Food is art and I always love pictures that transform the food we eat into art! Check out this write-up on FAST FOOD LUXE via Trendland.com/Emily Miller. I would eat the artistic interpretation over the original and not just for the champagne!
Update on Post: Whataburger aimed to beat its 2011 total of $15,000 and ended up raising more than $21,000 for Bikes for Kids this year!
Austin is such a great town to live in and you really have your pick of charities and events to get involved with, as there is no shortage and this town is about giving back in so many ways.
That said, one of the charities I have been so impressed by in the 5 years I’ve lived here in Austin is JB & Sandy’s Bike for Kids Fundraiser. Now in its 16th year, JB & Sandy of the radio show on Mix 94.7 started the fundraiser “with the idea that every child should experience the joy of getting a brand new bike on Christmas morning. What started as a grass-roots effort, has continued to grow. To date, more than one million dollars has been raised and more than 13,000 bikes, locks and helmets have been given to children who would otherwise go without. The children who receive these bikes are nominated by Mix 94.7 listeners.”
Partnering the last nine years with the event, Whatabuger holds a “All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast” – Tickets are only $3 and can be purchased at any 29-Austin area Whataburger Restaurants. Last year Whataburger raised more than $15,000 for the fundraising event through its Pancake Breakfast event!
Come out tomorrow morning and enjoy a pancake breakfast (no they are not gluten-free) but it’s a really great event and a great way to give back especially at this time of year! You will help to bring a smile to child’s face on Christmas morning!
Check out this video of highlights: Bikes for Kids 2011 Video Highlights
Saturday, December 1st 9am – 11am / All 29 Austin Area Whataburger Restaurants. Can’t make it Saturday? That’s ok you can give online here!
WORLDFOODS is giving away 180 jars of their Thai Curry sauces to readers from each Fusion Taste Teams, which means five of my readers have a chance at winning a jar!
To enter head over to WORLDFOODS Facebook page and enter the sweepstakes and enter password TXFTT to show that you’re a reader of the Texas Taste Team. The sweepstakes run until November 30th (by no later than 3:59pm Pacific Standard Time).
Check out the Texas Taste Team’s earlier posts using WORLDFOODS sauces:
- Sweet & Sour Chicken – Blinded by the Bite!
- Malaysian Rendang Pulled Pork – Blinded by the Bite!
- Texas Pad Thai – Mary Makes Dinner
- Cashew Rangoon – Mary Makes Dinner
- Masaman Lamb Curry – Lonely Gourmet
- Rendang Curry – Lonely Gourmet
More on World Fusion Texas Taste Team:
Texas Taste Team is made of the following food writers/bloggers:
- Lonely Gourmet (Twitter: @LonelyGourmet)
- The Austin Gastronomist (Twitter: @ATXGastronomist)
- Mary Makes Dinner (@MaryMakesDinner)
- Blinded by the Bite! (@BlindedBite)
Each of us will be posting a series of blog posts on the dishes we create using the WORLDFOODS sauces. I can¬â„¢t wait to see what my team mates come up with when preparing their dishes, as they all of excellent taste buds!
Make sure to follow each of our blogs/twitter for updates on the competition and WORLDFOODS channels (see below):WORLDFOODS: Twitter: @fusiontasteteam Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WORLDFOODSfusionofflavours
This is my dog Samuel “Sugar Booger” Walker. I’ve named him after my grandfather and he is just a love! It’s amazing the unconditional love & joy they bring to our lives. It’s been clinically proven that there are several health benefits to owning a dog – Here’s a great write-up from By Jessica Gross for YouBeauty via the Huffington Post.
It’s great to come home everyday to this happy little face and be greeted with excitement and joy!
I’ve been a big fan of Rachael Ray for years now and got hooked on her simple, easy meals! Since going gluten-free, I’ve also gotten some great recipes from Rachael’s website. Share your favorite Rachael Ray gluten-free recipe on Blinded by the Bite! Facebook page, as well as follow @BlindedBite on Twitter for a change to win Rachael’s latest cookbook and a spot at Rachael’s Dec 13th talk at Book People. I’m giving away 3 books through December 11th.
The winning individual will receive a voucher that can be redeemed for ONE SIGNED COPY of “MY YEAR IN MEALS” by RACHAEL RAY. This voucher may only be redeemed in person at Book People at 603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX on Thursday, December 13th after Rachael Ray’s talk at Book People. The event starts at 6pm
We will hold a random drawing on 11/30 to announce a winner.
