Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Potato Bake April 8, 2010

Filed under: easy,Indian,locavore,potatoes,spice blends,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 3:19 pm

spinach 'n' taters

come 'n' git it casserole

If you didn’t get a chance to grab a bag of organic russets on sale recently at Newflower Market, Texas farmers have granted you a reprieve.  You can find Texas-grown new red potatoes right now at Central Market for $1.99 a pound.  No small potatoes for small potatoes, but sometimes you gotta have your spud fix.  Either way, boil up some ‘taters for this comforting casserole and store any extra boiled potatoes in the fridge for quick breakfasts.

This dish used up my leftover cottage cheese (from Mackin’ Cheese) and incorporates fresh Texas cool weather produce, still available for a little while longer.  Serve as is or gild with your favorite salsa or a tangy tamarind chutney.


  • 4 medium-sized cooked potatoes, or 9-10 new potatoes.  I boil up a few and keep ’em in the fridge for quick starching.
  • 1 good-sized Texas leek, trimmed, washed, quartered and sliced thin
  • 1 (or more) good-sized local green garlic bulb, or 1 (or more) clove  of organic or local garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika, smoked is good
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala.  You can use your favorite recipe, or try this basic blend.  Or you can buy it ready made in bulk spice departments.
  • 4 Tablespoons plus ½ Tablespoon ghee or organic butter (click for a coupon on Organic Valley), plus more for greasing you baking dish.  Click for my instructions on making your own ghee.
  • 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon asafetida,  optional but yummy.
  • 1 10-ounce bag of Cora Lamar’s triple-washed Texas-grown spinach (ready to cook) or other local spinach, trimmed and cleaned.
  • ½ teaspoon plus ¾ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.  Plus some kosher salt for the potatoes—I like Diamond Crystal.
  • 1 cup organic or local cottage cheese.  I used Organic ValleyFull Quiver Farm sometimes makes cottage cheese.  Ask at their booth the next time you’re shopping Austin Farmers Market or Barton Creek Farmers Market.
  • 1 local egg
  • a few sprigs of local cilantro

Combine the ground spices, paprika through the garam masala, and stir in 3 Tablespoons water.  Heat up a large saute pan with the 4 Tbls. ghee or butter.  Add the asafetida and give it a quick stir before stirring in the spice mixture.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat for a minute or two, until the spices begin to look dryish and separate from the butterfat.  Stir in the leeks to get them well covered with the spices and add about 3 Tablespoons more water.  Saute, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until the leeks have softened.  Stir in the garlic to release its fragrance.

Break each potato into two halves (unless they’re small) and smash each spud into coarse chunks with the heel of your hand.  Add the ‘taters to the cooking pan as you go.  Stir the mixture well to get all the potatoes covered with the seasonings, sprinkle them with a good pinch of kosher salt and let them sit and brown for a couple minutes.  Stir and salt again and let brown some more. Turn the potato mixture into a bowl.

Heat up the ½ Tablespoon ghee or butter in the same pan over high heat and wilt the spinach.  Place spinach on a plate to cool for a minute before chopping it up and pressing most of the liquid out.  You don’t have to squeeze it totally dry.  Mix the spinach into the potatoes.

Meanwhile, combine the cottage cheese, egg, ¾ teaspoon salt and cilantro in a small food processor bowl and process until smooth.   Stir the cottage cheese into the potato mixture.  Scrape into a large buttered casserole dish (I used my 3½ quart Le Creuset “buffet casserole”) and bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, until piping hot and steaming in the middle when stabbed with a butter knife.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to serve this with some juicy grilled local sausages, such as Dai Due‘s fat and juicy spicy wild boar sausage.


Mackin’ Cheese April 7, 2010

Filed under: easy,locavore,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 7:24 pm

pleasey cheesy

I’m indulging an unseasonable appetite for fat right now.  Maybe some kind of last oily hurrah before the weather gets serious again.  I know we’ll have to lighten up soon.  Until the mercury rises above the grease saturation point, I’m swooning over butterfat and carbs, that dependable duo.

Here’s an easy baked macaroni and cheese dish I modified from a New York Times recipe some years ago.  It bakes for an hour, but guess what.  The noodles go in RAW!  That’s right.  You don’t have to worry about preboiling.  Easy and rich, just like it says.

