Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

Recently, I was able to make it over to Empire State South. It was a fantastic experience; truly one of the best meals I've had in a long time. While there, I tried some of their boiled peanut hummus. It was great! Like Mediterranean peanut butter. After thinking about the boiled peanut hummus, I realized that maybe Black-Eyed Peas would be another yummy, southern-take on hummus. I spread some on a toasted slice of bread with some watermelon radishes and carrots from our co-op for a delicious and healthy southern lunch!

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus


1 Cup of Hydrated Black-Eyed Peas
1 Cup of Hydrated Chickpeas
5 Cloves of Garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Tablespoons of Tahini Paste
2 Teaspoons of Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Hot Sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste


If you'd like to use dried peas, place them in a bowl, submerge until there is an inch of water on top of the peas, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and soak overnight. To begin cooking, place the strained peas in a pot with water covering them by an inch or two. Add the cloves of garlic, no need to peel. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. Strain out the liquid, but reserve 3 tablespoons. Place the peas into your food processor, add the other ingredients, including the reserved cooking liquid, and puree to your desired texture. Salt and pepper to your liking and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Cocktail to Ring in the New Year

My husband and I went crafty for our holiday gifts this year, making soap and infusing brandy. The brandy was really great, and feeling inspired by a drink at Cakes and Ale, I decided to come up with a custom cocktail to celebrate the New Year.

Quince-Pear Holiday Brandy (makes one pint)


1/2 Anjou Pear, Sliced into 4 Pieces
1/2 Quince, Sliced into 2-3 Pieces
1 Stick of Cinnamon
1/4 Vanilla Bean
3 Allspice Berries


Place all of the ingredients into a pint sized canning jar, then cover with brandy, leaving approximately 1/2" of space at the top of the jar, place lid on jar and let cure for 6 weeks. It's actually delicious at 4, but 6 is ideal, if you can wait.

The Brandy Resolution


1/2 Ounce Blood Orange Bitters
1 Ounce Infused Brandy
1 Ounce Orange Juice
1 Egg White
Cinnamon to Garnish


Place all of the wet ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously to foam up the egg white and pour into a martini glass. Add cinnamon to your liking. Drink up!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Chocolatey Twist on my Grandmom's Poundcake

We have passed this simple pound cake recipe down three generations, if not more, and I thought about humbly trying to improve upon the classic. I loved it! The cream cheese addition makes the cake wonderfully moist. Even after a week, it was still delicious!

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Pound Cake


1-1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour, Plus a Bit More for Flouring the Bundt Pan
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Pinch of Salt
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Stick of Butter, Room Temperature
2 Eggs
1 Package of Cream Cheese
1 Cup of Milk
1/2 Package of Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (Or chop your favorite dark chocolate bar into chips and add instead)
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Paste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together all the dry ingredients (sugar is always considered a wet ingredient.) In your electric mixer, put in the stick of butter and the sugar and cream together on medium speed. Add the eggs, then cream cheese, then milk. Blend until smooth. Slowly add in the sifted dry material, a little at a time, to the wet mix, until it's all incorporated. Add your chocolate chips and vanilla paste, blend until just incorporated. You do not want to over mix. Meanwhile, take your bundt pan and smear the entire inside surface with butter, then put in a bit of flour and shake around the pan until all inner surfaces are coated in flour. Pour your batter into the bundt pan, and place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the sides start to pull away from the pan and a knife comes out of the cake without any batter attached (you will see some melted chocolate on the knife, which is fine, but you don't want any wet batter on the knife.) Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, run a knife around the sides and the center of the pan, then place a cake plate on top of the pan, and flip the cake out. It should release easily if the pan was evenly floured. Serve hot! To store the cake leftovers, I recommend covering and placing into the refrigerator. A cold slice can sometimes make a delicious breakfast treat!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Local North Ga Smoked Trout Spread

On our last visit to the farmer's market, my husband picked up some North Georgia Smoked Trout, of which he cannot seem to get enough. Feeling inspired to do something a little different, I experimented and came up with this spread. I was so tickled with the results. It's creamy, tangy and delicious, but best of all, super easy!
It's great on onion flatbread, or crackers, or even little toast points. I had some the next day on toast with a fresh tomato sliced on top, it was so good!


1 Fillet of North Georgia Smoked Trout
1 Package of Cream Cheese

1 Tablespoon of Greek Yogurt

1 Tablespoon of Buttermilk

2 Chopped Green Onions

1/2 Teaspoon of Lemon Zest

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Salt and Pepper to Taste


Remove the skin from your fillet and toss into the food processor with all the other ingredients except Salt and Pepper. Puree until a smooth, spread consistency, then add salt and pepper to your liking.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Burgers Straight from the Farm

So, with freshly clogged arteries from all the Thanksgiving excesses, I'm thinking what everyone is craving is a hunk of beef! My husband and I went to Farmburger again a few nights ago, and it was just as fantastic the second time around.
Farmburger opened a little less than a year ago in downtown Decatur, and have been cranking out quality burgers ever since. People who know me, know that I don't eat burgers, but over the last couple of years, I have come to make exceptions for the really excellent variety. Farmburger fits that bill.
They only serve 100% grassfed beef at Farmburger, and source as many local and sustainable sides and toppings as possible. Also on offer, a quinoa burger and a chicken burger, two great options for the non-beef lovers. Each week, the menu offers six blackboard burgers of Chef Terry Koval's creation, which are delicious combinations like: house cured-bacon, a sunny side up egg, pepper jack, and salsa verde.
The other burger option is to create your own from a large variety of sustainable and local options. Here's the burger I created this time: 100% grassfed burger, pickled jalepenos, smoked paprika mayo, crispy red onions and Sweet Grass Asher Blue Cheese. The tangy saltiness of the blue cheese with the spicy jalapenos and crunchy onions combined beautifully with the buttery beef. My favorite side has been the fried okra, but the fresh french fries are also pretty tasty.
Farmburger is a model for which other burger joints should aspire: good food, locally and sustainably sourced.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Amazing Cupcakes!

Last Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity of joining my fellow members of the Atlanta Food Blogger's Alliance at the lovely Chocolate Pink. Chocolate Pink began 5 years ago as the brainchild of Pastry Chef Christian Balbierer and Michael Goodrich. They were driven to create a dessert shop of quality, hand-made, from scratch pastry available to the general public. They have definitely succeeded.
The AFBA was invited to participate in the first ever Chocolate Pink Cupcake Tasting Contest. Everyone present was able to taste 8 amazingly inventive cupcake flavors: Chocolate Fudge, Sweet Potato with Brown Butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Nutella, Dulce de Leche, Pumpkin Maple with Bacon, Strawberry Pop-Tart, and Cookies 'n Cream. Incredibly enough, they offer even more cupcake flavors on their everyday menu!
Of the eight flavors, I thought Strawberry Pop-Tart was outstandingly original, and it tasted just like a Pop-Tart's sophisticated city cousin. The icing was light and airy, but creamy and buttery, as well, because Chocolate Pink uses a Swiss Meringue Buttercream (which I have to learn to make!) The strawberry jam swirled beneath the icing evoked just the right amount of tartness, and the cookie on top added a great crunch. Another favorite was the Chocolate Peanut Butter, which tasted just like a certain peanut butter filled cup. There was a layer of creamy peanut butter buttercream, with a layer of chocolate ganache below and a roasted peanut on top. The textures were fantastic together, and this cupcake won the vote for Best Overall Cupcake. My other two favorites, while the flavors may seem odd, were Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Maple, which I loved more than the Chocolate Peanut Butter!
Another cool thing about Chocolate Pink Cupcakes are the variety of icing and cake base combinations. There are 7-8 different types of cake bases used. These are not your grocer's boxed cupcake mix!
So...enough waxing on about all those cupcake flavors. I have good things to share! I am posting a coupon below for one free cupcake, no purchase required, with an additional 25% off anything else you might like to purchase in the store AND the recipe for the amazing Chocolate Pink Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake! They were so generous to share this with us and I hope that you will enjoy this in your own home!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winter Means Soup

When cold weather starts coming in, I want warm soup in my belly. Having heard similar sentiments from others, time to time as well, I wanted to share a new recipe I've been making this year. The butternut squash is local, and organic, which I think imparts a special something to the soup. It's always an exciting challenge to see what I can do with the items that come in from our weekly co-op, but sometimes I don't have the energy to do a huge involved meal and I think this simple soup is a great fix for a down-trodden soul at the end of a long work day.

Creamy Butternut Squash Tomato Soup


2 Medium Butternut Squash, Halved and Seeded

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (Plus a couple more for roasting the squash)

1/2 Onion, Diced

2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced

2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste

2 Teaspoons of Herbes de Provence

1 Teaspoon of Paprika

1 Teaspoon of Cayenne

6 Cups of Chicken Stock (Or stock of your choice)

1 Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar

Salt to Taste
1/2 Cups of Heavy Cream


To roast the squash, (you can do this several days in advance if you like,) halve and seed, then drizzle a bit of olive oil across the flesh and massage the oil on the cut face. Place the 4 parts onto a baking sheet, cover with foil and roast in the oven on 350 degrees for approximately an hour, or until a fork slides very easily into the flesh. Remove and let cool. (I wrapped mine in foil and kept it in the fridge for a couple of days until I was ready for the soup.) In a dutch oven, toss your onions, garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste, Herbes de Provence, Paprika, and Cayenne. Continue to cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. You just want the paste flavors to come together and build a base. Meanwhile, scrape the flesh from your squash with a spoon and add it to the pot. Stir the squash into the paste to combine and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and vinegar. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Puree the soup with a stick blender, or in a regular blender. Finally, stir in your cream.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Super Delicious Pan-Latino Sandwich Shop

I have decided that the very long name, Super Pan-Latino Sandwich Shop, is just not long enough. Maybe it should read: Super Heavenly Pan-Latino Sandwich Shop, or Super Amazing Pan-Latino Sandwich Shop. I just can't make up my mind, but I have decided that the food at Hector Santiago's tiny sandwich place is off-the-charts good!
The first time I visited, I went straight for the specials. I had a smoked trout tostada, with trout caviar, dill creme fraiche and habernos. It was salty, tangy, spicy, and even a little sweet from the caviar; a wonderfully balanced sandwich. In addition to the tostada, I added a the salad special which consisted of avocado, jicama, coconut shavings, jalepenos and watermelon. These ingredients seem mildly shocking to the tongue, heat and sweetness combining with the creamy avocado, but they were mixed by a master. I have also had the pork buns, and I really enjoyed the sweet heat of the pork belly marinade on an unbelievably soft, fluffy bun.
I have only been twice so far, but I dream of it each week. The flavors are really inventive and extremely fresh and for under $10 you can have a stand-out Top-Chef lunch in Atlanta! They are open Tues-Fri 11:30-2:30. I suggest going earlier or later, as it can get crowded very quickly. Run, don't walk!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Can't Be Over!

The end of summer is always very tough for me to acknowledge. I LOVE fall, but with fall comes the threat of winter. So, before the leaves turn and before I turn my garden, I wanted to share an awesome dough recipe for a galette, or rustic tart, in which I used the last of my summer produce. I saw this recipe on Julia Childs but decided to modify it ever so slightly, I used buttermilk instead of water. You could put anything into this tart. I chose a little tomato sauce, ground beef, onions and peppers mixed with ricotta, then topped with fresh tomato slices and a thick slice of fresh mozzarella. Basically, it was an open topped calzone, but with a cornmeal crunchy crust.

Galette Dough


3 Tablespoons of Sour Cream
1/3 Cup of Buttermilk
1 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons of Cornmeal
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
7 Tablespoons of Butter, Cut into Small Pieces


Mix the sour cream and buttermilk together in a bowl and set aside. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the butter small bits at a time, and crush into the dry mix with a fork, aiming for pieces of butter that range in size from bread crumbs to small peas. Slowly mix in the wet sour cream mixture into the dry, gently bringing it all together. The dough should be just moist enough to come together, if not, add a small amount of water at a time to reach that point, being careful not to over moisten. Gently knead the dough together into a ball, then divide in half and wrap in plastic, place in fridge and chill for at least 2 hours.

After this, you can roll out the dough to 1/4 thickness and add sugar and berries or pears or apples for a dessert galette. Or add any number of savory fillings, like leeks and mushrooms and goat cheese, or zucchini and parmesan. The possibilities are endless with this awesome, versatile recipe.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Joys of Having Awesome Neighbors

The other night, our wonderful neighbors came over to join us for a one of our patented "what do you have in your fridge?" dinners. I LOVE these dinners! They're creative and usually very local, but best of all, they're casual and cheap. There's not a lot of pressure and it's lovely to enjoy home-cooked food with fun people. This last dinner, we were swimming in our local, organic butternut squash, and since we also had some leftover risotto (arborio) rice and bacon, I decided to make some Butternut Squash Risotto. It's a lot of stirring, but so worth it.

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 Butternut Squash, Peeled and Cubed
3 Strips of Bacon, Chopped

6 Garlic Cloves, Minced 1 Onion, Diced
2 Tablespoons of Honey

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon of Paprika

Salt and Pepper

2 Cups of Risotto or Arborio Rice

6 Cups of Stock (Your Choice, but I like Chicken)

1-1/2 Cups of Pecorino Romano Cheese, Finely Grated (You could substitute Parmesan)

Salt and Pepper to Taste


Throw your squash into a pot of salted boiling water. Cook until fork tender, meaning when a fork slides easily into the squash, approximately 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a big pot, toss in your bacon, garlic and onion and saute until the onion is translucent. After the squash is done, strain and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle the honey and olive oil over the squash, then sprinkle with the paprika and some salt and pepper. Toss to coat and throw it in the oven at 400 degrees until the squash starts to brown slightly on the edges. Into the pot, add your rice. Stir until the rice is glossy and almost translucent. Smash your squash into a mash, then add to the rice. Add 1/2 cup of stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat with stock and stirring until the rice is cooked through. This is usually about 30 minutes. You may need less or more stock, it's all about how al dente you like your rice. Finally, once the rice is cooked to your liking, add the grated cheese, of which you could reserve a little for topping. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve and top with the remaining cheese.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Slim Pickings Yield Delicious Results

Last week, our pantry and fridge stock had grown a little low, but I did have some amazing local carrots, and some yummy yellow currant tomatoes from my own garden. Earlier that day at lunch, my friend had some fantastic looking black bean soup, so I decided to try to make a local organic version. I was pleasantly surprised at the tasty the results!

Black Bean Soup

1 Onion, Diced (I used Vidalia for extra sweetness.)
2 Carrots, Diced
2 Cans of Black Beans
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup of Currant Tomatoes (Or chopped regular tomatoes if you don't have the currant variety)
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons of Ground Cumin
1-1/2 Cup of Water
1 Chili Pepper, Minced (Optional)
Sour Cream for Topping
Cilantro for Garnish

In a Dutch Oven, pour in the olive oil and toss in the garlic, cumin, carrots, chili pepper and onion. Saute until the onion is translucent. Add the black beans, water and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chopped cilantro.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vacation Road Snack

Since I'm on vacation today, and we're heading up to the mountains, I decided to make a little road trip snack. A lot of people seem amazed when I tell them that I bake pancakes or muffins from scratch, but the truth of the matter is, it's really simple. There aren't that many more steps than buying the bag of mix (with who knows what added in) and pouring in your milk. This recipe took me approximately 15 minutes to stir up the batter and then 20 to bake. And the results were absolutely worth the extra 10 minutes I put into the batter!

Blueberry Almond Muffins
Makes 12 Large Muffins


2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup of Wheat Bran (Optional)
1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1/4 Teaspoon of Grated Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds
1-1/2 Cups Fresh Blueberries

1-1/4 Cups of Milk
1 Large Egg
2/3 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla (or if you have it, Vanilla Paste, which has the lovely vanilla seeds)
6 Tablespoons of Melted Butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients together (sugar is always considered a wet ingredient in baking.) Then add the wet ingredients into the dry bowl and mix just until the batter comes together. Don't over mix, it should look lumpy and thick. Grease your muffin pan, and spoon your batter evenly across the 12 muffins. Sprinkle a bit of light brown sugar and cinnamon across the tops if you like, then bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a knife poked into the muffin comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cajun Meets Fresh

When I was a kid, my grandfather would take trips down to Louisiana for a few days, and he would come back with several cooler loads of crawfish, gator and other seafood. We would all gather at his house with the smells of semi-authentic Cajun food filling the air. Granddad never worked off a recipe, but everything was always delicious. When I cook my Gumbo now, it takes me back to those halcyon days, and life does not seem better than when I take a great big, spicy bite!

Gumbo (Simple)

2 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Tablespoons of Flour
2 Bay Leaves
4 Carrots, Diced
3 Stalks of Celery, Diced
1 Onion, Diced
5 Green Onions, Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Thai Hot Peppers
1 lb. of Andouille or Chorizo
1 lb. Crawfish
3 Tomatoes, Diced
1 lb. Okra, Chopped
1 Can of Chicken Stock
1 Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Teaspoon Cumin
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Separately prepare some risotto or arborio rice.

In a big Dutch Oven, on medium heat, toss in your flour, bay leaves, some cracked black pepper, and butter. Stir often until the butter is the color of cafe au lait. Add in your carrots, celery, onion, green onions, Thai Hot Peppers and garlic. Take the links of sausage and pinch out 1" balls of meat into the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are translucent, continue stirring often. Next toss in your okra and tomatoes, with the tomato juices and seeds. Cook for approximately 3 more minutes. Add in the chicken broth, crawfish, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, or until the crawfish are pink and cooked through. Add salt to taste.
Grab a bowl, spoon in some rice and pour some Gumbo on top!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Garden Delights

So, I feel I have been a bit remiss in my storytelling on this blog. One of the things most important to me about food, besides taste, of course, is sustainability. All of my friends hear me constantly harp on organic and local food, but I'm not sure that I have conveyed that passion here. Let me correct that mistake.

I love food, but it's so important to me that I eat organic and if possible, locally grown food. I belong to a great local, organic co-op (see previous post on Vegetable Husband) and in the past couple of years, one of my favorite past times has been toiling away in the garden for the freshest, most local food I can get. I'm out there almost every morning with my faithful guard dog, who has also gotten very fond of our gardening routine, checking each plant, trying to decide what I should do next, scouring for a fresh vegetable that might be ripe for plucking.

This year, my most successful so far, I started my seeds, most from Seed Savers Exchange, from scratch in the office under a fluorescent light. I found myself tending to those seeds more carefully than some people would a baby. They had to have a heater, and a certain amount of light each day. I almost cried when I had to thin them out.

Then, once the last frost was over, I tenderly began planting them into the gorgeous raised beds that my husband built right in our tiny front yard. We learned last year that while our backyard has the most space, it also has the least sun. I started listening to WHYY's You Bet Your Garden radio show, I read Organic Gardening from cover to cover, and I even started listening to the BBC's Gardener's Question Time podcast (which, admittedly, is a bit silly considering the growing conditions are so very different, but I just love those British accents!) I cannot get enough information about the very best way to grow perfect, organic produce.

And this week, all that hard work and knowledge has started to pay off! I harvested some green Ponderosa tomatoes to fry up for my family this past father's day, and today, I harvested my very first ever okra, along with some lovely, tiny Gold Rush tomatoes. The okra is so handsome, it's an heirloom variety, called Red Burgundy. I cannot wait to fry some up!

It really is so very exciting to step out of your front yard and pluck something ready to eat, and more importantly, you learn to appreciate the enormous amount of work and resources that go into every single bite you consume. Food is one of our most important investments, we eat it every single day, it keeps us healthy and strong, and without our health, we have nothing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Shed at Glenwood

One of my favorite restaurants in town is The Shed at Glenwood. I'm always quick to share the restaurant with my friends if they're looking for a fantastic local joint. Chef Lance Gummere uses local produce and meats as much as possible, and often, there are meats that you won't find in other Atlantan restaurants. He is a self-professed lover of fried chicken hearts!
My favorite night, and many others' favorite, is Wednesday night Slider Night. Chef Gummere offers an ever-changing seasonal menu of $3 sliders. On a recent visit, I tried a barbecued goat meat slider. I know a lot of people would be squeamish at the idea of eating goat, but you really cannot go wrong with a good barbecue. The meat was tender and delicious, with a flavor very similar to lean beef. I also recommend the fried green tomato, the white truffle chicken salad, and the chicken liver sliders. I love it when chefs take parts of an animal, which are thrown out by most people, and turn them into something delectable.
If you are a true locavore, I recommend Thursday night's Harvest Night. The Shed selects a variety of farm fresh, local vegetables from which you can choose 4 for $10. It's an excellent value and I've had amazing things like buttery sunchokes and heirloom tomatoes. I think it's one of the best vegetarian meals you can get in the city.
Last, but certainly not least, please save room for the Homemade Ding Dong, (the name of which I'm sure the waiters bemoan endlessly.) The cream center is cold and rich, surrounded by moist chocolate cake, and covered in thick ganache. It's one of my all-time favorite desserts!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Toronto Edition

Pork Ramen Bowl

Toronto has been on my food radar for a very long time due to the fantastic television show, "Made to Order," chronicling the Rubino brothers' adventures in haute Asian fusion cuisine. Imagine my delight when I was able to travel there for work, and finally sample some great food! Unfortunately, Rain, the Rubino brothers' restaurant in "Made to Order" has since closed, but Guy and Michael have opened a new venture called, Ame.
My boss and I cabbed it over to Ame, to have some stellar Japanese food. We started the meal with shitake mushroom tempura, elegantly staked on nails. If you were able to get past the sadistic presentation, the tempura was fantastic: crispy and light and flavorful, all the things that should be tempura. My boss ordered the teriyaki cornish hen, which was nicely cooked, and a fresher take on the sickly sweet teriyaki options normally found, but I loved my pork ramen bowl. The pork was buttery, the noodles were firm, and the broth was deliciously salty. Until I can go to Japan, I really felt that this was the closest I am going to get to great ramen.

Bar Chef Martini Three Ways

After Ame, I left my boss at the hotel, grabbed my Agatha Christie, and headed for BarChef. Recently written up in Food and Wine as one of the best new innovative bars in the world, I could not pass up the opportunity.
When you walk into the dark bar, the first thing you notice is the chemist-like array of bitters and liqueurs lined across the bar and back wall. Frankie Solarik is known for his molecular creations, so I had the Bar Chef Martini Three Ways to start. I will explain it as my barchef, Aaron, explained it to me. The center drink is the classic martini with vodka and olives to act as your base, then proceed to the black olive ice in the spoon to the left, and then back to the center, then proceed to the glass on the left, which is the olive air martini, then back to the center, then on to the spoon on the right, which is your liquidized olive yolk, then back to the center, then on to the glass on the right, which is the rosemary infused vodka martini. This seems a bit pretentious and avant garde all at the same time, and it really is, but I just love it when food and science meet. The olive ice was interesting, but the olive foam was the very lightest essence of olive air, and the olive yolk was an intense burst of oliveness in your mouth! I really loved the finish with the simple, fresh rosemary infused vodka.
Okay, so after that bit of fun, I had to try a simple cocktail as well, and I decided on the Strawberries and Lavender, which is strawberry infused gin, strawberry and elderberry bitter, lavender infused grand marnier, fresh lime, and lavender sugar rim. The cocktail was fantastic! Everything that a cocktail should be: fruity, floral, bitter, sour, sweet, was all there; you could almost taste the flavors individually, and yet they were melded together as well. While I loved the molecular experience, the Strawberries and Lavender displayed the creative process behind cocktail creation.
I can't wait to go back to Toronto!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo!

My deep love of Mexican food has been mentioned before, but I have been inspired this week by Cinco de Mayo to make some really great tostadas. Here's the recipe:

Chorizo and Potato Tostadas with Guacamole


2 Links of Chorizo
3 Small Potatoes
1/2 Red Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Pitas
1 Avocado
Juice of 1 Lime
1/2 Cup of Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
1 Cup of Cilantro
1 Jalapeno
1/2 Cucumber
Salt and Pepper


Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices and place them in salted boiling water. Remove the potatoes after 5 minutes and strain. Heat the oil on medium-high heat, and saute the chorizo until it's cooked through. Remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside. Finely dice the garlic cloves, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Add 1/2 the onion, all of the garlic and 1/2 of the jalapeno to the pan in which the chorizo was cooked. Saute on medium heat. While sauteing, dice the chorizo and potatoes then add to the onions, garlic and peppers. Cook until the onions are tender.
To prepare the guacamole, remove the skin and pit from the avocado and chop into cubes. In a mixing bowl, combine the avocado with 1/2 of the lime juice, 1/2 of the cilantro, the rest of the onion and jalapeno, with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
For a cooling element, mix the rest of the lime juice, and cilantro with the sour cream and a pinch of salt.
Warm your pita bread in the oven, then top with the chorizo-potato mixture, a spoonful of guacamole, and a dollop of the sour cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Leeks: One of the Most Under-Utilized Vegetables!

