Summertime is upon us and we want to keep our food simple, light, flavorful, and tasty. And what could be more tantalizing than serving a couple of refreshing lobster tacos? I highly recommend using fresh cold-water lobster…never frozen.
But to do that, you must use whole live lobsters – and many don’t want to go through the trouble. Even though it is well worth it in my humble opinion because you get to use the meat from the whole lobster. It is easier than you think – just throw a live lobster or two in a pot of boiling water (with a whole lemon and a couple teaspoons of salt) for about 20 minutes – let cool – crack and chop. Lobsters 2 pound or under are typically sweeter to me.
The other acceptable way is to purchase a few high-quality lobster tails from Fresh Market or Publix. Typically, these will have been frozen at some point – but that is ok. Spread with a little butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice: broil, grill, or bake until done. Cool and chop in 1” pieces. You can do this the day before and refrigerate.
High quality flour or corn tacos – I like mine heated about 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave covered with a damp (not wet) paper towel
LOBSTER: This is not the time to skimp on the lobster – load that sucker up with lobster
Fresh roasted corn off the cobb – or you can use frozen seared lightly in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and a touch of sugar – you want a bit of char – do not overcook corn – a couple minutes on high heat will do – cool
Slices of fresh avocado – sprinkled with fresh lime juice
One of our restaurant fans, Suzy Lopez, sent me a Facebook message yesterday asking if I would share our Broccoli-Cauliflower Mash recipe. We always share our recipes. It is a pet-peeve of mine when people refuse to share recipes. And by the way, this was the most requested side dish at Bailey’s restaurant. Even beat out our luscious buttery mashed potatoes.
It actually was created by my dad. When I was around 10 years old – my mom was visiting relatives in Boston (where she was from); and one night, us 3 kids were screaming for mac and cheese. This was way before they had such stuff in a blue box. Lo and behold, my dad wanted to accommodate his “chill-ren’s” but had no macaroni. He did however have American cheese and cauliflower. He secretly put the two together, with a bit of butter – and PERFECTO – cauliflower mash. He actually told us it was mac and cheese, and we couldn’t tell the difference. Honestly. I was 18 before I realized it…just kidding on that one.
During the restaurant years, I added broccoli – and it was an instant hit. It makes a super Thanksgiving side dish.
(Yields 16 – ½ cup orders)
1 ½ gallons water
3 tablespoons salt
1 pound broccoli florets
1 pound cauliflower florets
¼ pound butter
1 ½ pounds American cheese
Bring water and salt to a full rolling boil. Put the cauliflower and broccoli in the boiling water and bring back to a boil, cook for approximately 5 minutes or until it is fork tender. You do not want to cook it so long as to discolor the broccoli – you want to keep the bright green.
Drain completely. Do not rinse. Add butter to empty pot on very low heat. Add broccoli cauliflower and layer 8 slices of American cheese at a time and stir with a metal spoon. Repeat until all the American cheese is incorporated. You want the broccoli cauliflower to have small ½” inch bite texture but not pureed.
Keep small amounts in a sixth pan on steam table…only put amounts you will need for each lunch or dinner shift. It should not sit on steam table longer than a couple hours at a time. Reheat in pot on stove on low heat, do not bring to a boil.
The ever creative, Ferrell Alverez of the famed Rooster and the Till restaurant in Seminal Heights, and his business cohort, Ty Rodriguez have done it again – with the opening of a fun new concept: Nebraska Mini Mart. And what a gem for the community. Even more, what a place to get a great bite to eat – while taking advantage of shuffleboard, ping pong, bocce, or just lounging around on the bleachers.
Yes, I’m a “Johnny-Come-Lately” to this haunt, for it has been open since September, but I’ve found that, like myself, many of my food-centric friends have yet to part-take. Big mistake…especially if you like tasty inventive food.
While the games are a fun distraction for adults of all ages – it is the food and beverages that are the true draw and make it a unique experience. Last week, I ate the most decadently delicious BLT I have ever had – bar none. It’s hard to admit, but I didn’t stop there. Chicken wings with Malaysian chili paste, onion rings with buttermilk chive ranch and Tasso bacon-bits, Messy Fries with pulled pork, queso, charred tomato salsa, avocado drizzle – and that was all one man could handle – yes, I did share.
I am already planning my next visit, for they have a boatload of inventive (and tasty) food and beverage options – plus I will take on all comers in a game of bocce. Let me know when you are going – and I’ll challenge you to a game – loser buys a snack…so bring your wallet.
Nebraska Mini Mart 4815 North Nebraska Tampa, Florida 33603 (813) 231-9522 www.NebraskaMiniMart.com Closed on Mondays Open Noon to 10pm and longer on weekends
This Summer entertain with our incredible Summertime Sangria. People ask me all the time to share our recipe for sangria. It is probably one of our most requested and refreshing drinks – a perfect pairing with a plate of paella, or even served with munchies like cured black olives, Manchego cheese, and Marcona almonds.
2 bottles merlot or cabernet sauvignon
1 cup brandy or cognac
1 cup simple syrup (1 cup sugar with 1 cup water – stir only to mix in sugar, boil until sugar is dissolved, let cool)
¾ cup Grand Marnier
1 cup fresh navel orange juice (always fresh juice)
For Sparkling Sandria: 2 cups Sprite or 7-Up, or Soda Water – blended right before serving.
Sliced navel oranges, limes, lemons, green apples, pears, peaches, green grapes, strawberries. Whole blackberries, blueberries, fresh mint.