Saturday, November 21, 2015

Shore Diner - Excellent Lunch on St. Armands Circle

Today we enjoyed an excellent lunch with four friends at Shore Diner ( on St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota. It is on the second floor above an associated shop called Shore. We chose the restaurant on the basis of our daughter's recommendation and the many hundreds of positive reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp, Open Table, and Facebook. On the basis of our experience, the reviews appear well deserved.

My wife had a Mediterranean Chicken Sandwich with roasted peppers, mozzarella, lemon cress, and basil mayo on olive bread for $12. It was delicious, large, and accompanied by a salad of greens.

She also enjoyed a side of truffle fries with Parmesan and chives for $7. The serving was large enough that there were leftovers to bring home.

I had a cup of seafood bisque for $2. It was delicious.

My main course was a Seafood Cobb Salad with Maine lobster, crab, shrimp, avocado, bacon, and hard-boiled egg, with yuzu tarragon vinaigrette for $20. It was superb, with lots and lots of seafood.

My wife shared a very large serving of chocolate cake with one of our friends.

Her wine was Pinot Grigio.

I had a 2013 Lola North Coast Pinot Noir from northern California for $10 a glass. It was very pleasant.

Our server did an excellent job.

The restaurant has a retractable roof over one dining section. The roof is opened when the weather is pleasant. Unfortunately, the weather today was overcast with the strong possibility of rain.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Corn, Bell Pepper, Honey, Onion, and Spices

This nice and easy side dish is a slight twist on an Ina Garten recipe. I added honey and cumin, and reduced the amount of corn by half. The original recipe can be found on at:

The dish serves 2 to 4, and takes a total of 25-30 minutes of prep and cooking.


- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (This was about 1/4 of a decent-sized Spanish onion)
- 1 small orange bell pepper. 1/2 inch diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 15-oz can of whole kernel, sweet corn
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil,  minced fresh chives, and/or fresh parsley leaves. (I used Italian parsley.)


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, and sauté for 5 minutes. until the onion is soft. Stir in the bell pepper and sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Over medium heat, add the corn, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the honey and sprinkle on the cumin when the dish has about 2 minutes left to cook. 

When the cooking is complete, stir in the herbs. Serve hot. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lebanese Bulgur Side Dish

Bulgur is a parboiled dried wheat that looks like couscous. It is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and is used in dishes like tabbouleh and kibbeh. It is also called Bulghur or Burghul. The first two versions are from Turkish and the third from Arabic. ( It comes in four different grinds - from nr. 1, which is the finest, to nr. 4, which is the coarsest.

I found and tried a tasty bulgur side dish on ( It's easy to make, but takes about 50 minutes to prepare. It serves 4-6. 

1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup bulgur
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used drained, canned diced tomatoes)
1 & 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used ketchup)
salt and pepper to taste 
1 pinch cayenne (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat

2. Heat the broth in a separate small sauce pan

3. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned - 3-5 minutes

4. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute

5. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, cooking 2 more minutes

6. Stir the bulgur thoroughly into the tomato mixture

7. Stir in the hot broth, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes

8. Add the honey, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and stir thoroughly

9. Continue to cook, covered, until the bulgur is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Stir from time to time.

10. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes

11. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce - a Middle Eastern Taste Treat

Kofta or Kufta is a delicious type of meatball/meatloaf dish with many variants from Morocco through Afghanistan. Wikipedia has an informative article at ( 

I recently tried a version that my wife found in the Publix Supermarkets' magazine, "Grape." (That was the last print issue of the magazine.) According to the Grape article, this version is from Turkey. It was easy to make and delicious, but took me a bit of time to prepare because I am a slow chopper.

This version includes lamb, dried apricots, onion, garlic, and various herbs and spices. It could also be made with beef or pork; and one could certainly substitute dried fruits such as figs, or cherries, or raisins for the apricots. It is served with a Tzatziki-type yogurt sauce. 

The article about the recipe said it serves six. However, the two of us demolished it with no problem.

When eating the meatballs, I cut them in half and dipped them in the yogurt sauce.

Our only side dishes were grapes, and a lettuce and mozzarella salad with olive oil and balsamic.

A. Kofta
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp ground coriander
1/2 Tsp ground cumin
1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan with foil

3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until ingredients are thoroughly blended. I blended the meat, apricots, and onions first; then the herbs, then the spices. (I added one third of the spices at a time to try to blend them as thoroughly as possible.)

4. Shape this mixture into about 30 meatballs that are 1 & 1/2 inches in diameter. It came to 27 meatballs. Place the meatballs into the foil-lined pan as you make them.

5. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until  browned and cooked through (to 160°). You may wish to turn them about half way through the baking. I did not, so they ended up very dark on the bottoms. That did not affect the taste.

6. Serve with yogurt sauce.

B. Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used two small containers of Chobani Greek Yogurt - 5.3 oz each.)
1/3 cup shredded cucumber (This took about 1/3 of a medium-size cucumber. I diced it finely rather than shredding it.)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint. (I used dried mint.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp ground cumin.

B. Directions
Stir ingredients in a bowl, cover, and chill for 1 to 4 hours before serving.