Posts from August 2015

Florida Clambake



To continue the August anniversary celebrations, Gary and I attended our friends’ Pat & Sally’s 10th anniversary party which consisted of a clambake in Cedar Key. Sally’s family is from the coast of Massachusetts, and for their wedding a decade ago, they had an epic clambake similar to the “bakes” she had with her family while growing up. Clambakes are a process: foraging for seaweed, building a mega-hot fire, and waiting for the food to steam all takes time. But the end process creates a mass amount of delicious food imbued with the smell of the earth (peaty seaweed) and taste of the water (clams) that makes for a delicious meal to share with loved ones.


Of course this being Florida, and not Massachusetts, some liberties had to be taken. But since I have never been to a true New England clambake, I didn’t know the difference.

To start this process, seaweed was gathered. Next, a hot fire was started over a bed of rocks. Up north, big rocks are apparently found all over the sea coast. Down here, however, they’re few and far between. Gary and I brought some for them from Lowe’s, but they weren’t large enough to soak up the heat. The rock base is suppose to act like a big brick oven–a big heat mass that holds its temperature long enough to cook and steam the goods. Next time, they’ll use bricks.


Three boxes with wire mesh bottoms were filled with deliciousness. The bottom box had the vegetables, which consisted of sweet potatoes, whole onions, and russet potatoes. The second box held cod wrapped in paper bags with a pat of butter, ears of corn with most of the husk left on, and sausages. The top box held the clams. The juices from one box dripped down to season the others. After all the boxes were stacked, seaweed was layered around it, and a thick cloth was put over them all. They then steamed for about an hour.


{Max, shown here, said his favorite food was clams.}

We piled all the smoked deliciousness in little bowls, and were given a ramekin of butter for dipping.

I think clambakes are like marriages. They take time and energy, but with a little tending, some good ingredients, and lots of love, the end result can create something wonderful.

Shrimp Scampi




Gary fixed the boat! Yay! (Battery issues, not motor issues, thankfully.) So we took it out to see if the shrimp were ready for eating. We found some, not many, and they were pretty tiny. We found just enough for a meal for the two of us, and the handful we had left we gave to our friends Pat and Sally since they let us use their shrimping net. Their son, Lucas, gave us a drawing in return. His art was WAY worth the trip to find tiny shrimp, in my opinion.

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I amended this recipe from Epicurious.


1/4 c olive oil
1 lb peeled large shrimp
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 c dry white wine
5 T unsalted butter
3/4 lb pasta
1/2 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes, and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add garlic to oil remaining in skillet along with red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted, and stir in shrimp. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Toss pasta well with shrimp mixture and parsley in large bowl, adding some of reserved cooking water if necessary to keep moist.

Steak with Long Beans & Tomato Vinaigrette




Tired of bean recipes yet? I am. But it’s long-bean season, so that’s what’s cooking.

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 large rib-eye steaks
1 lb beans, chopped in 2 inch sections
2 T chopped chives
3 T olive oil
4 T red wine vinegar
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 t sugar


First, get a pot of boiling water going to blanch the beans. Chop the tomatoes in half, and beans in 2 inch sections. Salt and pepper the steak. Put the beans in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then take out and put in an ice bath.

At this point, if you want to put the steak on the grill, cook them on medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes each side, depending on the thickness of your steak and the preference of how you like it cooked. The thickest part of the steak should register 130 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes.

While the meat is resting, in a saute pan, put in 2 T of olive oil, 1 T vinegar, chives, and the salt and pepper. Once warm, put in the tomatoes and beans. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the liquid thickens, about 5 minutes. Slice the steak against the grain, and serve the bean and tomato vinaigrette over it.



Long Bean, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad




It was Gary and my wedding anniversary last weekend, and we spent a lovely weekend together in a tiny fishing town in the Florida Panhandle. We took our boat, and hoped to come home with fish and scallops and other delicious things from the sea, but instead we came home with a boat motor that doesn’t work. Let’s just say our boat has not paid for itself in seafood quite yet.

However, upon return, our friends Sam and Jess who were watching our hairy dog for the weekend had dinner ready for us when we got back into Gainesville. Watching our dog AND feeding us a delicious dinner? Win win!

We left some long beans with Jess, and she whipped up this über-tasty Thai recipe by Andy Ricker. The recipe was found on Epicurious, but is added here below.


2 dried Thai chiles, soaked for 2 minutes in warm water, drained
3 small garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 lime, cut into 3 wedges
1 T sugar
1 T dried tiny shrimp
9 long beans (2 1/2 ounces) or green beans, trimmed, cut into 2 1/2″ lengths
1 cucumber, coarsely chopped into 1″ pieces
2 T Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
2 T fresh lime juice
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts


Place first 4 ingredients in a bowl and pound with a wooden pestle until mashed into a fine paste, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp; mash until pulverized and well combined, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, process in a mini-processor until finely chopped.)

Add long beans to mortar (even though the recipe didn’t call for this, you can experiment with blanching the beans before); lightly crush with pestle to bruise. Add cucumber pieces, fish sauce, and lime juice. Mix well. Add tomatoes, lightly crush, and mix in. (Alternatively, place beans and tomatoes in a resealable plastic bag. Roll a rolling pin over bag to bruise vegetables; transfer to a bowl with the cucumber, fish sauce, lime juice, and chile dressing.) Let marinate for 10 minutes. Stir in peanuts right before serving.

Indian Eggplant with Okra




My friend Erica brought me a bag full of okra grown by her next door neighbor. (You can see Erica’s picture of the farmer with his impressive okra crop here.) She also recommended this recipe, which has way better pictures than my food blog ever will. And, because I tweaked the recipe, and it turned out more gumbo than Indian, I’m going to add her ingredients and instructions verbatim. Ya win some and ya lose some, eh?


2 small eggplants (or 1 large regular eggplant)
3 T olive oil, divided
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1/2 t each curry powder
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
12 ounces fresh okra, tough ends removed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
Naan bread
Plain Greek yogurt
Jasmine rice
Lime wedges


Preheat the oven set to broil. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil on the eggplants, broil for 15 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, peel, and chop.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onions for 2 minutes, add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 4 minutes. Stir in all of the spices to coat. Add the pepper, okra, tomatoes with their juices, and stir to combine. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with any of the accompaniments listed above.

Soy Glazed Beans



Our yard-long beans are still in full force, so here’s another bean recipe for the collection.


To debunk ideas that my produce grows in a garden with pristine rows and no weeds, here’s a picture. It’s a jungle here. My beans have strangled the tomatoes, killed the cukes, and are crawling up anything they can find. My motto now is not to try to tame the crazy, but instead go with the flow. And reap the tasty rewards in the process.


1 lb beans
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T sesame seeds


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch for about 3 minutes, and drain. Put the beans immediately into a bath of ice water. In a skillet, on medium high heat, put in the olive oil and butter. Next, add the garlic, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Next, add the soy sauce. Cook until the sauce reduces slightly, and becomes thick (about 4 minutes or so). Add the blanched beans, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve either hot or cold and sprinkle the sesame seeds on the beans right before serving.

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