Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recipe: Crab Cheese Spread

With the Super Bowl coming up quickly, you need to be prepared for some hungry folks. This is a great recipe and very easy to whip up to "tackle" those hungry fans.

Cheese spread with crabmeat and cream cheese, along with pimiento and seasonings.

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces crabmeat
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 oz. jar diced pimento, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream at medium speed of electric mixer until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with assorted crackers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sip & Savor Austin 1/16-1/30

Getting in touch about Sip & Savor Austin (presented by The International Culinary Schools at Art Institute of Austin) a city-wide culinary celebration taking place at over 40 eateries and bars over two weeks from January 16 through January 30, 2011. Produced by Launch787, the team behind Austin Fashion Week and the Austin Modern Home Tour, Sip & Savor Austin will give food fanatics and casual diners alike a reason to raise a glass and peruse a menu at a wide array of locales around town from food trailers to 5-star restaurants, wine bars to coffee shops.

With a multitude of events and happenings at participating restaurants and watering holes, Sip & Savor covers an impressive breadth of cuisines including South American, Pan Asian, Italian, Mexican and regional American fare, to name a few. Each day of the week offerings may include custom created prix fixe menus at mouth-watering prices, exceptional wine pairings, complimentary tastings, cooking tips and demos, access to chefs and experts, samplings of outstanding ales, inventive hand-crafted cocktails, and information about seasonal ingredients.

Sip & Savor includes:
• 34th Street Café
• Cedar Door
• Chon Som
• Colibri Cuisine
• Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegards
• Cuatros
• Dragon Gate by Pheonix
• El Arbol
• Fogo de Chao
• Frank
• Gumbo’s of Lake Travis
• Gumbo’s of Westlake
• Healthy Living, Healthy Flavors
• Holy Cacao
• III Forks
• Jo’s Downtown
• Judges’ Hill Restaurant & Bar
• Kerbey Lane Café: Central, Northwest, South, Southwest, and UT
• La Sombra Bar & Grill
• Mangia Pizza: Domain and Lake Austin
• Max’s Wine Dive
• Paggi House
• Romeo’s Italian Grill & Bar
• Sagra
• Snack Bar
• SWB- Southwest Bistro @ Hyatt Regency Austin
• T.G.’s Jorge’s
• The Carillon
• The Lion & Rose British Restaurant & Pub
• The Meat House
• The Melting Pot: Downtown and Northwest
• Thunderbird Coffee
• Urban, An American Grill
• Whole Foods Market
• Zed’s

For more information and a full calendar of events:

A percentage of proceeds from Sip & Savor Austin will benefit the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.

Cranberry Bread Recipe

Cranberry-Orange Bread
Mix together:
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

Mix in:
3/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 Egg
2 Tablespoon Melted Butter
1 Grated Orange Rind
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts (Optional)
1 1/2 Cup Cranberries cut in ¼ths (One bag of cranberries equals 4 cups)

Bake at 350 for 70 minutes in a greased and floured pan.
Test with toothpick, if it comes out dry the bread is done.
Wrap in waxed paper and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Makes one loaf.

The New Weber Grills are Here for 2011

As a Weber man, I grilling with only the best. So, when my friends at Weber, gave me the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new line of Weber grills for 2011, I had to share this opportunity with you.

Click here to begin your tour of the new grills from Weber.

Con' Olio Oils & Vinegars at Sip & Savor Austin

Con' Olio is proud to be participating in Sip & Savor Austin, a culinary showcase starting on January 16th and running through January 30th.

Con’ Olio is an Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar retail store and tasting bar. They import only the finest and freshest oils and vinegars from artisans and small batch producers from California, Chile, Australia, Spain, Greece & Italy. You can sample a wide variety of flavored oils and vinegars straight from the taps of stainless steel Fusti containers. They then custom fill bottles of the oils and vinegars you just tasted, enabling a unique customer experience no other store in Austin, Texas can offer!

They are currently running a special to kick off this great event. Click here for more information on a great deal.

Cuvée Coffee Donates Cases of Coffee to Worthy Cause

Cuvée Coffee Donates Cases of Coffee to Worthy Cause:
Coffee N Cream Retail Shop to Ship Cuvée Coffee to Soldiers
as Part of Beans for Troops Campaign

The holiday season may be over, but that hasn’t stopped Texas’ premier coffee roaster from giving a gift that will brighten the day of hundreds of men and women serving overseas in the United States military. Cuvée Coffee Roasting Company has donated several cases of its high-quality house blend to Dallas-area retailer Coffee N Cream’s Operation Gratitude – Beans for Troops campaign. The freshly roasted and packed Cuvée Coffee will be shipped this week to frontline military units serving overseas, along with the additional 280 12-ounce bags of coffee that Coffee N Cream’s customers purchased for the cause between Veterans Day and the end of 2010 as part of the campaign.

“Donating this coffee was an easy decision for us to make,” says Mike McKim, founder and CEO of Cuvée Coffee, and a Navy veteran of the first Gulf war. “Having been in the military, I always really appreciated getting mail and packages from home. I think anything anybody can do to show appreciation for our troops overseas is important.”

A Cuvée Coffee retail customer, Coffee N Cream launched its Beans for Troops campaign three years ago as a way to honor and recognize U.S. servicemen and women in combat zones. This year’s campaign was the most ambitious yet, and, thanks to the additional Cuvée Coffee donation, Coffee N Cream will ship more than 300 bags of coffee – some 95 percent of it comprised of Cuvée’s Mezzanote, Toscano, Meritage and Decaf blends – to military units overseas. Many of the coffee bags include touching, personally hand-written notes from the Coffee N Cream customers who purchased them for the cause.

“We understand how important it is for our soldiers to receive something special from home. Sending high-quality, great-tasting coffee from Cuvée was the best way for us to show how much we appreciate their sacrifice,” says John Ennen, president and CEO of Coffee N Cream. “We also know Mike McKim and his Cuvée team to be great supporters of worthy causes. We’re proud to have them as part of our business.”

Cuvée Coffee Roasting Company is located in the Texas Hill Country, and provides independent coffeehouses and restaurants with roasted-to-order, sustainable, artisan blends, single-origin and estate coffees from South America, Central America and Africa. For more information about Cuvée Coffee and the company’s donation to Coffee N Cream’s Operation Gratitude – Beans for Troops campaign, please call (512) 264-1479, or visit

Monday, January 10, 2011

Paggi House Hosts Zu Vodka Dinner With Celebrated Mixologist Jan. 26th

Paggi House to Host Pairing Dinner Featuring ZU Vodka:
Event to Include ZU Vodka Cocktails Prepared by
Celebrated Mixologist Daniel Undhammar

(January 10, 2010) Austin, TX — One of South Austin’s most historic and iconic restaurants, Paggi House, known for its fresh approach to modern American cuisine, is hosting an exclusive pairing dinner featuring ZU Vodka, a renowned bison grass spirit whose recipe originated in Poland more than 600 years ago. Taking place January 26, 2011, this special five-course pairing dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. with a happy hour in the Paggi House bar, where attendees may meet and greet the restaurant’s Executive Chef Shane Stark and ZU Vodka’s internationally recognized, award-winning mixologist, Daniel Undhammar, before being seated for dinner at 7 p.m.

Only 26 seats are available for this rare and exceptional dinner-pairing event ($75 per person), which will highlight five innovative and seasonal dishes expertly prepared by Chef Stark alongside five one-of-a-kind ZU Vodka cocktails such as the ZU Toddy and the Szarlotka Cocktail, a blend of ZU Vodka and unfiltered apple juice garnished with a blade of bison grass.

