Category Archives: healthy cooking classes tampa

jun-aug13 292wmCrispy seared sea bass, Spanish saffron basmati rice, organic spring peas, locally produced chorizo, chardonnay butter, organic parsnip & carrot chips

While a pinot gris or chardonnay seem like a natural pairing choice, this wonderful end of summer seafood dish would actually pair perfectly with a wide array of interesting wines. The combination of rich, lightly acidic chardonnay butter and aromatic saffron basmati offer a powerful counterpoint when paired with a California Pinot noir. Alternatively, the richness and fat content of the sea bass seem to pair very well with a luscious syrah and even stood up nicely to an Argentine malbec. Unusual yet delicious! What would you pair with this dish to go with some of the other components like salty-savory chorizo, spiced parsnip-carrot chips or the sea bass itself?

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Recipe: Mango Salsa

The mango is a very common tropical fruit usually found in Southern Asia, especially in Eastern India, Philippines, China, Burma, Andaman Islands and Central America. It is cultivated and grown vastly in many tropical regions and widely distributed in the world.

Mango is one of the most extensively used fruit for food, juices, flavor and coloring making it as the most functional fruit. The ripe fruit is variable in size and color, and may be yellow, orange, red or green when ripe, depending on the cultivar. When it is ripe refreshingly sweet taste that varies from every variety. Its flesh has its fibrous and some are soft and pulpy texture.

One of my favorite uses for mango is fresh salsa. It makes a great accompaniment to all sorts of grilled fish and chicken recipes.

Ripe Mango

cubed Mango for salsa

Ingredients for Mango Salsa:
  • 2 peeled, pitted and diced small
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 Tbsp medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 /2 small european cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbsp chopeed scallion
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted mustard seed
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Chop mango, red pepper, cucumber, scallion and red onion and combine in a bowl.
  2. Mix lime juice, olive oil, sugar mustard seeds & salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.
  3. Mix into salsa.
  4. Add chopped cilantro and stir until combined.
  5. Enjoy with fresh tortilla chips, on grilled fish or chicken or as an accompaniment to a fresh green salad

mango salsa

History of Mango:

Native to southern Asia, especially eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands, the mango has been cultivated, praised and even revered in its homeland since Ancient times. Buddhist monks are believed to have taken the mango on voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia in the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C.

The Persians are said to have carried it to East Africa about the 10th Century A.D. It was commonly grown in the East Indies before the earliest visits of the Portuguese who apparently introduced it to West Africa early in the 16th Century and also into Brazil. After becoming established in Brazil, the mango was carried to the West Indies, being first planted in Barbados about 1742 and later in the Dominican Republic. It reached Jamaica about 1782 and, early in the 19th Century, reached Mexico from the Philippines and the West Indies.

Ripe Mango on the vine

Source: Julia F. Morton’s “Fruits of Warm Climates”: Mango

Note: There are a few vari­eties of mango that are com­monly found in Amer­i­can gro­ceries stores. The most com­mon are the Haden, Tommy Atkins, and  Kent vari­eties, all of which have yel­low or green skins with a red­dish blush to them. If you do find an Ataulfo or Cham­pagne mango, it will have a smaller, kidney-like shape, yel­low skin, and small pit, so use 5 or 6 for this recipe. To choose a ripe but firm (com­mon) mango make sure it has a red­dish blush and firm skin. The mango should give slightly when squeezed and be fra­grant. If you acci­den­tally peel a mango that is too green, no wor­ries, cut it into small slices, sea­son with lime juice and sprin­kle with salt. You’ve just made man­goviche! Deli­cious!

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Recipe: Gulf Shrimp Ceviche

As a young man growing up in Key West Florida, I was exposed to a variety of fantastically flavorful ethnic dishes from an early age. Dishes that I would, over the years, constantly try to recreate or infuse into new ideas. South Florida in general is home to a diverse multi-cultural landscape of people, rich in tradition and passionate about the foods of their homeland. The bounty of both fresh produce and super fresh seafood readily available in Florida at any given time gives chefs the opportunity to come up with almost limitless inspiration and flavor combinations. Bahamian Conch Ceviche, Cuban Ropa Vieja, Puerto Rican plantain mofongo, Hatian Oxtail stew, these are all dishes that take me back to my childhood. One preparation always stood out for me, especially because I tend to go for fresh and spicy, flavor packed foods with a simplistic approach…seafood in particular, it was Ceviche. Fish, Shrimp, Conch, whatever…I LOVED ceviche.

Long before I ever dreamed that I would end up being a chef, I had the good fortune to eat many, many times at a little place called Louie’s Backyard in Old Town Key West. You see, my mother was a huge foodie and luckily for me, introduced me to all kinds of strange and exotic foods from an early age. The owners of Louie’s had recently brought in a young chef named Norman Van Aken, who would soon blaze a trail for what would one day become known as “New World Cuisine”, he was and still is the father of it…a new world Escoffier of sorts…Norman is obviously a culinary genius, few would argue that.

I used to love the irreverent cooking style and seemingly bizarre, yet playful flavors Norman created and there was definitely a buzz going around about his cooking from very early on. After finishing culinary school, I sought Norman out at his restaurant in Coral Gables and hung around until I was able to work my way into the kitchen, it was a brief time that would change my perception of what food could really be and how far an idea could be taken. Hopefully Norman knows what an incredible impact he has made on so many young chefs, including me…I doubt I could ever really fully thank him in a way that sounds as good as it does in my mind but, thank you Norman.

Now,  looking back on a successful career as a professional chef for the last 15 years, I have begun to seek out the flavors that remind me of my childhood. Afterall, isn’t that one of the great things about food? The fact that one bite can transport you back to a certain time and place…remind you of good times or bad, connect you with a family memory or simply remind you of sunday dinners at grandma’s house. Food connects us with our roots in a way that few other things in life can and I think that any great cook, at any given time, draws inspiration from or strives to re-create dishes that remind them of something dear to them.

My take on a wonderful recipe by Chef Rick Bayless– Chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, creator of  Frontera Gourmet foods, cookbook author and host of “Mexico One Plate at a Time“. This recipe is from his cook book “Mexico One Plate at a Time.” A must-try!

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 generous pound unpeeled, smallish shrimp
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1-2 Tbs vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce
  • About 2 Tbs olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
  • 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or  ½ cup of each)
  • 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • Salt
  • Several lime slices for garnish
  • Tostadas or tortilla chips for serving


  1. To cook the shrimp, bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 Tbs of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein shrimp. Toss the shrimp with remaining ½ cup lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jicama and avocado. Taste and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
  3. Serving: spoon ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips.


Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

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Justin-Thyme Food Photography 2011

A collection of some of our favorite and/or signature dishes from the past year. Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Provides Elegant Full-Service Dinner Parties to the to the Tampa Bay Area.

Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Provides Elegant Full-Service Dinner Parties to the to the Tampa Bay Area!

Do you love fine food and wine but dread a long night out at a fine dining restaurant? In today’s dining scene, people are taking advantage of another option! If you were to compare a personal chef service to restaurant, you could think of it this way: For a restaurant, you must drive to get there, possibly wait for a table, take a chance that your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests you don’t always have the guarantee that they will be honored, since most entrees are “assembly line” ready in the kitchen.

After eating your meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and get back in your vehicle to drive home. If you have a Personal Chef Service, you can eat a wonderful entrée that has been prepared specifically for you palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.

How it works:
Chef Justin will help create a delicious gourmet menu suited to your particular tastes for any special dining event in your home. He consults with you about what kind of party you’d like to give, how many guests you plan to invite and any other special detail to make your party perfect. He will then design your special custom menu of four or five courses suited to your particular tastes as well as help you pair up the best wines with the cuisine. We are also happy to make changes to the menu to accommodate a guest’s special requests or restrictions. Once menus are finalized, we print up custom copies detailing your event for your guests to keep.

