A Pampered Palate hosted dinner party for “Ushri” a celebrated painter in Atlanta.

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Why don’t we make our own chicken stock?

Last week, I  was making a chilled pea soup and one of my friends asked me about the best organic chicken stock I use. I told her that stock is really so cheap and easy to make, I would suggest she start to make her own.

Everyone is always complaining about having no time to do anything these days. But I think that’s just a load of baloney. We make time for what we want to incorporate into our lives. ( Okay, I understand when work overloads us, but WE control our home life.)

So let me show you a step by step process that you’ll have down in no time flat, that will blow you away with its superior taste to the store bought stuff.

What you need:

3 to 4 large carrots

3 large celery stalks

Large yellow onion

2 heads of garlic

1/3 cup sliced shitaki mushrooms

7 large basil leaves

3 small bay leaves

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley

2 sprigs of fresh time

Whole pepper corns

3 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup white wine

1 large heavy pot

*the carcass of a whole chicken that was left over ( usually freeze mine in ziplock bags)

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Throughly wash and rough chop your celery, carrots and onion.

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Slice your mushrooms and cut the top layer of your garlic bulbs, leaving the skin intact.

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Heat a large pot adding the butter to just melt.

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Add all your chopped veggies, garlic heads and mushrooms

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Heat over medium high heat, stirring seldom to allow for the vegetables to caramelize.

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It should look like this…

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Meanwhile, gather your herbs and tie them into an “herb garni” or small bundle. Add them to the pot, along with the bay leaves and 2 teaspoons of whole pepper corns.

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Gently fold in the herbs.

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Now, bringing the heat up just to high, pour in the wine and stir, scrapping up all the brown bits (fond) at the bottom of the pan.

Add the whole chicken carcasses.

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Now add the water. My 5qt pot holds almost 16 cups. Fill it so that it’s an inch below the rim.

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Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-high and simmer. Reduce the heat, and continue to simmer for at least 3 hours.
Stirring occasionally, and adjusting the heat so as not to boil over.
After 3 hours, the stock will be reduced. Remove from heat, covered and let the stock rest for 30 minutes.

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Now,once the stock is considerably cooler, using a strainer, and a large container, carefully strain, separating the herbs and veggies from the stock.

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Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

The next day, remove the fat that’s hardened on the top with a small spoon and discard.

You’ve just made the best homemade stock.

You’re ready to make soups or sauces. Or pour into freezer ready containers, freezer bags or such, label with the date and freeze. *good for 3 months

Small cocktail parties

I did an event this past week for a small group of business women at an old warehouse in Midtown Atlanta. I absolutely love going into places that bring out a feeling of wonder and creativity where the food really takes “center stage.”

My food is innovative, yet simple and warming and always…always tells a story.

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Ammazza

Two brothers decided to take a chance and bring a truly special wood fired pizza and share with the rest of us pizza aficionados. Traveling to San Francisco, Chicago and Italy, they developed something that’s simply divine. Located in the Old 4th Ward district of Atlanta…..

Welcome to Ammazza!
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This bike was given to the restaurant by a neighborhood patron who wanted to aid them in delivering pizza’s. It holds four 12″ pizzas….how cool is that!

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The dining area is very spacious with a huge community table that runs down the middle. There are also serveral tables and booths that run along the edge. The building itself was built in the late 1800’s and the owners kept as much of it as possible. There is even a space for “live” local bands that play on weekends.

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We started with the Insalata Di Basil- Field greens, artichokes, kalmata olives, bell peppers, goat cheese and roma tomatoes in a basil dressing.  There was more than enough for two, and it was delicious.

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We decided upon the Inferno Pizza- Spicy sopressata, mozzarella, calabria peppers and torn fresh basil.  The crust!!! OMG, perfection….the sauce, the right amount of heat, all ingredients equally distributed, and….just satisfying.

Just a side note: They carry Clown Shoes IPA (Tramp Stamp, Chocolate Sombrero & Muffin Top) and Hangar 1 Vodka…excellent!

 

A Co-op Organic Market in Gainesville Florida

We traveled to the University of Florida this past week to attend my son’s tennis camp. While there I was treated to the best Vegan/Vegetarian meals I’d ever had. Who knew that a southern college town would have such an abundance of healthy eating options.

My favorite place of all was this Co-op Organic Market located just north of the campus, called Citizens Organic Co-op Market. 

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They had an abundance of everything and everything looked fresh and their prices were very reasonable. One thing in particular I saw was that they carried 7 types of tomatoes, offered a self serve bulk area, local brewed and unique beers ( including Russian River IPA)and a really cool patio with a play area for kids.

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Getting started cooking Taiwanese

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So many times we think about cooking a dish and we run out and get the ingredients for a particular recipe, spending so much more money than we have to trying to create the dish.

However, as a chef I’ve learned that it’s more savvy to equip ones kitchen with essential ingredients so that you are stocked with items that allow you to cook more freely.

The flavors of Taiwan (see Taipei, Family Style) echo those of mainland China and Japan, but the island boasts its own canon of staple ingredients.

Here is a list of items to get you started:

  • Kobacha and other kinds of hard squash—collectively called nan gua in Mandarin—are often stir-fried with ginger or stuffed with sticky rice and sweet Chinese sausage and baked.  Image
  • A clear, faintly sweet variety of Chinese rice wine, sometimes labeled michiu or mi jiu and intended only for cooking, is used for braises and stews. Image
  • Hong Zao, a marinating paste that imparts a complex, sour flavor and pink hue to meats. Image
  • Black VinegarFermenting rice a different way produces rich, tangy black vinegar, which goes into dishes like hot-and-sour soup and mian xian, a garlicky noodle soup, and makes a great dipping sauce for dumplings.   Image
  • White pepper – Musky-tasting white pepper is often used in stir-fries. Image
  • Dried fermented black beans – Which lend a pungent, earthy flavor to stews. Image
  • Sweet potato starch – The Taiwanese are masters of deep-frying, and their preferred batter is made with sweet potato starch, which creates a crisp, light crust (use the coarsest variety you can find). Image
  • Mushroom powder – essentially dehydrated mushroom broth- adds a savory, umami character to many dishesImageSo, there you have it. 

    Just about every city has as Asian market in an existing neighborhood. Here in Atlanta we have a wonderful ethnic community just north of the city on the famous road known as Buford Highway.  Image

    There you can find everything from Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Ethiopian and the list goes on. 

Pico De Gallo, my favorite way to celebrate the flavors of Spring

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I was staring at my kitchen bowl of fresh vegetables on Saturday and knew that I needed to use what I had left over from the week, or I’d get busy with stuff and then it would be ready for the compost bin.

But alas, what did I see, a few tomatoes, an onion, a lime and lemon. It’s Spring, why not make some Pico de Gallo for a fresh appetizer…so much better than that stuff they sell in any jar.

We’ve tried dozen’s of jarred salsa’s from the most expensive to the moderate, and they are all “meh.”

So here goes my homemade version.

Ingredients:

6 long green chiles

2 large ripe tomatoes (cored, seeded and tiny diced by hand, you can chop coarsely, I prefer smaller)

1 cup tiny diced white onion 

1/3 cup minced cilantro

2 to 3 fresh yellow chiles of large jalapeno chiles, stemmed and tiny chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice ( the juice of 2 limes)

dash of salt

dash of granulated sugar

Equipment: 

large bowl

citrus juicer (remember, lemons and limes yield more juice when at room temperature)

large sharp kitchen knife       ( It’s time to sharpen your knife) 

large spoon

brown paper bag

In the open flame of your gas burner OR under a heated broiler, roast the long green chiles, turning them, until they are evenly charred. Place in the brown paper bag to “steam.”

Allow to cool, they will be extremely hot so use caution!

Rub away the burned peel, stem and seed the chiles and coarsley chop them.

In your large bowl mix: tomatoes, onions, chopped green chiles, jalepeno/yellow chiles, cilantro, lime juice and salt.

Taste, THEN add the sugar a little at a time. Taste again…..The sugar just takes some of the strong bite out and melds the flavors together.

*Cover & Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour prior to serving

Though the salsa will lose some of its texture, the flavor will remain good for up to two days.

Note: For those that don’t tolerate onions well, once chopped, soak them in super cold water while chopping other ingredients, this will take out the acid like pungent taste.