Mixologist Undhammar, winner of the Chivas UK Bartender of the Year Award, among many other distinctions, will treat guests to an array of knowledge about ZU Vodka, an authentic spirit long prized by Polish nobility and royalty. Available throughout the US since just last year, ZU Vodka’s rich, centuries-old heritage can be found in every bottle, where you’ll find a single blade of bison grass hand-harvested from Poland’s protected Bialowieza Forest, where the only remaining herd of protected European bison roam. Only 21 families hold the permits required to harvest this rare bison grass, and a mere 50 farms surrounding the forest harvest the rye and distill the spirit. Additionally, the water used to create ZU Vodka is drawn from a deep well located in a region called “The Green Lungs of Poland” thanks to its pristine natural environment. This finely crafted vodka is further purified using a state-of-the-art rectification process, enhancing its smooth taste and texture.

Made by CEDC, the only bison grass vodka producer authorized by the Polish government, ZU Vodka provides the palate with a peppery, botanical, herbaceous and earthy flavor and a long-lasting, pleasant finish. And because each bottle of ZU Vodka contains a real blade of bison grass, a distinct aroma of grass blades offers a natural and complex dimension unlike any other vodka available in the world.

This exclusive ZU Vodka pairing dinner will be hosted by Paggi House, located at 200 Lee Barton Dr. in South Austin. For more information or to make reservations, please call (512) 473-3700, email or visit


Touchdown and Kickoff packages make game night a winning experience for small-to-large gatherings of football fun

Austin, Texas (January 9, 2011) – As the football season rolls into full swing, Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina ensures the best ‘formation’ for game night with limited time, take-out packages equipped for any football fun gathering.

WHO: Santa Rita Cantina Catering
WHAT: Football Fun Pack To-Go

Touchdown Pack
Juicy chicken, beef or combo fajitas with beans and rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream
AND get a BONUS TWO DOZEN Santa Rita wings with Jalapeno ranch dressing and our award-winning salsa
Lots of great food for your hungry football crowd! Feeds 10 or more!

Kickoff Pack
Queso, guacamole, chips, pico de gallo, and Santa Rita’s award-winning salsa
Feeds 10 or more!

Or, dine-in for the BCS Championship and all the NFL Playoff Games and enjoy Happy Hour pricing on all appetizers, plus $2 Draft Miller Lite and XX

Lager & $3 Frozen Margaritas

WHEN: Now through Super Bowl Sunday (February 6, 2011)

WHERE: Valid for take-out only from both our locations. South location, at 5900 W. Slaughter Ln., 288-1500, or Central location at 1206 West 38th St., 419-RITA. Must call ahead to place your order.

WHY: Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina continues to be of part of the sports and football action in Austin with Football Fun Packs, daily specials, all-day happy hour specials and more!

Named after Dona Margarita, Santa Rita Tex-Mex Cantina embodies the spirit of Rita. As the Mother of (All) Tex-Mex, she is remembered as a hopeless romantic and avid daydreamer, all of which is incorporated into her fantastical recipes. Dedicated to the secret loves that lived forever in her imagination, she created a legacy of special recipes that continue to be adored today through the Santa Rita menu.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Restaurant in Austin, TX: the backspace

I am excited to announce the opening of Chef Shawn Cirkiel's newest restaurant, the backspace.

Serving authentic Neapolitan pizza from a wood fired oven, artisanal antipasti, and classic Italian dolci.

507 San Jacinto
Austin Texas 78701

They are in the process creating their website with full menus. I took a look at the sample menu provided to me as a sneak peek. I was impressed.

Chef Shawn Cirkiel graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America. He put his time in at New York's Cafe Boulud and the Napa Valley restaurant of vintner Domain Chandon before returning to Texas to create his first business with his family's backing, Jean-Luc's Bistro, on Colorado St. in 2002. His menu features seasonal items that show a French flair.

I think you will be very pleased.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dry Rub for a Skirt Steak

If you have been reading my Facebook page, you read that my family and I had skirt steak for New Year's dinner. It is a tough cut of meat, but you can easily make it very tasty with a little work and a great dry rub.

Many have asked what sort of dry should be used to bring out the flavor of this cut of meat. Here's the recipe that I used.

1/4 cup paprika
3 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

This recipe is for a 3lbs skirt steak. I had over 6lbs at our meal. This recipe is a favorite of mine and is what I would call a "Go To" rub. I have used it on pork and chicken.