Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Walt's Fish Market & Tiki Bar: A Taste of Old Florida

A Sarasota institution, Walt's has been run by the same family for almost a century and using the same local fishermen for almost as long. Walt’s boasts Sarasota’s best-known fish market, frequented by visitors and local chefs alike. There’s something for everyone at Walt’s, from the unique mobile raw bar fashioned from an old fishing boat to the Native American thatched-roof Chickee Bar. Brett Wallin, stays true to his family’s philosophy and legacy. Part owner of Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant, Wallin represents the fourth generation of a family steeped rich in Sarasota seafood history, begun by his great-grandfather Claus, who arrived in Sarasota in 1918 as a roustabout with the Ringling Circus. Claus Wallin quickly developed a love of fishing, a passion inherited by Brett’s grandfather Walt, who passed it down to Brett’s father Tom. The passion lives on in Brett. Local knowledge, a strong presence on the water, and good relations with fellow local fishermen allow Wallin to keep close tabs not only on what is in season, but on what is abundant and available. 

He spends a minimum of four days on the water during the season, and when time permits, is on the water at every opportunity. “You get to bring a variety of species to your own market,” he says proudly. Just this week, he caught flounder, pompano, sand perch, mullet, blue crab, and stone crab. Each guest is greeted at Walt's with a complimentary cup of delicious smoked mullet dip with saltines to get them started, as they look over the fabulous menu with appetizers such as conch fritters, wild gator bites, oysters, clams, mussels, and ceviche, and an extensive selection sandwiches, soups, salads, and house specialities. There's even an option for local fishermen to catch and bring in their own fish, and have Walt's cook it any way thy like — grilled, blackened, broiled or fried. Fun, friendly and easy-going, Walt's serves great fish and seafood everyday that's so fresh "The Fish We Sell Today Slept in the Gulf Last Night!"

Walt's wall of mounted locally caught fish

Walt's menu of local fish and seafood "right from the boats"

Cold Stella and an iced glass

Lovely Smoked Mullet Spread

Bahamian-style Conch Fritters with chipotle mayonnaise

Grilled Grouper Sandwich 

Walt's Fish & Chips with Florida caught flounder, french fries and cole slaw

Pompano with Costa Rican Coconut Lime Sauce
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant

4 8-oz fillets fresh Pompano 
Sea salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tsp minced lemongrass or lemongrass paste
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted for garnish

Season fish with sea salt and pepper to taste, then set aside. Add the olive oil to a sauté pan and heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant but not brown. Stir in the coconut milk, bring to boil, and then reduce to a simmer, allowing it to cook for 2 to 4 minutes.

In separate bowl combine heavy cream, lime juice, salt, and sugar. Whisk this into the coconut milk mixture along with the lemongrass. Reduce on low heat for about 5 minutes, while preparing the fish.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat, then add the fish, browning it for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Drain the oil from the pan and pour coconut lime sauce over top of fish and bring to a good serving temperature while plating the sides.

Just before serving, place the generously sauced fish on plate. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes, if desired. Enjoy. Best accompanied with sautéed market fresh vegetables and seasoned brown and jasmine rice.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mar Vista: Waterside Dining on Longboat Key

Originally built in 1912, and spared when a hurricane in 1921 wiped out large parts of the island, this old Florida style restaurant is considered one of the twelve oldest surviving structures on Longboat Key. Thankfully, it was spared again this past September when Hurricane Irma veered inland and saved these beautiful barrier islands. One of our favourite places to enjoy fresh Florida seafood on the key, no trip to would be complete without a pilgrimage to this absolutely charming dockside gem and sitting under the canopy of majestic Buttonwood trees enjoying a steaming basket of stone crab claws and a cold beer. A taste of old Florida for our first evening on Longboat Key, there's nothing else that even compares.

Waterside table overlooking Sarasota Bay at dusk 

The Mar Vista menu of local fish and seafood 

Glass of Pinot Grigio under the Buttonwood Trees

Warm fresh baked coconut rolls with whipped butter

Fried calamari with parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce

1/2-pound steamed Florida stone crab claws

Good to the last bite

Mar Vista Burger topped with a fried egg and basket of fries

Grilled Grouper with vegetables and rice

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Culinary & Cultural Journey to South Florida

A Culinary & Cultural Journey to South Florida
November 17 - December 29, 2017

Scrumpdillyicious will be touring South Florida from mid November through Christmas, on a culinary and cultural journey from Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island Sarasota and Naples, up to St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs, then over to Miami, capturing all of the seasonal festivities in this little corner of paradise, renowned for it's sugar-sand beaches, fabulous cuisine, stunning Spanish style architecture and thriving arts scene. 

