Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Proof of the Pudding Presents!! an Organic Chef Table at the Carter Center this Sat Apr 5

Proof Of The Pudding Chef 

Launches Organic Cooking Showcase

In the spirit of celebrating spring, Proof of the Pudding’s Chef Ron Jenkins will be hosting a live action pop- up tent at Freedom Farmers Market at the Carter Center April 5 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Jenkins’ menu will incorporate products from the booths at the market, showing that food can be both natural and delicious.
“The best way I think I can benefit my community as a chef and advocate is to educate on the correlation of healthy food production and a healthy planet,” he said.
Jenkins’ passion for organic food stems from his love for nature and drive to protect the planet by using the least amount of harmful products possible, according to a press release. Jenkins teaches farm-to-table cooking with local food sourcing at the Food Literacy Institute, while also functioning as Sous Chef for Proof of the Pudding.

Jenkins will showcase both breakfast and lunch features.
  • Breakfast from 9-10:30 a.m.: Riverview Farm fresh egg vegetable omelet with peppers, onions, asparagus, tomato and Sparta Imperial Mushrooms
  • Lunch from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.: Grilled grass-fed beef burger, fried egg, sautéed mushrooms served with Woodland Farms Organic Garden Salad, and Grass Root Farms slow-roasted barbecue chicken sliders served with Woodland Farms Organic Garden Salad

Freedom Farmers Market brings good food to their neighbors every Saturday, 
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Dec. 20. 

Every vendor represented at the market shares a common dedication to sustainable farming practices, and brings a wide range of local products to the table from fresh produce to prepared meals.

The market is located at 453 Freedom Pkwy. N.E., Atlanta, Ga.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Duck fat and Resolutions

New Year's is barely a month away and I'm already finding myself cheating on those promises I made (to myself). Cheating---not dropping---my resolve to maintain the weight loss I accomplished and hopefully, to loose a bit more.

Loosing resolve happens too easily when you cook for a living and it happens too easily when you love to eat. And it happens when I find myself with a pile of duck fat that is begging for rendering and potatoes longing for frying in hot oil.

What to do, what to do. You know the answer and so do I. Render that fat, enjoy the cracklins, fry the potatoes and eat! I did....without a bit of remorse.

Step #1---How to render duck fat:

Put the duck skin and fat in a deep heavy pot. Pour in enough cold water to just cover the fat and skin. Bring to a gentle boil and just let it go. No stirring needed. 

After one hour, the mess you started with will have turned into golden bits of crispy duck skin cracklins and a luscious deep amber liquid. Strain the liquid through a couple of layers of cheese cloth and drain the remaining cracklins on paper towel. Sprinkle them with a little salt while they're still warm. The duck fat----if it lasts that long----can be held (refrigerated---not frozen) for up to one year. 

In the beginning, an unappealing pot of raw skin, fat and water
About 20 minutes later, not looking much better...just let it keep going

After one hour, golden goodies. Sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy your cracklins.

The final reward. A few cups of amber goodness. The duck fat!

Step #2, Frying potatoes in duck fat:
serves 4 generously

  • 4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed, skin left on and cut into thick fries
  • 1 cup of rendered duck fat
  • Maldon salt (or any other good finishing salt)
  • optional: 1 small sprig of fresh rosemary.
Soak the potatoes for about 30 minutes in cold water, rinse and pat dry.

Heat the oil to medium (350 degrees) and add the potatoes. Fry them for 5-6 minutes until they just begin to turn opaque. Remove to paper towels and let drain. Do this in batches if necessary. Don't crowd the pan. 

After all the potatoes have had their first fry, return them to the pan, in batches if necessary, with the optional spring of rosemary. Fry until golden, drain on paper towels, sprinkle with the salt and eat!

Strain the used duck fat through 2 layers of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate. This used duck fat is good for 1 month.

Crispy duck fat fries.

Credits to others: My camera malfunctioned and I lost my own photos. I have shamelessly used pics I found on line and offer thanks to those who have generously made their own work available.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Corny Stuff

A friend's Father died early this morning on the break of our Independence Day celebration. I didn't know him well but I know his daughter and she is a 'Full of Life Gal' and from what I gather he was the same. All of this thinking segued to my own Father and how he also charged through life.  Also a full of life man, a big man with a big personality who had big appetites...especially when it came to food. 

