Archive | December, 2008

Happy New Year Black-Eyed Peas

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Happy New Year!  

Celebrating the New Year is one of my favorite holidays.  You get to let go of the past, embrace the future, see fireworks, drink champagne and eat black-eyed peas.  What’s not to love?
I love black-eyed peas just about any way you can cook them including the traditional ham hock version or Hoppin John.  If you didn’t get peas at the market this week, Central Market sells fresh black-eyed peas from a Texas farm in their produce section and they are excellent.
I have a few friends who do not share my love of black-eyed peas though so I have learned to “hide” the peas in queso.  If you blend them with a hand blender before you add them to the queso they’ll never even know they are eating black-eyed peas.  Sneaky, I know, but it is for their own good.  Everyone needs a big helping of good luck for the new year.  Right?  (Just don’t tell my friend Kate that I do this.  She really hates black-eyed peas and doesn’t know I’ve been sneaking them in on New Year’s day.)
So for my final post of the year, I give you three black-eyed pea recipes for your New Year’s table.  I have made two of them (the queso and the casserole), but the third looks delicious so I had to include it.  If you make the cassoulet, please let me know how it was.
from Cooking Light
6  slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
6  (10-ounce) duck leg quarters, skinned
1  teaspoon  salt, divided
1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
1  cup  finely chopped yellow onion
1/4  cup  chopped garlic (about 7 cloves)
1 1/2  cups  chopped cremini mushrooms
1  cup  finely chopped celery
1/2  cup  finely chopped carrot
6  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
6  cups  frozen black-eyed peas, thawed or fresh black-eyed peas
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh thyme, divided
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 3 tablespoons drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Increase heat to medium-high.

Sprinkle duck with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 3 duck legs to drippings in pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining duck. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, mushrooms, celery, and carrot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in broth, peas, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Return duck to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 20 minutes or until duck is tender, slightly mashing beans occasionally with a fork or potato masher. Remove duck from pan; cool slightly. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Return meat to pan. Simmer 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Sprinkle with bacon.

Black-Eyed Pea Con Queso
1/2 cup butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
16 oz loaf velveeta, cubed
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 15.8 oz cans black-eyed peas, drained  or 2 cups fresh black-eyed peas
If you use fresh black-eyed peas, simmer them in water or broth to soften them first.  You can then puree them in a food processor or with a hand blender to make them smooth.
Melt butter in a large dutch oven; add onion and garlic and sauté until tender. Add cheese and
cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it melts. Stir in peppers and peas; cook, stirring often until thoroughly heated. Serve with tortilla chips.
Eddie’s Black-Eyed Pea Casserole
Eddie is one of the art vendors at the farmer’s market; he sells the cool yard posts with the Asian writing on them.  Eddie is also a serious foodie and we regularly compare recipes and swap ideas.  He gave me this recipe a while back and it is delicious.  
1 lb ground beef (I used buffalo)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
1 medium jalapeno, diced
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) can mild enchilada sauce (I like HEB’s green sauce)
a few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce
2 tablespoons of Emeril’s Essence seasoning   (you can buy this at the store or make your own)
1 package corn tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar
2 cups grated Monterrey jack
chopped green onions for garnish
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet.  Drain the excess grease and add onion, garlic, jalapeno and Essence seasoning.  Cook the mixture for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.  Add the peas, tomatoes, mushroom soup, chicken soup and enchilada sauce.  Add a few dashes of hot sauce.  Simmer until warm about 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Tear the tortillas into large pieces.   Grease the bottom of a large casserole dish with butter and then line the bottom with the torn tortilla pieces.  Spoon on the ground beef mixture into a thin layer and then add a layer of cheese.  Add another layer of tortillas and repeat with the beef mixture, finishing with a layer of cheese on top.  Cover the casserole dish with foil to prevent the cheese from burning and place in the oven.  Cook for 35 to 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven, cut slices approximately 2 by 2 inches and serve.  Garnish with chopped green onions.
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What I Learned from Austin Farm to Table

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I started Austin Farm to Table as a way to keep myself on course for my annual cookbook project for friends and family.  I decided that for one year, I would shop at a local farmers market each week and then cook something from what I found.   I would try to depend on the market for anything I could buy there and only go to the grocery store for the things I couldn’t buy at the market, like pasta and rice.

