Food Matters: As winter nears, bring on comfort food
Winter doesn't officially start until next week, but plenty of restaurants around Austin have already moved on from their fall menus. Z'Tejas launched its winter menu last week, which includes Tempura Avocado Strips, Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and Tomato Basil Soup, and this spicy Southwestern Meatloaf topped with a sweet onion demi-glace and crispy onion rings. At the restaurants, the cooks use an herbed butter made with garlic and basil to boost the flavor of the demi-glace, but at home, you can simply add whatever herbs or spices, such as cumin or cilantro, you'd like toward the end of cooking. The winter menu at the three Austin-area Z'Tejas locations will run through March 5 (ztejas.com).
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. garlic
2 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
11/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs in large mixing bowl. Mix celery, red bell peppers and onions in with eggs until completely combined. Add ground beef, ground pork, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, paprika, cayenne, salt, bread crumbs and Tabasco sauce and mix well. Spray baking pan with non-stick spray and form meat mixture into a loaf. Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes. Slice and serve with Crispy Onion Rings and sweet herbed onion demi-glace over each slice.
Sweet Herbed Onion Demi-Glace
1 medium white onion, cut into thin strips
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 oz. beef demi-glace base (available in the soup or bouillon section of many grocery stores)
1 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt
While the meatloaf is baking, place 2 Tbsp. butter and onions in medium sauce pan over low heat and slowly begin to caramelize onions. (Do not rush this step. It will take an hour to properly caramelize the onions.) Every 5-10 minutes, stir onions to evenly caramelize them.
Once onions have caramelized to a nice golden brown color, add demi-glace base and water. Bring heat up slightly to let sauce come to a simmer. When ingredients are well incorporated, remove from heat. To finish sauce, whisk in the rest of the butter, heavy cream and salt.
When the fog cleared, Contigo bartender's Smokin' Gypsy emerged as the top cocktail
Drink Local Night is always one of the highlights of Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week, and last week's annual contest at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center was even more so with the launch of several new local products and Contigo barkeep Houston Eaves' drink, the Smokin' Gypsy, winning the title of the Official Drink of Austin. "It's a real honor to be with that group of people onstage, the contestants and judges included. It speaks to just how far the cocktail community has come," Eaves said.
For the first time, the audience voted for a fan favorite, which went to Marcelo Nascimento, co-founder of Lucky 13, a cocktail catering company, for his drink, Austin Cup No. 9, a deconstructed Pimm's Cup.
Sagra's Justin Chamberlin, a Chicago native who moved to Austin earlier this year, won second place overall with the Pinetop, a drink made with fig, grapefruit, rosemary, Balcones Rumble and Paula's Texas Orange in honor of the late blues legend Pinetop Perkins. Josh Loving of Fino presented Baby's First Punch, a punch made with bergamot tea, Balcones Baby Blue Whiskey, lemon juice, honey and Pale Moon Rye beer. Jessica Sanders of the Drink.Well, a bar on North Loop Boulevard that is set to open in the first quarter of next year, made a Hippie Harvest. Madelyn Kay of Peche was the alternate, and her drink, Lie to Me, tasted enough like eggnog to get everyone in the holiday spirit. My favorite drink of the night - a lemony drink called the Kinship made with Bad Dog's sarsaparilla bitters - didn't win any awards, but it's good to know that I can go to East Side Show Room and get it any time from Chauncey James.
Winner Eaves made his pre-Prohibition-inspired cocktail with some fancy dry ice work as well as Tito's Handmade Vodka, Benedictine, Balcones Brimstone, grapefruit zest and two kinds of bitters, including the Austin-made Bad Dog Bitters, a product of past Drink Local Night winner Lara Nixon.
"After realizing the time and care that goes into creating homemade bitters, I thought it might be beneficial to the community at large to have a local option," Lara Nixon told Liquid Austin columnist Emma Janzen earlier this year. "Most people at home want quality bitters but don't have the time and energy to make their own. Bars face the same challenge. Having pre-made bitters makes it easier to rotate the selection of flavors, and also allows for more freedom to craft better tasting cocktails, without the time and energy investment." Starting soon, you'll be able to buy the sarsaparilla bitters - the first commercially made bitters from Texas - at most Twin Liquors' locations, as well as Wiggy's Liquor.
Also new at the event were the chocolates from the Fredericksburg-based Chocolat filled with whiskey from Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye. The chocolates, which cost $24 per box and are available online (chocolat-tx.us) and in the store in downtown Fredericksburg, are slightly more expensive than the rest of the Chocolat line, but if you can't splurge around the holidays, when can you?
Locally sourced meat available at discount
No matter if you call it a community-supported meat program, a bulk meat buy or a buyers club, a number of local ranchers and meat producers are offering large quantities of meat at a discounted price.
Green Gate Farms is starting a six-month meat CSA that will include both small ($50) and medium ($100) shares of a mix of organic chicken, pastured beef, heritage and rare-breed pork, Nubian goat and Barbado lamb. The first shares will be available for pickup at the Canoga Avenue farm stand starting this week, but space is limited. More information at greengatefarms.net and by calling 484-2746. (In other Green Gate news, Ten Thousand Villages, 1317 S. Congress Ave., is donating a percentage of sales that come in from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday to the new nonprofit, the New Farm Institute.)
Sebastian Bonneu of Countryside Farm is taking bulk meat orders starting today at the farmers market at the Triangle from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday at the Cedar Park Farms to Market and Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market Downtown. Customers can order a $250 mix of chicken, duck, beef, wild hog, lamb and eggs, or buy in with at least $100 and pick the meats a la carte. For more information, search "Countryside Family Farm" on Facebook, email email@example.com or call 629-2883.
Bastrop Cattle Company is starting a buyers club in January that would guarantee monthly deliveries of various cuts of grassfed beef, but owner Pati Jacobs wants people who are interested to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate their interest before the end of the year.
• Up until now, the only way you could get a wood-fired pizza from Bola Pizza was to stop by the booth at the downtown farmers' markets or hire owner Christian Bowers to cater your event, but Bowers has recently figured out a way to freeze his popular pies - the Godfather, Truffle Daisy and Polka Dot - so you can reheat and enjoy them at home whenever you want. Right now, you can only order them online at bolapizza.com for pickup at the downtown farmers market on Saturdays or for delivery through Farmhouse Delivery (farmhousedelivery.com). Bowers said that the pizzas, which cost about $11 each, will probably be available in neighborhood markets soon.
• Greenling Organic Delivery is taking the TOMS approach to turkeys this holiday season, and for every organic frozen turkey purchased on the website through Sunday , the company will deliver a turkey to families who are part of the Brown Santa program the week before Christmas. You also can gift a whole turkey or donate $5 to the cause on the website, greenling.com.
• As if vegan queso weren't a cool enough present from the food gods, the Austin-based Food for Lovers is offering a spirited twist to the traditional jars of queso you'll find at stores across the country, including local grocery stores such as Wheatsville Co-op, Whole Foods Market, Royal Blue and Whip-In. For $20, you can buy a jar of the queso surrounded by a knitted cozy or a handmade felt ornament from Etsy. The price includes tax and shipping, and you can order the jars through Friday at foodforlovers.com/order.
Dining-out items moving to Thursday's 360 tab
Starting today, you'll see a few changes in Food Matters. Instead of publishing wine dinners, chef changes, supper club events and restaurant openings and closings in Wednesday's food section, we'll be moving those into Thursday's 360 entertainment tab. In their stead, you'll find more recipes from local restaurants and recently published cookbooks. We're also moving Ask Addie, the cooking and food Q&A column, to Food Matters soon.
The reasoning? Eating out is a huge part of going out, and 360 is our guide to going out and being entertained in Austin. That's not to say you won't find anything about restaurants in these pages, but we're shifting the newsy restaurant tidbits to Thursday. With Ask Addie questions, comments or story ideas, email me any time at email@example.com or call 912-2504.
- Addie Broyles