What Your Hot Dog Toppings Say About You

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Photo by Steven Depolo
They say your hot dog toppings are a window into your soul.
You know what they say. You can tell a lot about someone by what they put atop their hot dog. Okay, so maybe nobody actually says that. But we swear it's true!

Here's what your hot dog toppings say about you:

Just Ketchup: You're mom still does your laundry...and you don't mind one bit. What? She folds the like a boss and she never shrinks your deep vees.

Just Mustard: Let's just say you're not exactly a risk taker, but you know what you like and you stick with it. Even if it does mean you've been stood up by the same Tinder date three nights in a row.


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Dish of the Week: Plum Clafoutis

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Photo by Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin
Traditionally, this French dessert is made using black cherries.
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 more about the French dessert clafoutis.

Clafoutis is a flan-like pastry made with fruit (traditionally black cherries) covered in a thick custard batter. Once baked, the result is a surprisingly light pancake-custard hybrid with equal pops of tartness and sweetness throughout.

It's name is based on the Occitan verb clafir, meaning to fill or to cover, and the dish is said to have originated in the Southern Limousin region of France.

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Celebrate Bastille Day With a French Chef and the French Cowboy

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Photo by Yan Caradec
Vive la France!
Every July 14, the French mark the storming of the Bastille in 1789 with La Fête Nationale or Bastille Day. It's similar to our own Fourth of July in that it commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution, which led to the abolition of feudalism in the country and the proclamation of the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen." In France, it's a major holiday, filled with fêtes and fireworks.

This year, Houstonians can join in on the fun with Philippe Verpiand and Philippe Schmit at Étoile, where the two Frenchmen will be preparing a special Bastille Day meal for guests.

It turns out the chefs have more connections than simply being born in the same country. Jean-Michel Diot, a French chef and restaurateur, opened Park Bistro in New York City, where Schmit served as chef de cuisine before he relocated to Houston. In 1998, Diot opened Tapenade Restaurant in La Jolla, and Verpiand was hired as the chef de cuisine at that restaurant. The two Philippes met for the first time in 2001, when Schmit joined Verpiand at Tapenade to cook a Bastille Day meal. Now, Verpiand is hoping to continue that tradition in Houston with his buddy, the French Cowboy.

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Houston Restaurants Observe Ramadan With Sehri and Iftar

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Photo by vetman
Men praying outside a mosque before sunrise during Ramadan in Afghanistan.
Ramadan began on June 28, meaning observant Muslims across the world are participating in the month-long fast that makes up one of the Five Pillars of Islam. From dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from a number of activities including eating and drinking. During these, the longest, hottest days of the year, they can't even have water while the sun is out.

The good news is that every day before sunrise, Muslims consume a small meal called sehri and after sunset, they break the fast with iftar, often a larger, buffet style dinner.

Currently, sunrise is at 6:25 a.m. and sunset at 8:25 p.m., meaning there's a 14-hour period during which no food or water can be consumed. To observe the end of the fast in the evening, many local Pakistani restaurants are serving special dishes or setting up buffets with traditional items.

Whether you're Muslim or just interested in the sacred traditions of a different religion, check out the sehri and iftar offerings at these area restaurants for a taste of tradition.

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Recipe of the Week: Alabama White Sauce

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Photo by Dan
Horseradish and cider vinegar give this creamy 'cue sauce kick.
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.

With summer in full swing, we're taking a look at a good ol'-fashioned Southern barbecue stable: Alabama white sauce.

Unlike most tomato- or mustard-based 'cue sauces, this sauce is actually the color white. That's because it's made with thick and creamy mayonnaise. It all started with Alabama native Bob Gibson -- a.k.a. "Big Bob" -- in 1925. He created the sweet and tangy sauce and used it to baste chicken and pork at his restaurant, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Since then, the fad has spread like wildfire. It's now as popular in Alabama as the Crimson Tide.


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Five Desserts Perfect for the Fourth of July

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Photo by LA Foodie via flickr
Make miniature pies so everyone can have a few flavors.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say you don't want to see another red-white-and-blue cake, cupcake or pie recipe. Am I right? While it's fun to make that striped cake with buttercream frosting, strawberries and blueberries, it gets old after a while. Who are we kidding? It gets old after the first time.

So after you've grilled burgers and hot dogs, smoked your brisket all day long and cut into that juicy watermelon, you'll need something sweet to eat. Here are five desserts to make on the Fourth of July -- no American flag cakes here.

5. Miniature Hand Pies
Be patriotic and cut out the pie dough in the shapes of stars, or you stick to the traditional semi-circle hand pies, or turnovers. Fill each piece of dough with apple slices, sugar-tossed strawberries, blackberries or blueberries, or pitted cherries. Make them small enough for everyone to try a few flavors. And of course, you must serve them with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on the side. It's the American way.

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Dish of the Week: Turkish Shish Kebab

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Photo by Valters Krontals
These kebabs are just in time for grilling season.
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 a Turkish classic: shish kebab.

The word kebab literally means "roast meat." Though there are several variations throughout the Middle East and South Asia - including the doner kebap sandwich that we've becoming familiar with recently thanks to VERTS -- the terms shish kebab refers to meat roasted on a skewer (or a shish in Turkish).

Meat skewers were referenced in Homer's Odyssey, but the practice may have been born even earlier; Excavations have unearthed Greek stones set for barbecue skewers that date as far as 17th century BC. Today, you'll find iterations of shish kebabs all over the world, with marinated and grilled lamb being one of the most famous.

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Dish of the Week: Turkish Shish Kebab

lambkebab.jpg
Photo by Valters Krontals
These kebabs are just in time for grilling season.
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 a Turkish classic: shish kebab.

The word kebab literally means "roast meat." Though there are several variations throughout the Middle East and South Asia - including the doner kebap sandwich that we've becoming familiar with recently thanks to VERTS -- the terms shish kebab refers to meat roasted on a skewer (or a shish in Turkish).

Meat skewers were referenced in Homer's Odyssey, but the practice may have been born even earlier; Excavations have unearthed Greek stones set for barbecue skewers that date as far as 17th century BC. Today, you'll find iterations of shish kebabs all over the world, with marinated and grilled lamb being one of the most famous.

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Celebrate Independence Day With These Red, White & Blue Cocktails

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Photo by Mike McCune
Now you can feel patriotic as you drink your face off.
The 4th of July is right around the corner, y'all, and you know what that means. Fireworks! Independence! Parades! Barbecues! And most importantly, red, white, and blue drinks that show just how much you love 'merica!

Well, do we have the list for you. From a spiked lemonade to a drinks on a stick, here are five colorful adult beverages for your 4th of July party:


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Dish of the Week: Fried Green Tomatoes

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Photo by Star5112
Serve these crispy fried tomatoes with a spicy remoulade.
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 exploring the down home Southern classic, fried green tomatoes.

But the "classically Southern" dish may not be so Southern after all. Some historians say the dish was first introduced by Jewish immigrants in other parts of the United States, mainly the Northeast and Midwest. Recipes for fried green tomatoes have been found in Jewish cookbooks as far back as 1889. The dish gained popularity in Northern states where the unripened (green) fruit was harvested before the first frosts.

Today the fried delight are served as a snack or side dish all over the country, particularly in the South. While some versions call for a flour batter, the typical preparation is a cornmeal-crust that gets shallow fried in fat until golden brown and crisp.


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