Ask Addie: We love the Year of Baking but don’t eat sugar. Help!

I got a call a few weeks ago from a reader, who had this question, which he allowed me to transcribe and publish in today’s paper:

My wife does not eat sugar of any kind, so I read every label in the store to avoid it. I like to bake and have been following your Year of Baking stories, and when I bake, I try to use xylitol as a sugar replacement, but it’s pretty coarse and doesn’t blend as well. What other suggestions do you have? We use maple syrup and honey, also, but we’d love any thoughts you have for folks who are on a sugar-free diet who want to bake and enjoy something sweet.

Mack Edwards

Susanna-Booth-bookBaking with xylitol is uncharted territory for this food writer, but from what I’ve read, it’s a tricky proposition because of that texture issue you mentioned. However, there are lots of alternatives, depending on what kinds of sugar your wife is able to eat. Honey and maple syrup, although suitable sugar substitutes, can still cause a spike in blood sugar, so you might consider other sugar alternatives that are lower on the glycemic index, such as agave syrup or stevia.

There are a few recent cookbooks that address this issue specifically. “The I Quit Sugar Cookbook: 306 Recipes for a Clean, Healthy Life” by Sarah Wilson (Clarkson Potter, $27.50), “Sensationally Sugar Free: Delicious Sugar-Free Recipes for Healthier Eating Every Day” by Susanna Booth (Hamlyn, $29.99) and “Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough: Cookbook” by Ella Leche (Andrews McMeel, $24.99) feature hundreds of recipes for sweet and savory dishes with minimal or no added sugar.

The best for baked goods and desserts is “Sensationally Sugar Free,” which has ice creams, puddings, breakfasts, granola bars and other foods that are typically packed with sugar. Some of these dishes are sweetened naturally with fruit or ingredients such as roasted, pureed beets, while others use some of the many sugar alternatives that are on the market today, like the stevia powder in these brownies. You can use a dairy-free margarine in place of butter in this recipe to make it vegan. (And if you missed the brownie recipes we ran in our Year of Baking series earlier this year, go to austin360.com/yearofbaking to find the recipes and how-to video.)

These brownies from “Sensationally Sugar Free” by Susanna Booth are sweetened with stevia powder. Photo by Haarala Hamilton.
These brownies from “Sensationally Sugar Free” by Susanna Booth are sweetened with stevia powder. Photo by Haarala Hamilton.

Chocolate Brownies

Sunflower oil
7 oz. butternut squash
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chopped
2 tsp. stevia powder
3 oz. no-added-sugar semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3 eggs
3 1/2 oz. pitted dried dates
Scant 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
Scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan with sunflower oil, or line the pan with parchment paper.

Seed the butternut squash and chop into 1-inch cubes. You can keep the skin on — it provides extra nutrients, and you’ll never notice it in the finished brownies. Spread the chopped squash out in the baking pan and roast for 20 minutes until soft. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter, stevia powder and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as most of it has melted, remove the pan from the heat. Let stand until everything has melted.

Place the roasted squash, eggs and dates in a food processor and process for about 1 minute until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add both flours, baking powder and salt, followed by the melted chocolate mixture. Process for about 30 seconds until everything is well combined. Stir in the walnuts.

Spread the batter across the baking pan and smooth it flat with a spatula. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the brownie has shrunk away from the sides of the pan but is still soft in the middle. Let cool in the pan, then cut into 16 pieces.

— From “Sensationally Sugar Free: Delicious sugar-free recipes for healthier eating every day” by Susanna Booth (Hamlyn, $29.99)

Bet you’ve never had beet juice like this before

This boozy beet float is a spin on the classic root beer float, but with gin and Topo Chico. Photo from Juice Society.
This boozy beet float is a spin on the classic root beer float, but with gin and Topo Chico. Photo from Juice Society.

Juice Society just opened a retail location at 1100 S. Lamar Blvd., and though you can’t buy their organic, cold-pressed juices in other stores, you can buy them online for delivery.

No matter how you buy them — or if you have another favorite brand — Juice Society shares recipes on its blog (juicesociety.wordpress.com) for unexpected dishes that include freshly pressed juice, such as a beet hummus or a smoothie bowl. (They also sell some of those dishes in the store.)

