This Week’s Eats: 05/10/13

Two weeks’ worth, once again! I need to post more recipes and less recaps, and hopefully I’ll have time to do so again soon. Until then…


We finally went to Rainey Street.  At Banger’s, and at Kris’s insistence, I ordered the fried chicken sausage with braised greens, horseradish mustard, and a honey biscuit.  I was not disappointed. And their prices are reasonable, making this dinner a bit of a steal.


Of course, the Banger’s beer selection is also a draw.  I’ll never say no to an Austin Beerworks Black Thunder Schwarz (especially on draught!).


We also stopped by Craft Pride, where I couldn’t resist trying a pint of Guadalupe Brewing Company’s Texas Honey Ale. Texas honey is used in this gem with part of the proceeds benefiting Texas A&M Bee Research!  And it’s 7.32%!  If I keep drinking it, it’ll heal my allergies, right?  Positively medicinal.  Highly, highly recommended.


Our fish dish of the week was pan-fried salmon in lemon and herbs with lightly curried Brussels sprouts and buttered farfalle pasta.


Not bad at all.


We took my coworker Chaz to Burrito Factory this week, where he tried his first burrito suizo.  He actually finished it, too!


Challah and my plain chicken salad. (Not to be confused with my Southwestern Chicken Salad or my Chipotle Mayo Chicken Salad!)


The Brahman Wrap from The Green Cart, at BookPeople. A vegetarian Indian wrap, with rice, curry hummus, spinach, carrots, onions, sundried tomatoes, and corn.  Very good indeed.  We were there to see Robert Jensen talk about his new book, Arguing for Our Lives: Critical Thinking in Crisis Times, which I also highly recommend. Here’s a video of his talk.


How about some fried plantains with melted cheese and sour cream?  My friend ordered this at our recent brunch at Polvo’s, and I can see why it’s one of her favorite items.


I also ordered the chilaquiles with scrambled eggs and salsa verde.  This was fantastic, and so much food that I ate it for three breakfasts in a row.


In addition to the Fried Polenta with Creamy Mushrooms I developed this week, I also made some delicious pasta: fresh tagliatelle tossed with butter and topped with pork and venison sausage; homegrown, wilted basil and sage; parmigiano reggiano; and toasted pine nuts. Divine.


We also went to Dog and Duck Pub three times this week.  Last night, I had fish and chips.  Still the best in town, hands down.

We eat very well, and I’m grateful.  Life is good.


Fried Polenta with Creamy Mushrooms


For the polenta
1 cup polenta
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
olive oil

For the creamy mushrooms
2 cups cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tsp white flour
1/3 cup rosé wine
1/2 cup heavy cream

To garnish8712933926_6e65cedecf_b
balsamic vinegar (optional)
4 Tbsp finely grated parmesan
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 handful fresh basil, shredded

Large saucepan
Rectangular baking dish
Large skillet
Medium skillet
Large knife

1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt. Slowly add polenta and whisk to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until water is fully absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in one tablespoon of butter. Pour into a rectangular dish. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the counter top, then place in refrigerator. Cool for at least four hours, until polenta has set. To speed the process, you can cool it in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes instead.

2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat (about five minutes; watch carefully and don’t let them burn!). Set aside.

3. To make the polenta sticks, turn the dish upside down on a plate or cutting board. The polenta should be fairly loose and slide out easily. If it doesn’t, gently loosen it from the sides of the dish with a splatula. Make sure it is completely cooled through. Using a large knife, cut the polenta loaf into half-inch-wide strips, then half again horizontally, so that you are left with nice polenta sticks (see picture).


4. Melt remaining butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Place polenta sticks in the skillet and fry on each side until just browned, about ten minutes per side. Flip carefully with a spatula. Each piece of polenta should be ever-so-slightly crispy and golden brown.



5. Meanwhile, in a smaller pan, melt half the butter for the mushrooms over medium heat. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Sauté for about five minutes, until mushrooms are just cooked. Deglaze pan with the wine, and continue stirring, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the flavor as the alcohol evaporates. Add the other half of the butter and the flour and stir continuously until a roux is formed. Reduce heat to low. Add cream and stir thoroughly for an additional two or three minutes, until cream is heated through and well mixed. You will now have a very flavorful, creamy mushroom sauce. For a thicker sauce, add flour; for thinner, add water.

