Saturday, May 30, 2009

Catfish And Collards!


I don't think I could have imagined a more perfect day. The "boat" was fired up and we set sail for the back roads of Coweta County. My only goal-to see if I could score some bulk sausage from Williams Sausage in Haralson, Georgia. SCORE!!

Our second goal-to stop in a little roadside cafe passed on the way to Williams Sausage for a little BBQ, which goes so well with fresh air and sunshine.

Upon seeing their extensive menu I immediately switched to fried catfish, mac and cheese, fresh collards and a wonderful afternoon with Uncle C and daughter! We swapped family secrets for great BBQ, talked about our childhoods in the south and reminisced about happy days spent in Germany-exploring food and great beer!

It was a delightful afternoon spent in the company of friendly, attentive owners with great Southern food. The catfish was moist and crispy, mac and cheese (cheesy) and cornbread fit for the finest buttermilk! And their were hushpuppies-to boot!

Uncle C shared a jar of homemade fresh fig preserves and promised to hook me up with all the figs I could can! I took him seriously-stopping at Crook's in Senoia to pick up canning jars!

Oh, and we scored "mini-Moon Pies" at the gas station! And hoop cheese!

Uncle C's Bar-B-Que
173 Hwy 85 Haralson, GA

Open 7 Days A Week

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Beauty In The Details


I have been anxious to try my new experiment with my own freshly roasted coffee beans. Using about a half of a cup of my Mocha Java Joe Beans (great chocolately undertones) I created the sugar-free liqueur with the addition of a Madagascar Vanilla Bean to a decanter of vodka.

The mixture has been sitting under the wine bar for about four weeks-developing the most beautiful deep chocolate brown tones and decadent aroma!

It struck me today that the perfect presentation for this liqueur was this beautiful cordial from the 30's. Cool colors, minted simple syrup and my own coffee-chocolate liqueur resulted in this refreshing "Peppermint Patty" cordial.
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Perfect Weather For A Boat Ride


This time of the year you can usually find me in one of three places . . .(listed according to preference)

1. At the bottom of the pool!

2. In my boat-cruising back roads-hunting for good food!

3. Grilling on my Sears Infrared Grill.

On a good day I get to do all three. Today will be one of those perfect days. I have already donned my bathing suit,
I am about to apply red lipstick and I have a pork butt thawing for bbQ!

AQUAGirl Lives!
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Friday, May 29, 2009

sshhh! Don't Tell-Anchovies and Pizza


I love anchovies and sneak into them into many of our favorite dishes in the form of paste, fish sauce or the whole filets. (whenever I am feeling particularly mean.)

Living in a "NO ANCHOVY" zone like I do-I have learned to be pretty discreet. I don't rush to disclose every ingredient when the "delicious-ness" of a particular dish is heralded!

Last night was a perfect example. . . I decided to make pizza. Since I hadn't planned homemade pizza for dinner I didn't have much on hand in the way of toppings. I did have a can of black olives and had every intention of using them. There was also a cooked sweet sausage, grape tomatoes and Vidalia onion.

But at the last moment I remembered a cupboard-full of anchovie-stuffed green olives from Spain and thought it would make for an interesting experiment. . .if I could keep my mouth shut.

I tried not to pay too much attention to Ron's first bite-knowing that things could go either way. I didn't even watch.

"Hmmmmm" he said. I rest my case!
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day In Senoia, Georgia


I sincerely wish each of you a fine Memorial Day! I hope that you spent a small part of the day in reflection of lives lost protecting our wonderful freedoms - including our right to speak and publish freely, without fear of retribution or bodily harm. God Bless America!
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Golden Mojitos


Every home bar should stock simple syrup. Equal parts water and sugar. Easy to make and essential in the art of making cocktails that taste like your favorite restaurant or bar.

Although, technically, the addition of other ingredients equals flavored syrups-until they change color-I still call my concoctions simple syrups.

Take for instance,mojitos . . . the addition of the simple syrup takes the drink to a deeper level of minty lime goodness-faster. Mint leaves provide the contrast and balance to the refreshing lime characteristics of the drink.

For an easy simple syrup I sanitize sparkling water bottles and mix the batch right in the bottle. For mojitos I add 10 mint leaves and a bottle pourer before placing in the refrigerator.

