Don’t like recipes? Consider an illustrated cookbook

Eat_Cover_HRFor some cooks, following step-by-step recipes just isn’t how they like to do things. Maybe it’s because they are visual learners who need to watch a video or see photos to see the process, and that’s exactly the target audience for a new book called “Eat! The Quick-Look Cookbook” (Weldon Owen, $25).

Instead of conventional recipes, the book is full of dishes whose instructions are spelled out with graphic art of the ingredients, cooking techniques and serving suggestions. eat-9781616288747.in04--1-

Each little image comes with explanatory text, but you could follow the steps by looking at the pictures only, a helpful change of pace if you don’t like reading about cooking.

‘Infuse’ reveals the art of painting flavors on blank liquid canvases

Infuse_coverYou might have a whole pantry full of infused vinegars and spirits, or you might simply enjoy a slice of cucumber in your ice water, but many of us practice infusing in the kitchen without realizing it. It’s a culinary technique with endless uses, and even if you’re a cocktail-making professional with homemade Irish cream and bloody mary mix, you could probably use a little guidance or inspiration for exploring this world of melding flavors.

Eric Prum and Josh Williams’ new book “Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water” (Clarkson Potter, $25) is the perfect vehicle for learning more about, to use the authors’ metaphor, painting on these three blank, broad canvases. The book includes recipes for spiced pear liqueur, roasted pineapple mezcal and peach bourbon (that’s the spirit that launched Prum and Williams’ journey down this infusion road in the first place), as well as international-inspired nonalcoholic concoctions such as a Calabrian chili oil or a salted lime syrup that you can use to make a tangy Thai soda.

Contrary to the typical hot-water approach to making tea, the authors advocate a cold-brew style used in this summer berry hibiscus tea recipe because it reduces some of the astringent and bitter notes that hot water can bring out. Feel free to use any mixture of berries or other summer fruit you’d like.

Summer-Berry-hibiscus-tea-pg-151--1-Summer Berry Hibiscus Tea

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. Give juicy strawberries, raspberries and blueberries a good home in this hibiscus tea.

3 cups water
3 Tbsp. loose-leaf hibiscus tea
5 strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

Add all ingredients to a 32 oz. Mason jar. Seal and shake to combine.

Refrigerate for 4 hours. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth and serve over ice, garnishing with additional berries. The tea will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

— From “Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water” by Eric Prum and Josh Williams (Clarkson Potter, $25)

Gold-medal swimmer now selling snacks for athletes

Garrett Weber-Gale and Tom Collichio chat at an event Weber-Gale hosted in New York in 2012. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Garrett Weber-Gale and Tom Colicchio chat at an event Weber-Gale hosted in New York in 2012. Photo by Addie Broyles.

The last time we wrote about Garrett Weber-Gale, the Olympic swimmer was in New York hosting a fundraising dinner with some of the best-known chefs in the city.

Weber-Gale was also still swimming competitively, but in the three years since, he’s switched gears to focusing on his company, Athletic Foodie, which sells workout snacks developed with serious athletes in mind.

The pre-workout granolas, post-workout trail mixes and energy chews in small, single-serving packages are sold by the dozen online and shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Weber-Gale, who was diagnosed with high blood pressure 10 years ago and went on to win a gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay in Beijing in 2008, worked closely with University of Texas dietitian Amy Culp to develop the recipes for the snacks.

6_snacks_originalHe currently sells two varieties in each of three categories: apple or goji granolas, dried fruit or berry trail mixes, and strawberry or orange fruit chews, all of which pack a nutritional punch for athletes on the go.

They cost $2.75 per snack if you buy 12 at a time, or $2.49 each if you buy a box of 24, with free shipping. You can place an order and find out more at

Two Austin area farmers markets named among America’s best

Those who have already been taking advantage of Austin’s blossoming locally sourced and produced food scene won’t be surprised: Two Austin-area farmers markets were just named among the nation’s best.

Photo by Jay Janner
Photo by Jay Janner

The food and drink website the Daily Meal included HOPE Farmers Market and the Sustainable Food Center‘s markets in their annual round up of the 101 Best Farmers Markets in America.

HOPE Farmers Market, which according to the Daily Meal, has something “for every free-spirited hipster of Austin” ranked at number nine. The Daily Meal made specific note of the market’s offerings of music and “one-of-a-kind crafts” in addition to market produce and locally produced food. You can find Hope Farmers Market every Sunday in East Austin.

Related: A sampling of Central Texas Farmers Markets

With four different year-round, weekly markets around Austin, Sustainable Food Center (SFC) slid into the number 16 spot on the list. The Daily Meal cited the markets’ wide variety of produce, products and people as the reason why. According to the SFC, they host over 100 vendors including local farms and artisans.

According to their article, the Daily Meal takes into account the quality, variety and affordability of products; what kind of recognition the market has in the community; the atmosphere and experience of the market; and of course, the friendliness of the vendors.

Tell us your favorite reasons to attend Austin farmers markets in the comments.

Daily Greens founder releases first juicing book

Book-Cover-828x1024Even Shauna Martin, the founder of Daily Greens, knows that juicing can be pricey.

Martin’s juices are sold across the country, but she’s recently published a cookbook to help do-it-yourselfers know how to make them at home.

This month, Martin published “Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse,” (Race Point Publishing, $22.99) a book that covers juice cleansing — from why you’d do it in the first place to how to start eating again when you’re finished. Martin started juicing after she was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a decade ago, and now she’s become an advocate for incorporating juices to boost your overall wellness.

The book’s main chapters are seasonal menus to help you take advantage of the different kinds of produce that are at their nutritional peak at various times of the year, as well as raw food dishes to eat while you’re cleansing.

As with all books on juicing (and cleanses), it’s wise to consult with your doctor before embarking on one, but Martin’s introductory chapter about what happens to your body when you give your digestive tract a break will help you know what kinds of questions to ask.

This smoothie has kiwi, spinach and banana. Photo by Bill Milne.

Glowing Skin Smoothie

The ingredients in this smoothie all promote beautiful, glowing skin, especially the kiwi. If you want to switch things up a bit, it’s fun to swap coconut water for regular water. This will add electrolytes to your smoothie while offering a fun, tropical taste.

— Shauna Martin

Big handful of spinach (2/3 bunch)
1/2 large avocado or 1 small avocado
1/2 banana (fresh or frozen)
2 kiwi
1 cup filtered water (or coconut water, if desired)

Wash the spinach, and remove the flesh of the avocado from its skin and discard the pit. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender or Vitamix and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add more water if needed to obtain desired consistency for drinking.

— From “Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse” by Shauna Martin (Race Point Publishing, $22.99)

Don’t fear the raw seafood: Making shrimp and scallop ceviche at home

It’s hard to think about summer and not dream about all the places you’d love to visit to dig your toes in the sand.

Food has a way of transporting us to those places, and that’s especially true at a place like Isla, the Caribbean restaurant in the Warehouse District from the team that operates Peche next door.

Isla specializes in island cuisine, from crab cakes and jerk-spiced pork chops to an array of ceviches, including this one made with shrimp, scallop, grapefruit and cucumber. Buy the highest quality seafood you can find and let the acid of the lime juice do most of the work.

Isla's shrimp and scallop ceviche. Photo by Ralph Barrera.
Isla’s shrimp and scallop ceviche. Photo by Ralph Barrera.

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche

3/4 lb. U10 dry sea scallops
3/4 lb. 13/15 shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 6 limes
1 pink grapefruit
1/2 English cucumber
Juice of 1 grapefruit
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 5 lemons
1 Tbsp. sea salt, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. chives, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp. cilantro

Slice scallops lengthwise into pieces of three. Cut shrimp into quarters. Marinate seafood in the juice of six limes for one hour. Drain lime juice from seafood.

Cut grapefruit into small segments. Cut cucumber lengthwise and remove seeds. Slice into half-moon pieces. Add the remaining 3 juices together with grapefruit, cucumber, sea salt, chives, scallions and cilantro. Let marinate for approximately 30 minutes. When ready to serve, add a sprinkling of sea salt and serve with corn chips. Serves 6 to 8.

— John Lichtenberger, executive chef of Isla

Headed to England? You might get a taste of Austin on the way

12_stdSticky toffee pudding is a British dessert that Austinite Tracy Claros has been selling locally, and now nationally, for more than a decade with her company, the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company.

Her toffee and tart lemon puddings have been offered during first class flights on Virgin Atlantic since last year, and this month, she scored another international account: British Airways.

Starting this fall, every British Airways flight out of the U.S. will serve her products in their first-class seats.

Review: ‘Epic Tomatoes’ is the ultimate growing guide

epictomatoesI always love gardening books that feel like cookbooks, especially those that include recipes with their growing guidance. As the tomato adviser for Seed Savers Exchange, Craig LeHoullier knows a thing or two about the history, diversity and growing techniques used to produce one of the most beloved (and tricky) plants in any backyard garden.

He’s compiled 30 years’ worth of research into “Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time” (Storey Publishing, $19.95), a book as bright and enjoyable to flip through as it is informative and practical for gardeners who know their Brandywines from their Beefsteaks.

On the cooking side, LeHoullier shares a few recipes written in a traditional format but, for the most part, writes about the many ways he’s enjoyed eating tomatoes over the years, including a primer on how to host a Tomatopalooza tomato tasting. Outside the kitchen, the author goes even deeper into how to crossbreed your own varieties, numerous ways to save the seeds and how to troubleshoot bugs, wilted leaves, spots on the fruit and other common problems.

In one of the most touching chapters, readers get to see scanned copies of some of the countless letters that LeHoullier has received from other passionate seed savers from around the world, many of which refer to grandparents or older relatives whose love of tomato-growing inspired their own.

It’s a sweet reminder of the history that we often overlook every time we put a seed in the ground.

How to make Shiner Bock pizza crust, no-cook tomato sauce

Shiner Bock is used instead of water in this pizza crust recipe from "Meatless in Cowtown" by Laura Samuel Meyn and Anthony Head. Photo by Jason Varney.
Shiner Bock is used instead of water in this pizza crust recipe from “Meatless in Cowtown” by Laura Samuel Meyn and Anthony Head. Photo by Jason Varney.

Beer and pizza are such a natural fit, I can’t believe I didn’t think about putting beer *in* the pizza before now.

I found this recipe for Shiner Bock pizza crust in a new book called “Meatless in Cowtown: A Vegetarian Guide to Food and Wine, Texas-Style” (Running Press, $22) by Laura Samuel Meyn and Anthony Head, who lives in the Austin area. You could easily swap out water in your favorite pizza dough recipe and replace it with Shiner Bock, but here’s the recipe from the book if you need it.

Pizza Margherita with Shiner Bock Crust

For the crust:
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 (1/4-oz.) package (about 2 1/4 tsp.) rapid-rise yeast
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 (12-oz.) bottle Shiner Bock beer, at room temperature
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
Cornmeal, for dusting pan
No-Cook San Marzano Tomato Sauce (see recipe below)
1 lb. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (4 to 5 cups), or 1 pound fresh mozzarella, very thinly sliced
4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
6 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, minced
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, slivered
Extra-virgin olive oil

To make the crust: Combine both of the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to mix the ingredients on low speed.

With the mixer still on low speed, slowly pour in the room-temperature beer and the oil, mixing until a dough ball forms, then turn off the mixer and knead the dough a little with your hands if necessary (the dough will be soft and a little sticky).

Oil a large mixing bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove the towel, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. When ready to prepare the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

To bake the pizza: Arrange an oven rack in the top third of the oven. Heat the oven to 550 degrees. (If your oven doesn’t go that high, heat it to as high as it will and cook for a longer time.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.

Divide the dough into quarters. Flatten 1/4 of the dough in your hands, rotating and flipping from hand to hand to further flatten it. Place a dough disk on the prepared parchment paper and use your fingertips to push it into a 10- to 11-inch circle.

Spread a light layer of sauce over the pizza. Top with 1/4 of the mozzarella, Parmesan and garlic. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling, 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle it with 1/4 of the fresh basil. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired, before slicing and serving. Repeat with the remaining dough, sauce, and toppings. Serve warm.

Easy No-Cook San Marzano Tomato Sauce

2 garlic cloves
1 (28-oz.) can whole San Marzano tomatoes (or other plum tomatoes), drained
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Red pepper flakes

Chop the garlic in a food processor. Gently squeeze out some of the extra juice from the canned tomatoes (they don’t need to be dry) before adding the tomatoes to the garlic in the food processor.

Add the olive oil and vinegar and blend to a purée. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes, blending again. Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate. Makes about 1 3/4 cups sauce.

— From “Meatless in Cowtown: A Vegetarian Guide to Food and Wine, Texas-Style” by Laura Samuel Meyn and Anthony Head (Running Press, $22)

Austin360Cooks: Making tomato powder from tomato skins

It’s a good time to be a tomato lover.

Even with the heavy rains last month, area farmers are churning out the ’maters by the truckload, and Austinites are eating them up like panko-crusted fried green tomato hotcakes.

Fervent local food fan Carla Crownover, whom you might remember from a profile we wrote when she went a year without shopping at a grocery store, is on a crusade to use up her own tomatoes — and those of her farmer friends — without letting any go to waste. Last week, she went so far as to dehydrate the tomato skins she peeled off while canning tomatoes to make a tomato powder.

After drying out the skins, she finely ground them into a dust to sprinkle on dishes that need a little boost of tomato essence, but she was also thinking about making tomato compound butter, which would taste good on just about everything, especially biscuits. (Later this month, she says she’ll be smoking tomatoes and using those skins for a smoked version.)

If you’re a BLT person, you’ll love Kathryn Hutchison’s spin on the sandwich, even though it doesn’t have bacon or lettuce. She put sliced Springdale Farm tomatoes on a piece of rye bread with garlic chives, cream cheese, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

You can find more of their tomato creations on Instagram; Crownover is @gardens123 and Hutchison is @atxgastronomist.

Share photos of what you’re cooking this summer by adding #Austin360Cooks to your posts on social media!