Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Farmers Market Favorite
Honey-Glazed Butternut Squash with Sweet Potato Greens

Farmers Market Favorite butternut squash, grows well and goes well with holy basil, sweet red peppers and sweet potato greens, warmed with a light glaze of local honey and a little red pepper pep.

Butternut squash is in season at the local markets. One favorite way to enjoy it on its own is in a creamy, savory/sweet soup, however it also stands up to the "what grows together goes together" test-- here it is prepared with the addition of sweet red peppers, sweet potato greens, and fresh, seasonal herbs. This dish was demonstrated at the Texas Farmers' Markets in Austin last weekend. It was a BIG hit with both men and women, tots and adults. And a few puppies. Definitely the market staff. It's always so affirming for folks to come back for seconds. (But thirds are pushing it, y'all. Just saying,)

Butternut is a popular winter squash with earthy, slightly sweet orange flesh, and marries well with other vegetables, especially greens, and beans and legumes. It is often used in place of meat to offer heartiness to vegetarian and vegan dishes. One cup of butternut squash is only 63 Kcal, low in fat, sodium and carbohydrates, high in fiber, potassium, and Vitamin A-- yielding close to 300% one's daily requirement!

An additional perk? Kids LOVE this stuff. And if you're keeping it meat-free, it pairs well with soft cheeses, eggs, black beans, brown rice, and raw or braised greens. Consider it for your holiday meals; butternut squash and greens might just knock your standard sugar-laden standards out of the running.


2T grapeseed oil

2 medium- large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2c +/- sweet red pepper--cored, seeded, sliced to equal about 2 cups

1/2 bunch fresh holy basil, leaves only, chopped (about 1/4-1/2 cup)

2-3T honey

1 bunch sweet potato greens, leaves only, rough-chopped

1 +/- tsp crushed red pepper, or favorite hot pepper sauce, to taste

Salt, to taste

Do the Thing

Heat grapeseed oil in medium skillet until shimmering. Add cubed squash, tossing occasionally while cooking over medium-high heat, until edges are slightly browned. Add sweet red peppers, and basil, cooking until wilted, 3-5 minutes. Add honey and your choice of crushed red pepper or hot pepper sauce to skillet, toss with vegetables to coat, reduce heat to medium low. Fold in chopped greens, cover, and cook, stirring just enough to prevent scorching, allowing greens to wilt. Remove from heat. Serve warm.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Meatless MANIC Monday
Nectarine | Shishito | Gorgonzola Flatbread Pizza

Monday thinks it gets the last word.

Monday is a stern schoolmistress-- everything you’ve got to give is rarely enough. You’re short on patience, paperclips, sandwich bags—temper. Traffic is a beast. The telephone you hate to answer just won’t give in. NOBODY answers their texts. (yes, I’m talking about you. And you. And YOU.)  Every little thing blamed on the fact that it’s Monday. I mean Monday is the boss of EVERYthing.

But what Monday doesn’t know is that I’m onto her, and her wicked ways. I’ve a strategy to combat her chaos. After a day of missteps, miscommunication, missed deadlines, and general Monday mayhem, I’m wrestling back control. Beginning with dinner plans.


Well, at least the kitchen. I’m in charge of my kitchen. I’m in charge MONDAY, through Sunday. My strategy? Keep a few things stocked in pantry, fridge, and  freezer, and call on them for these kinds of days. The kind of day when stopping at the store on the way home is just ONE THING TOO MUCH TO ASK. WAY TOO MUCH. Pulling out a recipe is asking too much, as well—and following instructions isn’t my strong suit when I’ve been asked to follow TOO MANY DIRECTIONS already.

You, too?

Take back your kitchen. Take back your world. TAKE BACK YOUR MONDAY. GET THE LAST WORD.

Start by eating a delicious dinner. There, there. It’s going to be all better.

Where’s my wine glass?


Let's play it fast and loose, here. This week, I'm going meatless (although a version with the same ingredients with the addition of Belle Vie Farm duck prosciutto was just as amazing, not long ago and I encourage you to try it if you can't imagine a meal without meat), and I'm running with everything I have on hand-- no stops on the way home. NOT ONE STOP.

Lavash, a type of flatbread that comes in packages where I shop. It lasts a bit on the shelf, as it is hermetically sealed, but you can also freeze the package, for longer life.

Olive oil-- about a tablespoon

Fresh mozzarella-- I keep a container in brine in the fridge-- it lasts a few weeks, and is fantastic on panini, with eggs and greens, and more.

Nectarine-- it took only one. I leave it unpeeled, and just cut half-moon slivers straight from the pit. Peaches or plums would make a nice substitute

Shishito peppers-- I keep a pint in the fridge all of the time when they are in the peak of season. Folks love to snack on them (see how, here), but don't stop there! They are a mild pepper with great flavor and perfect for roasting on and in dishes, as well as an appetizer.

Gorgonzola cheese-- You really don't need much-- just enough to crumble over the top, but choose a decent quality, and be sure to adjust your seasonings, especially salt, to accommodate the sharp, briny bite of this pungent choice. Not a fan of gorgonzola? Blue cheese, goat cheese, feta-- all good substitutes.

Do the Thing

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place pizza stone, if using, on middle rack of oven. Alternatively, use an inverted sheet pan to bake the pizza upon, for optimum crust crisp.

Brush lavash with a thin layer of olive oil. Strew thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese down center of pizza. Layer nectarine slices, halved shishito peppers, and crumbled gorgonzola atop. Using proscuito? Tear into small pieces and strew across topped pizza. Using crushed red pepper? You can add now, or season arugula topping, if using, after pizza is removed.

Cook until toppings begin to brown and crisp on the edges and cheeses are bubbly and melted, about 10 minutes. If lavash is getting dark before topping is cooked, turn oven to broil, allow to heat fully, and place pizza a few inches under heating element to reach desired results.

Optionals: I finished this particular pizza much they way Italians finish their famed Neapolitans, topped with a high pile of fresh, organic arugula, after removing from the oven. I like to dress the arugula with a little truffle oil, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and/or zest, a little salt (watch the saltiness closely-- remember that gorgonzola) and black pepper, and a healthy sprinkle of crushed red pepper if it hasn't already been added to the cooked pizza.

All that's left is to allow to cool a bit before slicing-- just long enough to pour a very slightly chilled glass of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignon. Your well-informed wine steward might have something to say about that, and trust me, I'm sure she/he knows much more about it than do I, but CS is my favorite and on Mondays, I get to choose the wine pairing. And where I'm eating (maybe not the dinner table), and what time I'm eating (whenever I darn well feel like it), and who I'm listening to (NO DEBATES. Maybe Dean Martin.)

And I'll be praying Tuesday is a little gentler on my mind. Hope it is for you, too.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Made in Austin: Coterie Sampler | The Coterie Market

There are certain months of the year here in Texas that become packed with the best social events of the year, and we have come upon 2 of them. The food community, especially, enjoys event after event this month and the next, and again in Spring. There are 5 events on the calendar this week, alone, and we all do our best to make every single one of them. In fact, as I write this very post, I am missing a book signing I intended to visit. Alas, we will not always make it, and we will regret those we miss. 

I'm awfully grateful I did not miss the Coterie Market's media party launch of their new Coterie Sampler! There's an embarrassment of food-lover riches in Austin every day of the year, however this particular day blogger and media representatives were gifted with a full box of locally-sourced artisan products-- the same Sampler box that consumers can now subscribe to receive monthly, with new surprises in every box. 

The celebration was held in the Keith Kreeger Studios, located at the rear of Big Medium, the art gallery responsible for the wildly popular East and West Austin Studio tours. Kreeger, whose iconic dinnerware can be seen gracing some of the finest tables both public and private, graciously demonstrated his process at the event, and Kellie's Baking Co.delighted each willing party-goer with their likeness printed on sugar paper and mounted on a cookie. Sips and bites were provided by Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix, and Contigo Restaurant catering. 

This morning, with a cup of steaming coffee, I got down to the business of play. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I giddily unpacked my box of treasures. I shot a few photos for Instagram (Hey! Follow me on Instagram! I'd LOVE that!), and reacted to each surprise in real time, sharing my thoughts in the captions, below. 

I'm having so much fun digging into the very generous local products sampler box from Coterie Market they so graciously gifted us all at their Sampler box media launch this week. I've loved Lavande Farm since I first discovered and photographed their lavender-laced products for the Texas Farmers' Market. I'm thrilled to receive a bottle of their natural Lavender Mosquito Repellent. These big 'ol Texas skeeters eat me alive and I HATE the scent and loads of chemicals in standard insect repellents. This comes not a moment too soon!

I would love to show you the thick, luscious, siren-song of a cookie--Rosemary 'Gin & Juice' Shortbread Tea Biscuits from Skull and Cakebones, that was included in my generous Coterie Market sampler box, but I ate them all. Every one. All by myself. Don't judge me! And don't try to get my biscuit, either!

Squeeeee! So excited to get my hands on these Lenoir Finishing Salts found in the Coterie Market monthly sampler box. The mix includes large flake sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, house-made Herbes de Tejas (dried herbs with chiles, lavendar, and fenugreek), and dhana dal (roasted coriander seed). I'ma sprinkle it on ALL of the things!

Have you tried Austin-made Sway water? A healthy alternative to sugar-laden drinks, Sway infuses purified water with organic fruits and vegetables like this refreshing Cucumber-Lime-Mint included in the Coterie Market monthly sampler.

Couldn't be more delighted to have had TWO opportunities to enjoy Confituras jams and jellies yesterday! 1) This full-sized producer's favorite seasonal preserve was included in the generous monthly box gifted by Coterie Market, and 2) Confituras "kicked off" a Kickstarter campaign at happy hour located at Salt and TimePACKED with well-wishers, yesterday. All cocktails and nibbles, both savory and sweet, were "jam-forward" and nothing short of the mouth-party we've all come to expect from Confituras. Funds raised will go towards building a commercial kitchen and a jam & biscuit shop.

It's not hyperbole to profess Sarah's Kale Chips the best I've ever had. Included in the generous Coterie Sampler box I was lucky to score yesterday, Sour Cream & Onion tastes natural and has a nice, solid texture that doesn't crumble to powder in your fingers. Count me a new fan!

"The Coterie Sampler is the brainchild of Coterie Market's founder Chelsea Staires Sun who founded the local e-purveyor in 2012. Since then, Coterie Market has earned the reputation of being the go-to resource for all things local, artisanal, and made with the utmost integrity in Austin. Wanting to offer these local Austin luxuries to people far and wide, Chelsea dreamed up The Coterie Sampler, a box of small-batch, choice, handmade products delivered to your doorstep every month. The Coterie Market team researches, tests, and hand-selects each of the items inside the box, and thoughtfully prepares a balanced assortment of food and craft items for customers to enjoy. The Coterie Market Team personally knows and associates with each of the local Austin Makers featured in the box and are on a mission to educate and delight customers with hand-selected, small-batch products so in turn the local Austin community continues to flourish. Follow them on TwitterFacebook, and on their website". (Source: Coterie Market Press Release, August 2015) 

Thank you to the Coterie Market, Big Medium, Keith Kreeger Studios, Contigo, Barbecue Wife, Skull and Crossbones bakery, Sway water, Lavande Farms, Confituras, Lenoir, Sarah's Kale Chips, Kellie's Baking Co, and Emily Kealy of Conversation Piece Marketing & PR.

Disclosure: As mentioned above, each product in the Coterie sampler was provided to media representatives free of charge, at a party where we were treated to food, fun, drink, and more. Opinions are my own. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Seasonal Plate | What to Eat in September

Eating in season saves money, provides optimal nutrition, and supports local farmers. In North America, find many of the vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, poultry, and seafood below, in season and in markets for the month of September. Need some inspiration for preparing your market basket bounty? Follow each food's link for recipe ideas, too.

Fruit and Nuts
almonds  + apples + chestnuts + cranberries + limes + melon + pears + plums + pomegranate + raspberries + tomatoes

Meat and Poultry

Varies by season, location, and weather patterns

North America: lobster

Primarily year-round species include ahi tuna + atlantic, true, and ling cod + catfish + flounder + grouper + mahi mahi + rainbow trout + sole + (atlantic) salmon + swordfish

Source: Eat the Seasons

And a couple of great links, with maps, charts, and interactive resources, to keep yourself, and those you love, eating well:
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