Collection of the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
There’s a long stretch of highway some people call “the road to nowhere”. It starts with a flashing yellow light where you turn left on Highway 24. Turn right and you’re headed to Gainesville which explains the buildings, signs and flags in blue and orange along the way.
After a piece, you might see folks making boiled peanuts along the way, regular flavor and Cajun. Mostly, you’ll see a lot of nothing. Abandoned gas stations, some vacant shanties and rusted Ford trucks that have seen better days will occasionally catch your eye.
Get closer to the water, and almost entering Cedar Key the road is lined with traps for blue crab, still abundant here, although becoming more scarce in our own Tampa Bay. Time stopped here, and it’s like stepping into Florida decades earlier, where the fish are plentiful and seafood restaurants abound.
Not many eat meat, as evidenced in the small, local grocery store. The meat had a tinge, but the shelves were stocked full of local preserves, sauces and dressings all made from Florida stock. Honeybell marmalade, organic blueberry preserves, key lime dressing and more made my bag heavy with local treasures.
The clam phenomenon is a relatively new trade in Cedar Key and in the State, for that matter. Now aquaculture makes farming more than 50 varieties of clams possible, many originally from the northern coastal areas of the country. Size determines their use in dishes. Littlenecks are used in dishes like clam sauce, Cherrystones can be steamed and eaten by hand and the Chowder clams (over 3 inches) are chopped and used for some of the best clam chowders in the world.
In 1991, clam farming in Cedar Key was a brand new enterprise, growing to more than 50 million clams harvested annually by 1997. Part of the demand for Cedar Key “sweets” is a shorter growing time due to the climate. It takes a clam two years to grow to optimum size in New England and only one year in Florida. Many of the diseases that can wipe out a clam farm are just not found in Cedar Key, making harvest numbers much higher. And by the way, they taste great.
If a quiet weekend is right up your alley, it’s a good enough reason to fill up the tank and take that drive across Highway 24. When you see Florida oaks bigger than you’ve ever seen in your life, you are getting close to your destination. On the way, call one of the friendly innkeepers and ask them for a room for the night. Most likely, they’ll tell you to head up to your room when you arrive and settle up in the morning after breakfast.
We did just that this weekend and it was a perfect way to end a hectic week. Heading down to Dock Street is mandatory before 10 pm if you expect to eat dinner. Settling on Steamer’s, we were greeted with friendly folks, unassuming service and food that made me think I was in Cape Cod. It was so fresh and made with care. A guy in a plaid shirt played guitar while he drank some of the locally made craft beers until he admitted it was probably time for him to go home and call it a night.
Steamer’s is the first place I tried Cedar Key’s local clam chowder and I hate to report that I was shocked at how good it was. It had different flavors, herbs and a different consistency than chowders I’ve had up north or here or anywhere else. But there was still Tony’s chowder we had to try; the 3-time world champion of chowder.
The next day, we showed up at Tony’s at high noon, ready for more chowder and wondering if it was all a lot of hype. My first taste of it had me thinking it was good. Was it over the top, though? And that’s the magic of Tony’s chowder (made by Chef Eric, by the way). Tony’s sneaks up on you. It has a little heat that sits in the back of your throat and just warms up that whole mixture in a very subtle way. You’ll just have to try it yourself. Both chowders had incredibly tender, sweet clams.
If you’re spending all your time in the day-to-day rush, you’re spending your time dying. One weekend, pack a bag, cancel everything, get in the car and go. I promise you all the stuff you were supposed to do will still be there when you get back, but at least you can say you lived a little.
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 200 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday afternoon at 4 on WWBA AM820 News and other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.
Sure, if that’s what you want to call it. A glass of milk today is virtually unrecognizable from the milk people consumed in the mid-1800s. Today’s version is pasteurized to kill any possible microbes and toxins, and affects flavor, vitamins and amino acids. Hormones are given to some dairy cows to increase the yield of milk, which, some say, are causing our children to grow faster and larger, physically maturing sooner than ever before. In a European study published last year, 20 different chemicals were found in the average glass of milk, including antibiotics and painkillers.
Proponents of raw milk say they prefer the cow’s milk they consume to be in a more natural state and believe the risks are minimal when purchasing from responsible dairy farms. They believe their children have less milk allergies and less childhood health issues when they drink raw milk, compared to its chemical-laden counterpart.
Food Nation Radio Network asked the FDA about their policy on raw milk sales and consumption. They referred us to their website which clearly states the agency does not believe the consumption of raw milk is safe and can contain dangerous pathogens such as staph, salmonella, E. coli and listeria. To date, 30 states allow raw milk sales and consumption within their state and 20 do not. The FDA prohibits commercial sales of raw milk across interstate lines. All of the information on the site begs one question.
Why do we serve any raw foods at all in this country?
Sushi, oysters, steak tartare, carpaccio, chocolate mousse and many more dishes seen in restaurants every day all contain raw ingredients that carry the very same health risks cited by the FDA about raw milk. Why are all of these allowed to be served (with a warning) to consumers, yet raw milk is not?
Recently we interviewed a mom who regularly purchased milk from an Amish farmer for six years. She tells a story I never thought I’d hear in America, of armed agents storming into a dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania. Listen to this unbelievable story here: Raw Milk & The FDA
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday afternoon at 4 on WWBA AM820 News and other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.
Tired of that same old pot roast or stew? This recipe elevates that simple chuck roast to a fine dining experience. The best part is, there is absolutely no work involved except for the stirring of that creamy, savory risotto. But that’s a labor of love, right? Here it is:
2 1/2 lb chuck roast
16 oz frozen pearl onions
8 oz whole button mushrooms
750 ml white wine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground, black pepper
Arborio rice, 1 cup, uncooked
1 TB olive oil
2 TB cold butter
1 medium tomato
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
parsley for garnish
Empty the bag of frozen onions into a crock pot or dutch oven. Season the chuck roast with the salt and pepper and put on top of the onions. Add the thyme and mushrooms over the top. Pour the white wine over the roast. Cook according to crock pot directions. If using a dutch oven, bring up to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for two to two and half hours. Remove the roast to a plate and keep warm.
Using a two quart saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and 1 TB of the butter. When the butter is melted, add 1/2 cup of cooked onions from the roast and 1/4 cup of the mushrooms. Cut the tomato into 1/4″ dice and add to the pot. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice almost starts to toast. Ladle one cup of stock from the roast into the rice and stir slowly with a wooden spoon. Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is al dente (about 18 minutes). Take off the heat and stir in the other TB of butter and the parmesan. Serve on a platter with the beef shredded over the top.
In the world of decadence, lobster bisque is certainly in the top rankings. The winner of our menu contest this year requested I make this dish. Truly, just a few simple ingredients are all you need.
1 small to medium-sized lobster
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 shallots, not peeled, cut in half
Pinch of parsley
pinch of thyme
2 black peppercorns
15 1/2 oz pumpkin puree
6 TB butter
8 TB flour
splash of sherry
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
drops of good sherry, for garnish
drizzle of melted butter, for garnish
Put the lobster into boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Save the water you used to boil the lobster. Take the flesh out of the lobster shell and reserve. Save the lobster shell. In a large pot, add the carrots (chopped) and the shallots cut in half, flesh-side down over high heat. When the shallots brown, add the lobster shell and stir. Add the lobster cooking water, the parsley, thyme, peppercorns and clove. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and put the liquid back on the heat. Add the pumpkin. Reduce by 1/3.
In another large pot, make a lobster veloute by adding the flour and butter over high heat. Whisk for 1-2 minutes, until the butter is melted. Whisk 1 minute more. Add a small splash of sherry. Add the lobster stock and whisk intermittently until it thickens slightly. Add the sea salt. Add the cream and turn down to lowest heat. In a small pan, reheat the lobster meat in a little butter and chop into pieces. Serve in bowls with some of the lobster pieces, a few drops of sherry and a drizzle of melted butter.
We challenged readers and listeners to come up with the best Christmas menu this year. Isn’t that more fun than telling you what to make? This goose was the very epitome of savory and the stuffing (made as dressing, separately) was truly outstanding. These are recipes to be filed away for years to come. Enjoy!
Julia Child always used the steaming and then roasting method to avoid splattering of the goose in the oven (due to the amazing amount of fat rendered). We will do that here as well, but save that fat to saute potatoes with, etc.
1 goose 8-10 lbs
blood orange juice (regular orange juice is fine) for basting plus 1 1/3 cups for the gastrique
1 large baguette, about 20 inches in length
1 TB butter
2 packages dried morel mushrooms (about 1 ounce each, dried, or a little more)
fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano and basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
splash of white wine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp good sherry vinegar
1 cup of chicken stock (or make goose stock from the giblets, as we did with the turkey recipe on the site)
Take the giblets out of the goose. Rinse the bird thoroughly. Pat it dry with paper towels. In a large, heavy roasting pan safe for the stovetop, place the carrots and 2 shallots, cut into big chunks. Place 2 more shallots, roughly cut into the cavity of the goose. Splash some of the blood orange juice over the goose and generously season with salt and pepper. Place a couple of inches of water in the roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil. Steam over medium heat for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
While the goose is steaming, rehydrate the mushrooms according to package directions. While they steep, shred the baguette into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Beat the egg and add it. Chop 4-5 sprigs of each of the fresh herbs and add them. Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt.
Chop the mushrooms, add the butter to a small frying pan and saute them with a 1/4 tsp of dried time and a pinch of sea salt. When the liquid dries up in the pan, add a splash of white wine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before tossing in the bowl with the bread mixture. With clean hands, mix the contents of the bowl. Spray an 8×12 glass dish with cooking spray and add the mixture, gently patting it down to fit the dish.
Pour the liquid from the goose pan into a container, leaving only about 1 cup of liquid in the pan. Splash a little more blood orange juice over it. Flip it breast-side-down, and roast, covered, for two hours while you make the gastrique (see below). During the last half hour, uncover it, turn it breast-side-up and place the stuffing in the oven, uncovered. After 15 minutes, add 1/2 to 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid (and fat) to the stuffing, depending upon how much it has dried out. Bake and roast 15 more minutes and remove everything from the oven to cool for a few moments.
While the goose is roasting, make the gastrique. Place the sugar and 1 1/3 cups of the blood orange juice in a saucepan with the sherry vinegar. Allow to simmer and reduce until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool slightly. Serve with the goose.
Don’t deny it. Things get busy over the holidays, people tire of the preparations and just want to gather and relax. You may have ended up with an impromptu party or two, so here’s how to make the most of it and be prepared. You’ll look like you had it planned all along.
Sun-dried tomato palmiers
Herbed goat cheese
1 package frozen puff pastry sheets (11 oz)
1 6.5 oz jar of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
4 oz grated parmesan cheese
8 oz of goat cheese
assorted fresh herbs, including basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary
8 0z (or more) wheel of Camembert cheese
best quality assortment of crackers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Thaw the puff pastry or quick-thaw according to package directions. Drain but reserve the oil from your sun-dried tomatoes. Buzz the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Gently roll out one 10″x15″ pastry sheet without crushing the edges (or it won’t rise). Place it on a cutting board. Paint the dough lightly with the oil from the tomatoes with a pastry brush. Paint the sun-dried tomato mixture on the dough. Roll the long side of the pastry up to the center and stop. Roll the other long side up to the center. With a very sharp knife, slice into 1/4″ thick slices and place each slice on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake until golden 10-12 minutes. These hold up well at room temperature for a short period of time.
Roll out another sheet of the pastry dough, as above. Sprinkle it with parmesan and using a ravioli cutter or a knife, cut into 1/4″ strips. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and twist each end in opposite directions creating a spiral bread stick. Place each stick on the cookie sheet an inch apart and bake at the same temp as above for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. These also hold well.
Herbed goat cheese
Chop assorted herbs finely. Roll cold goat cheese into twelve balls. Roll in the fresh herbs and serve.
Take the plastic wrap off the cheese and place back in the wooden round container. Place it on a baking sheet and bake until very soft and melted. Carefully cut off the top and the melted cheese can be spread on crackers. Re-heat if necessary.
Serve all of the above with grapes and assorted crackers.
In this digital age we live in, now more than ever people appreciate the time taken to make a gift and the tastier the better. I put together some ideas to make friends and family smile over the holidays.
Another option is to make edible ornaments or even a gingerbread house. I experimented with gingerbread dough last year and came up with a recipe that would hold up for decorating. If you use this dough for ornaments, make sure you poke a hole in the top of each gingerbread cookie with a round pastry tip (because the hole will shrink) before you put it in the oven. Use holiday-themed cutters to make your ornaments varied and festive. Here’s the recipe link for that:
Other gifts you can make include chocolate truffles by simply scalding cream and pour the hot cream over twice as much (in ounces) of chopped chocolate, stir until smooth, let it cool and roll them into balls. Then you can roll them in cocoa, sweetened coconut, peanuts, pistachios. The possibilities are endless.
An even less expensive option is flavored popcorn. Make some popcorn and while it’s still hot toss it in garlic salt, cinnamon sugar or cajun seasoning. The flavors are up to you, but one thing is for sure; people will know you took the time to make it.
I get a little bored with the same old sweet potato dishes on Thanksgiving, don’t you? Instead of the sweet potato pie or casserole you have every year, try this recipe. It’s elegant, not hard to make (although it takes a little love and a little time) and your guests will be thankful you did.
It takes maybe 30-40 minutes to roast your own sweet potatoes rather than using the canned puree and there is a marked difference in the flavor. I didn’t add any seasoning to them before roasting. I put them on a sheet pan that was sprayed with cooking spray and roasted them flesh-side down at 400 degrees F until a fork could pierce them all the way through.
2 cups mashed sweet potato
5 TB butter
5 TB flour
5 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
5 large eggs, separated
1 oz sugar, plus one cup
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
1 TB cream
In a 2-quart saucepan, add the butter and flour over medium-high heat. Whisk until the butter is melted. It will be bubbly. Add the milk and whisk to incorporate well. Add salt and cinnamon and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. It will thicken further upon standing. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In another 2-quart saucepan, add one cup sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, without stirring. Do not walk away from this! When the sugar turns a carmel color, add 1 cup of the white sauce and pecans. Whisk to combine. Allow to reduce until thickened somewhat. It will thicken further upon standing. Add the cream and stir in when you remove the pot from the heat. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Prepare a 6-cup souffle dish or a medium glass bowl by spraying with cooking spray. Whip egg whites until frothy, add the 1 oz sugar and continue whipping until firm peaks are achieved.
In a large bowl combine the sweet potato with the egg yolks and 2 cups of the white sauce. Slowly fold in the egg whites.
Place mixture in the baking dish (souffle dish) and bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 375 F and bake for another 30-35 minutes until it only moves VERY slightly (not loose at all) when you take it out of the oven. It will continue to cook upon standing.
Using two forks back-to-back, gently open the center of the souffle and pour the caramel sauce into and over the top of the souffle. Serve immediately.