- Christopher Rafter
- Sep 9, 2016
- 4 min read
Chefs will tell you, always use the finest ingredients you can find. That’s sound advice, no doubt. But there is also a lot to be said for understanding those ingredients, cooking them with techniques that get the most out of each.
The special thing about this dish is how its flavors – the fragrant fresh basil, crispy fried pancetta, the creaminess of fresh mozzarella – can be coaxed into a union that delivers much more than the individual parts. The technique is really simple, we promise, it’s all in the order and the timing (if you can dump things into a pan, you’re qualified!)
We’ve made sure you don’t need to source your own heirloom tomatoes or own a truffle-hunting pig for this recipe. Everything needed here can be found in your friendly local mega-mart.
A key element of this dish is the fresh mozzarella. Normally its tendency to release liquid as it melts is a negative for pizza and other baked items. Here it’s the key to much of the flavor delivery and texture of this dish. The secret is to control the melting of the mozzarella by bringing the dish together in a controlled way. Added just before serving, the fresh mozzarella gives up its liquid to produce a silky, rich creamy sauce. It takes on the flavors of the other ingredients and delivers them with an unexpected creaminess.
One warning: The magic lasts only for about 25 minutes, which is plenty of time to clean your bowl, but make sure you perform the final step when everyone is at the table, fork in hand, ready to eat!
Pasta Diane (Pasta with Pancetta, Mozzarella and Basil)Christopher Rafter
- 1 can (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
- 1/2 lb diced Pancetta or Bacon cut into 1/4” pieces
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 lb dry pasta (tube pasta works best; Rigatoni or Penne)
- 1 lb fresh whole milk mozzarella or Buffalo-milk mozzarella diced into 3/4 inch cubes.
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves chiffonade (cut into 1/8 inch strips)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Salt for pasta water
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
- Heat your serving bowls in a 250 degree oven. It's important to start this early so they’re nice and warm, the warmed bowls are an important part of the dish coming together.
- Drain tomatoes, reserving juice. (use a strainer set over a bowl to catch the juice.) Break up the tomatoes a bit with a fork or your hands into large chunks, they will break down more as they cook.
- Add pasta to water, cook until just al dente (8-9 minutes). It will finish cooking in the sauce.
- While pasta cooks, in a non-reactive pan, sauté Pancetta (or bacon) over medium heat in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil until crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel and leave drippings in pan. There should be about 2 Tbsp of fat in the pan, if not, add more olive oil.
- Raise pan to medium. With your tomatoes ready, add 3 minced garlic cloves to the pan. In about 30 seconds, or whenever you first begin to smell garlic, add tomatoes and about ½ their juice, stir, raise heat to medium-high to bring tomatoes to boil.
- Cook the tomatoes over medium-high while the pasta cooks, break up any large chunks with the back of your spoon. Stir regularly. Keep an eye on the level of liquid, add more juice one tablespoon at a time if it starts to look dry. You want the tomato mixture to be moist and just a little loose.
- Drain the pasta, then add to pan with the tomatoes. Toss well and place back over medium heat. The pasta will absorb some of the liquid from the sauce at this point, so be ready to add more tomato juice (if needed).
- Get your warmed serving bowls ready, get your guests seated at the table.
- Add the bacon, basil, mozzarella, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the sauce; toss or gently and cook for about 20 seconds over medium heat to distribute everything until you see the mozzarella cubes just begin to melt. DO NOT leave on the heat too long, or the mozzarella will form into a large rubbery ball. The mozzarella will continue to gently melt in the warmed serving bowls as your guests are eating.
- Spoon the pasta into your warmed bowls and serve.
- Grate on some grated Parmigiano Reggiano at the table, the pasta should be plenty salty from the cooking water and the bacon.
Written by Christopher Rafter
View all posts by: Christopher Rafter
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Liven up a beautiful seared and sliced piece of steak with a zingy tomato and charred corn salsa. Steak, tomatoes and corn are of course the stars of this show. Tomatoes and corn are in season in Florida currently so you’re likely to find an abundance most everywhere. There are no strict guidelines with this recipe – just think of it as your guide. Utilize any kind of tomato (just as long as it’s ripe) and cut of steak that you’d like and feel free to go wild with additional veggies and herbs in the salsa. The only ingredient that I suggest sticking strictly too is the corn on the cob because we are grilling it prior to cutting it off of the cob and mixing into the salsa. As far as steak is concerned though, I personally recommend a NY Strip or a Ribeye for this recipe. Filets are great of course, but you’ll probably need a couple to feed more than two people. Rollin’ Oats always has a fantastic selection of organic and pasture-raised steaks available. The quality is premium of course. If you have the equipment, I recommend a sous vide bath for your steak prior to quickly hitting the hot grill for a nice sear. For a medium rare finish, we usually cook our steak (typically a NY Strip or Tenderloin) at 129/130 for at least one hour. The result is a perfectly tender cut of steak that nearly melts in your mouth. Grilled Steak with Tomato & Charred Corn Salsa This simple summer steak situation is your answer to an evening of stress free outside dinner party hosting. Gilled Corn4 ears of corn1 tbsp olive oilSteak 1 1lb steak (Like NY Strip or Ribeye)2 tomatoes (Medium in size and ripe, like Roma's – diced.)1 red onion (Smaller in size, or 1/2 of one medium in size. Diced.)1 jalapeno (Minced)1 lime2 tsp olive oil2 cups arugula1 lemon4 garlic cloves (Smashed, outer skin removed and discarded.)2 tsp salt (Plus more to taste) Charred CornPreheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and evenly bush oil onto corn and season well with a few pinches of salt.Roast corn for 40-50 minutes, or until corn begins to char. Turn corn carefully every 10-15 minutes. Allow corn to cool completely. Then cut kernels off of the cob and reserve in a bowl until ready to make your salsa.Steak & AssemblyIn a medium bowl combine charred corn kernels, tomato, onion, jalapeno, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, juice of one lime and 1 teaspoon of salt. Gently stir to combine, taste and season as needed. Set aside until steak is ready. In another medium bowl, toss arugula with juice of one lemon and a pinch of salt. Set aside.If you're going to sous vide your steak, do that first (even before the corn). I suggest a temperature of 129-130F for 1-2 hours for medium rare (skip this step if only grilling your steak).Preheat grill to 500F. Set a medium cast iron skillet on the grill and add remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil and add in smashed garlic cloves. Pat steak dry and season top side liberally with salt. Grill seasoned side-down 4-5 minutes. Season other side of steak with salt, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes for a nice medium rare.Allow steak to rest, slice and serve topped with lemon-dressed arugula and salsa. Dinner, Main Course, Main DishAmericanAbby Allen Recipes, Grass Fed Steak Recipes
In the heart of St. Pete Beach, right next to the Post Card Inn, sits Sea Grapes Wine Lounge & Light Fare. Sea Grapes is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the beach. It has an inviting feel with a couple of comfortable lounge seating areas, a large community table and a bar to sit at with the Sommelier. Sea Grapes features a menu including cheese and charcuterie boards, chef creations (sharable plates), small bites (bar bites), and desserts. There are also take out options that include catering or a full picnic set up. On the night I visited with my friends, Brianna was the Sommelier. She was knowledgeable and made sure we were the happiest with whatever wine we chose, which included several samples. We settled on the Paul D. Zweigelt, an Australian berry forward wine. Sea Grapes also serves three wine cocktails: Xalar Spritzer, Sea Grape Mimosa and a Port Sangria. I knew on top of having my glass of wine, I wanted to try one of the cocktails. Brianna told us that the Sea Grape Mimosa was their signature and a must try. The mimosa is made with fresh pressed Sea Grape juice from the beaches of St. Pete. The story goes; A woman, Heidi, who calls herself the Sea Grape Queen harvests sea grapes off (well harvests the naturally fallen sea grapes) of the trees in St. Pete Beach. She then creates her own sea grape juice and shares it with Sea Grapes. The mimosa is then made with the fresh sea grape juice and prosecco. This drink was refreshing, slightly tart, slightly sweet and the ideal post beach day drink. We decided to start off with a cheese and charcuterie board. There are three size options for the boards: single item, small board (4 items) and large board (6 items). We went with the large board and chose three cheeses and three meats. Our choices included 2-year aged gouda, Moliterno Al Vino (semi hard, wine infused sheep’s milk cheese), Secret De Scey Morbier (semi soft, funky cow’s cheese), Coppa Dolce (cured pork with pepper and juniper), Duck Prosciutto (duck, star anise and orange peel) and Wagyu Beef Bresaola (eye round, juniper, cinnamon, clove and peppercorn). The board was served with several accoutrements including: Marinated Olives – House made, slightly spicy with thyme, bay leaf and red pepper Beet puree – House made, earthy with a bit of sweetness Blackberry Jam – House made Whole grain mustard – House made, the whole grain mustard made it very spicy and earthy Sea Grape Honey – Super sweet and delicious, made by a local beekeeper Spiced Cashews – house made, palate cleanser Apricot Cherry Mustarda – house made Basket of bread – Made locally from Crumb Factory Along with our board we added two small bites, the Beer Pickled Veggies and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadews. The pickled veggies were a very unique flavor with the beer pickling it made it a little bitter along with the typical pickled tang. The Goat Cheese Peppadews were spicy/sweet from the pepper and rounded out by the creamy, tangy goat cheese. While you are dining at the bar, you can see Chef Ryan perfecting every dish. He is focused and makes sure everything is executed well. Chef told me the serendipitous story of how he became part of the Sea Grapes family. After working in several restaurants and fine dining, he and his wife moved to Florida and his wife picked up a nannying job with a family. The family happened to mention to Ryan that they were in talks with a few restaurant groups to open a new restaurant in St. Pete Beach. Ryan shared his history… and well, the rest was history. The four of them joined forces and opened Sea Grapes together. Ryan’s wife is also a big part, as she runs their marketing and social media. After having the cheese and charcuterie and watching Chef Ryan work so diligently in the kitchen, we knew we had to try some of the Chef Creations. We decided to order the Crostini Trio, Beef Tartar and Burrata. The Crostini Trio comes with three bites of each option, which includes: Whipped ricotta and n’juda topped with a roasted red pepper-tomato relish – This bite was very savory with the n’juda whipped into the ricotta and then rounded out with a sweetness and spice from the red pepper and tomato relish. Arugula pesto, sheep milk pecorino – This bite was a little bitter and peppery from the arugula and then brought to life with the fresh herbs and earthy pecorino. Beet puree, goat cheese, pistachios – This bite was very earthy from the beet and pistachio and then balanced out with the goat cheese adding some tang and sweetness. The beef tartar was completed with cured egg yolk, pickled shimeji mushrooms, beet-mustard, micro basil and grilled olive-rosemary bread. This dish was a total umami bomb, especially with the most terrific pickled mushrooms. I could have asked for a bowl of those and been happy for the rest of my days. We finished off our meal with the Burrata. While we didn’t order a true dessert, this could pass as one. With grilled peaches, blackberry gel, arugula, basil oil and speck this dish danced in my mouth and was the best way to end our meal. Sea Grapes was such a wonderful experience, made even better by Brianna and Chef Ryan. They both took the time to make sure every drink and dish was served the right way. While they were trying to shut down the restaurant, we were enjoying ourselves so much we ended up overstaying our welcome a little (maybe a lot) past closing time. This is truly a place that makes you feel like you’ve known the staff forever and makes you never want to leave.
Happy Hour Food & Drink List for Downtown, The Edge District and The Grand Central District *Please note for purposes of this list we consider Downtown up to 22nd Ave N and to 22nd Ave S out to The Edge District at 9th St (MLK Jr. St). The Edge District is also included in this list but has its own heading after Downtown. The Grand Central District also has its own heading and is after the Edge District List. This list is sorted alphabetically by districts. First Downtown, next the Edge District and then the Grand Central District are broken out at the bottom with their own headings. **Please note that while we try to keep this list up to date, some items may have changed. You can help us keep this list updated by letting us know of any changes to it by contacting us here. Thank you so much in advance!** Click here to see Happy Hours for Gulfport, Pasadena and Tyrone Click here to see Happy Hours for St Pete Beach and Pass-a-Grille Food + Drink Downtown St Petersburg *SPONSORED* Renzo’s (727) 851-9983 104 2nd St S St. Petersburg, FL 33701 Renzo’s Website From left to right: Chicken Cutlet Milanese, Albacore Tuna Salad, and Prosciutto Croquettes are just a few of many great happy hour items. Daily – 4pm to 6pm $4 House Wines $5 Sangria & Draft Beers Prosecco, and Aperitivos, Featuring Cigar City Gose and Jai Alai, Monkey Fist IPA, Stella Artois, and Funky Budha $6 Cocktails Traditional Aperitivos & Digestifs inspired by our Italian and Argentine roots, plus Margaritas, Mojitos and Caipirinhas Tapas and Montaditos Small bites and finger food made to order starting at $3. See our new Tapas and Montaditos Menu *2nd & Second (727) 388-1340 201 2nd Ave N St Petersburg, FL 33701 2nd & Second Website Everyday 8am – 4pm $2.50 Bud & Bud Light, $5 House Wines, $5 Well Liquors *400 Beach Seafood & Tap House (727) 896-2400 400 Beach Dr. NE St Petersburg, FL 33701 400 Beach Website Mon – Fri 3pm – 6pm: $1 off draft beer $8 wines by the glass $8 signature cocktails 1/2 off Sommelier Selected Sparkling wine by the glass and bottle: Crémant de Alsace Antoine Muller Crémant de Bourgogne JCB N.69 Rose Rose Sparkling Planet Oregon Franciacorta Brut Bellavista Italy Champagne Brut Nicolas Feuillatte Bites: $2 oysters $10 Bacon and Cheese Smashburger $10 Bolognese $20 pick three charcuterie boards Corkage Fee: $15/bottle *Acropolis Greek Taverna (727) 823-1010 515 Central Ave St Petersburg, FL 33701 Acropolis Website Daily 3pm – 7pm: 1/2 Price Drafts, House Wines, Well Liquors, & Signature Cocktails. All Day Everyday: 2 for 1 house Sangrias & Margaritas Other Specials: Monday 4pm – close: $5 Top Shelf Martinis Tuesday: 1/2 price appetizers and hookah Wednesday 4pm – 11pm: 1/2 price wine bottles or glasses Thirsty Thursdays $5 cocktails, whiskey, beer and wine all day 11am – 2pm Saturday & Sunday: $15 bottomless mimosas & Bloody Marys Alto Mare Fish Bar – TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS (727) 873-3427 300 Beach Dr NE St Petersburg, FL 33701 Alto Mare Fish Bar Website *Angelo’s (727) 623-9018 536 1st Ave N St Petersburg, FL 33701 Angelo’s Website Mon-Fri 4pm-10pm Sat-Sun 10am-10pm All beers range from $2 – $4 $2.50 single well liquor drinks $5.00 double well liquor drinks Annata – TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS (727) 851-9582 300 Beach Drive NE, #128 St Petersburg, FL 33701 Annata Website *The Avenue Eat + Drink (727) 851-9531 330 1st Ave S St Petersburg, FL 33701 The Avenue Website Mon-Fri 4pm – 7pm $5 wells, wines, bubbles & drafts $7 Avenue specialty cocktails 1/2 off select bites Click here for Daily Specials *Bacchus (727) 258-8566 124 2nd Ave NE St Petersburg, FL 33701 Bacchus Website Daily 4pm – 7pm $4.50/glass house selected sparkling, white, rose, red or beer $4.50 hummus, mediterranean olives, pickled vegetables, roasted nuts, olive tapenade or petite planche du chef (chef’s daily selection of cheese and charcuterie) *Bar Chinchilla (727) 827-7742 439 1st Ave N St.Petersburg, FL 33701 Bar Chinchilla Website Daily 4pm – 7pm $1 off craft drafts 1/2 off select glasses of wine – the list changes daily *Beans and Barlour (727) 440-4540 407 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33701 Beans & Barlour Website No current specials *BellaBrava (727) 895-5515 200 Beach Dr. NE St Petersburg, FL 33701 BellaBrava Website Daily open – 7pm: $3.49 Bud Light, craft & imported beer $3.99 on all well drinks (upcharges for two liquor drinks or Bloody Mary’s) $6 6oz House Wine, $8 9oz House Wine $6 White or Red Sangria Corkage Fee: $15/bottle *the bier boutique (727) 827-2691 465 7th Ave N St. Petersburg, FL 33701 the bier boutique Website Tues – Fri 3:30pm – 6:30pm $2 off all drinks & $5 Loaded Tots Other Daily Specials Monday 3:30pm – close (Dine in Only) Half price all beer, wine & liquor Tuesday – $3 Florida cans & $6 sliders Everyday 11am – 3:30pm: 25% off for service industry *The Big Catch at Salt Creek (727) 289-8080 1500 2nd St S St Petersburg, FL 33701 The Big Catch Website Daily from 3pm – 6pm $3 wells, wine & drafts All Day $5 Bar Bites Menu (changes regularly) $3 Bud Light drafts and $5 margaritas *Birch & Vine’s Lantern Lane Lounge (727) 896-1080 340 Beach Dr NE St Petersburg, FL 33701 The Birch & Vine Website Mon – Fri 4pm – 7pm 1/2 off all signature cocktails, all wine glasses $10 and under, red & white sangria $3 selet beer – Mich Ultra, Bud Light, Miller Light, Peroni bottles & Yuengling draft Corkage Fee: $20/bottle *Brick & Mortar (727) 822-6540 539 Central Ave St Petersburg, FL 33701 Brick & Mortar Facebook Page Corkage Fee: $15/bottle *The Canopy at The Birchwood (727) 896-1080 340 Beach Dr Ne St Petersburg, FL 33701 The Canopy Website Mon – Fri 4pm – 7pm 1/2 off all signature cocktails, all wine glasses $10 and under, red & white sangria $3 selet beer – Mich Ultra, Bud Light, Miller […]
I have a thing for Italian bakeshops. On a Saturday morning, there’s just nothing better than the aroma of hot coffee and fresh baked bread wafting through the air. Beautiful pastries lining the refrigerated cases, cappuccinos brewing one-by-one, and everything from eggs to sandwiches being enjoyed by content patrons – that’s precisely what you can expect the atmosphere at La Casa Del Pane to be like on any given morning. The humble bakery sits just off of Gulf Blvd in St. Pete Beach and offers parking in the back. It is a fast-casual establishment but food can be consumed both on premise (without table service) or to-go. It gets busy – quite busy – especially on a weekend for both the breakfast and lunch crowds. Therefore, I recommend planning your visit accordingly, especially if you’re stopping in with a group. Lots of seating is offered – both outside and in. Seating is also available at the coffee bar. I definitely recommend ordering yourself some goods – like pizza, a pastry or perhaps focaccia – and then settle in at the cozy coffee bar while you wait. Don’t forget to order a coffee too, of course. I had to wonder – how did it take me nearly six years to first visit this quaint bakery situated near St. Pete Beach? What a wonderfully kept secret. Not only is La Casa Del Pane an authentic Italian bakery, but I’d consider them to be quite the artisanal little grocer as well. They carry plenty of both everyday and fine wines, pantry ingredients galore, a number of dried pastas, desserts and so much more. The grab and go section of La Casa Del Pane is quite impressive with everything from beverages and a variety of cheeses to prepared items like soups and sauces and frozen desserts. I love that the offerings available makes this bakeshop idyllic for both those entertaining at a moment’s notice and anyone looking to prepare an elaborate meal from scratch. I’ll tell you what, if I were visiting and staying on the beach, this is where I would be stocking up. Not only is their food impressive, but their wine selection holds its own as well. You’re bound to find something suitable for poolside sips, evening sunsets and casual conversation alike. White, red, rosé and even a small selection of beer. When