Taste of Black Austin returns to celebrate black food history, culture

Austin has lots of tasting events, many of which raise money for good causes, but few tell a story as rich and historical as the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Black Austin, which returns for the second year on Feb. 20 at Peached Social House, 6500 N. Lamar Blvd.

At the event from 6 to 9 p.m., more than 20 black-owned food businesses will be serving small bites connected to the theme of “From Field to Table.” By focusing on the influence of food and farming in the preservation of black history and culture, Taste of Black Austin organizers are opening a door to a deeper conversation about black economic prosperity through food. Celebrating Austin’s current black food culture also provides a lens through which to see the history of black-owned food businesses in Austin, the chamber’s CEO and President Tam Hawkins said.

At a preview lunch last week, Hawkins explained that Austin had more black-owned food businesses in 1905 than it does today, including many farms. Today, there are few farm owners of color in the Austin area, and even fewer, if any, who identify as black. The lack of diversity in Central Texas agriculture didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be resolved overnight, but Hawkins said she hopes that this event will spark a dialogue about the barriers to entry for all kinds of food businesses, not only agriculture, and honor the long legacy of African-Americans in the farming and food communities of this area.

At the event in a few weeks, guests will enjoy savory small plates inspired by historic menus and recipe books and prepared by some of Austin’s talented chefs, plus a curated photo exhibition showcasing unique food history. During the preview, we tried chicken confit on pork rinds, garlicky collard greens with seared pork belly and an old-fashioned ice milk served on Creole-style bread pudding from local chefs Shon Moeller of Conjure Noir Social Aid & Pleasure Club and Demmerick Johnson, who has worked in fine dining kitchens in Austin for more than 20 years. Event tickets are available for $85, and VIP tickets are available for $150, which includes a VIP cooking demonstration before the reception. You can find out more about the event and buy tickets at tasteofblackaustin.com.


Deadline approaching to apply for 10th annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour

Backyard chickens have been around for longer than we’ve had the notion of a backyard, but Austin’s Funky Chicken Coop Tour is turning 10 this year.

That’s a decade of celebrating the modern resurgence of keeping chickens for eggs, meat or quirky company. The tour isn’t taking place until April 21, when people will be flocking to coops all over the Austin area from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but in the meantime, now is the time to apply to be part of the tour if you have your own funky coop to show off.

Specifically, organizers are looking to add chicken owners who have a unique or special way of integrating their coop and poultry into a system that minimizes waste and increases efficiency. They are also interested in coops that show off other green features, such as gardens, rainwater collection, solar energy, aquaponics, xeriscaping and/or raising other food-producing animals.

You have to be compliant with city codes and ordinances to participate. To find out more, go to forms.austincooptour.org. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 17. And mark your calendar for the self-guided tour April 21; tickets cost $10 if you buy them now or $12 if you wait until the day of the event.


Homemade green goddess dressing tops hearty vegetarian grain bowl

It might be the first full week of February, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on your New Year’s resolutions to eat better. This farmers market bowl is from Carolynn Carreno’s 2017 book “Bowls of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals” (Grand Central Life & Style, $28), which includes recipes for all the elements of a grain bowl.

These days, that’s shorthand for a bowl of hearty grains — in this case, barley, farro or spelt — served with lots of vegetables, a handful of greens or sprouts, a flavor-packed sauce and something crunchy on top. The basic steps of this recipe and composition of the meal could be adapted in thousands of ways, so if you don’t want to make the green goddess dressing from scratch, you could use another salad dressing from your fridge. (Just keep an eye on that added salt and sugar, which are usually packed into those plastic bottles.)

Farmers Market Bowl with Yogurt Green Goddess and Salty Pepitas

For the vegetables:

1 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch half-moons

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 bunch carrots with greens, scrubbed and halved lengthwise (leaving 1 inch of greens attached)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the bowls:

Yogurt Green Goddess (recipe follows)

1 cup cooked farro, spelt or barley

1 head radicchio, sliced

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 (15-ounce) can, drained and rinsed

2 medium-cooked eggs, cut in half

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup roasted salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 cup radish sprouts (or another type of sprouts or microgreens), optional

To cook the vegetables, arrange the oven racks so one is in the middle and none are near the oven floor; you are going to put the baking sheet on the oven floor, which allows the hottest heat of a home oven to caramelize the vegetables in a shorter period of time. (If you have an oven that doesn’t allow you to put a baking sheet on the floor, put the rack as close to the floor as possible.)

Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Toss the vegetables in a big bowl with the oil, salt and pepper and lay them flat on two baking sheets, making sure not to overcrowd them. (If you overcrowd the baking sheets, the vegetables will steam instead of caramelizing.) Put one baking sheet on the middle rack and one on the floor of the oven or the lowest rack and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets and turning the veggies midway through the baking time so they brown evenly. (I turn the vegetables one by one with tongs to get perfect browning, but if you’d rather just give them a good shake, I hear you.) Remove the vegetables from the oven.

To prepare the bowls, smear a big spoonful of the green goddess in the bottom of each bowl. Scoop the grains into the bowl, and arrange the radicchio, roasted vegetables and chickpeas on top. Nestle an egg half in the center of each. Season the eggs with salt and pepper, and scatter the pepitas and sprouts, if using, over the bowls. Serve with more green goddess on the side to drizzle at will. Serves 4.

Yogurt Green Goddess

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons packed fresh sage

2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano (or marjoram)

2 tablespoons packed fresh thyme

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup buttermilk (shake before pouring)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender; blend until the dressing is light green. This dressing will keep, covered, for up to 3 days. Makes 2 cups. Reserve extra for dipping with vegetables or slathering on sandwiches.

— From “Bowls of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals” by Carolynn Carreno (Grand Central Life & Style, $28)

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