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Food Matters: Restaurant Recipe: Olivia's Boggy Creek Farms Risotto; Diana Kennedy to speak

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Restaurant recipe: Olivia's Boggy Creek Farm Risotto

Earlier this month, Olivia chef-owner James Holmes hung out with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on NBC's "Today" show to make a bright spring risotto, a dish that occasionally finds a home on the South Austin restaurant's changing-daily menu, depending on what the chef and his staff find fresh at the farmers' markets.

Holmes had been in New York to cook at the James Beard Foundation, where he showcased Texas farm products.

After sitting in a makeup chair next Carol Burnett, Holmes said, he had a tough act to follow in the "Today" show kitchen: "I said, `Really? You've got me cooking risotto after Mario Battali?' I started to feel a little sick to my stomach."

See the video of his appearance on the show at austin360.com/forklore.

- Mike Sutter

Boggy Creek Farm Risotto

Fennel mix:

1 bulb fennel, shaved

5 stalks green garlic, shaved

Texas extra-virgin olive oil

Splash of lemon juice

1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Pinch of salt

Risotto:

5 spring onions, cut on diagonal

2 stalks green garlic

2 cups arborio rice

White wine to cover rice

2 quarts chicken stock

1/2 cup fava beans, hulled and blanched

1/2 cup snow peas, blanched

1 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup crème fraîche

1 cup butter, cubed

Salt to taste

Toss fennel and green garlic in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon and parsley and pinch of salt. Set aside. Heat a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat and add spring onions and green garlic. Sauté until garlic is soft. Add rice and stir until coated with oil. Add wine to cover the rice, stirring constantly, and cook until wine is fully absorbed. Add warm chicken stock ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, allowing the stock to absorb fully with each addition. After 20 minutes, risotto should be perfectly cooked and creamy yet still al dente. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, when rice is tender and cooked, add fava beans, snow peas, lemon zest, lemon juice, crème fraîche and butter. Salt to taste.

Top risotto with fennel mix and serve immediately.

- James Holmes, Olivia

New Cookbooks

• Vegetarian cooking has been the subject of many of Deborah Madison's cookbooks, but her new "Seasonal Fruit Desserts" (Broadway, $32.50) sticks to the sweet stuff. Local, in-season fruit often tastes divine on its own, but with Madison's touch, fruits such as plums, apricots, peaches, apples and berries transform into elegant but simple desserts . Madison will be in Austin from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday for a book signing at Fino (2905 San Gabriel St.; reservations and details at 474-2905) and a book-signing from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the farm stand at Boggy Creek Farm, 3414 Lyons Road.

- Addie Broyles

• New York Times food writer Kim Severson, who was briefly a co-worker of mine at the San Francisco Chronicle years ago (she was a food writer and editor there and won four James Beard awards), has become a prominent food writer for the same reason that it's such a delight to read her touching new memoir, "Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life" (Riverhead, $25.95). She writes deftly, with wit and self-deprecating humor, while never losing sight of the art of timeliness and blending that with hard news. The story of Severson's path from varsity-letter athlete and high school journalist to meeting legendary food writer Ruth Reichl, dining with Alice Waters of Chez Panisse or hanging out with Rachael Ray is delectably infused with dishes such as Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie and Gumbo Z'Herbes - recipes she shares in the book. But her life story also includes the complications of alcoholism, the relief of recovery and the enduring beauty of love and acceptance. As Severson finds her voice and defines her palate, she also uses even the less-than-savory experiences of her life as fodder for some truly wonderful storytelling.

- Joshunda Sanders

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Three Legged Willie's Restaurant and Bar, serving Hill Country cuisine with Southern flair, named for Texas historical figure Robert McAlpin Williamson. 708 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown. 512-868-8900, www.threeleggedwillies.com.

• Open: Wholy Bagel, a New York-style bagel store that also sells breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches and homemade cream cheese `schmears,' at 4404 W. William Cannon Drive. 899-0200.

• Open: Your Mom's Burger Bar, a hamburger joint at 1701 E. Cesar Chavez St. 474-6667, www.yourmoms.net.

• Changing names: Houston's restaurant at 2408 W. Anderson Lane has been bought by longtime franchise owner Tim Bartlett, who is changing the restaurant's name to Bartlett's. The menu will remain mostly unchanged, a spokesperson said Monday.

• Closed: Pie Guys, the pizzeria at 2222 Rio Grande St.

• Closed: The Hog Island Deli location at 407 Lavaca St. The location at 1612 Lavaca St. is still open. 482-9090, www.hogislanddeli.com.

• Closed: The Veranda, a bar and grill at 2525 W. Anderson Lane.

- Emily Macrander, Matthew Odam, M.S., A.B.

Food and wine briefs

• After more than 50 years of studying Mexican cuisine and culture, Diana Kennedy is a connoisseur of the flavors and ingredients of the country. You could say that for American home cooks, Kennedy is to Mexican cuisine what Julia Child was to French food. The Blanton Museum of Art and the Mexican Center of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies will co-present a lecture by Kennedy called "The Unknown Gastronomy of Mexico" from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Blanton (200 E. Martin Luther King Junior Blvd.). Free and open to the public, followed by a book signing.

• The Oasis on Lake Travis (6550 Comanche Trail) will host a four-course wine dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday . $45. 266-2442.

• "Hats and Horses," a viewing party for the 136th Kentucky Derby, will be at J. Black's Feel Good Lounge (710 W. Sixth St.) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday .

• Take self-guided tours through local community gardens from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday . Sponsored by the Coalition of Austin Community Gardens and the Sustainable Food Center. Find a map at www.communitygardensaustin.org.

- E.M., M.S.

Hit the books for A lesson in basic cooking

Since I moved out of the University of Texas dorms and into an apartment two years ago, I've been in charge of making my own meals. After a few months of eating instant and frozen foods, it became clear that I desperately needed to sharpen my cooking skills. But time and again, I bought cookbooks and downloaded recipes and that I never used because they served 12 or required too many bizarre ingredients. "The Ultimate Student Cookbook: From Chicken to Chili" by Tiffany Goodall (Firefly Books, $14.95) skillfully handles the frustrations of being a student cook. The book provides a list of basic kitchen tools students should invest in, and the recipes only use those tools. From that list, I already had a saucepan, a colander, a cutting board, a big knife and a little knife. The book is broken up into breakfast, food on the move, weekend food and treats. I love that the recipes make enough for just one or two people. I was thrilled to be able to make French toast without being overwhelmed by leftovers. Whether it's a high-energy smoothie or hot lamb curry, the ingredient lists are short and call for things easily found at the grocery store. Thank you. Each step is illustrated with a photo, and the thorough directions allow even the most novice cook to follow along without getting swept away in a sea of foodie words. Put down the Easy Mac. Pick up the book.

- Emily Macrander

French Toast

11/4 cups milk

2 medium eggs, beaten

2 slices of bread

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

Mix the milk and beaten eggs together in a shallow dish.

Dip the bread in the mixture, slice by slice, and let soak for a minute to absorb the milk and egg. By the time you have done both slices, most of the mixture should have been absorbed.

Melt the butter in the skillet set over high heat. Once the butter has melted, reduce the heat to medium. Add the bread and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve hot, drizzled with maple syrup or runny honey.