Saturday, November 26, 2011

Heirloom With a View

How do we pass on a legacy? 

When most people hear the word ‘hierloom,’ they probably think of their grandmother’s pearls or their grandfather’s watch. For some, the word might conjure images of bulging tomatoes or unique breeds of turkey. We believe all of these are important things to preserve. Just as Wendell Berry declared eating to be an agricultural act, we think that what we eat says something about our values, and what we want to hand down from generation to generation. This is why we’re so excited to announce a new heirloom wheat bread from H&F Bread Co.: the Red Fife Wheat Bread.

Friends of local farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants will recognize Anson Mills as our purveyor of delicious grits and other high-quality, hand-milled products. It’s an honor to use one of their heirloom varieties of wheat in this new bread.

Our friend Glenn Roberts, the founder of Anson Mills, has an adventurous spirit that is carefully juxtaposed with a reverence for tradition. In 1998, Roberts walked away from a 30-year career as a historic restoration consultant and restaurant and hotel designer, bought four native granite mills and 40 chest freezers, and began operations in a big metal warehouse behind a car wash in Columbia, South Carolina. He trekked back roads in search of lost or all-but-lost varieties of corn, wheat and rice.  One of Roberts’ first discoveries was a single-family hand-select corn varietal known as “Carolina Gourdseed White” that dates back to the late 1600s. Thanks to his diligence and dedication, dishes that might have been lost forever are now restored to pantries and kitchens throughout the southeast and across the country.

As our head baker Rob Alexander says, baking bread is about “preserving traditions,”  which is particularly resonant with this new bread, a batard made from Red Fife wheat.  This grain, offered by Anson Mills, originates in the mid 19th century.  The wheat is first found in Saskatchewan in the late 1840s, although some historians believe that a Scottish nobleman discovered it as early as 1732. By 1870, it was commonly grown in the Canadian prairie, in New England and throughout Appalachia. During this time, Red Fife wheat also became a staple in the states of Kansas and Texas as well.

Red Fife is grown as a spring wheat in areas where the winters are harsh, but does quite well as a winter wheat in the southern U.S., due to the mild autumn and winter seasons that the region is typically known for, according to Roberts. Roberts finds the wheat is much less bitter than the flour used to make bread found in most grocery stores—the taste, he says, is very similar to honey.  Red Fife bran also has a thinner consistency than most conventional varieties of wheat, and a naturally higher mineral content . Mr. Roberts recommends eating a slice of Red Fife wheat bread with pure buckwheat honey and quality butter.

The expertly baked Red Fife wheat bread also is a perfect accompaniment to holiday meals, the ideal vessel for a turkey sandwich, and a great way to start your day. You can find a loaf (or baker’s dozen) of this baked treasure at the many farmers markets where H&F Bread co. sells every week or you can place a special order at our shop today by calling 404.350.8877.

Beyond the value that Mr. Roberts' efforts have for horticulturists, farmers and gourmands around the world—no small company, to be sure—Anson Mills’ vigilance is a boon to families and eaters everywhere. We show our love and live our values through what we share, and there are few better things to share than good food (nothing against pearls or pocket watches).  How do we pass on legacies?  At the table, or course, with friends and family over good food.  The Red Fife Wheat is no exception.  You have to eat it to save it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

This Side(s) of Paradise

There are certain truths about Thanksgiving that are, shall we say, self-evident: that all Rieslings were created to make time with family more enjoyable, and that certain side dishes are as important, if not more so, than whatever bird, Turducken, or Tofurkey graces the center of the table. Year-round at Restaurant Eugene we are as meticulous and impassioned about the background singers that support Ribeye rock stars and Sea Bass divas, so it should be no surprise that composing the perfect potato dish or dinner roll brings Chef Hopkins as much excitement as getting the turkey to that quintessence of golden brown.

