Monday, January 31, 2011

Hello, Dali Tortilla Espanola

The new $36 million Salvador Dali Museum opened in St. Petersburg, FL., Jan. 11 and its Spanish oriented Gala Cafe was an immediate hit.

Museum Director Dr. Hank Hine had turned to restaurateur Steve Westphal to manage the details. Steve turned to Chef Tyson Grant, who had made his Parkshore Grill, 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House and the newly opened the Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge into hot dining destinations. No surprise that Chef Grant had been awarded "Best Chef in Tampa Bay" in 2001 for his contemporary American cuisine at The Grill at Feather Sound in Clearwater.

He has put together a nifty Spanish menu for the small space and agreed to share this recipe. If you travel to Spain, you will encounter some form of this tortilla on every menu and in every tapas sampling you are likely to encounter.

Tortilla Espanola

1 large Spanish onion, sliced
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin "coins"
1 cup  extra virgin olive oil
8 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. Tabasco

Saute onions in olive oil until translucent in a 10-inch non-stick, oven-proof frying pan.
Add potatoes, salt and pepper and cook until almost fork tender.
Drain most of olive oil from pan.
Whisk eggs and cream until a smooth consistency and season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and Tabasco.
Add egg mixture to the frying pan and place back on low heat to set a crust.
Then place pan into a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until eggs are set in the middle.
Let cool for 10 minutes then invert onto a serving platter and cut into wedges.

Add some minced ham, artichoke heart, spinach or whatever else takes your fancy for a personalized variation.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Datiled Crawfish and Crab Savory

 Datil peppers have been a key flavoring and source of fiery spice in St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, for generations. Historians think they originated in Peru and were brought to St. Augustine by the Spanish who founded the city in 1565.

Wherever and whoever, the peppers add a tang to any dish. At the Hot Shot Bakery & Cafe, Sherry Stoppelbein has finally combined her restaurants, bakery and prize-winning hot sauce company. In October, she took the grand prize in the St. Johns County Fair's Datil Pepper Festival for her combination of the peppers with local seafood.

Here's the recipe.

Datiled Crawfish and Crab Savory

1 cup Cornmeal
½ cup Flour
1 TBSP. Baking Powder
1 TBSP. Dried Datil Peppers, Crushed
1 Egg (beaten)
½ cup Milk
Mix all of the above and pour into prepared 9” spring form pan

4 very ripe plum tomatoes, cubed
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 vine ripe tomatoes, washed and pureed
Pour one cup of salsa over the crust and reserve the rest.


½ lb. Drained Crawfish meat
½ lb. Fresh Crab Claw meat
1 cup Softened Cream Cheese (beaten until smooth)
½ cup Sour Cream
6 Eggs
1 cup Shredded Provolone Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Hand mix all of the above until well blended and pour over crust.  Top with reserved salsa.
Bake 350 for 30 minutes or until firm when pan is shaken. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Idiot-proof pork tenderloin

If you've never cooked before you can impress anyone with this no-fail recipe for pork tenderloin. Instead of traveling the world, I found it traveling along the Internet. My Philadelphia-based fellow travel and food writer friend Beth D'Addono ( posted a link to it on Facebook. That took me to All,, a wonderful site which had listed its Top 10 recipes of 2010.

I was intrigued and couldn't resist trying it, especially never having cooked with root beer (!) and with Florida experiencing an atypical cold snap. 

All you need are two or three ingredients and a crock pot or slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
8 servings of pulled pork sandwiches

1 2-pound pork tenderloin
12 fluid oz. root beer
18-oz. bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
Place pork loin in a slow cooker, fat side down. Pour root beer over the meat, cover and cook on low until the pork shreds easily, probably 6-7 hours depending on your cooker. Drain well.

That's it. The original recipe called for shredding the pork - you pull it off with a regular dinner fork - then mixing it with the barbecue sauce. I tried that with some of the roast but much preferred the unadorned subtle sweetness.  I used left over shredded pork in stir fries and in sandwiches with just a smidgen of mayonnaise. Both were wonderful.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Meal fit for a king

Modest manor turned royal hunting lodge and party palace, Schloss Moritzburg and its park attracts Germans as well as tourists to the rolling hills near Dresden in the Free State of Saxony.

Many spend a day touring its rooms and wandering its gardens, but I found the kitchen displays most fascinating. Especially the menus.

A summer party in 1718 required "8 adipose deer, 8 fawn, 8 roe deer, 24 hares, 30 pheasants and 50 partridges" daily in addition to fish, veal, beef and poultry.

On April 10, 1705, the following meal was brought to the table of Augustus the Strong.

1st Course
Pastry of 4 pounds of pike
Herb soup with eggs
Soup of 3 pounds of carps
Ragout of 1 1/4 pounds of crabs
3 pounds of cod
2 pounds of salmon
3 partridges
4 fried pigeons

2nd course
Entree of salads
2 pounds of salmon tail
7 1/2 pounds of venison joint
1 capon and 1 pheasant fried
42 pounds of oysters fried
1 1/4  pounds of crabs, hard boiled pancakes
14 pounds of calf's milk (thymus or breast gland of the calf) with truffle

Remember that next time cooking for a crowd or just your family has you frazzled!

To read more about Moritzburg and Saxony, go to
my blog at Travel on the Level.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Shrimp Stuffed Mahi Mahi, Oh, My

Grand Velas Riveira Nayarit's Italian-Mediterranean-inspired Lucca Restaurant was one of the standouts at last November's Puerto Vallarta's International Gourmet Festival. Chefs at the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning resort on Banderas Bay share the magic they created from this combination of popular ingredients.

Dorado Relleno de Camarones
Shrimp Stuffed Mahi Mahi over fried risotto with smoked tomato sauce

Serves 4

Fried Risotto
1 cup cooked risotto
4 TBS carrots, finely diced
4 TBS zucchini, finely diced
4 TBS cream
4 TBS grated Parmesan
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
Combine all ingredients in pan except panko and cook until blended. Allow to cool and shape into patties. Cover in panko and fry in olive oil right before serving.

Smoked Tomato Sauce
4 TBS olive oil
1 cup pomodoro sauce
2 sprigs rosemary
Warm oil to smoking point, add sauce and rosemary and cook over low heat.

Mahi Mahi
4 mahi mahi filets
12 small shrimp
4 slices Serrano ham
salt and pepper
Season fish with salt and pepper and stuff with shrimp. Wrap with ham and sear in pan. Finish in a hot oven.

phylo pastry decorations
2 TBS pesto
1/4 cup sauteed spinach
1/2 cup vegetables, julienned
1/4 sauteed mushrooms
2 TBS balsamic reduction