Where to Eat in Galveston- The Mosquito Café

To name a restaurant the Mosquito Café may seem a bit odd, but when you’re in Galveston, odd is pretty common.  And usually, odd is tied to a bit of history.  This holds true with the tasty local favorite, The Mosquito Café.  You will still find the Mosquito Fleet docked in Galveston.  These are the local shrimp boats.  They were named this because the rigging makes them look like mosquitos.


Your taste buds will thank you for seeing past an odd name because the food that is served at the corner of Winnie and 14th street is out of this world.  As you might have guessed, the seafood is local.  The breads, including the hamburger buns, are baked locally across the street.  Patty Cakes bakery is another perfect spot but that is a subject for another day.  You really can’t go wrong when choosing off the menu.


There are many healthy choices that are not lacking in flavor and textures.  If you are traveling, finding healthy options is sometimes a challenge, so put the Mosquito Cafe on your itinerary.


Now, if you aren’t so committed to a low carb diet, you really need to get the bacon cheeseburger.  It is the best on the island- trust me, I have done my research.  You will also like the Island Jammer, made with the above-mentioned shrimp and a freshly baked hoagie roll.  On the lighter side, the salmon cooked whichever way you choose is perfect. The turkey chili is fantastic and even better served over the top of a baked potato.  There are several pasta dishes as well as comfort food like meatloaf.  Really, you can’t go wrong.


Breakfast is something that the Mosquito has down to an art.  The cheesy shrimp and grits are 100% southern.  Again, best grits on the island.  The breakfast bowl is one of the many excellent dishes that will start your day the right way.  We usually eat breakfast when we go.

Shrimp and Grits
Breakfast Bowl

Where To Eat In Galveston- The Gypsy Joynt

If you like off-beat and funky, Galveston is the place for you.  If you love good food served with a funky vibe, the Gypsy Joynt is the place for you. It’s not surprising to learn that the Gypsy Joynt got its start in Austin.  It’s still one of the best-kept secrets in Galveston. 

Located off the Strand in downtown Galveston, this jewel is tucked away a little further down Market Street than most people go.  And this is okay with us locals because we like not having to wait for hours to get our food!


The great folks are run a wonderful restaurant and really give back to the people of Galveston.  They also source their seafood locally which is very cool.


Speaking of seafood, my favorite dish is the Oscar Ocean. This sandwich has a homemade bun, pesto, balsamic vinegar dressing, veggies, and grilled fish.  the menu consists of a mix of traditional foods like chicken strips and mac and cheese along with crazy combinations of seafood and veggies.  The pizzas are the things dreams are made of- if you dream about food, which I do.  The deserts are AMAZING!


We love this spot!

Gratin Dauphinois- The Best Potatoes!

Food is essential to romance. Regardless of where the food comes from- a fancy restaurant, a cool dinner, or from home. The old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” has a lot of truth to it. I don’t know many women who are impervious to a man who cooks for her- or at least brings her tacos.

In A Marine for Christmas, Lucas is no different. Dixie blows his mind with Gratin Dauphinois and Beef Carbonnade. What good love story doesn’t have good food? I love cooking, I love growing food, and I love serving that food to those I love. So, my characters do as well. I hope you enjoy the recipe I have included for you!

You could call these scalloped potatoes, but Gratin Dauphinois has so much more flair!  It is hard to go wrong with potatoes, they are a humble food from the earth that need only a little dressing up.  You will be hard pressed to find a menu that can’t be complimented with a potato dish.  With the potatoes cooked in the oven with milk/cream, butter and a little garlic, the simplicity is deceptive.  This taste is subtle but engaging, the texture is smooth, and the experience is wonderful.

This dish complimented the Beef Carbonnade the family greatly enjoyed at our Christmas Dinner.  There was not a bit left after dinner, always a compliment to the cook!  Unless of course there is none left because the cook did a poor job of planning for her guests, but that was not the case- this time.

The humble potato!

