Austin360 Taste Test Extra: Savory Kind bars at ACL

I’ve been working the Austin City Limits Music Festival all day, mostly Instagramming for the @Austin360 account, but I took a break from posting photos to do this little impromptu taste test video with music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith.

(You’ll remember that we tackled two other unusual nutrition/granola bar flavors earlier this week.)

This time, we were tasting two new Kind bars that we picked up in the festival’s media tent, one roasted jalapeño and the other a Thai sweet chile.

Maybe I’ll find something else to test while I’m there tomorrow.

Tips on cooking in a tiny kitchen

Albert Gonzalez at Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar works with a half-sized convection oven, two flat-top griddle, a panini press and an induction burner. DEBORAH CANNON/ Austin American-Statesman
Albert Gonzalez at Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar works with a half-sized convection oven, two flat-top griddle, a panini press and an induction burner. DEBORAH CANNON/ Austin American-Statesman

Think you could cook a dinner party for 50 people out of a kitchen no bigger than an elevator? That’s a scenario that Peche’s John Lichtenberger and Albert Gonzalez of Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar face nearly every day at their restaurants, which, like an increasing number of micro-apartments and smaller homes, have surprisingly small cooking spaces.

For my column this week, I interviewed both of them to get advice on how to cook in tiny spaces and found out that both of them would now actually prefer a smaller kitchen. You can click here to read the full story, but here are some of the tips they shared and a one-pot recipe from Lichtenberger.

  • Keep surfaces clear of clutter, including the sink. Even a toaster on a counter will make you feel like you have less space than you really have, discouraging you from thinking about cooking in the first place. Use as few dishes as possible, and clean them as you cook.
  • Edit, edit, edit. If you haven’t used a piece of equipment or a gadget in a year, get rid of it. Buy bowls, spoons and tools that have multiple uses.
  • Go vertical. Racks and magnetic knife strips can help you free up drawer and shelf space, but you can also get taller cabinets or shelving on top of your current ones. Stacking containers for flour, sugar, rice, pasta and beans can also help. Hang spice racks inside the doors of your cabinets or pantry, if you have one. (All of the spices at Apothecary hang on the back door of an electrical closet.)
  • Be choosy about appliances and keep only the ones you actually use. A Kitchen Aid with the right attachments can take the place of a pasta maker and juicer, and you probably don’t need both a blender and a food processor.
  • Shop more frequently, and buy for meals that you know you’re going to actually cook. Meal planning doesn’t always work for everyone, but it’s even more important if you’re working with very little space.

Balsamic Chicken

3 1/2 to 4 lb. free-range chicken

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

8 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided

2 sprigs of rosemary

1/3 bottle dry red wine

3 red onions, peeled and quartered

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil.

Place chicken in large zip-top freezer bag with garlic, 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rosemary, wine and red onions. Thoroughly coat the chicken with the mixture. Leave chicken in marinade for 10 to 20 minutes, or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Open bag and place onions in a roasting pan or cast iron pot and place the chicken on top of onions. Leave rosemary sprigs in the cavity. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken.

Top with remaining 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Serve with onions, fresh bread and, if desired, a sauteed green, such as chard or spinach. Serves 4 to 6.

— From John Lichtenberger, executive chef of Péché

 

Austin360 Taste Test: Savory granola bars from Mediterra

Just in time for all that snacking you might be doing between sets at the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend, I pulled Statesman music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith in for our newest taste test video: savory granola bars from Mediterra.

That’s right. Savory granola bars. The two we tried were black olive and walnut and sun dried tomato and basil, both very different approaches to the traditional nutrition bar.

What product would you like to see us try next? Leave a comment or send an email to abroyles@statesman.com

Austin360Cooks: Local produce from Farmhouse Delivery

Local produce from Farmhouse Delivery, photographed by Mary Helen Leonard as part of our #Austin360Cooks social media project.
Local produce from Farmhouse Delivery, photographed by Mary Helen Leonard as part of our #Austin360Cooks social media project.

The fall produce season is starting to pick up steam, but local farms are still harvesting some summer favorites like okra, zucchini and eggplant.

Mary Helen Leonard, the blogger behind marymakesdinner.com, posted this photo last week of her weekly produce box containing butternut squash, grape tomatoes, creamer peas, pea shoots and red potatoes from Farmhouse Delivery, the Austin-based company that delivers produce from a number of area growers, including Rain Lily, Lightsey and Fruitful Hill farms.

To find out what’s in next week’s Farmhouse bushel, go to farmhousedelivery.com, and for more photos in our Austin360Cooks series, go to bit.ly/austin360cooks.

SXSW Interactive announces first round of SouthBites food programming

David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku in New York City who has appeared on numerous television shows, will give one of the keynotes at 2015's South by Southwest Interactive. Handout photo from David Chang.
David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku in New York City who has appeared on numerous television shows, will give one of the keynotes at 2015’s South by Southwest Interactive. Handout photo from David Chang.

South by Southwest Interactive announced the first round of food programming this afternoon, which includes sessions with television host Andrew Zimmern, Eater editor Amanda Kludt and Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation.

The conference announced earlier this year that Momofuku chef David Chang would be among the keynote speakers, but today, they officially confirmed that the entire food programming, taking place Saturday, March 14 through Monday, March 16 at the Driskill Hotel, will be called SouthBites, a name that previously only encompassed the food trailer park near the Austin Convention Center downtown.

Something else that caught my eye? A continued appeal for ideas. Even though the panel picker is closed, you can email Sarah Garcia (sarah@sxsw.com) with your food-related ideas for the conference.

Here is a list of the initial food programming:

72 Ways Food Can Change the World – Amanda Kludt (Eater, Vox Media), Jessamyn Rodriguez (Hot Bread Kitchen)

America Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet – Jeffrey Dunn (Bolthouse Farms), Kaitlin Yarnall (National Geographic Society), Linda Boff (General Electric), Mitchell Davis (Friends of the USA Pavilion)

Building A Better Breakfast – Andrew Zimmern (Travel Channel), Jane Black (Janeblack.net), Josh Tetrick (Hampton Creek), Samir Kaul (Khosla Ventures)

Changing the World Through Food: A Love Story – Eileen Chiarello (Barnraiser), Michael Chiarello (Bottega Restaurant)

Culinary Crossroads: Technique vs. Technology – Andy Krueger (Tastemade), Chris Muscarella (Kitchensurfing), Molly Siegler (Whole Foods), Raphael Brion

Grocery Wars: The Future of Buying Food – Addie Broyles (Austin American-Statesman), Phil Lempert (Supermarket Guru)

Made in Brookyln: A Craft Foods Revolution – Forbes Fisher (Steve’s Ice Cream), Nicki Briggs (ARTISAN+MAIN), Shamus Jones (Brooklyn Brine)

Mega Bites: Mining Food Data For Insights – Danielle Gould (Food+Tech Connect), Dave Feller (Yummly), Gautam Gupta (NatureBox), Justin Massa (Food Genius)

Next Wave Coffee: Technology and the Way We Drink – Cameron Hughes (Invergo Coffee), Erin Meister (Counter Culture Coffee), Lawrence Marcus (Food & Wine)

Reinventing the Cooking Show to a Digital Audience – Aube Giroux (Kitchen Vignettes), Grant Crilly (ChefSteps), Kelly Cox (Original Fare), Matt Schoch (Public Broadcasting Service)

The Future of Food? A Personal Growing Revolution – Caleb Harper (MIT City Farm), Gabrial Blanchet (Grove Labs)

The Unexpected Power of Shared Meals – Andrew Hyde (Inside.co), Cédric Giorgi (Cookening)

You Can’t Sit with Us: Craft Beer Subculture – Caroline Wallace (Bitch Beer), Christopher Sheppard (Craft Taste), Josh Hare (Hops and Grain Brewing), Matt McGinnis (What Are You Drinking?)

Michigan native bringing real maple syrup to local markets

Anna Aldridge is selling Blackberry Blossom Foods maple syrup from her family's Michigan farm at Central Texas farmers markets from Bee Cave to New Braunfels. ADDIE BROYLES / Austin American-Statesman
Anna Aldridge is selling Blackberry Blossom Foods maple syrup from her family’s Michigan farm at Central Texas farmers markets from Bee Cave to New Braunfels. ADDIE BROYLES / Austin American-Statesman

Real maple syrup can be hard to come by in Texas. Countless restaurants claim to serve it, but people like Anna Aldridge who grew up in maple states up north can sniff out the maple-flavored corn syrup from a mile away.

Aldridge grew up on a farm in Blanchard, Mich., that has more than 6,000 maple trees, which the family taps to make syrup every spring. They boil the sap over a wood-fired evaporator into a silky syrup with no additives that Aldridge is now bringing down to Texas to bottle and sell at local farmers markets and stores.

Her company, Blackberry Blossom Foods, also sells maple candy and a spreadable maple cream, as well as seasonal jams, jellies and fruit butters, that are available at the Barton Creek, San Marcos and New Braunfels farmers markets on Saturdays, the Lone Star Farmers Market in Bee Cave on Sundays and the Wimberley and Dripping Springs markets on Wednesday afternoons.

