Monday, November 16, 2015

New Dinner Menu at the Driskill Grill

Listed on the National Register of Historic places and dating back to the late 1800s, there are few places in Austin as classic, sophisticated, and embedded with history as the Driskill hotel. So when I was asked to take part in a sneak peek at the new dinner menu at the Driskill Grill, I jumped at the opportunity.

For inspiration of the new offerings, the team dug into the archives, looking at menus all the way back to the 1930s. One thing that stood out was that the dining experience was always aimed at just that - an experience. Menus would try to offer something new, different, and almost exotic. So, the new menu offers just that - outside the box items - but with a "stay local" twist. For example, the foie gras is French inspired, but all ingredients are sourced locally.

We started the night in Chef Troy's office, which doubles as the perfect chef's table, finely decorated in deep, rich wood and warmth. Bubbly was popped open as we nibbled on some of the classic bar bites, including my favorites like the spiced nuts and bacon wrapped dates.

Waiting at the table was a generous slice of Cambozola Black brie blue cheese with sweet onion jam, drizzled Saba, and topped with house made bread crisps. The cheese had the slightest hint of truffle and just melted in your mouth. The sweet onion jam was a welcome compliment to the flavor.

Next up was the crispy softshell crawfish. Yes, that's right - crawfish. And boy oh boy was it delicious! It had all the taste and crunch one would look for. Served with a classic Texas caviar. 

Keeping with the exotic yet exquisite theme were the Hill Country Wild Boar Chops. Finished with an apple cider-honey glaze and served with a goat cheese pecan cream, it was all very seasonal and local.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

It's the time for all things pumpkin and squash and I'm hitting it hard this year. So here I go with yet another deliciously homemade dinner that warms my heart, mind, body, and soul this season. It's a Squash Carbonara pasta with Fried Pancetta and Sage courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Now, this is not your traditional Carbonara pasta - there's no egg yolk (so thankfully for me right now, it is pregnancy friendly). And listen, I'm right there with you that you can't beat the addition of an egg, especially with a runny yolk, but don't be sad, be surprised! With this recipe's butternut squash puree, there's a sauce that truly does compare. It's a creamy, smooth, and very satisfying seasonal substitution!


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 ounces of pancetta, chopped
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
2 cups Chicken Stock
12 ounces of Fresh Fettuccine Pasta
1/4 cup shaved Pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt and Pepper


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pumpkin Bread or Pumpkin Muffins

'Tis the season! For all things pumpkin... 

Whether making pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins, I find this recipe works wonders for parties and hostess gifts. 

So get cooking!


4 eggs
3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon all spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together the eggs, sugar, and oil. Add the water and pumpkin puree and stir until combined.

Mix together dry ingredients, fold into the wet ingredients.

Pour batter into a greased muffin pan or greased bread pan(s).

Bake for 35 (muffins) - 60 minutes (bread pans). Test with a toothpick.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter, Sage, and Pecans

More and more I find myself skimming through the Williams Sonoma catalog these days and in addition to making a wish list of all the cool, new kitchen accessories that I want to get my hands on, I am finding recipe after recipe of great dishes that I want to prepare. And this month was no different.

Starting off, I should warn you in case you didn't know already that I am a sucker for the Fall. I love the change in weather, the cool mornings and warmer afternoons, the break from a sometimes too hot summer, the turning of the leaves, the rustling of them on the streets, the weekend trips to the pumpkin patch or to go apple picking, with donuts and hot cider a must! Obviously I could go on and on...

And the food is certainly no exception. There's mere comfort in just the mention of pumpkin-this, butternut squash-that, sweet potatoes, yams, and all other fall roots. To top it off, these vegetables most commonly pair with some of the most beloved of all kitchen staples - butter, cinnamon spices, and maybe a touch of sugar.

So this weekend after I thumbed through my catalog, we rolled up our sleeves and took a try at this autumnal squash-filled homemade ravioli. It sounded slightly intimidating, and looked too good to be true, but turned out to be fool-proof, delicious, and definitely a keeper for the recipe box.

What You'll Need...

For the filling:
16 ounces butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
   (or substitute 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 oz. goat cheese

For the pasta:
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of all-purpose flour

For the sauce:
1/2 stick of butter
10 sage leaves
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Freshly grated parmesan

What to do...