Stored in the refrigerator the cold liquid keeps the drink from becoming watery and adds the desired sweetness to the rum.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Braised Short Ribs For Tomato Gravy


Every once in a while it's just fun to make a long-version of a classic tomato "gravy" (as all my NOLA friends called a red sauce.) Ron prefers his sauce served on Penne Pasta-hopefully with a little sweet sausage added.

I first learned to make it this way in the mid 70's from an old Italian woman visiting the U.S. Patience and lots of love was her advice to me!

Ron remembers many wonderful pasta meals at the back of the grocery store in Mamaroneck, N.Y. where either his mother or grandmother worked on a pot of sauce with short ribs.

I usually roast the short ribs in the oven for a half hour or so before even putting into the sauce. It develops a rich, meaty taste that is lacking in quick sauces.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Home At Last! Welcomes Panera Bread!


Say hello to my newest sponsor, Panera Bread, on Home At Last! With Patty Gironda. Featured here is their breakfast sandwich on ciabatta bread! Fresh eggs, Vermont Cheddar and a choice of sausage or bacon. Try one and please tell them you saw their ad on Home At Last!
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peanut Clusters


My experiement with my peanut clusters didn't give me the results I had hoped for. The nuts and chocolate were good but the caramel was from a vendor I had never tried. I think next time I would rather use my own recipe. I found the caramel to be lackluster in depth and robust flavor. The ratio of salt to sugar was off.

My original thoughts for the filling were more towards the nougat texture and it looks like it's back to the drawing board! Oh, darn-who will ever eat all this chocolate!
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seared Redfish


Now that I have two pounds of peanuts made it just made sense to create a dinner that could take advantage of their crispy, sweet flavor!

On a trip earlier in the afternoon I picked up a nice piece of redfish and a box of greens. I opted for field greens- all our favorite toppings including grape tomatoes, cukes and black olives. I made a quick Japanese-style potato salad with Kewpie Mayonnaise, Wasabi Oil and chives.

The basting sauce was a combination of fish sauce, fig balsamic, rice vinegar, my peanut sugar mixture, dark soy, olive oil and a teaspoon of plum sauce.

The salad was fabulous-with tender, perfectly-seared fish-topped with the crunchy chopped peanuts! I used the salad dressing from last week and drizzled a small amount of the basting sauce on each salad!
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Patty's Sweet and Savory Peanuts


This recipe yields a favorite snack in the Gironda household. Simple to make with a recipe that can easily make larger batches for a party or to store in the pantry.

I use it for other things besides a snack-including candy. I am working on a chocolate-covered peanut chew with a praline filling.

For the peanuts:

The raw peanuts are boiled for ten minutes with dried red pepper and equal parts water, honey and cane syrup (or in my case equal parts molasses and cane syrup.) Once boiled, the peanuts are strained and tossed in a dry seasoning mixture comprised of three sugars; white, light brown and dark brown sugar seasoned with paprika, onion and garlic powder, turmeric, curry, cumin, dark chili powder and kosher salt.

Once coated they are spread on parchment paper for thirty to forty minutes in a 200 degree oven. After they cool they are removed to a covered container where they are once again tossed with the dry mixture and more kosher salt.

Finally I place them in a warming oven for the rest of the day so that they can dry. If you don't have a drying oven the counter works fine.

The dry mixture keeps in a covered container like sugar.

For the dry mixture:

2 cups white sugar
2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar

To the sugars add:

2 tbsp Hungarian Paprika
1 tbsp dark chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fenugreek (optional)
1 tsp turmeric

All the ingredients are pulsed in a food processor and adjusted for taste.
This is easily adjusted for personal taste. We like the spicy and sweet flavor with the salt finish.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chin, Chin Raphael!


Vacations in Tuscany usually include many exciting wines and olive oils showcased at our friends' store in San Guistino Valdarno. Local wineries are plentiful and we have been fortunate to meet many of the enthusiastic owners eager to share their passion for good wine.

On one very special trip we were guests of three wineries producing some of my favorite Tuscan wines. Each of the families and their wineries continue to inspire me today. I remember the first time we walked the vineyards-sampling the Merlot, Pinot and Sangiovese grapes as the Tuscan sun set over the hills in the distance.

I enjoy both the Pinot and Merlot grapes but knew very little of the Sangiovese grape. Luscious, full-bodied and very pleasing with lighter roasted meats and fish I really enjoy the lighter feel of this happy grape.

The Panizzi Rosa, featured here on my back porch as I roasted potatoes, was a gift from an Italian cousin who knew how much we appreciate Tuscan wines. I really enjoyed the clean, crisp Sangiovese Rose wine with the meal. Chin, Chin Raphael!!
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tuscan Bread and Potato Scramble


With a "honey-do list" a mile long, there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything life demands! It's important for me to make a list and move items up and down.

Getting the pool ready for the first hot day was suddenly moved to the top of the list...

I don't have a fancy cape or anything "super hero-ish" but in the summer I'm known by family and friends as "Aqua Girl" I pretty much hang out by the pool-ready and willing to prepare light meals and cocktails whenever I am needed.

My busy week didn't leave much time to cook but I did manage to bake two loaves of Tuscan bread and six roasted potatoes. I made BLT's with one loaf of the bread. (Very good BLT's) When the bread started drying out I made this scramble with the potatoes and leftover bread.

My inspiration behind the scramble was from our innkeeping days. We served a wildly popular French Potato Omelet. The scramble is all the taste without the work.

For the scramble or omelette. . .

I boil red potatoes until they are tender and remove them to a bowl where I dress them with olive oil, kosher salt, paprika, cumin and chives. After a half hour I place them on a piece of marble inside my hot grill for another hour. I put a jar of water inside the grill to keep the heat low enough ensure even heat.

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When I'm ready to make the scramble I coat the pan with 4 or tablespoons of olive oil and add the bread, the potatoes, fresh chives and a super fine grating of an aged cheddar. When everything turns golden I flip it and do the same for the other side, adding lightly beaten eggs and a little more aged cheddar.

The recipe for the bread is listed on Home At Last in the Recipe Section!

Click Here To View.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

King Crab Ravioli


I am on a roll with my pasta! Craving seafood I sent out for 2 pounds of succulent King Crab and turned every bit of the crab into stuffing and sauce. I boiled down the shells for stock and made a delicate lobster-type sauce with a little tomato and sherry. The pasta was as sheer as a dainty hankerchief and was perfectly tender, again.

My big push, this week, is to make the perfect loaf of Italian bread for po-boys. A friend wants to learn how to make gumbo and po-boys. While it's easy to find all the ingredients for gumbo-it's a bit of a challenge to find just the right New Orleans-style Italian loaf for po-boys. Larry has requested an Oyster Po-Boy (one of my favorites) and for good measure we will make a Soft-Shell Crab Po-boy with lots of Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Ron asked that he act as my guinnea pig tonight on the bread experiment and asked that his po-boy be dressed as a BLT. I started to ask him to stop by the store for green tomatoes to put the sandwich over the top! But that's another day!
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Coconut Milk and Vanilla Custard


My husband loves Pina Coladas and borders on embarrassing with his passion for the goo-ey drinks with pretty umbrellas. However, I still love to make his favorite drinks and foods and found inspiration in his passion for the coconut/pineapple flavor combo.

I used a can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of honey, a one inch piece of a vanilla bean, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and 3 egg yolks beaten and streamed into the mixture very slowly. The mixture was whisked continually until I removed it from the heat. It was cooled for ten minutes before putting it into the fridge.

It set up beautifully and hopefully will make it to nightfall. I have grilled pineapple and will combine it with with a little dark rum, sugar and a teeny bit of butter for a decadent topping.
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Limoncello and Co-Co Liqueur


Today is one of my play days. I was due to tape a show but couldn't sleep at all last night-so I opted to wait until tomorrow, leaving me with a little free time between editing and cleaning house.

I have shifted gadgets between my two kitchens, checked stage one of the Limoncello batch-strained it and will make the simple syrup and fresh lemon juice batch later today. I also started an experimental batch of a new idea that came to me when I wasn't sleeping.

I'm going to try a coffee, vanilla and chocolate liquer. My plan is to make it similar to the Limoncello as that recipe is delivering very consistent results.

Two stages-the first 40 days developing the essense and the second 40 days to blend a simple syrup and develop the intesity of flavor. I am starting with the coffee and vanilla beans and in 40 days will make a chocolate simple syrup. Easy, breezy!
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