Join me online each day for this Culinary & Cultural Journey that will take us from beautiful Longboat Key and St Armand's Circle to John and Mable Ringling's Circus Museum and Sarasota waterfront palazzo, Ca' d'Zan. We then journey up to St Petersburg, home to the renowned Dali Museum and over to Tarpon Springs, the sponge capital of the world, is also known for its Greek fare and serene beaches. Then south to Venice and Naples, then over to Miami's thriving culinary and art scene, as we explore the diverse culinary influences and regional ingredients of South Florida cuisine. So grab your appetite as we head south for six weeks of culinary and cultural snooping!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Apple Crumble Tart with Salted Caramel Drizzle

A divinely decadent Apple Pecan Crumble Tart drizzled with salted caramel, takes this Autumn classic to new heights of sophistication. Baked in a fluted tart pan with removable bottom, the grooved sides lend flair to this fabulous dessert without added effort.

Apple Crumble Tart with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Serves 8

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/8-inch pieces
3 tbsp ice water

Apple Filling:
6 apples such as Delicious, Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

Crumble Topping:
2/3 Quaker Quick oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp flour
1/2 cup pecans, slightly crushed
1 tbsp cinnamon
4 tbsp melted butter

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Heat sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, but stop stirring when the sugar comes to a boil. Swirl the pan a bit as it boils. When the liquid sugar becomes dark amber in colour, add all of the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the cream and continue to whisk well to incorporate. Add the sea salt and whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let cool to room temperature; set aside.

Peel, core and slice the apples into eighths and place in a large bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and mix well to combine, then set aside.

For the pastry, put the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove the dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Roll the dough to about 13 inches in diameter, then trim to make a 12-inch circle and lay it loosely into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. Fold the overlap back inside to make a double thickness, then press firmly against the pan so the finished edge is slightly higher than the pan. Refrigerate for an hour before pre-baking. Poke a few holes in the surface of the crust with a fork and bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes. Time may vary depending on the oven, so watch it closely — it should be half-baked with a slight colour difference.

Fill the crust with the apples. Take a few tablespoons of the liquid that has formed at the bottom of the bowl of apples and mix it with the corn starch, then pour the liquid over the apples and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Mix together the crumble topping in a large bowl then pour the melted butter over top and mix until it forms a crumbly consistency. Spread the crumble topping over the apples.

Cover with foil and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, testing the apples with a fork after 30 minutes for doneness and remove the foil. Allow the pie to cool slightly and then drizzle with bourbon salted caramel as desired. Serve with lots of pillowy soft whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Leek Mash

Tender, succulent and meltingly tender, Braised Short Ribs must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. The magic of braising is that it relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down the tough connective tissue and collagens in meat, transforming the dense, well-marbled texture of short ribs until it's fall-off-the-bone tender and creating a rich, velvety and deeply flavoured sauce along the way. From the perfect pot roast to the fragrant complexity of a classic coq au vin, there's really no food more satisfying than a well-braised dish. In this recipe, slowly braising the short ribs in a combination of red wine, beef broth, flour, a bouquet of aromatic herbs and chopped vegetables gives the meat a deep, dark colour and sumptuous flavour, that makes this dish one of the most memorable braises I've ever prepared. Served over a mound of Leek Mashed Potatoes with a puddle of satiny sauce and a bottle of full bodied red wine, this recipe is an absolute winner.

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4

5 lb bone-in flanken-style beef short ribs, cut into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and working in 2 batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. When done, transfer the browned short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the drippings from the pot.

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, then add the short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. 

Add all of the herbs and the garlic to the pot. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the short ribs are tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn off the oven and let the short ribs rest at least 15-30 minutes in their juices — I left them for 90 minutes — and then transfer the ribs to a foil lined baking sheet to brown in a preheated 275°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a large bowl, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Return the liquid to the pot and using a handful of paper towel, skim the fat from the sauce as much as possible. Set the pot over medium-high heat and allow the liquid to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Serve the short ribs over the leak mashed potatoes and garnish with chopped fresh herbs.

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks
Serves 4

6 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large leek, washed and trimmed
10 tbsp butter
salt and white pepper
3/4 cup cream

Slice the leek in half lengthwise and rinse in cold water, then slice in half again. Using a chef's knife, finely chop the leeks then sauté with 2 tablespoons of butter on medium high heat until they become soft, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing them to rest in the residual heat until needed.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for 25-30 minutes until they are fork tender, then toss into a colander to drain.

In the same pot, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the sautéed leeks and stir to combine. Pour in the cream and blend to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and cover until ready to serve.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dorie Greenspan's Fabulous French Apple Cake

This gorgeous recipe by award-winning cookbook writer Dorie Greenspan, is a deceptively simple and delicious Apple Cake from her cookbook, "Around My French Table". Full of entertaining stories, memories, and insider tips on French culinary customs, Greenspan shares dishes she gathered over years of living in France. Inspired by a recipe by her friend Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhotse, Greenspan watched her in her kitchen, in the hopes of nabbing a recipe by observation, but found it impossible. "Like so many really good cooks, Marie-Hélène starts off with a set of ingredients, but, once she starts mixing, stirring, boiling, baking, or sautéing, she makes so many mid-cooking adjustments that you just have to throw up your hands and content yourself with being the lucky recipient". 

"And so it was with this apple cake, which is more apple than cake, rather plain but very appealing in its simplicity: the chunks of apple make a bumpy, golden top, and so satisfying that we all went back for seconds. Despite knowing that it was futile, I asked for the recipe, and, of course, Marie-Hélène didn't really know" — "It's got two eggs, sugar, flour, and melted butter - oh, and rum," she said. "I mix the eggs and sugar together and then I add some flour, some butter, some flour, and some butter." When asked how much flour and butter, Greenspan got a genuinely apologetic shrug, and when asked what kind of apples she used, the answer was, divers, or different kinds. Thank goodness Greenspan was so tenacious, for she succeeded in transcribing Marie-Hélène's sensational recipe for us all to share for evermore.

Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan's celebrated cookbook 'Around my French Table'

French Apple Cake
Serves 8
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups mixed apples, such as Fuji, Golden Delicious, or Gala
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Crème Chantilly:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F and adjust the oven rack to the centre of the oven. Using some of the melted butter, brush the inside of a 6 or 8-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl and set aside. Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric mixer until they are foamy. Add the sugar, rum, vanilla, cardamom, and lemon zest and whisk to blend. Add in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and smooth out the top with the spatula.

Place the cake on a baking sheet and bake for 60-70 minutes for an 8-inch cake or about 2 hours for a 6-inch cake, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake onto a serving dish. Using a whisk or mixer, whip each of the crème chantilly ingredients together until firm peaks are formed. Spoon the cream into a bowl and serve with the cake.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cauliflower Cheese with Cheddar Béchamel Sauce

Luscious, creamy, cheesy and delicious, there's nothing like a whole cauliflower, smothered and baked in a béchamel sauce, enriched with aged cheddar cheese and a spoonful of english mustard. It's classic comfort food, and as midweek suppers go, Cauliflower Cheese is a thrifty and nutritious triumph. An excellent cheese sauce is unquestionably the most important element of any cauliflower cheese, but when combined with a reliable creamy béchamel, this dish goes from satisfying to sensational, and a dish that can be served as a side dish with a Sunday roast, or a sinfully decadent treat all on its own with a big spoon to scoop up every last bit of lovely cheesy sauce.

Cauliflower Gratin with Cheddar Béchamel Sauce
Serves 2-4

1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup partly skimmed or whole milk, as required
1 tsp English mustard
2 cups grated mature cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Break the cauliflower into large florets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water for 10-15 minutes until fork tender, then remove from the heated set aside. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan then stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk as required, a little at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon between each addition. Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer the roux for two minutes until thick, then remove the from the heat. Stir in the mustard and grated cheese until melted and set aside. Arrange the cauliflower florets heads-up in and ovenproof baking dish. Carefully pour over the béchamel cheese sauce ensuring the cauliflower is completely covered. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.