Local yogurt makers stay consistent and atop trends

When it comes to yogurt trends, White Mountain Foods CEO Jeff Murray has seen them all.

Thirty years ago, his brother Reed founded Purist Foods, which is now one of the largest producers of Bulgarian-style yogurt in the country.

Throughout the yogurt-making craze of the 1970s, the frozen yogurt booms in the 1980s and mid-2000s to the most recent surge in popularity of Greek yogurt, the East Austin company continued to make batch after batch of tart, drinkable yogurt that is a far cry from the custard-like dessert yogurts found on most grocery store shelves.

(Jeff Murray took over the company from his brother in 2004. Reed Murray passed away two years ago, but a number of members of the Murray family are involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, including Jeff's wife and his sons.)

When both the whole milk and skim milk yogurts come off the production line, they contain 90 billion units of four strains of cultures. "That's why our yogurt is so tart," Murray says, which is exactly what home yogurt makers and even bigger frozen yogurts chains are after when looking for a starter yogurt.

The yogurt, which is sold in nearly every state west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii, is the company's signature product, but White Mountain also produces several lines of vegan and/or gluten-free items including tofu salads, tamales, wheat roasts and vegan chorizo that are available in local grocery stores.

But just because Bulgarian yogurt is a big part of their business doesn't mean the company ignores wider yogurt trends. Just this year, they released a whole-milk Greek cheese, which is a traditional yogurt cheese made without any added cream or pectin, thickeners found in many commercial Greek yogurts.

- Addie Broyles

Have a sink and stove? Texan does gourmet in limited spaces

Living in Brooklyn taught Jennifer Schaertl a thing or two about cooking in a small space. The kitchen, if you can call it that, of her 300-square-foot apartment was tucked into the bedroom and consisted of a tiny sink, stove and fridge. "It was like camping every day," she says. The Shiner native eventually moved back to Texas to go to culinary school and go on to cook in much bigger kitchens at Dallas restaurants the Grape and Savory, and she's recently turned the tricks and tips she learned while cooking in a small space into her first book, "Gourmet Meals in Crappy Kitchens" (Healthy Communications Inc, $18.95). She'll be signing copies and talking about her adventures in tiny kitchens at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes and Noble in the Arboretum (10000 Research Blvd.).

­- A.B.

Citrus Peach Upside-Down Cake

1 lb. peaches, halved and pitted

2 lemons, zested and juiced

3 limes, zested and juiced

2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup orange blossom honey, divided

11/2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter, divided

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

pinch of sea salt

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

Powdered sugar, as needed

Whipped cream, as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice each peach half into 4 wedges. Place in saucepan and stir in lemon juice, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the peaches soften slightly and the juices thicken. Set this aside to cool.

Line the bottom of a round 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using your whisk, beat the rest of the butter, sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of lime zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition before adding the next. Fold in the flour mixture until just blended.

Pour the 1/2 cup of honey evenly over the bottom of the lined cake pan. Arrange the peaches in a single layer pattern over the honey. Carefully spoon the cake batter over the peaches and spread it out evenly, while disturbing the peaches as little as possible.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the cake, reduce the heat to 300 degrees and continue baking for 1 hour or until the cake is golden brown on top and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Don't allow the cake to cool for more than 5 minutes or it will not easily release from the pan. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cake platter upside down over the cake pan. Using a towel to hold the hot cake pan in place, turn it over to drop the cake onto the platter.

Cut the cake into wedges and serve warm dusted with powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream.

- From 'Gourmet Meals in Crappy Kitchens' by Jennifer Schaertl

Food and wine briefs

• The Belmont (305 W. Sixth St.), under the direction of new executive chef Rich Falbo, has recently revamped its menu to include local produce, breads, cheeses and meats and is planning a series of monthly wine dinners with area winemakers. The first is at 7 tonight with Ed and Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards. The dinner costs $55, and reservations can be made by e-mailing michelle@thebelmontaustin.com.

• To raise money for Ballet Austin, the Alamo Drafthouse is hosting a screening of a newly restored version of the 1948 dance classic 'The Red Shoes' at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the theater on South Lamar Boulevard. Chef Trish Eichelberger has created a four-course, red-themed dinner to go with the film. Tickets ($75) are available at www.originalalamo.com .

• The Alamo Drafthouse and Parkside restaurant will present an outdoor screening of the movie 'Ghostbusters' on Sunday at San Jacinto Boulevard and East Sixth Street. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and the film starts at 9. Admission is free, but organizers are suggesting a $5 donation to benefit the 6ixth Street Austin Association. There will be food and beer tents.

• Fino Restaurant Patio and Bar will mark the departure of bar manager and renowned cocktail slinger Bill Norris with a five-course chef's table dinner Aug. 11 paired with cocktails prepared by Norris and Josh Loving, who will be taking over as Fino's bar manager. $75. Reservations at 474-2905. 2905 San Gabriel St. www.finoaustin.com .

• Stacey Rider is one of five finalists in a dark chocolate contest sponsored by Ghirardelli, and she's demonstrating recipes based on the dark chocolate, pecan and chili concoction she created for the contest at a free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Lakeway. You can vote for Rider's entry in the Ghirardelli contest and see the other finalists' chocolates at www.newintensedark.com . The chocolate company will announce the winner in September and start selling the winning flavor next year.

- Mike Sutter, A.B.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Counter Culture, an extension of the Louisiana chain of frozen yogurt and sandwich shops, in Oak Hill at 6705 U.S. 290 W., Suite 610. 891-9400, www.countercultureyogurtaustin.com . The owner is Louisiana native Jordan Rosenblath, who came to Austin a year and a half ago. You might have seen him behind the bar at Momo's, but now he's making frozen yogurt specialties such as the Humphrey Yogart (granola, honey, grapes, bananas and strawberries) and a sandwich called the Pizzaletta, which puts the traditional muffuletta blend of cold cuts and chopped olives between two pizza crusts. The shop is not affiliated with the Counter Culture vegan trailer on North Loop Boulevard, but Rosenblath said the businesses have agreed this town's big enough - and different enough - for the both of them.

• Open: The fifth location of Kerbey Lane Cafe, at 4301 William Cannon Drive. www.kerbeylanecafe.com .

• Open: 11th Street Station, a Southern-style restaurant and bar at 1050 E. Eleventh St., Suite 100. Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. 391-2331.

• Open: Chef Keem's Bavarian Bistro, a German food trailer doing weekday lunches and Friday-Saturday late nights at Third Street and Congress Avenue. www.bavarianbistro.com .

• Open: The Dogwood, a bar at the former site of Mother Egan's at 715 W. Sixth St. But you won't see a trace of the old Irish pub. The new place is contemporary and rustic at the same time, all tan and brown with sharp angles and stacked fieldstone columns.

• Closed: Blu Cafe, the coffee shop and lounge at 360 Nueces St. A note on the door says, 'Closed for remodel. Coming soon: www.facebook.com/trifectaon3rd .' The Facebook page says the place hopes to open 'around Aug. 15' and carries this description: 'Bourbon, martinis, and happy hour create the perfect Trifecta.'

• Closed: Pie Slice Bakery at 2024 S. Lamar Blvd.

- M.S.