Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coffee Cake

I always loved the coffee cake that Mom made for us. It came out in a rectangular pan, sprinkled liberally with cinnamon on top. I needed a break from work tonight, so I decided to knock out a coffee cake that I can eat for breakfast in the morning. I decided to try King Arthur Flour's recipe (sorry, Mom). I used pecans for the nuts and threw in some chopped up chocolate.

This is the batter. The filling, made of the pecans, chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, flour, and butter, went into several layers inside the cake and a sprinkling on top.

And this is the finished cake. It's still too hot to cut but it sure smells good...

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Atlanta Breakfast Club

I discovered Atlanta Breakfast Club on a recent trip to the Aquarium---they are just across the street. I'm glad that I went back for breakfast. The space is large, open, and well lit. The furniture is chrome and shiny vinyl, giving it a nifty diner feel. The service was extremely hospitable. ABC has the right feel for a Southern breakfast spot, which is a place that you should want to go to meet people and start the day off right.

These are my banana nut pancakes, which I highly enjoyed. The pancakes themselves were extremely fluffy and light. Slices of banana gave little nuggets of sweetness while pecans (I think that's what they were) provided some crunch and richness.

Atlanta Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon

Atlanta Breakfast Club

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Strawberry Ice Cream

Spring says strawberries to me. I answered the call by making a batch of strawberry ice cream. For the base, I used a slight variation of Alton Brown's vanilla ice cream recipe. His recipe has no eggs but uses a combination of whipping cream and half-and-half; I loaded it up entirely with whipping cream. I added to the scalded cream a combination of fresh organic strawberries and some organic strawberry preserves from last summer. A quick pass of the stick blender pureed everything.

Here is the ice cream after a run through the KitchenAid. The volume increased 3 or 4 times. I borrowed a trick from Cook's Illustrated and dished the ice cream into a cold metal cake pan. Cooling it in a thin layer helps to reduce the freezing time and reduce the formation of ice crystals. I managed a few bites from the bowl scrapings---rich and strawberry-ey.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

College Park: The Pig & The Pint

My friend Shuvra flew into town to visit Georgia Tech. His flight was delayed, which gave us an opportunity to eat at The Pig & The Pint in College Park. It's a large restaurant with a nice but relaxed decor. It offers both a bar area and a lot of space for table-oriented dining. I would classify their menu as modern Southern, fancy enough for a night out but still with a casual feel.

We started with hummus topped with farmer's cheese. The potato chips were a great Southern way to dip. Their crunchy texture was outstanding.

I ordered the chicken and dumplings. Rather than debone the chicken, they served a half chicken topped with the dumplings, vegetables, and gravy. The chicken was nice and moist.

My greens were very smoky, just right to complement the meat. The grilled brussel sprouts were complemented with a bit of balsamic vinegar that worked well with them.

Shuvra ordered the pork chop, which he reported was very good.

The Pig & The Pint on Urbanspoon

The Pig and the Pint

Monday, April 20, 2015

Doraville: Tempo Doeloe

Malaysian food is one of the hidden treasures of Buford Highway. Tempo Doeloe is a little hard to find, nestled in one of those two-story strip malls that line the highway in Doraville. It is a very simple, cafeteria style place where you bus your own table. A small Malaysian grocery store is attached; they seem to specialize in sauces, something that I will have to try.

My lunch was a beef plate. (Actually, I'm not sure that is what I ordered, but I enjoyed it.) Underneath that peanut sauce is bean sprouts and green vegetables. The beef was a little dry, but overall this was a hearty, satisfying, and fairly healthy meal. Of course, I'm always a sucker for peanut sauce...

Tempo Doeloe on Urbanspoon

Tempo Doeloe

LGA: Prime

Prime is located just inside security in Terminal D. It's a big restaurant. I ate at the counter and used their tablet system to order my meal.

I ordered roast chicken. A few spots on the bottom were overcooked to the charcoal level. The rest of the chicken was a little dry.

Taste of Prime on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cleveland GA: Yonah Burger

Yonah Burger (great name, by the way) is on the Cleveland-Helen highway. I've driven by several times but this is my first visit. Unfortunately, it took about 45 minutes to get my burger from the time I stepped into the line. The workflows in the kitchen seemed to be inefficient. The napkins were located at the other end of the restaurant from the condiments.

In addition to my burger, I also managed to try a few onion rings. Don't worry, the full order is more than this. Both the rings and the burger were fine, although not spectacular. The burger had a nice texture to it with a little char on the outside. They aren't very big, so if you are hungry, think about ordering a double.

Yonah Burger on Urbanspoon

Dunwoody: C'om Dunwoody Vietnamese Grill

I met Grant and Marie for a lovely dinner at C'om. The interior is very well appointed and the service is extremely gracious. The food is Vietnamese with the occasional twist; of course, even standard Vietnamese food has a noticeable French influence. Here are a few of the dishes we tried.

