Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Holiday Lunch at Family Meal: Bryan Voltaggio's Retro Casual Eatery

My favorite thing about the holiday season is the way I let myself relax and slow down. I realize this goes against the conventional wisdom: for many, this is a frantic time of year. Too many parties to attend, last-minute gifts to buy, family obligations that must be met, and so on.

But I don't really go in for all of that mania. For the last week or so of each year, I unwind. I only make engagements that I want to keep. I take deep breaths. I cook what I want, when I want. I take long walks with my dog. I enjoy some alone time. And if I'm very lucky, I get to go out for a rare weekday lunch with Poppa Trix.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blueberry, Bourbon, & Brown Butter Spiced Cakebread: the Un-Fruitcake

Recently, a representative from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council saw my recipe for seared duck breast with blueberry sage sauce and invited me to participate in a recipe competition.  The rules? Create an original sweet or savory recipe featuring winter fresh or frozen blueberries. Extra points for twisting up tradition and creating a new classic holiday dish.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gourmet Rhubarb and Pepper Jellies from Iceland: A Holiday Giveaway

When Poppa Trix and I were in Iceland, we met a really cool woman named Eirny Sigardurdottir, who owns Búrið, a lovely and quirky little cheese shop in Reykjavik. If you're ever in Reykjavik and you have have a hankering to put together a cheese feast, that's your spot, as I suspect Eirny knows more about cheese and what goes with it than just about any other person on the planet.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Charlevoix, Quebec: Odds and Ends from the Flavor Trail

The vibrant produce at the farmers market at Le Ferme in Baie-Saint-Paul, the first stop on the gastronomy train
In early September I was fortunate to be one of four journalists chosen to go on a food-centric press trip to explore the Flavor Trail in Charlevoix, Quebec. I drank cider, consumed my weight in local cheese, and ate more (ethically raised, local) foie gras in three days than I had in my entire life up to that point.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mini Skyr and Birch Liqueur Cakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

As you can see, I continue to obsess over all things Icelandic after our recent vacation. First it was Icelandic lamb, and now it's skyr, the Icelandic yogurt that is technically a cheese. (Truth be told, I have been eating the stuff for breakfast since long before our trip. It's a bit like Greek yogurt, but creamier.)

Here I've substituted vanilla skyr for yogurt in a Trixified version of yogurt cake. I also included a splash of Birkir, an Icelandic birch liqueur with a distinctive, almost resin-like taste. It imparted a very subtle "What's that?" kind of quality to my mini cakes - if you can't get your hands on any, substitute a pine liqueur. I used Madagascar vanilla bean in both the cake batter and the frosting, and threw in some coffee extract to give the frosting a little oomph.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheddar Cheese Soup with Haricots Verts, Mushrooms, & Cronions; A Green Bean Casserole Makeover

In honor of Thanksgiving, the theme for this month's 5 Star Makeover, hosted as ever by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! is a holiday classic, the green bean casserole.

For those of you who did not grow up in the U.S., the green bean casserole is a staple of many American Thanksgiving celebrations, and generally consists of some variation of canned or frozen green beans, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese or imitation cheese product, and bread crumbs or fried onions. It's a gloriously and unabashedly white trash dish, and it conforms perfectly to my late, much-missed mom's philosophy of cooking: Do as little as possible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Icelandic Lamb Soup

We got back from Iceland late last week, and I already miss the stark landscapes, black lava fields, golden grass, slate gray sky, the buildings of Reykjavik  ... and, me being me, most of all I miss the food.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Y Mucho Mas for a Belated Wordless Wednesday Send Off: Mexican Extras Part 2: Skulls and Bat Gods and Wrestling and Things I Forgot!

We leave for a short-ish trip to Reykjavik today, so I thought this was the perfect time to share some last images of Mexico City from my trip last March. Also, I have no time to write very much so we'll call it a belated Wordless Wednesday post, shall we?