This boozy root-beer-inspired float is one that would win over guests at any party, or could be a good fit for a solo treat during a late-night binge of “Broad City.”

Boozy Root Down Float

1.5 oz. Hendricks gin
4 to 6 oz. Juice Society Root Down (freshly-pressed beet, carrot, apple, ginger, lemon and celery)
2 scoops bourbon vanilla ice cream
Splash of sparkling water
Cucumber (for garnish)

Mix together the gin and juice. In a tall float glass (or a chilled beer pint glass), add the ice cream and then pour the gin mixture over the scoops. Top off the float with your sparkling water of choice, such as Topo Chico. Add a cucumber garnish, if using.

— Juice Society

Citywide Lemonade Day returns on May 7

Finn Holt is the 12-year-old winner of this year’s Austin Lemonade Day contest, which takes place ahead of the citywide Lemonade Day. This year, that event will take place on May 7. Photo from Lemonade Day Austin.
Finn Holt is the 12-year-old winner of this year’s Austin Lemonade Day contest, which takes place ahead of the citywide Lemonade Day. This year, that event will take place on May 7. Photo from Lemonade Day Austin.

Lemonade stands have always been a great way for kids to learn about running a business and make a little money while they are at it. For the ninth year, kids around the country will host lemonade stands on May 7 as part of the national Lemonade Day, which started in Houston. Austin’s Lemonade Day is a big one, with hundreds of young entrepreneurs participating. It’s free to participate, and if you register at austin.lemonadeday.org, you can spread the word about your stand and receive a Lemonade Day Austin Entrepreneur Workbook and Mentor Guide with more information about how to make your stand the best ever.

Austinite Finn Holt, age 12, won the city’s annual pre-Lemonade Day contest, which took place earlier this month. The backyard gardener used a combination of Meyer lemons, which he grows in his yard, and regular lemon juice, but his secret is those preserved Meyer lemon rinds. To make them, all you have to do is quarter the lemons, coat them in salt and then pack them in a jar with more salt. They keep for a long time, especially in the fridge, and you can use them in lots of Middle Eastern dishes.

Finnigan’s Lucky Backyard Lemonade

Holt says that this lemonade is best served over lots of ice, and you can make ice cubes out of the lemonade the night before. You can even put a mint leaf and/or chopped Meyer lemon pieces in each ice cube before freezing for something fancier. If you want to make your own lemonade concoction, Holt says you just need to remember “411” for 4 parts water, 1 part lemon juice and 1 part sugar, and those parts can be as big or small as you need.

2 large handfuls of fresh mint
2 cups freshly squeezed lemons
A little less than 2 cups light brown sugar (more or less to taste)
8 cups water
4 preserved Meyer lemons rinds, finely minced
A few stems fresh rosemary

Muddle the mint in a mortar and pestle with a bit of lemon juice to make a juicy paste. Mix with lemon juice, brown sugar, water and preserved lemons. Stir well. Add stalks of rosemary and let sit to add gentle flavor. Serve over lots of ice. You can add mint leaves and a stalk of rosemary for garnish. Makes about 15 small glasses with ice.

— Finn Holt

‘Jemima Code’ author Toni Tipton-Martin wins James Beard Award

InHKwsOLIn a night full of Lucky Peach wins and a lifetime achievement award for Deborah Madison, former Austinite Toni Tipton-Martin won a James Beard Award last night for her book, “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks.”

jemimacodeTipton-Martin, whose book was published through the University of Texas Press and who lived in Austin until last year, has had a long career in food writing, but it wasn’t until she dug deep into a subject she’d pursued for years — the African American cookbooks in her own library and the existing books she did not yet own — that the nation’s foremost journalism awards acknowledged her efforts.

You can read our 2015 profile of Tipton-Martin and her book.

Tipton-Martin has been on the James Beard Award committees in the past, but this is her first win and it was in the Reference and Scholarship category.

Grocery Diaries: Wheatsville, Poco Loco feeding my salsa fever

salsatomatoes How do you spend nearly $70 on salsa?

