Nosh News: Olé! Edition

At the Greensboro Supermarket, you can get dried chiles, a game of pool, a flat-top hair cut and the most authentic tacos in the Tallahassee area.

This Saturday, May 5, encompasses two events traditionally celebrated with lots and lots of alcohol: The Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo. If you’re looking to shake up your mint julep for this weekend’s run for the roses, check out the Kitchn’s roundup of five non-basic julep recipes, including a Cherry Julep made by my favorite talking head, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. To put a spin on the traditional Cinco de Mayo margarita, try Rick Bayless’ Champagne Margarita or Hotel California Jamaica Margarita. While you’re over at Bayless’ site, take a look at his collection of recipes for salsas, appetizers, entrées and desserts, too. The Chicago chef is one of our country’s great masters of Mexican cuisine.

With a Mexican native in my casa, we won’t be doing anything too splashy for Cinco de Mayo, since the Professor likes to point out that the holiday isn’t widely celebrated in his ancestral land. (It’s more akin to Casimir Pulaski Day than the Fourth of July). We’re always up for eating authentic Mexican food, however, so this weekend we’re planning to visit our favorite taqueria in the Tallahassee area. We love the picadillo sopes, bistek tortas and barbacoa tacos served at the little dining counter in the back of the Greensboro Supermarket, 119 Green Ave., Greensboro. The taqueria’s housemade tomatillo salsa alone makes the 30-mile drive worth it. The Greensboro Supermarket carries a variety of Mexican packaged goods, including all kinds of dried chiles, that can be tough to find locally, and also houses a pool hall and a hair salon. (Yes, I said hair salon). Now that’s one-stop shopping.

Have you dined at any of the eateries on the just-released list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? I haven’t yet visited the heavy hitters ranked by Restaurant magazine, but several of my friends have marveled over chef Grant Achatz’s masterpieces of molecular gastronomy at Alinea. The Chicago restaurant, which claimed the No. 7 slot, is one of eight American eateries on the list published annually by the London-based magazine. Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, nabbed No. 1. Personally, I’d love to compare the two menus of traditional and creative dishes offered by Biko, the Basque-Mexican hybrid restaurant in Mexico City that landed at No. 38 this year.

Santa Hat Brownies Are a Holiday Hit

Four days before Christmas, a friend told me about Santa Hat Brownies and I instantly went on a search for the recipe and directions! The holidays are my favorite time for baking because I have a reason to make ridiculously cute desserts like Santa Hat Brownies and  there are enough people around to eat the stuff I bake. After a quick Google search I came across Erica’s Sweet Tooth. Her blog is totally cute, great for amateur bakers like myself, and she had just posted a recipe and directions for Santa Hat Brownies!

The Santa Hat Brownies were super easy to make and everyone loved them! All you do is bake brownies, top with strawberries, and melt white chocolate to decorate. On Christmas Eve I made the brownies, then on Christmas morning my dad, yes my dad is awesome, helped me get the Santa hats assembled.

Santa Hat Brownies are a huge hit at holiday gatherings and very easy to make.

Santa Hat Brownies
Recipe adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth

Ingredients
1 box brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix)
24 small strawberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease one mini-muffin pan.
Prepare brownie mix according to box’s instructions and fill muffin cavities 3/4 of the way full.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Let brownies cool, then cut into squares.
Place one strawberry upside down onto each brownie.
Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler and transfer into a piping bag.
Pipe a ring around the base of each strawberry and add a small dot on top. Work quickly, the white chocolate can dry fast and clog up your tip!

Happy Holidays!

Nosh News: I Made It Out of Potatoes Edition

Happy Hanukkah!

Time to make the latkes! Hanukkah (otherwise known as my annual excuse to go Pac-man on potato pancakes) begins tonight at sunset. This year, I’m determined to perfect my latke-making technique. In my quest to eat fried potatoes as often as possible during the next eight days, I’m going to give two recipes from Smitten Kitchen a try: Classic Potato Pancakes and a spicy twist on the dish, Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters with Curry-Lime Yogurt.

Since I like to live on the culinary edge, I haven’t yet decided exactly what I’ll be making for Christmas dinner. But I know that the menu will, of course, include potatoes. If the Pioneer Woman’s Duchess Potatoes taste half as good as they look, they might just outshine whatever main dish I end up putting on my holiday plate.

Since I’ll be busier than usual in the kitchen, wrestling a towering pile of potatoes into submission, posting on the blog will be light during the next couple of weeks. May you all enjoy a delicious holiday season and a fruitful new year!

Five Favorites: Holiday Treats

Some Southerners believe that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day will bring good luck. Listening to the Black Eyed Peas, however, will bring you nothing but an earworm.

1. Pumpkin spice lattes. Catalina Café on Capital Circle Southeast serves an excellent one.

2. Shrimp pasta salad. My mom makes this old-school American classic for every major holiday, and now I do, too. My family’s recipe couldn’t be simpler: Boil, drain and chill a 1-pound box of elbow macaroni. To the pasta, add 3-4 cans of tiny pink shrimp (drained and rinsed), a couple of handfuls of diced celery and several big dollops of mayonnaise, then toss it all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let the salad sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors meld.

3. Latkes. This is the year I will learn to make these perfect little potato pancakes. For a carb fanatic like me, latkes are the ultimate cold-weather comfort food.

4. Homemade gingerbread cookies. Dressed in crunchy sugar crystals, please.

5. Hoppin’ John. My Georgia-born friend Elle Crash introduced me to the Southern tradition of greeting the New Year with a big bowl of black-eyed peas. This year I’m going to try Bryant Terry’s version of the dish, Creole Hoppin’-Jean, from the Vegan Soul Kitchen cookbook.

Nosh News: Still Working on Those Leftovers Edition

Lucky Peach Issue 2: The Sweet Spot features rot, apricots, flippant fruit stickers and, um, Anthony Bourdain.

Are you still too stuffed from your Thanksgiving feast, and the leftovers that followed, to begin thinking about what you’re going to bake for all those festivities coming up in December? If so, I’ll make it easy — you can’t go wrong with cupcakes. For a selection of recipes that will work for whichever holidays you’ll be celebrating this season, check out these posts by some of the best bakers in the blogosphere: Cupcake Rehab’s favorite Christmas cupcakes, Bake & Destroy’s Vegan Sweet Potato Cupcakes, Modern Domestic’s Hanukkah Cupcakes and the Gluten-Free Goddess’ Frosted Orange Crème Cupcakes.

McSweeney’s released the second issue of its quarterly journal of food and writing, Lucky Peach, this month. This is not your typical food magazine. Inside the Sweet Spot issue, you’ll find a lengthy Michael Ames piece about rot, Adam Leith Gollner’s story of his search for the world’s sweetest apricots, and several recipes from ultra-trendy dessert purveyor Momofuko Milk Bar, including a Burnt Miso Butterscotch Topping that looks kind of awesome. (New York chef David Chang, king of the Momofuku restaurant empire, partnered with McSweeney’s to create the magazine). Oh yeah, and everyone’s favorite celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, contributes a piece about a conspiracy involving the movie “Road House.” (Where isn’t Bourdain popping up these days?) Best of all, there’s a sheet of 45 fruit stickers with slogans and illustrations that would make Miss Chiquita Banana blush.

Audrey Robbins, owner of Pan-Handlers Kitchen Supply, just announced that she’s selling the Lake Ella shop and her online business. If you’re interested, call John Kraft of Murphy Business Brokers at 222-2001. Fans of Pan-Handlers’ cooking classes, fret not: Chef Bec Kelly will be taking over on Dec. 1, and you can still find all the information you need about upcoming events at the Pan-Handlers Kitchen website.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Once upon a time, I was fortunate enough to work in an office that held a create-a-turkey competition each Thanksgiving.

However you choose to celebrate today — by cooking an autumnal feast, dining out at a restaurant, tossing an Amy’s Southern Dinner into the microwave or painstakingly constructing a turkey out of produce — we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday!