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Provencal-Style Grouper

Provencal Style Grouper (1)

Provencal Style Grouper (2)

A dish known for its flavors from Provence, France. Lavender fields and medieval hilltop villages, in the southeastern region of Provence, stretches from the Rhône in the west to the Italian border.

This sauce with its colorful and bright flavors enhances the succulent taste of the grouper. Grouper should not be overcooked. The fish should be tender and using a fork should flake apart easily. I call this dish my Provencal-style Grouper. Your family and friends will definitely want to recreate this dish at home.

I’m using asparagus in this recipe, so I need to *blanch the asparagus first. I want them to remain vibrant green in color.



Colander-Style Spoon

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Stuffing (2)


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Olive Oil




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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

Provencal Style Grouper (1)

Prep Time: 15 minutes, (time includes blanching asparagus)
Total Cook Time: 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (11 x 13-inch) casserole dish, colander spoon, tongs, large mixing bowl, chef’s knife, 1 (3-quart) saucepot

Directions For Blanching Asparagus:
First, rinse the asparagus stalks under cold water to remove any dirt or sand. Take one of the stalks, hold it towards the bottom third of the stalk gently bending it until it breaks.  The bottom end that snapped off is the part of the asparagus that’s woody and very fibrous. The stalk breaks naturally where the tender part ends and the tough part begins.

In a 3-quart saucepot of salted boiling water (6 cups) add the asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a colander spoon or pair of tongs, immediately transfer the asparagus to an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water).  Allow the asparagus spears to cool down completely. This process is what’s known as “the shocking method”. You’re stopping the cooking process and setting the asparagus’ vibrant green color. Drain well before cutting the spears on the bias into 2-inch pieces.

Ingredients For Fish:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (8-ounce) center-cut skinless grouper fillets, 2 pounds total
3 tablespoons olive oil, to be used on the fish fillets
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup fennel, (1 bulb), diced
1 cup of red bell pepper, diced
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons of garlic (3 cloves), minced
1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons chicken broth, unsalted
2 tablespoons Pino Grigio (good dry white wine)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1/4 cup fennel fronds for garnish
2 lemons sliced for garnish

Directions For Searing Grouper:
Let fish rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (utilize this time for prep). Once fish reaches room temperature, prep the fish with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Note: A (12-inch) cast-iron skillet or a (12-inch) non-stick saute pan works best for searing fish.

Preheat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Carefully tilt pan off the heat to add the olive oil,  swish the oil around in the pan, then back onto the heat. You may see the pan start smoking, that’s what you want. Next, carefully place the grouper fillets into the pan, presentation side down. Jiggle the pan immediately so fish does not stick. Do not touch the fillets for about 3 minutes. The fillets will release from the pan easily, once they’ve browned on that side. If you believe they’re ready to flip, using a spatula, pick up one corner of the filet and see if it’s not sticking and looks golden brown. Turn the fillets over and sear the other side for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Transfer the fillets to a plate until sauce is ready to be transferred to the casserole dish.

Directions For Sauce:
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. Add the onions, fennel, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.

Place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl. Take a knife and slice through the tomatoes until they’re large bite-size pieces. Add the tomatoes to the sauce, then the chicken stock, white wine, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add the chopped basil and caper and cook for 1 minute.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Transfer the sauce to a casserole dish. Lay the seared grouper fillets on top of the sauce, bake for about 15 minutes. To judge if your fish is fully cooked (because oven temperatures may vary and so might the thickness of the fillets), make a small cut with a paring knife to see if the flesh has turned from translucent to opaque. Finally, lay the lemon slices, reserved chopped basil, and fennel fronds over the top.

Place a puddle of the sauce onto a plate, place a filet on top, and garnish with basil, lemon, and fennel fronds. This is my Provencal-style Grouper.

*Blanch: Blanching is a cooking process in which a food, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water, removed after a brief, timed nterval, and finally plunged into iced water to stop the cooking process.

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How To Cook And Open A Lobster


Today was a really fun day! Tonya, a good friend of mine, went with me to shop for seafood. I think she was somewhat surprised to see me stick my hand right into the lobster tank.

This is one of those posts that may not be easy for everyone to read.  Most all shellfish should be alive before cooking.  This makes it really hard for a lot of people to handle. BEING HUMANE IS KEY!

