Tag Archives: chicken

Dining in Texas: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

Chasing the Eclipse: Gastronomic Notes from a Trip to New Orleans and Dallas.

Great fried chicken in fun surroundings

We had two goals for our trip to Dallas: seeing the eclipse and visiting with our old friends Eddie and Arthur. They had selfishly moved back to Texas when our kids were little. I’m still really sad, and we miss them terribly.

Our first night together, Eddie and Arthur took us to one of their favorite restaurants: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. Babe’s is a small chain of ten restaurants all in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area; we went to the Burleson location. They are beautifully decorated with cottage-style houses and chickens everywhere. I can imagine this would be a favorite family restaurant – little girls, in particular, are likely to swoon over the decorations.


Babe’s menu is limied to fried chicken, fried chicken tenders, chicken fried steak and hickory smoked chicken (all $19), fried catfish ($20) and a vegetable plate ($11). Even in Texas they figured families often have a vegetarian they need to bring along to dinner. All meals come with sides which are served family style: house salad, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits and cream gravy.

Texas may not be the South per se, but coming from Louisiana I was still thinking in those terms, so I was excited to get some southern fried chicken. I’m not sure that it would differ from any other fried chicken – it seems like all our fried chicken chains originate in the South anyway, and it’s not like I make it myself (though I did try my hand at Delaware fried chicken some time back). Still, like most others at the table, I ordered the fried chicken and it was very good. The chicken was very moist, the breading was super crisp and the pieces were a nice size. The only minus is that you can only order a mixed portion or drumsticks, not just dark meat. It wasn’t a big deal, however. Alas, I didn’t try any of the other entrees. I know that Eddie got fried catfish and Arthur got the smoked chicken; they must be good given they keep ordering them when they visit.

There was so much chicken to be eaten, that we really didn’t try all the sides. The exception was the buttermilk biscuits which were excellent. They bring both honey and sorghum syrup to the table, and they were both good – the latter has a rich flavor, similar to molasses. I learned here – from Eddie – that in the south you biscuits in half and butter the whole half.

We also liked the mashed potatoes, and someone was fond of the salad as it didn’t last long, but we didn’t try the other sides.

Service was great, the waiters were very accommodating and efficient. They did not rush us out even when we stayed well over closing time. Alas, Babe’s is one of those places that likes to humiliate waiters by making them perform – apparently they force them to perform the hokey pokey for waiters. Patrons love it but waiters hate it (I asked).

Of course, the company was even better than the food but I was very happy to try this place. And boy, do we miss Eddie and Arthur.

Babe's Chicken Dinner House
120 South Main St
Burleson, TX
(817) 447-3400
M-F: 11 AM - 2 PM & 5 PM - 9 PM
Sa & Su: 11 AM - 9 PM

NYC Food Adventures: Mama Halal Food

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

The halal cart phenomenon continues unabated in NYC, and with good reason.

Forget about hotdogs, for several decades now, the New York City street food par excellence has been halal fare. Originally referring to the types of foods permitted for Muslims – think Kosher but far less strict -, halal carts are understood to serve food of Mediterranean origins, mainly shawarmas and kababs, either served on pita or as part of a rice bowl. Halal carts broke into the NYC street scene in the 1980’s, when Greek carts were still a thing, but really blew up in the 1990’s. By the end of the millennium, there were over 500 halal carts in NYC, and their numbers have only grown since then.

Perhaps the most famous halal cart, and one of the first, is Halal Guys. Over the decades, they have not only expanded throughout the city but nationwide, operating both carts and brick and mortar restaurants. Like many of the current carts, it was operated by Egyptian immigrants. They are famous for their white and red sauces – the former apparently a mint yogurt sauce and the latter apparently shattah, a peppery sauce. -, something which other carts seem to have imitated. In addition to Egyptians, many halal carts are operated by Bangladeshi and Afghan immigrants/refugees, and the menus of their specific carts may reflect these interests.

Getting food from a halal cart was one of my “NYC must do’s” and we were lucky that one of the two halal carts located immediately across the street from our hotel – there were probably a dozen or so within a couple of blocks -, got very good reviews. Thus on our second night in the City, after attending a taping of the Colbert show, we got halal take out at Mama Halal Food and ate it in our hotel.

lamb gyro

I went with the lamb gyro ($8.50) and I was very happy. The lamb cubes were impossible tender and flavorful, and after I removed some lettuce, the pita sandwich was well balanced. I had it just with the white sauce. The gyro was perhaps a tad small, but fortunately I wasn’t terribly hungry. I’d definitely order it again if I was in the area.

chicken tikka masala

Mike had the chicken tikka masala bowl ($10.50), with both white and red sauces, and he was very happy with it. I, personally, didn’t think it tasted much like tikka masala, and the red sauce had made it too spicy for my taste, but I appreciated how tender the chicken was. He’d order it again, I wouldn’t.

Drinks were cheap, just $2 for cans, if I recall correctly. There was almost no wait on that cold February Monday night, and service was friendly and efficient. In addition to the W 51st location that we visited, Mama Halal Food has carts at W54st/8Ave, W50st/9Ave and 121st/LibertyAve (Queens).

Mama Halal Food
W 51st St. & 7th Ave.
NYC
(347) 207-5804
M-Su 10 AM - 3 AM

							

Thanksgiving 2022 – Menu & Recipes

This year, my sister and her family came to visit us for Thanksgiving. It took me forever to decide in a menu, nothing really inspired me. I knew I wanted to make poultry for dinner – both as a stand for the traditional turkey that nobody likes, and because my mother, who won’t eat poultry, wasn’t coming, so it seemed like a good opportunity. First I thought about making Basque Chicken, and from there do a Basque meal. But I couldn’t find enough vegetarian recipes without peppers to satisfy my daughter’s likes. Then I read a post on FB that mentioned someone was making chicken and dumplings, a recipe I just love and that my father used to make when I was a little kid. So I thought I’d make a menu based on family recipes – but it turns out most of what I used to eat growing up is not special enough for a Thanksgiving dinner. So, I finally decided to make Calypso Chicken, because it was an old favorite, and ended up with an “old favorite” menu. Originally, it was /also/ supposed to include a bunch of persimmon dishes: soup, lassi, sorbet and pie – but this year my persimmons are ripening slowly, so I only managed to get a couple for the soup.

I didn’t sleep well the night before Thanksgiving, however, and I was really exhausted through dinner. That means that I messed up some things as I slept walk through it.

This is what I ended up with.

Salad

So my original intention was to make a salad based on this Pear & Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Walnuts and Cranberries recipe I’ve made before and liked. But the road to hell is paved with new intentions. First, I decided to use butter lettuce instead of mixed green because my kids – who ended up not eating it anyway – only like lettuce. Then I decided to cut corners and use a store-bought Raspberry Poppy Seed dressing instead of making a vinaigrette with olive oil and raspberry vinegar. And I decided to use an apple instead of a pear. But when the time came to actually make the salad, I realized I’d forgotten to buy the cranberries and I had ran out of goat cheese. Then it turned out that my brother in law, like one of my daughters, only likes Caesar salad. So I put out the lettuce, all the dressings I had and the caramelized walnuts – forgetting the apple and green onion slices. At least the raspberry dressing was good.

Buttnernut Squash, Carrot and Persimmon Soup

While most of my persimmons didn’t ripen in time, I was able to find two of them ripe enough for this recipe. They gave a very pleasant sweetness to this soup. At first, I felt the soup was too carrot-y, but that flavor profile mellowed the second day. Still, next time I might use just one carrot. It’s slightly modified from superchef’s recipe at allrecipes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled & thickly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 20 butternut squash cubes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • pulp from 2 Hachiya persimmons
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and bay leaf and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the butternut squash and continue cooking for 5 minutes, also stirring occasionally.

