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Big Reds and Bubbles

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If you are looking for a fancy, dress-up event to kick off the holidays, The Wine and Food Foundation throw a mean party at the Driskill every year. Some of the best restaurants in town provide tasty bites. And you get to sample dozens of the best red wines and champagne in the world. I […]

Wine and Swine

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                  Get your tickets now before they sell out. Wine and Swine is one of my favorite events of the year. A fall celebration of all things porky to benefit the Austin Food and Wine Alliance. Hope to see you there! Tweet

Cochon is coming, Cochon is coming!

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So much going on this weekend! Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance first bloggers conference, Byte of Texas,  a fabulous sounding fundraiser for local Springdale Farms, my birthday And Cochon 555 is coming to Austin. If you have not heard, Cochon 555 is an epic traveling pork battle featuring local chefs in a competition using heritage breeds […]

Byte of Texas Speakers

I am so excited about the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance first ever conference called Byte of Texas. On September 27-28 here in Austin we will be hosting bloggers from far and wide to come learn, discuss and grow ourselves and our blogs. Hope to see you there! Here’s a description of the event: Byte of Texas […]

Cooking Planit Slide Show

I am testing a new slider for the Cooking Planit Blog. Check out some of our great recipes. Tweet

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HS Cupcake Battle

Now this sounds like fun.  How I wish there had been a culinary program at my high school.  There actually is a great program at my old alma mater, Travis High (Go Rebels :-))There is also a new program at Connally High which is headed up by an old high school buddy of mine Chef Mike Erickson.  He has put together this amazing contest complete with celebrity judges and terrific prizes for the students.  The first round is this Saturday January 29, 2011 at Connally High 13212 N Lamar Bl. from 12-2.  Chef Mike will also be at Taste of Austin pimping cupcakes.  Save me some chocolate/chocolate!

 

 

Update:  Wow!  Those were some amazing cupcakes.  Here is an update with pics of my favorites.

 

Homemade Chocolate Vodka- in the Crock-pot!

Two great tastes that taste great together!  I was intrigued by several different posts on the web like this one claiming that you could make chocolate vodka with 3 simple ingredients, chocolate, vodka, and a dishwasher.  Basically the concept is you put the chocolate or candy bars into a bottle that is 3/4 full of vodka, cap it, and place it in the dishwasher and run a full cycle, including drying.  Shake it.  Let it cool.  You have a bottle of chocolate vodka!  This method definitely works but I ran into a few problems and came up with a solution of my own.

I started off with grated dark chocolate intended for hot cocoa, not the powdered kind but actual grated chocolate.  You could grate a candy bar or smash up some chocolate chips but the point is to get the chocolate into little bits so it melts easier.  Giant chunks of chocolate in the bottle will melt eventually, so don’t stress over it too much.  Just get the chocolate as fine as you feel like fooling with and put it in a clean, dry bottle.  Now add enough vodka to fill the bottle 3/4 full and cap it.

The reason you leave some room in the bottle is that alcohol boils at 79º and starts to evaporate into a gas.  Chocolate melts between 100-113º.  So when you get the bottle hot enough to melt the chocolate, the alcohol needs room to evaporate.  This led to my first problem with the dishwasher method.  I heard a loud “pop” from my dishwasher and realized the alcohol fumes had pushed the cork out of the bottle.  Definitely use a screw top if you are using this method.  I was lucky to get to it quickly enough to avoid spillage, or worse, soap in the bottle.  But now how to melt the rest of the chocolate???

I ended up placing the corked bottle into my crock-pot and filling it up with warm water from the tap.  Within half an hour, the water was hot enough to melt the chocolate without risk of explosion or soap.  You definitely have to watch the pot with this method.  If the water gets too hot, it could build up too much pressure in the bottle from the alcohol vapors and shatter the bottle.  But it gently heats the water, so the risk is less than trying it on the stove.  Once the chocolate is melted, give it a good shake and let it cool to below 79º before you open the bottle.  Ideally, store it in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks, giving it a good shake every couple of days but really, is chocolate vodka going to last that long?

I used 4 ounces of dark chocolate for 2 cups of vodka.  As a pastry chef, let me tell you the secret to all great chocolate desserts.  USE THE BEST CHOCOLATE YOU CAN FIND.  I have lots of opinions on brands.  Some of my favorites are Valrhona, El Rey, and Ghiradelli.  I cannot always afford Valrhona but when you are only using a few ounces in a recipe, it makes a huge difference on the taste as well as the results.  I found a premium brand of chocolate that was packaged grated to be used to make hot chocolate which worked quite well.  The vodka, on the other hand, you can skimp on.  I would not use a premium bottle of vodka like Grey Goose to make this.  The best bargain vodka that still tastes pretty smooth in my opinion is Monopolwa.  It is a potato vodka originally made in Poland but now made in Austria.  I had a very good Russian friend who drank this exclusively.  That’s good enough recommendation for me.

Do svidaniya!

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Homemade Kahlua Recipe

Well before the Dude Abided, I was a White Russian fan.  My first legal drink in a bar was a White Russian.  I remember thinking, “Vodka and milk?  This is going to be gross.”  But what I didn’t know about then was the Kahlua, which is a coffee flavored liquer that when added to vodka […]

January 12, 2011 2
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Taste of Austin

One of my favorite foodie events in Austin is back at the Palmer Events Center on 1/27.  Use discount code “EBTOA”  for 20% off early bird tickets.  General admission tickets (regularly $25) are available for $20 and reserved seating tickets (regularly $35) are currently available for $28  on their website at www.tasteofaustin.org. Tweet

January 5, 2011 0
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Week of 1000 Cocktails Part 2

Next stop on the cocktail train was a mixology class sponsored by Hendricks gin. It was all very mysterious. I saw an add online for a Hendricks class at a secret location. I submitted my info and within 24 hours, I got the invite and the location was revealed to be Kenichi on 4th and […]

December 11, 2010 0
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Michael Pollan on KLRU Overheard

Michael Pollan,  author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food,  will be in Austin next week for Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week.  Click to purchase tickets for what is sure to be a wonderful evening on December 10.  Or RSVP herefor a free taping Saturday morning December 11 at KLRU studios taping of […]

December 3, 2010 0
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Week of 1000 Cocktails Part 1

As the weather gets colder, Austin turns from the outdoor festival mecca to the indoor cocktail soiree.  I kicked the season off with a bang last week doing 4 parties in 1 week.  That may seem like a long weekend to some but it was a wonderfully exhausting tour of some of the best in […]

November 28, 2010 0
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The Grange

A rare opportunity to sip on $500 a bottle Shiraz at the Wine and Food Foundation fund raiser at the Driskill. Tweet

November 18, 2010 0
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Mary Booth’s Favorite Lemon Tartlets

Mary Booth and I met at a Slow Food Austin potluck several years ago.  I made these tartlets because at the time I was hoping to launch a commercial endeavor selling lemon curd.  Mary was on the Slow Food Board and an enthusiastic supporter of local farms and food.  Because of health issues, she told […]

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