home meet the chef Services and Pricing Sample Menus blog

Friday, November 2, 2012

How 'Bout Them Apples?

Had a great week this week! I cooked for a new client on Monday and got feedback that "everything has been wonderful!" Yay! Love to hear that clients like my food. I'll be cooking for this new family every other week, so really happy that they're happy.

On Tuesday I went to Ellijay, Georgia with my mom to get apples. Loved spending time with my mom. We had lunch at Cantaberry Restaurant in downtown Ellijay. We both had the she-crab soup and it was divine! It was cream based, so what's not to like.

Next we went to two different apple places and bought apples and fried pies at both.
So many choices of apples, all freshly picked and delicious. I made my own 1/2 peck bag by choosing different kinds. At the second stop, I bought a bag of small apples called Yates and my mom and I split the bag. They're beautiful apples, tart and juicy!
Yates Apples

On Thursday, I met with a new client and confirmed a New Year's Eve party. We planned the menu and discussed all the details, so we're good to go. Should be a fun party and love it when people think ahead!

Also  yesterday, I picked up my last CSA bag for this year. It's been great and I'll definitely do it again next year. This week's bag had carrots, collards, spinach, mixed lettuce, radishes and turnips, all beautiful. Today, office work, menu planning and recipe research, getting ready for another week much like this one!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cooking Southern

Last night I tried a new recipe for ribs that is in the October issue of Southern Living Magazine.
There's an article about Sorghum Syrup and Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins' use of the syrup with several recipes. I grew up eating Sorghum Syrup, but mainly on biscuits so I was excited to see these recipe ideas and eager to give a recipe a try.

I had a jar of Sorghum Syrup in my pantry, so all I needed was ribs! I bought some pork and some beef, just to taste test.

The recipe says to use the oven, but since I have a Big Green Egg, I knew it would be that much better so we got out the Egg.

First we cooked the ribs at about 250 degrees for two hours, with the rub on and wrapped in foil.  They were already looking good. Then, we removed the ribs from the foil and put them right on the grill rack and began basting with the syrup glaze, for about another hour and a half.

I'm telling you, this recipe is definitely worth a try! The glaze was this awesome sticky, sweet, but not too sweet, delicious burst of flavor in your mouth! Yum and yum.

The recipe, in my own words:

2 1/2 lbs ribs

1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 tbsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp ground red pepper

1 cup sorghum syrup, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

Remove membrane from ribs. Mix sugar through red pepper together to make the rub and massage into ribs. Wrap and refrigerate up to 12 hours. Cover ribs with foil and cook in 275 degree oven for 2 hours.

Mix syrup, vinegar and salt and pepper in small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer till reduced by half. Cool.  Remove foil and cook another 3 hours, basting with sorghum syrup mixture.

Thanks Linton Hopkins and Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cooking For Allergies

Today I had a great cook date for a new client. She contacted me after receiving results from her ALCAT test, showing what foods to avoid because of allergic reactions. The results sheet shows all the intolerances, but also gives a recommend 4-day rotation diet with a list for each day of food items that can be incorporated.

Each day has a column of foods, oils and spices that should be eaten for a particular day. So I set about developing menus, two meals for each day. Today I prepared for her eight meals, with two servings of each meal.

This was a fun and interesting challenge, kind of like being on Chopped! Each day's food could only use certain oils and spices, and each day had a limited number of proteins to choose from. For example, one day's choice was pork, and the spice choices included coffee and cocoa. So, I made a rub with coffee and cocoa and it was great!

I had to make a "recipe" for each meal to make sure I kept it all straight. Granted, some of the recipes had only three ingredients, given the restrictions. But all in all, the food turned out great. The thought came to me more than once that great food doesn't have to be complicated, just use high quality ingredients and a little creativity!

Here are some pics from today:
Pecan Roasted Salmon with White Rice
Basil Chicken with Wild Rice

Buffalo Meatballs with Roasted White Potatoes

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August, Where Did You Go?

Time really does fly when you're having fun. And August has been an especially fun month for me. Busy with really great dinner parties with repeat clients and some new clients. New weekly meal clients have come on board, and I'm loving every minute of it!

August started out with a trip to Washington, DC for the national conference of the United States Personal Chef Association. I took some really good classes and met terrific new chef friends.

One of the classes was a garnishing skills class where we took ordinary foods and turned them into art. Well, our instructors turned them in to art, and we tried.
Fish From A Lemon
Leaves From Squash

And our Atlanta Chapter won Chapter Of The Year!

The last night, I had the most amazing meal at a restaurant called Jaleo with some fellow personal chefs. If you go to DC, try it! We had the chef's tasting menu, 18 courses of small plates, each more scrumptious than the last. Delicious!

And August is not over....still lots on the schedule for the remaining days.Yay!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lexington Barbecue

On a recent trip to Greensboro, North Carolina, my husband and I knew we wanted to have barbecue on the way home. I've had the Lexington style barbecue many times in Greensboro at a place called Stamey's, but I pushed to try barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina since it would be on our route home.

We went to a place called Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina. This would give us the Lexington style barbecue for sure. If you're not familiar, this style of barbecue uses only the pork shoulder and has a very, very thin sauce made of ketchup, vinegar, pepper and probably water. It's very, very thin. There are no ribs, your only choice of meat is chopped, sliced, or roughly chopped.

The slaw I'm convinced is made of simply finely chopped cabbage that's left to sit in this same sauce until the cabbage is soft. And when you have a barbecue sandwich, you put the slaw on top of the meat. That's just how it's done.

