Poseidon – Hilton Head Island, SC

Summer adventures on Hilton Head Island have been a family tradition of ours and others for years.  Excited for old favorites, we’re also always interested to try new food adventures.  Poseidon was one of our best finds this year and made for a memorable vacation dinner for the 14 of us!  Located in the Shelter Cove Towne Center, you’ll see this prominent two-story location and be drawn to the inviting patio, great music and rooftop bar.  Of course, the food is what makes it so special!

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We had a large group, but were able to make a reservation during the height of the summer season.  Following the friendly staff out to the patio, we found ourselves at a large table with shade and fans to make the evening comfortable in 90-degree heat.  With a large selection of wine, beer and cocktails, we settled on several local taps while we perused the huge menu.  Known for steaks, seafood and raw bar, there is something for everyone on the vast menu.  Local favorites along with Asian-inspired dishes celebrate the regional seafood.  My nephews loved the experience of their first raw oysters – well, at least one did!  They were sweet and briny and perfect with a cold beer on a hot day.  The tomato pie was also a taste of the south – pastry crust filled with ripe tomatoes and savory cheeses.  I even tried to make a version at home!

We were all over the menu with our entrees.  From steak to cioppino to lobster pasta, everyone ordered something different.  Of course, you can get the typical array of steamed and fried seafood dishes, but this menu is worth shopping in a different aisle so to speak!  I ordered several sushi rolls which were both beautiful and delicious.  My wife decided on one of the features and absolutely loved her grilled halibut with spanish-style rice, avocado and cilantro cream.  It was an impressive and tasty execution of very simple ingredients.

I wish I had taken more photos because everything was prepared beautifully – it made for a special night for all of us.  While the menu isn’t inexpensive, we all thought it was well worth the prices and deserved given the setting, selections and super-helpful staff.  We even managed to come back later in the week for a little live music and cocktails on the rooftop bar!  Lunch, dinner or drinks for locals and visitors alike, Poseidon is one of our new “old favorites” on the island.  Check out their menu and event schedule at poseidonhhi.com.  Dig in!

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Sweet & Salty Nectarine Salad

Taking advantage of fresh produce is what usually drives our cooking menu week to week.  With nectarines at their peak not long ago I made a delicious salad with the perfect combination to balance those sweet, soft and buttery nectarines.  It doesn’t get easier than four ingredients that make you look like a rockstar chef.

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SWEET & SALTY NECTARINE SALAD

Ingredients

  • 4 Ripe Nectarines
  • 8 Slices Prosciutto
  • 8 Ounces Blue Cheese
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

  • Wash, pit and slice nectarines.  Arrange one nectarine’s-worth of slices per plate in a pinwheel.
  • Tear two slices of prosciutto into 3 pieces each and arrange in small “piles” around each plate.
  • Crumble 2 ounces of blue cheese over each plate.
  • Drizzle with a quality balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

I said it was easy!  Any ripe stone fruit will work well in this recipe – try it with peaches or plums.  I used a blue cheese this time that was little harder than I would recommend, creamier would be better.  Want to vary the texture, try a few toasted walnuts or pistachios as a topper.  Dig in!

Calaveras Cantina – Jupiter, FL

Working in south Florida recently, I happened on this modern Mexican restaurant that’s a game-changer.  You can find all manner of terribly ordinary Mexican restaurants around the country with typical fare and average food.  However, when we stepped into this beautiful spot with authentic fare and a modern twist, we were psyched!  By land or by sea, a stop at Calaveras Cantina in Harbourside Place will be well worth your trip.

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We walked into the bright open space and were greeted by friendly staff and the aroma of onions, spices and fried deliciousness.  The space is quite large with a bar, comfortable booths and outdoor seating to enjoy Jupiter’s weather and harbor.  The bright wall decorations and colorful glass lighting make for a lively environment.  We settled into the menu while sipping some Casa Margaritas.  There’s a lengthy selection of margaritas and other cocktails, available by the glass or pitcher (dangerous!).  You should try their Watermelon Jalapeño for a sweet-hot twist on the original.

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There was no doubt we needed fresh corn tortilla chips.  We also quickly realized that table side guacamole was a no-brainer.  Fresh, creamy, spicy and citrusy, it was the perfect pairing with our margaritas and chips.  I was impressed with the servers who were attentive and clearly “guac experts”!  There’s a dizzying selection of traditional favorites on the menu with a modern twist – think duck confit empanadas or pork belly tacos with kimchi.  I settled on the traditional tacos al pastor with spicy pork, pineapple, cilantro and chihuahua cheese.  How happy were my tastebuds??  Wow!

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I don’t get to Jupiter enough, but when I do, I will certainly make Calaveras Cantina a regular stop for lunch or dinner.  Whether a casual afternoon lunch or dinner with clients, this is an experience that everyone will appreciate.  Curtis Peery and friends have built a fantastic concept that warrants kudos on many levels – food, service and atmosphere.  Check out more of Palm Beach’s tequila-serving gem at calaverascantina.com.  Dig in!

Tuna Noodle Casserole With Mushrooms

Growing up, I absolutely hated tuna noodle casserole – it was guaranteed PB&J night!  Of course, that was back in the day of the terrible boxed stuff full of dried veggies and salty sauce.  Now that my tastes have changed and I have come to embrace all things tuna and noodles!  This recipe is a riff on the classic with the addition of mushrooms and it’s super-creamy.  What a perfect quick dinner that won’t gross out your kids!

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TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE WITH MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 12 Ounces Uncooked Egg Noodles
  • 12 Ounces Canned Tuna, Drained
  • 2 Cups Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Cup Frozen Green Peas, Thawed
  • 16 Ounces Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tsp. Parsley
  • 2 Tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Saute mushrooms in butter until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Set aside.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Fold tuna, peas and cooked mushrooms into noodles.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayo, mustard, parsley, garlic salt and pepper.
  • Fold sour cream mixture into noodle mixture.
  • Spray a 4-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour mixture into baking dish and top with swiss cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until top is golden and casserole is bubbly.
  • Serve immediately.

I’m overdue in posting this recipe for my friend Missy, but I hope she and you all love it.  Want to save some fat and calories?  Use fat-free sour cream and mayo and substitute breadcrumbs for the swiss cheese.  The consistency is still great with low-fat or fat-free dairy and the texture of the breadcrumbs makes up for the cheese.  Either way, I think you’ll find it better than that old box.  Dig in!

POUR Kitchen & Bar – Petoskey, MI

We’ve hit the middle of summer and most families are likely taking time to get away.  If your summer vacation or other travels bring you to northern Michigan, you need to find your way to POUR Kitchen & Bar in Petoskey.  Nestled in the heart of downtown, it’s surrounded by the array of restaurants and shops you’d expect to find in a small lake town.  With an unassuming exterior, you’d not expect the modern shotgun-style interior. Filled with reclaimed wood, leather and metal, the comfortable setting feels like the work of Chip and Joanna.

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We were seated for a business retreat dinner with some fixed menu choices, but I had to take a look at what this lovely place had to offer.  A small menu, it boasts a variety of starters, salads and mains that take advantage of the local ingredients and still feels like you’re at a trendy spot in the big city.  I started my meal with an evening special Thai salad.  Mixed greens with peppers, onions, sesame seeds and avocado cream, it was dressed with a tasty combination of soy, sesame oil and spices.

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I next tried a simple sushi roll.  It was well-executed, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary.  However, the regular menu boasts some exciting choices including a striped bass oshizushi with Korean BBQ and miso mayo – yes please!  Finally, I had the tuna poke nachos.  Served on crispy wontons, this combination of fresh tuna, mango slaw, pickled jalapeño and avocado made the perfect bite every time.  They definitely struck a balance between sweet, spicy and salty along with varying textures – amazing!

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Oh how I wish POUR was close to my home!  It’s a special spot with great service and wonderful food.  If you have the opportunity you need to experience the vast draft list, unbelievable wine selection and delicious work of Chef Colin.  You can find out more on their website at pourpetoskey.com.  Dig in!

The Broadway – Boston

On a recent business trip to Boston, I had the opportunity to have lunch on the south side at The Broadway.  While I get to the city regularly, I don’t often get to venture outside of the normal spots close to where I do business.  What treats we found from this scratch-made kitchen!

Set in a storefront locale, this semi-industrial restaurant boasts a large open feel with exposed air ducts and rustic wood.  The expansive bar allows plenty of room for enjoying craft cocktails, an ice-cold local draft or glass of wine while noshing on their delicious menu.  We were quickly seated and greeted by a friendly server who knew their menu really well – I love that!  Starving, we decided to start with shishito peppers and tuna tartare.  These were tough decisions given the array of choices, but we were thrilled.  The blistered peppers were coated in lime and sea salt, a perfect execution of a popular small bite.  The yellowfin tuna was prepared with tagarashi, avocado and cilantro and served on crispy wontons – excellent!

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We moved onto entrees and were equally impressed with the freshly prepared ingredients.  I had a plate of perfectly-seared fresh scallops with sautéed spinach and included asparagus as a side dish.  They were sweet and creamy and tasted like a mouthful of the sea.  My coworker dove into the cedar-planked salmon with simple baked potato and roasted brussels sprouts.  Both the preparation and the glaze on the fish made it top-notch.  While the sprouts were underdone for our taste, it’s sometimes just preference.  In any event, we thought both meals were worth ordering again!

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Whether out for lunch or dinner, you’ll find an unbelievable selection of starters, salads, entrees, sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas at The Broadway.  Dress up or dress down, you’ll fit right in and feel comfortable with the friendly staff and tasty selections.  Check out their menu at thebroadwaysouthboston.com.  Dig in!

Open-Faced Salmon BLT’s

It’s been a long time since I’ver posted, but trust that I’ve been both cooking and eating with my regular enthusiasm!  We recently went camping and were looking for something fresh and easy for dinner – who needs another hot dog on a stick, right?!  These open-faced salmon BLT’s were simple, delicious and easy to make with minimal mess.  Try them at home for a busy weeknight or as a wonderful weekend brunch.

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OPEN-FACED SALMON BLT’S

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Fresh Salmon Filet
  • 4 Sliced Ciabatta Bread
  • 8 Slices Crisp Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Fresh Bibb Lettuce
  • 2 Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbs. Water
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Chives, Chopped
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, water, chives and a dash each of salt and pepper.  Stir until smooth and place in refrigerator.
  • Remove skin and pit from avocado.  Dice and place both avocados in a small bowl.  Add lime juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  Smash together with fork until mixture is slightly lumpy.  Cover and place in refrigerator.
  • Salt and pepper the salmon filet.  Grill or pan sear until cooked through – about 5-7 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  • Remove salmon from grill and let rest.  Place ciabatta on grill and toast both sides for 30-45 seconds until browned.  You can also use a toaster here.
  • To assemble sandwiches:  smear each piece of toasted bread with 1/4 of the avocado mixture.  Add two slices of bacon per piece, then layer with tomato, Bibb lettuce and 1/4 of cooked salmon.
  • Drizzle each sandwich with dijon/mayo mixture and serve immediately.

I hope you love this easy dish as much as we did!  It could easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group, but still doesn’t require a ton of work.  Whether outdoors on the grill or made in your kitchen, you’ll add this to your summer meal rotation for sure.  Dig in!

My Favorite 7-Layer Salad

After some extraordinarily busy months, I’ve found time to get back to cooking and entertaining.  And as summer weather has landed in Cincinnati, I’m looking forward to plenty of picnics, pool parties and family gatherings!  One of my go-to dishes for any of these occasions is my Favorite 7-Layer Salad.  There are lots of variations I’ve eaten in the past, but this particular combination of ingredients and dressing put this at the top of my list.  Crisp, green and fresh, it makes the perfect side for any of your upcoming summer gatherings.

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MY FAVORITE 7-LAYER SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce
  • 1 Cup Diced Celery
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, Chopped
  • 8 Ounces Frozen Peas
  • 1 1/4 Cups Light Mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 6-8 Strips Cooked Bacon, Crumbled

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Instructions

  • Chop or tear entire head of lettuce into bite-size pieces.  Spread into an even layer in a 13×9 pan.
  • Sprinkle diced celery over lettuce.  Then spread green onions on top of celery.
  • Pour frozen peas over salad in a single layer.  Press down on first four layers to compact salad.  HINT:  I leave the peas frozen to keep the salad colder longer and it makes it easier to spread the dressing in the next step!
  • In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and parmesan.  Spread evenly over frozen peas.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese over salad and finally top with bacon.