By buying nearly every brand at the store.

I’m working on a salsa story for next week’s food section, and as part of that, I’m rounding up store-bought salsas for a comparison chart that will run alongside some recipes and homemade salsa tips.

I stopped by Wheatsville earlier this week to see what brands they sold, and although I knew they’d have a sizable selection, I didn’t realize they’d have nearly a dozen salsas either made or based in Austin. Some salsas, like Jaime’s or Ana’s, are available in lots of stores, but there were hard-to-find ones like a new-to-me one called Concha’s Salsa, which I only recently discovered at the farmers market.

grocerydiariessalsaThis morning, I hit up the newly rebranded Poco Loco supermarket at South First and Ben White Boulevard, where I bought salsa-making supplies, including lots of dried and fresh peppers, which I’ll be broiling, roasting and dry-searing as soon as I get home this afternoon.

I’ve made a few batches of salsa so far and will be tweaking my recipes this week, but I’d love to hear any salsa tips you might have to share! Feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email at abroyles@statesman.com.

What is shakshouka and why you should serve it at your next brunch

Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. This version is from chef Amir Hajimaleki of Oasthouse Kitchen & Bar, a gastropub at 8300 RM 620 North in Northwest Austin. Photo by Addie Broyles
Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. This version is from chef Amir Hajimaleki of Oasthouse Kitchen & Bar, a gastropub at 8300 RM 620 North in Northwest Austin. Photo by Addie Broyles

If you’re a savory breakfast kind of person, omelets, quiche and breakfast tacos are probably on the menu more often than cinnamon rolls and pancakes. Even though there are a million ways to cook eggs, sometimes you run out of ideas and need a little inspiration.

Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. At Oasthouse Kitchen & Bar, a gastropub at 8300 RM 620 North in Northwest Austin, chef Amir Hajimaleki serves this dish in small cast iron skillets topped with feta and cilantro. You could use a larger skillet with more eggs, depending on how many people you are serving.

This quantity of sauce is enough for at least six brunch servings, and as many as 10 or even 12, depending on what else you are serving and how much sauce you want to serve with each egg, and the sauce is versatile enough to use with pastas, on pizzas or as a dipping sauce with sandwiches.

Shakshouka

For the sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup yellow onions, chopped
1/2 cup poblano peppers, diced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 (28-oz.) can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
For each shakshouka serving:
1 cooked breakfast sausage, such as an English banger
1/2 cup shakshouka sauce (see above)
2 whole eggs
Crumbled feta, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a sauce pot add olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add onions and peppers and cook until caramelized, at least 20 minutes. Add spices, sugar and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off heat. You can reserve the sauce at this point in the refrigerator and proceed with making individual servings.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove, add the cooked sausage and half a cup of the shakshouka sauce. Bring to a simmer.

Crack whole eggs on top and place the skillet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until egg whites are cooked and yolks are runny. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and cilantro. Serve with warm French bread for dipping. Makes enough sauce for 6 to 8 servings.

— From Amir Hajimaleki of Oasthouse Kitchen & Bar

Events: Next week marks 25 years for Umlauf’s food-centric Garden Party

The Umlauf Garden Party will take place on Thursday, April 28 at the popular sculpture garden and museum near Zilker Park.
The Umlauf Garden Party will take place on Thursday, April 28 at the popular sculpture garden and museum near Zilker Park.

Not many food festivals in Austin can claim a 25-year history.

Next week, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum will host its 25th annual Garden Party, a fundraiser featuring more than two dozen restaurants.

The event will take place from 6:3o to 9:30 p.m. at the sculpture garden, at 605 Robert E. Lee Road near Zilker Park, where guests will enjoy food from restaurants including Apis, Bribery Bakery, Foreign & Domestic, Geraldine’s, Max’s Wine Dive, Olive & June, Rebel Pizza Bar, Satay and Maudie’s, as well as wine and other drinks from Twin Liquors.

There will also be live music from the Nash Hernandez Orchestra. The event raises money for the museum’s programming, including summer camps for kids.

