Our 6 favorite food videos of 2014

Looking back on 2014, it’s worth noting that our Austin360 video team produced some really awesome food videos, not just for how to make things like quiche or layer cakes, but personal stories about a woman’s immense cookie cutter collection or the famed Luling watermelon-eating contest.

Here are six of our favorite videos from 2014:





Austin360 Taste Test: Kale chips from Rhythm Superfoods

For this week’s taste test video, I found someone who hadn’t tried a kale chip yet — Statesman director of photography Nell Carroll — to try three varieties of kale chips from the Austin-based Rhythm Superfoods. We tasted the original, honey mustard and zesty nacho flavors, which are available at many area stores including H-E-B, Whole Foods, Sprouts and Natural Grocers. (In the video, I say that the latter are the new flavors, but I think the original is actually the newest of the three.)

To watch all the videos in this series, go to youtube.com/austin360video.

Uchiko server makes spirits bright with weekly cookie delivery

Many of us use food as a way to show people we care about them, but few of us go quite so far as Sharon Bright.

She’s a cheery server at Uchiko who, after losing her dad to cancer in 2010, started baking every week for hospice staff, volunteers and patients in Austin and Williamson County.

It was her way of repaying some of the kindness she and her family experienced while her dad was in hospice in Amarillo, but her generosity doesn’t stop there.

You can click here to read this Christmas Eve column, and here is the recipe Bright made for her friends at Hospice Austin last week.

brightgingerbreadbarsWhite Chocolate-Gingerbread Blondies

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
10 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17-inch-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet or a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape. Store for up to a week in an airtight container.

— From MarthaStewart.com

Tired of tamales? Put them in this soup with kale, beans, avocado

I won’t ever fully confess to being tired of tamales, but there are moments this time of year  when my fridge and freezer are overflowing with them that I think, “Am I really ready to eat tamales again for lunch?”

Over the weekend, I put some of those tamales to use in this mishmash of a stew. With the shredded cabbage, cilantro, avocado and fried tortilla strips on top, it’s a hybrid between pozole and chicken tortilla soup, with kale and a few cans of beans thrown in because I like them.

A note: It was the weekend when I made this, so I had time to cut up fresh corn tortillas and fry them while the soup was cooking, but regular old tortilla chips would be just fine.

You could just as easily add hominy instead of the kidney or charro beans, and if you don’t like kale, leave it out or replace with another leafy green.

(And yes, I use chicken bouillon cubes, more often than you’d probably like to know. The Knorr brand, just in case you do.)

(Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing cooking-at-home series called Austin360Cooks in which anyone can share what’s cooking in their home by adding #Austin360Cooks to their posts on social media. You can find a gallery of recently submitted pics at the end of this post, and you can follow me on Instagram at @broylesa.)

A hearty winter soup made with tamales, kale and two kinds of beans. Photo by Addie Broyles.
A hearty winter soup made with tamales, kale and two kinds of beans. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Tamal Soup with Kale, Beans, Avocado

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomatillo (or regular) salsa
1 (15-oz.) can charro beans (undrained)
1 (15-oz) can kidney beans (drained)
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 cup chopped kale
8 tamales, husks removed
For garnish:
Shredded cabbage or slaw
Tortilla chips
Chopped cilantro
Sliced avocado
Sliced jalapeños

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions and pepper for about 10 to 15 minutes until the aromatics soften. Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add salsa and beans. Cover the ingredients with water, about 8 cups or more, depending on how much liquid you prefer in your soup. Add bouillon cube.

Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes so the beans don’t burn on the bottom of the pot. Add kale and cook for 5 minutes. Tear tamales into bite-sized pieces and add to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve.

— Addie Broyles


With ham, it’s all about that glaze

Bourbon Orange Glazed Ham. Photo from Randalls.
Bourbon Orange Glazed Ham. Photo from Randalls.

A spiral-cut ham will grace many Christmas tables this week, and not a few of them will end up closer to ham jerky than the succulent slices of our holiday dreams.

That won’t be the case with the right glaze and cooking technique. This year, the editors at Cook’s Illustrated released a comprehensive guide to cooking meat called “The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book” (Cook’s Illustrated, $40) that comes in handy for moments like these.

They suggest bringing the plastic-wrapped ham to room temperature by soaking it in a warm water bath, which will reduce the total cooking time and moisture loss in the oven. A turkey roasting bag also will help keep in the moisture and cut down on cooking time; a roasting pan covered tightly with aluminum foil will help the ham heat evenly without drying out.

For the glaze, you can use everything from Coca Cola — a beloved tradition in a least a few families I know — to a fancy reduction of port wine, black pepper and brown sugar. Because glazes usually have quite a bit of sugar, brush on the glaze toward the end of the cooking time, not at the beginning, to avoid burning.

Glazing a ham is a great excuse to pull out a jar of jam you made over the summer. Cook’s Illustrated recommends cherry preserves, apple jelly or, as in this recipe from the culinary team at Randalls, orange marmalade. (The mayonnaise helps keep the ham even more moist.)

Bourbon-Orange Glazed Ham

1 (3 to 4 lb.) spiral-cut ham
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place the ham cut-side down in a roasting pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. (Or place the ham inside a roasting bag and seal.) Cook for about 10 minutes a pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 100 degrees.

Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

Increase the heat to 350 degrees. Peel off the foil or roasting bag and brush on glaze. Cook for 10 minutes and brush again with glaze. Cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Allow the ham to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

— Adapted from a recipe from Randalls

Three cookbooks worth buying this holiday season

Three cookbooks worth buying this holiday season, plus a recipe for pasta with smoked salmon and spinach from one of them.

If you find yourself at a bookstore this weekend (or maybe putting in that last Amazon Prime order), here are the three cookbooks I think you should consider buying for the foodie in your life.


Smoked salmon with spinach on papardelle. Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.
Smoked salmon with spinach on pappardelle. Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.


Pappardelle with Smoked Salmon and Spinach

practicalpantryThis is a comforting meal, ready in just a few minutes. If you don’t have cream, substitute sour cream or cream cheese. If you don’t have smoked salmon, substitute smoked trout or even tuna. No spinach? Use kale. No kale? Use peas. Or even steamed carrots, if that’s all you have. Add toasted chopped nuts to the bread crumbs if you want more crunch. Once you’ve made this a few times, it will become a go-to solution for a satisfying dinner. It is a perfect example of the practical pantry at work, and it is the dinner I crave on many cold, rainy Sundays.

— Cathy Barrow

3 to 4 cups baby spinach (or one 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach)
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
12 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. fresh or dried pappardelle
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh chives
1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fill a large deep, pot with water, salt well, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, if using fresh spinach, fill a 3-quart saucepan with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Insert a steamer basket (or use a colander or sieve), add the spinach, cover, and steam until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, then squeeze the excess moisture out, pressing the spinach against the steamer or colander walls. Chop well and set aside.

In a large dry skillet, toast the bread crumbs until dry and golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Heat the butter in the same skillet until foaming, then add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the cream, stock, spinach, white pepper, and nutmeg and simmer, stirring gently, until the

sauce thickens slightly. Add the salmon, stir well, and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss gently to coat. Add the cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Serve piping hot, with a scattering of the toasted bread crumbs and chopped chives and parsley. Serves 4.

— From “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving” by Cathy Barrow (W. W. Norton & Company, $35)

Caramel apples linked to listeria outbreak, one death in Texas

Photo from Getty Images.
Photo from Getty Images.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Texas Department of State Health Services have released information today about  a listeria outbreak linked to commercially produced and packaged caramel apples that have caused more than two dozen people to get sick and four deaths, including one in Texas.

There were four cases in Texas between Oct. 17 and Nov. 7, a spokeswoman for the state health services department said on Friday, and they all involved adults with pre-existing medical conditions.

At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy, the CDC said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided”

You can find out more about the outbreak on the CDC website.

Austin360Eats: Where an Australian food writer eats when in Austin

Anna Lisle, an Australian food writer who runs a website called Best Restaurants of Australia (bestrestaurants.com.au), has been on a North American culinary adventure, first in Mexico, and then a long weekend in Austin.

While here, she hit everything from La Barbecue and Kreuz Market in Lockhart to a University of Texas basketball game and a meal at one of Austin’s most quintessential spots: Uchi.

View this post on Instagram

@uchiaustin #uchi #austinfood #austin360eats

A post shared by Anna Lisle-Turner (@annalisle) on

You can follow more of her adventures on Instagram at @annalisle, and to find more #Austin360Eats photos of what savvy eaters are enjoying around the city, check out our ever-growing Storify gallery. Submit your own pics by adding the hashtag on social media.

Austin360Cooks: Piña Colada Muffins

Tis the season for random baking, right?

Earlier this month, I came across this recipe for piña colada muffins in the new cookbook from QVC mega star David Venable. (Don’t believe me? He sells more cookbooks than Giada.)

I mean, who doesn’t dream of a Caribbean vacation this time of year?

If I make these muffins again, I’ll cut the topping in half and go ahead and make the glaze. (I was suffering from coconut fatigue by the time I got to that step.)

The muffins were a hit without it, but the pineapple I used wasn’t quite sweet enough to stand up to all that coconut. I also used whiskey instead of rum extract because I was out of the latter. But even with these changes, the muffins passed the impress-the-co-worker test with flying colors.

(Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing cooking-at-home series called Austin360Cooks in which anyone can share what’s cooking in their home by adding #Austin360Cooks to their posts on social media. You can find a gallery of recently submitted pics at the end of this post, and you can follow me on Instagram at @broylesa.)

Piña Colada Muffins

For the topping:
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder, sifted
1/2 tsp. baking soda, sifted
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup Coco Lopez coconut cream
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. rum extract
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (1/4-inch) cubes fresh pineapple
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut milk
1/4 tsp. rum extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

To make the topping, combine the coconut, flour, and sugar in a bowl. Using a fork, stir in the melted butter. The mixture will be slightly lumpy.

To make the muffins, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut milk, coconut cream, butter, rum extract, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture. Using a fork, mix the batter together until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the pineapple cubes and flaked coconut.

Evenly divide the muffin batter among the muffin cups. Divide the topping among the muffins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before turning out the muffins. Completely cool the muffins on the wire rack.

To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, coconut milk, and rum extract until no lumps remain. If the glaze is too thick to drizzle, whisk in 1/4 teaspoon water to thin it out. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled muffins. Makes 12 to 24 muffins, depending on the size of your tin.

— From “Back Around the Table” by David Venable (Ballantine Books, $30)

Dinner Elf cooking service brings helpers into your kitchen

dinnerelffamilyLike many Austin parents, Nicole and Jesse Vickey were having a hard time getting dinner on the table.

They have two kids and full-time jobs and were tired of the traditional options of take-out and delivery or even those new meal kits that proportion out ingredients but still require you to do the cooking.

They wanted something similar to a personal chef service, but one that was less expensive and more akin to a cleaning or nanny company. With these needs in mind, they created Dinner Elf, a cooking company whose “elves” who bring ingredients and prepare meals (not to mention clean up the mess) at the customers’ houses.

“We’re trying to give working families back that time they’d spend at the grocery store, cooking and cleaning so they have that extra bit of quality time,” Nicole Vickey says. The “elves” cook three meals all in one session, leaving reheating instructions for each of the dishes. (She notes that some customers choose to be there while the “elves” are cooking, while others are happy to let them prepare the food while they are away from home.)

Vickey says they are always looking for cooks who are interested in using their skills to prepare meals for others, from culinary school graduates to “grandmothers who have cooked for their families for decades and want a flexible job.”

In addition to everyday dishes, such as vegetarian or meaty shepherd’s pie, lasagna, pan-seared tilapia, lemon garlic turkey tenderloin or mashed potatoes that cost between $17 and $36 each, Dinner Elf offers seasonal holiday dinners for a crowd, starting $139. You can sign up for a two-meal trial ($44), book a regular session or buy gift certificates on the website, dinnerelf.com.