Southern Florida's Bountiful Season Begins!!

Darlings!  Yippee!  Hooray! Woo hoo! The Southern Florida growing season has begun!  The Farmer's Markets are back!  And stone crab claws are in season!

At the farmer's market I picked up:  beautiful baby beets, a variety of globe zucchini and patty pan squash along with some very hard to find Thai chiles.

I am thankful I live in a place that has stuff that grows while elsewhere it snows!  (30 years living in the cold is enough, don't you think?)

These organic oyster mushrooms are delicate in texture and flavor.  I'm going use these as a garnish with pearl onions in a chicken fricassee!

I am thankful for our new, spacious home and that I have a loving partner to share it with.

Num  num!  Tropical fruits:  Florida avocados (much larger than Haas, and some can be quite sweet!) passionfruit and divine, sweet bananas all straight from the farm!

I am thankful for my good health and my strength of body, mind and soul.

Stone crab season runs from October until May each year and I have to say, La Diva did not eat nearly as many as I should have last season!  (I loves me some crab!)  The crab claw is where all the meat is and is usually served with a creamy mustard sauce.  For a decadent treat, whip cream and fold it into the sauce and serve!

I am thankful for possessing the ability to position myself in life to live in cities that are vibrant and inspiring.  (and grow palm trees!  Oh, and near an ocean!  I have to live near an ocean, an ocean full o' crabs!)

Easy and quick Moroccan chicken tagine with vegetables and Israeli cous cous using Herbie's Tagine Spice blend made the dish authentic and flavorful with just a few spoonfuls!

I am thankful for my friendships with people I've met and shared many great times with in the past and today as well as the many wonderful friendships I've developed online with people I HOPE to meet in the near future! (or might not ever meet but you sure do make my day sometimes!)

This is honey made from tropical lychee and longan flowers from the beekeeper down at Bee Heaven Farms.  It's organic and has a slight cinnamon spice taste to me!  It's my favorite and I can't get enough of it!  (ok, the tupelo and orange blossom honeys are pretty good too!)

I am thankful for my family and my in-laws in particular, who have done so much to contribute to our happiness in so many ways.

Spaghetti Squash with Mornay Sauce

Last night I wanted to try something different with spaghetti squash and decided to make kind of a gratin with it!  I didn't realize at the time that what I actually made was a mornay sauce for the squash.  What's mornay sauce, you ask?  Why, it's simply a bechamel sauce with cheese added to it!  What's bechamel sauce you ask?  Why, it's simply a white sauce made with butter, flour and milk, super easy and the mother of all French sauces!

This is what I did:

I took the whole squash and put it on a foil-lined baking tray, poked a few holes in it and baked it on 350 until the fork went in easily.  I cut it open, scooped out the seeds and then put the squash fruit side down on the tray and baked another 15 minutes.  I allowed the squash to cool a bit and then using the tines of a fork, I shredded the squash into long threads.  (you can do this part several days before)

Made a roux with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of flour.  Mix well and form a paste, constantly stirring and cooking.   With a whisk, stir in one cup of milk.  Stir well until thickened and voila, you have white sauce!  Then I added 1/2 cup of grated parmigiano cheese and 1/2 cup of fontina to turn it into a mornay sauce.

Add the sauce to cooked spaghetti squash and put into a casserole and top with bread crumbs.   I could have added buttered breadcrumbs or more cheese on top but I felt the dish was rich enough and just wanted a tad of a crunch, so I added simple, plain panko crumbs.  Bake at 400 F until bubbly and brown!

RESULT:  Holy Cow!  What  a wonderfully, scrumptiously, rich side dish for what could be considered a boring vegetable!  This would make an elegant but easy side dish for Thanksgiving turkey and in fact, would be a nice break from the usual baked acorn or butternut squash with brown sugar and butter.

The dish was creamy and more-ish with a sharp taste hit from the parmigiano cheese, and surprisingly enough, the DJ liked it too!  (he doesn't usually care for squash too much.)

 And most of all, I'm thankful that you read my blog! 

La Diva will be spending Turkey Day NOT cooking but with dear friends at multiple dinners (!) and enjoying myself!  What about you?  Happy Thanksgiving, darlings!! xoxo


Intuitive Eggplant said...

Man, am I envious of your South Florida bounty! Those veggies and stone crab claws are just gorgeous, and I love your recipes too!