Event Info: www.bookpeople.com
This year Thanksgiving had of a bit of a sour note leading up to the big day! We’d received news from my grandmothers doctor’s and hospice workers two weeks ago that they didn’t think my grandma was going to make it to Thanksgiving day. Well I am happy to report she did, so it’s really given Thanksgiving a special meaning in my home this year! And funny enough my grandma’s crotchety side came out yesterday and she just wanted to sleep most of the day and “couldn’t be bothered with all that food” but we managed to get her up & dressed for a few pictures.
Thanksgiving holds a long and storied history in my family, as sometimes it was just my immediate family (mom’s side of the family) celebrating and at other times it was the entire family (which was craziness), but you really never knew which it was going to be up until a few days before. I think this is part of why my mom never really learned to cook for just a few people, but on Thanksgiving, leftovers are most welcome the day after! With German, Greek and Jewish heritage, food was always the focus of our family gatherings.
So with all that has been going on with my grandma, as well as my aunt has been at my house for two weeks and would be spending Thanksgiving away from her immediate family, I really wanted to go over the top and make a truly delicious meal with all of the traditional accoutrements, as well as some specialty items for my aunt (She’s on Medifast) so she had some healthy options.
Here is the menu I’d mapped out for the big day:
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Southern Style Stuffing
- Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts in a Balsamic, Brown Sugar & Shallot Reduction
- Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- Roasted Butternut Squash, Golden Beets and Fennel
- Cranberry Orange Relish
- Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
I am a big fan of duck and have been having a hankering for it lately, so I thought “perfect I will kill two birds with one stone” and order a turducken (which is actually three birds). Turkey, duck and chicken all wrapped up in one beautiful package and stuffed was what was on the menu for Thanksgiving at my house! So late week I ordered the turducken from Whole Foods Market, complete with gluten-free stuffing.
I did the rest of my shopping Tuesday night, as I didn’t want to get caught in the pre-Thanksgiving rush that ensues within any grocery store! So with my younger brother in tow, we split the grocery list and divided and conquered, acquiring all of the necessary items from Whole Foods Market within one hour! Now getting it into the refrigerator when we got home would be another story, but my brother assured me he could make it all fit (I seriously had my doubts so I purchased 10 lbs of ice just in case we need to use the cooler).
Thursday morning I arose at 10am to start baking pies and take the bird(s) out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before placing them in the roaster and popping it into the oven. I usually like brining my turkeys, but with having a turducken that was already stuffed that option was out this year! Sooooo . . . .I took a tip from Tom Colicchio and I applied butter to the outside of the turducken, but kicked it up a notch! I whipped the butter with white truffle and garlic oil. Placing the bird on the rack inside the roasting pan, I began to slather the mixture onto the bird while it was still relatively cool (I know it’s not the healthiest of recipes, but that butter mixture was to die for) and added fresh sprigs of rosemary!
Pies Pies Pies. Now that I had the bird out of the way, pies where the 1st thing to be baked off. I made it easy on myself this year. I purchased pureed pumpkin from Whole Foods, added in condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and poured into a gluten-free pie crust from Whole Foods Bake House – Simple as 1-2-3! Set the over at 425° for 15 minutes and then rotated pies and reduced oven heat to 325° for 30 minutes. I would recommend par baking the crusts for 10-15 minutes to ensure a light, flaky and golden crust.
Turkey Time! Setting the over at 325° and sliding the roasting pan into the over at 12noon, the bird would be ready to come out by 4pm. Goal was to have dinner ready at 5pm, as my brother had to work on Thanksgiving, and it’s all about the timing. I basted the bird every 30 minutes ensuring the bird didn’t dry out. Birds in, and next began working on preparing all the side dishes.
First up was the Southern style stuffing. I had no recipe in hand, this was just me shooting from the hip knowing what flavors I wanted. Here is the recipe/directions:
- One (1) container of gluten-free stuffing from Whole Foods (prepared in their gluten-free bakehouse)
- One (1) load of Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free 4 Grain Bread (darker bread)
- 1 lbs of Italian bulk sausage
- 1/2 lb of Turkey or chicken livers
- 1-2 8-10oz Containers of Oysters (or whatever is available & shucked in your local grocery store)
- 5 Cloves of garlic
- 1 Shallot
- 1/2 Leek (large)
- 1 Egg
- 5-8 Mushrooms (I used Cremini for this recipe)
- 1/2 Cup of butter
- 1/2 Cup of chicken stock
- White Truffle Oil
Begin by cutting up the bread into cubs (Whole Foods comes prepared in cubes) and place into a large bowl (You will be adding all the ingredients in so make sure it’s a large bowl). Chop up the mushroom, shallots, garlic, leek, livers and oysters. SautÃƒÂ©ing each separately in about a teaspoon of white truffle oil and add into the mixing bowl. In a large pan on medium heat cook the Italian Sausage. Once completely cooked, pour into the large bowl. Allow to ingredients to cool off for about 10-15 minutes and mix with your hands. This will allow you to get a better mix of the ingredients and won’t cook egg when you add it in.
