Sunday, June 24, 2012

Southern Made Better at the Brookhaven Farmers Market

Saturday morning dawned clear and hot! Not too warm for the shoppers at the Brookhaven Farmer's Market, tho. A group gathered with me at 10 to share some ideas and samples about good cooking using local produce! Thanks to Manager Yusef from the Cooks Warehouse for asking me to the market - it was lots of fun.

As promised, here are the recipes we enjoyed.

Vidalia Onion Dip
Use this dip with chips, crudite and as a yummy sandwich spread! Slather it on a piece of the Fat Lady Baker's Ezekiel Bread, top it with a early ripe tomato and a couple of slices of avocado. Heaven on earth!

Vidalia Dip
2 Cups Water
1 Cup White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
4 Cups Thinly Sliced Vidalia Onions
1 Cup Light Olive Oil or Canola Oil Mayonnaise
1 Tsp Celery Seed
1 Dash Hot Sauce
1 Dash *Worcestershire Sauce
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

In a saucepan on high heat, bring the water, sugar and vinegar to a rolling boil. Put the onions in a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Place in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight. The next day, drain the liquid from the onions and add the mayonnaise, celery seed, hot sauce, Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste.

You'll need to chop a Napa Cabbage for this recipe - here's a quick video to help you chop it!

Not Grandmom's Coleslaw

I too, love the sweet sticky mayonnaise-y southern cole slaw that is often served with fried chicken and biscuits. Every once in a while - a dinner like that is a real treat. But for more-often-eating here's a wonderful coleslaw recipe that can even be a whole meal, topped with a little garam masala* rubbed grilled chicken or fish.

1 Head Napa Cabbage, Sliced
4 Carrots, Grated
1 Cup Sliced Green Onions
1/4 Cup Minced Jalepenos
1 Cup Quartered Grape Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Chopped Roasted Salted Peanuts
1 Recipe South Asian Salad Dressing
To make it a meal: Garam Masala Rubbed Chicken or Fish, Sliced

Step One
To make the salad, layer the cabbage, carrots, green onions, jalapenos and tomatoes on a large platter. Top with the peanuts and drizzle about 1/2 of the salad dressing on top - add more as desired. Arrange the chicken or fish on the salad. Serve, making sure to scoop up all the yummy ingredients for each person.

South Asian Salad Dressing
1/4 Cup Georgia Olive Oil (or other olive oil, canola or grape seed oil
2 TBs Rice Vinegar
Zest and Juice of 2 Large Limes
1 Tsp Garam Masala
¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 ½  TB Honey
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Whisk the ingredients together, and taste for salt and pepper.

*Garam Masala Rubbed Chicken or Fish
Garam Masala is a spice blend from India with fragarant spices like cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper. You can find garam masala in any grocery store. My favorite brand, though, is Modern Day Masala. Here’s a link to the website where you can find it! Modern Day Masala

Fresh Berry Parfait
Here’s a dessert to celebrate the season using fresh berries – and no additional sugar. Naturally sweet fruit needs no help, it shines all on its own!

½ Cup Chopped Walnuts and Almonds
1 Cup Regular Oatmeal OR Grapenuts OR a combination of both
2 Cups Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 Cup Chopped Strawberries and/or Cherries
1 Cup Blueberries
1 Cup Blackberries or Raspberries
1 Orange
Fresh Mint for Garnish

Step One
Spread the walnuts and oatmeal out on a sheet pan. Bake in a 400F oven for about 6 – 8 minutes, or until the mixture is golden and toasty. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Step Two
Place the fruit in a bowl. With a fork, lightly press the berries together to allow the juices to combine. Zest the Orange and Squeeze ½ of it into your berries.

Step Three
In a narrow parfait glass, layer the yogurt, then the berries and finally the oatmeal topping. Repeat and end with the topping, garnishing with a fresh berry and a sprig of mint.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sugarplums, Espresso Sea Salt Dusted Almond Chocolate Bark and other Dessert Treats

The Taste and Savor team was in the kitchen on Saturday, creating a luscious dessert buffet celebration. We love it when we can showcase sweets that are so tasty, you don’t even know they are better-for-you!

Among the recipes that we cooked up, one of the hands-down favorites was the Sugarplums. Because of their dark brown color and their deep rich taste, many eaters thought they were made with chocolate. Au contraire, Mon Amis! Check out the recipe below to see that they are tiny balls filled with flavor that are created with dried fruit and nuts, with just a little Grappa to pull all the yumminess together. Thanks to my recent trip to South Africa and a wonderful visit to Dalla Cia I had the perfect Grappa to add to the mix.

You know, Grappa is made from the seeds, stems and skins of the grapes – but most often the Grappa we find in the store is just a mish-mash of different varieties. It’s simply not true about George’s Dalla Cia Grappa – this is a smooth, silky combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, (could we call it a Bordeaux Grappa?), that slides down easily – especially with a fun dessert like the sugarplums.

And… speaking of chocolate, another fun dessert was one of our most-requested: Chocolate Bark. But this time we changed it up a bit, by adding toasted whole almonds and a sprinkle of Espresso Sea Salt. Need I say that one piece was not enough? When you make your chocolate bark, just make sure to use a really dark chocolate – over 60%. Check to see that it is not “dutch processed” or processed with alkali. When the chocolate is manufactured like this, you lose many of the antioxidants! We used salt from Dean and Deluca, but I think you could easily create your own by combining finely ground espresso and sea salt in a 1 to 3 ratio.

What else did we serve? Margarita Cupcakes from the Friday Four 080511, Mini Spring Fruit Cheesecakes 060112 and as take-away, Orange Oatmeal Cookies from the Taste and Savor Cookbook!

Espresso Sea Salted Dusted Almond Chocolate Bark

4 (3.5 OZ) 70 – 90% Dark Chocolate Bars (I like Lindt Chocolate)
½ Cup Toasted Whole Almonds
1 TB Espresso Sea Salt

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle the nuts and sea salt over the chocolate and place in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Break the bark into small pieces and serve.

½  Cup Pitted Dates
½ Cup Dried Apricots
½  Cup Pitted Prunes
1 ½  Cup Dried Cherries or Cranberries
1 ½  Cup Chopped Toasted Nuts, (Walnuts, Pecans or Almonds)
½ Cup Candied Ginger
3 TBs Lime Zest
2 TBs Grappa
½ Cup Raw Sugar

Place the dried fruit, nuts ginger and zest into the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped; add the grappa and pulse until combined and you can shape the mixture into 1” balls.

Roll the balls in the raw sugar and place on a parchment paper lined sheet tray. Let air-dry until no longer sticky about 2-3 hours.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A New Mouth to Feed: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

With a lighter than normal work schedule this week, I had great aspirations of productivity. I had hoped that lots of planned cooking and recipe testing, would produce some great meals for my family and of course a wonderful new recipe for my blog. Well, not too much cooking happened this week and as a matter of fact, I had a hard time even getting to the grocery store.  Happily, I can say that my lack of accomplishment in the cooking department was not a result of anything bad, but rather something wonderful.  And unexpected and welcome distraction in the form of a small, fuzzy bundle of love who needed a home.  My home.

 We welcomed this precious creature, "Charlie" into our home on Tuesday of this week and have spent the past couple of days getting acclimated to each other.  I wanted to share the story that lead me to this dog in need.

Exactly one week ago, Chef Nancy and I facilitated a hands on cooking class at the Cancer Wellness Center at Piedmont West.  It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of our regular participants better, learn from each other and share stories.  As the evening wound down, and our guests were saying their good-byes, Chef Nancy called me over to see a picture of a dog that had recently been rescued by a lovely couple called Cedric and Amanda, who frequent Cancer Wellness.  Nancy knew that I had started looking for a new dog, and also knew that my main criteria was fluffy, fuzzy, floppy eared, with a big black nose.  The dog in the snapshot was the perfect specimen, in my opinion. 

Cedric and Amanda, directed me to, where my kids and I poured over the pictures of many cuties who needed homes.  Several of the dogs we were initially interested in were adopted before we could make it over to the facility in Smyrna on Tuesday morning.  I was very impressed with the Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption center.  Friendly staff, immaculately clean, and many adorable animals who were waiting to find their forever homes.  Charlie (formerly known as Willis) caught our eye, as he looked remarkably similar to our wheaton terrier, who we lost at the end of last year.  The adoption process was easy, and within an hour, we were on the way home with the newest memeber of our family.

So as you can see, I have been happily distracted this week and mainly trying to mix up the perfect batch of kibbles for the new mouth that I have to feed.

I feel extremely grateful to have been a part of the wonderful class at Cancer Wellness last week, which was a fun and fullfilling evening in and of itself, but even more happy that being in the right place at the right time led us to Charlie.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Visit to Lee's Bakery: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

How could I not be intrigued by a bakery bearing my name?  Of course we will overlook the fact that their spelling of "Lea" is incorrect.  All jokes aside, I had been looking forward to trying Lee's Bakery for several weeks.  Lee's is a Vietnamese bakery specializing in the noodle soup, pho as well as traditional ban mi sandwiches. 

A plastic tray filled with an array of spicy condiments certainly peaked my interest as we sat down at our table to order.  I ordered a lunch special which included a grilled pork banh min and a copious bowl of beef noodle pho.  The banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, which translated, means "bread".  The bread they are referring to is a small baguette.  The sandwiches can be filled with tofu, fried eggs, chicken or more typically, pork.  The sandwiches are garnished with fresh cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon radish, cucumber slices, jalapenos and Vietnamese mayonnaise.  The condiments were so delicious that I could have eaten them as a sandwich on their own, no meat necessary.  I am somewhat remiss to admit that this was my first ever banh mi sandwich.  Not quite sure how I have gone all these years with out tasting one of these, but rest assured, I will be trying my best to make up for lost time.
 The second item in my lunch combo was a piping hot bowl of beef noodle soup called pho.  This may have been hands down, one of the best soups I have ever had.  The depth of flavor in the broth was amazing.  The soup had the effect of a warm elixer going down.  I immediately felt better after having a few spoonfuls, and mind you, I did not even feel bad prior. 
I left Lee's this afternoon with the warmth of hot chilis still tingling on my lips, and feeling exited about the new flavors I had discovered.  The next time a make a sandwich for lunch, I will be skipping my usual pickles, lettuce and tomato, and adding a little Vietnamese flair with sliced cucumbers, pickled veggies, fresh jalapeno and cilantro.

Lee's Bakery is located at 4500 Buford Highway NE, Altanta, GA 30345.