All posts by FoodieWineLover - Gina (Martino) Zarcadoolas

My name is Gina (Martino) Zarcadoolas and I'm the name behind the blog, Foodiewinelover. I am of Italian and Middle Eastern descent, and spent part of my childhood in the Caribbean. I'm married to a Greek and I live in South Florida, where there is a big Cuban influence. As you can see, I am multi-cultural, and enjoy traditional and authentic dishes. I am a vivacious woman with a zest for life and enjoy living La Dolce Vita. I am a wine enthusiast, a passionate foodie and a world traveler. In between blogging, I sell and invest in Real Estate. I have been inspired by many different cuisines during my travels abroad, and it fascinates me, the way food plays a major role in cultures all over the globe. I have had the pleasure to visit many countries and cities in my lifetime, and savored many delicious ethnic cuisines. I am really excited to discover WordPress and share with you my passion for food, wine and travels around the world. I feel blessed to have visited so many places such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico City, Taxco, Acapulco, and Cancun in Mexico, The Bahamas, St. John, St.Thomas, San Jose, Guanacaste in Costa Rica, Rome, Naples, Capri, Florence, Venice, Lake Como, Milan, in Italy, Lugano, Switzerland, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, in Greece, Turkey, Corsica, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes, Barcelona, Spain, Palma De Majorca, USA, in which I now live with my beautiful family. In 2013 I visited wine country, Sonoma and Napa Valley, and had the time of my life. I cook passionately and love to entertain family and friends while sipping on some amazing wine. I will share with you some of my delicious culinary creations, and some beautiful pictures I captured, during my travels. I hope you will sit back, relax and enjoy My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles.

Fattoria di MonteMaggio, A Magical Boutique Winery in Tuscany

Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape

My husband and I recently took a spectacular trip to Italy and visited some amazing regions, rich in cultures and traditions.  One of our destinations was Tuscany and we were living our dream of “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life). We were blown away by the beauty of the rolling hills and the lush cypress trees. Finally, all the landscape pictures we had seen were coming to life and the views were similar to that of a postcard. On the first day, we got to visit this beautiful winery called: Fattoria di Montemaggio, located in Radda in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico region.  It’s truly magical with a stupendous view of the valley, and well-manicured grounds. There were full-blown roses and fresh artichokes growing in the immaculate garden. Ilaria, the estate manager greeted us with a beautiful smile and gave us a tour of the vineyards. It was clear how passionate she was about her job and demonstrated a great knowledge in the viticulture and viniculture process of wine making. She gave us a little lesson about the stubborn Sangiovese grape, as I explained in an earlier post:  The temperamental Sangiovese grape variety . I pointed out to her that the ground seemed very dry and she replied: “we need to make them suffer”. Of course, she was referring to this particular grape variety.  After a tour of the vineyards and some photo snapping, it was Denis, the cellar manager, who guided the wine tasting.  We enjoyed a lovely selection of wines in the company of Riccardo, our amazing tour guide and the multi-talented Katarina Andersson. She is a translator, an educator and a wine writer at: Grapevine Adventures. The wines were luscious and of high quality which were no surprise to us, after seeing the labor of love that went into producing them. Fortunately, because of the terroir and the micro-climate, Fattoria di Montemaggio is able to grow many grape varieties such as: Sangiovese, with small additions of Merlot, Pugnitello, Chardonnay, Malvasia Nera, and Ciliegiolo. A few months ago, I was able to get their Chianti Classico in my area and paired it with Pork Chops in Tomato sauce. It worked delightfully.  I brought back a couple of bottles from this recent trip and cannot wait to crack them open. If you intend to visit Tuscany, I highly recommend that you put Fattoria di Montemaggio on your itinerary. You will be very happy with this gem of a place.

Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio

The rose garden at Fattoria di MontemaggioThe view at Fattoria di MontemaggioIMG_8849The views at Fattoria di Montemaggio

I hope you have enjoyed my blog post on this beautiful winery and the enchanting photographs that I captured during my visit. My wish for you is to have the opportunity to visit this lovely place and bask under the Tuscan Sun.

Happy Travels!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renown – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
and by Katarina Andersson – Wine Writer

Fattoria di Montemaggio
Fattoria di Montemaggio

 

 

Gina’s Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

 

Preparing for the Puttanesca sauce
Preparing for the Puttanesca sauce


There are many explanations that describe the origin of this dish. Puttanesca (literally means whore’s style spaghetti) is believed to have originated in the Campania region of Italy. In 2007, when we visited the ruins of Pompeii in Naples, our tour guide Marco from Perillo Tours explained to us the story behind the name of this dish. According to him, the ladies of the evening made it to lure the men into their house by attracting them with the aroma of the sauce.  Other sources claim the ladies made it  because it was easy and quick as they were always busy and had little time for cooking.  Whatever the story, Puttanesca is a delicious and lively sauce that you can whip in no time. It’s best served over spaghetti. It is tasty but on the salty side.