Next add a lightly beaten egg with a 1/2 cup of chicken stock. You can however, if you prefer, use a large spoon to mix all the ingredients together. Take a large glass baking dish and a medium size souffle dish and spoon in stuffing mixture into each. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and drizzle across the top of each dish. Bake at 325° for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown on the top. I always prepare two containers of stuffing as the stuffing in the large baking pan tends to be dry and the stuffing in the souffle dish more moist. We’ve always had a need for both over the years and it’s just become habit!
Veggie Brigade – With my aunt being on her Medifast diet, I wanted to ensure she had some options, but I was also looking to add more veggies to a traditional Thanksgiving meal that is so typically a carb fest! While I was watching the Food Network one random afternoon weekend, I caught an episode of Trisha’s Southern Kitchen where she was making “asparagus bundles” and knowing asparagus is one of my mom’s favorites and who doesn’t love bacon, I knew this would be a winner for Thanksgiving day. Key is to get thin asparagus for this recipe. Here is the recipe/directions:
- One bunch of asparagus (thin)
- 1 lbs bacon (I prefer smoked apple wood or smoked maple bacon thin cut)
Wash the asparagus, laying out on town to absorb any excess water. Group asparagus into bundles of 5 pieces. Next take a slice of bacon and tightly wrap around the asparagus bundle. If done properly you won’t need to secure with a toothpick. Place on a foil wrapped cookie sheet and cook at 325° for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to ensure bacon cooks fully. Turn broiler on and cook for no more than 5 minutes watching carefully and rotate so as to not burn bacon.
Next up is roasted butternut squash, golden beets and fennel. I had no recipe for this, it was just a dish I’d been wanting to try, as I don’t really care for beets. I’ve had them prepared in restaurants and just loved them, but wanted to strike out on my own and create a dish I loved just as much. Here is the recipe/directions:
- 1 Butternut squash (medium size)
- 3-4 Golden beets
- 1 Fennel bulb
- Garlic olive oil
Begin by cutting the butternut squash in half and removing the seeds. Next remove the skin from the outside of the squash (this can be done by either using a peeler or a knife). Once skin is fully removed, cut squash into medium sized cubes. Taking the golden beets, cutting off the beet stalk/greens. Next peel the beets and cut into medium size cubes. Last but not least, take the fennel bulb and remove the stalk, setting aside the foliage as you will use some of this when mixing the ingredients together before roasting. Slice the fennel bulb into 1″ pieces. Put all the ingredients together on a foil wrapped cookie sheet. Drizzle with garlic olive oil, lightly salt, pepper and add in fennel foliage. Roast at 325° for 40-50 minutes or until tender.
Brussels Sprouts – I’ve had a love hate relationship with brussels sprouts since I was about 7 years old. When I was growing up I refused to eat my dinner one night and yes you guessed it brussels sprouts were part of the meal. My father told me I had to sit at the dinner table until I finished my dinner. I was still sitting there the next morning with said brussels sprouts on my plate and a very sore toosh (wood chairs don’t fare well for long term seating solution). So since then until about 2004 when I spent a few months in Spain and Portugal, I wouldn’t touch brussels sprouts. Then moving here to Austin, Chef Paul Qui (of Uchi, Uchiko, East Side Kings & winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Texas) changed my mind, along with Chef Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside. Both created dishes that were flavorful and kept me coming back for more! So it’s on the list and here is how I prepared:
- 15-2o Brussels sprouts
- 1 Shallot
- 1/4 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup of palm sugar
- 1 Tbsp of butter
Wash off brussels sprouts and drain excess water by placing in strainer. Remove exterior leaves and cut off bottom of stalk, cutting brussels sprout in half. Set brussels sprouts aside and dice up shallot. Next in a cast iron skillet melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute shallots until translucent, adding in balsamic vinegar and palm sugar, stirring until sugar and butter have fully incorporated into balsamic vinegar. Allow to come to a light boil and add in brussels sprouts. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes and then transfer to a foil lined cookie sheet. Roast at 325° for 30-45 minutes or until tender.Mashed Potatoes – No recipe needed here as these are pretty straight forward. I did set aside the truffle butter to add into the potatoes, along with heavy cream. Perfection!
