I am announcing my retirement from the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce festival. The Chronicle has graciously bought me out of the event we founded together 27 years ago. I am happy to turn the judging over to a new generation of hot sauce lovers and wish the festival continued success. It was a great run, and I got to hang out with a lot of wonderful people. I will miss seeing everybody!
Enchiladas Suizas are a new item on the menu at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe. In fact we use the Suizas sauce on several enchiladas plates including the Chicken Enchiladas Suizas, Avocado Enchiladas Suizas, and Crab and Avocado Enchiladas. Enchiladas Suizas means “Swiss-style Enchiladas.” Our Suizas sauce is a bechamel sauce with sour cream and seasonings.
I noticed that the recipe of the week at the Houston Press website is also enchiladas Suizas. The recipe given comes from food TV celebrity Marcella Valladolid, a native of San Diego and it includes tomatillos.
Brooke Viggiano at the Houston Press quotes another writer from San Franciso who credits the name Suizas to Mexico’s Swiss immigrants. If anyone has any information on the location of a Swiss Colony in Mexico, please fill me in! There were only 5,000 Swiss in Mexico in 2011 according to Wikipedia, and I can find no mention of an earlier Swiss migration.
The image of La Lechera, as the fetching Swiss Milkmaid on the Nestle label is known in Spanish, and this restaurant recipe for enchiladas Suizas supplied by Nestle using its canned milk supports an alternate explanation.
20 years or so ago, when I was interviewing Chef Michael Cordua of Americas and Churrasco’s fame, he offered a personal view on the history of Tres Leches cake. Cordua explained that here in the United States, canned milk isn’t held in very high regard by chefs.
But he said that during his childhood in Nicaragua, canned milks, which were usually imported to Latin America from Switzerland, were a luxury. Local fresh milk was suspect as it was frequently stretched with water (often contaminated). According to Cordua, the original Tres Leches cake recipe was printed on the back of a Nestle milk can–the 3 milks were Nestle evaporated milk, Nestle sweetened condensed milk, and whipped cream or another milk. The theory that Suizas, or “Swiss-style,” is a reference to Swiss canned milk is pretty persuasive.
Post Script: A Saveur article with recipe suggests that Enchiladas Suizas was invented at Sanborn’s Cafe in Mexico City in 1950 and that the name does indeed refer to the liberal use of dairy products.
On Wednesday mornings from 9 am to 11 am, you can buy fresh vegetables, eggs, honey and whatever else is being harvested that day at the farm stand set up by the front gate. A plastic supermarket bag full of greens goes for $2.
If you would like to volunteer, show up on Saturday morning in your gardening gear and do some weeding, watering, or whatever else needs done–you will be paid in fruit and vegetables.
The vision behind Seeding Galveston is provided by veteran urban gardeners, Debbie Berger and John Sessions. The pair have been honored for their work with UTMB and other community organizations–both for making fresh produce available to those who need it, and for helping those who teach children and the disabled using gardening as a learning experience.
If you’ve ever visited the Galveston Farmers Market on Sunday, you’ve probably noticed Seeding Galveston’s half block “rent-a-garden” area at Post Office and 25th. There individuals and organizations use the raised beds to grow their own vegetables.
When I visit the Wednesday morning market at N and 33rd, I buy a lot of French sorrel. Its long been a favorite ingredient of mine and you can’t find it at the grocery store. The past few weeks, I’ve been trying out some new sorrel recipes–including several from former Israeli spy Yotam Ottolenghi.
It’s amazing stuff!
The 2nd Edition of Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook went on sale April 19.
There are some great new photos from Robert Jacob Lerma, 32 new recipes from famous Texas pitmasters like Joe Burney and Aaron Franklin and cook-off competitors like Robert Sierra and Ernest Cervantes. There’s also new information about community barbecues in Texas.
Billy Gibbons stopped by El Real Tex-Mex for brunch today. He wanted to try the bacon enchiladas–two cheese enchiladas with bacon inside and a sunny side up egg on top–it’s our number one brunch entree. Billy loved them. I gave his wife, Gilligan Gibbons, one of those northern Mexican goat’s milk caramel and pecan candies known as Glorias. That was a hit too.
We talked about the couples favorite versions of hot chocolate–they recounted awesome cups of chocolate they had been served in Paris and Madrid. Billy bought his wife a copy of the Tex-Mex Cookbook and the Chili Cookbook–she cooks at home all the time. They were knocked out by the photo of lobster in green chile with corn on the cob that’s one of the first images in the Chili Cookbook.
I once ran into Billy in the Hobby Airport food court. We were both traveling alone. I was carrying a tray of Chinese food from Golden Happy Panda Dragon or whatever that place is called. He was sitting by himself eating a plate of enchiladas with chips, salsa and a beer. I said hello and he recognized me from the restaurant and from a couple of other encounters and invited me to sit down. The Chinese food was awful and I found myself drooling over his refried beans.
“Billy, tell me the truth. Do you eat Tex-Mex at every meal?” I joked.
He said he ate lots of other stuff but there wasn’t any good Tex-Mex where he was going, so he was stocking up.
Galveston’s most popular seafood market and the family that runs the place are featured on a new National Geo reality TV show. It seems to be an imitation of Deadliest Catch, only without the icy water. Sure it’s a little contrived, like all reality TV shows, but its great to see Galveston and our local fishing fleet on the tube.
Who knew you could take grocery store canned olives and turn them into a sexy appetizer with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge? The goat cheese-stuffed olives and another app of black olives with citrus were two of three sample dishes at the Olives from Spain booth at a recent Spanish food and wine showcase called Spain’s Great Match at Silver Street Studios in Houston. In past years, the Spanish olive producers have asked American chefs to come up with exciting restaurant dishes with olives. This year, their goal was to show American home cooks how easy it is to create cool olive dishes at home.
Olives from Spain is the name of the Spanish olive producers association, look for their logo in the olive section of the grocery store. (That’s not much of a challenge since Spain produces the majority of olives consumed in the U.S. including 95% of the pimiento-stuffed olives.)
Like olive oil, olives are good for you, they contain monounsaturated fat (the good kind).
If you’re using the Mediterranean diet as a model, olives are great in pizzas, salads, pastas, rice, meat dishes, fish dishes, and stews, and as a table snack with an endless variety of stuffings including anchovy and blue cheese. Mexican and Californian cooking traditions reflect the Spanish introduction of olives to the New World centuries ago. Black olives have become a familiar part of Americanized Mexican food—especially Cal-Mex. Huachinango (Red Snapper) Veracruzano is one of my favorite Mexican seafood dishes—and it’s loaded with olives. Modern Mexicans prefer their cocktail olives to be stuffed with jalapeños!
Full disclosure: The Olives from Spain folks hired me to spread the word about Spanish olives this month. It was my recent blog series about curing my own olives at home (my new house in Galveston has an olive tree) that caught the attention of the Spanish olive gang. Along with the descriptions of olives from around the world, I wrote one blog post about the amazing combination of Spanish green arbequina olives, Marcona almonds, and Fina sherry. I first sampled that combo at the bar of the now-shuttered Catalan restaurant—and I’ve thought about it ever since.
When my pal Pete Mitchell, the owner of Under the Volcano bar, came by the olive booth, I handed him a sample bowl of the Spanish olive and marcona almond mélange and walked him down to a Spanish winemaker’s booth where they were pouring samples of Fina Sherry. Pete was blown away by the uncanny combination of flavors. Don’t be surprised if Spanish olives, almonds and sherry shows up on the menu at Under the Volcano soon. What a great appetizer to kick off a Monday steak night!
Check out the recipes at the Olives from Spain website.