Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweet Potato Gouda Sconelettes with Thyme

Cooler weather calls for bolder flavors, heartier aromas and denser textures in contrast to the lighter dishes of hotter more humid days. Sweet potatoes lend themselves to both sweet and savory additions and in this case the enhancement of Gouda and fresh thyme.

A common component of the bouquet garni, and of herbes de Provence, thyme is an excellent compliment to most cheeses. Thyme, which was used by the Romans to purify their homes and to treat respiratory issues and coughs, was believed to be a source of great courage. Courage or not, they do add a nice perfume to our savory little scones. Try pulling through the sprigs through the tines of a fork to remove the tiny leaves from their woody stems.

1 cup sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons Gouda cheese, grated
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold butter, cut up
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor combine all dry ingredients, grated Gouda and thyme, and process until fully combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl. Add mashed sweet potato and milk and using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. The dough will still be very moist and a bit sticky. Lightly roll dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut dough into 3” squares and then cut each square on the diagonal into small triangles. Re-roll scraps as necessary.

Place sconelettes ½” apart on the lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg and bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Enjoy the delicious scent of the thyme as it purifies your house and fills you with courage! Serve them warm with butter.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Proper Southern Barbeque in Buckhead

The last thing you might expect is a barbeque joint in Buckhead, but that is exactly where the Southern Proper Hospitality group situated theirs. Smokbelly BBQ was created by the same fraternity brothers that created the ever-popular Tin Lizzy’s, The Big Ketch, and Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails. Occupying the newly renovated Tavern 99, Smokebelly is a restaurant intended to reflect Southern culture as a whole and barbeque in particular.

The space is rustic with modern touches. There are two large bars that flank the indoor dining and a stage off to one side for live music performances which take place every Thursday to Saturday.  There’s also a large patio for outdoor dining and enough TVs to watch the game from any angle. The menu is a taste of the South as best described by the owners as “chef crafted ‘cue with soul warming fixings.” “We’ve taken smoking and barbecuing techniques from every region and have combined them into what we feel is the best of all recipes,” Hadermann says. “We draw inspiration from all over.” Their extensive collection of homemade sauces is a prime example; with every conceivable flavor represented including Alabama white sauce, South Carolina “Gold,” and North Carolina vinegar sauce.

We recently had the pleasure of dining with one of the co-owners, Chris Hadermann who selected dishes for us to experience. We started with original cocktails and Southern snacks, including pimento cheese spread with house-made crackers, pork rinds (which are actually better with the pimento cheese), blistered peppadew peppers, fried pickled okra, and mini sausage corn dogs.

These “snacks” were followed by laden platters of smoked brisket, cherry-cola ribs, turkey, sausage, and pulled pork along with the traditional Southern sides of sweet potato soufflĂ©, Brunswick stew, mac & cheese, and creamy slaw. We also tried seasonal offerings of braised kale and a roasted beet salad. Everything was perfectly cooked and not too smoky (a pet peeve). My personal favorites were the sliced brisket, beet salad and mac & cheese.

It is clear that Hardermann and his partners have hit a home run with this menu concept and realization. The food and surroundings work in tandem to represent the current South while still paying homage to more traditional Southern trappings.

Smokebelly BBQ is located at 128 East Andrews Drive and is open everyday at 11:30am until 10:00pm on Sunday through Thursday and until 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday making it a wonderful spot to enjoy some ribs with the family or some brew and ‘que while watching your favorite team on the big screen.

While the menu items we sampled were complimentary, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our First e-Cookbook for Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

We are very excited to announce the publication of our first e-cookbook just in time for planning your Thanksgiving feast. Thanksgiving is a special time for most families; a time for sharing customs and making memories. Six years ago we started this blog to record and chronicle our family’s traditions and reminiscences through recipes. We would like to share a few of those recipes in the hopes that you will incorporate them into your Thanksgiving traditions.

Please feel free to download and share!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Roasted Carrots with Sorghum Syrup and Caraway

It is no secret that we have been trying to eat better and lose weight. Lofty goals during the time of year when you cannot swing a stick without hitting Halloween candy, pumpkin-spice everything, and a tray of Christmas cookies. Carrots are always a healthy if not mundane and tiresome alternative.

