Football season might be over, but chicken wings are always in season around here. Last year’s Austin Chicken Wing Festival sold out before you could say, “Don’t forget the ranch dressing.”
That’s why you need to know that this year’s Austin Chicken Wing Festival is coming back on Sunday, May 20 at the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, 6020 Dillard Circle. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Friday, March 30.
From 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, the event will feature unlimited wing tastings from nearly two dozen of Austin’s best chefs and restaurants, including last year’s winner, Chi’lantro. There will be a panel of judges and the audience can vote as well. The bravest of them will be competing in a flaming hot chicken wing-eating contest.
Little Wing ticket holders ($38) will enjoy unlimited chicken wings from 1 to 5 p.m. Hot Wing ticket holders ($70) will also have early access at noon as well as access to a VIP section that will feature a private bar and an exclusive restaurant vendor.
A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts to fund a student scholarship. The event, hosted by SGD Events, will occur rain or shine and ticket refunds are not available. Children under the age of 3 do not need a ticket to enter the Festival.
Strolling through a farmers market on a Saturday morning is a beloved weekend activity for many Austinites, and now we have another market to check out.
Since December, dozens of local artists and makers have been gathering from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays at 1511 S. Congress Ave. for the SoCo Select Farmers & Makers Market. They don’t have many farmers and food vendors yet, but Johnson’s Backyard Garden sells some produce there and Austin Orchards is scheduled to start coming on April 21 with their locally grown fruit.
Several vendors also sell vintage clothing, but the most interesting product I found on a recent visit was Canna Bees Rescue Blend, a CBD-infused honey.
The parent company that makes Canna Bees, Bee Delightful, is a Central Texas bee rescue organization that will soon collect its millionth bee. There are several similar organizations in the area, but what makes Bee Delightful stand out is that it’s the first CBD-infused honey from Texas on the market.
Here’s how it works: Bee Delightful removes unwanted bees for free from homes and businesses around Central Texas and then relocates them to hives where they can continue to produce honey. That’s when the cannabidiol, or CBD, comes in.
CBD is one of many cannabinoid molecules produced by cannabis, but unlike THC, it doesn’t result in feeling “high.” According to Canna Bees: “These naturally occurring cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids, are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our endocannabinoid system. While THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis, CBD is naturally occurring in industrial hemp and another familiar plant product, flax seed.”
From talking to several CBD vendors at the Wellness Expo at this year’s SXSW, I learned that CBD has always been legal, but only in the past few years have we seen consumer products and supplements more widely available. Millions of Americans now take CBD, sometimes by pill and other times through CBD tinctures, gummies or CBD-added products, like this honey. The CBD extracts used in Canna Bees come from domestic hemp farms, and the honey is unpasteurized.
Although there are few government-approved claims you can make about CBD, many people who take it claim that it helps with their arthritis and other forms of chronic pain, and researchers are studying its effects on people who have diseases, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and cancer.
Bee Delightful sells two kinds of Canna Bees honey: one with 250 milligrams of CBD and another with 500 milligrams ($50 and $80, respectively). In addition to buying the honey at the market, you can also find it at several local retail outlets, including Peoples Rx, Thom’s Market and Sunrise Mini Mart, and online at beedelightful.com.
If you’re a backpacker, you know you can’t live on peanut butter crackers alone.
Pam LeBlanc is the resident backpacking camper in the features department. I’m an avid car camper, which means I usually have a food box *and* a cooler to cook from while I’m outdoors.
But if you are eating breakfast, lunch and dinner on a trail or anywhere you have limited access to cooking tools and supplies, which is what Pam did during her 15-day hike on the John Muir Trail, you will likely pack trail meals. These are usually dehydrated meals that only need hot water to “cook.” One of the leading companies in this space is Austin’s Packit Gourmet.
This month, the company, which started in 2008 and is still based off Fitzhugh Road, released a new type of packaging that allows you to pour the hot water directly into the bag, which makes it more functional when you’re on a trail. Another benefit of the new packaging is that they retain heat better than a bowl, so your food will stay hot. The square-shaped bags are color-coded by type of meal with easy to read instructions.
