Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Carbonarish April 5, 2010

Filed under: easy,eggs,fast,locavore,noodles — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 7:17 pm

use your noodle

Already ate your crispy salt pork or crunchy bacon but still have plenty of yummy pig grease?  And whatcha gonna do with all those eggs you bought for Easter?  If you haven’t dyed them all yet, bust out a pound of spaghetti—I stocked up when Central Market had their own brand on special last month—and whip up a cheap meal of spaghetti alla carbonara.  Nobody around here doesn’t like noodles, pig fat and cheese, so this Roman-style classic is a sure-fire winner.

from our radish patch

And if that’s not enough fat for springtime, take the softened butter that you didn’t finish up with your holiday rolls (CM’s brioche dinner rolls are on sale for $2.99 a dozen and they do rule), mix in a bit of Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard you got) left on the knife from dressing your after-school-snack Kocurek frankfurters, and swipe it with your freshly plucked radishes for a fancy treat.

Enjoy a few new local strawberries—(from Barton Creek, Sunset Valley or Austin farmers markets) and a late-season grapefruit for dessert and there’s your whole meal.

MAKIN’ DO TEXAS CARBONARISH serves about half a dozen hungry folks

  • 1 pound organic spaghetti.  Central Market and Whole Foods own brand are good values.
  • a couple good spoonfuls of good grease, such as from Dai Due‘s salt pork or bacon
  • dash of organic or Texas olive oil, optional.  For organic I love Spanish Villa Blanca.  Check out Texas’ own Texas Olive Ranch at our local farmers markets.
  • half a good-sized Texas red onion, or whatever Texas onions you have, chopped
  • 3 bulbs of local green garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup wine, red or white
  • 3 local eggs
  • 3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or 2 ounces Reggiano plus 1 ounce Pecorino Romano.

Get your big pot of water going to cook the spaghetti.  I’m not gonna try to tell you when to salt your pasta water but I always salt it at the beginning.

Meanwhile, heat up your fats and saute the onion with a pinch of salt until softened.  Stir in the garlic to release its fragrance, then add the wine and boil it off.  In a very large bowl, stir the eggs and cheese together briskly until emulsified.

When the spaghetti tests done, dunk a glass measuring cup into the pot to reserve about ¾ cup of the cooking water.  Add the pasta and the onions to the eggs and toss well with two large forks to mix it all up.  Splash in the cooking water as needed to create a creamy, emulsified sauce.  You may not need all the water.

Season with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper and top each serving with a nice flaky salt (such a Murray River salt flakes), to taste.

Eat it up hot!


Texas Bún August 12, 2009

Filed under: easy,grilling,meat,noodles,salads,vegetables,Vietnamese — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 9:56 am

We’ve got a produce-challenged member in our household, but luckily that person loves bún , that fun (aren’t all salads fun?) Vietnamese rice noodle salad.  Pretty much any other dish containing the word “salad” repulses this individual.  But my bún is so tasty, and delights our mouths with such a charming medley of tastes and textures, resistance is futile.  Here’s how we’re búnning right now.

BÚN serves several salad suppers

Nước chấm–dressing/dipping sauce

  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (nước mắm)–I’m using Thai Kitchen right now.  You may have a favorite.  If not, this one’s fine and readily available.
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey, local of course
  • zest of 1 or 2 limes

Mix all dressing ingredients together.  You can prepare your nước chấm ahead of time and store it in the fridge.  In my house we always use it up well before it has any opportunity to turn on us.  If you have an under-one-year-old wantin’ to bún, be sure to replace the honey with 1/2 cup turbinado sugar and increase the water to 1 cup.  This is a kid friendly dish, by the way.

Pork Patties

  • 1 pound ground pork.  I usually buy Richardson’s pastured pork at Sunset Valley Farmers Market
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup or so minced shallot and or scallions.  throw in a little minced garlic, too.
  • 1 small green Texas pear, peeled and finely shredded
  • and fat pinch of black pepper and cayenne or paprika

Mix the pork patty ingredients together well, either with a stand mixer (my first choice) or by hand.  Refrigerate the mixture for a while–overnight or all day–to allow the flavors to come together.  Form about 9 patties (mixture may be somewhat loose–that’s OK) and grill them on a medium-hot fire.  Get them cooked through.  They’ll retain their moisture.


Different brands of rice noodles will cook up at different rates, so instructions here are inexact.  For the brand I’m currently working with, I placed the noodles in a 3 1/2 quart pot of boiling water.  I stirred the noodles down, covered the pot and took them off the heat for about 8 minutes.  Try testing your vermicelli at about 5 minutes.  When the noodles are tender, drain them in a colander and rinse them well with cold water.  Go ahead and rinse enough to cool the noodles on down.


  • julienned cucumbers (scoop out the seeds first).  I’m still finding Texas pickling cukes at our markets.
  • mung bean and sunflower sprouts–I buy these locally sourced from Central Market.  They’re available year-round.
  • sliced sweet onion–I’m enjoying the allium bounty of Hairston Creek Farm lately.
  • medium-shredded peeled Texas pear (ripe) or Asian pear.  I found Asian pears recently at Gundermann Farms booth at Sunset Valley.
  • julienned carrots are traditional but out of season at this time.  Hence the pear.
  • sliced hot chiles–red or green, your choice.  Somewhat optional.
  • fresh basil and mint leaves, cut in chiffonade or torn by hand.  Cilantro should take center stage here, but locally it’s out of season.  Every summer I’m saddened by fresh coriander’s absence, and I always swear I’ll grow rau ram or culantro next year.
  • crushed roasted peanuts or soynuts.  I’ve even used almonds.  I haven’t tried good ole Texas pecans, though.
  • fried sliced onion garnish–I last purchased Laxmi brand at Whole Foods.  Fiesta will certainly sell this product (maybe a different brand, though) and possibly Phoenicia.  Sometimes I find fried onions at the other stores, sometimes I don’t.

Now you’re ready to assemble your bún.  I like to use wide, not too shallow bowls.  Nestle a tangle of noodles in your bowl.  Festoon with a shower of toppings including one or two pork patties.  Some folks around here go for more veggies, some go for more meat.  Anoint the colorful arrangement with 2- 4 small ladlefuls of nước chấm.  You’re not aiming for soup here, but you do want well-seasoned performers in this show.  Prepare for a polyphonic jamboree of colors, flavors and textures!