Psst….Did You Notice?

Psst….Did You Notice?

Well, did you? I mean that logo over there ===>; to your right. No look a little higher. Yeah, that one. Do you know what that means?  Of course you don’t.  I’m so silly. That logo means that I am a new member of the Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society.  I know you’re wondering what that has to do with you guys, the readers?  Well a lot. As a member, I gain access to events and opportunities that I can share with you. It also places me around likeminded people who offer support and share their knowledge. All of which helps to make me better as the Chef In Pearls. So it’s a win-win situation for us all. They have me on the team helping to share about the group and events, I get to do and see new things and you get to read all about the new memories made.

It has only been a few days and the opportunities have already began to roll in. I get to be apart of the media team for Atlanta’s inaugural Black Restaurant Week.  This will give me the chance to meet other Black chefs here in Atlanta, see some creativity and just enjoy myself. I mean it’s all done for the sake of the blog and you as my readers. Do you think I would do these things if it weren’t for you all? EXACTLY! I mean do you think Culinary Fight Club is something I want to go see simply because I plan to compete in 2018? Right, again. See I knew you’d understand.

The only thing I ask is for you guys to keep up with me on social media. You’ll be able to take in different events through my live streaming, tweeting, instagraming (is that an actual word, instagramming?), Facebooking and so much more. And there will be giveaways!!!! Tune in and follow me everywhere @TheChefInPearls.

 

So until next time

~The Chef In Pearls

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So I Had A Birthday and 45 Looks Good On Me

So I Had A Birthday and 45 Looks Good On Me

Forty-five years ago, in a hospital in Brooklyn, NY my mother gave birth to who you have all come to know as The Chef In Pearls.  I’ve shared that I am a born and bred New Yorker, who transplanted to Atlanta, Georgia. Here is a new factoid for you the readers: you need to know is that I LOVE a good birthday. They are a big deal to me as I look forward to them the way a shopaholic looks forward to a good sale. I mean, I just turned 45 and I’m already planning for my 50th birthday. As if I don’t have other birthdays between now and then. Don’t get me wrong I do plan on celebrating each and everyone until my 50th but I am extra excited about reaching that milestone age.

With that being said I had wonderful plans for my birthday. I wanted to celebrate for a week straight, something to do everyday. I thought about going to a local spa with several salt pools, doing a movie night, or even doing a 5k for charity. Yet as my birthday grew closer, I realized I really didn’t want to do those things anymore. I just wanted to have good vibes for my birthday. I wanted to be around people who would not only celebrate with me but would celebrate me. I knew my best friends of nearly 30 years wouldn’t be able to make it. We had already made plans to celebrate together later in the month. So I pulled out my trusty phone and crafted a text message that I sent out to a handful of friends. The response was want I wanted…yes I’ll be there.

What happened next brought me pure joy and happiness. Let’s start with the fact that my sous chef and friend, Linda Adamswithe, drove in from South Carolina to make me queen for the day. She said with that crown I could have anything my heart desired. What I desired was a menu of appetizing food. She helped me to craft and create a wonderful menu for what would become my birthday gathering. We made crackers from scratch, my recipe for marinated feta cheese crumbles, hummus, and marinated tortellinis — all in the name of a wonderful appetizer board. It was also filled with fruits, nuts, cheeses, dips, veggie and assorted sausages …it was just a beautiful site to see. Then Linda pulled out her bartender’s cap and created a Sangria that left everyone wanting more. But the piece de resistance were the grilled oysters that she pulled off so lovely. Not over cooked and served on a platter of kosher salt with lemon wedges and sriracha for those that needed a bit of spice in their life. Yeah I’d have to say…we did that!


Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the food we created I enjoyed having friends and family around even more. Turning 45 to some may be a thing they want to avoid. Not me, every chance I get to live a little more life I embrace it. I want to grow old and be able to look back through my memory files and smile a big smile. Birthdays are blessings from God and as long as She gives me breath I will continue to celebrate them.

What are somethings you like about celebrating birthdays? Do you have a tradition? Or do you wing it every year? Tell me your fondest birthday memories.

Until next time

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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Zucchini Fritters Anyone?

Zucchini Fritters Anyone?

It’s Summer time. Besides the warmer weather it means, at least to me, fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the major summer harvest items is zucchini. You can find them in so many varieties. The most common variety seen in the markets are the green zucchini. Those are the ones I used for this recipe but you can mix and match them if you want.  Please be aware that zucchini is one of the top 10 Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) produce in the U.S.  It’s important that you #KnowYourSource, so please support your local farmers and farmers’ markets.

In my last blog post I said i would share the zucchini fritters recipe I did at The Monroe Farmers Market. And as a woman of my word here we go. There are some very important things to note. It is CRUCIAL that you squeeze out as much liquid from the shredded zucchini as possible. If you don’t your fritters won’t come together properly as  there is too much liquid in ratio to the amount of flour.  Also don’t be afraid to add other things to your mixture. Some ideas are grated carrots or bacon bits, fresh herbs or try a different cheese. The options are limited to your imagination.

I don’t know if I have ever told you guys this but recipes are just guidelines. You can take away or add whatever you like to make the dish work the best for you.The only recipes that you have to follow a bit more exact are baking recipes. There is a science involved with baking recipes so those shouldn’t be fudged with much. Other than that have fun making changes and trying new things in a recipe

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS 

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
DIRECTIONS:Place grated zucchini in a colander over the sink. Add salt and gently toss to combine; let sit for 10 minutes. Using a clean dish towel or cheese cloth, drain zucchini completely.
In a large bowl, combine zucchini, flour, Parmesan, garlic and egg; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Scoop tablespoons of batter for each fritter, flattening with a spatula, and cook until the underside is nicely golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side, about 1-2 minutes longer.
Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious.
Now you’ve got the recipe. Your next step: go make some memories. Get a friend or family member, head out to your local farmers market for ingredients. With shopping complete, head back to the kitchen to whip up zucchini fritters and make lots of memories.
Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
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One Busy Week…It was all about the Food

One Busy Week…It was all about the Food

I have had one busy week. The best thing about it was that it was all about the food. I got to not only experience food but also share my passions about it. I guess any week that I can do what I love, no matter how busy it is, is a good week. I got to cook at High Hog Farms, teach children about diversity, faith, food and fasting and I did a demo at the Monroe Farmers Market.  Yeah I know a lot of work and hecka busy but I love what I do…now.

Once a month I cook for my friends’ , Warren & Keisha Cameron, at their High Hog Farm. Twice a month they host what is known as a farm day, where people can come help out on the farm and learn a few things about farming. If you didn’t know let me tell you now I am a city girl. I grew up in New York. Even though my Dad grew a lovely garden in our backyard that I helped out with,nowadays I really would rather cook the stuff that they raise, than help with the actual plants and animals.

It just so happened that my Saturday at the farm was just before Juneteenth, the celebration of African-American slaves learning of the Emancipation Proclamation, that had been signed nearly 2 and a half years earlier. Keisha asked if I could make something that would have traditional done for the celebration. In researching I learned so many things and came to appreciate some of the things I have come to take for granted in my kitchen. The simplicity of cooking.  With that came our menu, Senegalese Chicken Peanut Soup with Roasted Corn and Green Chili Cornbread. I found 2 recipes that I was drawn to only choosing one over the other because of time restraints but including some items from the second to help build depth of flavor. To say the least it was well received. The plus was being able to use fresh ingredients from the farm like onions and chicken they killed & cleansed the day before. It was such a memorable meal. You can find the recipe here . Please note that I included unsweetened coconut milk, the kind you find in the can. I also used the entire chcken and not just legs and thighs.

 

That Monday following my time at the farm I created my take on hoecakes in honor of Juneteenth. It was a simple cornbread recipe that I cooked on a griddle . It was to replicate how they were to have been made during slavery times. Stories have it that they were to have been made to cook on the metal part of a hoe, which isn’t factual. In actuality they were cooked on a griddle, also known as a hoe. Thus the name hoecakes.

A hoecake is cornbread made minimalist- a thin, unleavened round made from the simplest batter (cornmeal, water and salt), crisp at the edges, glistening on both sides from the fat it was fried in, golden in patches. Inside, it’s dense but creamy, a foil for its best partners- creamed corn, silky braised greens, honey. A hoecake should be sturdy enough to work as a shovel for whatever is on the plate, but delicate enough to be appealing on it’s own.

By that definition my hoecakes were a bit of a fraud but I plan to tackle making some more authentic ones on another day.

One Busy Week

My take on Hoecakes

From Monday to Wednesday I worked on menus for potential clients, creating visions through food. Then Thursday was another big day for me. I was asked to discuss diversity and similarity through faith and food with a group of young people. Fasting unites us all. How? You see every night we fast until our next meal, breakfast. Or the breaking of the fast. With that thought we explored the similarities between faiths in regards to fasting and feasting at it’s end. Christians have Lent ending with Easter Dinner, Muslims have Ramadan ending with Eid al-Fitr and Jews have Passover and the Seder supper. We could have gone on with more but they started to see how alike we are even in our differences. And of course we had to end with breaking bread, literally every child broke a piece of naan with me to show our camaraderie.

