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Holiday buñuelos, learn to cook holiday food and more

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Crispy buñuelos in Holiday shapes

Many countries have a popular dessert that consists of sweet, fried dough, and in Mexico and many Spanish-speaking countries, the fried balls coated in sugar are called buñuelos. David Blanco put his own spin on the buñuelo when he was living in Monterrey, Nuevo Léon. in 2006. He pressed the dough into various shapes, making a crispy wafer-thin treat coated in sugar and cinnamon. His resulting company, 444 Gourmet Creations, has a number of locations throughout Mexico, and now that he's moved to Austin, he is selling them out of a kiosk at the Barton Creek Square Mall. Blanco makes several buñuelos for each holiday, including a turkey and pumpkin for Thanksgiving, and Christmas trees and stars. He says they hope to add other holiday shapes in coming months. Blanco has also figured out a way to ship the buñuelos, which start at $2 each, so they don't crack or fall apart in the mail. You can order by phone (704-4579) or email (info@444gourmetcreations.com). For more info, visit 444gourmetcreations.com.

Cuneo’s Famous Rum Cake

For cake:

4 cups cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

4 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup shortening

6 eggs

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1/2 tsp. orange extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup milk

For butter-rum syrup:

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp. corn syrup

2 Tbsp. butter

2 tsp. rum extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease 10-inch angel-food tube pan. Trace and cut out a paper liner for the bottom round of the tube cake pan. Place in the bottom round and grease again over the paper.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of a standing mixer, beat sugar and butter and shortening together. Slowly (one or two at a time) add eggs in, beating between additions. Beat for three minutes. When batter is fluffy, add extracts. Mix in dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the milk.

Pour batter into the prepared tube pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Test for doneness by poking a toothpick into the center of the cake. When the toothpick comes out clean and crumb-free, the cake is done. (Be sure to bake this for a full 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. The cake forms a crust as you bake so touching the top won’t indicate doneness.) Remove cake from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

While cake is resting, make butter-rum syrup. Stirring constantly, mix sugar, salt, water,corn syrup and butter in small saucepan and heat until syrup begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. Mix in rum extract.

Using a sharp knife, loosen cake from sides of the pan. Invert pan onto a foil-covered plate and remove pan center, using a sharp knife as needed to separate pan center from what is now the top of the cake. Remove paper from top of cake. Brush or pour syrup all over cake. Remove cake to a clean platter and serve. Cake keeps well wrapped in foil.

— Adapted from a recipe by Ray Kennedy

Fall-inspired soup with spiced touches

In Thursday's Austin 360, we highlight some of the best fall-inspired dishes at local restaurants, and to get you in the mood, here's the recipe for a sweet potato soup topped with chorizo, seasoned cream and an herb-infused oil that is on the menu right now at the Carillon, 1900 University Ave.

Sweet Potato Soup

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Salt, to taste

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 Tbsp. molasses

1 tsp. maple syrup

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, divided

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup chives, chopped

1/4 lb. Spanish-style chorizo, sliced

In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic and a pinch of salt until they have just a bit of color. Add potatoes and just enough water to cover. Cook at a low boil until soft. Add molasses, maple syrup and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Puree and salt to taste.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining cream with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Mix rapidly with a wire whisk or electric mixer until cream is firm enough to create stiff peaks. Salt to taste.

In small sauce pot, heat oil over low until approximately 150 degrees, or just too hot to touch. Combine oil and herbs in a blender and puree. Drain through a fine strainer, but do not push through. Salt to taste. Pour soup into bowls and top with a spoonful each of cream and herb oil and a few slices of chorizo and serve.

- Josh Watkins, Carillon executive chef

Learn to cook holiday food to take home

Bess Giannakakis and Blaise Bahara, who run the Gateway Guesthouse bed and breakfast on Riverside Drive, are introducing a series of Fearless Feast "cook and carry" classes this holiday season. Giannakakis, who owned a diner in Minneapolis that was featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," is teaching workshops in which students learn to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner and take home the prepared food that they can serve on the big day. The classes, which include lunch, cost $160, plus between $15 and $40 per person's worth of food you plan to cook and take home. The daylong classes take place either the day before or two days before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day. gatewayguest.com, 326-2646.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Opening this week: The Seedling Truck, a food truck featuring "farm fresh rustic cuisine" and operated by Royal Fig Catering chef Dan Stacy. The truck will make its debut at the Slow Food Austin happy hour on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Rain Lily Farm on Shady Lane. (You can sample food and beverages for a $15 suggested donation.) The roving truck will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch that changes with the season. Menus, locations and hours at TheSeedlingTruck.com. 761-1721.

• Open: Noodles & Company, the second Austin location of the Colorado-based noodle chain at 24th and Guadalupe Streets near the University of Texas campus. 420-0016., noodles.com

• Coming soon: Austin Cake Ball Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant extension of the Austin pastry company, at the Domain, 3401 Esperanza Crossing. austincakeball.com/kitchenandbar.

• Closing: Odd Duck Farm to Trailer will close on Dec. 10, according to owner Bryce Gilmore. The chef opened the trailer dedicated to local and seasonal food to great acclaim in late 2009. The success of the trailer propelled the chef to open Barley Swine at the end of last year, a bricks-and-mortar expansion on Odd Duck's culinary mission that landed him on Food & Wine magazine's list of up-and-coming chefs.

The lot at 1219 S. Lamar Blvd. is being sold, so instead of enduring the hassle of relocating and re-opening in winter, Gilmore says he will wait until spring of next year before deciding his next steps. Gilmore says he hopes to have a Sustainable Food Center fundraiser of some sort at Odd Duck during the trailer's final days as a thank-you to everyone and a celebration of the two-year run.

Odd Duck is open 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Cook auditions, soup fundraiser and more

• The FOX reality show "Masterchef" is looking for the best home cooks in Central Texas to compete in the upcoming season of the show. Open auditions on Saturday are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, 3110 Esperanza Crossing. For more information, including eligibility requirements and application, go to masterchefcasting.com.

• On Sunday, the 15th annual Austin Empty Bowl Project will raise money for the Capital Area Food Bank's Kids Cafe. For a $20 donation, you not only get a bowl of soup and bread, you also get to pick out a handmade ceramic bowl to eat it out of and take home. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at Marchesa Hall & Theatre in Lincoln Village, 6406 N. Interstate 35, across from Highland Mall. austinemptybowl.org

• A Torrid Affair, a newly launched nonprofit supper club, is teaming up with Farmhouse Delivery for a five-course dinner from Peche executive chef Jason Dodge and Volstead Lounge cocktail director Justin Elliot at Urban Roots' farm. All the proceeds will go to the youth development program. Tickets ($75, including drinks) and info at farmhousedelivery.com/community/events.html.

• Another birthday for Home Slice Pizza means another Carnival O' Pizza fundraiser at the pizzeria at 1415 S. Congress Ave. On Saturday, check out pizza-tossing and pizza-eating contests, carnival games, live music and a silent auction, the proceeds of which will go to Austin Bat Cave, a youth writing program. Info, including details on the always popular Hands on an Eggplant contest, where contestants compete for a year of free pizza, at homeslicepizza.wordpress.com/carnival2011.

• Austin Discovery School's annual Slow Food Feast fundraiser dinner is at 6 p.m. Saturday at Green Gate Farm in East Austin. The organic dinner, prepared by Barbara Frisbie, who owns the all-local catering company El Locavore, costs $125 per person or $100 for the vegetarian option. Tickets and info at slowfoodfeast.org.