Sunday, March 26, 2017

Poached Salmon with Brown Butter Sauce - Wheatsville Spring Seafood!

Disclaimer: I received a $50 gift card to Wheatsville Coop for purposes of this post.

I'm excited to bring you another collaboration with Wheatsville! If you're not from Austin, Texas, you probably don't know about this awesome market. Wheatsville Food Coop is a full service, natural foods cooperative grocery store, which has been serving the central Austin community since 1976. This month, I was challenged to welcome in Spring with a seafood recipe.

When I think of Spring, I think of the house I lived in when I was 8 years old, with the pond in the backyard. Every spring, the town would hold a fishing derby in that pond--it actually was on town land, but I considered it my back yard--and for the few years we lived there I'd rush down on that weekend in the spring to fish with my dad.

I rarely caught anything, but fishing is a fond memory I have with my dad, who passed away in 2007. Although we would catch trout or pike in that pond (and we'd never eat them, they always tasted too much like pond water), my dad would cook salmon for us often. It was one of the few things he could actually cook well, as he was a pretty terrible cook in all other cuisine.

In short, spring reminds me of fish, and reminds me of my dad, so I am so happy to make this recipe for you all. My dad used a cream sauce on his dishes, but for this I used browned butter to cut down on the heaviness. After all, the days are getting longer and the need for thick and creamy dishes is more of a winter thing.

I paired this fresh spring dinner with crispy roasted brussels sprouts and some boiled new potatoes with butter and chives. It would also go lovely with some fresh grilled asparagus if you don't want to turn on the oven. And feel free to drizzle the sauce over everything, it's delicious!

Poached Salmon with Brown Butter Sauce

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 boullion cube
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped*
  • 1 lemon, half juiced, half sliced

-In a deep skillet, bring the water, wine, vinegar, and boullion cube to a boil. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pan to cover the fillet.

-Reduce to a simmer, then gently drop in the fillet, flesh-side up. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until firm and opaque. Set aside in foil to keep warm.

-In a small saucepan, brown the butter: over medium heat melt the butter and heat until foam has bubbled up and then subsided, swirling every couple of seconds. The butter will be light brown and have a nutty aroma.

-Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the dijon, dill, and lemon juice.

-Serve the salmon fillet topped with lemon slices and drizzled with the browned butter sauce.

*I forgot I bought fresh dill from Wheatsville for this recipe, and ended up using dried. It'll taste even better with fresh!

Photos by my extremely talented fiancé. If you'd like to hire him for any photo, logo, or other graphic needs, check out his website!

Do you live in Austin, Texas? Do you want to win a $30 Wheatsville gift card? Leave a comment and let me know you live in the ATX and I'll randomly pick one winner!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Madonna of Food - Cauliflower Risotto


Meat, vegetable, starch. That's how all my meals have started from the beginning of time. So now that I'm trying to reduce my carbs, that 1/3 of my plate is somewhat hard to get around. And now that I'm #SweatingfortheWedding I'm more conscious than ever of what's on my plate and in my belly, as I try to shed off a dress size.

Thankfully, cauliflower has positioned itself as the Madonna of the food world--always reinventing itself. When you're eating a plant-heavy, low-carb diet (which I keep trying and failing to do, tbh) it's nearly magical. Cauliflower can be mashed potatoes. It can be pizza crust. It can be rice.

It can even be risotto.

Now, it'll never actually taste like fluffy potatoes or starchy, delicious rice, but it'll come close. I love trying to recreate my favorite starchy foods with this crazy chameleon of a veggie. This risotto came out pretty great. It pairs well with grilled chicken or steak, or some marinated portobello mushroom slices.

Let me know what you eat it with!

Also... It is two weeks from my launch date for my book, How to Eat a Lobster and Other Culinary Enigmas Explained. I am BEYOND excited! Quirk was kind enough to send me a box of my books, and I'm running an Instagram giveaway to give a lucky reader a copy. Check it out and enter! And, if you leave a comment here, I'll add an extra entry into the hat for you :)

And now, onto the recipe!

Cauliflower Risotto
  • 1 head cauliflower, riced/shredded (or one bag riced cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream OR coconut cream
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe's 3 cheese blend)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water slurry (if needed)
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp pesto
  • 3 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp oil of choice (I used coconut)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

-In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil until shiny. Add the onions and garlic and cook until transluscent and fragrant. Add the wine and let reduce by 2/3.

