Posts Tagged ‘foodie’

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

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

 

Fresh From the Sea in Exuma Bahamas

It’s been far too long since my last post.  Ever since I got back from my vacation in Exuma, life has kept me too busy to keep up with my writing, so this post is long overdue.

My family took a vacation down to Exuma in the Bahamas late January/early February.  Most of our time was spent relaxing in the sun, but I managed to get some fishing in while I was there too.  We went with our good friends Eric, Liz and their two kids.  We had a couple great trips on the water.

Conch from ExumaEric’s birthday was on a Tuesday, and we had planned to do a full day of deep sea fishing through Robert’s Island Adventures.  We met up with Robert at about 8:00 at the docks.  The wind was whipping, and while he said we could go out, the forecast for Wednesday was much better, so we decided to postpone for a day.  Needless to say both Eric and I were pretty disappointed we couldn’t get out on Tuesday.  When we got back to our condo, we started talking with Harris (Sugar) Smith who was doing some maintenance on one of the units near by.  We knew that he also did his share of fishing and tours on the island, and also that his boat was on the calm side.  Well, the day turned around quickly.  Harris said he would take both families out for an afternoon on the water, and what a great time it was.

Spearing a GrouperAfter a short 15-20 minute boat ride the fun began.  Harris asked me if I had driven a boat before, and when I said yes, he jumped in the water with his mask and snorkel and told me to follow him.  About a minute later, he dove down and quickly surfaced with a huge conch.  This happened repeatedly for about 10 minutes and he quickly had a dozen conch in the boat.  A couple minutes later, he asked Eric to hand him his Hawaiian Sling (spear), and he did.  Harris was under water for about 30 seconds, and then he popped out of the water with a beautiful Grouper hanging from his spear.

Spearing LobsterAfter that adventure, Harris hopped back in the boat and drove for about 5 minutes, stopped and jumped back in the water with spear in hand.  What happened next was even more amazing for us Minnesota folks.  Harris snorkeled on the surface for a minute, dove down and this time came up with a beautiful Lobster on his Hawaiian Sling.  Lobster after lobster came in the boat, and one was a monster!

 

 

Giant Lobster

Giant starfish

Harris even brought up this beautiful giant starfish for the kids to hold. (It was quickly released after a few pictures)

 

 

Shore lunch on the fireWith plenty of great seafood in the boat, Harris pulled up to a beautiful beach on a small uninhabited island.  Our kids jumped out and started playing in the sand and Harris made a fire and got to work.  He shelled the Conch and made an Lobster shore lunchabsolutely fantastic Conch salad right there on the beach.  After making a fire on the beach, he cleaned the Grouper and the lobsters too and made the freshest, most fantastic shore lunch anyone could ever dream up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a shore lunch up on Lake of the Woods or a fresh Walleye meal in the ice house as much as the next guy, but this was amazing!

I’m already dreaming of heading back to Exuma, and Harris will be the first guy I call.  He is fantastic, and I would recommend him to anyone visiting Exuma in the Bahamas.

There were too many great pictures from our day with Harris, so here are a few more.

Speared Lobster

Watching Harris spear

The Chef's Table

On the boat in Exuma

Eric and Harris in Exuma

Hopefully I’ll have a bit more time to write.  I have some great photos from our deep sea fishing trip the next day (spoiler alert, I got my first Mahi Mahi ever, and it was a beauty), and we ate some great food too.  If you are thinking of heading to Exuma, let me know, I’d be happy to share more, just ask.

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!

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.

Beet it – Roasted Beet and Sweet Potato Recipe

Joining a CSA this year has really opened my eyes to lots of great vegetables that I wouldn’t normally buy in the store.  Not that I don’t

What a beautiful beet salad

like them, but I find myself caught in the rut of the standard veggies like broccoli, green beans, etc.  One of the great veggies that came recently was a beautiful bunch of beets.  Ever since a great meal I had in Nashville several months ago, which included a fantastic beet salad, I’ve been thinking about doing more with beets, so when they showed up in my weekly basket, it was time to give them a try.  Here is my beet recipe, which my whole family loved.

Roasted Beets and Sweet Potato Recipe

This dish was simple to prepare and tasted fantastic.  I encourage all of you to give this beet recipe a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients:

4 Beets, peeled and chopped

2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

Several sprigs of rosemary, chopped

Walnut Oil

It’s really simple.  peel the beets and sweet potatoes and chop them into about 3/4 inch cubes.  Size doesn’t really matter (yea, that’s what they all say) just a uniform size so they all cook evenly.  Drizzle the beets and sweet potatoes with walnut oil and toss evenly.  Lay the beets and sweet potatoes evenly in a glass baking dish.  Top with the chopped rosemary and put in the oven on about 375 degrees.  About every 10-15 minutes stir the beets and sweet potatoes so they cook evenly.  Done when tender with a fork.  About 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the veggies.

What beautiful color is waiting inside a beet

I found the walnut oil gives the dish a great nutty flavor that adds another dimension to the dish.  Once they are cooked through, the sweetness of the beets and sweet potatoes mixed with the nutty flavor of the walnut oil and the fragrance of the rosemary makes this a winner!  My kids even loved this one.  Hope you enjoy this simple, yet delicious beet recipe.

Next time someone says Beet It, now you know how.  Enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: