Austin360Cooks: Mix 94.7 host spins dinner’s wheel of fortune

Sara Osburn, who co-hosts the morning show on Mix 94.7, runs out of ideas for what to cook for dinner just like everybody else.

The wheel o' dinner fortune. Photo by @saraosburn.
The wheel o’ dinner fortune. Photo by @saraosburn.

She and her boyfriend, Patrick, have started a little game where they spin a wheel, made out of cardboard and an arrow attached with a fastener made out of an old Twister spinner, that lists all the continents. Wherever the arrow lands, they have to cook something from that place.

Last week, the arrow landed on Asia, and they whittled down all those cuisines to Indian and headed toward Gandhi Bazar to pick up ingredients. Together, they made chicken masala — she even posted a video on Instagram (she’s @saraosburn) of Patrick using a foil-wrapped hammer to pound out the chicken breasts — and turned weeknight dinner into a fun outing and activity that some might even call a date night.

The only continent she’s not looking forward to? Antarctica.

What fun ideas are you putting to use in your kitchen? We love hearing from readers about what they are cooking or what new discoveries they are making at the grocery store or farmers market. Post your photos on Instagram with #Austin360Cooks or email me at abroyles@statesman.com.

You can check out a gallery of the latest photos below the recipe.

Radio host Sara Osburn and her boyfriend, Patrick, recently started a game to challenge their creativity in the kitchen. They spin a wheel to randomly pick a continent and then select a recipe from that area. They made chicken tikka masala after shopping at Gandhi Bazar, an Indian market with several locations in Austin. Photo by @saraosburn.
Radio host Sara Osburn and her boyfriend, Patrick, recently started a game to challenge their creativity in the kitchen. They spin a wheel to randomly pick a continent and then select a recipe from that area. They made chicken tikka masala after shopping at Gandhi Bazar, an Indian market with several locations in Austin. Photo by @saraosburn.

Chicken Tikka Masala

For the chicken:
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup plain (unsweetened) whole milk yogurt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. ground garlic
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
For the sauce:
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (peeled)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes, with juices
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Kosher salt, to taste
Basmati rice, for serving

Combine salt, cumin, coriander and cayenne in small bowl. Whisk together yogurt, oil, ginger and garlic in large bowl and set aside. Season the chicken on both sides with the spice mixture and let rest in a single layer while you prepare the sauce.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and tomato paste and cook about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, garam masala, cumin, turmeric and tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer a few minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

While sauce is keeping warm, place oven rack six inches from the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Dip chicken into yogurt mixture and place on the sheet. Broil chicken about 4 minutes and then flip, cooking for another 4-5 minutes.

Let chicken rest 5 minutes. Cut into bite-size pieces and stir into warm sauce when ready to eat. If sauce needs warming, warm it up first and then toss the chicken in when ready to serve. Season with kosher salt to taste, garnish with cilantro and serve over basmati rice.

— Adapted from recipes by Cook’s Illustrated, ChewOutLoud.com

5 Days of Scandinavia: No-Bake Chocolate Oat Balls, perfect for fika

These chocolate oat balls are among the many treats that Swedes eat during fika, a coffee break in the middle of the day. Photo by Addie Broyles.
These chocolate oat balls are among the many treats that Swedes eat during fika, a coffee break in the middle of the day. Photo by Addie Broyles.

I’m wrapping my up post-vacation stories about Sweden and Denmark, two countries I visited earlier this month and have been dreaming about ever since.

On Wednesday, you can read my column that digs a little deeper into the purpose of my visit, what I ate and some recipes to bring some of those tastes back home, but first, I wanted to share one of the dishes in that story that I made over the weekend.

We saw these chocolate balls, called chokladbollar, in every cafe and market in Sweden. They are a perfect example of something you’d eat at fika, the coffee-and-a-snack bread that many Swedes take every day.

These balls are a simple mixture of butter, sugar, cocoa and finely ground oats, rolled in a ball and coated with coconut. They remind me a little of those no bake cookies we used to make at kids, but these aren’t even heated on the stove. (And no peanut butter. But a scoop of that would be an excellent addition to the ingredient list, however inauthentic.)

Chocolate Oat Balls

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup finely shredded coconut

In a food processor, pulse the oats into coarse meal. Don’t grind too finely. If you don’t have a food processor, use quick cooking oats or the finest oats you can find.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and continue to cream until well blended. Using your hands, mix in the oats and salt.

Place the shredded coconut on a small plate. Roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball and then roll the ball in the coconut until fully coated. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or in the freezer.

— From “Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats” by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall (Ten Speed Press, $17.99)

5 Days of Scandinavia: What’s up with Swedes’ love of Tex-Mex?

61Fk4JUF3hL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_When I was living in Spain in 2003, I would have killed for a good tortilla.

The good people of Spain feel quite strongly about Mexican food, and not in a good way.

Apparently, those feelings are not shared by other European countries. I can’t speak for all of them, of course, and I can’t even speak for Sweden, but I can tell you that I’ve seen several clues that lead me to believe the Swedes are quite passionate about many different international cuisines, particularly of the Mexican and Tex-Mex variety.

First, Jonas Cramby. I did a double-take last year when I saw his name on the cover of a book called “Tex-Mex from Scratch.” “What the heck does a Swede named Jonas Cramby know about Tex-Mex?” was my first thought.

My second thought, as I flipped through the book: “Hey, this isn’t too bad.”

It turns out that Cramby has written about both Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex because he’s personally interested in Texas culture and become there’s a huge market for these flavors in his native Sweden. (He has a pretty cool YouTube channel if you want to hear/watch a Swede in the Swedish countryside show you how to make fajitas or lamb barbacoa.)

How do I know there’s a huge market for those flavors in Sweden? Because every grocery store we went in had a huge Tex-Mex section. In one of the bigger supermarkets in Visby, I found practically a whole aisle filled with taco kits, corn and flour tortillas, salsas, queso, spice packets, refried beans and rice mixes. Grocery stores aren’t going to stock that many items if those products aren’t selling well.

The Tex-Mex aisle at this grocery store in Visby, Sweden, was larger than some in Austin. Photo by Addie Broyles.
The Tex-Mex aisle at this grocery store in Visby, Sweden, was larger than some in Austin. Photo by Addie Broyles.

We saw several Tex-Mex/Mexican restaurants in each city we visited but didn’t try any, sadly. (I’ll file that one under #travelregrets.)

So why do Swedes love tacos? A theory I’ve been developing has to do starts with the fact that they generally embrace international flavors. Just about every cuisine you can find in Austin I saw in Sweden. In the grocery store magazine, the recipes ranged from Lebanese kofta to Thai soup and American potato salad. Just as authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex is growing in popularity in the U.S., the foodies of Scandinavia are just as curious about replicating some of those unique flavors in their kitchens as New Yorkers.

And I also have to point out that although Swedish food certainly isn’t the bland/boring cuisine that several people warned me about before I left, the bold, intense ingredients used in Tex-Mex and Mexican food — chiles, cumin, lime, cilantro, to name a few — provide a nice contrast to the pickled, preserved and homey ingredients that are the backbone of Swedish cuisine.

This week, I used a package of Swedish taco seasoning I picked up at one of the markets in Stockholm. It was heavy on the cumin, and though not as dark in color as some American taco mixes, it packed a nice bit of heat that I wasn’t expecting.

That little chihuahua with the sombrero on the back of the package is a little silly, though.

Where are some of the interesting places you’ve seen Tex-Mex or Mexican cuisine served? Anyone with knowledge of Sweden have any other ideas about why Tex-Mex is so popular there?

tacomix

 

 

 

5 Days of Scandinavia: Falling in love with IKEA food all over again (except the veggie balls)

These heart-shaped waffles are some of our favorite items from the IKEA store in Round Rock. Photo by Julian Knox-Broyles.
These heart-shaped waffles are some of our favorite items from the IKEA store in Round Rock. Photo by Julian Knox-Broyles.

For a few years now, I’ve been fascinated with IKEA’s role in Texas-Swedish culture.

The home furnishing giant, which started in Sweden in 1943 and opened its first Texas store in 2005, flourished in the U.S. more than 100 years after Swedish immigrants started settling here.

Swedes were hugely influential in Central Texas starting in the mid-1800s, and many of the streets, parks and landmarks, especially in Williamson County, are named after Swedish settlers. Even Austin Bergstrom International Airport is named after a Swede.

Yet we eat kolaches and not kanelbullar.

