cooking Archives - The Chef In Pearls

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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OMG…It’s not the end of the month already?

OMG…It’s not the end of the month already?

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.

 

Iris van Herpen

 

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!

Back at The High

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

Music In Focus

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.

 

C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

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

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Creamy Wild Mushroom Tart

Creamy Wild Mushroom Tart

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

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Sweet ’16

Sweet ’16

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

  1. DO choose happiness.
  2. DO NOT argue with fools.
  3. DO NOT undervalue yourself.
  4. DO NOT be afraid to be amazing.
  5. DO choose your circle wisely.
  6. DO NOT compete. You are the competition.
  7. DO love yourself first.
  8. DO NOT hold on when you realize it’s time to let go.
  9. DO Heal.
  10. DO write your own story.

       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.

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Quickie… Get Ready. Get Set. Holidays

Quickie… Get Ready. Get Set. Holidays

Holiday-dinner-table

It’s that time of the year again. You know where family gather and people eat like there’s no tomorrow. It’s also the time of year when everyone wants to show off their culinary skills (or the lack there of) with tables full of traditional and not so traditional meals. Well with the weeks leading up to the big turkey day and Christmas fast approaching after that The Chef In pearls will be sharing video tips to get you through the holidays with ease. You’ll be able to participate in the videos by catching them live on Periscope. You can download the app for free in your app store, Apple and Android users alike. Once downloaded look for me as, you guessed it, The Chef In Pearls. Then listen out for that sexy whistle because I will be coming to you live . You can always let me know some of the things that are your biggest challenges and I will try to address them in the scopes. Looking forward to helping you make new memories this holiday season

(image from realstylenetwork.com)
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Dessert for Dinner

Dessert for Dinner

Okay, what do you do when you want dessert for dinner and you don’t want to bake a whole cake? You pull out your grill pan of course. (You guys must be tired of my grill pan but know that I love my grill pan) I had a nicely ripened peach, some vanilla yogurt, granola and honey. It was the making of a really good dinner. I hope you try this one.

Now go forward and make new memories

P.S . This is a good one for those watching their figure…I still don’t know what the calorie count is on this. *Shrugs shoulders*

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I have spent the last few days super excited about where The Chef In Pearls is heading. I have actually been walking around here or dare I say floating on cloud 9. I am always happiest when I can see that my passions are accepted and needed by others. The birth of Exclusive Party Of One was not easy ( financially, physically and even emotionally) but it’s here and being well received. In moving forward with this series I bring you a dish made for one, Penne Pasta in a Herb Goat Cheese sauce. I was able to do a live broadcast of me cooking this dish on Periscope. If you weren’t able to catch it I am sharing it here today with the recipe. Please keep in mind that recipes are really suggestions, not just mine but all. If there is something you don’t care for (I HATE cilantro) leave it out or substitute something else in its place (I usually use flat leaf parsley in cilantro’s place) . Get creative with it. This was a meatless dish but you could add chicken or even shrimp or whatever you like. It’s up to you. Okay enough of the yabbering. Here’s the ingredients to go along with the video above.

 

1 cup dry penne pasta (cooked according to package)

1 TBSP of olive oil

I cup packed spinach leaves

2-3 baby portabella mushrooms sliced

2-3 slices of red onions cut in half

1-2 oz of herb goat cheese ( depends on how rich you want the sauce)

1/3 cup half & half

zest of half of a lemon

1/2 TBSP chopped parsley

fresh parmesean cheese

kosher salt

black pepper

P.S. If you can make this dish for one you can sure make it for two . So go invite the cute guy from down the hall over for dinner. Just a thought : )

Now go forward and make new memories.

P.S.S. If you re-create the dish please share a pic on our Facebook page @TheChefInPearls I’d love to see what you did ; )

 

 

#ExclusivePartyOfOne

#ExclusivePartyOfOne

 

 

 

15-EPO-Logo-01For as long as I can remember I have been cooking for a large amount of people. My immediate family consisted of 5 people. Add in the family and friends my mother often took in to help them out in their times of need. I can still recall the first time I ever cooked anything on my own. We had family visiting from England. My Dad had decided to make pancakes for breakfast (Aunt Jemima, just add water mix) and he completely destroyed them, even though I kept telling him he was doing it wrong. Thinking he was being funny he told me, then 5, that if I thought I could do better I should. I still remember that kitchen table and how I had to pull a chair up in order to be able to mix the batter. Once the batter was done I moved my chair to the stove and proceeded to make pancakes that everyone happily ate. Everyone except my Dad who, out of pride, ate the ones he made which were burnt on the outside and doughy in the middle.

Fast forward 38 years later, I have learned how to feed larger masses. I went from cooking for hundreds to a family of three that expanded to a family of five so my cooking was always evolving. Now I am in a new place in my life. My oldest is married and moved away from home. The middle child is away at college enjoying his freshman year. The baby girl lives at home on the weekends as she uses Grandma’s as a home base for school. And I am in the middle of ending a 20 year marriage. I am appreciating how to cook for one. It is not an easy task even just trying to figure out proportions but also accepting it on an emotional level. I am not the first woman to go through this nor will I be the last.

None of these things happening around me and to my life will define me in a negative light. As with most things in my life, I am choosing to learn from it. I am using these experiences to make me a better person. I can still eat well, live life to the fullest, and enjoy this time in my life being single. It’s not a bad thing but a chance for me to re-connect with myself on so many levels. My cooking is improving and I am becoming more creative because of these changes. Cooking is actually easier for me because I don’t have to take into consideration who doesn’t like what. I just cook how and what I feel, when I feel. I get to be selfish in the kitchen and I am enjoying it.

There are so many others that are finding themselves cooking for one. It may be a recent divorcee or an empty nester, a widow or someone who chooses this life style. I want to be able to make that transition a little easier for them. The Chef In Pearls will be doing a special series just for them or rather for us. ExclusivePartyofOne, a celebration of cooking for one with me, The Chef In Pearls. I’ll showcase recipes, classes and so much more on all my social media including Periscope. So make sure to follow me on all platforms as @TheChefInPearls. Please keep an eye out for the hashtag #ExclusivePartyOfOne.  You will be able to follow all of the goings by search for that hashtag. I am excited about all the things I want to share. So shake off all the negative vibes out there about cooking for yourself and where you may be in life because you’re not alone. We can and will make it through this stage of our lives better than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I made this dish over a month ago . When I put the pic on social media ( i.e. Instagram, my Facebook page, food groups I participate in) I got so many hits for it. Everyone wanted to know how to prepare it. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke I prepared it again and posted a new pic. Same response. So in an effort to be a woman/chef of my word I created a video showing everyone how to re-create the simple yet yummy dish.

Things you’ll need to re-create dish:

Salmon Steaks

Old Bay Seasoning

Cast Iron Grill Pan

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce

Pastry Brush

Please if you re-create this salmon dish  share a picture on social media with me and leave me a comment on the post. Now go forward and make new memories.

The Chef In Pearls

 

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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