Chef’s Kitchen: El Meson’s Surfer Potato

This week’s Chef’s Kitchen is taking us to the drive-thru.

El Meson Sandwiches — known in Puerto Rico — is now in Central Florida.

“This is very famous in Puerto Rico,” said Kissimmee General Manager, Francisco Ortiz, referring to the restaurant chain’s potato.

Called the “Surfer Potato,” it’s packed with with meat-like goodness, yet it’s vegetarian.

“When originally (El Meson) started in Aguadilla (Puerto Rico),” he explained, “a lot of surfers used to ask for vegetarian food.”

The real kicker is the soy salami. That and the cheddar and Swiss along with a plethora of veggies, and this big boy may require you to grab some extra forks.

Let’s cook!

Surfer Baked Potato — Meson Original!


  • Soy Salami
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Melted Cheddar Cheese
  • Pickles
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Baked Potato
  • Russian Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake potato for about 45 minutes
  2. Remove from oven, cut a zig-zag in the top and squeeze the potato by the ends to open up
  3. Pour melted cheddar cheese over potato
  4. Sauté vegetables and soy salami together, stirring often
  5. Drizzle with Russian sauce
  6. Add Swiss cheese over the veggie/soy salami combination
  7. Serve over the baked potato

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4 Mother’s Day picnic recipes your kids can help make

We’ve discovered 4 Mother’s Day ideas that you may never have tried before.

Lisa Barone with BJ’s Wholesale Club demoed ways for dads and kids to interact and create a picnic like mom is not used to.

“And they can help, from start to finish,” Barone said, referring to the watermelon rice krispies treat. “No baking, no oven. They will need help with the microwave. Just standard butter and rice krispies treats, marshmallows — you melt the butter and marshmallows in the microwave, then you actually use food coloring… I guarantee people are going to stop by to look at that.”

She also whipped up a fresh Cucumber Yogurt Soup, Steak Muffaleta Sandwich and Citrus Tea Punch.

Here they are!

Watermelon Rice Krispies Treats


  • 3 Tbsp. Butter, divided
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. Marshmallows, divided
  • 6 cups KELLOGG’S® RICE KRISPIES® cereal, divided
  • 18 to 20 drops red food coloring
  • 8 to 10 drops green food coloring
  • 1 Tbsp. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Cooking Spray


Microwave 2 Tbsp. butter in large, microwaveable bowl on HIGH until melted, about 25 sec. Add 3 cups marshmallows; toss to evenly coat. Microwave on HIGH 1½ min., stirring after 45 sec. (CAREFUL: bowl might be hot) until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended. Stir in red food coloring; mix well. Add 3 cups of cereal; mix well.

Spray an 8” round pan with cooking spray. Press red cereal mixture into center of pan, forming a 6” circle.

In a separate large microwaveable bowl, microwave remaining butter on HIGH until melted, about 25 sec. Add remaining marshmallows; toss to coat evenly.

Microwave on HIGH 1½ min., stirring after 45 sec. (CAREFUL: bowl might be hot) until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended. Stir in green food coloring. Add remaining cereal; mix well.

Press into pan, forming a ring around the red circle in the center. Press chocolate morsels into red cereal mixture to form the “seeds” as shown in photo. Cool completely and then cut into 12 wedges.

Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup


  • 2 seedless Cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 cloves peeled Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2 cups Wellsley Farms Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried Dill
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for serving)


Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender; pulse until smooth and consistency of creamy soup, adding more water if needed. Add dill and quickly pulse once or twice to blend. Spoon into chilled bowls or stemmed glasses. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately

Flank Steak Muffuletta Sandwich


  • 1-1/2 cups Wellsley Farms Roasted Red Pepper, drained and cut into 1/2″ strips
  • 10 – 15 Pimiento-stuffed olives and/or pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 4 thin slices of provolone cheese
  • 4 thin deli slices of Genoa salami
  • 4 thin deli slices of Hot cappicolo ham
  • 1 flank steak, about 1 ½ pounds and ¾” thick
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Place roasted peppers, olives and vinegar in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.

Transfer ingredients to a bowl and stir in the olive oil to blend. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oiled grill to medium heat (350˚ – 400˚). Season the steak with kosher salt and pepper.

Grill the steak over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until cooked to your desired doneness, turning once. (For medium-rare, cook until an instant read thermometer registers 130˚, about 8 to 12 min.)

Remove to warm platter grill. Let steak rest for 5 min. and then slice thinly.

In order, layer bottom half of each roll with 1 slice of provolone cheese, 2 or 3 slices of flank steak, 1 slice of salami and 1 slice of ham. Top each sandwich with about 1/3 cup of olive salad mixture and place tops on rolls.

