Archive | May, 2011

Austin Food Bloggers’ Hunger Awareness Project: Beets Two Ways

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As I considered what I would make for my final Austin Food Bloggers’ Hunger Awareness Project for the Capital Area Food Bank, I found myself thinking of what it feels like to be in the place of choosing between buying food and other essentials like medicine or paying rent.  What most of you may not know about me is that I know that feeling all too well.
Many years ago I made a series of truly regrettable and painful choices that turned my life upside down and forced me to start over.  For the two years before I started the blog, I lived on a budget so tight that I had $25 per week for food – $1.19 per meal.  Lisa Goddard from the Capital Area Food Bank told me that I probably would have qualified for SNAP, but I never asked for the help.  
I made it through that period because I had a safety net of friends and family who loved me through it and kept me fed, inviting me over for dinner and sending me home with more leftovers than we ate.  I also found a job where I traveled quite a bit and my clients often picked up the tab for my meals.  I was lucky, but not everyone has such fortune which is why the SNAP program exists – to help people fill those gaps so that they don’t have to make those choices.  
One of the great lessons I learned on that tight budget was to use every little bit of food.  Scraps that I used to throw away became valuable commodities and I would seek out foods that could be used for more than one purpose.
Beets became a new favorite in my kitchen then.  Before that I wasn’t really sure what to do with beets other than roast them and I had never considered eating the greens.  My friends Ana and Sandy changed all that.  Ana gave me a recipe from Mark Bittman for beet pancakes, similar to a potato pancake, that can be eating on their own or as the patty for a veggie burger and Sandy taught me to saute beet greens like spinach.  
I started making the two together using the beet pancakes as my entree and the beet greens as the side.  For $3-$4, I could make two vitamin-packed meals.  Perfect. 
Now you know why I am so passionate about helping end hunger in Central Texas and why I still volunteer for the food bank today.  If you agree that hunger is unacceptable, please donate to the Capital Area Food Bank.
Beet Pancakes with Sauteed Beet Greens

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman

Makes 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes
1 to 1 1/2 pounds beets
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsps olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bunch of beet greens, rinsed
Separate the beets and the beet greens.  Rinse the beet greens in a colander and set them aside to dry.  Tear the beet greens from the stems into bite sized pieces and set aside. 
Trim the beets and peel them as you would potatoes.  It helps to leave part of the stem on the beets so that you have something to hold on to while you peel them.  After the beets are peeled, you can trim off the ends.


Beet greens

Grate the beets in a food processor or by hand.  If you grate by hand, place a towel over the bowl to keep the beet juice from getting all over the kitchen. (Thanks Hector for the tip.)

Toss the grated beets in a bowl with the rosemary and salt, then add about half the flour; toss well, add the rest of the flour, then toss again.
Form patties with the beets – four smaller patties or two large patties. 
Preheat a skillet over medium heat and heat two tablespoons of the olive oil.
Place the patties in the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high.  Cook until the beet cakes are nicely crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the cakes and continue to cook, adjusting the heat if necessary, until the second side is browned.
Remove the beet cakes from the skillet, and either heat the final tbsp of olive oil in a new skillet or add it to the previously used skillet.  Add the garlic and beet greens and saute until the greens are wilted.

Plate the beets and greens.  If desired, add a small dollop of sour cream to the top of the beet cakes.

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IACP Conference Brings Fantastic Foodie Events to Austin

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Austin is playing host to the International Association of Culinary Professionals(IACP) annual conference next week (June 1-June 4, 2011) bringing together almost 1,000 culinary professionals from around the globe.  The conference includes several public events and other supporting events have been planned for visiting writers and chefs so that you can join in on the fun without the hefty registration fee.

Wednesday, June 1, 5:00-6:00 pm, Chefs Move to Schools at the Texas Capitol
Last year, Michelle Obama called chefs to the White House lawn to recognize the influence culinary professionals have on the way our children eat. Among the masses, IACP members came out in their chef coats to join her call to arms.  One year later, in Austin, we are joining together with Texas culinary professionals to celebrate the first anniversary of the Chefs Move to Schools program on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol.  Join White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses along with IACP and The Culinary Trust to learn about resources available to help culinary professionals Move to Schools and hear about recent success stories.  Special guest:  Food Network star and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.

Wednesday, June 1, 6:30-8:30, Jonathan Bloom Book Signing & Potluck Dinner 
Join author Jonathan Bloom for a potluck dinner at Rain Lily Farm. Bloom will discuss his recent book American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and what we can do about it). Books will be available for sale as well. Bring a dish to share, a blanket or chair, and a plate and fork. BYOB. $25 per person. Email to reserve.

Friday, June 3, 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, IACP Culinary Expo  
The IACP Culinary Expo will include a Chef’s Pavilion alongside our sponsors and exhibitors for showcasing new and innovative cooking demonstrations. Lunch will be provided. Attendees’ guests and non-member culinary professionals may attend the Expo for a fee of $35, which includes entry to the adjoining Book Fair. Purchase your ticket here.

Friday, June 3,   1:30 pm – 3:30 pm, IACP Culinary Book Fair 
Held in conjunction with the Annual Conference and Culinary Expo, this special book signing event will give you the chance to meet and mingle with your favorite cookbook and culinary book authors.  Books will be available for purchase and authors can sign and personalize your copies.  The event will be open to food-loving members of the public.  Please join us in thanking The Book People, the official sponsor of the Culinary Book Fair.  See which of your favorite authors are participating in the Book Fair this year.  Tickets in advance are $10; tickets at the door are $15 and subject to availability.  Purchase your ticket here.

Friday, June 3rd 7:00 to 10:00 pm, Edible Texas Wine Food Match pits five Texas chefs against one another in a competition where they create three-course tasting menus featuring Texas products and paired with Texas wine.  I love it when competition tastes this good.  This match is the first of four annual regional competitions planned whose mission is to encourage the use of Texas wine and food products, promote Texas chefs and restaurants, raise the bar for excellence in Texas winemaking and provide a platform for Texas wine and winemakers to receive recognition and reach a broader audience. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts.  Seats are limited and there are only 48 tickets left!  Buy tickets online.

Saturday, June 4, 6:00 pm – 9 pm, Up in Smoke Barbecue Tasting at Boggy Creek Farm
Come enjoy live music and great barbecue with good friends for a good cause. Get your network on and join us for an Austin-style mash-up of music and food hot off the grill. Sample barbacoa from El Naranjo, brisket from John Mueller Barbecue, pork ribs from Hoover’s Cooking, or go whole hog with a feral hog roast by Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due. Trace Restaurant will serve up new takes on traditional southern barbecue sides like German potato salad and coleslaw, while Lambert’s Barbecue will offer their famous fried pies. Wash it all down with locally hand-crafted beer, wine from Stonehouse Vineyards, or a refreshing cocktail by Dripping Springs Vodka. “Up in Smoke is co-sponsored by IACP and Foodways Texas, and all proceeds from this grand finale event will benefit the Sustainable Food Center Austin.  Tickets in advance are $65.  Purchase tickets here.

Sunday, June 5, 6:00 pm, Book Signing and Dinner with Writer Hank Shaw
FINO and Executive Chef Jason Donoho host IACP Award Winner and James Beard Nominee Hank Shaw at a special tasting menu inspired by the author’s new book “Hunt, Gather, Cook.”  Focusing on fresh, local – and wild – ingredients from all over Texas, Chef Jason Donoho will create a menu inspired by Shaw’s book. The dinner is $50 per person ($80 with wine) and books will be available to purchase for $20.   Cocktail hour and book signing at 6:00pm followed by dinner at 6:45pm. To make a reservation call FINO: 512-474-2905. FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar,  Austin, TX 78705.

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Spring event update: From a tour of Spain to an Edible Food & Wine Pairing

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As Spring leaves us behind, there are still some fantastic foodie events for you to explore before you start planning your summer vacation.

Wednesday, May 11- Tuesday, May 24 Central Market hosts their Passport to Spain series of events focused on the culture, food and wine of Spain. If you can’t afford the airfare to Madrid, this is the next best thing. Central Market is bringing in special Spanish products, chefs and winemakers to tempt our taste buds and delight our senses.

Some of the special products in the stores include Padron peppers, manchego bread, skewers, croquettes, Entrepenares sheep cheese in olive oil, caviar and chocolates. The meat and fish market will have marinated meats, sausage, partridge, quail, rabbit, venison stew meat, squid ink, salted cod (bacalao) and mini octopus. And that doesn’t include the special beers and wines.

Chefs from Barcelona, Madrid, New York and San Francisco will be teaching classes in the cooking school and there are still seats available in several of the classes. Both Austin stores will also have special events throughout the Passport event: Austin Central events and Austin Westgate events.

Saturday, May 14 from 9 am to 1 pm, the Sunset Valley Artisan Market opens adjacent to the SFC Farmers Market at Sunset Valley at the Toney Burger Center, 3200 Jones Road in Sunset Valley.  The artisan market featuring more than dozen vendors selling local art and handicrafts will be operated year-round by the Sustainable Food Center.

Thursday, May 19 from 6 pm to sunset, Slow Food Austin is hosting a Happy Hour at Springdale Farm 755 Springdale Road, Austin, Texas 78702. Owners Glenn and Paula Foore will show us around their beautiful urban farm that is sure to be looking gorgeous. Guests will be able to sip on spririted creations from Garrett Mikell of Peche, courtesy of local distiller, Treaty Oak and wines from one of our generous local distributors. Tantalizing treats fresh from Springdale Farm will be served up al fresco by Brandy Gibbs owner of Fine Home Dining. We hope to have music and will share more details when that is arranged.  Suggested donation of $15.00 per adult; children are free. RSVP to  Lawn chairs, bug spray and blankets encouraged.

