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Austin Food Bytes – Ice Cream 101

Today I’m going to focus on a worldwide favorite, ice cream. There are actually many different kinds of ice cream, made in various ways. There are actually grades of ice cream as well. Ice creams like Hagen Daaz and Ben and Jerry’s is known as “super-premium” ice cream – this means it’s very dense, has very little air whipped in and lots of butterfat; it packs the most taste (and calories) per bite. Lighter weight ice creams like Bryers and Blue Bell are known as “premium” ice creams, they have a fair amount of air whipped into them, making them lighter in texture. I prefer premium ice cream when it is used as an addition to a dish, like fruit cobbler or pie. Gelato is Italian-style ice cream, it’s also quite dense, but is made with more milk and less cream. It’s also processed differently, creating a distinctive texture and faster melting time.

As I’m sure you already know, there are multiple places to procure said treats in Austin. Amy’s Ice Creams is a perennial favorite – they have rotating flavors and fun stuff to have smashed into your scoop. If you want a particularly decadent treat, ask for a black and white shake made with Mexican Vanilla and hot fudge. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, it’s rich, tasty and addictive.

A great source for local gelato is Teo. The proprietor studied the art of making the confection in Florence, Italy and stocks a variety of traditional and more creative flavors. They also have lovely espresso drinks. Another local spot is La Dolce Vita – they also serve a variety of desserts, liqueurs and coffee.

It's my blog, and I'll bitch if I want to

I spent my weekend of relaxation getting progressively sicker, culminating in bronchitis, asthma and the requisite trip to the emergency room for meds. I was a grumpy, touchy, whiny pain in the ass all weekend, and my sense of bruised entitlement did not wear off until Monday morning. School starts up again tomorrow night. I’m not enthused about the curriculum so far, we’ll see how engaging the professor is.

The best thing ever for a crappy cold is Pho Ga. It’s Pho, but with chicken. Heavenly.

but of course

So I take two days off from work to celebrate and rejuvenate after finishing my first semester of school, and guess what? I’ve got a cold. So it’s back to the couch for me.

Austin Food Bytes – Keep it Simple With Salmon

As the temperature rises, I find myself craving lighter fare. Gone are the cold evenings when meat and potatoes are what I desire, the impending hot months make me think of fresher, lighter meals, especially in the evenings. One of my favorite weekend dinners is salmon.

Salmon is a fattier fish with a distinctive, delicate, rich flavor. It pairs will with citrus, herbs, even salsas. I have two ways I like to prepare it that are fast, easy and fool-proof. My favorite salmon can be purchased at Central Market it’s organic, farm-raised Atlantic salmon from Scotland. It usually runs about $13.99 per pound, mid-range for fillets (steaks are cheaper). These recipes have several elements that can be changed substituted or adapted to your tastes. The only constants are the methods of preparation and the cooking times.

Seared Salmon
Scant 1 lb. salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 2 pieces.
Salt and pepper
Oil for searing

1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 orange, 3 limes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together olive oil, juice, cilantro, and onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 1/4 cup for dressing. You may run it through the blender if you want a smooth sauce. Let fish sit in the remainder of marinade for about 30 minutes (alternatively, you can also buy pre-marinated fillets at some stores). Remove the fish from the marinade, salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1-2 Tbs. of oil in frying pan until very hot. Sear salmon pieces on both sides, about a minute each. Place in baking dish and bake for 6-8 minutes. Six minutes will result in fish that is rare in the middle, eight minutes will be cooked through. I prefer my salmon medium-rare.

Serve salmon with reserved marinade, salsa, or sauce of choice.

*You may substitute any type of oil in the marinade, any fresh herb, and any combination of juice. If you use citrus, do not allow the fish to sit for too long, as it will be cooked by the acids.

Baked Salmon
Scant 1 lb. salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 2 pieces.
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbs. milk
2 Tbs. curry powder*
1 Tbs. butter, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 425°. Combine breadcrumbs with 1 Tbs. curry powder and spread on a dinner plate. Whisk together the milk, mayo, and 1 Tbs. of the curry powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Soak the salmon in the milk mixture, then transfer to the plate and roll in breadcrumbs until coated on all sides. Place in baking dish. Dot with butter. Bake salmon for 13 minutes for medium-rare, 15 minutes for cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges.

*You may use any spice mix in place of the curry powder. Also, Central Market offers different types of crusts in lieu of normal breadcrumbs, including pepita (pumpkin seed), pecan, and macadamia nut crusts. All are mixed with Panko, a Japanese style-breadcrumb and highly spiced. The nut crusts are oily, so you probably don’t need the butter if you use them.

Everyone Must Watch

Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner (in three parts)

part 1
part 2
part 3

Interestingly enough, there is no coverage of this in the mainstream press. What a huge surprise.