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Archive for the ‘Entrees’ Category

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/

The first time I had a really great paella was in Majorca Spain, where every kind of seafood available could be obtained freshly caught, having never been frozen. The flavor and texture is incomparable to our once frozen varieties. The shrimp and baby squid quite literally melted in my mouth. My Uncle Nick had an apartment there in town over looking the marina. Two friends of mine and I were visiting with him for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. He prepared for us an incredible paella, taking no short cuts, making his stock from scratch.

In my version, seen above, I did my best to recreate the flavors and textures I remembered from Spain. I did take a tiny short cut in buying organic free range chicken stock and clam juice, which I enhanced by boiling it down with chicken wings, a lobster head, shrimp shells, a whole carrot, onion and celery stalk, a couple of bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, and a pinch of saffron.

Photo by David Bishop

My photographer friend, David, and I went to a Spanish Restaurant in NYC, El Charro Español, which specializes in paella while we were researching to write and shoot this post, and help me come up with my recipe. I ordered the seafood paella and he ordered the Paella Valenciana, which also included seafood and featured chicken and chorizo, a smoky, spicy sausage. I usually don’t eat pork products due to the high Triglyceride levels, but when I tasted what a difference it made in the flavor of David’s rice compared to mine, I was sold on chorizo in paella as a must. We borrowed a paella pan with the generosity of Luis, the owner of the restaurant. I am told that the pan can make all the difference, but that the most important thing is the proportion of the broth to the rice, and of course the flavor of the broth.

Pre-heat the oven to 450’F and place a shelf close to the bottom of the oven

Meat and Seafood Ingredients:

  • 1 small live lobster-remove the head and small legs for the stock. Cut the tail into 1 inch pieces, leaving the shell on.
  • 4 chicken wings, browned on both sides in plenty of canola oil in a skillet-use 2 for the stock.
  • 12 tiny clams, scrubbed and sorted to ensure that they are alive (I prefer Cockles. They are ridged and have a green tint).
  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp- use the shells for the stock (and heads if you can get them that way).
  • 1/4 lb. small mussels, scrubbed and sorted.
  • 1/4 lb. sea scallops-cut into quarters
  • 1 eight inch chorizo sausage-sauteed in the same pan with the chicken, then cut into 3/4″ inch thick rounds.

Prepare the seafood and refrigerate until you are ready to put them into the paella pan. Set aside the cooked chicken and chorizo.

Broth:

  • 1 quart of organic free range chicken stock
  • 1 pint of clam juice
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1   8 oz. can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2  chicken wings, browned on both sides as said above
  • 1 lobster head
  • shrimp shells
  • 1 large onion, washed and quartered
  • 1 whole carrot, scrubbed
  • 1 celery stalk, scrubbed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed saffron fibers

Boil the broth ingredients until it reduces to about half of the volume, or until you need to use it. Strain out the bits and discard them.

Vegetable & Rice ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped, roasted Piquillo peppers or Italian roasted red peppers
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 tsp hot, smoked Hungarian Paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed Saffron threads
  • 1 tsp sea salt

In a paella pan, saute the above ingredients in olive oil over medium heat until the onions and shallots are soft and translucent. Then add in:

  • 1 cup short grain rice such as Arborio or Bomba
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1/2 cup of canned butter beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup blanched haricot vert, cut into one inch lengths

Stir together thoroughy, then add in:

  • 2- 2 1/2 cups of hot broth

Continue cooking the rice blend for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while. As the rice gets a bit thicker, start adding in the proteins from the largest to the smallest, nestling them into the rice mixture. Place the paella pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until most of the broth is absorbed, and the rice is just bit al dente. Cover and let rest for about 10- 30 minutes before serving. Having a crusty bottom is considered a good thing. It adds flavor and depth to the dish. Serve with lemon wedges and white or red sangria.

Also visit my Food News column The Huffington Post and my professional website at marilinda.com.

Thanks,

Marilinda

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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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