An immigrant’s red, white and blue salad, serve with a side of patriotism

As we get ready for this holiday weekend — with our watermelons tapped, our briskets rubbed and our potato salads tossed — I wanted to share at least one red, white and blue recipe.

This one, however, comes with a twist.

This Fourth of July-inspired dessert comes from Deepa Thomas, the author of “Deepa’s Secrets,” who became a U.S. citizen in 2012. Contributed by Sherry Heck

Deepa Thomas is the New Delhi-born founder of a textile company who now lives in San Francisco and decided to pursue a second career in food. Her book, “Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine” (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99), comes out on July 4, and in it, you’ll find this simple yogurt dish.

It might look a lot like the other patriotic desserts you’ll see scrolling through social media this weekend, but this dish will stick with me because of Thomas’ headnote:

My small homage to this great country of ours. Thampy and I just earned our citizenship in 2012. The ceremony is one I believe every American should experience. Twelve hundred of us were sworn in. We each stood when the State department official thanked us in Hindi for choosing America — shukriya, a formal thank you. And we watched proudly while he did the same for the others, in their native languages, 140 countries in all. Proud of ourselves, proud of our fellow new citizens, proud of these United States of America.

The yogurt in this dish is infused with cardamom, a flavor that is equally as beloved in my ancestral homeland of Scandinavia as Thomas’ in India.

My Swedish ancestors didn’t record their feelings about the day they become American citizens sometime around the turn of the century, but having visited the place they left in the 1800s and never saw again, it’s not hard to imagine both the pride and bittersweetness that comes with such an act.

It’s easy to get jaded about what it means to be an American these days, but Thomas’ memory of her citizenship ceremony was just the reminder I needed this week to focus on the basics, especially the undeniable influence of immigrants on all aspects of our society and culture and why we’re better off because we live — and cook and eat — together.

Red, White, and Blue Berry Breakfast Salad

Yogurt mixture:
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon wild honey
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
Crowning flavor:
1/4 cup Go Nuts! (see below)

Stir ingredients for yogurt mixture well in a glass bowl. Check seasoning. Serve yogurt on individual plates or serve in a bowl, and top with berries and nuts. Serves 2.

— From “Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine” by Deepa Thomas (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99)

Go Nuts (Nut Mix)

Get out your biggest jar, then go buy one that’s twice that big. I am always reaching for this micronutrient-rich mix—a handful over yogurt and berries. Another at snack time. Again, on top of a salad. This makes about seven cups, so cut in half if you don’t think you’ll use it up in a few weeks.

1 cup walnuts
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup sliced almonds
2 cups sunflower seeds
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon salt (truffle salt if you like)

Toast the seeds and nuts in a pan over medium heat until light brown (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cayenne powder and salt. Store in an airtight glass jar.

— From “Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine” by Deepa Thomas (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99)




The ‘Elizabeth Street Cafe’ cookbook is coming: Here’s a peek at the cover

There are a few recipes from Elizabeth Street Cafe that I would love to get my hands on (vermicelli cakes, anyone?), and this fall, I’ll get the chance.

Elizabeth Street Cafe is an upscale cafe in South Austin that will soon have its own cookbook. LAURA SKELDING / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The French-Vietnamese cafe that opened in 2011 has its debut cookbook, “Elizabeth Street Cafe,” coming out on Oct. 23, and the publisher, Phaidon, recently released the eye-catching cover. You can pre-order the book now, and it costs $39.95.

Elizabeth Street Cafe is a popular Vietnamese-French restaurant in South Austin that will have a cookbook coming out this fall. Contributed by Phaidon.

Food writer Julia Turshen teamed up with chef-owners Tom Moorman and Larry McGuire to write home cook-friendly recipes for 100 dishes from the restaurants, from spicy breakfast fried rice and eggs and green jungle curry noodles to desserts, such as palm sugar ice cream and toasted coconut cream puffs.

For the record, these are the vermicelli cakes and sausage I want to recreate at home.

You’ll find Vietnamese-French fusion, including breakfast, at Elizabeth Street Cafe. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Round Rock Honey now selling bourbon barrel-aged honey

I’m always amazed at the spectrum of flavors you’ll find in honey.

Honey tastes different depending on where the bees that made it live, and those differences become apparent when you do a side-by-side taste test, say, on a fresh piece of breakfast toast.

H-E-B has a few new honeys on the market, and when you taste them side by side, it’s obvious which came from bees that harvested from mesquite trees and which in the more arid desert environment. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I did that recently with H-E-B’s new desert and mesquite honeys, and you could have picked out the mesquite flavor even if you didn’t know that was one of these samples. The woodsy, almost smokey honey wasn’t as sweet as the one made from bees in the desert, but on the flip side, the desert honey had more layers of floral notes and a more intense sweetness.

That informal honey taste test made for an interesting breakfast the other morning, but the biggest honey news this week comes from Round Rock Honey, the Williamson County-based honey company that has added two specialty honeys to its produce line-up, including its first flavor-added honey.

Two new products from the Williamson County-based Round Rock Honey. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Sweet-hot, flavored honey has been a food trend for a few years now, and Round Rock joined the competition with an orange cinnamon honey that I was afraid was going to taste like a Red Hot candy. In my livestream taste test this week, I found that neither the orange nor the cinnamon overpowered the already rich honey and that the balanced sweetener would be good on toast, in tea or to add a beautiful layer of flavor to a cake or cookie.

[cmg_anvato video=”4122495“]

You’ll find bottles of this honey ($12) at select H-E-Bs around Austin, as well as the farmers markets where you usually find Round Rock Honey: Downtown, Sunset Valley, Mueller, Cedar Park, Wolf Ranch, Lone Star and Waco.

When I tasted that orange cinnamon honey, I didn’t realized there was another new Round Rock Honey product coming my way. Later in the day, I received a bottle of the companies’ bourbon barrel-aged honey. This product is so new and limited, it doesn’t even have a label, but I can see why people are clamoring for it. After spending time in a bourbon barrel, the honey picks up so many nuances of one of my favorite spirits. Just a small taste overwhelms the palate with the familiar aged aroma of bourbon with a little tickle in the back of the throat to remind you there was booze involved at some point.

This product coasts $20 per pound, and the best way to keep track of its availability is through Round Rock’s Facebook page.

How to use those backyard figs for a fig and pear jam

The fig season seems to be hit or miss for Austinites, but the trees I’ve seen lately are heavy with fruit.

If you are lucky enough to have one — or want to buy some from the store — here’s a quick fig and pear jam recipe that will preserve them for long after summer has ended.

MORE: The 5 do’s and don’ts of foraging figs (and other urban food)

Figs and pears sweeten and thicken this jam that’s easy to make if you can find freshly ripe figs. Contributed by Hearthmark

Fig and Pear Jam

Terrific on crostini or as an addition to any cheese board, this jam can pair as easily with sweet or savory dishes.

2 cups chopped peeled pears
2 cups chopped fresh figs
4 tablespoons pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
3 cups sugar

Combine the first five ingredients in a 6-quart stainless-steel or enameled Dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high, stirring constantly.

Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim the foam, if necessary.

Ladle the hot jam into a hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rim. Center the lid on the jar. Apply the band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place the jar in the boiling water canner. Repeat until all the jars are filled.

Process the jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat; remove the lid, and let the jars stand 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool. Makes about 4 (1/2-pint) jars.

— From “Ball Canning Back to Basics: A Foolproof Guide to Canning Jams, Jellies, Pickles, and More” (Oxmoor House, $16.99)

WATCH: Austin woman turns FedEx truck into food truck for hospitalized kids

Becky Nichols has long been a hero of mine.

Back in 2011, I interviewed her about her daughter, Libbie, who had died a few years earlier, and the nonprofit she started in her honor.

Becky Nichols is keeping the memory of her daughter, Libbie, alive by donating mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and birthday cakes to area children’s hospitals. For years, she ran the Bountiful Bakery Cafe in Westlake, but now she runs a food truck called Libbie’s Funtime Food Truck. Laura Skelding/American-Statesman

At that time, Nichols was leaving cases of mac and cheese and chicken noodle soup in the refrigerators around Dell Children’s Medical Center, but in the past few years, she opened a food truck to extend the reach of the Loving Libbie Foundation.

I was delighted to hear this week that Nichols and her Loving Libbie truck were featured on “NBC Nightly News.”

I ran into Nichols a few months ago at H-E-B, and, as always, I was moved by her presence. If you see Libbie’s Funtime Food Truck around town, be sure to ask her about Libbie. She loves talking about her daughter and carrying on her legacy all these years later.

Libbie’s Funtime Food Truck opens at various locations around Austin, but it’s most frequent home is near Dell Children’s Medical Center. Contributed by Loving Libbie Foundation



What Martha Stewart (and Snoop Dogg) can teach you about fried chicken

It’s National Fried Chicken Day next week, so who better to turn to for tips than Martha and Snoop Dogg?

The Internet’s most iconic besties both brought their best fried chicken game to “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.”

Here’s a clip:

As you can see, Snoop’s secret weapon is those chips, but we don’t get to see Martha’s version. (You can watch the full episode if you have the VH1 App, which I have not.)

But if you go back in the internet archives to 1992, you can find this clip of Martha and her friend Salli LaGrone competing in a fried chicken cook-off on “Martha Stewart Living.”

Now this, my friends, is where you’ll pick up some fried chicken know-how. Salli and Martha use different techniques and ingredients, including some that we don’t advise any more, like washing chicken, which can increase the chances of food poisoning.

Martha soaks her chicken in buttermilk with a little hot sauce sprinkled in at the end, but she doesn’t salt her chicken in any way early in the process. Most chefs now recommend brining the chicken or at least seasoning the chicken before coating in flour.

LISTEN: “Fried Chicken: A Complicated Comfort Food (Ep. 16),” from “Gravy,” a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance

They both cook in Crisco shortening, an ingredient that has fallen out of vogue in some kitchens. Many cooks still use it, of course, and insist there is no other way to fry chicken.

I’m not a big fan of making fried chicken at home, unless it’s Springfield-style cashew chicken, but I am into this oven-baked method from New York chef Melba Wilson, who is featured in that episode of “Gravy” I linked to above.

MORE: Panko-crusted chicken with sweet chili mayo

Springfield-style cashew chicken

Bang-bang chicken is a panko-crusted fried chicken from Damn Delicious blogger Chungah Rhee from her new book “Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes.” Contributed by Chungah Rhee

She uses mayonnaise as the binder to keep the breadcrumbs on the outside of the chicken, which won’t quite have the same crunch as the fried chicken you might crave from Popeye’s, but, as Melba points out, it’s a lot healthier and easier to clean up after.

New York chef Melba Wilson’s new cookbook features a recipe for oven-fried chicken. Photo by Melissa Hom.

Oven-Fried Chicken

With a lot less fat (and a lot less mess) but all the great flavor of traditional fried chicken, this is also a great way to serve fried chicken to a crowd. Just increase the quantities as needed, put it in the oven, and you’re done. You can even make it in advance and serve it at room temp.

— Melba Wilson

6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. whole milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Put the chicken in a bowl and season with the poultry seasoning, cayenne and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. In a second bowl, combine the bread crumbs, the salt, and pepper to taste. Combine the milk and mayonnaise in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken pieces in the milk mixture and then in the bread crumbs.

Lay the breaded chicken in the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Then turn it over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until it is done. When done, it should register 165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer and, when pierced with a fork, the juices should run clear. Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Melba’s American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen” by Melba Wilson (Atria, $30)


Want to learn how to farm in 18 weeks? Farmer Starter now accepting applications

Even the folks who run Farmer Starter, would say you can’t learn everything there is to know about farming in 18 weeks.

But in their four-month program, during which students work and learn on an established organic farm east of Austin, you can get a pretty good start.

Farmshare Austin is accepting applications for the fall season of its Farmers Starter program, which educates new farmers. Contributed by Farmshare Austin

That’s the idea behind Farmer Starter, the farmer education program from the local nonprofit Farmshare Austin, which has three parts to its mission: grow a healthy local food community through food access, teach new farmers through Farmers Starter and preserve farmland.

The program takes place from August 21 to December 21, and the deadline to apply is July 15. Students have the option of living on the organic farm on the banks of the Colorado River. Tuition starts at $2,500, but there are scholarships available.

Farmer Starter participants learn both in the field and in a classroom on the farm from experienced farmers who know how to get established in the business and maintain organic practices. In addition to studies on the farm, each week, students visit or volunteer with local farms or food artisans, and to learn marketing skills, students also help run Farmshare Austin’s Mobile Markets, which provide fresh, affordable produce to people living in areas that lack access to healthy food.

It’s not even July, but the Texas peach season is ending soon

It’s not July yet, but we’re getting down to the last of the Texas peaches.

Last week, I was in Fredericksburg to tour the Peach Haus, headquarters for Fischer & Wieser, the company that makes jams, jellies and sauces and started as a peach stand years ago.


These peaches from Fischer & Wieser’s Peach Haus were among the last of this year’s crop. The season is winding down early this year due to a mild winter, which prevented many fruit from setting. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Peach Haus had some local peaches for sale, but the owners, like many growers in the area, said the season is quickly winding down.

The peach season is practically over for Marburger Orchard, which posted last week that it didn’t have enough peaches to sell at the Saturday farmstand. “Whatever few we may have will be sporadic and unpredictable, and we may reserve them for once a week sale at the Thursday Fredericksburg Farmers Market,” the website says.

The Hill Country Fruit Council posted an update a few days ago that confirmed what I saw last week: “Freestone peaches are now available at many Hill Country Fruit Council member/grower stands and markets, although in much lesser supply than many years due to a mild winter.”

The organization pointed out that there are plenty of other local fruits available, including watermelons and pick-your-own blackberrie, as well as value-added products that you can buy to support the growers.

The council also warned: “Because the Hill Country (and Texas crop in general) is small this year, you are unlikely to find true Hill Country peaches outside of the area so be careful what you are buying.”

I would add that be careful when you’re buying peaches in the Hill Country, too. Plenty of stands buy peaches from other states, especially in down years like this one, but not all of the out-of-state peaches are clearly marked as such.

Vogel Orchard said that they have some Red Globe freestone peaches available this week, but that this “is the last variety for the season with a decent volume. While we cannot guarantee peaches to be available at all times due to the high demand, this will be your best opportunity for the rest of the season….Unfortunately, the mid and late season varieties were especially affected by the mild winter and we will have limited quantities for the remainder of the season.”

The Northwest Austin Kiwanis host two peach fundraisers every summer, one in July and another in September, but this year might have to skip its September sale because of a poor peach crop. Contributed by the Northwest Austin Kiwanis.

Remember that peach fundraiser I told you about? The Northwest Kiwanis announced this week that they would be delaying their peach fundraiser pick-up until July 15, and that if necessary, their East Texas growers might be partnering with the Colorado growers to fill out the boxes. There might not be a September sale, so get in your orders now if you want them.

Edible Austin files lawsuit after canceled Beer and Bacon Festival

Edible Austin filed a lawsuit last week against a local event venue, claiming the venue failed to obtain the permits needed for the magazine’s Beer and Bacon Festival in January of 2016.

