Food Archives - Page 9 of 9 - The Chef In Pearls

What’s in Your Pantry?

pantry

At any given moment I can whip up something scrumptious in my kitchen.  All because I keep what i consider staple items in my pantry.  Things I feel with a little time and some effort can be transformed into a meal. So what do I consider staples?

  • Pasta (1 long noodle i.e. spaghetti or fettuccine and 1 short noodle i.e. macaroni or rigatoni)
  • Stock or broth ( I keep chicken. beef and vegetable in the 32 oz size)
  • Flour (all-purpose & self-rising)
  • Rice
  • Oil (I like canola for frying & olive oil for sauteing)
  • Canned tomatoes (diced and pureed)
  • Canned beans ( black, pinto red or your favorite)
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers (I prefer colored to green ones)
  • Assortment of frozen vegetables (i.e. broccoli, mixed vegetables,corn)
  • Ground beef
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Milk

With a combination of just a few of these items you can have a wonderful meal.  For instance you can make a quick pasta e fagioli ( broth, short pasta, diced tomatoes, a can of beans)  or maybe a vegetable fried rice( oil, cooked rice, frozen mixed vegetables, onions) or even chili ( ground beef, beans, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers).  Once you have the basics or the items that you use repeatedly in cooking you will always be prepared to whip something great up.

P.S. My pantry list is a little longer than the one I have included because I have a pretty sized family and lots of friends who like stop by to eat)

P.S.S.  This post is dedicated to my son, Akeem, the newly wed and apparently the chef in his new household

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All That Glitters Ain’t Gold

So in appreciation of all the time energy and MONEY we spent on their marriage, my son and his wife invited us, the parents, to have brunch with them at the Georgian Terrace. I was overly excited,it has been somewhere I wanted to go since I moved to Georgia. The Georgian Terrace is on of Atlanta’s Historic sites first opening it’s doors in 1911. I knew we would be in for a treat…..but all that glitters ain’t gold.

The Up View of the lobby in the Georgian Terrace

The Up View of the lobby in the Georgian Terrace

We were to have lunch at their restaurant/bar …The Livingston. It was beautiful….historic with a modern flare

Table for Four with a view

Table for Four with a view

But that was where all the glitter started to lose it’s shine.  I still don’t know our waiters name but let’s just say he left a lot to be desired.  I was excited to see on the menu ( view Menu)Sweet Potato Donuts ( anyone that knows me knows that anything with sweet potato as an ingredient is going to be on my radar). We placed an order for the donuts to start with our teas and coffee and then ordered our brunch. There were 2 orders of the Livingston Omelet, 1 for the Black Truffle Omelet, 1 Double Cheeseburger, 1 Mini Quiche Lorraine and 1 Chicken Monte Crisco.

Menu

Menu

Sweet Potato Donut

Sweet Potato Donut

The Livingston Omelet with a side of  breakfast potatoes

The Livingston Omelet with a side of breakfast potatoes

Mini Quiche Lorraine with a shaved salad

Mini Quiche Lorraine with a shaved salad

Double Cheese Burger with house made potato chips

Double Cheese Burger with house made waffle potato chips

My meal for the afternoon.... Chicken Monte Cristo

My meal for the afternoon….
Chicken Monte Cristo

Now the presentations were nice but the tastes fell short.  The sweet potato donuts were okay as a yeast donut but wasn’t enough sweet potato for it to carry it as a main ingredient. The omelet that my husband and son had both tasted way too salty. My son’s father-in-law’s double cheeseburger was over cooked ( actually he said it was burned along the edges) and his mother-in-law felt her quiche was just “alright”.  As for me and my Chicken Monte Cristo, well, let’s just say the brioche bread was the best thing about the sandwich.  It came off pretty mediocre.  We all agreed that their potato products were really good.  The house made waffle chips, the breakfast potatoes and the french fries were well done and very enjoyable. I really had high hopes for the meal here but my feelings were dashed.  I hope it was that the chef was having a bad day but i will never know cause I’m not moved to visit them again.

 

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And so I’m back….

So I’ve been gone for a minute….more like an hour…okay, okay….It’s been a few months but no worries I’m back. I never stopped cooking or experimenting with new recipes or styling new clothes….I’ve just been living life and well…not really documenting it. Since last I’ve written I managed to quit my job, start planning for my son’s rehearsal Dinner and Wedding (which both of his siblings are in…$$), re-launched my business Gems and Baubles (check out the website www.GemsNBaubles.com)and celebrated yet another year on this earth. I turned 42 this month and I think I look damned good for it(just my opinion)

cass pool

Poolside at The W Hotel Midtown wearing Bathing Suit Lane Bryants Cover-up Gems and Baubles Straw Hat Gems and Baubles

I plan  to do a whole lot better with my postings but always gonna keep on living life to it’s fullest.

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A Quickie…..Crab Bisque

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The Crab Bisque at Nordstrom’s Bistro Cafe has me wanting more. It’s the kind of soup that leaves you scraping the bottom of the bowl. I had a cup with my lunch today. Can we say ”YUM”? It’s served with what they call a gazpacho and a parmesan crostini. The gazpacho was a brilliant addition to the soup. The acidity of the tomatoes helped to cut the richness of the soup making it the perfect blend. If you’re lucky enough to have a Nordstrom’s near I highly recommend stopping by the Bistro Cafe and ordering a bowl (not the cup) of Crab Bisque.

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Is the Doctor In???

So many people knock using jar sauce…well I use jar sauce.  I don’t have the time to make sauce from scratch, so I do the next best thing…. I doctor up a jar of sauce. Now you may be asking what do I mean by doctoring a jar of sauce?  Well we can compare it to surgery…we just aren’t cutting up any people.  First things first you’re gonna need a jar of sauce. I went with Ragu because it was on sale.

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Now here’s where the cutting begins.  I started by dicing onions, bell peppers and portabella mushrooms.

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I then took about a pound of ground beef and browned it off. Added some sausage and some diced bacon.

IMAG1044After I added the diced vegetables along with a can of diced tomatoes ( you see I like a chunky sauce).

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Now what most people don’t understand about cooking is that it is not a true science. It’s about what you like and how it makes you feel.  You have to find out what works for you and your palette and make it WORK.

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I love, love , love a lot of garlic ( especially in Italian food). Maybe that doesn’t work for you ( guess what don’t add it).  After that’s done I added the jar of sauce and began a prescription of seasonings. Thyme, crushed pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper, dried Italian herbs and some slow simmering……

Sauce fit for a king

Sauce fit for a king

Let your imagination and your taste buds run free when trying to doctor a jar of sauce.  maybe you want to add just vegetables,,,, diced or shredded zucchini, carrots, spinach, sweet peas or maybe you want to try adding seafood, or alternative to ground beef…It’s all up to you.

Now because I’m always taking it to the next level I decided I would doctor the pasta, too.   I used thin spaghetti cooked according to to package directions.  Then I sauteed garlic with red pepper flakes in olive oil, making sure not to burn the garlic ( nothing worst than the taste of burned garlic)

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Then I added the pasta with some of the cooking water and minced parsley. Time to serve it up

IMAG1053Go buy a jar of sauce and get to doctoring.

BCJ2U

 

 

 

 

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Fat Tuesday

Okay so this post is a tad bit late…like a week late but I have committed to writing it and so I shall.

This year National Pancake Day fell on Fat Tuesday…how cool was that. Every year I participate in IHOP’s fundraiser for The Children’s Miracle Network with my kids.  They give away a short stack while collecting donations for the group.  My date that morning was my oldest child, Akeem. Nothing like some Mother-Son time : )

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We enjoyed a lovely breakfast together and helped a good cause while we were at it.

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Now the start of my day was good…pancakes and family..I’d say that was an excellent start to Fat Tuesday but it got better as the day went on. You see I was to have lunch with one of my inner circle( what I call my handful of TRUE friends).  Now I know some of the most fun loving, life enjoying people and Nykki Burkes is one of them.  For our lunch together I made Panko-Parmesan Encrusted Cod with a Brown Rice Pilaf and Steamed Broccoli. Now I tried to share the ease of making this dish with her but she was more interested in eating it than actually learning how to make it…gotta love Nykki

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We chatted about new things, old things, lives she saved while flying and all the things that make being a flight attendant great and …..not so great. She had made some great plans for the rest of our day and I was looking forward to it. We decided to add one more to person to the mix (another inner circle member) my sister-in-law Sandy.  We were definitely going to have fun whether we wanted to or not. Our first stop on Nykki’s agenda was a restaurant in the Inman Park area of Atlanta named Parish. I loved it from the moment we pulled up to the building. It’s the only remaining building from a 1890’s pipe factory. It had been restored to show off the building’s  great structure and turned into a restaurant.