EASY RICH MAC-N-CHEESE serves several

  • 1 cup organic or local full-fat cottage cheese.  I use Organic Valley.  Sometimes Full Quiver Farm makes cottage cheese.  Ask ’em next time you’re shopping at Austin Farmers Market and Barton Creek Farmers Market.
  • 2 cups local or organic milk.  I use goat milk from either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm.
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • a couple dashes of freshly grated nutmeg
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bulb of local green garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • drizzle of organic or natural truffle oil, optional.  Check the label.
  • about 13 ounces local or organic cheese, mostly sharp cheddar, shredded or grated.  For this batch I used about 7 ounces cheddar, 3½ ounces Swiss and the rest Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Check out Full Quiver Farms and selection of hard cheeses.  Be flexible!
  • ½ pound uncooked organic whole wheat elbow macaroni.  I buy this in Bulk and bring my own container.
  • a couple of Tablespoons organic or local butter, cut up.  Organic Valley again.  Click for a coupon.
  • 1/3 cup organic panko breadcrumbs or homemade dried breadcrumbs or organic cracker crumbs.  Someone around here can’t survive without Whole Foods 365 organic golden round crackers.  They make Ritzy crumbs for topping baked dishes.

Put the first 10 ingredients into a blender and blend very well until well-homogenized.  Stir into the macaroni along with the cheeses.  Place the mixture into a buttered 1½ quart casserole and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, carefully uncover and gently stir the contents.  Dot the surface with the butter and sprinkle the crumbs over all over the top.  Return the dish to the oven and bake uncovered for about another 30 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the top is well-browned.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.  That is the hardest part of making this dish!

Serve hot and eat it carefully!


Chokin’ Under Pressure April 6, 2010

Filed under: easy,locavore,pressure cooker,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:59 pm

getting to the heart of the matter

whistle for your thistle

This past Saturday was advertised as the last market day for Texas artichokes.  I’ve got my fingers crossed, however, that Miguel Ortiz’ artichoke farm in Brownsville may show up this coming weekend with some stragglers.  We’ve already enjoyed a few ‘chokes (kinky!) but of course we crave more, more, more!

Just in case you get your little paws on a few thistley globes, here’s my pressure cooker method for cookin’ em up.  I season the cooking water and the finished artichokes need no further enhancement.  They’re even great cold.

I’m chokin’ bigtime on springtime!


  • 3 or 4 good-sized artichokes
  • ½ cup organic white vinegar.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the quart bottle is usually the best value.
  • 2 quarts water
  • splash of organic or local olive oil.  I love Spanish Villa Blanca organic and remember to check out Texas Olive Ranch at our farmers markets.
  • 1 Tablepoon kosher salt.  I prefer Diamond Crystal.
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed or 1 stalk of local green garlic, cut into several lengths
  • a few small pieces of celery.  I bought my little bunch from Ringger Family Farm at Barton Creek farmers market.
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 1 or two strips of local or organic lemon peel
  • 1 bay leaf—grow it!

Put all the ingredients except the artichokes into a 6-quart pressure cooker.  Prep the artichokes by first cutting a slice off the stem end with a sharp chef’s knife.  Next cut off about an inch off the top.  Then take your kitchen shears and snip the remaining tips off the leaves.  As you trim each artichoke, drop it into the pot.  When all your ‘chokes are ready, lock the lid ono the cooker and bring it to high pressure over high heat.  Lower the heat to maintain the pressure and cook the artichokes for 15 minutes.  If you’re cooking 3 rather large globes they may need a few more minutes to tenderize.

When the time’s up, remove the cooker from the stove and place it outside for 10 minutes to let the pressure drop.  If the weather’s chilly, which it ain’t right now, you can get away with leaving the cooker in the house.  Otherwise, I like to put that extra heat outdoors.

Remove the artichokes from the water and give ’em a little shake upside down to remove excess liquid.  Serve as soon as they’ve cooled enough to handle.


Turnin’ Turnips into Radishes March 30, 2010

Filed under: easy,fast,Indian,locavore,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:26 pm

look what turnip'd up

Sporting precocious pompadours of perfect jade, darling baby turnips from Ringger Family Farm (Barton Creek Farmers Market) tastily replaced the usual radishes in my “Ravishing Radishes” recipe.  I love those greens, of course, and the young turnips’ softer coiffures rendered a gentler verdant cloak for the tender roots.

With spring debutantes asparagus and artichokes exerting their presence, humble cool weather crops, nearing their adjournment, still satisfy.


Texas Velvet Biscuit Cake March 28, 2010

Filed under: biscuits,bread,breakfast,cake,easy,locavore,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:00 pm

honey me this

Back to baking!  With the reintroduction of beans into our diet after last week’s brush with death (well that’s what it felt like, anyways), and it being Sunday and coolish, I decided that biscuits were in order.  And honey.

This super easy recipe combines local Richardson Farms fresh ground whole wheat flour with a softer flour from King Arthur for a fluffy and super-light texture that soaks up a hive of honey.  So comb your cupboards and nectar nooks for the bee sap to enjoy this mound melligenously.  Yeah, that’s right.  I made up an adverb.

TEXAS VELVET BISCUIT CAKE makes a 9″ round of 6 (sort of) large biscuits

Combine the dry ingredients in your food processor and whirl until mixed.  Add the butter and lard and process until the mixture looks mealy.  You’re not going for flaky here so do blend the fat in well.  Turn the flour out into a bowl and stir in the yogurt with a fork until well blended.  Using a greased ½-cup measure or spring-loaded scoop (best), scoop out six heaping ½-cup portions and place them in a buttered 9″ round pan (1½” to 2″ high).  You’ll get five biscuits around the perimeter and one in the middle.

Bake at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and well-risen.  Let the biscuits cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning them out.  Use a fork to pull the biscuits apart (they’ll have coalesced) and split them for honeyin’.



Barely Barley Risotto March 18, 2010

Filed under: easy,grains,leftovers,locavore,slow cooker,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:38 am

barley barely risotto

I couldn’t wait for spring.  I’ve already started cleaning out the freezers.  Who knew I had accumulated so many parmesan rinds?  Time to make broth!  If you have just a couple of rinds, you can throw them into most any soup or stew—not just minestrone—to add depth.  If family life (or life life) keeps you from your rinds beyond their metastasis, you can brew a full-on parmesan broth.  I pressure cooked the cheesy stock for 20 minutes and was rewarded with an indulgent infusion, perfect for a catch-all slow cooker risotto-style side dish.  (I will warn y’all about the goopy pan residue.  But we’re in the mood for cleaning now anyways, right?)  Making my way through a frozen cache of roasted spaghetti squash, plus some stashed barley, I came up with this autumnally nuanced, comforting blend.

With a composition more veggie than grain, this recipe keeps it light enough for spring time.

CLEARING HOUSE SLOW COOKER BARLEY RISOTTO serves a big family as a side dish, or a smaller family as a main course

  • 2/3 cup organic pearled barley.  I buy barley in bulk.  Remember to bring your own container.
  • 2 cups cooked local spaghetti squash.  I recommend roasting.  I just roast the whole thing on a baking sheet at 350º until it collapses.  I scrape out the pre-shredded flesh with a fork and freeze what I won’t be using soon.
  • 3½ to 4 cups good broth.  Reggiano broth works very well for this recipe and keeps the dish vegetarian.
  • one sprig of fresh backyard sage.  This heady herb’s easy to grow.  Give it a try!
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 1 or 2 drops almond extract
  • plenty of fresh local parlsey, chopped

Put everything except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3 to 3½ hours, until the barley is done “to your own tooth.”  Stir in parsley.  Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Texas’ own Veldhuizen parmesan, available from Greenling‘s local food delivery service.


Pretty in Pink March 10, 2010

Filed under: easy,fast,leftovers,locavore,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 8:34 pm

psyche-out salad

Leftover shredded carrots (from carrot cake for the birthday party) took on a psychedelic hue combined with brine from Dai Due‘s pickled beets.  Tossed with Texas-grown spring onions, fresh backyard thyme, Pure Luck goat feta (Yay!  Dripping Spring’s famous chèvre operation is back in production following the cold season hiatus) a touch of olive oil (Central Market’s brand is on sale for $6.29) and plenty of fresh-cracked black pepper, with or without a little local sauerkraut for that salty squeak (I got mine from Dai Due.  Look for Full Quiver Farm‘s lacto-fermented version at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market.), the quickly pink (pinkly quick?) salad hit the rods and cones—as well as taste buds—just right.