Archive for September, 2015
September 10, 2015
My friend Lauren Dorsey heard me talking about fried Ipswich clams on my radio show this past Saturday and texted me about a place that serves these fried gems, and it has been open since 1993. 1993? Why have I not heard of The Casual Clam sooner? Well, as soon as I got her text on Sunday, I immediately headed over in a torrential rain storm – neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…will keep Kim Bailey from Ipswich fried clams.
It is not a bad drive (admittedly better in dry weather than hard rain) about a mile away from one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Red Mesa off 4th Street. The Casual Clam is worth the trek.
Ipswich clams bring me back to my childhood. My mom was from Boston, and whenever we would visit my aunts and uncles, our first stop would always be to secure a box of delicious fried clams right from the North Shore of Ipswich, Massachusetts.
The Casual Clam did not disappoint. They were authentic whole belly Ipswich clams – perfectly breaded and fried to perfection. I made a mistake and got the complete dinner, which came with fries, slaw, and a corn muffin. After a bowl of delicious clam chowdah, I had room for only the clams.
Every day since, I have thought about those clams – and the basket of onion rings at the adjoining table – that were almost stolen when the man went to refill his soda. One can eat indoors or out in this non-descript upscale joint – and they have lots of fresh fish (fried, baked, or broiled) and seafood including all you can eat crab legs.
Let me know when you go – send me a text (813) 928-2210 – and tell me what you think. Or better yet, I will meet you there.
The Casual Clam
3336 Dr. MLK Street (9th Street)
St. Pete, Florida 33704
September 10, 2015
Lemon bars are always such a cool refreshing treat any time of year. And they are the easiest things in the world to make…which makes them even more delicious. I like mine with lots of filling and a thick dusting of powdered sugar…so much so, I have to hold my breath or I will blow sugar all over myself.
Please remember however, you must, that’s must, use fresh lemon juice and zest for this recipe or you will be sent directly to jail without passing GO. I’ve tried many recipes for these sweet jewels – and find this one the best of all. I’ve cut them in squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, you name it – regardless how they are cut, you will love these tart-and-sweet lemon bars.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CRUST
- 2 sticks salted butter (room temperature)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
INGREDIENTS FOR LEMON FILLING
- 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (2 to 4 lemons depending on the size of the lemon)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (never ever from a bottle)
- 1 cup flour
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting bars when completely cooled
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the soft butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. On low speed, add flour until well combined. Form into a ball and place in a non-greased 9” x 13” x 2” baking pan. Press with floured hands until the dough is evenly spread building up about a half an inch up the pan.
Chill for half an hour. Bake in pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes – until lightly brown. Let cool on wire rack for 30 minutes – leave oven on.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the lemon filling ingredients until well combined. Pour into the baked crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the filling has set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into squares or triangles, take out of pan, and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Top with fresh raspberry or a combination of fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
September 03, 2015
If you are looking for an authentically good taco, look no further than Acapulco Mexican Grocery Y Taqueria on North MacDill on the corner of Cypress and MacDill. This little hole-in-the-wall grocery is one of the best finds in Tampa. The tacos are packed with flavor to the last bite.
The tacos are served in the back of a small grocery, cooked by a short round cherub-faced woman from Mexico who speaks only Spanish…how much more authentic can you get? There are only five tables in this quaint restaurant with 5 bar stools overlooking the small flattop grill where all the cooking is done.
I’m as gringo as it gets so I don’t venture too far off the reservation (or should I say the border) for I pretty much always order the same thing: 3 SOPES (fried thick tortillas) topped separately with beef, chicken, and pork, re-fried black beans, chopped onion, Cortija cheese, lots of fresh cilantro, all served with a lime wedge, red salsa, and salsa verde. I throw in a couple soft tacos for good measure.
While the overall menu is small, for the more daring palate you can also order your taco with tripe, beef tongue, crispy pork rinds, and even brains. I told you it was authentic. The bottom line is, if you want a really good taco – Acapulco Mexican Grocery is a really good place to find one.
Acapulco Mexican Grocery Y Taqueria
1001 North MacDill Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33607
September 03, 2015
When it comes to fine seafood, I am a purist…seasoning with salt, pepper, pan seared in butter allowing the true essence of the fish to shine through.
Last week, I did a new menu tasting for Carmel of dishes that will be added to the menu this October 1st. The pan seared red snapper atop Gruyere creamed spinach was a huge hit…a huge hit. You will love this recipe. We served it with our corn casserole medallions – the recipe is in our blog as well.
You will love this delicate snapper – and if you don’t feel like cooking it yourself – come to Carmel this October for this taste sensation.
- 2 red snapper fillets (skin on about 1 ½ pounds)
- Flour for dredging
- Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
- Fresh lemon
- Salted Butter
- Vegetable oil
Score skin side of the red snapper with a sharp knife being careful not to pierce the flesh of the fish. The reason for scoring is to keep the fish flat so it will not curl during cooking.
Pat the fish dry (both sides) with a paper towel. Salt and pepper both sides and dredge in flour shaking all the excess flour off the fish.
Heat a non-stick skillet on medium high heat – add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon salted butter to the skillet. When the pan is hot, place the fish flesh side down and sear for approximately 2 minutes. Do not move fish around – let it develop a nice golden brown color. Turn and finish searing for another 2 minutes.
Do not over crowd the pan. If you are doing multiple pieces of fish, do them in batches, and place the cooked fish on a baking sheet in a pre-heated oven set to 175 degrees.
When finished searing, add a tablespoon of soft butter to the pan – and drizzle butter juices over the fish with a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a sprinkling of Kosher salt. Serve atop gruyere creamed spinach. Perfect with corn casserole – which you can find a recipe in this blog.
Creamed Spinach recipe coming soon.