Archive | April, 2009

Girl’s Night In Shrimp & Spinach Risotto

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My sister and I were lucky enough to have a girl’s night last week, and we both love shrimp so a stop by San Miguel Seafood was in order.  I wanted something hearty because I finished my first triathlon of the season that morning and I decided a risotto would be perfect.  It would be simple to make and filling, but also feel like a special meal to my sister.

I paired it with spring onions and spinach, gave it a shot of lemon juice and skipped the Parmesan so that it had a bright flavor.  If you want to have a richer flavor, skip the lemon juice and add Parmesan as you stir for the last few minutes.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really think through that I was going to have to stir the risotto with sore post-triathlon arms, but, you know, anything for great food…

Shrimp & Spinach Risotto
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps garlic, peeled and minced
2-3 spring onions (depending on the size), thinly sliced
1 cup arborio rice
6 cups liquid (you can use water, chicken broth or seafood broth/stock – I used chicken broth because it is what we had, but in a perfect world I would have used seafood broth.  Broth or stock is going to have a richer flavor.)
1 cup dry white wine
1 bunch of spinach, washed and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the broth or stock in a pot on the stove.
In a pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium.  Add 1 tbsp garlic and shrimp.  Saute until shrimp is cooked through and then set it to the side.
In a pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp garlic and the spring onions.  Saute until the begin to turn transparent.  Add the arborio rice and stir in the pan until it is well coated.  Add 1 cup of stock and turn continuously until it is absorbed.  Continue to add liquid (alternate stock and wine) 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously until you have about 1/2 cup left to add. Add the spinach with the last of the liquid and stir until the last of the liquid is absorbed.  Add the shrimp, lemon juice and season to taste.
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More Great Gardening Tips and Swine Flu Clarification

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Spring must really bring around the urge to plant.   My recent post about Resolution Gardens resulted in a number of interesting ideas from readers.  I thought the ideas were great and decided to post them for everyone in case you aren’t a comment reader.

Morisey mentioned that instead of the typical raised bed garden, using 2x4s as the border of the garden, he used a cinder block construction similar to what he saw at Eastside Cafe.  He mentions, “that has worked very well and better matches my limited building skills. And it’s cheap–I think it wound up being less than $50 including compost and plants.”  Sounds like a great idea to me!

Carla added, “Austin Urban Gardens sells do-it-yourself kits or will install and fill with organic soil. Our product is made of recycled plastic and wood fibers, and will not rot or get termites like wood.”  

My friend Lindsay humorously quipped that I could use their yard if I’d cook for them (she’s just angling for me to cook.)  Skye saw our bantering and noted, “Lindsay has the right idea. People that have yards let those that don’t use a part of their yard to grow a garden.”  It’s called yardsharing and it sounds like pure genius.   If you are an apartment dweller like me and are looking for a yard to borrow, you can learn more at

And of course, you can always apply for a plot at a community garden.  The Sustainable Food Center has a list of local community gardens on their site.  

So, basically there is no excuse for not growing your own tomatoes if you are so inclined.  Yea!

On another note, the news this week is full of warnings about Swine Flu, which has naturally raised concerns about eating pork.  Thanks to Addie Broyles of Relish Austin for her post clarifying the issue: Swine Flu: Is pork OK to eat?

I personally appreciate the clarification as I celebrated my triathlon completion with Frito Pie from Jo’s Downtown which is covered in pulled pork.  It was delicious and I feel great (if a little guilty for eating Fritos).
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Avec Brussels Sprouts

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During my recent trip to Chicago, I had the distinct pleasure to eat at a lovely restaurant called Avec. My friend Beverly and I had a difficult time choosing between the deliciously described items on the menu.  We settled on three small plates so we could taste more goodies.

My favorite of the three was a simple salad of Brussels Sprouts, fennel, dill, Parmesan, red onion and brown butter.  We ordered it even though I don’t usually enjoy fennel and it was amazing.  The flavor was bright, rich and delicious.
I, arrogantly, decided I could make it or something close.  And, it was close, but not the same.
My friend Paige kindly offered to host the pre-race meal for my first triathlon of this season and I decided to make this dish as the salad.   Since you typically don’t want to eat anything too rich before a race, I skipped the brown butter and used olive oil instead.  It robbed the dish of some of the richness, but not the bright flavor.
We have a few more weeks of Brussels Sprouts season and I highly recommend you try your own rendition of this delightful salad.  If you are braver than I, try it with the brown butter.  It will be worth the calories!
Brussels Sprouts & Fennel Salad

1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (cut off the ends)

1 bulb fennel

2-3 bulbs spring onions, how many you use depends on the size of the bulbs

2 tbsps butter

1/4 cup parmesan, shaved or grated

2 tbsps olive oil

juice of two lemons

2-3 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the Brussels Sprouts, fennel and onions.  This processor is easier if you have a mandoline or a slicing blade for a food processor – using my Cuisinart, it took me 2 minutes.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat and then gently brown it.  You don’t want to burn it, but you do want it to turn a slight brown color.  Take the butter off of the heat.

Toss the sprouts, fennel, onions and parmesan well in a bowl.  Add the olive oil, butter and lemon juice and toss.  (I did this slowly – a little olive oil, a little lemon juice, toss and taste – until I got the flavor like I wanted it.)  Add the dill, salt and pepper to taste.
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Big Week at the Austin Farmers Market

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It’s a big week at the Austin Farmers markets so grab your calendar and block some time for food, fun and celebrations.

What better way to celebrate Earth Day then with a farmer.  On Wednesday 4/22, you can celebrate Earth Day from 4-8 pm at the Triangle market 46th and Lamar.  They will have a Kid’s Little Kitchen free cooking class /w farm veggies, Garza Gardens and Austin Green Art activities, live music, and after dark showing of King Corn movie.  

On Saturday 4/25, Gourmet Magazine will be at the Downtown Austin Farmers Market (4th & Guadalupe) from 9 to 1 pm with their Green Market Tour.  Chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due will be doing demonstrations starting at 10 am and there will be lots of giveaways (yea, free stuff!).

While you are downtown, you can visit Art City Austin, formerly the Austin Fine Arts Festival, from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday or 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday. Tickets are only $8 which is a bargain!  The art festivities will be on Cesar Chavez from Colorado to Lamar so that road will be closed – keep that in mind when you head down to the market.  

See you at the market!
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