Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Best Things I Ate In 2020

While I think we're all ready to kick the year 2020 to the curb, there fortunately have been some outstanding food highlights for me.  More details also on my Instagram. The first three were in-person dining experiences, and everything else has been carry out. Presenting in chronological order of when I ate them.

Old Thousand's brisket fried rice

Bone marrow at Comedor.

My one trip of the year was to the San Francisco area the end of February; the massaman curry lamb shank from Nari was stellar.

I made a coconut cream tart for a friend's birthday, recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

La Patisserie's gluten free chocolate hazelnut cake. *swoon*

Le Bleu's grilled pork banh mi, eaten social-distance style with a friend, each of us in our cars.

Beef enchiladas and colorful sides from El Dorado.

I have fallen in love with all things Vivian's Boulangerie! Here the chocolate croissant. I've ordered a few times from this online bakery; they deliver or you can pick up from their kitchen. The caramelized shallot and brie tiger paws are also a complete downfall for me.

El Naranjo's costillas de res (boneless beef short rib with goat cheese mashed potatoes) and huitlacoche empanandas. 

French dip, Vietnamese style from 20Pho7, a food truck at South First and Live Oak. Incredible flavors!

Little Ola's sausage + egg biscuit for comfort food indulgence.

Thai Fresh has long had my favorite pad thai in town, but I only recently discovered their fried chicken skins! A side of sauteed veggies makes it all healthy, right?

The new Mumtaz Market and their amazing lamb burger.

So there you have my top dishes of the year!  All this delicious food, and proud to say I've lost 30 pounds through intermittent fasting, and eating what I want. 😀

What are your favorite meals of 2020? Stay safe, y'all and let's make 2021 an outstanding year!

Monday, November 16, 2020

An Austin Food Lover's Holiday Gift Guide 2020

2020 has been a challenge to say the least! Many...Most regular events as we know it have unfortunately been canceled outright or pivoted to online, and dining at a restaurant looks a whole lot different than it used to. I have certainly taken advantage of several restaurants that now offer take out options, and hope that will continue to be offered when life as we know it returns to "normal." 

If you're looking for holiday gifts/experiences or a place to hold a private gathering, here are some suggestions. And if you're feeling generous and have some cash to spare, remember that a few of these are non-profit organizations who could definitely use some support!

Time sensitive, online auctions!

One of my past Austin Empty Bowl purchases.

1) The Austin Empty Bowl Project is near and dear to my heart, as I have volunteered for them the past several years. Normally held the Sunday before Thanksgiving at the Central Texas Food Bank, you purchase one (or more!) locally made (some by students, others by professional ceramists) for $25, get to eat a bowl of soup prepared by an area restaurant, and then bowls are rinsed and you get to take it home. This year, their silent auction of various ceramic pieces is of course online, bidding now through November 22nd (monetary donations welcome beyond that!). Last year they raised over $100,000 which benefited CTFB and Meals on Wheels.

2) Texas Food + Wine Alliance Holiday Auction has many experiences, classes, and products available for bidding though November 22nd as well. 

3) Local restaurant Tso Chinese has formed #TsoGiving, which has already raised $100,000 in a few short months to help with meal assistance to those facing hunger in Austin due to the pandemic.  Donations are accepted via Venmo or Go Fund Me, and this holiday season they are working with area social service agencies such as Asian Family Support Services, People's Community Clinic and SAFE.

Foodie gifts

Foodie Passport from JettSet Local

1) Perhaps your favorite Austin-area food-obsessed person would like the gift of a 2021 Foodie Passport from JettSet Local? You get $10 off a $25 purchase at 25 different eateries around the Austin area. Use it three times, and it pays for itself!  And pssst! I'll soon be doing an Instagram giveaway for a passport in the next couple weeks, so keep an eye on my page! {Don't have Insta, but are interested in entering? Leave a note in the comments below, and I'll enter you in.}

2) I recently stumbled across the site Goldbelly, which has actually been around since like 2013, but they're new to me! You can order food from some of your favorite places nationwide! Arthur Bryant BBQ in Kansas City? Sweets from the Cake Boss? Heck, I was just excited to see the neighborhood deli that I grew up with in Washington, DC on there. Definitely something for everyone.

3) Last year, Eater Austin published their holiday gift guide. Here's the 2019 version, and when the 2020 comes out, I'll post it here.  Update: here's the 2020 version.

4) Online classes. I can vouch for ones from Antonelli's Cheese, and have heard that Air B + B has some which are also fun. Learn something new in your stretchy pants at home!

5) Update: Local (to Austin!) food subscription boxes + more suggestions from Austin American-Statesman food writer Addie Broyles.

6) Food + Wine Magazine's best mail-order food gifts from each state

Comfort foods

1) Liquids. Central Texas has tons of wine, beer + spirit makers. But  there's also Fond Bone Broth, which is healthy and delicious! 

