Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

My New Favorite Winter Soup – Green Chile Chicken February 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 9:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have gotten into the habit of roasting a whole chicken on Sunday evening for Sunday supper, and for an easy go to meal in the fridge during the week.  I pick up my Dai Due order at their kitchen on Friday, and always get a Dewberry Hills Farm hen which they have brined and treated, either with a marinade or with butter and herbs under the skin.  They are smallish birds, but delicious, and enough for four meals for me.  And after I have accumulated the bones from a few in the freezer, along with odds and ends of vegetables, I make stock.  It is my opinion that a rich, delicious stock is the foundation for many wonderful things.

While digging through the usually over crowded chest freezer in the garage, I noticed bag upon bag of roasted green Hatch chiles, which I had gotten during the chile season in the late Summer.  And so, this soup came to be.

First, I cleaned two, half pound bags of Hatch chiles.

Cleaned Green Chiles

Cleaned Green Chiles

I put half of these back into the freezer for another day.  My soup ratio is 1 Quart Chicken Stock, 1/2 pound chiles.



I keep my stock in the freezer, and just take one out the morning I’m going to need it.  I let the chiles simmer in the stock while I cut up one leftover chicken breast, some garden cilantro, and some avocado.  I also grated some Dos Lunas Especial cheese for garnish.

Chicken, Avocado, Cheese, Cilantro

Chicken, Avocado, Cheese, Cilantro

Once the stock is bubbling away, and infused with chile flavor, I take it off the stove and use the immersion blender to puree the chiles.  You could use a blender, Vitamix, or whatever.  Because this is more soup that I want to eat for dinner, I pour half of the mixture back into the quart jar for another day,  and put the chicken into the soup to heat it up.  It’s already roasted from Sunday night, so I just want it hot.  Once hot, I pour it into the bowl, then garnish with avocado, cheese and cilantro.  A squeeze of lime would be nice too, but I don’t have any.

Green Chile Chicken Soup

Green Chile Chicken Soup

This is the perfect meal for me, because it is spicy from the chiles (I get the hot ones), filled with Vitamin C to ward off winter colds, and with the chicken and avocado is hearty enough for a filling meal.  Since I already have a freezer full of stock, and the chicken is already roasted, it is very quick to pull this soup together.  And I have another one teed up in the fridge now.

You could vary this soup by dicing potatoes and cooking those in the stock first, using pork or beef in place of the chicken, adding other vegetables, sour cream, creme fraiche, or whatever.  It’s just so quick and easy and delicious, I’m enjoying it often.  I will be sad when my stash of Hatch chiles is gone.  Fortunately, I hoarded them, so I have more to work through.

I have grown several varieties of green chiles, similar to those grown in Hatch New Mexico.  Somehow the flavor just isn’t the same as these, which make their appearance around Austin in the late Summer.  I have ordered some New Mexico peppers seeds, and will keep trying to duplicate this amazing pepper flavor, but if not, I’ll stock my freezer again with already fire-roasted peppers from Central Market, once they appear again.

Stay warm! Eat some soup.


Hank Shaw Book Tour Dinner January 28, 2014

Hank Shaw, wild food advocate, hunter and forager is the author of Hunt, Gather, Cook and now, Duck, Duck, Goose, and popular food website, Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook.  Shaw ended his months long book tour in Austin, last night, with a dinner hosted by  Foreign & Domestic, with Ned Elliott and Jesse Griffiths, of Dai Due.  I attended the first seating.

The first course, prepared by Ned Elliott, was Poached Breast of Muscovy Duck, with Pickled Hearts, Beets & Rutabaga Sauerkraut.

Poached Duck Breast with Rutabaga Sauerkraut

Poached Duck Breast with Rutabaga Sauerkraut

As I watched the dish being plated, I was thinking that looked like a lot of Rutabaga Sauerkraut, which I wasn’t sure I would like.  On the contrary, it was amazingly complex, not at all sour, and actually quite delicious and buttery.   Ned always does amazing things with vegetables.

The second course was prepared by Hank Shaw – Ganseklein, a German Sweet n Sour Giblet Soup with Scorn Spaetzle.  The soup was very Earthy and hearty.  My picture doesn’t do it justice.



