Recipe of the week: Ottolenghi’s Roasted Squash with Chile Yogurt

_COVER Plenty More jpgIn certain foodie circles, there is no more respected name than Ottolenghi.

That’s Ottolenghi as in Yotam Ottolenghi, the Israeli-born London restaurant owner whose cookbooks “Jerusalem” and “Plenty” have won countless awards and accolades. (His recipes are among the few that the notoriously hard-to-please Christopher Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen will follow to the letter.)

This month, Ottolenghi is releasing “Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi” (Ten Speed Press, $35), the follow-up to his 2010 ode to vegetables that was the book that first caught the attention of fervent cooks here in the U.S.

He’s a master of melding the five elements of taste, including umami, in contemporary ways, but be warned, many of his recipes are so worldly and forward-thinking that they are based on dishes and include ingredients that American cooks might not be familiar with. This squash with chile yogurt and cilantro sauce in an exception, one that’s perfect for this time of year.

This Squash with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce is from Yotam Ottolenghi's new book, "Plenty More." Photo by Jonathan Lovekin.
This Squash with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book, “Plenty More.” Photo by Jonathan Lovekin.

Squash with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce

1 large butternut squash
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. salt, divided
Black pepper
Handful cilantro, leaves and stems, plus extra leaves for garnish
1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds, and then cut into wedges 3/4-inch wide and about 2 3/4 inches long, leaving the skin on. Place in a large bowl with the cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well so that the squash is evenly coated. Place the squash, skin side down, on 2 baking sheets and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until soft and starting to color on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the herb paste, place the cilantro, garlic, the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and a generous pinch of salt in the bowl of a small food processor, blitz to form a fine paste, and set aside.

Turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. The outer skin will pop open and the seeds will become light and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When you are ready to serve, swirl together the yogurt and Sriracha sauce. Lay the squash wedges on a platter and drizzle the spicy yogurt sauce and then the herb paste over the top (you can also swirl the yogurt sauce and herb paste together, if you like). Scatter the pumpkin seeds on top, followed by the extra cilantro leaves and serve. Serves 4.

— From “Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi” by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ten Speed Press, $35)

Adrian Miller preaches from his ‘Soul Food’ bible at the Texas Book Festival

In his 1993 book “Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History,” Southern food scholar John Egerton had said that no one had written the definitive tribute to African American cooking.

A decade later, Adrian Miller, a lawyer who worked on a race reconciliation project at the White House during the Clinton administration, read Egerton’s book and reached out to find out if he still thought that statement was still true.

Edgerton said he hadn’t seen anyone since Edna Lewis write so thoroughly on black foodways, so Miller set out to do so.

That book, “Soul Food,” which came out last year, ended up winning the James Beard Award for Miller’s scholarly, yet engaging, approach to demystifying the namesake cuisine as not worthy of celebration because it’s roots are in slavery and that it should have a warning label because it’s unhealthy.

“I had no qualification except eating it a lot and cooking it some,” he told a crowd gathered under the Central Market cooking tent at the Texas Book Festival late Saturday morning.

As part of his research, he traveled across the country, eating at 150 soul food restaurants in 35 cities and 15 states. “I actually lost weight while I was doing that,” he said, in part because of the healthy approach that many soul food cooks are taking these days, including reducing their use of salt, fat and sugar and embracing veganism.

The book looks at a representative soul food meal and breaks it down into its parts: fried chicken and catfish, greens, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, hot sauce, desserts and, his favorite, red drinks.

“Red is a flavor” in African American communities, he said, and the white man who invented Kool Aid in Nebraska in 1929 doesn’t get credit for it. Red drinks have been integral to Africans for centuries because of the native cola nut and hibiscus plants. Cola nuts, and the red teeth you’d get if you chewed on them often, were a sign of wealth and hospitality.

Sweet potato pie, mac and cheese and chicken and waffles have all been considered royalty foods, and it’s Miller’s goal to help those food regain their elevated status through education about where they come from and how they’ve evolved, especially through migration, both from Africa to North America through the slave trade, and throughout the U.S. after the Civil War and again during the Civil Rights Movement.

Throughout his talk, Miller demonstrated how to make turnip and mustard greens simmers with a smoked turkey leg and a traditional hibiscus tea. He also commented about what he’s working on next: getting soul food into space. “NASA said no crumbs, so we can’t send cornbread, and no chitlins because you can’t roll down the windows.”

Do you have a food-themed Dia de los Muertos altar?

Between “The Book of Life” hitting theaters and my requisite bunch of marigolds on my fireplace mantle, I’ve been thinking a lot about Dia de los Muertos this year.

Since living in Texas, I’ve tried to incorporate the altar tradition into my Halloween festivities. It wasn’t something I grew up with, but when you lose special people in your life, finding new ways to remember and honor them just becomes part of the grieving process, no matter your heritage.

Next year, I’d like to write a story about some of the foods that people leave out on their altars. I’ve heard of cookies, candies and sweets, of course, but many of you might set out a portion of your ser querido’s favorite soup, bread, breakfast or snack. If you (or someone you know) has a special food-related Dia de los Muertos story or recipe to share, I’d be really honored to talk to them and share their story with readers.

If you know someone who fits the bill, would you please email me at Dealing with such intimate matters of the heart can be a delicate thing, but in the spirit of Day of the Dead, sharing these stories of loss and life can be a beautiful thing.

At the 2011 unveiling of the Emma S. Barrientos sign at the Mexican American Cultural Center, namesake Emma Barrientos was honored with a Dia de los Muertos altar. Laura Skelding / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
At the 2011 unveiling of the Emma S. Barrientos sign at the Mexican American Cultural Center, namesake Emma Barrientos was honored with a Dia de los Muertos altar. Laura Skelding / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN


5 things you should read this week: Michael Twitty on Thug Kitchen, Instacart teams up with Greenling

Instead of collecting food news from around the Statesman once every few weeks, which was my recent approach to link roundups, I think I’m going to try posting fewer items more frequently from anywhere on the Internet. Some will be serious, thoughtful articles that require some mental gestation, while others will most certainly be flippant, cute or trivial gems that only the oddballs who dwell inside the caves of the Internet could produce.

This week’s top 5:

thugkitchen“It’s just food,” they seem to say, “not Ferguson.” Culinary historian Michael Twitty pens another must-read on the politics of food, this time on the white privilege it takes to build a brand called “Thug Kitchen.”

Eat chocolate, not açaí berries. has this cool infographic that helps you sort out which natural supplements or ingredients have enough scientific data to back up their health claims.

How far can Instacart go? The San Francisco-based delivery service has partnered with yet another Austin company as part of its rapid Central Texas expansion. But not just any company, an Austin delivery company, Greenling. In case you missed it, that means delivery on delivery is the new delivery.

Go Royals! The wife of Royals pitcher Wade Davis left a tip at a Missouri restaurant called Rock & Brews in the form of a World Series ticket to last night’s game.

Bake It Off: Jamie Oliver sings, dances and appears to be doing acrobatic tricks in this parody video with Taylor Swift, riffing on her hit, “Shake It Off.”

Recipe of the week: Ham ’n’ Cheese French Toast

bigbookofbreakfastI’m not one for dipping bacon in syrup, but I understand the affinity for salty sweet breakfasts and brunch, especially on the weekend.

During the workweek, we tend to stick to sweet OR salty for the first meal of the day. Cereal or a breakfast taco, brown sugar-topped oatmeal or peanut butter toast. But when we have time to linger, we get to enjoy honey on a warm croissant or sage-flecked maple sausage served alongside pancakes.

Those savory vehicles of fat and eye-opening pillows of sugar, especially in dishes like this ham and cheese sandwich-inspired French toast from “Betty Crocker The Big Book of Breakfast & Brunch” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99), fire off a memo to the brain that it’s time to relax and enjoy the complicated, contradictory combination of flavors.

Big-Book-of-Breakfast--38--Brunch---Ham--27N-Cheese-French-ToastHam ’n’ Cheese French Toast

1 cup milk
1/3 cup Original Bisquick mix
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
6 slices (1 inch thick) day-old ciabatta or French bread
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 oz. thinly sliced cooked ham (from deli)
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
Powdered sugar

In shallow dish, stir milk, Bisquick mix, vanilla and eggs with fork or whisk until blended. In each slice of bread, cut 3-inch pocket through top crust. Spread about 1 teaspoon mustard in each pocket. Place a slice or two of ham and 1/4 cup cheese in each pocket.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Melt butter on griddle. Dip bread into egg mixture, coating both sides. Place bread on hot griddle; cook about 5 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.

Cut French toast in half diagonally; sprinkle with powdered sugar or jam, if using. Serves 6.

— From “The Big Book of Breakfast & Brunch” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)

Cooking the Texas Book Fest: Pimiento Cheese with Jack Gilmore

Jack Gilmore's first cookbook is called "Jack Allen's Kitchen." Photo by Kenny Braun.
Jack Gilmore’s first cookbook is called “Jack Allen’s Kitchen.” Photo by Kenny Braun.

People have been asking Jack Gilmore about a cookbook for, oh, 20 years.

In 1994, Gilmore was the head chef at Z’Tejas, an Austin-based restaurant company that eventually expanded to a handful of markets around the company. Gilmore was the face of the brand, and people loved his food.

Fast forward 20 years and people are still loving Gilmore’s food, perhaps even more now than they did then. Why? Because Gilmore’s commitment to buying as many ingredients from local farmers has become almost as well known as his pimiento cheese.

In today’s food section, I write about Gilmore’s path from working two jobs to support his young family, including son Bryce, the Food & Wine Best New Chef who now runs Barley Swine and Odd Duck, to his position now as one of the most respected chefs in the city who has just published “Jack Allen’s Kitchen,” one of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year.

Gilmore will cook from his book at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Texas Book Festival’s cooking tent, followed by an official cookbook launch party on Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Oak Hill, 7720 U.S. 71. He’ll head to the Round Rock location on 2500 Hoppe Trail for a similar party on Nov. 5. At 7 p.m. Nov. 21, you can catch him at BookPeople and on Dec. 6 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. You can find out more about Gilmore’s upcoming events at

Pimiento cheese has always been one of Gilmore's most-requested recipes. Photo by Kenny Braun.
Pimiento cheese has always been one of Gilmore’s most-requested recipes. Photo by Kenny Braun.

Pimiento Cheese

When I was growing up, we went to an old steakhouse where they served a little crock of cheddar cheese spread and saltine crackers. I wish I could remember the name of that restaurant because it’s what inspired us to greet customers with this at Jack Allen’s Kitchen. It’s customary to get chips and salsa at Tex-Mex restaurants, and Italian and fine dining restaurants present diners with bread and butter or olive oil. We wanted to serve something unique. Something that was Southern and Texan in spirit. The homemade Pimiento Cheese gets people talking the second they are seated.

This recipe makes quite a bit. But if you’re going to put in the effort, you may as well make enough to last a couple of weeks. Plus it makes a great gift to bring over to neighbors and friends.

— Jack Gilmore

1/2 lb. cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup red bell pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Whisk together all ingredients in mixer, and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Serve with chips, on sandwich bread, or however you want. Makes 8 to 10 Mason jars.

— From “Jack Allen’s Kitchen” by Jack Gilmore and Jessica Dupuy

Austin360 Taste Test: Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies from Immaculate

It’s Wednesday, so time for another Austin360 Taste Test video!

This week, I team up with Statesman videographer Reshma Kirpalani to try out a new baking mix from Immaculate, the company whose refrigerated biscuits, cookie doughs and rolls you might have tried. This fall, the company has launched a line of shelf-stable baking mixes for brownies, pancakes and waffles, yellow and chocolate cake, gluten-free cookies, including these sugar cookies that we tried.

Not all of Immaculate’s products are organic or GMO-free, but many of them are, and they are part of the Non-GMO Project and hope to eventually use only non-GMO ingredients in all of their products.

You can see all the videos in this series on the Austin360Video YouTube page.


Update: Deep Eddy Vodka re-edits commercial after complaints

deepeddyadI really didn’t want to have to write this post.

