Sunday, May 29, 2016

Shrimp Boil with Potatoes, Corn, Beer, and Onion

In searching for a way to make something with shrimp and potatoes, I found a nice recipe for a shrimp boil at - : The recipe combines shrimp, potatoes, onion, corn, and beer. I adapted the recipe to our tastes and reduced the amount of ingredients to serve four rather than eight. I used canned sweet corn rather than corn on the cob. In the original recipe, the corn on the cob is kept on the cob, but cooked with the boil. I also interpreted and clarified the original directions.

Below are the ingredients I used to serve four. I did not change the amount of beer, water, or salt in the original recipe.


- one 12 oz. bottle of beer
- one (1.5 oz) bag of seafood boil seasoning. (I used the McCormick version which I found at Publix and which comes in a box with two 1.5 oz. bags.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional. I left it out.)
- 2 bay leaves
- one onion, quartered
- 1 garlic bulb halved (I used four cloves, peeled and halved)
- 1/2 lb small red potatoes
- one 11 oz. can extra sweet corn niblets
- 1/2 lb. smoked sausage cut into 1-in. diagonal slices
- 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used uncooked.)
- French baguette, sliced diagonally. I made the mistake of using a Publix baguette. I should have gone to Fresh Market for something approaching a real baguette
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- fresh lemon wedges
- Old Bay seasoning to sprinkle on finished dish


1. Bring 4 quarts water and first seven ingredients (first six if you omit cayenne) to a boil in a 12 qt. stockpot. 

2. Add potatoes, and simmer for 15 minutes. 

3. Add corn and sausage, and simmer for 8 minutes.

4. Add shrimp and cover. Turn off heat. Let shrimp sit 10 to 15 minutes to absorb flavor. (I did 15 minutes, and that worked perfectly.)

5. This direction is different from the original. Drain the liquid and put the shrimp dish into a serving bowl.

6. This direction is amplified from the original recipe. Put the sliced baguette, dish with melted butter, dish with lemon wedges, and can of Old Bay on table. Diners can squeeze lemon, sprinkle Old Bay, and add melted butter to the shrimp dish as their tastes desire.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Blu Kouzina - Nice Greek Food and Wine in Sarasota

My wife and I recently enjoyed a delightful Greek meal with friends at Blu Kouzina Greek restaurant ( on St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota. Since the evening temperatures were very pleasant, we sat in the open covered dining area. Not only was the food delicious, but the restaurant had an exceptional Greek wine list.

Interestingly, this restaurant is one of a pair - the other is in Singapore.

My wife had an appetizer of Dolmades Gialatzi - grape leaves stuffed with rice and with a side of Tzatziki sauce for $12.50. They were prepared the way we like, with firmer rice than one often finds with Greek grape leaves. (The style we prefer is the Levantine style, especially when it includes lamb. It's a matter of what we're used to.)

Her main course was Pastitsio - Greek macaroni with ground beef and covered with bechamel sauce for $18. She thought it was good, but not great. However, when I had her leftovers at home the following day, I thought the taste was terrific.

My main course was Paidakia Stin Shara - grilled lamb chops with mixed vegetables for $32. This dish was fantastic!!!!!! The taste of the lamb was out of this world. (For those trying to pronounce the word "Shara," the "Sh" is not pronounced like the "sh" in "share." Instead, the "sh" represents two separate consonants - "s" like the "s" in "sigma," and the "h" represents the Greek letter "χ.")

For desert, my wife had Greek rice pudding, which she thought was nice, for $8.

I had the Galaktoboureko, custard in a crispy phyllo shell, for $10. It was really delicious.

The wine I chose was a Domaine Mercouri Letrini (red) which is 85% Refosco grapes and 15% Mavrodaphne, for $56. Domaine Mercouri is an interesting winery that produces a nice set of wines.  It is in the western Peloponnese not far from Olympia. It was founded by a member of the Mercouri family in 1864, and has been run by the family since. The founder had worked for the Cunard Lines. We visited the winery several years ago while on a cruise. The winery is near the port of Katakolon. We managed to visit both the winery and Olympia on the same day. Our outing was made very easy by our local driver, George Letsios, whom I would highly recommend.

The restaurant's wine list is superb. It has about 52 wines, of which all are Greek except for a couple of sparkling wines. For those not familiar with the current state of Greek wine production, the quality has improved dramatically over the past couple of decades.

In addition to the Domaine Mercouri wines, I would recommend the Domaine Sigalas, from Santorini, and the Skouras and Alpha Estate wines. I am sure there are other nice ones as well.

Another nice feature of Blu Kouzina is that their superb olive oil comes from their family estate in Greece.

Our server, Martina, was very nice.