Austin has four of the country’s top 10 grocery stores, according to Food & Wine

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Austin has long been considered a grocery store paradise.

Central Market has two Austin locations, including this one on South Lamar Boulevard. Contributed by Central Market.

The birthplace of Whole Foods and Wheatsville Food Co-op, Austin is also home to Trader Joe’s, Central Markets, a handful of Randalls and dozens of H-E-Bs. We can’t forget Natural Grocers, Aldi, Sprouts, Fresh Plus, 365 by Whole Foods and, the big guy, Walmart.

Suffice to say: We like to shop for food.

Whole Foods Market has a number of Austin-area locations, as well as a 365 by Whole Foods store in Cedar Park. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Food & Wine magazine published a ranking of U.S. grocery store chains on its website last week, and a reader emailed me to point out that Austin has a bunch of the stores in the top 10.

Although we don’t have the No. 1 store, Wegman’s, which is a regional chain in New York, Austin is home to Central Market, which took second place.

From the report:

Two years after Whole Foods went public in 1994, lucky Austin, Texas, hit the grocery store jackpot once more. This time, it came courtesy of the state’s best-known supermarket brand, H-E-B. With almost Europe-worthy retail design, an overwhelming amount of fresh produce and exceedingly good prepared foods, there should be Central Markets everywhere — sadly, you’ll have to travel to one of the big cities in Texas and see for yourself.

Central Texans can shop at Aldi in Pflugerville. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Lidl, which ranked No. 3 on the list, is scheduled to be built in Kyle, but store officials haven’t said when. Trader Joe’s came in at No. 4, and the Florida-based Publix ranked fifth.

Whole Foods came in sixth place behind Trader Joe’s and Lidl, followed by Aldi, which has a store in Pflugerville.

WinCo Foods is a regional grocery chain in the Northwest that feels like a combination of Costco and H-E-B. Customers sack their own groceries, and the bulk and deli sections are enormous. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

WinCo, which is my favorite store to shop at when I visit my sister in Idaho, is No. 8, and Portland’s New Seasons Market came in at No. 9. The Midwestern chain Hy-Vee rounded out the list at No. 10.

I was surprised that Whole Foods was ranked lower than Trader Joe’s, which I think really needs to step up its produce game. Oh, and its bread.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ranking in the comments or on the Relish Austin Facebook page.


Cafe serving cookbook-inspired food and drinks is now open at Central Library downtown

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Before the new library opened downtown, one of the most exciting proposed elements was the Cookbook Cafe, a cookbook-inspired eatery on the bottom floor.

The books that line the shelves of the Cookbook Cafe, the restaurant inside downtown’s Central Library that opens today, are from the personal collection of food writer Virginia B. Wood, who died earlier this year. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Central Library opened in October, but today, the cafe opens with a surprise: The books lining the shelves were the collection of Virginia B. Wood, the late food writer who was influential in Austin’s food community before her death earlier this year.

PHOTOS: A look at the new Cookbook Bar and Cafe at Austin Central Public Library

RELATED: Longtime Austin food columnist Virginia B. Wood dies at age 67

The Cookbook Cafe features indoor and outdoor seating and will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The Cookbook Cafe, which is run by the ELM Group, will features dishes pulled from the cookbooks in Wood’s collection, whose books line the shelves of the interior dining space, as well as in the personal collections of chefs Andrew and Mary Catherine Curren.

So what cookbooks will you find featured on the menu? “The Commander’s Palace Cookbook” by Ti Adelaide Martin & Jamie Shannon inspired the granola parfait, and Heidi Gibson’s “Grilled Cheese Kitchen” holds the recipe for the restaurant’s breakfast grilled cheese.

This strawberry rice pudding is inspired by famed cookbook author Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking Chez Moi.” Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

At a preview event over the weekend, we got to sample a rice pudding with strawberries and spiced hibiscus syrup from “Baking Chez Moi” by Dorie Greenspan. The restaurant will be serving coffee, matcha and tea, as well as beer, wine and spirits. The literary-inspired cocktails include The Adventures of Huckleberry Gin and Murder on the Orient Espresso.

The hours of the restaurant will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The Cookbook Cafe also runs a rooftop coffee cart in the library’s top floor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m.