Preheat oven to 400.

Place butternut squash on a baking tray and toss with Olive Oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Transfer the butternut squash to a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon and site well to combine. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the 3 eggs and 1/2 tsp of salt. Using a mixer, gradually add in the 2 cups of flour, little by little, until the dough comes together to form a ball (moist, but not sticky - if sticky add more flour). Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface, then let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Starting with the first half, roll the dough out to form a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.

Moving inch by inch, place 1 tsp of filling onto the dough. Roll out the second half of the dough into the same sized rectangle, and place it on top. Lightly press around each filling to seal. Cut around the fillings to form square raviolis, and then crimp the edges of the ravioli with the back of a fork.

In a medium-sized frying pan, melt the 1/2 stick of butter. Add the sage leaves and cook until crisp, then remove.

Simultaneously, bring salted water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the ravioli in small batches and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat until all of the pasta is cooked.

Gently place the cooked pasta into the melted butter and brown under low heat. Move to a serving platter and garnish the top with the fried sage, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, and grated parmesan.

Deliciously serves 4

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vera Bradley Hot Iron Case

I know it's made for traveling, but I use my hot iron case each and every day! 

It's the perfect storage to keep your grooming drawer organized. And best of all, this specific case is truly made for a hot iron (or curling iron if that's your thing) because it has an interior lining that is heat resistant. So even if the iron is still slightly hot when you put it away, you won't leave the house/hotel/office afraid that you might burn the place down.

I'll admit it - I love it so much, I own three of these...

Photo courtesy of Vera Bradley

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Best Mussels in Austin, TX

The best mussels in Austin have to be the Moules Frites at Hopfield's.

Photo taken by Daniel Mora

We've had nothing but great experiences at Hopfield's. From the beautifully cooked eggs at brunch, to a classic French salad or jambon, to the warm and tasty tart, and last but certainly not least, to the entree specials like the house made liver mouse that I haven't tasted something so good since our last trip to Paris.

Hopfield's knows French, but it all comes as no surprise because apparently the owner's mother created all of the recipes for the restaurant and she is from no other than Provence, France. Yep, you can tell. It's French food through and true.

So ATX, if you're looking for a great meal, head over to Hopfield's, order the mussels, and ask for extra bread to soak up all that sauce.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Affogato at Walton's

Starting Wednesday, September 16th, Walton's Fancy and Staple will be offering Affogatos - ice cream served with a side of espresso (and a cookie for dipping!).

My recommendation:

Take the espresso, pour it over the ice cream, spoon a couple of bites into your mouth, allow the rest to melt and then dip with your cookie. Yummm, delicious!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vera Bradley Sunscreen Organizer

No, Vera Bradley doesn't make something called a "Sunscreen Organizer", but they easily could market it as such. I've been using one of my Vera Bradley Cosmetic Bags to hold all of my sunscreen (lotion, sprays, face sticks, etc.) and it has worked like a charm. Not only is it cute, of course, but it is totally practical with the plastic interior to prevent any accidental spills.

* Image courtesy of Vera Bradley *

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tory Burch Flip Flops

Come summertime, I love my Jack Rogers, but I need something more casual for the pool and the beach. For that, I turn to my trusty Tory Burch flip flops:

* Images courtesy of Tory Burch *

Monday, August 17, 2015

Steak Frites with Peppercorn Sauce

After reading about the sauce feud in the Wall Street journal a few weeks ago, I looked at my husband and said, "We are either going out for steak frites, or making them at home, you're choice." As experimentally fun as it always is, we decided to go with the latter. Challenge accepted.

We've cooked steaks before and homemade fries, but trying to muster a swoon-worthy sauce had my knees quivering. The sauce was going to be the secret to making it a success. But, after much research in French culinary books and Frenchie chef recipes available online, we came up with a sauce that probably wouldn't become a third contender in the sauce battle between l’Entrecôte and Bistro Régent, but it would do the trick for a few Texans looking for their fix. And boy oh boy, was it goooooood.

What you'll need...
4 strip steaks*
2 russert potatoes
3 cups Canola Oil
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon sherry wine
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 medium-sized shallots
1 garlic clove