I am thankful to know you, my friend. Since Scout has finally come home, I decided I didn’t want to leave him by his lonesome for the long weekend so canceled my original plans. Still hoping to pop down to Lexington Wed. night for a cooking demo and dinner. It will mostly be an obligation-free Thanksgiving, which is kind of nice for a change! Enjoy your friends and multiple meals :)

Boxer said...

First, I'm sorry I came here right now because I'm really, really hungry. GREAT photos.

I'm glad you're not cooking for Thanksgiving but enjoying it with friends and letting others do the work. I actually opted out of baking today.... I've spent way too much time in the shop the last few weeks and the idea of standing in the kitchen making dessert doesn't seem fun. So, helloooo Whole Foods!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! xoxo

Dani said...

Happy Thanksgiving Diva!

Aunty Belle said...

Gorgeous haul from the Farmer's Market--an' I'll be right down to help ya enjoy those amazin' stone crabs--mah favorite kind of crab.

How lovely to read that yosue in a good place, wif' good folks to love, an the health to enjoy it.

Kudos to yore friends fer invitin' La Diva so she has ONE day that she doan wear an apron. Heh!!

LaDivaCucina said...

Hi Eggy! I'm thankful to know you too, you brighten up the food world and are a true food sleuth! I'm so happy that Scout, the little adventure kitty, is back and think that staying home with him is a grand idea! Talk about showing gratitude!

Boxer, I only like to cook and bake when I want to (outside of work) if it's no fun, it ain't done! I have put off making something to be outside on a sunny day, so I get it. Besides, why not pay the professionals to do what they do best? It's all good! Good luck with your new projects, Southern dinner (I think I saw that?) and deconstructing yer vodka! heheheeee....

Thanks, Dani, backatcha, girl. So GLAD Mama's back home! Yay!

Aunty, sometimes we are in the valley and sometimes we are on the mountaintop. Thankfully, I'm out of the valley now! So many friends in trouble, foreclosing, out of work, sick or worse, dead....I can't really complain. And besides, we are pretty lucky down here in Florida, aren't we? Life is good!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! xoxo

Karl said...

Good afternoon LaDiva,

Mmmm, stone crab. Now that would be a good Thanksgiving dinner.

Hope you and NeverL8 have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thombeau said...

I am thankful for YOU, darling diva, one of my oldest and most treasured friends. LOVE YA! xoxox

chickory said...

this made me happy. you are living well, and that really is the point. Beautiful photos. what a treat -crab legs looked so pretty wit that turquoise dish. Happy Thanksgiving. I did cook - it was all really good. V and I always love our holidays jus the two of us. regards to the dj too!

moi said...

I'm so thankful I met you because you have a kick-ass energy. And you can cook like nobody's business, proving that feeding people is one of the world's best ways to spread the love.

Hope you recovered from French Food Fest 2011 and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving!

LaDivaCucina said...

Thanks, Karl! I'm going to try to get in as much crab as possible this year!

Awww, Thom! Thank you, I hope we can finally see each other in 2012?

Thanks, Chickory! I'm glad everything went well for your dinner, I like holidays with just us too. Today I think we'll do the tree together, play Christmas music, drink some rum and put on "It's a Wonderful Life!"

Thanks so much, Moi! I so enjoy our communications and shared love and loathing of many things! Ahh....three days of cream, buttah and fatty food, I'm done and feel like a blob! Fish for dinner tonight~Have a great time at your dinner party tonight!

Roses said...

Sorry I'm late to the feast.

What a great dish to make with squash. We don't get spaghetti squash over here, but I'm sure I can roast a different kind and give it a go.


I'm thankful for you in my life, your energy and enthusiasm.

Aunty Belle said...

Is yore tree up? How wuz Jimmy Stewart this yeah?

Jes' a note--I went to the famer's market yesterdy, an seen them globe zucchini --bought 'em jes' on account of seein' in yore photos!! YUM.

MJ said...

Thank YOU, La Diva!

Jill said...

Wow! What great pictures...we are all thankful for you too!!

Velva said...

Look at that bounty...Florida has so much to offer in the way of food choices. South Florida has a wonderful tropical climate that can produce some wonderful fruits and veggies.

Love the post. I am thankful that you share with us your great food talents, your humor and your friendship.