Archive | March, 2015

Make It Seasonal Recipe: Asparagus, Radish & Fennel Salad

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Asparagus, fennel and radish salad


I am so inspired by this seasonal recipe series! Thanks to everyone who voted last month to help me pick ingredients for a new dish. The winning produce was (drumroll, please) fennel, asparagus and radishes.

I immediately thought of a salad, which felt a little like a cop out. I could hear Tom Colicchio in my mind “But, you didn’t really cook anything, did you?” I decided to ignore my inner Tom and follow my instincts. I love a salad with crisp spring vegetables, and this recipe promised big flavor and crunch.

The dish is simple to make, but there is a little bit of knife work. I don’t care for big chunks of fennel so I used a mandoline to slice the fennel into thin disks, then cut those with a knife into strips. I sliced the radishes thinly and cut my already thin asparagus on a diagonal. If you have thicker asparagus, you can shave it with a vegetable peeler.

I used my vegetable peeler to shave the parmesan into long thin strips. The trick is to use a light touch so that you get strips thin enough to see through. If that seems like too much work, you can grate it instead.

The result is a tangy, crunchy, peppery salad that was the perfect bite of spring. Enjoy!

And, don’t forget to vote for April’s ingredients: April Recipe Mashup Ballot.

Asparagus, Fennel and Radish Salad

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

1 bulb of fennel with fronds (the leafy green part)

juice of 4 lemons, approximately one-half cup

1 bunch of thin asparagus

1 bunch of radishes

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 tsp salt sea salt

1 wedge of Parmesan

Separate the fennel bulb from the fronds and, if needed, clean up the bulb. Set the fronds aside.

Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, shave the fennel into thin disks. Using a knife, cut the fennel into long strips.

Place the fennel and 1/4 cup of the lemon juice into a shallow bowl or dish to allow the fennel to soak up the juice.

While the fennel is soaking, slice the radishes and asparagus. If your asparagus is thick, you can shave it into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler.

In a small bowl, combine the other 1/4 cup lemon juice, salt and the olive oil. With a whisk or fork, whip the dressing until the juice and oil thicken. Taste and add salt, if desired. I did not add pepper because my radishes were very peppery, but feel free to add it if you have more mild radishes.

Combine the fennel, radishes and asparagus in a bowl, slowly add dressing to lightly coat the vegetables. Lightly shave 8-10 ribbons of parmesan into the dish. Pinch fennel leaves from the fronds and sprinkle over the top of the salad.

Serve and enjoy!

P.S. Don’t trash the fronds. You can save the fennel stalks to use in fish stock or to make fennel pesto. Here’s a great post from The Kitchn on 5 ways to use fennel stalks and fronds.

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Wowing with Outstanding Restaurant Service

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When I moved to Austin many moons ago, the food wasn’t fancy and restaurant service was typically adequate at best. Over the last couple of decades, our food scene has transformed and we have an almost overwhelming number of great places to eat. How do you choose? For me, the deciding factor is usually the service.

The places that win my heart are the restaurants that value their front of house standards as much as those for the kitchen, making me feel welcome and comfortable without overdoing it. It’s service that lifts a good restaurant to a great restaurant, and it is the achilles heal for many places in Austin.

I was thrilled when Edible Austin let me profile a few exceptional folks who are putting their customers first every day. Cheers to the Forces at the Front of the House!

Do you have a favorite server? Where do they work and how did they wow you?

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Local Food Fun at SXSW

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Dine out at the French Legation and watch a Michelin-starred Chef at work  or support local non-profits while listening to great music. Check out a few of our favorite foodie events you can’t miss this SXSW.


Image from French Tech Club.

French Bistro Pop-Up
March 15-20

2015’s French Bistro is going to be even better: Chef Rémi Fournier has invited the Michelin-starred Chef Gérard Bossé to create a pop-up version of his Angers restaurant ‘Une Île’. Gérard is Rémi’s mentor and one of the godfathers of the natural approach to cooking in France.

The Chefs will be cooking in an open kitchen at the French Legation with locally sourced ingredients to share their art and demonstrate every step of the performance that cooking is. These two Chefs are going to offer a unique experience: bringing their most delicious food and talented teams to Austin for 50 lunches and 50 dinners. Book your seat now!

Freebirds Live Music Fundraiser
March 18-21

Freebirds World Burrito returns to the St. Vincent de Paul stage for their sixth annual four day celebration of live music, fresh food and fundraising. Browse local artisan booths and enjoy Freebirds fare while listening to a music lineup featuring local Austin favorites and more. Funds from donations, food and beverage sales at the showcase will go towards a new a mobile store and distribution center that will supply clothing and household necessities to underserved parts of Austin. Check out the lineup here.

Music By the Slice
March 20-21

Come enjoy some great bands, hot pizza, cold drinks, and big time fun for the whole family at Home Slice Pizza! The event is free, open to all ages, and no RSVP is necessary! All proceeds benefit Urban Roots, a youth development organization that uses food and farming to transform the lives of young people and inspire, engage, and nourish the community. Schedule here.

Not headed to SXSW, check out…

Paella Challenge
Sunday, March 15, 11am-4pm

Watch as chefs and high school teams go head-to-head in competition to create the most impressive paella dishes cooked right before your eyes. All of the proceeds to benefit the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus. The ticket price is all-inclusive – meaning it includes entry into the event, sampling of amazing Paella and other tasty bites from the chefs as well as beverages (Beer, Wine, Sangria, Sodas & Water) and the entertainment for the day. Purchase tickets here!

Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair
Sunday, March 29, Noon-4pm

The annual Edible Austin Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair focuses on the wellness of future generations by encouraging healthy habits in children! This free event showcases local artisans, games, tastings, cooking demonstrations and live music. Learn about participating vendors and more.

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Make It Seasonal Recipe Mashup

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When I started this blog in 2008, I had no idea that I would still be writing it seven years later. Thanks to followers like you, I have been on and amazing food adventure and have learned more than I could have imagined about farms, food artisans and chefs.

I’ve also had the incredible opportunity to write for others, which has, at times, distracted me from the blog (paychecks will do that). I realized last year that I really missed cooking for the blog, which is how I got started in the first place.

In the spirit of the seven year itch and mixing things up, we are starting two monthly features for the blog. The first, Our Favorite Things, is a monthly profile of our new finds. We kicked off that series in February.

The second is a little game I like to call the Make It Seasonal Recipe Mashup, or Stump the Chump farmers market style. I led a version of this exercise at a UT Nutrition Club meeting last year to help the students understand how you can adapt a recipe for each season. It was a blast and I thought it would be fun to bring it to you.

Each month, I’m going to become your guinea pig. Readers will vote for three seasonal ingredients and I will create a dish that incorporates all three, sharing the finished recipe to the blog.

So, here we go! Pick 3 seasonal ingredients for March on this survey by Tuesday, March 17th. I’ll create a dish and share the recipe by the end of the month.

Thanks for seven amazing years and cheers to many more!

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