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Food Matters: Harry Potter recap at Highball, Johnson's adds acreage, Bastille Day event, recipes from creameries

Staff Writer
Austin 360

The scoop on creameries' recipes

Just when you thought you'd had ice cream made with just about every combination of chocolate, nuts, caramel, fudge, brownies and fruit imaginable, two new ice cream books prove the possibilities are infinite.

Ellen Brown didn't make it to Texas when she was touring America's best-known shops for her new book "Scoop: 125 Specialty Ice Creams from the Nation's Best Creameries" (Running Press, $19.95) but even without the formula for the Mexican Vanilla ice cream from Amy's Ice Creams in Austin, the book features lots of recipes for desserts that are just as well-loved elsewhere: blueberry pie ice cream from Graeter's in Cincinnati, lychee ice cream from Mitchell's in San Francisco or avocado jalapeño ice cream from Sweet Republic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Ice cream maven Jeni Britton Bauer uses everything from beets to sour beer in the (egg-free) ice creams and sorbets in her first book, "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home" (Artisan, $23.95). Britton Bauer owns 10 shops in Ohio and Tennessee, not to mention a thriving mail-order business ( ), but if you're not into paying $12 a pint for specialty flavors such as Bangkok peanut or sweet corn and blackberry, she shares the recipes in the book so you can make them at home. Still not sure how to keep your ice cream from turning out grainy or crumbly? Britton Bauer will be teaching a class at Central Market (4001 N. Lamar Blvd., $50, ) at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 10.

- Addie Broyles

Cherry Lambic Sorbet

Lambic beers, or "sour beers," are bitter, spontaneously fermented Belgian ales often flavored with fruits. Sorbets require a lot of sugar to remain supple when frozen, so they easily can get too sweet. However, when you add good-quality ale you balance that sweetness with the bitterness of the hops. Also, the natural sugar content of the alcohol means you won't have to add as much sugar as you would in a regular sorbet recipe.

1 pound cherries (or any fresh stone fruit such as peaches, plums or apricots)

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup lambic beer, chilled

Remove pits from cherries. (Peel other stone fruits, if using.) Puree in a food processor until smooth.

Combine the pureed fruit, sugar, and corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat immediately and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.-

Strain through a sieve into a bowl, if desired. Add the beer and chill thoroughly.

Pour the sorbet base into the frozen canister and spin just until it is the consistency of very softly whipped cream. Pack the sorbet into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. Makes 1 quart.

- From 'Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home' by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan, $23.95)

Raise a champagne flute to Bastille Day in Austin

Bastille Day is Thursday, as if you needed an excuse to drink Champagne on a weekday, and you've got several options to celebrate with fellow Francophiles. Aquarelle, 606 Rio Grande St., is hosting a laid-back menu of picnic foods, including steak-frites sandwiches, shrimp po'boys and peach tarts, to serve with several kinds of rosé on its back patio from 6 to 10 p.m. At House Wine, 408 Josephine St., celebrate the Jour de Bastille from 7 to 9 p.m. with samples from the Pie Society and sips and nibbles from the host wine shop. This event is free, but RSVP at or 638-1416.

- A.B.

Johnson's add acreage to their organic farm

Johnson's Backyard Garden, already one of the largest organic farms in Central Texas, bought 146 acres of farmland near its 40-acre farm in Cedar Creek east of Austin. In addition to the 20 acres at a property off Hergotz Lane near the airport, the new land brings the total acreage to more than 200, almost triple what the farm has now. Brenton and Beth Johnson first started growing produce in their East Austin backyard in 2005, and now have one of the largest community-supported agriculture programs in the South.

"We purchased this 146 acres to increase our sustainability, not our scale," Brenton Johnson wrote in a blog post announcing the purchase. "We now have the land we need to slowly build soil fertility through the growth of cover crops." Only a small part of the 186 acres will be used for growing produce at any one time, Johnson says. Part of it will be in cover crops, while another part will be used to grow hay for mulch.

"This gives the farm enough land to do a sustainable plan in one location," says Johnson's office manager Carrie Kenny. The goal is to move all the farm operations out to the River Road property and lease out the Hergotz farm, which is currently under cover crops, to another farmer or perhaps a group interested in growing food. .

- A.B.

Openings and closings

• Open: The Kitchen Window, a trailer at 415 Jessie St. (behind Thom's Market on Barton Springs Road) featuring lemongrass beef lettuce wraps, lamb sandwiches, salads and burgers. 750-8396, .

• Opening in August: Pappy's Bar and Grill, H-E-B at RM 2222 and Burnet Road.

• Open: Papi Tino's, a Mexican cantina serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday brunch at 1306 E. Sixth St. 771-8006, .

• Renamed: The Hub, 3815 Dry Creek Drive, is now Cat Mountain Grill serving items including burgers, salads, wings and nachos. 432-5390,

• Reopened: Trace, the restaurant inside the W Hotel that had been closed while the glass on the balconies was being removed . .

• Closed: El Chile, 3435 Greystone Drive.

• Closed: Red Robin, 4809 W. U.S. 290 in Sunset Valley.

• Closed: Springhill Catfish, 1144 Airport Blvd. The other two locations in Bee Cave and Pflugerville are still open. .

• Closed: Italo's Pizza, 1600 E. Sixth St.

A Harry Potter recap as you dine at the Highball

• Can't get a ticket to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" this weekend? The Highball, 1142 S. Lamar Blvd., is transforming its ballroom into the Great Hall for a three-course Harry Potter meal ($60) at 7 p.m. on Saturday featuring a live re-enactment of the entire series in an hour by the Institution Theater. ,

• Open Table users must love crème brûlée French toast, The signature brunch dish at Chez Zee helped push the restaurant at 5406 Balcones Drive. in the website's top 50 brunch places in the U.S., the only Texas restaurant on the list.

• Pastry chefs from some of Austin's top restaurants are uniting for a dessert-driven dinner on July 31 at Uchiko, 4200 N. Lamar Blvd., featuring sweet and savory courses from Philip Speer of Uchi and Uchiko, Steven Cak of Parkside and Plinio Sandalio of Second and Congress. $75, includes wine pairings. Proceeds benefit the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. Email for reservations.

• The Sustainable Food Center is hosting a series of discussions this summer about food-related issues. At 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Yarborough Library, 2200 Hancock Drive, learn about the local food system and brainstorm ways to improve access to nutritious and affordable food. 974-8820 for info.

- A.B.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Chez Nous was hosting a prix fixe dinner for Bastille Day.