Photo courtesy Cocoa Puro's Instagram page

2) Chocolate. Delysia and Cocoa Puro are two local specialists. Delysia has truffles with very unique flavor combos, and I've known the excellent folks at Cocoa Puro for a long time, and they make a unique thing called kakawa beans. It's a cacao nib enrobed in white, milk, and dark chocolate then dusted with cocoa powder. Trust me, they're addictive and incredible!

Chocolate croissant from Vivian's

3) Carbs.  Check out Blue Door Sweets for locally made cinnamon buns, Confituras for biscuits, Vivian's Boulangerie for French-style pastries, and Pasta  + Company for fresh made pasta.

Location, location, location...

The McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group sent an email reminder that many of their restaurants have private dining spaces for your holiday gatherings. Contact your favorite restaurant of theirs for details, including: Lambert's, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Josephine, Jeffrey's, Joann's, Lou's, Neighborhood Sushi. Catering is also available through several of these, as well as Clark's and Sweetish Hill. Book now!

Have additional holiday gift ideas? Drop a note below! Let's kick 2020 to the curb on a high note!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Mini Coffee Cakes with Spicy Streusel

Mini Coffee Cakes with Spicy Streusel

Last month, I bought a box of Wackym's Spicy Pecan Cookies from Central Market. I have always loved Wackym's varieties, as they are a Texan company, the cookies are made with real butter, and they have great flavors. Salted caramel? Margarita? Even savory Cheese Nibbles. Check their website for all their flavors; I do believe Spicy Pecan is a seasonal one.

Wackym's Spicy Pecan Cookies

A conversation with a friend about them gave me the inspiration to make a coffee cake with lots of yummy spiced streusel topping (because, hello, the streusel is the best part!), which lead to making these mini coffee cakes. The perfect bite-sized snack or treat! I found a recipe online for mini coffee cakes, but given that I changed a variety of things about it, I just decided to go ahead a write a new recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Mini Coffee Cakes with Spicy Streusel

Sorry (not sorry!), no fancy recipe plug in!

Mini Coffee Cakes with Spicy Streusel

Yield: 12 mini muffin-sized cakes

Coffee Cake

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted, cooled and divided

1 cup AP flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt (I use Redmond Real Salt)

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 egg

1/3 cup milk (I added an extra splash)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Streusel Topping

3 Wackym's Spicy Pecan Cookies, pulverized into crumbs, about 1/4 cup total

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp. melted butter from above

-- Start with melting the butter; set aside 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) for the cakes, and 2 tablespoons for the topping. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

-- Prepare your mini muffin tins; this recipe yielded 12 minis for me. Brush tin (yes, even if your pan is "non-stick" with a thin layer of melted butter.

-- In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt + cinnamon and whisk to combine. 

-- Add in egg, milk, vanilla and the 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir just enough to combine everything; too much stirring can make your batter tough.

-- Portion into muffin tins; I used a tablespoon scoop for fairly even distribution

-- In a smaller bowl make the streusel by combining the cookie crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.

-- Once mixed, add the 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened. 

-- Using a teaspoon, top the coffee cakes with streusel.

-- Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

-- Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Coffee cakes should pop right out of your muffin pan!

-- Vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream or mascarpone cream would be an added luxury!

Mini Coffee Cakes with Spicy Streusel

I also think these would make a fabulous pie or tart crust! Something sweet with a bit of a spicy kick, especially now that the weather has gotten cooler. What should my next baking project be? Leave me a suggestion!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

What I've Been Eating, Part Three

AMAZING chocolate croissant from Vivian's Boulangerie!

Welcome to another edition of what South Austin Foodie has been eating recently! I continue to get carryout a couple times a week, and I try to get things where I can at least get two meals out of my order. Some home cooking, but overall it's been too hot! Here are the main highlights, please keep tabs on my Instagram, especially Stories for a more comprehensive run down of my meals!

Hey Say is a homestyle Vietnamese spot on East Oltorf; I think they're serving a few more general Asian dishes than before, but definitely look for their house specials! These are twice fried wings with a fish sauce that were really good and very different from other wings (in a good way!).

Thai Taste's spicy larb!

Molly inspects some of my first Vivian's Boulangerie croissant order.

From my second Vivian's order, beet and goat cheese kolache, brie and caramelized shallot tiger paw, cardamom snickerdoodle and salted chocolate chip cookies, and almond croissant. They've now expanded their order pickups/deliveries to FOUR days a week! (Very dangerous.) Seriously, some of the best stuff I've had. 

Steamies frozen pork char siu, pork dumplings, and beef bao. Storefront at Airport and Lamar, I will definitely be back!

Here are the Steamies dumplings, which were very good. I think the bulgogi beef bao was my favorite as it had a TON of flavor and the beef was moist. And very pleasantly surprised with the puff pastry texture and filling of the char siu triangle. 

Winebelly's chicken liver mousse is always a favorite.

