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Last night I was craving fettuccine alfredo from the popular restaurant I’ll call “Schmalloff Garten.” I don’t eat at restaurants like that any more because of their impact on local economies and the environment, but I still crave junk food sometimes!
I wanted to make a version of the dish that would be easier on my waistline, and that would utilize some of the wonderful, local produce hanging out in my fridge. To lighten up the fat and calorie content, I skipped the heavy cream found in traditional alfredo sauces and used skim milk instead, with a little cornstarch as a thickening agent. I used full fat butter and heart-healthy olive oil in this recipe, and I added mushrooms and dark greens to increase the calcium, fiber, and vitamin content of the dish. As a bonus, the sauce for this dish is gluten free, so all my celiac friends can enjoy this with GF pasta!
I used portobello mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, penne from Austin Pasta Company, and mixed greens from My Father’s Farm in this recipe, but any variety of mushrooms, dark greens and pasta would work with a similar result.
Portobello Parmesan Pasta (makes 6, 1-cup servings)
1 lb. pasta*, use gluten free if you wish
1 lb. dark greens, like kale, beet greens, spinach, whatever!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped portobello mushroom pieces, about 2 large caps’ worth**
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cup skim milk, plus 1/4 cup milk to make slurry
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Chop greens and set aside. Boil water for pasta and prepare as usual, adding greens to the pot one minute before pasta is finished cooking. Drain pasta and greens together. For sauce, melt butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop mushrooms and garlic and add to pan. Saute until tender. Make a slurry of 2 tablespoons constarch and 1/4 cup milk; pour into pan, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes until the mixture is thick and gooey. Slowly pour in an additional 1 1/4 cups milk, stirring constantly. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and add cheese, stirring constantly until all cheese is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Pour finished sauce over hot pasta and greens; stir gently to combine. Garnish with cracked pepper and a little more parmesan cheese.
*If you’re making this dish for company, it’s worth taking time to remove the dark brown gills from the mushroom caps. They taste fine, but they’ll turn your cream sauce a gray color as they cook.
**If you want a more authentic Schmalloff Garten white-colored dish, you should use fettucine pasta made with refined wheat flour. Pictured is a delicious pumpkin penne from Austin Pasta Company. It was yummy, but resulted in a more yellow appearance than what I was originally going for.
Finally, here’s the nutrition information for my recipe, calculated on About.com’s very useful recipe calorie counter. The serving size here is 1 cup of the finished recipe.
If you’re interested, here is the nutrition information for a dinner portion of Schmalloff Garten’s fettuccine alfredo, as published on their website:
The restaurant only discloses those 5 categories of info, so there’s no telling how large the serving size actually is, and what specific ingredients are in the dish. The percentage of daily values were calculated by me according to the standard FDA values. (Please don’t sue me for doing math, Schmalloff Garten!!)
There are only six weeks until Thanksgiving. Gulp. Sigh. This will be Rami’s and my first married Thanksgiving, and we’re spending it together in Austin. Away from both of our extended families (and mommas!) in a tiny apartment kitchen. I’m not sure exactly what I’d like to make for our first-ever-married-Thanksgiving, but it seems like I should start thinking about it. I chose this week’s menu with the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hannukuh holidays in mind, so that I could start practicing a few potluck friendly recipes for those occasions. (I’m looking at you, Pot Pie and Sweet Potatoes and Squash!)
You’ll also notice that starting Saturday, I’m incorporating beer into every recipe in honor of Austin Beer Week! I’m planning to do separate recipe posts for each of those days so that I can feature a different local craft beer on the blog every day next week. Luckily, the produce that is in season lends itself beautifully to the recipes I want to prepare.
Here’s what I’m getting from Greenling:
- Green/Yellow Beans- Animal Farm
- Hard Squash – Acadian
- Okra – Bradshaw Farms
- Crimini Mushrooms – Kitchen Pride
- Assorted Peppers – Various
- Broccoli Rabi – Simmons Family
- Radishes – My Father’s Farm
- Green Shallots – Acadian
- Cucumbers – Animal Farm
- Cilantro – My Father’s Farm
- Sweet Potatoes – Naegelin
Wednesday: Thai Mushroom Soup (Mushroom Tom Yum), shredded cucumber
Thursday: Pizza with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions
Friday: Green salad, sort of Sephardic Sweet Potatoes and Squash
Saturday: Vegetable Pot Pie modified with Cheddar Ale Biscuit Crust
Sunday: Chicken Beer Gumbo with rice
Monday: Hefeweisen Pancakes with apple compote (my own recipe– keep your fingers crossed!!)
Tuesday: Leftovers night!
I have been wanting to make pizza from scratch for a while now, but the whole crust process was pretty intimidating and I couldn’t find a recipe online that I really wanted to use. Lucky for me, I went to The Essential New York Times Cookbook launch event at Rain Lily Farms this weekend, where I bought a signed copy of Amanda Hesser’s so named new cookbook.
The event was fun for lots of reasons, but the biggest takeaway of the night for me was definitely the book. It’s 970 pages of awesome recipes. No pictures. No fluff. Just lots and lots of wonderful food, plus Amanda Hesser’s autograph on the inside cover. (FYI, Christmas shoppers, I called BookPeople this morning and they still had signed copies available.)
The first recipe I tried from the cookbook was Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough, and boy was it a winner. It took all of 10 minutes to put together the night before, and another 5 minutes tonight to turn into this lovely rosemary apple brie pizza. Mark Bittman has published the full recipe, with instructions as they appear in the cookbook, on his website, so I hope you’ll try it too!
Pizza with Rosemary, Apples and Brie
1 recipe pizza dough, such as Mark Bittman’s , divided into two pieces
1 apple, cored and sliced very thin
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced very thin
6 oz. brie, sliced in pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
Prepare pizza dough according to recipe the night before and allow to rise in the refrigerator during the day. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Remove cold dough from fridge and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the toppings. For toppings, remove rosemary needles from woody stem and chop. Slice half an onion as thin as you can manage and separate the rings. Core the apple and slice very thin. Slice the brie into pieces. (This will be easier if you put the cheese in the freezer for a few minutes first.) Peel and chop 4 cloves of garlic.
Prepare two cookie sheets or pizza pans with baking parchment. Roll out pizza crusts, one at a time, on a floured surface until they are the correct size for your pans. Mine ended up at 14 x 10 inches, but any size and shape will work. Transfer to the prepared pans. Note: If you are using a pizza stone or nicer nonstick baking sheets than I own, feel free to omit the parchment and instead oil the pans. No way can I do that with my cheapo cookie sheets!
Brush each crust with a tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with a tablespoon each rosemary and garlic. Arrange apple slices, onion pieces and brie on each crust and sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Drizzle remaining oil over top, along with a few pinches of salt. Bake in preheated over for 11 minutes. This recipe makes two medium pizzas, enough for 3-4 adults as a main dish. Cut into bite-sized pieces, this would be wonderful finger food at a cocktail party.
Here’s my pizza before baking:
Congratulations to Shannon, winner of the Greenling Local Box! Shannon, please check your email for the prize. Thanks, everyone, for the fun comments about Greenling and happy Monday!
Leave a comment here and subscribe to The Austin Gastronomist and you could win a Greenling Local Box of produce!
There are two ways to enter:
- Leave a comment on this post by midnight, Sunday, October 17th. One comment entry per person, please!
- Subscribe to the blog using the “Sign me up!” button on the right-hand side of the page by midnight, Sunday, October 17th.
I’ll use Random.org to select one winner from the comments and subscriptions. The winner will be notified via e-mail and announced here Monday morning by 9:00 AM. More information about the Greenling Local Box and rules for this contest are available here.
Good luck, everyone, and have a delicious weekend!
I made this easy apple danish for a friend’s baby shower at the office today. It’s a great choice for special occasions because the pretty presentation and sophisticated rosemary apple filling will make you seem like a gourmet chef! Local box favorites Golden Apples from Apple Country Orchards and Rosemary from Pure Luck Farms are the rock stars of this recipe.
Although the braid looks tricky, it’s actually one of the easiest pastry shapes to master. This recipe is adapted from Dorothea Ladd’s Easy Apple Danish on Allrecipes.com. I used a food processor and chose the braid shape to save time; My grandmother might argue that this simplified pastry dough is not a true danish since it’s not laminated, but it passes my family’s taste test for sure.
Rosemary Apple Dutch Braid
1 .25 ounce packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees)
2 eggs, beaten
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, beaten, set aside
3 cups peeled, chopped apples
3/4 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon apple juice
Method: In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. In a food processor, cut together cold butter, flour and sugar. For most food processors, you will need to do this in two batches. (If you don’t have a food processor, a pastry cutter or two forks will do the job.) Process flour and butter until mixture resembles crumbly, damp sand. Move flour and butter to a large bowl and add sugar. Stir in the yeast mixture, warm milk, and beaten eggs by hand. Knead the dough in the bowl with a spatula until it is elastic and well combined, about 3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.
While dough rests, prepare the filling. Combine the apples, rosemary, sugar, melted butter, and pecan pieces; set aside.
Cover two 15-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat and set near your workstation. Punch down dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half, set one half aside. Roll dough into an 15 by 12 inch rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared cookie sheet by gently rolling dough onto the rolling pin, moving to cookie sheet and gently unrolling onto the parchment paper.
Place half of filling longways along the middle of the dough, to within a half inch of either end. Use scissors to cut dough into one inch strips along either side of filling, then fold alternating strips towards the middle of the loaf to create a braid effect. Repeat the roll/tranfer/fill/braid process with the other piece of dough. Set both braids aside to rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Brush the braids with egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow braid to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before moving entire loaf and parchment paper to a wire rack to complete cooling. Prepare glaze by sifting powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in milk and apple juice, and drizzle glaze over top of cooling pastries. Each loaf yields about 15 slices.
I made this pumpkin pound cake with cinnamon glaze for a friend’s baby shower at work this week. There are several interesting pumpkin cake recipes floating around on the internet; I adapted this one from a pound cake recipe by Kay Prosonic on allrecipes.com, omitting the pecans from her recipe and using fresh pumpkin in place of canned. I opted for a cinnamon glaze instead of a rum flavor since I was cooking for a baby shower.
Bundt cakes are one of my favorite desserts for a potluck because they’re easy to make ahead, they travel well and they feed a lot of people. I also like how easy they are to decorate. Baking with a bundt pan is not difficult, but it can be a little intimidating if you’re not familiar with the proper technique for greasing the pan and removing the finished cake. The best instructional resource I have found is this series of videos by a bakeware company on YouTube.
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
1 1/4 cups shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups roasted, pureed pumpkin or 1, 15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. An electric mixer is helpful, but not mandatory for this recipe. Mix shortening and sugars in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and mix until fully combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice and ginger. Add to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined.
Pour into prepared bundt pan and bake for 60-65 minutes until a wooden skewer or cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan by placing a wire rack on top of the bundt pan and inverting the cake onto the rack.
For glaze, sift the powdered sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl. Stir in milk until combined. Drizzle over cooled cake. My favorite method for drizzling is to pour the glaze into a ziploc bag, snip off a bottom corner, and use the ziploc like a piping bag to drizzle the glaze all over the cake.
This week’s local box is very mysterious. It will have the first hard squash of the year inside, plus “mixed dark greens.” I wonder what I’ll get. Pumpkin? Delicata?? Butternut??? Acorn???? Kale? Collard?? Mustard??? Beet???? The suspense is killing me!
Not really. I’m mostly just excited to try some new recipes and sleep with the windows open in the nice fall weather we’ve been enjoying. I’ll be giving away a Greenling Local Box on the blog a little later in the week, so I hope you’ll check back here to enter!
Here’s what we’re getting in the local box:
- Golden or Red Delicious Apples – Apple Country
- Hard Squash – Acadian
- Okra – Bradshaw Farms
- Herb – Pure Luck
- Assorted Peppers – Lundgren
- Arugula or Mixed Lettuce – Acadian
- Mixed Dark Greens – My Father’s Farm
- Green Shallots – Acadian
- Cucumbers – Animal Farm
Here’s what I’m making this week:
Wednesday: Arugula/Lettuce salad with shaved apples, Apple Vinaigrettte Dressing, and Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds
Thursday: Cucumber Soup with beer biscuits
Friday: Pizza dough topped with roasted squash and onions and goat cheese
Saturday: Creamy Polenta and Saute of Mixed Dark Greens
Sunday: Tofu Keema with okra instead of frozen peas
Monday: Coconut Curry Pumpkin soup, toast with roasted pepper relish & goat cheese
Tuesday: Leftovers night
The insides of pumpkins are, in general, kind of gross. They’re slimy and seedy and sticky and sweaty. And orange. But if you persevere through the guts and roast the seeds with spices, salt and lime juice, you’ll get a delicious and healthy snack: Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds.
