January 23, 2022

Hermann Park, the Museum District and Lucille's Restaurant - A John Nechman Discovery

 Like John and Ricardo, I am a fan of Lucille's. As well as dining there, I've learned through our caring for an elderly friend that they do so much for the community, example being meals delivery to assisted living homes for the less fortunate. Here follows John's review of their recent explore of the Hermann Park, so called Museum District area of Houston.

“What a gorgeous crisp fall January day in Houston, with our deciduous trees just beginning to show fiery colors before the arrival of 2 grueling weeks of February winter, leading us to about a month--give or take--of spring, followed by 9 months of brutal summer.

"We spent this day with a walk through Hermann Park over to one of our favorite places to eat, Lucille's (5512 La Branch), where I've been dying to try their brunch only chicken fried steak, which has always sold out on past visits. We arrived at 10 am today to make sure we'd get some, and it was excellent, but no match for a new masterpiece from Chef Chris Williams--oxtail tamales with 2 sunny side up eggs. A starter of truffled brussels sprouts topped with a soft poached egg is one of the few brussels sprouts dishes I've really enjoyed in Houston. Our wonderful server Gabbi took such great care of us that we wanted to stay for the always awesome band in the backyard patio, but then I noticed on Facebook that one of our favorite wine bars was serving raclette at 1 pm, and we knew where we were headed.
We walked up to Montrose, stopping for coffee and a cannoli at the MFAH's Cafe Leonelli, and wandered through University of St Thomas up to Montrose Cheese & Wine (1618 Westheimer) a place that we love. 20 minutes before raclette service, almost all the outdoor tables were occupied, and we were lucky to get 2 of the last seats. By the start of service, about 30 people were on the wait list. Either we have a larger Swiss immigrant population than I realized, or Houstonians just love their gooey melted cheese...I think the latter.
The raclette here is excellent, served over roasted new potatoes, slices of fresh baguette, and gherkins. We paired ours with an amazing brisk Douloufakis "Dafnios" Vidiano from Crete. The best raclette service we've seen in Houston is at a Swiss restaurant where we dined with our friend Pablo Valqui in Cypress called Edelweiss, but for Inner Loop Houston, this is a pretty spectacular way to spend a magical afternoon like today."

January 20, 2022

Yogurt - Making Yogurt

 The important things to remember are:

More yogurt doesn't always make a better final product. I think that 1 tablespoon is enough.

180 F milk heated in the microwave. You can use a pot of course but you will get sticking. So I use a Pyrex in the microwave.

Cool to 105 F - 90 F.

You don't have to use your car.

January 10, 2022

Tacos in the Heights - La Chingada on Cavalcade

 A local taqueria in my neighborhood (The Heights) just down from Airline on Northwood/Cavalcade. An extensive menu and very good tacos. An unforgiveably bad name, though. Still that won't keep me from coming back. If there was any mis-step, it would be the greasy flour tortillas. But hey...just get corn tortillas (more authentic anyway).

January 1, 2022

Fried Chicken - The Best Fried Chicken Recipe

Back in 2013, I set out to reverse engineer the recipe for Gus's Fried Chicken (Memphis, Tennessee). I came close on several occasions and re-dedicated myself to cracking the code this year. A recent visit to Memphis allowed me to give the chicken one more taste, being able to pull data from my experiments and reach a final conclusion.

Here follows the recipe. It is based on just one boneless, skinless chicken breast weighing in at 1 pound, and cut into three pieces. It can be adjusted for larger quantities of chicken.

Here is the link to The Fried Chicken Blog (More Information and Comments)

Gus’s Fried Chicken
#1 November 17, 2017
 24 hour marinade. Begin the day before you plan to fry the chicken
(Increase these quantities, depending on how much chicken you plan to make)
1 lb (one) boneless skinless chicken breast cut into three pieces
1 cup corn starch
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup water (note: 1 ½ cups is too much. I actually ended up with 1 ¼ cup water and poured off a little water in the morning that had gathered on top of the marinade)

Marinade for 24 hours.

Fry at 325-350 F. Use a neutral vegetable or corn oil. I do not recommend canola oil as it smells like frying fish and adds an unpleasant fish taste to fried foods.

Note, when the exterior crust looks perfect, the interior may still be uncooked. It is the curse of these huge chickens that they sell now. Try your best to buy a 2.5-3 lb chicken.

If it isn't spicy enough, "salt" with Tony Chachere creole seasoning. Next time you make it, increase the amount of cayenne, and/or, add chopped whole serrano chiles or habanero chiles to the marinade.

Now, it is possible that you don't want to fry chicken at home and you are asking, "Where does Jay go in Houston for fried chicken?"
If people are visiting from out of town, I will take them to Barbecue Inn on Crosstimbers at Yale, as it is historically significant and a Houston institution. We don't get barbecue here. We get fried chicken.

Frenchies is another historically significant Houston destination for fried chicken. For my taste, it is too salty. But I am in the minority. Frenchies on Scott Street near TSU should definitely be on your list to try.