The James Beard Foundation and Inter­national Association of Culinary Professionals honor local cookbook authors

Five works by authors with Texas ties are nominated for the most prestigious cookbook awards in the country. Members of the James Beard Foundation have recognized Great Bar Food at Home (Wiley & Sons) by Wimberley resident Kate Heyhoe and Rosa's New Mexican Table (Artisan) by former Austin chef Roberto Santibañez with nominations for their cookbook awards due to be announced in early May. In addition to a duplicate nomination for chef Santibañez's book, the Inter­national Association of Culinary Profes­sionals has also nominated The Pastry Queen Christmas (Ten Speed Press) by former Austin pastry chef and current Fredericksburg restaurateur Rebecca Rather, Crescent City Cooking (Knopf) by New Orleans chef Susan Spicer and Austin cowgirl food writer Paula Disbrowe, and Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey (Rizzoli) by Houston and Dallas chef/restaurateur Efisio Farris. The IACP book award winners will be announced at their April convention in New Orleans. We wish all the Texas authors the very best of luck!... Although he was not able to vanquish his idol Masaharu Morimoto in the recently televised Iron Chef battle, Austin chef/restaurateur Tyson Cole had plenty of support from loyal local fans. If you would like to experience chef Cole's five-course Iron Chef omakase tasting menu from the "Battle Ginger" dinner, it will be offered at Uchi (801 S. Lamar, 916-4808, on the next three Sunday evenings (April 6, 13, & 20) for $65 per person or $96 per person with wine/sake pairings for each course... And speaking of Iron Chef contests, judging the Alamo Drafthouse Battle Celluloid series last week was great fun. The Preston Sturges comedy The Lady Eve inspired such dishes as Lady Apples Stuffed With Rattlesnake Confit, "Split Personality" Pea Soup, Kobe Beef Tataki, tiny individual wedding cakes, and lemon tarts with rose-petal ice cream. Chronicle contributing writer Claudia Alarcón and I served as judges along with critic/blogger Jaye J. and radio/television/Web restaurant critic Rob Balon. The battle was hard-fought and the voting very close, but in the end, the Alamo team of John Bullington, Trish Eichel­berg­er, and Elijah Horgan was narrowly defeated by Lawrence Kocurek, chef/partner at the local Roy's restaurant (340 E. Second, 391-1500) outlet. The real winner, of course, was the Capital Area Food Bank, regular charity beneficiary of the series... A couple of weeks ago when I was picking up gorgeous, gigantic heads of organic romaine lettuce at Boggy Creek Farm (3414 Lyons), the folks from Lake Travis Lavender offered me a tin of their new Herbs de Tejas blend and asked me to try it out. This organic dried herb blend contains the basic herbes de Provence mixture of oregano, thyme, lavender, basil, sage, savory, and rosemary, plus garlic chives and a pinch of dried jalapeño. It comes in three sizes – 2 ounces ($6), 4 ounces ($11), and 8 ounces ($20) – and is for sale at Boggy Creek. I started out sprinkling it on portobello mushroom strips marinated in balsamic vinaigrette just before they went on the grill and also used a little on the garlic Parmesan croutons for the Caesar salad made from all that lovely romaine. Those items were very well-received. Another day, I used a little olive oil to rub a generous amount of the mixture all over a whole chicken just before putting lemon halves and some garlic cloves in the body cavity. The resulting roast chicken was both aromatic and very flavorful, with a crispy, herbaceous skin. The Herbs de Tejas blend is a definite keeper.

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