Eating out in Houston: Nielsens Deli

At the corner or Richmond and Mid Lane sits an unassuming establishment called Nielsens Deli. I had driven by this place countless times since moving to Houston, but never thought about stopping by, I imagined it was just a deli selling deli meats. Recently, a good friend invited me out for a quick lunch promising me I would have the best potato salad and deviled eggs EVAH! Off to Nielsens we went.

As you walk into the stand-alone building, you’ll come into a long narrow room, the deli counter will be just a couple of feet and directly across from the front door, that’s where you place your order, unless you’ve called it in. Turn right and to the opposite end of the room, pick up some chips and pay for your order. If you’re dining in, you can grab one of the stools lined up against the storefront glass. If you’re feeling particularly playful, tease the incoming customers as they come up to the counter.

Ok, this is a food blog, right? Let’s talk shop. First, I was tickled by the lingo I heard as I approached the counter. The customers, regulars no doubt, have learned how to properly order their meals: ‘a Jr Corned beef, extra spread on rye and a pixie potato salad‘. It made me think of a kinder, gentler soup Nazi.

I’m not a big sandwich person, it just doesn’t seem like a meal, but these sandwiches are awesome! I had the corned beef on white with extra spread (they make their own mayo…OHMY!), an egg and a pixie of egg salad. Let me tell you, this corned beef was good and piled high on the homemade bread. No skimping here.

Anni had the turkey on white, extra spread an egg and a pixie of potato salad. I had a bite of her turkey and was surprised by how flavorful it was. They’ve been roasting their own turkey breasts since the deli opened in 1952, I think they have it down.

Now. For the really exciting part. Those sides. I love potato salad, but not the mustardy kind and not with a bunch of stuff in it. KISS (keep it simple, sweetie) is my motto. And KISS it they do. Loads of their amazing homemade mayo, piled with eggs and celery for some crunch, this potato salad ROCKS! It is so good that years ago Gourmet magazine sent a letter requesting their recipe!

Then we go into the deviled egg territory. Insanity, that is all I can say about it. Next time I go, I will have the chicken salad sandwich, apparently it is incredible. And I believe it, because I had a pixie of the egg salad… it was as if they just chopped the deviled eggs and stirred it all up.

If you’re from Houston, you should definitely visit this Houston institution, do it soon! It’s just inside the loop at Richmond. If you’re coming to Houston for a visit, put this one on the list.

Nielsen’s Deli (daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m)
4500 Richmond Avenue
713.963.8005

Eating around,
Anamaris

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Huevos Benedictinos

Huevos Benedictinos

Do you like Eggs Benedict? If you do, you will love this one; I’ve given the traditional recipe a Mexican twist. Instead of English muffins, I used puff pastry shells. I’ve replaced the bacon and hollandaise sauce with chorizo and creamy salsa.

Ingredients
6 Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells
Prepared Chorizo
Creamy salsa
Queso Fresco

I will break down the process for each layer. Here’s how:

For the chorizo:
10 oz Mexican chorizo (pork or beef will work)
½ cp onion, finely diced
1 small potato, finely cubed (about ½ cp)
2 tbsp salsa
3 tbsp water

Place a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat, add the chorizo and stir to break it up. Once it begins to render its fat, stir in the onions and cook until they begin to turn translucent. Add the potatoes, salsa and water. Stir it all in, lower the heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Stir it occasionally until the potatoes are fork tender. Set aside, but keep warm.

For the salsa:
This step is optional, if you don’t want to make your own salsa, just add cream to your favorite brand.

 8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
2 – 3 serrano peppers, halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
½ medium onion, quartered
½ cp cilantro, coarsely chopped
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp sugar
Âľ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Add 1 tbsp of the oil to a skillet and place over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onion. You want to char and smoke the vegetables, but keep a close watch on them or they’ll burn. Try to get some color on both sides, then remove from the heat and put it all into your blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until all veggies are a mush.

Pour the salsa back into your skillet—you can add about ½ cp water to the blender to remove all the salsa bits—allow the salsa to cook over medium low temperature for about 10 minutes. This will yield about 3 cps of salsa, it will keep in the fridge for about a month.

Measure out Âľ cp of the salsa (you can also use your favorite salsa instead of making it yourself) and add ÂĽ cp of crema fresca or whipping cream. Stir it in and keep it warm. Set aside.

For the puff pastry:

Preheat oven to 400 and bake shells according to package instructions. Once baked, removed the tops and set aside.

For the poached eggs:
6 eggs, at room temperature
6-7 cps water
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
12” deep saucepan
Slotted spoon

I watched this video and realized I needed not fear the poaching process; this was the best video I watched.

Add the water, salt and vinegar to the pan and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat so that the water is at a low simmer. Break the eggs and put each one into a small container, like a cup (one egg per cup).

Now is time to play with your water. Using that slotted spoon, create a swirl in the water. The centrifugal force will help the egg whites swirl onto themselves and make your eggs pretty. Now quickly drop one egg at a time right in the center of the water funnel. The whites will wrap around the yolk and will begin to float as the yolk is done. Here’s the thing. I measured the water temp to about 170-175 and I do like my yolks soft, it took about 5-6 minutes to get them just right. You can cook them longer if you’d rather have a harder yolk. Use the spoon to remove the eggs from the water, let some of that excess water fall off and clean off the eggy tentacles. Set the eggs aside until you’re ready to assemble the dish.

Assembly time!

Take a shell and drop about 2 tbsp of the chorizo, then top the shell with an egg. Top the egg with the creamy salsa, and then sprinkle some of the cheese. Repeat and serve.

And this is what I did with the leftovers!

Childhood Faves

What’s your favorite one? My mom did a.lot.of.cooking. And baking. And entertaining. She made us fun stuff, like PBJs, pancakes and doughnuts! She also made us eat the serious stuff like pumpkin, spinach and carrots. She wasn’t able to get okra passed me, though. I hope she’s not too hard on herself for that. To this day I can’t deal with that slimy veg. I best stop thinking about it before I make myself sick.

Yumness on a plate!

This is one of my fun foods. I remember pleading for this, then covering it with ketchup. I don’t do the ketchup part anymore, I honestly can’t tell you what possessed me to do that in the first place. I’m guessing I had a red infatuation, who knows. I’ve taken my mom’s standard and jazzed up a bit. It’s really yum!

Mom’s Spaghetti Omelette
If you have some leftover pasta, that’s perfect or you can cook some up for this (I do it all the time).
2 cps spaghetti or other noodle pasta, cooked
2 eggs
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp Herbs d’Provence
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and HdProvence. Add the pasta and mix it in.

Preheat a 12-inch frying pan over medium high heat, add the oil and butter until it melts. Dump the pasta in and spread it out evenly to cover the bottom. Allow it to brown, it will take about 5 minutes per side. Flip the omelette and brown the opposite side.

Slice it in quarters and top with parmesan cheese, if desired. Can you stand it?

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If only there was taste-a-blog code...