6. To serve, splash some balsamic vinegar on each plate (if desired), then add the fried polenta strips, using a slotted spatula to remove them from the pan while draining off most of the grease. Top with a dusting of parmesan, then spoon the creamy mushrooms over the top. Add a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and the shredded basil, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Cinco de Christos

My sidekick Alex and I decided to host another Greek Easter party this year, then noticed it fell on Cinco de Mayo.  So, in a typical stroke of utter brilliance, we threw a Cinco de Christos party!


Alex, your host.


And her amazing tzatziki.


Eric, the grillmaster.




The setting.


Greek salad by Karen (Alex’s mom!).


Melissa, Paola, and Karen.


Hummus with carrots and pita crisps.



The amazing Kris and Julie.







Chips and queso. With sausage. Oh, yeah.


The weather was practically Californian.  Not humid, for once!


Melissa’s moussaka.  Unbelievable!




Alex’s homemade baklava.  Heavenly.

Until next year!  Zapata anesti!

Eric’s Curry Hummus Devilled Eggs


12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
1 cup Baby Zach’s Smoked Thai Curry Hummus*
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tbsp paprika, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
a few dashes of Cholula sauce, to taste

1. On a clean surface, cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

2.Gently scoop out the yolks with a spoon and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

3. Add all of the dry ingredients and the Cholula, reserving 1 tablespoon of paprika. Mix thoroughly but gently with a fork.

4. Refill the sliced eggs with the mixture and dust with paprika to garnish.

5. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, then serve.

As you can see, Eric likes to over-stuff his eggs. And they’re delicious. Try it!

*We pick ours up on Sunday mornings at the Mueller Farmers Market.

This Week’s Eats: 04/26/13

shrimp and grits

Saturday brunch: shrimp and grits at Yellow Jacket Social Club. I can’t resist some shrimp and grits.


Jamie Oliver’s Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone & Parmesan recipe, with quinoa radiatore.  Mmm.

And now, the Disappointing Meal of the Week: we went to the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek to watch Liverpool vs. Chelsea (which, sigh), lured by the giant screen, potentially fun crowd (which, as it turned out, was about 80% Reds, so there’s that), and a “traditional English breakfast,” advertised as including two fried eggs, pork sausage, seared tomato, grilled mushroom, baked beans, and toast.”

Imagine my disappointment when, upon arrival, our server informed us that there was no English breakfast that day.  But, dry your tears, as it turns out, there is an English breakfast today!  We duly place two orders for the English breakfast.  Meanwhile, we order coffee.  We wait.  We start watching the game.  We wait.  The people in front of us get served and enjoy their migas and omelettes.  We drink more coffee and wait.  After about 35 minutes, the people on either side of us, who arrived 20 minutes after we did, get served their chips and queso.  After 45 minutes, when the people sitting behind us also get their food, we remind the server about our orders.  He mumbles something about getting it.  We wait.  And wait. We wait through half time.  It’s now been more than an hour since we initially placed the order, and everyone else in the theater has finished their food.

Finally, as the second half starts, our breakfasts arrive.  I am not impressed.English breakfast

I wasn’t expecting any blood pudding, but no toast?!  Watery beans? Anemic tomatoes? Boring frozen sausage links?  And no bacon whatsoever?!  Blasphemy.  I can’t even.  For real, y’all.  The Alamo Drafthouse usually has good food, and often has great special menus.  What were you thinking?

Also, they didn’t deduct our $10 ticket vouchers from our ticket, and we had to send it back.  I think we’ll be watching EPL from the comfort of our own living room from now on.  Or, you know, go to Fado.


Lunch at Taco Joint: two tacos, one beef sirloin street taco, and one al pastor. They have the best tortillas, and a great selection of salsas.



Continuing the breakfast theme… Homemade Horseradish Cheese Grits with Cholula, real bacon bits, and Hal’s Hot Love. This was my attempt to ameliorate my allergy-induced nasal congestion. It didn’t work, but it did make me feel better, because it was creamy and delicious.

sausage and grits

Yes, more grits. This time with those delicious Niman Ranch Uncured Apple Gouda Sausages, which I sliced, pan-fried with onions, then let simmer in white wine for a while. Served over reheated, leftover horseradish grits. Amazing.

breakfast tacos

And more breakfast! Homemade breakfast tacos with eggs, black beans, and more Hal’s.


And, finally, more tacos. Homemade tostadas with beef, Hal’s, Monterey Jack, and sour cream. I really need to think about varying my diet, no?