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This recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy the abundance of fresh, ripe heirloom tomatoes straight from the garden. The pesto forgoes the usual pine nuts and Parmesan cheese for an updated twist on a culinary classic.

Ingredients:
1      bunch fresh cilantro (large) stemmed, washed & dried
2     cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
4     scallions (white portion only) chopped
1      small jalapeño pepper (optional) seeded & chopped
1/3  cup VSOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (fresh, herbaceous EVOO like FS17/Favalosa)
1      tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 2 small limes) splash of VSOP Serrano Honey Vinegar
pinch fine sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
2     pounds heirloom tomatoes, ripe & sliced into ¼  inch thick slices
pinch medium sea salt (to taste)


Directions:
Place all of the pesto ingredients into a blender or bowl of a food processor. Pulse until no large chunks remain and the sauce is puréed. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Arrange the tomato slices and sprinkle with some medium sea salt. Drizzle sauce over the freshly cut tomatoes and serve immediately. 

For more recipes from VSOP Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom, visit vsoptaproom.com

 
 
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Photo courtesy Ashley Hesseltine.
Temperatures are soaring in Atlanta, so anything frozen is a welcome reprieve from the heat. Granita is a perfect choice, since it's light and icy and, really, you can make it with essentially no specialty equipment and with whatever fresh fruit you have on hand. Here, Wisteria's Chef Walker Brown shares one of his favorite summer granita recipes. This dessert would be great to serve at a dinner party, as it can be made entirely the day before. Enjoy, and stay cool out there! 

Watermelon & Lemon Balm Granita
1/2 medium seedless watermelon, chopped into small cubes
1 oz. lemon balm leaves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups sugar
4 cups water

To make simple syrup, combine water and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil and remove from heat to cool. Once the syrup is cool, blend seedless watermelon with lemon balm leaves, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Place mixture in a size cake pan (6" x 9") and freeze. After placing pan in freezer, stir mixture with a wire wisk three to four times, breaking up ice crystals. Then let freeze overnight or for 12 hours. To serve, scoop with an ice cream scoop and garnish with fruit of your choice. NOTE: When making granita, feel free to use any kind of seasonal fruit you would like and experiment with different herbs. 

If you'd rather let someone else do the cooking (or freezing, in this case!), plan a trip to Wisteria by calling 404/525.3363. 

 
 
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The Summer Olympic Games start today (who's watching the opening ceremonies?), and in honor of the Game's British hosts, we decided to share a recipe for one of the country's quintessential cocktails. 

While we love the traditional Pimm's Cup, we found a closer-to-home version that adds an unexpected twist--a bit of Cognac. You can find it at Eleanor's, the new speakeasy-style bar tucked behind (the only access is through a secret door) Muss & Turner's in Vinings. Here, bar manager Tristan shares his twist on a classic. 


Pimp's Cup: 
1.5  oz Pimm's No.11
2 oz Camus V.S Cognac
12 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 mint leaves

Shake all ingredients together. Strain into a 13 oz chalice. Add fresh ice. Top with Barritt's ginger beer (to taste). Garnished with a pressed cucumber slice.

Tristan says, "A server at Local Three (Muss & Turner's sister restaurant) mistakenly thought a guest ordered a ‘Pimp’s Cup,’ when they ordered a ‘Pimm’s Cup,’ which the server had never heard of. We laughed pretty hard, and after that I knew that I had to create a Pimp’s Cup cocktail. I added a bit of Cognac, which works perfectly."

We hope you'll enjoy making this version at home. It would be the perfect libation to enjoy as you cheer on our U.S. Olympic team. To learn more about Muss & Turner's, visit www.mussandturners.com

 
 
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By Jennifer Bradley Franklin

Flavors' publisher, Yolanda, recently introduced me to a new (rather, new to me) restaurant, The Hungry Peach. It's tucked--hidden, practically--in the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center and offers delicious sandwiches, salads, homemade desserts and coffee. It's adorable, and its chef, Suzanne Vizethann, was recently  crowned winner of Food Network's popular show, Chopped. The day we visited, the soup of the day was delicious and refreshing: Watermelon Gazpacho. With temperatures in Atlanta topping 100 degrees, this is the perfect starter to any summer meal and Chef Vizethann was kind enough to share it with us. Best of all, it's really simple. Enjoy! 