POSTPONDED: Foreign & Domestic has postponed their anniversary party. Check their website and Facebook page for details on the new date. Saturday, May 21st 6:00 pm, Foreign & Domestic celebrates their 1st Anniversary with a pig  roast at the restaurant.  Chef Ned Elliott and crew will be serving up a whole roasted Red Wattle Hog from Revival Meats, all the fixins, local beer on tap and live music.  The cost is $30 per person and you can  RSVP on Facebook.

Friday, June 3rd 7:00 to 10:00 pm, Edible Texas Wine Food Match pits five Texas chefs against one another in a competition where they create three-course tasting menus featuring Texas products and paired with Texas wine.  I love it when competition tastes this good.

This match is the first of four annual regional competitions planned whose mission is to encourage the use of Texas wine and food products, promote Texas chefs and restaurants, raise the bar for excellence in Texas winemaking and provide a platform for Texas wine and winemakers to receive recognition and reach a broader audience. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts.  Seats are limited and there are only 48 tickets left!  Buy tickets online.
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Road Trip: Seattle’s Pike Place Market

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I fell in love with Seattle the first time I visited in the summer of 1993.  I was 25 and it was my first non-business trip by myself.  I had finally decided I didn’t want to wait for a boyfriend or friends to be available for me to explore the world and Seattle, the home of grunge rock and the center of my technology-driven work world, seemed like the perfect place to express my independence.  (For the record, my father was significantly less excited about this plan than I was.)

When I plotted out my trip, I foolishly allotted an hour for exploring Pike Place Market.  I ended up spending the entire day in this foodie paradise and dropped by each day for the remainder of the trip.  When I returned 10 years later, I was equally charmed.

Understandably, I jumped at the chance to return to Seattle when I was invited to attend the Seattle Chef’s Collaborative Farmer Fisher Chef Connection conference at the end of February and planned my trip so that I had time to visit Pike Place Market before the conference.

My first two trips to Seattle were during the summer, and the rainy, cold, windy February weather was a bit of a shock.  In the end foodie inquisitiveness beat out the need for warmth.  I rendezvoused with bloggers Keren Brown from Seattle, Allison Jones from Portland and a few of their friends at Dahlia Bakery for some pre-market sustenance.  We then headed into the wind and down the hill to Pike Place Market.

Dahlia Bakery

Pike Place Market

The market entices you with tastes from around the world and we started our journey with Russian pastries at Piroshky-Piroshky then delighted in hom bows and sticky rice just a few steps.  We tried fresh cheeses from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and drooled over sausages at Bottega Italiana.   We bought exotic spices at World Spice Merchants and Catalan delicacies at The Spanish Table.  We even giggled at the wall of chewing gum (which is really gross, by the way.)

Making pierogi dough
Pastries at the Pierogi shop
Beecher's cheese making
Beecher's handmade cheeses
Hom Bow
World Spice Merchants
Spanish Table goodiesThe chewing gum wall

And, of course, we watched them throw fish.

Before they get tossed

The big surprise for me at the market was the produce.  My first two trips were during the summer and long before I knew what sustainable food meant.  I never questioned the bountiful produce in the rabbit-warren of market stalls.  But, this time was different.  I rounded the corner from Pike Place Fish into the main market and stopped short.  Are those grapes in that booth?   Is that corn?  There is no way those things are from the Pacific Northwest – it was still FREEZING outside.

Produce stand

And, I had the “ah ha” moment.  Pike Place Market isn’t specifically a growers market.  If you peruse the list of vegetable vendors, there are a number of local farmers represented, but there are also resellers.  It caught me by surprise.

I realized that Pike Place Market hasn’t changed – I have.  It never would have crossed my mind to ask where the produce came from 10 or 20 years ago, but now it was obvious to me when I saw things that were clearly out of season.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ll still visit Pike Place Market when I come to Seattle.  I’ve never been anywhere else like it and love being able to celebrate so many different foods from around the world in one place.  But, next time I will also make sure I find a local grower farmers market to explore.

After my revelation, I refocused my attention on vendors selling locally sourced products.  Mixed into the reseller booths, I found local produce, seafood, meats, dried fruit and lovely handmade pastas to name a few.

Dried fruitDried cherriesDried pasta

After all that shopping, we needed refreshment and popped into Seatown, Tom Douglas’ new diner down the street from the market.  We enjoyed bread with lardo to start and I followed with a plate of oysters (the first of many meals that involved oysters on this trip) while most of my companions picked the Dungenes crab blt.  The Seatown Mary was terrific, a spicy and tangy brunch accompaniment.

Bread & lardoOystersCrab blt

We had a lovely time tasting our way through the maze of Pike Place market.  I made some great new food discoveries and learned a bit about myself too.  Not bad for a Sunday morning.

View the full photo set on Flickr.

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