[caption id="" align="alignright" width="299" caption="The Homesick Texan Cookbook"]
I've spent the last week craving (and subsequently making or ordering) nachos, brisket and all sorts of other amazing Texan and Tex-Mex food. I suppose it's time to fess up about why.
For the past week, I've been buried in an advance copy of this book.
Last night, I had the pleasure of reuniting with the author, who also happens to be one of the first food bloggers I met in NYC, Lisa Fain of Homesick Texan
. She and I met before I even started MOTB, and she had just started her site a few months prior.
Four years later, we gathered with a group of food bloggers and other friends to celebrate the release of her new cookbook, The Homesick Texan Cookbook,
We did a quick interview and Q&A session, where Lisa shared about the experience of moving from Texas to NYC and missing all the foods of her home state, grinding her own chili powder from whole chilies she bought in Mexican markets and how her favorite spots to shop for necessary ingredients are in Jackson Heights, Queens (a great neighborhood full of ethnic food treasures) and at Kalustyan's
After getting some great insight on the process of going from blog to book, we all dug into a Texas-sized feast of ribs, brisket and BBQ chicken at Hill Country
BBQ, thanks to Google Places
, who made the whole event possible along with Lisa's publishers at Hyperion
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Hill Country Barbecue platter - ribs, brisket and chicken."]
One fantastic, but unsurprising aspect of the book is how Mexican ingredients and foods are woven throughout. Before reading Lisa's blog and then cuddling up with her book, I really thought Tex-Mex was its own independent creation, neither truly Texan or truly Mexican.
The Tex-Mex I've had has been a caricature of the cultures. But there are some very traditional ethnic influences that shine through many of the recipes here. Lisa is especially fond of chili peppers, and there are few recipes in the book where a few peppers don't find their way (my kinda girl!). There are cactus salads, a tres leches recipe and many other nods to the cuisine south of the border.
There are over 100 recipes in this book to inspire you. I promise, if you love good cooking, then you will be motivated to bring this book to the grocery store with you and start cooking from it immediately. A few highlights? I've already put together my dream dinner menu for four people with Lisa's recipes: Coffee chipotle brisket, red rice, tomato cobbler, cactus salad and chocoflan.
To whet your appetite, I wanted to share one particularly Mexican-influenced dish with you. I'm making these for a party this weekend, and they are just perfect for when you want to bring a sweet treat that surprises people. This recipe is shared with permission of the publisher -- for the rest of them, you'll have to go out and grab a copy!
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Empanadas. Photo credit: amanky on Flickr."]
From THE HOMESICK TEXAN COOKBOOK
by Lisa Fain. Copyright © 2011 Lisa Fain. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.
"Whenever two homesick Texans get together, it’s inevitable that they will discuss what they miss most from home. Take my friend Amy, a homesick Texan who now resides in Mississippi. She adores the pumpkin empanadas found at Fiesta grocery stores in Houston and has let me know on many occasions how much she pines for these Mexican sweet treats. And I have to agree with her—it’s always a joy to eat these pastries.
If you’re not familiar with empanadas, they’re a Mexican turnover that is stuffed with fillings both sweet and savory. They’re similar to a fried pie, although they’re not fried and the pastry is fluffy rather than flaky. I like to serve them at the end of the year when pumpkin-flavored dishes are most common. Fiesta sells them year-round, so there’s certainly no reason why you can’t eat them year-round, as well."
ABOUT 15 EMPANADAS
FOR THE CRUST
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
FOR THE FILLING
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
1½ tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup chopped pecans
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
FOR THE EMPANADA TOPPING
1 large egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1. To make the crust, mix together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt until a smooth dough is formed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, for the filling, mix together the pumpkin with the cream, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. To make the empanadas, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.
4. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and roll it out on a floured surface until it’s 1⁄8 inch thick. Cut into 5-inch rounds and then gather the scraps, roll out again, and cut more 5-inch rounds until all the dough has been used.
I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing.