Recipes From the Heart No. 29

Down South, the weather will remain hot for many more weeks. Food choices work best when balanced with the season. The excitement of autumn with harvest festivals and tailgating looms near the horizon, but for now, the lazy days of summer call for fresh seafood and chilled drinks. Really good seafood is available and creative recipes showcase flavors that entice, offering a reward of satisfaction especially when we prepare these dishes and select the accompanying beverages.

Key West Shrimp Ceviche

Ceviche: A Key West Classic


1 pound large Key West pink shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tail on

2 Florida pink grapefruit, peeled and segmented, seeds removed

3 Florida tangelos, peeled and segmented, seeds removed

3 Florida tangerines, peeled and segmented, seeds removed

1 Florida sweet pepper, diced

1 large Florida avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

2 tablespoons seafood boil seasoning

1 red onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 limes, juiced

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 bag plantain chips or tortilla chips

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


Fill a medium-sized sauce pot ¾ the way with water, and heat over medium-high. Add the seafood seasoning to the boiling pot of water. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until completely done. As soon as the shrimp are done, plunge them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking and cool them off. When the shrimp are completely cool, strain them and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the citrus, sweet pepper, red onion, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro and avocado. Season the ingredients to taste with salt and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients. Serve ceviche with chips.

Grouper with Gouda Grits


Seared Grouper and Gouda Grits: Spectacular.

4 (5-7 ounce) portions Florida grouper

2 large Florida tomatoes, diced small

1 cup thick-cut bacon, chopped small

1 cup grits, coarse ground

2 ½ cups vegetable stock

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup smoked Gouda cheese, cubed

1 teaspoon olive oil

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped fine

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

½ lemon, juiced

4 scallions, sliced thin for garnish

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


Gouda Grits: In a medium-sized saucepot, add 2 cups vegetable stock and 1 cup of milk. Bring ingredients to a simmer over medium heat. Add grits and butter and let cook according to the directions on the package of grits. When the grits are cooked, add the smoked Gouda cheese and stir to combine. Taste grits and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If the grits seem too thick, add a small amount of vegetable stock or milk until the desired consistency is reached. Turn the temperature to low until the dish is ready to be plated. Florida Grouper Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the preheated pan. Lightly season the grouper fillets with salt, pepper and fresh parsley. Carefully place the seasoned fillets top side down in the sauté pan. Cook each fillet for around 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and completely cooked throughout the thickest part of the fillet. Remove the cooked fillets from the pan and add the chopped bacon. Cook the bacon until crispy, and add the tomatoes and garlic. Cook the tomato mixture until the tomatoes start to wilt and release their juices. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice and 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Quickly bring ingredients to a boil and reduce heat. Taste tomato gravy and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve the grouper over a bed of grits and top with the tomato gravy. Garnish with the thin sliced scallions.

Lobster Mac ’N Cheese

Florida Lobster elevates Mac N’ Cheese


1 pound Florida lobster, cooked and cut into medium sized chunks

3 large garden tomatoes, sliced

1 pound pasta (your favorite shape) cooked

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large garlic cloves, minced

½ cup red onion, chopped fine

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk, at room temperature

1 ½ cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (or your favorite)

1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese, grated (or your favorite)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup fresh chives, chopped fine

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup panko

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


Cook pasta al dente. Drain and set aside. Place 4 tablespoons melted butter in a saucepot over medium-low heat, add garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent. Next, whisk in flour and cook flour for several minutes. Carefully pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue to cook and whisk until sauce is smooth and thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in cheese, a handful at a time. Season cheese sauce with mustard, chives, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, to taste. In a large mixing bowl combine cheese sauce and cooked pasta then fold in chopped lobster. Lightly spray a baking dish with pan release spray. Pour pasta mixture into baking dish. Arrange sliced tomatoes on top of the pasta mixture. In a small bowl combine panko, olive oil and parsley and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Bake the lobster-tomato mac & cheese in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 10 to 20 minutes or until topping is crisp and cheese sauce is bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.derful

Sir Verde McMaster, a globally respected wine authority, guides our wine selections.

Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestion: We’re still enjoying the wonderfully light wines like Fumé Blanc. Dry Creek Vineyards offers one of the finest. Serve  chilled.

Bonne dégustation. Love One Another!

Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. |
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