Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Fresh Grilled Mahi Mahi and Baby Romaine in the Bahamas

I’ve written a few posts about my time in Exuma, Bahamas, and here is one more.  There were just so many great culinary as well as fishing experiences, one post just wouldn’t do it justice.

Mahi Mahi from Exuma BahamasI spent a day sport fishing with my friend Eric just off the coast of Exuma.  We went out with Captain Robert of Robert’s Island Adventures.  Fishing was a bit slow, with one broken line and one Barracuda in the first few hours.  The next line was mine, and I’m sure glad it was.  The drag started screaming and my fish was on.  I’ve caught some pretty good fighters in my time on the water, and this one ranks right up there in my fishing battles.  After about 5-6 minutes we saw the flash of a bull Dolphin (otherwise known as Mahi Mahi or Dorado).  It wasn’t done yet though, taking a few long runs away from the boat.  We finally got the fish in the boat, and it was a beauty.  My first ever Mahi Mahi, and it is one I’ll remember for a long time.

Not only was it a fantastic fight, it was one of the best meals we ate while on Exuma.  In addition to the Mahi Mahi, we enjoyed fresh Lobster from our adventures with Harris the day before as well as roasted potatoes, a grilled romaine salad and some freshly made guacamole and chips.  Delicious.

Grilled Mahi Mahi Recipe

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lobster12 Mahi Mahi fillets (which is what we got out of the fish)
2 Cloves chopped fresh garlic
3 Limes juiced
4-5 Green onions chopped
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 Anaheim chili chopped
1/2 Cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 tbsp Cumin
1/2 Cup white wine
1/2 tbsp Salt

Mix all the ingredients together  and pour over the Mahi Mahi fillets in a glass baking dish or plastic bag and refrigerate for about an hour.  Remove fillets from marinade and grill over medium heat until just cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side).  Do not overcook the fish or it will dry out.

Grilled Baby Romaine Salad Recipe

Grilled Baby Romaine SaladThe grilled Romaine salad was such a simple thing to prepare, but it is a nice change of pace from a simple cold salad.

4 Baby Romaine sliced in half
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 Cup balsamic vinegar simmered on the stove until reduced by half

Drizzle about 4 tbsp of olive oil over the baby Romaine halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill cut side down over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until the cut side has defined char marks and is starting to wilt just slightly.  Remove from the grill and drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar and remaining olive oil over the top of the baby romaine.

Roasted Potatoes

Wonderful roasted potatoes

Fresh Guacamole

Fresh Guacamole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure I’ll have one or two more posts about our trip to Exuma, but this has to be one of my favorite meals, not only because it was delicious, but also because I caught the Mahi Mahi, which makes it even better.  Fishing in Exuma was an absolute blast, but cooking what we caught was just as much fun!

Some other posts about our trip to Exuma:

Fresh from the Sea in Exuma Bahamas
Yellowtail Snapper Recipe – Three Ways

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Yellowtail Snapper Recipe – Three Ways

In February, I went with my family to Exuma, Bahamas.  We had lots of great experiences, and the memories of Exuma have come back to Minnesota with us in many forms, including the food.  We were fortunate to come back home with a cooler full of beautiful whole Yellowtail Snapper.  I wish I could say they are a part of my angling adventures, but we focused more on deep sea fishing.

Our last day on the island, I talked with Harris about bringing some fish home.  He is a local that spends lots of time on the water.  We spent a day with him catching lobster, conch and grouper and had an amazing shore lunch with him as well.  Harris said that he would see what he could do, and a bit later came back with two coolers full of beautiful Yellowtail Snapper (one for our family and another for the family we were traveling with).

I haven’t cooked whole fish in quite a while, probably since a trip to Mexico several years ago.  I’m not sure what exactly I was thinking fixing the Yellowtail three ways for my first attempt in a long time, but that’s what I did.

Grilled Citrus Herb Yellowtail Snapper

The first version I made was a citrus herb stuffed Yellowtail Snapper grilled whole. This was a pretty simple preparation.  First, I made sure the Snapper was scaled and cleaned well, and cut a few slits in the sides to add in more flavor.  Once done, I stuffed them with the following mixture:

  • Orange slices cut thin
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Green onion chopped fine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil (about a tbsp)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, let them sit for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.  Then stuff the cavity in the snapper full of the mixture and also rub the outside of the snapper with some of the liquid.  I took extra orange slices and wedged them into the slits in the fish as well to add extra flavor.

Grill on medium heat until cooked.  Mine took about 4 minutes per side, but I’m using smaller fish.

Grilled Habanero Salt Yellowtail Snapper

With this preparation, I cleaned the snapper in the same way as above.  Once clean, I used an absolutely fantastic combination that we were introduced to on Exuma.  It is as simple as it gets, but absolutely fantastic if you like a little heat:

  • 1 Cup of sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped Habanero pepper, seeds removed.  (use gloves so you don’t burn your skin)

Just mix those two ingredients together to incorporate the Habanero throughout the salt and store in a container for a few days to incorporate the flavor throughout the salt.  For the Yellowtail Snapper, I drizzled a bit of Olive Oil over the fish and then lightly rubbed the skin, slits and cavity of the fish with the mixture.

Grill on medium heat until cooked.  Mine took about 4 minutes per side, but I’m using smaller fish.

Salt Crusted Whole Yellowtail Snapper

The last preparation was something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.  I’ve seen it done on television, and it was time to give it a try.  This preparation involves completely crusting the whole fish inside a salt mixture and baking it until the salt has formed a hard crust, locking in all the great flavors while the fish cooks.  Since I hadn’t done it before, I looked at Yellowtail Snapper Baked in a Salt Crust recipe from Tyler Florence.  Like all of my kitchen adventures, I never follow a recipe exactly, but I had no idea how to do the salt crust, so I needed some guidance for that part.

Preheat oven to 350.

Before crusting the fish (same preparation as the previous two, but do not make slits in the skin), I stuffed the cavities full of the following mixture:

  • Thin sliced lemons
  • Fresh thyme
  • Green onion
  • Chopped sage (just a couple leaves)
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp of Olive Oil

For the crust: (taken directly from Tyler Florence)

  • 4 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • (I doubled the batch because I was doing 3 smaller fish and it was about right)

In a clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold in the salt to make a paste then fold in the remaining thyme leaves. Smear the salt paste over the entire fish and roast for 35 to 45 minutes. The egg whites will form a hard crust. Gently crack the shell with a spoon and lift off the salt crust.

What I learned is that it works well to made a bed of the salt mixture on the baking sheet, lay the fish on it and then cover the fish entirely.

The Verdict

All three of the preparations were very good.  My personal favorite was the most simple of the three, and that was the Habanero Salt Yellowtail Snapper.  The heat didn’t overpower the delicate fish, but imparted good flavor into the flesh.  I squeezed a bit of lime juice over it to finish it off and it was just delicious.

Second for me would be the Citrus Herb Yellowtail Snapper.  I really liked the flavor the orange brought to the fish.  It was light and refreshing.  There was a hint of cilantro as well, but I didn’t really pick up on the other flavors of the stuffing mixture.  I’ll do this one again for sure.

Last but definitely not least was the Salt Crusted Yellowtail Snapper.  It was delicious for sure, but I really don’t think that it was any better than the other two, and the preparation took more time and it was a bit more of a mess, so for that reason only, I’d say it was number three.  Another consideration might be that my Yellowtail Snapper are smaller than the one Tyler Florence used in his recipe, so maybe with a larger fish that has more meat, this might be a better way to go.  The crust really locked in the flavors and kept the fish tender and moist.

I have lots of Yellowtail Snapper left, so if you have a great recipe for them, I’d love to give it a try, let me know in the comments below.

72oz Double Bistecca – Dining at Mercato in Calgary

This was my second trip to Mercato, a gourmet restaurant and market in Calgary, Alberta.  Unfortunately, it was my first meal at Mercato.  Several months back I went to Mercato with my colleague Glenn before my flight back to Minnesota.  He was raving about the Bistecca (their 72oz Ribeye).  We got to the restaurant, ordered, and over an hour and a half later, we still didn’t have our food and I had a flight to catch, so we had to cancel our order and rush to the airport.  It was a bummer for sure.  Not only was I looking forward to a great meal, it left me hungry and rushed at the airport.  No fun!

After talking with Glenn, we decided to give Mercato one more chance.  Last week I got to experience the Bistecca along with some other great dishes, and they were worth the wait.  Glenn, Amanda, Katie and Melissa (all co-workers) joined me for the meal.  We started out with a Caprese salad and a trio of Bruschetta.  I was much more impressed on this second trip as the starter course came promptly to the table, and it was delicious.  The Caprese was one of the freshest I have ever tasted, and the Bruschetta had combinations I had never tried before which made them quite interesting as well as delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also ordered the 72oz double Bistecca with sides of mushrooms, asparagus and green beans.  After finishing our starter course and engaging in some great table conversation, I started to wonder if lightning was going to strike twice.  We waited and waited, but finally the main course arrived, but it took about an hour.  It was worth the wait.  The Bistecca (served on the bone) was cooked perfectly.  There was a nice flavorful crust and a perfect medium-rare, tender, juicy inside.  The asparagus was wrapped in prosciutto and grilled.  The tops of the asparagus were a bit burnt, and the tops are my favorite part, so I was a bit disappointed about that, but the prosciutto added a nice salty bite to the asparagus.  The mushrooms were tender and flavorful, and the beans were cooked perfectly with a nice crunch and great flavor.

Overall, I thought the food was fantastic, and the open kitchen made the dining experience entertaining and educational for a foodie like me.  I know good things come to those who wait, but we got the first reservation of the day on purpose so we would get quick service, were the first ones in the restaurant and still had a long wait.  I guess the message here is to expect to be there for a couple hours.  If you don’t have that much time, you are better off somewhere else.  If you have time time and are in Calgary, I’d recommend Mercato…you won’t be disappointed.

Some other great restaurants I’d recommend:

Maxwell’s  – Fargo, ND
Dametra Cafe – Carmel, CA
Grasing’s – Carmel, CA

 

Wahoo – Fun To Catch, Great To Eat

Curacao WahooI can’t say how excited I am for my upcoming trip to the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas.  We have a day of sport fishing already booked with Captain Robert Thompson of Robert’s Island Adventures.  In addition to that, we also have our own boat reserved for a day of jumping from beach to beach as well as some reef fishing mixed in.  Hoping to also get another day of fishing/spearing in if possible.  Look for a post or two from that trip in the near future.  Hopefully there will be some great pictures of monster Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and if I’m lucky a a Marlin or Tuna.

Thinking about my upcoming trip got me thinking about my last trip that involved some sport fishing.  I was down in Curacao, which is part of the Netherlands Antilles just north of Venezuela.  I spent a day on the sportfishing boat “Second Chance” targeting Wahoo, and I was fortunate to hook up with the first and only Wahoo of my life (hopefully that will change soon).  We ran a variety of baits on the spread, but the Ballyhoo (I think) was on the majority of the lines, and that is also the bait that produced my fish.  The crew on the Second Chance was great and we had a good time.  I wish we would have gotten into more fish, but that’s how it goes.

Here are some pictures from the trip:

Second Chance Fishing Charter Curacao

Second Chace Sportfishing Boat

Ballyhoo

Getting the Ballyhoo all ready to go

Deep sea fishing in Curacao

Lines are all set

Curacao Wahoo

My first Wahoo!

