Archive | June, 2009

Austin Farm to Table First Wednesday Picnic in the Park

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I love a good picnic. For me, there is something magical about relaxing outside, visiting with friends and enjoying a good meal.

The first time I went to the Triangle Farmers Market, I was surprised at how many people were having dinner in the park. The band was playing, the kids were frolicking in the fountain and it was lovely. I’ve decided I’d like to join the picnic fun and see if I can’t recruit you to do the same.
The first Wednesday of every month, I invite you to accompany me at theTriangle Farmers Market (46th & Lamar) at 6:30 for dinner in the park. The market is from 4 to 8 pm so you can come early, by your goodies and then meet me on the lawn for dinner. By 6:30, the shade should be starting to edge across the park (yea!). Bring the kids, the dog, the frisbee, a blanket and your beverages.
You can find me by looking for this blanket or this market bag. Hope to see you Wednesday!



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Next Food Network Star: Brussels Sprouts Hash

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I believe I have firmly established my addiction to cooking competition tv shows. Whether it’s Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Chopped, or Food Network Star, I watch almost all of them (not Hell’s Kitchen – too much yelling.) I even watched the terrible show with Marco Pierre White for the few weeks it was on the air.

I’m frequently intrigued by some idea or other, after all Top Chef inspired the idea for the pho with the Daikon radish noodles. However, I am not usually moved to make one of their recipes verbatim.

Imagine my surprise when I became obsessed with Eddie Gilbert’s (Next Food Network Star) Brussels Sprouts Hash recipe. Maybe it was the way the judges kept mentioning how good it was. Whatever sparked the fire, I just had to make it and fortunately there are still Brussels
Sprouts at the market.

I didn’t follow Eddie’s Steak recipe or make the chutney, but I’m sure they were probably great as well. (For his complete recipe, click the link of the recipe title.)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tennessee Drunken Braised Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash

(Adapted from a larger recipe from Eddie Gilbert from the TV show Next Food Network Star)
8 strips bacon, diced
3 medium shallots, chopped
2 leeks, white and light green part only, finely chopped
4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, outer peels removed, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 bottles Jamaican lager, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

062709_1Heat a grill or grill pan to medium.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until the edges start to crisp up but not fully cooked. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and drain. Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.

Meanwhile, in another skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add half the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the leeks, scallions, and Brussels sprouts. Cook until the vegetables begin to wilt and soften. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add about 6 ounces lager, so that half of this hash mixture is covered by liquid. Bring the hash to a simmer and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the bacon, 1 more tablespoon of butter and reduce the heat to low, cooking the bacon further, and stirring the hash occasionally.

To the vegetable hash, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons butter, about 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, and both the whole-grain and Dijon mustard and saute a few minutes more. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

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Market Updates & Vote for Your Favorite Farmers Market

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If you can’t find farm fresh vegetables in Austin, you aren’t looking hard enough. There are literally markets and farm stands popping up on every corner.

This weekend, the Downtown Austin Farmers Market is having their “Tomato Me Crazy” festival including a chef’s demo from Mark Spedale of Primzie Osteria a Top Tomato contest for home gardeners and some very messy sounding events like the Tomato Spoon Race and Tomato Splat.
Not to be out done, Boggy Creek Farm is also having a Tomato fest this weekend. From the

061809_(2)_1pictures on the website, it looks like they are swimming in them.
For me, I’m skipping the tomato madness and heading to the Sunset Valley Farmers Market this weekend. I’m going for an early morning bike ride so I’ll be there about 11 am. You know the drill, look for my magic bag if you want to come shopping with me.

If you are all booked up on Saturday, don’t worry. Farmhouse Delivery has come to your rescue with their Sinner’s Brunch Farm Stand at Jo’s on S. Congress from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. Brunch and fresh veggies – Score!
Farmhouse Delivery is also hosting a farm stand on Wednesday mornings at Jo’s on 2nd from 7:30 am to 11:00 am.
Finally, American Farmland Trust is hosting a contest for America’s Favorite Farmer’s Markets. You can vote for the Austin Farmers’ Market by clicking here and entering the zip code 78701 or 78723.
See you at the market!
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Opposite Day at the Urban Roots Booth: Purple Potatoes & White Eggplant

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061809_1Saturday was a great day at the market. I found all kinds of goodies while I was shopping and then volunteered at the tasting booth, handing out samples of the fresh produce. It was a farmers market girl’s dream day.

When I shop, I usually spread the love among the booths, buying a few things from most. I always make sure I stop by the Urban Roots booth. If you aren’t familiar with Urban Roots, it is an amazing program working with high school kids to teach them gardening, the importance of eating fresh food and how to run a business (they do the math at the booth, make change, etc.).


The always have something fun, but last Saturday was special – it was opposite day. Now, I don’t know if the Urban Roots folks saw it that way, but I wandered into the booth and saw purple potatoes and white eggplant. Looks like opposite day to me! I, of course, had to buy both.
Tonight, I made my opposite day meal – eggplant stacks and purple potato soup.
The eggplant stacks are a nice variation of a caprese salad with grilled
eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The best thing about this recipe is that it looks fancy and refined and is so easy to prepare. If you want to impress the pants off of someone, this is the recipe.
061809_3The potato soup is comfort food for me. I like it to be a bit rustic and usually leave the skins on the potatoes which means you might have pieces of skin in your soup. (if you use a baking type of potato then you want to peel them; the skins won’t taste good). I’m sure I’ve horrified the purists reading this blog, but I’m a simple woman, it was a weeknight after work and didn’t feel like peeling or straining. If I was having company, I’d sweat the details.
And, no, the soup was not purple. The skins are purple after all, not the potato meat. It was still fun.
By the way, I found a “friend” in one of my tomatoes when I was getting dinner ready. This will happen when you buy farm fresh produce. I cut off the top part of the tomato, inspected the remainder for additional “friends” and used it anyway. It was an heirloom tomato after all.

Eggplant Stacks
4 servings
1 large or 2 small eggplant
sea salt
2 tbsps olive oil
2-3 tomatoes (I used a Purple Cherokee heirloom tomato and 2 Green Zebras to give the dish color and variety)
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
061809_4Slice the eggplant into 1/3 inch rounds. Place them in a colander and sprinkle sea salt over them. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
Rinse the salt off the eggplant rounds and pat them dry. Preheat the broiler. Place the rounds in a shallow baking dish and brush olive oil on them. Place the pan under the broil and cook on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Watch the eggplant – you don’t want burnt rounds. Let the eggplant cool.
While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes and mozzarella. Squeeze half the lemon juice and sprinkle sea salt over the tomatoes. Once the eggplant is cool, squeeze the other half of lemon juice over the rounds and sprinkle with a little salt.
Arrange the salad on the plates (you don’t want to put this on a serving dish and try to move them over – think food earthquake). I layered eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, basil, eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, basil, eggplant – topped with a sprig of basil.
Purple Potato Soup
3 tbsps butter
1 bunch of leeks, chopped
2 tbsps garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth or stock
061809_51 1/2 pounds potatoes, quartered (I used purple, but you can use any kind. If they are baking potatoes, then you need to peel them.)
salt and pepper
sour cream
In a soup pot, melt the butter over low heat. Increase to medium heat and add the leeks. Saute until tender, then add the garlic. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool a bit. (You do not want the soup to be piping hot when you put a hand-held blender in it. Think splatter burns.) Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, you can process it in batches in a blender or food processor, but be careful not to burn yourself as you transfer hot soup back and forth.
Season the soup with salt and pepper, then ladle it into the bowls. Add a dab of sour cream (I used a teaspoon) and garnish with chopped chives.
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