If Daddy traveled the first stories you'd hear from him were about what he ate. I giggle sometimes thinking of his tales. But my best Daddy food story is about how he ate corn.

Most of us pick up the cob and gnaw...either around and round or from stem to tip. Daddy used a fork. He'd poke it into one end of the cob and lever the kernels neatly and methodically from one long end to another. When all of the golden goodies were removed from the cob and piled on his plate he'd take the same fork and dine heartily. I've tried, lots of times, to lever corn from the cob with a fork. I've never succeeded like Daddy did. I usually end up ripping corn kernels in half and leaving most of them sitting in the cob and then have to gnaw like usual. 

Now, here I go, I segue again. More about Daddy and corn. There were rules. Buy it from a local farmer when it's in season. Don't shuck it until you're ready to eat it but don't keep it too long. Corn starts loosing deliciousness the minute it's picked and shucking it before you cook it drains flavor and sweetness and dries it out. Cook it over a hot grill...shucked on not.  (soak it if it's not shucked). But, the husk adds flavor it you leave it unshucked. Don't boil it. If you can't grill it, steam it. But whatever you do, don't cook it 'til it's too soft. Corn is supposed to be little al dente.

So now I've come full circle. As I think about my Daddy I also think about friend Donna's Daddy Hugo. May you two excellent Daddies rest peacefully thinking about good food and the daughters who love you and dine to your memory.  

Baruch dayan emet

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TIN DRUM asiacafé, Roswell Marketplace, GA

Ser·en·dip·i·ty  ---finding something wonderful when and where it's least expected....

So went this evening's visit at TIN DRUM asiacafé: I didn't expect to experience good food at a chain restaurant: eateries where fare is humdrum, service hurried and you know ahead of time that what you're served never looks as good as the picture on the menu.

TIN DRUM dashed my (bad) attitude with a small cup of coconut soup. 

Hong Kong native Steven Chan is the founder and brainchild behind this Asian fusion cafe. Designed to reflect the bustling street food scene of Chan's hometown and and his training as an architect, the place is edgy-industrial and lively. 

The casual menu takes a somewhat non-traditional approach to Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese food. It's a good way to introduce these cuisines to diners who might  be intimidated by more traditional places and not willing to drop a bundle on food they aren't sure they'd enjoy. It's a good way to enjoy these cuisines if you're strapped for time, on a budget and want to eat good food Now. They do a terrific job.

We happily tasted 7 of the entrees and appetizers. All of it was very good. Some of it was wonderful.

First up: that soup. Thai Coconut Soup---a slightly salty, slightly sweet blend of coconut milk, sweet Thai chili, lemon grass & fish sauce with slivered green onion and mushroom. I could have gulped down a gallon of that stuff and called it a day.  Make this a must have.

Crab and Cheese Roll---I'm not usually a fan of cream cheese spiked sea food, but this was nicely done: light flaky pastry wrapped around a crabmeat-cream cheese stuffing. Nicely fried, not a bit oily, sweet and sour sauce for dipping. I loved the presentation: it screamed street food....a small round metal plate with a square of brown parchment and a tiny cup for the sauce. Cute.

Panko Shrimp Taco---This was my favorite and it is so representative of what this menu is all about. Steamed white rice topped with panko coated fried shrimp, slaw, cilantro, slivered scallions and cucumber-wasabi sauce nicely presented in a flour tortilla. This is truly fusion on a plate; I Ioved it. Again, my compliments to the Chef handling the deep fryer: You rock! Not a drop of oily and shrimp fried to perfection.

Pad Woon Sen [glass noodles]---I wanted to love this. I just liked it. It needed something more; green onions, crushed peanuts, some broth, sesame seed oil....I'd order this again, because I adore noodle bowls, and ask them to add stuff. 

TIN DRUM Curry---Yes, yes, yes!  Lovely, slightly spicy, slightly sweet curried chicken layered over a pile of fresh, crisp baby spinach leaves. Ask for some extra sauce. 

Tikka Masala---an Indian curry dish. If you want heat, order this. Everyone loved it. My thought: it suffered from too much cinnamon. 

Mango Stir Fry---chicken, mango, sweet chili sauce, onion, jalapenos. Hmm, I'm gonna sound picky, but here I go: Chef's knife skills need a little help. The pieces of mango and chicken were cut too large and unevenly. The beauty of Asian fare is attention to detail; precise bite size cuts are important. This reminded my of my sweet beautiful son---big clunky feet, he's like Ferdinand in a china shop. Ya wanna love him, ya gotta love him......

Some notes:
Tin Drum also offers a gluten free menu, all chicken is natural from humanely raised fowl and tofu is organic. Tin Drum is rated a "Healthy Place to Eat" and there's free WiFi.

Our dinner was a hosted event for Atlanta bloggers. We enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Publicist Charles Rohling and Tin Drum Marketing Manager Elisa Gumbel. It was a delight and a pleasure to meet you both and thank you! for hosting us and Charles for your excellent service. Once a server, did a great job!

Roswell Marketplace is Tin Drum's 13th location in Atlanta.

Also at the table: Ms. Sucheta Rawal --- go eat give
                              Ms. Emily Allred --- Spatialdr i f t

Read theTIN DRUM story....

Tin Drum Asia Cafe on Urbanspoon
Tin Drum Asia Cafe on Foodio54

Friday, May 10, 2013

Travels with Charlie

Kennebunkport, ME is home to the (senior) Bush's and Walker Point, their family home. It is a summer destination for dining, shopping, lobster and all things Maine. Streets, shops and restaurants during those months are clogged with tourists and prices are, well, a little over the top. But down the road a piece is the "Port's" little sister, Kennebunk.

Kennebunk is not the "Port"; it is quieter, more sedate. But that does not mean boring or nothing to do. The town has undergone a resurgence of civic pride in the last decade and the place has grown lovelier and there's much to see and do. It also boasts a few terrific dining spots: 50 Local (which I reviewed here last year) and a local favorite, Duffy's Tavern.

Duffy's occupies the lower floor of a lovely old shoe factory at the corner of Main St (Rt.1) and Water St, at the edge of town. It overlooks a gushing, picturesque water spill and there's easy parking. The place is owned by a real Duffy and he's always around to greet you and have a chat. The menu is simple American fare. I love the fish and chips and have ordered that the last 2 times I was there.  It's a huge piece of perfectly fried, perfectly crispy fresh haddock with a side of fries (regular or sweet potato) or onion rings. My friends also ordered a starter of tomato brushetta. It arrived with the tomato topping in a small dish with delicious rosemary scented soft toasts on the side. A nice change from the usual hard as a rock, crumbly crostini.

Also recommended from Duffy's menu: burgers, buttermilk battered onion rings, crab cakes, the lobster roll and Duffy's pizzas...10" of perfection!

Duffy's is clean and bright. Seating is comfortable and service is efficient and professional. Prices are very reasonable and there's a full bar. There's also a gluten free menu and a nice array of lagers and beers on tap. A fun touch: the menu is a small newspaper full of local tidbits and news.

Airport food is usually known to be barely edible and over priced. I know if I'm hungry enough I'll end up eating the stuff and then spend the rest of my trip feeling awful from all the salt, carbs, fats and who-knows-what-else lurking under the pretense of being food.

So knock me over with a feather when I stumbled on BGR Burger tucked away in a corner of concourse B at the Baltimore airport. The smell of something grilling always gets to me and when the lady asked how I wanted my burger cooked I thought I'd swoon. Char grilled and pink! And it was. Prime, dry-aged grass fed beef tasting like a burger should taste, Delicious!!

Note: the link below will take you to a location here in Atlanta. Go to the web site (BGR) for additional locations.


Duffy's Tavern & Grill on Urbanspoon Duffy's Tavern and Grill on Foodio54 BGR - The Burger Joint on Urbanspoon BGR The Burger Joint on Foodio54

Monday, April 22, 2013


All of us will agree that this has been a week of tragedy and loss; in Boston, Texas and the upper Midwest. Man and nature have tried our forebearance. And as we bury and mourn our dead and our horribly injured and suffer tragic loss we seek a way to understand and comfort each other. In my world food nourishes and calms the injured, grieving soul. Recovery can take many forms and a good meal can always help.

This recipe came to me as I watched our diverse people come together to help each other; making a delicious amalgam of support for the suffering. It is what I do when there is hurt and sadness. I offer a nourishing meal.

Try this for comfort and to share...It is a dense sauce, rich and thick with healthy vegetables and fresh herbs.

Vegetable Ragout with Pasta and Basil
(makes 4 cups of rich sauce)

  • 2-3 TBS good olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery (green leaves also), diced
  • 1 leek, white part only, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 can organic tomato paste (Muir Glen if you can)
  • 1/2 cup dried mushrooms (shitake or crimini)
  • 1/2 cup full bodied white wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 TBS fresh basil, cut in chiffonade
  • Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste 
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • Your favorite pasta 

Heat a 3 quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, carrots, celery, leek, onion and sweet pepper. Stir and season with a healthy pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Cook the vegetables for 1 hour.

While the vegetables are cooking, put the mushrooms in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1 cup of cold water and cover with cling film. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Set aside to soak. (Keep covered). After 1 hour, remove the mushrooms, squeeze our their liquid and give them a rough chop reserving the soaking water.

At the same time, raise the heat under the pot to medium high and add the tomatoes, garlic, chopped mushrooms, tomato paste, sugar and wine. Stir and gently bubble over medium for about 5-10 minutes or until everything looks thick.  Add the mushroom soaking liquid and simmer another 5 minutes or until thick again. 

Check seasonings, add S&P to taste and remove from the heat. Stir in the basil, saving a bit for garnish. Toss the sauce with your favorite paste and garnish with the reserved basil and shavings of Parmesan.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Portion me please

If history holds true,  many of us will be thinking about our waist lines right about now. Cold weather is slipping away along with the need for the bulky clothing that hides bellies and extra pounds. Bathing suit season is about to hit. Yikes, we need to DIET!

But weighing food, counting calories and dining exclusively on lettuce doesn't work for most of us. Drastic deprivation is not a solution. I've got a few better ideas....
Slow down. It takes a few minutes for your stomach to notice you've sent down food, relay that to your brain which in turn will tell you if you've had enough. Put your fork down between bites and chew your food well. Give the 'I'm full signal' time to travel.         

Size matters. (Well, it does). Many of us suffer not because of what we're eating but because of how much. Make a plate for yourself, put away and freeze the leftovers, then go sit down and eat. When you're shopping, you don't have to buy the package with 6 chops. Ask the market to repackage just what you need. Buy less. Less food, less temptation. Believe me, your waist line will thank you and so will your wallet.

The color of your dishes matter. Studies show that food presented on a plate of contrasting color will cut your eating by nearly 20%. The higher contrast between food and plate makes you more aware of your portion size. If you're having a steak use a white plate. If you're having pasta with tomato sauce use a white bowl. Mashed potatoes...think about red or green or blue. Salad? Unless it's drowning in dressing, doesn't matter. Eat all the raw veg you want.

Your Mother was wrong. You do not have to clean your plate. Parisians are notorious for their long time at table drinking wine and dining on all kinds of rich buttery food. When they were asked how they stayed so slim with that kind of diet, they answered that they stopped eating when they began to feel full.

Water yourself. Drink a full glass of water before you eat. Water is filling and also aids in proper digestion. Another glass during and after is better. But if you do only one, before meal is best.

Eat from a plate. Never eat from a package. Always present your food to yourself from a dish so you can see how much you're eating. We'll consume 20% or 30% more when eating straight from a package. And, the bigger the package, the more we'll eat. 

Live by the movie-munchie rule. Movie goers who ate popcorn from a larger bucket ate more of the popcorn than those who bought a medium size. Choosing the smaller bucket means you'll eat 50% less. Less popcorn, on average, than a person who chooses large. Give yourself a lot to eat and you'll eat a lot. 

Get in the habit of being Portion-Aware. Chose and serve yourself just a little less. If you can cut back by just 20% a day, by the end of the year you could be 30 pounds lighter.

Source credits: Cooking Light Magazine, October 2012