You’ll enjoy a fantastic meal and our high-end four-star service, and then, while you’re savoring dessert, we’ll scrub your kitchen spotless as you bask in your guests’ praise at what a clever host you are for bringing in a private chef to create such a delicious and memorable experience.

We service the following areas:  Tampa, Clearwater, Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach, Largo, Madeira Beach, Mango, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, South Tampa, St. Petersberg, St. Pete Beach, Tarpon Springs, Tierra Verde, Orlando Fl

Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Tampa‘s Premier Personal Chef!

Recipe: Mangospacho with basil infused lobster

Mangospacho with basil infused lobster


  • 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted
  • 1 small green apple, peeled, chopped
  • 1 small celery stalk, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 large jalapeño chile, seeded, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 fresh cilantro sprigs

For gazpacho:
Purée first 10 ingredients in blender. Chill 2 hours. do ahead Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.

For basil puree: In a blender, puree 2 bunches of picked fresh basil leaves with 4oz of canola oil and a pinch of salt. add 1TBS of rice wine and a teaspoon of sugar. Reserve half of basil puree for garnish.

For lobster: Place 4oz. Maine lobster tails in simmering water for 6-8 mins, remove from pot and shock in ice water. Shell, devein and split lobster tails in half lengthwise. Toss lobster tails in basil puree and chill for at least 1 hour.

Ladle soup into 4 bowls; top each with 1 half lobster tail. Garnish with  basil and cilantro.

mango gazpacho

mango gazpacho with basil infused lobster tail

New ‘Fine Dining at Home’ Dinner Party Menu

Do you love fine food and wine but dread a long night out at a fine dining restaurant? In today’s dining scene, people are taking advantage of another option!

If you were to compare a personal chef service to restaurant, you could think of it this way: For a restaurant, you must drive to get there, possibly wait for a table, take a chance that your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests you don’t always have the guarantee that they will be honored, since most entrees are “assembly line” ready in the kitchen.

After eating your meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and get back in your vehicle to drive home. If you have a Personal Chef Service, you can eat a wonderful entrée that has been prepared specifically for you palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.

Dinner Menu Choices-


-Tortilla soup Tomato broth with smoked chicken, fresh roast corn, grated Spanish manchego cheese, crispy corn tortillas and poblano crema

-Wild Mushroom Bisque “Cappuccino style”- served in a demitasse cup with fresh morels, crispy bacon and porcini foam

-Saffron infused Velvet Corn and Crab Chowder – jumbo lump crabmeat in a golden cream base with brandy, fresh corn, potatoes, celery and crispy basil “cracklins’

-Chilled Yellow Tomato-Mangospacho- Fresh Mango and Yellow Tomato- gazpacho finished with a basil infused half Maine lobster tail

Wild Mushroom Bisque “cappuccino style”with fresh morels, crispy bacon and porcini foam

Wild Mushroom Bisque “cappuccino style” with fresh morels, crispy bacon and porcini foam


-Macadamia crusted goat cheese with fresh baby spring greens, citrus segments, a tropical bruschetta and coriander lemon vinaigrette

-Crispy Duck Salad- duck confit with apple wood smoked bacon, sliced pear, organic romaine, sundried cherries and citrus vinaigrette

-Stone Crab, Melon and Cucumber Salad (seasonal) Fresh Florida Stone crab claws with ginger dressed melon and cucumber salsa and “Joe’s” famous mustard sauce

-“Millionaire” Salad- Salad of baby lettuces with foie gras pate, sliced white truffle(seasonal), sevruga caviar, golden tomatoes and brie en croute with Jerez sherry vinaigrette

-Chopped Romaine Salad- sundried cherries, fresh corn, bacon lardons crumbled chevre, teardrop tomato cajun spiced pecans and a creamy lemon vinaigrette

-Maine Lobster Salad- 1/2 chilled Maine lobster tail over spring greens with coriander/oesetra caviar drizzle, Florida orange segments and heirloom teardrop tomatoes