I love Leeks! They are a fantastic, versatile vegetable that can be used in tons of dishes, and yet, there are a lot of people who aren't even sure what a leek looks like. They have an amazing mild onion flavor that cannot be matched. So, I paired them up with another couple of favorites, mushrooms and goat cheese on a yummy pizza. Here's the Recipe:

Leek, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza



3 Leeks

1 Carton of Cremini Mushrooms

2 Tablespoons of Soft Goat Cheese

3 Tablespoons of Grated Mozzarella

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 Tablespoon of Butter

Salt and Pepper to Taste


6 Garlic Cloves

6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

6 Tablespoons of White Wine

Frozen Pizza Dough


For the sauce, blend the garlic, olive oil, and white wine together in a blender or food processor. Roll out your thawed pizza dough on a lightly floured board, and when I can, I like to grill my dough first. Brush it with the sauce and toss on the grill to get lovely char marks on each side. But this time, I put the dough (without the sauce) on a pizza stone in the oven, and cooked it until the edges were lightly golden. I think 425 degrees works pretty well.
In a skillet, saute your leeks and mushrooms and garlic together in the butter until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Brush your cooked pizza bread with a little more sauce (the sauce should be a very thin coating, just enough to make it shiny) then spread the leeks and mushrooms on top. Crumble your soft goat cheese across the pizza, then spread your mozzarella on top. Bake again at 425 degrees until the cheese is melty and delicious, remove and slice as desired!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ruby Grapefruit Meltaways

These cookies are so citrusy and delicious. They literally melt in your mouth; I think it has something to do with all the delicious butter! Give them a shot and let me know what you think.

Ruby Grapefruit Meltaways


3/4 Cup (1 1/2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1 Cup Confectioners' Sugar
Finely Grated Zest of 1 Grapefruit
2 Tablespoons Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 3/4 Cups Plus 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Cooking:Cream butter and 1/3 cup of the confectioners' sugar until fluffy in an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the grapefruit zest, juice and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch and salt, then slowly add to butter mixture on low speed until just combined. Divide dough into two balls, and roll each into a log about 1 inch thick. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least an hour, but you can freeze the dough as well if it's for a future event. To cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the logs and cut into 1/4" thick cookies. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 1" apart and bake for 8-10 minutes until edges are just turning slightly golden. Let the cookies cool down a bit, then add a few at a time to a large plastic baggie with the remaining confectioners' sugar and shake to coat. The recipe should make about 4 dozen. Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Unusual, But Delicious Quesadillas

One of my new favorite neighborhood joints is Pure Taqueria. The Inman Park location isn't the original, but it's pretty new, and the food is fantastic. In my eyes, it's hard to beat your local cheap Mexican restaurant. It is the quintessential comfort food; hot and spicy, flavorful and delicious. And while Pure is a little pricier than the local cheap place, the fresh ingredients and original dishes make it easier to rationalize the extra costs.
The margaritas at Pure are great, I like the house margarita as much as the specialty mixes.
On the appetizer menu, the fish ceviche is fantastic. The citrus is almost effervescent, and combined with celery for a zesty, crunchy combination. My favorite entree is the chicken quesadilla. At a lot of restaurants, the quesadillas can be a major let-down, they are soggy and unappetizing, but at Pure, it's more like an empanada, with crispy fried dough, then it's piled high with salsa verde and sour cream. It's completely worth every calorie.
If you are in Inman Park next weekend, for the annual Inman Park festival, and feel like some delicious Mexican food, stop by Pure. Just ignore the super loud clubby music they play at night, the food should make up for the auditory discomfort, or better yet, stop for lunch, before they crank it up!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Uncommonly Good Cocktails

Inspired by John Kessler's article, (link posted below; a great read) about specialty spirits, inspired me to go check out Leon's Full Service. I'm always interested in inventive cocktails. The new wave of rare liquors and liqueurs that have been making their way into casual pubs and bars are so exciting. Artisanal drinks are now available to the common man; gone are the days of Pucker soaked Appletinis, much to my delight!
Leon's, a hip garage-like-space in downtown Decatur, has a long, long list of local farms from which they source their menu, but I was interested in the drinks. I had a 'closing argument,' which consists of beefeater gin, fresh lemon, lillet blanc, luxardo maraschino, housemade grapefruit marmalade. It was bittersweet and effervescent and fantastic!

Some great mixologists have educated me recently on the excellent combination of grapefruit juice and gin. I highly recommend it, especially to those, who like me, don't particularly enjoy gin in other drinks. The bitter acid of the grapefruit perfectly cuts through the floral notes of the gin. They make a really fine pair.
So, if you haven't been out for drinks in a while, I highly recommend trying something new and inventive. My 'closing argument' was worth every penny, almost a meal in itself, and an experience to be repeated!

John Kessler's article:
Specialty Spirits Run Dry in Atlanta

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chili Powder = Delicious

We love chili in our house. We make a giant pot of it at least twice a month. It's so easy after a long day at work to throw everything in one pot and let it simmer away. I worked up this vegetarian version when my brother was visiting. It has 4 different beans and some great vegetables, all simmered away with lots of chili powder. Hope you like it!

Vegetarian Chili

3 Stalks of Celery, Diced
3 Carrots, Grated
3 Bell Peppers, Diced
1 Onion, Diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Chopped
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Can of White Beans, Strained
1 Can of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Strained
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Kidney Beans
1 Large Can (or 2 regular cans) of Crushed Tomatoes
4 Tablespoons of Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon of Cumin
1/2 Tablespoon of Salt
1/2 Tablespoon of Onion Powder
1/2 Tablespoon of Paprika
Cayenne Pepper to Your Level of Spicy
Optional Ingredient: 1/4 Cup of Amaranth Seed

Saute the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil until soft on medium-high heat. Once softened, dump in the spices. Stir until spices coat vegetables. Add all the canned ingredients.
I add the Amaranth at this point for extra grain and protein. I also like the texture it adds. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Simmer on low for 40 minutes and serve. I love mine topped with some cheese or sour cream!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Southern Comforts

I've been sick this week, with the worst cold. I'm not a good sick patient, so it's pretty excellent that I am rarely taken ill. However, when a bug does strike me, it always makes me nostalgic.
In 4th grade, I had the worst teacher (I didn't know at age 9 that she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.) I would constantly call my grandmother to come and pick me up from school because, "I wasn't feeling well." Nothing could make my troubles go away faster than my grandmother's recipe for an upset stomach: a good book, rest, saltine crackers and a Red Rock Ginger Ale.
Red Rock Ginger Ale has been bottled in Atlanta since 1885. The slogan is "just the right bite," and they're not kidding! I love the way the first sip takes your breath away and makes you almost cough! It's good stuff. Babe Ruth even endorsed the soda in 1939. The cola is also delicious, both sodas are sweetened with cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and the flavor is so much richer than mass marketed sodas.
Red Rock Ginger Ale is one southern comfort that I hope lasts for a very long time!

Friday, March 5, 2010

God Save the Queen!

I LOVE English food, and English chefs, and England. That British accent gets me every time, and I should add, that this love extends to all the British Isles, so I should really say that I love Great Britain. One of my favorite, very famous British chefs, Gordon Ramsay, featured Shephard's Pie on one of his shows, and I wanted to share my take on his version. This recipe is not complicated, and only requires 2 pans. You can modify the recipe to include a lot of different vegetables, or less of the different vegetables. (For example, when I cooked the recipe tonight, I added Swiss Chard, but it's not a standard.) I've gotten very good reviews, so I hope you try this simple recipe and let me know your thoughts.

Delicious Shephard's Pie

Filling Ingredients:
1 lb of Your Favorite Ground Meat (Beef is usually my choice, but I've also made it with turkey and chicken, all of them great.)
3 Carrots, very finely chopped
3 Stalks of Celery, very finely chopped
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon of Fresh or Dried Thyme (I prefer the fresh when I have it, but dried works just fine)
2 Tablespoons of Flour
1 Cup of Red Wine (Substitute stock if you don't have any red wine, it will also taste delicious)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes (see recipe below)
1 Cup of Sharp Cheddar

Saute the ground beef on medium-high heat until it is cooked through. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and thyme. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and flour. Continue cooking until there is a lovely brown coating on the bottom of the pan. Add your red wine (or stock) and deglaze the pan (which means scrape up all that lovely brown coating.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and spread evenly in the pan. Add the Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes, and spread around until the filling is covered. Spread the cheese over the top of the potatoes and place in a 350 degree oven until the cheese melts. To acheive that bubbly brown crust, turn the oven to Broil on High, and monitor very carefully. It can burn in 2 minutes, so keep a constant eye on it. Remove and scoop into bowls!

Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes

10-15 Yellow or Red New Potatoes
1 Cup of Half and Half
1 Cup of Sharp Cheddar
2 Tablespoons of Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Boil the new potatoes (I like the skins left on) in salted water until very tender, usually about 12 minutes. Strain and add the potatoes to a mixer bowl. Begin mixing with an electric blender, and add in the half and half and butter. Once the potatoes are creamy, add the cheese and salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interior Design meets Vikiing Cooking School

Team Chicken! Jackie, Lanah and I pose for a shot.

Chef Leo helps us plate our beautiful dish.

The winning entree: Chicken Breast with Lemon Sauce!

Last night I had the opportunity to go to an ASID function at the Viking Cooking School. I had been once before for my bachelorette party, and we had such a blast that I was super excited about a chance to go again. I was a bit anxious about going alone, but turns out, I shouldn't have worried at all. Food always brings people together.
We had such a good time cooking the Cafe Italiano menu: Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini, Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, Chicken Breasts with Lemon Sauce and Little Chocolate Cakes with Amaretto Cream. There were about 40 designers in attendance, so we split off into 2 groups, and further divided into dish groups. I was on Team Chicken for Group 1. The chefs watching over us gave us some great fried chicken tips, like: pat the flour off the chicken, "like it's a baby," and if you're cooking a large batch, give the breasts in the pan plenty of space and finish all of those before adding more, so that the pan does not cool down in between batches. For the sauce, Chef Leo, who works at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, showed us a neat trick. To thicken a runny sauce, try adding a cold roux to the simmering sauce: a dollop of room temperature butter and flour mixed well together. All of the dishes were fantastic, but I had a personal interest in the chicken. However, much to my dismay, at the end of cooking, I suddenly remembered that I would not be able to actually eat the chicken that I had cooked, since I gave up commercial meat. I wanted to share it with everyone else though, because I am definitely going to re-create this at home with some organic, free-range breasts. Please let me know how yours turn out!

Chicken Breasts with Lemon Sauce

3 Whole Lemons
8 (6-oounce) Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
All-Purpose Flour, For Dredging
4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Garlic
1 Cup Chicken Stock, Simmering
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsely, Plus Additional Sprigs for Garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place ovenproof platter in the oven. Cut off the ends of one lemon and slice into 1/8 inch wheels. Juice the other 2 lemons until you have 1/4 cup of juice. Set aside. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow pan, then, working one piece at a time, dredge both sides of each chicken breast lightly; shake off the excess (this is the pat like a baby part.) Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the pan, presentation side down, leaving at least 1-inch space around the cutlets. Saute until lightly golden brown, then turn and cook on the other side. (You may need to cook the chicken in 2 batches to avoid overcrowding.) Remove the chicken from the pan and place on the warmed platter. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven while you make the sauce. Pour off any excess oil. Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the rosemary and garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the stock and lemon juice, stirring to release any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (deglaze.) Allow the liquids to reduce to about 1 cup. Remove the pan from the heat, then swirl in the butter and parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken breasts; garnish with lemon wheels, parsley sprigs and serve immediately.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Special Treat!

Friday, my friend, Nevi, received these lovely Godiva cupcakes in the mail from her mom. She was so generous to share her Valentine's Day gift with us, and I must say, there's not much more that says, "Happy Valentine's Day!" to me than pink icing and chocolate cake!
They were almost too pretty to eat; almost, but not quite. We greedily shoved large luscious bites into our mouths. The buttercream was rich and creamy, as you would expect, but the chocolate cake was really moist and dense, almost brownie-like. They were so good!
So, even though I'm a fan of the little guy and your local bakery (of which, we have some really good ones in Atlanta now,) if you are ever in a pinch for something which will delight your loved one, and you can't get to the local bakery, have some of these sent over!
Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Best Sandwiches I've Had in Atlanta

My friend Wendy's Market Meal with Gumbo and a Turkey
Cobb Salad which she swears by!

Last year when my office was located in the Old Higland Bakery Building in Inman Park, I discovered Parish Food and Goods. Chef Nick Melvin brings his New Orleans heritage to Atlanta in a fresh and invigorating way. There is a strong emphasis on local ingredients which makes the restaurant an excellent fusion of Atlanta and New Orlean's cuisine.
The restaurant is excellent, and I have enjoyed several meals there. Brunch is really fantastic and the Bloody Marys are spicy
; prepared to be rolled out! However, my favorite part of the restaurant is the Market downstairs.
The Market at Parish has the best sandwiches I have ever had in Atlanta, and I might even go so far as to say, ever. Every single sandwich is outstanding. Some of my favorites are: the Fried Green Tomato BLT, the Corned Beef Reuben, and the Danish Roast Beef. The spicy remoulade on the Fried Green BLT perfectly compliments the crisp bacon and tangy green tomato, all sandwiched between grilled buttery bread. The Corned Beef Reuben introduced me to the scrumptious treat of warm briney meat and sour cabbage. The Danish Roast Beef is a lovely combination of thinly sliced roast, topped with thin crisp onion rings and jalepenos, finished with a blue cheese sauce. Three amazing sandwichs!

My Market Meal with Creamy Tomato soup, the Fried Green
Tomato BLT, with a yummy chocolate cookie, and homemade
crunchy pickles!

The best deal is to get the Market Meal. This is a sandwich off the market menu, a delicious chocolate chip cookie, and a cup of the daily soup. The creamy tomato is not to be missed! If you feel like Gumbo, Parish's recipe is a dark, rich, brothy version, with fresh rice, that is so good!
I am almost sad to share this with you all because I think that there will not be room for me if it gets any more popular, but a restaurant this good is not to be kept secret! Let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Brunch is My Favorite Meal

A few weekends back, when Georgia experienced a very rare ice storm, my husband and I decided to venture out to The Flying Biscuit in Candler Park. This is one of my favorite brunch places, and what's even better, they serve it all the time!
The Flying Biscuit has light and fluffy biscuits, with an amazing fruit butter, a scrumptious fried egg sandwich (the best I've had so far,) Sake Bloody Mary's, a surprisingly great combination, and one of my favorite dishes, Egg-Ceptional Eggs. This is a dish of black bean cakes, topped with a fried egg, and salsa and sour cream.
I was so inspired by the delicious dish, that I decided to make my own version, substituting black beans with chickpeas, and sour cream with greek yogurt. The results were great, and I hope you give it a shot!

Fried Chickpea Cakes

1 Small Onion, Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Can of Chickpeas
1/4 Cup of Flour
1/4 Cup of Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1/2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
2 Eggs
Hot Sauce to Taste
Frying Oil (Canola, Olive Oil, etc... Your Choice)
Greek Yogurt and Salsa for Topping

In a skillet, saute your onion, garlic, cumin and paprika in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Pour the onion/garlic mix into a blender with 1/2 can of the chickpeas, 1 egg, as much hot sauce as you'd like to add, the salt and pepper and pulse blend until the chickpeas are creamy, but not liquified.
Pour the blended mix into a bowl and add the flour and bread crumbs and the other half of the chickpeas. Mix together into a consistency to make patties, if it's still too messy, add some more bread crumbs; basically it needs to look like sticky cookie dough.
Warm your favorite frying oil in a skillet, and fry the chickpea cakes until golden brown. Set to the side, while you fry your egg to your favorite hardness. To serve, place a chickpea cake on the plate, top with the fried egg, and a good dollop of greek yogurt and salsa on the side. Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What's Not to Like About Gastropubs?

Since moving back to Atlanta from New York City, I have been on a quest to find food that is both affordable and amazing. Two years in, and I have not been let down; Atlanta's restaurant scene has improved exponentially since I left. The Porter Beer Bar is one of my favorite haunts. Run by former Seeger chefs, Nick Rutherford and Molly Gunn, the Porter is an amazing jewel shining in the rough. The beer list (though I don't drink beer, I can appreciate the artisanal efforts which go into the making) is hundreds long, and my favorite, they offer several ciders, especially Samuel Smith's Organic Cider, which is dry and appley.
The best thing about Porter is the amazing food at amazing prices. I love their black bean burger, piled high with feta, homemade pickled onions, and a delicious red pepper mustard. The arugula salad is a great combination of spicy, sweet and tangy, due to additions of sweet golden beets and creamy goat cheese.
But my favorite things about the Porter are the seasonal menu specials. A few times back, I had a chicken liver mousse terrine. The liver mousse was thick and creamy, and the bitterness offset by drizzled honey, to be spread on perfectly toasted crostini. Fantastic! I don't even really like liver that much, but this was a success. I really admire chefs who are returning to a holistic food approach: the whole animal is put to use, the ingredients are seasonal, condiments and sides are freshly made, etc, and chefs Nick and Molly go to extra lengths to offer that kind of food on their menu.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My New Found Love of Reubens

After a long week at work, there is nothing I find more delightful than taking the time in the kitchen to try out one of the many Food & Wine recipes I have ripped from their magazines. This past weekend, I decided to make my version of their Foccacia Reubens.
Reubens are new to me, as corned beef was not a very common sandwich meat in the South where I grew up, but recently, one of my favorite restaurants, Parish, opened my eyes to the spicy, flavorful joys of a well-made Reuben.

Here's my take on this delicious sandwich:

Foccacia Reubens

1/2 lb. Thinly Sliced Green Cabbage
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Loaf Foccacia
Sliced Smoked Gouda Cheese
1/2 lb. Corned Beef
2 Tablespoons UnSalted Butter
Tori's Remoulade (see recipe below)

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the vinegar, sugar and salt. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes. Heat a panini press or griddle. Slice Foccacia to desired sandwich size, spread the remoulade on both sides, layer one side with a layer of Gouda, followed by a layer of Corned Beef, followed by a mound of the cabbage, and topped once more with a layer of Gouda. Put the lid on the sandwich, and smear some softened butter on top and bottom. Place the sandwich in your hot pan and cook until the cheese is soft and gooey (about 6 minutes.) Enjoy!

Tori's Remoulade

1/4 cup Mayonaise
1/4 cup of Horseradish Mustard
1 Teaspoon Your favorite hot sauce (Mine happens to be from my favorite BBQ restaurant, Wallace's)
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Zest and Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Whisk all ingredients together briskly! Should keep in your fridge for a week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Iron Chef in My House Every Week

Today was our day for our weekly delivery of local, organic produce by Vegetable Husband. My husband and I have been looking for an organic local co-op to join for a long while, but the problem we had with most co-ops is that you have to pick up your food at a certain place and time each week. This is just not an option for our schedules. We work late, or have plans and almost always are running around like maniacs on the weekends trying to squeeze everything we couldn't do in the week into two short days.
Then, one magical day, last October, a colleague told my husband that she had found a local, organic co-op which delivers directly to your door! We joined almost immediately, and have found that we are not spending any more on produce than we were previously. Even though we joined in the winter months, we have been enamored with the variety of vegetables that have come our way. This week we have: sweet potatoes, sunchokes, carrots, roma tomatoes, collards, green peppers, kale, and thyme. And though the roma tomatoes and green peppers came from Florida, due to the hard frost we had this past week, everything else is from Georgia! It's an incredible feeling knowing that a large portion of your food is going directly to someone in your backyard.
So, this is sounding a bit like an ad for Vegetable Husband, but what I really want it to be is an ad for local farmers. Every week we are presented with this amazing basket of surprises from our home state, and it is a new and exciting challenge to figure out what to make for dinner. I never knew that broccoli greens were edible and delicious! They taste just like broccoli heads, but look similar to collards. I removed the stems and made one of the best broccoli casseroles I've ever had.
I'm very excited this week to have sunchokes; they are an amazing vegetable that you rarely see in your supermarket. They taste like an artichoke mixed with a potato. Slice them and saute them in butter and you will have an amazing treat. However, in fairness, I do get the occaisonal thing that I am not excited about, i.e. collards. Luckily, I can leave them all to my husband!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Burgers and Blais

When my brother was in town this holiday, we decided to stop by Flip Burger. I have been a fan of Richard Blais, creator of Flip Burger, since my uncle regaled me of his Tang concoctions, once tried at Blais' first Atlanta restaurant, the aptly named: Blais. My uncle also took me to One Midtown Kitchen for a Blais tasting menu, and mostly, I only remember that the experience was wonderful. I mean, who could go wrong with lamb lollipops?
It was a true joy to watch Blais' rise to the top on Top Chef; my husband and I were just devastated by his loss at the end, but couldn't wait to have him back in Atlanta. When we went to Home Restaurant, Blais' first restaurant venture post-Top Chef, we were both disappointed. The portions were huge and clunky, but also the food lacked the innovative Blais hallmarks, so we were just thrilled when he departed from Home and Flip was announced.

I should add a disclaimer here: I don't like hamburgers. In principal, I find it odd to grind something, only to smash it back together. 9 times out of 10, the results are flavorless and fatty. However, there are always exceptions to my rules. Star Provisions' fois gras burgers, for example, are completely amazing.
For our first Flip Burger experience, my aunt, Jeni, and her boyfriend, Justin, took my husband and I there for my husband's birthday. We couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more. Jeni and I both had a 5 Alive cocktail; a delicious, fruity gin mixture, which was a good pairing for my lamburger and fried okra. I finished the meal with the Krispy Kreme and Spicy Chocolate Mole milkshakes (split 2 ways.) The burger was fantastic. A moist, rich burger countered by tart yogurt sauce. The highlight of the meal for me was the Krispy Kreme milkshake. Imagine a delicious Krispy Kreme with a delectable thick, cream finish. Heaven.
I just couldn't wait to share the experience with my brother, who has grown up in fine foodie tradition, and appreciates all manner of food! I posted pictures of what we ordered below.

My brother, who is a pescatarian, had the crab burger and the homemade bread and butter fried pickles. The pickles were so scrummy (scrumptious and yummy!) Golden and crispy, sour and sweet all together!

I went for something non-traditional this visit, the tuna tartare burger with a sous-vide egg on top! The creaminess of the egg and avocado were a wonderful accompaniment to the briny tuna. It was a bit messy in burger form, but fun, nevertheless.

Our dessert treats: the pistachio-white truffle milkshake and the nutella and burnt marshmallow milkshake. My husband is a huge nutella fan and enjoyed this shake immensely. The pistachio was also amazing; it was definitely more pistachio than white truffle, if you're wondering, but the flavors were great together.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

This is a version of the soup which I made, but instead of finishing with parmesan, I topped it with some fried proscuitto and a creamy truffle foam. It was one of my favorite renditions.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Creamy Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

This first post is for my brother, Jake, and my friend Johnathan. They have both requested the recipe for the soup I cooked for our Christmas dinner this year.

1 Acorn Squash
6 Small Sweet Potatoes
2 Small Carrots (these are optional, but they add an extra sweetness)
4 Garlic Cloves
1 Onion
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Cup of Half and Half
1 Cup of Milk
2 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Tablespoons of Grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Quart of Water or Broth of Your Choice

Chop the onion and garlic cloves into small bits, saute in the olive oil. When onions are translucent, add the peeled squash and sweet potatoes (and carrots, if used,) which have been chopped into one inch cubes, into the pot. Pour in the broth or water. (I like to use organic free-range chicken broth if I have it; it adds a nice flavor note.) Bring the pot to a boil, reduce, and simmer until the vegetables are so soft that a fork slides neatly into them. Take off the stove, and use a stick blender to puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the cream and milk and butter (the butter adds a particular smoothness and richness to the soup,) and puree again. Check the seasoning once more before serving. Finish with a bit of the grated parmesan.

Serves about 6.

This is a great recipe that can be translated to many vegetables. My creamy tomato and carrot soup is another option which employs the same methodology. I hope you have fun experimenting. Please let me know how your recipes turn out!