You can park in the underground lot at the library, but there are also some street parking options. The library is located at Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Streets, between the Seaholm Development and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

You can check out the cafe’s full menus at

The menu at Central Library’s Cookbook Cafe will rotate seasonally, but the dishes will come from beloved cookbooks that might be on your shelves, too. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


This grapefruit and basil ice cream tastes like the very best Flintstones Push Ups you had as a kid

I am always utterly charmed by Diana Henry’s cookbooks.

To make Diana Henry’s grapefruit and basil ice cream, the first step is to grind the grapefruit zest and sugar in a mortar and pestle, which infuses the sugar with the citrus flavor and helps break down the zest. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

She’s one of the few UK-based “cookery” authors whose flavor profiles and recipes are just as appealing on this side of the pond — Yotam Ottolenghi is another — and her latest book, “How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places” (Mitchell Beazley, $34.99), is a classic example of why.

In the new book, Henry compiles menus inspired by places she’s visited and meals she’s enjoyed over the years, and this pink grapefruit and basil ice cream was inspired by her time in San Francisco, first as a diner at Chez Panisse and then later as a friend of chef and author Alice Waters, whose of fresh ingredients and nouveau flavor combinations left an indelible impact on Henry.

Diana Henry’s “How to Eat a Peach” is a collection of recipes categorized into menus that were inspired by the author’s travels and memorable meals. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

In the recipe introduction, Henry explains that this version was inspired by her tried-and-true lemon and basil ice cream, which she had been making for years. But swapping out the lemon for grapefruit created a floral, dreamy ice cream that she says is “possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever made.”

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Having made it this weekend, I have to agree. I saved half of the custard to make during my Facebook livestream today at Check out the video to hear why this ice cream tastes like the Flintstones Push Ups I used to love as a kid and why I’ll be making “frosecco” for 100-percent work-only purposes later today.

One coworker said he thought the ice cream tastes like “a more refreshing summertime treat than any mixed cocktail” and would be something he could imagine feeding guests at a party. Another ice cream lover in the newsroom said the grapefruit flavor was a little too bitter for his taste, but that it was “refreshing on a hot Austin day.” Served in a cocktail tumbler with ice cold Topo Chico would make a lovely Austin affogato.

Grapefruit and Basil Ice Cream

Zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
1/4 plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/4 cups whole milk
35 basil leaves
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place the zest and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a mortar and pestle. (Reserve the grapefruit juice for later in the recipe.) Grind until the mixture forms a citrus sugar paste. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the milk and the citrus zest mixture. Heat to almost a boil and then remove from heat. Tear the basil leaves and add them to the pan. Cover and let rest for at least an hour on the stovetop so that the flavors can infuse.

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the yolks and remaining 1/3 cup cream until the yolks have turned pale and creamy. Strain the flavored milk and then add to the bowl, stirring to combine. Place the custard mixture into a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stirring often, heat the mixture until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not boil the mixture or heat it above 180 degrees or else the eggs will curdle or scramble.)

While the custard heats, place a bowl over ice in the sink. When the custard has thickened, pour it into the cool bowl to help stop the cooking. Let the custard come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, use a handheld or stand mixer to whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard, and then add the grapefruit juice and lemon juice. Gently stir to combine and then either refrigerate the mixture or add it to your ice cream maker. (You can also place the mixture in a shallow container and put it in the freezer. To make the ice cream manually, remove the custard mixture from the freezer three times during the freezing process to churn with a handheld mixer, once after an hour and then in two-hour intervals.)

If using an electric ice cream machine, churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Store in the freezer and then serve. Serves 6.

— Adapted from “How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, $34.99)

Hand-pulled dragon’s beard cotton candy? I guess I really will do anything for my kids

Dragon’s beard candy.

I hadn’t heard of this confection until last week, when one of my kids insisted I watched a how-to video they’d seen on YouTube.

“It’s like hand-pulled cotton candy,” they explained as they searched for a video to show me. The most popular one appears to be Inga Lam’s video for Buzzfeed, which was uploaded in April and already has more than 4 million views.

As you know, I’m a big fan of taking on YouTube-inspired projects with my kids, from homemade slime to Angry Bird cupcakes. (Those Jell-O cookies were kind of gross, though.)

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The bright (and not-so-bright) side of making Jell-O cookies

The host says she grew up seeing this candy in Hong Kong and had always wanted to try it. Through her trial-and-error, I knew we’d need a lot of cornstarch and that we couldn’t heat the candy to over 270 degrees. (Her first attempts, where the rings broke apart as she pulled them, looked like the sugar had gone too far into the soft crack stage, which is between 270 and 289 degrees.)

