Can I just brag on my little town for a few minutes?
I love this little Georgia town that I've called home for the last 13 years. Last night we feasted on a gourmet Farm to Table meal prepared by the best chefs in town while sitting at tables set up in the middle of a downtown street. Where else can you do that?
Even though I cant give them credit for the beautiful weather, I have to give them props for everything else. Everything from the beautiful centerpieces and most helpful volunteer middle school wait staff to the live musician and delicious, gourmet food - the entire evening was perfectly orchestrated. It was such a well planned event that that went so smoothly, if there were hiccups in the evening, the guests were unaware.
Check out this menu! Almost all of the food for the evening came from local farms.
To compliment this amazing menu, there was a local micro brewery offering samples of their craft beers and IPAs. I passed on the beer tasting but I'm loving Bens complimentary Major Humphrey's beer glass.
Since I'm more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker, it was a glass of Pinot Nior for me.
And as for food ...
Those handcrafted items on the tables behind us were just some of the beautiful items auctioned off throughout the evening.
I feel like I'm being redundant because I've said this before but it bears repeating - I love this town of mine.
I'm headlining a new campaign to promote a dessert called the skookie. Pronounced skoo - key. Forget saving the whales, apparently THIS is the cause that I've chosen to invest my time and efforts in this week.
Please don't misunderstand - this is not a dessert that I invented - I take absolutely no credit for the creation of this delicious sugar laden treat. I simply feel like the Skillet Cookie is one of the most poorly named desserts. Apparently, I'm not the only person that doesn't appreciate the term "skillet cookie" because "skookie" recipes are taking over the internet. They've increased in popularity so much that you can now buy special Skookie pans.
In all my excitement, I feel like I've jumped the gun. I neglected to explain what a Skookie really is. A skillet cookie, or a Skookie, is a giant cookie baked in a hot cast iron skillet and cut into wedges to serve. The concept is genius really. All of the deliciousness of making freshly baked cookies without the hassle of having to make individual cookies. And baking it in a hot cast iron skillet gives your skookie crispy, crunchy edges and a soft, chewy center.
So what are you waiting for? Break out your cast iron skillet and start baking. Oh, and if you really want to go above and beyond - add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top of your warm skookie - mind blowing.
Oatmeal Skillet Cookie
3 Tablespoons butter
5 Tablespoons oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup caramel sauce
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I must give credit, where credit is due and in this case, my daughter deserves all the credit. I had a bowl of raisins all plumped and ready to stir into this scrumptious oatmeal cookie batter when she happened to wander through the kitchen. She took it upon herself to present a very compelling argument to swap out the raisins for chocolate chips. (She would make a great lawyer.) After listening to her plead her case, there was no way I could resist. How can I argue with chocolate? I have to admit - her idea was excellent. This chocolate chip oatmeal skookie is amazing.
Some recipes take a little more time to perfect than others. And let's face it - no one is going to complain about eating test pizzas for 5 nights in a row but I'm almost certain to hear some complains if I serve my family 5 different variations of an asparagus recipe that I'm trying to refine.
We ate a LOT of pizza while I was tweaking this recipe. My goal was to come up with the perfect whole wheat and white flour combination to create the perfect lip smackin crust. A wheat crust that's both chewy and crispy but still soft and pillowy.
So as I took on the wonderfully laborious task of developing the perfect recipe for whole wheat pizza crust, I realized that this blogging thing is just about the best job in the world. Seriously, what better way to spend a week than making and sampling for 5 days in a row? Now if I could just work in a trip to Italy to do a little "pizza research" that would be perfect.
Thin Crust Whole Wheat Pizza
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 cups ice water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup pizza sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Slice into 8 slices.
So many ways to top this delicious pizza crust. I want you to send my your favorite pizza topping combinations.
To make a very long story short - my life has been a turned upside down in the last couple of months. Due to a very unfortunate turn of events, (and an uncooperative septic system) I've had to adhere to some extreme water restrictions at home.
We're taking super quick showers and my dishwasher and my washing machine have been rendered unusable. I'm getting used to hauling all of our dirty clothes to the laundromat but I don't think I'll ever get used to hand washing all my dishes. Needless to say, we've used more paper plates and cups in the last couple of weeks than we've used in the entire 12 years that we've lived in this house.
All of these events have given me a newfound appreciation my water consuming appliances and I've also developed a whole new level of appreciation for any recipe that doesn't create a stack of dirty dishes for me to wash. I find myself judging new recipes now by the amount of dishes that I will have to wash when I'm finished. Recipes that don't require me to wash my food processor or my standing mixer bowls are the most appealing right now.
This recipe for brioche might have sat in my recipe que for quite a while if it had not been for the fact that it uses a very limited number of bowls and utensils. I'm certainly not advocating my recipe selection technique, but in this case - it worked out for the best. I absolutely love this hand kneaded version of the french pastry bread, brioche. I'm sure that you will love it too - and the fact that there are very few dishes to wash when you're done.
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
16 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
Heat baking stone in 350 oven. Place pans on heated stone and bake 35-45 minutes.
Let cool on rack 2 hours before slicing.
This bread was really, really good. The recipe is written for 2 loaves but I ended up making one loaf of bread, 6 round rolls and 2 lobster rolls instead.
I bought a couple of lobster tails at the grocery store that were just far to precious to serve on plain old hot dogs buns. It's lobster people! This brioche bread was the PERFECT bread for lobster rolls.
I also made some spectacular french toast out of this brioche bread. I didn't snap any pictures of it but trust me - it was epic.
It's grilling season in Atlanta so get out there fellow Georgians and fire up those grills. There's a very short window of opportunity when it's warm enough to be outside without having to bundle up in a jacket and before it gets too hot to stand on the deck in bare feet. It's not that the cold or the hot stops me from grilling, but I do love these precious few weeks of optimum grilling weather - jacketless and shoeless.
If you're looking for something new and exciting to throw on the grill this week - check out my recipe for Greek Turkey Burgers. They're wonderfully juicy and flavorful and they're my new favorite.
Greek Turkey Burgers
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 whole wheat buns
Combine turkey, mayonnaise, oregano, cumin, salt and 1/8 t. pepper.
Place burger on bun.
Top burger with yogurt mixture.
You know you've been food blogging a long time when your family can independently prepare and photograph an entire meal for your food blog. I was super busy with a catering order on this particular day and my sweet daughter and husband put these turkey burgers together - and photographed the entire thing!!! I stepped in to snap some shots of the finished product but I think they did an amazing job of catching all the other pics for me. I'm not going to say that there weren't a lot of heated discussions during the preparation process but in the end - they got the job done. And the burgers were super tasty too.
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