Not to say that Czech culture in Texas isn’t equally as important or worth preserving, but Texas-Czech culture is thriving in a way that Texas-Swedish culture is not. There is a Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in Austin, and Swedes in Elgin and New Sweden host mid-summer and St. Lucia celebrations, but for the most part, Austinites don’t see evidence of Swedish influence on Texas in the same way that we see German and Czech influences, especially when it comes to food.

Except when you go to IKEA.

At a midsummer celebration a few years ago, I was blown away to see so many Swedish expats, Swedish-Texans or people who just have an interest in Swedish culture gathering to eat Jansson’s Temptation (a creamy potato casserole) and sip on lingonberry soda.

Once I saw IKEA through a different lens, I started to love going there, specifically to buy food from the small grocery market near the exit. Right before my trip to Sweden, I stopped by IKEA to stock up on meatballs, cinnamon rolls, pear soda and lingonberry jam so that my kids, who were staying with my parents in Missouri, could have a taste of Scandinavia while I was gone.

Two weeks later, on the way home from picking them up after I returned, we stopped by IKEA again to drop another $60 on Swedish food. Call it an at-home souvenir.

In that shopping trip, I picked up several new food items I hadn’t tried before, including the vegetable balls that IKEA launched in 2015 and a boxed multigrain bread mix.

veggieballsI tried the veggie balls during this week’s Facebook livestream — I do these every Wednesday at noon — and as you can see, I was not a fan. At the store, they serve the veggie balls with an Indian-spiced sweet potato sauce that might improve their flavor, but when simply baked in the oven, they tasted like pea paste studded with pieces of corn and bell peppers. I’ve had a few people tell me they like these veggie balls, but maybe I just don’t love the taste of peas enough to like them.

Or maybe I love their regular meatballs too much to be able to fairly judge them.

The second new product was this multi-grain baking mix that comes in what looks like a square milk carton. I had this bread several times in Sweden, where it is generally called seeded rye bread. The mix has wheat and rye flours, wheat and rye flakes, sunflower seeds, linseed, malt and yeast, and to make it, you pour hot water directly in the carton, close it up and shake the heck out of it for 45 seconds. Pour the batter into a bread pan, let rise for 45 minutes and then bake at 400 degrees for 60 minutes.

I should have pulled the loaf out after about 50 minutes because it’s extra crusty on top and a little too chewy on the edges, but in general, this is a good approximation of the dense, hearty bread you’ll find served with hard-boiled eggs, salmon, tiny shrimp or ham for breakfast, lunch or fika, the afternoon snack.

What are we doing with the rest of the haul? Making elderflower kombucha, celebrating the end of the school week with the sparkling pear cider and trying to limit our intake of the chocolate heart cookies and the heart-shaped waffles. (I already finished the package of dill gravlax.)

What do you like from the IKEA restaurant or food store? Where are the hidden pockets of Swedish culture that I’ve been looking for? Have a good recipe for Swedish meatballs to share?

IKEA now sells a box of multigrain bread mix. All you have to do is add hot water to the box and shake to mix. Bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. Photo by Addie Broyles.
IKEA now sells a box of multigrain bread mix. All you have to do is add hot water to the box and shake to mix. Bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. Photo by Addie Broyles.

 

 

Could you tell the difference between a Hatch and regular Anaheim chile?

KUT’s Kate McGee posed a question in a story today that many of us ask at some point during our lives in Austin: Why does everybody go nuts for Hatch peppers in August?

It’s not just the peppers themselves. Grocery stores sell hundreds of Hatch-related products that have only grown in number (and weirdness) in recent years. (In my Facebook livestream at noon today, I’m going to try some Hatch lime sandwich cookies from Central Market.)

H-E-B has been selling more and more Hatch products in recent years, including Hatch shredded cheese and heat-and-eat meats. Photo by Addie Broyles.
H-E-B has been selling more and more Hatch products in recent years, including Hatch shredded cheese and heat-and-eat meats. Photo by Addie Broyles.

McGee asked some good questions to the folks at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and Central Market that get to the truth — savvy, targeted marketing equals higher sales for both the farmers and the grocers — but even though many Austinites groan and moan about Hatch taking over stores this time of year, I think many of them enjoy the excitement that comes with trying, say, Hatch shredded cheese or Hatch beer.

I used to be a Hatch complainer until I tried to look at the craziness from an outsider’s perspective. What if I wasn’t so used to this happening every year and walked into a store and saw all these products that no one else in the country gets to try?

In the back of my mind, I also remember a taste test video we did way back in 2010 with the founders of Austin Slow Burn, Jill and Kevin Lewis. (Yes, I’m about 39 weeks pregnant in this video.)

[cmg_anvato video=”3938335″]

Jill and Kevin could discern the different taste between the Hatch and regular Anaheim chiles almost immediately. They relished the complex flavors found in the Hatch and showed not a single ounce of cynicism about its popularity, even though they spent so much of their lives promoting the wide, varied world of capsaicin.

Sadly, Jill passed away in 2013, but I think of her every time Hatch season rolls around. Kevin continues to run Austin Slow Burn, whose products you’ll find year-round in countless area grocery stores.

Are you over Hatch or do you still get a kick out of seeing what kinds of products grocery stores will release each year?

 

 

Austin360Cooks: Ditching eggs for overnight oats, popped amaranth

Soaking oats overnight in yogurt is an easy way to make a no-cook oatmeal for breakfast. Contributed by Better Homes and Gardens
Soaking oats overnight in yogurt is an easy way to make a no-cook oatmeal for breakfast. Contributed by Better Homes and Gardens

My go-to breakfast is scrambled eggs.

After a childhood spent eating Lucky Charms and waffles for breakfast before school, I crave something savory first thing in the morning, so nowadays I usually scramble eggs. I can make them while the kids are having their own bowls of cereal for breakfast and wrap up the eggs in a tortilla so I can eat them on the way to school.

After so many years of quickie breakfast tacos, I’m starting to get bored with them. A weird thing happens when you eat the same thing over and over and over again, even when you’re a food writer — you forget what other options are out there. I remember thinking at some point toward the end of the last school year: “Oh yeah, oatmeal. I forgot about that.”

When I was putting together this week’s story on granola and muesli, I found a number of similar dishes that I’ll be adding to my breakfast repertoire this year. The first two are overnight oatmeal recipes, which are really just simplified muesli. Instead of mixing oats with other ingredients first and then adding that mixture to milk or yogurt, these two Better Homes and Gardens recipes call for mixing the oats and other ingredients directly with the yogurt the night before and letting the moisture soften the oats and meld the flavors overnight.

RELATED: Waking up to homemade granola, muesli will cure back-to-school blues

The second idea comes from “Everyday Whole Grains” author Ann Taylor Pittman, who pops amaranth for a totally different kind of crunch. Popped amaranth would be an excellent addition to any granola or muesli recipe, but they stand out all on their own in her parfait.

They don’t pair as well with salsa, but you can save the tacos for lunch.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oatmeal

2/3 cup (about 1 small carton) plain yogurt, any kind
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup finely shredded carrot
2 Tbsp. raisins
2 Tbsp. crushed pineapple
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. chia seeds or flaxseed meal (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, toasted

In a bowl, combine the first nine ingredients (all except the walnuts). If desired, transfer mixture to a pint jar with a lid or two half-pint jars with lids. Cover and chill overnight or up to 3 days.

To serve, spoon oatmeal into cereal bowls. Top with walnuts and, if desired, additional pineapple and toasted coconut. Serves 2.

— From “Better Homes and Gardens Calorie-Smart Meals: 150 Recipes for Delicious 300-, 400-, and 500-Calorie Dishes” from the editors of Better Homes and Gardens (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)

Popped amaranth adds crunch to this yogurt parfait from “Everyday Whole Grains.” Contributed by Hélène Dujardin
Popped amaranth adds crunch to this yogurt parfait from “Everyday Whole Grains.” Contributed by Hélène Dujardin

Popped Amaranth and Yogurt Parfaits

Corn isn’t the only grain that pops: Amaranth, quinoa, millet and sorghum do, too. With the smaller grains (amaranth and quinoa), popping in a dry pan works best; millet and sorghum work better with a little oil in the pan. Here’s how it’s done, and a recipe idea for how to use it. Don’t make the parfaits too far ahead (like the night before) because the popped grains may get soggy. Use any fruits you like.

4 Tbsp. uncooked amaranth
1 large pink or ruby red grapefruit
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup plain 2-percent reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. honey

Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over high heat at least 5 minutes. Spoon 1 tablespoon amaranth into pan, and check to see that seeds almost immediately start popping. If they don’t, and they instead sit in the pan and burn, the pan isn’t hot enough, and you’ll need to start over.

If they do, cover the pan (popped seeds will fly everywhere) and shake it back and forth on or just over the burner until you hear the seeds stop popping. Immediately pour popped amaranth into a bowl; repeat procedure with remaining amaranth, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Peel and section grapefruit. Combine grapefruit and pomegranate. Combine yogurt and honey, stirring well. Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt mixture in bottom of two (8-oz.) jars or glasses; top each serving with a layer of popped amaranth and a few spoonfuls of the grapefruit mixture. Repeat layers. Makes two servings, with extra popped amaranth.

— From “Everyday Whole Grains: 175 New Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice” by Ann Taylor Pittman (Oxmoor House, $24.95)


5 days of Scandinavia: Would a hipster porridge shop fly in the U.S.?

One of the two oat-based breakfast porridges at Grod in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Addie Broyles.
One of the two oat-based breakfast porridges at Grod in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Addie Broyles.

In the weeks leading up to our trip to Sweden and Denmark, my sister and I had fun booking AirBnBs in each of the cities we were going to visit.

When I confirmed two nights in a cute apartment in Copenhagen, the host emailed me to ask about my arrival. “There is a very nice little porridge shop next door called Grød. I can leave the keys in there so you are flexible to come anytime you want.”

Grod founder Lasse Andersen opened his first porridge shop in Copenhagen in 2011 and wrote a cookbook a few years later. This tomato risotto is one of the dishes on the menu and in the book. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Grod founder Lasse Andersen opened his first porridge shop in Copenhagen in 2011 and wrote a cookbook a few years later. This tomato risotto is one of the dishes on the menu and in the book. Photo by Addie Broyles.

A porridge shop?! I’d never heard of a shop dedicated to porridge, but the idea seemed so adorably Scandinavian that I knew it would be the first place we visited after we dropped off our stuff. (It was right next door, after all.)

Sure enough, Chelsea and I stopped by Grød, which first opened in 2011 and now has four locations around Copenhagen, around 11 a.m. last Monday. It was early enough for her to have an oatmeal with caramel and apples, but close enough to lunch that I could get the tomato and Parmesan risotto. (We both had coffee. Of course.)

Within two bites, we knew that that tomato risotto was the winner. The oatmeal was fine, but nothing compared to the rich, creamy rice topped fat shavings of Parmesan, a pool of basil pesto dotted with halves of cherry tomatoes. After I snagged the recipe from the English-language version of the Grød cookbook (see below), we practically licked the bowl clean and planned a return visit.

The daal at Grod in Copenhagen. Photo by Addie Broyles.
The daal at Grod in Copenhagen. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Twenty-four hours later, we were back in the shop for our third bowl of porridge. We’d already eaten breakfast, so as a pre-lunch, we ordered the daals; curried lentils with tomatoes, cilantro, Skyr yogurt and salted almonds.

ALMONDS, my friends. When was the last time you had almonds on daal?

Well, I can tell you that almonds and lentils, topped with plain yogurt, no less, were a fantastic combination.

It was maybe even better than the tomato risotto from the day before, but the lentils got us thinking: Are risotto and daal porridge? Would a porridge shop ever make it in the U.S.?

A porridge shop opened in Brooklyn a few years ago, but it was apparently only a pop-up shop and is now closed. Savory porridge is definitely on the rise here. In February, I wrote a big story about how chefs, home cooks and even the people who develop new products for grocery stores are getting in on savory porridge.

But the problem with the term “porridge” remains. Even though many of us like to eat porridge and porridge-like foods ranging from fancy oatmeals to the kind of savory risottos and daals served at Grød, the word “porridge” (and its even uglier cousin, gruel) is associated with bland, boring breakfasts that our grandparents used to eat.

My theory is that a porridge shop wouldn’t make it in the U.S. if they tried to sell it with the term “porridge,” but if some marketing genius could come up with a better way to brand the wide array of sweet and savory, thick, satisfying and comforting dishes that they serve at Grød, we’d all be eating there three times a week.

Grød, by the way, is about to open its fifth location — and its first outside Copenhagen — later this year. The porridges cost between 40 to 85 krone, which is in the $6 to $13 range, and I would buy each of them again in a heartbeat at that cost.

Tomato Parmesan Risotto

For the pesto:
1/2 bunch of broad-leafed parsley
1/2 bunch of basil
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt

For the tomato compote:
2/3 lb. tomatoes
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

For the risotto:
1 small shallot
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
11 cups of boiled water, vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup roughly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and cider vinegar, to taste

Make the pesto: Process the ingredients in a food processor and set aside.

Make the tomato compote: Clean the tomatoes and cut into rough squares. Chop the onion and garlic finely. Heat a pan with oil and fry the onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes, cider vinegar and sugar into the pot and boil until the tomatoes are tender and stick together. Season with salt, sugar and cider vinegar and set aside.

Finely chop the shallot and garlic and put into a pot with olive oil and butter. Saute at a very low heat until the onions are tender and translucent. Pour the stock into a separate pot and let it simmer over low heat. Add the rice to the onions and fry at a medium heat. Keep stirring until the butter has been absorbed. Add white wine and let it reduce. Add about 1/2 cup of the boiling stock every time the stock has reduced. Stir frequently.

When there is about 1/2 cup of stock left, add the tomato compote to the risotto and let it reduce further. Add the Parmesan, season with salt and cider vinegar and serve immediately.

— From “Grod” by Lasse Skjønning Andersen

 

Tickets to the Paella Lovers United cook-off now on sale

More than 600 people attended the Paella Lovers United daylong cooking competition, which featured 25 teams making paellas over live fire. Extra points were awarded for song, dance and costume. Photos by Addie Broyles.
More than 600 people attended the Paella Lovers United daylong cooking competition, which featured 25 teams making paellas over live fire. Extra points were awarded for song, dance and costume. Photos by Addie Broyles.
Paellas from the 2013 Paella Lovers United cook-off, as captured via Instagram (with the Valencia filter, of course). Several of the paellas were served with lobster, including this one from team Los Berberechos. Photos by Addie Broyles/@broylesa.
Paellas from the 2013 Paella Lovers United cook-off, as captured via Instagram (with the Valencia filter, of course). Several of the paellas were served with lobster, including this one from team Los Berberechos. Photos by Addie Broyles/@broylesa.

The Paella Lovers United paella cook-off is the biggest paella cook-off around.

It’s at least the biggest in Texas, and you know how Texans like to do things big.

I went a few years ago and was amazed at the fervor of the contestants and the sheer scale of coordinating dozens of teams cooking huge pans of paella over live fire.

RELATED: Paella with ribs? Spain’s most famous culinary export isn’t all saffron and seafood

This year’s event will take place Nov. 12 from noon until late at Camp Ben McCulloch 18301 FM 1826. (It didn’t end until past dark the year I judged.) This is a new venue for the event, which is now in its 14th year and has transitioned into a BYOB and overnight event if you want to camp.

General admission tickets ($57, or $53 early bird tickets through Sept. 5) are now on sale, and you can also sign up as a team to compete on the website, paellaloversunited.com.

The last day to buy tickets is Oct. 31, but the event usually sells out early.

5 days of Scandinavia: No oats needed for this Copenhagen-inspired granola

IMG_0112
Rye breadcrumb granola from Original Coffee in Copenhagen. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Hej hej!

That’s Swedish for, “Hey, I’ve been gone for a few weeks, but I’m really happy to be back!”

My sister and I were on an ancestry trip to Sweden to see where our family emigrated from back in the late 1800s. Our goal was to see Visby, a town on the island of Gotland that is about 60 miles off the eastern coast of Sweden where my great-great-grandmother left, with two kids in tow, to move to Southwest Missouri in 1892.

You’ll be reading more about that trip that was 134 years in the making, but this week, I wanted to blog about out five noteworthy food moments that stand out as I reflect on my trip.

We’re going to start not in Sweden but in Denmark. Copenhagen, specifically. That’s where we ended our trip.

Our very last meal together was breakfast at a coffee shop called Original Coffee. My sister is a coffee nut, so we were always looking for third-wave shops that could pull a cortado worthy of her scrutiny. This place certainly fit the bill, but I got excited when I saw muesli on the menu.

As with almost all the “muesli” I had in Scandinavia, this was actually a cooked, crunchy granola, as opposed to soft, uncooked muesli that soaks in milk or yogurt to soften. And it turns out that this granola didn’t even have oats in it.

IMG_0099
At Original Coffee in Copenhagen, they serve a rye-based granola with yogurt, fresh fruit and rhubarb compote. Photo by Addie Broyles.

I knew I was going to be writing about DIY granola and muesli when I got back to the U.S. (you can read that story in this week’s food section), so I’d been paying close attention to the different kinds of granola/muesli I had in each of the four cities we visited. Most of the stuff I had in Sweden was like the granola you’d buy in America: Lots of oats, dried fruit and nuts, maybe some coconut flakes.

This Original Coffee’s granola was unlike any I’ve ever had. It was made from rye breadcrumbs, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and honey. That’s it. No oil. No dried cranberries. No coconut flakes and, most interesting to me, no oats.

A few days after returning, I set out to try to recreate it in my own kitchen. I bought sliced rye bread, an ingredient I think I have literally never bought even once in my life, and turned it into crumbs with a food processor. I added a few squeezes of honey, turned the crumbs out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baked them at about 300 degrees. Fifteen minutes in, I added pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds and a little more honey. After another 15 minutes in the oven, I was delighted to find that my knock-off granola had turned out pretty close to the real thing I had been enjoying just a few days before while sipping on a coffee next to a huge canal in one of the most beautiful European cities I’ve ever visited.

My view wasn’t quite as striking, but the granola put a smile on my face.

I made it again today with slices of rye that I’d let stale over the weekend, but the result was nearly the same, so use fresh or stale bread. And as with all granola recipes, feel free to tweak the ingredients to your liking. Agave nectar, sunflower seeds or flaxseeds would all be great additions to this dish.

This is my attempt to make Original Coffee's rye granola at home. It's not quite as crunchy or dense as the original, but it also doesn't have as many sesame seeds. Photo by Addie Broyles.
This is my attempt to make Original Coffee’s rye granola at home. It’s not quite as crunchy or dense as the original, but it also doesn’t have as many sesame seeds. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Rye Sesame Pumpkin Seed Granola

3 slices rye bread
3 Tbsp. honey, divided
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
3 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Pinch salt

Heat the oven to 250 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the bread until it start to form breadcrumbs. Add 2 Tbsp. honey and pulse several more times until the bread is evenly crumbled.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the crumbs on top. Bake for 10 minutes and then stir. Bake again for another 5 minutes, stir again and then add the sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, a pinch or salt and final tablespoon of honey. Stir well and then bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and taste the granola to see how crunchy the breadcrumbs have become. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, if desired. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

— Addie Broyles

A super-convincing tuna salad made without the tuna

Chickpea aren't tuna, but it can be used to make a vegan Waldorf salad sandwich. This one comes from "Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking: Recipes Inspired by Rural Life in Alaska" by Kathleen Henry. Photo by Kathleen Henry.
Chickpea aren’t tuna, but it can be used to make a vegan Waldorf salad sandwich. This one comes from “Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking: Recipes Inspired by Rural Life in Alaska” by Kathleen Henry. Photo by Kathleen Henry.

Vegans have known for a long time that chickpeas make a pretty good substitute for fish when making tuna salad. When chopped or pulsed in a food processor and mixed with vegan mayonnaise, the chickpeas flake and shred in a way that makes a very tuna-like texture and taste.

If you’re cutting down your meat consumption — or are a vegan and haven’t tried this dish — here is a recipe from “Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking” (Page Street Publishing, $21.99) that incorporates apples, walnuts, cranberries and celery to create a mock Waldorf salad that even omnivores would like.

You can use this recipe as a starting point to make your own adjustments, swapping mashed avocado for the vegan mayonnaise or leaving out the pickles if that isn’t your style. Just don’t overprocess the chickpeas or you’ll end up with hummus.

“Tuna” Waldorf Salad Sandwiches

2 (15.5-oz.) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 stalks of celery (leaves included), chopped
1 small apple, cored and diced small
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. stone-ground, Dijon or yellow mustard (optional)
1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish or minced sweet pickles (optional)
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Dash of kelp granules or seasoning (optional)
Slices of your favorite sandwich bread, for serving

In a food processor, add the chickpeas and pulse several times until they become a somewhat “flaky” consistency. They should not be whole but not completely mashed, either.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Then, stir in the flaked chickpeas to combine. Serve chilled, between two slices of your favorite sandwich bread, in a lettuce cup or by itself. Makes enough filling for about four to six sandwiches.

— From “Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking: Recipes Inspired by Rural Life in Alaska” by Kathleen Henry (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)