Cranberry Orange relish is the only dish I can’t take credit for making, as this is a dish my mom has made year in and year out during the holidays. It’s so simple but yet so delicious! Here is how to make this fantastic side dish:
- 1 Bag of Cranberries
- 1 Orange
- Palm Sugar
Zest orange into a small bowl and set aside. Peel orange and cut up into slices. Place half the bag of cranberries and orange into a food processor and pulse until you get a fine chop on the cranberries. Remove from food processor into a bowl. Repeat this step by putting the remaining cranberries/oranges into food processor. Adding mixture to bowl add sugar to taste. I used approximately 1/4 cup of palm sugar. The dish should have a tart but sweet taste.
Gravy – I cheated here or did I? With cooking the turducken, I was concerned about the amount of drippings I’d get to make gravy. So thankfully Whole Foods makes this really delicious gluten-free mushroom gravy – Done & Done!
While things were roasting and cooking, I had time to style the dining room table. I kept it simple but incorporated some fun items into the Thanksgiving table decor. Using a piece of found wood that I had previously stained, I placed a table runner on the table and set the wood on top of the runner. Next I placed a flower arrangement I purchased from Whole Foods in the center and then worked my way out on each side adding candles, gourds, and other decorative fall decor.
Overall it was a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. My family and I were honored to be able to spend another day with my grandma who has been the cornerstone of our family and what has held us all together over the years. She will be truly missed, but for today and the days ahead of me that I get to enjoy her company I will be forever grateful!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the visual feast as much as we enjoyed our Thanksgiving feast!
Many times in the chaos of what we call life, for all it troubles, joys and surprises, we forget to slow down and enjoy life. I had time to slow down on a recent trip to Boston & Cape Cod. This picture was taken at one of the original settlements in Cape Cod and I just sat there for an hour examining the wonder of what was before me!
In my continued quest to improve my cooking skills when it comes to Asian cooking, I once again am finding it easier than I thought humanly possible to master the art of Asian cooking. Asian dishes have always held this mystical elusiveness, high atop this mountain I would never be able to climb, as the ingredients wind their way magically through a dish, delivering flavors that have been difficult at best for me to identify at times.
With being part of the WORLDFOODS Texas Taste Team, I get to use my creative culinary juices to create gluten-free Asian inspired dishes with their products – which takes a lot of the guess-work out of it and has enabled me to create some dishes with complex, yet perfectly balanced flavors. This weekend I wanted to make one of my favorite dishes – Sweet & Sour Chicken. I actually much prefer Sweet & Sour Pork, however, in an effort to feed the masses in my home, I opted for chicken. Here is how I put the recipe together & a list of ingredients you’ll need:
- 2 Lbs of Chicken Thighs (You can use breast meat but I prefer the thigh as its more flavorful/tender)
- 1 Cup Corn Starch (Non-GMO & Gluten-Free)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- Sesame Oil
- 3 cups White Rice
- 1 White Onion
- 1 Jar of WORLDFOODS Thai Galangal Lemongrass Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Palm Sugar (as needed)
- 1 Plate/Cookie Tray with paper towels (to drain chicken)
Begin starting your rice. I use a trust handy-dandy rice cooker that cooks rice to perfection every time. I like to grate in a bit of fresh ginger as well to kick up the flavor a notch! Take your chicken and begin by cutting up the chicken into bite size morsels, removing as much fat from the chicken. Next take about 1 cup corn starch, placing it into a large zip lock bag. Add in salt, pepper and paprika. You can add more pepper and paprika if you like it to be a bit spicier. Add chicken into the zip lock plastic bag, sealing top and shake until chicken is fully coated in corn starch mixture. Cut up one onion at this time and set aside, as you will cook later.
Next heat sesame oil in large skillet. *Note: You might want to put on an apron or t-shirt you don’t mind getting dirty, as handling the coated chicken in hot oil can be a bit messy. Test oil temperature by dropping in edge of chicken. If it bubbles and cracks it’s ready! Place chicken into hot oil, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, turning with either a fork or tongs, until coating is golden brown. While chicken is frying, start cooking onion to lightly brown and soften, but cook just enough so it still has a bit of crunch (3-5 minutes on medium heat). Take chicken out and place on plate layered with paper towels to drain off any excess oil from frying.
Once you’ve finished frying of the chicken, dispose of the cooking oil (I always put cooking oil into an old metal coffee can). Taking a few paper towels, gently wipe out the pan and place back on the stove on a medium heat.
Add in 1/2 of the WORLDFOODS Thai Galangal Lemongrass sauce, allowing it to come to a simmer. Add in 1/4 cup of palm sugar allowing sugar to completely dissolve into the sauce, then add in chicken, stirring lightly to coat each piece of chicken. Remove from burner and set aside.
Plate dish by scooping up a 1 cup of rice and place into a bowl or on a plate. Make sure to pack rise into measuring cup so it sticks together when you plate the rice. Next gently spoon sweet & sour chicken on top of rice, finishing off with the onions.
What I loved about this WORLDFOODS Thai Galangal Lemongrass sauce was that it had all the traditional flavors of sweet and sour, but also packed a punch with some heat! You can most certainly taste the ginger and lemon grass is sharp in flavor with a hint of sour notes, with the red chili in finishing off this complex sauce. Adding in the palm sugar cools the heat and adds just a touch of sweetness making this a perfect Sweet and Sour Chicken!
Check out what my Texas Taste Teammates are cooking up:
- Cashew Rangoon – Mary Makes Dinner
- Texas Pad-Thai – Mary Makes Dinner
- The WORLDFOODS Fusion Taste Team – Texas Style! – Lonely Gourmet
It was with honor that I got to hold a giveaway for tickets to a “Meet & Greet with Michael Pollan” at HausBar Farms, as well as giveaway two tickets to “An Evening with Michael Pollan” at The Paramount Theatre. This was a rare opportunity to get to meet the man who has and continues to influence our food system, shedding light and honesty onto what we eat as a society, as well as how nature and culture intersect.
Last year I had the honor thanks to Keeper Collections to attend Michael Pollan’s talk at the University of Texas at Austin, and it really reinforced the importance of knowing where your food comes from and eating healthier. And now I got to pay it forward with this giveaway!
Even more to my delight was one of the winners, Maggie, my dear friend who writes the fabulous blog “Notes from Maggie’s Farm,” also owns/works her own farm, producing some of the most amazing artisan farm fresh products agreed to write a guest blog post here about the evenings event with Michael Pollan!
I knew reading Maggie’s guest blog post “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants – An Evening with Michael Pollan” would delight and fancy my culinary taste buds, as well as those who are lovers of eating locally and knowing the importance of what is in your food and where it comes from!
¬Å“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.¬Â ¬â€¢ Michael Pollan
From here I will let Maggie’s Guest Blog Post shine, as Maggie’s post reinforces how important it is for us to slow down, enjoy our food, eat locally and understand what we are eating and where are food comes from, as well as a fabulous recipe: Fennel Roasted Beets on Mixed Greens with Blue Cheese and Spiced Candied Almond.
Thank you Maggie for this wonderful guest blog post and I am so happy you had such a great time at the Michael Pollan event!
- Gluten-Free Lemon Tart – Blinded by the Bite!
- Putting Food By: Pickled Hot Pepper Rings – Notes from Maggie’s Farm
- “Food Rules”: A Completely Different Way To Fix The Health Care Crisis – Michael Pollan via Huffington Post
As you may know I wrote a blog post earlier last week on #DineOutNYC & #EatDownTipUp this incredible movement to help the New York Restaurant community get back up on their feet, as well as their workers, who tirelessly feed us day in and day out after Hurricane Sandy. Both have created such buzz and response and it’s so incredible to see a community pull together in the face of such a tragedy.
I wanted to follow-up with some great resources/tips for those in need of gluten-free dining.
- Open Table NYC: You can sort by gluten-free restaurants by neighborhood and many restaurants have posted if they are re-opened or are still closed
- Locate Special Diet: This wonderful allows you to search based on your dietary needs by city
- Yelp: Yelp allows you to search by gluten-free restaurants as well and I’ve seen some restaurants posting as to their “open” or “closed” status
There are also some really great gluten-free food writers & food bloggers who can be resources for you if your not familiar with NYC’s gluten-free dining scene. Here is a list of my fav’s:
- Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun
- Amy Valope of The Healthy Apple
- Kelley Courson of Celiac Chicks
- Gluten-Free Mom
- G-Free & The City
The Best of Gluten-Free Awards just recently awarded New York City a “Best Of” award for being on of “2012’s Best City for Gluten-Free Living or Travel.”
So many people in New York and New Jersey are still without the basic essentials. You can donate to the Red Cross
Photo Credits: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews