Yep, you read that right. I am one of the newest YP Insider member. What is that you ask? Well, we are a group of individuals (mostly bloggers) hand selected to do reviews on businesses in the local Atlanta area. We get to have first hand experiences brought to us by the Yellow Pages and share our views on them. We write about everything from the local car detailing services to even the best place to have plastic surgery done. We have you covered in the review department on whatever you may be interested in.
Last night as apart of the YP Insiders, I got to attend an event at The Watershed. It’s a local Atlanta restaurant that serves “Local, seasonal, soulful dishes inspired by Southern tradition and prepared with present day artistry.” You can find out more about them here. We had an opportunity to take part in small bites, wines and beer; all while networking. We even got a chance to meet Chef Zeb Stevens, the man behind the food.. Nothing better than getting to meet the person creating what you’re eating. He’s been with The Watershed family for a little over 18 months. He prides himself on bringing local and seasonal foods to the tables at The Watershed, while trying to keep within the southern feel of the menu. I love that he chose to do fried boneless, skinless thighs as opposed to the chicken breasts. We all know there’s more flavor in those thighs.
I look forward to other great events as a YP Insider. Being able to meeting other Insiders and saying my piece about businesses in and around the metro Atlanta area. So check out the reviews on the YP app or visit the site, you just might read one I’ve written. And when you find a moment go make some memories over at The Watershed. Let me know what you think.
~The Chef In Pearls
I love bananas…I mean I could eat bananas all everyday if…they didn’t cause me pain. Apparently at some point in my life I met my banana quota. My body’s way of letting me know this is by inflicting excruciating pain on my stomach. I don’t have to eat a whole banana for this phenomena to take place…a bite…hell a half a bite and BAM instant pain. But that doesn’t stop me from creating wonderful banana inspired dishes (remember I love bananas).
Today I bring you the banana bread remixed. This dish was inspired by a post a friend shared on Facebook, “20 Recipes that will make you never want to skip brunch Again,” by viral nova. On this list was a recipe for cream cheese filled banana bread…..how could that not be good. I mean, I have done banana bread with a brown sugar cream cheese spread so I know cream cheese in the middle would definitely take it up a notch or 2. Here’s the thing though I wasn’t feeling the actual banana bread recipe that was posted so I went with my tried and true recipe from out of one of my old dusty notebooks. I now give you Banana Bread with cream cheese filling and candied walnuts….. So here ya go:
3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Cream Cheese Filling
1 (8oz) block of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of corn syrup
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter & flour a loaf pan. In a saucepan place walnuts, sugar and corn syrup. Heat until sugar is melted and nuts are coated. Spread nuts out on a parchment lined baking sheets so as to cool and not form lumps.Mash bananas with a fork in a mixing bowl .With a wooden spoon mix melted butter into mashed bananas. Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle salt & baking soda over mixture and then mix in. Add flour and mix until incorporated ( do not over mix as it will toughen the texture of the bread). Put to the side. Place softened cream cheese into bowl with egg, sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth. Pour 1/2 the banana mixture into prepared loaf pan. Then pour cream cheese mixture on top of banana mixture in pan. Top that with a 1/4 cup of candied walnuts followed by the other 1/2 of banana mixture. Finish it by sprinkling the remaining walnuts on top.Place loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake 45 minutes to an hour. Insert knife or toothpick to test bread , if it comes out clean then done. Cool pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan, allow to cool completely on rack. Cut using a serrated edge knife. Then enjoy .
Well I hope you’ll share how your banana bread turns out. CIPapproved
Okay if you didn’t know now you do. I am a born and breed New Yorker. Known here in Georgia as a transplant. Yea so there are somethings that just cannot be replicated here in Atlanta no matter what they do. Pizza is one of those things. Now I am not talking Papa John’s, Domino’s or even Pizza Hut they can’t come close to a New York slice. If you have never had a New York slice then you just won’t understand. Now don’t get New York style confused with Chicago deep dish style two different beasts and I have a place in my heart for both. New York style being my first love of course until last Saturday afternoon.
