down doing stuff for the next week and half because my boss is going on vacation and I will have to put longer hours at the restaurant. I am sure the stress level will preclude any cooking on my part. I do have a few more recipes I want to try so I will return

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Buttermilk Ice Cream (Donald Link)

Here is the buttermilk ice cream as promised.

Below is the ingredients. Note no eggs.
I made a half batch basically because I only had enough cream for a half batch. Worked out well as my ice cream maker could not have handled a full batch
The machine doing its magic

Afterward a sojourn in the freezer. I showed the result in the buttermilk pie post. I liked this ice cream. It had a slight tang to it and it was more like gelato. I have plans for this as it is simple to make. I have some cherry flavored cocoa powder. That is next. I think fruit would do nice in this also. We shall see.


5555 Washington Ave
Houston TX
Tuesday - Friday 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM Small Plates $9 to $18
Saturday - Sunday 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
In new construction this magnificent restaurant evokes an Old World European style with a modern sensibility. The hot thing these day are small plates i.e. tapas like portions meant to be shared. Houston has a number of fine restaurants that do this. This establishment is one of the best. I basically ran through a number of them and never made it to the big plates.
First off a marvelous breadbasket hit the table. Fantastic artisanal bread with whipped butter. I ordered some “Hand cut Serrano ham with oil cured Manchego”. This is a Spanish ham along the lines of proscuitto and a sheep’s milk white cheddar like cheese. Excellent match as the pigs are feed on acorns so the ham reflects that and the cheese contains certain nuttiness. Next out was the sole reason I was here, “Roasted bone marrow with Maldon salt”. Accompanying the four marrowbones was toasted crostini and marinated red onions. I scooped the still warm marrow out of the bone and spread it on the crostini. Then I topped with some onion and salt. The salt is an English sea salt with large crystals that give a salty crunch to the operation. This bite contained crispy, buttery, unctuous, salty, vinegary and sweet, my favorite flavors. As they say, to die for. Next up “foie gras bon bons served with house made seasonal jelly”. It consisted of a piece of foie gras coasted in breadcrumbs and fried. To eat roll the ball in the jelly (satsuma at that time) and pop in your mouth. First up a nice citrus flavor, then crisp texture, then melted flavorful fat with a solid core of duck liver, a wondrous bite for fat lovers. This is growing on me.
“Roasted Berkshire pork belly with Steen's pure cane syrup” hit the table next. Squares of belly with crisp skin, tender meat, and melting fat all covered with the slightly sulphur partly molasses taste and sweetness of the syrup. This constitutes a “pork fat rules” delight. They use sharpen bones as toothpicks, simple scrumptious. Now a clunker, “Crisp lamb sweetbread tossed with tomato, onion and mint. The flavor was there but it was chewy and sinewy. I suspect they had not been cleaned properly. The “House cured gavalax (salmon) with a salad of pickled red onion, parsley, cilantro, and capers” proved rich and silky with strong fish flavors. I suspect this was because the gray fat had not been trimmed. I however like fish with strong flavors so this was not a deterrent to me. Lastly “Roasted lamb stuffed piquillo peppers“. A small red pepper somewhat spicy stuffed with shredded meat. The rich lamb played well against the piquancy of the pepper. I got three however in one the lamb seemed very dry and just inedible.
I ended up with “Sticky Toffee pudding with St Arnold’s Spring Bock ice cream. This basically is a date nut cake soaked in caramel sauce accompanied by a beer-based ice cream. The sweet sticky caramel infused cake matched well with the malty and slightly hoppy ice cream.
I highly recommend this establishment if this stuff turns you on. A magnificent feast except for a few glitches

