Food Matters: Cook like chef of Top new restaurant; food traditions in Galveston
Just a few years after former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni named his Miami restaurant one of the top new restaurants in the country, chef Michael Schwartz has published "Michael's Genuine Food" (Clarkson Potter, $35), a collection of fresh spins on comfort food like chile chicken wings with creamy cucumbers and stout-braised clams. Schwartz, whose face you might recognize after a judging stint on "Top Chef," rides the fine line between offering dishes that are clever enough to appear on a restaurant menu with those that are approachable enough to make at home. With the help of co-author Joann Cianciulli, Schwartz swaps chef shorthand for clearly written recipes that make the book appealing to home cooks who are ready to move on from the basics.
- Addie Broyles
Roasted Sweet Onions Stuffed with Ground Lamb and Apricots
4 medium Vidalia onions (about 3 lb.)
11/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dried apricots (about 16), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 shakes hot sauce, to taste
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp. fresh bread crumbs
Without peeling the onions, cut about 1 inch off the top of each and just enough off the bottoms so that the onions stand upright. Reserve onion tops and discard the bottoms. Remove all but the outer two layers of each onion by scooping out the centers with a spoon or melon baller. Set onion shells in a baking dish, along with the tops. Set aside. Finely chop the insides. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small pot, combine stock, apricots and zest over medium heat. Gently simmer until apricots are plump and the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, roughly 10 minutes.
Melt 3 Tbsp. of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in chopped onions and cook until soft, about 12 minutes. Add lamb, cinnamon and cumin to the onions.
Raise heat to medium-high; season with salt and pepper. Cook, continually stirring with a wooden spoon, until lamb is crumbly, 7 to 8 minutes. Do not drain rendered fat; you need it to keep the onions moist. Remove pan from the heat. Stir in apricot mixture with its liquid, hot sauce to taste, parsley and mint. Let cool slightly.
The lamb filling easily can be prepared a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Spoon lamb mixture into hollowed-out onions, pressing down with your hands to pack it in, and mound it over the onions. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and dot with the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter.
Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes, until the bread crumbs are brown.
Serve immediately with a few leaves of arugula on the side.
- Adapted from 'Michael's Genuine Food,' by Michael Schwartz and Joann Cianciulli (Clarkson Potter, $35)
Explore lone star state food traditions in Galveston
Foodways Texas, the newly launched group dedicated to preserving Texas' food traditions, is hosting its first symposium at Texas A&M University at Galveston on Feb. 25-26. Panels featuring writers, photographers and chefs such as Joe Nick Patoski, Elizabeth Engelhardt, Jesse Griffiths and Jody Horton will give insight into not only the food that comes from the Gulf Coast, but the people who have built their livelihood around it and disasters that threaten it. Tickets ($175-$225 at foodwaystexas.com ) also include several meals prepared by notable Texas chefs.
Openings, closings and coming soon
• Open: J-Five Steakhouse, at the former site of the Backstage Steakhouse at 21814 Texas 71 W., Spicewood. 428-5727, www.j5steakhouse.com . Co-owners Jaime and Jennifer Suddeth ran the Trading Bost Wine Bar and Grill in Bee Cave, which they closed in December to open J-Five, which draws two of its J's from their first names and the other three from the first names of their children. Jaime Suddeth said J-Five offers a full bar and handcut steaks and seafood and house-baked bread. Hours: 4 p.m. to about 9:30 or 10 p.m. (depending on business) Tuesdays-Saturdays.
• Open: Parrain's Louisiana Kitchen, a casual restaurant with po' boys ($5.99-$13.99) including housemade sausage and boudin and fried shrimp, catfish and oysters. Plus gumbo, étouffée and other Cajun dishes. 18653 RM 1431, Jonestown. 512-215-9319, www.parrainslouisianakitchen.com . Open at 11 a.m. daily for lunch and dinner.
• Open: Indian Spicy Kitchen, a restaurant serving food from India and Nepal at 500 Canyon Ridge Drive. 828-6909.
• In the works: The casual seafood chains Wyland's Ocean Blue (www.wylandsoceanblue.com ) and Guy Harvey's Island Grill (www.guyharveysislandgrill.com ), side by side at the Hill Country Galleria at 12921 Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave.
• Open: Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, the third Central Texas location of the Colorado-based grocery story chain at 1335 E. Whitestone Blvd. in Cedar Park. The store, which is open from 8:56 a.m. to 8:04 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 6:06 p.m. on Sundays, features organic produce as well as grass-fed and pastured meats and dairy.
- Mike Sutter, A.B.
Food and wine briefs
• When an organization of special events professionals throws a fundraiser, you know it's going to be a good one. The Austin Chapter of the International Special Events Society is hosting its annual CulinART event from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the Austin Music Hall to benefit the Wright House Wellness Center, which provides support to Central Texans living with or who are at risk of HIV and other chronic illnesses. This year's theme is surrealist art, and the gala will feature a dinner created by chefs from Truluck's, Crave Catering, RK Group, Sterling Affairs and Delysia Chocolatier. Tickets are available online at isesaustin.com/culinart .
• From 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Spicewood Vineyards just off Texas 71 past Spicewood hosts its third annual "Pair It with Claret" chili cook-off in which dozens of teams will see who can most adeptly incorporate one of Spicewood Vineyards' signature wines into a pot of chili. Tasting wristbands cost $15, and you can purchase wine by the glass or by the bottle. spicewoodvineyards.com
• Join even more chili fans for the Kosher Chili Cook-off from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Dell Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Lane. Tickets are $15 ($6 for kids) and include chili, music, beer or soda tickets and snacks.
• Arizona author Rick Goeld's new novel, "Sex, Lies, and Soybeans" is a work of fiction, but the hot-button topic of genetically modified food is a very real issue that doesn't just affect scientists and farmers. Goeld will be in Austin at 7 p.m. Saturday for a talk and book-signing at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. www.sexliesandsoybeans.com .
• The San Antonio Wine Festival runs this weekend, with a $100 tasting at the St. Anthony Riverwalk Wyndham Hotel on Friday , a $75 champagne brunch there on Sunday and a $40 food-and-wine tasting at the Alamodome on Sunday . Tickets and details at www.sawinefest.com .
• The 2011 legislative session is still young, and the state's lawmakers are already considering a number of food-related bills tackling subjects including craft beer and raw milk.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday in the Capitol Extension Auditorium, room E1.004, the Texas-based nonprofit Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance is hosting an education day where people can learn more about the bills and contact legislators who are involved with them.
- A.B., M.S.