Cleaning the Wahoo

That is going to be some good eating!

We stayed at the Scuba Lodge in Curacao for our 10 year anniversary.  It was a fantastic bed and breakfast, and they took fantastic care of us.  I would recommend them to anyone!  The accommodations were great, and the staff was absolutely fantastic!

After catching my Wahoo, they let me have the run of their kitchen to make an anniversary dinner for Ann.  It was a fantastic time, and we had a fantastic dinner.  The starter consisted of Wahoo medallions with a Balsamic reduction, and the main course was Wahoo tacos with black beans and salsa fresca.  What a great way to celebrate our anniversary and also my first Wahoo!

Wahoo medallions with balsamic reduction

Wahoo medallions with a balsomic reduction

Wahoo tacos with black beans and salsa fresca

Wahoo tacos with black beans and salsa fresca

Dinner in Curacao

What a great end to a great day!

Maxwells Restaurant in Fargo, North Dakota

My wife and I went to Maxwells Restaurant for our 11 year anniversary dinner.  I don’t have the budget to get there too often, but it is hands down the best food in the Fargo-Moorhead area.  Chef Mike does an amazing job blending flavors and creating beautiful, and delicious dishes. I have yet to find a dish I don’t love at Maxwells, and they have a great wine list to pair with whatever looks great on the menu.

We started our dinner out with Pan Roasted Prosciutto Wrapped Day Boat Scallops in a Lobster-Red Curry Sauce.  I have to admit there were 5 big scallops on this dish when it came out, but we were so hungry two got eaten before I got the camera out.  Oops.

The Scallops were followed by a delicate, and beautiful Marlin with a mango chutney for my wife and a Beef Fillet with chilli dusted fried onions and balsamic glazed shallots with whipped potatoes.  Delicious.

We finished the meal with an absolutely fantastic chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream.  One of these days I’ll bring my good camera with me to restaurants (if my wife will let me, she thinks it is weird to take pictures of my food at restaurants), but for now, while my pictures won’t do the food justice, I can say that dinner at Maxwells was fantastic as usual.

If you are looking for a great burger, this isn’t the place for you (go to J.L. Beers for that), but if if you are looking for the best quality food, prepared to perfection, Maxwells in Fargo is the place to go.  No question about it.

Presentation Of The Plate

I started this blog a couple months ago, but loved food long before I started blogging.  Looking through pictures from the past year, I found myself stopping on some plates more than others.  It struck me that I really appreciate how food is presented.  I guess I always knew that, but well presented food sticks in the brain, good food does two, but the combo of well presented, great food really stays with me.

For me the presentation is not just one thing.  It’s a mix of color, featuring the ingredients, the use of sauces (but not too much) and fresh ingredients all on one plate.

Here are some memorable meals of the past year.  Some were my creations, some were from great restaurants around North America.  Enjoy, I know I did.

Lunch at Dametra Cafe in Carmel California

A few weeks back I was in Carmel California for work.  A co-worker and I stopped in to the Dametra Cafe for lunch and it was such a great experience I wanted to share.  While I like Greek food, it usually isn’t at the top of my list when I’m traveling, but I had heard great things about the Dametra Cafe, so we decided to give it a try.  I’m sure glad we did.  Dametra Cafe is a small Greek restaurant that serves up some fantastic, authentic Greek food that is sure to please.

There menu includes a wide variety of Greek and Mediterranean favorites ranging from Gyros and Falafel to Kebabs, Pasta and Gourmet Pizza and Cioppino.

Some of the freshest Calamari I've ever had.

Absolutely fantastic Dametra Cafe Gyro

The staff even came out and played a song for us. The whole restaurant joined in.

Dametra Cafe is small but has a great atmosphere

Here is where all the magic happens at the Dametra Cafe. Nice work chefs!

Our meal was finished with delicious Baklava

I know that if I get back to Carmel, California anytime soon, the Dametra Cafe will be one of my first stops.

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