 

My week ended with me doing a food demo at the Monroe Farmers Market. Yes I was back to teaching the masses again. This time in the midst of fresh fruits and veggies and under a lovely white tent. It was all good until the rain decided to stop by. Know this, rain can’t stop me from cooking. even with the rain thinning out the crowd and vendors starting to pack up I still managed a good group and continued on with what I do best…cook. I know the next question is where’s the recipe? Well next blog post will have all the details on how to make zucchini fritters.

Busy weeks are the best for making memories. With the week I had you know I have plenty of memories. Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your busy week and what memories you’ve made.

Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

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Exclusive Party of One…Fried Rice

Exclusive Party of One…Fried Rice

You just got home from work. It’s been a long day and a longer day in traffic. No energy to hit the supermarket yet you know that you still have to eat. You open the fridge only to realize there isn’t very much there. White rice leftover from the Chinese food you ordered earlier in the week. There are a few eggs, half of an onion, carrot matchsticks for the salads you never made for lunch, a partially used head of broccoli and  the doggy bag of shrimp from the blind date you went on last night( we won’t even talk about the disaster that was). Back to the problem at hand–you are tired, hungry  and over your eating out budget (remember you never made those salads for lunch this week). You pull all your ingredients out and place them on the counter. You start to wonder what it is you can make with all these bits and pieces. And then you have an AHA moment…Fried Rice.

 

It’s an easy fix to your problem. It’s a matter of prep work and using a hot pan. Below is an easy Fried Rice recipe that you can tweak to include anything you want or can find in your fridge. If you want more vegetables, add more vegetables. Maybe you want chicken and shrimp, bok choy and water chestnuts. Remember that recipes are just guidelines. Use it to create your very own special fried rice.

 

Fried Rice

 

2 TBSP canola oil

1 egg beaten

½ small onion diced

¼ cup  carrots cut up

¼ cup broccoli cut up and blanched*

¼ -½ cup of your chosen protein

½ cup leftover cooked rice

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

½ – 1 TBSP  soy sauce

¼ tsp black pepper

¼  tsp sesame oil

kosher salt

 

Heat 1 TBSP oil in nonstick frying pan. Add pinch of salt and sesame oil to beaten egg. Add egg mixture to hot pan. Allow to cook without disturbing, 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into strips. Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add carrots, broccoli and your protein and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Gently move the vegetables and protein to the edge of pan. Add the rice to the center of pan followed by the ginger, soy sauce (this well give the rice that nice brown color you are used to seeing as well as sodium for taste). Combine all the ingredients in the pan, adding the egg strips in. Finish the rice off with a drizzle of sesame oil for more flavor. Remove from heat and plate.

 

Viola! Dinner is done in less than 30 minutes and you didn’t have to leave the house or further damage your food budget. This calls for a celebration. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get cozy in the sofa and enjoy your fried rice. This is definitely an #ExclusivePartyOfOne.

Exclusive party of One Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice

 

*The word blanch refers to a cooking technique in which food is briefly immersed in boiling water or fat.

Blanching vegetables softens them just enough so that they can then be quickly cooked over high heat, such as in a stir fry, where a short time in the pan wouldn’t be enough to soften them, but cooking them longer would tend to overcook the other items in the pan.

 

Definition from http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm
Here’s a tip for you. The best way to store ginger is to freeze it. It lasts longer and is easier to grate on your microplane.

 

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The Chef’s Table…Chef Nick Walker

The Chef’s Table…Chef Nick Walker

 

I was recently invited to eat at The Chef’s Table by the lovely members of The Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society.  Yeah I felt kind of special. I mean it’s not everyday you get invited to partake of a Chef’s Table and at The Cobb Galleria Center, nonetheless. Well at least I know I don’t.  Chef Nick Walker was inspired by the beers at Monday Night Brewing, a local craft brewery here in Atlanta. What we were presented with was nothing less than amazing. Chef Nick Walker makes me want to create an event at Cobb Galleria Center just to see what fabulousness (yes that is an actually word) he would create for me & my guests.

A little background on Chef Nick Walker so you understand a little bit about his ability. He graduated from Art Institute of Atlanta, magna cum laude at that with a BS. He went on to cook in many different kitchens across Georgia. He has even worked with the infamous Food Network. Looks like he may know a thing or two about food if they hired him. In addition to working for the Cobb Galleria Center he teaches at Kennesaw State University. I guess we can say he has his food credentials in order.

Enough about him. Let’s get to what this post is really all about….FOOD! Not any food. Well thought out and very creative food. I walked away not only completely stuffed from this meal but also inspired. He made me want to go home and create on levels I hadn’t before. I have a new appreciation for beer ( still not my favorite drink but at least I’m learning what I do and do not like). I present to you The Chef’s Table at The Cobb Galleria Center…

 

Please bear with me because I managed to end up with no picture of our first course. First Course – Amuse Bouche  Ginger Crab Fritter with Spicy Banana Puree paired with  Fu Manbrew_Belgian Style Wit.  As a consolation there is a cute picture of me eating it. I hope that makes up for that missing picture of that dish.

The rest of these pictures will be plentiful and decadent looking. Be forewarned …you may want to lick your screen but please refrain from doing anything of that nature. If you click the pictures there are descriptions of each dish attached.

What would the night be without people. They helped to make the night fun and enjoyable, from staff to my fellow bloggers.

This was a wonderful experience that left me with beautiful memories. These are not experiences you can have of your own. Many restaurants offer the option of a Chef’s Table, check out their websites or call and find out. It’s a chance to try things not on the menu that the chef has crafted to show their talents and creativity. It will be something memories are made from. Click here to check out The Cobb Galleria Center for all your event needs from board meetings to large conventions. And click here to check out all the beers Monday Night Brewing has going on. Have you ever eaten at a Chef’s Table before? If so share in the comments below.  Now go forth and make memories.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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NEGLECT

NEGLECT

 

Ne-glect

verb. fail to care for properly

noun. the state or the fact of being uncared for

Had my blog been a child, the state would have swooped in and taken her from me already.Neglect is a serious matter. I have left this blog uncared for, not tended to, the bottom line is she was N.E.G.L.E.C.T.E.D. I want to hang my head in shame but I will not. You see everything happens for a reason. The reason I had to neglect this blog is because I was busy trying to make greatness happen within my life. And to be able to do that required me to lay some things to the wayside. With my youngest graduating high school in less than a week and half,  quitting my part time gig, and following my passion of cooking I needed to regroup and get some things in order.

So I throw myself at the mercy of my readers. I ask for forgiveness for my transgressions. Allow me the opportunity to provide you with all the wondefulness of food and fashion. Let me share with you my journey down my rabbit hole of life, filled with new adventures everyday. I don’t normally make promises but I will make an exception to that rule. (As I raise my right hand and place my left on the bible) I promise to do better in keeping you in the loop of all things The Chef In Pearls.

I want us to enjoy new restaurants, recipes and fashion that will bring some much needed color to our lives. I cannot wait for us to connect over food and fashion and life in general. Making and sharing memories we create. We’ve got to remember that neglect isn’t good for either of us. So I’m going to need more comments from you all. And more follows on social media. And just more of US on a whole so that we can become better overall. So now that we have moved on from my neglect, let’s move forward and make wonderful memories together.

Until next time!

The Chef In Pearls

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The Red Phone Booth…Atlanta Speak Easy

The Red Phone Booth…Atlanta Speak Easy

Who isn’t drawn to a bit of mystery and intrigue? I cannot deny that I love a little mystery here and there. It makes life a little more interesting. So when given the chance to visit a speak easy located in downtown Atlanta, I was game. I was told to head to The Red Phone Booth. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched any old gangsta movies. You know, the ones where in order to get into the club you had to know the secret password. Well The Red Phone Booth is just like that. It’s open to the public. You just have to know someone who has gone before or has membership to give you the password. Thank God for knowing people! When you arrive you step inside a red phone booth, similar to the ones you used to see scattered throughout London. You dial in the secret code and voila the door opens for you.

Once the door opens, you enter into a dimly lit room with vignettes of leather clad sofas and chairs. There were large coffee tables nestled amongst them, giving the room a very manly feel. As you step a little further in, you see a full bar along the back of the room, where bartenders are busy crafting specialty drinks for the patrons. Then you notice the smell of smoke in the air, but not caused by trendy hookahs. This is the scent of cigars, slow burning being enjoyed by guests. Yes, this not your average bar or lounge. It’s more. It’s an experience.

During the visit, there was the chance to sample drinks while noshing on Beef Carpaccio and Oysters on the Half Shell. Can I make a confession? For all of the cooking and such I have done, I have never eaten an oyster on the half shell. I mean I’d eat Oysters Rockefeller all day long but an actual raw oyster . . . never. Well not until The Red Phone Booth. You know what? I actually liked it. Not bad for a first.

I would recommend The Red Phone Booth to anyone who doesn’t want to do the everyday bar scene. It’s full of history, great drinks, and a wonderful atmosphere. While you are there make sure to check out Amalfi’s located above the speak easy. The restaurant boasts two wood burning ovens that reach temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees. The heat allows them to bake pizza in less than a minute’s time. I really enjoyed their pizza crust. Let me know what you think about the pizza if you check them out.

 

Here are two places you can head out to and make memories. Do think you are up for a little mystery and intrigue?

Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

P.S. The images in the Red Phone Booth are dimly lit because I wanted you to get a feel for the atmosphere…Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find the flash on my camera. I now know where it is.

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Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Valentine’s Day Giveaway

With the New Year comes new thoughts, needs and demands. I was pretty quiet for the month of January because I was busy getting things in order for my return to the kitchen. That’s right The Chef In Pearls will be available for private cooking events. You can now have me in your personal kitchen whipping up your every heart’s desires. I’ve got another announcement that is sure to make your Valentine’s Day even better.

To help spread the word of my return to the kitchen I have joined forces with a few good people I have come to know  to do a Valentine’s Day Giveaway. Miss Loren Browne, of Dating with Passports , has the Valentine’s Day low down on dating in the states and abroad. Then there is Miss Kym Edwards, of Naughty Goddess, that brings out that alter ego in all of us with her lingerie and adult novelties. Finally we have Miss KaSundra Anderson, of Nail Spa Haven, providing all your nail pampering needs. The prizes for the giveaway includes an E-Gift card from Naughty Goddess, a manicure from Nail Spa Haven and Chef services in your kitchen for you and your special some one from The Chef In Pearls. My services to the winner will include a phone consultation to create a menu,  a grocery list of items to create menu and then come over to cook for you and your special someone. Can it get any better than this? I don’t think so. All you have to do is enter  thru the below Rafflecopter. A winner will be chosen randomly and notified at the end of the contest. So hurry up and enter and don’t forget to tell a friend.

Now you can have me be a part of your memory making. Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Season Has Ended…No More Pumpkin

The Season Has Ended…No More Pumpkin

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. It was a day to sit and make memories with our family and friends. We ate turkey with all the expected, loved and tasty trimmings. For some families that includes a decadent pumpkin pie.Thanksgiving’s arrival and departure means more to me than just the closure of a wonderful gathering. It means we can say goodbye to the almighty pumpkin. Yes you read that right. We no longer with pumpkin flavored anything. No more PSL.. you know…Pumpkin Spice Latte. No more pumpkin bread or pumpkin flavored ice cream It comes to a screeching halt. And I do a dance of glee.

While the rest of America was going crazy over the pumpkin , I was paying homage to the apple. Yes, apple. I’m sure the first thing that pops into your mind is the great American Apple Pie. A favorite for sure but the apple helps to create tons of memories. I have made apples cooked in a caramel sauce eaten with pancakes, apple butter used to make a glasze for pork belly sliders, apple stuffed baked french toast, apple dumplings served a la mode, a grown up version of an ice cream float made with hard cider (you can watch the video here). There is NO end to what can be done with the great apple. Sweet or savory the apple stands up to a variety of uses.

Since the weather is getting colder I wanted to share a recipe that would be great for family gatherings or spiked for an adult  get together, Hot Apple Cider. Now this is more than just warmed up apple juice. When done right it is a mug of warmth filled with just the right amount of spice to make your whole body yield to relaxation. The power of the mug is amazing. And with the adult additions….well you can only imagine how mellow it can become.

Hot Apple Cider

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 apple, cut into slices
  • 1 orange, cut into slices
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice

Add cider along with apple and orange slices to a large pot. Add the rest of ingredients into a large tea ball (making sure to break cinnamon sticks in half to fit in ball). Add to tea ball to pot and bring to a simmer for at least 30 minutes on the stove top.  Then serve with fresh apple slices or maybe a few pieces of clove in a mug. If you want to make it an adult version add a shot of your favorite spiced rum or maybe a shot of caramel vodka for caramel apple hot cider to each mug.

Now that you have this recipe I want you to go forward and make plenty of memories with it.

Until next time,

~The Chef In Pearls

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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