Carrots respectable fiber content is a key fat-fighting feature, half of which is the soluble fiber calcium pectate. Soluble fiber may help lower blood-cholesterol levels by binding with and eliminating bile acids, triggering cholesterol to be drawn out of the bloodstream. Additionally, carrots have little competition when it comes to beta-carotene. One half-cup serving of cooked carrots has four times the RDA of vitamin A in the form of protective beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is thought to ward off cancer and help to prevent heart disease due to its antioxidant qualities. The National Cancer Institute is studying the entire family of umbelliferous foods, of which carrots, celery and parsley are members, for protective effects. A recent Harvard University study suggests that people who eat more than five carrots a week are much less likely to suffer a stroke than those who eat only one carrot a month.

Yada, yada, yada. Let’s face it; those little carrot nuggets found in every school lunch box are BORING. Carrot soup; blah. But… roasted to bring out the natural sugars, now we may be getting somewhere. Add some sorghum syrup and a few caraway seeds and we are in business.

Sorghum syrup, also called sweet sorghum, is made from juice extracted from sorghum cane plants, which are grown in the Southeastern United States. Sorghum syrup contains no fat, cholesterol or protein and is a rich source of nutrients like manganese, vitamin B-6, magnesium and potassium. This sweet syrup can be used on pancakes, biscuits or as a topping for ice cream. It is sometimes used in baked goods as a substitute for molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup and as a vegan alternative to honey. Caraway seeds add a nice cumin-like warmth to dishes while aiding in digestion and boosting iron and calcium intake.

2 pounds baby carrots
1 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic, smashed
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup sorghum syrup
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds

Preheat oven and pan to 400°F. Wash and remove tops from carrots leaving 1 inch of greenery on each carrot. (if they have them.) Rub carrots with olive to ensure that they are fully coated and sprinkle with salt and pepper before placing them on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in wine, syrup and caraway seeds. Return to the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy.

Drizzle the syrup over carrots and toss to coat. Bake for another 10 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving dish and pour pan juices over the top before serving. Have leftovers? Don’t throw them away. They make a much better snack than those orange nugget aberrations.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Taste of Atlanta How To Guide

Taste of Atlanta is the city's biggest food event held each year in October. Below are some tips to make your tasting experience the best that it can be!
  • Take advantage of early ticket discounts: tickets are available online and at the Cook’s Warehouse. Taste of Atlanta gives many opportunities for you to save. This year codes “Tweet” and “AFBS” provided $5 off while IKEA Family members received $7 off with code “IKEA."

  • Choose your ticket level carefully: VIP tickets are more costly, but you have access to a special area with wine, beer and cocktails tastings as well as exclusive restaurant tastings (no additional tasting tickets required). You may feel the extra money is worth the benefit.

  • Do your Research: participating restaurants are listed well in advance. Research so that you know ahead which restaurant’s sample you simply must try.

  • Make a conscious decision about where you plan to park: Expect to pay $15-20 to park close to the event. Consider taking Uber especially if you have decided to purchase VIP tickets.

  • Check the weather forecast: Taste of Atlanta is held rain or shine. It is better to be prepared than to be too hot, cold or wet!

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes: Do not wear your skinny jeans; you will need some breathing room. The terrain is not optimal for high heels. They may look great but you will struggle to maneuver through he crowds with ease.

  • Consider taking a bag: While frequently there are vendors handing out reusable bags of some sort, you may not have a bag when an opportunity to collect some take home samples presents itself. I take a plastic grocery store bag folded tightly enough to fit in my pocket to use until that better bag presents itself.

  • Get there early! Although most restaurants are fully prepared for the crowds, some have been known to run out of popular items.

  • Allot plenty of time. This is not a “I’m just gonna stop by” kind of event. There will be crowds and there will be lines.

  • Maximize your ticket to appetite ratio: with your entry ticket you will receive 10 “tasting tickets” which allow you to purchase samples. If you go with a friend, you may choose to combine tickets and share tastes thereby conserving not only tickets but stomach space! Be on the lookout for bargains. For example, this year Woody’s Cheesesteaks offered generous servings of their famous sandwiches for only one ticket.
  • Splurge on a bottle of water: You will have to buy water separately, but trust me, you will need it.

  • Take advantage of the cooking demonstrations and competitions: You can rest your feet and your palate, and who knows you might actually learn something.

  • Don’t waste your last few tickets: Many of the restaurants “mark down” samples towards the end of the day, so you can grab a mini cupcake or zeppole on the way back to your car. Other items are portable making it easy to take home a treat for later such as a giant pretzel to nibble while catching the last half of your home team’s football game. If you reach the exit and still have a ticket or two, give them away. I usually look for a child who is clearly on their best behavior!

  • Lastly, cancel your dinner plans! You will not leave hungry.

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