Individually wrap sandwiches with plastic wrap, then chill at least one hour or overnight.

Citrus Tea Punch


  • 1 cup water
  • 6 Lipton® Tea Bags
  • 1½ Tbsp. Honey
  • 2 cups Simply Orange Juice
  • 2 cups Plain Seltzer, chilled
  • ½ cup Tropicana Lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 Naval Orange, sliced
  • 1 Tropicana Lemon, sliced
  • 1 Tropicana Lime, sliced
  • Ice cubes


Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags and cover. Brew 5 min. Remove tea bags from water, squeezing as you lift them. Stir in honey and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Combine tea with orange juice, seltzer and lemon juice in a large pitcher; stir in fruit. Serve immediately over ice in tall glasses.

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Chef’s Kitchen: Tips for layering the perfect lasagna from Paul’s Chicago Pizza

Paul Coumoulos, Owner of Paul’s Chicago Pizza and General Manager, Jim Gibbs prepare meat lasagna in the Chef’s Kitchen.

Paul has some tips for layering lasagna. He is very particular about the corners. Fill ingredients in the corners first, then work your way to the center.

Another tip, alternate the direction you layer the noodles. The first layer should be laid lengthwise, the center layer, widthwise and the last layer, lengthwise.


30 lasagna noodles

21/2 lbs ground beef

1 lb Italian sausage

1 1/2 ricotta

1 1/2 lbs mozzarella

1/2 lb provolone

1 cup Parmesan

2 tbsp salt

2 tsp granulated onion

2tsp black pepper

48 oz your favorite traditional sauce


Cook lasagna noodles al dente about 9 min Season your ground beef. Cook ground beef and sausage separately, then chop and blend together


Coat the bottom of pan with a couple ladles of sauce Layer noodles length-wise in pan, making sure to get in corners and overlap each other.

Spread a thin coat of sauce over noodles Dust with parmesan cheese. Put half the meat mixture and spread evenly, making sure to fill the corners.

Put 1/3 the mozzarella and provolone. Layer noodles width-wise across the pan. Repeat the same order as first layer, starting with: sauce, parmesan, meat, cheese.

The last layer of noodles goes length-wise in the pan.

Cover with Saran Wrap, then foil. Bake 45 min covered at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes, until brown.

Let sit 10 minutes.

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UF-discovered Sugar Belle mandarin could be sweet for citrus growers

The mandarin orange craze is invading lunch bags across the country, but Florida’s citrus industry, ravaged for years by disease like citrus greening, has not been able to capitalize.

  • UF-created mandarin Sugar Belle growing
  • Research shows fruit resilient against citrus greening
  • Could help citrus growers, drop fruit prices

However, Florida researchers say a hybrid they’ve been working with is proving resilient, and possibly profitable.

Citrus greening, a bacterial disease, has consumed and killed Florida’s citrus crop for decades.

According to University of Florida Research Professor Frederick Gmitter, Florida was the number one grower of mandarins about 15 years ago. However, Florida mandarins are highly susceptible to citrus greening.

Professor Gmitter and UF are now promoting the Sugar Belle Mandarin, a hybrid of the Clementine and Minneola varieties that researchers have been working with since 1985.

The Sugar Belle has proven over the past two decades to thrive and provide sweet fruit despite being plagued by citrus greening.

“One of the symptoms of citrus greening as you look around this grove are dead trees — that’s a symptom. This one just seems to be outgrowing the disease,” Professor Gmitter said.

Gmitter said most of the mandarins sold in Florida are brought in from California or out of the country and that increases prices. Over 90 percent of the nation’s mandarin crop is grown in California.

If the Sugar Belle is a success, it could mean the price could drop because it won’t need to be shipped from places farther away.

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Chef’s Kitchen: Zarrella’s Orecchiette and Sausage

If you find that your family “Italian nights” are getting repetitive, this week’s Chef’s Kitchen is introducing you to the least non-spaghetti-and-meatballs of recipes around.

“It’s elephant ear-type pasta,” said Zarrella’s Italian & Wood Fired Pizza‘s top chef, Dustin Dileo.

Chef is referring to orecchiette pasta. His dish is Orecchiette & Sausage, one of the Cape Canaveral eatery’s signature dishes.

Chef prefers using “nice and sweet” Italian mild sausage. The recipe calls for everything from escarole and red and white kidney beans, to Parmesan cheese and, of course, the pasta. (TIP: If the consistency is runny, just add more Parm to correct).

Let’s cook!

