Peak Season: Five Standout Apple Dishes in Houston

Photo by Catrin Austin
We're more than happy to eat an apple a day with these stellar treats.
Crisp, juicy apples are in season through the end of November, so now's the time to get your fall apple gorging on. From a salted caramel apple cupcake to a poached-apple salad, here are Five Must Try Apple Dishes:

What: Triple Apple Bacon Pizza
Where: Brasil

Why wouldn't you want crisp bacon and apples on your pizza? You would. Because the sweet and salty combination is magic. A bit of fried sage, garlic oil, and mozzarella won't hurt either. Get it all on one pie at this charming neighborhood café.

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Dish of the Week: Beer-Battered Apple Fritters

Photo by JustyCinMD
Finish the fritters with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of caramel.
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 perfect for fall: apple fritters.

The word fritter is derived from the Latin word frictura, meaning "to fry." So it should come as no surprise that fritters are basically batter (chou paste or yeast dough) that gets fried until light and crisp. Often, the batter either coats or is mixed with fruit, vegetables, meat, or seafood before being fried.

Fritters can be found in all types of cuisines, from Japanese tempura and Indonesian gorengan to French beignets and Italian fritto misto. Of course, there's also the all-American fried dessert, the apple fritter.

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These Three Local Products Will Make You a Labor Day Hero

Categories: Season's Eating

Photo by Greg Habermann
You'll be on fire this Labor Day.
Would you like to be the hero of that Labor Day party you're going to this weekend? Would you like to be complimented, have your name chanted, and/or be carried around the party like you're goddamn Cleopatra?

If you've answered yes to any of the above, we're here to help. It's as easy as showing up to your end of summer party with one of these local products (and a game plan on how to use them) in hand. Here's what to do:

See also: BBQ Like A Boss: 5 Homemade Sauces for Your Labor Day Cookout

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Back to School: Feed Your Kids Like a Chef

Photo by Melissa
What did you have for lunch as a kid?
As the start of another school year approaches, we've got school lunches on the mind.

Mostly, when we think of school lunches, we picture cafeteria trays with grayish glop in each compartment, and we think of all the debates over what should or should not be given to growing kiddos. The vast majority of children eat cafeteria food every day, but those who don't rely on their parents to pack the good stuff.

And who gets the best stuff? Chefs' kids, of course.

Well, that's debatable, according to some chefs. Ryan Lachaine of Reef packs lunches for his twin boys, but, he notes, "I don't know that it's gourmet. There's not a lot of technique involved in making a fucking turkey sandwich."

Still, some chef's kiddos probably eat better than most of the country, and it's clear that many chefs place a greater emphasis on healthy eating than many parents.

Here's what some of Houston's culinary moms and pops give their children for lunch.

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Seasonal Special at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Seasonal Saint Arnold Burger. Why not make it a double?
If children were allowed legal access to cars and could drive themselves to dinner, JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers would be the most profitable restaurant in town. The combination of cheeseburgers, ice cream, cookies, a wall-length chalkboard ready for doodlin', and a Coke Freestyle Machine pretty much make this place heaven for kids...and young-at-heart adults eager to binge on beef and strawberry-flavored Sprite.

With two locations (West University, The Woodlands), JerryBuilt is easily accessible to families with a fair amount of disposable income, which is why they can charge $9-10 for a single-patty sandwich and include sides such as truffle macaroni and cheese alongside more traditional options like crinkle-cut fries without most people batting an eye.

Is the elevated pricetage worth it? You betcha, as these burgers are far better than Whataburger to say the least. The foodstuffs (grass-fed beef, organic produce, Three Brothers rolls, etc.) are fresh, minimally processed, and locally sourced, which makes even the plain cheeseburger, classic "greasy" fare, taste lighter and maybe even healthful? More reasons why, perhaps, so many parents seem comfortable taking their kids there and even letting them round out dinner with a house-baked chocolate chunk or cow-shaped cookie.

This story continues on the next page.

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What Your Hot Dog Toppings Say About You

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

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

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

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

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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