Phil & Leona's

Phil & Leona’a
2502 Broad St
Lake Charles, LA
Sunday 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM $1-11
Monday - Friday 5:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Friday - Saturday 24 Hrs
These people were in operation at least a month before they changed the sign. Not much change on the interior or exterior except for the new sign. Place is clean and the service laid back but friendly
Lets start off with breakfast. First time I got a Mr. Gumbo Special and came away less than pleased. So I gave them another go round. This time it was pork chop, 2 sunny side eggs, grits and toast. This was more like it, perfectly griddled, perfectly seasoned bone-in breakfast chop. Bone-in is best, tender and juicy. I contently picked and gnawed everything off that bone. The eggs possessed firm whites and liquid yolks, just the way I love them. The grits were good also
From there I gradated to the plate lunch. Although the menu has only one protein option for the day the whiteboard usually offers more (fried chicken to turkey wings to catfish). I opted for the meatloaf. It came with whipped potatoes, peas, and a piece of cornbread. I can tell a lot about a cook by their meatloaf. This one was loaded with onions and bell peppers nicely spice and tender not tough. The sides except for the cornbread wire pretty standard. The cornbread presented more like cake, delicious. With the plate lunch you get a dessert also. Your choice of what ever is on the counter that day. I opted for sweet potato pie. A plain simple ultimately satisfying bite
At this point the food had been good but I wondered were the “New Orleans Soul” was? The next items provided that in spades. I got a small Creole Gumbo. Did I say small, it came in a bowl big enough to bathe in. Its base was a thick okra impregnated broth. It contained chicken parts including necks and wings (I was a happy camper), sausage and shrimp, all in a well-spiced and balanced bowl. I almost started singing “When the Saints Come Marching In”. It is accompanied by a “mash potato” potato salad with boiled eggs and pickles. Next came Stuffed Bell Pepper. It is not the usually. It is not stuffed in a bell pepper but lies on flattened bell pepper. No rice, meat, and tomato sauce. Instead bread based stuffing with crumbled Patton’s Hot Sausage and small shrimp, again a good balance of flavors and spices. Also on the plate killer mac and cheese, cheesy and creamy
So while it may seem like a place with good southern soul food there are some New Orleans's fingers in the pots and pans. I need to stop more often because it is that good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Orange Buttermilk Pie (Donald Link)

My aunt made the best buttermilk pie. I have been on a life long quest to find its like. The one I had at Cochon came close. If it had been a pure buttermilk pie if would have. Instead it had berries in it. I had high hopes for this recipe in the cookbook. True it has some satsuma juice in it (orange in my case as satsumas are not in season) but I could see that flavor in it. It also calls for a graham cracker crust while my aunt's used a regular crust.

Below are the ingredients
Mise en place with the buttermilk, juice and butter ready to go into the egg mixture
The custard in the pie shell
The baked product
A slice with some buttermilk ice cream. Recipe to follow in series
What can I say I blew this big time. I forgot the cardinal rule of baking custard. You leave a lot of wiggle in it. I baked mine almost solid. The flavor was ok but the texture all wrong. This is so easy to make I am not giving up on it. But it will have to wait for another time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Brined Fresh Ham (Donald Link)

When me and my cousin had our hog butchered, I went with fresh ham rather than cured because I wanted see how that went. I had success brining the first two pieces. I had one more so decided to give it the Link treatment

Brine and spices
Fresh ham. It was like a 5" ham steak
Out of the brine and ready to go in the oven
In the oven fixing to be turned
Finished product. What follows is a series of ways that I ate it
Sliced with pan gravy and macaroni salad
For breakfast. Cubed and fried then mixed with eggs, cheese, and tortilla strips with a chipotle pineapple salsa and guacamole

Slice thin then sauteed. Finished off with pepper jelly glaze and served on biscuits

Sliced and heated with chipotle mustard on top and Lake Charles Dirty rice on the side

Sliced and pan seared with Eggplant Dressing on the side
Made into Ham Salad for making sandwiches or just munching on

Not bad. The meat had a holiday taste because of the allspice and cloves used in the brine. The meat was tender and juicy. Another keeper

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cornmeal Coush Coush (Donald Link)

I did not eat coush coush growing up. My mother made either biscuits or cornbread on Sunday morning. I often ate it crumbled up with milk and fig preserves. She called it cornbread milk but never coush coush. Later in life when I finally ate what most people call coush coush I really liked it. That version is a cornmeal batter fried and steamed on top of the stove. The following is a cornmeal batter fried then baked in the oven. My mother always used yellow and this calls for white.

Ingredient line up
Mise en place

Batter frying away
Finished product
Crumbed cornmeal coush coush with cafe au lait ready to pour in and tallow tree honey to sweeten. If I would have had some steens or fig preserved that would have gone in
All I need now is a big spoon.

While this version is fine I am sticking to the fried and steamed. With that process you can make a bottom crust a number of times. I usually do five and stir them back in. It is obvious I like crust. Also I seldom use white meal. It seems like a finer grind and I like mine a little coarser. In fact I generally used stone ground. To each his own