What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Mediterranean Baked Tilapia! Do you ever experiment with different spice combinations? Salt and pepper can only go so far, especially if you try to reduce your salt intake. Spices, on the other hand, can turn an ordinary meal into a savory one. They can also add color, flavor, and aroma. If you’re like me, when a recipe calls for a spice you don’t stock in your pantry, you go out and buy a jar. Then what? Do you use it once and shove it back into the corner of your cupboard? What if you experiment a little instead? When you use cumin, think about partnering it with coriander for results that can add warmth as well as a tinge of sweetness.
MEDITERRANEAN BAKED TILAPIA
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400° in a shallow bowl, combine lemon juice, butter, and olive oil. Mix well. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, sea salt, and pepper. Pat tilapia fillets dry. Dip fish in lemon juice mixture before coating with flour coating. Repeat for second tilapia fillet. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish fillets. After a minute or so, flip fillets over to sear the both sides. Remove skillet from heat. Add minced garlic to remaining lemon juice mixture. Drizzle over fish. Bake 7-9 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from heat. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with broccoli and cous cous.
Dining Outside the Home: Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill in Bonita Springs, Florida! On your way back from the beach when you’re feeling as hungry as a shark and parched beyond feeling, make a stop at a friendly bar where open-air dining makes a spirit soar like a hot air balloon, no pun intended. The pub-style grub offers a delicious variety of flavors. It’s family-friendly and sits on the palm-lined main drag on Bonita Beach Road. It’s fairly new, since Covid anyway, but casual enough to feel like a neighborhood hangout. Get the taste of homemade with a southwest Florida twist. Take it from me, the grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy with a tangy Remoulade Sauce, toasted sub roll, fresh lettuce, and salty tomatoes did not disappoint. It’s Shrimpolicious.
Dining Outside the Home: Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille in Bonita Springs, Florida! Have you ever eaten in a tiki hut along the waterfront? The open air seating is a sought-after request for a stunning tropical view. It feels like being on a river in the tropics the way the trees embrace the shoreline like an island oasis. There’s no doubt atmosphere affects our perception of being carefree and downright sexy. At Coconut Jack’s the local seafood is fresh, the cocktails are thirst-quenching, and the experience is memorable. Oftentimes, the chef features a daily special that will leave you smiling all the way home. If seafood is your go-to choice, there’s plenty to choose from and more to look forward to on a return trip back.
Dining Outside the Home: Tavern on the Bay in Naples, Florida! Imagine yourself on a sunny afternoon, perched at the edge of a patio, under a swaying palm tree, sipping on a refreshing beverage with a panoramic view of Naples Bay. Ahhh. These are the moments when Time stands still. Notice the Mediterranean-style architecture, the brick-laden pathways, the gurgling fountains, and the waterfront activity. It practically feels like an oasis in the middle of paradise. Feeling hungry? The Tavern on the Bay menu has you covered. The freshest ingredients are used in an ahi poke bowl, chopped salad, prime rib slider, snapper sammie, or shrimp taco. It sure makes choosing something a tough decision. No worries. There really isn’t a wrong choice. Sit back and enjoy.
Dining Outside the Home: The Pub in Naples, Florida! Direct from London is an unique gastropub on the edge of Mercato, a hotspot destination in North Naples. Craving an English beer with a hearty meal? You chose the right place. View the constant flurry of activity on the outdoor patio while nibbling on the award-winning Fish & Chips platter. The Pub’s beer-battered haddock is so crispy you can hear the crunch in every bite. Dredge a chunk of fish through the homemade tartar sauce. It’s so creamy you may find yourself smacking your lips afterward. That’s where a good beer selection comes in handy. The UK-inspired menu offers quite a variety of pub grub, which doesn’t mean the portions are small. In fact, if you walk away hungry, it’s your own fault. Keep Calm and Brunch On.
Dining Outside the Home: British Open Pub in Bonita Springs, Florida! As you stroll past the life-size armored knight statue at the entrance to this British-themed restaurant, expect some hearty dishes paired with a cold pint or two. Inside the cozy little pub, choose a barstool, patio table, or comfy booth for semi-private conversations. The menu offers a nice selection of British favorites for a bit of the unusual including Fish & Chips, Pot Roast Pastie, Liver and Onions, or Banger & Mashed. Decisions, decisions. There’s quite a nice group of English Sandwedges for something a little different, especially if you add an order of Chips & Gravy. On second thought, better plan a return visit. Portions are generous, so chances are your eyes may be bigger than your stomach. Take a nontraditional trip “across the pond” without the expense of a plane ticket.
Dining Outside the Home: Island Gypsy Cafe & Marina Bar in Naples, Florida! Take a side turn off the main drag and you’ll find yourself on a winding road to the magical Isles of Capri, a charming waterfront community as sought after as a coveted treasure map. The Island Gypsy Cafe is recognizable by its weathered bar, salvaged from the stern of an original sea vessel destroyed by a hurricane years ago. Once upon a time the Island Gypsy was a 65-foot fishing boat. Absorb the history of yesteryear among the ambiance of present day. The outdoor Café serves a delightful array of fresh seafood, including coconut shrimp, citrus crusted tuna sashimi, and macadamia nut mahi-mahi. Anyone who has a taste for onion rings will want to add a basket of hand cut batter-fried onion rings to share. The cocktails are as tropical as the desserts are famous. Find your path for hidden riches. And don’t forget to pack your appetite.
Dining Outside the Home: Lansdowne Street in Bonita Springs, Florida! Whoever says Time Travel isn’t possible never set foot inside this New England-style pub featuring show stopping sports, gastronomic grub, and bottomless brews. Sure you can still pop in for a cozy table near the fireplace or an open table on the outdoor patio, even if you aren’t a Red Sox fan. It’s all about gathering together for a great meal of Tidbits, Soup, Wicked Huge Salads, Signature Sammies, or whatever the master chef chooses to feature that day. Look around. The memorabilia is as interesting as the patrons. Everyone is talking, laughing, or cheering from one end to the other. Next time you’re up for a lively experience, think Lansdowne Street where everyone seems to be a winner.
Dining Outside the Home: Steamers in Naples, Florida! For New England-style seafood in an unpretentious setting, it always helps to get a tip about where the locals go for incredible clam chowder with a side of fried clam strips and hush puppies. The menu offers way more than steamed scallops, sautéed shrimp, fried clams, blackened fish, and lobster tails. Unfortunately, I can’t get past the taste of my favorite combination enough to find out how delicious everything else is. What I can confirm, is that people stand in line or meander around the busy strip mall to wait for a table inside or out. It feels like family the way the staff interacts with customers. When you get the craving, remember Steamers for outstanding seafood at a pretty decent price.