The little neighborhood restaurant on Mary Street and South Fifth Street in South Austin has been the host of many lunch dates, book club meetings and post-library ice creams, in part because I got to know owner Jam Sanitchat through her food blog.
For a short while a good number of years ago, my kids’ dad worked there, which is how I started to learn some of the methods to make some of her popular dishes, including pad prik king and everyday curries, such as this Massaman curry with chicken and potatoes I made just a few nights ago.
Making that dish reminded me that Thai curries can be some of the easiest DIY takeout meals you can make at home, as long as you have two key ingredients: A can of Thai curry paste and a can of coconut milk.
Coconut milk is pretty mainstream at this point, and you can find these little 4-ounce cans of Maesri curry pastes at international markets and at Thai Fresh, which also sells the lemongrass and lime leave you’d need to make your own. I keep these store-bought pastes and cans of coconut milk in my pantry for quick dinners that sometimes only require the two cans and a pound of protein, such as chicken, beef or shrimp.
In Sanitchat’s 2013 cookbook “The Everything Thai Cookbook,” she shares the recipes for making about 20 different curries, from yellow curries with fish to the sweeter panang curry that is usually paired with beef. They all share a similar process: Cook the curry paste in a little coconut cream (or, as I’ve learned, coconut oil) and then simmer the meat with the coconut milk, curry paste. Add some fish sauce, tamarind and sugar, if desired. Serve over rice.
Do not shake the coconut milk. Scoop the cream on top of the coconut milk cans, about halfway down, into a medium saucepan. In another saucepan, bring the other half of the coconut milk to a boil. Add chicken pieces and simmer for 45 minutes over low heat.
Bring coconut cream that was scooped out to a boil over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and turn down the heat to low. Simmer at low heat, without stirring, until fragrant and coconut cream starts to release some oil, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add chicken and the simmering liquid to the fried paste. Add the peanuts. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Season with sugar, fish sauce and tamarind, if using. Add sweet potatoes, onions, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cardamom. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust as needed. Serve.
The biggest paella event in Central Texas isn’t until November when the 16th annual Paella Lover’s United cook-off returns to Camp Ben McCulloch, but on Saturday, you can check out a Spring Flamenco & Paella Festival at La Bodega Gourmet, a Spanish market and eatery at 11500 Bee Cave Road in Bee Cave.
Owner Eric Paz, who is also the creator of a paella mix that you can buy online or in his store, hosts several events throughout the year, but he says this one is the most popular. The paella fest starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 31, and includes Andalusian-style paella with shrimp, mussels, chicken and white wine, as well as tapas, wine and performances from flamenco dancers and musicians. Tickets cost $50 and are available at labodegagourmet.com/buy-tickets.
Who knew 8-year-olds could be such good cooks? That was my takeaway when I first started watching “MasterChef Junior” with my own children, who aren’t nearly as capable in the kitchen as these reality TV stars.
But now that the show is in its sixth season, I’m not surprised when one of the contestants, who are no older than 13, whips out pumpkin ravioli or a West Indian lobster curry. Last year, Clarkson Potter published a collection of recipes from these young home cooks, many of which are adult-level challenging. This burger, however, is one you could make with your kids, especially now that the weather is nice enough for grilling.
Feel free to play around with substituting different kinds of sausage or meat in place of the sausage and beef. For instance, if you like the flavor of lamb, you could turn these into Mediterranean burgers by using a mixture of ground lamb and beef, and topping with feta instead of provolone. These are from Season 1 contestant Gavin Pola, who was 10 when he competed in 2013.
For the olive relish:
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the burgers:
1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 pound ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 red onion, thickly sliced
4 slices provolone cheese
4 brioche buns, sliced in half
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
Make the olive relish: In a blender or food processor, combine the olives and mayonnaise and blend until smooth. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Make the burgers: In a large bowl, combine the sausage, ground beef, garlic and Italian seasoning. Form four patties that are slightly wider than the buns.
Heat a grill to medium or a grill pan over medium heat. Sear the patties, flipping once, until cooked through to your preference, about 4 minutes per side for medium or an internal temperature of 130 degrees. While the burgers cook, sear the red onion as well, if you like grilled onions, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Just before the burgers are finished cooking, place the sliced cheese on top and let melt. Toast the buns.
To serve, spread olive relish on one side of a toasted bun. Add the meat, grilled onion, tomato, arugula and finally the top bun. Serves 4.
Of all the curries you’ll find in Indian restaurants, the king of them all might be butter chicken, a dish that dates back to the 1950s.
As the story goes, just after 1947 — when England’s division of territory into India and Pakistan led to violence and mass displacement in the region — several men fled with their families to Delhi, where they opened a restaurant called Moti Mahal. That restaurant went on to become internationally famous, frequented by celebrities, presidents and world leaders who developed a taste for some of its signature dishes, including what is known globally as butter chicken, or murgh makhani.
As with many famous restaurant dishes, this one was reportedly concocted by chance when a cook used tandoori chicken in a buttery tomato gravy. Cookbook author Anjum Anand shared her recipe for this velvety curry in her new book, “I Love India: Recipes and Stories from City to Coast, Morning to Midnight, and Past to Present” (Quadrille, $29.99). The original recipe in her book includes seasoning the chicken from scratch, but she suggests using a tandoori paste to save time and effort. She also notes that the sauce has a lot of tomatoes, so depending on how sweet or tart they are, you’ll need to adjust the sugar and salt accordingly. Serve with naan or paratha, another Indian flatbread.
For the chicken:
6 skinned, bone-in chicken pieces
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tandoori paste (store-bought or homemade)
For the sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
8 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed, divided
1 bay leaf
2 black cardamom pods
6 green cardamom pods
3/4-inch cinnamon stick
1 1/2 pounds vine tomatoes, blended to a fine purée
3 to 4 small green chilies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves, finely crushed with your fingers
1 rounded teaspoon garam masala
1/3 cup cream, to taste
Slash each piece of chicken 3 times down to the bone at the thickest parts of the flesh. Place in a bowl and marinate in about half the lemon juice and half the salt for 30 minutes if possible. Coat in the tandoori paste and leave to marinate for as long as possible – preferably overnight, covered in the fridge – but at least for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes or so before cooking. Heat grill to a medium-high heat, or if using the oven, heat the broiler and line a baking sheet with foil.
Place the chicken on the grill and cook, turning often and moving around to prevent burning and hot spots, until cooked through, about 18 minutes, turning often. Or place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet under the broiler, and cook until lightly charred on both sides and cooked through, which will take between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on your broiler.
To make the butter sauce: Blend together the ginger and garlic using a little water to help the blades turn; set aside.
Heat the oil and half the butter in a large nonstick saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the bay leaf and whole spices. Once they have sizzled for 15 seconds, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the garlic smells cooked and looks grainy. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook down until the resulting paste releases oil, around 20 minutes.
Now you need to brown this paste over a gentle heat, stirring often, until it darkens considerably, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 generous cup water, bring to the boil, then pass through a sieve, trying to extract as much liquid and flavor from the tomatoes and spices as you can. Discard the very few, very dry solids. Set the sauce aside.
Cut or peel large chunks off the chicken pieces and reserve with any juices and charring that is still on the cooking foil.
Heat the remaining butter, throw in the green chilies and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce, salt and a good splash of water and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken, with any juices and charring from the foil. Add the sugar, chili powder, paprika, fenugreek and garam masala. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, adding a little water if it is too thick. It should be lightly creamy. Take off the heat and stir in the cream, then taste and adjust with salt, sugar, cream or butter to taste as you need. Serves 4 to 6.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on June 23, 2010.
At Claudia Alarcón’s World Cup parties, there are two rules: Soccer games are shown only on Univision. (“American announcers are horrible,” says party co-host Will Larson.)
Second, any food and drink consumed during the 90 minutes of play must be representative of the countries that are competing, with two exceptions: “South African wine is allowed at all times, as is tequila, because I’m Mexican,” Alarcón says during one of the first World Cup games two weekends ago.
As she pours glasses of Indaba chenin blanc for guests who’ve just arrived, she has to shout over the staccato calls of the announcers and the chatter of the guests packed in the living room of her South Austin home. It’s only the first weekend of the monthlong World Cup, and by Monday, she’ll have prepared dishes from almost a dozen nations and already lost her voice.
There are few things as important to Alarcón as food, and soccer is one of them. So for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, the freelance food writer, blogger and culinary tour guide started hosting daylong watch parties where the menu is as diverse as the teams that are playing.
The Mexico City native was just 6 years old in 1970 when her country hosted the world’s biggest sporting event, and every four years since, she’s been among the billions of fans who tune in to watch as the world’s best teams face off.
Up until this year, there weren’t many places in Austin to watch the games.
“In 2002, no one knew about it or cared that it was going on,” Alarcón says. She and her friends tried to find bars or restaurants to watch the games but had a hard time finding the big matches, much less the smaller ones. “I thought it would be fun to cook the food and have the drinks of the countries and have people over to share the food and watch the games,” she says.
Every weekend during the tournament, breakfast, lunch and dinner revolve around the indigenous dishes of the teams on the field. “It’s not super representational of the country but rather what people would be eating during the game,” she says.
She spends weeks preparing for the match-ups, digging through ethnic cookbooks, searching online, hunting down ingredients and calling up friends who were born or lived abroad to ask for suggestions. After all, what do Ghanans eat for breakfast and what’s a typical Serbian finger food? (Stuffed avocados and cigar-shaped meatballs called cevapcici, respectively, it turns out.)
Guests often bring dishes of the teams they are rooting for. Rae Wilson fried her grandmother’s potato pancakes just before kick-off of the Germany-Australia game. Australian expatriates whom Alarcón met over sushi just a few weeks ago showed up with — what else? — shrimp kebabs in tow.
Martine and Eric Pelegrin, who met while cooking at Chez Nous and once owned a charcuterie and supper club company called Bistro Le Marseillais , practically move in with Alarcón and Larson during the World Cup. “We go home to sleep,” says Pelegrin, as she assembles abend-brot, a German cheese and charcuterie tray of liverwurst and paper thin-slices of salami.
Everybody waits until halftime to dig in to the buffet inspired by countries a half a world apart: shrimp with mango cilantro sauce and apricot-glazed chicken squeezed onto plates next to cold cuts, potato pancakes and rye bread. Before long, talk shifts from Germany’s momentum in the game (they went on to wallop the Aussies 4-0) to why cilantro is called fresh coriander abroad and how liverwurst is really just poor man’s pâté. Pretty soon, the second half has started, but Germany is so far ahead, many of the guests, especially those rooting against the polemic powerhouse, linger around the island in the middle of Alarcón’s cobalt blue kitchen to spin stories from their own experiences abroad.
“Even if you’re not a soccer fan, it’s the World Cup,” Alarcón says when asked why the camaraderie is greater during the soccer tournament other international sports events like the Olympics. “It’s about the unity and bringing everyone together,” she says. “The Olympics just aren’t the same.”
Cape Malay Bobotie
This savory-sweet, minced-meat casserole with an egg-based topping is considered one of the national dishes of South Africa.
1 Tbsp. butter, plus enough to grease pan
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. turmeric
2 lbs. beef and/or lamb, minced
2 slices bread, crumbled
1/4 cup milk
Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 oz. dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 oz. slivered almonds, roasted
Pinch ground clove, cumin and coriander (optional)
6 lemon, orange or bay leaves (Thai lime leaves work as well)
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish. Heat butter and oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, and cook briefly until fragrant. Remove pot from the heat. Add the meat, crumbled bread, milk, lemon juice and rind, egg, salt, pepper, apricots, raisins, apples and almonds. Mix in clove, cumin and coriander, if using. Put the mixture in the prepared casserole and level the top. Roll up the leaves and bury them in the meat mixture at regular intervals. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix together the topping ingredients, pour over the meat and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until cooked and lightly browned.
— Adapted by Claudia Alarcón from “Rainbow Cuisine” by Lannice Snyman (Konemann, 2001)
Coulis de Tomates
Fresh tomato sauce, or coulis de tomates, is a staple of the Provençal pantry. To add a French flair to grilled fish, roasted meats, soft-scrambled eggs or a number of other dishes, just serve with a spoonful of coulis on top.
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. garlic, crushed and minced
1 Tbsp. sea salt
2 tsp. herbes de Provence
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper
3 lb. very ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. raw sugar
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and salt. Raise heat to high and sauté until onions are transparent. Add herbes de Provence, pepper and tomatoes and their juice. Combine well, reduce heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes have given off most of their liquid. Stir in the sugar and vinegar and lower heat slightly. Cook uncovered at a slow simmer until reduced by half. Allow to cool slightly; purée in a food processor. Strain in a sieve or fine colander. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a storage container and allow to cool fully before storing in the refrigerator. Keeps up to three weeks.
— Martine Pèlegrin
Avocado With Smoked Fish
1/2 lb. smoked fish, such as trout
4 hard-boiled eggs, with yolks separated from whites
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/3 cup light vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large, ripe avocados
1 large red bell pepper, cut into slices (or a few tablespoons of pimentos in a jar)
Remove skin and bones from fish and flake the flesh with a fork. In food processor, blend hard-boiled egg yolks with milk until they form a smooth paste. Add sugar, salt and lime juice. Process in the vegetable oil, a teaspoon or so at a time. Add olive oil in the same gradual manner. Add egg whites and fish, pulsing to combine thoroughly but gently. Just before serving, cut the avocados in half, remove pits, and fill cavities with the fish mixture. Garnish with pepper or pimento and lime wedges to sprinkle on individual servings. Serves 6.
— Claudia Alarcón
Alarcón says this recipe was given to her by a hostess at the place where she and her husband stayed in Praia de Jauá, Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, where this dish is one of the flagships of the local cuisine. Dendé is a strongly flavored palm oil that can be found in ethnic markets. You may use olive oil instead, but dendé is traditional and provides its characteristic flavor.
1 lb. firm-fleshed fish fillets or steaks, such as snapper, mahi mahi or halibut
2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch cilantro
Salt, to taste
2 small onions, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 small green bell peppers, sliced
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. olive oil or dendé (see note above)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. salt
Squeeze lime juice over fish. Mash garlic and one stalk cilantro in mortar with a heavy pinch of salt and rub the fish with mashed mixture. Layer half of the onions, tomatoes and green bell peppers in a heavy pot. Place the fish on top. Add remaining tomato, bell pepper and onion and to a blender with the remaining cilantro, a splash of water and another heavy pinch of salt. Blend and pour mixture over fish. Bring to a boil, then add coconut milk, tomato paste and oil and mix carefully.
Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until fish is done and sauce thickens. Serve with white rice.
At first glance, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough might seem to be targeting the cookie dough ice cream fans, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that it’s the people who love peanut butter cookies and chocolate — aka people who also love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — who will be seeking out this flavor.
The Brenham-based ice creamery often releases limited edition flavors, which sometimes sell out quickly. This flavor is available in 1/2 gallon and pint sizes, and it’s one of dozens of flavors you can order ($129 for four 1/2 gallons). to have shipped anywhere in the U.S. for You can’t place the order online, but you can call 979-836-7977 to find out more.
The late Virginia B. Wood would have been happy to know that her memorial service will be at a restaurant that serves queso and margaritas.
Even though Wood didn’t drink alcohol, she loved the interior Mexican food from Yves Macías and Marisela Sanche, whom she met when they opened El Meson taqueria on Burleson Road and, later, El Meson restaurant on South Lamar.
From 3 to 6 p.m. April 8, El Meson is where friends, family and fans will gather for a memorial service for the longtime Austin Chronicle food writer and restaurant critic, who died in early March. The event will be open to the public.