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Archive for November, 2010

How to deep fry a turkey (and why you’ll never roast again)

IMG_0588This may ruffle a few feathers, but I am going to take a stand: Fried turkey is better than oven roasted turkey.

There, I said it.

And before you ask – yes, the feather pun in my opening line was intentional.

While there are practical advantages to fried turkey, such as the significantly shorter cooking time, it mostly comes down to flavor. The intense heat of the oil locks in all of the moisture that many Thanksgiving chefs struggle to retain after four or five hours in the oven, yielding some of the juiciest turkey breast you will ever eat. It really is idiot proof. I’ve never had a dry turkey come out of the fryer.

And then there is the skin. That sinfully salty, crunchy skin. That’s where the magic happens.

As I’ve previously mentioned, my family usually does a Cajun fried turkey for Thanksgiving most years. I don’t know why we made the change, but about 15 years ago my dad started deep-frying our birds and we have not roasted one since.

If you have never had a fried …

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Gene Lee: Sampling sweet paan

Wrapped paan

Wrapped paan

After a recent lunch outing at Swapna Indian Cuisine off of Cobb Parkway, I decided to try one of their triangles of sweet paan ($2.50) sitting by the cashier. Paan was a tough subject to research. Mainly because I couldn’t figure out the majority of the ingredients in Swapna’s version other than coconut shavings, which were pretty obvious.

Secondly, a lot of the ingredient names that I found in leads were in romanized Hindi. When I would try to pull up the images in google to verify matches, I’d sometimes get images returned of Indian couples that were of the erotic variety. So there I was sitting in a crowded coffee house full of children running around, and I’ve got Indian porn unabashedly displaying on my laptop.

ANYWAYS –The technical name of sweet paan is meetha paan, and it’s not to be confused with its more sinister sibling, tambaku (tobacco) paan. Meetha paan is the sweet dutiful daughter who made straight A’s and never worried her folks by staying out …

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What are your dining twists on Thanksgiving?


So do you and your family celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently?

When I was a kid, my mom would lay out Korean steamed rice and pickled banchan (seasoned side dishes, generally vegetables) out with the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. Eventually my family and I moved on to a standing rib roast rather than a bird, but we still busted out the kimchi. After a while, it really didn’t seem like Thanksgiving without banchan.

Apparently my family and I aren’t the only Koreans who celebrated Thanksgiving this way. We would be invited to other Korean households on Thanksgiving from time to time, and their food spread was as bi-cultural as ours.

But it doesn’t stop there. My friend Jennifer Zyman aka The Blissful Glutton recently told me that in a nod to her Mexican heritage, tortillas and mole sauce have made appearances at her family’s table. And two Thanksgivings ago, I went to an Indian-American gathering where a deep-fried Popeye’s turkey shared the table with bhindi (okra)

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Jenny Turknett: Two Atlanta Cakes

Thomas Numprasong's Passion Fruit Cake

Thomas Numprasong's Passion Fruit Cake

As I’ve admitted previously, I have a sweet tooth. When I go to events, I tend to check out the desserts pretty quickly.

And so it was when my husband and I attended Les Dames d’Escoffier’s “Afternoon in the Country” at Serenbe a few weeks ago. As soon as we entered, I headed to the cake raffle display to admire the handiwork of our city’s most acclaimed bakers and pastry chefs. The cakes all looked beautiful and delicious, but the carved pumpkin cake made by Highland Bakery caught my eye.

My kids would love that cake.

Did we want to buy cake raffle tickets? Of course! After purchasing our raffle tickets, my husband pulled me back to the task at hand: sampling the fare from our city’s talented chefs. We immersed ourselves in our tastings and almost missed it when our winning raffle number was called.

We rushed over to the cake table with the other winners to select our cake. No one had yet chosen the pumpkin cake! I went to …

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Behind the Review: Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House

Gujeolpan at Woo Nam Jeong (Credit: Becky Stein)

Gujeolpan at Woo Nam Jeong (Credit: Becky Stein)

I was out of commission for most of the week last week but wanted to share a little information about Friday’s review of Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House.

This review took a bit of a departure from the usual review approach. Instead of cutting a broad swath through the menu, I focused on this restaurant’s unusual 12-course menu. Part of the reason is because our previous dining critic, Meridith Ford Goldman, wrote a broader review of the restaurant. She did not, however, get to the 12-course menu.

I tried the 12-course menu and decided that it was It is something I’d recommend for both fans of Atlanta’s wonderful Korean food scene as well as newcomers who are wary of Korea’s fondness for hot peppers, fermenting vegetables and innards. This menu can be either an introduction to or departure from typical Korean fare, depending on your perspective. It features a number of dishes, such as the vegetable wraps called gujeolpan (above), …

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Thanksgiving is upon us. Are you ready?

FDthanksgiving turkeyLast year, with some fanfare, we bought a real turkey roaster — a deep vessel fashioned of anodized steel, with two gleaming handles on either side. No more disposable aluminum roasters for this crew: We were going high tech.

And then, early Thanksgiving afternoon, I discovered that it wouldn’t fit in our oven.

Panicked phone calls to every closed market in the area ensued, followed by a tear through the pantry and basement, but no foil roasting pan surfaced.

Finally, we were able to find a home for our turkey in a neighbor’s oven. Alas, I wouldn’t be able to perform my usual tricks. There would be no starting the turkey upside-down and flipping it, no basting every 20 minutes, no tenting and untenting of foil.

With the source of all my Thanksgiving day anxiety out of the house, I realized that I had set aside all day to cook a relatively simple meal. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry chutney were all ready to go within the hour. I got a batch of Parker …

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Big Shanty Smokehouse dining review, Kennesaw

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson



As I come to my last bite of smoky spare rib and gaze at my near-empty plate, my eyes widen in momentary panic. I’ve just remembered that they have barbecue sauce here. Perhaps I should try some if I’m supposed to review this place.

“This place” is Big Shanty Smokehouse in Kennesaw, opened three years ago by Chic Dillard, who has 30 years in the restaurant industry. Dillard serves as pitmaster while wife Sissy and daughter Shannon oversee the sides and desserts, including the popular banana pudding.

Little more than a roadside shack deep in the heart of Kennesaw, Big Shanty produces some of the best barbecue I’ve seen come out of Georgia. Dillard respects his meat and it shows. Briskets and butts get a healthy coat of house-made dry rub and are bathed in hickory smokes for 13 hours, where they develop a bark that will earn the respect of the most discerning barbecue purists.

The balance of that bark, with the bold hickory smoke flavor that …

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Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House dining review, Doraville



“Do you know what these are?” the waitress asks me, pointing to one of the several

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

side dishes — banchan in Korean — that she has just brought to the table. It holds brownish lumps, each with a grainy texture and a thin, netted skin covering the surface.

“Potatoes… ?” I venture.

“Very good,” she says with a laugh. “They are potatoes.”

I very much like the sweet-salty braised potatoes, but not as much as I like this waitress, who clearly relishes her role as an ambassador to Korean cuisine. She explains and describes, mixes and tosses, circles back with more of this and tastes of that.

As for this restaurant — Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House — I don’t simply like it. I think I’m developing a bit of a crush on it.

Other Korean restaurants along Buford Highway offer fine specialties, be they barbecue, noodles or tofu soup. Woo Nam Jeong has a signature dish on its broad menu — rice with toppings cooked in the superheated …

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A delicious Latin breakfast sandwich

Cachito con huevo, LottaFrutta

Cachito con huevo, LottaFrutta

I live near LottaFrutta, a popular Latin fruit and sandwich shop in Old Fourth Ward. Recently, they adjusted their opening hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., which has made my morning commutes to my day job a little less fulfilling. But hey, I guess the folks over there have been working pretty hard since they opened some years ago so I won’t complain.

I like to pop in every now and then and get a guanabana smoothie (soursop, fruit from a tropical evergreen tree) or a cachito con huevo, one of my favorite breakfast items here in Atlanta.

The cachito con huevo is a small sandwich made with a sweetened palm-sized medianoche bread roll (”midnight”, named after a late night Cuban sandwich), filled with cooked ham and cumin seasoned scrambled egg, and then flattened in a grooved press.  It won’t satisfy the biggest of appetites, but it’s a great snack when you’re on the run, or want a lighter alternative to a full breakfast.

– by Gene Lee, Food and …

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Atlanta contestant in Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight

Have you ever had been in a food fight? What about a healthy food fight?

Atlanta’s own Lisa Hanson has. Lisa is a finalist in Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight, a cooking competition with a focus on developing healthy recipes. Owner of the recently closed Cabbagetown Market, Lisa Hanson entered a recipe and was invited to participate in the regional cook-off at the Taste of Atlanta.

Recipes entered went through several levels of screening and the Culinary Institute of America chose the participants who would compete in the regional competitions. Lisa’s recipe is one that she makes at home about once a month: Zucchini “pappardelle” with grass-fed beef meatballs, ricotta, spinach, and fresh tomato. The inspiration for her recipe? A dish that appeared on the Union Square Cafe menu in the 80’s.

Contest rules reinforced the focus on healthy cooking. Recipes were judged based on nutrition, taste, and presentation. The nutrition score was based on the amount and range of …

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