I was spurred on by a gift from a friend – Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  I was appalled by the waste in shipping food.  I was stunned by the information about commercial farming and ranching.  The passionate fighter in me was determined to make a difference.
I didn’t realize what I was doing.  I’ve been a farmers market devotee since the Sustainable Food Center started the downtown market, but I also had a weekly Central Market & HEB habit (sometimes both).  Now, I was going to rely on the market for as much as possible.  Hmmm….
And, then I had the stupid idea to start in January.  You know what’s fresh in January – beets and greens.  I wasn’t in the habit of eating either.  Oh boy.
I stretched outside my comfort zone and started cooking – what I love to do.  I researched recipes, found things I liked and even ate some things I didn’t think I’d like at all (see Kohlrabi). And the interesting thing is, the more I shopped, the more the market provided.  We love seafood in our family and, voila, there was a seafood vendor.   
I shopped with friends and family.  I bought “bunny” carrots and endless cucumbers for Sean & Ali.  Roxanne and I poked and prodded a lot of produce as she told everyone who would stand still long enough that I had a blog.  (Big thanks to Rox, the best marketing goddess).    My sister patiently inspected what I brought to her house to cook and only hesitated slightly when I wanted to cook something weird.
I talked to the farmers when I didn’t know how to cook something and I experimented on my friends.  Oh, did I experiment on my friends. I will never forget Sandy’s face when I told her I cooked goat for dinner.  I swear she only took that first bite because I promised her pasta shells if she didn’t like it.   My friends and family were patient and kind as I inflicted experiment after experiment on them.  Thanks guys. 
I learned from my friends – thanks Ana for my new favorite recipe that even involves beets! Who knew beet greens were going to be my new favorite thing.  I was giddy when it cooled down enough for beets.  I am addicted to Grandma’s Hummus and Jake’s Granola.  And, I have  a serious thing for Rosemary Ciabatta.
But for all the things I learned this year, I learned the most about myself.  I love to cook.  I love everything about it.  I love to wash and peel vegetables.  I love massaging a spice rub into meat.  I love marinating seafood.  I love chopping and dicing.  
And, I know more about cooking than I thought I did.  I researched websites and cookbooks for recipes; cooking other people’s food.  Then, I started to cook my own.  I trusted my instincts and started cooking some pretty good food.  My food.
The grand experiment is over for this year, but I’m going to keep Austin Farm to Table going.  It’s been a lot of fun and there is more to do.  This year, the focus will be on my own recipes.  No more depending on others inspiration – I’m digging deep.  And for Eddie, I promise this year there will be pictures of the food.
I hope you are in for another fun year!  See you at the market.
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Austin Farm to Table – The Cookbook

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Like many of you, I’ve been busy the last week preparing for the holidays.   I even shopped at the Downtown Austin Farmers Market on Saturday.  I bought granola, peach jam, beeswax candles, dog treats, and Texas Pecans for my Aunt and Uncle in Florida.  I think it made a pretty nice care package.

For the last few years, my main gift to friends and family has been a cookbook of my favorite recipes.  This year, I took my favorite posts from Austin Farm to Table and compiled them into a book.  It’s not fancy, but is a heartfelt gift.  I’m always so excited to open the box from the printer and see the final product.
I don’t have extra print copies, but please e-mail me if you’d like a copy of the PDF.  I’ll be happy to send it to you.
Have a very happy holiday!
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It’s Never Too Cold for Fresh Veggies

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Last night my friend Sandy and I braved the weather to go to the Triangle farmers market.  There were about 10-12 stalls – small, but enough to buy dinner for tonight.  And yes, it was cold, but the farmers were there.  So, why weren’t you?

Here’s the deal.  The farmers market happens rain or shine.  The only time they don’t have the market is when it is too windy or too dangerous (lightining or sleet) for them to use the tents.  If the farmers can make it, so can you.  
So bundle up and I’ll see you at the market on Saturday.  No excuses!

Saturday 2008 Market schedule and info

Day and Time
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
2008 :: Year-round, through December 27, 2008.
RAIN OR SHINE. Now Accepting Lone Star Card and Debit Cards!
4th & Guadalupe
Info. & Parking
Plenty of available free parking at top half of parking lot (don’t park in other half–you’ll pay), and in the convenient state parking garage at 3rd and San Antonio.

Wednesday 2008 market schedule and info

Day and Time
Wednesdays, 3 – 7 p.m. Fall/winter season
LATER HOURS CHANGEto 4 – 8 p.m. March, 2009, for “Picnic in the Park” season
2008 :: Every Wednesday, year-round! Through December 17th, 2008 (we are closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve but open up right after that in 2009!).
RAIN OR SHINE. Now Accepting Lone Star Card and Debit Cards!
Triangle Park, 4600 Guadalupe (46th Street — between Lamar and Guadalupe)
Info. & Parking
Plenty of free parking available at parking garage across the street from the market.

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