Edible Austin is celebrating it's 5th birthday this coming Saturday. Head over to the Farmer's Market at Republic Square to celebrate. Edible Austin is a great resource because not only does it let you know what produce is in season, but it includes links to recipes. Scanning through the page, I saw the link to peas which brought me to a recipe from Terry Wilson, formerly of Aquarelle. This is a one pot dish from her mother called Lupita's Macaroni. Fresh English peas are usually available at Central Market and Whole Foods. If you are pressed for time, you can find freshly shelled English peas that have been frozen in the Central Market produce area, The family enjoyed it and it tasted even better the next day. (Cathy)
I stopped by the locally owned store Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars earlier this month to attend a tasting of a very special balsamic vinegar. Aceto Balsamico de Monticello is produced by Jane and Steve Darland in Monticello, New Mexico. They told me that their organic balsamic is made with white grapes and is aged in casks made of seven different types of wood. Aged for fifteen years with only a maximum of 1000 bottles available per year. I knew I was in for a treat when Steve poured out a pearl of vinegar for me to try. The viscosity of the vinegar was akin to oil, but even thicker. The color was oxblood red. The flavor was deep, complex, luxuriant, almost like a fine wine. The description of the process, the types of woods used for the casks in which the vinegar is aged, along with uses of the vinegar and details about the farm are all on their website. Hailed by Ruth Reichl (food writer, critic and former editor of Gourmet) and Saveur as one of the most outstanding balsamic vinegars produced in the US, I decided I must indulge, and wrote it off as a Mother’s Day gift to myself. An extra plus was the fact that Con' Olio honors the Go Local card so I received a discount. So far I have placed a few precious drops on white flesh peaches, figs and strawberries and it was divine. (Cathy)
The black and bleu pizza at 2nd Bar + Kitchen is what I call the sinner’s pizza. It is a bleu cheese, pork belly confit pizza with black truffles, black truffle oil and red onion. Although it sounded delicious, it seemed a tad rich for our group (it is on my list of things to try next time). Our convivial server, Andy, was very helpful and suggested the bianca pizza with ricotta and goat cheese, arugula, grana padano with an addition of Italian sausage--good call, Andy. The bianca had a thin, golden crust with some crunch. The sweetness of the Italian sausage, the bitterness of the arugula and the creaminess of the cheese made this part of a perfect lunch. (Cathy)
If you are planning to grill today, consider this Ina Garten recipe for Niman Ranch Burgers (we used Dakota beef available at HEB). We substituted onion rolls for English muffins. Caramelized onions are optional (the 1015 or Sweet Grano onions are perfect for this). Mini grilled corn cobs with ancho chili and fresh squeezed limes on the side.
For dessert, we recommend a Blueberry Crisp recipe from Martha Stewart. Enjoy the three day weekend! (Gina and Cathy)
That book described by some as an “explicit sensation” is not really our topic today, but we wanted to get your attention to remind you that it is Copper River Salmon (CRS) time. That favorite Alaskan wild salmon available only 4 weeks of the year is now in most grocery stores. There are more than 50 ways to prepare salmon, and we wanted to include a few. The Copper River Organization has 21 salmon recipes on their website. Most likely you do not have the time to sort through all these recipes, so we included two tested recipes we like. This week Gina cooked what she calls Ridiculously Easy Salmon using CRS:
Ridiculously Easy Salmon
2 pounds salmon (do not divide)
Extra virgin olive oil
Adams reserve citrus seafood rub
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle oil all over salmon. Generously massage citrus seafood rub on salmon. Bake in oven skin side down for 10 minutes per 1/2 inch thickest part of fish (Gina’s took 20 minutes).
Last night I made the Poached Salmon with Avocado Sauce recipe from the June 2012 issue of Bon Appetit for my CRS and it was delightful (the recipe is originally from Chef Eric Milley of Jeffery’s Grocery in New York City). You can serve it chilled which is perfect for this time of year. Important tips for this recipe: ask your fishmonger to remove the skin for you unless you want to test your knife skills. Also, my family and I agreed that the amount of avocado sauce per serving should be reduced to 1/8 or 1/4 of a cup. (Cathy)
In my previous life (before marriage and kids) I worked as a dietitian. One of my jobs was providing diet consultation in private practice with a physician in San Antonio. I helped patients plan their meals. One of the biggest challenges is increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. Patients complained that if they bought produce they found themselves throwing away half of their purchase at the end of the week due to spoilage. I am guilty of this too! I get excited in the produce section and overbuy without a plan. Unfortunately, when buying fresh veggies you have to plan your meals ahead of time because of the short shelf life. I vowed that this summer my boys would try new veggies. So when Living Social deals offered one box of local, organic veggies at a reduced rate, I couldn’t pass on it. The veggies are grown right in our backyard; actually the Johnson Backyard Garden. The website shows the veggies offered for the week. The cool part is you can click on that vegetable and find a recipe for it as well as storage tips. Hopefully, if stored correctly you will have an opportunity to eat everything in the box and not throw it away. I picked up my box today at a pick up location only 8 minutes from my home.Very convenient! You bring your own bags so that you can leave the box for reuse. Next time I will pick up at the farm just for fun. They actually offer a work share program in exchange for fresh veggies. See website for details. Stay tuned to future posts on the recipes we create and eat with our veggies.
