Archive for December, 2009

After several days of traveling across Texas and Louisiana, we are finally back home. Here’s a pic of Ryan in his Christmas duds:

In the interest of full disclosure, I took this yesterday, Dec. 30. I forgot to pack his Christmas outfit when we left to visit family, but gosh darn it, I was going to get a picture of him in it.

Anyway, about the olive. This is news, as the two foods I cannot stand are olives and mayo. It happened on our date night Tuesday. Instead of buying gifts for each other for occasions like Christmas and birthdays, Mason and I pick a nice restaurant to visit and have a date night. This year, for our Christmas date, we went to Restaurant Jezebel.

Now, I don’t know how I’ve missed this place in my 10 years in Austin. It’s at 9th and Congress, right by the Capital and the Paramount Theater, and I’ve spent a ton of time on that block. It is Zagat rated and has been around for at least three or four years. Anyway, it was fantastic. I was attracted to it because, while their menu only mentions one vegetarian entree, they make a point to say that you should ask your server for their other vegetarian dishes.

I was intrigued. I recently stopped eating meat, and while it’s not hard to be a vegetarian in Austin, the options on some menus are pretty limited. So, Mason and I made reservations (their meaty entrees were impressive) and showed up at 8 pm.

The olives were our appetizer. It’s one of those restaurants where everyone gets a complimentary amuse bouche. These kalamata olives had been soaked in a citrus-balsamic marinade. Mason and I stared dubiously at the tray (he doesn’t do olives or mayo either), but didn’t want to insult the waiter by sending it back. Finally, not wanting to just leave all those olives wasted, I stabbed one with my fork and ate it.

Much (and I mean, MUCH) to my surprise, it was delicious! Citrusy, balsamic-y, and salty. Yum! I ate the whole tray. Mason even agreed that they were good (I guess I ate the whole tray minus one). I liked them so much that I bought a jar of kalamata olives today, which are currently soaking in my own balsamic-citrus marinade in the fridge. I’ll break them out in a few minutes and see how they compare.

So, about the rest of our meal. Sam, our French waiter, was fantastic. He asked me several questions about food allergies, likes/dislikes (I mentioned the olives and mayo, before the amuse bouche arrived), and the level of spiciness I can handle (7 out of 10, if you’re wondering). He brought this info to the chef, who made me an off-the-menu entree of fried eggplant in a poblano-caper cream sauce, with smoked long beans on the side. Fantastic! Mason had a surf-and-turf dish involving osso bucco and scallops. Towards the end of the meal, after I’d cleaned my plate, the chef walked by and asked if I’d had my fill. I was stuffed and told him so. He said, no joke, that he’d go back and make more if I wasn’t full, as he didn’t want to be one of those restaurants where people leave hungry.

Ha! No worries about that. I was full at that point, but Mason and I gorged on their honey-lavender-goat cheese-stuffed French toast.

All in all, it was a great night. A specially made entree, the discovery that all olives are not the height of disgustingness, and an evening out with my hubby. Here’s hoping that your Christmas and New Year were/are just as wonderful. Happy 2010!

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I chose not to get a Greenling box the week before and the week of Thanksgiving, since we’d be out of town during that time. However, I’m back in full force with the box that showed up this Friday. In addition to the produce, I also ordered a bottle of Texas Olive Ranch’s balsamic vinegar. The ranch is out in Dripping Springs (south of Austin), and Mason and I were lucky enough to visit there a few years ago and sample their olive oils and vinegars. They can be hard to find unless you shop at Whole Foods all the time, so I was glad to see that I could order their products through Greenling.

Anyway, the produce we got this week included: turnips with greens, broccoli rabe, green onions, French breakfast radishes, green tomatoes, butter lettuce, tangerines, escarole, apples, and cilantro. This week I’m making:

Wick Fowler’s chili, topped with chopped green onions and cheese (yeah, yeah, I know there are tons of great chili recipes out there, but this is the mix my parents used when we were growing up, and honestly, it’s hard to top. Delicious every time and a good choice for a football-watching party)

Meatball subs (made with leftover meatballs I warmed in the crockpot with a large bottle of bbq sauce mixed with a jar of red plum jam)

Turnip greens sauteed with olive oil, onion, and garlic over cornbread

Glazed turnips, potatoes, and carrots (roasted and glazed with butter and sugar)

Roast duck with chestnuts, prunes, and armangnac — Ok, I have to talk about this one. HEB had geese on sale this week, and I was intrigued so I dug up a roast goose recipe. However, goose is kind of pricey, so I ended up buying two 6-lb ducks and roasting those instead. Took about 2 hours, 15 minutes. This recipe was DELICIOUS. The next time I host Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’m making it. I wasn’t about to buy a bottle of cognac for it (not that I could, seeing as it’s Texas and today is Sunday so all liquor stores are closed) so I used some Maker’s Mark we had in the pantry. I also forgot to buy prune juice, so I just used extra red wine and beef broth. I hate cooking with a nice bottle of wine, so I get the mini-bottles (sometimes called picnic bottles) and use those instead. Much better than the “cooking wines” they sell, but I don’t feel like I’m wasting a bottle I would rather be drinking.

Escarole and butter lettuce salad with pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts

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