My friend Curd Culture lives in Houston, but worked with local cheese shop Antonelli's and taught a cheese class via Zoom. A friend and I had the chicken liver mousse and then split this cheese board, a bottle of bubbly,  and sat socially distanced for the class. Great way to spend and evening!

Stunning chirashi bot bowl a friend got from Lucky Robot

We also split these pork belly buns  from Lucky Robot, which were crammed with stuff including pickled cauliflower which gave them a nice crunch. 

Also up there for Best Thing I Have Eaten Recently, this Vietnamese French dip sandwich from the 20Pho7 food truck at Live Oak and South First. The bread was perfect, the pho broth flavorful, the beef super tender and rare! Filled with bean sprouts, scallions, and a spicy mayo. I cannot wait to go back!

Support your local businesses and let's make sure they stay in business! What fantastic things have you been eating?

Monday, July 13, 2020

More: What I've Been Eating

Greetings from South Austin! I've been doing my best to try to support South Austin restaurants, with a few exceptions. Here's a look at what I've been making and getting for take out in the past two months. Caution: may make you hungry! 😂

Homemade: pasta in light cream sauce with asparagus, bacon, pine nuts and parm.
Coconut cream tarte
Homemade: coconut cream tarte

Bouldin Creek Cafe veggie burger
Bouldin Creek Cafe veggie burger
Chili (with beans!) and cornbread
Homemade: chili (with beans!) and skillet cornbread
Vespaio canneloni, arancini, beet salad
Vespaio canneloni, arancini, beet salad. These were fabulous and I got about three meals out of this.
Bokksu box of Japanese snacks
A dear friend sent me this Bokksu box of Japanese snacks! So much fun!
Air fryer churros
Homemade: air fryer churros! Easy and yummy!
 (Though not as good as the nearby Churro food trailer!)
Habana -- pollo salteado, emapanada, tres leches
Habana pollo salteado, empanada, tres leches
La Patisserie morning bun, croissant, almond macaroon
La Patisserie morning bun, croissant, almond macaroon
La Patisserie chocolate hazelnut cake
La Patisserie chocolate hazelnut cake
Homecooked: pasta with corn pesto
Homemade: pasta with corn pesto
Bao'd Up BBQ chicken bao
Bao'd Up BBQ chicken bao
Slab BBQ
Slab BBQ pork ribs
Tarka's lamb biryani and chicken korma
Tarka's lamb biryani and chicken korma. I can't not get the korma! 
Homemade: raw beet salad, with fennel, red onion and haloumi
Homemade: raw beet salad, with fennel, red onion and haloumi
Beet issues
Beet issues 😀
Soup Peddler: grilled cheese
Soup Peddler: grilled cheese + salad
Sugar Mama's carrot cupcake and bourbon pecan bar
Sugar Mama's carrot cupcake and bourbon pecan bar
El Dorado beef enchiladas
El Dorado beef enchiladas with calabazas (squash). This was a fabulous evening, being socially distant with friends in north central Austin. Food and friends were excellent! 
Fat Dragon's lamb cilantro dumplings
A friend and I both ordered carry out from Fat Dragon, coordinated our pick up times, and sat in the parking lot with our cars dovetailed together so we could eat and talk.  Delicious lamb cilantro dumplings and below, dry fried green beans.
Fat Dragon's dry fry green beans

Coffee bourbon browned butter blondies
Coffee bourbon browned butter blondies. See my previous post!
Artipasta: bolognese + lemon cream sauces
Artipasta: bolognese + lemon cream sauces for another evening of social distance with a friend.
Thai Fresh pad thai, tom yum soup, veggies
Thai Fresh pad thai, tom yum soup, veggies
Elizabeth Street Cafe banh cuon
Elizabeth Street Cafe banh cuon and pesty cat.

Bird Bird Biscuit Queen Beak
Oh my. This Queen Beak (fried chicken biscuit) from Bird Bird Biscuit is one of the finer things I have eaten lately! This is the naked version, as I got my chipotle aioli and hot honey on the side, and as I was eating (and photographing) this from my car, the pics with the sauces on them aren't super. This was messy. But worth every bite.

Dolce Neve gelato
Dolce Neve gelato
Homemade: pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese balls)
Homemade: pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese balls)
Loro: bavette, corn fritters, won ton chips + dips
Loro: bavette, corn fritters, won ton chips + dips. The bavette is quite good, but somehow I can't get these lightly seasoned won ton chips with peanut sambal out of my mind.
La Tunita 512 birria taco + consume
I've heard the buzz about La Tunita 512, and had to go check it out. The consume with birria is delicious! Should have gotten the torta special to dip in the consume -- next time! 

Hungry? Yeah, me too. Time for my next meal! And I should add (and had mentioned in my May post), I've been doing intermittent fasting, so eating all these lovelies, and I am down 20 pounds total! 

What's on your menu?