food

SXSW: Foodie Day 1

By Tiffany Young

OK, OK. It’s not officially SXSW yet, but that doesn’t mean the free food and drinks have not already begun. Thanks to the start of TechMunch and Whole Foods and Forkly hosting TANGO con VINOS ARGENTINOS at GSD&M, I’ve already had a few glasses of wine, some food and a swag bag of goodies.

First, I tried the Argento Bonarda, a red wine, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Its description is “earthy dark fruit and rustic red berry notes, hints of violet and toasted oak.” I enjoyed this with some empanadas and tapas topped with fried asparagus … yum. The weather in Austin was beautiful tonight, as I strolled along the courtyard saying hi to a few people I knew.

I hope the weather holds up, but the forecast is calling for rain the next few days.

My next glass was the Crios Torrontes, a sweet white wine. It was lovely as well, but I ended up eating some cheese alongside it and it may have been too sweet to pair with a strong cheese. There were several more wines I abstained from as well as a meat buffet that I heard was delicious.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to catch some more SXSW festivities during my lunch break. Wish me luck!

Hope Farmers Market relocated to Plaza Saltillo

Sign

By Tiffany Young

Last weekend was the last day for Hope Farmers Market to be located at Pine Street Station. I was lucky enough to be there to see the announcement or I would have been disappointed when I showed up and no one was there.

My mom and her coworkers had come in for the cake show and wanted to visit the farmers market. They had missed the one downtown, so I brought them to Hope, forgetting that my Austin-eclectic taste might be a bit much for the Northeast Texans. (I’m from there, so I can say that!)

I’m not sure they were as impressed with the hippy-ness that I am, but they did have a great appreciation for Flour’s smart tarts that I introduced them to. The honey nutella smart tart is amazing. I’ve also had the pecan praline and loved it, too, despite not being a huge fan of pecans. My mom raved about the raspberry, saying “I didn’t even share on the ride home it was so good!”

All that to say — while Hope is no longer at Pecan Street Station, it has not closed, but relocated to Plaza Saltillo as of today, March 3! I didn’t get a chance to go check it out, but one of the vendors was telling me that it was originally made as a farmers market, was on the rail route and would no longer have to relocate during the SXSW craze.

Band 2 band 3 band 4 Band Bread Buttons Clothing Couliflower Farmers market Flour market blurry Musician Sandwich board Smart tarts Unicorn bagVeggies

Fresh is eggcellent!

I just ate one of the best omelets I’ve ever had. It’s also probably the freshest I’ve ever had, which is probably no coincidence. My dear friend Mark Collins gave me some of his chickens’ eggs yesterday, along with jalapeños and bell peppers from his garden, which I used for an omelet this morning using this recipe. I subbed in what I had and left out the things I didn’t have, such as a red pepper and cilantro. I used green onion in place of a regular one, chipotle cheese instead of cheddar and used srirachi in place of Tobasco. The results were amazing! I don’t think I’ll be getting a chicken coop any time soon and my gardening skills aren’t quite up to par, but I am more determined to find locally sourced food! Thanks, Mark!

Gaining 5 pounds in a weekend

Every time I visit my hometown of Texarkana I gain five pounds. I blame it on my mom’s cooking! Or maybe it’s that we watch a lot of TV AND my mom’s cooking. Either way, it happens. Last weekend, I went home to see my parents, since my dad had a hernia operation (which went really well).

My mom made homemade spaghetti filled with veggies, peach pie and quesadillas. Yum Yum!

Like I’ve mentioned before, she is a pastry chef instructor, so the lattice work was all done expertly at home—I’ll have to make a video of it the next time I go home to show everyone how easy she makes it look!

Anyway, I just wanted to show off some of the meals we ate and how cute her kitchen staples are, with chalkboard labels.

Have a great weekend!

The perfect summer salad

If you’re looking for the perfect summer salad, look no further. I found this delicious salad to beat the Texas heat in a year-old Vegetarian Times issue: Cantaloupe-Arugula Salad.

Not only is it cheap and tasty, but it also takes advantage of locally grown melons. I got a canary melon for free from Engel Farms while working at the farmers market, but anyone can buy one for $3. They are nice and sweet right now. An additional $2 for the organic arugula and $6 for the ricotta salata from H-E-B made the salad almost $10, but will make at least 5 salads to eat throughout the week.

The peppery, sweet and sharp flavors mesh wonderfully in each bite. I’ll have to share this salad with Antonio, since he is the one who usually likes pepper, not me.