Austinites also can buy the syrup at all the People’s Pharmacy locations, Hillside Farmacy, and Friends and Neighbors. Prices start at $5 for 3.4 ounces of the syrup and $10 for 8 ounces of the maple cream, and you can find out more at themaplesyruplady.com.

Recipe of the week: Jamie Oliver’s Blushing Spaghetti Vongole

Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food
Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food

Jamie Oliver last made a splash in the U.S. with his “Food Revolution” television show that exposed the dirty underbelly of Americans’ obsession with sugar, fast and junk food.

Now, he’s stepped off his (well-meaning and influential) soapbox and returned to cooking with “Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food,” a book he called the ultimate weekend cookbook.

Most of the dishes are certainly more complex than weeknight comfort food — handmade tortellini, a two-day bouillabaisse and an “insanity burger” that seems to fly in the face of all his healthy eating proselytizing. Other meals, like this spin on the classic spaghetti vongole, which uses fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomato paste and rosé, are more in line with the simplistic, reassuring style that Americans fell in love with through his many cooking programs that have aired over the past 15 years.

Blushing Spaghetti Vongole from “Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food.” Photo by David Loftus.
Blushing Spaghetti Vongole from “Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food.” Photo by David Loftus.

Blushing Spaghetti Vongole

The key to success with vongole is to have everything prepped before you start cooking, because the whole thing will be ready in just a matter of minutes once you get going. We want perfectly cooked pasta, just-opened shellfish and spot-on seasoning — it sounds easy, but to achieve this you do need to focus.
— Jamie Oliver

2 cloves of garlic
8 ripe cherry tomatoes
1/2 dried red chile
1/2 bunch of fresh Italian parsley
5 1/2 oz. dried spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomato paste
10 oz. clams or cockles (washed and debearded)
1 glass Pinot Grigio blush

To start, peel and finely slice the garlic, quarter the tomatoes, then break apart the dried chile, shake out and remove the seeds, and finely chop or crumble it. Very finely slice the parsley stalks, then roughly chop the leaves and put them aside for later.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Around 5 minutes before it’s ready, place a large frying pan on a high heat. After 2 minutes, add a generous swirl of olive oil, quickly followed by the garlic, tomatoes, chile, parsley stalks and sun-dried tomato paste. Shake around, then add the clams or cockles (remembering to tap any that are open; if they don’t close, throw them away) and, after 30 seconds, add the wine. Pop the lid on for 1 minute, then remove so you can watch the clams or cockles open and the wine evaporate.

If you’ve got your timing right, as most of the shellfish pop open (throw away any that remain closed) you’ll be ready to drain your pasta and throw it on top with the chopped parsley leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Give it all a good toss together, then taste the sauce — it shouldn’t need seasoning because of the clams, but it’s always wise to check. Divide the pasta between two warm bowls, followed by the clams or cockles and all those wonderful juices, and tuck straight in.

— From “Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food” by Jamie Oliver (Ecco, $34.99)

In the news: Loving LaV, new chef stamps and the weirdest chicken-cooking contraption you’ve ever seen

Food news from around the pages of the Statesman:

The roasted chicken at LaV is one of the highlights of the menu. DEBORAH CANNON/Austin American-Statesman
The roasted chicken at LaV is one of the highlights of the menu.  DEBORAH CANNON/Austin American-Statesman

After back-to-back bombs, Matthew Odam proclaims LaV a shining star in the Austin restaurant scene thanks to the keen vision of chef Allison Jenkins and wine director Vilma Mazaite. A really nice review and some stunning images from Deborah Cannon.

This rotating chicken cooker is a creation of Argentina chef Francis Mallmann, who was in Austin for an event at Central Market. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/Austin American-Statesman
This rotating chicken cooker is a creation of Argentina chef Francis Mallmann, who was in Austin for an event at Central Market. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/Austin American-Statesman

Central Market hosted a big 20th anniversary celebration last night with famed fire cooking expert Francis Mallman, who creates some of the most elaborate cooking contraptions you’ve ever seen.

Austin brewers biking to Colorado.
Austin brewers biking to Colorado.

A team of brewers is biking to Colorado to raise money and awareness about prostate cancer. (And yes, they timed their arrival to the start of the Great American Beer Festival.)

The U.S. Postal Service's chef series.
The U.S. Postal Service’s chef series.

The U.S. Postal Service released a new line of stamps today honoring five revolutionary chefs: Julia Child, James Beard, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi.

 

Austin360Cooks: Making pizza with Ballet Austin’s Anne Bloodgood

Anne Bloodgood, a dancer with Ballet Austin, prepares pizza while her husband, Paul, a fellow dancer in the company, washes dishes. Photo by Ashley Landis.
Anne Bloodgood, a dancer with Ballet Austin, prepares pizza while her husband, Paul, a fellow dancer in the company, washes dishes. Click on the image to see the related photo gallery.  ASHLEY LANDIS/ For the Austin American-Statesman

Anne Bloodgood is one all-star baker.

She’s also a dancer with Ballet Austin, whose season opens this weekend with “The Firebird” and “Agon,” and is married to Paul Bloodgood, another member of the company.

When we first launched Austin360Cooks, Bloodgood tagged a bunch of pizza-making videos she’d posted to her Instagram account, @annembloodgood. A ballerina who makes homemade pizza every Friday night? Sign me up.

I reached out to her to ask if I could crash one of her pizza-making sessions, and she obliged.

Photographer (and dancer) Ashley Landis and I showed up at Anne and Paul’s North Austin house a few weeks ago and found out just how much they love from-scratch pizza and baguettes, not just for the flavor but for the fuel it gives them for their grueling rehearsals.

It was fascinating to learn more about the lives of these professional dancers, what goes into a production like “Firebird” (or “The Nutcracker” for that matter) and how this sweet couple spends so much time together without going crazy.

(A hint: Cooking helps.)

Here’s the link to my column from yesterday’s section, and here is a link to Ballet Austin’s website so you can check out tickets for this week’s performances.

Having a (really tasty fried) ball at Doug Moreland’s Calfry

calfrywinnersI’ve had some really terrible Rocky Mountain oysters.

Calf testicles, for the uninitiated, can be a delicacy when prepared correctly, but they are nearly unpalatable if you forget to remove the membrane or soak them too long in something meant to cover up the flavor, like lemon juice.

But Austin musician Doug Moreland knows that there is a finer side to eating balls, which is why he started the Cattlelacs Calfry more than a decade ago.

The event has evolved into a two-day music festival and cooking contest that takes place at his chainsaw art shop (yes, he’s also a chainsaw artist) in the small town of Manchaca just south of Austin.

I ran into Moreland at the free Sun Radio show at Guero’s last week and heard him talking about the upcoming Calfry. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of this contest (I feel like I’ve judged every contest in Austin at this point in my food writing career), and having grown up in a part of the country where testicle eating is, contrary to rumors, more common than eating possum or squirrel, I felt like I really needed to be part of this year’s event.

calfrydancing

I introduced myself and asked if I might join them at the judging table. He happily obliged, but by the time the contest was over on Saturday night, I was especially happy I’d asked because two of the contestants prepared some of the best Rocky Mountain oysters I’ve ever had.

The competition has drawn as many as 10 or 12 teams in the past, but this year, only four brave cooks took Moreland’s challenge to make the best balls in “South South Austin.” (They also prepared wild game and salsa, which were far less interesting than the main game.)

photo 3 (3)

The teams had plenty of fun with innuendo (“Have a ball!” is the tagline for the event), but the truth is, if we’re going to seriously advocate nose-to-tail eating, including sweetbreads, livers and trotters, it doesn’t make sense to skip the part of the calf that separates the steers from the bulls.

Two of the entries tasted a lot like the Rocky Mountain oysters I’ve had before. One was cut into strips, breaded and fried and tasted like frozen steak fingers. The other was also breaded and fried, but they were cut into round discs and had exactly the texture you’d expect from sliced testicles.

The top two entries, however, held their crunch all the way up until judging time, and the cooks had done whatever it is that prize-winning calfry cooks do to flavor and tenderize the meat in a way that really does make them taste like freshly fried oysters, but without the brine.

calfrytrophies

The winning entry, from team Hay Chihuahua Que Cojones, wasn’t just perfectly fried, it was crusted in what tasted like cornflakes and seasoned so perfectly that they could have put half a dozen on a plate and sold them for $12 from a food truck in East Austin.

According to my fellow judge Beau Smith, team Hay Chihuahua Que Cojones has won before, and I plan on asking them ahead of next year’s event if they have any secrets they’d be willing to share. Not that a lot of you are frying calf testicles these days, but in the name of preserving tradition, I feel like I need to know.

photo 5 (4)

Another note about the judges table: Also joining us was David Arnsberger, the longtime local radio DJ who hosts those free Wednesday night shows at Guero’s. For nearly 30 years, he hosted and organized Spamarama, which apparently featured far worse dishes than the ones we tried over the weekend.