Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The secret sauce that makes Americans hungry and fat

NY Times unveils the secret sauce in junk food that keeps Americans hungry and fat - The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. It's a look inside the hyper-engineered, savagely- marketed, addiction-creating battle for American “stomach share.”

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca

No one exactly knows where this quick and tasty pasta sauce was born. But the name - which translates in English to "whore's pasta" - conjures images of a woman too tired at the end of the day to cook. She uses whatever ingredients she has on hand to make a quick marinara sauce. It comes together in about an hour. Works for me.


1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can of stewed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1/2 cup kalamata olives
4 anchovy filets
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red or white wine (or to taste)
1 pound penne, spaghetti or other pasta of your choice
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


1. Saute' onion in oil until it begins to tan. Add garlic and saute' until very fragrant.

2. Add wine and cook briskly until nearly dry. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. (You can add more wine if you like. Be sure to let the alcohol cook out.)

3. Add 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt to a mortar. Smash anchovies and olives to a chunky consistency with pestle. Add to marinara sauce with the other seasonings. Simmer on low for 30 minutes or so while the pasta is cooking.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. When al dente, drain and rinse. Add it to the marinara sauce and toss to coat the pasta. Slice the fresh basil into ribbons. Add basil and cheese to the pasta. Serve in pretty bowls with garlic bread and a glass of wine.

Makes 8 servings.

Chef's note: If you're eating in season, use fresh cherry tomatoes or roasted tomatoes instead of canned. As always, season to your taste. I'm heavy-handed with oregano and wine, light on the salt because of the olives and anchovies.

~Adapted from a recipe by Ree Drummond

Fettucini, Chard, Walnuts and Brown Butter Sauce

Cool weather Swiss chard co-stars with walnuts, currants and brown butter sauce in this easy and elegant pasta dish. 4 servings.

Rainbow Chard


1/2 lb fresh fettuccine
1 tbsp dried currants
2 tbsp golden raisins
8 - 10 cups packed Swiss Chard leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced - about 1 cup
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/3 cup brown butter

Brown butter
Melt 1/4 lb. butter in saucepan letting the solids settle to the bottom. When it reaches a dark amber color and begins to smoke, strain through cheese cloth or remove the solids with a spoon.

Plump the currants and raisins in a small bowl covered with 1/4 cup hot water. Trim the stems from the chard and slice across the leaves to make 1 to 2 inch ribbons.

Boil 1/2 lb fettuccine in water with 1 tsp Kosher salt. When the pasta is tender, drain in a collander, shake excess water, toss together with the other ingredients when they are cooked.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Saute' the onions over medium heat until they just begin to caramelize (dark tan but not burned.) Add garlic, chard and 1/4 tsp salt. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chard is tender, reduce to low heat. Don't over-cook. It should be tender, not mushy.

Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan

~Annie Sommerville, Fields of Greens

Swiss Chard Feta Quesadilla

A trio of farm-fresh and artisan crafted foods from Saturday's Barton Creek Farmer's Market makes a healthy and tasty Sunday afternoon snack. Makes 6 quesadilla.

Swiss Chard - Feta Quesadilla


Blanco Valley Farms organic white corn tortillas
1/2 cup French sheep's milk or goat's milk feta
6 - 8 cups Swiss chard or other dark, leafy greens, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped onion
6 diced garlic cloves
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning


1. Saute' onion and garlic in EVOO until they start to caramelize.
2. Add greens and saute' until soft.
3. Season to taste.

1. Lightly oil and heat a griddle.
2. Heat tortillas on one side, flipping when they start to toast.
3.  Add one tbsp of greens to the center.
4. Sprinkle with feta.
5. Fold when the cheese starts to melt.
6. Flip and toast on the opposite side.
7. Helps to hold in a warm oven until you're done.

Chef's note: Chard turns out to not only taste good, but to be good for you. The amazing variety of phytonutrients in chard is quickly recognizable in its vibrant colors. Virtually all of these phytonutrients provide antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits or both. In addition, phytonutrient benefits of chard are believed to support the body’s blood sugar-regulating system. It also provides a good supply of calcium, an excellent supply of magnesium and the vitamin K from eating chard provides stand out bone support.

May I have some more, please?

Help Us Fix Broken Links

 If you're wondering, posts to Austin Fresh have been sparse and sporadic because I am immersed in another writing project. To simplify publication while I complete this work, I have moved Austin Fresh to Blogger.

Same great content. Simpler administration. No cost.

You can still read all our past posts. I've uploaded pictures to most of them. However, all the links within the site are broken.

I'd be very grateful if you'd report broken links as you find them.

You can use our contact form which is available at the top of the blog. Or simply leave a comment below the post where the link is broken. I'll fix it when I moderate comments.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spinach and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

Thanks to Whole Foods for this delicious comfort food dish. Serves 4 to 6.


4 large yellow, red or orange bell peppers, halved
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 slices of bacon
1 large onion, diced
3 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup raw)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
3 tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs
Mist of extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray olive oil lightly on the bottom of a baking dish or large stainless steel pan. Size will vary depending on the size of the bell pepper.

2. Halve bell peppers. Remove seeds. If necessary, trim off a sliver of the bottom to make sure they sit level. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Spray lightly with olive oil. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake until the peppers are just this side of tender when pierced with a fork. From 20 to 35 minutes.

3. While peppers roast, fry bacon in a large skilled over medium heath until brown and crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

4. Saute' onions in bacon grease until they release their juices and look transparent - about 15 minutes. Add spinach and continue to saute' until hot and any excess liquid from thawing has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl, stir in drained bacon bits, shredded cheese, pepper and Tony's Creole Seasoning to taste.

5. Spoon mixture into the bell pepper halves - about 1/2 cup each. Sprinkle the tops bread crumbs and mist lightly with olive oil.

6. Bake uncovered until peppers are soft and bread crumbs brown, about 30 minutes.

 Chef's Notes: 1) A light misting of olive oil in the pan and on the peppers before roasting helps to soften them. Lightly. Lightly.

Misto Olive Oil Mister

2) For more texture and flavor, add one cup of chopped shitake or other mushrooms after the onions have been sauteed and before the spinach. Glaze well with pan drippings and saute' for about 5 minutes. Then continue stir-frying with spinach.

Bon appetit!