You can serve this immediate if it will be out where the peas will thaw quickly.  You can also chill in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours prior to serving.  Also, you can use regular mayo, more cheese and/or bacon to make it a little more over-the-top.  Either way, I know you’ll love using this recipe throughout the summer.  Looking for variations?  Try using white onion instead of green for a little extra bite.  Also consider swapping or adding a layer of radishes or green pepper for additional texture and flavor.  Dig in!

Beef Tongue Tacos (Tacos de Lingua)

When we had an opportunity to split a whole steer with some neighbors, we jumped at the chance.  My first question was, “does anyone want the weird parts?”  Luckily for me, no one did and I ended up with a beef tongue.  What do you do with a beef tongue?  Well, you make the best tacos you’ve ever had!  The richest beef lays a perfect foundation for all your favorite south-of-the-border toppings in this easy dish.

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BEEF TONGUE TACOS

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Lbs. Beef Tongue
  • 4 Shallots, Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Smashed
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 1 Tbs. Black Peppercorns
  • 3 Whole Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • Small Corn Tortillas
  • 1 Avocado, Diced
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Queso Fresco, Grated

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Instructions

  • Rinse beef tongue thoroughly and place in a medium stock pot.
  • Place shallots, garlic cloves, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves in with the tongue.
  • Cover completely with water and place on stove on medium heat covered until boiling.
  • Turn down heat and simmer with lid cracked for 3 hours.  You may need to add some liquid along the way to ensure the tongue remains covered.  HINT:  the skin on the tongue will turn bright white – that’s OK!
  • At 3 hours, take the pot off heat.  Remove tongue from liquid and place on a cutting board until you are able to handle.
  • Using a sharp knife to start it, peel the outer skin from the tongue completely.  Remove any excess fat or connective tissue.
  • Dice meat into 1-inch cubes.
  • In a cast iron skillet, sauté meat in canola oil until edges are crispy, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove meat and drain on paper towels.
  • Serve immediately, assembling tacos with meat and toppings listed in ingredients.

If you can get past the idea of the tongue, you’ll experience the richest tender beef you’ve ever had.  With it’s deep flavor, it stands up to spicy salsa, the bite of pickled red onions, creamy avocado and salty queso fresco.  (SIDE NOTE:  Don’t buy pickled onions!  Dissolve 3 Tbs. sugar and 1 1/2 Tbs. salt in 1 cup white vinegar over low heat.  Add 1 Tsp. black peppercorns and pour the hot liquid over a thinly sliced large red onion.  Allow to cool and store covered in the refrigerator.)  The combinations are endless, but the star of the show is the beef that can taste you back!  My friend Marcos would be so proud of me.  Dig in!

Sticky Chinese Ribs

Have you ever had sticky ribs from your favorite Chinese takeout or local restaurant?  While I’m a purist most times about BBQ, I have to admit my latest creation for oven ribs is near the top of my all-time favorites.  From the citrusy marinade to the rich tangy sauce, there’s enough going on to forget that these never touched a grill or smoker!

 

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STICKY CHINESE RIBS

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Rack of Baby Back Ribs

Marinade

  • 6-8 Slices Fresh Ginger
  • 2-3 Cloves Chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil

 

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Sticky Sauce

  • 3 Tbs. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tsp. Chinese Five Spice Powder

Instructions

  • Remove silver skin from the back side of ribs and cut rack in half.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients.
  • Place ribs in a gallon zipper bag and pour marinade over them.  Remove as much air as possible and seal.
  • Marinate for 2-6 hours, turning occasionally to ensure marinade penetrates all of the meat.

To Cook

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Remove ribs from marinate and shake off excess liquid.  Place in a glass 13×9 baking dish.
  • Add a half cup water, cover tightly with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.
  • With 20 minutes left of cooking time, place all of the sticky sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
  • Remove ribs from oven.  Turn your oven’s broiler to low.
  • Transfer ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spoon 1/2 half of sticky sauce over ribs and place under broiler for 3-4 minutes.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce over the ribs and place back under the broiler for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove ribs from oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

The sticky sauce and warm spices cut through the fat of the ribs while enhancing the flavor of the pork.  You’ll be amazed how much these remind you of versions you’ve had from restaurants – only it’s better!  I know we’ll use this sticky Chinese-inspired sauce on wings in the near future too – I think a little sliced scallion would be the perfect finish.  Give them a try and I guarantee you’ll want to make them for your friends and family during these NFL playoff weekends.  Dig in!