Fresh From the Gulf

 

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Time to plan the feast of the seven fishes dinner. I love this family tradition and any good excuse to eat lots of fresh seafood. This year I am looking forward to this dinner with a whole new outlook thanks to the hard-working folks down on the Gulf Coast.

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Do you ever really wonder where your seafood comes from? Do you read grocery store labels? Do you ask the restaurant server when, where and who harvested the shrimp or the crab or the oysters before placing your order? If not you should be.

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If you are a lover of the all-you-can-eat buffet I can pretty much guarantee those cheap eats are coming from some foreign land. I much rather eat a higher quality seafood and support the livelihoods of proud American families who work extremely hard to bring a fine product to my table.

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During the World Food Championships 2016 Blogger Summit I had the privilege of traveling to Bayou La Batre, Alabama and touring places like the Murder Point Oyster Farm, the Olympic Shellfish crabmeat processing plant and the Graham Shrimp Company. Fresh from the Gulf of Mexico generation after generation of Alabama families have built their lives on the commercial seafood industry. Share their passion for hand-crafted quality. Don’t let it disappear. Ask for it by name.

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Thank you to the Turquoise Place for the most upscale accommodations and amazing view.

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And to this fine lady who works tirelessly on behalf of us food bloggers. Nice work, Amy.

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Here is a recipe from our holiday table Christmas Eve 2015. Wishing you Peace, Health and Joy and may you be surrounded by those you love most.<3

Roasted Shrimp with Preserved Lemon

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

For the Garlic Confit Oil

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, halved

2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme

For the Shrimp

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

¼ cup garlic confit oil

3 tablespoons thinly sliced preserved lemon

pinch of sea salt

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley

Make the garlic confit oil: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the olive oil, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Cook until the garlic is tender but has not started to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let the oil cool. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a parchment-lined sheet tray, arrange the shrimp and toss with the garlic confit oil and preserved lemon. Season with salt and red pepper flakes then roast, turning halfway, until the shrimp are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the oregano and cilantro.

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Just Being In the Mix is Enough

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Like a hurricane competitive home cooks are a force to be reckon with. Our passion for quality food and proper cooking technique drives us to be the best of the best rating right up there with those more professionally trained. Our kitchen is our classroom. We study cookbooks like novels. We hone our skills by banging pots and pans together running recipes through countless trial and error practice drills. Sometimes we cause a stir and sometimes just being in the mix is enough. It’s rising to the challenge that makes us better.

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It’s a busy month in the Keys kitchen as I prepare and put the finishing touches on my recipes for the World Food Championships. I love being in the mix of food competition and sometimes just being in the mix is enough. Like the saying goes, “can’t win them all”, but simply making the cut, being judged and recognized as a potential winner keeps one focused and motivated to try, try again. This oyster recipe is just one example of a winner, but loser. It got the attention of a professional culinary organization known as Chef’s Roll. The recipe made the top 25 list among mostly professional chefs. In fact, only 3 home cooks made the list. Gotta love and feel proud when a home cook rates right up there with the professionals and when one (my friend Rebecka) takes second place overall!

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Montmorency Tart Cherry Crudo ~ photo by Rebecka Evans

 

Rebecka’s seafood recipe featuring montmorency cherries is as stunning as she is. You can check out her blog and get the recipe here: at home with rebecka and catch her next month on Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas’ series. I hope she swoops in like a hurricane and takes those other grandmas down.

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In the meantime, mix up my cherry salsa verde and enjoy some oysters. It’s prime season for these fresh bivalves, so take advantage of it.

Fried Almond Oysters with Dried Cherry Salsa Verde & Chipotle Crema

Dried Cherry Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

½-cup Mexican crema

2-teaspoons adobo sauce from 1-can chipotle chili peppers

1 dozen fresh oysters shucked (reserve 12 rinsed and dried shell halves for serving)

1/3-cup almond meal flour

¼ cup finely chopped blanched almonds

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon cumin

avocado or canola oil for frying

Prepare dried cherry salsa verde; set aside. For chipotle crema, mix crema and adobo sauce until smooth; reserve in a squeeze bottle. In a shallow dish, whisk together almond meal, almonds, flour, baking powder, salt and cumin. In a medium skillet, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches, and heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°. In batches, dredge oysters in almond mixture until well coated, shaking off excess. Fry 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Fill each oyster shell with about 1 tablespoonful of salsa. Top each with 1 fried oyster. Drizzle with chipotle crema. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Dried Cherry Salsa Verde

2 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, quartered

½ cup coarsely chopped sweet onion

1-tablespoon fresh lime juice

1-teaspoon sea salt

1-teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon seeded and chopped jalapeno

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup whole dried Tart Montmorency Cherries

½ cup small dice jicama

In a blender, process tomatillos, onion, lime juice, salt, sugar, garlic and jalapeno until nearly smooth. Add cilantro; blend well. Pour into a bowl; stir in cherries and jicama.