Five years ago this month, a group of about 20 Austin food bloggers met for a potluck.
I’d only had this Relish Austin blog for about a year, but over those 12 months (and with the help of this new fangled website called Twitter), I’d met so many fellow writers online that we decided it was time to get together for some offline socializing. That first potluck inspired others, and two years later, that group had formed the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. I’ve been on the board of that nonprofit since it officially launched at South by Southwest 2010, and to celebrate the group’s third birthday, we hosted a potluck at the Sustainable Food Center’s headquarters just off MLK Jr. Blvd. on Saturday.
It was amazing to look around the room and see how much the Austin food blogging community has grown and evolved over the years. There were new members who had recently moved to Austin and were building a social circle through this network of fellow bloggers; there were long-established bloggers who are now the leaders of the organization, including president Kathryn Hutchison, whose recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts I made for the dinner, vice president, Megan Myers, who is spearheading the group’s Byte of Texas blogging conference in September, and our philanthropy chair, Christy Horton, who is busy planning a summer fundraiser for Meals on Wheels and More.
But at the heart of all that socializing was the food. A rich truffle proscuitto flatbread from Maggie Perkins of Notes From Maggie’s Farm. A white bean and pomegranate salad from Rachel Matthews of And Then Make Soup. An arugula and watermelon salad from Allison Stevens of Prep Dish. Adriana De La Cuadra of Lista brought homemade sourdough bread, chorizo and chimichurri, while Three Diets One Dinner blogger Brittanie Duncan, who’d been at the Paleo (f)x Symposium all day, shared Paleo bacon avocado deviled eggs. Full and Content’s Lisa Rawlinson made spicy sweet cocktail meatballs smothered in a loquat jam sauce.
So many wonderful dishes that we all went back for seconds and still didn’t get to try everything. I’ve put together a Storify of some of the photos and blog posts with recipes, which I’ll update as the bloggers share their dishes on their individual blogs.
I wanted to share Kathryn’s recipe, which appeared in our 2013 community cookbook. I was the editor on that project, and I dropped the ball on making sure the story that went with Kathryn’s recipe appeared in the book. So, here is her recipe with an updated introduction. (Paul Qui was still at Uchiko when she originally blogged the recipe back in 2012, but these sprouts are still to die for!)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha Lemon Caramel Vinaigrette
Although Uchiko, is renowned for sushi, my favorite dish there is lemon chili brussels sprouts. The knobby vegetables are utterly transformed in the hands of the chefs there, who cook them until they’re very crispy and nearly black on the edges and then toss them in a salty sweet sauce with flavors of chile, fish sauce, caramel and lemongrass.
I adapted this dish as a home-cooked recipe in spring 2012, a particularly great season for Brussels sprouts in Central Texas. After four attempts, I’m happy with my recipe, but I have to admit that it’s no match for Uchiko’s. Their dish is impossible to recreate without a deep fryer, however, my version stands as the best Brussels sprouts I’ve been able to cook up at home, and it will tide me over until I can get back to Uchiko for the real deal.
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (to taste), or your favorite Asian-style chile paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the sprouts by cutting off the stem end and peeling back a layer of leaves. Cut any large sprouts in half. Rinse sprouts in a bowl of cold water and dry with a clean tea towel. Place in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet and drizzle with grapeseed oil. Toss to coat and sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for 25–35 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes until crispy and tender. The outer leaves should be very dark, and the sprouts will be tender and fragrant when they are finished cooking.
During last 10 minutes of cooking, place sugar in a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until sugar is melted and amber colored. This should take about 2–3 minutes. Add ½ cup of very hot water (mixture will bubble) and stir until caramelized sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in fish sauce, lemon juice, Sriracha, garlic and black pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly for 4–5 minutes, until mixture reduces. Remove from heat and set aside.
Arrange cooked Brussels sprouts on a serving dish and top with warm caramel vinaigrette. Taste and season sprouts with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper before serving. Serves 4.
— Kathryn Hutchison, ATX Gastronomist (austingastronomist.com)