Bourbon blue cheese sauce turns a nice steak into a decadent one

Food media tends to separate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day along a well-defined line. Put all the meat and grilling stories for dad in June and leave all the breakfast-in-bed and brunch stories for mom in May.

Blue cheese and bourbon add intense flavor to the sauce on this filet, but the sauce also dresses the salad vegetables on top. Contributed by Jessica Ebelhar

Well, this mom is ready for a thick-cut steak this Mother’s Day, so I turned to Loreal Gavin, author of “The Butcher Babe Cookbook: Comfort Food Hacked by a Classically Trained Chef” for a recipe for bourbon blue cheese sauce and a technique that involves searing the filet on one side and then finishing it in the oven. She tops it with a simple trio of salad veggies, but feel free to serve this with anything else that puts a smile on mom’s face.

Filet with Bourbon Blue Cheese Sauce

2 (8-ounce) filets
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
1 scallion, cut on the bias
1/4 red onion, cut into wedges
For the bourbon blue cheese sauce:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 ounces smoked or regular blue cheese

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Season the filets with salt and pepper.

In a screaming-hot cast iron pan, add a touch of vegetable oil, sear the filets for five minutes on one side then flip them over. Add a nice little fleck of butter on each filet, reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and then finish roasting for six additional minutes. Pull the filets out of the oven and remove them from the hot pan. Let them rest for 10 minutes for the perfect mid-rare.

To make the bourbon blue cheese sauce, sweat the garlic, butter, bourbon, red chili flakes and salt in a small saucepan. Once the sauce has reduced by half, remove it from the heat and add the cream and blue cheese. Mix together with a large spoon until incorporated and it starts to thicken up. Right before you serve the sauce over the steaks, make sure to toss in the tomato, scallion and red onion. Serves 2.

— From “The Butcher Babe Cookbook: Comfort Food Hacked by a Classically Trained Chef” by Loreal Gavin (Page Street Publishing, $22.99)

Hundreds gather to celebrate 10th year of Farm to Plate

 

Last night, the Sustainable Food Center held its annual Farm to Plate fundraiser at Barr Mansion with several hundred local food supporters.

I was there at the media table, where we enjoyed bites from all kinds of restaurants, including Wu Chow, which served one of the best bites: a pork dumpling from its dim sum menu. We also enjoyed the pickled shrimp bite from Salt Traders, pork banh mi nachos from Greenhouse Craft Food and a brisket pate from Cafe Josie.

The Sustainable Food Center’s Farm to Plate event turned 10 at the Barr Mansion on Wednesday, May 10, with more than two dozen vendors serving small bites, including this dish from Fixe. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

It was a delight to see AISD serving its popular vegan lentil chili alongside some of the city’s best restaurants. The City of Austin received SFC’s Changemaker Award, and executive director Ronda Rutledge gave a toast to Andrew Smiley, a longtime SFC employee who is leaving after more than a decade as one of the city’s most impassioned local food activists.

 

Central Texas Food Bank asks: Why stop at one county fair when you serve 21 counties?

The Central Texas Food Bank, which is still showing off its new facility in Southeast Austin, is hosting a big event on Saturday, May 20, that they are calling a 21 County Fair.

The Central Texas Food Bank and H-E-B are teaming up for an event called the 21 County Fair on May 20. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

At a regular county fair, all the folks from that county come together to celebrate with food and fun. When you’re a food bank that serves 21 counties, you can host a 21 County Fair with a similar vibe.

From 5 to 9 p.m. May 20 at 6500 Metropolis Drive, the food bank and H-E-B will host an event with carnival-style games, food from Via 313, Moonshine Grill, Easy Tiger, Café Mueller Restaurant by H-E-B and the food bank’s in-house chef, as well as snacks from Austin Gourmet Popcorn, Good Pop Frozen Pops and Lick Honest Ice Creams and adult libations from 512Sno, Hops & Grain, Blue Owl Brewing and Austin Beerworks.

The purpose of the event is to bring together anti-hunger advocates and those who are interested in learning more about the services and programs the food bank provides throughout Central Texas. Tickets cost $50 if you buy them online ahead of time.

How to help your postal carrier Stamp Out Hunger on Saturday

For 25 years, postal workers across the country have dedicated one day in May to picking up food donations for food banks.

That simple idea — called Stamp Out Hunger — has led to more than a billion pounds of donated food over the years. Last year, donations topped 80 million pounds of food, which helped about 64 million people.

Stamp Out Hunger is an annual postal carrier food drive that has collected more than a billion pounds of non-perishable food over the past 25 years. Contributed by the Smithville Times

This year’s Stamp Out Hunger day is on Saturday, May 13. All you have to do is leave non-perishable food donations in a bag by your mailbox, and your carrier will do the rest.

Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, and by springtime, the organizers say, most pantries are entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need. Donations in Central Texas will go to the Central Texas Food Bank, which is hosting its 21 County Fair on May 20.

Amazon Prime teams up with Sprouts to amp up its grocery delivery

Amazon Prime has been delivery groceries in Austin for two years, but it was somewhat limited in its offering, focusing mostly on dry goods. The big warehouse in North Austin didn’t have the capacity to do fresh produce, raw meat and refrigerated goods.

That all changed today when Amazon announced its partnership with Sprouts Farmers Market (a grocery store, not a farmers market, I’ll note) to offer one- and two-hour grocery delivery in Austin.

Amazon Prime is now delivering Sprouts to customers in Austin, but the delivery time depends on where you live in the city. It costs $7.99 to get the one-hour delivery, but free after that. The prices are similar to what’s in the store.

Sprouts has five locations around Austin, which makes it easier for Amazon shoppers to hit that one-hour mark, something that is difficult to do with only one warehouse and crazy Central Texas traffic.

But here’s the catch: You can only get the one- and two-hour delivery if you’re in certain ZIP codes. I don’t live in a part of town where I can get the one-hour delivery, but I was able to book a future delivery for free, so I went shopping.

Some details about the delivery zones: Amazon doesn’t release specific details about which ZIP codes or areas of Austin it offers delivery; the company only suggests that customers go online to put in their ZIP code to see if they are eligible. When I initially started shopping, I didn’t have the option of getting a two-hour delivery, but a few hours later, I was eligible.

It sounds like availability can change based on demand, but the bottom line is: You should be able to get one-hour delivery in the parts of Austin that are somewhat near a Sprouts store, but you might have to wait an hour or two longer if things are really busy or you’re just a little too far.

Amazon Prime launched one- and two-hour delivery in partnership with Sprouts Farmers Market this week.

The Sprouts prices are the same prices as in the store, at least as far as I could tell. I picked out coffee, soda, a ton of fresh produce, a half-gallon of milk, raw chicken and some of their fresh sausage, which is one of the items that usually draws me into the store in the first place. It took a little digging around, but you can also order from their bulk section, another competitive advantage over stores with smaller bulk offerings.

Some of the snacks I wanted to buy (Chex Mix, Cheez-Its) Sprouts doesn’t carry, but I was able to order them for a separate delivery from Amazon. (Yes, that means two deliveries. More on that in a second.)

Unless you enter the site through the “Sprouts” banner on the Prime homepage, the search function automatically includes results from both Amazon and Sprouts, so if you’re only trying to schedule one delivery (and pay one tip), it can be challenging to make sure you’re picking all Sprouts (or Amazon) items. (You can filter the results to only show one store, but the site drops the filter with each new search. It’s a small fix that I hope they’ll make.)

I ended up needing enough stuff that Sprouts didn’t have (I’ll do a lot for a box of Cheez-Its) that I placed another order on Amazon for delivery at the same time. Because they weren’t one-hour deliveries, both were free, and I included a $5 tip on each, so in my mind, I spent an extra $10 to not have to go to two stores.

Both deliveries arrived near the very end of the delivery window, which made me feel silly for rushing home to try to get there before the groceries arrived, but on that particular day, I was willing to pay $10 not to have to go to two stores. I ended up with about 15 paper bags that made me feel like I was wasting a lot of trees for that convenience, but the meat and milk were cold and the avocado and mango I ordered were perfectly ripe. In a pinch, this is a good option for grocery delivery, but I wouldn’t want to fall into the habit.

I like being in touch with what’s on the shelves at the actual store, and I hated having to wait for the delivery driver, especially when I was hungry and ready to start making dinner but couldn’t until the ingredients arrived.

 

‘Six Seasons’ author hosting cookbook dinner at Josephine House on May 21

Later this month, Portland, Ore., chef Joshua McFadden is headed to Austin to cook from his new book, “Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.”

McFadden runs the kitchen at the vegetable-focused Ava Gene’s and was recently nominated for a James Beard Award.

This smashed fava bean toast is one of the dishes from Joshua McFadden’s new book, and it will be on the menu at an upcoming dinner at the Josephine House. Contributed by Laura Dart

His creative debut cookbook features seasonal dishes including a celery salad with dates, almonds and parmigiano and a fava bean toast with pecorino and mint (recipe below), two dishes that will be on the menu at a dinner with McFadden at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at the Josephine House, the sister restaurant to Jeffrey’s that has been hosting a number of cookbook dinners lately.

Tickets cost $65, and you can add on beverage pairings from June Rodil for $35. You can also buy a signed copy of the book for $35.

If you can’t make the dinner but would still like to meet the chef, you can stop by By George on South Congress from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20.

Joshua McFadden is a Portland chef who will be in Austin this month to promote his new cookbook. Contributed by Peden + Munk

Smashed Fava Beans, Pecorino, and Mint on Toast

This is a loose pesto of fava beans and mint, with plenty of olive oil. Use it as a pasta sauce or as a dip for vegetables, spoon it over crushed boiled new potatoes, or spread some on toasted country bread, as I do here. If you have a mortar and pestle, use it, though a food processor will work fine, as long as you don’t overprocess.

— Joshua McFadden

2 1/2 pounds fava beans in their pods
2 stalks green garlic or scallions, trimmed (including 1/2 inch off the green tops), roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
About 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Four 1/2-inch-thick slices country bread

Shell, blanch, and peel the favas. Put the green garlic and a pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add half the mint leaves and pulse a few more times so the garlic is fairly fine. Add the peeled favas and 2 tablespoons olive oil and pulse again. Your goal is to bash up the favas but not completely puree them. You may need to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl between pulses.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl, season with some pepper, and stir in 1/4 cup grated pecorino and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, and adjust the consistency with olive oil so that it is loose and luscious.

Brush the bread on one side with olive oil and grill or broil until crisp. Arrange on plates, top with the fava mixture and the rest of the mint leaves (torn if they’re big), and finish with a nice shower of grated pecorino and another drizzle of oil. Serves 4.

— From “Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables” by Joshua McFadden (Artisan, $35)

Farmgrass Fest returns this weekend to raise money for local farmers

Some of Austin’s best Americana bands are headed to a farm near Austin this weekend to help raise money for the folks who grow our food.

That’s the idea behind Farmgrass, a local nonprofit that is now in its fourth year of hosting a camping and music festival at Simmons Family Farm between Kyle and Lockhart. The event raises money for an emergency medical fund for local farmers.

Simmons Family Farm is the location for Farmgrass, an annual music festival that raises money for local farmers. Contributed by Farmgrass.

This year’s family-friendly event takes place Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13, and will feature Shinyribs, Whiskey Shivers, Hot Club of Cowtown, The Lost Pines, High Plains Jamboree and Lil Darlin.

Attendees can camp both Friday and Saturday nights, with additional music and an outdoor movie screening of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” on Friday night. On Saturday, they are bringing in food vendors and guests can bring their own libations.

Tickets cost $55 for adults, and kids under 12 get in for free. You can find out more at farmgrass.org.

Quesoff seeks entrants for seventh-annual queso competition

The Quesoff is coming back for its seventh year this August, and if you think you’ve got the best queso in Austin, now is the time to sign up to compete.

Each year, about 30 competitors go head-to-head in four categories: meaty, spicy, veggie and wild card. A panel of judges picks a Best in Show, and audience members get to vote, too. In past years, they’ve had queso ice cream, tandoori queso and duck mezcal queso, and event host Adi Anand says he expects nothing less from this year’s entrants.

MORE: A map of Austin’s best queso, according to readers

The 2014 Quesoff drew big-name competitors, including Evan LeRoy, who was one of the day’s winners. Matthew Danser for the Austin American-Statesman

You can sign up to compete for a variety of prizes by emailing queso@mohawkaustin.com.

Want to attend? Mark your calendars for 2 p.m. Saturday, August 26, at the Mohawk, 912 Red River St. The event is a food drive and fundraiser for the Central Texas Food Bank.

MORE: How to make a cheddar chorizo dip

This cheesy dip packs a spicy punch with chorizo and is great for graduation parties or summer potlucks. Contributed by Caroline Potter.

New wedding-themed Blue Bell flavor hitting stores this week

Blue Bell knows that wedding season is upon us.

To celebrate, the Brenham-based ice cream maker has brought back its Groom’s Cake ice cream and launched a new flavor: Bride’s Cake.

Blue Bell’s newest flavor is Bride’s Cake, which is almond ice cream with white cake and amaretto cream cheese swirl. The Groom’s Cake flavor is back for the limited time. Contributed by Blue Bell.

The Groom’s Cake — chocolate ice cream with chocolate cake pieces, chocolate-coated strawberry hearts, strawberry sauce and chocolate icing — dates back to 2009, several years before a recall that nearly closed the business entirely. The company has been bouncing back in the past year, releasing new flavors every few months, including this new Bride’s Cake, which is almond ice cream with white cake pieces and an amaretto cream cheese icing swirl

“We have heard from fans who serve Blue Bell Ice Cream at their weddings in place of the traditional cake. Now you can have both,” Jenny Van Dorf, Blue Bell public relations manager, said in a release. “Our Bride’s Cake, with its almond ice cream and amaretto cream cheese icing swirl, was inspired by popular wedding cake flavors.  And the tasty cake pieces are the perfect addition. ”

Blue Bell ice creams are sold in hundreds of stores across Texas, but not all stores carry all flavors. These wedding-themed flavors will be available for a limited time.

 

 

 

 

 

Dai Due, Farmhouse Delivery teaming up for supper club revival

Remember Dai Due before it was even at the farmers’ markets?

Jesse Griffiths’ lauded restaurant started as a supper club that hosted many dinners at Rain Lily Farm, which is where Stephanie Scherzer’s Farmhouse Delivery got its start. Those two businesses have evolved quite a bit in the past decade, but this weekend, they are teaming up for a five-course, family-style dinner not unlike those original supper club dinners.

Dai Due and Farmhouse Delivery are teaming up for a supper club on the East Austin farm at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13. Contributed by Farmhouse Delivery

The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13 at 914 Shady Lane, and will feature wines from Lewis Wines and William Chris Vineyards. As you’d expect from both businesses, all of the ingredients will be locally sourced. Tickets cost $150 and are available here.