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz. peeled tomatoes, chopped or crushed
  • 1 cup meatless tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained
  • 2 can of whole anchovies in oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 lb. of spaghetti

    Preparation:1) Bring pasta water to a boil, add salt, and cook according to package directions. I like mine al dente (to the bite)

    2) In the meanwhile, over medium heat, in medium-size saucepan, heat up olive oil, sautee the garlic for 1 minute, add olives, capers, anchovies, continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and pepper flakes. Bring to a quick boil, simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Serve it over spaghetti.Cook’s note: If pasta is done before the sauce, just drain it well and drizzle some olive oil on it to prevent clumping.If you love all these ingredients, you will savor this delicious meal. I recently made it with cod fish over polenta, and it came out scrumptious. Check out my blogpost:  Baccala Mantecato to learn how to desalt the cod fish.

    Wine Pairing Suggestions: Ideally, I recommend the red Lacryma Christi from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy. However, it can be challenging finding this varietal. My next suggestions would be a Primitivo from the Puglia region or a Nero N’Avola from Sicily. Whatever your choice, with or without wine, you will enjoy this punchy pasta (if you like all the ingredients).  Buon Appetito!

    Warning: This dish has a high sodium content

    Disclosure: I did not get compensated for the products that I used
    Recipe developed by: Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Happy Cooking from my Kitchen to yours,
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur
    Culinary and Global Cuisines Aficionado

    Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Olive Tapenade, Gina’s Style

 

Tapenade is a  Provençal dip/spread that consists of olives, capers and sometimes anchovies. I love anchovies but I am not using it in this recipe.  You certainly can add them for more richness if you like them.  Beware of the  high level of sodium in all the ingredients.  This mouthwatering spread is also found in Italian cuisine.

“Olive-based tapenades with anchovies and/or vinegar are ubiquitous in Italian cuisine and are documented in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back thousands of years before the appearance of the Occitan word tapenade. One of the earliest known tapenade recipe, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella‘s De re Rustica, written in the first century AD.[3] .[4] Cato the Elder (234–149 B.C.E.) includes a recipe for Epityrum, an olive spread very like a tapenade, in chapter 119 of his “On Agriculture.”

Follow me in my kitchen and let ‘s have fun with this delicious spread.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer – Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and rinsed
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted (Sicilians are the best) *
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leave Italian parsley + more for garnish
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
  • Half of a lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • Roasted red bell peppers for garnish, fresh or jar ones
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced  or crackers*     Preparation:
    1) Place Kalamata and green olives, parsley, oil, lemon, capers and garlic in a food processor. Pulse 25 times by stopping each time until you obtain a chunky but moist consistency, showing small bits of olives and other ingredients.
    2) Place in a serving bowl and chill. (Optional)
    3) Spread on delicious crusty bread or crackers. Drizzle with olive oil.
    Garnish with parsley and roasted peppers.This spread makes a dazzling appetizer and can be made ahead of time. Cook’s notes: I used Spanish olives, and they worked nicely.
    I don’t recommend that you add any salt to this spread, even if you’re not on a sodium-restricted diet. You can toast the bread to add that extra touch.  The choice is yours. Wine Pairing Suggestions: A lovely chilled white, such as a sauvignon blanc, or any white or red varieties of your choice. Make sure, the acidity level is low to medium. This way, it will not take away the sharpness nor compete with the saltiness of the dish.  It’s ok, if you don’t consume alcohol, either way, you will enjoy this luscious appetizer.I hope you will try this recipe and share your thoughts with me. Please take pictures and I will randomly select a lucky recipient’s photo to be featured on my Instagram profile.  The deadline is May 16th, 2017.                          Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,  Gina Martino Zarcadoolas aka Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
    Global Cuisines & Cultures Aficionado

 

Exotic Moroccan-Style Chicken Tagine

Chicken Tagine
Chicken Tagine
Chicken Tagine marinade
I am so fascinated with global cuisines that I jump from Italian pasta dishes, to Greek deliciousness, Middle Eastern delights, Caribbean flavorful dishes to other exotic cultures. Today, I am taking you on a journey (via my blog) to Morocco for a taste of My Chicken Tagine. A tagine is an earthenware pot in which this dish is traditionally cooked in.  Using preserved lemon is also part of the tradition, however in this recipe,  I used fresh lemon instead. No, I have not been to Morocco but I love the way they use aromatic spices in their dishes. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen for this delightful meal.

Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Allow up to 2.5  hours from start to finish

Ingredients for chicken marinade:

  • 5-6 lbs. chicken thighs and legs, skinless
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced + slices of lemon
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil for marinade

  • Remaining ingredients: 
  • 6 -8 tbsp. of olive oil for searing the chicken
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1.5 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed olives
  • 8 oz chickpeas
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

    Preparation:

    1) Marinate the chicken for at least one hour,  with onions, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, cinnamon, lemon juice, olive oil.  Keep refrigerated for 45 minutes and keep at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to cooking it. Please keep your house cool.
    2) In a large tagine or Dutch-oven, over med-high heat, heat olive oil, and sear the chicken 2-3 minutes on each side. You will do this in batches and use more oil as needed. Remove and set aside.
    3) In the same pan, add the onions from the marinade, sauté for couple minutes, add garlic, sauté for 1 minute, tomato paste, 1-2 minutes till it’s rust in color. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Deglaze with the wine for 1-2 minutes.
    4) Add the chicken, broth, olives, chickpeas, carrots, raisins and lemon slices as seen in picture. Bring to a boil.
    5) Cover and simmer on low flame for 30 minutes. Remove cover, simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Serve with Moroccan couscous. Bon Appetit!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas – Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur
    Global Cuisines & Cultures Aficionado

Royal Flush Clams Casino

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IMG_6820

Clams Casino originated in Rhode Island but there are many variations to this delightful appetizer. Some recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, butter and bacon. I substituted bacon for pancetta because of my infinite love affair with pancetta. They are mouthwatering appetizers and very festive. I suggest making them for a special occasion and serve them with a very chilled bubbly, like a Prosecco.  It sure would set the tone for a smashing dinner party. I wanted to use the Cherrystone clams but could not find them. Please keep in mind, if using Cherrystone clams, you will need to chop them up and place them back on the half shell. I used the little neck clams and the result was like hitting a Royal Flush hand in poker. They are more tender and less chewy but the larger clams make a lovely presentation and popping food photos. The choice is yours. This dish is very popular in the Italian-American community, but can be enjoyed by everyone from all corners of the world.  Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen.

Serves: 6 – or 8-10 when served with other appetizers – Difficulty level: Intermediate

Ingredients:

  • 40 little neck clams (small) or about 20-25 cherrystone size
  • 2 tbps. extra virgin olive oil, + more for drizzle
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 3 garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs to lightly sprinkle
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or any parmesan cheese to lightly sprinkle
  • 1/2 lemon, plus more for garnish
  • Flat-leave Italian parsley for garnishPreparation:

    1)  Wash and scrub the clams. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large flat metal pan, bake the clams for about 3 minutes or until they open. Remove them. Drain some of the liquid. Let them cool off. Detach the shells one by one, leaving the clams on half shell.

    2) In the meanwhile, in a large skillet,  over medium-high heat, heat olive oil (be careful, lower heat if it’s too high). Brown the pancetta, for about 1-2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the bell peppers and shallots, 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, saute’ for 1 minute.  Deglaze with the wine for 2 minutes. Turn the burner off.

    3) Time to assemble. Sprinkle a little breadcrumbs on each clam. Next, place the pancetta mixture, then sprinkle cheese lightly.

    4) BROIL for about 3-4 minutes. Remove at once.

    5)  Place on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

    6) Garnish with parsley and lemon slices.  Bam! Your guests will be dazzled by your culinary creation.

    Hope you’re happy as a clam after reading this delicious blogpost!

    Royal Flush Clams Casino
    Royal Flush Clams Casino

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
    My exclusive photos and recipe creation.
    Follow my blog for:  My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    Culinary Aficionado, WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur
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Salade Lyonnaise/Frisée Salad with Pancetta

This quintessential salad originated in Lyon, France. It’s a classic salad that is found in many bistros throughout the country. I consider it a gourmet dish, and does require a little juggling in the kitchen. This kind of lettuce is called Frisée  (pronounced: Freezay) also known as curly endive. This salad has a lot of textural components that create an explosion of flavors in the palate. The French use lardon as their pork fat, but I put my twist on it and use pancetta. The combination of the mildly bitter green, savory pancetta, tangy vinegar, succulent shallots and the runny eggs make for a creamy and delectable taste sensation. I assure you, in the end, you will want to sing La Vie en Rose. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen.

