Pimm's Lemonade

One of the most refreshing and delicious drinks for summer is Pimm's Lemonade. This is a favorite of mine and was introduced to me by a friend. It truly tastes just like lemonade, perhaps a bit more complex. The Pimm's stays in the background and the mint gives it a cool, fresh finish.

Pimm's is a liqueur made in Britain and is available at most liquor stores that offer a moderate selection. It is gin based with hints of citrus and spices. It is served in cocktails, as well as on the rocks, often with sliced fruit. It's most commonly served in sparkling Lemonade and with ginger ale.

For the Lemonade:
  • Citrus such as oranges and lemons, sliced (I used minneolas in this recipe with have a deep citrus flavor and are perfect for such an application.)
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Fresh Mint
  • 1-1 1/2 cups Pimm's Liqueur
  • 2 quarts Lemonade

It's really important to muddle your mint to make it release it's oils. This can be done with a mortar and pestle, or even with a kitchen mallet. You can place the leaves between layers of plastic wrap and tap with a hammer.

Mix Pimm's with lemonade. Add mint and stir heartily. Add fruit and stir to mix. Serve chilled or over ice. Garnish with citrus, strawberry, or mint.

I can't wait to try Pimm's in champagne next! I'd also like to see if you can make a glaze for chicken with it. I'll keep you posted if I experiment further!


Pinterest Inspired Nectarine and Goat Cheese Grilled Pizza

I was lovingly looking at my food board on Pinterest trying to decide what to try this weekend, when this caught my eye. Nectarine and Goat Cheese Pizza with Basil and Reduced Balsamic. I was craving summer, and this recipe looked like it hit the nail on the head. I decided to really make it summery by grilling the pizza. Grilling pizza is easy, quick, and great for those hot summer months when you do not want to bake with the AC running. It adds a bit of smoky flavor to the crust and give it a consistency you cannot achieve with a conventional oven.

For the Pizza Dough (adapted from KitchenAid):
  • 1 (¼ oz.) Package Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (between 110°-115°) Seriously, use a thermometer! You want to wake the yeast up, but not kill it.
  •  ½ tsp. salt
  •  2 tsp. olive oil
  •  2½ - 3½ cups flour
  • Garlic Salt (optional)
  1. Pour warm water into bowl of stand mixer. (You can do this without a stand mixer, it's just easier with one.) Sprinkle yeast packet over warm water and stir to dissolve. Let sit for a few minutes until bubbles start to form on water surface.
  2. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Use dough hook attachment and mixer speed 2 to knead for two-minutes, or until dough comes together. (If you are not using a stand mixer, just mix the dough until it holds together, then move to floured surface to knead.)
  3. Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until dough gathers on dough hook and cleans sides of bowl. (Dough should still be tacky to the touch.) Knead until smooth.
  4. Place dough in oiled bowl and roll so it is lightly coated with oil. Cover with a towel and leave to rise in warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Once dough has doubled, punch it down. (This recipe is enough for two personal pizzas, or one large pizza.)
  6. Using your hands, shape the dough into a disc by pulling around the edges. You do not want to intentionally form an edge. You can use a rolling pin, but it's not necessary. If the dough is jumping back into position and not stretching anymore, let it rest a few minutes and try some more. This is just the gluten toughening up. It'll relax if you let it sit.
  7. Sprinkle corn meal on a cookie sheet (without edges) or a pizza peel. Place dough on top and make sure it slides around easily. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt (if desired).

Slide dough onto preheated grill. You might need to rub the grates with a towel dipped in oil to make the grates non-stick. Our grille is well loved and well seasoned. Close lid and cook about 5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Check often. The top will bubble like this:

When it looks like this, it's ready to come off.

Place browned side up on your pizza peel or cookie sheet. Brush edges with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. For this pizza I brushed the whole thing since I was omitting sauce.

