Thursday, October 20, 2016

Concentrics Celebrates Harvest in Spectacular Fashion

We were very excited to be invited to Concentrics’ Harvest Dinner featuring seven amazing chefs serving six seasonal courses perfectly paired with exceptional wines. The mood was festive and the camaraderie palpable as we entered ONE.midtown Kitchen where signature cocktails and tantalizing starters like lobster hushpuppies and fried porcini ravioli were being passed to guests. Longtime host Bob Bost rallied diners to be seated and the feast began.

First up was a Hamachi Crudo created by Chef Chris Maher, Co-Executive Chef of One Midtown Kitchen. The beautiful spiral of Hamachi served with Uni, crispy Fresno Chili, Furikake, Cilantro, Cured Egg Yolk, Puffed Rice and a Black Pepper Yuzu and paired with a crisp Italian Viticoltori Raetia Pinot Grigio.

A silky White Gazpacho served with Autumn Fruits, Osetra Caviar, Almond, and a crispy Rye crumble by Chef Tyler Williams of Tap Gastropub which was matched with a Legado Del Moncayo Garnacha Blanca from Spain was a decadent second course.

Chef Michael Bertozzi of Two Urban Licks presented a Rigatoni topped with a Duck Ragu, Wild Mushrooms, tiny dried Currants and a Foie Cream partnered with Hobo Wine Company’s Folk Machine Pinot Noir.

Next a gorgeous Roasted Striped Bass rolled in Spinach and plated on Cauliflower Sabayon with Mussels and Black Truffle Shavings was crafted by Executive Chef Stuart Tracy of The Brasserie at Parish and paired with a California Chardonnay from Stuhlmuller.

An oversized Braised Veal Shank with an Apple Cider Demi and dusted with Pistachios served family-style was accompanied by dishes of Saffron Risotto and Smoked Carrots and Butternut Squash designed by One Midtown Kitchen’s Co-Executive Chef Matt Weinstein was complemented by Chateau de la Selve “Palissaire” from the Rhone Valley of France.

Last, but certainly not least Pastry Chefs Danielle Smathers of One Midtown Kitchen and Breanna Kinkead of The Brasserie at Parish shared their Sweet Potato Crème Brûlée with Honeycomb Candy, Spiced Pepitas, and toasted Marshmallow Fluff matched with a Kopke 10-Year Tawny Port.

Thanks to Concentrics' owner Bob Amick and his partner Todd Rushing and his fantastic team of chefs, mixologists and servers for an incredible evening of food, wine and frivolity!



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pennsylvania Dutch Pineapple Pie

Nearly 25 years ago, Dom and I headed to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio for a very busy Labor Day weekend. We were there for a christening at which Dom would become a godfather for the first time. We arrived on Friday to find Dom’s Aunt Phyll cooking frantically. Stepping in to help, I learned to make cannelloni at her side from the delicate, nearly transparent crepes to the lightly sweetened pomodoro sauce. After noshing on some homemade antipasti and dago red, we hopped in the car and went visiting some other relatives before heading to the Canfield Fair for the evening. The Canfield Fair is one of Dom’s favorite events of all time; rides, animals, music and hot sausage sandwiches… what’s not to love.

The next day after a cruise through Mill Creek Park, we headed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to the oldest Amish settlement in America which is still flourishing while relying on horse and buggy transportation and no electricity. Their gift store was a treasure trove of handmade items. We bought a quilt (which hangs over our bed) and a pineapple pie. Neither of us had ever had a pineapple pie before, and we thought it would be the perfect hostess gift for the family we were staying with. We walked in the door with the pie and even though dinnertime was drawing near, our host, Lou, immediately dove into the pie saying that it was his absolute favorite!

Upon Dom’s receipt of a great medical report, I glanced at a fresh pineapple sitting on the counter and thought what better way to celebrate than with a pineapple pie. If I had known how easy it was to make, I would have made one much sooner.

2 ½ -3 cups pineapple, cut into pieces
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons rum
2 Pie crust 9-inch

Mix some of the pineapple juice with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Place the pineapple with the lemon juice, sugar, salt and cornstarch slurry in a pan, cook until the mixture has thickened and is no longer cloudy, but clear (about 3 to 5 minutes). Remember to keep stirring so the mixture doesn't scorch. Stir in butter and rum before removing the filling from the heat to let cool to room temperature.

Heat oven to 425 ° F. fills the pie crust mold, and put up another crust on top, pressing to close it. Make a small cut with a razor or sharp knife. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and filling shows a bit in the cut. Remove and let it cool completely.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Prepare your pie shell. If working from scratch, fit dough into a 9 inch pie plate without stretching and let edges hang over. Pour the pineapple filling into pie shell.

Prepare the top shell. While a basket weave is very traditional, I used an apple corer to make holes in the top for a polka dot-style top. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 - 45 minutes until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Two Sisters Take on Little Rock

Three words I hear on tandem very infrequently: you have won. Yet, last Spring I did win. When I received notification that I had won a trip for two to Little Rock, Arkansas from the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau as part of their “16 Things to Do in Little Rock in 48 Hours” campaign, I was thrilled but, admittedly a bit nervous. Having never been to Little Rock, I had no idea what to expect! Now, I needed it to find an adventurous soul to go with me. I first called my sister on the off-chance she would accept. Surprisingly, she said yes, but the trip would need to be postponed until her busy season was over.

We finally agreed on dates in early October and plans were made. We each jumped on planes from our respective cities (Atlanta for me and Iowa City for her). We were greeted at the airport by the incredibly friendly drivers from the Capital Hotel where we would be staying. Upon arriving we were quickly checked in and escorted to our spacious and beautiful room.

After a quick lunch at the Capital Bar & Grill to get the lowdown on the specifics of our itinerary (and to sample their superb pimento cheese and spiced pecans), Kelly and I hit the ground ready to explore. Although there is a streetcar that runs directly in front of our hotel, we opted to walk as the weather was clear and some exercise was welcome after our flights. We headed to the River Market where the food court vendors were setting up for the evening. We rambled down the street window shopping in the cute shops along River Market Avenue street and soon found seats in the Damngoode Pies & Brews where we sipped on some locally crafted beers.

We ambled back along the outskirts of the Historic Arkansas Museum where a pre-civil war neighborhood in enclosed in a white picket fence, including the oldest home still standing in Little Rock. This also the site where William Woodruff once printed the Arkansas Gazette. The extraordinary sculpture of a hoedown made of brushed steel is definitely worth a look.

After a reservation snafu, we ended up at Bruno’s Little Italy. When the concierge from our hotel walked in behind us, we knew we had made the right choice. We were quite hungry after walking all afternoon and order some antipasti to assuage our hunger, along with our entrées of Veal Piccata and Chicken Vincenzo. The loaded antipasti platter alone was enough for dinner, but we ate everything with great abandon. Owner, Giovanni Bruno stopped by the table several times to make sure we were pleased with our meal which should have been obvious by our warm glows and satiated smiles.

After a good night sleep in our super-comfy beds, we were ready to explore more of Little Rock. We walked through Riverfront Park along the Arkansas River in the cool morning air to the William J. Clinton Library and Presidential Center where we walked through the timeline of President Bill Clinton’s term of office. We sat in the exact replica of his oval office and giggled as we at behind the reproduction “Resolute” desk that each president sits behind in the White House.

Next, we headed to The Heights neighborhood to do some shopping in the boutique shops along Kavanaugh Boulevard. We drooled over kitchen accessories in Eggshells Kitchen Co. and enjoyed the eye candy of Domestic Domestic before grabbing seats in the Heights Taco & Tamale for an early lunch of tacos and a trio of housemade salsas. From there we headed to the SOMA neighborhood to visit the Esse Purse Museum. This unique museum chronicles American history from the 1900s through ladies’ handbags and their contents. From the utilitarian purses of World War I with ration stamps to more lavish bags with combs, mirrors, lip gloss and cell phones of today. Just a few doors down is the wonderful antique shop, South Main Creative, with treasures old and new.

As we were early for the next item on our itinerary, we ducked into the interactive exhibit at Heifer International with many activities for school-age children to learn about sustainable farming efforts and food systems. We then sauntered over to Rocktown Distillery where we toured the facility learning how bourbon is made from ground corn and grains, distilled and aged in white oak barrels and bottled for distribution nationwide and abroad.

A tasting after the tour revealed the breadth of the distillery’s endeavors in making not only bourbon, but vodka, gin, and rum. Feeling the need for a beer chaser after our bourbon, we made our way to Stone’s Throw Brewery for a couple of cold ones. We decided to try a flight of their offerings and a cheese plate featuring Kent Walker artisan cheeses for a little nosh. The sour cider appealed to my palate while a robust stout was more to Kelly’s liking.

