Food Archives - The Chef In Pearls

Season’s 52…A Tasting

Season’s 52…A Tasting

Yay we are already on to tasting number two of the new year. If you hadn’t gotten a chance to read about our first tasting, check it out right here. Our newest tasting took place at Season’s 52 and on a FRIDAY.  Let’s just say we really appreciate them accommodating us on such a busy night. By now you guys should already know who’s dining with me. The other half of the Dynamic Duo, Rochelle Wharton of Culinary Vegg Out & Lifestyle. We also brought along a guest. Let me introduce to you Shana of the blog, Technotini. It was a pleasure having her join us. Now onto our scheduled tasting.

We knew it would be a little rough doing a tasting on a Friday night. Everyone had been locked away earlier in the week due to the snow and ice that took over our city of Atlanta. That Friday would be the first night everyone was able to safely take to the street. I feel like a good portion of them ended up at Season’s 52. Even with all the added people, the staff was pleasant and welcoming. Once seated we got to meet our server for the night, Brittany. She was awesome, fun-loving, and knowledgeable.

We started our dinner off with . . . you guessed it cocktails! I know you thought I was going to say appetizers. We ordered appetizers as well, but first, cocktails. I had the the Hawaiian Cosmos, Shana the Basil Smash and Rochelle had the New Old Fashion. Can I tell you that I think that this is my new favorite cocktail? I knew that i would return here, if for nothing else, for this drink. Our appetizer selections started with the Roasted Roma Tomato Flat Bread. Great for those looking for a vegetarian appetizer. Their menu carries a few things that are vegetarian friendly. We also ordered the Buffalo, Spinach & Brussel Sprouts dip that came with Sesame Crackers. I loved the concept of the dish, but the gorgonzola cheese over-powered the taste of everything else in it.  Our final appetizer was the Stuffed Mushroom – filled with lump crab meat, roasted shrimp and spinach. I liked it for those possibly looking for a pescatarian option.

We had so many options for our entree choices, either something from the”Sea” or the “Pasture”. It took a minute to arrive at our decisions.  Rochelle chose the Boneless Grilled Rainbow Trout with Crushed Potatoes and Heritage Carrots and a side of Roasted Brussels Sprouts (minus the applewood bacon). The trout was moist and tasty; not dry which can easily happen when being grilled. Having brussels sprouts prepared with the balsamic glaze gave me a new preparation idea I could add to my arsenal.  Shana had the Caramelized Scallops with Butternut Risotto, Broccolini and Lemon Butter. I enjoyed the smokiness they achieved with grilling the scallops and the risotto wasn’t too al dente which I greatly appreciated. The risotto made me think about Chef Ramsey’s show “Hell’s Kitchen”. I wondered if anyone was sent home from the kitchen for not getting it right before this properly executed dish was presented to our table. Go figure the things that go through my mind sometimes, LOL!  I decided to order the Boneless Short Rib with Stone Ground Grits and Heritage Carrots. The beef was so tender and the grits ever so tasty. I didn’t even attempt to finish my entree because I knew that dessert was next. I wanted to be able to sample something, even if I had to box it up to finish the next day with a cup of tea.

JUST before dessert we got to meet Austin, one of the bartender’s that works at the Buckhead location of Season’s 52. He was a wealth of knowledge, not just about drinks, but food and drink pairings, and some of the ins and outs of Season’s 52. He arrived at our table not empty handed, but came with cocktails for us to sample. I had a wonderful video of him pouring and schooling us about the drinks but my smartphone sent them along with my pictures to some unknown place (please know that I am still getting over this). All the pictures seen here are courtesy of Rochelle, solidifying that it’s a good thing to have a blogging partner. They come in handy during times like these.

Brittany, our server, arrived at the table with the perfect dessert for us. It was an assortment of dessert shooters with something for everyone.  There was key lime, pecan pie, chocolate s’more, mocha macchiato, chocolate peanut butter torte and carrot cake shooters. I mean if we couldn’t find something we liked something was definitely wrong with us. Unanimously the pecan pie won prizes with us. The mocha macchiato and the chocolate s’more (minus the meringue) followed for me. The best thing about their desserts is their size. You can never over do it because it comes as a shooter . . . unless you order more than one.

My time at Season’s 52 was good. Being able to hang with a new blogger added to my memories. When you get a chance hit Season’s 52 up and let me know what you had and how you liked it. Now go forward and make memories.

Until next time,

~The Chef In Pearls

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New Year…New Tasting

New Year…New Tasting

 

What better way to start the New Year off than with a tasting? I mean it is only fitting that I would greet you guys with a new place to check out. I know everyone else is running around making New Year resolutions and stuff but let’s be honest. For most that list may have lasted a week, if that long. Me? I am a goal setter. So one of the goals I have set is to have more tastings, so that I may share them with you. Give you new places to go visit and make new memories. With that being said the latest tasting comes to us courtesy of Caren West PR and The Room at Twelve.

With the temperature drop that happened the day of our tasting, I was more than happy to leave Petty Betty with valet. God bless valet parking! With a short walk from my car to the lobby of Twelve, I met Rochelle at the bar. Dan Whitaker, the manager of Room, offered us cocktails to start our evening off. He suggested a cosmo for me since I like vodka with a little bit of sweet. Great choice! After a few sips and a little bit of chatting on our part, Dan whisked us off to our table. Once seated we met our server for the night, Taylor. He was fun and full of suggestions. We started our meal off with appetizers:  a crab cake, acompanies by a very lovely cucumber and tomato salad, as well as fried calamari with sambal syrup and wasabi aioli. The crab cake was tasty and I loved the presentation. However, I felt like the crab meat was broken up too much and didn’t get a chance to show off the nice lumps of crab I was looking for. The calamari was perfectly cooked. We all know what overcooked calamari is like, nothing worse than seafood bubblegum. Even though the calamari was perfectly cooked, I was a little taken aback by how sweet the sambal syrup made the dish. I was expecting it to be spicy with a hint of sweet, but it cancelled out some of the spicy I had been anticipating. Other than that I thought the appetizers were very much on point.

For our entrees Rochelle had the Pan Fried Georgia Trout served with Cranberry & Apricot Couscous and Asparagus.  Her fish was spiced with tumeric and had a nice crisp to it with a moist flaky inside. The simplicity of the fish paired so well with the couscous that a little more going on. I loved how the flavors of the butter and garlic stood out and was soften by the sweet of the dried fruit. I would order that the next time around. For my entree I ordered the Grilled Lamb with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus. My lamb was very tender and tasty, the chef paired a sauce that helped with the gameness often associated with lamb.  Although Rochelle isn’t one for a sweet sauce, I thought it worked great with my meal. It even made the garlic mashed potatoes shine a little more along with the asparagus. Overall I’d recommend the lamb to anyone to try.

What meal would be complete without dessert? Chef Huerta out did himself with his presentation of our desserts. I almost didn’t want to eat my dessert. Almost. Believe you me I did eat dessert. I mean I ate what I could and boxed the rest up to enjoy the next day. Rochelle had the Apple Crumb Cake, which came out warm and moist. I wish the whole cake could have been the edge because that’s where the happiness lived in this dessert. It was nice and buttery and left you wanting more. Now, anyone that knows me knows I love a good chocolate cake. Hell I have a Pinterest board dedicated just to chocolate cake. A little obsessive? Maybe but when you love a thing you just love a thing. So I had to order the Flourless Chocolate Cake. I have had flourless chocolate cakes before that were too eggy and not enough chocolate. This cake, on the other hand, was neither. It was light with layers of cake and ganache sandwiched perfectly together. It was served with vanilla ice cream which made me dance in my seat a little. Both desserts were winners all around. Neither dessert was too sweet and the plating made you want to eat it even more. If you don’t believe me, the pictures will speak for themselves.

 

My time at Room at Twelve was very memorable. And you guys know how I feel about making good memories. When you are in the metro Atlanta area, make sure you check out Room. It’s a great place for memory making. Now get off my blog to go forward and make memories.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls.

P.S. The interior of this restaurant is very hip an chic but my favorite room they have is the fish bowl. It seats up to 14 people and can be reserved with a call. It has an all glass wall with windows with a view of the busy Atlanta cityscape. If you plan to have a large group ask for this room, trust me you won’t be disappointed.

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Not Too Late…Five Restaurants to Try before 2018

Not Too Late…Five Restaurants to Try before 2018

Okay Christmas is out of the way. Now to focus on the the start of the New Year – 2018. Hold on, we have a whole week, actually less than 7 days until the new year.  Why not put those days to use by trying out one of my fave five restaurants in the Atlanta area? Eating at one of these five restaurants will give you a chance to connect with family and/or friends you may not have seen for Christmas. It’s  holiday magic waiting to happen! Good eats with good folks is sure to equal good times.

My five choices, in no particular order, are:

  1. Bar Margot – located in the Four Seasons Hotel on 14th Street. From the moment you arrive it is impeccable service. The valets are gracious and everyone you meet as you move to your seat is divine. It only gets better the longer you stay. The food is great and the staff extremely knowledgeable. If you think I’m joking try them. They can suggest substitutions on so many things, if there is something you may not eat or isn’t a part of your dietary needs. And as luck would have it, they are hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration. Click the link to find out more about it www.BarMargotAtl.com Hey make sure you try the huckleberry cheesecake while there. And tell the executive pastry chef, LaSheeda Perry, I sent you over.
  2. Agave – located in Cabbagetown on Boulevard. This restaurant is one you could easily drive by, as I had done so for years!! DO NOT pass this one up. It offers an eclectic Southwestern menu that is sure to tickle your tastebuds. I highly recommend you try the Stuffed Mountain Trout Tomatillo: fresh Georgia mountain trout stuffed with crawfish, mushrooms and onions; served over Spanish rice with a roasted tomatillo sauce. YES! Check them out, www.agaverestaurant.com 
  3. STK – Can I tell you a joke? I never understood why they named the restaurant STK, until I actually visited their website. Duh! STK is a steakhouse. Yeah, I get it now. You know what else? They are good at more than just steak. They make some mean seafood too. You can read my review on the restaurant right here. If you haven’t made plans for NYE they have something going on that night. Check it out www.togrp.com
  4. P.S. 404 – One of my favorite concepts for a restaurant, the place reminds you of a classroom. There is everything from microscopes, menus made to look like composition notebooks, giant sized jenga and they have Recess that lasts more than the usual 1 hour we were has as kids.(Happy Hour from 3-6pm Monday-Friday). The menu item that I enjoyed the most was their Fried Chicken and Green Chili Cornbread Waffles with Red Eye Gravy . . . heavenly. Which leads me to their weekend brunch menu. Along with my favorite, they offer a great menu. I mean who can go wrong at brunch with your favorite people? Check out their site www.psontap.com
  5. Tacos & Tequilas- Everyone loves Mexican food, right? The food here tastes as if they have an abuela cooking in the back. The food is always nicely seasoned and the margaritas are good. On certain nights they have live entertainment. You can’t go wrong with the Chimi Rita, a meat stuffed flour tortilla deep fried and served with beans, rice and the usual trimmings. If you don’t have a good time there then you’re just an unhappy person. Visit their site at www.tandtatlanta.com 

I hope you decide to use the last few days of 12017 as a time to create some wonderful memories. It is the one thing I have always encouraged you to do throughout the year. I plan to visit more restaurants and share my experiences on them in the coming New Year. Together with sharing my life as the Chef in Pearls, I look forward to 2018 and the new memories it will bring. As always, go forth and continue to make new memories.

Until next time…

~ The Chef In Pearls.

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A Quickie…The Round-Up

A Quickie…The Round-Up

There are so many places I have not gotten a chance to share with you.  I’m sure if you are keeping up with my social media platforms you have seen pictures of me here, there and what seems to be everywhere. Instead of making a few blog posts, I have decided to do a round up. Not trying to flood anyone’s inbox. So where do I start on this round-up?

Agave. I have driven past this restaurant for way too many years. Always saying one day I will try it out. Well that one day finally happened. And boy was I more than happy with that choice! Agave is self described as “an eclectic southwestern eatery and tequila bar” located in the Cabbagetown area of Atlanta. Taken straight from what it says on their website. Let me tell what Agave is to me. It is Honey, Cider, Smoked Bacon Collard Greens that makes you wish the chef was your Abuela, even though it’s a guy. It is Southwestern Mac & Cheese that will have you thinking that the Western part of the United States could hangout with you in rural Georgia and not be condemned for being a different kind of mac & cheese. The Barbacoa & Chorizo Chile Taco makes you want to write a letter to Taco Bell and ask them why not strive harder. The Stuffed Mountain Trout Tomatillo makes you want to grab your fishing pole, go fishing in the Georgia mountains, and grow your own tomatillos. What I had that night made me rave to every person I came in contact with. I just want to go back again and again.

Taste of Atlanta. I have always wanted to attend food festivals but never have. Go figure. Taste of Atlanta is just what it sounds like. It’s a chance to sample (via purchased tickets) dishes from some really great restaurants from the metro Atlanta area. There are also chances to meet and taste samples from large food companies like Goya and Smithfield. There were even demos and cooking classes by some of the best chefs in the city. My two favorite things from this event was getting to meet, talk with and take a picture with one of my new favorite chefs in Atlanta: Chef Richards of Richards Southern Fried. The other one was getting to taste Revolution Gelato. Why was that such a big deal for me? Well this was non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk and cashews. Had I been blindfolded I would not have been able to tell the difference. It was so good I had to rejoin the line for a second go round.

Twelve Eighty. This restaurant is adjacent to The Woodruff Arts Center and across from The High Museum. It is quite a good spot to be for those of us that like to spend the afternoon strolling among the art or taking in a play. The atmosphere pulls you in but the food makes you want to come back again. My bloggers group was invited to the restaurant’s Fall menu tasting. I mean who doesn’t like a chance to sample food and spirits. I was there with bells on. Since I had a plus one I invited my friend, Kenya Freeman, now of Project Runway fame. It was such fun for us to hangout a little, since we both have busy schedules. They offered everything from  apps to salads to sandwiches and unforgettable entrees. There is something for everyone. The staff is memorable. We got to meet and interact with the general manager, the maitre’d, executive chef, pastry chef and the wonderful waitstaff. You couldn’t ask for more. Please check out Twelve Eighty the next time you find yourself in midtown Atlanta, whether you ar taking in the art scene or not.

There are a few more places I have been honored to visit in the last month or so. However, they require more room to share than in a round-up. As always I made some great memories. Now go forward and make some new memories of your own.

Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

 

 

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STK Atlanta…It’s More Than Just Steak

STK Atlanta…It’s More Than Just Steak

I have a general rule of thumb when ordering in restaurants. You don’t go to a steakhouse and order fish. I mean it’s a steakhouse. Which means they have mastered the art of cooking a great steak. I wouldn’t go to Nathan’s and order fried chicken. Nathan’s is known for their beef hot dogs. Which illustrates my point. STK Atlanta has become the exception to that rule in my book. In my opinion, their chef has mastered the art of cooking and boy did it show!

This past Monday my blogging partner, Rochelle Wharton, and I were invited to STK Atlanta to enjoy their newly launched Malbec Mondays. Customers can enjoy the paring of a half price bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec when they order a steak. It available at their other U.S. locations as well including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Orlando.

STK Atlanta screams S.E.X.Y. From the moment you walk in the door, you are greeted by a lovely hostess. As you step in a little further there is a lounge that has a beautifully curved sofa with its back against the large floor to ceiling windows. Through the windows you get a peek of the busy Atlanta street outside the restaurant. As I sat waiting on the sofa, the view was of the extensive bar with the wildest art seeming to protrude from the wall. It all works so well together. Once Rochelle arrived we were seated. The ambiance of the dining area was perfect for a date night with low lighting and a lit votive on the table. I’m going to keep this place in mind whenever I am asked out on a date.

Enough about the look of the restaurant. Let’s get to why I feel like STK Atlanta is the exception to one of my restaurant ordering rules. As we were guests of the restaurant, our menu was pre-selected by our wonderful server Adam. SN: When you make your reservation with STK Atlanta make sure to ask for Adam as your server. He is knowledgeable about the menu and happy to make suggestions or explain why he prefers one item over another.

Adam started us off with the bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec. Now I am not much of a red wine drinker, but once Rochelle gave me an impromptu red wine drinking lesson, I not only liked but actually enjoyed drinking it.  Our next arrival was the obligatory bread plate. The difference between STK and the average eatery bread was we indulged in a pull-apart bread brushed with bleu cheese butter and served with a chive dipping oil. Yes, imagine that in your mouth! Exactly! Your taste buds waking up from its unknown slumber. While we drank wine and noshed on bread, Adam began to bring out our starters, including a Baby Gem Lettuce Caesar with herb croutons and grated parmesan reggiano. The salad was great especially if you’re a cheese lover because it was loaded with parm.The dressing was authentic caesar as you could taste the hint of anchovy in it. That was followed by the Bigeye Tuna Tartare with Hass avocado, soy-honey emulsion and taro root chips. The combination of fresh fish and the soy-honey emulsion made my taste buds sway from side to side as it took notice of all the flavors.  Last but most definitely not least was the Lil’ Brgs made of wagyu beef topped with a special sauce encased in sesame seed buns. In my experience, most places mess up the sliders they carry because they end up being over cooked but not in this case. The beef was tender and flavorful and cooked to mini perfection. At this point STK Atlanta had won me over but I knew there was more to come. Anything could happen between now and the end of the meal.

What did happen next helped to put a dent in my theory of not ordering fish in a steakhouse. Adam brought us our entrees.  Rochelle had the King Salmon presented with fregola, succotash, corn puree and red endive jam. What made this dish for me was the fact that the salmon was perfectly cooked.  It was flaky, moist and most importantly expertly presented. Now don’t get me wrong, all the other components of the dish went well with the salmon which made it all the more enjoyable. After sampling this dish I had no doubt in my mind that my steak would be up to par. I received a little surf and turf action, the filet with 2 seared scallops and an au poivre sauce. It was spot on!! Cooked to the right temperature for me (medium) and oh so tasty.

All told STK more than killed my little personal restaurant rule of thumb. They managed to not only present seafood on three different levels and get it right, but they still showed me that they are truly a steak house. If you’re looking for an upscale restaurant with great service, wonderful food all served with a dash of  sexy,  STK Atlanta is the place for you. If you aren’t in the Atlanta area check out one their many other locations. They have a few international spots too for my world traveler readers.

This was my experience at STK Atlanta and my opinion about the food. You may go and have a different experience (I can’t imagine that happening but hey anything is possible). I like to share things from my point of view and because we are all different and like different things they may not always aline. However one will never find out what you like if you don’t give it a try. I made many memories there and I hope that you will give it a try. Now go forward and make memories.

Until next time

~The Chef In Pearls

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a meal for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

 

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How Do You Blaze?…Blaze Pizza In GA

How Do You Blaze?…Blaze Pizza In GA

My two best friends of nearly 30 years have both Blazed. They have taken great pleasure in rubbing in the fact that they Blaze and Blaze often. How is it that in my big city living I have yet to Blaze?  Easy, there was no Blaze Pizza to be found in Atlanta. That was until a few weeks ago. Yep that’s right, we finally got a Blaze pizza, located in the Downtown Decatur/Emory Village Area. So as any true food blogger would do, I went to get my Blaze on.

When the invitation was posted to my bloggers’ group Facebook page, I wasted no time in RSVP’ing. As always, when I am allowed, it would be myself plus one. My foodie partner for the evening would be Paris, my friend/little sister. She’s always game to try a new eating place with me. So I was ready, an invite and a date, so to speak. Now to see what the fuss was all about. I mean truth be told if I were to tell you how I Blaze I’d have to say with fire but I am a bit of a smartass.

When we get there, I already know that if this pizza is anything like my besties say I won’t Blaze on the weekends. It was built in a plaza that already has a very popular supermarket and few other eateries. Parking will become an issue. I have left frustrated from many a location or not even bother to go if I know parking will be a problem. Thank God that was not an issue for us the evening we traveled to Blaze Pizza.

We are greeted with a lovely building with a great outdoor patio. I go inside and am met by Rachelle, their PR person. She was sweet and very happy to talk all about Blaze and what makes their pizza place different from all other pizza places. After going through the line and creating my very own Blaze experience, these are the things I’d like to share with you.

Let’s start with 1. You can start by ordering one of their specialty pizzas or customize one of your own with any amount of toppings and the price stays the same. You read correctly. If you wanted every topping they have in store there will be no upcharge. Just get it. 2. Once you have created your pizza it takes all of 180 seconds or 3 minutes for your pizza to be baked. Could you want it any faster? 3. If you are watching your carbs, (who goes to a pizza place if that’s what they’re doing but I digress), they have salad options. I don’t mean your typical tossed salads but instead salads like Kale & Quinoa or Arugula & Fresh Fruit plus two others on the menu. 4. They even offer daiya cheese for your vegan options. So far they are racking up points with me and my vegan friends. 5. Then let’s not forget to round out your order with your choice of bottle drinks, their custom lemonades and aqua frescas or other fountain drinks. They also have dessert: s’mores pie, sea salt cookies and olive oil brownies. Could you really want anything more from a pizza place?

So if you want to know how I Blaze check out my video right here and check out the pictures down below.

How would you Blaze? Or have you already Blazed? Let me know all about in the comments. Now go forward and make some new Blazing memories .

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

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Culinary Fight Club…Who Will Win?

Culinary Fight Club…Who Will Win?

