Dish of the Week: Frito Pie

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Troy Fields
C&D's Frito pie is a work of art.
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 covering a Texas classic: Frito Pie.

Frito pie is popular Southern dish made with chili, cheese and Fritos.

According to NPR, it all started when Charles Elmer Doolin was looking for a corn snack to sell at his San Antonio confectionary during the Great Depression. Since tortillas got stale, Doolin sought another solution. That's when he met a Mexican man selling little bags of corn chips at a gas station. They were "little fried things", or fritos. He went on to buy the patent, perfect the recipe with his mother, and Fritos were born.

Though some say the Frito pie was created at a diner in Santa Fe, others claim Doolin's mother, Daisy Dean Doolin, came up with the pie recipe as a way to further market Fritos.

Either way, we're happy it was born -- and we're sure most Texans would agree.

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Recipe: Homemade Snickers Bars

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Homemade Snickers Bars

If you think making your own candy always involves a thermometer and endless stirring of chocolate, take pleasure in the fact that you can make your own Snickers bars with just a few ingredients, a microwave, and some parchment paper.

The most challenging aspect of homemade Snickers bars is producing a "neat" confection as the components lend themselves to extreme messiness. So, perhaps do a few dry runs if you require public-facing, picture-perfect candy bars.

All the more reason just to share them only with your nearest and dearest who don't care about appearances.

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Recipe: The Cuban Sandwich

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
A classic cuban sandwich requires just a few ingredients.

In celebration of reduced restrictions on travel to Cuba, why not make its namesake sandwich with some of that leftover Easter ham? It is unclear whether or not what we know today as a Cuban sandwich was invented in the country proper or emerged in Cuban-American communities in Florida; nevertheless, this sammie remains a staple of Cuban cuisine.

Travelers to Miami and Key West will find no shortage of restaurants that offer excellent Cuban sandwiches; in Houston, however, it's considerably harder above-average versions in large part, as Katharine Shilcutt noted, the usage of inappropriate bread.

Some argue that Cuban bread and only Cuban bread is used in a Cuban sandwich (makes sense, yes?), others are more lenient and allow for the bolillo role. The latter is easier to find and available at most major supermarket chains in Texas.

The recipe, after the jump:

This story continues on the next page.

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Dish of the Week: Pasta all'Amatriciana

Categories: Recipes

Photo by MMChicago
Pasta alla Amatriciana is simple to make and simple to devour.
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 Pasta all'Amatriciana.

Sugo all'Amatriciana is a classic Italian tomato sauce made with guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), grated pecorino cheese, and sometimes red pepper flakes. The result is a salty, nutty and delectable sauce that is commonly served over pasta.

Named for the town of Amatrice, about an hour east of Rome, the sauce has become very popular in Roman cuisine. It is thought, though, to have originated closer to its namesake town, where shepherds and common folk used local ingredients to make a similar dish called pasta alla gricia. Pasta alla gricia was made simply with guaniciale, black pepper, and pecorino. It wasn't until tomatoes were introduced to Italy in the 17th century that tomatoes were incorporated into the dish and pasta all'amatriciana was born.

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UH Student Entrepreneurs Develop a Tomatillo Enchiladas Video

Categories: Recipes

Four University of Houston students who met in an entrepreneurship class decided the best way they could handle a class assignment was to make a video showing how to make tomatillo enchiladas. They could help out the student community while they were doing something they like to do.

And then they offered to share it with Houston Press readers.

"Given our background and the rich food culture of Houstonians, making a how-to video for tomatillo enchiladas was the answer," said senior Alan Williams, who you'll see in the video. "We hope to reach other college students who need easy cooking ideas, as well as those home chefs who love the Tex-Mex taste but might not want to make the trip out to their local Tex-Mex joint."

Fellow senior Melissa Montemayor is also featured in the video. She says she loves to cook and grew up in a first-generational Mexican-American home.

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Dish of the Week: Charoset

Categories: Recipes

Charoset (bottom right) is part of the symbolic Passover Seder Plate.
Photo by Rebecca Siegel
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.

In honor of Passover, this week's featured dish is charoset.

One of the symbolic foods of the Passover Seder Plate, charoset (or haroset) is a sweet mixture of chopped fruits, nuts, wine, and spices. From the Hebrew word cheres (or clay), its dark color and paste-like texture are meant to signify the mortar used by Hebrews when building the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. The mixture is eaten with unleavened bread (matzoh) and maror (bitter herbs) after reciting a blessing. Ultimately, it is meant to represent hope.

Countless variations on the dish exist. Traditionally, Ashkenazi (Eastern European) charoset is made with grated apples, cinnamon, sweet red wine, and chopped walnuts. Sephardi charoset can be made with raisins, figs, and dates. The Jewish people of Greece and Turkey often mix in apples, dates, chopped almonds, and wine; while Italian Jews often incorporate chestnuts. New versions play around with ingredients, like this New England haroset with dried cranberries and maple syrup.

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Easter Cocktail: The Strawberry Rum Swizzle

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
This bunny may have already had a few...

Known as the National Drink of Bermuda, the traditional Rum Swizzle has dark or amber rum with pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine, with some some recipes calling also for Angostura bitters. This combination of ingredients makes for an intense citrus-flavored cocktail that's liable to sneak up on you, especially if you're already dehydrated from a day at the beach.

A lighter version perfect for sipping during the day, particularly on a holy-day spent with family and young'uns, is the Strawberry Rum Swizzle.

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Dish of the Week: Carrot Cake

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Gonzalo Malpartida
Carrots make cake extra moist and 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.

With Easter right around the corner, this week we're taking a look at carrot cake.

In case you've been living under a rock, carrot cake is a cake with -- you guessed it! -- carrots mixed into the batter. Though putting carrots inside of a dessert may sound odd, those veggies actually make the cake incredibly moist, while also adding texture and a hint of sweetness.

Though the origins of the carrot cake are unclear, many historians believe the use of carrots as a sweetener dates back to medieval times, when cheap carrots were plentiful and sugar was too expensive and hard to come by. In the middle ages, the carrots were used to make sweet carrot puddings.

Today, you can find versions of the cake all over the world. In Europe, it is often topped with a lemon-sugar or kirsch-sugar (cherry brandy) icing, while in the U.S., a creamy and decadent cream cheese frosting is more common. Sometimes, cinnamon, nuts and raisins are mixed in.

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Recipe: Overnight-Rise Oversized English Muffins

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Muffin Mise-en-Place.

Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man?
Who lives on Drury lane?

It's not every day that one finds culinary inspiration in a nursery rhyme, but after I read an interesting print article about innovative toppings for English muffins, this tune reverberated in my brain while my stomach growled. Figuring the only way to appease both organs was to actually eat some English muffins, I set about to procure some. And in the spirit of industry and large-and-in-charge Texas food, these muffins would be homemade and oversized. The recipe below takes some time and patience; however, the muffins that emerge blow store-bought out of the water.

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Dish of the Week: Croque-Madame

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Brasserie 19's croque madame is no joke.
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 covering a French bistro staple: the Croque-Madame.

A croque-madame is a version of the simple bistro sandwich croque-monsieur, which is a ham and cheese sandwich that is sautéed in butter and topped with cheesy béchamel sauce. While both sandwiches are typically made using good-quality ham and Gruyère or Emmental cheese, the madame version ups the ante by adding a poached or lightly fried egg to the already decadent affair.

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