First, imagine a place on the east coast of Florida. Early 1900s and heavy Spanish influence. The wealthiest in America are migrating in and around Daytona Beach, lead by John D. Rockefeller. All along the Halifax River and all along the mighty blue Atlantic you find beautiful mansions that are winter homes and even permanent homes for America’s millionaires – “Millionaire’s Row”. Everyone from Henry Ford to the founders of Palm Beach frequent the area and hold large parties. Many of these places still stand today and owned by a new wave of American millionaires or are simply a part of protected American history – from The Casements to The Doldrums.
If you find yourself among one of these places, Oysters Rockefeller is a great tribute to the area and the history. If you can’t be there in person, this is a delicacy that will take you there in just one bite.
Named “Rockefeller” strictly for its richness, this is a simple yet unique dish to prepare. As a bias, I of course recommend Florida oysters, but fresh oysters from any locale will do and will be your best bet.
Here’s what you need and here’s what you do:
1/3 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup celery leaves
¼ cup watercress leaves
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
4 lightly packed cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup Sambuca
12 fresh live oysters, shucked and shells reserved
Use a muddler to ground the parsley, celery leaves and watercress. Then chop the herb mixture with a sharp knife.
Toss the herb mixture in a large bowl with the fresh breadcrumbs and drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and set aside.
Place a large sauté pan over a medium to high heat and pour the olive oil into the pan. Add the shallots and sauté until just tender. Add the spinach and Sambuca and sauté until the spinach wilts and most of the juices evaporate. Once the spinach wilts, remove the pan from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Spoon 12 mounds of rock salt over a heavy, large baking sheet. Remove the oysters from their shells and set them aside on a plate. Place the spinach mixture on each oyster shell, dividing equally. Place one oyster on top of the spinach mixture in each shell. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture over the oysters, dividing equally.
Place each prepared oyster atop a mound of rock salt on the baking sheet. The mounds of rock salt will help keep the oyster shells in place and prevent them from toppling over and spilling their ingredients while they cook.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the breadcrumb mixture is golden brown. Meanwhile, form 12 mounds of rock salt on a large platter. Remove the oysters from the baking sheet and place on the mounds of rock salt on the platter and enjoy immediately.
This is a great Bahamian recipe given to me by a friend of mine who was raised in the Bahamas and whom I’ve known for nearly 18 years.
Much like Tiki Pop Culture, Bahamian cuisine is a fusion of many things – African, British, Spanish, French, Dutch and Indian to name a few. Over time, food creations evolved that are unique to the region. The Bahamas are particularly known for foods such as conch, Johnny cakes, tomato-based stews, breadfruit, callaloo, alot of great sea food and great rum drinks.
Bahamians were among the first Caribbeans to migrate to the mainland US. This happened in the late nineteenth century as many Bahamians went to Florida to work in agriculture, especially in Key West to work in fishing, sponging, and turtling industries. Thus, this great culture became infused into America’s melting pot and brought awareness to another great tropical culture.
In regards to this recipe, Grouper is a wonderful fish that is abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Many in the area regard it as the best fish you could possibly eat. They are actually part of the sea bass family and there are many varieties. The Goliath Grouper may be the most fascinating as they can grow to about 8 ft and there have been many reports of them swallowing small sharks as food.. The Black Grouper is probably the most common for humans to eat.
One other interesting thing about grouper is that the are almost all born as females and later transform into males as they grow larger.
As for the coconut… it’s the tropics!
2 Grouper fillets
Meat from one coconut
5 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
Grate the coconut, soak in water and then squeeze the coconut shavings over a bowl to make “milk”.
Mix the salt and flour together to make a simple coating for the grouper. Cut the fillets into strips and coat with the flour/salt mix. Fry the cutlets in hot oil just to seal in flavor, then stir in the curry and garlic. Add in the coconut milk and reduce heat to simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the fish and add flour and coconut shavings to the pan to create a sauce. Stir for a few minutes and allow to thicken.
Here is a great twist on a vintage cocktail, the Tom Collins.
The Tom Collins is made from from gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water… essentially a gin and sparkling lemonade.
There is kind of a funny story about this concoction that dates back to around 1874 in New York and the surrounding states where locals would jokingly start bar conversations with visitors by saying, “Have you seen Tom Collins?” (knowing the response would be that they did not know a Tom Collins). The local would then continue the prank by explaining that a Tom Collins was talking about them and that they were “just around the corner”, in another (local) bar, or somewhere else nearby. The prank was all in fun to see how much of a reaction they could get out of the visitor. The prank became so popular it was even featured in several newspapers that year.
For this variation, we give it more of an island twist Read more…
Use Illy ground espresso. Dark or medium roast.
Fill your espresso mug 3/4 full with espresso.
Top to rim with 1 part Sambuca, 1 part Seven Tiki Rum.
Garnish with three espresso beans – an Italian tradition that represents love, luck and happiness.
Something different you may notice about many of my cocktail recipes versus others is that I often emphasize the importance of adding Angostura Bitters. Angostura Bitters is the simple, secret ingredient for making just about any cocktail a great cocktail. This is because a great cocktail is about the balance of flavors (sweet, sour and bitter and sometimes salt). Most cocktail recipes cover the sweet, the sour and the salty ingredients but they hardly ever call for a bitter ingredient. It’s the bitter flavor that often adds the final balance need to ensure a cocktail is not too sweet or too sour.
This is where Angostura Bitters comes in.
If you’ve followed my posts before, you already know something about Bitters. If not, I’ll bet you still know something about Bitters or have at least seen it around… it comes in a very distinctive bottle thanks to it’s over-sized label.
Angastora Bitters often makes all of the difference in achieving the right balance of flavors in many cocktails. This opinion is common amongst mixologists, yet it is hardly (if ever) mentioned as an ingredient for any cocktail in any common recipe you find. This is a bit odd given it is a very inexpensive ingredient you can find in most grocery stores and it really does make the difference between a good cocktail and a great cocktail.
So… use this advice to your advantage! Add a few drops to just about any cocktail you make and you’ll be surprised of the reaction you get from those you serve. They will taste the difference!
Tiramisu is Italian for “pull me up”.
It is a very popular Italian cake and for good reason. When you take a bite, the flavors just jump in your mouth, wake you up and bring you to life. Tiramisu is awesome.
There are also some terrific variations of Tiramisu… including this Tikified variation.
Tiramisu is made of biscuits (usually lady fingers) dipped in espresso and layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese. Extra flavoring is provided with liquor and cocoa.
To prepare the biscuit/ladyfinger layer (Savoiardi in Italy), you use espresso to soak them and add in some coffee flavored liqueur along with some sweet marsala wine.
Rare variations add in some dark rum and if you haven’t guessed by now, this is where my Tiki variation comes in… I use Marsala as well as some of my favorite Seven Tiki rum.
Here’s the ingredients and instructions. Enjoy:
In general, I prefer to my cocktails shaken… not stirred. However, every once in awhile, it is quite acceptable (necessary even) to use a blender.
Here’s a cool fact about the coolest blender to ever exist – the Waring Blendor:
The Waring Blendor is named after Fredrick Malcolm Waring, a popular musician, bandleader and radio-television personality in the 1930s. With his financial backing, this first modern electric blender was created. The blender itself was invented by Frederick Jacob Osius who went to Waring in regards to his invention which he had patented. With $25,000 in backing, the “Miracle Mixer” was introduced. It retailed for $29.75 in 1937.
When we’re on island
time, it’s easy to relax and enjoy life. We look forward
to waking up in the morning. We embrace the day and we feel
satisfied and at peace when we go to bed at night.
When we’re not on island time, we tend to be on a work
schedule 24/7. Read more…
Another tiki bar tradition for the holidays.
Rum is a quintessential ingredient of island food and celebration. For this recipe, the ingredients are simple, they are easy to make and full of flavor. They are sure to fill your holidays with cheer and each bite will feel like an island escape. Best of all, they require no baking!
Here’s another great recipe to bring a taste of the islands to your holiday season. It takes not much more than 40 minutes to prepare and, while some of the ingredients may seem a little odd at first, you’ll find yourself being pleasantly surprised by the taste.
It may just become a tradition in your household as it has mine.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 20oz cans pineapple chunks
3/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 cups shredded cheddar
1 pkg Ritz crackers
1 stick melted butter
Here’s what you do:
Combine sugar and flour and juice to make a paste
Add pineapple and cheese
Put in dish and top with crushed crackers
Pour butter over top
Cook 350 degrees for 30 minutes