Brunch So Hard

A year has past since Team Vicious and Delicious suffered a surprising upset and to say the brunch stakes were raised would be an understatement.  With a new judging scheme and hosting at our house, the stage was set for a second helping… of redemption.  This year we invited friends and neighbors to be impartial judges (and to eat all of the extra food).  And while we were at it, we opted to rebrand to Team I’m So Tired, because who’s sleeping these days anyway?

Team I'm So Tired

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Under Pressure: Hot Sauce

I got a shiny new pressure cooker for my birthday and wanted to take it for a spin with something new and different.  Google piqued my interest with a red hot looking hot sauce recipe.

As the first order of business I raided the produce section for ALL THE PEPPERS!  More accurately I bagged ½ pound of fresno peppers and another ¼ pound of serranos.  Those serranos are small, so a quarter pound is a lot.  I picked out all red peppers to make sure the sauce didn’t come out a weird red-green brown color.

peppers for days

Apple cider vinegar acts as the backbone and a little fancy smoked sea salt rounds out the simple ingredient list.  All that’s left is to (carefully) slice up all the peppers and toss everything into the pressure cooker.

In the cooker

Turn up the heat and lock on the lid to let the pressure work its magic.  It took about 10 minutes to get up to temperature and then you only need to wait another minute before removing from heat and allowing it to cool down for about 10 minutes to naturally release the pressure.  Once it’s safe to open, a quick buzz with the immersion blender is all it takes to achieve spicy nirvana.

funnel hot sauce

And now we have fresh, 3-ingredient hot sauce!  It’s actually impressively delicious and considering how easy it is, makes a strong case for not buying hot sauce again.  Next up will be playing with other flavor additions and colors.

hot sauce


Burger “Challenge”: Accepted

burger challenge logo

After posting my epic homemade burger (humble much?) post, my fellow food bloggers pointed out a Burger Challenge being put on by the local MMH restaurant group.  Not just any group; McGuire Moorman Hospitality is a group of upscale (read: expensive) restaurants that hold two of the three top spots on my (old) Best Burgers list.  The “challenge” is to eat the burger at each of the six restaurants in the group in the month of August.  If you do, you automatically get a $50 gift card to use at any of the restaurants.  If you’re really up for it, eat all six in a week and you’ll get a $250 gift card.  And if you eat the most burgers from these places during the month of August, you get a 25% off Friends and Family discount to all 6 restaurants for a year (and a juice cleanse… seriously)!

PS – I’ll say upfront I have no affiliation with MMH.  I just love burgers.

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What Does The Buffalo Say?

I’m a sucker for sales at the grocery store, and even moreso when it’s at the meat counter.  Remember that time I got a bunch of Prime NY Strips just to save a few bucks?  Well it happened again, but this time with Buffalo!  So I picked up a few Buffalo NY Strips from Whole Foods and got excited about the sous vide prospects.

Taking a page out of the Food Lab’s playbook I laid out the steaks the night before and salted them heavily before placing them in the fridge to chill overnight.  The next morning they were noticeably darker and most delicious looking.

Just after lunch the bagged steaks made their way to the waiting water bath, set at 132.8°F (converted from 56°C) and left there for 4.5 hours.  During that time they were getting all tasty and tender and gray.  So to combat that grayness I turned to the trusty cast iron skillet, cranked up to “Screaming Hot” and coated with a bit of oil.  The trick here is to get the gray steaks as dry as possible before putting the fsear of god in them.  A minute per side is all it takes to finish these off.

I eagerly sliced into mine to see what it might look like, but truth be told, there was no doubt.  Perfectly medium-rare, end-to-end.

The difference we noticed with the Buffalo is it’s quite a bit leaner than Beef, so the steak was a little less juicy than a “normal” steak, but no less tender.  As for next time, I’d do it exactly the same way.  Maybe served with a compound butter on top to make up for the missing fat in the meat.

Pasteis de Nata

I’ve been on a bit of a kick cooking challenging and/or time-consuming recipes that typically have much simpler alternatives.  I made burgers from scratch, Bolognese sauce for hours, countless tortillas, dozens of pancakes, and now beautiful egg custards.  Ev and I first tasted these “Pasteis de Nata” 8 years ago on our first vacation abroad together to Portugal and Spain.  Just outside of Lisbon, Portugal, the town of Belém stakes its claim as the creator of these little treats, which is why they can also go by the name Pasteis de Belém.  That’s where we had them and we haven’t been able to find anything like them since.  Enter: the kitchen.

And serve for a beautiful breakfast the next morning.

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2015 Freescale Austin Marathon

Ow.  This year’s Austin Marathon beat me up good.  I have a whole list of excuses as to why, but the only one that matters is that I didn’t train enough.  Life and all that comes with it took priority over consistent training and it took its toll in the race.  Here’s how it went down in excruciating detail, emphasis on excruciating.

2015 Austin Marathon 4 amigos

Race morning I picked up 3 of my rockstar neighbors who were also racing — 2 full and 1 half.  We took advantage of my office’s prime parking garage location and moseyed over to the starting area.  After a group photo we parted ways and I looked for the 3:25-pace group.  My plan was to stick with them to successfully hit my goal of “under 3:30”.  Amazingly, among the 15,000+ runners packed into four blocks, I found myself next to two friends also running the full, Robert (his first marathon) and Cristina.

2015 Austin Marathon start crowd

The course shoots you straight into a 3 mile uphill slog.  Halfway up I passed the 3:25 group but saw (what I thought was) the 3:20 pace group and figured I’d hang with them for a bit.  By the time I caught and passed that “3:20” pace group, I saw they were the 3:15 group and I was going way too fast.  Also, Cristina left me in the dust.

2015 Austin Marathon early

You can see early on my spirits and leg-kick were high.  Around Mile 8, as I settled into a groove, Marcus, a former coworker / running nemesis, recognized me and we ended up running together for the next 9 miles.  In that time I spotted several friends and neighbors along the course — thanks for cheering Ben & Walker, Katie, Cherisse & Mike & Will, and Dave!  But just after the halfway point I realized my legs were struggling.

By Mile 17 Marcus pointed out the 3:15 pace group had caught us, so I made a pro move and hopped into a porta-potty.  That way they never really caught me because I was off the course.  Boom.  From then on, with 9 arduous miles ahead, I prepared myself for the battle ahead by filling my thoughts with fear and dread.  The course is supposed to be all downhill from Mile 19 until the end, but they modified it and they are liars.  Not long after Mile 20 I passed Marcus (who didn’t stop at the bathroom — heh, amateur).  And then, who’s that up ahead?  Cristina?  Yes!  At one of the deceitful hills on North Loop I made up a lot of ground, and within the next mile I tracked her down and passed her.

2015 Austin Marathon late

At this point I (and everyone around me) was in rough shape.  I walked a few water stations, stopped once or twice to stretch, and barely got my feet off the ground in a classic “marathon shuffle”.  One silver-lined humblebrag is that I actually continued to pass people all the way to the finish.  At the 5K mark I was in 240th place.  By 13.1 miles I was down to 189, Mile 18 in 184th, and so it went until the finish where I crossed the line in 166th place.  So the race hurt, but it hurt me slightly less than others.

2015 Austin Marathon finish

The last 0.3 miles of the course punches you in the gut with a few brutal hills before the finish line appears in the shadow of the Capitol building.  I definitely beat my goal of sub-3:30 and nearly hit my “everything goes perfectly” secondary goal of sub-3:20.  But holy moly did it hurt.  Punishment for not training properly.

2015 Austin Marathon watch-medal

But totally worth it.  Check out that medal!  It’s my favorite one I have (other than Boston (duh) and the Ironman (duh)).  With marathon #15 under my belt, my “What’s Next?” goals are: 1) sub-3 hour marathon, and 2) 20 marathons.  But those are a long way off.  Until then, I’ll hobble around a little more until I recover from this one.

2015 Freescale Austin Marathon
Distance 26.2 Miles
Time 3:21:27
Pace 7:41 min/mile
Overall Place 166 / 3147 (5.3%)
Age Group Place 32 / 286 (11.2%)
Gender Place 151 / 1896 (7,9%)

Water and Fire

Our grocery store ran a special on USDA Prime New York Strip steaks.  Never one to miss out on a deal, I bought four.  And for no other reason than “why not?” I picked up a grass-fed New York Strip to compare.  With five steaks and some new toys to play with, we invited some friends over for dinner and got cooking.  But seriously, just look at these steaks!


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40 North

I knew the location as “the place where La Barbecue used to be.”  But now it’ll be known as “the 40 North lot” because this is serious pizza.  I took advantage of a gorgeous 70 degree January day to check out what wood-fired goodness 40°N, a brand new pizza food trailer, was slinging.  I pulled up to the lot to find it nearly completely empty.

40 North Sign

The space is shared with Regal Ravioli and one table was filled with friends of 40 North.  I took my time reading the whole menu and everything sounded great — which was an issue for my indecision-prone self — before I finally settled on the “Kale” pizza and took a seat.

40 North Trailer

Clint, the pizzaiolo / owner, brought out housemade pork sausage (from Richardson Farms), fresh mozzarella, Calabrian chiles, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano-topped pizza.  A beauty to behold, though at first I was disappointed that I misunderstood that there was no red sauce on it.  Nothing wrong with white pizzas; I was just in the mood for sauce.

40 North Kale Pizza overhead

I forgot all about that red sauce with my first bite.  It’s garlicky and cheesy and kaley.  The Calabrian chiles and pork sausage spiced it up.  The crust was a perfect balance of soft and chewy.

40 North Kale Pizza side

This picture really tells the whole story.

40 North Kale Pizza gone

And a big thank you to Clint for offering me a vanilla panna cotta with raspberry sauce on the house.  After devouring the entire pizza, I made quick work of the super creamy, tart dessert.  I never would’ve ordered it (both from a “quantity of food” perspective as well as “not that into panna cotta” perspective), but it was wholly delicious!  I’d definitely recommend, especially if you’re not sadly bravely dining alone, to get at least one to share.

40 North Panna Cotta

If you’re in the mood for pizza and the weather’s nice, I would absolutely implore you to check out 40 North.  If the weather isn’t so great, you can call ahead and just pick it up.  Great pizza from nice people who know what they’re doing, so make it a priority to check them out soon!