Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ceviche. The Perfect Meal to Make When You Forgot to Pay Your Gas Bill.

Are you looking for a refreshingly delightful meal for a hot Saturday night? Then look no further. This popular south of the border seafood dish is a cinch to prepare. Heck, you don't even need to fire up the grill or stove.

Yes. You heard me right.

This dish requires no cooking.

But it's not sashimi.

Many introductions to ceviche recipes will tell you the scallops (or other salt-water seafood) is cooked by the lime. Well, 'cooked' is a misnomer. It isn't cooked because there's no heat applied. Instead the seafood is denatured - the protein molecules are changed by the acid in the lime juice - their nature is changed. Cooking also denatures proteins. As does smoke, salt and even air. We're all familiar with smoked, salted, and air-dried food. Think smoked hams, Germany's Rohschinken, the wide array of Italian cured meats, or that delicacy of the deep Appalachians: road-kill that's been sitting on the pavement for a couple of days.

Okay, enough of the science lesson.

Let's learn to pronounce it. For years I pronounced it as 'seh-VEE-shay, which impressed my friends (who tended to pronounce it as 'seh-vitch') but made me look like a moron whenever I ordered it in a spanish restaurant. So I'll spare you the embarrassment the next time you visit a restaurant that serves it and you'll still impress your friends with the correct pronunciation which is: 'seh-Bee-tcheh'. And no, the 'B' is not a typo.

Okay, enough of the linguistics lesson.

Let's talk about it's popularity.

This dish sort of took America by storm starting in the '80's. I'm almost positive that every major metropolitan area has a restaurant named Ceviche. In Peru, the dish is actually an official part of their natural heritage and even has a holiday declared in its honor. Which is like Maker's Mark and Kentucky, where this glorious bourbon elixir is celebrated and savored with abandon on its national holiday, which just so happens to be any day of the week that ends in the letter 'y'.

But before we dig in, remember, it's still basically raw fish, so it should be avoided by those with liver, stomach, or immune disorders. Pregnant women should probably steer clear, too.

For the rest of us? Pass that ice-filled platter of raw oysters and let's start to marinate these scallops.

PREP: 15 minutes    MARINATE: 8 hours or overnight

1/2 pound bay scallops (or tilapia for those who prefer fish)
4 limes, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tomato, diced
3 green onions, minced, including some green
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Bottled hot sauce to taste (I like Franks)
Sliced avocado and lime to garnish (optional)
Tostadas or salsa chips (optional)

1. Rinse scallops, pat dry and place in a medium sized bowl. Pour lime juice over the scallops so they are completely immersed (use a smaller bowl if necessary). Place in the fridge and marinate until the scallops are opaque (8 hours or overnight).

2. Pour off 1/2 of the lime juice from the bowl. Add the tomatoes, green onions, celery, green bell pepper, mango (if using), parsley, black pepper, olive oil, and cilantro to the scallop mixture. Stir gently. Serve in chilled margarita glasses with a some cilantro on top or even a slice of avocado and lime hanging over the rim. Serve with tostadas or chips if desired.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Where's the Beef? Why, Florida of Course!

When you think of the origins of that great steak or beef roast you had the other night, where does your mind wander? To the grazing lands in the shadows of the Rockies? The stockyards of the mid-west? Exotic locales like the Matsusaka region of Japan or the Margaret River region of Western Australia? If it did, no one would blame you. Because these areas are noted for their beef production.

But did you know Florida was right up there with them? Me neither. Until a couple of years ago.

Who would've guessed that Florida is home to four of our country's 10 largest cow/calf ranches? Or that we rank #12 in the nation in the number of beef cows? Heck, nearly half of all of Florida's agricultural land is devoted to beef production. Oh, and these ranchers are excellent caretakers of their land, providing thousands of acres important green space for both wildlife and native plant habitat.

So next time you're heading to Disney, Tampa Bay or Miami, and you find yourself cruising along the interstate or some back road and pass a herd of cattle grazing on a vast expanse of pastureland, remember the important part these ranchers play in both our environment and our diet.

And when you get home, fire up the grill and prepare this Florida feast.

Bon Appetit!

Chef Warren


Who would’ve thought that this inexpensive cut of meat could turn into a deliciously tender meal? I guess it was up to the early Florida cattlemen. And I’m glad they did. This is similar to barbequed beef brisket but in smaller portions and half the price. The important thing is to slice this very thin - it will make a big difference. Oh, and this will make more than enough for two, so feel free to use the thin slices for sandwiches. Simply reheat slices in a little broth or water so they wont dry out. Feel free to double this recipe for company.

PREP: 15 minutes
MARINATE: 6 - 8 hours
COOK: 2 hours

2 pounds chuck roast
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mild or spicy prepared salsa

1. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, oregano and garlic. Pierce the meat at intervals with a fork then rub the chili mixture all over. In the same bowl combine the red wine, vinegar, oil, and pepper. Put the meat in a zip lock bag and add the red wine marinade to coat. Refrigerate for 6 - 8 hours.

2. Prepare a grill for indirect heat. Place a drip pan next to the coals. Lightly oil the grate. Remove the meat from the marinade and place it on the grate above the drip pan. Brush the meat with the marinade. Cover the grill and cook the roast slowly, turning from time to time, brushing with reserved marinade, for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the roast registers 120° with an instant read thermometer for medium-rare.

3. Remove meat from grill to a platter and cover loosely with tin foil for 15 minutes. Slice very thin and serve with salsa.

Serve with Grilled Corn and Spicy Oven Fries