Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grilled Chicken

We’ve been watching a lot of Giada De Laurentiis lately, thanks to the giant flat screen TV my mother bought us for Christmas, along with the new DVR we’re paying way too much for. I’ve been a fan of my fellow five-foot foodie for a while, but she’s really been on a lemon kick lately. I recently bought a whole bag of lemons at Central Market (mainly with cocktails in mind), so all that sharp footage of lemon sauces, lemon parfaits, lemon chicken, and lemon cookies inspired me to create this simple recipe.

On Memorial Day, we made her Lemon-Cumin Chicken on the grill out by the pool, so we had some of that left over. You could use plain baked chicken breasts, pan-fried chicken, or shredded roast chicken for this recipe; whatever you prefer or have on hand. The added flavor of the grilled crust, marinated in cumin and lemon juice, really added something special to the final dish, though. Try it sometime.

This simple, bright recipe is a good pasta dish for summer; it’s creamy comfort food without being too heavy, and pairs well with chicken, shrimp, salmon, or grilled portobello mushrooms.

4 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
1 lb. capelli d’angelo pasta (angel hair)
olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
zest of two lemons
juice of two lemons
1 cup heavy cream (or sour cream)
1 heaping Tbsp flour
salt, to taste
1 tsp black pepper, or to taste
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste

1. Fill a large stock pot with water, salt liberally, and add a splash of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon). Bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for approximately five minutes, or until al dente. Test a strand to see if it’s done; if not, boil for an additional minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter and add sliced chicken, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, until chicken is warmed through and garlic is fragrant but not burned. Add the lemon zest and juice, and cook for about two additional minutes, stirring constantly. Drizzle in cream, stirring while doing so, then add flour. Mix in with a light hand until flour is well absorbed into the sauce, and a thicker consistency begins to form. Reduce heat to low. Taste and re-season as needed.

3. Drain pasta and return to pan. Lightly toss with a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Using a slotted pasta fork, plate the pasta. Pour the chicken and lemon garlic sauce out over each helping, and serve immediately.
Lemon Garic Pasta with Grilled Chicken

These pictures don’t really do justice to this dish; it’s way tastier than they make it look! I also went a bit nuts with the pasta portions sizes. Anyway, try it, and let me know what you think! If you like lemon infused savory dishes, I bet you’ll love it, too!

First Grill of the Summer

Well, after more than nine months, our pool has finally been renovated and refilled.  Everyone in our building is so excited.

It reopened on Friday afternoon, and of course we jumped in immediately after work.  And we ended up staying poolside and grilling on both Saturday and Sunday!  While our first grill of the summer was a little belated, it was still absolutely delectable! Here’s a sampling:

Grilled zucchini and bison dogs.

The Grillmaster.

Laura’s white wine sangria.

Asian black bean chili oil marinated chicken thighs (with a pinch of brown sugar) and sweet potato wedges by Mike.

My latest invention: Austin bison dogs. Grill these amazing bison links from Wheatsville Co-op, along with some zucchini marinated in olive oil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.  Serve on grilled tortillas (pictured here: one corn, one flour) with some melted cheddar and a splash of hot sauce (we like Cholula Chili Garlic).  A little healthier, a little lower carb–a lot of flavor.

Hope y’all are having a great summer!  What are your favorite grilling recipes?

Greek Easter

Χριστός ἀνέστη! It’s Greek Easter!

Alex and I hosted a small but entertaining crowd poolside on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Greek (aka correct) Easter which, somewhat disappointingly, fell on the same date as Western Easter this year. We had a good time nonetheless, enjoying several Greek Easter staples such as lamb (we weren’t ambitious enough to roast an entire goat, sorry!) and red Easter eggs.

Due to the fact that I’ve just changed jobs and have a crazy work schedule, plus that I have a paper due tomorrow in the class I am taking for credit, I won’t be posting any recipes today. But check back later in the week! Or let me know in the comments which ones you’re most interested in making at home.

Greek Easter meze spread

Alex, your fearless host.

Pure Luck Farm Texas Feta, with homegrown basil, olive oil, and cracked pepper

Homemade hummus, using Vefa Alexiadou’s recipe.

Greek Easter eggs!

Lamb skewers with meat provided by Wheatsville Co-op, multi-colored bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and homegrown basil and mint, marinated in olive oil, 25 year aged balsamic vinegar, and garlic.

On the grill.

The cook.  He’s turning Texan!

Kabobs a’cookin’ – with two veggie ones for Eric.

Alex and her delicious Greek village salad.

Delicious charred kabobs.

The dessert table (detail).

Greek Easter cookiesexcellent with coffee.

Strawberries and home-whipped cream, from Mike and Laura (check out her Austin food blog!).  Mmm.

Ruffled milk pie.

Alex’s homemade baklava – made from scratch!  So sweet and delicious!