With Slaw
The menu also of course had Cheerwine, and the sandwiches and almost everything included the slaw. The food was really good, our waitress was extremely friendly. The hush puppies were excellent! I had to request unsweetened tea (of course, sweet tea was the norm).

Lexington Barbecue is on Business I-85 which branches off Interstate 85. I would definitely recommend it as a place to try authentic Lexington style barbecue.

Monday, July 16, 2012

6X12 Bundle Of Joy

Who knew I would enjoy my little garden so much? Not me. And now I think I'm addicted. It really doesn't require that much time out of my week, just watering when it's needed and occasional weeding.  I do walk out there every morning, just to see what's happening. And there's always something to pick. Right now it's green beans, butterbeans and tomatoes.

I planted black eyed peas about three weeks ago....they're going crazy. Not blooming yet, but we should have a lot of peas from just this one row.
Black-Eyed Peas

About a week and a half ago, I planted a row of okra and a small section of cucumbers called Lemon Cucumbers. Don't ask me why I planted them in an "X" configuration. I think I thought it would be easier to force them to grow up a trellis....we'll see.
Lemon Cucumber

We have five tomato plants and they all produce really well. We had to put netting over them because the birds were having a feast! The bell peppers are supposed to be red and yellow. So far, they're gorgeous, but I'm leaving them to see if they turn the color they're supposed to be. As for the carrots, well I think I need to leave them in the ground a little longer! But we did taste these minis and they tasted great!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cooking Party: Southern Style

Last weekend was another installment of a monthly client in-home cooking party. The theme this week was cooking Southern style.  There were 12 guests and everyone was eager to learn how to cook something new.

I made a couple of appetizers to get us started: Butterbean Hummus and Pimento Cheese. Both were a big hit and gone by the time dinner was ready.

The menu for the meal: Homemade Chicken and Dumplings, Sauteed Collards and Spinach, and a Black Eyed Pea and Fennel Mix. The sauces you see on the plate are a tomato jam and an onion and pepper jam I made that were both really good with the peas and the collards.

Dessert was Peach Cobbler.

All the food was completely made from scratch. Everyone who came participated in cooking at least one dish and the food was great! Such a fun way to get people together for a night of learning and enjoying good food.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Romaine Salad

Last month, I hosted the May meeting of the Atlanta Chapter of USPCA (US Personal Chef Association). We cooked on the Big Green Egg and one of our chefs made a grilled romaine salad. I had never had it before and it was delicious! And now I can't get enough of it.

Admittedly, I had never prepared this myself, it always just sounded a little odd to me. Lesson learned: don't knock something until you try it. Sometimes now I crave it!

Here's how to do it: Get your grill hot, slice an entire romaine lettuce lengthwise, brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until slightly charred.

Add homemade bleu cheese dressing (recipe follows), crumbled bacon, and tomato. I found Maytag Bleu Cheese at the Buford Highway Farmer's Market....look for it!

Dinner this night was grilled pork chops and assorted vegetables. Simple and delicious.  Here's the recipe for the dressing:

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 cup milk, more as needed
2-3 ounces Bleu Cheese, crumbled
3/4 tbsp shallot, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Thin with milk if needed.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Great Week!

I've had a busy week, cooking for clients and also knit night Wednesday and Book Club on Thursday. And all were filled with trying to use up all the fresh and wonderful vegetables coming my way.

I picked up my CSA box on Thursday and I can't tell you how thrilled I am with this CSA!
This week's box from Dillwood Farms included blueberries, fennel, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, carrots, basil, kale and radishes. Everything is so lovely and I can't wait to cook up some great food this weekend.

From our own garden, I've picked a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and green beans. I planted the small French style green beans from seed. Just when I thought they were done, the plants are blooming again and it looks like I'll have another round of green beans.

I'll probably include a stop by the Brookhaven Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, just to see what's new....enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Atlanta Food Truck Park

Over the weekend, we visited the Atlanta Food Truck Park http://atlantafoodtruckpark.com/. 

We got there about 6:00 or so, and it was only a little crowded, but became more crowded as we were there. This day, there were maybe 6-8 trucks, with a good mix of food choices. All the vendors inside the trucks were working really, really hard and some had long lines.

We tried bangers and mash and fish and chips. Both were really fresh and well-cooked, but we were with my neighbor who is from Wales and he declared the bangers and mash to not be very authentic. But, I thought it was really good.

We also tried tacos from the barbecue truck....mine was brisket and was delicious! I liked the addition of the dill pickle slice.

We finished with gelato....also delicious. We tried key lime and cinnamon. Both were yummy and refreshing.

If you get a chance, check out the new Atlanta Food Park Truck....I think you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Santa Monica Farmer's Market

I just returned from a visit to Los Angeles to visit my son who lives there. I timed my flight arrival on Wednesday to make sure I could make it to the farmer's market at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

This is one of my favorite things. It was one of my favorite things when I lived there. If you go to Los Angeles, go to the 3rd Street Promenade on Wednesday mornings. You'll be glad you did.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Things To Come

Wow, I am really amazed at how well our garden is doing! I think we just picked a great spot in the yard....it's getting lots of sunshine and apparently is very happy!

Soon we will have yellow squash. The tomatoes are also blooming like crazy...can't wait to have a tomato sandwich. There's nothing better in the summer, right, than a tomato sandwich with mayo and salt and pepper.

I have picked lettuce about 6 times now and there's still a lot still to go. I've shared with neighbors too and I'll need to pick again this weekend. But the spinach....it is delicious! We had some in a salad again last night. This I planted from seed and love how a pack of seeds that cost $1.29 produced so much spinach. I'll definitely plant spinach again. Who wants some?