Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
16 oz ground Ostrich (You could use other meats. I got this at Natural Grocers at 38th & Guadalupe, Austin, TX)
3 oz creamy blue cheese, crumbled (I used St. Angus available at Whole Foods)
2 oz walnuts, chopped
1 splash of liquid smoke
2 large brioche buns, warmed and toasted (from Walton's)
1 meduim onion, carmelized
Mix all ingredients except for the buns and onions. Mix lightly to preserve the blue cheese bits. You don't want to totally mush them up. Shape into two large patties. Like I said, Crossfitters need protien. :o) Pan fry on each side for about 4 minutes until done. You should be able to smell the cheese as it is cooking. The cheese on the outside should be carmelized. Plate up the burgers and buns and top with carmelized onions. The cheese flavor should permeate the entire burger with little bits melted throughout. The walnuts give it a nutty flavor and meatier texture than plain ground meat. Mmmm........ Yum!
My sweet potato fries are hand cut, tossed in olive oil, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then at 425 for 15 minutes. You can reduce cooking time by cutting thinner fries and microwaving before baking.
Chocolate avocado mousse is almost easiler than the fries. Process 1 large ripe avocado with 3-5 dried dates. When smooth, add 1/4 cup of avage nectar, 1 large tablespoon of raw cacao, and 1 splash of vanilla. Mix, store in the fridge, or eat immediately.
*Note: I actually used double fiber bread on my burger. John got to eat a Walton's brioche bun. Other than the brioche bun and cheese, this meal is fairly healthful. Fairly as compared to other burger, fries, and chocolate meals. Also, 1/2 lb burgers are huge. I only ate 4 oz of mine.
I also used the left over bun to make an egg, cheese, and bacon breakfast sandwich the today. Mmmm.....
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Manchaca Firehall, Austin, TX
Delish Cupcakes, Downtown Austin, TX
Bananarchy, Downtown Austin, TX
Ichiban Sushi Buffet, Corpus Christi, TX
Havana, Downtown Corpus Christi, TX
Water Street Oyster Bar, Downtown Corpus Christi, TX
La Bahia, Downtown Corpus Christi, TX
Crepes Mille, South Congress, Austin, TX
Texan Cafe, Hutto, TX
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Austin, TX
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Berry Tart by Lisa is Cooking.
Boneless stuffed chickens from Louisiana.
Pea shoot and strawberry sandwiches by Boots in the Oven.
Fruit Cups with Lavender Yogurt. Someone claim these as your creation.
Blogger fun: Jette, Jodi, Adam, Penny, El Mando, & Natanya.
Prosciutto by Eat This Lens.
Pickled Grapes. Creator unknown.
I just thought this was hilarious. My other hobby is dog training, judging, handling, and showing. We needed some dog humor here.
Pretty Flowers at Slow Food Austin's Pot Luck.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Photo by John Knox.
Recipe with more pics here.
A big shout out my friends at Sugar Mama's Bakeshop for all the baking inspiration and tips.
This recipe was inspired by my filled cupcake passion. After spending some time with beer brewers, I wanted to come up with a cupcake that would please them as well as allow my creative culinary thinking cap some fun. This Irish Car Bomb Cupcake is a chocolate Guinness cake filled with a mascarpone, chocolate hazelnut, Irish cream, and whiskey blend topped with fresh whipped cream. I spent many hours contemplating the filling of this cupcake. The chocolate hazelnut was to compliment the chocolate cake and to give the cake another dimension. I added mascarpone cheese to it to give it a sinfully rich texture. The Irish Cream and the Whiskey are essential to the Irish Car Bomb. I decided to use a very simple and plain whipped topping with Bailey's to not take away from the flavors of the cake and filling. Additionally, the recipe for the Guinness cake is not my own. It is a popular recipe from Bon Appetite (2002) that was easily adapted to cupcakes. Enjoy!
- Mixer (I Heart my kitchen aid)
- Piping tips (Bismark 230 and your choice for decorating, I used the Star tip 21) and piping bags.
- Melon baller if you choose to scoop your cupcakes instead of fill them.
- Cupcake liners, foil preferably. Paper is fine too, but the cake is a bit greasy.
- Cupcake pans
- A bunch of spatulas, forks, and spoons
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cups sour cream or vanilla yogurt
5 oz mascarpone cheese
6 oz nutella
2 oz whiskey (more really, as much as you want.)