Add the white wine and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the persimmon pulp. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Alternatively, wait until it cools down a bit and transfer to a blender, then return to the pot. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Assorted Appetizers

For my appetizers, I reverted mostly to old family favorites. I hadn’t made bacon-wrapped bananas in a long time, and I thought it would go well with the Caribbeanish theme of the dinner. This time I used a maple hickory bacon and it was delicious. I had originally planned to make coconut shrimp, but then I thought I had too many sweet flavors in this meal, so I decided to do shrimp wrapped in cheese and bacon instead – though it was a bit repetitive with the bananas. This time I used Havarti cheese and the maple bacon, and my husband loved them (but he always does).

The goat cheese & caramelized onion tart was a variation on my blue cheese & caramelized onion squares from yester holiday meals. I simply substituted goat cheese for blue and thyme for rosemary. My daughter, who doesn’t like blue cheese, loved it but I think the rest of us prefer it with blue cheese. Still, it’s an easy appetizer to make and you can make the caramelized onions in advance. I used Vidalia onions this time, but any onion will do.

The Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Butter Bruschettas, from a recipe I found at Scrambled Chefs. It’s not really bruschetta but cheesy garlic bread with chopped sundried tomatoes on top. BUT it was very good cheesy garlic bread, mostly because it had a lot of garlic and I used a lot of butter on each slice.

Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsp chopped thyme

Directions

Heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Add the sliced onions and turn heat to medium. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and stir in sugar, if using. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until the onions get the consistency and sweetness you want. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a large baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper.

Set puff pastry sheets on the baking sheet. Spread goat cheese on the sheets, leaving about a 1/2 ” margin. Spread caramelized onions on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle chopped thyme on top. Pinch the edges of the tarts, making a border. Bake until the the crust is golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Butter Bruschettas

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 5 garlic cloves, minched
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Mozarella or other shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut baguette into inch-thick slices

Place the butter in a small bowl and stir until soft. Add the parsley, garlic and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Spread butter on baguette slices. Arrange on baking sheet. Top each slice with shredded cheeses and top with chopped sundried tomatoes. Bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 5-7′

Calypso Chicken & Roasted Vegetables

Calypso Chicken is a dish that you can find throughout the Caribbean in different iterations. I’d made a Dominican recipe originally and repeated it for this dinner. Alas, by this time in the meal I was too tired and full, and went to bed before tasting it, leaving it to my husband to do the honors. He apparently just served the chicken without the sauce, and thought it was just OK, though my daughter said she liked it. We all enjoyed the leftovers the next day, however, when I did heat them up and serve them with the sauce. It’s really a solid dish. I made roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans and asparagus to go with it – I just mixed them with olive oil, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper, and I’m told people enjoyed them. There were very few left the next day. I had also planned to make air fried plantain slices, but I was too tired to follow through with that.

Granny’s Sponge cake with lemon frosting

This used to be my favorite cake as a child, one that I would ask my Grandmother and later my aunt Gladys, to make for my birthday. I’ve made it a couple of times before and my daughter specifically asked that I make it for Thanksgiving. While I didn’t eat it the night of the meal, as I was already in bed by then, everyone else enjoyed it and we had the leftovers the next day. I was extremely proud that the cake tasted exactly like I remembered it from my youth. I made it with no whipped cream in the filling and only 1/4 cup of whipped cream for the frosting. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, and I think my grandmother probably didn’t use it, but it does make it easier to spread. In any case, both the cake and the frosting came out perfectly and I was glad that my sister could try something my grandmother – who died years before she was born – made.

Marga’s Party & Holiday Menus & Recipes

Gobble Meal Kit Review: Butter Chicken With Basmati Rice & Naan Bread

8/10

I absolutely love Indian food, but I’m cursed with not being able to successfully replicate my favorite dishes – of which butter chicken ranks at the top. I’ve tried making it, and while the results weren’t bad, they were not nearly as good as those of my local Indian restaurants. I’ve also tried a number of commercial sauces, none of which can compare to restaurant-make. That’s why I was particularly impressed that Gobbled managed a very good butter chicken sauce, that rivals that at any of our local restaurants.

