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.