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Photo by David Bishop

dbishop.net

Pesto Rosso is traditionally a Sicilian dish. I changed it up a bit for simplicity and my own personal taste . It is usually made with ground almonds. I love the rich, savory, buttery flavor and texture of pine nuts, which balance the bright sweet sun dried tomatoes and the fragrant fresh basil. I like leaving them whole for the tooth feel and the extra pop of flavor released by chewing whole pine nuts. Toasting the pine nuts in olive oil brings out their nuttiness and is augmented by the Pecorino Romano. The spicy crushed red pepper adds just enough piquancy to balance the dish perfectly. I tried this dish on a friend of mine who usually doesn’t like sun dried tomatoes. He loved it, saying it is one of the best things I have ever made.

 

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 2 cups Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Pine Nuts
  • ½ cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese plus extra for garnish
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Shallots, coarsely diced
  • 20 or so Basil Leaves, torn by hand
  • Tiny basil leaves for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
  • ½ LB. Semolina Penne Pasta, Dried
  • 1 gallon Water, boiling
  • ½ cup Sea Salt

Directions:

  1. Saute the shallots in 2 TBS. of olive oil until they are soft but not browned
  2. Place the shallots in a food processor with the sun dried tomatoes, another 1 TBS. of olive oil (more if needed) and black and red pepper
  3. Run the processor until the mixture is homogenous but still has some texture
  4. Empty the mixture into a large mixing bowl
  5. Toast the pine nuts in the same pan used for the shallots in 1TBS. of olive oil
  6. Mix the basil in with the Pesto Rosso , ½ cup of the cheese and the toasted pine nuts
  7. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions, ~ 8 minutes
  8. Mix the pasta into the bowl of pesto, tossing well
  9. Garnish with more cheese and the tiny basil leaves as desired
  10. Serve with your favorite white or red wine

Also visit my Food News Column on the Huffington Post and my professional site marilinda.com

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Photo by David Bishop

http://dbishop.net/

Avocados and oranges make a great pairing in a salad. The avocado is rich and creamy, while the juicy, sweet and tart orange tantalizes the taste buds. Lay them on a bed of the slightly bitter, yet velvety textured, tender magenta colored radicchio lettuce and the wild peppery baby arugula greens, add a squeeze of fresh zesty lime, and a drizzle of fruity olive oil for a melodious experience of sight & savoring. Complete the ensemble with sprigs of aromatic cilantro, freshly ground floral scented pink peppercorns and crunchy flake sea salt crystals and voila…a dreamy luncheon or dinner time side meal.

In this recipe I used Cara Cara Oranges (http://www.sunkist.com/products/cara-cara-oranges.aspx ), because of their uniquely fragrant sweet exotic flavor with undertones of cranberry and a pink orange hue. They augment the avocado in color, flavor and texture. The fruit blend coordinates perfectly with the multicolored and textured mix of lettuces.

Ingredients: Makes 4-6 individual salads

  • 1 head of radicchio
  • 2 cups of baby arugula
  • 1 avocado, sliced and peeled and dipped into lime juice to prevent browning
  • 1 Cara Cara Orange, or any orange you choose, peeled with a knife, sliced into rounds then halved
  • 1 lime, half of it juiced, the other half sectioned into wedges.
  • ½ cup of freshly washed and dried cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup of high quality fruity olive oil
  • Freshly ground pink peppercorns
  • Liberal sprinklings of flaked sea salt

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry the lettuces
  2. Portion the lettuces into 4 to 6 parts
  3. Slice and peel the avocado, dipping them into the lime juice to prevent browning
  4. With a knife, peel and slice the oranges into cross sections than cut them into half moons
  5. Arrange the lettuces onto each individual plate
  6. Artfully arrange the avocado and orange slices onto the lettuces
  7. Liberally add the cilantro leaves as garnish to the salads
  8. Grind pink peppercorns onto each salad
  9. Generously sprinkle each with flake sea salt, or other salt of your choice
  10. Add a slice of lime to each plate

Enjoy your amazingly beautiful and delicious salad by yourself or with your friends and loved ones.

Also visit my professional web site at marilinda.com and my Food News column at the Huffington Post

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Pan Grilled Shrimp with Lime Zest

Photo by David Bishop

http://dbishop.net/

Shellfish, shrimp being one of my favorites, is a spectacular gift of the sea and treasure of the planet. It is one of the lowest calorie animal proteins, 30 calories per ounce, is low in fat, has no saturated fat and offers beneficial cholesterol.  http://www.foodmarketexchange.com/datacenter/industry/article/idf_shrimp_drains.htm

As most world ethnic cuisines tell us, cooking proteins with the bones and shells still attached imparts flavor. Flavor, the all important factor in appetite satiation, drives our sense of abundance and satisfaction with our intake of nutrients and pleasure. Slicing the shrimp in half length wise with the shells still on allows you to clean the vein from the shrimp and season the cut side of the meat. Grilling them shell side down promotes maximum flavor. The grilling shell flavors the flesh with its sweet and musky piquant fragrance.

In pondering how to apply a fine lime zest evenly to the raw shrimp without waste, I realized that drying it would allow ease of sprinkling. To do this I mixed it with fine sea salt and finely ground white pepper. The resulting spice seasoning adds the right balance of brightness, tang and zing needed to make this a thoroughly scrumptious entree or appetizer.

I love cooking with coconut oil. It has such a rich fragrance and flavor, a medium smoke point and zero cholesterol. Yes, the much maligned saturated fat in coconut is indeed now understood to be one of the healthiest oils on the planet. It is said to cure a multitude of human bodily ills and used sparingly won’t add many calories to your food. If you are on a strict no fat diet you can grill the shrimp in a non stick pan without any oil.  http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/ http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html

The secret to easily cutting the shrimp in half lengthwise with a neat and clean look, is using a pair of scissors to cut down the back center line of the shell and the tail. Then, laying the shrimp down on its side, use a very sharp knife to cut the flesh into halves. You’ll get the hang of it with one or two tries.

Lime Zest Seasoning

  • 1 lime, finely zested (Save the juice for your water glasses or beverage of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper

Preparing and Cooking the Shrimp

A half pound of shrimp will feed two people, 120 calories per person without the oil. Coconut oil adds 120 calories per tablespoon to the total pan, much of which gets left in the pan.

  1. Wash and dry the shrimp
  2. Cut the shrimp in half laterally as described above
  3. Pull out the veins if you wish to. I find that sometimes they are less apparent than others.
  4. Sprinkle or spoon and smear the shrimp, cut side up, evenly with the Lime Zest Seasoning
  5. Coat the pan evenly, using a pastry brush, with 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  6. On medium heat, let the skillet heat up until it sizzles a drop of water
  7. Add the shrimp halves to the pan shell side down, keeping track of the order in which you place them down. I have found that usually by the time I have put the last one into the pan it is time to turn the first one.
  8. Turn the shrimp when you see that the shell has turned pink everywhere
  9. Cook the shrimp until they just lose their translucency and remove immediately to a plate. It will only be about a minute. Do Not Over Cook or they will become dry and tough.

It is easy to remove the shell while eating them with a knife and fork, but feel free to eat them with your hands.

Also see my Food News column in The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marilinda-hodgdon/  and my professional site at www.marilinda.com


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Cod Vin Blanc

Photo by David Bishop

http://dbishop.net/

Cod is one of several seafoods, many shellfish included, that has only 30 calories per ounce. It is rich in omega 3’s and is an extremely good source of protein. It is light and flaky, and highly flavorful with a delicately creamy mouth feel. It is easily procured at a fairly low cost, ($9/lb.) is wild caught, and is relatively free of mercury and toxins. It is highly versatile for recipes and has provided nutrition worldwide for centuries.

Beurre Blanc is one of my all time favorite seafood sauces. I totally love Julia Child’s recipe which details how the fat in the butter and acids of the white wine and white wine vinegar, along with other flavoring ingredients such as shallots and capers, emulsify during the initial boiling process to create a delightful syrup, which more butter is than added to, while it cools, to produce the creamy, luxurious sauce. http://labellecuisine.com/archives/Sauces/Julia%20Child%27s%20Classic%20Sauce%20Beurre%20Blanc.htm

Butter, though thoroughly delicious and wonderful in recipes and for health, used sparingly (butter is rich in both essential and non essential amino acids), can be fattening when used too frequently. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid  and  http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/0/2

I came up with a recipe that uses olive oil in place of butter. It is rich and flavorful, with less than half the calories of a traditional Beurre Blanc. More flavor, less calories, more satisfaction, less cravings…This is my mission.

My recipe for Cod alla Vin Blanc (alias Cod Beurre Blanc alla Olive Oil) combines these two loves of my life, with some change ups. It is an easy and fast one pan rendition, that is both healthy and calorie conscience, while being seductive to the eyes.

Recipe for Cod Vin Blanc: Serves 2 (214-272 calories per person)

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 ounces cod filet, thick cut-30 calories/ounce
  • 1/4 cup small julienned onions or shallots-24 calories
  • 1/8 cup dry white wine-about 90 calories
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar-0 calories
  • 1/8 cup of water-0 calories
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil -130 calories
  • 1 Tablespoon capers in white wine vinegar, drained of liquid- 0 calories
  • 1 Tablespoon grated carrot, for sweetness and color- 2-3 calories
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger- 1/3 of a calorie
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt- 0 calories
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaked dried red hot pepper- o calories

Directions:

  1. In a non stick, non coated skillet with a fitted lid, add in all of the ingredients, laying in the cod filet last. Put the lid on.
  2. Heat the pan to medium until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat as necessary to make the boil moderate.
  3. As the liquid steams the fish, bast it occasionally with a spoon throughout  the cooking process, about 7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish filet. Carefully check it with a fork  in the center to make sure it is just cooked. The cod fish will flower into wonderful flakiness as it steams. Do not over cook the fish or it will become rubbery and tasteless.
  4. With a slotted spatula, remove the fish from the pan, draining it as well as you can from the liquid, onto a the serving plate.
  5. Continue to cook the liquid in the pan until it becomes a syrupy sauce texture in thickness, if it is not already.
  6. Serve the sauce over the fish.
  7. Enjoy it with a good glass of white wine.

There is no need for additional garnish as the ingredients make a spectacular look on the flowered flaky cod. The flavor is amazing.

Also see my food column on the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marilinda-hodgdon/  and my professional site at www.marilinda.com

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