Gratin Dauphinois

3 pounds of boiling potatoes– peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (the food processor works great for this)

1 cup of whole milk – I like to mix 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup cream- adds to the richness and wonderful texture.

1 clove garlic– pressed and spread on bottom of a buttered flame proof baking dish- I prefer a deep dish 9 inch cast iron skillet

3 tablespoons of butter plus more for greasing the bottom of the dish.

Once you have buttered the cast iron skillet and spread the pressed garlic, place the potatoes in the skillet spreading in layers.

Season the milk with salt and pepper, pour over potatoes.  Add more cream until the milk is 3/4 of the way up.  Place on burner and heat just to a simmer- this is a very important step so that the liquid and potatoes come together in the oven.

Distribute 3 tablespoons of butter (real butter, not margarine) on top of potatoes.

Bake in a 425′ oven for about 25 minutes- until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender.

Serve and be happy!  That is some flat out good food!  Great food does not have to be complicated to be wonderful.

Where To Eat In Galveston: The Black Pearl

The Black Pearl Oyster Bar sits at the corner of 23rd Street and Market.   It also sits at the corner of delicious and amazing.  With seafood favorites and a Cajun Flair, there is no reason not to hit this place when you are in Galveston.

The Black Pearl is located in the historic Strand District and is a Galveston staple.  I, personally, would eat there just because of the name. It makes me think of pirates and given that a bona fide pirate, Jean Lafitte, once called Galveston home- well, what’s not to love.  Thankfully, you won’t be disappointed when you taste the food.

As the full name implies, they serve LOTS of oysters in many different ways. They are definitely a fan favorite.  I, however, am not an oyster fan so that is not why I go there.  They serve the best Boudin balls on the island.  The homemade remoulade sauce that comes with those delightful things is also fantastic.  The shrimp po’boys are amazing and enough for two, also served with that tasty remoulade sauce.

I always have a hard time choosing between the seafood platter and the shrimp po’boy.  So, I recommend going with a friend that way you can share plates and you don’t actually have to choose.  If seafood isn’t your thing, they offer a great hamburger, chicken alfredo, and several great salads.

Another great thing about this restaurant is that they buy the seafood local whenever possible so you are supporting the local fisherman whenever you eat this great food.

So, next time you are on this great island, check out the Black Pearl. You’ll be glad you did!

What is your favorite food stop in Galveston?

Where To Eat In Galveston, Texas

So, I want to tell you about my favorite restaurant in Galveston. But then again, I don’t. I like knowing the local spots and if any more people find out about this gem, then I will have to wait longer. But then again, I live here full time and I can eat when all the tourist have gone home and the island settles into the off-season.

Here it is- Miller’s Seawall Grill

Their gumbo is the best on the island. A cool thing they do is to offer samples before you order. This way, you know you like it before you order. And that is great because gumbo is a controversial kind of food. How ever your grandma made it- that is the way it should be. But everybody’s grandmother makes gumbo differently. Its one of those types of foods that there isn’t a recipe written in stone, you just add a bit of this and a pinch of that.

The waffles they serve are the best I have ever had in my life! Seriously, they are fluffy and crisp on the edges. They serve it with melted butter and syrup. Yeah, not gonna lose weight on this meal, but you will enjoy it all the way down to your toes. They serve breakfast all day.

The rest of their menu is so good. Lots of comfort food and basic seafood- all of it cooked well. The fish is great grilled or fried, same for the shrimp. If you are not a seafood lover, that is okay. Their chicken fried stead is huge and delicious. The au gratin potatoes are yummy and my preferred side of choice. Dinner plates are $10.00 and that, my friend, is a steal on the island.

Not only is the food scrumptious, but the atmosphere is incredible. Sherry, the manager, and her staff are awesome. The design of the restaurant allows every table to have a view of the water. The location on Seawall means that you can enjoy the views of the water while you wait for your table. During the summer and most weekends year-round, there will be a wait of at least 30 minutes and as much as an hour and a half. But the wait is worth it.