For the Apricot and Goat Cheese Pizza:
  • 1-2 Apricots, thinly sliced (I aimed for ¼ inch)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Soft herbed goat cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Reduced Balsamic (optional)
  1. Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt, if desired.
  2. Place apricots in a single layer around the middle, leaving about ½ inch of crust on the edges.
  3. Tear basil leaves and layer on.
  4. Slice goat cheese and arrange slices around pizza.
  5. Grate Parmesan on top (you can use the sprinkle kind).
One of the best things about pizza, is that you can customize them to be what you wish. The sous chef thought my combination was crazy and went for a pizza sauce, mushroom, pepperoni, and mozzarella approach.

After your pizza is built, place back on the grill and close the lid. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

At  this point, you can add the reduced balsamic. It adds a tangy bite that is countered in a lovely way by the goat cheese. It was at this point that I learned a valuable lesson. I could not find reduced balsamic at the store, so I decided to try to make my own by reducing balsamic vinegar on the stove top. I will never do that again. Have you ever inhaled vinegar vapors through your nose? It was not a pleasant experience and I wouldn't recommend doing it without proper ventilation precautions.

I actually think I prefer this pizza without the balsamic. I can't wait to try this combo with peaches. I prefer peaches to nectarines. Also, the fresh basil on here was a must. It was so delicious with the fruit.

So what about you? What's your flavor of pizza? Anything new and exciting I should try?

Foodie Blog, Grilled Nectarine and Goat Cheese Pizza


I'm coming back!

I know. I've been gone for a long time. I've been thinking of this blog a lot. I need to come back to it. Even though food blogs are overdone, it is a source of therapy for me. So I'm coming back. I've got some great things in store.

Introducing the Pinterest Recipe Reviews Series!

In this series, I will take some of the most frequently pinned and delicious looking recipes from Pinterest and put them to the test! I've already done a few on my own and have found that some are just plain awful, while others are fantastic.

Is there anything that you've pinned that you've been dying to try?

Follow me on Pinterest to see all of my personal food-worshiping pins. Stay tuned for the results!


Review : Chicago Curry House

While we were in Chicago for the International Home and Housewares show, we decided to hit up the Chicago Curry House, located in Chicago's South Loop.

Chicago Curry House serves authentic Indian and Nepalese cuisine. I've had some Indian inspired dishes before, but this was my first experience with real authentic Indian food. Their food is naturally low fat, packed full of flavor, and they have a lot of vegetarian-friendly dishes.

We decided to start off with two appetizers; Cheese Pakora and Aloo Chat. Cheese Pakora is a home-made cheese marinated in a mix of spices and dipped in a garbanzo batter, then deep fried. I didn't really care much for this. The cheese was dense and had a higher water content and reminded me of a dense tofu. It wasn't a very flavorful cheese either.

Aloo Chat is cubed boiled potatoes, mixed with minced onions, cucumbers, cilantro, green chilies, and chat masala. Chat masala typically consists of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, dried ginger, salt, pepper, and other Indian spices. It has both a sweet and spicy flavor. It was REALLY spicy. It was a little too spicy for me and I was only able to take a few bites. I was very intrigued by all of the flavors I was encountering up to this point. Everything was so different from what I normally eat and played up all of the senses of the tongue.

For dinner I ordered Shrimp Madras. It was shrimp cooked in a mildly spicy gravy and coconut. It came served in a little personal chaffing dish. I'm not quite sure the actual name for this contraption, but it was really neat.

I also ordered some Garlic Naan with my meal. You can't eat Indian without having Naan, it's just too good.

I really enjoyed my meal. The shrimp were huge and very well prepared. One of my favorite flavor combinations is coconut and curry. This had such a slight coconut taste that it read as a very light sweetness. It was the first thing you tasted before the fire of the "mild" gravy set it. This dish was a bit too spicy for my taste buds. I had to constantly stop and try to put the fire out of my mouth. It was very good, but could've used a bit less heat.

I had to take a picture of my friend's Tandoori Lamb Tikka. It was so beautiful when it came out. A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. Chicago Curry House has an entire tandoori section on their menu. Looking good!