Fair Market hosts numerous food events throughout the year, but in a new lawsuit, Edible Austin claims that it had to cancel its Beer and Bacon Festival because the venue didn’t pull the proper permits. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

At the time, the magazine said that the event was postponed “due to circumstances beyond our control.” The event was reschedule for June of 2016 at Circuit of the Americas, but the magazine says in the lawsuit that it lost money “from ticket revenue and corporate advertising, plus the deposit it paid.” Edible Austin held the event this January at Brazos Hall.

Edible Austin has published a print food magazine for 10 years.

Edible Austin, which published its first issue 10 years ago this summer, organizes many events throughout the year, and the event venue space on East Fifth Street that opened in 2014 has recently hosted events during the Austin Food & Wine and Hot Luck festivals. In December of 2016, Bunkhouse Management took over management of Fair Market, but Pegalo Properties was the management company of the venue at the time of the canceled event.

Richard Kooris, president of Pegalo Properties and one of the owners of Fair Market, said that he and his partners haven’t received any notice or “heard anything from the Edible Austin folks or their attorney in close to a year. After the incident, there was an exchange of correspondence between the parties.  They sent us a letter and we replied. After that, radio silence.”

Edible Austin referred us to their lawyer for comment, which I’ll add if available.

Hosting a party soon? A quick chicken mole that will impress your guests

Holiday get-togethers aren’t cook-offs, but sometimes they feel that way.

Jenn De La Vega, author of “Showdown Comfort Food, Chili & BBQ: Bold Flavors from Wild Cooking Contests” (Page Street Publishing, $22.99), has written a whole cookbook of competition-worthy dishes, and ahead of the Independence Day parties, I wanted to share her technique for making pulled chicken mole.

This pulled chicken mole will easily feed a crowd, and you could serve it with tacos or slider buns. Contributed by Colin Clark

Traditional mole takes hours to make, but this version comes together quickly. De La Vega packs a ton of flavor into the sauce with nut butter, tahni, a chipotle pepper, dates and chocolate. That might sound weird if you’ve never had mole, but give it a try. Feel free to double this recipe if you’re feeding a crowd.

Pulled Chicken Mole

4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
3 cups chicken stock
2 dried ancho chilies
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup chunky nut butter
1/4 cup dates
2 tablespoons tahini
3 medium shallots, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 tablespoons dark chocolate, chopped
Salt and pepper
Tortillas or slider buns, for serving

Place the chicken in a pot and cover with the stock; bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the meat is tender and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Drain and save the stock; set the chicken aside.

Using about 1 cup of the reserved stock, reconstitute the dried chili peppers in the pot. (You’ll have to reheat the stock if it has cooled.) Carefully fish them out with tongs when they are soft. Remove the stems and place in the bowl of a food processor with the chipotle, cinnamon, clove, nut butter, dates and tahini. Pulse until the larger pieces are broken and blend on low until it forms a smooth paste.

In a large pan, sauté the shallots in vegetable oil until they soften for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more before adding the tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and add the spiced paste from the food processor.

Cook for 15 minutes on medium, until the liquid cooks off. Strain 1 cup of the chicken stock cooking liquid into the sauce and stir. Just like risotto, as the liquid cooks off, add another cup of the chicken broth, until you have one left. At that point, take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

As the sauce cooks, cool the chicken and debone it. Pull the chicken apart, making sure no pieces are bigger than the width of your thumb.

Fold the meat into the sauce and serve immediately, or if you’re not eating just yet, add the last of the broth and cover. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees until you’re ready to eat.

If you’re eating later, cool the mixture down and store in the fridge overnight. An hour before serving, add the remaining chicken broth before heating it back up. Serve with tortillas or slider buns. Serves 4 to 8.

— From “Showdown Comfort Food, Chili & BBQ: Bold Flavors from Wild Cooking Contests” by Jenn De La Vega (Page Street Publishing, $22.99)