One day, I might share a local hack so that you know where to eat that doesn’t have the long waits that the Seawall locations have, but not today.

The One Thing The Food Industry Won’t Tell You

Slate’ Criticizes the ‘Home-Cooked Family Dinner’: Joel Salatin Responds

Tags: Joel Salatin, family dinner, home cooking, Slate

Victimhood escalates to stratospheric whining with Amanda Marcotte’s recent Slate post titled Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner.

Joel SalatinThe piece concluded more often than not family members (especially the male ones) were ingrates and, generally, home-cooked meals were too stressful, expensive, time-consuming, and utensil-dependent to be worthy of the trouble.

Marcotte’s indictment of what she considers a romanticized cultural icon certainly speaks volumes about where our cultural mainstream food values reside. Indeed, the average American is probably far more interested and knowledgeable about the latest belly-button piercing in Hollywood celebrity culture than what will become flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone at 6 p.m.

In the circles I run in and market to, the home-cooked meal is revered as the ultimate expression of food integrity. The home-cooked meal indicates a reverence for our bodies’ fuel, a respect for biology, and a committed remedial spirit toward all the shenanigans in our industrial, pathogen-laden, nutrient-deficient food-and-farming system.

I would imagine most of the ungrateful males in these families watch TV or see a lot of food ads on their computers. You won’t find integrity food advertised on TV or pop-culture web sites. It’ll be a steady brainwash of junk food, convenience, highly processed food-like materials. That we can physically chew and swallow the stuff does not make it desirable for our bodies.

Further, since when are women the only ones who are supposed to shoulder the burden for integrity food? Why doesn’t Marcotte, rather than whining about unappreciated women, write instead about families who seem to think sports leagues and biggest-screen TVs are more important than health? Who think pharmaceutical companies are responsible for wellness?  Who think no difference exists between factory chickens and pastured chickens?

Here’s the question I would like to ask these families: “Are you spending time or money on anything unnecessary?” Cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, lottery tickets, People Magazine, TV, cell phone, soccer games, potato chips . . . ?  Show me the household devoid of any of these luxuries, then let’s talk. Otherwise, you’re just unwilling to do what’s more important, which is provide for the health of your family and your environment. That’s a personal choice, and one that’s entirely within your control.

I’m amazed at the difficult situations I hear about in which people do indeed rise to the occasion. Whether it’s sprouting mung beans or alfalfa seeds in a quart jar on the windowsill or buying grain by the bushel, resourceful, can-do people committed to changing their situation figure out a way to do it.

For Marcotte to accept irresponsibility this easily underscores a profound courage deficiency. Turn off the TV, get out of the car, get off the phone and get in the kitchen — men, women and children. The most expensive potatoes in the nation are cheaper by the pound than the cheapest potato chips. Ditto healthful ground beef from pastured cattle versus fast-food burgers.  

With slow cookers, indoor plumbing, timed-bake and refrigerators, today’s techno-enabled kitchens allow busy people to cook from scratch and eat with integrity far easier than during Great Grandma’s time. She had to fetch water from the spring, split stove wood, start a fire and churn the butter and she still managed to feed a large family very well. If our generation can’t do at least as well with our 40-hour work week and kitchen tech, then we deserve to eat adulterated pseudo food that sends us to an early grave. I don’t know that anyone’s children deserve this, however.

While extreme hardship does certainly exist — and my heart breaks for impoverished people who truly have no resources — let’s not excuse the other 98 percent from their responsibility on that account. If everyone who could do something would do it, perhaps we would all have enough left over to help the egregious hardship cases. Soccer moms driving their kiddos half a day one way to a tournament, stopping at the drive-by for “chicken” nuggets, and then dismissing the kitchen as “too stressful” is an upside-down value system. And how many of the men whining about not liking what they’re being fed spend their Saturdays on the riding mower managing a monoculture, fertilized ecological-dead-zone of a suburban lawn, rather than using their resources to grow something nutritious for their families and wholesome for the planet? When do we start talking about them? Hmmmmm?

