Thanks to the Jabour family, which runs Twin Liquors and has a long history in Central Texas, this festival celebrating Mediterranean cuisine and culture has taken place since the early 1930s. The Austin City Limits Music Festival, by comparison, started in 2002, a mere 70 years later.
This year, the Mediterranean festival returns September 21 and 22 at the church at 408 E. 11th Street with Mediterranean foods, cocktails, wines, beer, a shopping bazaar, dancing and live Arabic and Greek music. Festivities will run from 6 to 11 p.m. on the 21st and noon to 11 p.m. on the 22nd. Admission is free from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets to the event are available at all Austin-area Twin Liquors locations for a $5 donation.
“Medfest is one of my favorite events of the year, and one that is very close to my heart because of our family heritage,” Twin Liquors president David Jabour said in a release. “With food, wine, cocktails, music and dancing, it’s a true celebration and we’re thrilled to lend our support for such a long-standing tradition.”
Now that it’s finally not too hot to turn on the oven, here’s a quick dinnertime pie you can make with just a few ingredients. It’s a great way to use up leftover spaghetti, but it’s also a way to serve pasta that isn’t your everyday red sauce.
Spiralizer master Alissandra Maffucci uses potato noodles in this recipe, so if you have a spiralizer, you can spin these yourself. But if you don’t, pick up one of the packages of pre-cut veggie noodles at the store, or use regular ol’ cooked spaghetti.
We still eat plenty of regular spaghetti in my house, so I’ll be making this with thin spaghetti and all the leftovers in the fridge. If spinach isn’t your thing and you don’t have any leftover veggies from the week, try asparagus or broccoli by cooking the vegetables to al dente in the pan before baking for about 15 minutes.
Spaghetti pie is an effective use for leftover pasta (if you ever have any …). This spiralized version uses potato noodles instead of processed pasta to give you a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. The spinach sneaks in some dark-leafy-green calcium, and the ricotta gives the pie a fluffy, velvety texture and comfort-food flavor, making this dish a crowd-pleaser.
— Alissandra Maffucci
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large russet potatoes, peeled, spiralized with Blade D
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Fine sea salt and pepper
6 cups packed spinach, chopped well
3 medium eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (if desired, you can use part skim)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the potatoes and the garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Immediately add the spinach to the same skillet and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach to the bowl with the potatoes and add the eggs and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine.
In the same skillet, spread the mixture into an even layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the noodles are set when pressed with the back of a spatula and the edges are just beginning to crisp. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
After several curry cook-offs, the nonprofit is now bringing together anyone who loves any kind of noodles, from Italian spaghetti to Vietnamese vermicelli. (Full disclosure: I helped start this group and now serve on its community advisory board. In 2013, we wrote a cookbook!)
From 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at Brew & Brew’s event space, 906 E. Fifth Street, more than a dozen contestants, who include some local bloggers and area restaurants, will bring their best dishes, and the crowd and a panel of judges will determine the winner. The Oodles of Noodles Community Cook-off costs $25 in advance or $30 at the door. You can still register to compete by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, go to austinfoodbloggers.org.
Here is a noodle recipe from Chrystal Keogh, the Austin blogger behind Monkey-Bites, whwo created this vegetarian take on traditional Pad Thai using sweet potato noodles and edamame. You could use rice noodles if you don’t want to use spiralized sweet potatoes.
For the stir-fry:
3 medium sweet potatoes, spiralized
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons palm sugar, brown sugar or honey
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
1 to 3 teaspoons sriracha, to taste
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 teaspoons soy sauce, to taste
1 mess bean sprouts
1 mess cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
Cook sweet potato noodles in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.
Combine all sauce ingredients in measuring cup and set aside.
In a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add coconut oil and onions. Cook, stirring continuously for about one minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes. Add edamame and red bell pepper and cook for another two minutes. Add sweet potato noodles and sauce and cook for another two to three minutes until noodles are desired doneness and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Serves 4.
Have your sheet pans and casserole dishes collected dust yet? It’s been a long, hot summer, but I can feel my palate and my cooking instincts starting to make that transition to fall, especially with this rain we’ve been having.
In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of sheet pan supper cookbooks, which help cooks get dinner on the table with recipes that call for cooking everything in a single dish or baking sheet. Rukmini Iyer’s “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” (Chronicle Books, $19.95) is a somewhat sophisticated spin on this concept with ingredients such as spelt and halloumi that you might not be able to find at everyday grocery stores just yet.
This five-spice duck dish is notable because the rice is baked in the same pan as the poultry and the kale. You could use any large-diced vegetable in this dish, and chicken or pork is a fine substitute if you can’t find duck. I usually roast vegetables at a much higher temperature than 350 degrees, but the lower temperature in this recipe ensures even cooking and, if you’re lucky, slightly crispy rice along the edge of the pan.
Five-Spice Duck Breasts with Wild Rice, Kale and Ginger
This incredibly satisfying duck and wild rice dish, with its contrast of complementary textures and flavors, is easily scaled up if you’re cooking for more than two. If you don’t like duck, chicken breasts or pork loin work well, too.
— Rukmini Iyer
1 cup mixed basmati and wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 inches ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 star anise
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 duck breasts (about 3/4 pound each)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 fresh red chile, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the rice, water, ginger, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in a roasting pan or large baking dish, and throw in the star anise. Mix the kale with the sesame oil, then scatter it over the rice.
Slash the skin on the duck breasts with a sharp knife, then rub them all over with the remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt and the five-spice powder. Place on top of the kale, cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, then transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes, to allow the kale to crisp up. Allow the duck breasts to rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice and return the breasts to the roasting pan. Scatter over the red chile and scallions and serve. Serves 2.
Rosie Pierce is a local baker who runs a sprinkles company called Neon Yolk, which specializes in contemporary, custom-made sprinkles that are created around certain themes or colors.
Like Rachel Johnson, the author of a new book called, “Unicorn Food,” Pierce says that she was inspired by 1990s designer Lisa Frank. “Trapper Keepers, stickers, pencils, I had it all,” Pierce says. “It was definitely nostalgic for me, and I wanted to invoke that same feeling of fun, happiness and playfulness in our company.”
Here’s one of her popular (and ASMR-friendly) videos on Instagram:
Pierce says she thinks unicorns have captivated us not just because of the nostalgia. “I think everyone loves unicorns because they represent something that’s unique and special, and that’s how we see ourselves,” she says. “More than ever we’re sharing our daily lives online, and fun, colorful foods provide us the opportunity to spread some sunshine to our friends and followers.”
There are no fewer than four cookbooks with the title “Unicorn Food” coming out this year, and one of them is by Austin author Rachel Johnson, the recipe developer behind stupidgoodrachel.com.
In the story, you’ll find recipes for birthday cake pancakes and a turmeric lassi. Some of the unicorn food recipes are more natural than others, but if you’re a cook who doesn’t mind using plain ol’ food coloring to brighten up your day, here’s a tie-dye grilled cheese sandwich that is a treat to look at and — with all those good cheeses — delicious to eat, too.
Don’t freak out, but this is the grilled cheese of your dreams. The multicolored cheese pull is just perfect to generate a like for your Instagram!
— Rachel Johnson
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 ounces shredded cheddar
4 ounces shredded Gruyere
Food coloring (pink, green, blue and purple)
4 tablespoons softened butter
8 (1/2-inch) slices white bread (such as sourdough, pullman or brioche)
Kosher salt, to taste
Edible glitter (optional)
Mix the cheeses together in a large bowl. Divide between four bowls and tint each cheese with each food coloring by stirring around with a spoon (about 2 drops per color per bowl will do).
Heat a nonstick pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Spread the butter evenly on one side of each bread slice.
