Monday, August 12, 2013


After all the squeezing and mixing we had one of the best tall rickeys EVER! My finished simple syrup was infused with lychee juice and fresh rambutan.

Easy Rambutan Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 lychee syrup
6 rambutans (peeled)

Bring syrup to a boil while stirring liquid. Cook for two minutes, turn off heat and cover. Cool and strain into a bottle with a pourer.

Rum Rickey Rambutan

1 1/2 oz dark rum
1/2 oz rambutan syrup
1 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
sparkling water or soda

Fill a tall Collins glass with crushed ice. Add first three ingredients and shake well. Fill glass with soda or sparkling water and garnish with a speared half of rambutan and lime wedge.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rum Rickey Rambutans

Ron and I are craving a tropical rum drink, so I came up with a refreshing idea! A rum rickey with rambutan-infused simple syrup! Freshly-squeezed lime, an easy simple syrup infused with fresh rambutan and a spritz of sparkling mineral water!

Ooh! I think I smell the beach!
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Paris Cake in Newnan

Ok, I've been away for a short while! Tending to life . . .

Life has a way of stepping in and controlling the party.  My husband and I have been traveling back and forth to Louisiana for some time now-helping my parents a bit!  It has caused me to put some things on hold-but not everything. I've still in the kitchen trying and testing new ideas for Home At Last!

My latest fascination is with opera cakes and the picture I've shared is the inspiration behind my experimentation in the kitchen.  The cake shown has wonderful layers of crispy shell, dense cake, creme layers, meringue, hazelnut creme and chocolate! Heavenly!

I've experimented and come up with a few layers that are definitely yummy and able to hold up in the five or so layers.  Working on a meringue cake this week. I have a vision in my head and have to work it to the end! 
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fat Tuesday Fare

To celebrate Fat Tuesday at our house I cooked up some simple Louisiana fare! Oysters and shrimp. Simple, but, oh so good.  The oysters were consumed so quickly there was no time to snap a photo! 

I cleaned and deveined a pound of shrimp, tossed them in a flour, cornmeal and cornstarch mixture for tempting taste of Louisiana! and a successful close to another Mardi Gras season all around the state!
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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Moroccan-style Spice Blend

I've been studying and enjoying a Turkish cookbook that my mom received from a good friend back in 1954 when our family first arrived in Izmir, Turkey. 

Since starting this pleasurable pastime I've also savored a few of my favorite Middle Easter dishes!

A favorite Atlanta market offers one of the tastiest salad bars with plenty of savory toppings spiced with lots of cumin, coriander, paprika, and turmeric. My favorites toppings include curried chickpeas, Tabouleh, walnuts, Feta cheese, cous-cous, sprouted beans, hummus and olives! The exotic flavors linger in my memory for days!

I finally started gathering all the spice ingredients for a Moroccan blend that might serve me well with all my upcoming projects. Beef and Chicken Samosas and a Turkish recipe for Lamb and Chickpeas served over rice.

I stopped what I was doing a hour ago and toasted some of the required seeds and pods before blending with turmeric, ginger, paprika, black pepper and a few finger hots! What I've blended is aromatic, authentic and "calling my name"! 

My recipe for a Moroccan-style spice blend:

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 clove
1 tbsp cardamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon
1tbsp dried mint leaves
1 tbsp ginger powder
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp red pepper
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt

After toasting for about five minutes I ground the ingredients into a powder and place in an airtight jar.
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Malt Flour Cinnamon Buns

I mentioned in a previous post that I had worked steadily for two years to develop my own flaky dough that would serve me well at breakfast time at Casa Bella Bed and Breakfast! Lesson learned? Don't give up. I finally developed a dough that I think we'll be useful in a wide variety of recipes.

This final inspiration hit me after a leisurely stroll down the flour isle at a favorite Asian market. In a previous visit I made a mental note that the market stocked malt flour.  My "light bulb" moment came while munching on a small package of crispy chocolate chip cookies.  I read the list of ingredients and noticed malt flour! An ingredient also used in our delicious "malty" homemade waffles.

Finally, I made the decision to reduce the warm water used in the recipe by half and add buttermilk as a replacement liquid. I added cold buttermilk to hot water to create a warm liquid perfect for activating the yeast.

With the full recipe of my dough I was able to make 15 cinnamon rolls and a lightly-sweetened braided cinnamon loaf.

The cinnamon rolls were tender, wonderfully textured from the malt flour and stayed soft.  The bread was almost close to a flake pastry. Lightly crunchy, delicate layers and yummy!
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Game Day Superbowl 2013 Nachos

My role on Superbowl Sunday is to ensure that the Superbowl kitchen runs smoothly and sends out timely dishes of proper Superbowl finger foods.

The ridiculous rise in cost for a bag of chicken wings caused a change-up in our 2013 menu and a new tradition of "Superbowl Nachos" was born.

This year I got busy early and put up my own "canned" jalepenos. I also take issue with many of the canned varieties of jalepenos at the grocery store. They, too, are expensive and packed in too much vinegar.

Everything synced up with my new love of canning. What began as a way to preserve fresh fruits that weren't being used up fast enough has turned into a fun hobby! We just opened my first pint of fresh jalepenos and sampled the first slice.

So, here's to a great Superbowl in New Orleans! and to my own Superbowl Nachos!
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Watch Home At Last!

Click on the "Watch A Show" tab above this post and enjoy a trip to the Sweet Grass Artisan Cheese facility. Also, I'm showcasing the use of garden-fresh tomatoes I use in a favorite pasta with a silky, tangy goat cheese!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pecan Sticky Buns

My obsession with this recipe began over two long years ago. I wanted something "special" waiting for our early risers at Casa Bella and I wanted it homemade.

Inspired by a favorite donut shop in Louisiana, I set out to make my own "fritter-like" buns without the deep frying.

Today I feel close to my goal.

I baked the buns individually in a large muffin pan and and it seemed to add bit of tenderness that I was missing from previous attempts.

I also added a bit of the sugar and cinnamon mixture to each well along with a few pecan halves before adding the dough rolled with dark and light brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. I swapped buttermilk for the whole milk and was really pleased with the added flavor compared to a typical glaze. 

The results were really good. Now, just have to find someone to try them out on!
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Modern Trifle

My updated modern trifle using yogurt and whipped cream with homemade blueberries and salted almonds was a perfect beginning for 2013! Out with the old, in with the new!
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Makin' Bacon!

Salt and Sugar Cured Pork Belly
Light Smoke

Cane Syrup Glaze

Pan-fried Biscuit, Glazed Bacon, Fresh Tomato and Wasabi Mayo
Spying some freshly-sliced pork belly at the Asian market I frequent,  I knew I was destined to try my hand at curing, smoking and glazing my own bacon.. Happy with my first attempt, I'm already making notes to improve the next batch.

My first process was curing the pork belly with equal parts sugar and salt.  After three days of curing I soaked the thick slices in cool water; changing the salty water every ten minutes or so. The pork belly was then laid out on a wire rack to dry before placing it in a smoker with dry hickory chips for three hours. I was after a light smoking and opted not to soak the wood.

Finally, I placed the bacon in a pan and lightly fried the strips with a glaze of cane syrup. That was it.

The strips were stored in the fridge until today when I pan-fried the bacon and biscuits in the same pan.

YUM and well worth the time and effort!