Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Stiltsville Fish Bar in Miami: South Florida Seafood

Located in the heart of the Sunset Harbor neighbourhood of Miami Beach, with glistening views of the harbour and stunning sunsets over Biscayne Bay, Stiltsville Fish Bar is a culinary homage to South Florida seafood and Key West inspired cocktails. The newest chapter of chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis culinary love story, Stiltsville is a labour of love that was two years in the making. The duo first made a name for themselves in New York with their popular fried chicken restaurant, Root & Bone, but have now retraced McInnis’s roots back to Florida, from Jacksonville and the panhandle known for its Cajun fare, down the Fort Lauderdale and the Keys with a hint of the Caribbean. Suffused with the genuine southern charm and hospitality for which the duo are known, Booth and McInnis have cultivated relationships with local fishing boats, and offer a rotating selection of fresh-caught fish from the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean which feature strongly on their sensational menu.

The interior, designed by Celano Design Studios, is based on a traditional southern seafood shack with with whimsical decorative items like brass purse hooks at the bar in shape of Poseidon and his trident; imaginative purple barnacle planters with tiny air plants; beer taps made from swordfish bills; shell chandeliers; wooden columns evocative of the Stiltsville structures; black and white photos depicting the heyday of the original landmarks; and a color palette replete with seafoam greens, aquatic blues, sandy beiges, and browns reminiscent of driftwood or old pirate ships. “We really wanted to capture the spirit of life on the water,” remarks Booth, “The storied history of the Stiltsville houses was the perfect muse for our new concept.”

Arriving for dinner during Art Basel, we dove into a selection of appetizers including Cobia Tiradito garnished with avocado, crispy hominy popped corn, aji amarillo chili, cilantro and lime, Red Shrimp with boggy bayou aioli and Stiltsville cocktail sauce, as well as a delcious Cherry Wood Smoked Local Fish Dip served with house pickles thyme and butter toasted homemade saltines and sweet Plantain “Mofongo” with bacon and garlic sofrito. inspired by McInnis’ childhood growing up on the waters of the Florida panhandle, fishing and boating in the Gulf waters, the pair’s love of simply prepared seafood and love for cajun cooking, we followed with entrées of Stiltsville Shrimp & Grits made with stone ground grits, creole sausage melted tomatoes, sweet peas and shrimp butter, Bayleaf and Citrus Crusted Fried Chicken with watermelon pickle salad and Stiltsville hot sauce, and Florida Lobster Risotto with celery root, butternut squash Meyer lemon butter and crispy sunchokes. A wonderful spot with delicious seafood and friendly attentive service, we left all-smiles and with a feeling of deep-felt satisfaction only a full day at Art Basel on a glorious sunny day surrounded by your closest friends can give you. Thank you, Manita, Randy and Renata.

Natural coral vase with fresh herbs

Stiltsville 'Daily Catch' menu with a clothes-peg

Designed by Celano Design Studios, the traditional seafood shack interior features shell chandeliers, old fishing rods, old black and old wooden columns similar to those of original Stiltsville structures

Fresh pickled produce for sale at Stiltsville

Fresh local fish is stored on ice in an old claw bathtub at the front of the restaurant

Southern Tropic with Buffalo Trace, Redemption Rye Curacao, passionfruit and lemon juice

Rum Sazerac with Mount Gay Rum, Felipe II Brandy, demerara syrup and an Absinthe rinse

Peel-and-eat Royal Red Shrimp with boggy bayou aioli and Stiltsville cocktail sauce

Cherry wood smoked local fish dip with house pickles thyme and homemade butter toasted saltines

Cobia Tiradito garnished with avocado, crispy hominy popped corn, aji amarillo chili, cilantro and lime

Sweet Plantain “Mofongo” with bacon and garlic sofrito

Sour Orange and Snapper Ceviche with chilled watermelon, sour orange mignonette and celery

Mini bathtub finger bowls with fresh lemon

Florida Lobster Risotto with celery root, butternut squash Meyer lemon butter and crispy sunchokes

Bayleaf and Citrus Crusted Fried Chicken with watermelon pickle salad and Stiltsville hot sauce

Stiltsville Shrimp & Grits made with stone ground grits, creole sausage melted tomatoes, sweet peas and shrimp butter

Chef Jeff McInnis

chef Janine Booth

Brisket Jalapeño Poppers
Makes 12
Recipe courtesy of chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis

For the brisket:
1 fresh beef brisket, about 4 to 5 pounds
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

For the poppers:
12 jalapeño peppers, about 3 inches each
2 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup prepared brisket 
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Kosher salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Ranch dressing for dipping

Cut the brisket in half and place in a 5 quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, garlic, bouillon, chili powder, mustard, cayenne and garlic salt. Cover and refrigerate 1/2 cup mixture for sauce, and pour the remaining mixture over beef. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove the beef and cool slightly. Skim fat from cooking juices. Shred meat with two forks and return to the slow cooker; heat through. In a small saucepan, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, butter, pepper sauce and reserved water mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes to allow flavours to blend, then set aside.

Slice each jalapeno open lengthwise, then make a small crosswise cut at the stem end to form a “T.” Gently open the jalapenos and scrape out the seeds and membranes with a knife. Put the jalapenos, milk and 2 cups water in a large bowl and soak 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
 Meanwhile, mix the cheddar, cream cheese, brisket in a bowl with your hands until combined. Drain the jalapenos and pat them dry. Stuff 1 to 2 tbsp. cheese filling into each pepper.

Put the flour in a shallow dish. Whisk the eggs and ½ teaspoon salt in another dish. Put the breadcrumbs in a third dish. One at a time, hold the peppers by the stems and dredge in flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the breadcrumbs; dip in the eggs again and reroll in breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate until the coating sets, about 20 minutes.

Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 300°F. Fry the jalapenos in batches, turning, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve with your favorite ranch dressing and marinara sauce for dipping.

Southern Mac & Cheese
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jeff McInnis

"The inspiration behind this dish is my grandma Kathryn, who always made macaroni casserole. I loved the semi-burnt cheese topping that would stick to the dish and on top. At the restaurant, the casserole dish is much smaller, but we still get the same effect. We add some bread crumbs to the crust for texture. Cornbread crumbs work great, too."

1 pound torchio pasta, or can use penne, rigatoni or elbow macaroni   
1/2 cup butter      
1/2 cup all-purpose flour      
1/2 tsp Creole mustard     
5 cups whole milk      
1 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced     
2 bay leaves      
1 tsp paprika      
1 1/2 cups medium cheddar, shredded     
2 cups Manchego or Swiss cheese  
2 tsp kosher salt      
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground     

2 cups bread crumbs from leftover cornbread
1/2 cup soft butter      
Pinch of fine herbs      
Salt and pepper to taste      
1 large pinch of shredded cheddar reserved to top dish

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes. Remove and cool pasta immediately in refrigerator on a flat cold sheet pan. In a separate pot, melt the 1/4 pound of butter. Whisk in the flour and keep stirring the mixture for about five minutes constantly. Make sure mixture is free of lumps and then stir in the milk, onion, bay leaves, mustard and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the cheese in batches, being careful not to break the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the macaroni into the hot cheese and pour into a 9 inch cast iron casserole dish. Top with a big pinch of cheese.  

For the topping, melt the butter in a sauté pan and toss the herbs, salt and pepper, bread crumbs to coat. Place a thin layer of the topping over the cheesey mac in the cast iron dish and place in oven. Bake approximately 12 to 15 minutes in a 450°F oven, or until lightly brown on top. Remove from oven and serve.

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