P.S. the picture of the Johnson family on their website is adorable. Makes me want to live on a farm! (Gina)
My family and I have been entertaining quite a bit these last few months. With friends ranging in age from 5 to 40 something, it can be a challenge to feed a large, diverse group. Much of the time we have all male guests (friends of my boys) with huge appetites and picky palates. Hot dogs and burgers always seem to be on the menu, but I get tired of the same ol', same ol'. Keeping it simple and planning ahead are key in these situations. If families are coming over, pot luck makes my life easier. One of my favorites is the antipasto salad. It is always a hit. It is a Real Simple magazine recipe from years ago. I changed it up a bit, by adding tomatoes and olives. And if you separate the toppings, the picky eaters can choose what they want. (Gina)
1-5 ounce package baby greens
1-5 ounce package arugula
1-12 ounce bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella) or fresh mozzarella cut into 1 inch chunks
1-12 ounce jar roasted red peppers (reserve 2 ounce liquid) I've been using my in-laws homemade peppers
2-6.5 ounce artichoke hearts (reserve 2 ounce liquid)
1-10 ounce jar pitted olives of your choice (I use kalamata or garlic stuffed Spanish or both)
1-10 ounce container of small cherry tomatoes (red and yellow)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use quality oil)
Grilled chicken (optional)
Cooked shrimp (optional)
Place the greens in a large platter or bowl. Top with boccocinni, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can cover and refrigerate for up to 6hrs. Just before serving, mix oil, vinegar and reserved liquid and pour over salad. (Serves 4-6)
There are so many food related items of note going on in Austin right now, it is impossible to start a food blog without mentioning Paul Qui of Uchiko. Top Chef winner and James Beard Award winner as Best Chef: Southwest, Qui has appeared on the cover of virtually every local magazine in the city since March, but we especially loved Michael Barnes’ extended profile of the chef in the Statesman. The quote at the end of the article where Qui states he is working on a new project made us dizzy with happiness.
I saw the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi at the Violet Crown recently and loved this documentary about the world’s greatest sushi chef. The film follows the 86 year old sushi master, Jiro Ono, who practices his art in the basement of a Tokyo office building. For further revelation about the film, check out the Dinner Party Download (scroll midway to “Chattering Class”), a podcast which contains an interview of the filmmaker David Gelb. (More about Dinner Party Download in future posts). Look for this film when it comes out on DVD for even greater appreciation of the sushi making process.
My husband and I finally made it to Kome, the relatively new sushi restaurant on Airport Blvd. Good timing allowed us to snag a seat in the teeny entry while we waited for a table. Arriving at 7:30 on a Saturday night meant we had time to sip a beer and take in the fantastic people watching. Seated at a table near the window, we thoroughly enjoyed the shumai (shrimp and pork fried dumplings), the rolls (especially the summer time roll with go-go sauce), but the standout was the nigiri sushi. Since we had so many rolls, I only ordered two pieces of sushi; the salmon and the fatty tuna. Oh my, it was good. So good in fact, we ordered four more pieces for dessert. Another positive was the very reasonable price. Kome was recently voted in the Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll by readers as best new restaurant and multiple Critics pick for best Japanese lunch at a nice price. (Cathy)
"My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate." Thornton Wilder
Gina and I decided to take Wilder’s advice and head to Lick, the relatively new ice cream parlor on South Lamar. Described on Lick’s Facebook page as “a small, locally owned business that makes seasonal, sustainable ice creams from the freshest local ingredients,” we were looking forward to trying this shop that has been in the press a great deal as of late. We arrived ten minutes before opening and there was already a cluster of people queuing up. Waiting for the line to die down, we walked the perimeter of the center that also houses El Meson, Barley Swine and a new wine and cheese shop, Henri’s (more on Henri's in a future post). We tried many of the fourteen flavors offered at Lick. Beet and Mint was very nice with an intense flavor, yet clean and bright coming from the mint. Too Hot Chocolate was also a standout--the spicy bite at the end was a surprising element. I settled on the Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey and the Strawberry Basil. Gina chose the Strawberry Basil as well and the Coconut, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Swirl. The goat cheese was subtle with a perfect level of honeyed sweetness. I loved the combination of strawberry and basil; the flavors matched well and didn't compete. Gina enjoyed the Coconut, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Swirl because it reminded her of an almond joy with a hint of Reese's peanut butter cup--candy bar heaven. We enjoyed our ice cream down to the bottom of our compostable plates. (Cathy)
The love of food and how it can bring people together led to the creation of this blog. As a mother of two grown boys, who have left the nest and occasionally return, I noticed a common occurrence-- there is usually someone at home who is hungry.
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