By Jeff Blank and Jay Moore
For an elegant, atmospheric dinner, there is Hudson's on the Bend... Mimi Sheraton
With a feature on "All Things Considered" and mentions in such publications as Gourmet, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Cooking Light, Southern Living, and Men's Journal among others, the food at Hudson's on the Bend restaurant, in Austin, Texas has been creating a big stir nationwide. Now, this outstanding restaurant has produced an exciting new cookbook Cooking Fearlessly: Recipes and Other Adventures from Hudson's on the Bend, a rip-roaring volume that provides not only the favorite recipes of the restaurant, but its atmosphere and culture as well. With unique and daring recipes that uses rattlesnake (a signature dish), ostrich, or boar right along regular fare such as pork, chicken, and beef one enters a world of wonderful and delicious food that also includes, fish, meatless recipes, and memorable desserts.
In Cooking Fearlessly, Chef/owner Jeff Blank and Executive Chef Jay Moore cook with big, bold, robust, flavorful ingredients easily found in the kitchen cupboard (the rattlesnake can be found in the resource section). They are not talking about burning the top of your mouth off but stimulating the taste buds in your mouth and making them tingle with excitement. The "fearless philosophy" calls for exciting the tastebuds in every corner of the mouth: sweet, sour, spicy, salty. The rubs, seasonings, and sauces are meant to enhance not cover the flavor of the meal, in fact, they refer to this as "layering" with your marinade or rub, the cooking process (grilling or smoking), and then layering the sauce on top. The finished meal will literally make your saliva glands squirt in anticipation.
Along side the adventuresome signature dish, Rattlesnake Cakes, are Smoked Shrimp Quesadillas, a Pecan Crusted Red Snapper Atop Lemon Herb Sauce, and Parrothead Pasta. Try the Duck Breast with Red Chili Glaze or an inspired Chicken Nogales. Here too, is a recipe for Antlers and Claws (Hudson's version of surf and turf).
Creativity abounds—their Iced Asparagus and Spring Berry Salad with Guava Coconut Vinaigrette or Jicama and Tomatilla Salad with Gingered Lime Vinaigrette are taste sensations. The Green Apple with White Bean Soup with Poblanos and Smoked Bacon is perfect on a cold fall night and on those hot days, don't miss the Avocado Soup with Mexican Marigold Pico de Gallo. For a smashing signature side dish, there is the Ancho Bock Beer Smashers, or Jalapeño Stilton Blue Cheese Grits. Dessert lovers go wild for the Tina Turner Mousse, and a "mistake" turned out to be their awesomely delicious Hudson' Turtle Pie.
Equally important is their philosophy of "cooking fearlessly" which challenges you to experiment and adapt. "It's also about throwing out the conventional wisdom," as the authors say, "concerning what you ought to eat, what tools to use, what goes with what and even what might be edible. Who's to say what goes with rattlesnake, anyway?" It's also about attitude, one that is exhilarating and fun: i.e. fearless. The kicker in Cooking Fearlessly is the irrepressible humor and down home earnestness that precedes each recipe: if you don't cotton to the idea of cooking with rattlesnake or elk, not to worry, substitutions (chicken or beef is okay) are encouraged. Each recipe has variations, timing, tools, and preparation.
In addition, the book provides a detailed introduction to Cooking Fearlessly for the home cook. Experience the joy of experimentation, how to use seasonings, rubs, and sauces plus a new take on grilling, and a whimsical turn on more than one way to skin a pepper.
These chefs love music and tend to boogie while they cook, so each recipe includes suggested music to cook by. Some of the choices were obvious like "Hot Stuff' by the Rolling Stones for the Southwestern Caesar Salad with Tabasco Croutons but for others they called on friendly experts (fondly referred to as "gastromusicologists") for advice. Hand written flavor notes grace the various recipes and art throughout the book as added enticement.
Cooking Fearlessly includes: appetizers, salads, soups, fish, poultry, meats (game and tame) vegetables, side dishes and mouth-watering desserts. With more than 90 recipes, the adventuresome cook can't go wrong.
Cooking Fearlessly is a unique cookbook that says go for the gusto, and with a successful restaurant of fifteen years behind it, it has to be true. Half the fun is in reading the book , the reward is in cooking from it. In his Foreword, Dan Rather lauds the food, service, atmosphere, ambiance and the fun of taking first-timers there. Rather says "These guys could cook a horseshoe and make it delicious," adding that "This is the spirit and the place that gave birth to Cooking Fearlessly. Enjoy. And if you can't get to Hudson's, just cook up some of the stuff in the book and dream."
Recipes and Other Adventures from Hudson's on the Bend
By Jeff Blank and Jay Moore
with Deborah Harter, photographs by Laurie Smith,
Chef Portraits by Shanny Lott
Fearless Press, Publication date: November 1999
Hardback, 180 pages, $32.95
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created November 1999
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