Back at the hotel, we glammed up a bit to head to dinner at One Eleven restaurant. We were quickly seated and the royal treatment began. Before we ordered, Chef Joël Antunes came to our table to introduce himself reminding me that he had once owned the acclaimed “Joël” Brasserie in Atlanta before landing in Little Rock. With so many fabulous dishes on the menu, it was very difficult to choose. We decided on stuffed mushrooms and a foie gras terrine as appetizers which the incredibly knowledgeable sommelier paired perfectly with Sauvignon Blanc and a Moscato respectively. Our main courses of Scallops and Seafood Risotto were masterfully prepared and matched with a dazzling rose. As if we had any room left for dessert, plates of crepe cake with Grand Marnier sauce and ice cream, and chocolate espresso semifreddo were devoured before we waddled up to the hotel’s mezzanine to enjoy some night air overlooking Markham Street. We were asleep before our heads hit the pillow…

With morning flights leaving Little Rock, we got up early for one last stop at The Root Café for a quick homey breakfast. Good biscuits are hard to come by anywhere but especially in Iowa where my little sister would soon be heading. She opted for a biscuit with butter and jam while I had an egg and cheese added to my biscuit. A little crumbly, but not too dry; these biscuits were worth the trip.

All good things must come to an end, and we said our misty-eyed goodbyes before proceeding to the airport and back to reality with some souvenirs and fantastic memories. Many thanks to the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for an amazing experience and to the Capital Hotel for their exceptional hospitality.

Enter below to win a gift pack of items from Little Rock, Arkansas!


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Macy's Culinary Council Presents Chef Marc Forgione

Marc Forgione’s story is one that is near and dear to our hearts. We began this blogging project when our sons expressed an interest in learning how to cook the recipes handed down from our families, namely Fanny’s meatballs and sauce. Marc learned to cook at an early age from one of the best chefs (in fact, THE best chef according to the James Beard Foundation in 1993), from his Dad, Larry Forgione, a.k.a “The Godfather of American Cuisine.”

After graduating with a degree in restaurant management, Chef Marc headed to France to diversify his experience. He returned to New York City to work at BLT Prime. Next, Chef Marc, winner of Food Network’s Next Iron Chef, Season 3, opened his own restaurant. Restaurant Marc Forgione has received three Michelin stars in the Michelin Guide New York City along with many other awards including “Top 25 Restaurants in NYC" by Modern Luxury magazine.

In 2012, Chef Marc opened a steakhouse in Atlantic City which he named “American Cut” as a nod to his father and his restaurant, "An American Place." Now known for his own innovative take on American cuisine, his menu includes unique and original dishes like his take on the quintessential surf and turf with his signature Chili Lobster served alongside a huge, aged Tomahawk Rib Eye Chop. Again following in his Dad’s footsteps, Chef Marc published a cookbook, “Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant” in 2014 which includes 170 recipes along with gorgeous photography.

So you can imagine, my excitement when I heard that Chef Marc would be coming to Atlanta to share a few of his favorite award-winning dishes as a member of Macy’s Culinary Council on October 20th at Macy’s in Lenox Mall at 6:30pm. Even more exciting is that this event is FREE!

In fact, if you register in advance at, you will receive a $10 Macy’s gift card. And, if you spend $35 or more in Macy’s Home Department, you will receive a special gift and a copy of Chef Marc’s cookbook, which he will be signing after the cooking demonstration. For our readers who do not live in the Atlanta area, you can learn more about Macy’s Culinary Council and upcoming events at


Monday, October 3, 2016

Lemony Desserts for Memory & Focus

I love lemons. According to James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author Judith Fertig, that means that I have a “caustic wit and dispense sarcasm freely.” Pretty darn accurate. Lemon also sharpens the senses, brings flavors into focus, and refreshes us body and soul. In her new book, '"'The Memory of Lemon," Fertig traces the love of lemon back through several generations in the main character’s family. The book continues the story of pastry chef Neely who has the special gift of tasting the flavors of people’s emotions. Flipping back and forth in time, we follow her as she tries to please a difficult bride, divorce her cheating husband, reconnect with her high school sweetheart, and deal with the reappearance of her father who abandoned her as a child.

