Ray’s BBQ Shack – Houston, TX

IMG_3687.JPGSome of the best places to eat are connected to gas stations. Ray’s BBQ Shack in Houston’s Third Ward is no exception. It is nondescript and tucked in beside a gas station. Your only clue is the amazing smell from the smokers, and the crowd spilling out of the door. This is obviously a neighborhood favorite. It’s close to the University of Houston, so I’m surprised the college crowd hasn’t found out about this gem.

IMG_3688.JPGI ordered a 2 meat plate with brisket and rib tips. The rib tips were as tasty as any BBQ I’ve had anywhere. Smokey bark with meat that just melted off the bone. I ate most of them without sauce. When I did try the sauce, I was impressed. It was a perfect balance of sweet and heat. Plenty of brown sugar like a southern sauce should have, but somehow it was not too sweet. The brisket was lean, but still moist and tender. It did not have as much flavor an I wanted and only showed a faint smoke ring and not much bark. It was really good with the sauce, but didn’t stand on its own like the rib tips. The beans were ranch style with lots of flavor and obviously homemade. The steak cut fries were coated with a Cajun seasoning and went well with the whole meal. I was too full for desert, but they had a mouth watering assortment of pies and banana pudding. I’ll save room next time. The total cost was $17.65, which is pricy, but considering what I got it was still a good value..

Steamboat Bills – Lake Charles, Louisiana

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Steamboat Bills seafood looks like it might be a tourist trap, but it’s not. We stopped here for an early lunch while driving through Lake Charles. I’m glad we stopped when we did, because by the time we left there was a line out the door.

I ordered the “Small Platter”, which was anything small. It came with catfish, fried shrimp, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab, fries, and a roll. The catfish was delicately breaded very moist. The shrimp was fried into crispy popcorn nuggets. The stuffed shrimp and crab were both tasty and stuffed with moist breading. French fries were perfect. The roll was like a beignet without the sugar; soft on the inside with a delicate crust. There were so many other great Cajun items on the menu that I want to eat next time I pass through Lake Charles.

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Cozumel Mexican – Loxley, Mississippi

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Jenny and I were driving home from a festival and were tired and hungry. We stopped into this authentic looking mexican food joint in a cute little town called Loxley. The food arrive quickly and there was a lot of food. A burrito, tostada, enchilada and a taco. It took two plates for all of the food. It was very filling. Nothing amazing, but for $6.50, it was definitely worth the money.
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Summer Rolls

I love everything in a rice wrapper. Though I’m never really sure the difference between a spring roll, a summer roll, or an autumn roll (Ok I made that last one up), I usually like to make a delicious Vietnamese roll for a delicious summer dinner.

Tonight I’ve outdone myself.

Rolls two ways:

#1
Filling-
Vermicelli rice noodles
Cucumber, grated
Carrot, grated
1 egg
Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Mint
Medium shrimps
Fish sauce

Cook one egg whipped in a small frying pan into a thin pancake. Let cool and cut in thin strips.

Sauté shrimps in fish sauce.

Grate cukes and carrots, dry off with paper towels,

Soften vermicelli noodles with hot water and strain.

Soften rice paper wrappers with hot water, one at a time, fill with a small bit of each filling component. Wrap like a burrito, eat with the dip.

Dip:
Sweet chili sauce
Peanut butter (chunky, no sugar added, nothing but peanuts!)
Fish sauce
White pepper
Soy sauce
Coconut milk or 2% milk

In a bowl, mix a splash of each ingredient with multiple spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter until desired consistency and taste.
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Here’s the thing…
You can put ANYthing in a rice wrapper!

#2
Tonight for filling I put in:
Mint
Cilantro
British hot house cukes
Pickled crispy carrot spears (usually used in bloody Mary’s)
Butter lettuce leaves

Chicken strips
Baby portobello mushrooms
Garlic
Ginger
Onion
Fermented black bean paste
Chili paste
Fish sauce

I cooked thin strips of mushroom and chicken with grated ginger, grated garlic, black bean, fish sauce, chili paste, and diced onion.

When making the rolls, I didn’t use any vermicelli, instead I placed a butter lettuce leaf topped with a bit of everything else, wrapped it all in a rice wrapper.

For the dipping sauce: plain chunky peanut butter and sweet chili sauce mixed together. Nothing fancy,
But crazy good.

So good I forgot to take a decent photo!

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London Heathrow Priority Lounge

20140628-093446-34486239.jpg I was flying business class from London to Paris. We wee running late because we took the the wrong tube on the Underground. We still had a few minutes at the airport to stop off in the first class lounge. I wasn’t hungry, but I still had a small plate with an asparagus and cheese omelet, chocolate croissant, bacon, tomato and beans. A very British breakfast..

Crawdad Boil- Houston, TX

Spring in Texas means CRAWDADs!Yesterday the Hubs and I went on a day long adventure to procure the ingredients for a down-home crawfish Boil. (Who’s your crawdaddy?) we went to a couple stores to pick up the crawfish (about 6 lbs), potatoes, corn, andouille sausage, mushrooms, onion, orange, garlic, and lemons…. And a rack of Lonestar beer!

We filled the sink with the live little mud bugs and rinsed them… A lot. They were gross! We then filled the big pot with everything but the crawfish and brought it to a boil with a spice bag and extra cayenne pepper and powdered ginger. We should have added more salt.

Brought it to a boil until the potatoes were half done and slid in all the washed crawfish. Brought it back to a boil for 4 minutes and added frozen corn on the cob to bring the temp down quickly. The boil sat for about 30 mins while we enjoyed cheep beer on the porch.

The dining room table we lined with wax paper and strained everything into a large roasting pan.

The Boil turned out deeelicious! It takes some time to work through the whole lot, worth every bit! We slowly made our way through about half of the pile, saving some for leftovers (crawdad frittata post soon!).

Spring in Texas sure is delicious.

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