Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.

Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler (Photo courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council)

Blueberry Cobbler (Photo courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council)

Blueberry Cobbler is no-fail dish that always gets rave reviews. Florida blueberries are officially in season in April and May, but many you-pick farms are already open. Which just goes to show Mother Nature is really the one in charge here. It also speaks to the diversity of Florida’s landscape. Blueberries are one of only three fruits native to North America (the others are Concord grapes and cranberries).

Blueberry Cobbler
Yield: 8 servings

3-1/2 cups fresh blueberries or 1-pound bag frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar or granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread blueberries in ungreased 8- or 9-inch square baking dish or pan. Sprinkle with cornstarch; drizzle with lemon juice; set aside.
2. In medium bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Add milk and butter; stir just until combined (not smooth.)
3. Drop 9 mounds of dough onto blueberries. Pour boiling water over dough and fruit. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and blueberries are bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe developed for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Columbia’s Paella ‘A la Valenciana’

Columbia’s Paella ‘A la Valenciana’

Columbia's Paella 'A la Valenciana'

Columbia’s Paella ‘A la Valenciana’

Columbia’s Paella “A la Valenciana” seems like the right Friday supper before I head to Tampa tomorrow. After all, if you are going to celebrate Gasparilla with a bunch of pirates, you’d better fuel up with quintessential Bay area fare. Since 1905, the Hernandez/Gonzmart family has owned and operated the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.  The flagship location is Florida’s oldest eatery. Additional locations include St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, the Historic District in St. Augustine, Sand Key on Clearwater Beach, Central Florida’s town of Celebration, the Columbia Cafe on the Riverwalk in Tampa and the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport. Paella is a super one-dish meal — and the leftovers are even better.

Columbia’s Paella ‘A la Valenciana’
Yield: 4-6 servings

1/2 teaspoon saffron
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound grouper
1/2 pound squid, tentacles and tubes
1 pound boneless chicken breast
3/4 pound boneless pork loin
1/2 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped into eighths
1 large green pepper chopped into eighths
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Columbia Seasoning, or to taste (see note)
8 mussels
12 scallops, 10–20-count
8 littleneck clams
3/4 pound shrimp, 36–40-count
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 whole bay leaf
2 cups white long-grain rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup small green peas, cooked, for garnish
2 roasted red peppers, cut into strips, for garnish
Asparagus tips for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400F. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the saffron to create a powder. In a small saucepan, heat chicken stock and add saffron, allowing saffron to dissolve.  Keep warm until use.  Cut the grouper into 4 equal pieces. Cut the squid into 3/4-inch tubes. Cut the chicken and pork into 1-inch pieces.
2. In a large paella pan or large ovenproof casserole, heat 1/2 cup olive oil on stove and sauté onion, green pepper, tomatoes and garlic until onion is transparent. Add pork and chicken to the pan, season with 2 tablespoons Columbia Seasoning, and cook until meat is lightly browned on all sides. Add all of the seafood and sauté for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, salt, bay leaf and rice; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and bake for about 20 minutes or until rice is done.
3. Sprinkle with wine and garnish with peas, roasted red peppers and asparagus tips.
Recipe note: Columbia Seasoning is available for purchase in all of the restaurant’s gift shops and in via the online store.
SOURCE: Columbia Restaurant

Morning Mix recipe: Chopped Watercress Chicken Salad with Orange Dressing

Morning Mix recipe: Chopped Watercress Chicken Salad with Orange Dressing

Chopped Watercress Chicken Salad with Orange Dressing

Chopped Watercress Chicken Salad with Orange Dressing

The more the merrier in Heather’s Florida Kitchen! That’s why I have teamed with the fabulous folks over at Orlando’s WOMX Mix 105.1 to offer the morning show’s Recipe of the Week. Today’s recipe is Chopped Watercress Chicken Salad with Orange Dressing. Watercress is an aquatic plant known for its vivid green color and unique peppery flavor. It’s also packed with cancer-fighting phyto-chemicals. Every Thursday, you can find more recipes exclusively for Mix 105.1’s Morning Mix here and at the radio station’s website.

Chopped Watercress Chicken Salad with Orange Dressing
Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon freshly-grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 cups watercress, washed and chopped (arugula may be substituted)
2 cups romaine hearts, washed and chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/4 freshly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

1. In a small saucepan, bring orange juice to a boil over medium heat. Boil to reduce by half, about 5 minutes. In food processor or blender, combine juice, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, water, ginger and garlic. Process until smooth.
2. Remove half of mixture and place in a large plastic, sealable bag. Add red chili flake and chicken tenders. Marinate for 30 minutes. Reserve remaining dressing. In a large serving bowl, combine watercress, romaine, onions, and cilantro.
3. Warm a large saute pan over medium high heat. Remove tenders from marinade and add to pan, along with marinade. Saute tenders until cooked through and caramelized brown, about 3-4 minutes per side, turning.
4. Toss reserved dressing with greens. Top with grilled tenders. Add chopped peanuts before serving.
Courtesy of National Chicken Council

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Meyer Lemon Muffins (Photo Bryan Chan/ Los Angeles Times)

Meyer Lemon Muffins (Photo Bryan Chan/ Los Angeles Times)

Meyer Lemon Muffins are a wonderful brunch addition. I clipped this recipe from the Los Angeles Times in 2014. The first time I made them, I added chopped pecans and a splash of dark rum to the batter (don’t judge me, it was for a brunch!). I hadn’t made the recipe in a while, but this past weekend a friend gifted me Meyer Lemons from her tree. The whole thin-skinned, juice-packed fruit is actually incorporated into the batter. The liquid gold in this citrus variety is coveted by cooks for its mild, bright flavor. Meyer lemons will bear fruit mostly during fall and winter in Florida, according to the Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. Beyond their fruit production, dark green leaves and fragrant flowers make Meyer lemons an ideal ornamental plant.

Meyer Lemon Muffins
Yield: 18 muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (or to taste)
3 Meyer lemons, divided
Splash of dark rum
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon (see note)

1. Heat the oven to 400F. Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, the baking soda, salt, and pecans in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
2. Cut two lemons into 1-inch pieces. Put them in a blender and pulse until the lemon is finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the rum, milk, butter and chopped lemon. Stir.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the lemon mixture. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened.
4. Spoon the batter into well-buttered cups of muffin pans, filling each half full.
5. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon over each muffin. Cut the remaining lemon into 9 paper-thin slices; cut each slice in half. Top each muffin with half a slice of lemon.
6. Bake about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Run a small spatula or knife around each of the muffins to loosen, remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Recipe note: Ceylon cinnamon (also called “true” cinnamon) has citrus overtones and a delicate, complex flavor. It’s available in specialty stores. You may substitute one-eighth teaspoon ground cinnamon. Chopped pecans can be added to the batter, if desired.
SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES TEST KITCHEN

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup (Photo courtesy the Mushroom Council)

Cream of Mushroom Soup (Photo courtesy the Mushroom Council)

This Cream of Mushroom Soup was developed by chef Billy Parisi, a fantastic food content creator. He developed this recipe for the Mushroom Council. Florida mushrooms are in season year-round. These nutrient-dense vegetables go with nearly all of your favorite meals. To clean mushrooms, brush off any peat moss with your fingers or a damp paper towel, or rinse the mushrooms briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Do not soak mushrooms in water as they easily absorb moisture. If the stem is tough, trim it before using. For shiitakes, stems should be removed before use. For portabellas, gills may be removed upon preference, as they store a large amount of moisture. Many people prefer to keep the gills intact for more flavor.
Parisi’s recipe is a umami-rich meal option that will work for week night dinners or Super Bowl gatherings.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Yield: Makes 1 gallon

8 slices bacon, chopped
1 small diced yellow onion
6 small diced stalks celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint button mushrooms
1 pint baby portabella mushrooms
1 cup shitake mushroom caps
1 cups oyster mushrooms, stems removed
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chardonnay
64 ounces chicken stock
2 cups of heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly-chopped parsley
Coarse salt and cracked pepper to taste
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish
Croutons for garnish

1. In a large pot on high heat render the bacon fat until the bacon become crispy.
2. Remove the bacon and set aside. In the same pot, combine onions, celery and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes over medium-high heat or until lightly browned.
3. Add the mushrooms and cook 20-25 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned.
4. Sprinkle the flour on top and then stir until it has been completely incorporated.
5. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until the liquid is almost gone.
6. Add the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil. Cook and stir until mixture thickens.
7. Puree the mushroom soup until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender.
8. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in the cream and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Garnish with croutons, bacon, fresh thyme and Parmesan.

Alligator Salad With Citrus Remoulade Dressing

Alligator Salad With Citrus Remoulade Dressing

Crispy Alligator Salad With Citrus Remoulade Dressing (Photo courtesy Florida Department of Citrus)

Crispy Alligator Salad With Citrus Remoulade Dressing (Photo courtesy Florida Department of Citrus)

Alligator Salad With Citrus Remoulade Dressing elevates the usual menu offerings of one of Florida’s signature dishes. The American alligator is a species of great ecological importance, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It’s also a source for nutritious protein. Alligator is a lean meat that is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein. It is available in a variety of cuts, including tail meat fillets, ribs, nuggets, and wings. Tail meat, the choicest cut, is a mild-flavored white meat that has a texture similar to veal. Ribs, nuggets, and wings are darker meat with a stronger taste and a texture similar to pork shoulder. Alligator meat is versatile and can be used in just about any recipe as a substitute for chicken, pork, veal, or fish.

Alligator Salad With Citrus Remoulade Dressing
Yield: 6 servings

Florida Citrus Remoulade Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons chopped cornichons
2 tablespoons chopped capers
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly-chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon pepper sauce
Crispy Gator:
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup pepper sauce
1 1/2 pounds alligator tail meat, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cold club soda
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Salad:
16 ounces mixed greens
2 cups shaved fennel
1 cup shredded red cabbage
3/4 cup seeded orange segments
3/4 cup thinly sliced cucumber
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup seeded grapefruit segments
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish

1. For the citrus remoulade dressing, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cover and chill.
2. For the alligator, combine orange juice with pepper sauce. Place gator meat in a glass baking dish; pour mixture over alligator. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.
3. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in bowl; add club soda and stir just until combined. Batter will be lumpy. Remove alligator from marinade; drain on paper towels. Discard marinade. Dredge meat in flour mixture.
4. Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350F. Cook meat 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked thoroughly. Remove from oil; drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Combine salad ingredients in large salad bowl. Toss with chilled remoulade dressing to taste.
6. To serve, place a mound of salad in center of each plate. Place 3 to 4 pieces of gator on each salad. Serve any remaining remoulade dressing on the side.
SOURCE: Florida Department of Citrus

Morning Mix recipe: Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese

Morning Mix recipe: Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese

Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese (Photo courtesy Mushroom Council)

Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese (Photo courtesy Mushroom Council)

The more the merrier in Heather’s Florida Kitchen! That’s why I have teamed with the fabulous folks over at Orlando’s WOMX Mix 105.1 to offer the morning show’s Recipe of the Week. Today’s recipe is Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese. This dish is great for feeding a crowd at Sunday brunch. With only 3.5 grams of fat and 1.5 of saturated fat per serving it will help you and your guests maintain those New Year’s healthy eating resolutions. Every Thursday, you can find more recipes exclusively for Mix 105.1’s Morning Mix here and at the radio station’s website.

Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms & Goat Cheese
Yield: 24 portions

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 small sweet yellow onions, diced
1 1/2 pounds sliced crimini mushrooms (about 8 cups)
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1 pound spinach leaves, torn into 1-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups egg whites
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Fine sea salt to taste
Coarsely ground pepper to taste
8 ounces creamy goat cheese
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil for garnish

1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray with cooking spray or oil four 8-inch round cake pans or 9-inch pie pans. Arrange on baking sheet.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onions and mushrooms; sauté until golden. Add the tomatoes; sauté until just heated through. Add the spinach; stir just until wilted. Divide among prepared pans.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, nutmeg, and salt and pepper until frothy. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Crumble the goat cheese over the frittatas.
4. Bake 30 minutes or until golden and a knife inserted in center of a frittata comes out clean. Cut each frittata into 6 pieces and garnish with chopped basil to serve.
SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM THE MUSHROOM COUNCIL

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins (Photo courtesy Betty Crocker Kitchens)

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins (Photo courtesy Betty Crocker Kitchens)

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins are a great choice to get the day started for participants in the Osceola Council on Aging’s “Meals on Wheels” March for Meals 5K event on March 18. The morning will include a 5K (3.1 mile) run and walk for individuals and/or corporate and family teams, a free Kid’s Run, silent auction, and more.  Plus, if you bring non-perishable food items, you will be entered into a special prize drawing. The 5K will start in downtown Kissimmee at Kissimmee Lakeview Park, 201 Lakeview Drive, at 8:00 a.m.; registration opens at 7 a.m. The cost is $25 (before March 1) and $30 (March 2-16) and $35 (day of event).  To register online go to www.osceolagenerations.org. March for Meals is a national campaign to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action on the part of local communities.
The muffins retain a moist texture with the addition of vanilla yogurt to the batter. You can substitute other fruit including chopped strawberries or dried cranberries. I added finely chopped pecans — leftover from holiday baking — as well. When you remove from the oven, dusted the tops lightly with orange zest. The fragrance is fab.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

1 cup 99-percent fat-free plain or creamy vanilla yogurt (from 2-pound container)
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 large egg or 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
Fresh orange zest to taste (optional)

 

1. Heat oven to 400F. Place paper baking cups in 12 regular-size muffin cups, or grease bottoms only of muffin cups.
2. In small bowl, mix yogurt and oats.
3. In large bowl, mix egg, oil and brown sugar. Stir in flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and yogurt mixture (batter will be lumpy). Gently stir in blueberries and nuts. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
4. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan and lightly dust tops with orange zest.
SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM BETTY CROCKER KITCHENS

Chef Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake

Chef Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake

Chef Art Smith's Hummingbird Cake

Chef Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake

Chef Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake, one of the most popular desserts served at Florida Homecoming Kitchen at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort, gets its moistness from working ripe bananas and crushed pineapple into the batter. It’s a celebration worthy cake and a true Southern specialty. I offer it today as the country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Food is what brings us all to the table to find our common ground.

Chef Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake
Yield: 12 servings

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped ripe bananas
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped pecans (optional)
Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 1/2 cups sifted)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. To make the cake, position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans, sprinkle evenly with flour and tap out the excess. (If you wish, butter the pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, then flour the pans and tap out the excess.)
2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, stir or whisk the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla until combined. Do not use an electric mixer. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a large spatula just until smooth. Do not beat. Fold in the pecans. Spread evenly into the pans.
3. Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, 30-35 minutes. Transfer the cakes to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks (remove the parchment paper now if using). Turn right side up and cool completely.
4. To make the icing: Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until combined. On low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla, to make a smooth icing.
5. Place 1 cake layer, upside down on a serving platter. Spread with about 2/3 cup of the icing. Top with the second layer, right side up. Spread the reaming icing over the top and sides of the cake. The cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored, uncovered in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon

Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon

Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon

Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon (Photo courtesy National Chicken Council)

Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon is an easy weeknight meal that won’t derail those New Year’s resolutions. Fresh tarragon is key to this dish. The tender green leaves provide a mellow flavor similar licorice. Tarragon is a classic addition to eggs, poultry, vegetables and seafood. Although I always recommend storing fresh herbs like you would cut flowers (in a small amount of water in a jar/vase on the kitchen counter), when it comes to tarragon I find it keeps best loosely rolled in a damp paper towel. placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated. Also the leaves do not dry easily. If you want to extend the flavor and use in other recipes, I have found steeping it in distilled water (think tea) and reducing the liquid in volume gives me a potent flavoring I can freeze in ice cube trays for later use. Serve Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon with a lightly dressed spinach and romaine salad.

Chicken Fricassee With Carrots and Tarragon
Yield: 4 servings

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups carrot slices (1/4-inch slices)
2 bay leaves
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1 bunch fresh tarragon, finely chopped, reserving a few sprigs for garnish

1. Heat oven to 275F-300F.
2. In saucepan, combine chicken broth and carrots. Add bay leaves. Bring to a boil and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until carrots are just tender. When carrots are tender, remove to bowl. Reserve broth.
3. While carrots cook, season chicken with salt and pepper. In skillet large enough to hold chicken in single layer, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until brown. Remove chicken to oven-safe dish and place in oven.
4. To skillet, add wine, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Add reserved broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until liquid measures about 3/4 cup, about 12 minutes.
5. Add sour cream to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in carrots and chopped tarragon. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat in sauce, about 3 minutes.
6. Remove to serving platter and garnish with tarragon sprigs.
SOURCE: National Chicken Council