Perry's Steakhouse PassionNut for Port Recipe

Á la Carte Alabama

1 ½ ounce Fonseca Ruby Port                     

½ ounce coconut rum                  

¾ ounce lemon juice                                  

¾ ounce passion fruit juice                         

Add ice. Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake for 20 seconds. Strain into glass containing ice. Garnish with lemon peel twist and pineapple leaf.


Adams "Original Red Velvet Cake" Recipe

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Adams is credited with popularizing red velvet cakes in the 1930s and 1940s to help boost sales of its red food coloring. Here is the company's recipe for what it calls the "Original Red Velvet Cake."

Cake Batter

Prep Time/Cook Time:

15 minutes / 25 minutes


•             1 tsp soda

•             1 cup buttermilk

•             1 Tbl. vinegar

•             1/2 cup shortening

•             1-1/2 cups sugar

•             2 eggs

•             1 tsp. "Adams Best" Vanilla

•             1 tsp. Adams Butter Flavor

•             1 ounce Adams Red Color

•             3 Tbl. cocoa

•             2-1/2 cups sifted flour

•             1 tsp. salt


Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat vigorously. Add flavors to mixture. In a separate bowl make a paste of cocoa and food coloring and blend into shortening mixture. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with buttermilk to mixture. Add vinegar to mixture with last part of buttermilk. Blend well. Bake in 3-9" or 10" pans for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely. Cover with classic white icing or cream cheese frosting.

Tip: substitute 1/2 cup unsalted butter for shortening and Adams Butter Flavor

Tip: Make your own buttermilk by mixing 1 Tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting


·        ½ cup unsalted butter, softened

·        1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

·        1 teaspoon vanilla

·        3 cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed

In large bowl, beat softened butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until smooth and creamy.

Stir in vanilla, then stir in powdered sugar. Add more powdered sugar as needed until frosting is a thick spreadable consistency.

Spread or pipe frosting on cooled cake or cupcakes.

Cake batter recipe source: Adams Extract & Spice Company

Frosting recipe source: Betty Crocker


Make Mexican Wedding Cookies for the Holidays

Teresa Zuniga Odom/Á la Carte Alabama

The Mexican Wedding cookie is my all time favorite cookie and it was my dad’s favorite cookie as well.  I remember my mother always making these cookies for him and how much he loved them.  He had a sweet tooth for certain things and Mexican Wedding Cookies was one of those things!

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My mother passed her recipe down to me and I am proud to say I can make them almost as well as she does. They are an easy cookie to make and oh so good! Here's how.


1 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup finely chopped nuts ( preferably pecans)


Mix butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly.

Mix flour and salt together; blend into butter mixture.

Mix in nuts - mixture will be buttery.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll dough in 1 inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.

(Cookies do not spread)

Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.  Cookies shouldn't be too brown

While warm, roll in confectioners sugar.

Cool.  Roll in sugar again

Makes 3-4 dozen 1 inch cookies.

For more on the Hispanic lifestyle in the South, visit Southern Señora.

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Highlands Bar and Grill Blackberry “Faux-jito”

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Looking for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink to get you through the dog days of summer? Matt Gilpin, beverage director for Birmingham’s Highlands Bar and Grill, shares a recipe that’s cool and light and emphasizes fresh ingredients.

What you’ll need

Fresh blackberries

Sprigs of fresh mint

Club soda

Fresh lime juice

Simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water heated on cooktop)

Ice cubes

12 oz. glass

Muddler with a large flat bottom

Pour ¾ ounce of simple syrup into glass. Add fresh blackberries to taste. Fill glass with sprigs of fresh mint. Using the muddler, thoroughly crush the ingredients. Add ice cubes. Top off glass with club soda. Add juice from ½ fresh lime. Stir. Garnish with one sprig of fresh mint.

Lucy Buffett's Recipe for Southern Pound Cake with Strawberries



GROWING UP SOUTHERN, pound cake was part of my sweet-tasting experience, as there was always some kind of pound cake sitting on my grandmother’s counter. The traditional story about pound cake is that the ingredients consist of “a pounda” butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. This is my rendition of the classic dessert, and there are really no words to describe the sweet vanilla aroma and rich buttery taste of love infused in every bite.


1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk

2½ teaspoons vanilla extract (or use almond or any other flavored extract)

Fresh whipped cream (recipe follows), for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan (a tube pan is preferred, but if you use a Bundt pan instead, you’ll need to make sure to leave 1 inch of space at the top of the pan, so you may end up with a small amount of leftover batter).

2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the sliced strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve the cake.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the remaining 3 cups sugar, ½ cup at a time, and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, starting and finishing with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely. Serve each piece with a spoonful of the chilled strawberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.



1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or

flavored liqueur

3 tablespoons sugar


1. Place a medium metal bowl in the freezer to chill.

2. When ready to prepare the whipped cream, place the cream and vanilla in the chilled bowl. With an electric mixer, whip the cream on medium speed, gradually adding the sugar. The cream will begin to thicken.

3. Whip the cream until it begins to form stiff peaks. Be careful not to overwhip or the cream will separate.

Excerpted from the book GUMBO LOVE by Lucy Buffett. Copyright © 2017 by Lucy Buffett. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved. 

Lucy Buffett Shares Her Gumbo Recipe from New Cookbook



It takes courage to make a gumbo, and you’ve got to rustle up plenty more qualities along the way to achieve a successful end result. But like any character-building exercise, your experience and wisdom deepens with every step, until you reach a profound sense of satisfaction by the end of the process. A simmering pot of contentment is your reward, and the knowledge that you made this nurturing goodness from the humblest of ingredients and your own ability. It is literally and figuratively a pot full of flavor that can feed your loved ones for days and that’s just brimming with all the courage, mindfulness, and love you put into it.

It all starts with preparation—you must gather all the ingredients and prep them: chop the vegetables, clean the seafood, and sauté the meats and sausages. When done in an orderly fashion, this preparation simplifies the steps to come. It eliminates the chaos and fear. With practice and focus, you quickly learn you were more afraid of the fear itself than the task at hand.

Next is the queen bee—the roux! Making a roux simply requires a little focus and paying attention, seasoned with faith—you have to shake off the doubt and believe in yourself before diving headfirst into the perseverance part, which keeps you doing what you have to do, stirring long after your arm has gone numb from pain. Then there’s the listening, where you tune in to your wisdom and experience to take the roux just to the edge of burning before you toss in the vegetables. Next is the easy follow-directions part, where you do what you’re told to do: you add the stock, along with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings, and mix it all together. Then comes the hard part for lots of us: you let it go. You leave it alone, letting it simmer, with an occasional stir. You get out of the way. You trust the age-old cooking process and let the magic happen.

Over the years, this is the recipe that I’ve cooked the most and that has remained a featured specialty at my restaurants. As far as the seafood goes, I use shrimp and crab, but if it’s cool enough for oysters and there are some sweet and pretty ones available, or it’s crawfish season, I will toss those in, too. And though I usually use only sausage in my winter gumbo, it’s no crime to add a little andouille to the pot as well.


3 pounds medium wild-caught Gulf shrimp, heads on

2 pounds cooked blue crab claw meat, picked through for shells, handled carefully to keep the meat in big chunks

4 large ripe tomatoes, or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with their juices

¾ cup vegetable oil or bacon grease

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

1 bunch celery, coarsely chopped, including leaves

2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped

8 cups shrimp or seafood stock (recipe follows), heated

2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons dried thyme

4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons LuLu’s Crazy Creola Seasoning (recipe follows), or other Creole seasoning

¼ cup hot sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 blue crab bodies, if available (optional)

2½ pounds fresh okra, chopped into ¼-inch pieces, or thawed frozen cut okra

2 cups finely chopped green onions

½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

½ cup fresh lemon juice

Cooked white rice, for serving

French bread and butter, for serving


1. Peel and devein the shrimp. (If you’re making your own stock, reserve the heads and shells to make the stock.) Refrigerate the shrimp and crabmeat until ready to use.

2. If using fresh tomatoes, fill a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let them cool. The skins will slip off easily. Remove the cores and coarsely chop the tomatoes over a bowl to retain as much juice as possible. Set aside. (If using canned tomatoes, chop each tomato into eighths and return them to the juice in the can.)

3. To make the roux, in a large stockpot (about 10 quarts), heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, gradually add the flour, whisking continuously, and cook, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep it from burning, until the roux is a dark mahogany color, 25 to 35 minutes. Be careful: if the roux burns, you will have to start all over again!

4. Carefully add the onion to the roux and stir with a large wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes. (The onion will sizzle and steam when it hits the hot roux, so caution is advised. All seasoned gumbo cooks have roux battle scars on one or both arms.)

5. Add the celery and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes more. The mixture should resemble a pot of black beans in color and texture.

7. Add the heated stock and the tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, basil, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Bring the gumbo to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Add the crab bodies (if using) and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour.

8. Add the okra and bring the gumbo to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the okra has lost its bright green color and cooked down like the other vegetables. If the gumbo gets too thick, add a little water. If it is too thin, continue to simmer it, uncovered.

9. Gumbo is always better the day after it has been cooked, although I’ve never had a complaint when I served it the day I made it. At this point, you can cool the gumbo. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then place the pot, uncovered, in an empty sink. Fill the sink with cold water and ice around the stockpot (try not to get any in the stockpot itself). Stir every 15 minutes to facilitate cooling. (The gumbo will spoil if improperly cooled—see page xxx for tips on cooling the gumbo.) When completely cool, refrigerate the gumbo in the stockpot, uncovered.

10. When ready to serve, slowly bring the gumbo to a simmer over medium-low

heat. Thirty minutes before serving, add the green onion, parsley, and lemon juice to the gumbo. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and crabmeat, mix well, and cook for 2 minutes. Cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes more to cook the seafood. The gumbo will stay hot for a long time. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasonings; serve over cooked white rice with French bread and butter.


If you are lucky enough to get shrimp with the heads on, rejoice. Shrimp heads make the stock even richer and more flavorful. When making stock, I fill an empty liter Coke bottle (label removed) with water and freeze it ahead of time. When the stock has cooled down a bit, about 30 minutes or so, I plunge the frozen bottle into the middle to help cool the stock from the inside out. This is also how I cool down a pot of gumbo before refrigerating it.



Heads, tails, and shells from about 5 pounds peeled wild-caught Gulf shrimp

6 quarts water

2 lemons, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

2 bay leaves

3 onions, coarsely chopped

6 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped

Handful of fresh parsley with stems, washed thoroughly

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 whole garlic clove

White wine


1. At least several hours before you plan to make the stock, fill a clean, empty 1-liter soda bottle with water to about 2 inches from the top, seal, and freeze it.

2. Run cold water over the shrimp shells to rinse. Place all the ingredients in a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce the heat to medium, or until the stock is simmering. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. Cook for a couple of hours, skimming again about every 15 minutes.

4. Place the stockpot in an empty sink. Fill the sink with water and ice around the stockpot. Let the stock cool completely, uncovered. When the stock has cooled down a bit, about 30 minutes or so, put the frozen soda bottle in the middle to cool the stock from the inside out. Strain the stock, discarding the solids, transfer to storage containers, and refrigerate or freeze immediately.




1 tablespoon sea salt

2 tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder

4 teaspoons granulated onion or onion powder

¼ cup paprika

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons white pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Excerpted from the book GUMBO LOVE by Lucy Buffett. Copyright © 2017 by Lucy Buffett. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved

Make Yourself a Classic Margarita...or One of 5 Other Recipes

Clair McLafferty, The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book

Classic Margarita

Items needed: rocks glass (rimmed with coarse salt), jigger, shaker, Hawthorne strainer

2 ounces silver tequila

1 ounce Cointreau

1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Shake all ingredients with cracked ice, strain into a chilled rocks glass with a coarse salt rim over ice.

 Flavored Margarita

Substitute ½ ounce flavored liqueur for ½ ounce Cointreau

Grapefruit Margarita

Add ½ ounce grapefruit juice


Making margaritas with infused tequilas

Jalapeño Margarita

Use Jalapeño Tequila

Items needed: knife, sealable large glass jar, cheesecloth or coffee filter, funnel

1-1/2 to 3 fresh jalapeños

1 750-ml midgrade tequila                   

Thinly slice the jalapeños. For milder heat, discard the seeds. Put both the slices and seeds, if using, into a sealable large glass jar. Pour in the tequila. Seal and shake. Let sit a few hours and taste. For more spice, let sit overnight. When it is adequately spicy, strain out the solids using cheesecloth or coffee filter, funnel into its original bottle, and label.

Strawberry Margarita

Use Strawberry Tequila

Items needed: knife, sealable large glass jar, cheesecloth or coffee filter, funnel

1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

1 750-ml midgrade tequila

Put the strawberry slices into a sealable large glass jar and pour in the tequila. Seal and shake gently. Let sit at room temperature for 2 to 7 days, tasting often. If it steeps for more than two weeks, the strawberry taste may become perfumy. Strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter, funnel into its original bottle, and label.

Watermelon Margarita

Use Watermelon Tequila

Items needed: knife, sealable large glass jar, cheesecloth or coffee filter, funnel

1 small, seedless watermelon (about 2 pounds of 1 inch cubes

1 750-ml midgrade tequila

Put the watermelon into a sealable large glass jar.  Pour in the tequila, seal the jar and shake gently. Let sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours, and then taste frequently until it has the perfect amount of watermelon flavor. Strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter, funnel into its original bottle, and label. If you so wish, set watermelon cubes aside in an airtight container to use in frozen margarita.

More cocktail recipes in The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book (available in bookstores and online).

Avocado Toast Four Ways

Basic Avocado Toast

2 slices of sourdough bread

1 Avocado, mashed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Cut the avocado in half, remove pit, and scoop the flesh into a small bowl.

2. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste.

3. With a fork, mash the ingredients together, keeping the texture slightly chunky.

4. Spread the mashed avocado evenly onto toasted bread slices.


Breakfast Avocado Toast

2 eggs, fried sunny side up

2 slices of bacon, fried

1. Spray a nonstick skillet and fry the eggs sunny side up. In a separate pan fry the bacon until cooked.

2. Place bacon, and 1 cooked egg on each slice.


Mango Avocado Toast

1 mango, sliced

Ancho chili power

1. Add single layer of mango

2. Dust with chili powder


Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

Sliced Smoked Salmon

Sliced Red Onion


1. Place smoked salmon on avocado

2. Top with sliced red onion and capers


Caprese Avocado Toast

1 package of Mozzarella Pearls

1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes

Basil Leaves

1. Top toast with fresh mozzarella pearls, tomatoes, and basil leaves.