It should come as no surprise that Fertig comes from a long line of lemon lovers. Among her mother and grandmother's recipes, she and her sister found recipes for more than 10 different types of lemon pie. This discovery has lead Fertig to believe that favorite flavors can be passed down through each family’s DNA. When researching “The Memory of Lemon,” Fertig researched this idea and found an Emory study that supports her theory.

Recently, Judith Fertig came to Atlanta to share her love of lemons and her new book at The Cook’s warehouse where she shared her favorite lemony desserts along with her personal memories of lemons. We sampled The Lemon-iest Lemon Bars, Lemon-scented Crackly-Top Pear Cake with Warm Pear Caramel, Polka-Dot Lemon Blueberry Cake Roll, and Lemon Balm Pound Cake with Lemonade Glaze. The latter we could not resist the opportunity to share with you!

Lemon Balm Pound Cake with Lemonade Glaze 
16 fresh lemon balm (substitute lemon verbena or fresh basil leaves)
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
9 large eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Lemonade Glaze: 
Juice of I lemon
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter and flour a (12-cup) tube or Bundt cake and set aside. If you like, press fresh lemon balm leaves onto the sides of the pan.

With an electric mixer or food processor, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Beat in the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour, a little at a time, until well blended. Stir in the lemon zest, vanilla and roughly chopped leaves.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick Inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake on a wire rack to cool.

For the Lemonade Glaze, whisk the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar together until smooth and spoon over the warm cake.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Maypo Hot Breakfast Cereal for Young and Old Alike

Few kids these days have ever heard of Maypo. I vaguely remember it myself, but ask your parents or grandparents if they’ve heard of it and they will automatically say, “I want my Maypo!” Maypo, developed in 1953 by the Maltex Corporation in Burlington, Vermont was one of the original flavored oatmeals. They gained their popularity with a highly successful television campaign with an adorable 4-year-old named Marky Maypo who would exclaim "I WANT MY MAYPO!" Over the years, other warm breakfast cereals gained market share while the Maypo brand bounced from company to company. Today, Homestat Farm is working to reacquaint customers with Maypo by introducing it to a new generation of children.

We recently received three varieties of Maypo to sample: Instant Maple Flavored Oatmeal, Vermont Style Maple Oatmeal, and Instant Maple Oatmeal with Quinoa. The first question in deciding which to try first was “What is the difference between Maypo Maple Oatmeal and Maypo Vermont Style?” The oats used to manufacture Instant Maple-flavored Maypo are thin rolled oat flakes. The texture and eating qualities of Instant Maypo are similar to other brands of oatmeal products. However, the oats used for Vermont-Style Maypo are finely cracked oats or oat bits making the texture smoother and creamier. Both cereals have the same flavor profile have 2/3 less sugar than the leading brand of maple-flavored oatmeal.

The new Maypo Instant Maple Oatmeal with Quinoa combines maple-flavored, whole grain oatmeal with protein-rich, golden quinoa flakes. The ancient grain quinoa is a complete protein source, and a valuable source of certain healthy fats and is also rich in antioxidants. This combination sounded most interesting so we decided to start there.

In addition to a multitude of health benefits, the Instant Maple Oatmeal with Quinoa is incredibly easy to prepare either in the microwave (or one a stove top.) Place one cup of water or milk in a microwavable bowl with ½ cup Maypo and a pinch of salt and cook on high for 1½ to 2 minutes. That’s it! The result was a hot breakfast in minutes. While not a huge fan of instant oatmeal because it tends to be a bit slippery, the consistency of the oatmeal with quinoa was excellent.

Because I like my oatmeal a bit sweeter, I added a drizzle of another original Vermont product, pure Dark Robust Maple Syrup from Thunder Bay Maple Supply. The delicious, all-natural syrup contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. I also tossed some pepitas and berries on top for the perfect post-workout snack.

With cooler Autumnal weather on the way, I am looking forward to trying with the other Maypo flavors and styles as well experimenting with recipes using Maypo products such as Easy Apple Crisp, Maypo Oatmeal Cake or Marky's Maypo Cookies available on the Homestat Farm website.

Disclosure: While we received a complimentary samples of Maypo products and Thunder Bay maple syrup for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In the Demo Kitchen with ONE.midtown Chefs

Each week from April to November, the Morningside Farmer’s Market hosts cooking demonstrations with some of Atlanta’s most talented chefs. This past Saturday, shoppers were treated to not just one, but two gifted chefs: Matt Weinstein and Christopher Maher of ONE.midtown kitchen.

