Friday, June 26, 2015

Tilapia with Old Bay - Delicious and Super Easy

Since both tilapia and Old Bay seasoning are on sale at Publix this week and I enjoy both, I looked for a dish that combined the two. I found this winner on ( It's really easy and it tastes terrific. The recipe's author states it can be used with tilapia or cod or haddock.

During the many years we lived in Maryland, we loved steamed crabs with Old Bay seasoning, a traditional Maryland dish. The taste of this dish reminds us a bit of the steamed crabs. It might be a nice alternative for a diner with a shellfish allergy.

I originally used the amount of Old Bay suggested in the recipe, but when I tasted the finished product, I decided to double the amount of Old Bay by sprinkling more on my tilapia. That made it perfect for my taste. (The recipe's author does suggest adjusting the seasoning to one's tastes.)

I love tilapia not only for its taste, but because it works well with so many different spice combinations.


- Three 5-oz fillets of tilapia or cod or haddock. (The author recommends for 4-oz fillets - essentially the same amount of fish, but different number of servings.)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or to taste - I used 1 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or to taste - I used 3/4 teaspoon)


Heat oven to 375 degrees

Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish (I did it by coating the bottom with olive oil.)

Place the fillets in the baking dish and coat with melted butter.

Season with Old Bay and garlic salt (I mixed the two first) If desired, add additional butter, Old Bay, and/or garlic salt.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. (38 minutes worked perfectly for our oven.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Stir-Fried Zucchini with Corn, Onion, & Sweet Bell Pepper - Delicious & Easy Side

In searching for another zucchini with corn recipe, I found this easy winner at ( This is one time that I made no changes. However, it's the type of recipe one could easily try with a variety of different spices.

It serves 4 to 6.


- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch squares
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
- 3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice or thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 & 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh, vacuum-packed niblets or thawed frozen) - I used Libby's canned sweet corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice. I used lemon juice, but I think I would have enjoyed it better with lime juice.


1. In a large skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil over moderate heat until softened
2. Add the garlic and bell pepper, stirring until the pepper begins to softer - 2 to 3 minutes
3. Add the cumin and hot pepper, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute
4. Add the zucchini and season with the salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the zucchini is tender but still firm - 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add the corn and cook, stirring frequently until hot - about 2 minutes
6. Sprinkle the lemon or lime juice, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse - Excellent Savor Sarasota Dinner

On the basis of our daughter's recommendation, we had a wonderful dinner with her at Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse to celebrate Father's Day. A bonus was that the restaurant was offering a Savor Sarasota $29 dinner menu (which it will continue to offer through June 30).

The restaurant (, which is located in downtown Sarasota, has an upscale atmosphere, with tables nicely space and acoustics which allow easy conversation. Our service was outstanding.

My wife's first course was a generous-size and tasty Caesar salad. Our daughter and I had the lobster bisque, which was fantastic!!!!!

We all had the same main course, the 6 oz. petite filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce, and roasted garlic-whipped potatoes topped with crispy onion straws. The steak was superb in every respect, and the potatoes and onions were delicious.

For dessert, two of us had the New York-style cheesecake, and one had the flourless chocolate torte. All three were wonderful.

The wine we shared was an outstanding 2011 Trefethen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oak District of Napa Valley for $76.

The Hyde Park Savor Sarasota menu can be viewed at

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chianti Ristorante - Savor Sarasota Dinner

On two occasions, my wife and I have had pleasant meals with friends at Chianti Ristorante in Sarasota.

The first time, in June 2015, is described in my earlier posting below.

The second time was earlier this week when we went for the Tuesday night lobster special for $19.95, which includes lobster and a choice of clam chowder or garden salad. My wife chose the salad and I chose the chowder. We loved the lobster and the chowder was terrific. The lobster shell was cut in a way that made it very easy to pull out the lobster meat. We also enjoyed tasty desserts - tiramisu for my wife and Zabaione for me.

Early this week, my wife and I enjoyed a Savor Sarasota dinner at Chianti Ristorante in Sarasota ( with friends. The $29 dinner price included a generous glass of either Chianti or Pinot Grigio wine.

My wife's first course was a tasty Caesar Salad and mine was an equally tasty Calamari Fritti.

We both had the same second course - Pappardelle Pasta with Sea Scallops and Prawns. The pappardelle noodles were perfectly cooked al dente. The seafood was delicious, but her serving was skimpy - with a total of 5 pieces. Mine was fine.

For dessert, we both had the Josie's Housemade Bred (sic) Pudding, which was very tasty. 

My wife had the Pinot Grigio and I had the Chianti. Both were nice.

The restaurant was crowded, at least partially because of the great Tuesday lobster dinner special for $19.95 - includes Maine lobster, bread, choice of clam chowder or salad, sauteed fresh vegetables, and potatoes. Reservations are necessary. Our friends have had the lobster dinner there and enjoyed it. We intend to try it.

Many of the customers appeared to be regulars. The service was friendly and enjoyable. The noise was a bit on the high side.

While the restaurant name includes "Chianti," which is in Tuscany, not much of the food menu is Tuscan. Pappardelle noodles are from Tuscany, but other pasta dishes are not. Tuscans are not as much into noodles as southern Italians. In fact, Tuscans are known as "bean eaters" (mangiafagioli). 

The restaurant menu does list another Tuscan dish -  "Bistecca Fiorentina" (Florentine Steak), but it describes the steak as being served with a spinach and gorgonzola-mushroom sauce. The real thing is served without sauce. The real thing is also typically at least a pound and a half.

The wine list has lots of Italian wines, including a number from Tuscany.

Seasons 52 at University Town Center - Excellent

During the past year my wife and I have enjoyed four wonderful meals at Seasons 52 Restaurant in the University Town Center near Lakewood Ranch. (Some dishes I mention in this article may not be available because the restaurant changes its menu with the seasons. The current menu is available on the Seasons 52 web site:

Last night, my wife and I had another terrific meal there, in part thanks to a gift card from terrific friends. 

My wife had the grilled rack of lamb ($27), which she'd had on two previous occasions. On one of those occasions, it was cooked to perfection. On the second, it was overcooked. This time, it was back to perfection. As an appetizer, she had the roasted tomato caprese with basil pesto for $9. She loved it.

My appetizer was a cup of the Porcini Mushroom Bisque with sour cream for $5. It was fantastic.

My main course was the Southern Style Shrimp & Grits with shrimp, chorizo, bacon, and stone ground cheddar grits for $19.50. I enjoyed every bite.

I had an excellent side of Roasted Basciani Farms Mushrooms with spinach stuffing, panko crust, and parmesan for $5.80. It was delicious.

Her dessert was a mini mocha macchiato mousse with chocolate cake, caramel sauce, and whipped cream for $3. It was very tasty.

Our wine was a 2012 Mauritson Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel for $48. It was excellent. (I noticed that there wine prices, like many restaurants, are about three times the retail store price.

Our server was Irina, a terrific professional, who had served us on another occasion. She was perfectly attentive.

To celebrate a birthday in the summer of 2015, all seven members of our family - three generations - enjoyed our meals. Three of us, including me, had the shrimp and grits, which were terrific. My wife had the oak-grilled rack of lamb, which she had loved before. This time, they were overcooked, albeit still moist.

We shared the fig and bacon flatbread appetizer. It was terrific.

The first wine I had was the French Jolie Saison Gamay, for $44. I enjoyed it. For laughs, I also tried a glass of the Macedonian "Macedon" red wine. It was drinkable, but I would not buy it again. 

Our server, Michael H., did an excellent job.

On a previous occasion, we shared a couple of delicious appetizers:
- Shrimp Scampi Skillet - shrimp, roasted plum tomatoes, parsley, garlic butter, bruschetta for $9.95. It was very nice.
- Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with tomato broth, roasted garlic, and basil for $8.75. It was fantastic!

On two occasions, I had a cup of the Asparagus Soup with Lemon Chantilly Cream for $4.95. It was terrific!

On the first occasion, my wife's main course was Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops with creamy lemon risotto, English peas, and roasted asparagus for $23.50. It was delicious.

This time, she had Oak-Grilled Rack of Lamb with spring vegetables, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and shallot jus for $26.95. It was fantastic - perfectly cooked and very tender.

My entrée in March was Lemon and Herb-Roasted Whole Branzino, a Mediterranean fish, with Meyer lemon, thyme, broccolini, and crushed roasted potatoes for $27.50. I loved it! (I don't remember seeing Branzino on a U.S. restaurant menu before this.) 

My entrée this week was Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon with sweet corn risotto, toybox tomatoes, and snap peas for $27.95.

On each occasion, we had tasty small dessert cups such as Moccha Macchiato, Belgian Chocolate Smores with Marshmallow, Key Lime Pie, and Canmoli for $2.95

The wine I chose this time was a nice Ravenswood 2012 Sonoma County, Dry CreekValley,Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel $67. It is 80% Zinfandel, 12% Carignane, and 8% Petite Sirah. (The 2010 retails for about $25 at Norman's.)

Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson is a terrific winemaker ( who is known as the Godfather of Zinfandel. The winery produces a number of different types, including single vineyard versions like Teldeschi, which is owned by the Teldeschi family (

I have enjoyed all the Ravenswood wines I've had, even including the inexpensive Vintners Blend which can be found for as low as $7.99., and had an excellent visit to the winery in 2011.

The wine we had in March was an enjoyable 2013 Spanish Monte Oton Campo de Borha Garnacha for $34.

Both of our servers - Edgar in March and Irina this week - were wonderful.

62 Bistrot - An Excellent Savor Sarasota Lunch

Yesterday, my wife and I joined friends for a delicious, 3-course Savor Sarasota lunch for $15 each (excluding tax and tip) at 62 Bistrot, an authentic French Bistrot on Hillview St. in Sarasota (

My wife's first course was a cold soup of cucumber and peaches. It was good, but not fantastic. I had a very nice French onion soup with melted cheese croutons.

Our main course was a wonderful baguette sandwich with homemade country pâté (pâté de campagne) and cornichons (French pickles), with salad on the side. The sandwich was not only delicious, but very large.)

For dessert, we each had a jam crêpe with raspberry jam. They were very nice.

I also had a nice (large glass) of Pinot Noir for $5.

The normal à la carte cost for my meal at lunch is $19 - a very reasonable price.

Our waitress, who was very nice, had a French accent and spoke French.

62 Bistrot is open Monday - Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for lunch and from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for dinner.

I had thought that 62 Bistrot was owned by the same folks who own Paris Bistrot in Lakewood Ranch and Island Crêperie in Bradenton Beach. The decor of 62 Bistrot and Paris Bistrot is nearly identical. However, there is no connection indicated on their web sites. In any case, we've enjoyed both.

Savor Sarasota Extended!

Fortunately, at least 31 of the restaurants participating in Savor Sarasota have extended their participation. The extensions range to different dates - the earliest is June 27 and the latest is September 30. (See the full list of extensions at: - That URL will allow you to click on the Savor Sarasota menu for each participant.)

Since the extension, my wife and I have enjoyed wonderful meals at two of those restaurants - Chianti, and 62 Bistrot.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Terrific Corn, Zucchini, and Tomato Soup with Basil

I recently decided that I wanted to cook a soup that included corn, zucchini, and tomato. I initially thought I would create my own recipe, but when I did a bit of Internet searching for inspiration, I discovered a recipe that sounded really good. It was! This particular one was at I found similar ones at other web sites.)

There are a couple of differences between the original recipe and what I cooked. Instead of using 4 ears of corn on the cob, I took the easier route of using a can of cooked Libby's sweet corn. I also used two medium tomatoes instead of the two cups mentioned in the original.

While the original said it serves 4, I found that it produced enough for about 8 bowls. I loved it so much that I had three bowls the first night.

Below is my version. If you want to try the version with corn on the cob, I recommend that you visit the web site above for detailed instructions:

- 1 large onion, minced (I used a sweet yellow onion)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced (the original called for 6 cloves of unspecified size)
- 2 small or 1 large zucchini shredded or diced. (I diced two medium zucchini)
- 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
- salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 15-oz. can of Libby's cooked sweet corn
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar - red wine, balsamic, or white (I used Badia a Coltibuono red wine vinegar. If you're ever in Tuscany - visit Badia a Coltibuono near Gaiole in Chianti!)
- 1/2 cup minced fresh basil leaves
- grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large soup pot, saute the onion over medium-low heat until tender and translucent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add zucchini, tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a few cracks of pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the broth and corn, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and basil. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty bread. 

Lolita Tartine - A Terrific Savor Sarasota Dinner

My wife and I have dined at Lolita Tartine twice (both times with friends), and have loved our meals on both occasions. The first time is described in my June 2015 below. The second time was in early January of this year. The most recent visit was close to a repeat of the first. We repeated the incredible Lamb Tajine, and were equally delighted.

First posting:
My wife and I look forward to the first 2 weeks of June every year, when a number of local restaurants participate in Savor Sarasota. The restaurants offer 3-course lunches for $15 and 3-course dinners for $29. The restaurants and menus are all listed at the Savor Sarasota web site ( (Not all of the restaurants offer lunch because they are not open during the lunch hours.)

Last night, we joined two other couples for dinner at Lolita Tartine ( a French restaurant, which is operated by the owners of Sarasota's C'est la Vie Restaurant.

We all loved our meals. Every bite of mine was terrific.

My wife started with a wonderful appetizer of fresh asparagus, bacon, field greens, pine nuts, and parmesan. Her main course was lamb tajine. The lamb was tender and the sauce was superb. For dessert, she enjoyed apple tart with vanilla ice cream.

My appetizer was a mouth-watering tartine (open-faced sandwich) of salmon and tsatsiki sauce on rye. I also had the incredible lamb tajine. My dessert was a pear and almond tart.

The wine I chose was a nice Pinot Noir from Provence, and my wife had a glass of Piccolo Tesoro Pinot Grigio from the Veneto.

Lolita Tartine is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All of their menus and their wine list are available at their web site.

The service was professional and friendly.

It's hard to beat combining an evening with terrific friends and wonderful food.

A bientôt, mes amis!