And these skulls (above and below) are the perfect image for the Day of the Dead, or Dios des los Muertos.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Triple Pumpkin Curry

My dish for this month's 5 Star Makeover - hosted as ever by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - came about quite by accident. As in, I made the dish on purpose and only later realized that it fit with the October theme of squash. And retrofit it with the catchy little name of "triple pumpkin curry." And it's a good thing too, because otherwise I may have missed a 5 Star challenge for the very first time.

I am not so vain as to think you are sitting around wondering where on earth I have been and sighing and moping and waiting expectantly for my return (though hugs to you if you have) but the fact is I haven't posted for weeks. It's a record posting drought, in fact! It's not that I haven't been inspired. And I certainly (in between having a sinus thing and not being able to breathe) have been cooking. A lot. And writing. Tons.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rustic Tomato & Coconut Fish Soup

For this soup, I took inspiration from mtuza wa samaki, an incredibly spicy Kenyan fish dish with onions, tomatoes, vinegar and a bunch of Scotch bonnet peppers. I felt lazy about chopping things perfectly, so I am calling it "rustic."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ice Cider Cocktail with Spicy Chile Apple Chips

Here is a random list of things that you will never find on the dinner table at Casa Trix: apple pie, apple sauce, apple strudel, apple dumplings, apple cake, caramel covered apples ... Sensing a pattern here? Yes, it's true: While everyone else in my hemisphere is busy extolling the virtues of freshly-picked autumn apples and scheming ways to stuff them into everything from pastry crusts to pork tenderloin, I am left somewhat cold.  It's not that I hate them - I just don't get all worked up about them. For me, the very idea of apples elicits a resounding "meh."

So you can imagine my initial blankness when the theme of the September 5 Star Makeover - hosted as always by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - was announced. Apples. Oh my.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicken Soup with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Fish Peppers, & Lime

I will spare you the whole (seemingly) obligatory preamble about how there's an autumn chill in the air and it's got me thinking cozy thoughts about soup and blankets and roaring fires and blah, blah, blah.  Besides, there is no weather that is inhospitable to even the hottest of soups, in my humble opinion. This one, for instance, is inspired by a caldo de pavo that I had at a Yucatecan restaurant, Coox Hanal,  on a warm day in Mexico City. It featured one of the things I love so much about many Mexican dishes: the unabashed use of limes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Frida Kahlo's Pueblan Mole Recipe

One of my favorite non-food related experiences in Mexico City was my visit to the Frida Kahlo museum in Coyoacan. It's actually her family home where she lived with Diego Rivera, and it's filled with beauty, books, and traditional pre-Hispanic Mexican arts and crafts - a stunning example of the merging of art and life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Take Me Out To (Eat At) the Ballgame

The awesomeness that is bacon on a stick
The last place anyone would probably expect to find me is in a place where sports - particularly team sports - are played. I simply cannot get excited about cheering for a bunch of guys just because they happen to be wearing the right uniform.

That said, I will go just about anywhere to have a food adventure. And so when I was invited to take part in the Foodie Tour at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I put all my sports ennui aside and threw myself into the spirit of the thing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Curry Leaf-Infused Lime Curd Tartlets with Cardamom Rose Whipped Cream and Candied Curry Leaves, in a Coconut Almond Crust

"Yes, that's it," said the Hatter with a sigh. "It's always tea time . . . "
                                                        --Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

As soon as I found out that the theme for this month's Five Star Makeover - hosted as ever by our fearless leaders Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - was to be a variation on a dish one might find at high tea, I knew that I wanted to incorporate Indian flavors somehow. After all, Indian cuisine has become an integral part of food culture in England, and I thought it would be fun to reference it in such an old British tradition as high tea.

My regular readers are no doubt aware that I almost always choose to make (and eat) savory over sweet, so I though I'd play against type and do something sweet for high tea. And so these curry leaf-infused lime curd tartlets with cardamom rose whipped cream and candied curry leaves were born.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A South African Wine Journey: Five Course Pairing Dinner at the Explorer's Lounge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court

The Explorer's Lounge
When you write about food for a living, many of the tastings and multi-course pairing dinners and cocktails and nibbles - even the best ones -  eventually blend into one another. The nuances and intensity of the flavors gradually fade from sense memory.

