3-4 6oz lobster tails
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Prepare butter mixture by combining butter, garlic, salt, chives, and lemon juice.
Butterfly lobster tails by cutting through the shell, removing the meat, and resting it on top of the shell.
Place in Air Fryer basket and spread half the butter over top of lobster meat. Close the Air Fryer basket and cook at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes.
Open the Air fryer basket and spread the remaining butter on top, cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
8 ounces short pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
½ of a small onion diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
15-ounce jar of roasted red pepper strips drained
1 cup prepared marinara sauce
½ teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon Smoked paprika
For the sauce: heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat until just shimmering. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the roasted peppers. Marinara sauce, oregano, paprika, and a big pinch of salt and pepper, Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and season generously with kosher salt. Add the pasta and bring back to boil. Stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked to al dente according to package instructions, about 9 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Mix well and add some of the pasta water to blend the sauce. Serve with the lobster.
1/2 head Romaine lettuce, washed and finely chopped
1 cup croutons, see recipe below
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper for garnish
1 anchovy, finely chopped or use anchovy paste
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise made with olive oil, if available
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Add the anchovy, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce to a bowl and whisk together.
Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup of olive oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified.
Place the chopped lettuce in a bowl and toss it with the dressing, and croutons. Top the salad with extra cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
2 cups cubed bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl combine the bread cubes and olive oil. Toss well to coat.
Pour the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Spread them into a single layer. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to prevent burning. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
Seafood Salad Stuffed Shells
Yield: 28 Shells
1 box jumbo pasta shells
1/2 lb. cooked shrimp
1/2 lb. lump crabmeat
10 oz cooked lobster
1/2 cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
Chopped parsley for garnish
Cook pasta shells per manufacturer’s instructions in liberally salted water.
Drain the shells and spread them out on kitchen towels to cool.
Combine the remaining ingredients to make a seafood salad. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of seafood salad into each jumbo pasta shell. Place the filled shells on a platter. Sprinkle the shells with chopped parsley.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makeup to 24 hours in advance.
1 lb pizza dough-my recipe
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
Coarse sea salt
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves or rosemary
Coarse black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Oil a 4-quart baking dish or pam.
Spread the pizza dough out in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise until the dough rises almost to the top of the pan.
Top the dough with cherry tomatoes evenly spaced over the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients and drizzle lightly with olive oil
Bake 400 degrees F for 15 -20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool and cut into squares to serve.
PanSeared Filet Mignon and Crabmeat Stuffed Lobster Tails
For the steak
2 Filet Mignons, 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
For the lobster
2 frozen lobster tails, 5 ounces each
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter, salted
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons olive oil
Thaw lobster 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator or place in a clean bowl under cool running water until completely thawed.
To make stuffing:
Melt butter in a small saucepan or saute pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Do not brown. Fold in panko, crabmeat, salt, white pepper, lemon zest, and olive oil.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Split top side of lobster shell down the center with scissors, keeping tail fan intact. Pull shell open; lift tail meat, leaving it attached at the end, and lay over top of the shell, “piggyback” style. Make a cut down the center of the meat 1/4-inch deep. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour wine into a small baking dish. Place lobster tails in the dish. Spoon stuffing over top of the meat. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the center of the oven, until the meat, turns from translucent to opaque (white).
Remove from the oven and drizzle pan juices lightly over the lobster. Serve with lemon wedges
To cook the steaks
Season the steaks with steak seasoning, rubbing the spices into the steaks. Let rest until room temperature.
Heat a small ovenproof skillet and add the butter.
Sear filets for 2 minutes on each side, until you see a golden-brown crust form.
Place the full skillet with filets onto the center oven rack to finish cooking. Place the skillet in the oven at the same time you put the lobster in the oven.
The best temperature for a filet mignon is, generally, medium-rare, which will give them a slight pinkness in the center. To cook to this temperature, your steaks should read 130-degrees with a meat thermometer before removing them from the oven. Shoot for 120-degrees for rare and 140-degrees for medium. After they’ve finished cooking, place the steaks on a plate and cover loosely with foil for about 10 minutes to rest.
1 large russet potato (about 10 to 12 ounces each)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 scallion, minced
Paprika, for sprinkling
Bake the potato early in the day. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Brush lightly with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on a sheet tray until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool enough to handle.
Slice the potatoes lengthwise and scoop the potato flesh into a medium bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell all around. Season the insides of the potato shells lightly with salt and pepper. To the bowl with the potato, add the sour cream, half-and-half, and butter and mix until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the scallion. Mound into the potato shells. Place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate if not baking right away,
Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Place in the oven at the same temperature set for the steak and lobster ten minutes before the steak and lobster.
Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.
Spinach Salad with Cherries, Walnuts And Blue Cheese
¼ small red onion, sliced thinly and soaked in water for 10 minutes, and drained.
8 cups clean spinach leaves
½ cup dried cherries
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
¾ cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350F
Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 6 minutes. Stir around and roast for another 3-4 minutes ensuring they don’t overcook. Let cool. This step can be done earlier in the day.
Combine the spinach, onion, and cherries n a large bowl and toss to combine.
Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.
Taste and add salt and pepper until it’s to your liking.
Add dressing to salad and toss to coat, gently add the cheese and walnuts and serve.
Surf and Turf
Two 6 oz. fillet mignon steaks, flatten lightly until an even thickness
2 tablespoons steak seasoning
2 tablespoons garlic butter, recipe below
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lobster Tail Ingredients
Two 4 oz. lobster tails
4 tablespoons garlic butter, recipe below
1/2 lemon cut into wedges
Salt & pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish
Air Fryer Directions ( You can use the same directions to cook the steak and lobster in the broiler.)
Sprinkle the steak seasoning on each side of the steaks. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Brush each side of both steaks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil each.
Butterfly lobster tails by using kitchen scissors to cut lengthwise through the center of the shells.
Carefully spread the shell open where you cut. Place your fingers under the meat in the shell and firmly, but gently, pull it out in one piece.
Close the shell so that the lobster meat rests on top of the shell.
Melt 4 tablespoons garlic butter sauce over medium heat in a small saucepan.
Transfer 2 tablespoons of the garlic butter sauce to a small bowl and brush the lobster tail meat with it. Season the lobster tails with salt and pepper to your preference.
Place the filets and lobster tails with the cut lobster meat facing up in the air fryer and cook for approximately 4 minutes at 390°F. Turn the fillets and cook them and the lobster for 4 minutes more.
Remove from the air fryer and top each filet with 1 tablespoon garlic butter.
Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over the lobster tail. Serve the remaining garlic butter sauce in a small dish to use as a dipping sauce for the lobster and steak.
If using thick steaks: If your steaks are on the thicker side, you may need to cook them for 1 minute longer on each side.
1 stick-8oz- butter, salted (at room temperature) diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped or pressed
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, mix all ingredients until well-combined.
Heat in the microwave on high until melted.
2 medium red potatoes boiled or baked until tender.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a small skillet. Place the potatoes in the skillet and flatten them with a potato masher. Cook over medium heat until brown. Turn over and brown the second side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed and cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Stir fry the asparagus until tender about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove to a serving plate, sprinkle the asparagus with Parmesan cheese, and serve.
Fra Diavolo is a spicy sauce for pasta and seafood. Most versions are tomato-based and use chili peppers for spice. Fra Diavolo is served over pasta with shellfish that roughly translates to “among the devil,” getting its name from the hot pepper that gives it its signature heat. It’s traditionally made with shrimp or lobster, and sometimes clams
Debate rages on whether this dish originated in Italy or in one of America’s Italian American communities. Regardless of its origins, it is popular in restaurants, but lobster Fra Diavolo is rarely found in cookbooks. I grew up with spicy shellfish pasta, especially for Christmas Eve, so here is my version. I use lobster tails because they are easier to cook with and eat with the pasta.
250g (8 1/2 oz) long pasta
4 small lobster tails, about 4 oz each, split in half down the middle lengthwise
Salt and pepper
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 (28 oz) containers chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Calabrian chili paste or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 sprig fresh basil
1 cup seafood broth or clam juice
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
In a sauté pan that will be large enough to hold the lobster and cooked pasta, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 30 seconds. Add the seafood broth and simmer for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chili paste, basil sprig, and salt to taste, or about 1 teaspoon. Simmer until the sauce is reduced about 1 hour. Add the lobster tails cut side down, bring the sauce back to a low boil and cook the lobster for about 5 minutes or until the shells turn red and the meat turns white.
