BLT Salad with Blue Cheese
In his cute version of the BLT sandwich, Michael Schwartz replaces the mayo with a wedge of blue cheese. He cures his own bacon, but the salad is delicious with any good artisanal bacon.
Sherried Black Bean Soup with Shrimp
Living in Miami, surrounded by Cuban culture, Michelle Bernstein has grown to love black beans, particularly in thick and chunky black bean soup. She makes a silky version by adding cream to the beans, then blending them until frothy.
Shrimp-and-Chorizo Pizza with Escarole and Manchego
"I don't know if I invented this combo, but since I don't remember stealing it from anyone, I'll take the credit," says Michael Schwartz of his ingenious pizza topping of shrimp, escarole, tangy Manchego and spicy chorizo. He gets his chorizo (the firm kind; the soft one would make the pizza too greasy) from Miami's El Palacio de los Jugos marketplace.
Milk-Chocolate Cremoso with Espresso Parfait
Although Miamians are assumed to be too bathing-suit conscious to indulge in dessert, this decadent milk-chocolate cremoso (a silky pudding-like dish) drizzled with olive oil is one of the best-sellers at Michael's. "Some people are like, 'Whoa—olive oil and chocolate?'" says Michael Schwartz. "But the olive oil reinforces the richness of the cremoso. As if you need any more richness."
Chickpea Panelle with Goat Cheese and Salsa Rustica
Traditional panelle, the popular Sicilian chickpea fritter, is deep-fried. Melissa Kelly forms her panelle onto a sheet, lightly sprinkles it with goat cheese and bakes it. Then she cuts the panelle into pieces and sautés them until they're crisp.
Japanese Spiced Eggplant
To enhance eggplant's savoriness, chef Allen Susser of Chef Allen's in Aventura, Florida (an F&W Best New Chef 1991), glazes it with soy sauce and mirin and sprinkles it with togarashi, a tangerine-scented Japanese spice blend of chiles, sesame seeds and dried seaweed.
Mixed Grill with Chimichurri Sauces and Roasted Peppers
In Argentina, a mixed grill is called a parrillada (parrilla means "grill" in Spanish). The dish is served in a rustic style, with whole pieces of meat like chicken hearts and sausage brought to the table. Michelle Bernstein prefers to grill skewers of meat for a more elegant presentation; here she uses chicken livers instead of hearts.
Red Snapper Ceviche
Allen Susser of Chef Allen's in Aventura, FL, prefers to use firm white-fleshed fish like red snapper and grouper, as well as conch and rock shrimp, for ceviches, because they keep their shape well. "Dice the fish into uniform pieces, so they cook evenly in the citrus juice," he advises.
Grilled Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Tropical Fruit
Michelle Bernstein is a big fan of pound cake. She makes hers with lots of butter, then sometimes slathers slices with more butter and sautés them in a heavy skillet. Here, she tops slices of warm grilled cake with a fantastic Mexican-inspired chocolate sauce flavored with cocoa, cinnamon and chile powder.
Lampe's Chicken Wings with Sweet-and-Spicy Pantry Sauce
Ray Lampe is a national barbecue champion, a teacher and the owner of a roadside barbecue stand in Lakeland, Florida. His first book, Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook, gives advice on how to bump up the flavors in grilled dishes, as in his sweet and sticky chicken wings (slash the inside of the joints so they cook through and the seasonings penetrate).