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!