New Orleans-inspired kitchen reflects a Dickinson family’s personalities
Linley and José Palmer knew they’d have a clean slate after their Dickinson home flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. They put their heads together and came up with innovative ideas for remodeling.
“We built our custom home 14 years ago when our tastes were different,” Linley Palmer said. “Since we travel to New Orleans yearly and stay at the French Quarter, José and I envisioned our new kitchen with brick walls and gas light replicas. Plus, the French Quarter area reminds José of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is near the suburb where he lived before moving to Houston.”
The former kitchen cabinets had more of a red tint, but the couple wanted a darker look so went with walnut-stained alder wood and chrome hardware, which contrasts beautifully with the authentic exposed brick, new KitchenAid stainless steel appliances and a collection of pewter plates atop the cabinets.
They added picture frame molding to an exterior wall and windows, and archways replaced support beams.
The custom-built stove vent Linley Palmer designed is much higher than the old one, so that José, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall, could have more head room when he cooks.
“He’s the chef in the family and can make a chili con carne sauce that rivals any Mexican restaurant,” she said. “His Bacco Shrimp is excellent, too. He tasted it at a restaurant once, recreating it at home. Not to be outdone, our daughter, Elena, is a talented baker, and our son, Fisher, is the family taste tester.”
The functional kitchen, with walls painted Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams, includes an 8-foot-island with ice blue granite and matching countertops.
“Navigation was a big problem in the former kitchen that had more of a trapezoid layout, so this design, which includes a new bar area, makes it easier to get around,” Linley Palmer said.
A bookshelf at one end of the island holds a collection of cookbooks that father and daughter use regularly. A special spice drawer contains a variety of seasonings for José’s recipes, and his bottled hot sauces occupy a separate cabinet.
“Our kids like everything spicy,” Linley Palmer said.
A wrought-iron scroll paper towel holder and dish rack by Ballard Designs are subtle reminders of New Orleans, as are the magnolia leaves and fleur-de-lis items.
“I also like the fleur-de-lis décor because it represents the Holy Trinity,” said Linley Palmer, who is active in the Episcopal Church.
The bar-height table and chairs, and hanging light fixture in the breakfast area, are Harvey survivors.
A wall in the family room, which adjoins the kitchen, displays 15 memory blocks by artist Sid Dickens and is special to Linley Palmer.
“I love Sid Dickens and have been collecting his designs since 2003,” she said. “I have over 80 pieces hanging in various rooms.”
Linley, a teacher at Clear Creek Intermediate, and José, an insurance broker, met when they were attending Texas A&M University at College Station. Both agree the kitchen is their favorite room in the house.
“When José comes home from work, cooking relaxes him,” she said. “He loves cooking for family and friends, and often just cooks when he’s bored.”
Family photos and mementoes clinging to the refrigerator door are reminiscent of the good times and warmth that surrounds this family.
“Our new kitchen reflects our personalities,” she said. “It just feels like us.”
José’s best kitchen gadgets: Three pilóns (mortar and pestle).
Linley’s best kitchen gadget: KitchenAid immersion blender.
Linley’s treasured item: “The Smith Family” cookbook with photo of her maternal grandmother as a young girl on the cover.
Linley’s heirloom item: Milk glass chicken from paternal grandmother.
JOSÉ PALMER’S CHEESE ENCHILADAS
2 dried ancho and 2 dried árbol peppers (stemmed and seeded for milder taste)
3 cups chicken stock
1 onion, chopped and divided (half for sauté and half for toppings)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 block of queso fresco, crumbled
2 cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 dozen corn tortillas
RECONSTITUTE peppers by boiling in chicken stock until soft.
SAUTÉ 1⁄2 onion and garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil. Add peppers, chicken stock, salt, spices and blend with a blender until smooth.
PUT tortillas in olive oil to soften. Spread each tortilla with an ample amount of Monterey jack and queso fresco and roll tightly, seam side down.
COVER and bake in oven at 350 F until cheese melts. Pour sauce on top and garnish with remaining onions.
ELENA’S VANILLA BUTTER CREAM CUPCAKES
Yields: 12 cupcakes
11⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
11⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup sour cream
MIX dry ingredients in a separate bowl: all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt.
CREAM softened butter and sugar together in a standard mixer, then slowly add 2 eggs until fully mixed. Add vanilla, then sour cream to make it moist. Lastly, mix the dry ingredients with the wet until they’re fully combined.
DIVIDE into cupcake liners and bake at 350 F for 22 minutes.
BUTTER CREAM FROSTING
1 cup softened butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
CREAM together softened butter and slowly add confectioners sugar. Mix vanilla extract and heavy cream.
LET it sit, or put in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Ice cupcakes.