Tag Archives: texas food

Kale Risotto with Blue Cheese and Raised Beds!

9 Mar

Hi Everyone!

Now that I am a homeowner I am discovering that I have a whole new relationship with Spring. Every morning Jo and I tour our yard and celebrate the little buds that indicate another favorite plant survived the cold winter. I find myself more in tune with the needs of the plants too. What first seemed like a completely foreign and overwhelming garden that came with the house is starting to make sense to me. I see where the plants need cutting back, with guidance from Jo and my mom! I can tell which plants are weeds and have cuts all over hands and Home Depot refuse bags lined up to prove it. As a renter, I always thought spring was nice enough, but the yard was someone else’s problem. It was flip-flop weather that excited me. This gardening thing is a whole new bug!

To top if off, we have just built 100 square feet of raised beds that are just waiting for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and a whole lot of herbs that we got this weekend at the Sunshine Community Garden plant sale. Furthermore, raised beds are springing up all over our sweet little corner of the world and we are conspiring with our neighbors what to plant when and leaning heavy on Jalene and Aaron down the street for guidance. They have done this before and they are good!  I woke up this morning and grabbed the seed catalogue to learn more about what these plants need and have played with the layout a million times on our kitchen table, where our starts sit, while we wait for the nights to get warm enough to plant them. I can hardly wait to eat the first tomato grown in our very own garden and I am sure I will tell you and anyone who will listen about it!

Now, for the food… I have chicken stock on right now and anytime I make stock, I make risotto. There is something very satisfying about putting some of that good stock to immediate use! So, in celebration of the last of the winter greens, I am adding kale to the dish today. There are few foods that I love more than a well made risotto. It can be an intimidating dish, but all it takes is time and a little patience, and it its well worth it. It is important to use the arborio rice. It is a short grain from Italy and the key to making creamy risotto. Enjoy!

Kale Risotto

1 T butter

onion, chopped fine

arborio rice

wine (white is typically used, but we had red on hand, so that is what I went with and it was a good move!)

chicken stock, warm



kale, chopped fine

2 oz parmesan cheese, grated

thinly sliced Velhuizen Bosque Blue Cheese

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until they are translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the rice and stir constantly until the grains take on a pearly look (about 7 minutes). Add white wine and cook stirring constantly until it is mostly absorbed. I keep my chicken stock in a pot on warm and add to the rice with a ladle. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding chicken stock a ladle full at a time. And stir, stir, stir. The stirring causes the rice to release some of its starch, which is what makes risotto so creamy and delicious. Keep adding the heated stock and stir every few minutes. Once the risotto has reached the desired doneness, add chopped kale and it will wilt right into the dish. Stir in parmesan cheese. Serve in bowls and garnish with shaved blue cheese.

Update on the Challenge

We are still truckin’ along 6 months into the challenge. One happy thing that we have noticed is that the jeans we have been wearing since the beginning of the the challenge, are now baggy on us and that is pretty fun. I can’t believe that it has been half of a year since we stepped foot into an Austin restaurant. I am starting to feel pretty out of it as far as the new restaurants go. I can’t wait to try Haddingtons, Barley Swine, Foreign and Domestic and a handful of others. Readers, tell me what I am missing and what needs to be added to my list! This next 6 months will fly by and we will be back on the scene in before we know it. Jo’s first stop will be Tamale House.

The last couple of weeks,  cooking wise, have been devoted to perfecting my pork recipe for The Pork Experiment, put on by The Food Experiments and Brooklyn Brewry. The cook-off is this Sunday, March 13 and starts at 12. The stakes are high as there are a whole boat load of prizes and a trip to Brooklyn on the line. I am in it to win it and would love to see you all out there. There will be 20+ participants and the cost is $20 to attend. If you think about it, that is just a dollar for every taste of porky goodness. Sounds like a deal to me!

The raised beds are a new dimension of sustainability for us. The beds were really simple to build. Just untreated lumber with braces screwed in on the corners. The Natural Gardner delivered the dirt and we got a ton of plants last weekend at the Sunshine Community Garden plant sale. I will keep you posted on the progress of growing our own food.

