This week, we've got a review of an unusual Houston brunch, as well as a few simple recipes and one food blogger's top five Houston restaurants.
The Urban Swank Girls paid a visit to Monarch Bistro at Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main, to check out the new spring menu – and, incidentally, revisit the spot where Urban Swank was born. They say that, while Monarch has been in a bit of a rut lately, the spring menu brings back the wow factor with dishes like mussels with tasso ham, preserved Meyer lemon and chives, as well as crispy, Thai-style cauliflower.
Did you know that Kentucky has its own signature stew, much like Louisiana is known for its gumbo? Don't tell anyone, but we didn't, either. It's called burgoo, and it's a thick, chili-like stew with gamey meat and tons of vegetables and legumes. Garden & Gun's Daily Shot blog shared a recipe for authentic burgoo from Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Kentucky. Be sure you leave plenty of time to make it – it needs at least four hours to simmer – and you might want to consider skipping the frozen peas for awhile.
Anastasia of It's Not Hou It's Me thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday brunch at Andes Cafe, 2311 Canal, including fresh cachapas, or sweet corn pancakes filled with cheese, a hardboiled egg sandwich and other South American breakfast fare. She says the menu does a great job of explaining the dishes, so don't worry if you don't know what tigrillo or pabellón criollo are, because you won't be lost at all. She also recommends that you get a fresh-squeezed juice with your meal, and, if you find yourself at the Downtown Houston Farmers Market, you can find a stand from the cafe there, too, with all the cachapas you could desire.
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The latest recipe from Bev of Bev Cooks is one of those amazing shortcut recipes that involve buying cooked chicken and making something even better from it. This buffalo chicken wrap bake starts with buying your favorite fried chicken tenders (hello, Frenchy's), cutting them up and putting them into tortillas with hot sauce, ranch dressing, cheese and some choice vegetables, then throwing the whole thing into the oven. Easy, delicious and perfect for last-minute entertaining.
If you're really big on making your food at home, you might want to consider making your own mayonnaise, if you haven't already. Of course, it won't keep as long as the packaged stuff, but it will lack all those pesky preservatives. Check out Ali Miller's recipe for homemade mayo to help you get started; her version uses olive oil, plus apple cider vinegar to give it a bit stronger flavor.
Finally, Houston Fed has been counting down his top 50 Houston restaurants for a while now, and he's finally reached numbers one through five. He's also got some lessons to share about the entire process, such as how difficult honest, critical food writing can be, as well as how much service really does change a diner's impression of the meal. As for his top picks, you'll have to check out his list and see them for yourself.
That's it for this week in Houston food blogs! Let us know if you have a favorite blog you'd like to see featured here by leaving us a comment or sending us an email.