Orecchiette and Sausage


4 oz of orecchiette

2 mild sausage (cut each sausage into five chunks)

2 oz olive oil

10 whole garlic peels(smashed)

6 oz of red and white kidney beans mixed with juice

2 oz of Escarole

1 oz of grated parm cheese

3 oz cube of butter

6 oz of chicken stock

Pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic


Step 1: Place orecchiette in boiling salted water for 12 mins or al dente

Step 2: Place olive oil in a sauté pan and allow oil to get hot.

Step 3: Place cut sausage into hot oil and allow sausage to get golden brown

Step 4: Once sausage starts to golden up place garlic in and let garlic brown up

Step 5: Add rest of ingredients in with the sausage and garlic and place on low heat for 8 mins.

Allow sauce to thicken up. If sauce is too runny and more parm cheese to thicken it.

Step 6: Once pasta is complete DO NOT RINSE. Place hot pasta right in to pan and toss.

Place in bowl and top with homemade bread crumbs

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Disney Springs adding more dining options

Three new dining options will make their debut at Disney Springs by the end of 2017.

  • New Italian concept will replace Portobello

  • Wine Bar George will 100+ selections of wine
  • New Wolfgang Puck concept slated for 2018

Portobello Country Italian Trattoria, which closed this past April, will re-open with a new menu inspired by “Top Chef Master” Chef Tony Mantuano and his travels in Italy. Levy Restaurants made the announcement last month. The new restaurant is set to debut this fall.

For the wine lovers, Disney Springs will soon open Wine Bar George. Master Sommelier George Miliotes will craft the wine list for the new venue, which will feature more than 100 wines for guests to enjoy, along with small plates, cheese and charcuterie options.

Finally, Disney Springs will add The Edison. Inspired by a sister location in Los Angeles, The Edison will deliver “classic American food, craft cocktails and live entertainment including cabaret” within a space inspired by a Jazz Age-era electric company building. The space will also feature contortionists, aerialists, DJs and more for guests to enjoy.

On Tuesday, Disney also announced two more restaurants would be joining the Disney Springs lineup in 2018.

According to a post on the Disney Parks Blog, renowned chef Wolfgang Puck will open the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in the Town Center area.

The new restaurant will be modeled after Puck’s flagship restaurant in Los Angeles and feature a “laid-back California” theme. The menu will feature dishes will Mediterranean influences, comfort foods and handcrafted specialty cocktails.

Puck currently has a restaurant located on the West Side, as well as quick service versions on the West Side and in the Marketplace area.

The other new dining offering slated for 2018 comes from chef Jose Andres and this ThinkFoodGroup.

Jaleo will feature Spanish cuisine with an “extensive menu of tapas.” The restaurant will be multi-level and have a grab-and-go store on the first floor.

CHECK OUT ATTRACTIONS INSIDER: Your all-in-one source for news, pictures and video from Florida’s theme parks. Just go to our Attractions Insider page. Sign up to get breaking theme park news alerts and subscribe to our newsletter, Theme Park Roundup, delivered to your inbox or mobile phone.

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MasterChef Shaun O’Neale to demo at Cocoa Beach Uncorked

A Gulf Coast foodie event is making its Space Coast debut.

Uncorked — known in Clearwater — is here as Cocoa Beach Uncorked this weekend. Taking place at Alan Shepard Park (on the sandy beach!), guests can nosh on 20 kinds of bites and sip on 36 various libations underneath a huge tent.

Fans of the TV show “MasterChef” will know the event’s special guest.Season 7 winner Shaun O’Neale will be there for meet ‘n’ greets.

We met up with him Thursday at Publix Apron Cooking School at Dr. Phillips, just an hour before a class he was hosting.

“I hated school,” he laughed. “But for some odd reason, I liked to read cookbooks.”

Winning MasterChef means winning over well-known intimidator, Gordon Ramsay.

“If you go on one of these shows, you’re basically telling Gordon Ramsay you think you’re the best,” he told us. “If you go on there and don’t show him that, he’s going to let you know.”

At Uncorked, Chef will be there signing his new cookbook (My Modern American Cookbook) and demoing his Salmon Crudo recipe. He may even give you tips, too, about margarita-making, like, if the only limes available are hard.

“Put it in the microwave about 10 seconds,” he said. “It loosens all those juices.”

You may not have known that the Las Vegas resident is also a DJ.

“Food and music go hand in hand,” he smiled. “I’ve never read a cookbook that doesn’t say, ‘I strap on my apron, I turn on my music and I go to work.'”

He’s rockin’ out at Cocoa Beach Uncorked Saturday starting at noon. The event is 1-4 p.m. (VIP admission starts at noon).

Tickets start at $35.