I love the rare exceptions to this phenomenon.

As Poppa Trix (who took all of these lovely shots) and I ate and drank our way through a recent five-course wine pairing dinner at the Explorer's Lounge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore, I knew that this was one of those special meals that would stick with me for a very long time.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Potent Pairings: Seared Duck Breast and Blueberry Sage Sauce with Mezcal Anejo

Pairing liquor with food can be tricky: high-test alcohol has the potential to overwhelm the palate and obliterate the flavors of the food. But it can be done, as long as the dish is bold enough to stand up to the boozy beverage while simultaneously harmonizing with it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fresh October Bean Chili with Bacon & Booze

Okay, Texans, I already know what you're thinking: This chili contains beans and tomatoes. Therefore, according to Texas chili orthodoxy, it is not actually chili at all, but rather an abomination. I don't want to hear it. I have, in fact, made a proper Texas Red right here on this very blog. It had beef and chiles and spices and that's about it. It was thick and smoky and stick-to-your-ribs fabulous. But this bean-packed chili is fabulous in its own way as well. If it offends you, however, I suggest thinking of it as a really, really thick bean soup.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Tomato, Eggplant, & Herb Gratin

There are plenty of summer gratin recipes out there, all fighting for your attention. So what makes this one so special? Well, for one thing, it's pretty. (If I do say so myself.) For another, unlike some of its heavier cousins, it's not a cheese-laden calorie bomb. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not what I want on a hot day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mini Barley Flatbreads with Tomato Confit & Homemade Farmer's Cheese: Cretan Dakos, with a Difference, for the 5 Star Makeover Greek Mezze Challenge

This theme for this month's 5 Star Makeover Challenge - hosted as always by the lovely and talented Natasha of Five Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - is Greek mezze, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I don't know about what it's like in your neck of the woods, but where I live it is hot and sticky as Hades, and light bites are just about all I want to make, or eat.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Lighter Side of Křenovou Pěnou (Horseradish Cream), an UnRecipe Recipe

In Prague last year, my husband (Poppa Trix) and I became addicted to a relatively simple dish: Prague ham with horseradish cream. This has proven to be a bit of a problem for two reasons: 1. Until recently, we despaired of finding a fair approximation for Prague ham in these parts, and 2. What with the cream cheese and whipped heavy cream, that horseradish cream is seriously fattening. Not that I usually obsess about that sort of thing, but ... I can't stop eating the stuff. Completely powerless.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Y Mucho Mas, Part 1: More Mexico City Adventures for a Rather Warbly Wendesday

Believe it or not,  I actually do more than eat on my trips.  I sightsee. I wander around. I walk - a lot. I go to museums and historical sites. Sometimes I even sleep!

Here I am at Teotihuacan, a pre-hispanic city 30 miles outside of Mexico City. Climbing the narrow, uneven steps to the tops of the pyramids was an exercise in overcoming fear and vertigo, but I did it, and so naturally I wanted to take few moments to savor the accomplishment and contemplate the incredible view from the top.

I'm a huge dog lover, and I was  on the lookout for the wild dogs I heard live in and around the ancient archeological site. You're supposed to leave them alone, but I couldn't resist making a little "smooch" sound when I saw this beauty. She was very intrigued!
You can take the tourist bus to Teotihuacan if you're so inclined, but  I never join tour groups. Why would you want to have a pre-packaged experience? I prefer to find my own way and seek out adventure. So instead I took a regular city bus - and we certainly found adventure. In one tense moment, armed guards boarded the bus and made all of the men get out to be searched.

All's well that ends well, however, and this small scare was well worth the rest of the ride. (Not to mention not having to be around a bunch of tourists.) At various stops along the way, musicians boarded the bus and serenaded the passengers for tips - these are the guys who put the "warble" in warbly Wednesday. One of them even took a stab at John Lennon's Imagine!:
Autobus to Teotihiuacan, Mexico City from Tasty Trix on Vimeo.

Speaking of dogs ...  I was keen to visit the zoo in Chapultepec, primarily because of the Xoloitzcuintle, or Mexican hairless dogs. So cute!!
Next I  climbed the steep hill to the Castillo de Chapultepec, where Mexican emperor Maximilian I (of the Austrian Habsburgs - man, they got around!) lived ... until his execution, that is.
 Incredible painting on the Castillo's ceiling:

On my first full day in Mexico City, I was walking back from my meal at Fonda El Refugio in Zona Rosa when I happened upon this evening dancing event at Plaza del Danzon - people of all ages were participating, and I think it was in this moment that I first fell completely in love with the city:

Two girls for every guy!
Indeed,  sometimes the most memorable things happen when you simply let yourself wander. I strolled through Viveros Park and became obsessed with the friendly squirrels there:

And after visiting Frieda Kahlo's house (that is a post all its own!), as I walked around admiring the beautiful Coyoacan neighborhood, we met high school student Carlos.  He asked if he could interview me for his English class. I hope you got an A, Carlos! (I am sure he did, his English was fabulous):
This is not to say that I abjure planning. Seeing the Diego Rivera mural "Exploitation of Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadors" for example, was the high point of my (planned) visit to the Palacio National. It's hard to give a sense of the scale in photographs, it's really awe inspiring:

The courtyard had a very European feel:
But walking around for hours and hours on a hot day is truly exhausting, isn't it?
And so I will leave you on this dramatic note until next time - there's plenty more Mexico City adventure that I want to share!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Broccoli Rabe & Provolone Ravioli with Pork Ragu, My Fourth of July Guest Post for Spicie Foodie

My good friend Nancy of Spicie Foodie is celebrating her third blogoversary, and to kick it off she asked me to contribute a guest post. If you don't know her, she is awesomeness personified,  and of course I was more than happy to oblige. I chose this broccoli rabe and provolone ravioli with pork ragu to share with her readers, so please go check out my post and say hello to her.

And for my U.S. readers, Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chilled Three Pepper Soup with Yogurt, Lime, Cilantro, & Tortilla Strips for the 5 Star Makeover Chilled Soup Challenge

I cannot tell a lie: I was not thrilled when I found out the theme of this month's Five Star Makeover Challenge, hosted as ever by the lovely and talented Natasha of Five Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks!. Chilled soups. If you'll pardon the expresion, I have never really warmed to them.

Oh, they're fine for a few bites. But I always think that with just a few tweaks, even the best of them would be better as something else. Fruity chilled soup? That would make a lovely smoothie. Gazpacho? Great as a Bloody Mary base. Cold vegetable soup? Just right for a dip or sauce.

Monday, June 25, 2012

To Poland, Mexico, & Austria ... in Just Two Days: Getting International at the Summer Fancy Foods Show

As soon as you're granted press credentials for the Fancy Food Show, the offers start rolling in: Come visit booth X! Please make sure to sample [insert cracker company here] when you are at the show! Whatever you do, don't miss the [newest, hottest, trendiest] chocolate innovation! And then there are the invitations to the after show events: dinners, cocktail parties, tastings. It's a bit overwhelming.

I am not complaining, mind you, but there is a strategy to the whole thing. You don't want to say "yes" too soon, because what if something better comes along and you're already committed to something else? I know - such problems to have. Fortunately, my decision this year was pretty easy: I was invited to events pertinent to three countries I have recently visited, and loved: Poland, Mexico, and Austria. Done, done, and done.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rare Tea Republic Tea Tasting at the Summer Fancy Food Show

I know the usual protocol after not posting on one's blog for a couple of weeks is to apologize profusely, make obsequious pronouncements as to one's unworthiness, and swear to never, ever stay away so long again. Well, the truth is: 1.) I am not so egotistical as to suppose that you have been pining away for me, 2.) I can't promise never to do it again, and 3.) I am not sorry.