-Add the cauliflower and mix well. Pour in the stock and cook until cauliflower is just soft. Add the heavy cream and mix to combine. If the mixture is too loose and liquidy, add the corn starch mixture and combine well.

-Fold in the remaining ingredients. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

2017 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Austin's Best Tapas


You know what's weird? These are literally the ONLY Tapas places in Austin.* Get with it, Tapas restaurateurs! We need more of these delicious Spanish small plates in our fine city! And you'll definitely be in good company with these restaurants.

*Correct me if I'm wrong in the comments!

Bullfight - Bullfight has a solid happy hour - half off liquor and snacks - but the rest of the menu is solid, too. The duck meatballs are a clear star, and I found the calamari was fresh and perfectly crisp. The bacon wrapped stuffed dates were also incredible. If you want delicious small plates, an extensive drink menu, and an authentic Spanish Tapas experience, check out Bullfight.
4807 Airport Boulevard, Austin, TX

Photo via Foodie is the New Forty

Winebelly - Come for the wine, but fill up your belly while you're there! The Spanish-Mediterranean style food is delicious, fresh, and pairs wonderfully with the extensive wine menu. Try the duck bruscetta, a delicious take on the Italian classic.
519 W Oltorf St, Austin, TX 

Image via A Time to Kale

Barlata - Barlata will always hold a special place in my heart, because it is the first place I learned about squid ink pasta. It's also the place I learned that coca cola and red wine actually taste fantastic together. Their traditional Spanish tapas are the closest to authentic that I've found in the city, and each one is packed full of flavor. Bring friends, and try as many dishes as you can. Trust me.

Photo via Sushi Girl ATX

MIA - MIA is one of the new restaurants in The Doman's trendy Rock Rose area, and was one of the first to open when the street began construction. These small, Italian-tapas plates pack tremendous flavor. The meatballs are perfectly cooked, in a delicious house-made sauce. Select tapas are 2-for-1 during Happy Hour, an excellent deal considering the quality. Start your night out on Rock Rose at MIA next time you head out for drinks.
11420 Rock Rose Ave, Ste 120, Austin TX

Vox Table - Finally, my favorite restaurant in Austin. I have never once had a bad meal here, it's all been excellent. The menu changes slightly with the seasons, so you won't always find the delicious Yorkshire Pudding with beef cheek, or the potato churros, but definitely order them if they're there. The Old Fashioned menu is just a bonus (their cocktails are SO GOOD), and their entire cocktail menu is so well made. Make sure you save room for dessert!
1100 S Lamar Blvd #2140, Austin, TX

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2017!

2017 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Austin's Best Old Fashioneds


There's a reason why Old Fashioneds are called Old Fashioneds. They've been around for a long time, and the recipe remains fairly simple: whiskey or bourbon, bitters, sugar, orange peel, and a cherry. Sometimes we get fancy on the cherries (Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries = you're doing it right) or put the ice in a perfect cube (typically this means I Can't Afford To Drink Here) or shake it up altogether and add in something crazy. It's my all-time favorite cocktail, and here are some of my faves!

Photo by Arianna Auber, American-Statesman.

Vox Table - A whole MENU of Old Fashioneds? I'm in heaven. This is literally my favorite restaurant in town, and all of their cocktails are so well made--I didn't know that there was a difference between cocktails made by an expert, and those sloshed together at a dive. Vox has shown me the light.
1100 S Lamar Blvd #2140, Austin, TX

Prohibition Creamery - The star of the menu is clearly their BOOZY ICE CREAM, but their cocktail menu is reasonably priced AND expertly crafted. $6 for a cocktail, and it doesn't even have to be happy hour? Sold.
1407 E 7th St, Austin, TX

Oasthouse - Get a stool at the bar during Happy Hour and take advantage of their $6 Granny's Old Fashioned. Subtle apple flavors and a sprinkling of spice make this a perfect winter cocktail (though it's tasty all year round!)
8300 N FM 620 e, Austin, TX 78726

Péché - Yes, Péché is Austin's premiere absinthe bar. However, they also have an incredible Old Fashioned on the menu. Their version of the cocktail uses Single Barrel Whiskey, Jerry Thomas bitters, lemon peel, and sugar. Classic, fresh, and always pleasing. Have a shot of absinthe if you must, but sip slowly on this.
208 W 4th St, Austin, TX 

drink.well - pair their delicious, classic old fashioned with a house-made Twinkie and you have yourself a deliciously classy start to your evening. Try to snag a spot at the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic.
207 E 53rd St, Austin, TX

Whisler's - There really is nothing better than sitting outside on Whisler's laid back East 6 patio and sipping on a perfectly crafted Old Fashioned during happy hour. Thai Kun is nearby, and the two go quite well together.
1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX

Porter Ale House and Gastropub - The Banana Nut Old Fashioned is probably the most unique Old Fashioned I've come across. The banana flavor is subtle, the whiskey is high quality, and there's a slight nut aftertaste. If you like sweeter old fashioneds with different fruit flavors, you'll love this.
3715 S 1st St A, Austin, TX

Butterfly Bar - Butterfly Bar calls their take on this classic drink a New Fashioned, using Makers Mark, brown sugar, bitters, and lemon. This quirky Manor Road bar has great indoor and outdoor seating. Grab a bite at Patrizi's and indulge in the craft cocktails at Butterfly.
2307 Manor Rd, Austin, TX

Crow Bar - For a place that looks like a sports bar, Crow Bar is sure to surprise you with an excellent cocktail menu. While the cherries are typical bright red variety, the cocktail itself is well blended and not overpriced. A great find in this area of South Congress!
3116 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2017!

2017 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Austin's Best Inexpensive Eats


Being a foodie on a budget is TOUGH. Friends ask me how I'm always going out to eat when I'm seemingly drowning in student and credit card debt. Well, when you live in a city like Austin, it's not too hard to eat delicious food and not break the bank. Aside from Happy Hours, here are some of my faves.

The Soup Peddlar - Soup is an odd choice for a city that's summer weather 3/4ths of the year, but I recently discovered that the Soup Peddlar also has an extensive fresh juice menu. I was even more surprised to discover that while competitors will charge $10 a bottle (sometimes more, sometimes less) the offerings at Soup Peddlar are a lot more reasonably priced. If you're into juicing, or feel like having a hearty soup, definitely check them out!
Castle Hill - 1112 N. Lamar Blvd. / Airport - 4631 Airport Blvd. / Mary - 501 W. Mary St. / Lamar - 2801 S. Lamar Blvd.  / 183 - 13219 Hwy. 183 N. Austin, TX

Tyson's Tacos - If you order 100 tacos, you get to create and name a taco on the menu. And that's not hard to do, considering each taco averages about $2-3. Where else can you get crispy duck and a soft boiled egg on a tortilla, for under $5? And while the tacos obviously are the main attraction, be sure to try the avocado carpaccio or the street corn. All solid options.
4905 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX

Juan in a Million - If you take the Juan challenge, you're going to feed yourself for the entire day for under $10. It's an enormous migas plate that many have attempted but few have conquered. For those of us with smaller stomachs, there are a number of high quality breakfast tacos that won't break the bank.
2300 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX

Bangers - Bangers was the first place I ate at after setting foot in Austin for the first time. The menu has changed a bit since (I miss those late night bagel bites and deep fried mac and cheese!) but it's still incredible. While certain items on the menu aren't necessarily "budget" you can still get a gourmet hot dog or sausage for under $10.
79 Rainey St, Austin, TX

Mod Pizza - Mod Pizza is a chain, but don't let that stop you from trying one of their excellent personal pizzas. Where else can you pile your pie high with custom ingredients for the same low price? It's a great value, and a delicious meal.
1801 E. 51st St, Building D, Suite 410, Austin, TX / 500 W Canyon Ridge Dr, Suite J100, Austin, TX / 701 S Capital of Texas Highway, Suite F-600, West Lake Hills, TX 

Din Ho Chinese BBQ - For whatever reason, duck is my barometer for how pricey a place is. And here a seared duck breast will only put you out $14--and it will be DELICIOUS. The menu covers all manners of Chinese cuisine, and offers shareable plates in addition to inexpensive single portions. Worth a try if you're hungry for good Chinese in the city!
8557 Research Blvd #116, Austin, TX

Casino el Camino burgers - Make your way to the back of the bar for some of the best burgers in town, all for under $10. Big, juicy burgers on a soft bun. Or, grab some of their delicious wings. Accompany it with one of their famous bloody marys from the bar and make a night out of it.
517 E 6th St, Austin, TX 

Image courtesy of Waller Creek Pub House

Waller Creek Pub House Established in 2015, Waller Creek Pub House is known for its craft draft beer, original pub fare and laid-back vibe. Specials Monday’s Wing Deal, featuring 6 house made buffalo wings and a pint of Community Beer Company’s Helles Lager for only $10, or the rotating “Taco of the Day” selection for $10 or less are affordable options for those on a budget.
 603 Sabine St, Austin, TX