I would very much like to visit here again to expand on and learn about this cuisine. The menu is very expansive, so I would never get bored. The prices are fair for the area too. If you're near South Loop I would definitely recommend it!

I give Chicago Curry House 3.5 stars, out of 5!

Starstruck (Again)!

This year's International Home and Housewares show in Chicago had a dynamite schedule of chefs at the KitchenAid Goho Kitchen Theater. I went with the intention of being able to see three of my favorites do a cooking demo; Cat Cora, Mario Batali, and Todd English. Little did I know is that I would actually get to MEET all of these chefs, and see Guy Fieri as a surprise guest! Sometimes my life is pretty incredible.
We arrived in time to see Cat Cora talk about her book "Cooking from the Hip". The thesis of this book is about always being prepared to throw anything together at any time that is fabulous and fresh.

Cat Cora and Suvir Saran.

Cat also was doing a book signing that day, and the first 100 book were free! A friend saved me a place in line so I could gets shots of her demo while the line grew longer. Afterwards, I joined my friend in line and got to meet Cat and get a signed copy of "Cooking from the Hip"!

Me with Cat Cora.

I've read through half of this book. Which is odd for me. I'm not the type to sit down and read through a cookbook. Usually, I'll flip through the pages waiting for a recipe to jump out at me, but this one I'm actually reading every little thing. It sounds so amazing, and I can't wait to try some of the recipes. Stay tuned for some recipes from her book.

Right after Cat Cora was finished, Mario Batali was scheduled. I was on a high from meeting Cat, and greatly anticipating seeing Mario. I was disappointed to see that he was not doing a book signing, so I thought there was no way I'd get his autograph for my Food Network Collection. Abruptly, on of my friends who happened to be working the Goho kitchen that day, ran up to me and said "Come ON!" and grabbed me by the hand. I grabbed my camera and was quickly whisked back stage. There he was. I was floored. I was going to get to meet Mario Batali. The whole thing was very fast, and it felt much like an out-of-body experience. I'm pretty sure I made an idiot of myself, but Mario was genuine and friendly. He even had an orange sharpie to match his Crocs!

Some coworkers of mine with Mario Batali.

After meeting him, I was shaking and light headed, but managed to get back to my seat in time for him to present. He demonstrated a pasta dish and a pizza, both of which smelled and looked delicious. He recommended some quality, genuine Italian ingredients. I fully believe that a final dish is only as good as the quality of ingredients that go into it. Mario is a great presenter and such an eloquent speaker.

Mario with his finished Pizza.

At the end of his presentation SURPRISE!!! Guy Fieri comes out for an unexpected appearance. I knew he would be there for the Ergo Chef booth kicking off a new knife line, but I had only a glimmer of hope to see him. And then there he was!

The crowd was going WILD!

After all of that excitement, I thought the day could not possible get any better. The icing on the cake: Todd English. Todd's presentation was about his new Juicer and how it could be used in cooking.

I snapped a few pictures of him and then queued up to get his book too. Again, this was unplanned and a great opportunity.

He was SO personable when signing books. He had a personal conversation with each person. It was great! He was signing his book, "The Olives Dessert Table".

I have only but glimpsed through this book, but it seems pretty amazing! I can't wait to try some of these delectables. Stay tuned for some killer dessert recipes from him.

It was a dynamite day full of wonderful, unexpected surprises!


Review : The Cygnus 27

Any excuse for me to try a new fine dining restaurant is always exciting. So the Sous Chef and I decided to have our Valentine's Dinner at The Cygnus 27, which is located in the Amway Grand Plaza hotel in Grand Rapids. Because he actually had to work on Valentine's, and a holiday is never a good day to try a new dining experience, we went the following weekend.

One of the main draws of The Cygnus is that it's on the 27th floor of the hotel, one of the highest floors in the city. The views are fantastic, and even a bit disorientating. It's such a unique view of a city that I'm very familiar with. Just about every seat in the house has a nice view with dinner.
I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant as well. It's very hip and chic. It still retains an upscale flair, but is easily a hot spot for dinner and drinks with friends.

Another thing I like about this restaurant, is it's utilization of OpenTable.com. I love how easy this website is to use, and I wish more restaurants in the West Michigan area would use it. It's a serious draw for people who love to dine.

We made our reservations on OpenTable.com for 9:00pm. (The only reservation left for that Saturday.) We didn't mind the late hour because we could take our time getting ready and enjoying the rest of our Saturday without having to rush to dinner.

We got there a bit early, and enjoyed views from the lounge area while we waited for our table. We didn't have to wait long, and we were soon seated. We dove into the menu excitedly discussing what we would order. I'm always challenged by all the things I want to order and try vs. how much I can actually eat. I fill up very quickly on a small amount of food, so I always am very careful not to eat much before dining out at places like this.

We ordered drinks, which were very well mixed, and placed an order for our appetizer. We decided to go with the Raclette Cheese II. It was Leelanau Cheese Company Raclette in an herb batter and slowly fried, served with remoulade sauce. And it was divine.

You can never go wrong with fried cheese. Raclette is a semi-firm, salted cow's milk cheese. It was very savory. The herb batter was crispy, flavorful, and was not greasy at all. The remoulade (similar to tartar sauce) was freshly made and very tasty. It had thinly slice pieces of dilled green beans and other spices that complemented the cheese perfectly.

Because I knew that I could not eat an entire salad with all of the other food I was expecting to order, we decided to split the grilled romaine salad. So here was my half:

The grilled romaine salad featured dried heirloom tomatoes, poppy seed crusted goat cheese, yogurt-chive dressing, and balsamic vinaigrette. It was a perfect balance of fresh flavors. It made me miss summer. Grilling the romaine released it's oils and flavors in a way I have never tasted. The dried heirloom tomato was a treat in itself; reduced and concentrated flavor in a wafer slice. The goat cheese was creamy and rich, and was a perfect complement to the romaine and vinaigrette. It was a generous slice, and it would have been nice to have some bread or crackers to eat the remainder with.

That was one odd thing about our dining experience. We never got any bread. We had bread plates and butter knives, but never bread. Other tables got bread. Why not us? Was it because we ordered an appetizer and a salad? Or was it merely an oversight? It was not enough to ruin our delightful evening, but it was puzzling.

They did serve us a nice intermezzo of fried polenta in a mushroom sauce. I was so excited to try it I didn't take a photo! It was a very good texture and the mushroom sauce was very buttery and yummy.

On to the entree! I ordered the Balinese Duck. It was duck breast rubbed with a mixture of macademia nuts, tumeric, and cilantro served with a root vegetable mash and fruit salsa.

The last time I had duck, it was at Bistro on the Boulevard. I had gotten the duck confit, so it wasn't very fatty since the fat was melted. This time, it was roasted, so there was quite a bit of fat under the skin and a fatty texture in the meat. It was done to an exquisite temperature, and beautiful color, but a little fattier than I like in my meat. The root vegetable mash was slightly sweet and very full of flavor. I could've eaten all of it if I wasn't so full. The fruit salsa had sweet and savory elements as well. Pineapple and garlic is a good combination.

For dessert we ordered "Lava". It was a fudge cake wrapped in phyllo and topped with melting whipped cream that spilled over the sides like lava. The whole thing was topped with 18K gold leaf.

Sorry, these pictures are so orange because of the low lighting in the restaurant. This dessert was really good, but had perhaps a bit too much phyllo dough layers. It was fun to tear apart and to eat the gold leaf. By this time we were pleasantly full and getting sleepy.

Out came our check for the evening with a lovely surprise: chocolate fondue. Perfect squares of moist pound cake and fresh strawberries. The chocolate was a high quality dark chocolate that was so perfect, I used the bare toothpick to scoop chocolate directly into my mouth (classy, I know).