Photo by Richard Lord: Joel Salatin raises pastured poultry and grass-fed beef at Polyface Farms in Swoope, Va.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/slate-family-dinner-zb0z1409zsie.aspx#ixzz3Ckxhk96M

Gratin Dauphinois- A Fancy Name For A Flat Out Good Potato

The humble potato!
The humble potato!

You could call these scalloped potatoes, but Gratin Dauphinois has so much more flair!  It is hard to go wrong with potatoes, they are a humble food from the earth that need only a little dressing up.  You will be hard pressed to find a menu that can’t be complimented with a potato dish.  With the pototoes cooked in the oven with milk/cream, butter and a little garlic, the simplicity is deceptive.  This taste is subtle but engaging, the texture is smooth, and the experience is wonderful.

This dish complimented the Beef Carbonnade the family greatly enjoyed at our Christmas Dinner.  There was not a bit left after dinner, always a compliment to the cook!  Unless of course there is none left because the cook did a poor job of planning for her guests, but that was not the case- this time.

 

 

 

Gratin Dauphinois

3 pounds of boiling potatoes– peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (the food processor works great for this)

1 cup of whole milk – I like to mix 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup cream- adds to the richness and wonderful texture.

1 clove garlic– pressed and spread on bottom of a buttered flame proof baking dish- I prefer a deep dish 9 inch cast iron skillet

3 tablespoons of butter plus more for greasing the bottom of the dish.

Once you have buttered the cast iron skillet and spread the pressed garlic, place the potatoes in the skillet spreading in layers.

Season the milk with salt and pepper, pour over potatoes.  Add more cream until the milk is 3/4 of the way up.  Place on burner and heat just to a simmer- this is a very important step so that the liquid and potatoes come together in the oven.

Distribute 3 tablespoons of butter (real butter, not margarine) on top of potatoes.

Bake in a 425′ oven for about 25 minutes- until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender.

 

Serve and be happy!  That is some flat out good food!  Great food does not have to be complicated to be wonderful.

 

 

Beef Carbonnade- Flat Out Good Food

This beef in beer stew is just flat out good.
This beef in beer stew is just flat out good.

I have a thing for cookbooks.  Some people have a hard time passing up a great pair of shoes, I have a hard time passing up an appealing cookbook.  More often than not, I only try a handful of recipes but if I find one outstanding recipe that makes the book purchase more than worth it.  Two years ago I picked up a cookbook, The Food Of France.  The book was worth the price just for the pictures. However, I found many good recipes in this book and one of them I choose for our Christmas Dinner- Beef Carbonnade.

Beef Carbonnade is a simple dish with only a few ingredients.  What makes this just so good is that the beef is cooked slow so that it is so tender it melts in your mouth with such deep flavor coming from the onion, garlic, herbs and beer.  You need to have the beer to make this recipe taste so good you remember it for a long time.  If you must, you can switch the beer for beef broth, but this will give you a dish that, while still good, is not really all that memorable.

Following is the recipe, however, not exactly like it was in the book.  I know, I am not even French and I am tweaking their recipes- I just can’t help myself.  However, what I changed was the amount of food.  This recipe will feed 6 were as the one in the book will only feed four.  I did also change the amount of garlic.  One clove is never enough. The recipe below calls for 6 onions- these are medium size onions.  If you have been to the Farmer’s Market and have come home with onions the size of large grapefruits you can use 4 of those if you want.  The onions cook down in to this thick sauce that is just mouthwatering good especially when soaked up with some wonderful french bread.  So, the more the better.  I use a cast iron dutch oven, but you can use whatever you have in your kitchen.