The third course, by Jesse Griffiths and Chase Cole, of Dai Due, was Muscovy Duck Kasekrainer, with Sprouted Wheat Pilaf, Pickled Mushrooms, Daikon & Mailbock Mustard.  I’ve always loved Kasekrainer, and finely ground sausage with chunks of Mill-King cheese curds, and this Duck variety was delicious.

Duck Kasekrainer

Duck Kasekrainer

Dessert was Duck Fat Cornbread, with Duck Egg Ice Cream, Pickled Cherries, Roasted Fruit, & Sea Buckthorn prepared by Ned Elliott.  Not being a fan of really sweet desserts, I loved the cornbread, and the ice cream was really rich and delicious.  I was dining with friends Houston and Stephanie, Austin’s own award winning jamstress, and she was curious about the Sea Buckthorn, so Ned brought her a spoonful.  We tasted it, and it was slightly familiar, yet different from anything.  Stephanie compared it mostly to tamarind, which I would not have figured out.  When spooned over the cornbread, it added a tart and  slightly sweet flavor that blended well with the roasted fruit, and creamy ice cream that was a perfect end to a delicious duck dinner.

Duck Fat Cornbread, with Duck Egg Ice Cream, Roasted Fruit

Duck Fat Cornbread, with Duck Egg Ice Cream, Roasted Fruit

I’m looking forward to reading my new cookbook, and hopefully cooking more wild game.   There are lots of recipes for duck eggs as well, which are available locally at Springdale Farm and Countryside Farm.


No Mystery Meat Here! February 26, 2013

I am aware that other cultures eat horse meat, but I choose not to, having grown up with horses as pets and companions.

The recent (and widening) scandal about horse meat making it’s way into the food supply, (   has people up in arms and wondering “how can this happen?”  Hopefully, like the major egg recall a few years ago, that sent many people to their local farmer’s markets in search of safer eggs, this will have people paying closer attention to their meat supply.  I have a friend living in London, where lots of the horse meat disguised as beef, showed up in the local food outlets.  She reports that people are flocking to their local butcher shops for safer cuts of real beef.

If you buy your meat at a local supermarket, you can get to know the butcher there, and ask about their sourcing, and if they grind their own meat in-house, and what not.

If you’d like to take it a bit further, we Central Texas folks are so lucky to have so many of local sources of all variety of meats available.  You can meet the farmers, ask them about their practices, visit their farms and see for yourself how the animals are raised and what you are going to get.  This way, the chain of control is diminished and the chance of shenanigans is next to zero.

Here is a list of some, certainly not all of our local protein purveyors, all from whom I purchase meat.  I have met all of these farmers, ranchers and purveyors and trust them 100%.

I’ll attempt to list all of the locations where I know they are available, but this will not be exhaustive either, so click the name and it will link to their site.  Many on this list are available for delivery through Greenling and Farmhouse Delivery.

Richardson Farms, Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chicken, turkeys (seasonally), and sausages.   SFC Farmer’s Markets downtown, Sunset Valley and at the Triangle, Barton Creek Farmer’s Market, and Waco Farmer’s Market, (Jim Richardson is a veterinarian, which gives me great comfort in how their animals are treated) (they also sell eggs, popcorn, wheat and sorghum flours, cornmeal and sesame seeds)

Hausbar Farms  Freedom Ranger Chickens – Boggy Creek Farm Farmstand

DearRun Land and Cattle Longhorn Beef – Boggy Creek Farm, Farmstand – All cuts of beef as well as Summer Sausage

Dewberry Hills Farms, pastured chickens, (and they are delicious) – SFC farmer’s market downtown and Sunset Valley

Thunderheart Bison, All cuts of grass-fed bison (including the hump!) –  SFC Farmer’s Market Downtown, Pearl Farmer’s Market, San Antonio

Full Quiver Farms, Grass-fed beef, whey fed pork – Barton Creek Farmer’s Market (they also make yogurts and some of the best farmstead cheeses I’ve ever had)

Windy Hill Organics, Goat, Beef, Lamb – HOPE Farmer’s Market

Countryside Farm, Duck, Guinea, Chicken – SFC Farmer’s Market Downtown and at the Triangle

Smith and Smith Farms, Chicken, Lamb, Eggs – SFC Farmer’s Markets downtown, Sunset Valley, Triangle, Cedar Park Farmer’s Market, Mueller Farmer’s Market  and Barton Creek Farmer’s Market

Peeler Farms, Chicken – HOPE Farmer’s Market

Bastrop Cattle Company – All cuts of delicious beef – HOPE Farmer’s Market, Mail Order Delivery over a certain amount, Bastrop Producer’s Market

Madrono Ranch  Bison – Boggy Creek Farm, People’s Pharmacy

Broken Arrow Ranch, Broken Arrow Ranch sells wild game such as boar, antelope, nilgai, and quail, online and ships

Salt and Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria  Austin’s newest brick and mortar butcher shop, which also specializes in-house cured salumis

Dai Due Butcher Shop  Dai Due doesn’t sell cuts of meat, per se, but makes delicious things with them, charcuterie, sausages, pates terrines and lots of other wonderfulness.  SFC Farmer’s Market downtown, and Mueller Farmer’s Market

Now days, you can buy all of the same cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat that you’d be able to buy at the store, directly from the farmers/ranchers.  They come in plastic vacuum wrap, without the styrofoam and “juice catcher” pad underneath that you’d see in the store.  The meat is normally frozen as soon as it is processed, for maximum freshness.   Less packaging leads to less waste in the landfill, which is an awesome added bonus.

Consumers have choices, and hopefully, if you are looking for local proteins for you and your family, this will be a help.  Is it more expensive?  Yep.  Is it important enough for you to pay more?  That’s for you to decide.

Just so you know that I practice what I preach – a sampling from my freezer:

Thunderheart Bison

Thunderheart Bison

Bastrop Cattle Fajita Beef

Bastrop Cattle Fajita Beef


Smith and Smith Lamb

Smith and Smith Lamb

Richardson Farms Ribs

Richardson Farms Ribs

Richardson Farms flank steak taco

For dinner last night, I quickly defrosted a slab of Richardson Farm’s Flank Steak, seasoned it with salt and Springdale Farm’s smoked pepper mix, seared it in a screaming hot cast iron skillet, for about 3 minutes on each side; let rest for 20 minutes, squeezed some lime over it,  then sliced thinly, and served on  Blanco Valley non-GMO corn tortillas, with some Full Quiver Cheddar and my own pickled jalapenos and pickled onions.  So easy and good.


Coterie Market Delivers the Best of Austin January 16, 2013

You know when you hear of something so cool, you want to kick yourself for not thinking of it?  That’s how I felt when I heard the first whisperings about Coterie Market months ago.  Shortly thereafter, I saw a picture of their first major order of local artisan gift baskets ordered by a local hotel as a perk for their guests on a special weekend.  The feeling then turned to pride in Austin and the local artisans we are so fortunate to have here, and joy that Chelsea Staires had the idea for this business that delivered the best of Austin, all together in one basket.

Coterie Market has officially launched, and the list of artisans is long, and diverse and most certainly, all local and handmade.  The categories available range from pantry items, such as Confituras‘ preserves and Citrus Salts, Dai Due pickles and mustards, Austin Honey Company, Bootleg Coffee, Sip Drinking Chocolate, to local cheeses and dairy from Dos Lunas Cheese and Mill-King Creamery, to Bola Frozen Pizza.  Baked to order items are available from Amity Bakery, and the gluten-free are not forgotten with a range of baking mixes from Bona Dea.  She also carries the most fabulous chocolate bars from The Chocolate Makers Studio as well as Cocoa Puro Kakawa Chocolate Covered Cocoa Beans.    The list of food items available is long, and gets updated regularly.

In addition to food and beverage items, there are several handmade jewelry makers, handmade clothing items, such as Criquet Shirts and Leah Duncan  Scarves.  There are totes, handbags and wallets, from Noah Marion and Canoe.  For the kitchen she offers the line of Fisk and Fern tea towels and aprons.  There are baby clothes, kids clothes and gifts for the new mom.  For the wannabe better homemaker you can order The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking, by local author Kate Payne.

It would take forever to list all the items available on Coterie’s website, so I’ll just tell you what I ordered.  I have a slight addiction to cleaning products, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, to be exact, because I like the way they smell.  I vowed to try to make my own this year, or try to find local, all natural products.  Coterie offers cleaning products from The Purple Fig – All Natural Home Cleaning.  I ordered Eucalyptus and Lemon All Purpose Cleaner, Oregano and Lavender Counter Spray, Oregano and Mint Counter Spray, and they are all great.  Now I can continue my obsessive spritzing, keep my house clean and feel good about keeping those dollars in Austin.  And these products smell fresh rather than perfumy, because they are all natural.


