Monday, October 20, 2014

Ted Peters Smoked Fish
1350 Pasadena Avenue South

St Petersburg, FL 33707

A landmark since 1951, Ted Peters still packs in newcomers as well as seasoned veterans who are second and third generation customers. Anyone who has been in the area has been drawn in by the aroma of the smokehouse located next door to the restaurant.  You are offered your choice of outdoor seating on picnic tables and benches where sun shades are available to keep the sun at bay; or you can dine inside where air conditioning affords the summer visitors much relief while dining.
The menu features smoked salmon, mahi mahi, mackerel and mullet as the featured entrees; these can be purchased as a lunch with just the fish, or the dinner which is served with coleslaw and German potato salad.  They offer a delicious smoked fish spread in a sandwich or as an appetizer served with saltine crackers. They also offer, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, or hot dogs.  Top your meal off with a bowl of clam chowder and a slice of key lime pie. To quench your thirst you can enjoy beer, wine, sodas or a frosty cold mug of Root Beer with free refills on non alcoholic beverages.
As a first time customer I was offered a sample portion of the coleslaw, German potato salad and the smoked fish spread by our server, Sue.  As coincidence would have it, Sue was acquainted with both my brother and sister in law, but nonetheless her quality service was not only shown to me but to the other tables she was assigned.  She was eager to explain what each fish dish entailed, and as I was served my dinner she also instructed me on how to remove the backbone from my smoked mullet.  Truly our dinner was enhanced by her attentive and courteous service.
I chose the Mullet dinner which came with the coleslaw and German potato salad. Sue told me that my fish portion was larger than usual since it was the time of year they put on weight in preparation for breeding.  Truly my fish portion took up the entire plate and I was eager to try mullet for the first time.  Mullet is a staple fish in Mediterranean cooking. However, I had not heard of it until this trip to Florida.  I was learned that the local fishermen catch an abundance of this fish but that a good portion is frozen for export.
My fish was succulent, fresh and had a nice amount of fat along the backbone, the flesh separated easily from the bones without much effort.  My brother and sister in law are not big fish eaters, so they enjoyed a hamburger and watched me while I devoured every inch of my fish.   The smoking was done to a tee and did not overpower the taste of the fish, it enhanced the flavor.
You can dine in or take out, they are open Wednesday –Monday 10:30-7:30pm, and closed on Tuesdays, prices are modest ranging from $5.59-$20.99.  Ted Peters was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives a testament to the popularity of this diner.   If you find yourself in St. Petersburg, follow your nose and get ready for a real treat. Remember, cash only, no credit cards accepted.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

Hurricane Seafood Restaurant

809 Gulf Way   

Pass a Grille, St Petersburg Florida

 I had the good fortune to visit this Iconic establishment while visiting relatives in Florida.  My sister in law told me of how, when she was a teenager, this was a favorite destination for the young crowd; it has changed much over the years but has never lost its appeal.
From a single story building serving the beach crowd; then a second story to allow for the beach crowd and casual evening dining. Later a unique third story was added which allowed for upscale fine dining adventure and a view of the Gulf.  The main floor serving breakfast, lunch and light dinner fare, is laid back with uncarpeted floors, square tables with captain’s type chairs and the area is open and airy.  You can choose to dine al fresco while watching the beach crowd across the street. 

And speaking of streets; parking will be a chore especially during the peak season, parking slots are metered, but to make life simpler for their patrons, The Hurricane does offer parking directly behind the building at $20.00 per vehicle; don’t faint, you pay $20.00 to the attendant and he in turn hands you a parking slip which you give to your server.  At the end of your meal you are handed back a $20.00 bill or you can elect to have that amount removed from your final bill.  A unique way to keep room for their actual customers.
The Hurricane features a full breakfast menu from 7am-10:50am; including 8 types of bread, 12 sides including such items as diced green peppers, sliced mushrooms, grits (remember you are in the south) and the usual sides some of which are  fries, bacon or sausage etc.  They offer omeletts (their spelling), a two egg sandwich, a quesadilla with sautéed onions, green peppers and your choice of meat, eggs Benedict or maple brown sugar oatmeal just to name a few.

Lunch offers you the full range of items, including appetizers such as “gator bites” tender pieces of lightly sautéed 100% Bayou Alligator; Conch fritters, Grouper nuggets and even fresh Ahi Sashimi.  Salads and soups including the classic Shrimp Caesar or Blackened Salmon to several soup and sandwich combos you can pair with Clam or Conch chowder. Sandwiches include such items as a Crab melt, Grouper sandwich, a grilled portabella mushroom melt or the Hurricane Burger an 8 oz patty grilled on an open flame and served on a corn dusted Kaiser bun.
Sandwiches include your choice of French Fries or coleslaw; I chose the new menu item of Grouper Taco’s( two tacos for $8.99), my sister in law chose the triple decker BLT  for $8.25 and my brother decided on the lunch special, a deep fried Tilapia fillet with fries. Lightly breaded and fried in Rice Bran Oil it was golden brown, moist and very tasty. For a lunch special the portion was large enough for a hearty appetite.  My Grouper tacos were delicious; the fish was fried to perfection and not crusted with heavy batter which allowed you to taste the fish. The Taco’s are served up on soft shells with lettuce, cilantro, tomato and a blend of cheese and a wedge of lime.  I got the coleslaw which was nicely dressed not sweet and not vinegary, to borrow cliché “Just Right”.

My sister in law’s BLT was huge not just because it was a triple decker but because of the amount of thickly sliced bacon on the sandwich.  Crisp lettuce and succulent tomato’s, thinly sliced red onions and per her choice served on Cuban bread, other choices included wheat, rye or Texas toast. She got French Fries which are made from whole potatoes with skin, medium cut and they arrived hot and crispy and lightly seasoned.

The Hurricane offers a wide range of Entrees and Surf and Turf selections along with scrumptious desserts such as Key Lime Pie, Sea Salt Carmel Cheesecake just to name a few.  Of course if you are not into fish they do offer the Land Lovers section which includes steak and chicken.  They have the Twin Roof Top Bar and happy hour is Monday-Friday noon to 6pm.  They boast the Zing Zang Ultimate Bloody Mary which is served with Greek Pepperoncini, pickled crispy beans, marinated green asparagus, olives, lemon and lime slices and a celery stalk.  The glass in rimmed with the Hurricane Steak spice and they boast it is the ultimate salad in a glass.
Souvenir glasses, t-shirts, hats and key chains are just some of the take home keep sakes offered for sale, they serve one to a crowd and also host special events.  Special occasions from Weddings to kids Birthday parties are welcome.  Check out their website at or call them at 727-360-9558, prices range from $3.00 to $30.00 depending on current market value and gift cards are available on line.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

OEC Japanese Exprress

O.E.C. Japanese Express
2438 66th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

OEC Japanese Express is a moderate size establishment located in a shopping plaza located on a very busy corner; difficult to get to. The returning customers attest to it being worth the effort. OEC Japanese Express is exactly what you would expect from a Japanese eatery.  Polished chrome and glass cover the day’s fresh fish ready to be sliced and served in your favorite roll or sashimi.  Immaculate countertops afford the guest to sit in front of the cabinet and watch their order being made or you can sit at a booth or tables.  A few additional tables are available out-of-doors, under the shade of ancient oaks should one desire al fresco dining.
The staff is friendly and attentive and keeps a watchful eye just in case you want something, they don’t overdo it though, so you can dine without interruption.  The menu is quite extensive and offers a wide variety of rolls, sashimi, soup, yakimesi (fried rice or noodles), tempura, appetizers and much more.  Daily lunch specials are available for $6.99 and include a bowl of miso soup or house salad.   They also offer hibachi meals for both lunch and dinner or you could try a bento box; all excellent choices.
I decided to try the Sushi Lunch Special. You get to choose two maikzushi rolls from a selection of over 30 different rolls. A soup or salad is included. I chose the avocado roll and the California roll and miso soup.  My brother opted to get the vegetable tempura also $6.99, this usually comes with white rice but he chose to have fried rice in its place.  My soup was delicious. It included several nice size pieces of tofu, along with a generous helping of seaweed and thinly sliced scallions in a very flavorful broth.  My rolls were expertly rolled and the ingredients fresh and tasty.  The avocado roll was nori side out and the California roll was rice side out with the nori wrapped around the crab and avocado; it was topped with masago, capelin roe.  Wasabi and pickled ginger accompanied the plate and the size was adequate to satisfy my hunger.
The Tempura vegetable platter was delicately battered and nicely golden brown and served with two dipping sauces; one sweet and sour and the other similar to a creamy salad dressing. Both were very flavorful. There was a nice assortment of broccoli, sweet potato and squash in the dish.  The fried rice was alright, nothing special, but ordered out of curiosity to what it was like. 
The offer the usual soft drinks, hot or cold tea and serve beer, wine and sake, they do offer for those of us who are really watching their waistline a “healthy food” choice menu featuring steamed Chicken, Shrimp and vegetables dishes. You can dine in or take out and they do deliver if you live within their delivery area, delivery is free but there is a $15.00 minimum order requirement.  Open Sunday-Thursday 10:30am-9:30pm and Friday and Saturday 10:30am-10:30pm, give them a try I am sure you will be pleased.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

My New Pressure Cooker - A New Adventure in Cooking

My New Cooker

                Growing up in the 1940s and50s I suppose most everyone heard the horror stories about pressure cookers blowing their lids and taking out a ceiling or worse yet scalding the cook.  These stories were firmly implanted in my mind when my brother informed me he had purchased another pressure cooker.  My first thought was, “Oh, no! He might get hurt.” Secondly, he had an electric stove which would make regulating the cooker very tricky.

                He quickly went to work to put my fears to rest and to prove to me that modern pressure cookers have safety features the older versions did not.   He made a video on how to pressure cook ribs which can be found at his website, and looking at the cookbook section, Pressure Cooker Meals in Half the Time, for the link. So I thought why not, but the more I thought about it the more I began to fret about my electric stove, which is over 30 years old and very temperamental.

                Costco had a Cuisinart Pressure Cooker, 6 quart for $69.00 and it is electric, yes no stove required simply plug in a cook.  I had mentioned this cooker to my son and guess what I got for Christmas? Aha! You guessed it. The trial run was on December 29, 2013 with my son at my side. Our first meal was to be corned beef with cabbage, carrots and red potatoes. Looking back, I would say quite an undertaking for a first time user but none the less quite successful.

Potatoes, Carrots and Cabbage
                FIRST, please read the instruction booklet all the way through, I have a tendency to skim read and this turned out to be my first error.  Timing is everything with pressure cookers and of course in my haste to plug this in and cook I overlooked a simple formula, how to set the timer correctly.  Pressure cooking is based on weight for meats which is calculated by a simple formula; weight x 24 then rounding up to the nearest whole number, so 78 would be rounded up to 80.  Then setting the timer this is where I went wrong. The timer is set in minutes up to 40 then each minute after is 5 minutes and that is how I veered off course.  I overlooked that little bit of information and setting the timer I went past the 60 minute mark and then I added another 10 which I thought was correct. In fact it was only 10.  The timer resets its self at 60 and starts at zero, so I set the timer at 10 minutes when I wanted 110.
                So eagerly we put on the lid and pushed the start button, 10 minutes later it beeped at me; cooking was finished. Next, I learned how to release the pressure the FAST way, by lifting the pressure limit valve to quickly release the steam.  And boy is there a lot of steam; don’t do this under a cabinet; another of the tips to be found in the instruction booklet. Once the steam stopped, in a matter of about 30 seconds, the lid slid to open without any effort and we eyed the contents; yep there sat our four pound brisket with a little cooking from the scant 10 minutes of cooking we gave it.  So this time with calculator in hand we entered the correct cooking time, reset the cooker and started over.
It is time to eat!
                This time when it beeped we were eager to see our brisket. We again opted for the quick release method; not allowing the cooker to slowly cool down in the 20-30 minute mode.  As we opened the lid we were delighted to see a fully cooked and very tender brisket, now time for the veggies.  We removed the brisket and placed in a warm oven and covered with tin foil to keep it from drying out. Next we added 6 peeled carrots, 8 red potatoes and a small to medium size cabbage cut into sections.
                Replacing the lid this time we set the timer for 3 minutes. Yes, that is a correct time. It takes about 10 minutes for the unit to come to full pressure then the additional 3 minutes so total time would be around 13-15 minutes to fully cook the vegetables.  And what a wonderful surprise; they were fully cooked but still retained their crispness and flavor, the flavor was intense nothing was soggy like when you boil, and it surpassed the regular steaming method as well.   The only drawback we found was the capacity of the cooker. You cannot over load the unit or it won’t function. We like leftovers. To remedy this, when I removed the first batch of veggies I simply added another and reset the timer. While we were eating and enjoying the fruits of our labor, a second batch was cooking and ready in 15 minutes.
                My overall rating for this unit would be a sound 10 out of 10, simply for ease of use, ease of cleanup and perhaps the most important the quality of finished product.  It has completely erased my fear of pressure cookers, as the booklet tells you if you follow the instructions you are good to go.  I can think of nothing better than having a complete dinner ready from start in an hour or so, imagine a pot roast succulent and ready to serve in 40 minutes and perhaps served up with mashed potatoes or oven roasted vegetables, all which can be prepared while the main course is in the cooker.