we first visited La Casa Del Pane I was almost overwhelmed (in the best possible way) – I wanted one of everything. My husband shot those dreams down quickly so I agreed to settle on a few items to enjoy at the bakeshop as well as some items to enjoy at home at a later time – and wine, of course. For my lunch I knew I wanted one of their sandwiches with their incredible fresh baked bread. The Casa Special “House Special,” immediately grabbed my attention with Sopressata, fresh mozzarella, arugula, tomato and multi-grain bread with house sauce. The sandwich is available in two sizes. Pictured below is the smaller of the two and it was more than enough for me – I was able to have half for lunch and the other half the next day. The ingredients used are simple but they are of the utmost quality which truly makes a difference. The bread was ultra fresh, warm and crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside. I wouldn’t change one single thing. Brunch was on my husband’s radar and he chose one of the specials too. The Maddalena special comes with two eggs, avocado, basil and tomato on bread with pesto served on the side. To me, this is their rendition of avocado toast – a much more sophisticated avocado toast, at that. Be sure not to skimp on the pesto drizzle as it really enhances this otherwise simplistic and light breakfast. What’s not to love about an antipasto salad? Ordering this from the menu was a no-brainer for me. Mixed lettuce, grilled eggplant, zucchini, artichoke, roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and mozzarella with a healthy drizzling of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This plate could easily feed one as a light lunch or dinner but it’s also great for sharing whilst waiting for the rest of your food to come up. As I mentioned earlier, we bought some food to take home to pop in the freezer for another time. Well, that lasted all of one day with the incredible cheese pizza that we brought home. Sticking with the theme of everything else we ordered, the pizza again proved that it doesn’t take an abundance of ingredients to transform food into something delicious – it just takes the right ones. This pizza is topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce – that’s it – and is named “La Originale.” We popped the pie into the oven and finished it with a touch of good olive oil. We were wowed by how much we loved it, especially because we’re typically thin crust folks. The size was plentiful as it fed three adults for dinner with two pieces leftover. The next time we go back we have already said that we’ll pick up a few more pizzas to keep on hand – you know, in case of emergencies. Of the two pastries that we brought home, the Lobster Tail (pictured top) was hands down our favorite! The exterior was light and flaky and the interior was perfectly sweet and custard-like – sinfully delicious. Don’t get me wrong, the Sfogliatella was good too and it was similar but inside it has ricotta and citrus fruit. If I have to recommend one, it’s definitely the Lobster Tail. The size of it in the picture is quite deceiving as this bad boy is big enough to be shared amongst a few folks. During your next free weekend morning when you’re looking to get your coffee and brunch fix, head out to the beach and see what La Casa Del Pane is all about. It’s like shopping […]
- June 16, 2022 Green Pagoda Rolls its way in to North St. Pete
In the former EBI Sushi, which was in the former Hooks on 4th St N, the visionaries behind Mangosteen in downtown St. Pete bring you Green Pagoda. If you’re not familiar with the location, Green Pagoda serves north St. Pete along 4th Street at 80th Avenue. If you know the area, you are likely aware of the void of quality restaurants. You basically only have Noble Crust. While Noble Crust is always a good go-to, there is definitely a need for more quality, and thankfully Green Pagoda has filled that void. Needless to say, as a resident of the northside of St. Pete, I was very excited for the opening of Green Pagoda, especially after having tried Mangosteen. I decided to check it out on a Sunday night after a long weekend, when sushi is usually just what I need to fight the Sunday scaries. Upon arrival you quickly notice the beautiful deep green interior décor with gold accents. The décor gives a sultry, sexy vibe while also being slightly casual. We decided to sit at the bar and were kindly greeted by our bartender, Patrick. Patrick was knowledgeable about the menu, but even more knowledgeable about the drinks and you could tell he knew what he was doing behind the bar. Before ordering any food, we chose our drinks. I decided to order the Low Hanging Fruit, which was a combination of vodka, peach, lime and ginger beer. It was well balanced, refreshing and not too sweet. My friend ordered the Elephant in the Room, mixing tequila, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, Thai basil, lime, dry vermouth and spritz. It was also very refreshing, not too sweet and a light drink. We decided to start off with a few appetizers to get the tastebuds going. We ordered spicy shrimp dumplings, veggie spring rolls and tuna tartar. Green Pagoda offers three different fillings for the dumplings: veggie, pork and spicy shrimp. We decided to try the spicy shrimp and requested them pan seared for a little crisp. The dish was served with a spicy soy based dipping sauce and the dumplings were perfectly seared with a spice level that left a little burn on the tongue but not too overwhelming. Like the dumplings, the springs rolls also have three different options for fillings: veggie, chicken and pork. We decided to go with the veggie rolls. They were so crispy and flavorful and served with a mix of sweet chili sauce and a sweet mango sauce for a sweet and sour effect. The tuna tartar was stacked with seaweed salad, large chunks of tuna, avocado, crispy crab, tempura flakes, sesame seeds and roe. The dish was perfectly balanced; slightly sweet, slightly spicy, crunchy, fresh… I could keep going, but this dish is one to experience for yourself. It was just… perfect! Next was on to the sushi. We were told by Patrick that their sushi chef has over 20 years of experience and pays extra close attention to detail, especially when it comes to cooking the rice just right. From top to bottom, we ordered the crispy salmon roll, Pagoda roll and the seared beef roll. While my friend and I typically don’t prefer tempura fried rolls, we decided to try the crispy salmon roll at Patrick’s suggestion. The roll comes filled with salmon, eel, asparagus, cream cheese, masago, sesame seeds, and scallion then tempura fried and topped with sriracha, shrimp sauce and teriyaki. And while that might sound like a lot of flavors that could overwhelm one another, it was a delicious, well balanced (big) bite. The Pagoda roll is a seaweed outside, tightly wrapped roll with tuna, salmon, escolar, snapper, crab, asparagus and cream cheese then topped with tobiko, scallion and teriyaki. The combination of all the raw fishes made this roll refreshing, with the teriyaki adding a slight tang on top. The seared beef roll was the simplest of the three rolls with spicy tuna, avocado and cucumber inside then topped with seared beef, tobiko, peppercorn, sesame seeds and chili oil. The chili oil added a good spice while the beef added a bit of earthiness. All of the rolls were well sized and I enjoyed the unique sauces that were used, as opposed to your typical spicy mayo or eel sauce. We couldn’t leave without trying an entrée, and I had been eyeing the lobster risotto since I first found the menu. The risotto was creamy and had edamame and tomato mixed in then topped with a curry sauce and a perfectly grilled lobster tail on top. This was a flavor bomb. My first bite nearly knocked me off my seat it was so delicious. It was a combination of sweet, spicy, umami and flavors I don’t even know how to describe. The rice was slightly overcooked, but the flavors were so good that it distracted. Green Pagoda is bringing just what we need to north St. Pete and with it being so close to where I live, this will be my new local hangout.
- June 2, 2022 Smash Burgers with Kimchi Mayo Recipe
Burgers – they come in all different sizes, dressed will all sorts of accessories stacked in many different ways. My favorite one of all though? A smash burger. In essence, it’s a burger in its most simplistic form with everything it needs to be a winner without going over the top. Ultra thin beef patties smashed and cooked on a ripping hot surface with crispy edges…it’s exactly as good as it sounds. Smash burgers (or often Smashburgers) were introduced to me by way of a podcast with George Motz. George has been referred to as “the foremost authority on hamburgers.” He says that all you need is a patty with American cheese and onions smashed on a hot griddle and served on a bun – simple and perfect, just as it should be. With this recipe though we are spicing things up a touch with help from kimchi and gochujang. There’s a lot of really great kimchi out there. Mother In Law’s is usually what I’m grabbing at the grocery store more times than not. Quality is superb and I have found that it’s available at a number of grocers, including Rollin’ Oats which is where I pick up mine. They also have Mother In Law’s gochugang available to make shopping for this recipe a breeze. Because the three ounce patties are small (which I prefer – much more manageable), a double smash burger is encouraged, but not necessary. Regardless of the number of patties though, a good bun is recommended. I’m a sucker for Brioche buns but if those aren’t available, Dave’s Killer Bread Burger Buns to the rescue. Smash Burgers with Kimchi Mayo Smash Burgers – I just can't get enough. This rendition uses kimchi in place of onion and a gochujang-mayo for a nice punch. Burgers and Assembly12 oz ground beef (Preferably grass-fed/organic like Simply Balanced at Rollin' Oats.)1/4 cup kimchi (Roughly chopped)4 slices cheese (Use any you like or totally omit all together. I use any organic American.)4 burger Buns (I recommend Waverly Brioche and Dave's Killer Bread – both at Rollin' Oats.)1/4 white onion (Sliced into thin half-moons.)1/4 cup Fresh Herbs (Roughly chopped. Use any you have on hand like cilantro, basil or mint.)2 tbsp oil (Like avocado, vegetable or something with a higher smoke point. You can use butter here too.)saltKimchi Mayo1/2 cup mayonaise1/4 cup kimchi (Chopped well. I use Mother In Law's brand.)1/2 lime (Juice only)1/4 cup gochujang (Add more if you're into spice.) Kimchi MayoCombine all ingedients in a small bowl until mixed well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with more gochujang, lime, salt, etc.Burgers and AssemblyPreheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear off another sheet of parchment and cut it into four even squares. Divide ground beef into four equal sized balls. If you have a kitchen scale definitely use it – each ball should be about 3oz and rolled together loosely.Heat a well-seasoned skillet of your choice over medium high heat and oil. When skillet is hot add one burger ball to hot skillet, season with a pinch of salt and lay one of the parchment squares on top. Using a spatula, smash and flatten the burger as best as you can. Remove and discard parchment and cook burger for 2 minutes – edges should be browning. Flip and repeat on second side.Cover skillet and melt cheese on top of the patty, remove from heat and set aside on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining burger patties. When all are finished, warm in the oven for a few minutes.To assemble the burgers toast your buns while the patties cook (if toasting). Spread a spoonful of the kimchi mayo on each inside part of the bun. Assemble starting with the burger patty (or patties, if opting for a double), then top with onion, more kimchi and chopped fresh herbs. Dinner, Main Course, SandwichAmerican, KoreanAbby Allen Recipes, Grass Fed Burgers
