You’re gonna want this recipe for crab cake mac and cheese

Crab cake-inspired mac and cheese doesn't have Old Bay Seasoning, but it does have breadcrumbs and four kinds of cheese. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Crab cake-inspired mac and cheese doesn’t have Old Bay Seasoning, but it does have breadcrumbs and four kinds of cheese. Photo by Addie Broyles.

In this week’s food section, we dig into crab cakes. Not just how to make the regular ones, but how to make them gluten free (pork rinds!), with shrimp instead of crab and how to take the crab cake flavor and apply it to other dishes.

It doesn’t get more decadent than this crab cake mac and cheese.

The dish breaks the “no cheese and shellfish” rule, but I didn’t hear any complaints when I served it at the office last week. With four cheeses, a stick of butter and cream, it’s heavy, so feel free to lighten the casserole with 1 cup cream and 3 cups milk. You can also cut the butter in half without missing it in the final dish.

For more of a kick, double the lemon zest, hot sauce and Dijon mustard. Parsley isn’t my favorite, so I left it out, but a colleague suggested dill, which would definitely invoke the taste of crab cake.

Crab Cake Mac and Cheese

1 (16-oz.) package cavatappi or other spiral pasta
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. lump crabmeat
1 large shallot, diced
Finely grated peel of 1 small lemon
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 Tbsp. white truffle oil (optional)
1 cup panko or dry breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch-by-12-inch baking dish or six to eight individual baking dishes. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Gradually add cream, whisking to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the Swiss, Gruyère, and Fontina cheeses and the nutmeg. Cook until the cheeses melt.

In a large bowl combine the crabmeat, shallot, lemon peel, hot sauce and mustard, and mix well. In a medium bowl combine the truffle oil, panko, Parmesan and parsley, and mix well.

Add the pasta to the crab mixture. Pour in the cheese sauce, add salt and pepper, and stir gently a few times to loosely combine. The mixture will be soupy. Pour the mixture into the baking dish or into individual serving dishes. Spread the panko mixture over the top. Gently pat down.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the panko topping is slightly browned and the pasta mixture is bubbling at the sides. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

— From “Southern Cooking for Company: More than 200 Southern Hospitality Secrets and Show-Off Recipes” by Nicki Pendleton Wood (Thomas Nelson, $26.99)

Austin360Cooks: Cottage cheese and (fill in the blank)

I’m always amazed at what we put on cottage cheese.

Some of us — like me — are savory types, scattering salty nuts, crushed-up crackers or croutons, ingredients you might find at a salad bar.

Others, like Austinite Corby Wilfley, @nutritionnextdoor on Instagram, go the sweet route.

The licensed dietitian posted a photo of a sweet and savory breakfast: Sliced cherries and cracked black pepper on top of fat-free cottage cheese and sourdough toast made with Easy Tiger bread.

Sometimes, I’ll do really weird salty and sweet ingredients together on my cottage cheese, my favorite combination being raisins and black olives. (So weird, I know.)

Assuming you eat it in the first place — cottage cheese can be pretty divisive like that — how do you like to eat cottage cheese? Show or tell us by adding #Austin360Cooks to your posts on social media. Each week, we pull our favorite home-cooking photos for print and into a photo gallery online.

What Austinites need to know about the FDA cilantro ban

Cilantro is most often consumed raw, which increases the likelihood of getting sick if the herb is contaminated. Photo by Bruce R. Bennett for The Palm Beach Post.
Cilantro is most often consumed raw, which increases the likelihood of getting sick if the herb is contaminated. Photo by Bruce R. Bennett for The Palm Beach Post.

News broke earlier today that the Food and Drug Administration was banning some cilantro coming from Mexico.

Cilantro haters, of which there are many, might rejoice, but in a taco-loving place like Austin, a ban on cilantro could be a big deal.

For now, here’s why it’s not and what you need to know:

  • The FDA ban only affects cilantro from some farms in the state of Puebla. Lots of other farms throughout Mexico and the U.S. grow cilantro and can fill in any gaps in the supply chain. At the moment, no restaurants or grocery stores are reporting a lack of cilantro.
  • Cilantro from other parts of Mexico can cross into the U.S., but only with proper documentation.
  • This outbreak of cyclosporiasis has been recurring for at least three years, but the Centers for Disease Control has only now been able to connect the cases to the farms, although some of the more recent cases haven’t been specifically connected to these Puebla farms.
  • Cooking kills the parasite that causes cyclosporiasis, but that doesn’t do cilantro-eaters much good because cilantro is an herb most frequently consumed raw.

Beating the dog days of summer with fresh #Austin360Eats

The dog days of summer aren’t getting these Austinites down. We officially hit 100 degrees for the first time today, but all that heat isn’t slowing down the restaurant openings or how much y’all are eating out.

Each week, we run our favorite photos tagged with #Austin360Eats on Instagram in print, and here are the photos we’re running in Friday’s paper.

