Before the new library opened downtown, one of the most exciting proposed elements was the Cookbook Cafe, a cookbook-inspired eatery on the bottom floor.
The Central Library opened in October, but today, the cafe opens with a surprise: The books lining the shelves were the collection of Virginia B. Wood, the late food writer who was influential in Austin’s food community before her death earlier this year.
The Cookbook Cafe, which is run by the ELM Group, will features dishes pulled from the cookbooks in Wood’s collection, whose books line the shelves of the interior dining space, as well as in the personal collections of chefs Andrew and Mary Catherine Curren.
So what cookbooks will you find featured on the menu? “The Commander’s Palace Cookbook” by Ti Adelaide Martin & Jamie Shannon inspired the granola parfait, and Heidi Gibson’s “Grilled Cheese Kitchen” holds the recipe for the restaurant’s breakfast grilled cheese.
At a preview event over the weekend, we got to sample a rice pudding with strawberries and spiced hibiscus syrup from “Baking Chez Moi” by Dorie Greenspan. The restaurant will be serving coffee, matcha and tea, as well as beer, wine and spirits. The literary-inspired cocktails include The Adventures of Huckleberry Gin and Murder on the Orient Espresso.
The hours of the restaurant will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The Cookbook Cafe also runs a rooftop coffee cart in the library’s top floor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m.
You can park in the underground lot at the library, but there are also some street parking options. The library is located at Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Streets, between the Seaholm Development and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
In the new book, Henry compiles menus inspired by places she’s visited and meals she’s enjoyed over the years, and this pink grapefruit and basil ice cream was inspired by her time in San Francisco, first as a diner at Chez Panisse and then later as a friend of chef and author Alice Waters, whose of fresh ingredients and nouveau flavor combinations left an indelible impact on Henry.
In the recipe introduction, Henry explains that this version was inspired by her tried-and-true lemon and basil ice cream, which she had been making for years. But swapping out the lemon for grapefruit created a floral, dreamy ice cream that she says is “possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever made.”
Having made it this weekend, I have to agree. I saved half of the custard to make during my Facebook livestream today at Facebook.com/austin360. Check out the video to hear why this ice cream tastes like the Flintstones Push Ups I used to love as a kid and why I’ll be making “frosecco” for 100-percent work-only purposes later today.
One coworker said he thought the ice cream tastes like “a more refreshing summertime treat than any mixed cocktail” and would be something he could imagine feeding guests at a party. Another ice cream lover in the newsroom said the grapefruit flavor was a little too bitter for his taste, but that it was “refreshing on a hot Austin day.” Served in a cocktail tumbler with ice cold Topo Chico would make a lovely Austin affogato.
Grapefruit and Basil Ice Cream
Zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
1/4 plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/4 cups whole milk
35 basil leaves
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place the zest and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a mortar and pestle. (Reserve the grapefruit juice for later in the recipe.) Grind until the mixture forms a citrus sugar paste. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the milk and the citrus zest mixture. Heat to almost a boil and then remove from heat. Tear the basil leaves and add them to the pan. Cover and let rest for at least an hour on the stovetop so that the flavors can infuse.
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the yolks and remaining 1/3 cup cream until the yolks have turned pale and creamy. Strain the flavored milk and then add to the bowl, stirring to combine. Place the custard mixture into a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stirring often, heat the mixture until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not boil the mixture or heat it above 180 degrees or else the eggs will curdle or scramble.)
While the custard heats, place a bowl over ice in the sink. When the custard has thickened, pour it into the cool bowl to help stop the cooking. Let the custard come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, use a handheld or stand mixer to whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard, and then add the grapefruit juice and lemon juice. Gently stir to combine and then either refrigerate the mixture or add it to your ice cream maker. (You can also place the mixture in a shallow container and put it in the freezer. To make the ice cream manually, remove the custard mixture from the freezer three times during the freezing process to churn with a handheld mixer, once after an hour and then in two-hour intervals.)
If using an electric ice cream machine, churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Store in the freezer and then serve. Serves 6.
Maybe you, too, are dreaming of France this summer.
If a week in Burgundy, sampling wine and nibbling on a fresh baguette with buttery escargot, sounds divine, then you and Austinite Kathy Dube would be friends. She’s the cook behind Shoal Creek Cook (shoalcreekcook.com and @shoalcreekcook_atx), and earlier this year, she and her daughter, Sara, went to Burgundy, where they took a cooking class from another mother-daughter duo, Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini.
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (or plain sugar)
Powdered sugar (for dusting on top)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Butter the parchment paper. Dust the cake pan with flour and remove excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and creme fraiche. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, use a wooden spoon to cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and continue creaming until combined. Add the egg and vanilla seeds and continue creaming until fully combined. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture and stir until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Arrange the sliced strawberries on top (away from the side of the pan) in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar.
Bake until golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Dust the top with powdered sugar. If you would like, serve with extra strawberries and whipped cream.
Ella made her Aunt Opal’s banana pudding and the chocolate chip cookies from her mom’s cookbook this week, which got me thinking, which recipes would I make and sell — in jars or otherwise — for a summer business?
Cake pops! For an even easier project, you could make “deconstructed cake pops in a jar” and net a pretty penny in sales.
These gluten-free chiffon cake and chocolate ganache recipes would be perfect to serve inside a small Mason jar. You could even take a cue from Ella and tie some twine and a spoon around the top to boost sales.
My very favorite summer cake recipe is that upside down peach cake, which I’m sure I could figure out how to bake in the jars, for easy transport and presentation. Maybe I could even figure out how to bake it in an Instant Pot…
That cherry cheesecake from earlier this week could also easily be baked into small jars or containers.
Bacteria love warmth, moisture and nutrients, and a hot car with bags of groceries provides just that. Foods that require refrigeration are the top priority for keeping cool. Frozen foods are a concern, too, but you have less time with refrigerated meats and fresh produce, which can harbor the rapid growth of dangerous bacteria if you’re not careful.
According to food safety experts at H-E-B, perishable food can stay safely unrefrigerated for two hours if the air temperature is under 90 degrees and only for one hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or higher. This is true for foods transported in a car or bag or when you’re having a picnic or a barbecue outside.
You don’t need to worry about shelf-stable foods unless they have an element that could melt in the heat, such as chocolate chips in granola bars or trail mix, but you do need to take extra care with meat, deli, dairy, fresh fruit, frozen foods and prepared dishes, including rotisserie chicken, pasta salad or ready-to-bake pizzas. Treat restaurant leftovers with care, too, keeping them refrigerated and not in a warm car for more than 30 minutes or an hour at most.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
Try to plan your trips so that you are going straight home from the store. If you have to make another stop, keep it at less than 15 minutes so your total time en route isn’t more than 30 minutes or, at most, an hour.
Be aware of the type of food you’re buying, and adjust accordingly if you have errands to run. Stop at the cleaners or for coffee before grocery shopping, not afterward when your groceries will be baking in the car.
If you have to stop somewhere, park in the shade or keep groceries out of direct sunlight. Wine should never be exposed to direct sunlight, so make sure the bottles or bags with other perishables are covered with a towel or other form of shade.
When buying foods that melt quickly, such as ice cream, consider putting the bag or food in a cooler with ice packs.
Don’t leave your cooler in the car, however, because it will hold and release heat, even with cold gel packs in the bottom. You could buy a bag of ice to put in the cooler if you have an extra-long trip ahead of you. Insulated bags are the next best thing to coolers, and they don’t hold as much heat if left in your car before shopping.
If you’re helping to bag your own groceries, keep in mind what the grocery store employees are already trained to do: Store like foods together. Perishable foods belong in a bag with other perishable foods so they help keep each other cool on the way home. Keep meats and frozen foods in their own respective bags.
Put groceries away as soon as you get home. After 45 minutes in the car, another 30 minutes on the counter won’t do your perishables any favors. They might not make you sick, but some foods, such as milk, might expire more quickly if not handled properly.
Not all dads drink bourbon and not all dads eat steak, but if the dad in your life does, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Father’s Day treat than this one. (Especially if this weekend’s rain forecast is accurate and you’re looking for a steak recipe to cook indoors instead of on a grill.)
By slicing any number of beef cuts into large cubes and soaking them in a marinade sweetened with bourbon, honey and balsamic vinegar, you can create a skillet full of caramelized beef tips, which is a nifty solution to feeding a family or a small gathering without serving individual steaks to everyone.
You could use a Texas-made bourbon — among them, Garrison Brothers in Hye, Ben Milam Whiskey in Blanco, Balcones Distilling in Waco, Firestone & Robertson in Fort Worth and Ranger Creek in San Antonio – for the marinade or for serving on the rocks with the meal.
The Conroe-based Mike Majkszak, who was a finalist in Beef Loving Texans’ Best Butchers in Texas contest, says that a bourbon-based marinade like this one will bring out the richness of the beef and tenderize the meat. Sirloin is usually the most affordable cut of beef, he says, which means you can usually buy a higher-quality sirloin without paying significantly more. Chat with your butcher if you’re looking for alternatives.
2 to 3 pound top blade roast, flat iron or sirloin steak
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon, divided
Salt, to taste
Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. If using top blade roast, make sure to cut away and discard the thick membrane that runs through the middle of the roast.
Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 cup bourbon in a bowl or zip-top bag. Add the steak tips and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
Heat a heavy, cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Spray with a little oil. Drain the excess marinade from steak tips and discard. Place steak tips in the hot skillet. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until color develops.
Mix remaining bourbon and honey in a small bowl, then pour over steak tips to glaze. Continue cooking until glaze has caramelized and darkened to a rich brown color. The tips should have enough salt from the soy sauce, but you can taste them at this stage and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat, allowing 2 to 3 minutes to cool, then serve.
Every Instant Pot fantasy I’d ever had about making refried beans in no time flat came true last week when I finally turned on this crazy popular countertop appliance.
In about 90 minutes, I turned an 88-cent bag of dried pinto beans into a pot of hot, cheesy, creamy deliciousness. The next day, I made jasmine rice in about 15 minutes, which wasn’t quite as impressive in saving time because I’m used to a rice cooker. The rice stuck to the bottom of the pot, but that was likely a first timer error on my part.
But the recipe that has made me an earlier believer in this whole Instant Pot thing is a New York-style cheesecake recipe from PressureCookRecipes.com. This is author Amy and Jacky’s 17th version of this recipe, and their thorough instructions made it easy for me to follow the steps as I made the dessert with my kids on Sunday.
When I brought the cheesecake into the office, I was worried that it might be too eggy or too savory or too pasty, but what a delight to take one bite and know that it was a success. With a thick crust and a smooth, dense center, the cheesecake was rich but not heavy. My editor tasted it and said it reminded her of her mother’s cheese pie, a sweet memory of Oklahoma foodways when she was a kid.
To make the cherry glaze, I pitted about ½ pound of cherries and simmered them with sugar. Next time, I’ll follow the Washington State Fruit Commission’s recipe (below) for cherry jubilee, a cherry topping sauce that can be swirled into ice cream or used as a pie filling.
New York-Style Cheesecake in a Pressure Cooker
Making a cheesecake – especially in an Instant Pot, where you don’t have to fiddle with making a bain marie setup in your oven – is easy if you remember the most important step in making a cheesecake: letting the cream cheese come to room temperature, which takes at least a few hours. You should also let your eggs and sour cream come to room temperature before starting to make the batter. If you don’t, you’ll have lumpy or puffy or otherwise weirdly textured cheesecake, which will make you never want to bake a cheesecake again.
This recipe comes from the genius cooks behind PressureCookRecipes.com, who are on their 17th iteration of this recipe. They are thoroughly detailed in their methodology, which I’ve streamlined and adapted below.
You can either make it dense and rich or smooth and creamy, and I chose to make it the former but added instructions to the recipe on how to make it lighter and creamier. They suggest using a handheld mixer instead of a stand mixer for this recipe because it introduces less air into the batter. If you’re using a 6-inch pan, increase the cooking time to 31 minutes. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees, but don’t forget that water bath.
10 graham crackers
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the batter:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup white sugar
2 pinches of sea salt
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
To make the crust, finely grind graham crackers in a food processor. Alternatively, you can place them in a zip-top plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin. In a small mixing bowl, mix graham crackers, a pinch of sea salt and brown sugar. Add melted butter until the mixture sticks together when you pinch it with your fingers.
For best results, line the bottom of a 7-inch springform cheesecake pan with parchment and cut a strip of parchment to line the sides, too. If you have a nonstick springform pan, parchment is not necessary. Press the graham cracker crust into the bottom of the pan, using the back of a spoon or bottom of a measuring cup.
At this point, you can freeze the cheesecake pan in the freezer while you make the cheesecake batter, or, for a crisper crust, you can blind-bake it at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.
To make the cheesecake batter, mix together cornstarch, two pinches of sea salt and white sugar together. In a medium bowl, use a handheld mixer to briefly beat the room temperature cream cheese for about 10 to 15 seconds, which will further soften it. Add half the sugar mixture and beat at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the sugar. For a creamier cheesecake, beat for a minute.
Add sour cream and vanilla extract to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until just incorporated, or longer for a creamier cheesecake. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl in between each one.
Fold the batter with a silicon spatula and then pour the batter onto the crust in the cheesecake pan. Tap the pan against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles, which you can pop with a toothpick.
To cook the cheesecake, pour 1 cup of cold water in pressure cooker and place the steamer rack in the pot. Place the cheesecake pan on the rack and close the lid. Cook at High Pressure for 26 minutes and let the steam release naturally, which will take about 7 minutes. Open the multicooker and use a paper towel to absorb any condensation that collects on top of the cheesecake.
Leave the cheesecake in the cooker with the lid off and allow to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, store the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge about 20 minutes before you’d like to serve it. Release the springform and peel off the parchment paper. Cut into slices and serve with cherry topping (see recipe below).
The founding fathers didn’t plan it this way, but the nation’s birthday celebration occurs smack dab in the middle of the Northwest fresh sweet cherry season. Even though young George Washington apparently had an ax to grind with the tree itself, other colonists worked long and hard to develop cherry orchards in their adopted land.
All sweet cherries work in a cherry sauce, although dark cherries offer a more dramatic color contrast with the ice cream. Enjoy the fresh cherries while you can. Northwest cherries arrive in markets beginning in June and are gone by mid-August. Make sure you get all the pits or the sauce will take on an almond-like flavor.
— Northwest Cherry Growers
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 cup brandy, optional
1 quart vanilla ice cream
Combine sugar and cornstarch. Blend in water and orange juice. Cook and stir until thickened and smooth. Add cherries and orange peel; return to boil and simmer 10 minutes. Gently heat brandy, pour over sauce and flame, if desired. Serve over ice cream. Serves 8, but recipe can be halved.
Filipino food isn’t one that many Americans are familiar with, even though Filipino Americans are the second-largest demographic of Asian Americans in the country, according to the U.S. Census.
Nearly 4 million Americans identify as Filipino, which means millions of home cooks throughout the U.S. are making dishes that blend Malaysian, Chinese and Spanish flavors. And because today is Philippine Independence Day, I wanted to share a Filipino recipe from a local restaurant with a little background on the country.
After more than 300 years of Spanish rule, the Philippines started their transition toward independence in 1898, when Spain ceded the islands to the U.S., but after the Philippine-American War in the years that followed, the nation of more than 7,000 islands remained under U.S. rule until 1946, when the Philippines were granted full independence.
That’s one, short version of a long, complicated and often tumultuous history of occupation and colonization, but it helps explain why, since 1964, June 12 has been considered Independence Day in the Philippines. (The original date was July 4 to coincide with the U.S. Independence Day.)
Only Chinese Americans outnumber Filipinos in the U.S., but the Filipino population in Austin isn’t as high as in other areas, such as Houston and California’s Central Valley.
Be More Pacific started as a food truck in 2011 but now operates a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd., and their chef, Buddy Melgarejo, who grew up in the Philippines and moved to Houston in 2015, shared his versatile barbecue pork recipe, which has a lemon-, tomato- and soy-based marinade that showcases the convergence of flavors you’ll find in many Filipino dishes.
Filipino Pork Barbecue
This pork marinade is well-suited for ribs or pork belly, but you could also use it for pork chops. The pork should be marinaded for at least 6 hours and up to overnight, and the cooking time will vary depending on the cut of meat and cooking method. If using wooden skewers to grill the pork belly, pre-soak them for 20 minutes before placing the meat on them. You’ll want to serve this with rice and, if you have time, pickled papaya.
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 pounds pork ribs or 1 (2-pound) pork belly, sliced in 1-inch cubes
In a bowl, mix the garlic powder, soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato sauce, salt and pepper together. Pour the marinade over the pork, reserving 1/2 cup for glaze. In a bowl or pan, pour the marinade on the pork, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
If using pork belly, skewer the pork on a bamboo stick with up to six pieces per stick. Heat the grill. Mix the brown sugar with the remaining marinade.
Grill the ribs or the skewers, basting with the additional marinade as you cook the meat. The grilling time will vary, depending on the cut of meat, but it should be shiny and moist when finished. Serve with hot rice and pickled papaya.
2 cups green papaya, grated
1/4 cup rock salt
1 1/2 cup coconut vinegar
1 small bell pepper, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 big thumb-size ginger, strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
Sugar, salt and pepper
Mix papaya and rock salt then squeeze out the juice. Set aside.
In a pot, place vinegar, bell peppers, carrots, ginger, onions and garlic. Bring to a boil until carrots soften, about 5 minutes. Adjust flavor to suit your taste by adding sugar, salt and pepper.
When done, add papaya and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Let it cool then store overnight in the fridge before serving.
As with the winter seasonal flavors, these summertime flavors will be sold until they sell out. That means, like the peaches and blackberries, they might not last the entire summer, but they are available at retail outlets around the state. You can also order the ice cream over the phone by calling 979-836-7977 to have it shipped anywhere in the U.S.
Now that summer is here, I’m giving my oven a break.
I’m not one of those cooks who doesn’t bake or roast anything from June to September, but I do tend to avoid dishes that require the dry heat of an oven. It’s searing enough outside.
When I want to remember the lighter, brighter side of summer, I make a dish like this quinoa and avocado salad from Blue Prairie, the restaurant inside NLand Surf Park east of the airport. With crunchy pepitas, cucumbers and tangy citrus dressing, it was one of the more refreshing dishes I had during these last weeks of spring.
Even if you don’t have a view of the surfers riding waves and a freshly brewed craft beer in your hand, this protein- and fiber-packed salad dotted with tomatoes — and feta, if you like — reminds us that there is an upside to every season.
Feel free to use untoasted pumpkin seeds or pepitas. If you have a toaster oven or don’t mind the heat, roast them on a small sheet tray at 350 degrees for about seven minutes. Cool at room temperature and toss in the salad.
1 1/2 cups quinoa, raw
For the citrus dressing:
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste, between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon
For the salad:
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 pint ripe grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
Salt, to taste
Bring a pot with 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, slowly stir in the quinoa and set a timer for 17 minutes. When the time is up, strain the quinoa and run cold water over the cooked quinoa while still in the strainer to cool.
In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients except for the oil and salt. Blend until combined. Once mixed, slowly pour the oil in and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt.
In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, avocado, cucumber, shallot and tomatoes. Give the dressing a stir and pour over the top, using only as much as you’d like. You’ll have extra dressing left over that you can use for other salads. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and pumpkin seeds and season to taste. Serves 4 to 6.