- May 2, 2022 Spiced Melon Panzanella Salad Recipe
Panzanella is a Tuscan chopped salad typically made with stale bread, tomatoes and onion and is served mostly during the summer months. The toasted bread cubes sop up the beautiful tomato juices, olive oil and lemon which makes for one incredibly satisfying bite. Feel free to use any bread of your liking -Focaccia, Brioche and Dave’s Killer Bread (as you know, this is one of my favorite brands at Rollin’ Oats) are all wonderful options for your bread cubes. One of the things I love most about this salad is that it has heft, while also remaining vibrant and fresh. Because of those characteristics, it’s a great salad for both a satisfying lunch/brunch entree or a bright pre-dinner appetizer. The combination of ingredients meshes extremely well together. Sweet and spicy Cantaloupe, fresh basil and mozzarella, crispy bread, savory prosciutto and a punch of citrus and olive oil – it’s extremely tough to go wrong. The crispy prosciutto is optional; however, it does add lovely salty and crunchy notes. At Rollin’ Oats you’ll find a three ounce package of Niman Ranch All Natural Prosciutto (currently on sale for $4.99). In Florida, Cantaloupe is in season April – June, so it’s usually quite easy to find during that time frame. Though if you’re looking to make the recipe at a time when cantaloupe is not available just simply use any ripe and juicy tomatoes that you can get your hands on. Spiced Melon Panzanella This salad has a split personality: it can pose as either a satisfying lunch or pre-dinner bite when served in smaller portions. 1 cantaloupe (Cut into 1-2" cubes)1/2 red onion (Sliced into thin half moons)8 oz mozzarella ball (Torn into irregular 1" pieces)2 cups bread (Any will do, like Italian loaf, foccacia, Dave's Killer Bread, etc. – torn into 1" irregular cubes)1/2 cup olive oil3 oz prosciutto (Optional)1 avocado (Sliced into small wedges)1/4 cup basil (Roughly chopped, plus more for garnish)1 lemon (Juiced)2 tsp salt2 tsp black pepper1 tsp crushed red pepper Preheat oven to 400F. Toss bread cubes in a large bowl with 1 tsp salt. Arrange in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes (you want bread cubes to be golden & crouton-like in texture). Remove from baking sheet and set aside.In a large bowl toss melon cubes with 2 tbsp olive oil, crushed red pepper, 1 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Refrigerate until ready to use. If using prosciutto, one slice at a time, place prosciutto slice between two paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds (or until crisp). Allow to cool and crumble in a small bowl. Repeat with remaining prosciutto slices.In a small bowl combine juice of one lemon and remaining oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.When you're ready to serve your Panzanella salad, add all ingredients except sliced avocado to a large bowl. Gently combine. Serve salad topped with avocado slices and more basil. Appetizer, Dinner, Main CourseItalianAbby Allen Recipes, Panzanella Salad Recipes, Spiced Melon Panzanella
- April 4, 2022 Lasagna Primavera Recipe
Grab a handful of your favorite in season spring vegetables and whip up this take on Lasagna Primavera. Spinach, mushrooms and bell peppers are all in season during the month of April here in Florida so I appointed them as the main characters of this dish. I chose to omit a red sauce and instead utilized only a light béchamel sauce packed with a punch of roasted garlic to lighten things up whilst still adding plenty of flavor. You can use whatever kind of noodles you want but I recommend saving yourself some extra stress and time by utilizing no boil noodles. It just makes everything a whole lot easier on yourself – work smarter, not harder, ya know? More times than not, I opt for a gluten free option. Typically, that option is Jovial’s organic no boil noodles. Jovial gluten free organic brown rice pastas are ready and waiting for you at Rollin’ Oats. I’m willing to bet that you won’t even notice the difference as the texture is incredibly similar, which is what I love most. All of the veggies, béchamel, and blend of three cheeses – mozzarella, mascarpone and parmesan steal the flavor show anyway. Lasagna Primavera Make this fresh take on lasagna on a Sunday and win lunch all week long. Any in season Spring vegetables are welcome to this party! Bechamel Sauce4 tbsp butter (I use Vital Farms which is sold at Rollin' Oats.)4 tbsp all purpose flour2 cups milk1 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepper1 tsp garlic powder ((optional – for an added punch of garlic))Lasagna & Assembly16 oz lasagna noodles (A no-boil option is the way to go in my opinion.)8 oz mascarpone8 oz mozzarella (Fresh – chopped/torn into 1" pieces)2 cups Parmesan (Grated. Plus more for serving)8 oz crimini mushrooms (Roughly chopped)4 large carrots (Peeled and chopped)1 white onion (Diced)1 red bell pepper (Roughly chopped)1 green bell pepper (Roughly chopped)5 oz baby spinachfresh mint ((optional, for garnish))1 tbsp good olive oil (Plus more for serving (optional)) BechamelMelt butter in a pot or dutch oven over medium heat. As soon as the butter has melted whisk in the flour until a thick paste-like substance is formed. Slowly whisk in the milk 1/2 cup at a time until a creamy sauce begins to formulate. Add in salt, pepper and garlic and remove bechamel from the heat. Cover and set aside until ready to use – slightly warm on the stove before incorporating into the lasagna.Lasagna & AssemblyPreheat oven to 400F. Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add in all of the chopped and prepared vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook until veggies begin to slightly soften – 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.To assemble our lasagna, begin by ladeling 1/3 of the bechamel sauce into a baking dish – evenly disperse to cover the dish. Next, lay four lasagna noodles side-by-side in the dish on the bechamel sauce. Spoon 1/3 of the cooked vegetables, followed by 1/3 of the baby spinach on top of the noodles.Now for the cheese. Dollop/spread 1/3 of the mascarpone as best as you can on top of the vegetables. Then, 1/3 of the mozzarella chunks. Parmesan is next and don't be shy with it, use 1/3 of the grated amount.Repeat steps two more times for a total of three loaded layers. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and then bake for another 25.Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to cool for 20 minutes or so before eating. Serve with more parmesan, olive oil and fresh mint. Dinner, Main Course, Main DishItalianGluten Free Lasagna Noodles, Lasagna Primavera, Lasagna Primavera Recipes
- March 11, 2022 Corned Salmon & Brussels Hash with Rice Recipe
This St. Patrick’s Day, swap out brisket for salmon to create this play on the ever-popular corned beef and cabbage. I present you, Corned Salmon & Brussels Hash with Rice. The best part about this recipe is that the cook time is significantly less – it’s allowing that salmon to hang out in the fridge with the cure that takes a bit of patience. Sure, one hour will suffice, but I recommend overnight (12-16 hours). After the cure, the salmon only needs a handful of minutes to cook before it gets added into the hash. To make this hash, all of the ingredients can be found at Rollin’ Oats Natural Food Market. There, you can always count on the product quality to be top notch with lots of local and organic products. The salmon that they sell is fantastic and found in the freezer section, along with a number of other items like wild game and various other frozen meats. If a hash isn’t quite your thing, you can absolutely keep all of the components of this dish separate. For example, you could serve a salmon filet over a bed of rice with a side of sautéed brussels and onions for an equally as satisfying experience. Corned Salmon & Brussels Hash with Wild Rice Pickling Spice1 cinnamon stick2 dried bay leaves6 cloves2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds2 tbsp coriander seeds1 tbsp black peppercorns1 tsp red pepper flakesCorned Salmon1 lb salmon filet (Skin on, wild-caught preferred)1 lemon (We are using the zest only)1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (I recommend dill and parsley)1/4 cup brown sugar1/4 cup salt1/4 cup pickling spice3 tbsp Irish whiskey (Or whatever whiskey you have on hand)1 shallot (Small in size, minced)2 tbsp butter (Vital Farms is what I use)Brussels & Assembly1 lb brussels (Washed, trimmed and halved.)1/2 medium white onion (Sliced thin)4 tbsp olive oil (Divided)1 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepperdill & parsley1 cup cooked rice (Basmati and wild rice or most any grain will suffice.)1/2 cup white wine (Use something that you would drink.) Pickling Spice BlendPlace all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind. A mortar and pestle will also work for this. Reserve any leftover spice blend for another use.SalmonCombine pickling spice blend with remaining ingredients except the butter and salmon in a medium bowl.Put salmon into a glass container or bowl skin side down. Evenly coat salmon with mixture. Place into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12.Remove salmon from the container and wipe off the rub and remove the salmon skin.Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter. When melted, add the salmon cured side down. Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes – it will have some crust and color. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool and then pull salmon filet apart into 1-2" chunks. Set aside until ready to add to hash. Brussels & AssemblyHeat a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Add onion and a few pinches of salt and cook stirring occasionally until onion has slightly softened – 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and place in bowl until ready to add back to skillet.Add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to skillet and increase heat to medium high. Add brussels, cut side down and cook undisturbed until beginning to crisp and char – 5-7 minutes.Toss and cook for another 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the wine 1/4 cup at a time to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits. Add reserved cooked onion and salmon chunks. Stir to combine in skillet and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes.Serve over warmed rice with fresh herbs and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Main Course, Main DishAmerican, IrishCorned Salmon Recipes, Easy Salmon Recipes