Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Section of the Blog!

Hopefully I won't have too many tales told about me. A new section of the blog is starting. A Mother's Perspective will be memories related to food from years of raising 3 kids. One of whom is now a chef. We hope you enjoy and come back often!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fun with Fruitcake!

I know Christmas has passed, but this is just funny! Don't get me wrong, I'm one of a handful of people on Earth that actually likes fruitcake, but this made me laugh out loud!

A great fruit cake recipe

You'll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whiskey.

Sample the whiskey to check for quality.

Take a large bowl. Check the whiskey again. To be sure it is the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whisky is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window, check the whisky again and go to bed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mexican Tortilla Soup

Have you ever been to your favorite neighborhood taqueria and had a piping hot bowl of chicken tortilla soup? Ever wish you could have that at home? Well... now you can. This is a very nice recipe that is also fairly simple to make. Give it a shot and let us know what you think!

Mexican Tortilla Soup
3 (14 1/2 oz.) cans chicken broth or chicken stock
1 c. chopped cooked chicken
4 oz. chopped green chilies, drained
1 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped tomatoes
1/3 c. cilantro leaves
1 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 c. red peppers and green peppers, diced
1/2 c. corn
1 c. crushed tortilla chips
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 lime cut in wedges

In large saucepan, combine chicken broth, chicken, green chilies, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir in vegetables. Simmer again 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in 1 cup crushed chips and cheese. Heat until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Garnish with additional chips and lime. 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings.

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Specials


1. Mediterranean Chicken with Greek Spices, Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Black Olives

2. Braised Swiss Steak with Tomatoes, Onions, and Peppers

3. Swiss Meatballs made with Pork and Ham with a White Wine-Lemon Sauce topped with Swiss Cheese

Side Dish:
4. Bourbon and Brown Sugar Mashed Sweet Potatoes

5. Maple Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We had a request for sweet potatoes and we like to honor our clients' requests.

Go to order page...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Red Gnauga Booths and Spicy Salsa


I credit my parents with shaping me into the person I am today. It's been suggested by some that we should bottle our work ethic. The way I push myself sometimes, I'd probably go to jail for possession of a controlled substance! Watching my parents through the years, there's no doubt I got my sense of responsibility from them. You get many things from your parents. I think you certainly get your sense of taste and culinary adventurousness from your parents. For some a pinch of black pepper is too much heat! I've always enjoyed a bit more than a pinch of black pepper and I think my parents may have had something to do with that...

You see a lot of kids these days at Mexican restaurants. There's a reason Jose et al have been forced to add chicken nuggets and hamburgers to the menu at Zepe's much to their considerable consternation. It's a sign of the times when a taco or cheese enchilada is too much for Tommy's sensitive taste buds. You can't blame Zepe's, times are tough and you need every edge you can get. Sometimes I'd like to tell Tommy to have a margarita and a taco and chill out!

Back in the day, on those special occasions when we got to go out to eat (I'm dating myself there), I was a pretty adventurous kid -- for a 4 or 5 year old... I'd have probably welcomed that margarita being the uptight kid that I was. "Yes, can you make mine a 'suicide'?" Remember those? A bit of everything -- didn't taste good, but for some strange reason we all got them. At least I had the good sense to skip the Tab! Guess I had decent taste even back then! But I digress... again. I remember going to El Palacio. It had the obligatory murals, the red gnauga hide booths, and some beads covering the doorway. Obviously this place was not only a taste of Mexico, but also quite stylish and groovy. Johnny Bravo eat your heart out! Yeah Baby!

While I vaguely remember beef enchiladas with a nice red sauce, the obligatory rice with faded army green peas, and lard laden refried beans, it was the chips and salsa of all things that stuck in my mind. I've always looked up to my Dad and followed his lead on food (my Mom as well, but that's another story to follow). If Dad got a double or triple cheeseburger, I got a double or triple cheeseburger. Can you imagine a kid putting away a greasy cheeseburger the size of his head? Back in the day, hamburgers weren't these little dry hockey pucks that they are today. As you may have noticed I tend to digress quite often. Stream of consciousness, or unconsciousness as the case may be...

So the obligatory chips and salsa came out to the table and in we go. Dad told me it was going to be spicy, but what the heck. You only live once right? Besides I was tough. I could take it. That was the first time I ever sweat while eating. It was fun, Dad was sweating so it must be okay if I did, right? From the bright red tomatoes, to the jalapeno, the onion, and the cilantro, it was a cacophony, nay a symphony of flavors and colors. The chips were there, but nothing more than a vehicle to get the wonderful, spicy concoction to my waiting gullet. Yes, I could have slurped it straight from the bowl, or used a spoon, but I was a man of distinction. No pretender here. No, I conformed to the social norm of dipping the chips. Just wish I could have had my 'suicide' margarita with a beer backer! In fact bring a pitcher and one of those mugs the size of a small water tower. Ah, Zepe's... What have you done and where have you gone wrong... Burgers and chicken nuggets... BAH!!!


Snowdrifts and Marshmallows...

I was making marshmallows the other day and started thinking about—SNOW. It's not so far-fetched. Marshmallows are soft and white and so is snow. Mom was telling me about growing up in West Virginia. In the big snow in 1950, she got to go with her daddy (my grandpa) to check on a neighbor who had a small baby. He told her to be sure to follow in his footsteps. They got about halfway across the yard when he turned around to check on her. Only the topknot on her hat was sticking out, so he quickly pulled her up, and they continued next door. That was at least 36 inches of snow with drifts up to 6 feet. They used Mom's sled to go down the road to get groceries.

When Mom was a teenager, her mom (my Granny) always cleaned the house on Saturday morning. When they finished on one Saturday, they looked out to a winter wonderland of quietly falling snow. About 6 inches of untouched snow was on the ground. “Let's walk down to the Ohio River!” So they walked up to Grand Central Avenue, across a couple of fields, across River Road, did a slippery-slide down a hill, and across another field to the banks of the swiftly flowing Ohio River. It was so quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. What a special memory for them.

Back to marshmallows: they don't have to be white, and different extracts can be used instead of vanilla to flavor them. I used peppermint, and they are yummy. How about strawberry, orange, or raspberry? Tint them pink, orange, etc. Then to top them off, dip them in a dark chocolate fondue. Now, that's a dessert for Valentine's Day!

When I was four years old, we moved from the Washington, D.C. snowy suburbs in January, to Jackson, Mississippi. On the way, we drove through Atlanta where it had snowed overnight. Dad still had the snow tires on, and we drove straight through Atlanta wondering where all the cars and people were. After moving to the South, we learned that wasn't such a good thing to do. After crossing into Alabama, the weather suddenly changed, and it was warm. On January 24, 1974, all of us worked in the yard in shorts and got sunburned.

One week-end in February, Dad said “Let's go to Mardi Gras!” We went on a day trip (better for little kids) and Suzanne, Rich, and I especially liked the floats, and catching beads, candy, and trinkets. Mardi Gras King Cake and beignets were a special treat.

February has at least 3 celebrations—Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, and Shrove Tuesday. Any, or all of these occasions would be ideal to celebrate at the Castella Room. So whether it's a steak dinner with a dessert of marshmallows, fruit and a chocolate fountain, gumbo and King Cake, or huge hot syrupy pancakes, call and reserve the Castella Room for your special day.

Phone: (678) 455-6275
Fax: (678)648-3169
Address: 65354 Shiloh Rd, Suite 700
Alpharetta, GA 30005