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We went to Parish to enjoy some wine and that we did….along with a tasting from their small plates.We sampled the Pan-Fried Pierogis, the Black Truffle Grilled Cheese and the Rosemary-Garlic Fries.  Let’s just say I’m definitely looking forward to a return visit. Learn more about the restaurant, their menu and extensive wine list at Parish

Sparkling Rose` Wine

Sparkling Rose` Wine

 

Pierogis

Pierogis

Black Truffle Grilled Cheese

Black Truffle Grilled Cheese

Rosemary Garlic Fries

Rosemary Garlic Fries

Our next stop on the Fat Tuesday train was Kat’s Cafe for Comedy Night.  We had a wonderful host who kept in real and had us laughing all night.  The drink special for the night was the Summertime Martini so we had a round or two…not bad for a special but Sandy ordered a Juke Joint and she said it had a nice kick to it. What we learned….drink special aren’t as strong as the other drinks they make( if you’re into strong drinks).  We, of course, ordered something to eat…..the Bayou Pizza.  It was soooo good. The toppings included tilapia, shrimp, onions & bell peppers with the right amount of spiciness…I would order that again.  Check out Kat’s Cafe they have something going on every night of the week.

Bayou Pizza $ Summertime Martini

Bayou Pizza $ Summertime Martini

Well my Fat Tuesday was a blast with great people.  Sandy & Nykki can’t wait until next time.

 

 

 

 

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Gettysburger….

If you’re a “Scandal” fan, of which I am, you have heard on several occasions them mention the infamous burger joint Gettysburger,  Well you can only imagine the shock and awe that came across my face when I found out that Gettysburger did not exist. How was I gonna replicate one of their burgers, for the mid-season premier, if they didn’t really exist. In my mind I had already planned this post detailing how I went about gathering ingredients, prepping and then preparing my wonderful version of a Gettysburger burger. what would I do now?

I did the next best thing. I created a burger I felt would exist on the menu at Gettysburger. I created the Insde-Out Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger with a side of Garlic Parmesan Steak Fries. I went as far to make the pickles from scratch and a chipotle mayo for the buns.  I mean if you gonna go with something that doesn’t exist why not go all out.

cucmbersI used half of an English cucumber cut on the bias. I then brined the slices  in a heated mixture of salt, sugar, a crushed garlic clove, a few red pepper flakes, fresh dill, a bay leaf and vinegar.

PicklesViola …..Pickles….. well they became pickles once the liquid cooled.

Then for the burger I did what my Mom taught me to do oh so many years ago.  A package of onion-mushroom soup mix,  black pepper, worcestershire sauce, an egg and a handful of breadcrumbs.  Once combined I made a thin patty and placed a slice of cheddar cheese that I folded in half along the center of the patty.  Then I made another patty and placed that on top of the first sealing the cheese in the middle.

inside outburgerNow  all I had to do was cook them. I am about the slow and go when cooking a good burger.  Medium heat and I never flatten the patty while cooking ( your squeezing all the luscious juices out…who wants a dry burger?). Haven’t you been told to not play with you food? Well don’t fiddle with your burger while it’s cooking let it do what it has to……that’s cook. I only turn my burger ONCE during cooking.

Besides the pickles and the burgers I also made a quick spread for my burger buns, Chipotle Mayo. I took a 1/4 cup of mayo and added 2 teaspoons of chipolte salsa ( you can find it in a can in the international section of your supermarket) and mixed. Depending on how spicy you like it you can add more or less of the chipotle salsa.

As for the Garlic Parmesan Steak Fries it was simple ( no I didn’t make the fries from scratch) I prepared a bag of steak fries in the oven ( I try to avoid frying as much as possible). I sprinkled them with some olive oil to help crisp them up in the oven and dusted them with a mixture of kosher salt and black pepper.  About 5 minutes before they were to finished in the oven I heated a 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1  1/2 tablespoons of minced garlic. I pulled the fries from the oven  dumped them in a bow,l added the heated olive oil along with a handful of shredded Parmesan and minced parsley. Then I tossed everything together making sure the fries were well coated. This was the end result of my hard work ( not that hard )

the finished product

Yeah if I were running the Infamously Fictitious Gettysburger this would be on the menu.

 

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A Romantic Dinner for….4

No you read that right…and NO it wasn’t me & my hubby with another couple. It was me, my hubby, daughter and son. Now don’t get me wrong I did enjoy being with my family but one tends to think Valentine’s Day was made for lovers. Since business kept my hubby from being able to do the usual Valentiney ( yes I created a word) things I thought it would be nice to prepare a wonderful dinner at home for the family.

We started off with an appetizer of Spicy Garlic-Lemon Shrimp and a loaf of Sweet Italian Bread. IMAG0902

For our entree I prepared my signature dish….Pan-Seared Salmon with Sauteed Spinach & Mushrooms in an Herb Cream Sauce served atop Sour Cream & Chives Mashed Potatoes

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The grown-ups at the table had Tequila Sunrises and the youngsters sipped on sparkling Cider.

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All in all it turned out to be a rather lovely dinner for 4….Oh yeah my daughter even made dessert a Butter Cream Pound Cake served a la mode.  Who could have wanted a better meal? Hope your Valentine’s Day was filled with LOVE because mine was : )

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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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