Gourmet Veggie Mama

Category Archives: Austin

Veggie BLTs (aka PLATs)

OMGVeggieBLTs.

You guys. So good.

PLAT

I’m super-excited, because, after a long dry spell with very little cooking inspiration, we have just started up with a new CSA. This is how I always used to cook — get the fresh, in-season, local veggies, and go from there. Waste not, want not (especially for dinner inspiration).

Then we had a new baby. And we decided to cancel our CSA for a bit, since we knew we wouldn’t be cooking that much for the early weeks, and well… we’ve been planning dinner in a less organic, more what-can-we-make-happen-in-the-next-few-minutes-before-meltdowns-occur sort of way for a while now. Yeah.

But we’re back in the groove! Last week was out first delivery from Farmhouse Delivery, which is kind of a local aggregate CSA for the Austin area. I love it already. In our first box, we got sweet corn on the cob, avocados, limes, giant slicing tomatoes and a beautiful head of butter lettuce, roots and all.

bushel

I also sprung for a weekly staples package, complete with organic, low-temp pasteurized milk from Mill King, fresh-baked multigrain bread and local free range eggs. Yes yes yes. Back.

We made a mixed grill with the corn and some tomatoes and peppers from our garden this weekend for dinner, served alongside a salad with red quinoa, feta, kalamata olives, red onions and some of that avocado, cubed. It was good stuff.

And, well, with such beautiful lettuce and tomatoes, I could think of only one thing: BLTs.

I am, of course, a vegetarian. But I live in a mixed household, and the omnivorous members of the family enjoy bacon. Naturally. Well, I remembered a staple from my childhood that I hadn’t had in a while — fried provolone. Yep, the cheese. If you fry deli slices of provolone on the stovetop, they bubble up, brown and become crispy, just like bacon, and they slide right out of the pan after you cool them slightly, with no need to add oil. Fried provolone is a fabulous substitute for bacon in a sandwich, and it did just the trick here. Plus I couldn’t resist adding some of that delicious avocado, because, let’s face it, just about everything is made better with a few slices of avocado. So, rather than a veggie BLT, perhaps we should call this sandwich a PLAT — provolone, lettuce, avocado and tomato.

I think sandwich recipes are kind of silly, since you basically just throw everything together according to your own taste, but here’s a good starting point for you, because this sandwich is just too delicious not to share!

Veggie BLTs (aka PLATs)
Author: 
Recipe type: sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
  • 2 slices sandwich bread (preferably freshly-made sourdough)
  • mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  • butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried with paper towels
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
Instructions
  1. Put a nonstick griddle or frying pan over medium high heat and add the cheese slices in a single layer. Allow to fry, turning the pan to ensure even heating as necessary, until bubbly and golden brown on bottom. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and then tear into strips or large pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the bread and slather one side with mayo. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover the bread with lettuce leaves, and layer the tomato slices on top, using as many of each as suits your taste. Top with the provolone, and add avocado slices.
  4. Assemble, cut in half and chow down!

 

Taste of North Austin 2014

Another Monday is over. So, naturally, it’s time to think about next weekend! I already know what my family will be doing on Saturday. Austinites — if you need something fabulous, fun and foodie- (and family-) friendly to do, I’ve got just the ticket.

DSC01551

Taste of North Austin is coming to the Domain this Saturday, June 21, from 11 am to 4 pm. There will be free entertainment, including live music and fun stuff for the kiddos, but if you want to taste the goods — you do, don’t you? — a wristband is required. It’s $20 for 10 tastes, and $10 more for VIP access.

Participating restaurants include local favorites Cru Wine Bar, How Do You Roll?, The League, Punch Bowl Social, Schlotzsky’s, Tiff’s Treats,* Tony C’s, Top Golf Austin, Urban – An American Grill, Zed’s Restaurant and many more.

* Man, does that ever remind me of college. Warm cookies delivered right to your dorm room — what could possibly be better?

With that plus live music, children’s entertainment including face painting, caricature drawings and balloon twisting, as well as prize giveaways, there’s a little something for everyone. VIP access includes entry into the VIP tent with shaded, soft seating, two drink tickets (for beer/wine) and a goody bag. Wristbands can be purchased at Guest Services at The Domain.

What: The Domain’s 7th Annual Taste of North Austin

When: Saturday, June 21, 2014

Time: 11 am to 4 pm

Where: The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 210, Austin

To find more details and updates about the event, follow along on the Facebook event page or The Domain’s website.

* Note: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation from Taste of North Austin for this write-up.

Negroni Week + A Slightly Less Bitter Pill

If you like cocktails, you probably know that this week (June 2-8) is Negroni Week. If you didn’t know, well, I’m telling you. Get thee to a local bar! Over 1,300 bars around the country are participating, including 19 bars here in Austin, and each will donate $1 for each Negroni sold to a charity of the bar’s choice. I’m not going to pretend they let me out of the house for this kind of thing night now,* so I’ll just link to Matt McGinnis’s excellent round-up of the Austin bars participating and what they have going on this week (along with some Negroni-inspired cocktail recipes) over at What Are You Drinking?

* New mommy = close to zero social life. I drink at home.

As for me, well, I have never been the world’s biggest Negroni fan. I find them to be very bitter. I will readily admit, however, that I don’t always take proper care of my sweet vermouth (meaning storing it in the fridge and using it quickly), so that may be a part of my issue. I promise I’ll try to do better.

But, bitter is big right now. So, if you’re like me, maybe you’d rather tame the bitter with a little sweet to see if you can acquire a taste for it. For a Negroni, I accomplish this by adding a splash of Grand Marnier.

Lauren's Special Negroni // Gourmet Veggie Mama

I think it works nicely with the flavors in the classic drink, and it makes the drink more palatable to those of us without a super-human ability to withstand bitterness. Cheers!

Lauren's Special Negroni
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz dry gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier
  • orange twist
Instructions
  1. Combine the gin, campari, sweet vermouth and Grand Marnier in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass over ice cubes. Garnish with an orange twist.

 

Happy New Year!

… a day late and a dollar short, I know, I know. But I have a good excuse! Her name is Amelia.

 Amelia

This little cutie arrived on December 10, and let me tell you, this whole mom-of-two thing is not for sissies! We are all doing fine, though, and settling into our new routine (such as it is).

That said, I plan to be around more in the coming weeks… and I’m reinstating Cocktail Thursday!* I’m not really up to cooking much just yet — thank goodness for friends and family and frozen meals — but we’re getting there… so we’ll start with drinks and simple, make-ahead meals, yes? Alright then.

*Yep, a cocktail now and then is fine while breastfeeding.

All of that said, I am honored and pleasantly surprised to again be on the Austin Chronicle’s list of the Top 10 Austin Food Blogs. Check out the list — there are some great finds on there! There are several of my old favorites on there, and a couple of new ones that I’m eager to check out.

I’ll be back next week with a fun new cocktail — promise!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce

You know what’s good? Brussels sprouts. I know, I know — they’re all the rage right now, but I have to say, I’m so glad they’ve been re-discovered and that people are actually doing them right!

Roasting is the way to go, hands-down. You’re not still cutting those little Xs in the bottom of your Brussels sprouts and boiling them are you? Roasting is so much easier, and so much tastier, too.

The hubby and I went out to dinner at Uchiko a little while ago, and, among the many dishes they wowed us with was a side of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts with sweet chili sauce. Since I love Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving and wanted to include them in our feast, I decided to try my hand at a similar recipe. Although ours didn’t come out as crispy (or, truth be told, as greasy*) as Uchiko’s, they were still awesome.

Roasted Brussels Spouts with Sweet Chili Sauce

* Not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing — they were utterly delicious.

I love the combination of soy sauce and sweet chili sauce on these, for a slightly Asian spin that was still perfectly at home with more traditional Thanksgiving foods. We had the rest of the sprouts (recipe testing, round 2) with a dinner of caramelized tofu with ramen noodles a couple nights ago, and it went great with that, too. Definitely a must-try!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce
Author: 
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs sweet chili sauce**
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Toss the Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the oil and soy sauce to coat them, and then spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, or until partially tender.
  3. Toss the sprouts and then raise the oven temperature to 400. Continue to roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until tender, crisp and browed, tossing every few minutes to ensure even browning.
  4. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and toss in a bowl with the sweet chili sauce. Serve immediately.
Notes
** Available at Asian groceries or the Asian foods section of some grocery stores.

 

Basil Ginger Cocktails

Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Priscilla Carruthers, AKA The Icebox Queen, who is a personal chef in Austin, Texas who specializes in healthy comfort food. She also writes an inspiring blog of the same name, which draws from her experiences as a chef as well as the local Austin food and wine scene and her “nomadic existence” all over Texas before settling in the capital city. I’m excited to test-drive a virgin spin on the delicious cocktail Priscilla has to offer us… and someday soon, the real thing. Those of us with basil overtaking our gardens this time of year can definitely appreciate this one!

I have the blackest of thumbs. Plants look at me and wilt. Nurseries close the blinds and turn out the lights when I pull into the parking lot. My dogs look at me with disdain when I try again, year after year, season after season, to grow another pot of herbs or a window garden with flowers. Even they can see the foreshadowing of my failure. People gift me with “easy to grow” plants, promising that, “No one can kill mint!,” and warning me to plant it in a pot to fight the spread. They shake their heads when they return to my house, realizing that plants taking over my garden would certainly beat the bare dirt and burnt up oregano that lives there now.

That is, until this time. This time, my mother didn’t just tell me what to do to have a garden, or send me home with a few plants. This time, she came with me to the nursery, and better yet, she came home with me and helped me plant them. And thanks to her, they live. They not only live, they thrive. Thanks to her fairy dusted green thumbs, I have more basil than I know what to do with. It’s starting to flower out there! I didn’t even know basil had flowers.

So this Basil Ginger Cocktail is dedicated to my mother’s verdant thumbs.

Basil Ginger Cocktails

If you don’t have as lush a garden as I do, (she giggles), store-bought basil works just as well, and it only takes a little. If you’d like this to be an adult beverage, I’d highly recommend Dripping Springs Vodka, or Tito’s; otherwise more club soda in place of the vodka would taste just as fine on a hot Austin day.

Basil Ginger Cocktail
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
Ginger Syrup:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
Drink:
  • 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp ginger syrup, or to taste
  • 1 oz vodka
  • club soda
  • ice
  • 1 lime wedge
Instructions
For ginger syrup:
  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil together in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add ginger, remove from heat, and let steep for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Once the syrup has the ginger strength you'd like, strain into a small jar or pitcher.
For the drink:
  1. In the bottle of a highball glass, muddle the basil with a splash of the lime juice and ginger syrup. (If you don't have a dedicated muddler, try the other end of a wooden spoon.)
  2. Add the ice, vodka, lime, and syrup. Fill the rest of the glass with club soda.
  3. Give it a swirl and garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy, and bask in a hot Texas summer with fresh herbs.

 

 

The Great Gatsby: Cocktail Edition!

I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. Of course, everyone is excited about because there’s a new movie out (and, yes, I am planning to see it at my earliest opportunity), but I just love being transported back to the world of the Roaring 20s. And it’s just a fantastic piece of literature. But today, I’m talking about it from a purely nostalgic point of view (that is, if one can be nostalgic for a time period in which one was never actually alive).

If you’d like to get in character and pretend you’re partying on Jay Gatsby’s lawn, you’re in luck — that is, at least if you’re in Austin (or one of the other cities with a Sullivan’s*). Sullivan’s is hosting a Gatsby Gala tomorrow evening, complete with dining, dancing and 20s-era cocktails and dishes. Guests are encouraged to come in full 1920s style and enjoy some delicious food, including a few vegetarian options, like deviled eggs and oysters (yes, I think oysters are arguably vegetarian).

Deviled eggs -- image courtesy of Sullivan's Oysters -- image courtesy of Sullivan's

And the cocktails — Oh, the cocktails! You all know I’m a sucker for classic cocktails, and they’ll have a few delicious-sounding ones on tap for the gala. I’m pleased to share the recipes with you, courtesy of Sullivan’s. Cheers!

Cocktails -- image courtesy of Sullivan's

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Daisitini
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Tanquerey Gin
  • ¾ oz St Germaine
  • ¾ oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • Lemon Twist
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a boston shaker.
  2. Shake 10-15 times and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

 
5.0 from 1 reviews
Gatsby Collins
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ oz SKYY Moscato Grape Infusions
  • ½ oz Aperol
  • 2 oz lemon sour
  • 1 oz soda water
  • Orange twist
Instructions
  1. In an iced boston shaker, add Vodka, Aperol and lemon sour.
  2. Shake 5-10 times to combine, add soda water and strain into an ice-filled tall glass.

 

* I did not receive any compensation for this post. I just happen to think Sullivan’s has an awesome party planned and I wanted to share! Photos and recipes are all courtesy of Sullivan’s.

Austin Bakes for West: Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies!

When I first posted about fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies, a number of you asked where you could place your order. Well, now I have an actual answer, and it’s for a great cause!

Austin Bakes for West

You may have heard (and if you live in Texas, you’ve certainly heard) about the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked West (comma) Texas last month. People lost their homes, their livelihoods, their pets and some (mostly first responders) sadly lost their lives. West has a special place in my heart. I’ve driven through this little town many, many times on the way to or from home in DFW and college in Austin, or between home in Austin and visiting in-laws and friends in DFW, and I always loved stopping for a kolache (cream cheese, please!) at the Czech Stop. It may not even be the best Czech bakery in town (West has a huge Czech population), but it sure is good, and it’s definitely convenient. One of my law school roommates, Amy, is from West, and I attended her wedding there a decade ago.* It’s a wonderful, friendly, tight-knit community, and it has been unimaginably devastated by the explosion.

*Sidenote: I am getting old.

We were just there, at the Czech Stop, on our way through last weekend. We stopped and got a half-dozen kolaches (please don’t ask how may of those I personally ate) for the road. We stood in a long line (much longer than usual) with various passers-through like us, as well as some firefighters from as far away as Calgary who were in town for the funerals, which had been held the previous day. It felt good to do a little something, to inject even a little money into this town’s struggling economy.

Now I can do a little bit more, and you can too. As we speak, I have a couple dozen fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies baking, and they’ll soon be on their way to a bake sale site.

Fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies

Austin Bakes for West is a city-wide bake sale benefiting recovery efforts in West. Please check the poster above for the site nearest you and come out and buy some cookies to help the folks of West out. And if fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies aren’t your thing (who ARE you?!), I won’t take it personally if you buy some of the plethora of delectable baked goods on offer from other area bloggers and bakers instead.

So, please come. And if you’re not in Austin, you can donate directly to Americare‘s relief efforts in West. Let’s help West get back on its feet!

It’s a Race for the Julep!

Note: This is the first of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Although many people’s minds are turning to margaritas with Cinco de Mayo coming up, it’s almost time for another big drinking day — the Kentucky Derby! I do love a good mint julep, so when Veronica Meewes of My Well-Fed Life (and my fellow AFBA member) offered to do a piece on the julep (so very intertwined with the Derby), I thought it was a fabulous idea. Read on for some great local spots (for the Austinites) and a couple of delicious recipes to make your own julep to sip while you watch the derby. Drink.well also happens to be one of my favorite local spots, so I’m pleased as punch to have the secrets behind a couple of their inventive twists on the julep. So, without further ado, may I introduce you to the lovely and talented Veronica Meewes?

Pineapple Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

Pineapple Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

I’ve always been captivated by the Kentucky Derby.  An excuse to dress up, wear big hats, bet on horses with tongue-in-cheek names, and drink boozy, refreshing drinks? Umm.. yes, please!  You can bet my dress is already picked out with a hat to match for this weekend’s race.

But I’ve always wondered where the tradition of drinking mint juleps came from.  The combination of bourbon, mint, sugar, and water is so ingrained in Derby culture, it’s nearly impossible to hear the word “julep” and not think of the races!  The word “julep” itself is derived from the Persian word for rose water, but according to Wikipedia, “the origins of the mint julep are clouded and may never be definitely known.”  But the first American julep sightings occurred in the late eighteenth century after Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky brought the beverage into popularity.

Now, in the course of two days each year, around 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.  And did you know they also sell ultra-premium mint juleps for $1,000 each??  Served in gold-plated cups with silver straws, these high rollers’ cocktails are made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, mint imported from Ireland, spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps, and sugar from Australia.  (The proceeds are used to support organizations dedicated to retired horses.)

Thirsty yet?  Here are a couple places hosting Derby parties this Saturday, May 4th in Austin.  Want to host your own?  Scroll down for a several delicious julep variations from the mixologists of drink.well!

Derby Day Polo Benefit @ The Austin Polo Club

Maybe you didn’t even know there was a polo club in Austin?  I sure didn’t!  But this is the third year of this annual event, where you can watch two live polo matches before the Derby begins at 5:40pm.  General admission is $20, while VIP runs $50-75 (how VIP are you??)  Proceeds benefit the Texas Canine and Horse Rescue and the horses of the Longhorn and Aggie polo clubs.