What’s the first rule of fight club? Yeah, if I hadn’t already shared that I had a birthday in July I would be telling my age with that reference. That question comes from a 1999 movie titled, you guessed it . . . Fight Club. What I’m talking about is different kind of fight club. Dare I share it? In the movie, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Well since I’m all about breaking rules here and there, I think I will tell you all about Culinary Fight Club.

Culinary Fight Club is all about bragging rights. Who gets to say they won? Who gets to say they are the best amongst their peers. Wait . . . hold up: I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually go to Culinary Fight Club. What I attended was Culinary Fight Fest. A gathering that happens when you have 6-8 winners of previous Culinary Fight Club matchups and put them up against each other. In this arena the winners compete to see who will be the best of the best, top dog among champions The talent was strong in the room. There was a little bit of everything to try during the Tasters’ Choice round.  Each contestant presented a dish that you were able to vote on. To cast your vote, you dropped one of the 4 tokens you received on entry into their voting box. There was no limit on how you cast your vote. If you liked them a lot you could drop all 4 in. After this initial tasting, the top four were chosen. From there the top 4 go on to compete in the final round. They are given 30 minutes and a mystery box.  Brasstown Beef was the sponsor for the mystery boxes. So you guessed it . . . the boxes had beef in them. To keep the chefs on their toes they were unmarked cuts of beef, so you really had to know your stuff to compete.

The chefs came prepared to battle. They were provided with pantry items, kitchen equipment and any necessary tools to cook. However many chose to still bring things to help put them ahead of their competition. Things ranged from an old school pressure cooker all the way to river rocks. The top 4 presented wonderful dishes to be judged. But we all know the rule. There can only be one winner . . . one top dog . . . and that honor went to Josh Reeves of the River Club, located in Suwanee, GA. He walked away with a check, some cool knives and most importantly the right to brag as the winner of Culinary Fight Fest.

As always, I got to meet some pretty cool people, run into some of the usual suspects and of course make memories. Hey would you come out to support if The Chef In Pearls competed? Comment and let me know if you’d be a part of my cheering squad if I decided to join the Culinary Fight Club competition.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

 

 

 

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Give Me Five… No Kid Hungry

Give Me Five… No Kid Hungry

I am blessed to have lived a childhood where I did not have to worry about hunger. That doesn’t mean there were no hard times in my family’s life. It just means my Mom had a nifty way of making sure as kids we never knew about it. I managed to raise 3 kids and none of them experienced hunger. However, that is not the case for so many children, 1 out of 6 kids do not have a decent breakfast before school. WIthout breakfast they are more likely to miss school, less likely to get better grades and less likely to graduate high school. It is said that 13 million children suffer from hunger. This is where No Kid Hungry comes into play. The goal is to raise awareness of this epidemic happening in one of the richest countries in the world. They also help to raise money to help fill the gap in areas where this is happening.

This past weekend I had the honor of serving as media coverage for the Give Me Five . . . No Kid Hungry Fundraiser.  5 featured chefs and 5 sommeliers crafted a 5 course meal all in the name of raising awareness and money. This was the 11th year for the fundraiser. Attending this event was an “extra happy” event for me. It’s was a chance for me to play dress up, eat good food and do my part to share all of the going ons during the event. It was a win-win situation all around for me. The atmosphere was totally different from the event I had gone to earlier that day. You can read about my time at Culinary Fight Club right here.

The event started off with a cocktail reception and passed appetizers, where entertainment was provided by a live harpist.  All great events start with bubbly and this one did not disappoint. Within the next hour we were ushered into the ballroom that was so exquisite. There was a Jazz Trio playing wonderful music as we found our seats. The concept of the event had the chefs and the sommeliers to create wonderful pairings for each course. And they definitely achieved that goal. Now I could sit here and write about each course but I honestly feel like the pictures will speak volumes. Believe me when I say the only way you are not drawn in by the pictures would be because you are blind. One of the coolest thing was that they held a live auction during dinner. It was very exciting to hear the auctioneer roll those numbers off his tongue urging and pulling people into outbidding one another, all in the name of a good case.

Give Me Five was a wonderful event but if you are like me and were moved even the slightest by the statics I shared, you may want to make a donation. You have several ways you can help out. You can make a one time donation, make a monthly contribution or find a local restaurant or event that supports the cause and participate through them. Feel free to click here and check out the options yourself.  Let’s work together to help make fond morning memories for some needy children.

 

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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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 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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