All in all, we had a wonderful evening together. I would definitely recommend The Cygnus 27 to friends, and eat there again. I give this chic restaurant 4.5 stars, out of 5!



Chocolate Crepes with Raspberries

I decided to try something different this Valentine's Day and made a chocolate crepe breakfast for the Sous Chef. I had seen the recipe featured on BrightIdeas.com. I used the recipe posted on there as a jumping off point.

For the Crepes:
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2¼ cups lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil as needed
1. Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
In another bowl, 2 cups of milk, butter, eggs and vanilla until blended.
Combine butter and flour mixtures, whisking until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Cook crepes: Before cooking, whisk remaining ¼ cup of milk into crepe batter. Lightly brush skillet with oil and heat over medium high heat. Once pan is hot, remove from heat, pour in ¼ -cup of batter and swirl pan around allowing batter to evenly coat bottom. Return pan to heat and cook for 40 seconds. Flip crepe over and continue to cook an additional 20 seconds. Repeat process with remaining batter, stacking crepes. Set aside.

NOTE: This recipe makes A LOT of crepes! Probably enough for four or more people, so cut accordingly. Also, stacking your crepes in a 150ºF oven will keep them nice and fresh until you're ready to garnish and serve.

So I was getting excited as I assembled the crepe batter into bowls, loving the person who wrote the recipe for separating their wet and dry ingredients. I put it in the refrigerator to chill out for an hour and then started getting everything else ready.

When I was finally ready to actually start cooking the crepes, it was then I had a "what did I get myself into?" moment. I'm NOT experienced with crepes. I know the theory, but don't have the practice. My girlfriends and I had a crepe party last summer and I learned quickly that I am not good with crepes. Those devilishly sticky disks of goodness are hard to flip. But then I took a deep breath and decided there's no hurt in trying.

The key to crepe making is getting your pan heated through. Then you drop the batter in and take the pan off the heat and swirl the batter around the edges, coating the bottom of the pan. (As demonstrated by my friend Nicole below.)

Crepes are supposed to be thin, so a little bit of batter is the way to go. By the time you evenly coat the bottom of the pan with the batter, it should already be mostly cooked. Set it back on the burner for a few seconds until the top is almost a matte finish. Then the hard part...the flip. These thin little guys are amazingly sticky. I had the best luck propping the edges up with a rubber scraper, and then tilting the pan while getting my spatula under the crepe. This is the part that will take the most practice. After a few clumps of crepe disasters, I finally got the hang of it down.

For the filling:
  • 2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1½ cups raspberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds
  • Zest on orange
1. Combine ricotta cheese with raspberries, sugar and orange zest.
2. Spread crepes with filling to within ½-inch of the edge. Fold crepes into quarters and place two on each serving plate.

Here is where I got off the recipe train. I should have gotten off the track all together. I did not use almonds or orange zest. I did use the ricotta. Right out of the refrigerator. These little crepes are no where near thick enough to heat up that ricotta, so if you don't like eating cold crepes, use room-temperature ricotta. It was not very appetizing. (You can also use frozen raspberries, just make sure they're thawed.)
I personally feel like ricotta is not the right filling choice here. A cream cheese- or yogurt-based filling would be much better served with the raspberries and orange zest. I don't really care for ricotta, but even the Sous Chef agreed that it wasn't quite the right combo. Bleh!

Chocolate sauce:
  • ½ cup chopped Dove Dark Chocolate
  • ¼ cup lowfat milk
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 1/3 cup Raspberry Almond M&M’S® Brand Premium Chocolate Candies
1. Before serving, melt chocolate and milk together.
Drizzle sauce over crepes, garnish with raspberries and Raspberry Almond M&M’S Premiums.

I departed from this recipe a bit too. I used chocolate chips instead of Dove, because they are just as good for this application in my opinion, and I didn't want richness overkill. I also did not us any M&Ms. The idea of hard shell candy on smooth melty chocolate crepes did not appeal to me, although I'm sure they taste yummy by themselves.