Don't take that the wrong way - I have simply been having too much fun to feel regret. Case in point: The Summer Fancy Foods Show in DC. Unlike the previous year, when I went solo, this year Poppa Trix got press credentials and came along as my photographer (so all of the photos you see are his). As for me, I was in journalist mode - taking notes and eating lots of goodies. For research, you understand

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sriracha Crab Ravigote over Fried Green Tomatoes

In classical French cuisine, a sauce ravigote is a slightly acidic sauce served hot or cold, generally with delicate meats or fish. Not surprisingly, it's a rather different animal in traditional New Orleans cuisine, though it does retain the spirit of the original. Usually served cold with crab meat, typical ingredients of the NOLA version include lemon juice, capers, shallots, mayonnaise, and hot sauce.

The word ravigote comes from the French ravigoter, meaning to invigorate, and the sriracha, cayenne pepper, and paprika in my version of crab ravigote will certainly wake up the old tastebuds. The spicy sauce and sweet crab are just the thing to pair with the tart acidity of a crunchy fried green tomato - especially with a bit of Creole seasoning in the batter.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Cochon de Lait" a l'Afrique, Black Eyed Pea Croquette, Caribbean Mango Salsa: The Main Course at Voodoo, for the 5 Star Restaurant Wars Challenge

This month's edition of the 5 Star Makeover Challenge is a real doozy: Restaurant Wars. Two months ago, our hosts, Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! and Natasha of 5 Star Foodie divided participants into groups of three, tasking us each to create a virtual restaurant based on a single theme or ingredient. Each team member would be responsible for one of the three courses.

And am I ever happy with the team members fate dealt me. Jessica of Cajunlicious and Maya of Foodiva's Kitchen were fabulous to work with, and it didn't take us too long to hammer out a name, theme, and dishes for our restaurant.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tostadas de Atun (Tuna Tostadas), an UnRecipe Recipe

I had a bit of a debate with myself about posting this dish. I mean, it's tuna and a bunch of other stuff on a tostada. Nothing gets cooked. Pretty basic stuff. Tasty to be sure -  but worth blogging about?

Then again ...  things like boxed cake mix, Cool Whip-based desserts, and Jello pudding with a handful of raisins tossed in seem to count as recipes - so why not a tuna tostada?  It's so very Sandra Lee.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not claiming I make a homemade meal from scratch every single night - not by a long shot. The occasional sandwich, grilled sausage, or canned soup is certainly served at Casa de Trix. But when I put a little extra somethin' somethin'  into, say, a sauce I bought at the grocery store, I don't particularly feel compelled to tell you about it.  (Of course the exception proves the rule, like this fabulous doctored cake mix post by my friend Trevor. But then, most people can't pull this off with such aplomb.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mercado Monday: Exploring the Markets of Mexico City

With my new friend Ricardo at La Merced
It seems that just about any day of the week is ripe for being turned into some arbitrary (albeit alliterative) food-related post: Travel Tuesdays, Wordless Wednesdays, French Fridays ... so  I figure why not Mercado (Market) Mondays?

And so in this, the first - and I'm being honest, likely the last - Mercado Monday, I'd like to share some images of Mexico City's vast produce markets. I'll begin with the city's largest retail market, La Merced - and in a city with a population of over 20 million, that's saying a lot.

Monday, May 14, 2012

La Flama Blanca: A Fizzy Lime & Basil Mezcal Cocktail

This lovely drink was inspired by a recipe I recently received through the Better Homes & Gardens Recipe Insiders Group. It's been awhile since I Trixified a BHG recipe (the last one was asiago baked hummus back in January) because the truth is, they haven't been all that inspiring to me. Meatloaf ... sickeningly sweet desserts with names like "donut pudding" ... lots of things with the word "bake" in the name, like "egg bake," "sausage bake," etc. Just not feeling it. (And now it's time to wait for the email telling me that they're kicking me out for my smack talk.)