-Baby Bibb Salad- Hydroponic Bibb lettuce with candied pecans, crispy Asian pear, crumbled Maytag farms bleu cheese and champagne vinaigrette

-Japanese grilled Eggplant salad- with napa cabbage, bok choy, sweet peppers, picked cilantro and miso vinaigrette

-Salad Caprese- sliced jumbo vine ripe red and yellow tomatoes layered with fresh basil leaves and sliced fresh mozzarella, drizzled with an aged balsamic reduction and basil puree

-Southwestern Salad- with assorted spring greens, arugula, sliced tomato, avocado, black bean-corn relish and orange-chipolte vinaigrette

-Cedar Key Hearts of Palm salad- Citrus marinated hearts of palm, sweet bell peppers, cilantro, basil, and ceviche style shrimp

-Tuna Nicoise Salad- Sliced basil grilled tuna, toasted Israeli cous-cous, oven dried heirloom tomato, French green beans, diced potato, olive tapenade and lemon vinaigrette

-Bangkok street salad- with pink shrimp, green papaya, kefir lime, cilantro, Thai basil and crispy salmon “crickets”


-Tuscan Style Zucchini Tartlette- Buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomato, purple basil, parmesan-reggiano baked similarly to a quiche and finished with 30 year old Balsamic reduction and sun dried tomato oil

-Duo of California Style Temaki Sushi rolls- one inside out salmon, avocado, tobikko- cucumber roll and one Boston tempura shrimp roll drizzled with sweet soy and served with ponzu dipping sauce

-Tuna Tartar- Sushi grade big-eye tuna with fresh ginger, California avocado “AJI”, chile-lime crackers, a sweet soy drizzle and “damn hot” chili oil

-Prosciutto- Parma prosciutto with Black Mission fig marmalade, peppered melon, shaved manchego, basil infused baguette crostini and baby arugula

-Herb Grilled “Giant” Portabella Mushroom with sweet corn polenta and a “really rich” burgundy demiglace reduction

-Bruschetta- grilled ciabatta bread, roma tomato jam, tetilla cheese, fine herbs, crispy pancetta vinaigrette

-Tuna Tataki- seared sushi grade tuna with fresh ginger, mache, shaved fennel, blood orange, harissa infused chili sauce

-Tamales- stuffed with ‘al pastor’ roast pork or beef accompanied with queso blanco, salsa verde and pickled cabbage

-Mediterranean Flatbread- grilled chicken, toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomato, artichoke and aged reggiano

-Kona Kampachi®  Ceviche- watermelon, pea shoots, asparagus, radishes, yuzu-preserved lemon vinaigrette

-Ceviche of thinly sliced Florida Snapper Ceviche- with avocado, sauce flambeau and organic blue corn tortillas

-Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Tart- stacked with diced tomato, spinach, potatoes and caramelized sweet onion in a puff pastry tart shell

-Giant Jumbo Lump Maryland Blue Crab wonton- Jumbo Lump Crab meat, ginger, shallots and fine herbs stuffed into an extra large wonton skin with a sweet soy-ginger and lemongrass reduction

-Twin Seared Diver Scallops- flash seared and topped with shaved reggiano, served over truffled cannelini beans, finished with a drizzle of apple wood smoked bacon vinaigrette

-Mango Tarte Tatin with seared Sonoma Foie Gras- A crisp, savory upside down mango tarte with seared grade “A” foie gras, a touch of homemade crème fraiche and candied macadamias

Sushi grade big-eye tuna tar tar with fresh ginger, haas avocado “AJI”, wakame, chile-lime crackers & sweet soy drizzle

Sushi grade big-eye tuna tar-tar with fresh ginger, haas avocado “AJI”, wakame seaweed salad, chile-lime crackers & sweet soy drizzle


-Miso/Ginger Steamed Alaskan Halibut- served over seasoned sushi rice with baby spinach and flash steamed edamame, fresh ginger, scallion and cilantro “seared” with scalding peanut oil “NOBU style”

-Chili/Sesame Spiked Ahi Tuna “Mignon”- Sushi grade Tuna seared rare and served with forbidden black rice, ginger steamed asparagus, a mini crab wonton and coconut wasabi sauce

-Ginger & Almond crusted fresh Florida Red Snapper- with horseradish mashed potatoes, flash steamed sugar snap beans and a cabernet butter sauce

-Fire Roasted Dry aged Sirloin of Beef (NY Strip) with a bundle of tiny green beans, smoked onion mashed yukon gold potatoes, a “haystack” of crispy potatoes and shallot butter

-Hereford Ranch Prime Fillet Mignon- Seared and deglazed with morning coffee served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, beefsteak tomato salad, crispy shallots and Cuban coffee glaze

-Hereford Ranch Prime Fillet Mignon- with crispy parmesan, truffle- rosemary spiked potatoes, a bundle of tiny green beans and your choice of our rich Courvoisier peppercorn au poive sauce, demi-glace, sauce béarnaise, “bovine”cabernet reduction

-Lavender Rubbed Rack of Colorado Lamb- with grilled giant Peruvian asparagus, whipped purple potatoes, oven dried tomato, crispy sweet potato and a sundried cherry port sauce

-Crispy-Skin Chilean Seabass- with saffron-chorizo basmati rice, sugar snap beans, and char-grilled tomato/lemon essence with a touch of chardonnay butter

-Cuban Style Pork Wellington- Pork tenderloin with black bean pate wrapped and baked in a puff pastry crust with and served with mojo, sweet maduro plantains and sofrito glaze

-Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon- A fillet of fresh salmon brushed with citrus glaze and served over toasted almond basmati rice with haricots verts, roasted cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms.

-Cedar Planked Wild King Salmon- with a crispy wild rice cake, roasted seasonal mushrooms, steamed asparagus and Dijon butter sauce

-Slow roasted 1/2 Muscovy Duckling- with apple wood smoked bacon mashed potatoes, flash steamed snow peas, sanguinello blood orange and pear puree

Prime Filet Mignon with porcini mushrooms, spring vegetables & port wine demiglace reduction

Prime Filet Mignon with porcini mushrooms, spring vegetables & port wine demiglace reduction


-Individual Ghirardelli Chocolate lava cake- with a “molten” peanut butter core, in a pool of chilled anglaise sauce

-Individual Peanut Butter-Banana ice cream sundae- served in a tiny waffle cup with bruleed bananas, caramel sauce, bourbon vanilla whipped cream and warm chocolate fudge drizzle -Warm Baked Fuji Apple Strudel dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with dulce de Leche (caramel) Ice Cream

-Coconut Zabaglione- served over lady fingers with bruleed red bananas, vanilla bean ice cream, golden pineapple salsa and “Meyers Dark” bananas foster sauce

-Traditional Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee- seasonal berries, fresh peppermint -Key Lime Mousse- served with a graham crust, cinnamon tuille, a sun-dried cranberry “consommé” and fresh peppermint -Seasonal fresh fruit Tart- served with choice of vanilla scented whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream and fresh mint

-Bananas Foster- Our remake of a classic with sautéed banana and Meyers dark rum caramel sauce served over vanilla bean ice cream -Fresh Berries in a Vanilla Cream- Ripe strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries shine in a velvety smooth super chilled creme anglaise sauce.

-Toasted Angel Food Pineapple upside-down Cake- our lighter version with caramelized golden pineapple salsa and your choice of coconut or vanilla bean ice cream

Roast summer peach brulee with bourbon vanilla crema

Roast summer peach brulee with bourbon vanilla crema

Additional Personal Chef Services Available to the Tampa area:
Fresh Packaged Meal Service
Interactive Dinner Parties
“Secret Chef” Dinner Parties
Holiday Meal Support
In-Home Cooking Lessons
Dinner Parties For 2-20
Wedding Caterer
Special Occasions
Corporate Team Building Events
Small Event Catering
Vacation Rental Chef Service

Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Tampa