The kit was fairly easy to make: you cooked the pre-cubed chicken for a few minutes, then added the prepared butter sauce and cooked it for a few more. Pre-made rice was heated in the microwave and a single naan bread was supposed to be baked in the oven. I hate preheating a whole oven just for that, so I put it in the air fryer for 4 minutes. It was a bit crispy, but very good.

Finally, the kit came with a cucumber & tomato salad with a pre-made salad dressing. I don’t like cucumber and my husband doesn’t like tomatoes, so we ate our vegetables separately. The dressing was OK, but didn’t really have much to do with the rest of the meal.

In all, another very good Gobble meal.

Hello Fresh Review: Chicken in Dijon Sauce with Balsamic Greens, Walnuts & Grapes plus Garlic Bread

7/10

Hello Fresh often offers slight variations of the same dishes. I’ve encountered the Dijon sauce in this meal kit as a dill sauce and a chives sauce, both served on chicken breasts. I’m happy to say that the sauce is just as good without the herbs, though the kit makes about half as much sauce as you really need for this dish.

The garlic bread, made on a ciabatta bun, was very good as well – even though I had refrigerated the buns for four days by the time I made it. The reason was probably the copious amount of garlic butter it contained. HelloFresh doesn’t end you butter, so they’re very generous in their recipes with your own supplies. Here, each bun slice asked for a whole tablespoon of butter. Still, at least the results were worth it.

The main reason I’m giving this kit low grades was the salad. It was nothing special and I don’t think it went particularly well with the chicken.

The meal kit was easy enough to make, but the chicken half breasts were too thick to cook in the recommended time – they took me about 15 minutes to cook altogether. The ingredients were fresh, even though I cooked them four days after I received the box.

This post contains a referral link, if you sign up you get a discount and I get a $10 credit. Before you do, though, e-mail me as I may have credit for a free box to be sent to you.

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie chicken. I just saw an ad for something that looked like one and it brought me back to my childhood. The pollos al spiedo going round and around at the window of the rotisería (how else would we call a deli?) kitty corner from my apartment building. The smell and taste were unparalleled and continue to be. I can almost l but not quite, relive them in my memory.

Rotisserie chicken was expensive, plus my mom didn’t eat poultry- a consequence of a childhood cleaning the chickens her doctor father was paid with-, so it was a special treat. In the life of culinary excess we live in America, there are relatively few of those. It was a treat I shared with my dad, who also preferred dark meat but would let my brother and I have the legs anyway. My sister Gabriela would eat the wings.

Later, one of the butchers near my house started selling chicken parts, pollo en presas. So we could all have legs which my dad would grill on the parrilla over wood we’d gathered around (and coal, of course) and we would eat with a squeeze of lemon juice. Not my mom, of course. It was still more expensive than beef, I think.

Review: Gobble’s Pan-Roasted Chicken with Polenta Cakes & Roasted Broccoli

Rating 8/10

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I was not excited when I chose this meal – pan fried chicken? -, but I couldn’t find a third meal that appealed more to my taste. Boy, was I surprised when this ended up being delicious!

The meal included 2 chicken breasts, mushrooms, grape tomatoes and broccoli crows, as well as prepared shallot confit, wine sauce, herbed butter and two premade polenta cakes. Preparation consisted of cutting the veggies, sauteing the chicken, adding the veggies and the confit and then putting all of that in the oven. Meanwhile, I heated the polenta cakes on a pan. After the chicken and veggies were done, I was supposed to transfer them to a plate, and then make a sauce on the pan with the wine sauce, some water and the herbed butter.

While none of this was complicated, it took me 30 minutes from beginning to end, not the promised 15. I am a slow cook, however.

The chicken did not actually cook through in the given time, but the vegetables were ready, so I finished cooking it on the pan I used for the polenta.

The results were pretty delicious. I loved the polenta cakes and the wine sauce, as well as the mushrooms and tomatoes together (I hate broccoli, so I left all of that for my daughter and took her mushrooms, as she doesn’t like them). The chicken was the worse part – as usual for chicken breasts, it was dry. I so prefer chicken thighs!

