[UPDATED] Want a Taste of Cayman? Try the Invasive Lionfish.

An invasivore's tasty poster child: lionfish

UPDATE: Our savory dish was Lionfish Escabeche served with roasted tomato & Worchestershire (Cayman-style,) as well as pickled vegetables, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, scallion, & cilantro. The fish was quickly fried and marinated in the pickling tomato juice. Also served: Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with grits & parsley sauce, and Smoked Chocolate Peanut Butter S’more with homemade oreo-graham cracker crust, caramel sauce, peanut brittle, peanut butter, chocolate ganache, & homemade marshmallows with cocoa nibs torched a la minute. First it was the Mount Gay, Lime, & Tonic. Now I’m REALLY bummed I’m not on-island. Photos by Pascal Pernix of DART/Camana Bay can be found on our Flickr here.

There’s a new shift in the politics of food, not quite a movement yet, more of an eco-culinary frisson. But it may have staying power; the signs and portents are there. Vegans, freegans, locavores — meet the invasivores.

This excerpt from a December 31, 2010 New York Times story heralding the arrival of a new kind of sustainable diet rings especially true in the ecosystems surrounding both of our restaurants.  Case and point: Lionfish.  Native to the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, the fish is said to have been accidentally released from a home aquarium in Florida (ouch) and for the past several years has been invading the waters off the Florida Keys and Cayman Islands.  The good news?  It is not only completely safe to consume once the venomous spines are carefully removed, but it is good eats.

Cookbooks Have Arrived in Miami. Let’s Party with Hazelnut Madeleines!

Here’s a thought.  After a long productive day, settle into your favorite seat at the MGFD bar (mine is the one next to the power outlet!) with a piping hot cappuccino and a plate of Hedy’s buttery, sugar-dusted hazelnut madeleines — the crispy, chewy kind that make fingers glisten. Sip and nibble while thumbing through our display copy of MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD.  Pick something to make your friends and family for dinner.  Take a deep breath and soak in the deliciousness. The time has come to welcome Chef’s debut cookbook to the world… Cookbooks are now in-house and for sale as of today’s lunch service in Miami. So grab a coffee or a cocktail, and contemplate kicking off the party with us in New York City and South Florida during release week at the following launch events! Continue reading

Interview with Penny Parham, Administrative Director, Department of Food & Nutrition, Miami-Dade Public Schools

Tomorrow, Phillis Wheatley Elementary will discover what the future of healthy school lunch tastes like when its students are served Grilled Rosemary Chicken Chopped Salad, a recipe conceived by fourth grader Gerald Johnson Jr. in partnership with chef Michael.

And this won’t be like previous instances, where the chef has prepped healthy dishes at the restaurant for his kids participating in Chefs Move to Schools to sample.

This time, with support of Miami-Dade Public Schools Department of Food and Nutrition and its Administrative Director Penny Parham, lunch will be prepared out of the Phillis Wheatley cafeteria, by cafeteria staff using ingredients sourced from the school system supply chain which are becoming increasingly infused with produce from local farms.  Channel 10 will be there to capture it all for a segment airing during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 24 to 27.

Penny is the framer of the “Chef Partnership” program that brings together local chefs to inspire her staff and students “to elevate cooking and eating at school and to model success for students and staff in the area of culinary arts.”  On Friday she invited Michael to join fellow participating chefs Michelle Bernstein and Frank Gianetti at the district-wide Food Service Managers’ Meeting, its 2nd annual day of Health and Wellness featuring the first on-campus Farmer’s Market at North Miami Senior High School.  Getting the food service managers from all schools throughout the district together to rally behind the chefs’ positive contributions to improving the health of the community is a key component to its success.  It was a great morning, with great people — and even a moment to learn relaxation techniques.  We can all use those!

We’ve really enjoyed working with Penny, especially announcing the Salad Bars Move to Schools program with the First Lady of the United States, and wanted to get to know her a little better, like how she found her calling.  She kindly obliged our request for an interview.  I think you’ll enjoy reading her answers, below.  Keep up the good work Penny!

The chefs flanked by Penny Parham (second from right) and Erin Healy (far left) of Youth L.E.A.D., who has just been hired by MDPS to forge connections with local farmers and infuse their products into the school cafeteria supply chain.

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Recipes: Milk Chocolate Jellies with Smoked Sugar & Extreme Chocolate Almond Biscotti

This weekend is the fifth annual Chocolate Festival with Coffee & Tea at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Drool. Executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith was asked to lead a demo in the Whole Foods Market tent, and did so to a full house yesterday!

Among what we learned: pastry chefs prefer convection ovens, and Hedy’s Canadian made Doyon — instead of only circulating air in the standard clockwise direction — recycles and shoots it back counterclockwise, as well. The result? More even baking.

Make Milk Chocolate Jellies with Smoked Sugar and Extreme Chocolate Almond Biscotti at home with Hedy’s recipes below.  Let us know how it goes, and if you have any questions tweet her @hedygoldsmith or comment below.

Photos by Heidi Ladell

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[UPDATED] Michael’s Genuine Food Potluck @ Books & Books. Are You In?

This could be yours!

UPDATE: And we have a potlucky blog reader with a signed cookbook in hand. Congratulations David Sprintis! He’ll be making the Crispy Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly with kimchi & crushed peanuts. With a 10 pound slab of belly from Heritage waiting in his freezer. Money! We can’t wait.

Be the first person (other than Michael!) to have a freshly-printed and signed copy of Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat. This Friday.

In honor of the February 15 release of his debut cookbook, Books & Books Coral Gables will be hosting the author’s Miami launch party at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 19 complete with a talk and Q&A with the newly-published chef.  For the food and drink part, we decided to turn the tables and give Michael a break for once!  Instead of the author cooking, we are offering a handful of his most devoted supporters an advance copy with one caveat: Michael will assign you a dish to make at home and bring for guests to enjoy at the event.  We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate a volume that is all about sharing great meals with the people we love, than to make this a collaborative effort. (His family is not off the hook, by the way!) To thank our blog readers in Miami, we have saved a slot for one of you to get potlucky. Continue reading