Dish of the Week: Arroz con Pollo

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez
This simple dish can be elegant, too.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for arroz con pollo.

Literally meaning "rice with chicken," arroz con pollo is a traditional Spanish dish that is also common throughout Latin America. A variation on the Spanish paella -- which consists of seafood, chorizo, and chicken -- this simpler dish is made with only chicken.

Both paella and arroz con pollo and have their roots in 8th century Spain, when the Moorish occupation influenced Spanish imports, exports, and ultimately the way Spaniards ate. Most importantly, the Moors brought an irrigation system, which introduced rice -- a major staple in Spanish cuisine -- to the region. But traces of the Moorish culture can also be seen in the spices used in the rice dish, mainly saffron, cumin, and coriander, which were included for both color and flavor. The Moors also commonly ate communal dishes which were shared and passed around the table, as are arroz con pollo and paella.

Though some variations of arroz con pollo include chorizo as well, recipes generally call for chicken, rice, sofrito (a mix of garlic, peppers, and onions), chicken stock, and sometimes olives, capers, or spices and herbs like saffron, bay leaf, coriander and cumin.


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Drink This: The Royal Flush

Categories: Booze, Recipes

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Royal Flush Cocktail

Baby, it's (sort of) cold outside.

To warm your hands and your heart, mix up a Royal Flush. This boozy berry cocktail provides a latent soothing heat that softens the hard edges of a stressful day at the DMV and provides rejuvenation after that six-hour sober baby shower.

Perhaps as delightful as the stone-fruit flavors of the Royal Flush is the double entendre contained in its name. A royal flush denotes the highest hand in poker, thus suggesting the superiority of this cocktail to other whiskey drinks, and after two or three, you're likely to sport a "royal" flush. So don't drink more than one if you're actually in a high-stakes game of cards.


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Dish of the Week: Caesar Salad (w/ Homemade Croutons & Dressing)

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Larry Hoffman
Make your own dressing...it's worth it.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for the classic Caesar salad.

Often prepared table-side, Caesar salad is made of romaine lettuce and croutons tossed with a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, egg yolk, anchovy, parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, black pepper and (sometimes) anchovy.

Despite what one may think, the salad was not created by Julius Caesar. Instead, it is said to have been invented by Italian-born restaurateur Caesar (Cesare) Cardini, who emigrated to the U.S. and opened a restaurant named Caesar's. In 1924, Cardini created the dish during a rush that hit the restaurant's kitchen supplies hard. He used whatever he had on hand and added flair to the dish by preparing it table-side. Pretty soon, Caesar salad was a hit. Even the famed Julia Child recalls eating the restaurant's namesake salad when she was a child in the 1920s.

Savory, crunchy, cheesy, salty and rich without compromising its light, fresh flavor, we get why Caesar salad is so popular. Thankfully, making a homemade Caesar dressing is incredibly easy and about ten times tastier that any store-bought variety.

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Dish of the Week: Pasta e Fagioli

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Jessica Spengler
Cold? This comforting pasta e fagioli will warm you right up.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're keeping things warm and cozy with the classic Pasta e Fagioli.

Literally meaning "pasta and beans", pasta e fagioli is a traditional Italian soup made with cannellini, kidney, or borlotti beans and some type of small pasta, usually elbow macaroni or ditalini. Because of its inexpensive ingredients, the soup had its origins in the Italian countryside, where it was a popular peasant dish.

There are several regional variations on the dish, including the addition of smoked pork bone in the region of Veneto or a thicker version of the soup made with pancetta and mixed pasta shapes in Bari. Although there are several components you can add, the base of the soup is most always made using olive oil, garlic, onion, spices, and (sometimes) stewed tomato or tomato paste. Whatever way you make it, the comforting hearty soup makes for the perfect cold weather meal.


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Dish of the Week: Huevos Rancheros

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Darren and Justine
This simple and hearty meal is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're moving on to huevos rancheros.

Huevos rancheros are a Mexican breakfast dish traditionally made with fried eggs and lightly fried corn tortillas topped with a chili-tomato sauce. Also known as ranch eggs, the dish was a small meal that farmers would have at dawn before their larger mid-morning breakfast.

Though there are many variations of it -- with things like cheese and grilled chiles -- the tortilla, salsa and egg dish is often served along with refried or black beans, rice, and avocado or guacamole. One popular version is "huevos divorciados", or divorced eggs -- where two eggs are served in the usual style, but with a different sauce on each (usually a red and a green chili sauce).

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Dish of the Week: Hoppin' John, a New Year's Day Classic

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Photo by urbanfoodie33
And if it doesn't bring wealth and prosperity, at least it's delicious.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a recipe perfect for New Year's Day: Hoppin' John.