On one of our many mother/daughter dates, me & the mini me had the pleasure of enjoying my new favorite pizza spots in Atlanta, Antico. On arrival you really wouldn’t give the place much thought. Pretty typical of ordering, a couple of cashiers, a menu board (which happened to have the pricing in euros and dollars) , some drink options which included a wine selection. Not too bad for a pizza spot. Then they directed us to the dining area. That’s where the magic began for me. It was family style eating. You sit and eat where there is space for you and your crew. Beyond the tables lay the wood burning ovens with piles of wood waiting their turn to be used. You could see how the pizza makers worked in a rhythmic pattern that had them churning out pies of perfection without any real effort being exerted. It made the kid chef in me clap with glee. We ordered their most popular pizza, San Gennaro. To most its Italian sausage, peppers and onions actually to be more exact it’s buffalo mozzarella, salsiccia sausage, cipolline onions, dolce piccante peppers. The toppings were good but the real star of this pizza is the dough. The texture and taste are so hard for me to really describe to you. All I can say is I ate 3 slices and I never eat more than 2 slices of pizza, doesn’t matter who makes the pizza. I was beyond stuffed. When you get a chance go check out Antico Napoletana Pizza, it will be more than worth the trip.
Go order a pie and make some memories.
~ The Chef In Pearls
April is high tailing it out of here and May is patiently waiting her turn. How did the time fly away from me so fast? I have been really busy this month. So busy that I haven’t written about not one thing I have done. I hang my head in shame…bad Chef In Pearls. I have been naughty and I kindly ask for your forgiveness.
Thank you for so graciously forgiving me. So since you have forgiven me I will provide you with a roundup of all I did this month.
Let’s start with my first visit to the High Museum in Atlanta. It was a mother/daughter outing to take in all the wonders of fashion Iris had to offer us. Iris van Herpen is a fashion designer like no other. I want you to think couture that is outside of the box now multiple that thought by…I don’t know…infinity. There you have Iris van Herpen. She doesn’t just make dresses out of traditional fabric. She created clothing from things most would not even conceive of making clothing from. She collaborates with engineers, architects and so many more to create fabrics made of metal threads to dresses created through 3-D printing to everyday leather sculpted. Even when they told her it couldn’t be done she told them it could. What an inspiration!
As if one day at the museum wasn’t enough I went back two days later to check out the rest of the exhibits. Thanks to the Atlanta Haitian Consulate for sponsoring this day with free admission to the public. We got to view all the exhibits with special attention to Basquiat because he was Haitian. His work cut short by an early death but still well received by most. We got to experience a little Haitian culture while on the museum plaza. There was food to sample, dancing, music and so much culture. On the other side of the Basquiat exhibit was the Vik Muniz exhibit. I really enjoyed his works because a lot of the mediums he worked in were food. He worked in sugar, chocolate, peanut butter and jelly and so much more. I love people who can see things in new perspectives. His work reflected that
I was able to attend the Music in Focus exhibit by Carolyn Grady at the Southwest Atlanta Arts Center. It was a trip down memory lane as I saw pictures of musicians I grew up with. It was such a delight see art from another angle. She presented her photo work in a way that almost made them seem to pop of their canvas. All the work was black and white and printed on metal. It was like having each artist standing right their with you. I really love how she did that.
Last but not least,The C.I.P. Ladies Lunch. It was the second meal of the year…Faux N.Y Strip(grilled Salmon, check out the Youtube video on how to create this dish right here), Indian Inspired Grilled Chicken Strips, Tri-Colored couscous with Sweet Peas & Mushrooms, Roasted Squash, Carrots and Asparagus and Tossed Salad. For dessert I taught the ladies how to make a Strawberry/Blackberry Compote that was served over Frozen Yogurt and Birthday cake. You read right we had another birthday celebration at this lunch. Only difference was that it was three different birthdays being celebrated and I had to allow Publix to make this birthday cake. They got an opportunity to be the first ones to purchase the new spice boxes I plan to roll out on the site. It included the major spices and the recipe card to use them. Be on the look out for them…coming soon. As always I want to thank the gift bag sponsors T.S.P, Naughty Goddess, Fab 222 and Botanical Bliss for the gifts they provided for the ladies. Don’t miss out on the next meal in September…From Dusk to Dark. It will be outdoors with a full tapas menu, wine and a few surprises for the evening. You can purchase your early bird tickets now right here
Life got a little carried away with me this month. I did make time for some memories though. I plan to to do better with posting…scout’s honor. May here we come even better than ever. Now get ready to go make new memories of your own in May.
