Bouldin Creek Cafe’s New Dinner Menu

bouldin-raw-taco-saladI’ve been going to Bouldin Creek Cafe for years, since pretty much when I moved into the neighborhood. Back then, the cafe was in a rundown, falling-apart building, and they served vegetarian comfort food: breakfast all the time, lots of sandwiches, and a killer homemade veggie burger.

They moved into a new space a couple of years ago, one that’s much bigger, much brighter, and much less rundown and falling apart. It’s bright and airy, the food is still good, and the staff are still really friendly. And a while back, in addition to their regular menu, they started serving a special dinner menu (which changes a few times a year) that’s only available in the evenings, from 6-10.  They started serving their new spring menu a couple of weeks ago, and Matt and I hopped over to check it out.

We started with their Mango Nori Ceviche. It was delicious, with sweet, juicy mango, spicy onion, and lots of smashed avocado.

bouldin-veg-ceviche

mango nori ceviche

Matt got a gorgeous Raw Taco Salad that had tons of good stuff on it: avocado, vegan sour cream (made with sunflower seeds), pickled carrots, sliced onions, and raw pecan “chorizo.” It was a pretty big salad with lots of fresh flavor.

bouldin-raw-taco-salad

raw taco salad

I got the new Enchiladas del Flor, made with hibiscus flowers. I loved their last enchilada special, but this one is even better. It’s stuffed with potatoes, cheese, and hibiscus flowers, and topped with a spicy chipotle sauce. The sauce was really good – spicy and tangy with lots of good chile flavor. The plate comes with refried or whole beans, and I chose refried, since Bouldin does them really well. The slaw on top was fresh and crunchy, but I wish there was a little more of it, to cut through the richness of the cheesy enchiladas.

bouldin-hibiscus-enchiladas

enchiladas del flor

Here’s the new menu. Go get some!

bouldin-menu-spring-14

Bouldin Creek Cafe
1900 S. First St.
Austin, TX 78704

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Purple Cabbage Slaw with Avocado Dressing (Recipe)

purple-slaw

We’re coming up on the tail end of the season for vegetables in the cabbage family, like well, cabbage—and broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy. But I’m not over them yet! I always look forward to market tables full of gorgeous, super-nutritious cruciferous veggies, and I’m not quite ready for them to go away.

This slaw has a lot going on, with the crunchy, nutty cabbage, snappy sesame seeds, crisp carrots, and creamy avocado. And it’s pretty good for you, too. Aside from the great fiber you get from the raw veggies, both cabbage and avocado are loaded with nutrients.

And it’s simple to make. Play around with the spice level to see what you like. I used a very hot sauce in my recipe, and you may want to add more or less to find your perfect level of spiciness. And a hint for picking the perfect avocado: the fruit should just give when you press it with your finger. Too squishy, and it’s overripe; too firm, and it’s underripe.

Purple Cabbage Slaw with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Dressing ingredients:
1 small ripe avocado
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)

Slaw ingredients:
1 small head red cabbage (about 1 pound), shredded
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
2 scallions, cut into matchsticks
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Make the dressing. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. (A ripe avocado mashes easily by itself, but it’s much harder with liquid in the bowl.) Add the remaining ingredients, stirring vigorously with your fork to mash the avocado, though a few small lumps are ok.

Stir together the cabbage, carrot, scallions, and most of the sesame seeds. Toss with the dressing and top with the remaining seeds. Enjoy!

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Taste of Ethiopia

taste-of-ethiopia-platter

Taste of Ethiopia is one of the places I’d visit all the time if I lived closer. It’s a little shop tucked into a little strip mall, off the highway in Pflugerville.

Their menu is organized into vegetarian and meat selections, which makes ordering very easy. On our last visit, Matt and I started with Ethiopian coffee, which they prepare fresh for you and serve in a traditional Ethiopian pot. The coffee service is beautiful, presented in woven baskets, which are also used for the meal. The freshly roasted coffee was strong and very satisfying.

taste-of-ethiopia-coffee

Then we moved on to the Ultimate Combo, a big platter of six veggie and lentil stews. They’re gomen (spicy collard greens), fesiola (green beans and carrots with ginger and garlic), yemisir wot (spicy lentils flavored with fragrant berbere, a deep red Ethiopian spice blend), tikil gomen (sweet and mild cabbage and carrots), ater kik (earthy split peas stewed in bright yellow turmeric), and eggplant wot (eggplant simmered in spicy berbere). All the vegetable dishes were served on a big, round tray, atop an unfurled piece of fresh injera, a fermented fresh flatbread made with teff, a North African grain. The injera is earthy and tangy in flavor, and soft and spongy in texture. Thank goodness, you also get a basket of it to go with your meal, because the stuff is fantastic.

No utensils are served with your food; you eat it with your hands. First, tear off a piece of injera, then use it to pick up a bit of stew. Here, I’ll let Matt demonstrate:

taste of ethiopia platter

taste-of-ethiopia-bite-2

The platters underneath the injera layer are beautiful too, usually painted with a floral pattern. I wish I’d gotten a photo of one. I have to admit, I find it a little bit like Classic Concentration, the old game show where where people would answer questions to gradually reveal a rebus puzzle hidden underneath tiles. Fun and delicious!

Taste of Ethiopia
1110 Grand Avenue Parkway
Pflugerville, TX, 78613

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Homemade Granola Recipe

granola the salttooth vegan

When I lived in Urbana, Illinois, I belonged to a food co-op called Common Ground. They’ve long since moved into a bigger space, but at the time that I was a member, it was very much what you might think of when conjuring up a food co-op: small, a little cramped, in a basement.

In the back corner, where the bulk bins were clustered, was a sign hanging from the ceiling that read, “Granola (of course).”

I’ve been eating a lot of granola lately, and it’s something I love to make. It’s super-easy, customizable, and pretty good for you (I think, I hope), with all the whole oats and good fats from the nuts. I almost always use coconut in my granola. For one thing, I love coconut any way I can get it. For another, when baked with the granola, the small, unsweetened flakes fuse to the oats and nuts and brown, which both makes it taste toasty and delicious, and also minimizes the dry texture in coconut that some folks don’t like.

This recipe can be made just as you like it – just try to keep the proportions of oats, fats, nuts, and dried fruit about the same. In this recipe, I used pistachios, almonds, currants, cranberries, and dried mangoes, but you can mix it up and use any combination you like. Some of my other favorites are dried peaches, dates, and cashews.

Coconut Granola
This is s small batch of granola that makes about 4 cups. It’s easily doubled or even tripled. You can also substitute regular butter for the coconut oil, for a non-vegan granola.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoon raw hulled hemp seeds
3/4 cup chopped nuts
Pinch sea salt
1 cup chopped dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil and maple syrup until the coconut oil melts. Stir well. Prepare a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper, or oil it well. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, hemp seeds, nuts, and salt. Drizzle in the maple syrup mixture and stir to combine.

Spread the oat mixture over the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. (Stir the granola after 10 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after for browning, stirring each time.) Stir the dried fruit in while the granola is still warm. Allow to cool, and stir in an air-tight container.

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Lenoir Happy Hour

lenoir broccoli beet salad

Have you guys tried Lenoir yet? It’s a gorgeous little restaurant on South First Street owned by chef super-couple (super-chef couple?) Jessica Maher and Todd Duplechan that serves incredible locally sourced food in a beautiful blue and white dining room at a really reasonable price (currently $38 for a three-course meal).

Matt and I duck into their cozy dining room every so often, but I’m also really taken with their wine garden. In the backyard space that backs up to the creek, in the middle of several old, knobby Live Oaks, they’ve set up a bar with several large tables. During happy hour, which is now running Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5-7, you can get small plates and excellent wine that’s happy-hour priced. Recently, between frigid days, Matt and I headed over for a late-afternoon bite.

lenoir happy hourWhen we first arrived, just after 5, the backyard was pretty quiet, but it filled quickly.

I can’t recall the wines we had  (something pink and something white), but both were light, crisp, and flavorful – just the thing to go with their fresh, sometimes spicy cuisine. I’ve never had a wine I didn’t enjoy at Lenoir, really.

To munch on, we got a couple of snacks. The fresh spiced flatbread, which was served with persimmon spread and kaffir lime yogurt, was soft, slightly chewy, and satisfying. The persimmon spread was spicy and earthy, and the lime yogurt perked it right up. The broccoli with beets was fantastic – the vegetables were cooked beautifully, with a little crunch, and the spiced blue cheese underneath complemented it with a nice sharpness.

lenoir flatbread

Both the dining-room menu and backyard menu change frequently, which I love, and keeps me coming back.

lenoir board

Lenoir
1807 South First Street
Austin, TX 78704

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