Best Grouper Sandwich, Anywhere

Last week I was visiting friends in Clearwater Florida, and it was one of the best trips ever. Family, friends, and food.  The trip was especially memorable as I didn’t pay for a single meal… or drink as Charlie Sichterman picked up the tab when we met Chris Roberson at BJ’s Brew House.  I would have posted a video of this experience as well but I dropped my camera in a cup of coffee.

 Frenchy’s Still Rules

In 1981 my father and his new bride took me to the Original Frenchy’s on Clearwater Beach. Whenever I get to Clearwater I have to visit Frenchy’s, now with 4 locations on the beach. On this trip I met my step-mother at Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe. In my travels  I haven’t found a better grouper sandwich anywhere. I’m sure sentiment  has something to do with it, but in my mind there is no equal.

A special shout out to Mike Fisher (really, Fisher) GM at the Original Frenchy’s Cafe and Tony Shook, manager of Frency’s Seafood for taking time to speak with me.

Clearwater’s other claim to fame is the home of the original Hooters.

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Two Special Foods and One Weed

April 20, is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day and Lima Bean Appreciation Day. I guess once the lima bean gets enough respect it will get it’s own day.

April 20 which can also be written 4/20 and brings to mind the awareness a certain herb.  All over the country people are having demonstrations, festivals, and…and ah, what was I saying?

This is a cooking blog so I guess I could include a recipe for brownies, but instead I want to do a shout out to the SweetWater Brewing Company, makers of 420 Extra Pale Ale.  At the recent Cork and Keg Festival in White County SweetWater was one of the major sponsors and it was much appreciated.
If you’re in the in the Atlanta area this weekend it is the annual SweetWater 420 Fest.

I’ll be traveling this weekend but wanted to keep you abreast of the food days coming up.

Saturday April 21 National Chocolate-Coverd Cashew Truffle Day
Sunday April 22 National Jelly-Bean Day
Monday April 23 National Cherry Cheesecake Day & National Picnic Day
Tuesday April 24 Pigs in a Blanket Day

Ciao For Now

National Garlic Day

This makes it easy to blog. If I don’t have time to cook, shoot, edit and upload a video all I have to do is look up and see what food day it is. And today, April 19 is National Garlic Day. I love garlic and usually double up on the cloves when called for in a recipe. When I’m not sure what I’m going to cook, I just start sautéing onions and garlic and see what else strikes my fancy.

Here are two different ways to peel garlic. The first is how I do it if I only need a few cloves.

NOTE: Smashing the garlic after it’s peeled makes it easier to chop. If it’s flat and can’t roll around on the cutting board.

The second is a video that I say first on facebook for when you need a lot of peeled garlic. It  really works. You can also use this method and store the who peeled cloves in a sealed jar with some olive oil. Not only keeps the garlic fresh it flavors the oil.

NOTE: You don’t even have to separate the cloves before shaking as long as you shake hard enough.

Every Day is Another Food Day!

National Cheese Ball Day was just the beginning. It would appear that every day is some sort of food day. Literally EVERY day is some kind of food day. And some  foods have a week and others a full month! April is, National Florida Tomato Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month and what would food holidays be without a National Food Month.

The thing that is most upsetting is that I missed National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day which was April 2. I’ll be more vigilant in the Future.

And here it is April 18th and it’s not so much a National Day as much as the birthday of Animal Crackers. I don’t have any recipes with animal crackers so here is Shirley Temple singing, “Animal Crackers in My Soup,” the the 1935 film, “Curly Top.”

For a complete list of the “Food Days,” go to American Food And Drink Days.

It’s National Cheese Ball Day!

I can’t believe I almost missed National Cheese Ball Day. It’s too late to make something so I’m sharing a 30 second video I made a couple of years ago for pimento cheese. I mean if you held back a little mayo and squeezed the pimento cheese together you could make a ball.

Enjoy the video.

This is a really good recipe which you can read on my blog by clicking PIMENTO CHEESE RECIPE.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Notes

Although the cameras were’t rolling yesterday, I did manage to take a photo of this stuffed pork tenderloin before it was consumed.

Funny Motivational Speaker Rolls the Pork

The USDA says cork pork tenderloin to 145°, so why cook it to 180°? Keep it Moist.

 Some Notes, Lest I Forget:

I will be posting the complete recipe once I figure out what I did but wanted to make some notes while some details were still fresh. As with most meals I make for the first time I do some research, looking at a number of recipes. I then take bits and pieces of the different recipes and come up with something that has my personality. Although this is my recipe it’s hardly original.

Ingredients: Almost all the recipes for stuffed tenderloin include apples. Apples and pork have had a long relationship. I used one apple peeled and diced. I also used dried cherries. I saw a lot of recipes that used cranberries. Wrong season.  Instead of seasoned croutons which some recipes call for I used panko, an unflavored Japanese breadcrumb. This way I could add the seasonings I like.

Servings:  One recipe used a 1-2 pound tenderloin and said it would serve 6-8. The next recipe said use a 3 lb recipe and it serves 6. When it comes to tenderloins I always say you can’t have too much. What you don’t eat for dinner will make a great lunch the next day. I looked for a 3 pounder and found a packaged tenderloin that was 2.82 lbs. Perfect. That is until I took it out of the package and saw that it was in two pieces. Not good when you have to roll the meat around a stuffing.  I was now forced to deal with  2 seams. And where you have seams you have leakage. It took a lot of string to pull this off. And slicing was a chore. Had to reconstruct the slices on the plate to make a nice presentation. See if you can get your butcher to  get you a tenderloin in one piece.

Temperature: As with portion size the doneness of the meat varies as well.  One cook that has a very detailed tutorial on YouTube said cook to 170°-185° Another recipe said 140°-145°.  I know from my days in the restaurant business that 185° is about six degrees of separation from a charcoal briquette.  At 140° the color of the pork may scare some people who were brought up being told by their mother that undercooked pork would give you trichinosis.

From the Pork, Be Inspired website. To check doneness, use a digital cooking thermometer. The National Pork Board follows the guidance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recommends cooking roasts, tenderloins, and chops to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F., followed by a 3 minute rest time, resulting in a flavorful, tender and juicy eating experience.

When you stuff a tenderloin getting an accurate reading is a little harder. The stuffing may read a different temperature than the pork.  Insert your spot thermometer all the way though the tenderloin through the thickest part all the way to the roasting pan. Check the reading. Then start to pull the thermometer out stoping every inch to see what the temperature is. If the coolest spot is at least 140° you’ll be good to go.  The tenderloin above was cooked at it’s hottest spot 150° and turned out beautifully moist and tender. In the photo it’s looks pinker than it actually was.  I believe any temperature over 165 is going to make your meat dry and tough.

I served the dish with ginger ale glazed carrots and rice. The tenderloin was so lean there wasn’t much in the way of pan drippings to make a gravy. I took the saved deglazed pan juice from the browning of the tenderloin (before baking) added some bouillon, apple juice and port and reduced. Adding some heavy cream and reduced a little more. It was delicious but most people were done eating their pork by the time I had finished.  It was great on the rice. I’ll plan ahead next time.

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs

Not Your Grandmother’s Deviled Eggs

It’s Spring time in the mountains of north Georgia and everyone is starting to have pot-luck dinners. And if there are 20 people going to dinner 10 people will bring deviled eggs. People in the South love their deviled eggs. Your standard deviled eggs are hard boiled eggs with the yolks removed and mixed with mayonnaise, relish and other spices and condiments and then put back into the egg whites. Today I’m going to do a variation of the Southern Deviled Eggs.  This is my Lower Eastside Deviled Eggs with smoked salmon, dill, chives, shallots and cornichons.  Cornichons are gherkins, a tiny relative to the cucumber, and are pickled with dill and other spices, usually with a hint of tarragon. These are NOT your grandmother’s deviled Eggs.

This is not a blog post on how to hard boil an egg, except to say you never want to “Hard” boil an egg.  There are hundreds of recipes and YouTube videos on how to cook an egg. Let me just say that there is no one way to do it and no “perfect” way to do it. You cook a dozen eggs, 2 will give you a hard time. So If I were to give you advice it would be; if you’re going to need 10 eggs, cook 12.

The Recipe

  • 8     Large Eggs (remember cook 10)
  • 1/2  Cup or 2 ounces of smoked salmon
  • 1/2  Cup of Cooking Creme – If you can’t find cooking creme you can use mayonnaise
  • 2-3  Cornichons chopped fine
  • 1     Tablespoon pickling liquid from the cornichons
  • 1.5   Tablespoon  finely chopped chive
  • 1.5   Tablespoon finely chopped dill
  • 1     Tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1     Teaspoon ground white pepper

In a large pot cover the eggs with water (at least an inch above) and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and put them in an ice bath for a minute. Remove, crack the shells slightly and return to the ice bath for an additional 5 minutes.  Peel eggs under running water.

Cut the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks. Transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or wooden spoon. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Do not add salt at this time.  The salmon, the cornichons are quite salty. Cover the mixture and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Before you fill the egg whites taste the mixture and adjust seasoning. If it needs salt add a little at a time. A little salt will go a long way.

You can spoon the mixture into the eggs or use a pastry bag. However this mixture is very corse and you won’t be able to force it through the average decorative pastry tip.  What I’ve done in this video is place the mixture into a ziplock bag, cut off a small corner of the bag and then use the ziplock as a pasty bag to fill the egg whites.  Garnish with thinly slices cornichons or chopped chives.