Big Catch Charity Fish Fry

A few weeks ago, the company where I work agreed to sponsor the Big Catch Charity Fish Fry to help raise money to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend and help grow their mentoring program. As part of our sponsorship, we received several tickets to attend the event. Not being one to turn down fresh Florida seafood, I enthusiastically agreed to use a ticket and go to the fish fry. My coworker’s fiancé, Reggie, also joined me.

The Big Catch Charity Fish Fry was held at Posey’s Dockside Cafe in Panacea, Florida. Although this Posey’s location is fairly new, Posey’s is a long-time Wakulla County institution. Beginning in the 1920’s, Posey’s Oyster Bar in St. Marks attracted people from the Tallahassee area with their “topless oysters” and smoked mullet. The oyster bar gained more recognition when it was mentioned as a destination in the New York Times Travel section. Unfortunately, the same year as the New York Times nod, Posey’s Oyster Bar sustained irreparable damage from Hurricane Dennis. Fortunately, Posey’s opened newer locations in Panacea and continues to serve scrumptious Florida seafood.

Back dock at Posey's
Posey's Dockside Cafe

The dinner plate at the Big Catch Charity Fish Fry included delectable fried shrimp served with cheese grits, coleslaw, hushpuppies, and iced tea. I have a deep love for cheese grits, but Reggie almost committed southern food heresy by passing on the cheese grits, explaining that he prefers his grits with sugar. Luckily for him, one of the servers admitted that she is not originally from North Florida and also prefers her grits with sugar and butter.

Posey's Fried Shrimp
Posey's Fried Shrimp Plate

With a hot, fresh plate of perfectly fried Florida seafood, the Big Catch Fish Fry was a fantastic event that supported a great organization. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, check out their website at  http://www.bigbendmentoring.org. Next time you are in the Big Bend area, be sure to stop by Posey’s for some fried shrimp and cheese grits.

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Tacos de Camarones

I was really in the mood for shrimp tacos for dinner the other night. Jill said she didn’t care what we had for dinner as long as it included “lots of vegetables.” So, I made shrimp tacos with a lot of vegetables.

To make the shrimp tacos, or  Tacos de Camarones, extra-veggieful, I quartered mushrooms, chopped some garlic, and sliced up an orange bell pepper and a small onion.

Prepared vegetables for the taco filling
Prepared vegetables for the taco filling

To give the vegetables a fajita flare, I sautéed them in a little olive oil until they started to caramelize.

Saute the vegetable filling
Saute the vegetable filling

While the vegetables were sautéing, I also sautéed the shrimp in a very small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan.

Saute shrimp in a small amount of olive oil
Saute shrimp in a small amount of olive oil

As soon as the shrimp started to turn pink, I poured in a couple of glugs of beer into the pan and simmered the shrimp until they were completely cooked. I had a bottle of Sam Adams Coastal Wheat and thought it sounded like an appropriate pairing for shrimp, so I used that.

Simmer the shrimp in beer
Simmer the shrimp in beer

Placing two or three shrimp (depending on their size) on small corn tortillas, I topped the shrimp tacos with the vegetables. Because of the heartiness of the mushrooms, the two or three shrimp were enough to make the taco satisfying. You could always add more shrimp, but this recipe for shrimp tacos is a great way to save money and make a great dinner with only a small amount of shrimp.

Put the filling on a corn tortilla
Put the filling on a corn tortilla

To add even more vegetables to the dinner, I chopped up some spinach and sliced up and avocado (Jill’s family grows avocados). I topped the shrimp tacos with the spinach and avocado as well as with some shredded cheddar, salsa, and sour cream. The sweetness of the onions and bell pepper and the meatiness of the mushrooms supplemented the shrimp well. Because we only used a few shrimp in this recipe, we actually made this for dinner two nights in a row.

Add your favorite toppings
Add your favorite toppings

Shrimp and Eggplant Gumbo

I found a recipe for Budweiser Braised Shrimp in the Tallahassee Junior League’s most recent cookbook, A Thyme to Celebrate. I’ve been craving something like this, but wasn’t in the mood for this exact recipe, so I made up my own dish inspired by Budweiser Braised Shrimp recipe.

To make shrimp and eggplant gumbo, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1lb large white shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 14.5oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (or a hot pepper sauce)
  • 12oz light beer (I used Bud Light Lime for this recipe, though I don’t usually drink this)
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp plus a pinch salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp file’ powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 servings rice, prepared

Prepare the vegetables by cutting the eggplant into 1/2 in cubes, mincing the garlic, dicing the onion, and chopping the peppers. I used an orange and a yellow pepper for color and because Jill doesn’t care for green bell peppers.

Chopped and diced vegetables
Chopped and diced vegetables

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent.  Add the eggplant and cook for five minutes, stirring often to ensure that the eggplant cooks evenly.

Eggplant in cast iron enamel pot
Cooking the eggplant

Add the chopped peppers and continue cooking and stirring for another 5 minutes.

Diced peppers are added to the eggplant
Add the diced peppers

Add the stewed tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Turn the heat down to low and let the vegetables simmer while you prepare the shrimp.

The tomatoes are added to the eggplant and peppers
Adding the tomatoes

While the vegetables simmer, add a teaspoon of olive oil to a skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. The shrimp should turn pink.

Peeled and deveined shrimp in a skillet
Peeled and deveined shrimp

Add the quartered limes and the sriracha sauce to the shrimp. Cook for another minute.

Shrimp, limes, and hot sauce in a skillet
Add the limes and hot sauce to the shrimp

Add the light beer and simmer for five minutes.

Simmering the shrimp
Simmering the shrimp

When the shrimp are finished cooking, drain off any remaining liquid and discard the limes. Add the shrimp to the vegetables and mix gently. Let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the file’ powder to thicken the gumbo. Serve over rice.

Shrimp and eggplant gumbo plated
Shrimp and eggplant gumbo

While this is not the typical Louisiana-style gumbo that most people are familiar with, the shrimp, eggplant, and tomatoes complement each other well. The rice is especially good when it absorbs the juices from the gumbo.

Shrimp and Grits

Since we’ve been traveling, we haven’t posted a recipe in over a week!  The pictures below are from our 2009 Georgia Christmas, but I figured the recipe was appropriate given the delicious shrimp and grits we had last weekend while on vacation.

Start by melting a combination of olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Once the oil and butter are heated, add some chopped vegetables.  Pictured above (clockwise from the top) are halved cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley, diced green peppers, minced garlic, chopped celery, and diced yellow onion.  In order to make sure the vegetables cook evenly, add the garlic and onion first and cook until soft and translucent.  Then add the celery and green pepper and cook until softened but not mushy.  Finally add the tomatoes.  Hold off on adding the parsley until the end.

Stir and smile 🙂

Add about a pound of peeled, deveined shrimp.  Cook for a few minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.  How long you cook the shrimp will depend upon the size of the shrimp you are using.  For medium shrimp, it takes about 4 – 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Cook four servings of grits according to the package directions, adding cheese (we used smoked gouda) and cream to taste.  Adding some cream at the end is the secret to creamy, yummy grits.

Serve the shrimp and veggie mixture on top of hot grits (or on the side, if you are like me) with a green veggie (steamed broccoli, a spinach salad, or whatever you like best).

Enjoy!