Summer Recipes Part IV: Curried Lentil Stew with Greek Yogurt

My rendition of Michael’s Curried Lentil Stew with Greek Yogurt

Michael’s cookbook is organized very much like the menu at MGFD. Recipes are divided into categories: snacks, small plates, salads, pizza, pasta, and sandwiches, large plates, and extra-large plates. Flipping through the “large plates” section though, you’ll come across a recipe that’s slightly different from the rest. Among selections like whole roasted chicken, grilled wild salmon, and mustard and molasses St. Louis ribs, there’s a recipe for curried lentil stew with Greek yogurt. This stew is not only vegetarian and affordable to make, but it’s also ready in less than 40 minutes.

Michael used to make it when he was trying to save up to open his first restaurant. But that doesn’t mean that the stew sacrifices flavor for affordability — or that he ever gets tired of making it. This is the kind of recipe that could easily be added to the home cook’s rotation of delicious, reliable dinner meals. It features hearty levels of flavor from cumin, curry powder and red curry paste — made with red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, salt, shallot, spices and kaffir lime. It also pleases with a variety of textures. The stew is topped with a dollop of cool, creamy Greek-style yogurt and crunchy chopped cashews. Once it comes together, it is pure delicious comfort. Continue reading

Summer Recipes Part III: Building a Great Salad

My rendition of Michael’s Butter lettuce salad with orange, hazelnuts, avocado and shallot-hazelnut vinaigrette

If you’ve eaten at MGFD over the past few weeks, you’ve probably observed the greening of the food bar wall where tomatoes usually hold court.  Florida avocado season is here and these succulent beauties are showing up all over the menu and in verbal specials.  That’s also your cue at home to make a great salad, one of the best and easiest ways to showcase this local ingredient in season.

Michael’s Genuine Food has a wide selection of salads with a variety of ingredients, flavors, and textures, and most importantly, the pages are laced with basic tools and tips to make them properly.  In the spirit of our new series, Summer Recipes, we’re offering a list Michael follows when building a great salad.  And with avocados in mind, Butter Lettuce salad with orange, hazelnuts, avocado, and shallot-hazelnut vinaigrette will do the trick!

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Pasture and Palmetto: New Fall Menus Aboard 150 Central Park

Pan Roasted Wild Salmon with Tunisian Chick Peas, yogurt sauce

It’s a celebration of fall flavors at 150 Central Park, where Michael continues his role as Exclusive Culinary Partner of Royal Caribbean International with two new menus beginning August 25 for the upcoming three months: Pasture and Palmetto. With South Florida’s growing season at its end, the new menus aboard Oasis of the Seas will showcase The Genuine Hospitality Group’s commitment to sourcing responsible and sustainable selections of protein, all combined with the heart-warming, enriching flavors of fall.  Chef will be onboard the Oasis for a week to implement with the team.

From Saturday night to Tuesday night, Pasture will be served. The name of the menu is an ode to White Oak Pastures, a farm based in Bluffton, Georgia that’s been raising grass-fed cattle for five generations. The farm focuses greatly on animal welfare and environmental sustainability, and continues to innovate with its most recent introduction of a free-range pastured poultry program and even a new restaurant on property.

Aboard at 150 Central Park, cruise-goers can sample a White Oak Pastures duck confit, with roasted turnips, bitter greens and amarini cherries. But, if you can’t make it to sea, you can also stop by Florida’s Whole Foods in Aventura, Coral Gables or South Beach to pick up selections of White Oak Pastures’ poultry for cooking at home. Continue reading

What’s Brewing in the Kitchen: Beer-Simmered Bratwurst & Beer Mustard

House made bratwurst ready for a swim in a pot of simmering beer broth (photo by Bradley Herron)

Chef de cuisine Bradley Herron has been busy cooking up a beer-soaked menu of snacks for a night of brews, food and film at O, Cinema on August 14 with Back Forty Beer Company. The occasion is a momentous one of course, as Michael’s Genuine Home Brew is introduced, and thus calls for its equal in food.  For Brad, this meant bratwurst, a house made sausage of pork, veal, garlic and onion.

