Austin Food & Wine: Jodi Elliott

Austin Food and Wine: pastry chef Jodi Elliott

By the end of this weekend I’ll be craving a big kale salad, but for now – the Austin Food & Wine Festival continues. Here’s a little interview I did with pastry chef Jodi Elliott. Last year, she was named Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Pastry Chef. This year, she’s opening a bakery & dessert bar called Bribery – I can hardly wait! 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Let’s see – I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I went to the CIA in Hyde Park, NY when I was 19 yrs. old! (15 years ago!) I’ve loved anything and everything sweet from a very young age! I was a picky eater but always adored dessert – I wanted to be a pastry chef before I knew what that was.

I’ve worked in super fancy restaurants and hotels in New York City, London and Portland, Oregon but my favorite dessert is still a brownie sundae! I think dessert brings out the kid in everyone. I feel extremely lucky to bake cookies for a living!

Who inspired you to become a pastry chef and what inspires you now?

My Grandmother. She was a fabulous cook and baker. She taught me everything she knew! I was lucky to find my passion at a very young age.

I’m inspired by so many people and things. I especially love old cookbooks – the spiral bound kind from small Texas towns’ church groups or junior leagues. The recipes are amazing! So creative and fascinating – I love to take old desserts and make them new! I still use many of my Grandmothers recipes today!

Hop over to the Austin Food & Wine Blog for the rest of the interview!

(photos by the talented Aimee Wenske)

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Austin Food & Wine: Sandi Reinlie

Austin Food and Wine: Sandi Reinlie pastry chef at Vespaio

The Austin Food & Wine Festival kicks off today. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing a few super talented pastry chefs. (I know, I have a tough job). First up: Sandi Reinlie. She is the pastry chef at Vespaio on South Congress, which happens to be one of our favorite Austin restaurants. I just loved the chance to hear about what inspires her!

What (or who) inspired you to become a pastry chef?

It came from two places. My family, especially my grandma Beverly. She loved to bake, which inevitably was passed on to mom and on to me. I have fond memories as a child making blueberry muffins with my mom, and also watching my grandma make strawberry jam using strawberries we picked from their farm. My dad opened and managed several restaurants, and I started working in them at the age of 12 years old. I loved it!

I worked in the music business for 10+ years and became burnt out living on a tour bus. I was at a loss as to what to do. My dear friend Yvette and her daughter, Sophia, had just moved to Austin. I offered to host Sophia’s birthday party at my house and make a cake. She was obsessed with monkeys, so I made her a monkey cake. That was it! I realized I needed to go back to my roots.

Hop over to the Austin Food & Wine Blog for the rest of the interview!

(photos by: Claire McCormack Photography)

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dukkah spiced yogurt dip

dukkah spiced yogurt dip / loveandlemons.com

I recently contributed this dukkah recipe to Food 52’s Small Batch series. When they first suggested it, I had to look up how to (authentically) make it. It turns out — there’s no one way. The word dukkah literally means “to pound” and it generally consists of hazelnuts, sesame seeds and a few whole dried spices. To me, this was the perfect opportunity to use up the nuts and spices I had just cleaned out of my pantry shelves. (Specifically, the ones that didn’t fit when I transferred them from little bags to little jars).

dukkah spiced yogurt dip / loveandlemons.com

Along with the hazelnuts I had been hoarding, I toasted and crushed: pistachios, sesame seeds, coriander, dried orange peel and dried cilantro, and dried peppercorns. (Feel free to change up this combination using ingredients you happen to have).

dukkah spiced yogurt dip / loveandlemons.comdukkah spiced yogurt dip / loveandlemons.com

It’s a great little spice mix to keep on hand (it’ll keep for awhile!). I sprinkled it over greek yogurt and served it with pita chips. It’s a super delicious snack, not to mention a great make-ahead throw-together appetizer.

black bean & quinoa burgers

black bean quinoa burgers (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.com black bean quinoa burgers (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.com

I’m not sure where to begin here. I can’t decide if I’m more excited to tell you about this vegan veggie burger that I’ve been working on for quite some time, or if I should start by talking about this to-die-for chipotle mayo. I could also go on and on about the typography on that (spiced!) ketchup bottle. There are a lot of drool-worthy things are happening for me here.

Ok, twist my arm, I’ll start with the ketchup bottle. (I mean how cute is that!)… Beyond the sans-serif, Sir Kensington’s ketchup is also sans-additives, stabilizers and other artificial ingredients… it’s made from real tomatoes (not concentrate) and it just tastes fresh. (Jack hates ketchup and he loved this). It also has less sugar, which is good for me because I easily use twice as much ketchup as any normal person.

black bean quinoa burgers (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.com

I set some strict veggie burger criteria for this recipe: no eggs, no cheese, no oats, no rice. I really wanted to make this vegan so everyone could enjoy. I didn’t want to use oats or rice because I feel like those things make heavy gummy burgers and I wanted a better texture and a little more protein. Black beans & flax make it cohesive while the walnuts create a nice bite and the quinoa makes it a little crisp around the edges.

If you’re a “sometimes vegan,” like myself, I also encourage you to slather your burger with chipotle mayo. That is… if it makes it to your burger. This stuff is so good you’ll most likely want to lick it straight off the knife.

sesame noodle salad

sesame noodle salad / loveandlemons.comsesame noodle salad / loveandlemons.com

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I think Monday lunch is the most important meal of the week. If I’ve destroyed myself indulged a little too much over the weekend, I like to recover with a good healthy Monday lunch. Start the week off right and it’s easier to make healthier choices throughout the week. I’m also trying to make more meals in advance (I’m hoping these kinds of recipes are helpful for you too).

sesame noodle salad / loveandlemons.com

This is a noodle salad, but secretly there’s a kale salad hidden in here as well. I like to go light on the noodles and pile on a rainbow of veggies of varying textures – this time I went with soft kale, thinly sliced cabbage, meaty mushrooms and some crunchy carrots and radishes. (There’s also some tofu that’s not pictured, but feel free to sub in whatever protein you like). We ate this for dinner one night and I packed it up for lunch the next day.

A good start to the week… even if all bets might be off by Friday.