Sunday, March 22, 2015

Roasted Pears with Sugared Hazelnuts and Creme Fraiche


Yes. This dessert. Beautiful, simple, and so freaking good. 
How wonderful it is when you all you need is a few simple ingredients to turn out something that is the best thing you've tasted in weeks. 
And P.S. - totally breakfast worthy as well.



Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. Please go make this. Soon. And share with those you love.
Oh, and you are forewarned.....the sugared hazelnuts are beyond addictive. I made a big batch and have been enjoying them sprinkled on my morning oatmeal, waffles, yogurt....and by the spoonful.


Roasted Pears with Sugared Hazelnuts and Creme Fraiche

Roasted pears adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

For sugared hazelnuts:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped hazelnuts (or your favorite nut)
1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

For pears:
1/3 cup organic apple juice
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 firm Bartlett pears, peeled, halved, cored 
 
For serving:
Creme Fraiche mixed with granulated cane sugar or caster sugar to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Make sugared hazelnuts:
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat heat and add butter. When melted, add nuts and sugar. Cook, stirring continually, until sugar melts and turns golden. A few crystals is ok, it's not going to get really liquidy. Remove pan from heat, add vanilla and stir quickly. Dump out nuts onto prepared sheet pan and spread out evenly. Allow to cool.
 
Roast pears:
Arrange the pears cut side up in an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Whisk the apple juice and sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the butter. Pour the sauce over the pears. Bake until the pears are crisp-tender and beginning to brown, basting occasionally with the juices, about 30 minutes.

Serve:
Spoon some of the syrupy juice onto plates. Place pears on plate and top with a dollop of two of sweetened creme fraiche. Sprinkle generously with sugared hazelnuts. Drizzle with any juices and serve.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Best of Atlanta Party 2015


We ventured out to the Cobb Galleria last week to attend the Best of Atlanta Party, hosted by Atlanta Magazine. Oh man, did we have a blast and enjoyed so many memorable bites and sips!
The Best of Atlanta is an annual party featuring signature dishes & drinks from a diverse group of Atlanta restaurants, food trucks, and wineries and beverage companies. Atlanta Magazine did an amazing job, along with all the volunteers....the venue looked gorgeous, the Yacht Rock Schooner band was jamming, and everything was so organized and efficient {ya'll know I'm all about organization!}

 
This year the event proceeds will benefit the Giving Kitchen, a local non-profit that provides crisis grants to members of Atlanta’s restaurant community facing unanticipated hardship.
I have followed the story of the Giving Kitchen for some time and been touched by how Chef Ryan Hidinger's journey through cancer garnered an outpouring of support and love from the Atlanta community and inspired this terrific organization. As a cancer survivor myself, I am touched by their mission and wholeheartedly support it. You can find out more about TGK here.
 


Ok, let's talk food. 
You have to know that I did a little happy dance when I walked into BOA and saw the owners of Dutch Monkey Donuts. I've been a fan of this local donut shop for some time. 
For me, they make the best donuts around. You can taste every bite of love in their awesome creations. 
I did a second happy dance when I saw what they were serving...passionfruit! One of my top five favorite dessert flavors. Paired with the warm hazelnut date donut, it was heaven and my vote for best sweet treat of the night!
Thank you DMD for showing up and doing what you do!


There were so many great bites during the evening, it's hard to pick out just a few to highlight. 
But here goes....
  • Dutch Monkey Donuts - Hazelnut Date Donut with passionfruit curd and ganache
  • The Wrecking Bar - Pork with house-made pickles and a grainy mustard
  • Bhojanic - Biryani {and the coolest booth design ever}
  • Chai Pani - Dahi Puri
  • Queen of Cream - hand crafted ice cream {I can't remember the full name of my sample, but I know it had brown butter in it, which is swoon-worthy}
  • Second Self Beer Company - Thai Wheat beer
  • Fogo de Chao - tasty meats
  • Barnsley Resort - Lamb shank in potato cups with bone marrow vinaigrette

What a fun night. I ate way too much, but it was totally worth it. And I came home with a Giving Kitchen t-shirt that may be too tight {husband is pretty happy about that one}.
If you didn't get to the Best of Atlanta party this year, put it down on your calendar for next year. 
I know I will.

Note: As a member of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society, my tickets were complimentary. The opinions expressed herein are genuine and unsolicited.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Most Fabulous Orange Poppyseed Scones


I'm a scone girl. From way way back. I love them with every little fiber of my being. I adore making them and eating them.
For years, I've been making a recipe for currant scones (sans the currants) from Rose Levy Beranbaum. They are cream scones and simply wonderful.
So, I have to thank my lovely friend Judith McLoughlin for inspiring me to try this orange poppyseed scone recipe. She doesn't know she inspired me....but she generously gave me a subscription to Tea Time magazine recently. This scone jumped right out of the pages of the March issue and right into my heart. They are simply amazing.


I'm feeling the love of Valentine's week. How about you? Feeling super grateful to have a roof over my head, meaningful work to do in the world, people who care for me, a warm kitty on my lap {well not right now, but occasionally when she allows it} and a husband who works really hard to put a smile on my lips {which he does quite often}. 
Of course, I had to go with heart shaped scones. Oh and some righteous orange glaze on top to spiff it up.


This would be scrumptious for V-Day Brunch this weekend. Or at your next family weekend breakfast.
Happy Hearts Day.

Orange-Poppyseed Scones
Makes about 10-12
 
Adapted from Tea Time Magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for tops
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream, cold, plus extra for brushing tops

Orange Glaze:
Fresh squeezed orange juice, strained
Confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 400F.
Line baking pan with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, zest, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt. 
Drop in pieces of cold butter and either rub in with your fingers or use a pastry blender to cut in, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add cream and stir until incorporated and mixture becomes a shaggy mass. Bring dough together with hands and pat into a round disk.
Roll dough out onto a flour surface into a rectangle. Fold into thirds like a letter. Roll out one more time, until dough is 3/4 inch thick.
Use a round or heart shaped cutter to cut out scones and place on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Re-roll scraps once to cut out a few more.
Brush tops of scones lightly with extra cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. 
While scones bake, mix up orange glaze. {I didn't measure, just mixed some fresh squeezed and strained orange juice with sifted confectioners' sugar, until thick enough to drizzle on top).
When slightly cool, drizzle with glaze {or dunk top of scone in glaze}.

Enjoy.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Buttermilk Pecan Cardamom Pie with Blackberries


Sitting down to a piece of scrumptious, homemade pie makes me very happy. And content. And if I had one of those Life is Good t-shirts...I'd probably put that on to eat my pie. And Dave Matthews would be playing in the background. That's my perfect pie-savoring scenario.
Oh and my husband would be there too, enjoying his own piece of pie.  
Cue the little gobbly, lip-smacking noises.



Pie-making is like therapy for me. I throw the windows open, let the sun stream in, and pull out my trusty rolling pin. Making a good pie crust is essential in my world. I very rarely make a pie or quiche using a store-bought pie crust....and when I am pressed for time and do that, I feel like a clod. 
Like, I know how to rock a good pie crust....what the hell am I doing buying it?? So that happens very rarely so I can live with myself.
I vote for homemade pie dough and one made with all butter.



My grandfather used to drink buttermilk when I was growing up. That's got to be like some old-timey pro-biotics going on, right? Good for the digestion and perhaps cooling to the system during hot summer months.
Anyhow, I like using it for baking....biscuits, waffles, custards, cakes, pies. I always seem to have a carton of buttermilk in the fridge {probably cause I make my mom's corn waffles about once a week these days}. I got a hankering for pie the other day and found a great buttermilk pie recipe. I added a bunch of cardamom to it and served it with some sweet blackberries. Heavenly. And I loved that it wasn't extremely sweet, just sweet enough to highlight the lovely crust, tangy buttermilk, and fresh berries.


Buttermilk Pecan Cardamom Pie with Blackberries

Adapted from Whatscookingamerica.net

Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt 

1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water 


In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to one hour.


Filling:

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk, divided {I like to use local buttermilk if available}

1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rough chopped pecans

Fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 425F. Roll out pie crust and place gently into the pie pan, pushing down into the corners. Finish edges of crust with crimping, folds, etc. Chill for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Add beaten eggs, remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, and cardamom. Mix well with a whisk. Mix in the melted butter and vanilla extract.

Pour into prepared pie crust. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is lightly brown and the center is set. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate after cooling. Serve with fresh blackberries.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday Night Meatballs with Gluten Free Pasta


As much as I like to cook...sometimes you just need something easy, peasy that's quick and delish for dinner. Plus, I hurt my back like a week ago and last night was the first time I felt up to doing any cooking...it had to be low-key, comfort food sort of stuff.
I'd been craving meatballs for like a week and we had rice pasta and a jar of sauce in the pantry. So I grabbed a package of grass fed ground beef on my way home from work.
Thirty minutes later. Voila. Tuesday night's dinner on the table. 
I'm happy and husband is happy.



Why the gluten-free pasta? Well, not because I need to have it. 
I enjoy the whole bread/carbs/wheat flour thing...just not all the time. And the Tinkyada rice pasta is just damn tasty to me. It has good texture, not mushy.
I don't really use a recipe to make meatballs, so I'm putting this together for you to the best of my recollection, just in case you want it. They are best with homemade sauce, but that's for a night when I get started a little earlier. Some folks like to fry their meatballs in a skillet to brown them, not me. Save cleaning a pan, lose the added oil, and keep it simple. Peace.