Tickets cost $150, and you can buy two VIP tickets for $500, which include a pre-party with food from Mongers Market & Kitchen and Central Market. You can buy tickets and find more information at umlaufsculpture.org/gardenparty.

Event: Sustainable Food Center’s Farm to Plate on May 11

The Sustainable Food Center's big annual fundraiser event, Farm to Plate, will take place on May 11 at the Barr Mansion. Photo from SFC.
The Sustainable Food Center’s big annual fundraiser event, Farm to Plate, will take place on May 11 at the Barr Mansion. Photo from SFC.

The Sustainable Food Center’s annual Farm to Plate fundraiser is back with an all-star lineup of local chefs, who will be serving bites of locally sourced food from 7 to 9:30 p.m. May 11 at Barr Mansion.

This year, they’ve added a VIP happy hour that starts at 6 p.m. and will feature food and a cocktail from Juniper chef Nicholas Yanes. Other chefs that will be participating in the main part of the event include Jared Conoley of Olivia, John Lichtenberger of Peche, Michael Paley and Amanda Rockman of the South Congress Hotel, Rob Snow from Greenhouse Craft Food, Trace’s Angel Begaye and James Zoller, and Erica Beneke, who recently left her post at Max’s Wine Dive to join the team at Asti.

The event is SFC’s primary fundraiser and will include the presentation of the annual Sustainable Food Changemaker awards. General admission is sold out, but you can buy VIP tickets for $300 at sustainablefoodcenter.org/get-involved/farm-to-plate. Some tables are still available.

Event: Mexic-Arte’s Taste of Mexico at Brazos Hall on April 27

Mexic-Arte Museum is hosting a Taste of Mexico event on April 27 at Brazos Hall. Photo from Mexic-Arte.
Mexic-Arte Museum is hosting a Taste of Mexico event on April 27 at Brazos Hall. Photo from Mexic-Arte.

Mexic-Arte Museum is hosting a celebration of Mexican cuisine from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, at Brazos Hall, 204 E. Fourth St.

The Taste of Mexico event will feature a number of local restaurants, including Casa Chapala, Geraldine’s, Llama’s Peruvian Creole, Licha’s Cantina, Ranch 616, Sazon and Matt’s El Rancho. Guests can try a number of local products, including salsas from Concha’s and chips from Beanitos.

There will also be cocktails, coffee and beer, as well as a pop-up print shop and bazaar with Mexican folk arts, crafts and gifts for sale. Before the event, you can take a cooking class with Kitchen Underground. Tickets cost $45 or $35 for museum members and are available at mexic-artemuseumevents.org.

Today, Mexic-Arte announced that the chef of honor for the event will be Ángel Vázquez of Intro Restaurante in Cholula in the Mexican state of Puebla that is known for dishes inspired by far-flung places, including Morocco, Thailand, Greece, Spain and France.

The Austin Food & Wine fest was canceled, now what?

12990880_1126789420676846_2356857609207319113_nAustin’s biggest food and wine event has been canceled.

That means a few thousand ticket holders who will be trying to find something else to do this weekend.

The out-of-town visitors will likely fill up the high-end restaurants around the city instead of having their fill at the festival, and I imagine that we’ll see some of the big-name chefs who were slated to appear at the festival doing some pop-ups at local restaurants. We’ll keep you posted as we hear about last-minute events.

In the meantime, there’s the Louisiana Swamp Thang and Crawfish Festival on Saturday, and a book signing with Georgia chef Hugh Acheson at 4 p.m. Friday. UPDATE: The Acheson event at Metier Cook’s Supply has been canceled.

On the up side, the fact that they canceled the festival today instead of Thursday or Friday means less food that will go to waste. There will be some wasted food, sadly and surely, but nothing like the food vendors at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, who in 2013 were told that the final day of the festival was rained out the morning of the cancellation.

UPDATE: Searsucker, Fixe and Revival Public House are among the local eateries offering specials to wristband holders or other festival cancellation specials.

Delysia Chocolatier is hosting a free chocolate tasting at its shop at 2000 Windy Terrace Suite from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday to show off some of the truffles owner Nicole Patel had made for the festival, which include flavors such as cabernet sauvignon and fried chicken.