Leander is getting a new Japanese/Korean restaurant with the opening of Kai Sushi at 1805 S. Hwy 183. The eatery is hosting its grand opening celebration this weekend, but Amy Drohen (@sushigirl_atx) got an early look last week.

Even though the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline serves a full menu, Megan Myers (@stetted) popped by the nearby Cedro, a pizzeria and Italian restaurant at 14028 U.S. 183, to try their carpaccio.

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Tacos are not just for Tuesdays.

A post shared by Michelle • Food + Travel (@sweetsweetaustin) on

Tacos are not just for Tuesdays, @sweetsweetaustin reminded us in a post from Mellizoz Tacos last weekend. The food truck at 1503 S. First St. is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week and dinner Thursday through Sunday.

A craving for Spaghetti Alle Vongole brought Michelle Cheng (@foodieisthenewforty) back to Taverna Austin. The Italian restaurant at 258 W. Second St. downtown recently added a variety of new dishes to the menu, and this is one of them.

Popular brunch trailer Biscuits and Groovy recently opened a second location at 10106 Manchaca Road, next to the Moontower Saloon, where @heams39 recently enjoyed the Village Biscuit with white gravy, sausage, jalapeños, cheese and chives.

Making La Patisserie’s Lemon Honey Blackberry Cake

It’s getting a little hot for local blackberries, but the ones at the store are still looking good because of the (blissfully tolerant) summer heat elsewhere in the country. La Patisserie (602 W. Annie St., lpaustin.com) owner Soraiya Nagree makes a lemon honey blackberry cake this time of year, which is adapted from a French yogurt cake recipe that originally appeared in Bon Appetit. You could toss any kind of berries, or even cherries, with the flour mixture before adding to the batter. For even more lemon flavor, make a glaze by mixing freshly squeezed lemon juice with confectioners’ sugar until you get a liquid you can drizzle on top.

patisseriecake
La Patisserie serves this Lemon Honey Blackberry Cake. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Lemon Honey Blackberry Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blackberries
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable or coconut oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil. Dust with flour.

Using a whisk, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Use 2-3 tablespoons of the flour mixture to toss and lightly coat the blackberries.

Rub the sugar and lemon zest together in a large bowl until well mixed. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, honey and vanilla, whisking to blend. Fold in dry ingredients and blackberries until just mixed.

Pour batter into pan, smooth top and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan on rack for 15 minutes; invert onto rack to cool completely. Slice and serve. Store in airtight container for up to 4 days. Serves six.

— From La Patisserie owner Soraiya Nagree, adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit

Recipe of the week: Country-Fried Bacon with Sausage and Onion Gravy

This meaty breakfast recipe isn’t for the faint of heart, but sometimes, that’s what you need to kickstart a weekend morning.

The gravy alone calls for more than half a pound of meat, and that’s before bacon even enters the picture. “Hog: Proper Pork Recipes from the Snout to the Squeak” author Richard Turner says that you can always just make the country-fried bacon without the gravy if you want to serve it alongside pancakes or waffles.

Country-Fried Bacon with Sausage and Onion Gravy from “Hog: Proper Pork Recipes from the Snout to the Squeak” by Richard Turner. Photo by Paul Winch-Furness.
Country-Fried Bacon with Sausage and Onion Gravy from “Hog: Proper Pork Recipes from the Snout to the Squeak” by Richard Turner. Photo by Paul Winch-Furness.

Country-Fried Bacon with Sausage and Onion Gravy

1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
10-12 strips smoked bacon
1 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of dried oregano
A pinch of dried sage
A pinch of dried basil
A pinch of dried marjoram
A pinch of chili powder
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. dried garlic
1/4 tsp. dried onion
A pinch of salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the sausage and onion gravy:
2 tsp. butter
2 2/3 cups onions, sliced
Scant 1 cup hard cider, divided
10 1/2 oz. pork sausage, broken into small chunks
2 cups beef or pork broth
Scant 1 cup heavy cream

Combine the egg and buttermilk in a large bowl. Soak the bacon in this mixture. Blend the flour with all the herbs and spices and flavorings to a fine sandy mixture and set aside.

To make the gravy: Put the butter and onions into a large saucepan over low heat and let sweat for about 20-25 minutes, or until caramelized and golden in color. Add half the hard cider and continue to sweat until the onions start to darken a little more, then add the remaining cider and reduce down.

Add the sausage to the pan and continue sweating down. Add the broth and continue to cook until reduced by half. Add the heavy cream and cook at a bare simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat but keep warm until needed.

Remove the bacon from the buttermilk and roll in the seasoned flour until completely covered.

Heat the oil to 400 degrees in a deep-fat fryer or a large heavy saucepan. Use tongs to carefully lower 5 pieces of the bacon into the hot oil, then fry for 5 minutes until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces of bacon.