Meatballs with Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 pound ground beef {I used dry-aged grass fed}
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 small onion, chopped
Parsley, chopped - about a handful
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
Panko bread crumbs, 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Your favorite homemade or jarred pasta sauce
Pasta noodles {I used Tinkyada brand}
Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl till well-combined. Don't overmix or overwork the meat or it can get tough. Shape into the same size meatballs {I used an ice cream scoop} and place on lined sheet pan. Bake until cooked through, about 18-20 minutes or so.
While meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta in salted water, according to package directions.
Heat up sauce in a large saucepan and allow to simmer on low heat. When meatballs are done cooking in the oven, remove them and place into the sauce until ready to serve.
Serve pasta and meatballs with sauce and a sprinkle of grated parmesan.

P.S. Yes, I did get a back rub along with my meatballs. Jay's good like that. I'm a lucky girl.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Khichdi - Indian Comfort Food


If I could eat just two cuisines for most of my days....it would have to be Indian and Vietnamese. 
I love them both. I love the all the amazing spice used in Indian cuisine and the fresh herbs and fish sauce of Vietnamese food......so, so delicious.
Honestly, I don't make too many attempts at home to make Indian food, but my goal this year is dust off my Indian cookbooks and really dive in.



I stopped by a neighborhood Indian grocery the other day and it was a treat to leisurely stroll the aisles, looking at lots of familiar ingredients and not-so-familiar items. I picked up this huge bag of Khichdi and got busy. 
Khichdi is Indian comfort food and I remember having it some years ago, but had never made it at home. A great excuse to pull out my spices and stash of curry leaves in the freezer. Basically, it is a vegetarian dish of rice and lentils, similar to a porridge. It is said to be very nutritious and easy on the digestive system. Although it can be made without spice, this one a little spice and a bit of ghee. yum

Monday, December 15, 2014

Roswell's Sugar Shack in the Back - rockin' the Breakfast Biscuits!


They say a picture says a thousand words....so what do you think this one says?
How about.....AMAZING, FREAKIN'-DELICIOUS, 
DECADENT, SPLURGE-WORTHY, OMG - GOTTA HAVE THIS, CrAzY GOOD, BUTTERY BISCUITS FROM HEAVEN!

It is no secret that I love good food. I like making it, baking it, talking about it, sharing it with friends, and exploring food gems in my city.
Generally, I eat pretty healthy. But I'm all for a bacon indulgence and having a treat once in a while.
When I have a day off from work, I either like to make a special breakfast or get out and explore a new breakfast place with Jay. 
We recently discovered Sugar Shack in the Back, which is right behind the Fickle Pickle Restaurant off Canton Street in downtown Roswell, GA. 

They have lots of yummy-looking items, including cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and croissants. 
Their biscuit breakfast sandwiches we had were some of the best biscuits I've had in a long time. And I kind of love that they are square biscuits....bonus points!
The fact that my "ooey-gooey" biscuit came stuffed with eggs, bacon, pimento cheese, and pepper jelly was compelling in a sit-and-stare-at-it-for a while kind of way. Jay's biscuit had Brie and balsamic syrup....I think .....I was a little too busy ogling my biscuit to pay attention to his! So yummy.

We sat outside on their lovely patio and really enjoyed our sunny, relaxed morning. We will definitely go back and take some friends next time...and probably not need to eat again the rest of the day!

If you are looking for some new breakfast places to try in the Roswell and Atlanta hoods, here are some of my favorites:

Thumbs-Up Diner
♥ ♥ ♥ love the Portland Scramble
J. Christopher's
a fan of the Turkey Sausage platter with egg whites and fruit♥ ♥ ♥
West Egg Cafe
♥ ♥ ♥ Black Bean cakes and Eggs - yum!
Cafe Jonah
 Batdorf and Bronson coffee and breakfast sandwiches ♥ ♥ ♥
Douceur de France
♥ ♥ ♥ delicious quiche

Happy Breakfast peeps!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Panettone French Toast

  


I love those mornings....the slow to wake ones followed by some gentle yoga stretches, foamy, rich coffee, and something truly special for breakfast. These mornings don't happen a lot and I cling to them when they do.
On Monday, with no where to rush to and time to hang in my pj's {it's the little things that make life sweet, right?},  I decided to break out the panettone. You can find panettone at most grocery stores during the holidays. It's an amazing soft, sweet bread from Italy, full of candied orange, raisins, and lemon zest. I love it toasted with ghee spread on top and it also makes out-of-this world french toast. Perfect for the holidays and super easy to do for a family breakfast.