Archive | August, 2012

Hatch Chile Season Madness

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When I smell the aroma of roasting chiles in the grocery store parking lot, I know it’s Hatch chile season.  For a brief period from August to early September these New Mexican chiles make their annual appearance at Texas markets, tempting us with their heat.

Chile roaster in New Mexico

The chiles are typically the size of a poblano (think Hatch chile rellenos) and vary in spiciness from the mild that can be as gentle as a bell pepper or the hot with more punch than a jalapeno.

I usually buy a case to roast and freeze so that I have them through the winter for stews, casseroles and any other dish where I can substitute for another pepper. Two of my favorite recipes were a Hatch chile arancini (risotto balls) that I made for a party and a Hatch chile and onion soup that had a nice kick.

My friend Natanya Anderson at Fete & Feast is a fellow Hatch chile fiend and has a number of great recipes on her blog.  I’m particularly fond of her Green Chile Pork Stew and I really want to try her stuffed squash calabacitas and Hatch green chile cornbread madeleines.

Hatch Green Chile Cornbread Madeleines
photo by Natanya Anderson of Fete & Feast

If you don’t feel up to cooking Central Market and Whole Foods grocery stores both offer Hatch chile specials during the season so don’t be afraid to try something spicy.  I can’t wait to stock up on Central Market’s Hatch chile scones.  Yum!

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Texas restaurant weeks invite you to get out of the kitchen

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It is hot – not grab a fan hot, but egg frying on the sidewalk hot.  It’s definitely too hot to cook and here in Texas we have another month or more of 100 degree days stretching ahead of us.

Fortunately, the local restaurants have come to the rescue in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio by hosting their restaurant weeks in August.  During the week(s), participating restaurants offer a two to three course prix fixe menu and donate part of the proceeds to a worthy non-profit.  It is a fantastic way to explore restaurants that are normally out of your budget or have been on your “to try” list for a while.

The stars have aligned so that I’ll be in Dallas and Houston to participate in their respective restaurant weeks.  Now, I just have to find an excuse to get down to San Antonio, as I’d hate to miss a special menu at Restaurant Gwendolyn, where I ate one of my best meals last year.  I still think about the strawberry sorbet; it was like biting into a fresh, ripe berry straight from the field.

I’ve enjoyed lovely meals at Haven in Houston and had so much fun dining at Grace, Lonesome Dove and Private Social in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  Each chef has their own innovative way to incorporate local, seasonal ingredients and their Restaurant Week menus are inviting.

Haven - crawfish gnocchi

Crawfish gnocchi from haven

I’m going to focus my meals on visiting restaurants on my ever growing “to try” list.  I’ve been itching to go to Feast and Branch Water Tavern in Houston and I’m hoping to make it to CampO Modern Country Bistro and Rathbun’s in Dallas.

Following is a quick round up of details for each city’s restaurant week festivities, which non-profit they benefit and the restaurants that I know of that source locally.  If you have your heart set on a particular menu, definitely make reservations well in advance.  The hot spots book up fast.

Where will you be feasting during Restaurant Week?

 

Houston Restaurant Weeks,  August 1st through 31st with proceeds benefitting the Houston Food Bank.  Lunch and brunch are  2 courses for $20, dinner is 3 courses for $35.

Backstreet Café

Benjy’s (Village & Upper Washington)

Branch Water Tavern

Feast

Haven

Rainbow Lodge

Sorrel Urban Bistro

 

Dallas-Fort Worth KRLD Restaurant Week kicks off on August 13th.  The main event runs through August 19th, but some restaurants have chosen to extend to a 2nd (through August 26th) and even 3rd (through September 2nd) week.  Seven dollars from each meal will be donated to either the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas or Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth.

CampO Modern Country Bistro – through September 2nd

Grace – through September 2nd

Lonesome Dove – through August 19th

Private Social – through August 19th

Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen – through August 19th

 

San Antonio’s restaurant week is sponsored through Culinaria, a non-profit that showcases wine and culinary events throughout the year to benefit culinary arts students and food related aid organizations. Restaurant week is 8/18-8/25 and features three course prix fixe menus for $15 at lunch and $35 at dinner.

Bin 555

Luke

Restaurant Gwendolyn

Tre Trattoria (Downtown & Alamo Heights)

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