Warm Orzo Salad with Beets and Greens
This warm orzo salad is stained fuchsia from cooking the pasta in the same tinted water as the beets, a thoughtful detail we love. And though we’d expect to see red onions left raw in a salad like this, caramelizing them makes the dish both heartier and sweeter, and they mingle happily with the salty bursts of feta, tender beets, woodsy greens and crunchy, toasted nuts (if you don’t have pine nuts, slivered almonds are a great inexpensive substitute).
— Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
3/4 lb. beets, with greens attached
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. orzo pasta
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the pine nuts in a dry skillet, over medium heat, until they begin to brown. Watch them carefully, as they will burn in a flash. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
Peel the beets and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Remove the stems from the beet greens and slice the leaves into strips. Wash the greens thoroughly to remove any grit.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced red onion and garlic. Cook until the onions are tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the beet greens. Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the beets in a pot of salted water, until just tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the beets from the pot using a slotted spoon and set aside. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook, according to the package instructions, until al dente and drain. Add the orzo to a bowl, along with the beets, pine nuts, beet greens and crumbled feta. Toss, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Serves 6.
— From “The Food 52 Cookbook: Volume 2” by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (William Morrow, $30)
Chelsea Staires knows that not everyone has time to make it to the farmers market every week to pick up Dos Lunas cheese and milk from Mill-King, or to the corner shop that carries locally made products such as Bearded Brothers energy bars or Texas Olive Ranch olive oils.
“A lot of folks work long weeks and feel bad or guilty because they don’t make it down to the farmers markets or one of these shops,” says Staires, a Louisiana native. Destination shopping is great, she says, but it’s not always convenient.
Staires spent a number of years learning the ins and outs of e-commerce at the Austin-based BuildASign.com and watching the growth of businesses that offer delivery service for some local products and/or produce, but not necessarily one that incorporated nonfood products in the inventory.
After years of planning and meeting many local business owners and artisans, Staires launched Coterie Market (coteriemarket.com) late last year. The site allows customers to browse hundreds of local products, from succulent planters and food items to clothing, jewelry and accessories, that they can order and then have delivered within just a few days. With the exception of baked goods from Amity Bakery and Red Rabbit, which are delivered the same day they are baked, Staires buys the products wholesale and stores them at her East Austin warehouse, where she fills orders and delivers them Monday through Friday to any Austin-area location with a ZIP code that starts with 787.
Instead of having a set delivery day for each area of town, the deliveries are made within two days of the order being placed. (Amazon Prime’s popular two-day delivery service has helped set the expectation for delivery within that period of time, Staires says.)
Staires curates the top items in more than a dozen categories, instead of offering a half-dozen kinds of each product. Within a few weeks of launching, Coterie Market now offers more than 325 items and Staires is adding new ones rapidly with a goal of having at least 1,000 items.
“There’s a lot of support for local business and supporting local economy in general, and I just thought there should be a way to make it easier to buy locally,” she says.
Food52 returns with second volume
The Food52 team, spearheaded by New York food writers Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, has grown significantly since the online cooking community website (food52.com) launched in 2009. Last year, it won the James Beard Award for Best Food Publication, and Hesser and Stubbs released their second cookbook filled with recipes submitted by (and voted on) by everyday cooks around the world. “The Food 52 Cookbook: Volume 2” (William Morrow, $30) has 75 of the best recipes submitted to the site, which hosts weekly contests based around themes, such as best apple salad or best seafood pasta. As the cream of the crop of some 20,000 recipes hosted on the site, the dishes in the book aren’t your everyday finds: Crispy Salt-and-Pepper French Toast, Late-Night Coffee-Brined Chicken and Roasted Radish and Potato Salad with Black Mustard and Cumin Seeds. (Austin-based contributors Elizabeth Van Huffel and Arielle Arizpe, who blog at localsavour.com and arielleclementine.blogspot.com, respectively, have recipes featured in the book.)
Texas Music Water raises money for musician services
If drinking more water is on your New Year’s resolution list, consider Texas Music Water, a local company that donates a portion of proceeds from the sales of its bottled water to local musicians’ causes.
At dozens of local music venues, such as the Backyard, the Rattle Inn and the Parish, and retailers, including Wheatsville Co-op, Royal Blue Grocery and Spec’s, you’ll find the bottled water, and owner Dean Wolfe says he’s been donating a portion of the proceeds to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, SIMS Foundation and Anthropos Arts since he started the company in 2010. You can find out more about the company at texasmusicwater.com.