Ingredients: 
6 large tomatoes, quartered
8 oz watermelon, large dice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon red onion, minced
2 tablespoon mint, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced with seeds
1 cucumber, seeded and minced

Method: 
Puree tomatoes and watermelon in a blender until smooth.  Whisk in olive oil and vinegar until thoroughly mixed.  Fold in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with fresh mint and crumbled feta cheese.

 
 
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By Jennifer Bradley Franklin

Though I was never a finicky eater, growing up the only figs I was aware existed where the kind that came in a yellow package with the name "Newtons" emblazoned on the front. As I've gotten older, my tastes have grown up as well (thank goodness!), and the advent of the season that brings with it fresh figs gives me a little thrill each year. For Father's Day, the Franklin clan gathered at my sister-in-law's home in a northern suburb of Atlanta and, as luck would have it, my brother-in-law has a green thumb and a fig tree in the backyard. I whipped up this simple, crowd-pleasing appetizer in just about five minutes and thought it was too good not to share. Enjoy!

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Blue Cheese & Honey

Ingredients: 
8 ripe figs (Mission or Alma figs work well)
1/4 lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/6 lb. smooth blue cheese (I used creamy Humboldt Fog Blue, which has a texture almost like a brie)
Honey, to drizzle

Method: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Trim the stems off of the figs, but leave the skin on. For very small figs, cut them in half, lengthwise. For large figs, quarter them (as shown at right). 
Slice the blue cheese into small chunks and place one bit of cheese on top of each fig slice. 
Take a small piece of prosciutto and wrap it around the fig and cheese. 
Place all of the wrapped figs on a cookie sheet and drizzle liberally with honey. 
Bake the figs for approximately 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the prosciutto is slightly crisp. 
If desired, spear the fig with a toothpick for easy serving. Serve warm (though they still taste good once they've cooled down). 

 
 
By Jennifer Bradley Franklin
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Lately I’ve been on a mission to change up dinners at my house a bit, while keeping them healthy and packed with veggies. I’ve made this recipe twice now, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite in my rotation of staples, since it’s fast, easy and can accommodate just about any veggies you have on hand.

Serves 3 or 4


Chicken:
½ cup 2% Greek yogurt (I used the Fage brand)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. cider or red wine vinegar
juice of ½ a lemon
½ Tbsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. oregano, dried
salt & pepper, to taste
¾ pound chicken tenders

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Tzatziki Sauce:
½ cucumber
¼ cup 2% Greek yogurt
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste

Gyros:
4 flatbreads (I used the Flat-Out brand - 12 grams of protein and lower in carbs)
olives, chopped
5 large romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
1 tomato, diced
small onion, thinly sliced
pickled banana or Greek peppers, sliced
½ red pepper, chopped

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Method:
Mix the first seven items in the chicken portion. Toss the chicken tenders in the marinade and let sit for at least 20 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Allow marinade to drip off chicken tenders before placing them in a large glass baking dish. Bake for 20 minute or until just done. When tenders are done, roughly chop.

While tenders are cooking, grate cucumber with a box grater and drain very well onto paper towels, using a second set of towels to press as much moisture out as possible (otherwise the sauce will be watery). Mix the drained cucumber pulp with the other ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

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For a family-style meal, allow everyone to build their own wrap. Enjoy!

 

Rich Beef Stew

03/12/2012

 
By Jennifer Bradley Franklin

Some things just say comfort and, after a particularly challenging week, I dusted off an old favorite recipe for beef stew. This one is easy and doesn't require all day in a slow-cooker to make the meat fall-apart tender. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice for a comforting meal. Enjoy! 

METHOD: 
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 red pepper flakes (more if you like a lot of heat)
  • Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 4 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped (chop leafy tops too)
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (salt-free is best)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
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METHOD: 
Combine flour, thyme and ground pepper in a bowl. Pat beef dry and toss in flour mixture. Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with a lid (Le Creuset works well). Shake flour off of beef and brown in hot oil. 