We found a few other videos to add to our research and then set out to make this delicate, ultra-sweet, bird’s best of a treat.

Taking a cue from Clifford Endo of Eater, who posted his how-to video in September, we added blue food coloring to the water and added a splash of vinegar to the pot. We used 500 grams sugar, 1 cup water, a splash of vinegar and 3-4 drops food coloring. As everyone always points out, don’t stir the sugar and water mixture as it heats, although to be totally honest, I didn’t follow that rule for a long time and didn’t notice much of a difference in the caramels and other sugar-based sauces and candies I’ve made.

We didn’t stir the pot this time and watched carefully as the temperature climbed to the 220s, where it stalled, and then inched closer to 270. We pulled the candy from the heat at about 268 degrees and let it cool slightly before pouring into silicon molds and a nonstick mini muffin pan.

The silicon molds were bigger and the candy took longer to cool, but the blue discs of sugar in the mini muffin pan were ready to pull in about 30 minutes, when they were warm enough to still stretch, but cool enough to handle easily and start to hold their shape.

This is where the fun began. We each took a small disc of sugar and poked a hole in it with our fingers. Then, slowly and steady, we started to pull the candy into a larger loop, twisting like an “8” or an infinity look once the circle was about 6 or 8 inches in diameter. The idea is that you gently pull and twist the loop 14 times, which gives you more than 16,000 tender strands of sugar.

As the videos demonstrate, this technique takes a while to master, but our first dragon’s beard candy was actually the best one. We enjoyed using the smaller discs to practice, but if you want the full “beard” effect, you can use a larger quantity of the heated sugar mixture. Many people online use doughnut mold so the sugar already has a hole in the middle.

We crushed up some peanuts, which is how these dragon’s beards are usually served, and the whole package was fun to eat. We ran out of steam to pull all of the sugar mixture we’d made, so I’m glad I cut the original recipe in half. Will we make these again? Maybe, especially if we’re looking for a hands-on project on a rainy day.

But in reality, my kids watch enough YouTube tutorials that there will probably be another project they’ll suggest soon, and, fully aware that we only have so many summers left with this kind of play, I wouldn’t trade these random mom-kid experiments for anything.

What summertime food projects are you working on with your kids?

RELATED: Joanna Gaines’ daughter has a summer baking business — what would be yours?

Here is a mint lemonade to brighten your lemonade stand




With this cooler summer weather, we’re dreaming of France and this strawberry butter cake

Maybe you, too, are dreaming of France this summer.

Kathy Dube learned how to make this strawberry butter cake while on a recent trip to Burgundy with her daughter. Contributed by @shoalcreekcook_atx

If a week in Burgundy, sampling wine and nibbling on a fresh baguette with buttery escargot, sounds divine, then you and Austinite Kathy Dube would be friends. She’s the cook behind Shoal Creek Cook ( and @shoalcreekcook_atx), and earlier this year, she and her daughter, Sara, went to Burgundy, where they took a cooking class from another mother-daughter duo, Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini.

The family behind The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, France, recently published a new cookbook. Contributed by The Cook’s Atelier

Taylor and Franchini are Americans who run Cook’s Atelier, a cooking school in Beaune, the walled city in the heart of this gastronomic French region. After hosting their popular cooking classes since 2008, they have since added a food and wine shop, and in April, they published their first cookbook, “The Cook’s Atelier: Recipes, Techniques, and Stories from Our French Cooking School” (Harry N. Abrams, $45).

This strawberry butter cakes tastes like the best of spring, summer and France. Contributed by @shoalcreekcook_atx

Dube was so delighted with this particular recipe that she emailed me to share it through our Austin360Cooks project, where home cooks can swap recipes, tips and ideas through Instagram.

Butter Cake with Strawberries

1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (or plain sugar)
Powdered sugar (for dusting on top)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Butter the parchment paper. Dust the cake pan with flour and remove excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and creme fraiche. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, use a wooden spoon to cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and continue creaming until combined. Add the egg and vanilla seeds and continue creaming until fully combined. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture and stir until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Arrange the sliced strawberries on top (away from the side of the pan) in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar.

Bake until golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Dust the top with powdered sugar. If you would like, serve with extra strawberries and whipped cream.

— Adapted from Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini, The Cook’s Atelier

Contributed by @shoalcreekcook_atx

Joanna Gaines’ daughter has a summer baking business — what would be yours?

Joanna Gaines’ daughter, Ella, is already has a summer job.

Looking for an easy-to-gift treat to keep in your pantry? You can bake pound cake in jars that will last for up to a year. Contributed by Lucy Shaeffer

The former “Fixer Upper” star posted a photo on Instagram today of the young baker and her goods, which she’s selling at the Magnolia headquarters in Waco.

Joanna Gaines says she has been baking some of her family’s favorite recipes, some of which appear in her mom’s cookbook that came out this spring.

RELATED: 15 healthy and portable mason jar breakfasts, lunches and dinners

Making day-off baking plans? Try these pound cakes in jars

Ella made her Aunt Opal’s banana pudding and the chocolate chip cookies from her mom’s cookbook this week, which got me thinking, which recipes would I make and sell — in jars or otherwise — for a summer business?

The world’s best chocolate chip cookies (or at least I think so). Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I’d make iced lemon cookies or my sister’s world’s best chocolate chip cookies. Or these Snickerdoodle bars from “Bravetart” by Stella Parks.

Cake pops! For an even easier project, you could make “deconstructed cake pops in a jar” and net a pretty penny in sales.

These gluten-free chiffon cake and chocolate ganache recipes would be perfect to serve inside a small Mason jar. You could even take a cue from Ella and tie some twine and a spoon around the top to boost sales.

My very favorite summer cake recipe is that upside down peach cake, which I’m sure I could figure out how to bake in the jars, for easy transport and presentation. Maybe I could even figure out how to bake it in an Instant Pot

That cherry cheesecake from earlier this week could also easily be baked into small jars or containers.

Cake pops are a fun treat to make, but you could use the concept of crumbling cake and serving it with icing to make a deconstructed cake pop in a jar. Contributed by Aimee Wenske


Ask Addie: How long can I leave groceries in the car on a hot day?

Austin traffic plus hot afternoons plus a car full of groceries is a situation that many of us find ourselves troubleshooting during the summer months.

How long can you leave groceries in the car? It depends what’s in the bags, but for perishables, no more than an hour on a really hot day. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I reached out to the H-E-B Curbside team to find out how they answer questions like:

  • If I stop for groceries on the way to pick up the kids, do I have enough time to go by the library before the ice cream melts or the lunch meat spoils?
  • Raw chicken breasts are on sale at a store near where I work in Austin, but I live in Kyle. Do I need an insulated bag to make it home with them safely?
  • Should I store bottles of wine in the backseat, where they might be exposed to the sun, or in the trunk, where the temperatures might be higher?

RELATED: Ask Addie: Is it safe to bake a casserole and drive it to Fort Worth?

Ask Addie: What’s the word on salted versus unsalted butter?

Bacteria love warmth, moisture and nutrients, and a hot car with bags of groceries provides just that. Foods that require refrigeration are the top priority for keeping cool. Frozen foods are a concern, too, but you have less time with refrigerated meats and fresh produce, which can harbor the rapid growth of dangerous bacteria if you’re not careful.

When sacking your groceries, make sure to store the perishable foods together, as well as the meats and frozen foods in their own respective bags. MARLON SORTO / AHORA SI

According to food safety experts at H-E-B, perishable food can stay safely unrefrigerated for two hours if the air temperature is under 90 degrees and only for one hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or higher. This is true for foods transported in a car or bag or when you’re having a picnic or a barbecue outside.

You don’t need to worry about shelf-stable foods unless they have an element that could melt in the heat, such as chocolate chips in granola bars or trail mix, but you do need to take extra care with meat, deli, dairy, fresh fruit, frozen foods and prepared dishes, including rotisserie chicken, pasta salad or ready-to-bake pizzas. Treat restaurant leftovers with care, too, keeping them refrigerated and not in a warm car for more than 30 minutes or an hour at most.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Try to plan your trips so that you are going straight home from the store. If you have to make another stop, keep it at less than 15 minutes so your total time en route isn’t more than 30 minutes or, at most, an hour.
  • Be aware of the type of food you’re buying, and adjust accordingly if you have errands to run. Stop at the cleaners or for coffee before grocery shopping, not afterward when your groceries will be baking in the car.
  • If you have to stop somewhere, park in the shade or keep groceries out of direct sunlight. Wine should never be exposed to direct sunlight, so make sure the bottles or bags with other perishables are covered with a towel or other form of shade.
  • When buying foods that melt quickly, such as ice cream, consider putting the bag or food in a cooler with ice packs.
  • Don’t leave your cooler in the car, however, because it will hold and release heat, even with cold gel packs in the bottom. You could buy a bag of ice to put in the cooler if you have an extra-long trip ahead of you. Insulated bags are the next best thing to coolers, and they don’t hold as much heat if left in your car before shopping.
  • If you’re helping to bag your own groceries, keep in mind what the grocery store employees are already trained to do: Store like foods together. Perishable foods belong in a bag with other perishable foods so they help keep each other cool on the way home. Keep meats and frozen foods in their own respective bags.
  • Put groceries away as soon as you get home. After 45 minutes in the car, another 30 minutes on the counter won’t do your perishables any favors. They might not make you sick, but some foods, such as milk, might expire more quickly if not handled properly.

If Father’s Day rain spoils your grilling plans, here are bourbon-glazed steak tips to make in a skillet

Not all dads drink bourbon and not all dads eat steak, but if the dad in your life does, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Father’s Day treat than this one. (Especially if this weekend’s rain forecast is accurate and you’re looking for a steak recipe to cook indoors instead of on a grill.)

These bourbon-glazed steak tips are a great way to feed a family for Father’s Day without serving individual steaks to everyone at the table. Contributed by Beef Loving Texans

By slicing any number of beef cuts into large cubes and soaking them in a marinade sweetened with bourbon, honey and balsamic vinegar, you can create a skillet full of caramelized beef tips, which is a nifty solution to feeding a family or a small gathering without serving individual steaks to everyone.

RELATED: Check out the Austin360 Boozery Guide

15 great dishes for Dad this Father’s Day weekend

You could use a Texas-made bourbon — among them, Garrison Brothers in Hye, Ben Milam Whiskey in Blanco, Balcones Distilling in Waco, Firestone & Robertson in Fort Worth and Ranger Creek in San Antonio – for the marinade or for serving on the rocks with the meal.

Ben Milam Bourbon is one of many Texas bourbons on the market today. The story behind the name is that founder Marsha Milam wanted to name her whiskey after ancestor Ben Milam, who was killed in battle after urging his fellow Texans to fight against Mexico in the Texas Revolution. The slogan on the bottle comes from a poem about Milam. Brooke Taelor Photography

The Conroe-based Mike Majkszak, who was a finalist in Beef Loving Texans’ Best Butchers in Texas contest, says that a bourbon-based marinade like this one will bring out the richness of the beef and tenderize the meat. Sirloin is usually the most affordable cut of beef, he says, which means you can usually buy a higher-quality sirloin without paying significantly more. Chat with your butcher if you’re looking for alternatives.

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Bourbon-Glazed Steak Tips

2 to 3 pound top blade roast, flat iron or sirloin steak
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon, divided
Spray oil
Salt, to taste

Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. If using top blade roast, make sure to cut away and discard the thick membrane that runs through the middle of the roast.

Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 cup bourbon in a bowl or zip-top bag. Add the steak tips and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Heat a heavy, cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Spray with a little oil. Drain the excess marinade from steak tips and discard. Place steak tips in the hot skillet. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until color develops.

Mix remaining bourbon and honey in a small bowl, then pour over steak tips to glaze. Continue cooking until glaze has caramelized and darkened to a rich brown color. The tips should have enough salt from the soy sauce, but you can taste them at this stage and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat, allowing 2 to 3 minutes to cool, then serve.

— From Beef Loving Texans (

Breaking in my new Instant Pot with rice, beans and a New York-style cheesecake you have to try

Every Instant Pot fantasy I’d ever had about making refried beans in no time flat came true last week when I finally turned on this crazy popular countertop appliance.

Multicookers, the most famous brand of which is the Instant Pot, is a great way to cook in the summer when you don’t want to turn on the stove or the oven. You can make refried beans, from dried to finished, in less than 2 hours. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

In about 90 minutes, I turned an 88-cent bag of dried pinto beans into a pot of hot, cheesy, creamy deliciousness. The next day, I made jasmine rice in about 15 minutes, which wasn’t quite as impressive in saving time because I’m used to a rice cooker. The rice stuck to the bottom of the pot, but that was likely a first timer error on my part.

I made this cheesecake in an Instant Pot, but you could use a regular pressure cooker or another brand of a multicooker. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

But the recipe that has made me an earlier believer in this whole Instant Pot thing is a New York-style cheesecake recipe from This is author Amy and Jacky’s 17th version of this recipe, and their thorough instructions made it easy for me to follow the steps as I made the dessert with my kids on Sunday.

When I brought the cheesecake into the office, I was worried that it might be too eggy or too savory or too pasty, but what a delight to take one bite and know that it was a success. With a thick crust and a smooth, dense center, the cheesecake was rich but not heavy. My editor tasted it and said it reminded her of her mother’s cheese pie, a sweet memory of Oklahoma foodways when she was a kid.

To make the cherry glaze, I pitted about ½ pound of cherries and simmered them with sugar. Next time, I’ll follow the Washington State Fruit Commission’s recipe (below) for cherry jubilee, a cherry topping sauce that can be swirled into ice cream or used as a pie filling.

This cherry cheesecake took about an hour to make, not counting the time needed to let the ingredients come to room temperature. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

New York-Style Cheesecake in a Pressure Cooker

Making a cheesecake – especially in an Instant Pot, where you don’t have to fiddle with making a bain marie setup in your oven – is easy if you remember the most important step in making a cheesecake: letting the cream cheese come to room temperature, which takes at least a few hours. You should also let your eggs and sour cream come to room temperature before starting to make the batter. If you don’t, you’ll have lumpy or puffy or otherwise weirdly textured cheesecake, which will make you never want to bake a cheesecake again.

This recipe comes from the genius cooks behind, who are on their 17th iteration of this recipe. They are thoroughly detailed in their methodology, which I’ve streamlined and adapted below.

You can either make it dense and rich or smooth and creamy, and I chose to make it the former but added instructions to the recipe on how to make it lighter and creamier. They suggest using a handheld mixer instead of a stand mixer for this recipe because it introduces less air into the batter. If you’re using a 6-inch pan, increase the cooking time to 31 minutes. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees, but don’t forget that water bath.

10 graham crackers
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the batter:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup white sugar
2 pinches of sea salt
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature

To make the crust, finely grind graham crackers in a food processor. Alternatively, you can place them in a zip-top plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin. In a small mixing bowl, mix graham crackers, a pinch of sea salt and brown sugar. Add melted butter until the mixture sticks together when you pinch it with your fingers.

For best results, line the bottom of a 7-inch springform cheesecake pan with parchment and cut a strip of parchment to line the sides, too. If you have a nonstick springform pan, parchment is not necessary. Press the graham cracker crust into the bottom of the pan, using the back of a spoon or bottom of a measuring cup.

At this point, you can freeze the cheesecake pan in the freezer while you make the cheesecake batter, or, for a crisper crust, you can blind-bake it at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

To make the cheesecake batter, mix together cornstarch, two pinches of sea salt and white sugar together. In a medium bowl, use a handheld mixer to briefly beat the room temperature cream cheese for about 10 to 15 seconds, which will further soften it. Add half the sugar mixture and beat at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the sugar. For a creamier cheesecake, beat for a minute.

Add sour cream and vanilla extract to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until just incorporated, or longer for a creamier cheesecake. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl in between each one.

Fold the batter with a silicon spatula and then pour the batter onto the crust in the cheesecake pan. Tap the pan against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles, which you can pop with a toothpick.

To cook the cheesecake, pour 1 cup of cold water in pressure cooker and place the steamer rack in the pot. Place the cheesecake pan on the rack and close the lid. Cook at High Pressure for 26 minutes and let the steam release naturally, which will take about 7 minutes. Open the multicooker and use a paper towel to absorb any condensation that collects on top of the cheesecake.

Leave the cheesecake in the cooker with the lid off and allow to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, store the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge about 20 minutes before you’d like to serve it. Release the springform and peel off the parchment paper. Cut into slices and serve with cherry topping (see recipe below).

— Adapted from a recipe by Amy and Jacky on

Let the cheesecake cool in the multicooker and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Fresh Cherry Sauce

The founding fathers didn’t plan it this way, but the nation’s birthday celebration occurs smack dab in the middle of the Northwest fresh sweet cherry season. Even though young George Washington apparently had an ax to grind with the tree itself, other colonists worked long and hard to develop cherry orchards in their adopted land.

All sweet cherries work in a cherry sauce, although dark cherries offer a more dramatic color contrast with the ice cream. Enjoy the fresh cherries while you can. Northwest cherries arrive in markets beginning in June and are gone by mid-August. Make sure you get all the pits or the sauce will take on an almond-like flavor.

— Northwest Cherry Growers

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 cup brandy, optional
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Combine sugar and cornstarch. Blend in water and orange juice. Cook and stir until thickened and smooth. Add cherries and orange peel; return to boil and simmer 10 minutes. Gently heat brandy, pour over sauce and flame, if desired. Serve over ice cream. Serves 8, but recipe can be halved.

— Washington State Fruit Commission

It’s Philippine Independence Day, but do you really need an excuse to make tangy, sweet barbecue pork?

Filipino food isn’t one that many Americans are familiar with, even though Filipino Americans are the second-largest demographic of Asian Americans in the country, according to the U.S. Census.

Filipino food is notable for its convergence of flavors, blending Spanish, Malaysian and Chinese cuisines. Contributed by Be More Pacific.

Nearly 4 million Americans identify as Filipino, which means millions of home cooks throughout the U.S. are making dishes that blend Malaysian, Chinese and Spanish flavors. And because today is Philippine Independence Day, I wanted to share a Filipino recipe from a local restaurant with a little background on the country.

After more than 300 years of Spanish rule, the Philippines started their transition toward independence in 1898, when Spain ceded the islands to the U.S., but after the Philippine-American War in the years that followed, the nation of more than 7,000 islands remained under U.S. rule until 1946, when the Philippines were granted full independence.

That’s one, short version of a long, complicated and often tumultuous history of occupation and colonization, but it helps explain why, since 1964, June 12 has been considered Independence Day in the Philippines. (The original date was July 4 to coincide with the U.S. Independence Day.)

Only Chinese Americans outnumber Filipinos in the U.S., but the Filipino population in Austin isn’t as high as in other areas, such as Houston and California’s Central Valley.

There’s a Filipinos in Austin Facebook group and an Austin Filipino-American Association, but for a taste of Filipino food, you can head to a number of spots, including Tito AdoboMang Dedoy’s and Little Mama’s in Round Rock. For Filipino groceries, you can head to Gammad Oriental Store & Restaurant, Oriental Grocery & Bakery or Filipino Asian Mart in South Austin.

Be More Pacific started as a food truck in 2011 but now operates a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd., and their chef, Buddy Melgarejo, who grew up in the Philippines and moved to Houston in 2015, shared his versatile barbecue pork recipe, which has a lemon-, tomato- and soy-based marinade that showcases the convergence of flavors you’ll find in many Filipino dishes.

This pork dish from Be More Pacific uses a marinade that you could use for many cuts of pork. Contributed by Be More Pacific.

Filipino Pork Barbecue

This pork marinade is well-suited for ribs or pork belly, but you could also use it for pork chops. The pork should be marinaded for at least 6 hours and up to overnight, and the cooking time will vary depending on the cut of meat and cooking method. If using wooden skewers to grill the pork belly, pre-soak them for 20 minutes before placing the meat on them. You’ll want to serve this with rice and, if you have time, pickled papaya.

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 pounds pork ribs or 1 (2-pound) pork belly, sliced in 1-inch cubes

In a bowl, mix the garlic powder, soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato sauce, salt and pepper together. Pour the marinade over the pork, reserving 1/2 cup for glaze. In a bowl or pan, pour the marinade on the pork, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.

If using pork belly, skewer the pork on a bamboo stick with up to six pieces per stick. Heat the grill. Mix the brown sugar with the remaining marinade.

Grill the ribs or the skewers, basting with the additional marinade as you cook the meat. The grilling time will vary, depending on the cut of meat, but it should be shiny and moist when finished. Serve with hot rice and pickled papaya.

— Buddy Melgarejo, Be More Pacific

Atchara (Pickled Papaya)

2 cups green papaya, grated
1/4 cup rock salt
1 1/2 cup coconut vinegar
1 small bell pepper, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 big thumb-size ginger, strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
Sugar, salt and pepper

Mix papaya and rock salt then squeeze out the juice. Set aside.

In a pot, place vinegar, bell peppers, carrots, ginger, onions and garlic. Bring to a boil until carrots soften, about 5 minutes. Adjust flavor to suit your taste by adding sugar, salt and pepper.

When done, add papaya and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Let it cool then store overnight in the fridge before serving.

— Buddy Melgarejo, Be More Pacific