Bratwurst dates back to before the fourteenth century, most likely originating in Thuringia in Germany. These days at MGFD though,  Brad is having fun cooking up the sausage in his favorite way. Or, as he explains it, “Cooking bratwurst in beer is just awesome”. The bratwursts are cooked in a large pot of broth with onions, beer, salt, bay leaves and thyme.

But bratwurst is always best with the cut of mustard to get through that savory, unctuous meat in tube form.  Brad’s brand of mustard, which we familiarized ourselves with best next to meat in tube form at Cochon 555 competition in Miami, is killer already but this time he’s adding beer, too.  Gilding the proverbial lily in the most pedestrian of ways.  For now its Pabst, a natural from the restaurant’s beverage inventory.  Later, perhaps Home Brew.  Mustard could easily be  made solely with stoneground mustard seeds and water. However, the liquid element can vary, with either wine, grape must or beer. At MGFD, the house made mustard is prepared with a mixture of mustard seeds, mustard powder, vinegar, sugar and beer.

So, take a bite of that beer-simmered bratwurst, with a hint of the beer mustard, and wash it all down with — you guessed it — your favorite beer.  If you’re at next week’s event, it will be from Back Forty’s portfolio, which now includes Home Brew.

Cortez Bottarga: The Gulf Coast of Florida’s “Caviar of the Mediterranean” at MGFD

Zucchini, red onion, fontina, chili oil & parsley pizza with Cortez Bottarga (photo by Jackie Sayet)

Murals dating back to the tenth century B.C. depict fishermen engaging in the traditional procedure of making bottarga. Since then, the pressed dried fish eggs have become a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. Most often associated with coastal Italian fare, primarily of Sardinia and Sicily, the cured roe has also been dubbed the “Caviar of the Mediterranean”.

Cortez Bottarga, a subset of the Anna Maria Fish Company in the central Gulf Coast of Florida, is the first in the United States to produce the product for international consumption. In the past, Gray Mullet roe from the Gulf of Mexico was exported to Europe or Asia to be cured and aged. Now, Cortez Bottarga is a local source for a fresh taste of our very own version of this so-called “caviar”. And it’s hand-made, much like it was thousands of years ago.

Founded by Seth Cripe, a Florida native, the company is primarily dedicated to supporting local fishermen, increasing the economic development of the Florida gulf region and sustaining the ecological health of its surrounding marine life.

But Cortez Bottarga differs from other sources because it’s a more delicately flavored product. Bottarga can generally be attributed to two varieties: tuna (bottarga di tonno) or Gray Mullet (bottarga di muggine). Gray Mullet bottarga is less brash, with a reddish orange hue, and boasts a subtle flavor and color.

The fishermen for Cortez Bottarga use hand-thrown nets, and the fish are taken to dock within a few hours of being caught (roe season for Gray Mullet is primarily in the winter). The mullet is then cleaned and the plump golden roe is cut. Then, the roe is quickly cured with kosher sea salt. Pressed, dried, and ready to go, Cortez Bottarga does not age its bottarga. Instead, the entire process  only takes a couple of days. This prevents oxidation and also encourages its characteristic flavor.

Michael was turned onto to Cortez Bottarga by chef Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal and Son of a Gun restaurants in L.A. when they popped at Harry’s Pizzeria in May.  Chef de cuisine Bradley Herron placed his first order a few weeks after and since then has used the gray mullet bottarga in dishes such as linguine  shrimp, leeks, and seasoned bread crumbs, and the wood oven pizza above with zucchini, red onion, fontina, chili oil and parsley. Finished off with the cured roe for that certain sea salty something, it’s a pizza topped with what we could now proudly call our very own “Caviar of the Gulf Coast.”  But Brad took it one step further, paying homage to how its been done since the beginning, and began making his own. Look for special pastas and seafood dishes laced with the creamy, housemade version done with snapper roe on dinner menus to come.