I also took a point off because this dish required both the stove and the oven. I really don’t see why it couldn’t be cooked stovetop and save the gas and time required to pre-heat the oven, as well as avoiding the heat in the summer month.

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I got this kit for free due to credits and a welcome back promo code. Use this referral link to get a free kit for 2 with your first box.


Note: if you use my referral link I *may* get some credits in return, if I happen to be subscribed to the meal kit service at the exact moment you use the code – which is unlikely.


Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Persian Chicken with Carrots & Jeweled Rice

Rating 8/10

One of the things I like most about cooking from meal kits are the little things I learn that, despite cooking for the last 30 years of my life, I have not figured out on my own. Sometimes they are techniques, and sometimes they are simple recipes. This time, it was a bit of both. I have cooked rice before by sauteing an onion and then the raw rice before adding the water. But I was amazed at what adding just a stick of cinnamon does for rice. It really elevates it to another level. And simmering basmati rice for 10 minutes and then letting steam in its own heat for another 10, is a wonderful technique as well.

In all, this was another winning recipe by Plated. The chicken was good as were the carrots, and it all came well together. My picky 14-yo was happy.

I also loved how Plated sent me all the ingredients I needed, including the flour!

I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, with a welcome back promo, or about $7.65 per person,  which was quite fair for the quality of the food and the convenience.

Meal Kit Hack: Coq au Vin with Bone-In Chicken & Mashed Potatoes

Rating: 7/10

I didn’t get any meal kits this week, so I decided to hack a Home Chef recipe for dinner. I wanted something with chicken, as I’m trying to eat less beef, and this one seemed simple enough. I love coq au vin (which I haven’t made in a while). and while, obviously, you can’t make coq au vin in an hour, I was willing to give this recipe for Coq au Vin with Bone-In Chicken & Mashed Potatoes a try.

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Alas, once I started making it, I realized there wasn’t much to it: you make mashed potatoes, you sear and then bake the chicken, you sautee the mushrooms and pearl onions, you make the 2-two ingredient sauce and voila!

The results were good, but not great – though that may be because I actually used chicken breasts instead of the thighs I prefer and because I didn’t make enough sauce for the massive breasts I got (lord, that sounds dirty!).

The sauce, which was tasty enough, consisted of 2 tsp of chicken demi-glace dissolved in 5 oz of red wine. I used beef demi-glace, as I didn’t have the regular kind.

I also didn’t use pearl onions because Safeway failed to deliver them to me.

In all, I spent $20 to make this meal, which actually fed 3 of us with leftovers (those were really big chicken breasts) – so about 1/3 less of what the meal kit would have cost.

I also went out of my way to look for “antibiotic-free” chicken, only to find out that California passed a law to ban the use of growth-promotion antibiotics in chickens. Antibiotics can only be used if a veterinarian prescribes them to cure a specific ailment. So it would seem that any “antibotic-free” designation on chicken raised in CA is just for advertising purposes. I had wanted to see if antibiotic-free chicken tasted better than regular chicken, and obviously I found out it didn’t.

I did find out, though, that searing the chicken skin-side-down for a couple of minutes and then baking it at 400F, leaves you with a very nice crispy chicken skin.

Refrigerated Meal Review: Heat.Eat.Done Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta

Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta Review

Last week I found this refrigerated tray meal for Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta at Grocery Outlet, and decided to give it a try. I love chicken marsala. At $5 for what is really a portion for one person (unless you are eating something else), it’s not exactly cheap for a pre-made, refrigerated meal, specially when bought at a bargain store, but I figured it was worth a try. Unfortunately, that was all that it was worth.

The chicken in the dish was incredibly dry. Now, this is very unusual for microwavable meals, but somehow Heat.Eat.Done managed it. The sauce also didn’t actually taste of Marsala wine – it lacked the sweetness of the wine -, and it was too liquidy and tasteless. I would not buy it again.