Recipes From The Heart No. 31

Labor Day Weekend, Football & Great Food

Labor Day weekend traditionally suggests that summer is winding down, albeit reluctantly. It’s also the first weekend of college football’s kickoff, with big games literally everywhere. I live among good people whose loyalties are different than mine. Quite naturally, they align with Georgia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Alabama and other schools geographically close. The great Southern sports figure Frank Spence had deep loyalties to Tennessee and Notre Dame. Frank was Irish-American. I spent a few priceless years in Tallahassee and lived a couple of hundred yards from the stadium. FSU is part of me, my veins bleed garnet and gold and I honor the traditions of the Seminoles. Notre Dame plays FSU in Tallahassee. I’ll watch and remember my friend Frank-a decent man- who could win or lose graciously, who treasured friendship and avoided partisanship. Frank resembled the late FSU coach Bobby Bowden and actually had strangers ask him for autographs.

Frank Spence was a Tailgating wizard.

Like most football fans, Frank loved good food and knew his way around stadium parking lots sampling delicacies served by accomplished tailgaters. Here are a few favorites.

Alligator Point Artichoke & Oyster Soup

Alligator Point Artichoke and Oyster Soup


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 pint Apalachicola oysters  (reserve 1/2 cup liquid)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Dash cayenne pepper
2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
1/4 cup sherry
Fresh thyme leaves


In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat; add green onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour, stirring constantly, until combined. Gradually add chicken broth and oyster liquid. Add bay leaf, thyme and cayenne and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add oysters, artichokes, and parsley; cook until oysters curl around edges, about 10 minutes.

Stir in half-and-half and sherry and cook until thoroughly heated. Remove bay leaf before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves, if desired.

Panacea Greek Salad


1 head romaine lettuce- rinsed, dried and chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounce) can pitted black olives
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced
ground black pepper to taste


In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine, onion, olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and cheese.
Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve.

Dog Island Grouper Burger

Dog Island in the Florida’s Gulf of Mexico.

 (Lovely Dog Island lies isolated in the Gulf waters due south of Tallahassee.)


1-pound fresh grouper fillet, rough chopped
1/2 pound fresh Georgia peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 tsp Whole grain mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 Whole grain, freshly baked buns
Thin sliced red cabbage.

The Incredible Dog Island Grouper Burger

Spring Creek Tartar Sauce, see recipe

Add the shrimp to a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste. Roughly chop the grouper into pieces the size of a dime.

In a large bowl, combine the chopped Grouper, Shrimp paste, salt, pepper, onion, bell pepper, breadcrumbs, egg, mustard, and mayonnaise and fold gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Divide the meat into four equal sections. Shape each portion into a patty. Cover the patties with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Cook the burgers for 4 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 150°F. Place the cooked burgers on top of the whole grain rolls, then top with red cabbage and Tartar sauce.

Spring Creek Tartar Sauce

1-cup low fat mayonnaise
1 cup Greek style yogurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup fresh basil, leaves picked off of stems
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves picked off of stems
1-cup fresh Mexican tarragon, leaves picked off the stem
1 cup fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1 teaspoon capers, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped cornichon or dill pickle
1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

In a food processor or blender, add the fresh herbs, spinach and lemon juice, then puree. Add the mayo and yogurt and puree to incorporate the herbs. Pour this mixture into a bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sir Verde McMaster expertly pairs wines wines with our Food.

Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestion: A Rosé weekend. 2019 Villa Wolf Rosé Pinot Noir. Aperitif? Sparkling wine served cold.

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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