Next week we will introduce the 10 new members of the Orlando Sentinel Culinary Hall of Fame, which each year honors those who have made significant contributions to how Central Florida eats, drinks and dines. In the meantime, let's dish:
Go fish: This week's cold snap put me in a red snapper mood. The fish, found off both coasts of Florida, is in peak supply from December to June. It's also perfect for menu planning during Lent.
Red snapper is a firm-textured fish with a mild taste and is an excellent candidate for broiling, baking, steaming, poaching, frying and grilling. Serve with lemon and melted butter when grilled, fresh herbs if baked.
When purchasing snapper, look for a shiny surface with tightly adhering scales, clear eyes and deep red or pink gills. The belly cavity should be clean and shiny without any cuts or protruding bones, and the fish's aroma should be mild — similar to that of the ocean. Fresh steaks and fillets should have a translucent look and flesh that is firm and not separating. Be sure there is no discoloration and that the fish is packaged properly and not bent in an unnatural position.
Fresh red snapper always should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator and used within two days. The frozen fish should be used within six months. For the best product quality, always thaw frozen seafood in the refrigerator.
Today at OrlandoSentinel.com/thedish, look for a trio of easy snapper recipes including Seared Florida Snapper with Fennel & Carrot Sauté.
From farm to breakfast table. Growing Synergy and A Local Folkus have organized a Florida-inspired breakfast 8-11 a.m. March 2 at Lake Meadow Naturals in Ocoee. Chefs Juan Rendon and Rob Walker and their team at Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes are preparing the meal. The cost is $25 per person for this opportunity to learn more about how to eat local in Central Florida. Other participants include Barnie's Coffee and Olde Hearth Bread Co. Lake Meadow Naturals is at 10000 Mark Adam Road, just off State Road 429. Tickets can be purchased at alocalfolkus.com.
Road trip. For 46 years LaBelle has been celebrating swamp cabbage with a down-home festival. In addition to swamp cabbage dishes, the event on Saturday and Sunday includes a parade, motorcycle and car shows, entertainment, a carnival, a bass tournament, a rodeo, and a lawnmower race. LaBelle is about 140 miles south of Orlando in Hendry County. (swampcabbagefestival.org)
What's in season. At the produce stand look for bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carambola, celery, eggplant, grapefruit, guava, lettuce, mushrooms, oranges, papaya, peanuts, potatoes, radishes, snap beans, squash, strawberries, sweet corn, tangerines and tomatoes.
At the seafood counter, look for alligator, clams, oysters, pompano, snapper, Spanish mackerel, stone crab claws, tilapia and tilefish.
Heather McPherson can be reached at 407-420-5498, Twitter@OS_thedish and email@example.com. Follow daily food news at OrlandoSentinel.com/thedish.
Get the dish
Check out the Morning Mix with Scott McKenzie recipe of the week, Sautéed Shrimp & Cheese Grits, at OrlandoSentinel.com/thedish.