IMG_6633

 

Salade Lyonnaise/Classic Frisee Salad

IMG_6616
Pancetta

 

Serves: 5-6  Difficulty: Intermediate

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Frisée (curly endive) remove bottom piece, rough chopped
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 1/2 lb. of pancetta, or bacon chopped*
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar* + 2 tbsp.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 5 eggs, poached
  • Water to boil the eggs (in a medium-sized pan)

    Preparation:

    1)  Wash the Frisée, pat dry with paper towel. Rough chop and place them in a very large serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

    2)  In a large frying pan, on medium-high heat, heat 4 tbsp. olive oil. Brown the pancetta for 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Remove with a slotted spoon.Set aside.

    3)  In the same pan, lower the heat to medium, add the shallots and sautee’ for 2 minutes. Deglaze with vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Set aside or keep it on the warmer.

    4) In the meanwhile, time to poach the eggs. In a medium-size pot, fill up with water  and add 2 tbsp. vinegar. Bring water to a boil. Crack the eggs in a large plate. Slide them in the boiling water. Give it one gentle twirl with a large spoon (do not break the eggs) and let it boil on medium-high flame for 2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon. There will be some egg white separated from the eggs. Do not use them. The eggs should come out whole as seen in the first picture.

    5) Time to assemble the salad.  Pour the hot shallot dressing and pancetta on top of the salad. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes to sip down to the bottom.  Place the eggs on top, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Right before serving, gently break the eggs with a knife, so they can run into the salad. At this point, after receiving all the compliments, toss well.  You can also create individual salad bowls with an egg on top. The choice is yours.

    My family went crazy over this salad! My hubby said: Where are you going to get a salad like this?? This is awesome!! Everyone was fighting for the eggs and the pancetta. It was beyond marvelous, and makes a fantastic accompaniment to any protein of your choice. This can also be served as a main meal with a piece of french baguette.

    Wine pairing suggestion: Chardonnay or a nice Chablis which is a chardonnay from the Burgundy region in France. Otherwise, pick a white wine you like and make your own pairing.

    Cook’s notes: 1) If you want to get fancy, you can use Champagne vinegar instead of apple cider.

                                                   Instagram Feature Contest:

Here is a mini contest: Make this salad in your kitchen (you can use bacon instead of pancetta if you want).  Take the best photos and tell me how you like this salad. Please email me at Ginafoodiewinelover@gmail.com and write under the subject line: Lyonnaise Salad Contest. A winner will be picked on Monday, April  10th, 2017 by 6:00 PM Eastern time. The one with the best photos and caption will be featured on my Instagram profile and will be seen (world-wide).  Every participant MUST have an Instagram account set on public settings. You must follow me on Instagram and tag 2 friends under the comment line. This can come later, after you enter and submit your photos.

Disclaimer:  WordPress, Instagram and its affiliates are NOT sponsoring this contest and shall be released from all responsibilities and liabilities that may occur  from this contest. By entering this contest, you also agree to hold harmless Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover.  Let the fun begin!

Happy Cooking! Good Luck!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
Culinary Aficionado
WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balsamic-Glazed Flank Steak with Orange Gremolata

photo (44)

 

Gremolata
Gremolata
FoodieWineLoverDecember2014 049
Mise en place for Flank Steak

 

For all meat lovers, this Balsamic-Glazed Flank Steak with Orange Gremolata is a delicious dish to add to your repertoire. It’s easy and makes for a beautiful presentation. Put on your apron, and lets get cooking!

Serves: 4 – 6     Degree of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients for the Steak

  • 1.5 – 2 lbs. flank steak
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    Season the entire steak with salt and pepper. Let it sit at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes. (Keep your house cool)

In the meanwhile, prepare the Gremolata and the glaze.

Ingredients for Gremolata

  • 1/2 cup flat-leave parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
    Mixed together and set aside.

Ingredients for glaze

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 TBSP. olive oil

Preparation:

1) Heat olive oil and saute’ the shallot until it’s not longer translucent. Add the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil and reduce on very low heat for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

2) Grill the steak on high heat for about 4- 5 minutes on each side, depending on your desired doneness. I cooked it for 10 minutes which resulted in a medium, medium rare temperature. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to retain its juices. Slice it diagonally against the grain. Place it on a rectangle serving dish for a delightful presentation. Drizzle the glaze on top, and sprinkle the Gremolata all over the steak. Voila! A wonderful and refreshing way to dress up the meat to the nines. Serve it with a side dish of your choice.

Wine pairing suggestions: Syrah or Shyraz from Australia

Bon Appetit from Gina over at Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover (Canon Rebel T3)
Culinary Aficionado
WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur