At a regular county fair, all the folks from that county come together to celebrate with food and fun. When you’re a food bank that serves 21 counties, you can host a 21 County Fair with a similar vibe.
From 5 to 9 p.m. May 20 at 6500 Metropolis Drive, the food bank and H-E-B will host an event with carnival-style games, food from Via 313, Moonshine Grill, Easy Tiger, Café Mueller Restaurant by H-E-B and the food bank’s in-house chef, as well as snacks from Austin Gourmet Popcorn, Good Pop Frozen Pops and Lick Honest Ice Creams and adult libations from 512Sno, Hops & Grain, Blue Owl Brewing and Austin Beerworks.
The purpose of the event is to bring together anti-hunger advocates and those who are interested in learning more about the services and programs the food bank provides throughout Central Texas. Tickets cost $50 if you buy them online ahead of time.
Bummed to have had to miss the kite festival last month?
Edible Austin has another family-friendly, activity-filled outdoor event with Sunday’s fifth annual Edible Austin Children’s Picnic. They are calling it a real food fair, one that celebrates the many farmers, cooks, makers and musicians who make Austin’s food scene so vibrant.
From 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Rosewood Park, 2300 Rosewood Ave., will come alive with families picnicking on the grass, listening to live music, enjoying food from local vendors and doing activities, such as planting a square foot garden, doing yoga or listening to stories from local farmers and artisans.
Some of the food businesses that are participating include Adelee’s All Natural, Bento Picnic, Buddha’s Brew, Dulci’s Milks, Rhythm Superfoods and Veggie Noodle Co.
Woodworking and cooking have a lot in common, and those two worlds sometimes collide at Woodcraft of Austin. The woodshop and store at 10901 Interstate 35 North offers several hands-on classes each year to make kitchen gear, including cutting boards and pepper mills. Some of the classes are suited for beginners who might not have much experience, while others require some knowledge of lathes and jigsaws.
Some of the cutting board classes are easier than others, and next week, intermediate students can take a three-part series to make an end-grain cutting board. That class takes place Monday through Wednesday next week from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and costs $160, including the materials such as maple, cherry and walnut wood, to make the board.
From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2, Woodcraft of Austin will host a pepper mill class that is open to both beginners and intermediate woodworkers, and that class costs $135 and also includes materials. For questions and more information, go to woodcraft.com or call 512-407-8787.
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.
I 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?
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.”
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.
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.?
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 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.
Yaupon, which is related to yerba mate, is North America’s only native caffeinated plant, and though people have been drinking yaupon tea for hundreds of years, only in the past few years has it become commercially available.
Last year, another company joined the fray. Lost Pines Yaupon Tea harvests its yaupon from the area around Bastrop affected by the 2011 wildfires. Thinning the yaupon helps the pine trees grow back and restores habitat for animals like the endangered Houston toad, the founders of the company say. Once they harvest the yaupon, they roast the leaves to two different levels: A dark roast that has a rich, nutty flavor that coffee drinkers will enjoy or a light roast that has a lighter, sweeter, tea like flavor. Both the dark and light roasts can be brewed for shorter or longer periods of time to bring out the complexities of the yaupon, and you can drink the tea either hot or cold.
You can buy the loose tea (about $15 for a 2 oz. bag) at the Herb Bar, Monarch Food Mart, Springdale Farm Market and a handful of local farmers markets, including the Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley. To order a freshly brewed cup of it, check out Redbud Roasters in San Marcos, Chaparral Coffee in Lockhart and Bouldin Creek Cafe in South Austin. For more information or to order online, go to lostpinesyaupontea.com.
Peaches are at their prime right now, just in time for Independence Day, so why not make a peach cake to celebrate?
In the past week, I’ve made this upside-down peach cake afewtimes for next week’s Year of Baking story, but with one of the biggest eating holidays of the year coming up on Monday, I thought we’d better share the recipe and tips so you can make it sooner rather than later because, yes, IT’S THAT GOOD.
This upside-down cake would be excellent with all kinds of stone fruit, including plums, nectarines and cherries. Cut the smaller ones in half and the larger ones into quarters or eighths.
You don’t have to peel the peaches. No, really — don’t worry about it. The skins soften up enough while the cake bakes that I don’t think it’s worth the effort. You can blanch the peaches in boiling water and then an ice bath to slide off the skins, but I find that to be way too much work and think that dropping the peaches in boiling water actually causes them to lose some of their flavor. Plus, fruit skins are packed with nutrients and fiber, making this passable for breakfast.
Using room temperature eggs is a good baking practice to get into, and don’t try to cream the sugar and the butter if the butter isn’t soft.
You can soften the butter in the microwave in 5-second intervals, but watch it closely so it doesn’t melt.
Prepare the pan with the brown sugar, butter and peaches after you’ve made the batter. The first time I made this cake, I prepared the peaches first, and they sat for too long in the butter and brown sugar and were a little more stuck when I inverted the pan. When I made the cake and placed the peaches just before adding the batter, the fruit didn’t stick at all and looked nicer after the flip.
Feel free to mix in a little cinnamon with the brown sugar to deepen the flavor of the peaches in the topping. Also, some of you might prefer almond extract to the vanilla, but you could also use coconut or lemon for variety.
Now, go make this cake! Bonus points if you take a photo of it an post it with #Austin360Cooks on Instagram.
Upside-Down Peach Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened and divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 2 peaches)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, use a handheld or standup mixer to cream together 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and the granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and combine.
Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well after each addition. Set bowl aside and prepare the pan.
Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and pour into an ungreased 9-inch round baking pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange peach slices in a single layer over the melted butter and brown sugar.
Spoon the batter over the peaches, spreading it as much as you can toward the edge of the pan. The batter will spread as the cake bakes.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.
Confituras, Stephanie McClenny’s crazy popular local jam company, announced today that it had signed a lease for a community kitchen space and retail shop just off South Lamar Boulevard.
In 2013, McClenny won a $10,000 grant from the Austin Food and Wine Alliance for an oral history and museum initiative called the Preserving Austin Project, and though we haven’t heard much about what’s next for Preserving Austin, McClenny has always had the dream of opening a kitchen that would also act as an incubator for women-owned businesses.
The new Confituras kitchen will be located in a building that is under construction at 2129 Goodrich Ave., and McClenny, who currently sells her jams at local farmers markets and shops, such as Antonelli’s and Royal Blue, says she hopes to open the kitchen and retail store by this fall.
She says that anyone interested in being a part of the kitchen community through space rental or providing their business acumen should contact her via email at email@example.com.
Reader Julie Albrecht wrote me earlier this year after we did a story about cream puffs in our Year of Baking series followed by biscuit doughnuts, two “throwback” recipes that made her think about another once-popular dish that she still makes: baked Alaska.
“Does anybody make it anymore? I used to many, many years ago. In our family, we referred to it as if it was the dessert to top all desserts,” she wrote, “and if we were making up a fantastic menu, Baked Alaska would always be the suggested dessert, even though we never did it.”
In March, her granddaughter, Chloe, turned 13, and what dessert did she request to celebrate? Baked Alaska. “She used to play waitress at our house and would pretend to take meal choice orders from everyone. My husband would always say “baked Alaska” for his dessert choice, so that’s how she learned about it,” Albrecht explained.
She had long forgotten that game, but Chloe reminded her, so Julie dug in her recipe archives to find a treat she hadn’t made in decades. Together, they worked on filling the bowl with the ice cream and sherbet.
“It really is a 5-step process. None of the steps are difficult, but it is time-consuming,” she says.
You have to bake the cake layer and let it cool, then fill the bowl with the ice cream and let it freeze and repeat with the sherbet. Only then is it time to make the meringue and prepare for the final step: Baking this insulated igloo in a 500-degree oven, the whipped egg whites providing enough insulation to keep the ice cream and sherbet from melting.
I love hearing stories like this from readers! Share yours by posting your photos on Instagram with #Austin360Cooks, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 (9-inch) chocolate layer cake
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 quart raspberry sherbet (or strawberry or lime)
9 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
Line a 1 1/2 quart round bowl that is about 7 inches in diameter with aluminum foil. Soften the vanilla ice cream and scoop into the bowl, forming a 1-inch layer that mimics the shape of the bowl, all the way up to the edge. Freeze until firm.
Fill center of ice cream bowl with sherbet and pack tightly. Put foil over top of bowl to make the top flat. Freeze until firm.
Make meringue: Beat egg whites until moist, drooping soft peaks form. Then add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until stiff and glossy.
Put cake layer onto a plate that can safely go into the freezer and oven. Invert bowl of ice cream onto layer of cake. Ice cream should be 1 inch from cake edges. Lift off bowl and remove foil lining. Spread meringue over ice cream and the edge of the cake.
It’s important to make sure the meringue is at least 1-inch thick over the ice cream and that the meringue totally covers the cake, leaving no air holes. By sealing the cake and ice cream inside the meringue, you’ll insulate it from the heat of the oven. Put in freezer until ready to bake and serve.
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until meringue is a delicate brown. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serves 16.
Andrew Weil, a doctor known for his anti-inflammatory diet and cookbooks, has been a leader in the healthy eating space for many years. But in 2008, he got into the restaurant industry with the first location of True Food Kitchen, which now has more than a dozen locations across the country.
In March, the first Austin location opened in the Seaholm development, where you can find vegetarian-friendly dishes in a large, airy space across the lawn from Trader Joe’s. This herb hummus is one of several appetizers. If you don’t get this dish, try the edamame dumplings, which were the highlight of a lunch I had there last week.
Herb Hummus with Greek salad
1 (15 1/2 oz. can) garbanzo beans, drained
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Cucumber slices, cut into moon shapes
Red onion, sliced thin
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Feta cheese, crumbled
To prepare hummus, place the garbanzo beans, garlic, jalapeño, tahini, lemon and lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste. Add the olive oil slowly in a thin stream and blend until smooth and well-combined. Transfer to bowl. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 4 cups.
To plate hummus, smear hummus so that it covers bottom of plate, leaving 1/2-inch rim clean. Top with cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Brush pita with oil and grill on each side for 10 seconds to create grill marks and heat. Cut pita into wedges and place on separate small plate.