Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Diamond Jubilee

With all of the hype lately about HRH Queen Elizabeth II 60 years on the throne, it only seemed right to have a Diamond Jubilee party in her honour. 
My contribution was a vegetarian Shepherd's Pie that I decorated with food-coloured mashed potatoes in the design of the Union Jack. I thought it was fun an festive, although it felt a bit odd to be eating colored mashed potatoes.
I used Boca meatless crumbles as the base, along with fresh peas, carrots, and an onion. I cooked all of these down until they got nice and caramelized and deglazed the pan with a little bit of white wine since I was out of red (it would have probably went better with red but I actually like some of the acidity and frutiness the white wine added). I seasoned the lot with fresh thyme, sage, and a bay leaf, along with salt and pepper of course. 
I think the end result was pretty darn good. I'd like to try the same thing with ground meat next time. My whole logic was that I didn't want the pie greasy, and it certainly wasn't. I really think this is a great vegetarian meal, regardless if you pipe on a Union Jack or not! I'll put the recipe at the end of the post for those who are inclined. 

1 bag Boca / Morningstar Meatless crumbles 
6-10 oz fresh carrots, diced
6-10 oz fresh peas (can substitute for frozen but don't cook as long)
1 onion, diced
Few sprigs fresh thyme   
2-6 leaves fresh sage (adjust according to preference) 
Salt & Pepper 
1 cup red wine for deglazing

Mashed Potatoes
4lbs good potatoes 
4 oz butter 
1-2 cups whole milk (adjust depending on consistency of the potatoes) 
Salt & Pepper 
1 tsp Nutmeg, preferably fresh

Start by combining all of the ingredients in a large pan over medium-high heat until the carrots are soft and onions translucent. Bring the heat up a touch and deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping all of the bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Put into a large square baking dish (ingredients should be about 1-2 inches high). 

For the mashed potatoes, peel and cut the potatoes into 1-2 inch pieces and cook until a knife pierces them effortlessly. Cool slightly, then put into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter until melted, then add the milk until creamy. Season potatoes to taste. 

Spread the potatoes on top of the mixture, being careful not to mix them so you have an even layer on top. 
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. Place under the broiler for a few minutes at the end if you prefer browned potatoes. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

With my blueberry bush in full swing, I've been looking for things to do with all of them. I decided to do one of the obvious things, make blueberry muffins. Me being me, however, I wanted to make something a little bit different. According to virtually every  source on the internet, the only thing you can make with blueberries are pies, trifles, muffins, and cobblers. This also left me wondering what other stuff one can make with blueberries. If anyone has an suggestions, make sure to leave them below. 

I adapted a BBC Good Food recipe, using more blueberries rather than bananas since I didn't have any. It was nice using something where the ingredients where measured by weight rather than cups and teaspoons which becomes confusing. I also had to use cake flour as opposed to regular flour because I was out of that as well; the life of a poor college student. 

I really think this recipe would be good with the bananas and perhaps a little bit of maple syrup. I do appreciate that the muffins didn't come out cloyingly sweet, the sugar just compliments the blueberries perfectly well. 

 Breakfast is served!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Corner Pub

From the chains to dive bars (I'm assuming there are some; ginger ale is about as adventurous as I get), Atlanta has no shortages of places for simple food and a drink. The Corner Pub in Decatur, however, isn't quite that simple. While the food certainly isn't pretentious, it is definitely more up-market than what you tend to find at other bars. This mixed with a quiet setting off of East College Ave. make it an awesome choice for some drinks or a satisfying meal.

Sofi and I went for the latter of that description.

To be honest, service really wasn't the best (they seemed seriously understaffed for a Saturday night). Making up for this, the waiter was super nice and recommended to me the fried pork chops. Having never been able to turn these down, even as a kid, I gladly took his advice. Sofi ordered broiled trout with a root vegetable mash and a pear / carrot coleslaw.

When the pork came out, it was seriously the best, but what a mound of food! The plate was honestly big enough for two people, even considering I can put it away. The flavor was fantastic, nice and crisp on the outside while the pork was primarily juicy within. I did find it a touch overcooked, but nothing to complain about.

Sofi's trout was also very nice and buttery with a crisp skin. I didn't so much care for the mashed root vegetables. They were a bit dry and lacked any sort of distinct flavor. As for the pear slaw, Sofi really liked that. I personally am not a fan of coleslaw and really any variety, and this was no exception. I won't personally judge this, although I do think it would have worked better if the pears were in season.

The one thing we did both agree on was the appetizer: fried goat cheese with a blueberry sauce. While the combination may sound a bit odd, trust me on this, it was completely phenomenal. The play of sweet and savory worked extremely well and the nice peppery arugula salad that it was served with was great.

That alone is reason to come back. Perhaps the pork chops too, especially if you want to split it with a friend!

Corner Pub on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cafe Alsace Dessert

I'll keep this one short and sweet (see what I did there?). Lavender ice cream is literally one of the greatest things anyone has ever come up with.
I've been going to Cafe Alsace in Decatur for years and have always loved their Alsacian French cuisine, but the ice cream alone is worth the trip. Sweet and velvety as ice cream should be with the perfect amount of lavender make this an awesome Summer stop if you're in Atlanta. It's so good that I literally bought a lavender plant and will be trying my hand at making it this Summer.

What Sofi had wasn't exactly bad either. A warm pear tart with whipped cream and a creme anglaise. Normally that would have been my pick considering my love affair with fresh pears, but seriously. If the ice cream can make me want it that bad, it can for you too!

Cafe Alsace on Urbanspoon