I also ordered some Organic Goat Milk Soaps made by Old Factory Soap Company, for a gift.  They smell amazing and are gorgeous.


I ordered some Facial Toner and Face Scrub from The Good Hippie.  I have yet to try these, but am pleased to have a local and natural product to use.


Finally, I ordered some Mexican Wedding Cookies from Amity Baking, because I felt it was necessary for a more complete blog post.  Ha!  Don’t believe that.  Best cookies ever.


These are a bake to order item.  I placed my order online Sunday night, and as stated on the website, my order was delivered to my front porch on Tuesday, packaged neatly in a box, as promised.


After 3 years of honing my “eat locally” lifestyle, Coterie Market pushes that to the next level.  It feels good to be able to support local Austin artisans and to keep my money here.   It is also very cool to have a place to shop online, where any combination of items can be assembled into one box, and delivered to the gift recipient, for no extra charge.  You can choose from gift assortments that are already assembled as gifts, or mix and match and create your own.  It’s genius, and I wish I would have thought of it.  But, I didn’t and I’m happy that Chelsea did.




Dai Due – Choose Food With Care November 14, 2012

As part of the Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance “Meet me at the Market” campaign to help raise awareness for the Sustainable Food Center, and their Capital Campaign, I offered to profile one of my favorite vendors at the SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square – Dai Due.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that in 2010, I challenged myself to eat only food grown in my garden, or sourced from local farms and farmer’s markets, for a year, in an effort to avoid eating the products of industrialized agriculture.  I still eat that way today, and Dai Due is an important part of my way of life.  And, If I ever have a question about a source of food, the practices of a farm or any local food related question, I ask Jesse.

“Dai due regni di natura, piglia il cibo con misura” ~ “From the two  kingdoms of nature, choose food with care.”  From their website, their name espouses their philosophy.  Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield, the team behind Dai Due, continue to inspire me every day.

Dai Due brings their Butcher Shop offerings to the SFC Farmer’s Market every Saturday, and also prepares hot food to order.  Butcher shop items always include a variety of fresh sausages, link and bulk, bacon, frequently hot dogs, burgers made from proteins sourced locally, and raised humanely.

There are also charcuterie items, pates and terrines.  This week chicken liver mousse is on the menu.  In colder weather, they offer quarts of chile and sometimes gumbo.  Many items are only available seasonally, such as Chorizo Verde available during the brief window where  peppers (hot season) and cilantro (cool season) are in season together.  The Wild Boar Chorizo is a staple at my house.  There is always a variety of pickled items and mustards, and when he has homemade Worschestershire sauce, I always get a couple bottles of that.

Yellow Mustard and Grapefruit Worcestershire

I’ll be picking up some fresh leaf lard this week, in anticipation of tamale making season.  This week, I  also ordered a Thanksgiving special, the Porchetta made with Black Hill Ranch hog. I’ve had this fabulous specialty roast before, and was happy to see it return to the menu.   Other items this week include Traditional Mincemeat, which they start preparing in May, as the figs and mulberries become available.  Fruits continue to be added as they come into season, culminating in a jar of mincemeat which will make one pie.  Other seasonal offerings are Pickled Beets, Giardiniera, Escabeche.  One of my favorite items, Roasting Hens from Dewberry Hills, this week, laced with Lemon and Sage Butter.   If you  sign up for their email, the menu comes out on Tuesday, and you can place your order to be picked up at their kitchen on Friday, at the SFC Farmer’s Market,  or at the Mueller Market on Sunday.

The weekly menu and item descriptions name the source of everything, and everything is organic and sourced in or near Austin.  You may notice of the photos above “Harvested by Hunting.”  There is no mystery to any of the food from Dai Due, and very important to me, no hormones or antibiotics in any of the meat they source.  I know exactly what is NOT in my food: fillers, chemicals, preservatives, or anything else I don’t want to eat.  Often herbs in their offerings are sourced from their own garden.

Hot food at the market this time of year, often features the much coveted Biscuit and Gravy, with Country Style Breakfast Sausage.  I am a fan of the Chilaquiles, and whatever breakfast taco is offered; this week will be Red Chile Brisket Taco with Green Onions and Cilantro.