All in all I have to say this recipe is definitely good for the crepes. They are chocolaty, and maybe a bit rich. Definitely filling. As for the filling, make your own! Come up with new creative applications for these. They would probably be fantastic with bananas in the middle. I think they were good for a special V-Day breakfast, and with a few slight modifications, they are something I'll make again.


Black Squid Ink Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

First off, I must apologize for my absence. Things have gotten quite crazy lately. I tried to blog a few times, but either the dish wasn't worthy, or the photos didn't turn out well. So here I am, a few months late.

One tool in the kitchen that I absolutely love, without a doubt, is the KitchenAid Stand Mixer. My boyfriend and personal sous chef has had one for a while, and I've spoiled him with a plethora of attachments. However, I was recently blessed with a mixer of my own! I can't tell you how ecstatic I am. Stay tuned for more posts on why I think these things truly are a necessity.
One of my all time favorite attachment genres for the stand mixer are the various pasta attachments. I never knew how good fresh pasta tasted in comparison to dried pasta until I bought the sous chef an assortment of cutters and the roller. Our favorite is home made semolina spaghetti and a meat sauce, but I wanted to kick it up a notch and experiment.
The sous chef has an awesome book called The Pasta Bible. It's an amazing book that has everything you've ever wanted to know about pasta. It has gorgeous photos, and wonderful illustrations and some really great recipes.

It truly is an inspiration when dealing with pasta. There is one spread in particular that is one of my favorites. It shows all sorts of different pastas; flavors and colors both. I was quite intrigued the first time I saw the black pasta dough. It said it was colored by squid ink, which the book claims is purely for color and is virtually tasteless. I've seen the idea incorporated many time into dishes created by Food Network's Iron Chefs. I had to get my hands on some. You can find squid ink at many fish markets, and in the foreign foods aisle of most supermarkets. A jar of it was donated to my cause quite generously by a friend.

Upon first opening of the jar I was quite surprised at the smell. It smelled like fish... and not fresh fish. I thought to myself that there was no way that this stuff could be virtually tasteless. No way, not smelling like that. I dipped my finger in and decided to taste it. It was surprisingly good, but NOT tasteless. It tasted similar to black caviar. I thought the saltiness would actually work well in pasta, but everything I read said the same thing... tasteless. We'll have to see about that.
You can make fresh pasta without any special tools, but using the stand mixer makes it SO much easier. It does all the kneading, flattening, and cutting in no time flat. I would recommend trying fresh pasta to anyone who loves to eat it. One downside to the squid ink pasta is that it is messy. Good news is that it doesn't stain most surfaces. Watch for fabric though!

The stand mixer allows you roll out thin sheets...

and cut into a variety of noodles...

Fresh pasta boils to fluffy al dente in about seven minutes. It floats to the surface, so you have to agitate it often to ensure even cooking. After I boiled the squid ink fettuccine, I tossed it with roasted red bell peppers.

You can roast your own red bell peppers by putting them on a burner, grill, or under a broiler until the skin is black and blistered. Remove the skins by placing the roasted bells into a paper bag and shaking vigorously. Rinse the remaining residue and then remove the seeds and cut into strips. OR you could buy them jarred like I do. Red bell peppers where I live are usually pretty pricey, so it's not much more to buy them roasted in the jar. I like this option because then I always have some on hand to pop into my favorite dishes. We roast our own occasionally in the summer on the grill, but I do enjoy the convenience of jarred once in a while.
After tossing the red bells and pasta together, I plated and topped with the Gorgonzola cream sauce. Here's where I made a small mistake. The Gorgonzola cream sauce recipe I chose was not the type you would normally put on pasta, but more a finishing sauce that you would drizzle over beef tenderloin. What did that mean? This sauce was absolutely delicious, but really rich. We liberally spooned on the sauce and coated all the noodles and dug right in. However halfway through the dish, it became too heavy, and too much. It still would have been a good pairing if we had used less sauce. You need the break of plain pasta in there to mix it up.

The sauce was great, and I'll use it again, but next time I make it for pasta, I'll use a recipe that has chicken stock in it and that starts by making a roux (a balance of fat and flour that acts as a thickening agent). And the noodles? Virtually the same taste as regular pasta. The texture seemed a little different, but the squid ink pasta is an egg noodle base, and we usually do a semolina pasta.
Next time you're feeling a little adventurous, try making your own pasta! It's fun and the results are amazing.

Squid Ink Pasta
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup*
4 extra large eggs
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 ounce squid ink, available in speciality food shops

Make a mound of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, oil and squid ink. Using a fork, beat together the eggs, oil and squid ink and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well.

As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape. Do not worry that this initial phase looks messy. The dough will come together when 1/2 of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands primarily.

Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over crusty bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes, the dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Note: do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.

*I used the stand mixer to do my mixing and kneading with it's specialized dough hook. To do this in a stand mixer, add only half the flour to start, then add more as appropriate to get the right texture.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
(Remember, this is more of a finishing version)
4 cups heavy cream
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola (not creamy or "dolce")
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.

Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm. If you must reheat, warm the sauce over low heat until melted, then whisk vigorously until the sauce comes together.

I also added sauteed mushrooms for mine and they were heavenly.

Bon Appetit!


Atlanta Restaurant Reviews

So I had an excellent time in Atlanta, GA with my best friend Marci. And even though food wasn't the reason for the trip, we certainly made it a large piece of the pie. Marci was fabulous and sent me tons of links to local restaurants before I came so we could peruse menus and make plans. She stepped up and made decisions when I simply could not decide. We had a great time and packed a lot in just a few days. So without further stalling, I'll go right into it.

The Shed at Glenwood

The Shed at Glenwood was the very first place we went. We went for brunch, and I was starving when we arrived after an early morning flight. We kicked it right off by ordering drinks made with watermelon and champagne. What a heavenly combination.

I loved the fizzy watermelon foam on the top. The perfect drink for brunch! The brunch menu looked mouthwatering and I had a hard time deciding, but finally settled for the Chilled Beef Tenderloin Sandwich. Beef tenderloin is my absolute favorite cut of beef. (Who doesn't love tenderloin?) Having it thin sliced, chilled, and stacked high on this sandwich was the perfect way to enjoy it for brunch.

The lovely creation was served with a side of perfectly done fries, but forgive me, they aren't in the shot. See the pepper on top? It was grown in their own garden. It packed very little heat, but a lot of flavor. I'd like to know where they get their olives as well. So crunchy and delectable.
For dessert we ordered the peanut butter bars.

So rich and chocolaty in their creamy layers. They were a perfect blend of salty, sweet, and rich nutty flavors. And look at that presentation! Gorgeous. I love the layers and the way they are spaced on the plate.
The Shed has such a friendly and inviting atmosphere, with the food of a fine casual dining restaurant. It was a great experience and I can't wait to go back and try the dinner menu!

ONE. Midtown Kitchen

For dinner that night, we got dolled up and head to ONE. Midtown Kitchen. ONE is a part of the Concentrics Restaurant Family. All of the restaurant sound AMAZING and if I lived in the area, I would review one every week.

Marci and I went a little wild when we ordered and we ordered a bunch of things to try. It was so hard to choose, I think it took us 20 minutes to nail down a game plan. I wish I could remember the name of the martini I ordered. It had something to with grapefruit and champagne and was simply divine.