Beef Carbonnade

1 oz butter (real butter, not margarine)

Cubed Beef- so glad I have kitchen help- Jonathan- for this step
Cubed Beef- so glad I have kitchen help- Jonathan- for this step

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

5-6 lb beef rump roast or chuck roast- cubed 1 inch in size

6 onions

5 garlic cloves – crushed

2 tsp of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of plain flour

4 cups of beer (one of the large single cans of a malt beer works great)

4 bay leaves

a small bunch of thyme sprigs

1 loaf of really good french bread

Preheat the oven to 300′    Melt butter in a large skillet with a tablespoon of oil.  Brown the meat in batches over high heat and lift out onto a plate

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, reduce heat to medium.  Add onion and cook for 10 minutes. Add garlic and sugar and cook for another 5 minutes, adding oil by the tablespoon if necessary.  Lift onion out onto a second plate.

Stirring in the flour after the beef and onion have been cooked.
Stirring in the flour after the beef and onion have been cooked.

Reduce heat to low and pour any juices that have drained off of the meat, then stir in the flour.

Remove from the heat and stir in the beer a little at a time stirring well, the beer will foam.  Return to heat and let the mixture gently simmer and thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

layer meat and onion in a dutch oven, tucking the bay leaves and thyme in between the layers. Season with salt and pepper as you go.

Pour liquid over the meat, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2.5-3 hours or until the meat is tender.

Serve with the sliced french bread toasted lightly on both sides.

This main dish goes great with potatoes of any kind, green beans  or sweet peas.

Chicken & Dumplins- Now that is comfort food!

Did someone say "Chicken & Dumplings"?
Did someone say “Chicken & Dumplings”?

A favorite food of the whole family is chicken and dumplings.  No matter the size of the pot, the pot will be empty.  As a matter of fact, no holiday meal is complete without this dish and  much to my surprise, not all families feel this way about dumplings.  I was shocked the first holiday that I spent with my new in-laws and found that they did not serve dumplings with the dinner.    Well then, I decided to make them and bring them as my contribution to the holiday dinners.  It’s funny, now there is another family that expects the chicken and dumplings to be at the holiday dinners.  Of course you do not need a holiday to eat good food and this dish is so great on cold winter evenings.

To get the best results, use the homemade biscuit dough recipe below for the dumplings.  There are plenty of short-cut recipes that use canned biscuits or tortillas, all I can say is YUCK!  It may take time but good food is worth the time.  Really, its not just food you are making, but memories as well.  It is worth taking time to do it right.  The recipe is simple and easy no need for shortcuts.  Also, cooking time is really important once you drop the dough in and put the lid on the pot.  The one common thing I hear when people talk to me about making dumplings is that the dumplings cook away.  The problem is simple- you cooked it too long.  That is why you put the lid on for 10 minutes, no longer.  You will be glad you cooked from scratch when you see your family’s happy faces.

From our family to yours- below is a recipe that is our family favorite.
Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 tsp Poultry seasoning
2 tsp Fresh Sage (dried is fine if you do not have fresh, reduce to 1 tsp)
Salt and pepper to taste
Biscuit dough (recipe below)

Place chicken in a large stock pot or dutch oven.  Cover with water to about 3 inches above the bird.
Boil until chicken easily pulls of the bone- about 1hr- 1 1/2 hrs.
Remove chicken from pot and let cool.  Pull chicken from bone and discard the skin and bones.
These steps can be done in advance and let cool in the refrigerator or freeze the shredded chicken and broth in freezer until you are ready to cook.

Once the chickens is shredded return to the pot and bring to a rolling boil on high heat.  Once boiling rapidly, drop the biscuit dough in by the spoonfuls, how large of dumplins depends on your family preference.  After adding the dough, dump the contents left in the bowl of dough into the pot.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Boil for 10 minutes, do not lift the lid and remove from heat after 10 minutes.

Serve once cool enough to handle.

Biscuit Dough:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp of baking powder
5 tbsp of butter or Crisco
1 cup of buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter until there are small pea-size bits of butter.  Stir in milk.  If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add 1 tsp of vinegar to one cup milk.
The dough will be very wet.  Now for dumplins, sprinkle a liberal amount of flour over the top.  Now pinch off pieces about the size of a large marble.  The extra flour keeps the dough from sticking to your fingers and adds lose flour to the broth that will thicken it.