Chef Matt, former Executive Chef at the now-closed Woodfire Grill, and Chef Christopher, previously sous chef to One.midtown’s Nick Oltarsh, now serve as Co-executive chefs. The menu reflects both chefs’ personal styles: Chef Matt’s modern, out-of-the-box style accentuates Chef Christopher’s more traditional style of cooking. Watching the pair work together seamlessly, cajoling and encouraging each other made for an even more enjoyable morning.

While Chef Matt made an aioli with black garlic, Chef Christopher blistered green shishito peppers and tossed them with sesame seeds, unagi sauce and a chiffonade of cilantro. The combination of flavors was staggering. The charred peppers with fresh cilantro, and the umami of the aioli are the perfect representation of the chefs combined talents.

“I enjoy doing chef demonstrations because It's a fun way to get to know the people in the neighborhood and to show support for our local farmers and artisans,” shared Chef Christopher. “It also shows people that cooking is easy and fun. I hope visitors can take away a fun new cooking technique or recipe to try at home, adds Chef Matt.

Black Garlic Aioli: 
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 cup port or robust red wine
1 head black garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 oz. red wine vinegar
3 egg yolks
1 ½ cups neutral oil (such as soybean, canola oil and safflower oil)

Place garlic, shallots, and port in a small saucepan, and over medium heat, cook until the shallots are softened and the port has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Allow the mixture to cool. Place the garlic mixture in the pitcher of a blender, along with the egg yolks, vinegar and Dijon mustard, and then process on high for 30 seconds to completely combine.

Turn down the speed of the blender, and slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify. You should be able to observe the mixture go from very liquid to think like mayonnaise. Season the aioli to taste with salt and pepper.

Blistered Peppers: 
2 cups shishito peppers
Neutral oil
½ tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon unagi sauce (available in most Asian markets)
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
Black garlic aioli
Kosher salt
Bonito flakes

Heat oil in a skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add shishito peppers, and cook until softened and blistered (about 3-5 minutes).

Transfer the peppers to a bowl, and toss with sesame seeds, unagi sauce, chopped cilantro leaves and salt.

To serve, spoon a dollop of aioli on each serving plate, and layer 2-4 cooked peppers over the aioli. Sprinkle some bonito flakes over the top. Serve and enjoy!

To experience more of Chef Matt and Chef Christopher’s cooking, make plans to attend Concentrics Restaurants’ annual Harvest Dinner on Sunday, October 16th at ONE.midtown Kitchen. The dinner will feature six paired courses highlighting the best of the Fall’s bounty prepared by the seven Concentrics’ chefs including Chefs Matt and Christopher.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Eat Good & Do Good for Wholesome Wave

We all do it. Taking selfies is almost as routine as brushing your teeth or drinking a cup of coffee. Now imagine if simply snapping a selfie could raise money and awareness for a great charity. From September 27th to October 12th, diners at more than 12 Atlanta restaurants can raise money for Wholesome Wave Georgia by taking a picture of themselves with fresh fruits or vegetables and share to Instagram. Participating restaurants include 1KEPT, Bangkok Station, Cooks & Soldiers, Double Zero, Farm Burger (Buckhead, Decatur, and Dunwoody locations), Gunshow, Iberian Pig, Miller Union, Saltyard, Sugo Kitchen, and Sweet Auburn Barbecue.

This unique fundraiser, Eat Good Do Good GA, led by local restaurateurs Nick Leahy (of Saltyard) and Thaddeus Keefe (of 1KEPT), aims to make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible to those facing food insecurity in the state.

Participating restaurants will have a selection of fresh produce for diners to include in their selfies. For each qualifying Instagram image taken at a one of the participating restaurants, $.50 will be donated to Wholesome Wave Georgia, an organization that works year-round to make healthy choices and locally grown produce accessible to Georgia’s food insecure population.
Wholesome Wave Georgia has grown from three partner farmer’s markets in 2009 to a network of 45 local farmer’s markets and direct-marketing farms in 2016. They have provided over $1.4 million in healthy food to eligible Georgia SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients and generated $1.4 million in revenue for local farmers. By subsidizing the higher costs of healthy, locally-grown foods, Wholesome Wave makes healthy, nourishing choices accessible for Georgia’s food insecure population.

Special thanks to Nick Leahy for hosting a kickoff party with tasty treats from Saltyard!

COPYRIGHT © 2016. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger.