Print Spring 2013

Whole Snapper Casa Marina

by Janet Groene

How could anything so simple to make at home  be a head-turner of a buffet dish at a luxury hotel? At the historic Casa Marina hotel,, in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, chef Aaron Webb is known for his eye-popping Sunday brunches. Many restaurants pull out all the stops for holiday buffets but this oceanfront hotel is where every Sunday year ‘round is a celebration for those with birthdays, anniversaries or just a yen for a memorable brunch.

The hard part of this recipe may be getting a whole, fresh fish. Place your order with your fish monger well in advance.  If you’re a lucky angler, catch your own. Here’s how to present it at the table.

  • 1 whole, gutted red snapper, 5 to 7 pounds

  • 1/2 to 1 cup virgin olive oil

  • Your choice of herbs such as lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin

Scale the snapper and remove gills but leave the head and tail on. Lay the fish on a flat surface and use a sharp knife to score both sides in a diamond-shape pattern, cutting deep but not through the center bone. Caress the scored fish generously with olive oil, then sprinkle herb(s) of your choice into the cuts.

Make a large ball of silver foil and stuff it into the open cavity of the fish so it will stand firmly oil an oiled cookie sheet. Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees, rotate pan and cook another 20 minutes. Check for doneness. Total baking time depends on the size of the fish. Accompany with your favorite dipping sauce.

Provide tongs so guests can take chunks of fish for themselves. “Diamonds” lift easily away from the bone.


by Scott Crawford executive chef of Herons restaurant at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina.

Serves 4

  • 1 large locally grown butternut squash

  • 2 6oz cans coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons malted milk powder

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • Pinch fresh nutmeg

  • Kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut Butternut squash in half and remove seeds. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush the butternut with butter using a pastry brush. Season the squash with salt and place on a baking sheet. Roast the squash in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until squash is soft and flesh is bright orange in color. Remove from oven and allow squash to cool for 10 minutes. Scoop the squash away from the skin with a spoon and place in a blender.

In a small sauce pan gently heat the coconut milk, malted milk powder, vanilla, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove from heat and allow mixture to steep for 5 minutes. Turn on blender and Add liquid mixture to butternut squash a little at a time until you achieve the desired consistency (You do not have to use all of the liquid). Add the remaining butter and sugar while blending. Season with salt to taste.