I’ve worked for many years cooking and handling lobsters, blue crab, shrimp, mussels, and clams. The fresher the seafood, the better the finished dish is going to be.

The Lobster Institute came up with a study. The study reads… lobsters, like insects, do not have complex brains that allow them to process pain like humans other animals do. They have compared it to when you kill a mosquito. Cooking a lobster, in the practical sense, is like killing a large bug.

To put a live lobster to sleep, first, cross the arms of the lobster then set it down, on its head, tail up, on the counter. Rub the back of the thorax in an up and down motion with your fingers. Do this for about 45 seconds. Let go and the lobster will balance on its head and not move. This is when you know the lobster’s asleep.

How To Cook And Open A Lobster.

Kosher Salt (2)

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Cooked Lobster

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley






How’s this for a finished dish, My Seafood Scampi Over Linguine. Great to take to parties. For this recipe, click on the link at the bottom of this post. The only changes are the addition of cooked lobster and fresh tarragon, for Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine.

Lobster And Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine (3)

Lobster And Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine (2)

Prep Time: 5 to 7 minutes (Allow for time to put the lobster to sleep as explained below and 5 to 7 minutes to bring water to a hard boil.)
Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes per pound (Cooked lobster should be vibrant red in color)
Total Time: approx. 27 minutes
Equipment: Large stockpot with lid (8 to a 16-quart pot), meat mallet, 1 lobster cracker, 1 lobster pick

1 (2-pound) lobster, live
1 1/2 quarts of water
2 heaping tablespoons of Kosher salt

Let’s get back to cooking and opening a lobster. Once I bring the lobster(s) home, I make sure they are kept in the bag with some crushed ice. You want to cook them as soon as possible. Before placing them into the pot of boiling water, I put them to sleep. This is something I learned when I worked at a seafood restaurant.

Place the lobster face (head) down on a counter, tail end in the air. Cross their arms and claws, then rub the backside (the thorax) of its shell, in an up and down motion. In about 45 seconds, their legs and antenna will stop moving. The lobster will then be asleep.  Balancing on their heads, by themselves on the counter. If you want to see how this is done,  just google “How to put a lobster to sleep”, and there are videos available.

I make sure that the water is salted, with sprigs of fresh tarragon, and at a hard boil. Next,  I place the sleeping lobster, head first, immediately into the boiling water. You’ll notice that the lobster is not totally submerged. I prefer to let steam and water cook the lobster. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot. Using a dishtowel, I hold on to the lid for about 10 seconds before letting go.

In a very large stockpot, I place water and tarragon into the water. On high heat, I bring the water up to a hard boil. I place the sleeping lobster into the boiling water then place the lid on, holding it with a towel for around 10 seconds.

Once cooked, I lift the lobster up using large tongs to release any excess water the lobster may hold, back into the pot. Next, I place the lobster into a large plastic container to cool before removing the meat.

Once cooled, first I take off the rubber bands from the claws. I remove the arms with the claws. Next, I twist off the tail to release it from the body, also known as the thorax. Discard the thorax.

There are two ways to remove the meat from the tail. The first is to bend, in a backward direction. Now the very end of the tail meat is showing. Use a pair of scissors and cut down the inner side of the tail to release the meat. The other way is to squeeze to tail together until you hear the backside snap. Turn the tail over, where the underbelly is facing in the upward direction. Using two hands, split the tail open.

Note: Fill a large bowl filled with warm water to remove the *Tomalley.

There is a piece that needs to be removed on the outer side of the tail meat. It’s really fibrous, just discard. You’ll notice a green paste-like substance known as *Tomalley. Rinse off the *Tomalley using warm water. The tail is now clean and done. Next, the claws.

This is where a good pair of lobster crackers come in handy. Another great tool is the meat mallet. One of the claws is larger and harder to crack than the other one. You may need some help with that one, that’s why I mentioned using a meat mallet.

Lay a towel over the larger claw and hit it one time. That should put a crack into the claw and make it easier to remove the meat in one piece. When using the crackers, be careful not to crack the meat, just the shell. This is to ensure the meat will come out in one piece. The arms can be a bit tricky, they have knuckles, and meat can get caught.  There are lobster picks available to make that job easier.

How’s this for a finished dish, My Seafood Scampi Over Linguine. Great to take to parties. For this recipe, click on the link at the bottom of this post. The only changes are the addition of cooked lobster and fresh tarragon, for Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine.

*Tomalley is a green substance (lobster paste) found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas.

Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine

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Mint And Walnut Crusted Pan-Seared Salmon

Walnut And Mint-Crusted Pan Seared Salmon (3)

Walnut And Mint-Crusted Pan Seared Salmon (4)

Walnut And Mint-Crusted Pan Seared Salmon (2)

I wanted to challenge myself to make dishes using all of my herbs from my Hanging Organic Herb Garden. My first was a “Mint Challenge”. I made a trip to the Farmers’ Market to get some inspiration for my dish using mint. I found a beautiful display of blood oranges at the Farmers’ market. I knew then I was going to incorporate those into this dish with a beautiful salad dressed with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette.

This is my Mint And Walnut Crusted Pan-Seared Salmon.



Blood oranges originated in Sicily and Spain. They are grown in Calabria. Their juice resembles that of a ruby. Blood oranges are truly one of nature’s natural wonders. There are three components to this dish, the marinate, the salmon, and the salad dressing.  All three of these will include fresh mint.  What’s really great about this dish is everything can be prepared in advance. All then you’d have to do is cook off the salmon and serve.

I’m starting with the marinade.

Blood Oranges

Blood Orange

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley






Blood Orange Marinate

Mint Leaves

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Mint Leaves



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Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Red Onion



Arugula, Peas, And Sliced Red Onion

Arugula, Mint, And Blood Orange Salad

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Blood Orangde Vinaigrette

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Walnut And Mint Mixture


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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 1 (1-gallon) zip-lock baggie, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (8-ounce) jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid, chef’s knife, measuring cup, Microplane

Tip: Prepare the salads, dressing, and topping while the salmon is marinating.

Ingredients For Marinade:
2 (6-ounce) center-cut salmon fillets, skins removed
1 (1-gallon) size zip-lock plastic bag
1 garlic clove, freshly grated
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 blood orange, juiced (substitute blood orange juice)
2 tablespoon of soy sauce, low-sodium
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
1 tablespoon of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (substitute dried parsley flakes)
2 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

Directions For Marinating Salmon Fillets:
Place all the ingredients for the marinade into a zip-lock baggie. Place the two salmon fillets into the bag. Remove all the air. Massage the salmon so both sides of the fish are coated. Place the baggie on a plate and transfer it to the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Walnut Mint Topping:
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
zest of 1 Blood orange ( substitute regular orange is fine)
2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place all the above ingredients, for the topping, into a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

Ingredients For The Salad:
4 cups of Arugula (2 cups per serving)
1/4 cup of roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 red onion thinly sliced half-moons
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
2 *supremed Blood oranges
1/4 cup of thawed frozen peas, thawed

Ingredients For Blood Orange Vinaigrette:
1 (8-ounce) jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid
1 blood orange, juiced (substitute blood orange juice)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Agave nectar
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup *E.V.O.O.

Directions For Salad:
On two serving plates, (seen in pictures above) place 2 cups of arugula leaves on each plate. Evenly divide the sliced onions arranging them over the arugula. Same with the peas, dried cranberries, chopped mint, and orange segments.  Place the two prepared salads in the frig until your ready to plate the salmon.

In a measuring cup add all the ingredients (except the olive oil) for the vinaigrette. Add the extra virgin olive oil last. Whisk together really well. Pour the vinaigrette into a jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Set aside. Shake well before using.

Directions For Pan Seared Salmon:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Preheat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. remove the salmon from the baggie. Shake off all the excess marinade. Place the salmon fillets carefully into the hot sauté pan. Sear the salmon on one side for about 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes.

Bring the chilled prepared salads out of the refrigerator. Gently place the cooked salmon fillets on top of each chilled salad. Carefully spoon the walnut-mint topping onto each salmon fillet. Shake the jelly jar really well before spooning the blood orange vinaigrette over the salmon and salad.

This is my Mint And Walnut Crusted Pan-Seared Salmon Over An Arugula Salad With A Blood Orange Vinaigrette.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for extra virgin olive oil.
*Supreme: The term supreme (suprême) used in cooking and culinary arts refers to the best part of the food. For example; a segmented orange.

My Hanging Organic Herb Garden And Summertime Flowers

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