Monday, November 16, 2009

Beer Cheese

We brought this to the Beer-themed Food Bloggers' Potluck and served it again at Han's birthday party last week and both times it seemed to go over really well. At Han's birthday specifically, the whole bowl was gone before all the guests had arrived, and at both events, I had people asking me for the recipe.
Here's a secret though: I'm not really a good cook, and so to have anyone compliment me on something I made... I didn't really know how to handle it so I'm pretty sure I just muttered something.

So with football season in full swing and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it's be good to just post the recipe here, in plain-text un-muttered print.

2 16-oz packages of cream cheese
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1/3 cup of dark or flavorful beer (I use Saint Arnold Lawnmower)
1 cup shredded cheese

Mix the cream cheese, ranch dressing, and beer together in a bowl. Once the cheese has softened and has mixed completely with the beer and cheese mix, mix in half of the shredded cheese,

(Optional: add some fresh rosemary or oregano for extra flavor, or add some crushed red pepper to make it a little spicier.)

Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese on top and serve!

This dip goes really well with mini pretzels, but we also discovered and recommend spreading it on a water cracker and top with a pepperoni.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fortune Chinese Seafood

Located up in the North Lamar "Chinatown," Fortune Chinese Seafood has opened up to one of the bigger buzzes for an Austin-area Asian restaurant in recent memory.

We've gotten a couple of opportunities to check this place out, once for dinner and the other for dim sum. We liked what we had so far and will definitely be returning for further investigation.

Our first dinner trip followed a grocery trip to MT Supermarket. The Singapore Fried Vermicelli (yellow stir-fry rice noodles with onions and chicken) were pretty good, about as good as you'd expect from a decent Chinese restaurant. But the real rock star was the frog legs: a holy marriage between lemongrass and straight butter. Healthy eaters beware! You'll eat and eat these tender tasty morsels until all of a sudden you feel like you're sweating butter. And yes, they do taste like chicken.

We ended up also going back for a happy hour there where we got to try some of their dim sum dishes, which was also not a disappointment. I believe the dim sum restaurants should be rated like figure skating scores: you get a score for your fundamentals (dishes that all good dim sum restaurants should do and do well) and a score for your "style points" (more adventurous dishes that you would only find at a truly good dim sum restaurant).

The happy hour dim sum they served was an excellent showing of the restaurant's fundamentals: "shao mai" (pork and shrimp dumplings), "xia gou" or "ha gow" (shrimp wrapped in rice paper), and "cha shao bao" (BBQ pork buns). If you are a dim sum newbie, these are three popular dishes to order to get a good taste of what the concept is about.

And, perhaps the owners had a 6th sense for this, but they also served out egg custards, my favorite dim sum dessert from when I was a child. Also thumbs up.

We didn't get a chance to try any of their "style" dishes, but from the looks of their menu, there will be plenty to choose from the next time we go in. Among the ones I'm most looking forward to are the "xiao long bao" (soup-filled shrimp dumplings), chicken feet, and Han's favorite, the taro shrimp balls.

Not to be understated of all this, though, is that Fortune is a really nice restaurant inside with a full bar, and most of their dishes are $12.95 or under (unless you are ordering the shark fin soup), making them an excellent choice, especially if you are dining on a budget.

Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant
10901 N. Lamar Blvd, Suite A-1-501