How do you celebrate 35 years of getting healthy food right? With a cookbook of course! And that’s just what First Watch did. They have created a cookbook with all of the favorites and made it home cook friendly. So now you can either head to your nearest First Watch and saddle up for some fresh cooked food or pull out their cookbook out and whip up a meal or two for you and your friends. The choice is yours!
Oh so you’ve never been to First Watch? Man are you missing out! You couldn’t want for a better place to meet up with friends. First Watch restaurants are known for their breakfast, brunch and lunch menu. No dinner items on their menu, they only open during the daytime, 7:00am- 2:30pm. I recently had the privilege of dining at First Watch with a couple of fellow bloggers, Jennifer Harris of Gluten Free Go To Guide and Rochelle Wharton of Culinary Veggout. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so it was great to connect again over food. Our host for the afternoon was Charles Rohling, the regional marketing manager for First Watch. He started our meal off with one of their more popular dishes, Avocado Toast. It’s their thick cut multi grain toast topped with fresh smashed avocado, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt and served with two basted eggs. (In the cookbook they walk you through how to recreate all of the ways they cook eggs in the restaurants). They were even able to create the dish with gluten-free bread for Jennifer, who eats gluten free.We then got to try their Million Dollar Bacon, which was sweet and spicy all at the same time. But not Culinary Veggout because she’s vegan. Now I am not one for green drinks as I prefer to eat my veggies than drink them, but their Kale Tonic won me over. I was slow to sip but once I did I wanted to take it home with me. At this point you would think that was all they had for us but no, there was still more food being brought out. Next was the Parm Hash . . . potatoes, Italian sausage, onions, crimini mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan, mozzarella, and fresh herbs topped with two eggs. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I know it does because it was. And how can we not sample the lemon ricotta pancakes? So we did. You can’t go wrong with a meal at First Watch.
I was very content with the meal they provided but First Watch is a very generous company. They provided each of us with a copy of their new cookbook. You know I had to put that to good use. I re-created their BLTE sandwich with my take on their Million Dollar Bacon. It tastes even better than it looks. And we all know that it looks damn good. When you get a chance please check out your nearest First Watch location. And if you want to re-create some of their dishes, make sure to pick up a copy of the cookbook. Once you’ve had a First Watch meal and made wonderful memories make sure you let me know what you think. What’s your favorite dish? Did you make something out of the cookbook? I’d love to know.
Until next time . . .
~The Chef In Pearls
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
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 large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
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.
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.
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
Who isn’t drawn to a bit of mystery and intrigue? I cannot deny that I love a little mystery here and there. It makes life a little more interesting. So when given the chance to visit a speak easy located in downtown Atlanta, I was game. I was told to head to The Red Phone Booth. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched any old gangsta movies. You know, the ones where in order to get into the club you had to know the secret password. Well The Red Phone Booth is just like that. It’s open to the public. You just have to know someone who has gone before or has membership to give you the password. Thank God for knowing people! When you arrive you step inside a red phone booth, similar to the ones you used to see scattered throughout London. You dial in the secret code and voila the door opens for you.
Once the door opens, you enter into a dimly lit room with vignettes of leather clad sofas and chairs. There were large coffee tables nestled amongst them, giving the room a very manly feel. As you step a little further in, you see a full bar along the back of the room, where bartenders are busy crafting specialty drinks for the patrons. Then you notice the smell of smoke in the air, but not caused by trendy hookahs. This is the scent of cigars, slow burning being enjoyed by guests. Yes, this not your average bar or lounge. It’s more. It’s an experience.
During the visit, there was the chance to sample drinks while noshing on Beef Carpaccio and Oysters on the Half Shell. Can I make a confession? For all of the cooking and such I have done, I have never eaten an oyster on the half shell. I mean I’d eat Oysters Rockefeller all day long but an actual raw oyster . . . never. Well not until The Red Phone Booth. You know what? I actually liked it. Not bad for a first.
I would recommend The Red Phone Booth to anyone who doesn’t want to do the everyday bar scene. It’s full of history, great drinks, and a wonderful atmosphere. While you are there make sure to check out Amalfi’s located above the speak easy. The restaurant boasts two wood burning ovens that reach temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees. The heat allows them to bake pizza in less than a minute’s time. I really enjoyed their pizza crust. Let me know what you think about the pizza if you check them out.
Here are two places you can head out to and make memories. Do think you are up for a little mystery and intrigue?
Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. The images in the Red Phone Booth are dimly lit because I wanted you to get a feel for the atmosphere…Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find the flash on my camera. I now know where it is.
Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. It was a day to sit and make memories with our family and friends. We ate turkey with all the expected, loved and tasty trimmings. For some families that includes a decadent pumpkin pie.Thanksgiving’s arrival and departure means more to me than just the closure of a wonderful gathering. It means we can say goodbye to the almighty pumpkin. Yes you read that right. We no longer with pumpkin flavored anything. No more PSL.. you know…Pumpkin Spice Latte. No more pumpkin bread or pumpkin flavored ice cream It comes to a screeching halt. And I do a dance of glee.