Boil a large pot filled with water. When it comes to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and the pasta, and cook very al dente.
Place the lobster tails on a plate and set aside. Remove the basil sprig. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato sauce, along with a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Let the pasta simmer in the sauce, mixing it well, and making sure every strand is coated with the sauce. Pour the pasta on to a serving platter and top with the lobster tails. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
In New England, boiling and steaming are the traditional ways to cook lobster, but there’s another way. It’s called butter poaching where the lobster meat is cooked to sweet and tender delight. Butter poached lobster cooks the lobster meat slowly and gently so as not to make the meat tough. This method made for the best tasting lobster I have ever had.
For 2 servings
Two 5 to 6 oz lobster tails, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator if frozen
1 stick of butter
10 oz Sea Scallops
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Put the pasta on to cook in boiling salted water just when you start preparing the shellfish.
With kitchen shears, remove the membrane over the lobster meat on the underside of each lobster tail.
In a medium skillet melt the butter on low heat. Do not let the butter come to a boil or the butter will separate.
Once melted add the tails flesh side down and cook on low heat spooning butter over the shells once in a while for 6-8 minutes
Turn the tail on the shell side, continue basting and add the scallops. Baste the scallops with the butter for about one minute on each side.
The tails are ready when the shells are bright red and the lobster meat is firm and opaque. Be careful not to overcook the lobster. Poached lobster tails should have an internal temperature of about 140°F.
Remove the shellfish from the pan to a platter with the drained, cooked pasta.
Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice to the skillet and stir. Pour the sauce over the shellfish and pasta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve with a green vegetable or salad.
Cagliari is a province on the island of Sardinia in Italy. An ancient city with a long history, Cagliari has been ruled several civilizations. Cagliari was the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1324 to 1848, when Turin became the formal capital of the kingdom (which in 1861 became the Kingdom of Italy). Today the area is a regional cultural, educational, political and artistic center, known for its diverse Art Nouveau architecture and several monuments.
For a spectacular view, the best way to arrive in Cagliari is by sea. According to the author, DH Lawrence upon his arrival in the 1920s, he said the Sardinian capital reminded him of Jerusalem: ‘…strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy.’ Yet, Cagliari is the most Italian of Sardinia’s cities. Tree-fringed roads and locals hanging out at cafes are typical. Sunset is prime-time viewing in the piazzas and everywhere you stroll, Cagliari’s rich history is spelled out in Roman ruins, museums, churches and galleries.
Following the unification of Italy, the area experienced a century of rapid growth. Numerous buildings combined influences from Art Nouveau together with the traditional Sardinian taste for floral decoration; an example is the white marble City Hall near the port. During the Second World War Cagliari was heavily bombed by the Allies. In order to escape from the danger of bombardments and difficult living conditions, many people were evacuated from the city into the countryside.
After the Italian armistice with the Allies in September 1943, the German Army took control of Cagliari and the island, but soon retreated peacefully in order to reinforce their positions in mainland Italy. The American Army then took control of Cagliari. Airports near the city (Elmas, Monserrato, Decimomannu, currently a NATO airbase) were used by Allied aircraft to fly to North Africa or mainland Italy and Sicily. After the war, the population of Cagliari grew again and many apartment blocks and recreational areas were erected in new residential districts, often with poor planning.
Cagliari is one of the “greenest” Italian cities and its mild climate allows the growth of numerous subtropical plants. The province has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and very mild winters. The city of Cagliari boasts a long coastline of eight miles and the Poetto, is the most popular beach.
Excellent wines can be found in the province, such as Cannonau, Nuragus, Nasco, Monica, Moscau, Girò and Malvasia, which are produced in the nearby vineyards of the Campidano plain.
Cagliari has some unique culinary traditions. Unlike the rest of the island, its cuisine is mostly based on the wide variety of locally available seafood. Although it is possible to trace culinary influences from Catalan, Sicily and Genoa, Cagliaritan food has a distinctive and unique character. Sardinians prefer barbecued fish (gilt-heads, striped bream, sea bass, red mullet, grey mullet and eels), while spiny lobsters, crayfish, small squid and clams are used in making pasta sauces and risottos.
Cagliari cuisine has numerous recipes for “pesce in carpaccio” or “pesce in burrida”. “Burrida” is fish and it is cooked in tomato sauce and vinegar or in a green sauce with walnuts. There are also numerous recipes for “gnocchetti” known as “malloreddus”, a type of passta which are different in size, color and taste because of the use of saffron and vegetables but they are all served “alla campidanese” with lots of tomato sauce, chopped sausage and grated Pecorino cheese.
Cagliari Style Lobster Salad
Lobster, which is called aragosta in Cagliari, is smaller, clawless and sweeter than New England lobster.
- 1/2 pound cooked lobster tail meat
- 10 cherry tomatoes, stemmed, washed and cut in half
- 1 tablespoon finely minced Italian parsley
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Whole arugula leaves, washed and dried, optional
Cut the lobster meat up into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Gently mix in the tomatoes, parsley and lemon zest.
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the lobster mixture and toss gently with two spoons.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, allow enough time for the lobster mixture to come to room temperature.
Line serving plates with arugula leaves, if using. Divide the lobster mixture evenly and spoon into the center of each plate.
Cagliari Style Pasta with Sardines
- 1 large fennel bulb (1 1/4 lb) and fronds, trimmed and chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 (3 3/4- to 4 3/8-ounce) cans sardines in oil, drained
- 1 pound perciatelli or spaghetti pasta
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs, toasted and tossed with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and salt to taste
Finely chop the fennel bulb and fronds.
Combine the saffron, raisins and wine in a mixing bowl.
Cook the onion, fennel bulb and seeds in oil with salt to taste in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the wine mixture and half of the sardines, breaking sardines up with a fork; simmer 1 minute.
While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta in a 6 to 8 quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander.
Toss the hot pasta in a serving bowl with the fennel sauce, remaining sardines, fennel fronds, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste. Add the bread crumbs and toss again.
Cagliari Style Clams with Fregola
Fregola is a pebble-shaped pasta that is formed by hand and then lightly toasted until golden. Fregola comes in small, medium and large grains and is available at specialty markets. This is a very popular dish in Sardinia.
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup fregola
- 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped
- Slices of Italian bread, toasted
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil.
Stir in the fregola, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 17 minutes.
Add the clams to the skillet in a single layer. Cover the pan and cook over moderately high heat until the clams open, about 4 minutes.
Discard any clams that do not open. Season the fregola with salt and pepper.
Spoon the fregola, clams and broth into shallow serving bowls.
Sprinkle with the coarsely chopped parsley and serve with toasted Italian bread.
- 1 lb dough
- Chopped fresh tomato
- Sliced mozzarella cheese
- Grated Pecorino cheese
- Sliced Sardinian sausage
- Thinly sliced onion and artichoke hearts, optional
- Italian green and black olives and a few capers
- Oregano and fresh basil
Spread the dough in a pan.
Add a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.
Add slices of sausage, olives, capers, onion and artichokes, if using.
Sprinkle with Pecorino cheese and top with chopped tomato.
Bake in the oven at 300 degrees F until the edges are golden.
Remove the pizza from the oven and add a few leaves of fresh basil and oregano. Cut into serving pieces.
A favorite destination for Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, and many more, Key West is known for its palm lined streets, gingerbread architecture, water sports, and for “the” freshest locally caught fish. With a distinct mixture of cultures, the island is not only home to a strong seafood scene, but to a tantalizing fusion of cuisines. At night, the streets are lit with vibrant sidewalk cafes that lure in passersby’s with the delicious scents of their specialties. Live music and hopping bars are the perfect pairings to watch the sunset into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personality and attractions that make visitors feel like they are a world away. The southernmost paradise, Key West, is just miles from Cuba and is home to an enviable temperate climate and a delicious array of fresh seafood set to a beautiful sea backdrop. Bringing together a multitude of cultures that have made Key West home during its history, Key West’s food scene has delicious flavors, like African and Cuban, that are difficult to find anywhere else in the US.
As a guide to the restaurant and seafood landscape, Paul Menta can tell you all there is to know about the area. A professional chef, community advocate, and pro kite surfer, Paul is the perfect person to tell you about the best secret dining spots in Key West. The Philly native began his culinary career in Spain and France and eventually came to Key West to continue his love for competitive kite surfing. An athlete, distiller, chef, and entrepreneur, Paul has made it his mission to tap into all that Key West has to offer.
His most recent venture, Three Hands Fish, is a community supported fish market in Key West. Its members, chefs and home cooks, have access to the freshest fish, shrimp, stone crabs, oysters, and lobster that come to the docks each day. As Paul describes it,” the first hand is the hand of the fisherman, the second the market, and the third is when the fish makes it into the hands of the individual or restaurant”. Paul is proud of his market as it brings local, traceable seafood to the people with plenty of variety, thus avoiding over fishing a specific species.
Key West has seafood unlike anywhere in the world and the crucial ingredient is the water. The Gulf of Mexico mixes with the Atlantic ocean making a perfect nursery for a plethora of fish, crab, and lobster. The fishermen of the region have come together to create a sustainable plan for the future of their industry, naturally controlling over-producing populations that threaten to take over the ecosystem. “Not only are visitors able to jump on the boat for themselves and go fishing in some of the clearest waters, but they are able to sit back and relax, knowing they can find the same fresh fish in local restaurants,” says Paul.
If you are looking for a taste of the freshest seafood right on the dock, Paul suggests visiting The Stone Crab restaurant. This restaurant serves up some of the best of what Key West is known for, the stone crab, but they also do it in a stunning setting with an unbeatable view of the water. Housed in a resort built in 1956, the restaurant keeps alive the tradition of the fishermen bringing their catches straight to their dock, something that is no longer happening in other areas. And if you are looking for a place to stay, Paul recommends Ibis Bay Resort, home to The Stone Crab, which has a retro feel. Stop in for fun cocktails and great seafood that the restaurant catches themselves. Head here for stone crab, lobster, Key West shrimp, and more local fish. Be ready for a good time at The Stone Crab!
For the die-hard cooks, go for a ride on a private charter to catch the freshest fish for yourself. Paul recommends Lucky Fleet, chartered by Captain Moe, to take you on this adventure and help guide you in hooking the best seasonable seafood. Moe has been fishing the waters around Key West for over 30 years and knows his way around. Whether you are an avid deep-sea fisherman or fisher-woman or this is your first time, Captain Moe will take you on a great adventure, not just a boat ride. From sailfish to tuna to grouper, they will lead you to the right spot.
To learn how to prepare the seafood you just caught, take a class at Isle Cook where Paul himself will teach you how to cook local recipes and healthy meals with seafood. “Being a chef and commercial fisherman I can tell you there is no better teacher of how to use, care for, store, cook and eat a product than a fishermen. They have ideas and techniques that most chefs would die for….but they have to ask…..so we spread the word to them,” says Paul.
When visiting Key West, be sure to try fish you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get at home. Considered local to Key West are the Hogfish, Mangrove Snapper, and, as of late, the Lion Fish. Paul’s favorite? The Hogfish. This fish is caught by spear fishing, which is a fun challenge to try. Speared by yourself or someone else, Paul suggests serving the fish whole and he affectionately calls it the “Key West Turkey”, because it can be stuffed with lobster, onions, and herbs.
While you may have heard of Key West’s conch fritters, which is fried conch meat that is actually native to the Caribbean, Paul prefers to make grouper fritters. Fisherman of Key West are able to catch the grouper right off the coast, so this is a true local specialty. Similar to the conch fritter, the grouper is mixed with onions, carrots and a traditional Key West seafood seasoning made by the Key West Spice Company and it contains celery seed, salt, paprika, and red pepper. It is a simple preparation, but fresh grouper doesn’t need overpowering flavors. Once the batter is made, Paul fries the fish balls until golden and enjoys them in a sandwich or as an appetizer sitting by the beautiful water. You will find his recipe below:
- 1 pound grouper
- 1/2 cup onions
- 1/2 cup carrots
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Key West seafood seasoning
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons Key Lime juice
- 1/2 cup flour
- Coconut oil, for frying
Finely dice the onions and carrots and mix with the grouper.
Add the Key West seafood seasoning.
In a medium bowl mix together the egg yolk and the key lime juice.
Add the flour and mix until a batter forms.
Use a tablespoon to make balls and fry the grouper balls in coconut oil or bake them in the oven on a sheet tray until brown. Serve with your favorite dip or sauce.
To make the grouper mixture into a sandwich filling instead of an appetizer, form the mixture into larger patties or rounds and cook as described above.
Key West Inspired: Strawberry Salad with Coconut Milk Dressing
Since it is strawberry season in Florida now, I decided to make a Key West inspired strawberry salad to add to this post. I think the recipe I created is a great example of the type of local flavors, ingredients and good eating that you will find in Key West. This salad is also a great accompaniment to some wonderful grilled Key West Pink Shrimp.
- One head Butter or Bibb Lettuce
- 1 pint of fresh strawberries
- 1 ripe avocado
- Half of a large or one small cucumber, unpeeled
- Lime juice
- 3/4 cup regular coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons coconut flavored Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
To make the dressing:
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the salad.
For the salad:
Wash and dry the lettuce. Place the lettuce cups on a serving plate. Leave space on the serving plate for a small bowl that can hold the dressing.
Remove the strawberry leaves, wash the strawberries and place them on paper towels to dry.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and cut each half into one inch pieces.
Cut the peeled avocado into one inch chunks and squeeze lime juice over them to prevent browning while you make the salad.
Arrange the strawberries, cucumber pieces and avocado attractively in the lettuce cups. Pour the Coconut dressing into the bowl on the serving plate.
Guests can help themselves to a lettuce cup and drizzle some of the dressing over the salad.
Are you planning on going out for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s day this year?
You might want to reconsider. My husband and I prefer to have our special dinner at home because years ago we would go out and we were always disappointed. The restaurant charges were higher than normal and the food was not always up to expectations. The restaurant was crowded, they had lots of reservations, the staff were exhausted and we were rushed through dinner. Got to turn those tables! Some advice. Instead, stay home, cook a great meal and enjoy a romantic evening at home. Below is a special dinner you can make at home and, even with beef tenderloin and lobster on the menu, you won’t spend anything like what a restaurant meal will cost you on Valentine’s day.
For 2 divide the finished risotto in half and serve half for dinner with the lobster. Save the other half for another dinner or some great arancini. I am not in favor of making half a recipe for risotto because I think the taste is affected.
- 1 lb frozen lobster tails (about 2 medium), thawed
- 5 cups salt-free chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the lobster tails and boil over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until the lobster meat turns white.
Drain and set aside to cool.
When cool, remove the lobster meat from the shell and chop it into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
Warm the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep it hot over low heat.
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and onion and cook, about 3 minutes.
Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.
Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, half of the lobster meat and 2 tablespoons parsley.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place in a serving dish and top with remaining lobster pieces; garnish with parsley.
Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Tomatoes
- ½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, seeded tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 beef tenderloin steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (each about 4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
In a small saucepan bring vinegar to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the tomatoes into the hot vinegar reduction. Set aside.
Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, turning once.
Allow 7 minutes for medium-rare (145 degrees F) and 9 minutes for medium (160 degrees F).
Spoon the vinegar tomato sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with thyme.
Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Shallots
- 12 oz green beans, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the shallots and cook for one minute. Add the green beans and season with salt and ground pepper.
Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until green beans are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and serve.
Chocolate Crepes with Raspberry Sauce
For the sauce:
- 4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
For the crepes:
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened dutch cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 large whole egg
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Powdered sugar
Place water and 3 1/2 cups of the raspberries in a blender; cover and process for 3 minutes until smooth. Strain the raspberry puree and discard the seeds.
Place the puree in a small saucepan along with the cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar; bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside.
In a blender, blend flour, milk, cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons sugar, eggs and oil until smooth.
Heat a small nonstick skillet on medium-low flame. When hot, spray with cooking spray to coat bottom of pan.
Pour 1/4 cup of the crepe mixture into the pan, swirling the pan slightly to make crepe thin and smooth. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the bottom of the crepe is light golden brown.
Turn the crepe over and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until light golden brown. Repeat with remaining cooking spray and crepe mixture.
This should make 12 crepes. You can freeze the extra crepes for another time.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce into the center of each crepe. Fold into quarters, top with some of the remaining sauce, a few of the remaining fresh raspberries and dust each with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
Ring in the New Year in Style
Pan-Seared Salmon with Linguine
Makes 4 servings
- Four 5 ounce pieces of fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, thawed and dried
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup finely chopped, pitted green olives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Pepperoncini peppers
- Cooked Linguine
Sprinkle salmon with salt. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add salmon. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish or until fish just flakes when tested with a fork, turning once. Transfer to a serving platter. Cover; keep warm.
For the pesto:
Add remaining oil to the skillet. Add onion and dried tomatoes; cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cherry tomatoes, olives, basil, and crushed red pepper. Stir to heat through. Season to taste with salt.
Spoon tomato mixture over salmon. Top with additional fresh basil and serve with cooked pasta and pepperoncini peppers.
Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 pound domestic duck
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 small orange, quartered
- 1 stalk celery, cut up
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup orange liqueur
- ¼ cup mild-flavor molasses
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 cups blackberries
Adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse duck body cavity; pat dry. Rub cavity with the 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place orange, celery, onion, and thyme in cavity. Skewer neck skin to back; tie legs to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Brush duck with the 2 tablespoons orange liqueur.
Place duck, breast side down, on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Add the hot water to the roasting pan. Place in lower third of oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove roasting pan from oven; drain fat.* Turn duck, breast side up. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes more or until drumsticks move easily in their sockets (165 degrees F). Juices may still appear pink.
Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan whisk together orange peel, orange juice, brown sugar, the 1/4 cup orange liqueur, the molasses, ginger, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened and syrupy. Stir in 2 cups blackberries. Use a potato masher or fork to coarsely mash berries. Cover and set aside.
Transfer duck to a cutting board; let stand for 15 minutes. Discard stuffing mixture. Using kitchen shears, cut duck in half lengthwise. Cut each half between the breast and the thigh into 2 pieces. Drain fat from roasting pan. Arrange duck quarters in pan. Pour blackberry sauce over the duck. Return to oven. Roast in the 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes.
Transfer duck pieces to a serving platter. Pour any juices in the roasting pan over the duck pieces.
Makes: 6 servings
- 3 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Garlic-herb cheese, see recipe below
- 1 ounce baby arugula or baby spinach (about 1 cup packed)
- ¾ cup jarred roasted red sweet peppers, drained well and chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup purchased or homemade pesto
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken breast halves between pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each to 1/4-inch thickness.
Season one side of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Spread each breast with the herb cheese to the edges. Top with arugula, peppers, and green onion.
Press down on toppings, then roll up tightly, starting from a short end; secure with toothpicks. Brush pesto over rolls. Transfer to an oiled 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center (170 degrees F). Let stand 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks and slice crosswise to serve.
GARLIC HERB CHEESE
Stir 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed and 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed, into 3 ounces of cream cheese.
Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter
Makes: 4 servings
- Four 8 ounce fresh or frozen lobster tails
- 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup butter, plus extra for serving
Thaw lobster tails, if frozen. Preheat broiler. Butterfly the lobster tails by cutting through the center of the hard top shells and meat. Spread the halves of tails apart. Place lobster tails, meat side up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.
In a small skillet cook garlic, orange peel, and chili powder in butter over medium heat about 30 seconds or until garlic is tender. Brush mixture over lobster meat.
Broil 4 inches from heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque. Serve with extra melted butter.
Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon), cut about 3/4 inch thick
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup dry red wine
- ½ cup reduced-sodium beef broth
- 4 tablespoons finely shallots
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream (no substitutes for this dish)
- Salt and Pepper
Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; reduce heat to medium. Cook steaks about 3 minutes per side or until medium rare (145 degrees F). Transfer steaks to a platter. Cover with foil; let stand for 5 minutes while preparing sauce.
Add wine, beef broth and shallots to the hot skillet. Using a whisk, stir and scrape up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced.. Lower heat to medium low.
Stir in cream; stir in the remaining tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until butter is melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the evenly sauce over steaks and serve immediately.