Saturday, July 2, 2011

Trip Report #4: Get Your Goat

The only thing more fun than discovering new taste treats at a restaurant is finding a way to recreate them at home. Mission accomplished! The Hotel Contessa is one of the Riverwalk’s most wonderful hotels and the restaurant, Las Ramblas, makes a yummy cheesecake out of…goat cheese! Topped with a sweet caramel Cajeta, it has a little  tang, a little something extra to set it apart from regular cheesecakes. I would have included a picture, but the family was all over this last night. Only the crumbs remain.
How about a quick ingredient lesson?
Cajeta, or leche quemada, is made by simmering goat’s milk and sugar. If you do the same thing with cow’s milk you end up with dulce de leche. Cajeta has that characteristic tang that makes the flavor a little more complex than just overwhelmingly sweet. I bought this from HEB and used it straight out of the jar. Great topping for cheesecake and whatever else you’d like to sweeten up.
Goat Cheese Cheesecake
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. sugar
6 T. melted butter
Combine and line the bottom and sides of a 9” springform pan. Hint: Use a straight sided beverage glass to smooth the crumbs into the bottom of the pan where it meets the sides. This makes for a nice and even crust, which in turn makes for prettier slices.
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. goat cheese (do NOT buy anything flavored with basil, sun dried tomatoes,  or habanero peppers. Please.)
12 oz. sour cream
4 eggs
1 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
Blend the softened cheeses in a mixer. Add the sour cream and eggs. Blend until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla.
Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. You will have much better results if you put your springform pan, lined with foil, into a roasting pan and pour boiling water halfway up the sides. A water bath keeps the cheesecake from over baking and cracking.
Cool on the counter then refrigerate at least 6 hours. Drizzle with Cajeta before serving.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trip Report #3: Flour Power

We didn’t plan this, but somehow we managed to fit in some wild “flours” at almost every stop.
1. The Creekhaven Inn in Wimberley is situated on Mill Race Ln. Know what a “mill race” is? It’s a specially dug trench for allowing water to flow downhill, enough to power the mill wheel. This particular one is a state historical landmark dating back to the early 1850’s when the town was named Winter’s Mill. Beautiful spot for walking and exploring. Plenty of deer to keep you company!
2. In San Antonio we visited the historic Guenther House, owned by the founders of Pioneer Flour Mills. The tour is free, there’s a cute little gift shop, and there’s even a restaurant if you’ve worked up an appetite. While you’re there, be sure to take a drive around the historic King William neighborhood, if you’re hooked on houses that is.
3. Mission San Jose in San Antonio contains a replica of a working grist mill. More wheels, more water, more wheat. Fascinating history lesson!
4. Guess where we ate lunch one day? The Gristmill in Gruene!gristmill
Up Next: Get Your Goat

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trip Report #2: Wild About Texas

More fun in the Hill Country.
You’ve heard of The Horse Whisperer? What about The Boot Whisperer? That’s right, step into  The Wild West Store in downtown Wimberley and the owner will “read” your feet. With nary a measuring device in sight, she will bring several pairs of boots that fit both your feet and your budget. Her collection is vintage, funky, and made the way boots should be. The leather is broken in and buttery soft.  (Note to self: One day I will own a pair of Lucchese boots. One day.)
Is everything bigger in Texas? The outlet malls sure are! You could spend a week here but, hey, I know my husband’s limits so we made a quick trip for just essentials: Disney Store (1 princess dress for the grand-princess), Pottery Barn (if 400 count sheets are your thing), and Crate and Barrel (just because).
Lunch? Chicken Fried Steak of course. Best to enjoy this while sitting outside in the shade, watching folks tube down the Guadalupe River. Willie & Waylon in the background and the state’s oldest dancehall right next door.
guene hall
Up Next: Flour Power

Monday, June 27, 2011

Trip Report #1: La Bella Vita

Our Hill Country vacation felt like a little bit of Italy – right here in the Lone Star State.
The Creekhaven Inn’s Treehouse Suite featured an Italian themed, painted cupola surrounding a luxurious spa tub. (Who needs Calgon?!)
TX-Wimberley-Creekhaven Innbedroom
For a fun afternoon, we took a tour of the Bella Vista Olive farm and tasted the locally grown oil. The lime infused version found its way home with us, along with a bar of pear scented Castilian soap.
For a different kind of tasting? The Duchman Winery is down the road in Driftwood. And right next door…
We saved room for dinner….and dessert. The Mandola family’s Trattoria Lisina reminds us why this family = Italian cooking. Osso Bucco, Prosciutto, Espresso Afogato. I’m just gonna say it…Mamma Mia!
Up next: Wild About Texas