Florida Frogmore Stew

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* No frogs were harmed in the making of this stew. *

1 ½ gallons water
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
3 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 pounds kielbasa, cut into ½ inch slices
10 to 12 ears of corn on the cob
4 pounds of shrimp in the shell
4 pounds stone crab (these are usually pre-cooked)
onions and  new or red potatoes

Cook onions and potatoes until softened. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, add the water, lemon, salt and Old Bay Seasoning. Bring it to a boil.

Add the sausage and gently boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add corn on the cob broken into 3 inch pieces and continue cooking an additional five minutes. Add shrimp and stone crab and cook an additional three minutes longer. This is just enough time to cook the shrimp and heat up the pre-cooked stone crab. Remove from heat, drain immediately and serve.

 

Simple Saltine Toffee

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An oldie but a goodie.

About 50 saltine crackers
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a 12-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper.

Lay the crackers out in one layer as close together as possible, filling the baking sheet.

Melt the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the butter is melted, raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, and keep at a boil for about 3 minutes, stirring. When the 3 minutes are up, give it a good stir and pour evenly over the crackers on the baking sheet.

Spread the caramel around with a spatula if needed, but don’t worry if the surface isn’t covered completely, you just don’t want it pooling in one place. Bake the crackers for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top in an even layer. Let sit for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to spread the chocolate in an even layer over the crackers.

Sprinkle the pecans and the sea salt evenly over the top of the toffee. Leave to cool, then place in the refrigerator for about an hour for the chocolate to set. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

 

 

Easy Sweet Potato Fries

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2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt *

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the sweet potatoes, if desired, and cut them into slabs, batons, wedges, coins, half-moons, whatever your heart desires. They can be any size, really, as long as they are not less than ¼ inch and not more than 1 inch thick.

Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with the oil. Season with salt and your choice of spices *, if using, and toss to coat. (Use about 1½ teaspoons salt if you’re not using additional seasoning; adjust salt content depending on your preferred spice mix.)

Add the sweet potatoes onto the baking sheet, scraping out any seasoning or fat clinging to the bowl, and arrange them in a single layer.

Roast, turning once if their bottoms darken quickly, until tender and browned, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on size.

* Try adding a teaspoon or two of any of your favorite seasonings. Got some herbes de Provence? Toss it in there. Spanish paprika? Definitely. Za’atar, curry powder Cajun seasonings, Old Bay?  Why not.

 

“New South” Sweet Sriracha Pecans

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4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
2 cups pecan halves
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the honey and Sriracha in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until thinned and well mixed.

Remove from the heat and add the pecans. Stir well until the pecans are lightly coated.

Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.

Add the sugar and salt in a bowl. When the pecans are done, add them to the bowl with the sugar/salt mixture. Stir until the pecans are completely coated.

Spread out pecans and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, not that they will last that long.

Warning these pecans are highly addictive.

 

 

Lavender Ice Cream

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More and more lavender farms are popping up all over the South. So with that in mind I share this easy lavender ice cream:

½ cup heavy cream
1½ cups buttermilk
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons dried lavender buds

equipment: Ice Cream Maker

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, buttermilk, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the lavender. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or longer if you want a stronger lavender flavor.

Strain out the lavender and discard it. Freeze the cream mixture according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.”

 

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

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Today at Universal Studios Florida —> Ten hours. That’s the reported wait time for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Universal’s Islands of Adventure newest attraction. The ride, which officially opened to the public today, combines innovative technology and storytelling, with guests hopping on magical, flying “motorbikes” as they’re taken up, down, forwards and backwards, reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour. Who would wait for 10 hours to catch a glimpse of Fluffy the three headed dog?

Cold Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup

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4 large cucumbers
4 green onions
2½ cups buttermilk
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Optional: cherry tomatoes cut in half, edible flowers or even lump crab meat.

Equipment: Food Processor preferred or Blender

Peel the cucumbers, remove and discard the seeds, and cut them into chunks. Cut the green onions into chunks, using the green and white portions. Put the cucumbers and green onions into a food processor and process the vegetables to a coarse purée.

Add the buttermilk, salt, and dill. Process until the soup is smooth. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Chill the soup for 3–4 hours. Serve cold in chilled bowls with optional ingredients if desired.