Last Saturday’s Hot Food Menu

In addition to to the markets, Dai Due also offers hunting weekends, fishing workshops, and a Supper Club, that sells out within minutes of being announced.  I’ve nearly wrecked my car trying to pull off of Mopac to reserve a dinner once the schedule is out.  Jesse also held a class on canning tomatoes, that launched my canning obsession and totally removed any fears I had.

Dai Due By-catch Dinner

And if that isn’t enough, Jesse has a new book, with his friend and amazing food photographer, Jody Horton: “Afield, A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish”, which has received great reviews.  It is a beautiful book, and everything in it looks delicious.


In support of the book Jesse is teaching a free sausage making class at Callahan’s this Saturday, 11/1/12 from 3-5:00, and a cooking class at Central Market this Sunday, at noon.  He will be cooking wild game from the book and a book is included in the ticket price.  Tickets are still available from Central Market here:

This post in written in part to support the Capital Campaign of the Sustainable Food Center, to build a permanent home from which to provide its services.  The non-profit SFC helps break down the barriers to healty, nutritiouss food, and supports family farms.  The Grow, Share, Prepare program teaches the community about local food, growing food and holds cooking classes, in addition to running their four farmer’s markets; The Republic Square Park and Sunset Valley on Saturday, Triangle Park on Wednesday and East on Tuesday.  There farmer’s markets provide a valuable and affordable space for farmers and food artisans to get their food to the public.  They need a facility to continue their good works from, and need funds to build it.  If you’d like to donate to support the SFC, you can do so here:

See my other posts about Dai Due here:

And by others:

Book Review:


Two Easy No Cook Appetizers for Summer July 17, 2011

The unbearable, unending, scorching heat, makes me not want to turn my oven on.  Yet, sometimes appetizers are a necessity, whether entertaining at home or going to dinner at a friend’s house.  I’ve had great success lately with two summer appetizers, that are both simple and delicious.

With my recent watermelon harvest, I made these bites, simply by seeding the watermelon, cutting into bite size squares, and topping with a basil leaf and a slice of Pure Luck Feta.

Watermelon Feta Bites

The watermelon is sweet, crisp, and juicy and the feta is salty and creamy, which is a nice contrast.   The basil adds spice for a delicious bite.  You could substitute mint for the basil and it would be amazing, as well. (I stuck little skewers in these for ease of eating.)

I discovered Peppadew Peppers at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop a while back.    These rare peppers (grown only in South Africa) are sweet, pickled, and have little heat.  While delicious on their own, I discovered that they are even more fabulous, stuffed.  The first time I took them to a party, I stuffed them with Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue Cheese, also from Antonelli’s.  They disappeared almost immediately.  So the next time I served them, I decided to experiment with different fillings.  I used the Blue again, but also stuffed some with Dai Due Pimiento Cheese, and some with CKC Farms Jalapeno, Artichoke Chevre.  They all disappeared again.  I think the consensus this time, was that the CKC Chevre complemented the peppers the best.

Stuffed Peppadews

The pickling liquid from these peppers is quite tasty blended with some olive oil and drizzled on a salad, so don’t toss it out.  Happy Summer!



Dai Due Seafood Dinner at Springdale Farm May 30, 2011

Every time I am fortunate enough to get a spot at a Dai Due Dinner, I am truly thankful.  These wildly popular dinners sell out within minutes of being announced via email.  This particular dinner, sold out in 11 minutes.

I have attended 3 other Dai Due dinner events, two at Hotel Saint Cecilia, and one at Fino.  This was my first farm dinner, and it happened to be at my happy place, Springdale Farm.  When I got there, I was immediately taken by the setting, lovely, well appointed tables, set in a big circle around what must be one of the most fabulous oak trees in Austin. (click on pictures to enlarge)

Tables around the majestic oak

Pretty table settings

With the farm in full glory as the backdrop, and chickens scratching nearby, it was lovely.

Love it here

I hadn’t pondered the food much, aside from perusing the menu at The Austin Wine Merchant, who graciously picked out our wine pairings for the evening.  The entire meal would need to be cooked outside, as there is not a fully functioning kitchen in the farm stand building.

