Bourbon honey, fig jam and a look at ‘Elizabeth Street Cafe’ cookbook

July 04, 2017
Two new products from the Williamson County-based Round Rock Honey: orange cinnamon honey and bourbon barrel-aged honey. Addie Broyles/American-Statesman

Look for ‘Elizabeth Street Cafe’ cookbook in October

There are a few recipes from Elizabeth Street Cafe that I would love to get my hands on (vermicelli cakes, anyone?), and this fall, I’ll get the chance.

The French-Vietnamese cafe that opened in 2011 has its debut cookbook, “Elizabeth Street Cafe,” coming out Oct. 23, and the publisher, Phaidon, recently released the eye-catching cover. You can pre-order the book now for $39.95.

Food writer Julia Turshen teamed up with chef-owners Tom Moorman and Larry McGuire to write home-cook-friendly recipes for 100 dishes from the restaurant, from spicy breakfast fried rice and eggs and green jungle curry noodles to desserts, such as palm sugar ice cream and toasted coconut cream puffs.

Farmer education program now accepting applicants

Even the folks who run Farmer Starter would say you can’t learn everything there is to know about farming in 18 weeks.

But in their four-month program, during which students work and learn on an established organic farm east of Austin, you can get a pretty good start.

That’s the idea behind Farmer Starter, the farmer education program from the local nonprofit Farmshare Austin, which has three parts to its mission: grow a healthy local food community through food access, teach new farmers through Farmer Starter and preserve farmland. The program takes place Aug. 21 to Dec. 21, and the deadline to apply is July 15.

Students have the option of living on the organic farm on the banks of the Colorado River. Tuition starts at $2,500, but there are scholarships available. Farmer Starter participants learn both in the field and in a classroom on the farm from experienced farmers who know how to get established in the business and maintain organic practices.

In addition to studies on the farm, each week students visit or volunteer with local farms or food artisans. To learn marketing skills, students also help run Farmshare Austin’s Mobile Markets, which provide fresh, affordable produce to people living in areas that lack access to healthy food.

Round Rock Honey releases orange cinnamon, bourbon barrel-aged honeys

I’m always amazed at the spectrum of flavors you’ll find in honey. Honey tastes different depending on where the bees that made it live, and those differences become apparent when you do a side-by-side taste test, say, on a fresh piece of breakfast toast.

I did that recently with H-E-B’s new desert and mesquite honeys, and you could have picked out the mesquite flavor even if you didn’t know that was one of these samples. The woodsy, almost smokey honey wasn’t as sweet as the one made from bees in the desert; the desert honey had more layers of floral notes and a more intense sweetness.

That informal honey taste test made for an interesting breakfast the other morning, but the biggest honey news last week came from Round Rock Honey, the Williamson County-based honey company that has added two specialty honeys to its produce lineup, including its first flavor-added honey.

Sweet-hot, flavored honey has been a food trend for a few years now, and Round Rock joined the competition with an orange cinnamon honey that I was afraid was going to taste like a Red Hot candy.

In my livestream taste test last week, I found that neither the orange nor the cinnamon overpowered the already rich honey and that the balanced sweetener would be good on toast, in tea or to add a beautiful layer of flavor to a cake or cookie.

You’ll find bottles of this honey ($12) at select H-E-Bs around Austin, as well as the farmers markets where you usually find Round Rock Honey: Downtown, Sunset Valley, Mueller, Cedar Park, Wolf Ranch, Lone Star and Waco.

When I tasted that orange cinnamon honey, I didn’t realized there was another new Round Rock Honey product coming my way. Later in the day, I received a bottle of the company’s bourbon barrel-aged honey. This product is so new and limited it doesn’t even have a label, but I can see why people are clamoring for it. After spending time in a bourbon barrel, the honey picks up so many nuances from one of my favorite spirits.

Just a small taste overwhelms the palate with the familiar aged aroma of bourbon with a little tickle in the back of the throat to remind you there was booze involved at some point. This product coasts $20 per pound, and the best way to keep track of its availability is through Round Rock’s Facebook page.

How to use those backyard figs for a fig and pear jam

The fig season seems to be hit or miss for Austinites, but the trees I’ve seen lately are heavy with fruit. If you are lucky enough to have one — or want to buy some from the store — here’s a quick fig and pear jam recipe that will preserve them for long after summer has ended.

Fig and Pear Jam

Terrific on crostini or as an addition to any cheese board, this jam can pair easily with sweet or savory dishes.

2 cups chopped, peeled pears

2 cups chopped fresh figs

4 tablespoons pectin

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

3 cups sugar

Combine the first five ingredients in a 6-quart stainless-steel or enameled Dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high, stirring constantly.

Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim the foam, if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into a hot 1/2-pint jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rim. Center the lid on the jar. Apply the band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place the jar in a boiling water canner. Repeat; this recipe should fill about four 1/2-pint jars.

Process the jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat; remove the lid, and let the jars stand 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool.

— From “Ball Canning Back to Basics: A Foolproof Guide to Canning Jams, Jellies, Pickles, and More” (Oxmoor House, $16.99)