The Austin-based Deep Eddy Vodka caused a stir last week with an offensive new ad in which a guy “crashes parties” and makes unwanted advances on women, including spitting “vodka” on them.

Last week, Austin Gastronomist blogger Kathryn Hutchison wrote the definitive takedown, which includes the full-length video, explaining why Deep Eddy shouldn’t base an ad campaign on a guy touching women when they’ve asked him not to.

Hutchison gets to the heart of the matter:

“His admission that ‘we crashed parties…’ implies that the women in the advertisements weren’t actresses who accepted a role. These were real women at parties in Austin, getting spit on and hit on so that Deep Eddy can make more money.”

On Twitter, they claimed to have removed the video and, essentially, that they were sorry “you people who care about how women are portrayed and treated in media” (my quotes, not theirs) were offended.

The non-apology is irritating, but I was hoping that the video would disappear and I wouldn’t have to take them to task here on my work blog.

But that all changed over the past few days when I heard the guy’s voice coming from my kids’ bedroom.

Like just about every kid in America these days, my children watch YouTube in the way that we used to watch regular television, and like any media platform, that comes with advertising. They know all about how deceptive marketing can be and have become quite scrupulous about the ads that appear in front of their favorite YouTube shows, including the Fine Brothers’ awesome Kids React series.

It was during a pre-roll for that decidedly kid-friendly show that the Deep Eddy video has been popping up over and over again during the past few days.

UPDATE: Here’s the edited version of the ad that Deep Eddy is using:

I tweeted my displeasure yesterday, but now that I see Deep Eddy still hasn’t owned up to the fact that they are using this ad in an active campaign (and nor have they engaged with the most recent string of tweets or issued a real apology), I decided it was time to take the conversation off social media and post something on the record here.

UPDATE: Here’s the response from Deep Eddy:

“Deep Eddy Vodka is a company that prides itself on strong values in regards to gender equality, and as soon as the concern was brought to our attention we immediately took action. Over 40% of our employees are women, and all are shareholders and strong supporters of the Deep Eddy Vodka brand.

We are sorry that the video came across as anything but lighthearted and fun, and will be more aware when giving comedic license to a campaign.”

In the email, the publicist said that after the initial complaints, the company re-edited the video to remove the parts in which the man spits on the woman and where another woman asks him (again) to stop touching her. The final add still toes the line at the end when the woman responds with the line, “It was basically a party in my mouth,” and the host throws a look at the camera that says he’s not thinking about vodka.

While I’m happy the company has taken some kind of action, I’m still not thrilled at the tone because I’ve seen where it comes from. We’ll keep this poll up for posterity’s sake::




Cooking the Texas Book Fest: Stonewall Peach Crisp with Terry Thompson-Anderson

texasonthetableIt’s been more than a decade since Fredericksburg-based author Terry Thompson-Anderson published “Texas on the Plate,” and after focusing on the Hill Country region for a 2008 food and wine book, Thompson-Anderson is back with another look at what makes Texas food so special.

Texas On The Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State” (University of Texas Press, $45) features the visual work of Houston photographer Sandy Wilson and covers countless notable folks in the state’s food community, from the established (Paula Lambert of the Mozzarella Company in Dallas and Tom Perini of the famed Buffalo Gap steakhouse) to the next generation, like the Avellan family who run the Austin-based Dos Lunas Cheese or Jordan Muraglia, the young chef who runs Vaudeville on Main Street in Fredericksburg.

The recipes, though considered advanced for most of us, take readers on a journey from sleek restaurant kitchens in the state’s biggest cities and into Thompson-Anderson’s more humble Hill Country kitchen, passing through the wineries, ranches and markets whose colorful owners are a big part of what makes the state’s cuisine so vibrant.

She’ll talk about those people, places and dishes, including, I hope, the turtle soup recipe that appears in the book, in a Texas Book Festival session at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Central Market Cooking Tent. The authors will be at a book signing at BookPeople on Oct. 30, with food and drinks from Richardson Farms, Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo and winemaker David Kuhlken of Pedernales Cellars.

