ES Guide to National Coffee Day

Listen up! National Coffee Day is coming up on Monday 9/29 – do YOU know where you’re getting your free cup of Joe? You need to create a plan of action for the day. Unless you live in the boonies, there’s enough coffee chains to fund your day of free coffee goodness. Many of the chains don’t require a coupon or anything – those are the key stops. Check out the list below and start your plan now. Links provide the deets for each deal. Caffeinate early and often. IF we missed any – let us know!

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Dunkin Donuts:  Free Medium Dark Roast (then .99 Medium Dark Roasts from 9/30-10/5) (you may have to download the app)

 
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Krispy KremeFREE 12 oz. Cup of Coffee

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Burns My Bacon: Secret Menus

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Not sure if you’ve heard, but apparently it’s still cool to be a hipster. I thought now that being hipster is cool, being hipster is no longer cool. But anyway, I digress. I’ve noticed many of the flannel and skinny-jean fashioned patrons at restaurants ordering Starbucks drinks that weren’t listed. I admit, I am a Starbucks snob who knows that they shouldn’t be charging you for “one pump” of syrup, but that’s as far as I go. I looked up “Starbucks secret menu” and realized that Starbucks isn’t the only place that has a supposed secret menu.

Several other chains have “secret menus” published online. I have a problem. Nay, several problems. First off, the publishing of a secret no longer makes it a secret.

Second, why? Why have a secret menu? Who are you helping? Is it really generating enough revenue within that hipster or foodie crowd who really want to know something that everyone else doesn’t? Or is it that the secret menu offering items are too expensive to be on the menu? Well here’s an idea – rotate the menu!

Third, a secret menu defeats the purpose of a regular menu. Patrons look at a regular menu with the understanding that the items listed are the only items available at the time. Now, the regular menu really has little meaning if we are looking online for secret menus, coming to a restaurant, and asking for something that is NOT on the menu. I’m just not seeing the logic. Custom orders are one thing…but even so – STOP IT.

Maybe it is just for the novelty of it all. Maybe there are so many self-righteous people out there that the industry now has to make everyone feel even more special than they already do. If you need to “feel special,” there are plenty of “services” you can purchase to get that special feeling. Or, just get over yourself and realize that restaurants have a select offering of food items that they specialize in. If you are not happy with the offerings of chain restaurants, maybe try something new. We have enough snobbery going around these days; we don’t need secret menus promoting even more snobs.

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Kolaches: A Love Letter to Texas Breakfast

Foreign & Domestic Kolaches 2

Back in Feburary 2013 I wrote about Texas’ obsession with kolaches and breakfast hot dogs. The novelty of the kolache has worn off at this point, not in a bad way, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m surprised by them anymore. Sausage in a sweet bun? Been there, done (eaten) that. (And don’t read too much double entendre into that, please.) I guess after almost three years in this state, nothing surprises me anymore, especially where meat is involved.

Well, I guess almost nothing. I heard that one of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Foreign & Domestic, was hosting a kolache pop-up a couple Sundays ago. I’ve been to their previous bake sales and knew firsthand how legit delicious they are, so obviously I couldn’t pass up this one. While F&D was hosting the event, the kolaches themselves were from Rebecca Masson of Houston’s Fluff Bake Bar (but made fresh that morning in the F&D kitchen).

Foreign & Domestic Kolaches 1

These were no run-of-the-mill kolaches. We sampled sweet: peach & bourbon caramel, apple & miso butterscotch, coconut lemongrass; and savory: local sausage, Cubano (ham, swiss cheese, and pickle – crazy good) and everything bagel. Weirdly, that last everything bagel flavor turned out to be my favorite, full of cream cheese, onion, and poppyseed flavor.

Foreign & Domestic Kolache Everything Bagel

I guess all I’m saying is, don’t take your city’s local favorites for granted, because the best chefs and restaurants will always find ways to surprise and delight you. Also, next time you’re in Texas, hit up Foreign & Domestic or Fluff Bake Bar.

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Extreme Mother's Day Brunch Recipe: Francois Payard's Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu

Brioche Pain Perdu

You”re not really gonna make plain old French toast for Mother”s Day are you? If you”re looking to kick that up a few notches, chef Francois Payard offers this Parisian take on Mother”s Day brunch, with an at-home recipe for his world-famous Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu.

A counterpoint to American-style French Toast, Payard”s version is more of a sandwich with a chocolate chip filling, topped with sauteed bananas and whipped cream. OK wait, maybe it is pretty American after all. I mean, whipped cream and chocolate chips for breakfast? Doesn”t get any Yankier than that.

Best yet, this decade break-sert can be made ahead of time by freezing the sandwiches overnight (once assembled and soaked thoroughly), and then baked for 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu

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What Do You Do with a Rutabaga? Eat it!

Rutabaga Beet Hash

So in my never-ending adventures with my CSA box, I come across some curious specimens. And by “curious” I mean “I’ve always been too lazy to buy and cook them before.” Case in point, rutabaga. I’ve always known rutabaga existed, but I couldn’t tell you anything about it or how to use it in a recipe. I hate wasting, though, so when a big ol’ rutabaga arrived in my CSA box the other week I knew I had to do something.

After some research, I figured I could use a rutabaga in the same way I could use a potato or turnip. It’s a root vegetable with a similar texture, so hey. I decided to make it into a hash with my CSA spinach and beets and top with runny eggs, because as I’ve been telling you guys time & time (& tiiiiiime) again, runny eggs make everything better. And guess what? I was right, it was great.

I know the name of this recipe might sound scary because it combines two stereotypically reviled childhood vegetables – rutabaga and beets, ahhh! – but I promise it’s super delicious.

Rutabaga & Beet Breakfast Hash

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Cocktail O'Clock: Breakfast Edition

Lexington Brass- Irish Cereal Milk Cocktail

With St. Patrick”s Day just around the corner, you”ll be seeing lots of green beer and Shamrock shakes this week, but here”s one that really takes the cake: IRISH CEREAL MILK. This drink comes from Lexington Brass in New York and combines the childhood glory of sugary online casinos leftover cereal milk with the adulthood glory of…Whiskey.

Irish Cereal Milk

2oz Jameson Whiskey
1/2 oz Simple syrup
2 oz. Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk

Make Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk (soaking the cereal in milk for 30 min. and then straining out the cereal).

Fill Rocks glass with ice, pour Jameson and simple syrup in. Fill glass with Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk.

Garnish with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Pieces (fresh crunchy ones, not soggy).

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CSA Cooking: Sweet Potato Rainbow Hash

Rainbow Breakfast Hash

Big news! We finally made the leap into signing up for our own CSA box! This is something my bf Rob has wanted to do for awhile, and the rest of the roommates and I quickly got on board.

The natural choice was Johnson’s Backyard Garden, an Austin favorite. If you’re not familiar with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), here’s an explanation from JBG:

Community Supported Agriculture is much different than going to the local grocery and buying your vegetables. It is a direct partnership between you the consumer, and our farm. CSA members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest and are ensured access to truly nourishing food, food that is grown locally, organically and is delivered when most nutritious and fresh. What’s more, the shareholder cultivates a relationship with their farmer, the land, and with other shareholders. CSA is an opportunity to use your money to support valuable causes: responsible land stewardship, a vibrant local food economy, a healthy community, and the success of local farmers.

Can’t argue with that. Especially considering the amount of vegetables I eat on a weekly basis. We’re getting a medium box every two weeks, plus a half-dozen farm fresh eggs. Our first box, which was delivered last Tuesday, held delights such as sweet potatoes, rainbow carrots (absolutely gorgeous!), kale, spinach, parsley, and even daikon. The fun thing about getting a CSA box is it’s kind of like being on Chopped, except for instead of crazy ingredients it’s a bunch of super fresh, organic produce. You still have to figure out ways to cook it at its peak before it starts going bad, though!

CSA box rainbow carrots

Last Saturday morning I wanted to use up some of our beautiful vegetables and, obviously, try out some of those eggs in our morning meal. I decided to go the hash route. I’ve never put carrots in a hash before, but their crisp sweetness was great with the sweet potatoes. I added some leftover chopped organic chicken breast to bulk up the protein, plus some leftover red  and green onion (not from JBG, but duh, gotta have some onion). The result? A gorgeous rainbow of colors, flavors, and texture. Adding a runny-yolked egg was really just gilding the lily.

Sweet Potato + Carrot Rainbow Hash

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