The only tricky part of this recipe is separating the pumpkin guts from the seeds. This is a great task for children since it’s time consuming and free of sharp edges. If you’re kid-free like me, the best suggestion I have is to keep two bowls handy while you scrape out the pumpkin. Use a sharp-edged spoon to scrape the inside of the gourd. Shake as many of the seeds as you can into one bowl and the juicy innards into another. (See how many gross adjectives I used there? I’m getting ready for Halloween!)
These little guys are really spicy and addicting! They’d be perfect at a cocktail party or a tailgate, or even in a big green salad instead of croutons. We enjoyed ours with some cold Real Ale during movie night.
Chili Lime Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, separated from flesh
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus enough to grease the cookie sheet
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh lime
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil. In a bowl, mix pumpkin seeds with 1 teaspoon olive oil and spices until the seeds are evenly coated. Use a wooden spoon to spread seeds into a single layer on cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until seeds are crispy and dry. Remove from oven and squeeze 1/2 a lime over the top of the seeds. Stir with a wooden spoon to distribute lime juice evenly and loosen any seeds that are stuck to the cookie sheet. Allow to cool before eating (if you can resist them).
Great news! I’ll be giving away a free Greenling Local Box* to one lucky reader this week! Those Mini Rosemary Pesto Rolls I made a few weeks ago won a recipe contest sponsored by Greenling at their Best of Austin Bash. Greenling sent me a coupon code for a free Local Box as a prize and I’m sharing the love by giving it away this week on The Austin Gastronomist.
Winning the box is easy. You just have to do two things:
- Live in Austin or a surrounding area where Greenling delivers. (Not sure if that’s you? Find out on their website.) It’s cool if you live somewhere else and would like to enter on behalf of a friend in Greenling’s regular delivery area.
- Check back here to Enter. The giveaway will be comment and subscription-based, so you’ll be able to enter by leaving a comment on a specific post this week and by subscribing to my blog via the handy “Sign me up!” button on the right-hand side of the page. I’ll let you know when it’s time to enter in a different post some time this week.
*A little background: the Local Box is a preset selection of local, organic produce put together by Greenling Organic Delivery service and delivered to your doorstep. The Local Box usually costs $34.99 but, obviously, if you win this one, it’s free. The Local Box contents are announced each week via Greenling’s newsletter, so you’ll be able to plan your meals accordingly. Besides the awesome produce, each box contains recipes and preparation instructions for its ingredients. (If you’re lucky, one or more of those recipes will be written by yours truly!)
Unless otherwise stated these are the terms and rules for entering giveaways on The Austin Gastronomist: Giveaways are open to United States Residents 18 years of age and older. All entries must be made in the comments or by subscribing to the blog. Entries via email or any other means will not be accepted or counted. Winners are always selected via Random.org Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected. Giveaway Winners will be posted to the Austin Gastronomist on the original giveaway post at the time and date specified in the post.
Bhindi (okra, also spelled “bhendi”) is a really popular ingredient in Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern cuisines. This masala recipe uses basic ingredients most westerners have on hand in their pantries, and it is a nice change from the usual American Southern-style deep fried and gumbo preparations. Full disclosure: I prepared this vegan dish with jasmine rice as a main course for lunch. The flavors were great, but Rami and I were both pretty hungry a few hours after eating. I recommend adding kidney beans, chopped cooked chicken, or tofu to this dish if you want to serve it as an entree.
1 lb okra, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. ginger powder or 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. turmeric
1 pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped or 16 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbs. water, as necessary
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional. Good, but not worth buying a whole bunch at the market just for this recipe.)
Rinse, dry, and chop the okra. Put a few paper towels on a plate near your work station and then heat oil in a large frying pan. Once oil shimmers, add okra to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that all pieces brown evenly. Meanwhile, prepare other vegetables. When okra is tender, use a slotted spoon to move it to the paper towel-lined plate. Add onions, garlic, and spices to the oily pan, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Once garlic is tender, add peppers and continue to stir. Add a little water if needed to keep sufficient moisture in the pan. As peppers become tender, add tomatoes and additional water if needed. Stir and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. Finally, add okra into mixture. Serve with rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.