~The Chef In Pearls
Just in case you didn’t know I want to be the one to tell you. The Chef In Pearls is at it again. We will be hosting our second meal of the year on Sunday April 17, from 1-4 pm. The Chef In Pearls has long hosted a quarterly luncheon dedicated to women looking to connect, relax and enjoy a good meal. This year I officially opened it up to the public this year. With proper ID and a ticket purchase you can join in the festivities. To help keep things moving in the right direction I have joined forces with Kym Edwards, owner & founder of the Naughty Goddess, to be my co-host. While I throw it down in the kitchen she comes and facilitates the discussions with the ladies. Our goal is to talk about health and wellness not just from the physical but mental and business aspects, too.We have discussions to help you make moves to the next step in your life, help you to see things from a different point of view. Everyone is encouraged to kick back and relax because it’s a judge free zone.
There’s still time to get your ticket for this event. Just click here and you’ll be a part of the fun. Everyone who attends gets a full more, networking opportunities and a gift bag from our sponsors. You can view pics from our first meal of the year here.
Come on out so we can make new memories together.
~The Chef In Pearls
So you’ve seen them on television. You may have even attended one at a swanky hotel in town. And now you want to throw your very own tea party. Most people tend to throw tea parties for special occasions like a bridal shower, or a baby shower or even a birthday. Why not throw one just to have friends over to chat? It isn’t very hard to do.
Here is a list of 8 things you’ll need to pull this off.
How to make tea bags
You will need loose tea, old school white coffee filters, a stapler, and baker’s twine. Take one filter and flatten it out. Depending on if you plan to make bags for an individual cup or for a pot place 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon of loose tea along the center of filter. Do not come past 2 inches from either ends of the filter and forming a straight line done the middle. Fold either sides of the filter of the line of tea, making a rectangle with rounded ends. Starting with the end closest to you make 2 folds, one over the other. Then do the same with the other end. Now fold the filter in half, bring both folded ends together. Take a 5-6 inch piece of baker’s twine and attach it to the filter using the stapler. I like to leave a ½ of an inch of twine on the other end so that I can tie a knot and secure the twine on the staple. Viola you just made your very first tea bag and probably not your last.
I hope this has helped you in feeling like this is something yo can pull off because you know what? You can. Is there something you think should be added to this list. Drop me a comment below and let me know. Then take some time out and visit my It’s Tea Time board on Pinterest.
Now go forward and make some memories.
~Cassandra, The Chef In Pearls
Photo credit: Tonesha Smith Photography
This is the dish that I demoed earlier in the month at The New Year’s Brunch. It’s a pretty easy dish to create and so yummy to eat. It can either be an appetizer when cut into wedges or as an entree with a salad when cut into larger pieces.
Before proceeding to I want to give you a brief lesson on some of the ingredients you’ll be using. First and for most DO NOT I repeat DO NOT try to make puff pastry. I mean, why? It is a time consuming process. Besides there are companies that do it for you. All you have to do is go to the freezer section of your local supermarket and pick up a box. Done. Okay so you don’t have to make it but you do need to know how to care for it once it is purchased. Keep it frozen until you are about ready to use. Follow the directions on the package on how to go about thawing it correctly. Puff pastry needs to stay as cold as possible because it is made with tons and tones of butter, which is what makes the pastry puff. The heat heats the cold butter causing the layers of pastry to create air pockets which makes it rise. So remember puff pastry must stay cold. If you thaw a sheet and do not use it the same day, as long as it had been kept cold you should be able to use it within 24 hours.
