Donna Cooks

I’m Still Alive… and Loving Muscat Grape Season
March 25, 2007, 3:58 pm
Filed under: 15-Second Rave

I haven’t posted in over two weeks, but I’m still alive and well!  A spring break trip to England and Scotland for 9 days spanned most of that time (look for related food travelogues coming soon!), and I’ve spent the rest catching up on errands, work, and school work.

I did manage to make it to Central Market to see what kinds of exciting produce is available this season (after 9 days of eating cream, butter, and gravy heavy foods, I was like a child in a candy store with the wide variety of fresh locally grown produce at Central Market).  My excitement peaked when I turned the corner from tomatoes and potatoes to fruits.  It’s muscat grape season, folks.


I first discovered the joy of the muscat grape last year when a trip to Central Market introduced me to these tiny bursts of delightful, slightly tart, sweetness.  What makes this grape so different from a regular white grape?  It’s smaller, sweeter, thinner skinned, and wine aficionados will immediately recognize the familiar flavor found in muscat based dessert wines and the sparking Moscato d’Asti.

I will probably finish the 2 1/2 pound bag in less than a week 🙂


Lorina Lemonade, My Latest Beverage Obsession
February 20, 2007, 12:48 am
Filed under: 15-Second Rave


I tried Lorina Lemonade (the French Berry flavor) for the first time as a result of an impulse purchase at Central Market.  This stuff is awesome.  It’s not overly tart or sugary like most lemonades, and doesn’t have that almost bitter artificial lemon taste (a la Minute Maid).  It’s lightly flavored, fizzy, and really refreshing.  Plus I love the look of the 11.5 oz glass bottle, makes for a great single bud vase.  I can’t wait to serve these at a summertime cookout/pool party.

Cafe Madrid and My New Late Night Snack of Choice
February 12, 2007, 4:43 pm
Filed under: 15-Second Rave


It’s the Dali dessert plate at Cafe Madrid: bread pudding with raisins and nuts in a bourbon sauce topped with whipped cream, fruit pastry drizzled with chocolate sauce, orange sherbert, and brandied pear slices.  Open til 11:30pm and there’s a good wine list.  No more late night Taco Cabana or IHOP for me (unless of course it’s after 11:30pm).

Cafe Madrid
4501 Travis St
Dallas, TX 75205

Ode to Kelly’s Eastside, Cozy Texas Neighborhood Bar & Cafe
January 10, 2007, 1:33 am
Filed under: 15-Second Rave

I love Kelly’s Eastside in downtown Plano.

I love the casual neighborhood atmosphere. I love the patio seating with live acoustic music during fair weather. I love that it’s a good place to watch a game because it’s smaller and less noisy than a sports bar and the food is far better. I love the complimentary chips and salsa and quesadillas and discounted margaritas during happy hour. I love the consistency of the quality of service and food at Kelly’s. I love that there’s no sense of hurry when you go to Kelly’s, you’re just hanging out with your friends, having a beer, watching some sports, enjoying some conversation. I love that Kelly’s has lots of regulars, and I don’t mean for a workday lunch. I love that it’s Aggie-owned and all its Aggie-themed décor.

But most of all, I love Kelly’s chicken fried steak with sides of mashed potatoes topped with queso and green beans, all with Shiner on tap served in a frosted glass. It’s comfort food. It’s Texas food.

New Indian Restaurant in Garland
January 8, 2007, 1:55 am
Filed under: 15-Second Rave

A new Indian restaurant has opened in Garland in the shopping center at Broadway and I-30.  India Garden offers lunch and dinner buffets as well as a full menu of Punjabi specialties, and a special Sunday brunch.  I tried out the dinner buffet on a Sunday night, which proved to be an excellent value at $8.50.  Generally speaking, the vegetarian dishes were executed better than the meat dishes.  It’s nothing to drive out of the way for, but if you’re in this part of town you’re not likely to have many other choices when it comes to Indian food (especially at this price).

Comic and Punk Foodies
December 29, 2006, 10:29 pm
Filed under: 15-Second Rave

I like to cook, I like to eat, I like to write about food, but I don’t have a career in food.  I occasionally wonder whether I am even qualified to blog about recipes/restaurants in this world of self-professed foodies who may sneer at my amateurish observations and tastes. 

That’s why one of my favorite presents this Christmas comes from my great friend Lauren, I Like You: Hosplitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris.  She’s definitely no Martha Stewart with advice like “never have bumpy and lumpy on the same plate” and “don’t shop from someone else’s food cart,” but her simple entertaining advice is practical and the illustrated recipes are saliva-inducing.  I’m totally hooked.  Comedian + food enthusiast = a book I just can’t put down.  Sedaris is no professional chef but this is now one of the best “how to entertain” books I own.  Barefoot Contessa, watch out!  Although I do love my Barefood Contessa Parties! book, too.

Then this morning I heard an interview with Alex Kapranos, lead singer of the Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand, on NPR, who has recently written a book about his food adventures around the world while touring.  Sound Bites captures his encounters with various types of cuisines across the globe, both good and bad, with a refreshing rock ‘n roll perspective.  I know what I’m adding to my reading list!

Thank you, non-professional food enthusiasts, for bringing some new angles to this flavorful world.  Now I can choose to think of my blog as fresh, not unrefined.  At least I can choose to think that 😉

Holy Tamale
December 9, 2006, 2:08 pm
Filed under: 15-Second Rave

For those who live in the far north Dallas area craving tamales but don’t wish to drive too far, a new Mexican eatery on the southeast corner of Frankford and Marsh sells them by the dozen.  Deliciosas Mexicanas offers tamales with pork, beef, or chicken.  I believe they’re $11/dozen (they also sell them individually).  Sometimes, on a cold winter day, only a piping hot freshly steamed tamale will do.