Tomato Season at Springdale Farm Market

It’s tomato season ya’ll! There is nothing I love more than fresh heirloom tomatoes, and thanks to spring showers, this year’s crop is top-notch. While you can find a plethora of tomatoes in every shape, color and size at various farmer’s markets and grocery stores around town, I recommend visiting the biweekly Market at Springdale Farm if you haven’t yet. Every Wednesday and Saturday from 9am-1pm, Springdale Farm opens a market inside the Hen House to sell a bounty of fresh produce grown in the rows just outside the shop’s doors. From squash blossoms to peppers, Springdale offers the season’s best options, but it’s the center table covered in a variety of tomatoes that is the real star of the show. On a recent visit I picked up a range of different varieties – all of which were sweet, juicy, and impossible to stop eating.

 

Tomato Season

Tomato Season at Springdale Farm

Cooking with produce this delicious requires barely any heavy lifting. Continue reading Tomato Season at Springdale Farm Market

Mueller Market

While I love the Saturday SFC downtown market, I must admit I tend to spend my Saturday mornings enjoying a leisurely brunch over stocking up on vegetables, meaning most my weekend farmer’s market trips are generally delayed until Sunday. Until recently, this meant habitual Sunday trips to the fantastic HOPE Market, mentioned here. However, I finally broke from tradition a few weeks back to visit the new(ish) Mueller Farmer’s Market. Housed in the Browning Hanger, the F2M Texas-sponsored market opened last year to provide locals with yet another option to find farm fresh fruits and vegetables, local protein and . . . → Read More: Mueller Market

Thanksgiving Recipe File: Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

Searching for a dish to jazz up your Thanksgiving holiday table? Close those cookbooks because Sullivan’s has what you’re looking for with this perfect recipe for a grown up, decadent version of sweet potatoes. Save the marshmellows for s’mores and reach for the good stuff to make these delicious Bourbon Sweet Potatoes topped with a Pecan Oatmeal Crumble.

Note: Should the in-laws or a charming sibling begin wearing out their welcome, it is highly recommended to finish this dish with a shot of bourbon for the chef. Your secret is safe with us…

Sound delicious but don’t want to step foot in the kitchen? No worries – just order this and other sides from Sullivan’s by Wednesday, November 21. More details here.

Recipe after the jump!

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes w/Pecan Oatmeal Crumble

Continue reading Thanksgiving Recipe File: Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

Recipe File: National Nacho Day Edition

How about a really slow golf clap for very long overdue Recipe File post? Don’t get too excited as this is not going to be any Top Chef-esque masterpiece but instead a simple ode to my favorite Tex-Mex appa-teaser in honor of National Nacho Day. Sure, I could go the distance and fry my own beans and chips, but frankly when these crowd pleasers show up on one of my menus, its because I am usually searching for a simple starter to warm up for a more complicated main course. And, since it is also Election Day, I will confess if I were casting my ballot for the best nacho in town, it would be the bean and cheese nachos from Matt’s El Rancho. Enjoy!

Nachos

Bean and Cheese Nachos w/Peppers & Onions Continue reading Recipe File: National Nacho Day Edition

Recipe File: Baked Brie and Apple Raisin Compote Crostinis

The holiday season is in full swing, which means festivities galore. One of my favorite winter appetizer recipes to utilize for holiday entertaining is Cooking Light’s Baked Brie and Apple Raisin Compote. These little morsels of goodness are simple to make and always a crowd favorite. As an added bonus, the compote’s spices smell fantastic while cooking. Any leftover apple-raisin mixture pairs nicely with pork or even pureed with butternut squash. The recipe calls for golden raisins, but if you can’t locate any, regular raisins work as well. I have also substituted pears for apples in this recipe with solid results. A good tip for making these more budget friendly is to buy bulk spices since the recipe calls for quite a few.  Enjoy!

 

Continue reading Recipe File: Baked Brie and Apple Raisin Compote Crostinis

Recipe File: Butternut Squash Ravioli

With cool mornings actually giving some semblance fall is upon us, it is officially time to update the recipe drawer to reflect new seasonal offerings. When I think autumn, any dish involving butternut squash immediately springs to mind. From soups to desserts, this versatile fruit adds a natural richness from its sweet, nutty flavor and thick texture without much effort in the kitchen.

One of the most classic preparations of butternut squash is in ravioli topped with a sage brown butter sauce. Inspired by an order of ghost pumpkin ravioli during a visit to Houston’s Glass Wall Restaurant, I hoped to recreate a similar version using butternut squash. In order to update this classic fall dish, I made a few changes to the traditional filling and sauce, noted below.  More details [expand title= here]

For lack of time and equipment, I did not make my pasta from scratch. Many recipes suggest using wonton recipes, which I have used before, but always feel as if something is missing. I picked up fresh lasagna sheets and used those instead. They did seem to hold up better when cooked, but wontons still are a suitable and budget friendly substitute. The filling was a blend of roasted butternut squash, fresh herbs and spices, onions, garlic and burrata cheese. A tip read a few years back in Saveur Magazine suggested using roasted sage leaf wrapped garlic cloves to the filling for a more robust flavor. Burrata is not traditionally used, but its subtle creamy flavor worked well.

The Glass Wall’s ravioli was excellent, but a candied pumpkin seed topping made it magnificent. While their ravioli came floating in a bowl of pumpkin seed oil, I opted to toast mine stovetop and toss with a less rich sauce butter, caper, and sage sauce. The capers added acidity sometimes needed against the sweet pasta filling. Playing on my inspiration, I toasted pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) with a bit of grapeseed oil, salt and pumpkin pie spice before tossing with grated lemon zest. The pepitas added an extra ‘oomph’ to the dish, but alas still not as special as the Glass Wall’s version.  

This classic dish uses simple ingredients leave for a bit of creativity. Great budget-friendly entertaining recipe! [/expand]

 

 Recipe after the jump! Served with roasted Brussels Sprouts, recipe here.

Continue reading Recipe File: Butternut Squash Ravioli

Recipe File: Brussels Sprouts w/Parmesan & Cranberries

                Like most children, I grew up with a strong dislike for Brussels sprouts. My first memorable encounter with the bitter vegetable came when my mother tried to convince older brother and me these foreign objects on our plates were merely mini lettuces. Forks down, shaking our heads in disdain after one sample, thinking, how dare she try and fool us?!? We are kids, not morons! Of course, my mother was merely trying to feed her children a healthy home cooked meal using vegetables from her carefully cultivated garden (move to Austin anytime Mom!). More details [expand title= Here]

             Regardless, Brussels sprouts were now firmly on the ‘do not eat that’ list. Fast forward a few years to my grandmother’s kitchen where once again I unsuspectingly ate the dreaded ‘mini lettuces’, this time to different results. Once she explained what I had just devoured, shredded Brussels sprouts leaves topped with beet greens, I was shocked by how much I enjoyed the dish. Granted, I love just about anything in her kitchen, so the experience had to be a fluke.

                With most Austin restaurants committed to using seasonal, sustainable produce, Brussels sprouts have made quite the comeback and hence, very hard to avoid. I have since found myself actually enjoying these once loathed vegetables. However, since most restaurant versions, example here, come with ample amounts of bacon, butter and other sinful flavors, it’s hard to determine if what I actually enjoy on the plate. 

                In all my years of cooking, I have never experimented with Brussels sprouts for obvious reasons. However, with the very welcomed fall season finally here, what better time to experiment. As an accompaniment to toasted butternut squash ravioli, recipe here, I would serve roasted Brussels sprouts with parmesan cheese and cranberries. My guest for the evening is a Brussels sprout fanatic so she would make for a fitting test audience. However, she is also a vegetarian, and I was without a bacon crutch to rely on. Additionally, I try to limit the amount of butters and oils I use cooking, especially during the week. The results of my first attempt showed a promising recipe with a few lessons learned.  First, I would highly recommend soaking the Brussels sprouts in water or broth before roasting to prevent them from drying out, especially if you are not adding much fat. Secondly, I wanted to recreate my grandmother’s technique of separating the leaves. I used a food processor to chop some, but hand hacked others. The processor delivered too finely chopped leaves even with just a couple of pulses which cooked too quickly. Recipe below, with my adjustments included. Feel free to share your tips as well! [/expand]

 

Served alongside butternut squash ravioli, recipe here.

Continue reading Recipe File: Brussels Sprouts w/Parmesan & Cranberries

Fall Preview: Greenling Grocery Delivery

Between workdays, traffic, and social commitments, having time to go to the grocery store has become somewhat of a luxury these days. Farm to work programs and grocery delivery services like Greenling have helped ease this burden, but now these farm fresh goods have to be cooked! Spending hours thumbing through recipe indexes to find way to use these groceries starts to chip away at the convenience factor of it all. Recognizing this problem, Greenling always includes recipe suggestions in their grocery boxes, but the delivery company makes getting dinner on the table even easier with seasonal meal kits. Just like their grocery boxes, the meal kits use only local, organic farm sources and seasonal produce.  I recently attended a little preview of new fall offerings and sampled a few of the included dishes. Each dish I tried was healthy without tasting like ‘health food’. Most items are reinvented versions of weeknight favorites like pizza, pasta, and soup using straight from the garden vegetables and organic meat, cheese, and grains. Each kit comes with simple step by step preparation guides to cook a complete meal in about 30 minutes proving eating a healthy home cooked meal doesn’t have to be a pipedream.  

Greenling offers meal kits to suit a range of needs and eating restrictions ranging from $12.99 to $85.99. Visit their website to preview samples of kits and get started on your order.  

Greenling takes care of the mise en place!

 While checking out the latest offerings, I noticed Greenling is now taking Thanksgiving preorders. Order one of the Turkey Day meal kits and everyone to dinner; your mother-in-law will be so impressed!

Roasted acorn squash

Continue reading Fall Preview: Greenling Grocery Delivery