The salad is easy to make, just requiring washing some arugula, cutting a melon and otherwise just sprinkling on some seasoning. It’s so easy, cheap and carries a wonderful taste that’ll carry you through the hot summer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

 

Lentils are healthy, inexpensive in soups, salads

One of my new favorite foods to cook with is lentils. For one thing, I only eat fish (animal-wise), so lentils are a great way to pack in protein. It also has a lot of fiber. I also enjoy how inexpensive the meals are with lentils.

But other than just being healthy, I think lentils bring a variety to dishes cooked at home; They can be found in a variety of colors and can be in soups, salads and side dishes. I’ve made several lentil salads recently, cold and hot, and they’ve all been pretty good.

My latest recipe Red Curry Lentils and Spinach, while good, was not my favorite. It tastes good—and looks beautiful—but the seasoning doesn’t seem to be very consistent—probably the chef’s fault, but none-the-less that means some bites are amazing and others a bit lacking depending on the bite. I’d give it a 3.5 spoons out of 5. Better than average, but not lick-the-spoon-clean good.

You can find the exact recipe at http://newhope360.com/recipes/red-curry-lentils-and-spinach even though mine came from a print magazine. I substituted  brown lentil for red, since that’s all I could find at H-E-B and white rice for brown rice, because it’s what I had on hand.

Health.com states “Lentils are to India as meatloaf is to America: the quintessential comfort food.” If that’s the case, I’ve got a feeling I would enjoy the food in India! If you want to combine the two and try lentil meatloaf, no problem!

My mom made something similar to this once she found out me and my brother had become pescetarians.

How about you? Are there any healthy foods you keep returning to now that it’s beginning to turn warmer?

Ringing in the New Year

For New Year’s Eve, Antonio was sick with allergies and we ended up deciding to stay in, so I decided to make a big dinner.

I had already copied several recipes I wanted to try out, using the “Cook This” notepad made by Knock Knock. I decided to make Cream of Mushroom Soup, which I found over at YumSugar, Mushroom and Potato Gratin from a recipe from Williams-Sonoma, Not Real Macaroni and Cheese (unfortunately I don’t have the original source on this as I just copied it into Evernote sometime ago) and a salad of mixed greens, avocado and a homemade vinaigrette.

Basically if you weren’t a fan of mushrooms or cheese, you would hate this meal. As it turns out, that was not the case, for Antonio, myself, or his roommate Rolando.

The whole project took me several hours and dirtying almost all of the dishes at the Baylor House. Everything smelled so good and it was pretty much the first time I had cooked for Antonio, so I knew it was a waste when he said his nose was so stuffed up he couldn’t smell anything.

We finally sat down and toasted to the good life and the new year and being thankful to friends and all the things we have. We all realize we have little to complain about compared to many, many others.

I was pretty happy with how the meal came out, even if we had to start on the soup and salad while the gratin continued to bake.

The salad and dressing was good. My secret recipe consists of half balsamic vinegar, half olive oil, a splash of honey—and this time I added some fresh thyme since it was on hand.

The mushroom soup was wonderfully aromatic and the splash of truffle oil divine! I can’t wait to pour truffle oil into many future dishes.

The gratin proved to be a lot of trouble for how it came out—I don’t think I got enough salt and pepper in the layers to make it worth its while. I also would have loved for the potatoes to get crispier, but we were all hungry by the time the buzzer went off. However, I got to use the mandoline Antonio bought me for Christmas, so it was worth it.

The mac and cheese was Antonio’s favorite. I liked how creamy it came out.

The next night ate in again and made grilled cheese and tomato soup. It took all of 15 minutes to make. Antonio said, “This is the best meal we’ve had in a long time!”

It’s the simple things in life, spoons!

Here’s to a yummy year!

 

Who you callin’ food snob?

On more than one occasion, our love of food has caused the Spooners to be called food snobs. This post should clear things up.

I love IKEA. It’s big, it has cool, cheap things and it’s from Sweden, which makes it unique coming out the gate. But my favorite thing about IKEA? The food! Seriously, I miss my days of being able to get two hot dogs and a drink for $1.50 (because I don’t eat hotdogs anymore—not because they stopped this wonderful deal). Now I’m stuck with a slice of pizza and a coke for $2, and I can live with that.

My friend Eric also loves IKEA food, although he goes a step up and eats at the sit-down cafeteria in the middle of IKEA (I find it a little difficult to find and why would I pay $7 when I could pay $2?).

So, when I saw that IKEA was having a Christmas buffet for $9.99 at the Round Rock location, we made a plan. I’d go during my lunch break to get tickets, since I worked the closest.

I should mention that Antonio was dubious of this plan, later asking, “are you guys serious about this?”

Um. Yes. IKEA has, like, the best food ever… He’s never eaten their meatballs or lingonberries, though, so I guess we’ll let it slide.

On Thursday, a week and a day before the event, I show up at IKEA, grab a slice of pizza and a Dr. Pepper and head over to the cafeteria, where I assume they’ll be selling the incredibly cheap tickets to the wonderful smorgasbord of food, including (but not limited to) smoked salmon with horseradish sauce, assorted herring, Christmas ham, liverwurst pate, assorted cheeses, meatballs and lingonberries (of course), glogg, gravad lax with mustard sauce, must I go on?

The lady approached me from the back of the cafeteria as I waited semi-patiently at the checkout stand anticipating my four tickets.

“Is this where I get tickets to the holiday buffet?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. We’re sold out,” she said with pity in her eyes.

“Can I ask when you sold out,” I asked, knowing that if it had been the day before I would be scorned!

“Last week, actually,” she replied.

Phew.. at least I wasn’t close—that would have been more tragic. We also did a longshot and searched craigslist in case any poor soul had bought tickets and then realized they no longer had taste buds, but alas, everyone knows the place to be Dec. 9 is IKEA’s 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. buffet line. Next year we’ll be prepared!

If you would still like to learn how to celebrate the holidays like the Swede, mosey on over to their site for a how-to guide: www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/rooms_ideas/winter_2011/like_a_swede.html.

Put Another Candle on My Birthday Cake

So, I turned another year older last week. Some people dread that day as they get older, but I take it with pride—I got to live another year? Beats the alternative! As we’ve noted, my parents came to Austin to celebrate with me.

The delicious birthday cake my mom made me.

We went to dinner at Technique Restaurant, the local culinary school’s training kitchen (review to come soon). When we got there they pointed us to a table and in the center what did we find? A beautiful pink cake!

My mom is a pastry chef instructor at North East Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, where she teaches students all about baking breads, cakes and other desserts. So she surprised me with a homemade cake. And what I mean by homemade is not what most people mean when their mom makes them a cake!

This view shows the pretty buttercream ruffles.

This layered cake included vanilla, red velvet and then another layer of vanilla with red raspberry filling and buttercream frosting between each. Butter cream frosting also coated the outside in a beautiful design that reminds me of a pink, satiny dress.

Our waiter told us everyone in the back admired the cake as it was cut and we sent him with a piece of cake of his own. As we walked out of Technique two women stopped us to tell us how gorgeous the cake looked.

Everyone enjoyed the cake, me included, and I’m still eating leftovers!

Festivals Galore

The Gypsy Picnic has its own festival trailer at the entrance.

This weekend has been filled with festivals for Austin, Texas. The Austin Film Festival, the Texas Book Festival, the Cedar Park Fall Festival (where Antonio and his band Dear Science played!), and, of course, the second annual Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival at Auditorium Shores.

We lined up a mere 45 minutes early—just to be sure we got all the best stuff. My mom kept trying to sneak in; I’m pretty sure that was her favorite part of the day.

By the time 11 a.m. rolled around there was quite the crowd gathered. Trying to be a bit too much like ACL, they played the “Star Wars” theme song as they opened the lines. But that’s where the cheesiness ended and the fun began.

While everyone stayed to the left of the park, I headed across the field, rogue-style making a quick stop at Tenderland for a portabello sandwich, followed by The ZubikHouse for a caprese kolache and then to Holy Cacao for a frozen hot chocolate. Yum yum.

The ZubikHouse's kolaches are made of sweet bread.

Tenderland’s portabello sandwich was good, but not great. It was a good call adding grilled onions, cheese and some sort of sauce, but it could definitely use a little something else for pizzazz—tomato slices? Basil? green chiles? I also think they would make a better impression with homemade buns. That being said, I appreciate their vegetarian option and it was good sized for the price.

The ZubikHouse’s caprese kolache was very yummy, with a very sweet bread, topped with cheese, basil and tomato.

Holy Cacao's frozen hot chocolate is scrumdiddlyumptious!

But the winner of the three from my point of view was the frozen hot chocolate by Holy Cacao. ‘Holy Cacao!’ is right! This drink has all the tastings of hot cocoa except for the temperature. We were all blown away and dear Antonio drank about half of mine, even though I was really just trying to share a sip with him.

Tips for next year:
• Get there early
• Map your route
• Don’t dilly dally
• Grab a few things at once