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Add water, wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add carrots, celery and diced tomatoes (juice too). Cover and cook an hour and 30 to 40 minutes longer. 

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If the broth is not thick enough, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.


Enjoy! 

 
 
Super Bowl Sunday is like Christmas to football fans, and it's officially upon us. This Sunday, Super Bowl XLVI will pit the New England Patriots against the New York Giants in Indianapolis. 

What could be more classic football fare than chili? With this in mind, we asked local legend Jenny Levison of Souper Jenny and Cafe Jonah to share the recipe for her famous Dad's Turkey Chili. She graciously agreed, and we've included it below (with a vegetarian option at the end). 

If you decide that you'd rather let someone else do the cooking for "Souper" Bowl Sunday, you can take out quarts of the chili, spinach and artichoke dip, seven layer dip , cornbread and more. To pre-order, call 404.237.7687 and or email souperjennys@aol.com. Go team! 
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My Dad’s Turkey Chili 
(serves 8-10)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled & chopped
1 red pepper, cleaned  & chopped
1 green pepper, cleaned & chopped
1 yellow pepper, cleaned & chopped
2 pounds lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons of your favorite dark chili powder
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 28-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
1 16 oz can each of the following:
            White beans, drained and rinsed
            Black beans, drained and rinsed
            Dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
            Chili beans, not drained
Salt & pepper
Hot sauce

METHOD: 
Heat a heavy duty stock pot and add olive oil. Saute onions and peppers for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add ground turkey and cook thoroughly, adding a little salt and pepper. Add chili powder, brown sugar and tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add all beans and heat slowly for another 15 minutes. Add hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

VEGETARIAN ALTERNATIVE (quantities based upon recipe as stated above)
Replace the ground turkey with 2 cups of diced zucchini, 2 cups of diced squash and 2 cups kale, cleaned from the rib and shredded. At the point where you would add ground turkey, add the extra vegetables and cook six or seven minutes. Proceed with the rest of recipe!Heat a heavy duty stock pot and add olive oil. Saute onions and peppers for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add ground turkey and cook thoroughly, adding a little salt and pepper. Add chili powder, brown sugar and tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add all beans and heat slowly for another 15 minutes. Add haut sauce and salt and pepper to taste.


Photo courtesy Our Labor of Love. 

 
 
By Jennifer Bradley Franklin

It finally feels like winter in Atlanta, and the chill in the air has me craving homemade soup (truly, I could eat soup for just about every meal and be perfectly happy). I stumbled upon this recipe for hearty Lasagna Soup on the "A Farm Girl's Dabbles," which she adapted from a recipe from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds.

I further adapted it to make it a bit healthier, reducing the oil, draining the sausage and adding frozen spinach. I hope you’ll enjoy - it was a big hit at my house this weekend!

Lasagna Soup
For the soup:

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock (plus 1 or 2 c. more, if pasta absorbs too much liquid after cooking)
8 - 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 oz. mafalda, or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheesy “goo”:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

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Prep your onions, chopping them in a uniform, medium size. I know three cups of onion sound like a lot (it ended up being two medium to large onions for me), but it really is the perfect amount for this big pot of Lasagna Soup. 
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Heat olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking into bite-sized pieces, and brown for about five minutes. Meanwhile, line a large plate with several paper towels. When sausage is browned, remove from the pot (**Do not wipe the pot clean. The residual oil in the pot will help infuse flavor into the onions.) and drain for a minute or two. Add the sausage back to the hot pot, along with the onions and cook until the onions are softened, about six minutes. NOTE: If you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this, you could omit the sausage and add other veggies instead, much like a veggie lasagna (squash, carrots, broccoli... whatever  you like!).  
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Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute. NOTE: If you have used spicy Italian sausage, you'll want to adjust the amount of red pepper flakes you're adding. If using mild, the 1/2 tsp. will produce a zesty, but not spicy, soup. 
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Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for three or four minutes, until the mixture turns a rusty brown. 
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Add the fire roasted tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Stir to combine. 
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Add spinach and stir. Bring to a boil (uncovered) and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. 
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Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all ingredients for "cheesy goo" topping. Occasionally, in an effort to make lasagna more healthy, I've substituted cottage cheese for ricotta. Don't be tempted to do it here (though I used reduced fat ricotta, and it was still delicious); the cottage cheese will fall apart in the soup, leaving you with unattractive curds floating around. 
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Stir in pasta and cook until it's just al dente. Do NOT overcook or simmer for a long time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. 
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Stir in basil (fresh is best!) and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
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To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with a generous scoop of the "cheesy ricotta goo" and a sprinkle of grated mozzarella. Enjoy! 
 
 
There's something about the flavors of sugar and spice that make it feel like the holidays... and a little buzz thrown in doesn't hurt, to celebrate with some of Atlanta’s favorite holiday spirits! Even though (Jack) Frost is running a bit late this year, (Jack) Daniels and some of his friends’ seasonal delights are here to warm you up for feasts, festivities and frolicking around the town. Check out these wintertime cocktails being served at hotspots around Atlanta. Some will remind you of tiptoeing to peek at the milk and cookies ("Sugar"), while others will bring you back to the comforts of sipping hot cider beside a blazing hearth ("Spice"). All will bring a new season of memories—as long as you haven’t ho-ho-hoed yourself to sleep under the tree!

Take Note: Most of these sprightly libations will be served throughout the winter season, so you can enjoy them into the New Year.

Sugar
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French Russian
(Inspired by the “Twelve Days of Christmas” verse “Three French Hens”)

Yield: 1 Drink

1 oz. Absolute Vanilla Vodka
1 oz. Café Bohême
½ oz. Kahlua
½ oz. half and half
 
Build in shaker with ice.  Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with a chocolate cigar sugar stick. 

St. Regis Hotel
404.563.7900
www.stregisatlanta.com

Photo: New South Photography, Brooks Harris

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Midnight Milk and Cookies
Yield: 1 Drink

1 oz. dark Crème de Cacao
1 oz. light Crème de Cacao
1 oz. Vanilla Vodka
½ oz. half and half
½ oz. milk chocolate syrup
Cocoa powder

Mix dark and light Crème de Cacao, Vanilla Vodka, half and half, and milk chocolate syrup into shaker with ice. Shake well. Line rim of glass with vodka and dip into cocoa powder. Pour and serve immediately.

Shula’s 347
404.848.7345
www.donshula.com

Photo: Natalie Najjar

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On Point
(Inspired by The Nutcracker’s run at The Fox Theatre.)

Yield: 1 Drink

1 ¼ oz. Vodka
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
¾ oz. rose wine

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain over ice. Garnish with a long lemon peel.

Publik Draft House
404.885.7505
www.publikatl.com

Photo: Rachelle Hicks


Spice

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Sled Dog

Yield: 1 Drink

2 oz. espresso (Park Grounds uses Counter Culture espresso)
1 oz. milk foam
1 tsp. raw sugar
½ oz. Gran Marnier
Cinnamon

Pour raw sugar into cappuccino cup. Pour espresso over sugar. Add Gran Marnier. Top with milk foam. Dust foam with cinnamon.

Park Grounds
678.528.9901
www.parkgrounds.com

Photo: Rachelle Hicks

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Winter Cocktail

Yield: 1 Drink

2 oz.Crusoe Spiced Rum
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. ginger liquor
½ oz. Allspice Dram
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Lemon zest

Combine all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a columned glass with ice. Add lemon zest.

Rosebud
404.347.9747
www.rosebudatlanta.com

Photo: Rachelle Hicks

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Honey and Spice

Yield: 1 Drink

2 oz. apple cider (Aria uses a house-made cider)
1 ½ oz. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
½ oz. Domaine de Canton
½ oz. lemon juice
Splash of ginger ale

Shake Jack Daniel’s, Domaine de Canton, lemon juice and cider over ice. Strain into a glass full of ice. Add a splash of ginger ale… and Wallah!

Aria
404.233.7673
www.aria-atl.com

Photo: George Sanchez


Compiled and written by Rachelle Hicks.