City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Very easy pumpkin pie

My easy pumpkin pie, all dressed up for Halloween/ Credit: AJC

My easy pumpkin pie, all dressed up for Halloween/ Credit: AJC

Stop! Don’t discard that pumpkin you just scooped from your jack-o’-lantern. Fresh pumpkin tastes terrific in pies and cakes and is easy to use if you have a blender or food processor.

Make sure the pumpkin is free of seeds and stringy pulp, chop it into chunks, then puree it until smooth with a food processor. Once the pulp is smooth, cook it, stirring often, over low heat until the moisture in it is almost evaporated and the color has darkened (1 cup of pumpkin will take about 30 minutes to cook). Now you can use it in a recipe that calls for cooked, mashed pumpkin, like the pie, below.

Very Easy Pumpkin Pie

8 servings

Hands on: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Make it even easier on yourself — especially if you’re like me and crunched for time: Use a pre-made pie crust for this super-easy classic, inspired by the one on the Libby’s can, and you’ll have pie in no time. Use the directions above for …

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Amuse! opens tonight

Chef Lenny Robinson/Credit: AJC

Chef Lenny Robinson/Credit: AJC

Anyone who eats lunch regularly downtown will tell you: Everyone misses Lenny Robinson. The peripatetic chef who both piqued and provoked the palates of downtown diners at his long gone  Les Fleur de Lis Cafe, in the Healy Building, has been kitchen hopping hoping to find a home since the restaurant closed several years back.

He landed briefly at Peasant Bistro, only to leave almost as soon as he got there.

Now the bold, outpspoken chef will helm the kitchen at Amuse!, the semi-French concept from veteran restaurateurs Arnaud Michel of Anis and Andy Alibaksh of the Café Diem family, which includes Après Diem, Carpe Diem, Carroll St. Café and Village Pizza. Robinson worked for Michel at Anis, so this is a reunion of sorts. Robinson is one of my favorite Atlanta chefs, so it will be interesting to see how these three musketeers make out, since all are known for their distinct personalities.

Located in the space once occupied by Allegro, the …

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Where do chefs eat?

Holeman & Finch is a fave among chefs/Credit: AJC

Holeman & Finch is a fave among chefs/Credit: AJC

It’s so enticing – the secret nosh. That place that has the food you crave at whatever time of day, be it two in the afternoon or four in the morning – either way, you know you can get exactly what you came for. Maybe it’s a big basket of pomme frites; maybe it’s a bowl of Chinese dan dan noodles.

Who better to share what cucina they cozy up to before or after hours than the city’s chefs? Armed with weird hours and a strong sense of what they like, these soldiers of sustenance scour the city, and I’ve got the goods on where they go. From Holeman & Finch (which seems to be on almost everyone’s list) to the Majestic, here’s a chefs’ taste of Atlanta.

Steven Satterfield of Watershed, who will open Miller Union next month, says he loves to head to Buford Highway for Korean barbecue at Hae Woon Dae BBQ. Closer to Watershed, he says, “Leon’s Full Service for some pommes frites or Cakes & Ale where (chef) Billy …

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Top five for Friday: Dishes that stick to your ribs

Mushroom risotto at Sotto Sotto/Credit: Beck Stein, special to the AJC

Mushroom risotto at Sotto Sotto/Credit: Beck Stein, special to the AJC

Something about the drop in temperature coupled with a bit of red on the leaves of the maple tree in my front yard makes me yearn for hearty, heavier meals. Maybe it’s just human nature to eat heavier as the weather cools, but every fall I find myself longing for sauces that entice with spice, noodles made noble with cheese, butter or herbs, or a bit of something made even more satisfying by braising until flavor and texture meld into one. Here’s to dishes that stick to our ribs.

Sotto Sotto ****

313 N. Highland Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-523-6678

Owner Riccardo Ullio opened this flavor haven in 1999, and it was an almost instant success. Atlanta had never really tasted Italian like this: simple, deconstructed presentation and an absolute adherence to fresh, well-sourced ingredients. But it’s the ktichen’s magical way with risotto – whether with musky mushrooms and shards of Parmigiana or the …

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DeGustar Latin food festival is this Saturday

The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will host the first annual Degustar, a Latin festival with lots of food venues, this Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the central park area of Atlantic Station.

Tia Maria's conchas mejor/courtesy Tia Maria Bakery and GHHC

Tia Maria's conchas mejor/courtesy Tia Maria Bakery and GHHC

There will be live Latin music and contests for first-, second- and third-place dishes from some of the area’s favorite Latin restaurants: Taste of Puerto Rico, Brazilian Bakery Cafe, Coco Loco Cuban Restaurant, Eclipse di Luna, Fuego Mundo, Machu Pichi  (which I’m told is now with a new owner …. hmmmmm…), Palomilla’s Cuban Restaurant, Tia Maria Bakery (YUM), Lime Taqueria, Loco Luna and Rosa Mexicano. A cooking demonstration is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Too bad Pura Vida and soon-to-open Lupe (it opens October 20), as well as newly opened Iberian Pig didn’t get involved …

Think of Degustar as a “Latin Taste of Atlanta.” Admission is $5, which buys two tickets. Tasting tickets are $1. Heck, I’d spend a buck for …

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The secret life of (my) bees

‘”Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best—” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.’

from The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

Anticipation. Could that be what it is called, Pooh? I’ve been anticipating for many months, just like you. All through spring and summer, I’ve watched my bees — fed them sugar syrup, and checked inside their hive once or twice (though not often) — until now. They’ve had a grand go at the hot summer months, living near my parents home in Clarkston. And boy, have they had it good: moderate temperatures for summer in the South, a garden of vegetables and wildflowers to pollinate, a creek in which to bath and five acres of land to roam.

This week, I harvested my honey. I had lots of help from bee keepers far greater than me: Cindy Hodges and Martha Keifer of the Metro Atlanta Bee …

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Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini to speak at Georgia Organics Conference

Georgia Organics has scored again big time with its keynote speaker for the 13th annual conference, to be held February 19 -20, 2010, called “Reclaiming Agriculture.” Last year, the conference garnered national attention due to keynote speaker Michael Pollan’s notoriety. This year promises more of the same, with Slow Food International founder Carlo Petrini scheduled to give the keynote address. The event will take place in Athens this year, and Five & Ten chef-owner Hugh Acheson is on board as the exec chef for the dinner and address.

Petrini is known for his outspoken personality, and even though he doesn’t speak English (Atlantic Monthly’s Corby Kummer often  interprets for him), he never has a problem engaging an audience. You can get a taste, above. More on the conference as it unfolds.

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Go whole hog at Primal Atlanta

Butchers from Buckhead beef give a demo for chefs/Credit: AJC

Butchers from Buckhead Beef give a demo for chefs/Credit: AJC

With an emphasis on whole foods, the sustainable movement has embraced a dying art of the culinary world: Butchering.

If you’re going to eat it, you ought to know where it came from, how it was raised — and how it was killed. And chefs should know how to break down a hog or a side of beef. “Animal husbandry” are big buzz words in the industry right now, and they need to account for more than just media coverage.

Butchers are a special brand of people; when I taught baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University Providence, the “meat guys” were some of the most sensitive, gentle people I’ve ever met. It’s an art to know how to care for an animal in this way; to respect and value the loss of life and to make sure that no part of it goes to waste. It hasn’t been more then two generations ago, after all, that we butchered our own animals.

If you’re looking to get closer to the food you eat, Taste Network has an …

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Pumpkin carving contest at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Jack 0' lanterns/ AJC

Jack 0' lanterns/ AJC

Five Atlanta chefs will be up to their elbows in pumpkin innards come October 29, when the Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts the “Great Chefs of Atlanta Pumpkin Carving Contest” as part of the Garden’s Fest-of-Ale.

Woodfire Grill executive chef and co-owner Kevin Gillespie (our very own Top Chef) as well as Joey Bridgers from Babette’s Café, Victor Dagatan of the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, Andrew Miller of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta and Alison Lueker of Sun in my Belly are all scheduled to carve.

From 7 to 9 p.m., chefs will have 25 minutes to carve up something special from a 100+-pound pumpkin, with the winner determined by the audience. All the giant jack-o’-lanterns will be sold at a silent auction after the contest. Fest-of-Ale takes place that evening from 5 to 10 p.m., and includes seasonal brews and live music, as well as achnace to stroll through Scarecrows in the Garden. Admission is $15, free to members; beers are $3.50. The …

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Ode to a pumpkin

My roasted pumpkin and beets with rosemary and garlic/Credit: AJC

My roasted pumpkin and beets with rosemary and garlic/Credit: AJC

It sits with a stem cocked to one side, and long, deep creases streak its orange flesh from top to bottom.

A pumpkin is Mother Nature’s reminder that fall is here. With it comes so many reassuring things, from gingerbread shaped into a haunted house to the ripe, musky smell of a cut jack-o’-lantern. Acorn squash, the  pumpkin’s cousin, has arrived, as well as muscadines and figs. Apples and pears will be eaten from hand, as well as sliced and spiced for pies, perhaps with a few cranberries and pecans. Sweet potatoes and Swiss chard, parsnips and pomegranates will all make their way to the fall table in some form or another.

Many dishes that have been made so many times before will guide hands that need no prompting, no recipe — by memory alone most of us  will create the things we always do this time of year, as the holidays near.

But if you need some prompting, here’s a simple recipe for pumpkin — and yes, …

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