Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Don Strange's best recipes in new book; Greenling offers food for cooks on the go

Staff Writer
Austin 360

San Antonio caterer lives on in cookbook

Don Strange showed the world what catered food could be. The San Antonio native first got a taste of big-time catering when the World's Fair came to the Alamo City in 1968. For decades after and up until his death in 2009, Strange earned the nickname the "king of caterers" by ditching the traditionally lackluster buffet lines in favor of throwing unique, over-the-top extravaganzas for U.S. presidents, professional basketball players and, in 2004, 35,000 kids at the National Lutheran Youth Conference.

In "Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes" (Shearer, $34.95), his wife, Frances, and food writer Terry Thompson-Anderson retell some of the highlights of Strange's career, including being featured in a column by famed culinary writer James Beard. Frances Strange says they were two-thirds of the way through writing the book when her husband died just more than a year ago of a heart attack. "To finish it was a decision we had made together," she says. The book, which is available online and at Breed and Co., BookPeople, Whole Earth Provision Co. and other retailers, came out in November and is already on its second printing. Don Strange of Texas is still one of San Antonio's top caterers, and the company sells a line of party foods online (donstrangemarket.com ) that includes this Christmas bacon.

— Addie Broyles

Christmas Bacon

1 lb. applewood smoked, thick-sliced bacon

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, or more as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place a wire cooling rack inside the baking sheet. Arrange the bacon slices on the rack in a single layer so they don't overlap. Pat about 1½ tablespoons of the brown sugar on each slice, covering it entirely. Bake in the preheated oven until the bacon is crisp and the brown sugar has caramelized on the slices, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow bacon to cool slightly to harden the sugar coating. Serve warm. Makes about 14 slices.

— From ‘Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes'

When you need a recipe, greenling delivers

If your schedule leaves you without much time to shop, much less to cook, you probably end up eating most of your meals in your car or off a microwavable tray. For five years, Greenling Organic Delivery has been helping customers with that first problem by delivering fresh produce and grocery goods to homes and offices. Now the company is helping tackle the second problem with recipe baskets, which contain all the ingredients — including precut vegetables and premeasured spices, grains and pasta — and recipes to make dinner. Greenling founder Mason Arnold says that you can choose from more than 10 kits that make one meal for two people ($11.99-$19.99) or from half a dozen baskets ($85.99-$89.99) that contain the ingredients to make five meals for two people. To help cut down on cooking time and wasted food, several of the dishes call for the same ingredients. greenling.com .

— A.B.

Cookie book organizes recipes by texture

The cookie season is upon us, and we could all use a new recipe or two to add to our collection. Last year's Statesman virtual cookie swap added hundreds of recipes to our online database, which you can search by going to www.austin360.com/recipes, but since I was out for most of the fall, we decided not to embark on such a large holiday project this year. But just because we're not swapping cookies doesn't mean they aren't on my mind.

Alice Medrich's new book, "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies" (Artisan, $25.95), is easily the best of this year's new cookie cookbooks. The thick book might be light on photos, but it is filled with creative treats like apricot lemon bars with hazelnut crust or cardamom caramel palmiers (pictured right) that are brilliantly divided not by ingredients but by texture: crisp, crunchy, chunky, chewy, gooey, flaky and melt-in-your-mouth.

But before you start baking, check out Medrich's chapters that bookend the recipes, which include tips and advice that even experienced bakers will find helpful. She also suggests "upgrades" with many recipes, which allows bakers who are often afraid to deviate from the recipe for fear of messing everything up (who, me?) some flexibility and creative license. Find her recipe for cardamom caramel palmiers at austin360.com/relishaustin .

— A.B.

OPENINGS, CLOSINGS & COMING SOON

Open: The Juice Box & Soup Peddler, the smoothie-and-soup combination from Matt Shook of the Daily Juice and David Ansel of the Soup Peddler. At the Austinville 78704 development at 2801 S. Lamar Blvd., Building A. 444-7687, souppeddler.com/juicebox . Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Open: Phil's Ice House and Amy's Ice Creams, working out of the same building at Austinville 78704 at 2901 S. Lamar Blvd. Phil's: 707-8704, philsicehouse.com . Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Amy's: 2901 S. Lamar Blvd. 447-2697, www.amysicecreams.com. Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight Sundays-Thursdays, until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Open: Trace, the restaurant at the new W Austin Hotel & Residences. Trace already has carved a specialty niche by having an on-staff ‘forager' (Valerie Broussard) who will scour the local earth, skies and waters for chef Paul Hargrove's meat and produce. As the main restaurant serving the hotel and condos at the complex at 200 Lavaca St., Trace will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. 542-3660. A website is in the works, but you can see the menus at austin360.com/forklore .

Open: Tandoori Bistro, an Indian restaurant next to the La Quinta Inn at 1605 E. Oltorf St. 383-8210. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Open: La Patisserie by Luxe Sweets, a bakery and pastry shop at 602 W. Annie St. 912-0033, www.lpaustin.com.

Set to open Friday: Zed's, described by a spokesperson as ‘American fare with an Austin flair,' at the Tech Ridge Phase II development in North Austin. 501 Canyon Ridge Drive. 583-0060, www.zeds.bz.

— Mike Sutter

FOOD BRIEFS

More than a dozen food trailers will come together from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday for the Trailer of Lights. Presented by Trailer Food Diaries, with live music and shopping. Admission is free, and a donation of one can of food for the Capital Area Food Bank is suggested. Food prices vary by vendor. Seaholm Power Plant, 214 West Ave. traileroflights.com .

The Austin History Center is serving a slice of the city's restaurant history with the photo exhibit 'Blue Plate Special: Photos from the Diner Era.' The exhibit, running through April, features photos of places such as Toonerville, the Night Hawk and the Tally-Ho from the 1930s through the '70s, including shots from the sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. 810 Guadalupe St. 974-7480, austinhistorycenter.org . Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

For the second year, all three P. Terry's Burger Stand locations will donate all of their proceeds on Saturday to the American-Statesman's Season for Caringcampaign. "We've had a great year at P. Terry's," said owner Patrick Terry. "Our first job is to take care of our customers, then our employees, then we can see what else we can do in the community." Season for Caring helps 12 families and hundreds of others through local nonprofit agencies. Last year, P. Terry's raised more than $11,000, and it was one of the company's best sales days, Terry said. 404 S. Lamar Blvd., 473-2217; 3303 N. Lamar Blvd., 371-9975; 4228 W. William Cannon Drive, 358-0380.

Through New Year's Eve, the coffee-and-dessert shop Mozart's Coffee Roasters (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.) is putting on a free five-minute holiday light-and-music display that can be viewed from its lakeside decks. Shows run on the hour starting at 6 p.m. through midnight. 477-2900, mozartscoffee.com .

— M.S.