As always thanks for reading!

Not that Martha


Romaine and Fennel Salad with a Poached Egg

19 Jan

Hello All!

I hope that the holidays and new year are treating you all well and that life is good.

Though I have taken a break from writing, from cooking I have not. I have been working on a lot of new recipes that I am so excited to share. I am committed to writing a post a week and getting these ideas out to you all.

I spent a little chunk of my morning at Boggy Creek, a ritual I relish. The produce is heavenly and there is always the promise of a hug from Larry and good conversation that stretches my brain a little more. This morning, my friend, Barrie, conspired with me on this fresh winter salad. The carrots have given way to lettuces that are almost too beautiful to eat. I couldn’t resist the red and green romaine. The fennel was at the welcome table and irresistible. Fennel and citrus are perfect partners in crime. I let mine soak in some grapefruit juice and the tart and bitter of the grapefruit play very nicely with the perfume of the fennel. The egg is key here because when the velvety yolk breaks over the salad all is right in the world. If you are able to get your hands on a farm fresh egg, please do. The deep yellow-orange yolk puts supermarket eggs to shame. It is worth what you will spend in time and money to get these little gems. It’s good. Real real good.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe. Stay tuned for some heartier recipes coming soon!

Romaine and Fennel Salad with a Poached Egg

(serves 2)

1 head, romaine lettuce

1/2 bulb, fennel

1/2 grapefruit, juice

2 farm eggs, poached

1 handful, pepitas (or other seed)

Maldon or other flakey salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the lettuce and make sure it is nice and dry. Shave fennel or cut thin and pour grapefruit juice over while you do the rest. The fennel will soak up the grapefruit flavor. To poach an egg, bring salted water to a gentle simmer with 1 T of vinegar. The vinegar helps the egg whites stay together. Crack the eggs into separate bowls. Once the water reaches a gentle simmer, swirl the water with a wooden spoon and gently pour one egg at a time into the water. The swirling water keeps the eggs in motion and doesn’t allow them to drop to the bottom. Let the eggs cook for 5-6 minutes if your eggs are room temperature. Add a minute if they come straight from the fridge. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and let rest on a towel. To assemble the salad, chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces, top lettuce with shaved fennel, drizzle a little of the remaining juice over the lettuce. Top the fennel with the poached egg. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and pepitas.

Challenge Update

Well, its official, I am SICK of my clothes. On pretty much every level of wardrobe, I am sick of mine. I was daydreaming this morning about finding some fun, new socks in my drawer, to no avail… It might be time to break out one of the white t-shirts I put aside at the beginning of this challenge. It could do wonders.

I can’t believe that we are nearly 5 months into this, that means nearly half way through.

On the food front, the seasons are really keeping us on our toes and enthusiastic about cooking. I can’t stop making slaws right now. Slaw as a side, on fish tacos, veggie burgers,  with avocado in it. I love it. I recieved a fabulous Indian cookbook for Christmas and can’t wait to dig into some curries and paneer and you know what? I will probably put slaw on that too.

Work has taken Jo to Houston recently and she has taken me, so we have had the pleasure of dining out. We were thrilled and a little in awe at the reality of having menus in our hands and someone else doing the dishes. Eating out was great, but we were both anxious to get home and back to our routine. On the last day of our trip I couldn’t stop thinking about the cauliflower sitting in our fridge. Something we both noticed is how much better we feel when we are eating at home. We have been away from restaurants for long enough now to notice a major difference in how we feel when we know where our food is coming from and exactly what is going into it. I’ll say this, in our time in Houston, we took more Tums than we have in the last 4 months combined. Capice? That alone has been worth the journey.

Thank you all for reading!

Not That Martha

Carrot Salad with Feta and Honey Dressing

15 Dec

Hi Everyone,

I can’t believe how long it has been since I have written a new post! My apologies. Things have gotten a little nuts coming into the holidays so I have been in the kitchen. Today, though, I must share with you my morning findings. I spent my ritual Wednesday morning at Boggy Creek and am beside myself with the excitement of the bounty. Every season I am sure it is my favorite time of year, I mean, in early summer when the tomatoes are full and ripe I am certain it doesn’t get better. Well, turns out same goes for this time of year. I fiercely love carrots! Maybe it is a need for carotin or maybe it is that I was a rabbit in my last life. Who knows, but they thrill me. Today at Boggy I was greeted with was a table exploding with carrots. The maroon ones and the yellow ones and the old reliable orange ones. They really warrant a trip to Boggy Creek or the SFC Farmers Market this weekend. So, for our mid-morning snack, Jo and I are sharing a carrot and feta salad. It is sitting right next to me and dissappearing as I type. The recipe is super fast, it took me 10 minutes photos and all. So, here you go.

Carrot Salad with Feta Dressing

1 bunch carrots, multi-colored if you can swing it

2-3 handfuls of mixed greens


2 T, Texas Olive Ranch Olive Oil

1 lemon

2 oz Feta cheese (mine was Pure Luck)

1 T, honey

salt and fresh black pepper

Serves 2-4 depending on hunger level/carrot love.

Wash the greens and carrots (I don’t peel mine anymore, I just wash them really well). Place greens on a serving dish. Slice carrots thin, on the bais (diagonal) increases surface area and dressing holding capacity. Place carrots on greens. Put all dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Pour dressing over the salad and enjoy.

Challenge Update

We are still going strong on our eating at home/no shopping challenge. While we are eating really well at home, there are places I miss and new joints I can’t wait to try come September 1, 2011. We are also enjoying torturing each other with the “what-if” game. For example, we had a hideously long meeting last night after not eating much all day.  We were ravenous!  The presenter kept talking and talking and then even tried to force us to watch an archaic VHS tap from 1989 all the while we’re digging thru Jo’s purse for a morsel of candy or gum.  As soon as we were outta there, the game began…”What if I ran into an old friend right now, here, at this stop light, and insisted that we pull over to chat?  Would you rush us to Chick-fil-A? What would you have?” You know, that kind of game. It was hilarious and got us through the drive and home to some really great tacos that we put together in approximately 2.5 minutes. So, scenarios come up, but we, for the most part, have been able to laugh ourselves through them.

It has really forced me to get out of my comfort zone culinarily and despite a couple of real food disasters, Asian and Indian foods are areas where I am developing a real love and respect.

On the clothing side, though we are realizing we really aren’t missing much. We are wearing the same old clothes that we have had and still managing to look presentable. Jo may have a different take on this part of the challenge….

Thank  you, thank you for reading and I hope that your holidays are full of love, good company and good food.

Not that Martha

Black-Eyed Peas, Chorizo and Greens.

29 Nov

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you all had a most excellent holiday filled with good food, family and friends.

We have had a really relaxing few days after the Thanksgiving rush. It has been nice to slow back down. We even managed to read a little of the Sunday paper, believe it or not. Black-eyed peas, chorizo and greens is the perfect Sunday kind of dish. I usually start it out as a soup and then reheat the leftovers as a side dish later. It is a healthy meal with a hint of decadence from the lovely chorizo. Fresh black eyed peas are abundant right now. I got mine from Wheatsville, and am certain they can be found at Whole Foods and the SFC Farmer’s Markets. This is also my chosen preparation for my New Years Day black eyed peas and unlike those from the can, I look forward to eating these ones. So, bookmark this recipe as a must try for New Years.

A note on chorizo… The kind I use for this recipe is the Spanish, hard variety. It is a cured meat much like salami or pepperoni. Aurelia’s is made locally and outstanding. I render (brown) the chorizo in a little bit of olive oil and then set aside for garnish, so it stays crisp and delicious.

Black-Eyed Peas, Chorizo and Greens

2 cups fresh black-eyed peas

2.5 cups water

1 medium red onion

3-5 cloves garlic

1 cup Spanish chorizo, sliced thin

3 c arugula, chopped

1 T olive oil

salt and pepper

parmesan for garnish

Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add sliced chorizo to pan and “frizzle” until crisp. Once chorizo is browned, remove to a paper towel to drain. Add onion to pan and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add water and beans to pan. Simmer over low heat until beans are super tender. About 1 hour. Once beans are cooked through, stir in chopped arugula or other green. Serve immediately and garnish with shaved parmesan and frizzled chorizo.