Image courtesy of PhoNatic

PhoNatic - With nearly all menu items coming in for less than $10, PhoNatic is the perfect spot to grab an affordable, high-quality meal. PhoNatic specializes in traditional Vietnamese cuisine in a modern environment. Be sure to try one of their Vietnamese classics like pho, banh mi and spring rolls. There are multiple locations across Austin, so you're always just minutes away from a flavorful bowl of tasty goodness.
Northcross - 2525 W. Anderson Ln. Bldg 3, Suite 280 / Southpark 9900 S IH 35, Suite P500 / Cedar Park - 1468 E Whitestone Blvd, Suite 200 / Round Rock - 200 University Blvd, Suite 530 / Mueller - 1201 Barbara Jordan, Ste. 1460

Torchy's - This is an addition from my fiance. While the tacos are a little more expensive than the average street taco, they pile them HIGH with ingredients. Two tacos and you're pleasantly full for under $10.
Multiple locations. Please visit their Locations page for details.


This isn't a Happy Hour Roundup... but I felt the need to point out two GREAT low-cost, high-quality happy hours as well:

Pacific Rim Sushi & Yakitori Lounge - Their happy hour menu is extremely reasonable, but the real gem is Tuesday night dollar nights. And don't let "inexpensive sushi" scare you, it's so fresh! Don't miss it!

Salty Sow  - Everything on the happy hour menu is $5, with accompanying drink specials. Ordering one of everything comes out to a full meal for two, for $40 total. Not bad for one of the best restaurants in town!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2017!

2017 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Austin's Best Fried Chicken


Ms. P's Electric Cock -- Ms. P's touts "FRESH, never frozen, no hormones, no additives, LOCAL free range chicken." The skin is crispy and flavorful, the meat is juicy, and the whole "eat local" jazz is just the feel-good icing on the deep fried cake. Her sides go beyond the typical mac and cheese and slaw sides you find at most fried chicken joints--Truffle Mac and Cheese, Street Corn, and Waffles are only a few of the tasty sides. I can't wait for her brick and mortar to open soon!
80 Rainey St, Austin, TX

Hoover's -- If you enjoy a heavy hand on the breading, the homestyle feel and traditional sides make this a satisfying meal. The Happy Hour specials are some of the best in the city, with a chicken basket for $6 among many other snacks and drinks from 3-7pm Monday-Friday.
2002 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken --  While Gus's is actually a chain that began in Memphis, they have spicy fried chicken down to an art. There are no heat levels, just classically spicy, so be comfortable with a strong "medium" amount of spice if you check them out.
117 San Jacinto Austin, TX 

Lucy's -- Lucy's they deserve a spot on this list because it's a totally "Austin" spot and the view from the Lucy's on the Lake patio is breathtaking. The desserts and sides are delicious. Try the deep fried deviled eggs before you dig into the main course.
Multiple Locations:

Photo courtesy of The Peached Tortilla

The Peached Tortilla – For an Asian twist on the southern favorite, stop by Peached for their Fried chicken night every Wednesday. The special includes Asian fried chicken, dashi bacon braised kale, grilled corn and biscuits. Not to mention, this night also boasts whiskey specials!
5520 Burnet Rd #100, Austin, TX

Black Star Coop -- This locally sourced, sustainably produced fried chicken never disappoints!Order by the dinner or snack size and enjoy the subtly spicy breading and accompanying homemade ranch dip.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2017!

2017 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Austin's Best Food Trucks


While Austin doesn't necessarily have the monopoly on Food Trucks (it's hard to nail down exactly where they began, and now they're pretty saturated across the country) it's arguably one of the most diverse offerings of these mobile foodie hotspots. When the weather is as beautiful year-round as it is in Austin, it's definitely worth it to have your lunch al fresco outside your favorite food truck!

Ms. Ps - One of my very favorite food trucks in town.  Ms P only serves FRESH, never frozen, no hormones, no additives, local free range chicken. The batter is crisp, slightly spicy, and the chicken and waffles can't be beat. Once located on South Congress, you can now find it on the iconic Rainey Street.
80 Rainey St, Austin, TX

Biscuits & Groovy - Biscuits and Gravy is a concept that was entirely foreign to me as a Northerner. But now that I've had it... there really is no going back. It's a delicious breakfast (even moreso when you're hungover!) that's filling, savory, and oh so good. And the Biscuits and Groovy food truck has made a whole business over it!
5015 Duval St, Austin, TX 78751

Arlo's - Fun story: there really isn't much on the signage to tell you this is a vegan food truck, and if there is, it's not very prominent. Leading my carnivore fiance to accidentally down half a burger before realizing it contained no meat. Another friend gushed about it being the best burger he's ever had... not knowing until long after it was meatless. If you want plant-based food that'll trick your tastebuds, or at least a cruelty-free meal, definitely check out Arlo's!
900 Red River at Cheerup Charlie's, 1308 E 4th Scoot Inn, 2908 Fruth at Spider House Cafe
all in Austin, TX

La Barbecue - When people ask me for the best BBQ in town, I direct them here. Sure, Franklin's is the classic, but not everyone can wait in that dang line. And, to be honest, the brisket at La Barbecue just cannot. be. beat. It's tender, delicious, and while the line is still often long, it's not wait-for-eight-hours long. Stop by, you won't be sorry!

1906 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

Paperboy - One of the best new breakfast/brunch spots in town is actually a food truck. Paperboy boasts a small menu that highlights produce and dairy from local farms, bread from local bakeries, and hot and cold brewed coffee.
1203 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

Valentina's Tex Mex - They have BBQ. They have tacos. They have BBQ tacos. And they rock. This is the last year that Valentina's can truly be on a food truck roundup, as it officially becomes a brick and mortar at the end of the year! In the meantime, make sure you check out their Manchaca Road location to indulge in some crazy breakfast tacos and delicious BBQ. The daily specials are ALWAYS worth it, so make sure you try them!
11500 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 

Burro, Cheese Kitchen - It's your childhood dream. An entire food truck focused on grilled cheese. But not just any grilled cheese, Burro creates unique artisan flavors. Try the Partridge Family (Gouda, Provolone, and Bacon on Sourdough) or one of their specials like Bourbon Apple. Now, only if Burro would hook up with a tomato soup truck...
1221 South Congress Avenue & 80 Rainey Street

Mighty Cone - Delicious, walkable food.  Crunchy chicken, shrimp, and/or avocado in a tortilla in a cone. Who could ask for more? The food truck has its roots with a former Hudson's on the Bend chef and a famous festival--making it a truly Austin establishment.
1720 Barton Springs Road. Austin, TX.

Little Lucy's Mini Donuts - Do you ever wish you could have those classic county fair fried donuts all year round? You can definitely come close with Little Lucy's. While this is another Rainey Street mainstay/after hours food, it's delicious whenever those tasty little donuts are fresh out of the fryer. There's a handful of new flavors, but I suggest the classic cinnamon sugar.
75 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

Angry Egg Roll - The sign here cracks me up. And trust me, these aren't your typical egg rolls. Located near 6th Street, their larger-than-life eggrolls are the perfect snack after a night out. Or, a good way to line your tummy before hitting the bars. (and they're mighty tasty, too!)
667 Red River St, Austin TX

Dock n' Roll - One of the things I miss most about New England is a decent, fresh lobster roll. Dock n' Roll is the closest I've come to an authentic New England roll. Probably because they get their lobster directly from Portland, Maine!
Steampunk Saloon - 700 W. 6th St (On the patio adjacent to Rio Grande)
Midway Food Park - 1905 S. Capital of Texas Hwy (Near Tres Amigos)

Patrizi's - There's not a huge Italian population in Austin, so good, authentic Italian food is hard to find. Thank goodness I stumbled upon Patrizi's. One bite of their homemade pasta and sauce (a FOOD truck with HOMEMADE pasta and sauce?? Yup!) and you'll be hooked. The meatball has got to be my favorite in town. Buon appetito!
2307 Manor Rd. (in the Vortex Theater), Austin TX

Korean Komfort - Austin has a handful of delicious infusion restaurants, but for authentic Korean (comfort) food, definitely check out Korean Komfort. Highlights include the BiBimBop, Bulgogi, and Spicy Pork Bowls, but really anything on the menu is going to be amazing.
2512 Rio Grande St, Austin, Texas

I tried to highlight trucks that didn't yet have a brick and mortar. However, the following locations happen to have both. They're all Austin classics and deserve a visit--whether to their food truck OR their storefront.

Via 313 - Pizza
East Side King - Thai
Thai Kun - Thai
Chi'lantro - Korean
Peached Tortilla - Southern-Asian infusion
Garbo's - Maine Lobster
Veracruz All Natural - Tex Mex

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2017!