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Counter and Coppa on DM This Weekend

Our 21st Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It! 

HOUSTON Saturdays and Sunday 4-5 p.m., NewsRadio 740 KTRH

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

SATURDAY: We’ve always loved a good burger – and will probably still enjoy a not-so-good one too – so we’ve been intrigued in recent years by the so-called “better burger” movement. A milestone in this trend is Counter Burger on Houston’s hip Washington Avenue, and we get comfy with the ownership to taste and hear all about why. In our Grape & Grain segment, we sample the many-splendored tequilas of Casa Noble. 

SUNDAY: One of the biggest hits in local restaurant history was Catalan, so a lot of Houstonians were curious what would happen when owners Charles Clark and Grant Cooper shut that place down to open a contemporary Italian eatery called Coppa. We do a tasting with chef Brandi Key and manager Brad Busenius to see what all the fresh excitement is about. We also taste and talk about some remarkable wines in our Grape & Grain segment.

 

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Anything that shows up in a casing – that’s what the Austin downtown eatery called Frank is all about. And frankly, based on a couple of recent visits, we are impressed. We sit down with the guy in charge of the vision and hear exactly why Austin needed a restaurant concept devoted to all forms of hot dogs and sausage. Not that we required much convincing, mind you. In our Grape & Grain segment, we sample the many-splendored tequilas of Casa Noble. 

This Week’s Delicious Mischief Recipe

JOHN’S HOT AND SOUR SOUP 

I hate to break this news to you, but Paul Prudhomme is not Chinese. Still, the other night I prepared Chinese hot and sour soup using as many lessons as I could remember learning from Chef Paul many years ago in New Orleans. Why use one kind of pepper, he’d ask, when it’s better to use several? Why use one form of garlic, he’d ask, when it’s better to use several? The result is more and better flavors that stroke different taste buds on a different schedule. In fact, that’s always the result when we let the Cajun master power how we think about and make our food.

¼ pound pork tenderloin or chop, sliced into thin 1-inch boneless strips

1 teaspoon dry sherry

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons dried black cloud/wood’s ear mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon shiracha chile garlic paste (more if desired)

1 cup Asian mushrooms, such as straw or shiitake, or mixed

½ cup sliced bamboo shoots

1 quart chicken broth

1 square firm tofu, cut into strips

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar 

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in water

1 egg, beaten

Chopped green onions 

Marinate the pork in sherry and 1 tablespoon soy sauce for about 30 minutes. Combine dried mushrooms in a bowl with water to rehydrate, then drain and slice. Heat the oil in a large pan or pot and stirfry the strips till lightly browned. Stir in onion, garlic, ginger, onion and garlic powders, crushed red pepper and shiracha. Add the two kinds of mushrooms to heat through, along with the bamboo shoots. Pour in the broth, followed by the tofu, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and the vinegars. Add more vinegar if desired. Bring to a low boil and add the cornstarch, bubbling until soup thickens. Add beaten egg, stirring gently once. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve. Serves 6.

 

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About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

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