Serve with the gravy on the side for dipping. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “Hog: Proper Pork Recipes from the Snout to the Squeak” by Richard Turner (Mitchell Beazley, $34.99)

Still time to enter salsas for Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival on Aug. 23

The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival returns to Fiesta Gardens on Sunday, August 23. Photo by Jenni Jones for the Austin American-Statesman.
The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival returns to Fiesta Gardens on Sunday, August 23. Photo by Jenni Jones for the Austin American-Statesman.

The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival is celebrating its 25th year next month, and there’s still time to sign up if you’d like to enter one of your homemade hot sauces and salsas.

It costs $20 per entry — $25 for restaurants — and the deadline to register ahead of time is Aug. 19. They do accept submissions the morning of the event between 10 and 11 a.m. Contestants are asked to bring their one-pint entries in sturdy, plastic, disposable containers.

The event will take place at Fiesta Gardens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, and you can find out more and how to sign up at austinchronicle.com/hot-sauce.

Sustainable Food Center releases fall cooking class schedule

Want to improve your cooking skills? The Sustainable Food Center released its cooking class schedule for most of the remainder of the year, and it includes how-to classes ranging from gelato to tamales.

Austinite Shefaly Ravula will be teaching several classes at the Sustainable Food Center later this year. Photo from Shef's Kitchen.
Austinite Shefaly Ravula will be teaching several classes at the Sustainable Food Center later this year. Photo from Shef’s Kitchen.

SFC, which operates farmers markets in Sunset Valley, downtown, the Triangle and near its headquarters at 2921 E. 17th St., opened a teaching kitchen in 2013 that is the home base for the nonprofit’s Happy Kitchen/Cocina Alegra culinary education program.

For more than 20 years, that outreach program has provided community classes to groups that are at risk of food-related health disparities, but since the teaching kitchen opened, SFC has added cooking classes that are open to the public that help fund the free part of the program. The classes start at $30 and are taught by area professionals and SFC staff.

This fall, you can take classes from the owners of Tandem Midwifery (Eating Well in All Stages of Pregnancy, Sept. 15), Shefaly Ravula of Shef’s Kitchen (Seasonal, Healthy Indian Cooking, Oct. 15), Jessica Burleson, founder of BabyTasteBuds, (Making Homemade Baby Food, Oct. 24) and Counter Café chef Steve Cruz (The Art of the Egg, Nov. 11). Most of the weeknight classes start at 6:30 p.m., with weekend classes beginning at 9:30 a.m. You can sign up for the classes and see the complete schedule at sustainablefoodcenter.org.

Greenling founder launches Veggie Noodle Co. to sell spiral-cut vegetables

Veggie Noodle Co. is an Austin-based company selling spiral-cut vegetables including zucchini and sweet potatoes. Photo from Veggie Noodle Co.
Veggie Noodle Co. is an Austin-based company selling spiral-cut vegetables including zucchini and sweet potatoes. Photo from Veggie Noodle Co.

We recently ran a story on all the things besides zucchini noodles that you can make with a spiralizer, but this month, an Austin company is getting in the ready-to-cook vegetable noodle business.

Mason Arnold, founder of Greenling, who recently returned to the company after a short break, has started Veggie Noodle Co., which sells spiral-cut vegetables that can be eaten raw in salads or cooked to make pastas, side dishes, soups and more. The first two varieties are zucchini and sweet potato, but Arnold says that they’ll expand the line to include more vegetables as the year progresses.

On the website (veggienoodleco.com), the company provides instructions for making your own and recipes, so you’ll know what to do with these long strands of veggies. If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can buy the pre-cut “noodles” through Greenling.com, as well as on the shelves of Whole Foods Market downtown and Wheatsville Food Co-op. In stores, they cost about $4.99 for 10.7 ounces.

Markets now accepting SNAP; Fermentation Festival dates announced

fermentationfestivalTwo pieces of news this week from the Texas Farmers Market, which operates the Lakeline, Mueller and Domain farmers markets every weekend.

First, two of these three markets — Lakeline and Mueller — are now accepting payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Those SNAP Lonestar Dollars can be used to buy food items at the market, and customers can double up to $20 of their SNAP allotment when buying fruits and vegetables. These two markets also participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition program through WIC.

Second, TFM announced last week that it is bringing back the Austin Fermentation Festival for the second year on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Barr Mansion, 10463 Sprinkle Road. The keynote speaker will be Jennifer McGruther, author of “The Nourished Kitchen,” and the day will also include fermentation workshops, live music, a culture swap, lunch and a market with fermented goods and books for sale.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Texas Farmers’ Market Farmer Emergency Fund, which offers financial assistance to TFM farmers and ranchers in times of environmental, personal or other crisis. You can buy tickets ($20 for general admission, $40 for VIP) and find out more at fermentatx2015.eventbrite.com.

You can also apply to present a workshop or sell your goods by going to bit.ly/AFFWorkshopApplication2015 and bit.ly/AFFVendorApplication2015, respectively.

If you’re new to town, here are the details about these markets: The Lakeline market takes place Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive. The market at the Browning Hangar at Mueller, 4550 Mueller Blvd., is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, followed by the Domain market, 3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, from 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays.