Charles Mayes, the founder of Cafe Josie, has been serving this soup at the Austin Empty Bowl Project for so many years that it’s become a signature soup of the event. (It was also featured on one of Rachael Ray’s early Food Network shows.) Mayes, who recently sold his Clarksville restaurant to longtime employee Cody Taylor and chef Brandon Fuller a few years ago, says you can roast the vegetables instead of grilling them, but they won’t have the same fire-roasted flavor.
Fire-Roasted Artichoke Tomato Bisque
4 Roma tomatoes 1 red bell pepper
4 whole artichoke hearts, on skewer
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Several sprigs of cilantro, leaf only, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cream
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Cotija or manchego cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (optional, for garnish)
Coat tomato, pepper and artichoke hearts lightly with oil and place on grill over hot coals. Turn occasionally to sear all surfaces. Remove, place on a plate or in a large bowl and cool. Reserve any juices that accumulate.
In a large soup pot, heat butter over medium flame and sauté onion and garlic. While aromatics are cooking, place cooled vegetables in a food processor and pulse until vegetables are in small pieces, but not pureed. Add vegetable stock, grilled vegetables, cilantro and salt to onions and garlic. Bring to a simmer and heat evenly.
Combine cornstarch and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl. Slowly add to saucepan while stirring to combine. Stir in the cream. Season to taste and continue to heat until the soup reaches desired thickness.
Serve with cotija or manchego cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts. Serves 4.
I was listening to Kevin Conner on Sun Radio this morning talking about the cold weather, and he mentioned that it had him craving gumbo. “Dang, me too,” I thought. I remembered my favorite gumbo I’ve ever made, this Guinness gumbo with chicken, sausage and shrimp from my friend Pat Guillory, whom everyone affectionately calls Swampy Pat.
I used to live next to Swampy Pat in South Austin before he moved back to his native Louisiana, where his Cajun grandmother used to make this gumbo extra special by adding a can of Guinness. It’s a serious clash of cultures, but it works. (When I first made this, instead of okra, I used chard and collard greens from my backyard garden, but feel free to use any of the aforementioned greens vegetables.)
Turns out that Kevin and Swampy Pat know each other, at least according to Facebook. This is not surprising because they are both in the music business and know approximately everybody. I hope all of you stay warm this weekend, no matter what you are cooking. (And if you make something great, don’t forget to add #Austin360Cooks to your post about it on social media!)
Guinness Gumbo with Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp
Salt and pepper
4 chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 sticks celery
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 links andouille sausage, sliced
8 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken stock
1 can Guinness Draught
1 Tbsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s, etc.)
Hot sauce (optional)
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
One bunch greens, such as chard or collards, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
In a large pot, fry chicken thighs, skin on, that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. The goal is to cook the chicken and render the fat, so once the chicken is cooked, remove meat and leave hot fat in pot.
Stir flour into fat and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, to make a brown to dark brown roux. Add onions, bell pepper and celery and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until onion is almost clear. Add sausage and garlic and continue cooking for another five minutes.
Add water, Guinness, bay leaves, thyme, Creole seasoning and hot sauce to taste. Simmer for at least 20 minutes or up to 45 to combine flavors. About 10 minutes before serving, add shrimp and greens and cook until shrimp are pink. Add lemon juice and serve with white or Cajun rice and crackers.
It’s the new year, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about cookies.
I really did think the new year would come along, and I’d be ready to move onto salads and wraps and soups and healthy stuff, but what I’m really doing is eating the last of the Christmas cookies in my house and thinking about these amazing peanut butter cups filled with fudge that I had on New Year’s Eve. We were camping with some friends new Bastrop, and they brought along some friends I’d never met, Patty and Mitch. Patty is an amazing baker, which is what all cookie-loving husbands say, but then I had this peanut butter cookie cup filled with chocolate that she made and I believed him.
When I asked her where she got it, she said it came from a Statesman cookie contest years ago. Sure enough, I found this recipe in our archive from a story in 2006 about contest-winning dishes. These came from Ronna Farley in Maryland, but I’m not sure how her recipe wound up in the story. A decade later, it doesn’t really matter, but you should definitely keep this little trick in mind about making cookie cups by pressing sliced cookie dough in a muffin tin.
Choco-Peanut Butter Cups
1 roll (18 oz.) refrigerated peanut butter cookies
1 cup white chips
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Whole pecans, for garnis
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray or shortening. Cut cookie dough into 24 slices. Press 1 slice in bottom and up side of each mini muffin cup, forming 1/4-inch rim above top of cup (dust fingers with flour if necessary). Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. With tip of handle of wooden spoon, press dough down in center of each cup to make room for 2 tablespoons of filling.
Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, melt white chips and 3/4 cup of the peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Spoon about 1 tablespoon mixture into each dough-lined cup. Refrigerate 10 minutes. In another 2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and remaining 3/4 cup peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Spoon about 1 tablespoon chocolate mixture on top of peanut butter mixture in each cup. Sprinkle crushed granola bars over top of each. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Remove from muffin cups before serving. Makes 24 cookie cups.
I know it’s a little late to be publishing this recipe, but a reader emailed me to let me know that she’d lost her copy again, so I’m republishing so you can bookmark for next year or make it this week for a little belated New Year’s luck.
Our home was destroyed in the Bastrop wildfires, and I lost my recipes! One of my favorites this time of year was a recipe printed in the Statesman for a Black Eyed Pea Soup. I made it every New Year’s Day. It was contributed by an older couple and it had sausage in it. I think they talked about serving it when watching UT games.
— Sally Keinarth, Bastrop
Longtime Statesman food writer Kitty Crider loved this recipe as much as readers, and she last printed it in 2004. She got it from Dottie and Joe Wilkinson in 1979, and the chili powder gives the soup an orange tone. Happy New Year!
— Addie Broyles
New Year’s Black Eyed Pea Soup
3 cups dried black-eyed peas
Ham bone with meat or ham hocks
3 cups minced celery
3 cups minced onion
3 cups minced carrots
2 lb. smoked sausage, diced
2 Tbsp. chili powder
Place peas and ham in 3 quarts water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until peas are soft, about two hours. (No need to soak peas.) Discard bone, leaving bits of ham in soup. Add celery, onion and carrots and cook another hour. Add smoked sausage and simmer 30 minutes. Add chili powder. If needed, add more water, salt or black pepper. Serve with cornbread. Makes about a gallon.
I love getting letters from readers. Tweets and Facebook and Instagram comments are fun, but there’s something about receiving a handwritten note that I treasure. I usually get letters like this from readers who have subscribed to the newspaper for decades. The readers who still clip out recipes from the print food section. The readers who notice if I leave out a single ingredient or step in a recipe. Some of them don’t have the internet. Many of them don’t use social media.
I absolutely love the online community of Statesman readers, but there’s something about the hardcore print readers that still tugs at my heart. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to see print journalism die. Or maybe they just remind me of my mom and grandma, who first instilled my own love of newspapers when I was a kid.
Either way, I was delighted to get a letter from a reader named Julia, who has subscribed to the Statesman since 1974, she notes, had lost two recipes that she hoped I could find.
These recipes have long since left our digital sites, but I’m reposting them here, just in case that you, too, would like a hummingbird carrot cake and a pecan pie pound cake from our Statesman archives. The carrot cake we published in 2007 and the pound cake in 1990.
Hummingbird Carrot Cake
This fabulous, moist, flavorful cake predates the 1970s version of carrot cake. It is an all-season, winning dessert that freezes like a charm. If you want it as a sheet cake, use a 13-inch-by-9-inch pan and divide the frosting ingredients in half. Like most carrot cakes, this is easily mixed by hand.
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped pecans
¾ cup grated carrots
2 cups finely chopped banana
For the cream cheese frosting
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups, approximately, confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Finishing touches: ground pecans, ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Generously spray three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place pans on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and blend briefly. Add eggs and oil; stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, pecans, carrots and chopped banana; blend well. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes before unmolding onto wire racks to cool. Makes 14 to 20 servings.
For Cream Cheese Frosting, mix all ingredients together until blended. Spread frosting between layers and then on sides and top of cake. Garnish with ground pecans and a light dusting of cinnamon.
1 lb. butter or margarine
3 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
2 cups finely chopped pecans
2 tsp. vanilla
Heat oven to 275 degrees. Cream butter or margarine with sugar. Beat eggs slightly and add to butter and sugar. Sift flour and salt together. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Add pecans and vanilla. Bake in a 10-inch tube pan for 1-1 1/2 hours (If a bundt pan is used, there will be excess batter that can be baked in a loaf pan.)
That’s a restaurant that used to be located on 38th Street from the late 1970s into the mid-1980s, and apparently it was good enough that a reader reached out to Out and About columnist Michael Barnes to ask if he had the recipe for their fried avocado. He didn’t have it, but our dearest Ellie Rucker did.
For my tastes, that recipe is a whole lot of “thanks, but no thanks,” in part because I hate heated avocado and it seems like so much work to fry them at home anyway, but I did love coming across this old Los Tres Bobos restaurant review on YouTube.
Freelance restaurant critic Rob Balon, who for years reviewed restaurants for local television and radio stations and continues to run a restaurant news website, explains all you’d ever want to know about this restaurant and was (and wasn’t) good during his visits.
The clip is a crazy look into 1980s Austin, from its newscast and clothing/hair styles to what you can learn about the restaurant scene from Balon’s review.