Jesse cooking via wood fired grill

We were greeted with Green Plum Punch, then everyone mingled and explored this wonderful East Austin Urban Farm.  Once seated, I noticed the attention to detail in the table settings.  Wine glasses, flowers on the tables, silverware, cloth napkins – this was not a picnic by any stretch of the imagination.  The oil lamps that adorned each table were a special touch.

Place setting and menu

Oil Lamp for later

Once seated, the first course arrived: Smoked Catfish Terrine with Bowfin Caviar, and grilled Baguette.  This terrine was creamy with Full Quiver Neufchatel, and smoky and absolutely delicious spread on the baguette.

Next Course was Grilled Shrimp with Tomatoes, Seaweed, Fried Shallot and Mint.  I snapped a photo of Jesse grilling the shrimp:

Grilling the Shrimp

They arrived to our table on the most gorgeous plate of Springdale Farm tomatoes, with fried shallots and mint.

Gorgeous Seasonal Shrimp and Tomato dish

The next two dishes were whole grilled fish:  The first was Almaco Jack with Green Beans and Parsley Sauce.

Almaco Jack

This tasty fish was complimented by a delicious parsley sauce, with a hint of sweetness, which created a great balance with the fish and fresh beans.

Next was Grilled Blue Runner with Dill Cream and Potato Leek Salad.

Blue Runner

I was unfamiliar with this fish, (as the one before) and found it to be oilier and a bit stronger tasting than the first.  The Dill Cream balanced that out, as did the potato, leek salad.

The third fish, Mangrove Snapper on the Halfshell, with Peppers, Onions and Oregano, blew me away.  We were told that the skin was very tough and not to eat it, so we carefully scooped out our portions leaving the skin behind.  This fish was buttery and delicious, unlike any other snapper I’ve ever had. Complemented by the soft cooked onions with oregano, this was my favorite bite of the night.

Mangrove Snapper

Next up was the Squid and Corn Soup.  I was pretty full at this point, and still so blown away by the snapper, I just skipped the soup.

The local cheese course followed, with amazing Pecan Bread.  The cheeses were Pure Luck, June’s Joy a peppery and slightly sweet chevre, Vintage Granbury from Eagle Mountain Cheese, and Full Quiver Mozzarella, which Jesse smoked.  All were delicious, and the pecan bread from Amity Bakery is always a treat.

Dessert was Angel Food Cake with Blueberry Compote and Cream.  Tart, not too sweet, creamy and delicious.  It was the perfect end to a fabulous evening.  Once again, I am in awe of the food and the farm.

For more information of these supper clubs, or the Dai Due Butcher Shop, check out  You can get on their email list for weekly Butcher Shop items, found at the SFC Farmer’s Market downtown, as well as these supper clubs.

Springdale Farm operates two farmstands weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9:00 – 1:00, on Springdale Lane just a mile or two East of I-35 off of 7th.  Right now their farmstand is loaded with some of the best tomatoes around.  Go on out and get some, check out this gorgeous farm, and meet some of the nicest folks around.

Gorgeous tomatoes


Savoring Saturday with Porchetta and Pickles May 28, 2011

I often feel too overscheduled, stressed and worn out.  All of this is my from my poor calendar management skills, and my feeling that I should attend as many things as I’m invited to, so as to be considered gracious enough to be invited again.  Sometimes, the events end up piled on top of one another, and it can be exhausting.

So, today, Saturday, I planned nothing, other than a short visit to Thrill of the Grill, an Edible Austin event at Breed and Company, where I needed to pick up cleaning supplies anyway.

After a leisurely tour of the Farmer’s Market, for a first time visitor, I stopped at Austin Wine Merchant to get some wine to pair with tomorrow’s Dai Due dinner, then I headed home to drop off my finds, and pick my mom up, down the street.  She and I went to Breed and Co. and shared a Currywurst wrap, and shopped a bit.  Then, I headed home, this time, to stay.

I had a Dai Due Porchetta that I’d been thawing, and so I seared it off on the stove, then put it in a roasting pan, in a 250 degree oven.

Seared Dai Due Porchetta

The roast would need hours in a 250 degree oven, so I had time to do other things before dinner.

I had some cucumbers from the farmer’s market and also from my garden, that I needed to preserve.  So, I decided to make pickles.  Spears, this time.  I got a recipe from my Epicurious iPhone app, and used that.  It was the typical, vinegar, water, pickling salt, dill, garlic and cucumbers.  I tossed in some pickling spice, black peppercorns, and sliced serranos.