Cơm Dunwoody Vietnamese Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Grinding Your Own Whole Wheat Flour

I finally bought a grain mill after thinking about it for several years. This move isn't quite as extreme as it may seem. Whole wheat berries last for thousands of years. But once you grind them, the oils start to decay immediately. After a couple of days, the oils that give the flour both its nutrition and taste are in pretty sad shape. Since I bake all my own bread and it's all whole wheat (minus the occasional baguette), I decided that grinding my own whole wheat flour made sense.

Here are some wheat berries in the grinder. (Note that I didn't buy a hand-crank mill. I may be eccentric but I'm not crazy.) The mill grinds 12 ounces of grain in 2 or 3 minutes. It makes a high-pitched whine a little like a dentist's drill. The flour that comes out is extremely fine. The first time I ran the grinder, I didn't seal everything correctly and my kitchen started to look like a woodshop with all the flour dust flying around. Even when you use the mill properly, a little flour tends to escape. The ground flour smells like cereal.

Here is the first loaf...

And here is a slice. The fine flour gives the bread a very fine texture that one usually doesn't associate with whole wheat. I think it also tastes a little richer than bread made from older flour. It's a subtle difference but I think it's there.

This procedure isn't for the faint of heart nor for neat freaks. But I've baked two loaves now and the second one tasted even better than the first. I think I will be able to keep this up; grinding the flour takes a few more minutes, not bad for the one or two loaves per week that I bake. I look forward to giving my copy of King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking a workout.

Doraville: BBQ Corner 2

I had a chance to pay a repeat visit to BBQ Corner 2 on Buford Highway. The decor includes a fish tank but in general could use a refresh. The service was pleasant and efficient. The restaurant is open very late. I've never been there late at night---could be an interesting foray some time.

I ordered pork and salt baked chicken. The chicken was moist and came off the bone with just a little tug. The pork was fine, although perhaps uninspired.

BBQ Corner 2 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hapeville: Drip

Hapeville is a pretty little Southern town nestled next to the world's busiest airport. This is a particularly beautiful time of year to be there. The trees are in full blossom, giving perfect frames for the solid, comfortable houses and the red clay brick businesses. Downtown Hapeville is a classic railroad town lined up along the railroad tracks.

Drip is in the old A&P right in the center of the business district. The decor mixes modern design with some southern touches. The deer head gives the place a bit of a Southern hunting vibe.

They serve two kinds of brew coffee: light and dark roast. The light roast is a single-plantation variety with lots of flavor. I didn't have a chance to try their baked goods but they had a lineup of Southern classics: peach pie, pecan pie, red velvet cake. Makes you want to sit down and take it easy...

Drip on Urbanspoon

Drip

Sunday, April 5, 2015

New Brunswick NJ: Due Mari

Due Mare is across from the Hyatt in downtown New Brunswick. It has an elegantly appointed space with high ceilings and large windows. The service was very gracious.

I started out with a squash soup, which was excellent. It was creamy but not overly thick; some soups of this type can be too heavy. The surprise hit of the soup was the small collection of toasted pumpkin seeds in the middle. They added a wonderful nutty taste and a spectacular crunch. I metered them out to be sure that I had some throughout the bowl.

My main course was an excellent fruitti de mare. It featured excellent shellfish---octopus, scallop, mussel, one of two others---in a creamy risotto. A good risotto is hard to find so I enjoy it when I can. This was an excellent example.

Due Mari on Urbanspoon

ATL: Varasano's Pizzeria

Varasano's is the upscale dining option in Terminal A. The restaurant features great views from the windows. They have a piano but I don't know how often it is that anyone plays it.

This is Nana's pizza, basically a margherita with chopped red peppers. It smelled great when it came out---a full-on blast of tomato sauce and cheese. The crust was very thin and crispy with just enough char from the oven. The sauce was lightly applied and superb. The cheese was wonderful. It all helps to make that airplane seat feel better.

Varasano's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Varasano's Pizzeria

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hapeville: Pit Boss BBQ

I just had a very satisfying meal at Pit Boss BBQ in Hapeville. I missed it on my first drive down the street---its location in the back of a liquor store is pretty low key. However, I considered that location to be auspicious for the quality of my meal, and I turned out to be right. The smoke billowing out of the chimney greeted me as I pulled into my parking space. The restaurant offers pork ribs and pulled pork, chicken, brisket, wings, and burgers. This is a popular place, so expect to wait a few minutes in line and then a few more minutes for your plate to arrive. In the mean time, you can entertain yourself with the Theater of BBQ that the store presents. The counter is a frontpiece to the main stage of BBQ as revealed by the kitchen window. The front of the kitchen centers around the grill with its burgers. The doors of the smoker fill the back of the kitchen. When they open, they reveal a full company of smoking meats. I was so entranced by the huge stack of ribs that I don't remember anything else.

I ordered baby back ribs with collard greens, baked beans, and cornbread. The ribs were meaty and juicy. They had a little bit tooth to them, requiring a little bit to pull them away from the bone. I ordered the hot sauce; it tickled my lips but didn't set them on fire. The collard greens were liberally interspersed with pork. They had a rich, smoky flavor that I really liked. The beans and cornbread were good but I was paying so much attention to the other dishes that they sort of went past me.

Pit Boss BBQ on Urbanspoon

Pit Boss BBQ