16 oz heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup of Irish Cream (to taste)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Drink the rest of the stout or use it to make Irish Black and Tan Mac and Cheese. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream/yogurt in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate-butter mixture to egg mixture slowly and beat just to combine. Make sure that the stout-chocolate-butter combo has cooled so that it does not curdle and cook the eggs when you add it. It is preferable to stream it slowly into the eggs to temper them. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Fill cupcake molds halfway and bake for 15-18 minutes. The tops should be springy to the touch. Allow to cool completely.
Combine the mascarpone, Nutella, and whiskey in a bowl with a fork. Mix until smooth. Add more whiskey if you like a stronger whiskey flavor. Do not refrigerate. You want this to be at room temperature for piping into the cupcakes. Once at room temperature, it should have the consistency of a pudding or batter. If it is too thick, add more whiskey. If it is too thin, add some nutella or mascarpone. It should be gooey when you cut open a cupcake at room temperature.
Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix with the whisk attachment. I started out with 4 oz of Irish cream, but upped it to about 1/2 of a cup. Use the Irish Cream to taste. This mixture should be beaten until stiff peaks form. It may take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on your mixer's speed. Be careful not to over beat as it could break and turn into butter and buttermilk. Once stiff peaks have formed, place this into the fridge to keep cold.
Assembling once cupcakes are cooled:
Option 1: Load a piping bag with bismark 230 tip with the filling. Read here for more detailed instructions. You should be able to get all the filling into a single bag. Insert tip into each cupcake 1 inch and squeeze bag. You may see the cupcake visibly rise as it is filled. Pull out the tip when it looks like the cupcake is inflated. You can add additional filling by poking another hole in the cupcake and filling another portion of the cake. Move onto the next cupcake. Eat the left over filling.
Option 2: Using a melon baller, dig out a hole in each cupcake. Spoon filing into each hole. Eat the cake holes. Eat the left over filling.
Once cupcakes are filled, you can use use a spoon and knife to spoon on the whipped cream topping. Or you can use a piping tip and bag to decorate your cupcakes. You may choose to sprinkle with shaved chocolate or cinnamon, but there are more than enough flavors going on.
Makes about 32-34 cupcakes.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I recently visited Max's Wine Dive Austin at their preview event for food bloggers and their Mother's Day Brunch. Below is my review, and needless to say....it was fabulous. Below that is also my review of Walton's, where Max's get their bread. See review links for more pictures.
Max's Wine Dive
American Comfort food with a twist and a good swig of booze. That's the essence of Max's Wine Dive. Max's specializes in upscale comfort food paired with wines. It goes without saying that wines flowed from the heavens, I mean the wine guys. Let's just say that my wine glasses were never empty. Yes, that's plural.
Fried chicken with a spicy kick (marinated in jalapeno and buttermilk), buffalo sliders, and the rib basket (Asian twist) where some of the delights that we sampled on Thursday night. The fried chicken was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Served with a chipotle honey, it was a perfect combo of spicy and sweet. My other favorite was the buffalo sliders. The meat was juicy and meaty, but not at all gamey. The buns (made by Walton's Fancy and Staple) were buttery and slightly sweet. The rib basket was extremely flavorful and tender with a slightly spicy housin sauce.
I do have to say that the bread served (brioche and the slider buns) were some of the best I've ever had. The breads weren't new, exotic, or full of spices and herbs. They were old fashioned good breads that smelled like what your grandmother would make at home. These breads were simple, fluffy, and had wonderful texture. As a person who generally passes on the bread, I helped myself to 4 slices of the brioche. These were worth the carbs.
Thursday's preview was tasty. I left feeling like an overstuffed Thanksgiving turkey that needed to rest. However, the Mother's Day brunch just blew me out of the water, or mimosas shall I say. I attended brunch with the boyfriend and another foodie couple. In addition to enjoying the bottomless mimosas, we were also treated to the wing cakes, Frito pie omelet, chicken fried steak and eggs, MAX eggs, toast, and french toast. Everything wasn't just done well, it was done perfectly. The pancakes were light and fluffy, and the chicken wings were crispy and juicy. Also, a warning to those who can't stand flavor: watch out for the home fries. If you like spicy and you like flavor, you'll love the homefries. If you are a little chicken and can't take the heat, you better stick with the grits. The MAX eggs was the perfect combo of prosciutto, eggs, and black truffle cream served on Texas toast. I know what you're thinking. This is breakfast, traditional breakfast. Breakfast fare isn't usually the type of food to sweep you off your feet.