Here’s the parking info:

Just 1/4 mile west of Shepard Park along SR 520, next to Sunrise Diner, is a large parking area with $10 parking provided by Brevard Humane Society. There is complimentary air conditioned shuttle service courtesy of Victory Casino Cruises, running from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to and from Shepard Park. All proceeds benefit the Brevard Humane Society.

For your GPS, key in the address for Sunrise Diner: 365 W Cocoa Beach Cswy, State Route 520, Cocoa Beach.

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Chef’s Kitchen: Big Storm Brewing Co. Beer Sliders

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Chef’s Kitchen: Millenia 106’s Ravioli D’Uovo (ravioli with unbroken egg yolk inside)

Imagine a pasta dish suitable for brunch. Well, when there’s an unbroken egg yolk resting comfortably inside of the doughy pillow, that ought to convince you.

This dish is from Millenia 106, and it’s Chef Bruno Fonseca’s Ravioli D’Uovo.

“The sexy part comes with the egg yolk right inside of it, and we stuff it,” he smiled. “This is where it gets fun.”

After chef creates thin discs of dough for the ravioli, he stuffs each with a cheesy medley. To that little mound, he uses his finger to create a “nest.” Separating the yolk from egg whites, chef gingerly lays down the yolk inside of the “nest” and uses egg wash and a “forking” method to seal another disc on top.

Once the ravioli cooks in a pot of slowly simmering water, cutting into the pasta should reveal the desired oozy center. Chef recommends serving the ravioli with greens and proscuitto kissed with brown butter and rosemary.

Let’s cook!



Pasta Dough

6 large eggs

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of kosher salt

4 cups of flour type DOUBLE 00 (found on specialty food stores and online)


On a standing mixer, start at a low speed with the flower only,

Adding the eggs, SLOWLY

After the eggs are incorporated, add the oil and salt.

Beat it for a two minutes at a steady slow speed until it reaches uniformity.

Put your dough ball in a slightly oiled soup bowl, pour a small film of oil on top

of the pasta dough and wrap it TIGHT with plastic oil.

Let it rest for at least one hour in the refrigerator.

Cheese filling

3 tablespoons of goat cheese

2 tablespoons of grated parmesan

1.5 cups of ricotta

1 cup of mascarpone

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 pinch of salt and pepper

Fold all the cheeses in together.

Add the rest of the ingredients until well incorporated.

Reserve cold

Ravioli Assembly

Whip two eggs fully in a small mixing bowl (egg wash)

Pull your dough out, so it can get close to room temperature…10 minutes.

Roll your pasta dough to a thickness twice as thick as a regular sheet of paper, on top of a well-floured surface

With a 4.5 inches wide biscuit cutter, cut your CIRCLES. You will need two per ravioli, and ONE EGG PER RAVIOLI

Put one spoonful of the cheese stuffing on the center of every other circle (one per ravioli)

Create a NEST on the cheese stuffing.

Grab one egg, and separate your yolk from the whites, maintaining the YOLK WHOLE.

Place the YOLK on the center of the cheese stuffing nest carefully

Brush a thin layer of your egg wash on the edges of the pasta with the cheese egg nest

Place an empty pasta circle on top of another pasta circle

With a fork press both edges (top and bottom circle) into one another

On a pot with slowly simmering water, place 2 to 4 raviolis at a time for 3.5 minutes. NEVER BOIL THE WATER.

Make your favorite meat sauce, and serve it with the raviolis.

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Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe to close Disney Springs location, lay off 193

Wolfgang Puck Grand Café at Disney Springs is set to close, laying off 193 workers in the process.

  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe to close in August
  • 193 workers will be laid off
  • Levy Restaurants recently closed Portobello

Chicago-based Levy Restaurants Inc., which operates the restaurant and other restaurants at Walt Disney World, filed the layoff notice.

Layoffs will take place between Aug. 1-15, according to the notice.

Wolfgang Puck Grand Café opened 20 years ago at the then-named Downtown Disney. There’s also Wolfgang Puck Express located in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs.

Last month, the Disney Parks Blog announced a new Wolfgang Puck restaurant — Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill — would open in the Town Center area of Disney Springs by 2018. It will “capture the essence of laid-back California dining made popular by Puck at Spago,” Puck’s flagship restaurant.

In April, Levy Restaurants closed one of its other Disney Springs restaurants, Portobello Country Italian Trattoria, to make way for a new Italian restaurant concept.

This is part of a multimillion-dollar Disney Springs redesign, with new restaurants, shops and other entertainment options.

Levy Restaurants offered the following statement:

“We take pride in having some of the hardest-working employees in the restaurant and foodservice industry. While our work at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe is coming to an end, we strive to continue our relationship with all team members. Everyone has been encouraged to reapply to work at one of our other properties.”

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