Some of you might be surprised to learn that one of Chef’s favorite Thanksgiving sides features canned soup as one of its key ingredients. While most of the cooking at Restaurant Eugene is a symphony of time-intensive preparation that brings together notes from a slower South with the finesse of classical French cuisine, it is important to remember that one of the first, chief champions of French-American cooking, Julia Child, loved the convenience offered by canned cream of mushroom soup. Child was a tremendous influence on Chef Hopkins and his mother, and the question What Would Julia Do (WWJD?) continues to guide imaginations in kitchens everywhere. Thus, his recipe for Wild Rice Casserole With Mushrooms (which you can also find in the current issue of Garden & Gun is one part delicious nostalgia to two parts inventive seasonality.

Having grown up in Atlanta, Chef has had a long relationship with Coca-Cola, that heavenly addition to cakes and cocktails. It lends a little fun to that old stand-by, cranberry chutney. Turkey without cranberry chutney would be like Marvin without Tammi, and Chef’s chutney without Coca-Cola would be an aria without a soprano – that fizzy sugar is what makes the dish sing.

Wherever you spend your Thanksgiving, whatever sides you prepare, we hope you have time to savor the things that bring you joy. We are thankful for you, and offer a few of Chef Hopkin's recipes as a token of our gratitude.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Wild Rice Casserole with Mushrooms

1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. minced onion
2 tbsp. minced 
green pepper
8 oz. white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 can condensed cream 
of mushroom soup
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried tarragon
½ tsp. curry powder
Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot over moderate heat, melt butter until foamy and sauté onion, pepper, and mushrooms until softened and aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in soup, cream, and spices. Add cooked rice, stirring to combine, and transfer to preheated oven. Bake until soup and cream are absorbed and the rice thickens, about 40 to 50 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry Coca-Cola Chutney
(Serves 8)

6 oz. fresh cranberries
6 oz. dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 pinch kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often until berries
have burst and mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.

Will keep in refrigerator for 3 weeks, serve slightly cool.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Herbin' Outfitters

Herbin’ Outfitters

Have you ever had more herbs than you’ve known what to do with? At Restaurant Eugene, we welcome such an embarrassment of riches as it poses an exciting challenge.  The other week Rashid Nuri delivered a delightful bevy of herbs from Truly Living Well Farms on Auburn Avenue.  Rather than throwing out bunches and bunches of marvels from the herb garden, our chefs decided to enhance our pantry with house-dried basil, marjoram, oregano, and sage.  What didn’t become chiffonade was hung from a shelf to wear the wondrous dress of time. After a week or so, what had been supple, soft green leaves were transmuted to brittle paper --- crinkles of deliciousness.

Just as our overall enterprise strives to preserve southern food traditions with more than a dash of innovation, this dynamic deployment of herbs demonstrates Chef Hopkins's steadfast dedication to being good stewards of what we have. Norman Wirzba, a professor at Duke Divinity School who writes about food and faith, says “When our eating is mindful, we celebrate the goodness of fields, gardens, forests and watersheds, and the skill of those who can nurture seed…into delicious food.” So let’s celebrate!

Here is just one dish yielded from our new herb pantry – we hope you’ll stop in soon to try it, and also encourage you to cook and eat with your friends and family home. And stay tuned – next week we will take a further look at Truly Living Well Farms, the source of these herbs and many other items regularly found on our menus.

Rutabaga and Celery Root Gratin

1 lb. rutabaga or purple-top turnip
1 lb. celery root
2 cups cream
1 lb. Gruyere
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch sage
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. black pepper
1)    Peel rutabaga and celery root and shave on mandolin to 1/8th inch thickness.
2)    Simmer cream with herbs, salt, and pepper.
3)    Shingle alternating rutabaga and celery root in a buttered casserole dish. Ladle some of the herb-infused cream onto each layer, just enough to coat. This should make about 5 layers. Grate gruyere on top to cover.
4)    Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until cheese is golden tan and layers are tender throughout.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake (But Not That Often)

When Chef Hopkins isn’t busy blazing trails on the Atlanta food scene, fighting for our good food culture, or planting a school garden, you might find him in the aisles of a farmer’s market or grocery store with his family.  Chef is as dedicated to making sure his family eats well as he is to pleasing the palettes of diners at Restaurant Eugene and Holeman &  Finch Public House. You can read a little more about his passion for serving good food at home in Fanae Aaron’s new book, What Chefs Feed Their Kids.

In these pages, readers will find a number of delicious dishes to prepare for themselves and their children, as well as the guiding philosophies employed by some of the country’s best chefs as they make decisions for their restaurants and their families.

“Food is family,” Chef Hopkins declares. Just as his own sense of what’s delicious and fitting for the table was cultivated by his mother, Priscilla Holeman Hopkins and grandfather, Eugene Holeman - names that may seem familiar – Chef Hopkins hopes to pass food values along to his children. One way he accomplishes this by giving the children input into family meals. “When we go to the farmer’s market…we’ll give them some money and they’ll pick some things.”

Preparing a meal together – from the sourcing of ingredients to setting the table to cleaning up afterward – is an educational tool and a way to bond. Living a diverse food life is what Chef suggests to build a child’s palette and celebrate both cooking and eating. His methods appear to be wearing off. His youngest has already created something called a Cobbydo sauce, a combination of soy and Worcestershire sauces with mustard mayonnaise added for a bit of spice.

Here is just one of Chef’s family friendly recipes to be found in the book:

Savory Waffles

2 cups waffle and pancake mix (Chef Linton makes his from scratch, but you can use your favorite brand)

2 eggs

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Gruyere or similar cheese

1.    Preheat oven to 200 degrees Farenheit and place a waiting plate to warm inside. Heat a waffle maker until a flick of water beads and bounces around on the device's surface.

2.    Prepare the waffle mix, adding eggs, milk, oil, salt, and pepper, and mix until just combined, adding more milk if the mix is too thick. It should be the consistency of pudding. Then fold in the cheeses.

3.    Lightly butter the waffle maker and spoon judicious dollops of the mix onto the center of the hot waffle iron and spread just a bit. The mix will spread when the lid closes and expand as it cooks, so adding too much will be a bit messy as it bubbles out the sides.

4.    As the waffles finish, use a fork to lift them off and put them in the oven to stay warm while the rest are made. Waffles are best served warm. Freeze any leftover waffles to enjoy later.

Chef also recommends modifying the batter to incorporate seasonal herbs and spices, and folding in your favorite local meats and vegetables to make something of a waffle sandwich.  

Look for a copy of the book at A Capella, our bookselling partner in Little Five Points (

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dinner with Dave Miner - Monday, November 14th

Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley

At Restaurant Eugene, we are lucky enough to meet many wine makers in the course of daily business.  Dave Miner is one with whom we have developed a close friendship.  We feel very proud to introduce our guests to Mr. Miner and his celebrated wines.

Established in 1998 in the Oakville appellation, the Miners have quickly developed a stellar reputation for producing wines of character and depth in a number of varietals.  The hard work and intelligent winemaking of Dave Miner and his family have produced several world renowned wines.

We are pleased to be hosting Dave for a winemaker dinner on Monday, November 14th.  Guests will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to meet our good friend Dave and discuss his vineyard and methods for producing such joyous wines, while tasting them and enjoying a four course dinner prepared by Chef Hopkins.  We begin at 6:30 with a reception and passed hors d' oeuvres.  We dine at 7.


2009 Viognier, Simpson Vineyard

terrine of foie gras, luxardo gelee and pain au levain

spicy cole slaw

georgia 'caviar' with cornmeal blini and clabber


2009 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
wild shrimp, sapelo clams, apalachicola oysters and crab sunchoke barigoule

2009 Pinot Noir, Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands

aromatic poached carolina pigeon, cornbread-buttermilk puree, strawberry glazed beets & giblet gravy


2007 La Diligence Syrah, Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley

roast pork with crackling, sea island red peas, winter greens and red eyed sorghum pork jus


2007 Merlot, Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley

acorn-sweet potato-coffee streusel & milk with ganache

Reservations Required.  Limited Seating.
Please call 404.355.0321