While the rest of America was going crazy over the pumpkin , I was paying homage to the apple. Yes, apple. I’m sure the first thing that pops into your mind is the great American Apple Pie. A favorite for sure but the apple helps to create tons of memories. I have made apples cooked in a caramel sauce eaten with pancakes, apple butter used to make a glasze for pork belly sliders, apple stuffed baked french toast, apple dumplings served a la mode, a grown up version of an ice cream float made with hard cider (you can watch the video here). There is NO end to what can be done with the great apple. Sweet or savory the apple stands up to a variety of uses.
Since the weather is getting colder I wanted to share a recipe that would be great for family gatherings or spiked for an adult get together, Hot Apple Cider. Now this is more than just warmed up apple juice. When done right it is a mug of warmth filled with just the right amount of spice to make your whole body yield to relaxation. The power of the mug is amazing. And with the adult additions….well you can only imagine how mellow it can become.
Hot Apple Cider
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 apple, cut into slices
- 1 orange, cut into slices
- 4 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 slices fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
Add cider along with apple and orange slices to a large pot. Add the rest of ingredients into a large tea ball (making sure to break cinnamon sticks in half to fit in ball). Add to tea ball to pot and bring to a simmer for at least 30 minutes on the stove top. Then serve with fresh apple slices or maybe a few pieces of clove in a mug. If you want to make it an adult version add a shot of your favorite spiced rum or maybe a shot of caramel vodka for caramel apple hot cider to each mug.
Now that you have this recipe I want you to go forward and make plenty of memories with it.
Until next time,
~The Chef In Pearls
I know it’s getting cold but who doesn’t like a good Ice Cream Float? Especially if we can make it a little grown up. Follow the video so you can create you own version of caramel apple fun in your tummy. Now go forward and make some ice cream float memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
We all can remember “the firsts” of so many things in life. I can remember the first boy I kissed. The first time I was allowed to wear high heels. The first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner by myself. All firsts and all a little scary. But I took chances and got through them, mastering some more than others. As I become older, I still experience firsts. This past Saturday, I experienced a first that scared and saddened me deeply. This was the first time in 4 years that I cancelled one of my events. I did it quietly. Removing the event from the ticketing page I created and then refunding money to those already registered. I never made a formal announcement. I still thanked those who notified me they would not be able to attend as if everything was still a go. My family, closest friends and supporters knew. Each one trying their best to comfort me but the reality was it was a door that needed to be closed. Yeah, a really bummer.
My ladies lunch series came to life out of a need for me to get back into the kitchen. I had gone through a dark period in my life where cooking became something I avoided. I went from the mom that made everything from scratch to the Chef Boyardee-can opening-instant potato making-no more Sunday dinner making-I used to be a chef kind of cook.. It was hard for me to get out of that place and the lunch series helped me to re-embrace one of my loves. What started as a Mother’s Day lunch grew into a personalized therapy plan for me, something to soothe my soul. I looked forward to creating new menu ideas and fun ways of presenting food to my ever growing guest list. I always wanted everyone to walk away, not just full with food, but full with life from the interactions and connections they made while attending. I wanted everyone to walk away with gift bags and a desire to return and share in the fellowship the next time. The fact of the matter is the Ladies Lunch was successful as it served its purpose. I am back in the kitchen now. I am back to enjoying the kitchen as my place of peace. I am at a place where I want to share my knowledge with others and have fun doing it. Last year, I created the Exclusive Party of One as an avenue to do so. I will be focusing more of my time on educating and speaking about food and cooking as well as the importance it plays in the lives we lead. So much comes about because of food and the kitchen and I look forward to the mark I will make in this area.
So with a heavy heart I must say goodbye to the C.I.P. Ladies Lunch series and open my arms to today’s opportunities and ventures and those to come.
I’ll end with a quote from The Queendom, “Queen, keep your chin up. All is not lost. Sometimes you have to lose to gain.” I have abundant memories from all of those events and I will cherish them as I do of others. So please go forward today and make a memory, especially one in the kitchen. Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
Cannot access this app. That’s what my phone notified me of when I tried to visit my picture gallery. I needed to delete some stuff in order to continue on my merry picture ways. That’s when I realized I had some forgotten files I had not shared of a few other places I visited last month. I may have forgotten to share the pics but the places made a mark on me. The first place being Kefenio. It’s this wonderful Greek cafe located in College Park. A couple of months prior I helped with an event and Kefenio was what we had for lunch. So when I got back to College Park, I had to make it to the restaurant. It was well worth the visit. I was even lucky enough to meet the Chef and owner, John. I decided on the lamb burger, which was moist and flavorful, with their french fries that came seasoned with garlic, oregano and salt. YUM. Make sure to get a side of tzatziki sauce to eat your fries with, well worth the extra cents. It will make you dance in your seat as you eat the fries. I promise, scouts honor.