Tsougrisma

Alex and I cracking each other’s Easter eggs to see who will have a lucky year!  The winner of each round continues with another person and their fresh egg, going all around the feast, until all the eggs are cracked but one – and the person left with a whole egg at the end is the winner.

The winner.

Kalo Pashcha! Καλό Πάσχα! Happy Easter!

Review: Austin Land and Cattle Company

Pan seared Muscovy duck breast from the Rio Grande Valley, served in a ginger chile glaze with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.

I recently enjoyed my first meal at Austin Land and Cattle Company in more than ten years.  The institution, located in the shadow of House Park Field in a low-key—but now definitely gentrified—Sixties-era strip mall, seems quaint and comfortable compared to the many aspirational, social climbing, “upscale” restaurants that have popped up all around town in the years since I graduated from The University.  Austin Land and Cattle was a go-to restaurant when my parents used to come visit in the Nineties, and history repeated itself a few weeks back when, having failed to get a table at Bess due to a retrospectively hilarious series of mishaps and miscommunications, we decided to check out Austin Land and Cattle for old times’ sake. As soon as we walked through the door, we were relieved by the consolations of familiarity. As my dad said, “It’s just like I remembered, now that we’re here!”

The main thing on my mind was the crab-stuffed mushroom appetizer that constituted—along with their lush, yeasty rolls and whipped butter—my main memory of the restaurant. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure Austin Land and Cattle used to serve baked crab-stuffed mushrooms with cheese and herbs. I wouldn’t forget something like that. But, alas, their menu now contains only Shiner Bock battered mushrooms. However, new delights were in store! My stepmother and I immediately fell for the New Mexican green chiles stuffed with goat cheese, which carried a surprising kick. This unusual but memorable appetizer featured large, grilled green chiles stuffed to bursting with chèvre, always a nice balance for spicy flavors. These were so rich that, between the four of us, we could barely finish them!

Humorously, only my dad ordered a steak; my partner is vegetarian, and created his own meal of salad and sides (which he was very pleased with, I might add), and my stepmother accidentally ordered a portabella mushroom “steak.” To be fair, the menu is a little misleading. The portabella steak is listed under “house specialities,” along with sirloin kabobs, pork chops, duck, steak, and chicken breast. The waitress should’ve recognized the confusion when my stepmother asked for a side of Bearnaise. Instead, she was all ready to tuck into her juicy steak, and was instead confounded by a pile of grilled vegetables and a giant portabella cap with nothing underneath! She reported that it was in fact quite satisfactory; but a portabella cap is necessarily going to be a little disappointing when one is expecting steak.

I couldn’t decide between the localish Muscovy duck with ginger chile glaze and the grilled Atlantic salmon with tomato-basil vinaigrette and Texmati rice. I finally settled on the former because it seemed more adventurous, and I hadn’t eaten duck since living in the UK (and, even then, most of the duck I ate was incorporated into a dish called “Mushroom Curry Duck” from a place called Happy Garden Chinese Takeaway). When the dish arrived, I was immediately taken with its presentation and the glistening succulence of the duck medallions. The first bite brought back an immediate reintroduction to the distinctively fatty and richly flavored familiarity of this particular, underutilized bird.  Apparently, the Muscovy breed, which tolerate hot weather much better than common ducks (thus explaining the origin of my dinner in the Valley), has become very popular recently. I vote that this is a very good thing! I would’ve never thought to pair seared duck with a sweet-and-tangy sauce such as ginger chile, but it was excellent. Of course, Austin Land and Cattle also served up some rich and garlicky mashed potatoes, which paired nicely with the greasy meat. A portion of standard grilled asparagus rounded out the plate, and also provided an adequate balance to the otherwise gout-inducing grub.

All of this was washed down with a bottle of Penfolds Cabernet-Shiraz, which I can also recommend for price-conscious wine lovers, having experienced the popularity of Penfolds as a weeknight table wine during my brief stint as a wine seller in Essex. A perfect compliment to a night of nostalgic familiarity!

On our way out, we noticed that there were also several smiling diners in the bar area, which you pass through on your way to the more restrained, candle-lit main restaurant. The night we were in, several fresh-faced tables of twentysomethings were enjoying burgers and Texas basketball. In fact, Austin Land and Cattle has an impressive bar menu featuring sampler plates of their signature dishes alongside the expected (green chile Frito pie) and the unexpected (fish and chips, which I’ve heard are very good!). They also have happy hour discounts; I will definitely be evaluating this bar’s potential as a regular after-work stop. The atmosphere is simultaneously dark and serious yet friendly and comfortable, and it’s also within easy walking distance of my house!

Another bonus: we got a table with thirty minutes’ notice at 8:00pm on a Saturday night, and there was ample parking in the shopping center, since all the other establishments were closed. All in all, a great re-visit of an old favorite. It’s nice to know that some Old Austin restaurants can hang around, evolve slowly, yet take enough chances to remain interesting and relevant.

Austin Land and Cattle Company
1205 N Lamar Blvd  Austin, TX  78703
(512) 472-1813