17 October 2011

Celebrate 9 & Dine

Nine years ago our daughter, Rachel, married this handsome gentleman, Troy.  For their anniversary we took them to Woodfire Grill in Atlanta.  They had seen the owner/chef on an episode of "Georgia Traveler" on public television and asked if we had ever tried his food.  You've probably seen Kevin Gillespie on television as well; he was a finalist on Top Chef - Season 6.  So I made a reservation using Open Table with our special requests and we set off to Celebrate 9 & Dine!

Upon arriving , we were seated in a private alcove just two steps above the main dining room.  At each of our places was a custom made menu entitled "Happy 9th Anniversary" and all but 2 of the selections on this menu were Gluten Free!  Seven years ago, Rachel was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and since then we are delighted to find dining establishments that offer delicious GF items on their menu. On this night, it seemed Chef Kevin specially planned and prepared these culinary works of art just for our party!

Our evening started off with drinks and a delectable amuse-bouche of macerated strawberries.  (Sorry, there is no photo because it was only one bite on a lovely white porcelain spoon and by the time I got the camera everyone had swallowed it!)  The ladies had cocktails and the men had beer.

The menu at Woodfire Grill offers three courses Ala carte and two Chef's Tasting menus.  One 5-course (which can be vegetarian or pescatarian on request) and one 7-course Grand Tasting menu.  As in all of the fine dining establishments we have experienced, the tasting menus require full participation from the table.  Fortunately, the "Bride & Groom" wanted to choose from the custom made anniversary menu so, we got to see and taste all 11 dishes on our menu. Now our first course -

Rachel chose the Sweet Corn Soup (left) with peekytoe crab, toasted coconut, calabrese chile and cilantro.  Troy had the Local Baby Lettuces (center) with pickled cucumber, lady peas, cornbread croutons and sugar snaps topped with buttermilk dressing and local early cheddar.  While the parents of the bride had the Fried Green Tomato (right) with poached blue foot shrimp and avocado served on bacon-hot sauce aioli and micro celery.  I ask you - have you ever seen a prettier Fried Green Tomato? I didn't think so...

For our second course, I chose the Crispy Pork Terrine (left) with chili and lime pickle, mint chutney and pickled watermelon salad.  The "Groom" had the Pan-Roasted Carolina Trout (center) with brown butter, mustard greens and cranberry and snap pea succotash.  And Guy chose the chef's signature dish, Wood Grilled Pork Belly (right) with bacon spices, brussel sprout coleslaw, carrots and scallion.  All of these plates were beautifully constructed and marvelous, but Rachel's plate of Caramelized Mushroom Risotto with sherry vinegar, wild mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and chives was by far the most delectable.  (But it was not photogenic at all.)  If you saw the photo you would not want to eat it and you DO want to eat this!

For the third course, the "Groom" had Wood-Grilled Berkshire Pork Loin
with porcini braised potatoes, local watercress and charred onion salad.

The " Bride" chose the Pan-Seared Wild Alaskan Halibut
with lady peas, dill butter, potato emulsion and local chicory.

I enjoyed the Wood-Grilled Hudson Valley Duck Breast
with roasted hakurei turnips, puree of roasted beets, white beech mushrooms and pickled onion.
(It was divine!)

And the "Father of the Bride" chose the Chile Rubbed Natural Angus Beef Striploin
with cumin-orange vinaigrette, wood oven snow peas, radishes and brussel sprouts.

Earlier I spoke of the Executive Chef that intrigued us enough to travel to Cheshire Bridge Road just to eat at his restaurant...now let me tell you another reason, Brittany Emerson, pastry chef!  She was responsible for the indulgent sweets pictured above.  On the far left is Chocolate Cream Pie, which Guy declared the best he had ever tasted.  Chocolate Cinnamon Custard with Coffee Caramel, Cinnamon Meringue and Pistachio Brittle - seriously!  Next, Key Lime Pie - Frozen Lime Mousse with Toasted Ginger Meringue, Rose-Raspberry Anglaise on top of a Gingersnap Cookie - Troy said it was unlike any Key Lime Pie he'd ever had.  Third - yes that's BACON on top of my dessert - Banana Pain Perdu with Vanilla Ice Cream, Salted Caramel, Banana Cream Anglaise and Candied Bacon.  And finally a Mixed Berry Bavarian Cream prepared especially for Rachel, since all the other desserts on the menu contained flour.  And when you have dessert here be sure to have the coffee prepared in a French Press.  It was a dessert by itself - not that I just had the delicious coffee!


We thoroughly celebrated Rachel & Troy's 9th Anniversary!  And Rachel even joined in the tradition of securing the chef's autograph on her custom made menu (she got the pastry chef's, too) and I snapped this photo of Kevin Gillespie surveying his dining room from his open grill kitchen.  So, the verdict is...

5 slaps of table = EXTRAORDINARY!

Some of you may be wondering why only 5 slaps of table after reading this glowing review.  Let me explain...Woodfire Grill is in a most undesirable section of Atlanta (in our opinion) and while the service was friendly and accommodating it was not the type of service (formal) you receive in a restaurant with similar prices.  Woodfire Grill is definitely a Special Occasion place for us.  (I wish the couple with the noisy 2 year old just outside our alcove understood that - apparently they have more money than sense!)  Yes, I am holding the restaurant responsible for that intrusion on our dinner - we've dined in many places where children under 12 are not allowed in the dining room - honestly, that's what babysitters are for!  At any rate, we strongly recommend this restaurant for your next celebration.


Details for you:

Woodfire Grill

1782 Cheshire Bridge Road
Atlanta, GA 30324


Hours of Operation:
Tuesday - Thursday:
5:30pm to 10:00pm

Friday - Saturday:
5:30pm to 11:00pm

07 September 2011

Baked Lasagna

I would love to tell you this recipe came from my Sicilian grandfather, Nicolo Parrino (that would be poetic) but I don't recall being served lasagna while he was alive.  In fact, my earliest memory of eating this marvelous dish was at a Baptist Church Social.  (Saints preserve us!)  But I can tell you that the meat sauce in this recipe comes directly from my grandfather, although he preferred his tomato gravy with meatballs.

Obviously, you will need a long list of ingredients to make this dish...but it is definitely worth the extra effort and time for delicious Lasagna (From the Latin word "lasanum", meaning "cooking pot.")  Start with one pound of ground beef sirloin and one pound of ground pork; brown this meat in a large non-stick skillet.  I am a clean cook - are you?  I clean as I go; so I love my giant spatter screen.  Once the meat is browned, set it aside to drain.

To make the tomato gravy - sauté 1 large chopped onion and 5 cloves of garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot.  Hint: Use a deep pot to keep the tomato sauce splatter in the pot and off the stove.  I use a 10-quart non-stick braising pot from Calphalon.

Add 3 small cans of tomato paste to the onion and garlic and simmer for about 3 minutes.  As soon as you empty the tomato paste from the cans - fill them with water (or Chianti) and stir with a tiny wire whisk to get every last drop of tomato paste.

Add the 3 cans of water (or Chianti) and one 15-ounce can of tomato sauce.  Then you will add fragrant fresh herbs.  I believe fresh herbs do make a difference in this recipe, especially if you are tending your neighbor's herb garden while they're out of town.  (Thanks, Anita!)   But feel free to season to your taste with dried herbs - add parsley, basil and oregano.  This is the point where you decide how much salt and sugar you will use.  I use a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of sugar.  Only use sugar to cut the acid of the tomatoes if you do NOT use Chianti.


Finally, you add the browned ground beef and ground pork to the tomato gravy.  Let this simmer over low heat for one hour.  During this hour it is acceptable to taste the sauce with an end piece of crusty bread - but remember you will need a lot of sauce to fill your "Lasanum."

While the meat sauce is bubbling, cook one 10-ounce package of lasagna noodles according to package directions.  I like to add a little olive oil to the water to keep the noodles from sticking together.  Another great reason to have a pasta pot with its own colander!

Now you make the delicious filling.  Mix well together: 2 12-ounce cartons of Ricotta cheese; 2 large eggs, beaten; 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper; 2 teaspoons salt; 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Lightly butter an 8-cup Lasagna baking dish.  I use a LeCreuset, purple, of course.  Place 1/3 of the meat sauce in the bottom of the dish and top with a layer of noodles.  Then spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles.  Sprinkle this layer with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Repeat these layers until dish is full to the brim.

I recommend placing this dish on a baking pan to keep your oven clean.  Bake the Lasagna in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let it cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  And I like to let the Lasagna be the star of the show, so I serve it with garlic bread and a crisp chopped salad.  Of course we enjoy a good, red wine with this meal and on this night we had a 2009 Douglas Green Shiraz from South Africa.  This elegant and complex wine was matured in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 12 months.  This full-bodied wine displays typical Shiraz characteristics of dark berries, clove and cinnamon spice.  MANGA! 

Baked Lasagna

1 Large Onion, chopped
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Small Cans Tomato Paste
3 Small Cans Water, pour into empty paste cans
1 15 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce 
1/4 Teaspoon Parsley, chopped
1/4 Teaspoon Basil, chopped
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Oregano, chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 Pound Ground Pork, browned and drained
1/2 Pound Ground Sirloin, browned and drained
1 10 Ounce Package Lasagna Noodles, cooked and drained
2 12 Ounce Cartons Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
2 Teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Parsley Sprigs
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 Pound Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
To make meat sauce: Sauté chopped onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Simmer with three cans tomato paste.  Add water equal to cans and one can tomato sauce.  Add parsley, basil, salt, oregano, sugar.  Finally, add browned beef and pork.  Simmer for one hour.

Cook one 10 ounce package of lasagna noodles.  (Be sure to add olive oil to water to avoid sticking.)  Drain and rinse in cold water.

For lasagna combine: 2 cartons of Ricotta cheese, 2 beaten eggs, pepper, salt, parsley and Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Lightly butter an 8 cup lasagna baking dish.  Place 1/3 meat mixture in greased baking pan.
Top with layer of noodles.  Then layer of cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with layer of shredded mozzarella.  Repeat layers until baking dish is full to the brim.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  (To keep your oven clean place dish on cookie sheet.)

Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 8 cups
Cuisine: Italian
Categories Main Dishes
Notes: This dish reheats well and is full of flavor!
Serving Ideas: Serve with garlic bread and salad.
Source:  Nicolo Parrino

22 August 2011

Artichoke Squares

This is a recipe from one of the many Junior League cookbooks in my collection.  This one is called "Savannah Style" and I quote..."the emphasis is on simple but elegant food, well within the ability of the busy person who cares about graceful living and stylish entertaining, but who must accomplish it with less help than in days past."  Well, I do care about both of the aforementioned things but I don't have any less help than in days past...I've never had "The Help"!  (But we do strongly recommend you see the movie.)

You only need 8 simple ingredients to make this tasty side dish.  Or cut into smaller squares you can serve it as an appetizer.  First, you drain one 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts and cut these into small pieces.  Then chop one scallion and saute it in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. 

Then beat 4 eggs in a medium size mixing bowl.  Add the scallion to the eggs along with 8-ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, 6 crushed saltine crackers, 2 dashes Tabasco Sauce; then add salt & pepper to your taste and mix this well.

Place this mixture in a greased 9-inch square pan.  Carefully place this into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until firm.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into squares.

Full disclosure:  This pan of Artichoke Squares is NOT the one pictured above in the mixing bowl.  That pan was inexplicably dumped onto the open oven door and seared to the tiny window there.  My husband came from his upstairs office to rescue me!  He heard the alarm..."S***!" from the kitchen below.  And here is the real confession - while the Easy-Off was working its magic we went to Sonic for dinner!  Yes, we sat in his truck and ate burgers with Cherry Coke.

The next evening I was able to create this pan of Artichoke Squares and serve it for dinner.

Artichoke Squares

14 Ounces Canned Artichoke Hearts, drained
8 Ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Whole Green Onion, chopped
4 Large Eggs
8 Saltine Crackers, crushed
2 Dashes Tabasco Sauce
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut artichoke hearts into small pieces. Saute green onion in small amount of oil. Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Place green onions and all other ingredients in medium bowl with eggs and mix well.

Grease 9-inch square pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until firm. Cool for 5 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

* May be cut into smaller squares to serve as an appetizer.

Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Serving Ideas: Great with Pork Tenderloin
Cuisine: Southern Home Cooking
Categories: Side Dishes, Vegetables

Source: Savannah Style - Junior League Cookbook

20 August 2011

The Grateful Fed


Named in homage to Jerry Garcia's favorite guitar, Rosebud is our favorite restaurant to introduce our friends to on special occasions!  When we take folks out for a unique dining experience we like to take them somewhere they've never been and it has to be delicious.  After all, we have a reputation for knowing how to pick 'em!  And although we might be celebrating an anniversary or a birthday this is not a "special occasion only" restaurant.  In fact, it is a great neighborhood eatery (if you live in the neighborhood of Morningside) and if you don't...it is well worth the trip!  The service is always relaxed and friendly but not overly so. 

Chef Ron Eyester is the owner and his gregarious personality is reflected in his cozy restaurant.  The dining room is warm and inviting while the bar offers suitable seating for parties of 1 to 12.  There are even small private spaces to host an event if you so desire.  But the "event" we love the most at Rosebud is Monday Night Brunch.  Because there is nothing like breakfast for supper.  It is a known fact that pancakes taste better after dark!  We have taken 3 of our favorite couples to Monday Night Brunch at Rosebud to celebrate a happy occasion in their lives...

 When you visit Rosebud, you will be a "Fed Head" like all of us!

Now, we have also enjoyed lunch and dinner at this marvelous restaurant but our favorite by far is the brunch menu.  If you are not a fan of breakfast foods (what?) Rosebud also offers their regular dinner menu as well.  I believe the following photos might convince you...

Warm Mushroom and Country Ham Bruschetta
Peekytoe Crab Cake Benedict

Fried Chicken & Waffles 

All Monday night brunch features on this menu with a sense of humor!
(I think my photos are getting better...thanks, SARA!) 

When you go you must ask your server about...

The Big A#$ Biscuit!
(each Monday night this huge biscuit is stuffed with the freshest local ingredients the Chef can get)

Fried Green Tomato, Bacon & Egg Big A#$ Biscuit
Diners with us have also enjoyed the Bacon Cheeseburger Frittata (oh my!) and The Ultimate Pancake (really a pancake pannini filled with smoked bacon, sausage & scrambled egg - yes, indeed) and Joey Buttafuoco's Omelette (local Italian sausage, fried mozzarella, banana peppers & smoked tomato sauce - Manga!) 

And I love to have a Mexican Coke to accompany my meal...Coca Cola sweetened with cane syrup, instead of corn syrup.  This is the Coke from my youth!

Rosebud offers a selection of "grown-up sodas" as well as a varied choice of bottled beers.  And they have a reputation for their delicious Bloody Mary.  In fact, you can buy their housemade Bloody Mary Mix when you visit.  The bar staff here loves to use local ingredients in creative ways; such as housemade infuses (strawberry vodka), fresh pressed juices (carrot, lemon, cucumber) and surprising ingredients (maple syrup).  You will also find a small, somewhat obscure list of wines available by the glass or bottle.  We always find something new to try at a very affordable price.


Guy loves the Kobe Burger here, although he calls it the "Gus Burger"?  Evidently while Guy was attending the University of Virginia the most wonderful thing to eat in Charlottesville was a big, juicy burger with a fried egg on top.  Lately, we have noticed many restaurants offering their own version of a "Gus Burger" (of course you can have it without the egg - but why?)

Except for Saturday, each night of the week has a "Special."  I've already shared Monday Night Brunch in this post but you might prefer these:

  •  Tuesday night:  Chopped Summer Salad (I'm sure Autumn will bring a new special)
  •  Wednesday night:  Chinese Fried Chicken & Rice (Guy enjoyed this one)

  • Thursday night:  Spaghetti & Lobster Meatballs
  • Friday night:  Peekytoe Crab Cakes
  • Sunday night:  Local Pasta & Sunday Gravy and Bottomless Chianti

As for lunch, this is a great place to meet our friends that live on the south side of the city.  (Thanks, Cindy D!)  Rosebud's lunch menu includes $14 Blue Plates that mimic the nightly specials listed above, with the addition of an Oyster Po'Boy on Mondays.  Sorry, I don't have photographs of the 2 other "favorites" on the menu; you will just have to take my word for it...or Scott's, that the Mussels (with Champagne-Orange butter and fresh herbs) & Housemade Fries are delectable and the Buttermilk Fried Springer Mountain Chicken is delicious as well.

Am I forgetting something?  Oh, yeah...dessert!  I think it's worth the 35 minute drive to Rosebud just for the Chocolate Pudding...seriously!  Fortunately there are lots of other wonderful things to eat and drink here so I don't have to make the trip just for pudding, but I would!

Scrumptious housemade chocolate custard topped with butter brickle and a dusting of powdered sugar!  And if you are one of those rare people who does not care for chocolate (again I say...what?) there are plenty of other simply delicious desserts like Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Drunken Cherry Bread Pudding or Mexican Coca Cola Cake!  There is even an exclusive ice cream flavor made for Rosebud by High Road Craft Ice Cream in Roswell:  Chocolate-Peanut Butter & Pretzel...I would not make this up!

Of course, you will NOT be surprised that Rosebud rates:

4 slaps of table = Very Enjoyable!
You will want multiple visits!

Details for you:

 1397 N. Highland Avenue Atlanta, GA 30306

Dinner is served from:
5:30pm to 10pm
Monday – Thursday
5:30pm to 11pm
Friday & Saturday
5:30pm to 9:30pm
on Sunday
Brunch is served from:
10am to 3pm
on Saturday
10am to 4pm
on Sunday
5:30pm to 10pm
on Monday