Now onto the mushrooms in this recipe. I know you all were taught not to wash mushrooms. Hell, I spent many a day in culinary school wiping off mushroom caps to rid it of dirt. The thought process being that mushrooms are porous and would soak up the water it would be cleaned in. It’s FALSE! The mushrooms would have to soak in the water in order to even start absorbing any water. Mushrooms naturally contain a good amount of moisture. So wash your mushrooms off in a colander. Drain them then cut up as needed.
Now that we are all on the same page regarding these ingredients let’s move on to the actual recipe.
Creamy Wild Mushroom Tart
Makes 16 App-Sized Wedges or 4 entree sized pieces
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 half of a medium onion sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz wild mushroom mix (or any combination of your favorite mushrooms) cleaned and rough chopped, leave 2-3 mushrooms for garnish, thinly sliced.
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
2 tbsp Brandy
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 tsp each of salt and black pepper
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped Italian parsley
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Allow puff pastry to thaw according to package directions. Roll puff pastry into a rectangle using a light dusting of flour. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a border about half of the way through the dough about 1/2 of an inch from the edge. (This outside edge will puff more and give you an outer crust) Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling heat olive oil and add onions, garlic, chopped mushrooms and herbes de Provence over medium heat until the mushrooms have released most of their liquids. Add the brandy and continue to cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the goat cheese until smooth. Season with the salt and pepper. Remove the pastry out of the fridge and spoon the filling into it. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of filling. Using the reserved sliced mushrooms, decorate as desired.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown and the tart filling is also browning. Sprinkle chopped herbs on top. Allow to cool then cut as small wedges for party apps or cut into four and serve with a salad for a brunch.
Now that you have got this wonderful new recipe I want you to go forward and make some memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
Okay it is almost the end of the first month in the New Year. I haven’t even taken the timeout to wish everyone a happy new year. Well, Happy New Year Everyone! I hope your start was better than you could ever anticipated it being. Great. I am glad that I have gotten that out-of-the-way. I didn’t want you guys to think I am rude. Now to let you in on what’s been going on with The Chef In Pearls. On January 9, 2016 (I like how the new year looks) Anyway on the second Saturday of the new year I threw a Ladies Brunch. Yep that’s right I cooked, they ate and it was grand. Actually there was a little bit more to it than that. Well let me show you some of what went on. I mean a picture is worth a thousand words. So here you go…
There was something for everyone. Motivational speaking by Kym Edwards helped the ladies through the new rules for 2016 and how to enjoy them. I taught the ladies how to make a mushroom tart (which happened to be on the menu for the day and a few other things). We even celebrated the birthday of one of the attendees, Miss Katrina Parker. How could I not take this chance to give her hearts desire, strawberry cake…from scratch I must add. It was a wonderful day had by all…especially me. I created so many memories that I cannot wait until the next one.
I want you to now go forward and make your own memories. Call up a few of your girlfriends and plan a brunch. I want you guys to sit down and connect on levels you may not have had a chance to do before. And by all means write down your goals and aspirations for the year. Nothing makes it more real than seeing it on paper. And to help you on your way I am going to include the new rules for 2016 so you can share with your girlfriends at your brunch.
Rules for enjoying your Sweet ‘16
by Tony Gaskin
Now go forward and make some new memories of your own….Welcome to your Sweet ’16!
P.S. If you are in the Atlanta area and would like to attend the second meal of the year with The Chef In Pearls you can purchase tickets here.
It can’t get any simpler than this. Diced apples, sugar, butter and cream with a layer of sweetened cream cheese and one of graham cracker crumbs. Dessert that you don’t have to turn on the oven for and ready in under 30 minutes. I think that’s a win-win situation.
No Bake Caramel Apple Cheesecake
2 large squares of graham crackers
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Cheesecake Apple Filling
4 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 small granny smith apple peeled and diced
¼ cup sugar 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla 1 Tablespoon butter, unsalted
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half & half
Place graham crackers in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Mix crumbs with cinnamon, sugar and butter. Spoon into bottom of serving dish. Mix softened cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spoon on top of graham cracker mixture. heat butter in a pan add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes or until apples are softened. Add cream and cook additional 3 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool. Once cool put on top of cream cheese mixture and refrigerate. Serve with fresh whipped cream