I challenge you to the French toast. Made with bread from Walton's Fancy and Staple, dipped into cream, vanilla, and eggs, this French toast will make you say "DAAAAMN!" Chef Steve needs to change the name of it on the menu to DAMN good French ttoast. I've already gone over the bread. It's simple bread. Simple, slightly sweet, light, and soft. Combine that with French toast goodness and a strawberry compote, and you have the best french toast ever. The strawberry compote had a different flavor that I couldn't put my finger on, so I asked Chef Steve. Pink peppercorns. Pink Peppercorns in the strawberry compote gave it a peppery, herby, fragrant, earthy, kind of flavor. I can't quite describe it accurately in words so you'll just have to try it.
In addition to the great food at reasonable prices, you ought to check out the hours. Sunday bunch - 11 am - 3 pm. Monday through Wednesday 4pm - Midnight with happy hours 4-7 pm and 10-midnight. Thursday through Saturday - 4 pm to 2 am with Happy hours 4-7 pm and Midnight - 2 am. Hey Austin, add this place to your late night eats list. Open until 2 am, yo! Heck yes!
Walton's Fancy and Staple
Walton's has not officially opened, but I got to sample some of the baked goods via Max's Wine Dive. All the breads at Max's Wine Dive are actually make at Walton's, fresh daily. Through a complicated pattern of events, the baker (Gesine Bullock-Prado, Sandra Bullock's sister) came from Vermont and had previously worked with Chef Steve (also previously in Vermont) at Max's Wine Dive. I hope I got the details of that correct, as there were many details. Anyways.....
I felt compelled to review the bread because the bread is just that awesome. The bread served with the cheese plate ranks as one of the top 5 breads I have ever had. Fluffy, soft, slightly buttery, this was heaven. I had 4 pieces of bread, and I'm still yearning for more. This bread isn't full of spices, herbs, or some other exotic flavorings. It was plain old good bread. Simple and delicious. The buns for the buffalo sliders were also made by Walton's. The buns were just slightly sweet, perfectly browned on top, and soft on the inside. These two bread products were out of this world. I can't wait for Walton's to open on the 15th so I can try their croissants. If eating buttery goodness is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
After the yogurt making party at Megan's house, I checked my twitter. I saw this on Uchi' Twitter "http://twitpic.com/4vfv2 - 40lb halibut today! first person to come request, chef tyson cole will prepare the collar and head for you!!!..." Link to Uchi's Twitter: http://twitter.com/uchiaustin Link to the Tweet: http://twitter.com/UchiAustin/status/1749327681 That was posted at 4:18 pm. It was close to 7:30 pm, so chances that I would have gotten the halibut head were slim. Since Uchi was on the way home anyways, I stopped by just to see if it was still available.
The hostesss had no idea what I was talking about and had to ask Tyson. Apparently, I was the first person to ask about this mysterious fish head. About 10 minutes later, Tyson brought it out and showed it to me, raw. I was confused. I thought he was supposed to cook it first. We're both standing at the front with this gigantic raw fish head. He asked if I was eating, and the answer was yes. I did come for the halibut didn't I? He asked if anyone one else was going to eat with me, and I said no. He replied saying he wouldn't cook it for one person as it was a massive amount of food. I said fine. A friend was going to be joining me.
At this point, I was really confused. Why had no one else claimed this "special" dish if Uchi already had 684 followers on twitter? How often was this halibut available and what was the price? From the few words "40lb halibut today! first person to come request, chef tyson cole will prepare the collar and head for you!!!..., "It seems like a special, and maybe even complimentary. Why didn't the hostess know anything about the special? Someone's confused, and that someone was me. I wasn't getting a good vibe, and had thought about ditching. But heck, Uchi was my favorite place. I decided to stick it ou.
Finally, my friend arrives and I tell the hostess that we're both here and ready for the halibut. To which the hostess asks if I wanted to get on the waiting list. Um...... was I not already on the waiting list? How did I go from getting the halibut head to not being on the waiting list? We wait. The hostess comes out to give us more information. She points to me and says, "You get the halibut head, and *points to my friend* you have to order off the regular menu." I take that as an indication that the halibut head is a special event, but I'm still not sure if I get anything special for it. We wait. And we wait. We're offered some appetizers while we wait. 9:00 pm rolls around, and we are finally seated.
By now, everyone knows that we've ordered the halibut, and the waiter tells us that it is a 20-25 minute prep time on the halibut head. So we order the brie seneca, which comes and goes. We're offered a salad of some sort by the manager, which comes and goes. 9:50 rolls around, and we're looking pretty annoyed. My friend lets the manager know that we've been waiting nearly an hour for a dish that is supposed to take 20 minutes to prepare. The manager says that they started the dish when we were seated, and that they are just now plating it. Funny. We were seated at 9:00pm. They should have said that the dish takes an hour to prepare. 10 minutes roll by. 5 more minutes roll by. I'm feeling like walking out at this point. I really felt like leaving at this point.
Finally, I'm presented with this gigantic fish head that has everyone around us oogling. That's cool. I take a while to snap some pictures. And then we dig in. It was big. It overly salty and not at all special. It wasn't anything that wowed me. It wasn't "delicious" by any means. I would have been much happier with the hotate, shag roll, or kona kanpachi. It tasted like cooked fish with a salty, blackened crust. And unfortunately, the rice it was served with was terribly salty. This was not a typical Uchi experience. This was the only time I have ever had a less than stellar experience at Uchi, and it did suck the big one. My friend and I ate maybe one-tenth of that sucker, and then had the rest wrapped up to go. I think it is very safe to say that I'm a big eater, and the fact that two people barely touched the fish means something. I wouldn't have waited 20 minutes for the halibut head. And it isn't that I don't know how to eat fish heads. I've been eating fish heads all my life. This was just like another fish head.
The check comes, and I see that the halibut was $50. Um....... okay. Where was that listed on the twitter? It isn't on the regular menu. I had no idea how much it was supposed to cost. No one made mention of the cost to me at any point. If anything, the Twitter posts and interaction with the hostess makes it seem complimentary at best. The waiter asks for the manager.
The manager says that the price was on the twitter post. "http://twitpic.com/4vfv2 - 40lb halibut today! first person to come request, chef tyson cole will prepare the collar and head for you!!!..." Didn't see a price there. I show her my iphone with their Twitter feed. No price. She asks me to click on the post. I show her that the full tweet showed no price. The manager heads into the kitchen and comes back with a print out of the twitter picture. Below that is a caption that says "40lb halibut today! first person to come request, chef tyson cole will prepare the collar and head for you!!! 50$$$ mmmm... what a tweet deal!" Funny, that wasn't on twitter. In order to see that, you have to view the picture on twitpic on a browser and not on an application. Whoever runs their twitter did not see that the tweet was truncated as it exceeded 140 characters with the photo URL. Needless to say, I felt a little mislead. The manager did not offer to make any amends or to adjust the price or even apologize for the misunderstanding.
I wound up paying 54.13 pre-tip for that over salted uninspiring halibut head that took 3.5 hours of my life. I was annoyed. I was upset. If the tweet had said "$50 for halibut head, special deal" or something of that nature, I would have saved myself a big wad of cash and some time. I would have gone straight home, ate leftovers, and spent time doing something productive. I had absolutely no intentions on eating at Uchi tonight, and I was only brought in on the fly by the truncated tweet.
My major complaints:
- I found the staff tonight to be rough, confusing, and disorganized. The hostess had no idea about the special. The advertising of the halibut was vague. If I was supposed to be getting the halibut head, why did the hostess wait until my 4th interaction with her to ask if I wanted to get on the waiting list? If I'm paying $50 for this dish, why did Tyson refuse to cook it for just one? If I'm paying for it anyways, it shouldn't matter how many people are there to eat it. The manager did not apologize for the wait, the food, or the issue with the pricing.
- This is the first time that I have felt that Uchi's food was less than mediocre. The halibut head was boring, over salted, and nothing like I would have expected from Uchi. This was like something I could get at Din-ho or Asian Market. I actually make a very similarly prepared dish with whole tilapia that costs me about $3.00 per whole fish.
- I felt like no apologies were made for their mistake on Twitter. Their tweet was truncated, and some how no one even bothered to say "I'm sorry for the misunderstanding, but the price of this dish was $50." No one bothered to say before hand, "I understand that you are having the halibut head special tonight for $50." The attitude of the manager was "Pay up."
- Someone needs to learn how to use Twitter.
This is why one star reviews of Uchi exist. If tonight was my only Uchi dining experience, I may never come back again. I'm still very upset about last night's experience now. I hope that in the future, they can get all their staff members on the same page and advertise their specials more accurately.
Geekstravaganza is a charity geekfest the Austin Browncoats host
to raise money for a worthy cause while uniting Geeks, Nerds and
Browncoats alike. This year, we're supporting SafePlace, in
their goal to end sexual and domestic violence through safety,
healing, prevention and social change.
Each Geekstravaganza, we invite a new musical act to regale us
in song (as we do our best Carlton dance). This year, we're
honored to have Marian Call, a geek goddess, visiting our
section of the `verse. She'll perform two sets, while spinning
plates in both hands and jumping on one foot. Seriously. She's
that good! (Don't hold us to this, though. Marian might not have
told us, per se, that she can do this, per se, but, maybe?)
"But what else can we look forward to, huh?"