Future pickles

After sterilizing the jars. I cut the ends off the pickles, and cut them into spears.  Eighths, for most of them.  I stuffed them into the sterilized jars.  After the pickling mixture had boiled and settled down a bit, I ladled it into the jars, to the top, then sealed them.

Pre-processed pickles

They got boiled in a water bath for 10 minutes, and the lids all popped down, meaning they were properly sealed.

They lose their pretty bright color in this process, which I hate.

Completed pickles

On to dinner.  By now, the pork roast was done.  I was too tired to make elaborate sides, so I quickly cooked a Boggy Creek Farm ear of corn, scraped it off the cob, and put a bit of butter on it.  For sauce for the meat, I made a reduction of fresh blackberries, butter, garden sage, and some  Texas Olive Ranch blackberry balsamic.

Fresh Black berry reduction

I ate the porchetta, with the blackberry sauce, and some perfect corn off the cob with a dab of butter.

Porchetta, Blackberry reduction, Fresh Corn

I was too lazy to make more vegetables for this dinner, and it was good.

Good Saturday.


Seafood Supper Serendipity May 17, 2011

Sometimes unplanned meals turn out unexpectedly well.  Perhaps it is from having low expectations from not being prepared to assemble a well thought out meal, I don’t know.   Recently, Sunday afternoons have turned into, Sunday Hang Out, Play with Puppies, and Watch Jamie Oliver Reruns, with my friends Christian and Jamie.   Having recently launched Bola Pizza, and with great success, they don’t have much time to hang out anymore, between the Triangle Farmer’s Market, the Downtown Farmer’s Market and weekly catering gigs.   So I was excited that they wanted to hang out and bring Leo the existing puppy, and Bonnie the new puppy over Sunday afternoon.

After watching food shows for a while, and with evening fast approaching, I suggested we cook dinner.  I had purchased two beautiful pieces of Wild King Salmon from Quality Seafood, my new seafood source, since we’ve lost San Miguel from the farmer’s markets, hopefully just temporarily.  Once Christian, who used to cook every day, aside from making pizza dough and toppings, started pondering the meal plan, he pronounced that we’d blacken the salmon, and serve it over dirty rice.  Ok! I always have Lowell Farms rice, but how would we dirty it up?  I opened the freezer on the lookout for Boudin, and there it was, Dai Due Smoked Crawfish Boudin.  Perfect!  I had blackening spice from Savory Spice Shop, and garden onions and tomatoes.

I had also purchased some cucumbers from the farmer’s market, with a plan to make pickles, but sliced and tossed with some garden tomatoes, oil and champagne vinegar, they would become the perfect crisp acidity to cut the fat of the salmon and a foil to the heat from the spice.  So, game on!

King Salmon, Spiced up

The cucumber salad came together quickly, and was set aside to marinate for a bit.

Cucumber salad

The crawfish boudin was already cooked, so it just went straight into the rice, with onion and tomato.

Dai Due Crawfish Boudin

While the salmon was going into a screaming hot cast iron skillet, I thinned out some Full Quiver Neufchatel, with goat milk, to add a creamy element to the plate.

Salmon searing

So the final plate went down like this, Dirty Rice, Crispy Blackened Salmon, Cucumber Salad, and a drizzle of Neufchatel cream sauce.  This was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my house, and it is no coincidence that most of my top 5 favorites, involved Christian.  He is an amazing cook.

Delicious Dinner

And on top of that, I got a photography lesson too.  He gets photo credits for the good shots.  Nice to see the foodie photographer behind Austin Food Journal, back in the kitchen, with a camera in hand.


SFC Farm to Plate Tickets Now Available March 1, 2011

The Sustainable Food Center, the non-profit group that runs the Farmer’s Markets downtown, at the Triangle and at Sunset Valley,  (among other incredible programs) is hosting their Third Annual Farm to Plate Fundraiser on May 12, 2011.  This event will be held at the gorgeous Barr Mansion.  Featured Chefs this year are David Bull of Congress, Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due and James Holmes of Olivia.  Other highlights include local brews and Cocktails by Tipsy Texan.

There will also be an opportunity to bid to win a signature experience from Bola Pizza catering, wood fired artisinal pizzas for up to forty people.

This promises to be an extraordinary evening, and could not support a better cause.  I can’t wait! Tickets on sale now.