Peach Crisp from Terry Thompson-Anderson's "Texas on the Table." Photo by Sandy Wilson.
Peach Crisp from Terry Thompson-Anderson’s “Texas on the Table.” Photo by Sandy Wilson.

Stonewall Peach Crisp

Although I enjoy fresh peaches all summer, I also stock up our freezer around the end of July when the crop begins to dwindle. Then I can add a peach cobbler or crisp to my holiday menus using my stash of fresh frozen peaches. It adds a welcome taste of summer sun to the holiday table.

5 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. turbinado (raw) sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
For the topping:
2 cups mini shredded wheat cereal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 sticks well-chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside. Place the peaches in a medium-sized bowl; set aside. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon, turbinado sugar and flour. Toss to blend well, then pour the flour mixture into the peaches and toss to mix well, making sure all peaches are coated. Turn the peaches out into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top evenly; set aside.

To make the topping, place the cereal in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until it is completely broken up into very small bits. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to blend, taking care to leave the butter in pea-sized bits.

Scatter the topping over the peaches, making sure it extends into the corners and covers the peaches. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool for 30 minutes before serving. Top each serving with a scoop of good-quality vanilla ice cream for an over-the-top experience. Serves 6.

— From “Texas On The Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State” (University of Texas Press, $45) by Terry Thompson-Anderson

Cooking the Texas Book Fest: Day of the Dead Bread with Margarita Carrillo Arronte

mexicocookbookFor more than 30 years, Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte has been studying the cuisine of her home country, analyzing the historical and cultural influences that subtly (and not-so-subtly) changed how Mexicans eat.

Much of her work in recent years has been on a new 700-recipe cookbook simply called “Mexico: The Cookbook” (Phaidon, $49.95). Carrillo, who helped lobby UNESCO to recognize Mexican food as a cultural institution, will only be making six U.S. stops on her book tour, including an appearance this weekend at the Texas Book Festival. (Her demonstration is set for 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the Central Market Cooking Tent.)

Carrillo says that outsiders’ perception of Mexican food has changed greatly in the past 10 or 20 years. “Many people now know that authentic Mexican food is not Tex-Mex,” Carrillo says, but they don’t realize that truly traditional Mexican food is as diverse as the foods of Europe. “Tex-Mex isn’t bad, it’s just different. There are 31 regions of Mexican food,” each with different cooking techniques or flavor profiles that depend on the kind of ingredients that grow or are raised there.

Traditionally, rabbit, duck, turkey, venison and wild boar were among the most popular meats, but with the Spanish came cattle, chickens, hens and the concept of frying food in oil.

The Spanish also introduced wheat, which eventually replaced masa in Pan de Muertos, the Day of the Dead bread. (Recipe below the photo.) Although most Day of the Dead bread is now made with wheat flour, the shapes can vary from region to region. This “bones and tear” shape is found in Central Mexico, Carrillo says.

pandemuertoDay of the Dead Bread

1 cup milk
4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 tsp. active dry (fast-action) yeast
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1 to 2 tsp. orange blossom water, to taste
3/4 cup melted butter, plus more for greasing and brushing
For glaze:
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of sugar

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and let cool. Set aside.

Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well. Sprinkle in the sugar and yeast and pour in the milk. Close the well by flicking flour over the milk and let it sit for 1 hour.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the melted butter, and shape into a ball. Transfer to a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead again for 10 minutes.

Return to the bowl and cover. Let rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Grease two baking sheets with butter. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Take two of those pieces and roll them into tight balls and then press them gently to flatten a bit. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

After 1 hour, take the remaining piece of dough and divide it into 10 little pieces. Roll two of these pieces into small balls and 8 of these pieces into long, thin logs.

To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix well. Brush the loaves gently with the glaze. Take four of the logs and drape them in an X shape over one of the balls. Repeat for the other disk of dough.

Brush these with egg. Take a little ball of dough and place it on the top of one disk of dough, where the X meets. Press down gently so it sticks. Repeat for the other little ball of dough.

Glaze the dough balls and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. While they are still warm, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Makes 3 loaves.

— From “Mexico: The Cookbook” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte