What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Jacksonville Shrimp Boil! Whoever came up with a one-pot feast of seafood heaven is pure genius. Succulent shrimp, baby red potatoes, sweet corn on the cob, and smoky sausage. Throw everything into the biggest pot you have and let the flavors intermingle with fresh herbs and aromatic spices. The secret is to stagger the cooking process of the ingredients. After all, potatoes take longer to cook fork-tender than shrimp does. Don’t get impatient or you’ll end up with a bowl of slush. Whatever you do, don’t discard the broth. By adding butter, and serving it in small ramekins, it instantly becomes a great dipping sauce for drizzling over everything or sopping up with a crusty bread.
JACKSONVILLE SHRIMP BOIL
2 lemons, halved plus wedges for serving
1/2 cup Old Bay Seasoning*
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 red onion, quartered
6 sprigs lemon thyme
1 pound baby red potatoes, halved
4 ears corn, husked and snapped in half
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into chunks
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, unpeeled
2 tablespoons butter
Hot sauce, for serving
Fill a large pot with 4 quarts water. Squeeze lemon juice into the water. Drop lemons into the pot. Add Old Bay Seasoning, smashed garlic, and red onion. Tie the lemon thyme sprigs with kitchen twine and drop into the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add red potatoes to the pot; cook just until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and smoked sausage; cook 5 minutes. Finally, add the shrimp to the pot. Cover and cook until the shrimp curl and turn opaque in color, about 2-3 minutes, tops. Transfer the shrimp, sausage, and vegetables to a deep platter using a slotted spoon. Arrange lemon wedges. Ladle 1 cup broth into a serving bowl and add butter. Stir until well blended. Place in the center of the platter. Serve immediately with hot sauce, if desired.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Do you need a reason to love lasagna? Might it be the oven-baked pasta bathed in layers of zesty spices, fresh herbs, meat sauce, and Italian cheese? Just thinking about it is mouth-watering. Well, you don’t need to travel to Northern Italy from the Pacific Ocean. Café Portofino, a beachfront restaurant on Kauai, serves up a plate of happiness and satisfaction by bringing the Italian deliciousness right to your table. Their classic lasagna combination features the rich meat sauce of cravings as well as a creamy white sauce to die for. This is not your ordinary lasagna. Taste it to believe it.
Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai! No, the rooster isn’t the host…he just thinks he is. If he could speak, he would probably recommend the catch-of-the-day and lead you to a table outside where the view is simply mesmerizing. The staff at Oasis on the Beach focuses on quality of ingredients by using local growers and fishermen for diversity in cultures as well as flavor. For example, the Pork Wonton appetizer is complemented by a spicy ginger soy sauce for dipping. Pair it with the Okinawan Sweet Potato Wrap for something new and different. The roasted peppers and charred onions enhance the creamy texture of the Hawaiian sweet potato. You can’t get flavor like this on the mainland. Choose your next meal at a place that stays true to their mission statement of sustainability.
Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai! If you’ve ever wondered how hula dancers keep that slim waistline, perhaps it has something to do with healthy choices. Hukilau Lanai offers farm-to-table fruit and local vegetables as well as fresh fish and seafood. They support local farmers and fishermen who are mindful of the environmental impact. A staff of gourmet chefs continue to be inventive in serving food that is as appealing on the plate as it is on the palate. Garnishes add beauty in addition to aromatic elements. It all adds up to outstanding flavor and top-notch quality.
Dining Outside the Home: Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu, Kauai! Across the road from Poipu Beach, pull up a chair at Brenneke’s second floor restaurant for a casual meal with an open-air view of beachfront action. Rain or shine, it’s a pretty decent hangout for Happy Hour cocktails and Kauai-Style Pupus. Fresh Mahi Mahi, Ono, and Sashimi Grade Ahi prove the fishermen like Brenneke’s as much as the customers. If big beach burgers are your thing, no worries. They’ve got ‘em. Feed the entire family; a Keiki menu offers finger foods and dinner entrees. Drop by and stay awhile, you’re on island time now.
Dining Outside the Home: Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab in Las Vegas, Nevada! Not every restaurant can boast of serving Chilean Sea Bass with class, finesse, and quiet elegance. Joe’s Seafood can, yet they do it without exaggeration. After all, the wide selection of fresh seafood is flown in daily. When the porcelain plate is set before you on a linen tablecloth, without a doubt the chef’s creation of chilean sea bass with miso glaze, bok choy, and shiitake mushroom will color your world. The impeccable service is simply icing on the cake.
Dining Outside the Home: Frank’s Gourmet Grill in Mystic, Connecticut! There’s something nostalgic about entering a dining room to see couples chatting over half-filled martini glasses. The words “style” and “grace” come to mind. People don’t seem to be in a hurry at Frank’s Gourmet Grill. Appetizers are appreciated. Soups are savored. Although seafood is always popular, it’s not unusual to see a spoon swirling in a bath of Fettuccine Alfredo or a knife cutting into a Rib-Eye Steak smothered in teriyaki glaze. The menu definitely deserves more than one visit. Passion and satisfaction are visibly perceived, understood, and remembered.
Dining Outside the Home: Captain Daniel Packer Inne in Mystic, Connecticut! In the 1700s when weary travelers stopped for the night for food and a good night’s sleep, Captain Packer probably didn’t serve Lobster Salad and Roasted Cod with butter cracker crumbs. He did, however, entertain his guests with thrilling tales of adventures on the high seas. The Captain Packer Inne is still family-owned. They have poured blood, sweat, and tears into restoring it to the historic landmark it will always be. Hospitality is still extended to guests and patrons for fine dining and pub fare with live entertainment. You may even hear of wandering spirits. Unwind, bask in the history, and enjoy this popular destination.
Dining Outside the Home: Sea View Snack Bar in Mystic, Connecticut! Life is good when you can stop by a roadside drive-in along the Mystic River and walk away from the service window with incredible take-out seafood. Anyone who loves clam strips will literally think they have died and joined King Neptune, Greek mythology’s god of fresh water. But that’s not all. If lobster, scallops, tuna, or shrimp floats your boat, indulge. The price is right and the menu has it all. Picnic tables offer convenient seating under shaded umbrellas. Come as you are. It’s all about the food.