Challenge Update

All is well on the challenge front. I can’t believe that we are nearly three months in and chugging along. Three months feels like a real milestone. I will admit that we might be taking some pent up clothes shopping frustration at Home Depot. Damn, that bill has gone up. But a home can only have so many ladders and shovels and Christmas lights, so I am feeling like we have pretty well maxed out at the Home Depot. I’ll let you know if it shows up somewhere else….

Thank you, thank you for reading. I hope your holidays are all good.

Not That Martha

PS Food photos are courtesy of Sarah Wilson. Thank you, Sarah Wilson!!!

Bacon and Arugula Bread Pudding!

3 Nov

Hi everyone,

I have to admit that bread pudding is a dish that for years I turned up my nose to. I am not sure that I ever even tried it, just the idea of a bread pudding sent chills down my spine. I stand corrected. Bread pudding is in fact a perfectly delicious leftover vehicle and has become a dish that I crave. I will admittedly over buy bread for the week, so I have enough to toss with a few of my favorite things to have this soul satisfying dish. The weather is perfect for it. The prep time is short. You throw it in the oven and a little over a half an hour later you and whomever you choose to share this with will be giddy. It would be a great thing to assemble in the evening and cook the next morning for a hot, easy breakfast.

This iteration of it for me had all sorts of goodness to it. I used multiple varieties of bread, wheat, ciabatta and some kind of cheesy one. The arugula from Montesino by way of Farm House Delivery. Bacon from Dai Due. If you live in striking distance of Austin, TX, you should make your way to the Downtown Farmers Market on a Saturday just to try something that the Dai Due group makes. Their bacon is out of this world and the Fireman’s 4 mustard is always in our fridge.  I had cheddar and parmesan cheese left from the week. Eggs and milk are always on hand and that is all it takes for this dish. The recipe is a guide this time. There aren’t exact measures. Literally use this as a guide and I promise you can make your very own version of bread pudding to be proud of!

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Bacon and Arugula Bread Pudding

Stale bread, cubed

Cheese, grated and as much as you want

Leafy green, kale, arugula, spinach, anything like this will work

Bacon or Sausage, cooked and crumbled


Milk, 1 cup for every 2 eggs

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350

In one bowl combine eggs and milk, whisk together. In a separate bowl, combine cheese, greens, bread, salt and pepper and sausage if that is what you are using. Pour the egg and milk mix onto the bread mix. What you are trying to do is just soak the bread with eggy mix. You don’t want to bread too dry or it just won’t be pudding-y, you know? So, here is where I have to play with the balance most often. I usually start by making the mix a little dry and having to add more milk and eggs. Don’t worry, though, you really can’t get this wrong. As long as the bread is soaked, you have good ingredients, and you cook this through, you should be very pleased with your own recipe. Depending on the size of the dish, it should take 30-45 minutes for the bread pudding to cook. Mine was in a 9×12 and took 45 minutes.

*If you are using bacon, I find it best to sprinkle it on top to prevent it from getting soggy. I don’t like soggy bacon.

I hope you all enjoy this as much as we do. Please let me know what combinations you come up with!

Challenge Update

Jo and I are officially two months into our consumption challenge and things are going swimmingly. We are getting our routines down more and more, so we don’t have those desparate moments when we are starving with nothing to eat. I am thrilled that soup weather is here. I love to make a big pot of soup on Sunday and have it around at least until the middle of the week. A big pot of green chili pork posole is in our very near future, oooh and chicken and dumpling. We have also had the pleasure of noticing that we do have extra cash on hand. It doesn’t cost nearly as much to eat at home. Even if the food eaten at home bears a premium price…

The change of seasons means that we are looking at clothes not seen since last March, so that is a much needed breath of fresh air. Personally,  I am excited to bust out the sweaters and boots!

Something we have both noticed is we are having more awareness of purchases in general. I am the kind of girl that can buy more soap, lotion, pens and notebooks than I could possibly use in 5 years. For Jo it is chapstick. The girl has more than you can possibly imagine and to be honest, I am a little jealous of the collection. Because we have taken notice of this, the above items have been added to the list of non-consumption. We will actually use what we have on hand, which will certainly get us through the next ten months and then some.

As always, thank you for reading!

Not That Martha

All photography is by Sarah Wilson. I am hungry every time I go through her pics. Somehow my iPhone pics just don’t compare…

Savory Pumpkin Double Header!

28 Oct

Hi Everyone!

It feels like fall is finally here! I am a big fan of pumpkin pie and really anything that has a buttery crust! I wanted to get outside the box on this one so I decided to indulge my salt tooth by a making savory pumpkin pie. Thats right, I decided to go all salty on the pumpkin pie this time. I am super pleased with my quiche(y) pie. It has taken a couple of tries and many a feedback from Jo, but together we have struck the balance of pumpkininess and salty. I love the body that sage offers with the delicacy of the Pure Luck feta cheese.  This is something that I would happily eat for breakfast or as a side dish.

For me the bonus of working with real pumpkin is that I get to enjoy the seeds too. It is a sense memory from my childhood. We would carve pumpkins, pull out the slimy seeds, and mom would roast the seeds for us. Everything from the slick of the seeds to the smell of them roasting to the anticipation of them being cool enough to eat takes me back to that time. I am totally addicted and want more, right now, but I ate them all.

Pie crust is a tricky thing. If you have the inclination and willingness to get your hands dirty, making a good pie crust is among the most rewarding culinary feats. I use Thomas Keller‘s recipe from his Ad Hoc cookbook. It is simple and requires playing with your food, which is why I cook in the first place. This is a crust that could be used in many applications. I think I will use it next for a chicken pot pie. A store-bought pie crust will work just as well, so don’t let the crust part deter you from trying the recipe!

Pie Crust

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1 1/4 t. salt

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut small and chilled

About 5 T ice water

The trick to making a flakey pie crust is to not over work the butter and keep it cold. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, add butter pieces. Quickly work the butter into the flour using your finger tips. The goal is to not let the butter get warm. This is where I always start sweating. If this happens to you, pop the mix back in the fridge for a couple of minutes and carry on. Once you have achieved a sandy texture with the mix, start adding the ice water until the dough pinches together, you may not use all of the water. Pour onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a ball. Don’t worry if it is a little crumbly. Divide into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. An alternative to using your hands is to add flour, salt and butter to the body of a food processor and pulse until sandy mix is achieved, then add ice-cold water a little at a time and follow the rest of the instructions.

Roll out on a floured surface into a thin round, place in a pie pan and return to fridge for at least 15 minutes. I mean, butter is really temperamental, but totally worth it. Just ask Paula Deen.

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Pumpkin Filling

2 1/2 c. pumpkin, puree

3 eggs

1/3 c cream

1-2 T sage, finely chopped

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/3 c. feta, crumbled

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper

Turn oven on to 375. Cut a pie pumpkin in half, remove seeds and goo with a spoon. Reserve seeds in a bowl of water. Get rid of the goo. Oil the flesh sides and add salt and pepper. Roast pumpkin cut side down until you can pierce the outside skin easily with a knife. Once pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh of the pumpkin into a bowl. Using an immersion blender or food processor blend pumpkin until it is baby food consistency. (If you have a baby, you can feed this to your little one.) Using a whisk, combine eggs and cream then mix in pumpkin puree and sage. Lastly, gently stir in the feta. Crank your oven to 425. Pour pumpkin mixture into waiting pie crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and continue to bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or when a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Let the pie cool. Garnish with whole sage leaves. Cut, serve and enjoy. Serves 8.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 1/2 c. pumpkin seeds

1/4 t. cayenne

1/4 t. cinnamon

1-2 T. salt

Heat oven to 350. Pat pumpkin seeds dry. Toss on roasting pan with salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Let bake for 15-20 minutes or until fragrant. Wait for a couple of minutes and eat them up!!!

Do all of this and have yourselves a pumpkin party!!!

As always, thank you for reading!

Not That Martha

* You will notice that the photography is again much elevated and downright edible, thanks to Sarah Wilson!