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Food Matters: Scones from Gateway Guesthouse; Austin gets new wine tasting room

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Guesthouse is gateway to visitors' palate

When Blaise Bahara and Bess Giannakakis were looking to move from Minneapolis to Austin to open a bed and breakfast, better weather was certainly a factor, but food is what sealed the deal. For more than five years, Giannakakis had been running the Colossal Café, a 500-square-foot cafe that was featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," but she and Bahara were ready to channel their love of food into a less hectic venture.

They bought a house on Riverside Drive less than a mile from downtown Austin and transformed it into Gateway Guesthouse (www.gatewayguest.com), a six-room inn where guests can sign up to go shopping at local farmers markets with the couple and come back to the house for one-on-one cooking classes.

Don't feel like cooking? Lounge in the pool and let Giannakakis cook for you.

- Addie Broyles

Savory Scones

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

12 Tbsp. (6 oz.) butter, frozen

2/3 cup (about 4 oz.) blue cheese crumbs

1/3 cup chopped fresh spinach

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/3 cup chopped green onion

3 eggs beaten

2 cups to 3 cups buttermilk, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. Grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients. Mix in the blue cheese, spinach, parsley and green onions. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

Add the eggs and half the buttermilk. Fold until just holding together, adding more buttermilk as needed. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop 1/3-cup portions of batter onto the paper.

Bake for 22 minutes or until light golden brown.

- Bess Giannakakis

New Shop offers wines with a personal touch

Just in time for the South by Southwest events, Wines.com owner Alex Andrawes is opening a tasting room and storefront (306 E. Third St., just west of the convention center) for his other business, Personal Wine, which allows customers to design their own wine labels. Instead of having to pick out the wine and design the logo online (www.personalwine.com ), now you can taste the wines, design the label and walk out the door with a personalized bottle of wine. Andrawes says he also hopes to use the space, located in the basement of a historic building that many years ago was the city morgue, for winemaker dinners, sommelier meetups and private parties.

- A.B.

Southern comforts on the quick

Southerners don't usually rush around, but sometimes you're in a hurry and want to cook Southern favorites in half an hour or less. In Southern Living contributing editor Rebecca Lang's new book, "Quick Fix Southern" (Andrews McMeel, $16.99) as well as her Central Market cooking class at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday , Lang shows you shortcuts so you can make entrées, sides and even desserts in no time flat. For this recipe, instead of using leftover baked sweet potatoes, which would also suffice, Lang calls for puréed sweet potato baby food.

- A.B.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 (6-oz.) jars sweet potato baby food

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the counter and your hands

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Stir together the buttermilk and baby food in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse 7 times or until the butter is cut into very small pieces.

Add the buttermilk mixture and process until the dough comes together, about 15 seconds. Sprinkle some flour on the countertop. Turn the dough out onto the floured counter. Flour your hands well and pat the dough to about 3/4-inch thick.

Cut the biscuits with a floured 3-inch round cutter. Flour the cutter again before cutting each biscuit. Place the biscuits, about 1 inch apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until slightly browned.

- From `Quick-Fix Southern: Homemade Hospitality in 30 Minutes or Less' by Rebecca Lang (Andrews McMeel, $16.99)

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Reopening as a restaurant: The Franklin Barbecue trailer closed over the weekend so that it can reopen on Saturday at the former Ben's Long Branch BBQ site at 900 E. 11th St. 653-1187, www.franklinbarbecue.com .

• Open: Machu Picchu, a Peruvian restaurant in Pflugerville at 15200 FM 1825. Eduardo Gutierrez has been in the business 40 years, including time running restaurants in Peru. Machu Picchu, named for that country's Incan ruins, features a full bar and serves food "from elite to peasant" styles, Gutierrez said, including ceviche, tamales, shrimp soup, wok-fried beef, a Peruvian menudo called cao-cao, pork stew called carapulera, lemon-butter tilapia and pulled chicken with aji amarillo. Main courses run $12-$16 and include rice, potatoes and soup or salad, Gutierrez said. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Call 990-3121.

• Open: Lukes Inside Out, a trailer next to the Gibson bar at 1109 S. Lamar Blvd. 779-7489 . Music caterer Luke Bibby (Willie Nelson, Austin City Limits Festival) makes sandwiches with Szechuan fried chicken with sesame slaw, chipotle-rosemary grilled shrimp with blue cheese and honey, even one with chocolate bread, bacon and chocolate cream cheese. Also look for a falafel-influenced veggie burger and "Armadillo eggs": potatoes wrapped in bacon with spicy sauce. Prices range from $4-$8. Open 4 to 11 p.m. daily, with longer hours on the horizon, Bibby said.

• Moved: Spartan Pizza, the pizza trailer formerly at the Red Shed Tavern. The trailer has moved to 1104 E. Sixth St. 484-0798, www.spartanpizzaaustin.com .

- M.S.

Food news

• Want to learn more about Austin's newest cooking school? The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts, 1700 S. Lamar Blvd., is hosting an open house for prospective students from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday . 476-2276, www.naturalepicurean.com .

• For people who are serious about food, traveling isn't just about seeing a new place, it's about eating the best of what that place has to offer. Every year, Petite Peche & Co. chef Danika Boyle hosts culinary tours of France and Italy during which travelers not only eat well, they get an inside look at how regional specialties are made. The 2011 trips to Provençe, Paris and Florence start at $3,250 for six nights (www.petitepecheandco.com for details) and are timed in conjunction with what's being harvested, be it lavender, citrus, grapes or olives. Hands-on cooking classes are often included.

• Next week , bartender Nate Wales of La Condesa will compete the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand as one of three team members representing the U.S. Drink specialists from six countries are competing for the world title. Find Wales' winning recipe and track his team's progress at austin360.com/liquid .

On Sunday, former University of Texas basketball great Fran Harris made it through the first episode of NBC's "America's Next Great Restaurant" as the field of contestants was cut from 21 to 10. Now she and the rest of the finalists will battle it out to get their own restaurant chain. Harris led the Lady Longhorns to an NCAA title in 1986 and went on to a pro career with the Houston Comets. The next episode airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC.

- A.B., Emma Janzen, Sarah Beckham