We ended up choosing to go with, in no particular order, a cheese plate, a fig salad, pasta with Parmesan cream sauce, and a wood-fired pizza with peaches, prosciutto, ricotta, and balsamic. I must say the cheese plate was amazing. One of the best cheese plates ever. The first was Cypress Grove Midnight Moon from Holland which was paired with a balsamic reduction. Here is the description from the website "Aged six months or more, this pale, ivory cheese is firm, dense and smooth with the slight graininess of a long-aged cheese. The flavor is nutty and brown-buttery, with prominent caramel notes. The wheel is finished in a beautiful black wax. Made in Europe exclusively for Cypress Grove Chevre". It tasted similar to a smoked gouda. The second was the best blue cheese I have ever tasted. I can still taste it now and I would love to buy some. It was Point Reyes Blue from California, and they paired it with some sort of crunchy pecans with cinnamon. The flavor was strong, but not overpowering and had a depth that took over your senses. I couldn't stay away from it. The third was Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill paired with a cherry jam. It's a pasteurized, soft-ripened, cow’s milk cheese that was similar to brie. An excellent balance between the Midnight Moon and Blue. I absolutely adored this course.

The fig salad brought a new concept to my palate. I had realized as I stuck the first fig in my mouth that this was my very first time trying fresh figs. Before I had tried them dried, and it lended no hint as to the breadth of flavor and texture there was hidden in fresh figs. Figs are very popular at the moment, and now I can see why. They seem like the perfect thing to grace a salad with goat cheese crumbles. I'll definitely have to experiment with figs in the near future.

The Parmesan cream sauce on the pasta was so creamy and well put together. They completed the dish with bacon crumbles and it was a nice contrast to the cool freshness of the fig salad. I really enjoyed this dish.

The pizza, in it's own right, was really really good, but ended up being shorted by our other selections. It was our least favorite of the night, but I feel that by itself was a wonderful creation. The peaches were fresh and amazing and played well with the balsamic. My only complaint may be that there was a little too much prosciutto (if there is such a thing!). But I feel that is something purely personal as I tend not to like meat on my pizzas.

We chose brandy-soaked blueberry cheesecake for dessert, and I must say I loved the blueberries. The cheesecake was traditional, and I am not a fan of the traditional cheesecake texture, but the flavor was delicious.

Overall ONE. Midtown Kitchen seemed like a really chic place to go and have dinner with friends or enjoy a night out. I love the warehouse feel. I would definitely recommend it!

The Sundial Restaurant, Bar, and View

After dinner at ONE. Midtown Kitchen, Marci took me to where her fiance, Steve, popped the question. The whole thing went down one romantic evening at The Sundial Restaurant. We decided to hit up the bar for some after dinner drinks and to enjoy the view. The Sundial is one of those rotating restaurants, which I've never been to before. It was amazing. We watched the city go by as we sipped cocktails. (Very pricey cocktails, but I guess we were paying for the view too!) I'd love to bring my boyfriend here at some point for a romantic dinner out. Below is a picture of the fireworks at the stadium.

The Elevation Chophouse

Marci was such a doll and picked The Elevation Chophouse and Skybar for brunch the next morning because she knew I was gaga over aviation. This restaurant happily sits next to the runways at the Cobb County Airport - Mc Collum Field (KRYY for all of those aviation nuts out there); and with floor to ceiling windows gives great views of the little airports happenings. While you dine you can watch Cessnas and private jets take off and land, and even helicopters come and go. It was such an enjoyable meal.

A helicopter taxiing.

I started it off with a blueberry-thyme lemonade. So perfect for the hot GA weather.

After stuffing ourselves the night before, I decided to go with a breakfast flare and ordered the Brioche French Toast.

It was served with a blueberry-caramel sauce that was sooo amazing. The waitress also brought me their rum-raisin syrup and maple syrup. I normally do not like syrups, but these were sooo good. (Which goes to show you that generic brand syrup really isn't all there is). The toast was so light and fluffy and the bacon perfectly cooked. I can't wait to go back here and watch the planes again. I would truly be a regular stop of mine if I lived in the ATL area.

I can't believe all of the places we didn't get to try and how wonderful everything was. It was truly a great time and an awesome culinary tour. Thanks, Marci, for carting me around with my big camera to all those eateries!