Downtown Derby Day @ The Bonneville

Prize baskets will be given out for best dressed and best hat while bartenders pour juleps in flavors like ginger and blackberry, or a sweet tea collins, if you prefer!  Enjoy a hot brown sandwich while they screen The Run for the Roses before the races start.

Toast the Cure @ The Austin Children’s Museum

Tickets are $30 online and $40 at the door and include open bar, bites from local restaurants, and live music from Waterloo Revival and The Possum Posse.  All proceeds benefit diabetes research.

Cinco de Derby Brunch @ TenOak

Can’t decide which one to celebrate?  Or maybe only have one day to do it all?  Kill two birds with one stone: julep and bloody mary specials and a Cinco de Mayo menu.

Sunshine Camps Derby Fundraiser @ Star Bar

Tickets are $20 and include one “bet”– additional ones may be purchased for $5.  Dress to impress, as there will be prizes for that too.  All proceeds go to Austin’s Sunshine Camps.

drink.well’s Derby Day Party

If you’re in it for the drinks, this is where you need to be (I’ll be here!)  The award-winning staff will be dressed to the nines and shaking up creative cocktails as usual, such as pineapple and baker’s rack juleps (recipes below), Jabronis (a hybrid julep/Negroni), and Seelbachs, an aperitif named after the Louisville hotel where it was created.

Baker's Rack Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

Baker’s Rack Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

Baker's Rack Julep
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Apple Brandy
  • ½ oz Cinnamon & Clove Infused Brown Sugar Syrup
  • 7-8 Mint Leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Muddle mint with the cinnamon-clove syrup.
  2. Add rye whiskey & apple brandy and crushed ice to the julep cup and swizzle until the cup is frosty. Top with additional crushed ice.
  3. Grated fresh nutmeg & cracked black pepper on top of the cup. Garnish with mint, cinnamon stick and, if you desire, a few slices of fresh apples.

Pineapple Julep
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Bols Genever
  • ½ oz Raspberry Syrup
  • 2 Barspoons Housemade Pineapple Preserves
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 1 oz Sparkling Wine (we use McPherson Extra Dry)
Instructions
  1. Muddle the citrus with the preserves and syrup.
  2. Shake with the genever and strain into a julep cup.
  3. Top with a mound of crushed ice and then top with 1 oz of Sparkling Wine.
  4. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, fresh raspberries and mint.

Cocktails at FINO

I love love love FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar. It’s my new favorite restaurant in Austin, aside from Wink… maybe. The food and wine list stands out at Wink, but, since I tend to veer toward the tasting menu there, it definitely qualifies as a special-occasion restaurant. FINO, however, is my go-to date night pick. And the cocktails? Oh my, but they are amazing.

On our last visit there, I sampled two cocktails, and they both blew my mind. The first was dubbed the Brief Introduction, and it included Flor de Caña 4-year rum, Velvet Falernum, lime, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and grenadine.

Brief Introduction cocktail ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

The layers of flavor — wow! When dining out, I often eschew the simpler flavors of a classic cocktail for a glass of wine with some complexity, but in this case, I didn’t have to make the decision. This cocktail was as multi-layered as a lovely wine, and I’d expect no less from the mixologists at FINO.

The hubby went with the Professional Courtesy (yes, we were all about formality), which included Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Amaro Ramazzotti, Bénédictine, Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur and orange bitters.

Professional Courtesy cocktail ~ FINO

Check out the giant ice cube! It was a very different drink from mine, but still lovely and complex. I think we both chose perfectly for our respective preferences.

To accompany dessert, instead of going with my classic choice of port or another dessert wine, I went with one of FINO’s “after-dinner cocktails.” Though I was a wee bit skeptical, I was not disappointed. I can’t recall the exact composition of the drink,* but I do remember that it starred a house-made coffee liqueur, and it was sublime with our dessert of house-made donuts with sugar and cardamom accompanied by coffee sorbet. I felt like I had died and gone to dessert heaven.

* Is anyone really surprised at this point?

After dinner cocktail

While I do love mixing it up in our home bar, it is nice to get out every so often and let the pros do the heavy lifting.

Cocktails at FINO

 

Cheers!

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