How about an All-Geek Talent Show, All-Nerd Costume Contest and
all Sci-Fi Trivia Bee. Winners get to bring home fabulous prizes
and proudly let their geek banners fly! Last year, our talent
show winner was Austin's own Ernie Cline, writer of geek
favorite, Fanboys. Think you have what it takes to win the big
prizes? Get your geeky talents ready, because we hope 2009 is at
least the 12th root of 2 times better than Geekstravaganza 2007.
"Is that it? Really?"
Nope, that's not it. There is more! We'll even have some
awesomely geeky (verging on a little too cool) demonstrations
and an Air Combat tournament judged by Austin's favorite ninjas,
Cry Havoc. What's Air Combat? Wouldn't you like to know! Real
geeks know Air Combat, but if you're just borderline geek, keep
your eyes on this website for an update on our Air Combat
When: May 17th, 2009, starting at 5PM
Where: Buffalo Billiards, Austin, TX
Why: Geeks like to do good works!
Friday, May 8, 2009
|2 cups sugar|
|2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour|
|1 cup milk|
|3/4 cupvegetable oil|
|2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder|
|1 teaspoon vanilla|
|1/4 cup lemon juice|
|8 oz crème fraîche|
|1/2 cup powdered sugar (divided)|
|2 pints black berries (washed and dried)|
|2 lbs strawberries (washed and dried)|
- In a bowl, mix crème fraîche in a bowl with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and just a splash of vanilla. Return to fridge.
- In another bowl, dice strawberries into tiny 1/4 inch pieces (after removing tops of course). Or you can pulse gently in a food processor/chopper. You do not want to puree it. You want strawberry chunks. Mix with the other 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and store in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. This makes at least 36 cupcakes. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Don't overbeat. Pour batter into the prepared cupcake pans. Fill each cupcakes about 1/3 to 1/2 way up. I personally like to leave a generous amount of space on top of this cupcake as the fruit will slip in slide. I made these cupcakes shorter so that the fruit will sit inside the paper liner without making it too difficult to eat. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes or until the tops are golden. The top of the cupcakes will be springy to the touch. Allow to cool completely before adding the fruit.
- The strawberries should be nice and sloshy now that the sugar has pulled out some of the liquid. Spoon a small amount of the strawberries on top of each cupcake being careful to drain most of the liquid out so that you don't get a cupcake soup. I'm planning on using my left over strawberry juice to make pancake fruit sauce or you can toss it. Then spoon a small amount (1/3-1/2 a teaspoon) of crème fraîche on top of the strawberries and top with a blackberry.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
To play catch up on my blog posts, this one is going to combine many topics.
Last night's cooking with Jam @Thaifresh and Dave @ TipsyTexan proved to be fun. Cocktails and food. Need I say more? The cocktails were refreshing, especially the one debuting at Farm and Plate tonight. It was flavored with rosemary and Paula's Orange Liquer, and it reminded me of the rosemary lemon blueberry muffins I made several weeks ago. The recipe I came up with was very Sandra Lee Semi-homemade like. First, I boiled 3 springs of rosemary in 1/2 a cup of lemon juice for 3 minutes, then let it steep for 10. Using Martha White blueberry muffin mix, I substituted 1/2 the liquid for the rosemary lemon juice. Follow package directions, and all done. It couldn't be easier.
While watching Dave make cocktails, I had two booze inspirations. Having spent 5+ weeks making homemade raisins, I decided that I needed to soak them in rum. I think I'll turn those rum soaked raisins into a carrot cake in a few months. I also have to say that making homemade raisins is terribly long and drawn out when weather has been rainy, wet, cool, hot, humid, rainy, and wet in no particular order. My second inspiration was to turn the Ispahan into a drink. Classic Ispahan is raspberries, lychees, and rose water (cupcake recipe coming soon). I'm thinking raspberries muddled with vodka and lychee juice spritzed with rosewater.
And last but not least, I finally got the Cherry Blossom Shrimp (Sakura Ebi) Fried Rice recipe up. Enjoy!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Happy Cinco De Mayo! A holiday is an excuse to eat, and that's one excuse I'm going to milk today.
Breakfast = tacos from La Mexicana.
Lunch = Mole Taco from Taco Deli.
Dessert = The Frida (think cinnamon chocolate cake with kahlua buttercream frosting) and carrot cake galore. All from Sugar Mama's Bakeshop in Austin.
Dinner = Not sure yet. It will be Mexican, spicy, and with a beer. :o)
Speaking of Mexican food, I finished my review of Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, Utah. One thing that struck me as odd about this joint was that it was good, I mean DAMN good mole in the Utah. Tasty. Review here.