Sunday, August 21, 2011


So last Sunday I drove to Atlanta for some training and the launch of the 21st. century Beetle.  I'm telling you this because Sunday is my day to cook.  I also lost my day off because I drove back Monday, so I am in withdrawal from the kitchen in a bad way.  Today I will make up for that.


I did a New Orleans take on the classic Eggs Benedict.  Last night I made Andouille, cheddar cheese grits that I let cool over night in a lined round cake pan.  First, I diced the Audouille and sauteed it in olive oil.  Next I added the water and stone ground, organic, white corn grits, and let them thicken.  Next I added the sharp cheddar cheese.  This morning I cut it into rounds, dredged in flour, egg wash, and Panko bread crumbs, and fried them golden brown.  Now how can that not taste good?  I topped the fried grit cakes with two poached eggs and covered that with a Tasso/lemon, Hollandaise.  The richness of the Hollandaise, the silky texture of the eggs, and the salty, smokey, crispy texture of the grit cakes, was incredible.  This will definitely be in the Sunday brunch rotation.  I also got to thinking about my shrimp and grits.  How about serving the shrimp and Andouille over fried, smoked Gouda, grit cakes?  That would be different.  OK, so now I have to prep for lunch.


For lunch I'm grilling chicken wings and glazing them with an apricot, chipotle, sauce and serving with homemade ranch blue cheese dipping sauce.  First after washing the chicken wings I dried them, placed them in a bowl, and drizzled oil over them.  Next I seasoned them with my Bubbaque rub seasoning.  After about an hour in the frig, I grilled them over a low charcoal fire until crispy on the outside.  The glaze is made by melting a jar of Apricot preserves in a sauce pan and adding three chipotles in adobo sauce.  I removed them from the grill in a bowl and drizzled the glaze over them, tossing as I go.  Returning them to the grill I let the glaze set and served with the dipping sauce.  Maybe I can get the wife to serve me in some orange shorts and a tank top.  Na!!!!


Tonight is steak night.  I'm going Tuscan style.  Large Porterhouse steaks marinated in garlic and rosemary and served with a lemon gremolata.  My side dish is fire roasted tomato Risotto.  First I cut some fresh rosemary from the garden and chop it with about four cloves of garlic.  Drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil on the steaks a rub the rosemary/garlic mixture in to the steaks.  Place in a zip bag and let them sit in the frig for an hour.  Grill medium rare.  To make the gremolata, I steep garlic and lemon zest in olive oil on low for about 30 minutes.  This allows the garlic and lemon zest to release they're flavors without burning the garlic.  Last I add the juice of one lemon and some fresh parsley.  For the Risotto I use canned fire roasted tomatoes.  I start with sauteed shallots and garlic then toast the Aborio rice.  Slowly add warm chicken stock a cup at a time until the rice absorbs the liquid and releases it's starch.  Slowly add more stock until the Risotto is aldente (to the tooth).  Take it off the heat and add fresh grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh parsley.  Well I think I satisfied my cooking habit for a while.

The food scene in Panama City

I have been back in Panama City for 6 years now and maybe I'm spoiled or maybe my standards are too high, but I have a problem with most restaurants here.  Lets face it.  The restaurants at the beach have a philosophy of feeding the masses, and feeding them at a reasonable price.  Quality is not part of the equation.  I have two hard and fast rules that have been true of every buffet I have ever eaten at, which includes a $60.00 a person Champagne brunch in New Orleans and Shoney's breakfast bar.  1.  You will never eat your moneys worth period.  You can't eat $4.99 worth of grits and eggs or $60.00 worth of Champagne and prime rib.  Buffets make money.  2.  When you cook in bulk as apposed to cooking per order the quality looses.  I remember Capt Anderson's when it was small and the food was good.  Now they are feeding hoards of people and as I said, when you cook for the masses, and not per order, the quality will always suffer.  I don't like the noise and I don't like the food.  Angelo's used to be a place where you got a good steak (not a Ruth's Chris) but a decent steak, cooked over real wood.  Now with the size of the restaurant and the size of the crowds, I prefer Outback if I have to have steak out.  Montego Bay's "fresh catch of the day" is Talapia.  Really?  Really?  I guess we haven't shaken that redneck riviera persona yet, despite those new high rise Miami style condos.  The food here has no personality, no style.  The French, Spanish, Native Americans, and the African Slaves have contributed to Cajun and Creole cuisine.  The Spanish inhabited Florida, but when you think of our food it is influenced more by the country cooks of Alabama and Georgia.  You have to travel up hwy 30A to find any inspired food.  In November I ate at Fish out of Water.  What a refreshing experience.  Incredible food prepared by hands who care and a chef with a vision.  Our back yard is the Gulf of Mexico for Gods sake.  We have access to fresh seafood and produce from local growers.  In the right hands this could be awesome.  I guess nobody cares.  Certainly not the tourist.  My mother has had a house on the beach since 1966.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to clean up the beach after a busy day.  I can't tell you how many times people have relieved themselves under her house, used her shower, sat on her deck at night thinking no one was home, or parked in her driveway.  Really?  Do they do that in your hometown?  If you go on the web site the number one fine dinning restaurant in Panama City is Pineapple Wiley's.  Really?  Really?????  Is that where we are.  We will never get our beach back thanks to the money hungry commissioners.  Unless we demand better, we will never get better.  If gambling is brought here we will see more high rise buildings and long buffets.  I shutter at the thought.  Come on people, wake up. 

Tonights dinner 8/7/2001

Tonight's dinner with an Asian theme.  Thai chicken satays with pork pot stickers and lo mein noodles.  The chicken strips were marinated in coconut milk, fish sauce, honey, garlic, scallions, and lime juice, grilled on bamboo skewers.  The lo mein noodles were whole wheat linguine with carrot, scallions, garlic, celery, and soy sauce.  The Satays were wrapped in bib lettuce leafs and dressed with a Thai peanut sauce.  We washed it down with some Strawberry Daiquiris.