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Food Matters: Chicken-Fried Steak with a touch of Italian, Drink & Plate, Roxor artisan gin

Staff Writer
Austin 360

After reading our "state of chicken-fried steak" piece in Austin360 last week, reader Michael Staudte was reminded of a CFS story columnist John Kelso did a while back, one that inspired Staudte to write a recipe of his own. Of his Italian Chicken-Fried Steak, Staudte says, "We suggest preparing this recipe only occasionally, and definitely not the evening prior to a cholesterol check. Use a better cut of meat than most recipes, and a bit thicker to prevent overcooking."

- M.S.

Italian Chicken-Fried Steak

1 lb. sirloin steak

1 egg

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Italian sausage link (about 1/4 lb.)

1/4 cup milk

2 Tbsp. cream

Cut the steak in half. Trim as much fat as possible. Pound thin to approximately 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.

In a bowl, mix the egg with a bit of water to make an egg wash. Salt and pepper steaks to taste, dip in egg wash, then coat with flour. For best results, allow to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Heat oil and butter in skillet. Brown steaks on each side, about 4-5 minutes per side. Crumble and add Italian sausage halfway through cooking the steaks. When steaks are browned, remove and keep warm.

After sausage browns, sprinkle flour lightly over sausage until coated. Begin adding milk and cream gradually, while stirring, to produce a smooth and consistent gravy. Pepper to taste. Top each steak with the sausage and gravy. Accompany with fried potatoes. Serves 2.

- Michael Staudte

Plate gives picnickers a helping hand

Picnic protocol usually calls for three things: a drink, a plate and mobility. But that's a two-handed task with no hands left over for wrangling kids or running the grill. A product called Drink & Plate solves the problem with a dishwasher-safe plastic unit that combines a plate with a cup holder big enough to hold a large drink. The user just grabs onto the cup holder, and a bracket fits over the hand to hold Drink & Plate in place much the same way a carhop's tray hangs onto a car window. For us, the plate was big enough for a backyard barbecue of steak, green beans and watermelon, plus a longneck in a koozie. The only drawbacks: Our plate sagged a little when modestly loaded, and the white plastic is homely, a problem solved with a colorful paper plate. Drink & Plate is made by Pioneer Plastics in Kentucky and costs $20 plus $5 shipping for a pack of six. Order at 888-717-5283 or www.drinkandplate.com . The company also offers logo printing with bulk orders.

- Mike Sutter

Award-winning team brings gin to Texas

The Texas distilling industry has sprouted another branch of spirits production. Vodka, orange liqueur, rum, whiskey, even sake (although not available just yet) are currently produced in the Lone Star State, and now Texans can celebrate the addition of a born-and-bred gin to the rapidly-expanding statewide liquor portfolio.

Roxor artisan gin, conceived by Houston-based New Artisan Spirits, a team composed of James Beard Award-winning chef Robert Del Grande and former Coca-Cola executive Don Short, is the first homegrown gin to hit the Texas market.

New Artisan paired up with San Luis Spirits (who also produce Dripping Springs Vodka) to distill the flagship spirit. Roxor begins as a corn-based distillate, which is macerated with the chosen botanicals at room temperature, put through a second round of distillation, and bottled at 90 proof (45 percent alcohol by volume).

When creating the recipe, Del Grande and Short aimed for a modern interpretation of popular English/London dry style gins, in order to appeal to a wider audience. To achieve this, they subdued the signature gin botanical juniper and incorporated fresh grapefruit peels, hibiscus, pecans, cocoa nibs and sarsaparilla.

- Emma Janzen

Food events

• The Carillon, 900 University Ave., is hosting a five-course "Taste of Spanish Wine" dinner ($100) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Make reservations by calling 404-3655 or emailing Lauri.Taylor@attconf.utexas.edu.

• Celebrate Texas spirits with Jason Stevens of East Side Show Room and Joe Eifler from TipsyTexan.com at an event at 9 p.m. Friday at the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, 2312 San Gabriel St. Sugar Shack BBQ and J. Black's will provide something to snack on while you sip. Tickets ($50 advance, $60 at the door) are available at mixaustin.net/tickets.html .

• David Briscoe, a nationally renowned macrobiotic cooking instructor and educator, will be in Austin this weekend for a series of classes ($35-$115, naturalepicurean.com ) at the Natural Epicurean Cooking School, 1700 S. Lamar Blvd.

• The Austin-based website LiveMom.com has teamed up with Savory Spice Shop, 1201B W. Sixth St,, to host classes for parents and kids ages 7 to 12 to learn how to make healthy snacks and dishes. Classes ($6) will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday (Moroccan foods) and June 27 (tacos). Reservations (524-1093, austin6thstreet@savoryspiceshop.com) are required.

- A.B.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, a second Austin location of the national beer and casual food chain. At the Shops at Arbor Walk at 10515 N. MoPac Blvd. (Loop 1). 349-9000, www.bjsbrewhouse.com .

• Open: Cat Mountain Grill, the new name of the overhauled restaurant formerly called the Hub at 3815 Dry Creek Drive. 432-5390, www.catmountaingrill.com .

• Coming soon: Zpizza, part of the national chain, at 3300 Bee Cave Road. www.zpizza.com .

• On the radar: A new Austin barbecue joint from John Mueller, grandson of the man who founded Louie Mueller Barbeque in Taylor. Mueller had a shop on Manor Road in the early 2000s. His website at www.jmuellerbbq.com says, "Coming soon to Austin, Texas."

- M.S.

The right spice, kept fresh on ice

It's hard to always have the right fresh herbs, peppers and spices on hand when you need them, and an Israel-based company is now selling small trays of pre-chopped ingredients like ginger, garlic, chile, cilantro, basil and parsley that are frozen in small cubes. Dorot trays, which cost between $2 and $3 and are available locally in the frozen food aisles at H-E-B and Sunflower Farmer's Market, contain 20 teaspoon-sized cubes that can be popped into a hot pan without defrosting.

- A.B.