Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Yucatecan fish and a plum tart

Usually, I only make this dish at home because the fish up here isn't that great. Not that the tilapia on sale at publix was especially choice this evening, I just had a craving for this particular meal. Essentially, this is fish filets poached in a sauce of lime juice, tomatoes and serrano chiles, then topped with cilantro and crispy browned garlic. Normally, I don't agree with cooking garlic to this degree, but in this case, the nutty, almost caramel like texture goes very well with the acidity of the lime juice and tomatoes.

As for the tart, I found the recipe in the new issue of Olive, a British food mag. Originally an apricot tart, I used plums because that's what was available. To start, I caramelized 3/4 of a cup of sugar in a pan, then set the halved and stoned plums in the caramel. I then topped this with a round of puff pastry and put it in a 375 degree oven. I'd never used puff pastry before and it was quite easy. I even made some little guava pastries with the left over pieces. I think if I do this again I'll pass on inverting the tart onto a plate as I think the weight of the plums deflated the pastry quite a bit. Still, it was very good.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


I think I finally got the crackling/chicharrones right on a pork shoulder. Maybe it was having it a little closer to the heat, maybe it was the thickness of the layer of fat, or that I scored it with a really sharp knife this time. Maybe the mojo helped. I don't know. I do know that I had some mighty tasty little crispy pork bits. They were like delicious little tiles of pork essence. Also good were the vegetables--red potatoes, carrots, leeks and garlic--that the pork rested on as it roasted. All in all, a fine one pot meal.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


My article about Oktoberfest ran in the Taste section of the Bradenton Herald today. It feels a little more formal than what I usually write here, but that's to be expected I think. The headline and subheadings are not mine. Overall, I'm happy with it.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Saturday Produce Shopping

After discovering that the downtown Bradenton farmer's market had neither the charm of the Red Barn flea market nor the exotic produce of the Sarasota farmer's market, we went back to the red barn. Not before stopping at Turner Donut, W Ninth St., in Bradenton.

I'd never brought the camera to the red barn before. I'm not sure why, I guess I didn't want to look like a tourist. But, as I had it in the car, I figured I might as well use it. Much restraint was necessary to keep from photographing the peacocks/peahens, but I just kept reminding myself of all of the times I'd seen tourists in kw chasing chickens with cameras.

For those not in the area, the red barn fleamarket is just that, a fleamarket. There's a large indoor pavillion, filled with all sorts of tacky schlock--taxidermied alligator dolls, shirts about "dippin' and sippin'," jacuzzis, and much more. Really though, all I go there for is the produce, and the mexican food--more about the food some other time. As I had just taken down a maple raised donut for breakfast, I wasn't really ready for any tacos al pastor or menudo. The produce: it's abundant, cheap and usually pretty fresh.

I think it was worth seeming a little touristy, because some of the fruits and vegetables were particularly beautiful.

I have to wonder if they purposely decided to put these eggplants and these peppers together.

Scotch bonnets/habeneros...I'm not sure if there's really a difference, or if it's just the nomenclature.

More chiles: serranos, jalapenos, and also some peas and key limes.

Nopales--cactus pads.

I think these plums might have been my favorite, both for their color and their being seven for a dollar.

These squash are what made me go back to the car and get the camera.

Also, on the way back from the red barn, we stopped at Wong Kai Imports to get fish sauce, litchi gummi, udon and lots more that will eventually show up on here.

And, after a day of room painting, there was watermelon juice. I'm not sure what it is about this juice that I find so appealing. Maybe its the fact that it has such a potent taste but such a light mouth feel. It really is like drinking water, but it's intensely sweet. Maybe its the fact that I associate that taste with a texture totally different than water. Whatever it is, I enjoy it.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Our kitchen


I realized that I hadn't posted anything in more than a week. So here's a quick recap of what I've been cooking (here).

Roasted chicken, tomatos, potatoes with lemon and thyme.

Tofu with lemongrass and star anise.

Skirt steak tacos with grilled serrano chiles.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Lemongrass? Yeah, I think we have some.

I uprooted the huge lemongrass plant in our community garden plot today. I'll be moving on to more local gardening avenues, thank you very much. Anyway, after bringing home a garbage bag full of lemongrass, I set about trimming it up in the yard. Happily, this involved my much underused cleaver. Unhappily, said cleaver split my cutting board in half. Oh well, it was getting old and stained anyway. Long story short, I now have a ton of lemongrass. So far, I plan on making more thai mussels, a vietnamese beef stew, and some lemongrass simple syrup. If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know. Also, I'm wondering if lemongrass freezes well. The stalks you see below are about two thirds of what I came home with. The other third I transplanted. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Ok, so I wasn't cooking breakfast with a flashlight at six in the morning this time. There was still bacon though. Most of the day's meals involved the cast-iron skillet, which, I must say, is recovering quite nicely. It fell out of use over the summer and began to rust a bit. A couple of batches of bacon later, it's looking pretty good. I made a grilled mozzarella and tomato sandwich today, using a regular pan to fry the sandwich, and the superhot cast iron pan as a weight. Sort of like a make shift panini press. Had there been a grocery store open, I could have bought some basil or maybe some prosciutto. As it was though, still a good sandwich. I think with a little more preparation, this type of thing could get a lot better. I'll be sure to post something about it next time.

Dinner was bacon and some hash browns, all made in the skillet again. I probably should have rinsed and wrung out the potatoes a little more thoroughly. Actually, I didn't really rinse them at all, so they were a bit starchy. Not bad though. Really, they were an afterthough, as I had a pan of bacon fat just sitting around. I like the idea of bacon for dinner. I'll have to do it more often.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Plomero con Huevos

Jimbo, circa 1985, cooking huevos motuleƱos in our kitchen in Key West.

Friday, September 03, 2004


Last May we went blueberry picking at a place called Blue Oak Farms in Lithia, Fla. I came across one of the pictures the other day, so I figured I'd post it. I hear there's a place near here that has u-pick muscadines(scuppernogs). If there are any left after this storm, maybe I'll go check it out.