While still scrolling through my pics I came across another one of my forgotten files I visited. Have you heard of Shake Shack? Well I have. It’s supposed to be a “Hip, counter-serve chain for gourmet takes on fast-food classics like burgers & frozen custard”. So you know I was super stocked when the YP Insiders got an opportunity to visit and dine at its location here in Georgia? It’s located in the Shops of Buckhead, Atlanta’s version of Rodeo Drive. I was ready to be blown away. Unfortunately I wasn’t. It’s not that the burgers are bad it’s just that they are average. It didn’t leave me wanting to make a trip back to Buckhead to partake again. I always feel when a restaurant as a specific food in their name I should be compelled to drive 45 minutes to have it every chance I get. With that being said the milkshakes were pretty average as well. I felt like I could’ve gotten the cookies and cream milkshake from a CookOut or Steak & Shake location. Nothing to write home about. But don’t let me dampen your parade. You check it out for yourself.
The final place located in my forgotten files was True Foods Kitchen. This restaurant is located in Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, GA. This restaurant is dedicated to healthy eating style. They have menu items for vegans, vegetarians and those who eat gluten-free. There is something for everybody. The foods are all locally sourced and prepared fresh daily. I was taken to lunch as a birthday treat by one of my friends and “students” Katrina Parker. I got to sample their sustainable sea bass, the pizza with the house made chicken sausage and for dessert the flourless chocolate cake. I love good food especially when it’s good to you(body). I’d definitely tell a friend, as a matter of fact I’m going to text one right now.
Have you ever taken pictures of memorable places and forgotten to share them with others? Or is it just me? Here are three new places for you to go and try out. Let me know in the comments where you have gone and what you think. Until next time, go forward and make memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
I was heading to my first Atlanta Foodies Meetup. I hit traffic not once but twice but I was determined to make it to my first Atlanta Foodies restaurant crawl. I am what’s known in Atlanta as an OTP-er. It means I live outside the perimeter of 285. The city lays ITP, Inside The Perimeter. Generally speaking I live about 45 minutes outside the city of Atlanta. I know if I plan to make it anywhere in the city I need at least an hour and fifteen minutes so I am not late. On this particular day that was not enough time. I ended up spending about two hours trying to make it to my Atlanta Foodies meetup. I made it, late and a little frazzled but I made it. I do not let where I live affect me meeting new people and trying out new restaurants to share with you guys.
I finally arrived at Tupelo Honey Cafe . Our group organizer, Audrica of Napping on Mondays, was so gracious in helping me not feel bad about being late. I quickly got a seat and was introduced to the small group of attendees. I was a little late so food had already been brought to the table. What a spread it was. I think the pictures will do better than the words I could ever type. Between our waitress and the manager, we were made to feel like we would never want to leave and truly we didn’t want to. But there were more restaurants to visit and good eats wait for no one. Make sure you check them out in the Gateway Plaza in Sandy Springs.
The second stop on our restaurant crawl was Urban Cookhouse. All I can say is that I didn’t know I liked broccoli salad until UC. It was sweet and crunchy and just downright yummy. UC is a family friendly restaurant. It even has a drive thru for those days when you just can’t manage to get out of the car or don’t want to fuss with the kids inside a restaurant. The must have item on the menu is the Half Baked Cookie……MY GAWD! Seriously it’s not something you want to share with anyone else. So make sure everyone gets their own. Check them out the next time you’re in Sandy Springs.
Our finally stop on this restaurant crawl was Buttermilk Sky. Now technically we had dessert over at Urban Cookhouse but…Who can say no to pie? I sure couldn’t, so off to Buttermilk Sky we walked. At this point in the crawl the ethnic fatigue was starting to kick in. I knew I would still need to make it back to Conyers, you know OTP almost an hour away. I still pushed forward because my readers need to know what the Gateway Plaza in Sandy Springs has to offer them. I did it for you : )…LOL! Buttermilk Sky is a quaint little bakery that offers what I came to realize was some damned good pie. Kimmie ,the owner, took time out to chat with us about her bakery and what it offers. (Check out my Facebook page for the videos) She then presented us with goodie bags with what else? … PIE. We got to take home her I-40 pie, which has fresh grated coconut, pecans and chocolate. Now anyone that knows me knows that I am not a fan of coconut but that pie was really good. We also got the All-American favorite…apple pie. I sampled it cold and then reheated it the next morning for breakfast (I know it wasn’t the healthiest breakfast but it sure did taste good. The green tea helped to balance it out some…LOL). The crust on the pies were so buttery and flaky. And the fillings weren’t too sweet. They seemed almost perfect. I can’t wait to go back. Make sure to give Kimmie a visit and let her know you read about her on The Chef In Pearls.
I look forward to the next Atlanta Foodies Meetup. I got to meet some wonderful new bloggers including Shana of Technotini, Loren of Dating with Passports, Sharonda of Pay or Wait and our organizer Audrica of Napping on Mondays. I can’t wait to make more memories with Atlanta Foodies Meetup. Now you have 3 new restaurants to check out. Go forward and make new memories. Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
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