Hoppin' John is a popular Southern dish made of black-eyed peas and rice, often with bacon or ham hock and chopped onion mixed in. In the Low Country of South Carolina, field peas (which are smaller than black-eyed peas) are common.

The first written recipe for Hoppin' John appeared in The Carolina Housewife in 1847, though most food historians agree the American Southern dish has its roots in African/French/Caribbean cuisine.

In the South, the dish is eaten New Year's Day to bring wealth and prosperity into the new year, with the peas symbolizing pennies or coins. Sometimes, a coin is even left under supper bowls or added to the pot. Another tradition is leaving three peas on your plate to ensure a year filled with luck, fortune and romance. It is often served with collard, mustard or turnip greens, as the green color also symbolizes wealth. Eaten the day after New Year's Day, the dish is referred to as Skippin' Jenny, and it is said to demonstrate one's determination of frugality.

But no matter when or how you eat it, the comfort food classic is delicious.


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Testing Pillsbury's $1M Winning Bakeoff Recipe

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Peanutty Pie Clusters

In early December, Pillsbury announced "Peanutty Pie Clusters" as the grand prize-winning recipe of its 47th Bakeoff contest. The $1M recipe, submitted by Beth Royals of Richmond, Virginia, is particularly distinctive for its incorporation of toasted pie crust squares.

This innovation in combination with a short, ostensibly simple ingredient list prompted me to test it for a holiday cookie exchange. The Huffington Post didn't think much of the look of these clusters, but whatever.

Here's where my troubles began.

Actually, they began specifically in the baking aisle at H-E-B while I was searching for one particular ingredient: "white vanilla baking chips." There were white chocolate chips. There were some generic "white chips." No "white vanilla baking chips." Isn't white vanilla sort of redundant? And "white chocolate vanilla" soft of oxymoronic? Also, are "morsels" the same as "chips"?

This recipe is not for neurotic language scholars.

This story continues on the next page.


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Dish of the Week: Classic Eggnog

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Photo by nate bolt
Someone's getting buzzed this Christmas...
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're moving on to a Christmas staple: eggnog.

Eggnog is a sweet, custard-based beverage that is traditionally made with milk/cream, sugar, and whipped egg, which gives the drink a frothy texture. Brandy, rum, or bourbon and cinnamon or nutmeg are often added to take the holiday drink to a new level.

The term "nog" dates back as early as the 17th century, when it was used to describe a strong beer brewed in East Anglia. "Noggin" referred to a small cup or mug to drink the nog out of. According to most culinary anthropologists, the nog as we know it today is said to have been a descendent of a medieval drink called posset, which was a hot milk and booze drink spiced with whatever the lord of the castle had on hand.

Eggnog was trendy among British aristocracy, but it became particularly popular in American colonies where everyone had access to cows, chickens, and rum. And when the supply of rum was reduced because of the Revolutionary War, whiskey and bourbon made the perfect substitutes.


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Dish of the Week: Hamantaschen

Categories: Recipes

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Fill these pastry pockets with poppyseeds, raspberry, apricot, dates, walnuts, and more.
Photo by Meaghan O'Malley
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for hamantaschen.

Hamantaschen are filled triangular cookies or pastries that are typically eaten during Purim. According to judais.com, the word "hamantaschen" is a Yiddish word meaning "Haman's pockets" -- with Haman, being the villain in the story Purim. The pastries symbolize the Jewish people's escape from the enemy. The suffix "-tasche" references filled pouches of dough.

Though Purim isn't until March, the short bread-like cookies -- which are often filled with things like poppy seed, prunes, nuts, dates, apricot, raspberry, fruit preserves, chocolate, and even cream cheese -- would make a great addition to any holiday cookie exchange.

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Dish of the Week: Bulgogi

Categories: Meat!, Recipes

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Photo by Chloe Lim
Serve bulgogi the traditional way...or chopped it up and throw it into a cheese steak.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're looking at bulgogi.

Bulgogi is Korean dish of grilled, marinated beef that is said to have originated during the ancient Goguryeo era (37 BC-668 AD). Literally meaning "fire meat" in Korean, the beef is cooked on a gridiron over an open flame. Variations on the dish include dak bulgogi (made with chicken) and dwaeji bulgogi (made with pork).

Traditionally, bulgogi is made with thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef that are marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and spices that works to both flavor and tenderize the meat (sometimes, things like ginger, scallions, and pureed pears are added to the mix). It is often grilled alongside cloves of garlic, sliced onion, and green peppers before being served with whole lettuce leaves and ssamjang (a spicy Korean chili paste) -- though many variations on the dish exist.

Today, you'll find it in everywhere. Here in Houston, you can get everything from Koagie Hots' bulgogi cheese steaks to bulgogi-smothered fries at places like Oh My Gogi! Food Truck.


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