Happy New Years! What’s for Dinner?

As long as I can remember on New Years Eve my family would order Chinese food and ring in the new year with some General Tso’s chicken and a few Crab Wontons. Five years ago my wife and I moved to Texas from the Boston area and to our surprise… No one in Texas orders Chinese food on New Years Eve! Eating Chinese food on News Years Eve is a regional tradition of just the New England area. My question to you is simple. What will you be eating tonight as you watch the ball drop?

Update – It appears eating black eyed peas is quite popular here in the South. It only took me 5 years to recognize this.

Trailer Food – Austin, Texas – Flip Happy Crepes

Did you know Austin, Texas is known for their trailer food? Gourmet food served out of food trucks and trailers. I had no idea until a friend of mine told me while I was in town on business. Trailer food or food served out of a kitchen on wheels, has become popular over the last few years. In Los Angeles, California gourmet food trucks are becoming all the rage. Talented chefs are giving up restaurant gigs to drive trucks and cook great food. Multiple food trucks or trailers will park together in one area creating a “trailer park.” Some of the food trucks serve appetizers, while others serve main courses and desert – perfect!

This Fall while in Austin, Texas I was able to grab some grub from several food trucks and trailers. These food trucks are not the sketchy looking taco trucks that might come to mind. I enjoyed trailer food from Torchy’s Tacos and Flip Happy Crepes. At Torchy’s Tacos I enjoyed a hand battered fried avocado taco.  Torchy’s Tacos were very good, but Flip Happy Crepes was outstanding!

At Flip Happy Crepes I enjoyed the Cuban – Shredded pork with cheddar cheese, pickles and tabasco sauce while my wife couldn’t say enough about her choice, Ham and gruyere cheese with green onions. My son enjoyed a Nutella roll-up. We had to try two sweet crepes, right? We went with a Banana’s Foster crepe and the Vanilla pastry cream with fresh berries and berry sauce. They were all absolutely delicious! There is a reason why Bobby Flay challenged the girls at Flip Happy Crepes to a Throwdown, because they really are the best of the best when it comes to crepes. If you are in Austin, Texas you have to go to Flip Happy Crepes. If you do, let us know what you think. I’m pretty sure you will find them outstanding too.

Ham & Gruyere – Really good, smooth! A little sprinkle of nutmeg made this crepe unique

Cuban – Shredded Pork & Cheddar – The pickles made it! Great texture

Vanilla pastry cream w/ fresh berries – Another Please!

Banana’s Foster

This was served as the sweet crepe in the Throwdown vs. Bobby Flay


– Flip Happy Crepes

– Torchy Tacos

Throwdown – Bobby Flay vs. Flip Happy Crepes

San Marzano Marinara Sauce

Grown in the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius, the San Marzano Tomatoes are similar to fine dark chocolate, they are rich in flavor, more expensive and high quality. Legend has it, that the San Marzano tomato came to Campania, Italy in 1770 as a gift from Peru. These tomatoes are sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes, making them perfect for a simple marinara sauce.

Americans love to add ingredients on top of ingredients. Italian cooking is all about simplicity and showcasing one or two ingredients. When it comes to marinara sauce there is no better ingredient to showcase than the San Marzano tomato. The price of these tomatoes are about $5 for a large 28oz can compared to $2 for a large 28oz can of plum tomatoes. The extra $3 is well worth it and won’t break the bank. Good cooking starts with great ingredients. Brands available in supermarkets include Cento, Nina, La Bella, Solinia, Vantia, and Strianese. If you can’t get San Marzano tomatoes don’t bother making this sauce, it just won’t be the same.

Serves 4

Ingredients –

1 28oz Can of San Marzano Tomatoes
1 15oz Can of Hunts Tomato Sauce
1/2 of a Medium sized Yellow Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
Fresh Basil
Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper
2 Table Spoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Table Spoon Butter
1lbs Pasta – spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine

Heat a 4qt sauce pan and add the olive oil and butter. Rough chop the onion and add to a food processor. Chop the onion until very fine but not pureed. Add the onion to the hot oil and butter. Add the garlic to the food processor and chop very fine. Once the onion becomes translucent add the garlic to the pan with the onion, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the garlic softens. Don’t let the garlic darken.

Add the San Marzano Tomatoes, the Tomato sauce and stir. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to crush the San Marzano tomatoes, until the sauce is smooth with no large chunks. Simmer the sauce for an additional 20 – 30 minutes and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add several large basil leaves torn or Julienned.

I prefer to serve this sauce over spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine. Homemade pasta or fresh pasta, such as Buitoni is great too! Cook your pasta according to the package and drain. Promptly after draining add your pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is fully coated. Plate the pasta and shred 1 – 2 tbs of parmesan cheese over the pasta and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!