Daily Food
Holiday Dessert Contest Winners Recipes Revealed
The recent Holiday Dessert Recipe Contest at Faraday's Kitchen Store (1501 RR 620 North, 266-5666) attracted more than 50 entries and a large, enthusiastic crowd to the store on the day of the judging, November 15th. Linda Adams won both the Grand Prize and the Cakes/Cupcakes division with a recipe for Fresh Pear Cake she adapted from a Houston Junior League Cookbook years ago. With pears in season, it should make a tasty addition to any holiday table.

Fresh Pear Cake
4 cups peeled and chopped pears
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Combine all three ingredients in a bowl. Stir often and let stand for one hour.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
2 tsp baking soda
Sift together. Add to the pear mixture and mix with a spoon.

2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk together in a bowl and then stir into fruit/flour mixture with a spoon. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. Pour cake batter into pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the pan over to release cake. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 6-7 minutes. Drizzle over cake. Serves 12-16.

6:59PM Mon. Dec. 1, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas
Two local businesses are ready and willing to help out with tasty dessert selections to complement your Thanksgiving feast. No matter what the family sweet tooth craves, these folks have something to satisfy.

The talented ladies at Sweet Tempered (4301 W. Wm. Cannon, Bldg. B-120, 892-9100; www.sweettemperedaustin.com)have four delicious holiday pie options from which to choose: Harvest Pumpkin ($9.99); Pecan ($14.99);Apple Pie ($15.99); and Chocolate Cream ($13.99). All pies are 9 inches and will yield 8-10 servings. Pies must be picked up at the bakery by 6pm on Wednesday, November 26th.

While pie may be traditional at Thanksgiving, the folks at Teo (1206 West 38th, 451-9555;www.caffeteo.com) suggest you try one of their gelato cakes this holiday season. Each rectangular terrine has three flavors of one layer year and should be sliced to reveal a stripe of each delectable flavor selection. Choose from I Noci (the nut) with peanut butter, hazelnut, and pistachio gelato; Il Zucca (the pumpkin) with pumpkin, Bourbon vanilla, and cinnamon; and Il Sol (the salt) with salted caramel, bacio, and Bourbon vanilla. Each gelato cake serves 10 and costs only $19.95. And if the family prefers a scoop of gelato on top of any flavor of holiday pie, why not consider a pint or quart of one of the following - pumpkin or gingersnap gelato for pumpkin pie, Bourbon vanilla or salted caramel gelato for pecan pie, cinnamon or salted caramel gelato for apple pie, cranberry sorbet as a palate cleanser? The possibilites are endless. Gelato cakes, pints, or quarts can be picked up until 10pm on Wednesday, November 26th.

5:22PM Mon. Nov. 24, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé!
"At one past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. Banners announce the news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!"

The annual arrival of the new wines is always an occasion for celebration at Austin's popular French restaurants and this year, the Texas Culinary Academy joins in the fun, owing to the French heritage of their Cordon Bleu curriculum. Here's what's happening.

Chez Nous (510 Neches, 473-2413, www.cheznousaustin.com) The arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau always inspires a festive atmosphere at Austin's oldest French bistro. They will be open the regular hours with the regular menu, pouring plenty of fresh, new wines.

Aquarelle (606 Rio Grande, 479-8117, www.aquarellerestaurant.com) The proprietors of this little French jewel box invite you to attend their Beaujolais Soiree. The fete will take over the restaurant for the evening and will feature a variety of light, young wines paired with a casual street food menu. Look for reasonably priced wines by the glass and such delectables as a plate of imported cheeses, baguette sandwiches stuffed with steak, beef Burgundy,or coq au vin, served with pomme frites. Food items and glasses of wine will be priced individually. Thursday, Nov. 20, 5-9pm.

Ventana Restaurant, Texas Culinary Academy (11400 Burnet Rd., 339-3850, www.tca.edu) Sommelier instructor Jane Nickles will host Beaujolais Nouveau and Beyond - an hors d'oeuvres and Beaujolais Nouveau reception followed by a four-course dinner showcasing dishes and wines from the region around Lyon, France. $60 per person, reservations necessary. Friday, Nov. 21, 6pm.

7:03PM Wed. Nov. 19, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Interesting New Flavors
One of the most interesting aspects of this job is the opportunity to sample new food products when they are about to reach the local market. Over the past few months, I 've received samples of bread crumbs, chicken stock, various spices and condiments ( you should see the amazingly diverse selection of spices and condiments in my pantry just now!), breakfast cereals, several flavors of instant mashed potatoes (yuk), imported chocolates (alas, all melted), plus wines and liqueurs (always shared with other writers). None of these items really warranted much mention, but there were also some serious keepers. The best of the bunch was a box of six Sweet Tango apples developed by apple breeding researchers at the University of Minnesota. These were undoubtedly the best tasting apples I've ever encountered - crisp, sweet, spicy - really marvelous for eating and with enough body to hold up well when baked ( or so I imagine). I liked them so much that all I could think about was all the things I wanted to make with them - caramel apples, holiday pies, apple dumplings, apple crisps - but there were only six of them in the box and they were eaten long before any cooking could actually take place. These remarkable apples won't even be on the commercial market until the fall of 2009, but I promise to remind you about them when they arrive in Austin stores next year.

11:45AM Tue. Nov. 18, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Break Out Your Best Holiday Dessert Recipe for Faraday's New Contest
Last year's Holiday Cookie Recipe Contest at Faraday's Kitchen Store (1501 RR 620 North, 266-5666) was such a success that organizers have decided to seek out the best Holiday Desserts in Austin for this year's competition. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Pies,Tarts & Tortes; Cakes and Cupcakes, Light & Healthy Favorites and; Other (for anything that doesn't fit in the first three). A Grand Prize winner will be chosen from the individual category winners and customers in attendance the day of the judging are encouraged to vote for a People's Choice winner. There will be prizes from sponsoring vendors, store gift certificates, and the grand prize is a 5qt Viking stand mixer. (I LOVE my Viking mixer!)
The judging will take place in the store at 11am on Saturday, November 15th. Entries must be dropped off between 8:30-10:30am that day. Desserts will be available for the public to taste from 11am-3pm and prizes will be awarded at 4pm. Judges for this year's event will be Chef Kelly Casey, pastry chef from Hudson's on the Bend;Chef Steve Mannion,Director and co-founder of the Culinary Academy of Austin and;Sharon O'Quinn, manager of Faraday's.
Potential contestants must submit a registration form and signed rule sheet by Friday, November 7th. For more information and entry forms, stop by the store or go to www.faradayskitchenstore.com. Good Luck!

11:57AM Fri. Oct. 31, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

A Satisfied Crowd Feasted on the Bounty of the Fall Harvest for a Good Cause
The annual Green Corn Project benefit on the grounds of Boggy Creek Farm is always one of my favorite tasting events on the Austin charity calendar. This year, the fall weather was marvelous and the new arrangement of vendor booths and dining tables really improved the overall traffic flow around the farm house. The higher number of food vendors and stellar quality of the seasonally-focused food made for a very satisfying afternoon for the crowd. Kudos to new organizer Lisa Fox and the hard-working all-volunteer staff of the Green Corn Project. My only suggestion to participating chefs would be in the area of portion control. Although this is a tasting event, many of the chefs were serving overly generous portions during the first hour, causing food to run low as early as 2:30pm when the event was not scheduled to end until 4pm. Organizers working the gate wisely cut prices to folks who bought tickets after the food began to wane, but guests who had purchased advance tickets and arrived towards the end of the afternoon found the pickings pretty slim. There are two solutions to this problem (1)encourage chefs to begin the day serving smaller portions and (2)limit the running time of the event from noon to 3pm rather than 4pm. After the jump is a list of some of the great food we tasted as we made our way around the front yard of the farm.

10:34AM Fri. Oct. 31, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

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Spend Halloween in a Local Haunted Hotel
This time of year, Austin's historic Driskill Hotel (6th & Brazos, 391-1712) makes the most of its designation as the "most haunted hotel in Texas" with a special Driskill After Dark package deal. Guests can get special rates on accommodations as well as a guided tour of the identified haunted areas of the grand old hotel, the opportunity to observe all the garish and ghoulish costumed Halloween festivities on East 6th Street from the Driskill's popular balcony overlooking the scene, plus treats (or tricks) at turndown time. Not to be outdone, Driskill Grill Executive Chef Jonathan Gelman and Pastry Chef Tony Sansalone have created a special five-course Fright Night tasting menu featuring such items as Monster Maitake Mushrooms, Hatchet Chop of Venison, and the Devil's Chocolate Crunch Bar. Dinner is $85 per person or $135 per person with wine pairings and reservations are suggested

5:00PM Tue. Oct. 28, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Eat Popcorn to Raise Money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Business partners Nikki Dugas and Nadia Elhaj, owner of Cornucopia Popcorn Creations (1914 Guadalupe, Suite B, 477-2676, will culminate a month-long fund drive with a benefit party at their store on Wednesday, Oct. 29th. at 6pm. The party will include complimentary pink cocktails, popcorn samples, and a screening of the irreverent and life-affirming documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer. Proceeds from the sale of all five pink popcorn flavors and the specially-made pairs of breast cancer awareness popcorn balls will benefit the Komen organization. In addition, guests will receive breast self-examination pamphlets and key chains decorated with various sized marbles (to help women in detecting and describing potential tumors)provided by the Austin affiliate of the Susan G. Komen organization.

4:29PM Tue. Oct. 28, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

October Is Still the Busiest Month
The second annual Texas Wine and Song Festival will showcase the best in regional wines, music, and food at the new Copper Tank Events Center (504 Trinity). Musical entertainment will be provided by the Gourds, Carolyn Wonderland, and Suzanna Choffel, and representatives of several Texas wineries and distilleries will be on hand pouring their finest vintages and providing seminars on wine, mixology, and food-and-wine pairing. Some of Austin's top restaurants will be dishing out samples of delicious signature dishes. Proceeds from this fun event will benefit the Sims Foundation and the newly formed Texas Wine & Song Foundation, a nonprofit providing scholarships and grants for the study of Texas enology and viticulture. Tickets cover the cost of 10 food-and-wine samplings and are $30 in advance at www.texaswineandsong.com or $35 at the door. Sunday, Oct. 19, 3-10pm…

If you missed the first Austin Restaurant Week event at the beginning of this past week, you've got a second chance to enjoy an economical experience at some of Austin's finest eateries. All that is required is a trip to the Web at RestaurantWeekAustin.com to check out the complete list of participating local restaurants and then a reservation for a delectable three-course prix fixe meal for either $25 or $35, depending on the price range of the restaurant. This weeks dates are Oct. 19-22. Bon appetit!

4:10PM Fri. Oct. 17, 2008, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

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