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Archive for November, 2012

An Election-night tradition: making fudge

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Does your family have a food outlier? By that I mean the one person who enjoys food, thinks about food and handles food unlike everyone else.

In the family I grew up in, that was my father. While my siblings, mother and I were all instinctive cooks who could throw ingredients together with ease, he couldn’t fry a steak in a pan. While the rest of us all liked desserts well enough but would rather have seconds of spaghetti, he had a raging sweet tooth.

So my mom always had some perfunctory dessert or other after dinner. Pudding or Jell-O from a mix, tapioca with fruit cocktail or her infamous “yogurt pie” fashioned from Dannon coffee yogurt, Cool Whip and a pre-made graham cracker crust.

But once every four years, something strange happened. As we all watched the election returns on TV, he would disappear into the kitchen, pull out the tattered copy of “The Joy of Cooking” and set about making fudge.

It was the strangest sight in the world: The man who would heat up a can of …

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See ya, Twinkies

ap_twinkie_070426_mnSo this time it’s for realz.

Hostess Brands first got us to imagine a world without Twinkies in January, when it filed for bankruptcy protection.

This time the company is liquidating, which I’m sorry to report does not involve a new form of chuggable Twinkie, but rather thousands of lost jobs.

Will you miss Hostess snack cakes? Or do you think, as I do, that snack cakes are no longer the beloved treats they once were.

I’m going to have to cross batter-fried Twinkies off my cooking project bucket list.

On the other hand, if any local bartender wants to invent a cocktail called the Liquidated Twinkie…

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

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A Thanksgiving dish you can’t live without?

AJC staff

AJC staff

Time to break out the hammer and nail and add a few notches to your belts, because the most face-stuffing season of the year is upon us once again.

Thanksgiving is, and has been, my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. And not because, as my Mom used to always say, it is one of the only holidays that centers around simply being with your family rather than buying “stuff” for them. No, it is because of the food.

While my wife probably isn’t looking forward to the annual 7-10 lbs. of base layer blubber that I usually pick up over the next 45 days, I sure am. And the opening ceremonies are less than a week away.

The Thanksgiving meal is one that is nearly always steeped in tradition, and it seems like everyone I know has some sort of Thanksgiving tradition that, when “messed with”, sets off a sometimes violent reaction. And this usually comes down to one or more of the dishes served each year.

I vividly remember the year that my brother-in-law volunteered to …

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Restaurant inspections, American Deli

An American Deli in Grayson had its food permit suspended recently because its sanitizing solution contained too much chlorine bleach.

The restaurant at 1911 Grayson Highway was given a 48/U on the Nov. 6 routine inspection.

This was the third consecutive inspection that American Deli had its chlorine sanitizer at a toxic level, said the Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Health inspector.

When chemicals are not used properly they pose a hazard to food safety, the inspector said.

Chlorine solution is used to rinse dishes, and clean tables, counters and other areas that come in contact with food.

All of the chlorine sanitizing solution had been mixed to a toxic level, including the water in the sanitizing buckets and the compartment sink for dishes, according to the inspection report.

American Deli manager was also cited for not knowing what symptoms of illness to look for in employees that handle food, and when to report these to the health department.

In other violations, an …

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Knock, Knock: Speakeasy Drinking and Dining

Hello? Is Prohibition somewhere nearby? (photos by Becky Stein)

Hello? Is Prohibition somewhere nearby? (photos by Becky Stein)

When I drive home at night, I always end up rolling slowly past a stretch of eating and drinking establishments with windows facing the street. Thus begins the Goldilocks math: The Italian restaurant looks too crowded and noisy, the French place looks too dead. The pub looks just right: lively but not packed. If we were to dine out, we’d surely go for the latter choice.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

But what if you couldn’t see through any windows? What if there were no inviting patio, no well-lit front door, not even a sign?

A few places around Atlanta take just this approach. They hide in plain sight.

You might think of these spots as modern-day speakeasies — an association and loving homage that the Buckhead bar, Prohibition, makes explicit.

Prohibition sits off to the corner in the Andrews Entertainment District — a kind of sprawling mini-mall that has become a locus of dining …

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Canvas Cafe and Bakery review, Marietta

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Sadly, with the chaos that is many of our daily lives, lunch often becomes more of an errand than an experience. But in Marietta, one cafe is giving folks a reason to slow down and enjoy themselves at lunchtime.

After meeting at the Culinary Institute of America, Chris and Anna Gatti went straight into the world of fine dining. Between them, they had stints in kitchens such as Canoe, Gabriel’s Desserts, Fishbone, and Pano’s and Paul’s. Chris spent time as the executive chef of the Horizons Dining Room at the Grove Park Inn. But the allure of a family-run neighborhood cafe was strong, and they returned to his hometown of Marietta to open Canvas Cafe and Bakery.

Since opening, Canvas has established itself as a go-to spot for the 9-to-5 crowd from the surrounding neighborhood.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

Started as a breakfast and lunch spot near Kennestone Hospital in 2006, Canvas eventually grew to provide dinner service.

While it is …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 2: Old blood and suggestive clams

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

Disclaimer: There are no spoilers in this recap at all. Seriously.

With 15 chefs making the cut last week, we jump straight into the action, complete with some guest judges and a big ole’ twist.

After nine seasons, Top Chef now has more runners-up than Real Housewives has plastic surgeries, and Stefan, CJ, and Josie are standing with Padma to introduce the Quickfire. The chefs split themselves up into teams of three according to apron color, and John gets right into being offensive by snagging a blue apron after he sees Kuniko grab one because “She’s Japanese…maybe she has incredible knife skills.”

Of course, because while us ‘Mericans were learning to walk, every little Japanese boy and girl is catching flies with chopsticks and juggling Ginsu knives.

The teams have a very short 20 minutes to prepare some form of local shellfish – complete with many jokes about everyone’s favorite phallic bivalve, the geoduck. The orange team looks like the clear favorite …

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Ria Pell and Virginia Willis to compete on ‘Chopped’

Credit: Food Network

Credit: Food Network

It’s time to set your DVR before holiday schedules make our lives too crazy. Two Atlanta chefs, Ria Pell and Virginia Willis, will each appear on upcoming episodes of Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped.”

Pell, who’s behind the two popular Atlanta spots Ria’s Bluebird and Sauced, will appear on the episode airing on Nov. 20 at 10 p.m. Sauced will host a viewing party in Pell’s honor on the evening it airs with food from The Spotted Trotter, Rathbun’s, Fox Bros. BBQ and more for a $20 fee. Purchase tickets online.

Atlanta’s other upcoming “Chopped” contestant, Virginia Willis, will appear on the show’s Nov. 27 episode. In an announcement on her website, Willis wrote,

I am sooo excited. It was a fantastic experience — and really, really hard! No kidding, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

“Chopped” is a top-rated competition cooking show that focuses on skill, speed, creativity, and execution. Chefs are challenged to create …

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Cooking Light celebrates 25 years with great issue

1211-november-cover-mIf you haven’t looked at “Cooking Light” lately, you should check out the current November issue. Clocking in at nearly 300 pages, this double-issue behemoth goes far beyond the promised list of “all-time favorite” recipe and offers a thoroughly researched and nuanced examination of cooking, dining and food-shopping trends in America today.

Dispensing with the usual front-of-the-book grab bag, the magazine gets right in to the subject with a feature called “Trends and Truths in Good Eating.” the editors make the case that the American food scene is vibrant like never before, from backyard gardening, to expanding cheese cases, to the sudden abundance and variety of products in international markets to no-knead bread recipes. All these developments are encouraging avid diners to eat better, healthier and fresher food than we have in generations.

The magazine hands out awards to restaurants and chefs that make a difference in the ways they think about local fare (you know …

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Atlanta restaurants do Thanksgiving

credit: William Berry/staff

credit: William Berry/staff

Atlanta restaurants are gearing up to help you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday whether you plan to dine out or at home. Here’s a sampling of options for a little holiday help.

Dining out:

  • Food 101 is planning a traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal for its patrons. A variety of appetizers like deviled eggs and pickled veggies will be provided for the table. Guests will have a choice between turkey, ham or leg of lamb for their entree and a slew of Southern sides served family-style. Holiday favorites like pumpkin and pecan pie will be among the dessert options. 11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. 4969 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-497-9700. $45 adults, $20 ages 6-12, 5 and under free.
  • Marietta’s Chicken and the Egg will also offer a Southern Thanksgiving experience with a meal comprised of an entree, three sides and a dessert. Entree choices include roasted turkey with cornbread dressing or glazed ham. Select sides like sweet potato casserole, green bean …

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