Place four slices of bread, butter side down, on the heat surface. Top with each color of cheese in any preferred pattern. Sandwich with another slice of bread, butter side up. Cook on the griddle for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is starting to melt. Flip and cook another 2 minutes, or until the bread is toasty and golden. Sprinkle with salt and edible glitter in case you are extra. Makes 2 sandwiches.
If you love pie, you’ve probably seen the 2007 movie “Waitress” about a baker, Jenna Hunterson, who starts her own pie shop to get out of a no-good relationship. The movie, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, was such a hit that it inspired a Broadway musical featuring songs from Sara Bareilles and now a cookbook featuring some of the fictional character’s best dishes.
These mini pies are made from white chocolate macadamia nut cookies that are crumbled and pressed into the bottom of small jars. You could also make this in a traditional pie plate, but when you put pie in a jar, it can go anywhere, even in a school or work lunch box. You’ll end up with more cookies than you’ll need for the jar pies, which you can freeze, and you can also freeze the mini pies for a sweet treat later.
Life’s A Rocky Road Macadamia Mousse Pies
For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
12 ounces white chocolate chips
For the crust:
10 White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, crushed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the white chocolate mousse filling:
3 cups heavy cream, cold, divided
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
For the topping:
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
For the cookies: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl using a mixer, blend the sugars on medium speed. Add the salted butter and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients, macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips and mix just until combined.
Drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely, leaving the oven on. (The cookies can also be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.) Set aside six to eight of the cookies for garnish.
For the crust: Crush ten of the cookies into crumbs. (You will have cookies left over for the cookie jar or to freeze.) Place the crushed cookies in a food processor and whir until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the melted unsalted butter and pulse until the mixture begins to clump together. Divide the crumb mixture equally among twelve 4-ounce mason jars with lids, pressing down into an even layer. Arrange the jars on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
For the filling: While the crusts cool, bring 1 cup of the heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream and vanilla over the chips. Let stand for 2 minutes, then gently stir until smooth. Set aside to cool completely, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream on medium speed with the sugar with until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gently stir 1 cup of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Fold in the macadamia nuts.
Spoon the mixture onto the cooled crusts, filling the jars almost to the top. Crumble the reserved six to eight white chocolate macadamia cookies and sprinkle them over the top of the filling. Divide the 1/4 cup macadamia nuts evenly among the jars as a topping. Cover and chill for 6 to 12 hours. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 12 (4-ounce) pies.
If you need a breakfast sandwich, a scoop of gelato, a glass of wine and a charcuterie board or toilet paper and aluminum foil, you’ll find it all at a new specialty grocery store and all day cafe on South Lamar in the Lamar Union building.
Artista Rosso opened earlier this month at 1100 S Lamar Blvd. with a full-service grocery market, including paper goods, fresh baked items, grab-and-go meals, olives, cheese, charcuterie, wine and even a bar for gelato, nutella and cannoli.
On the coffee shop side, you’ll find a selection of pour-over coffees, as well as teas. The store also includes a restaurant that will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with tacos, pasta, sandwiches and other appetizers and entrees.
The grocery store is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
On Sept. 8, the store is hosting a grand opening celebration from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with tastings, live music and a free appetizer with the purchase of a beer or wine, with proceeds from the day benefiting Austin Pets Alive.
For the sixth year, local farmers have created pieces of art — including paintings, photographs and sculptures — for a Farmer As Artist exhibit at Prizer Arts & Letters, an art gallery at 2023 E. Cesar Chavez St.
As the exhibit has grown, so has the number of contributors. This year, 23 local farmers will show at this exhibit, which is open from Sept. 8 to 28. You’ll see works from Boggy Creek Farm, Millberg Farm, Tecolote Farm, Urban Roots, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Munkebo Farm, Farmshare Austin, Agua Dulce, Joe’s Organics and ANUME Foundation Farm.
The opening reception, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Quesoff, Austin’s big queso contest, was last weekend, and the event raised enough money for the Central Texas Food Bank and its partner agencies to serve meals more than 15,200 Central Texans in need.
The food bank was the beneficiary of the event, but there were queso winners, too.