Dinner

Vintners Resort, a Tranquil Escape in Sonoma

Recently, my husband and I took a vacation to wine country and stayed at the Vintners Resort, nestled in the heart of Sonoma wine country. It provides a full-service resort that includes fine dining and wellness experiences. The room was spacious and offered the finest accommodations, with a stunning view of the vineyards.

Vintners Resort

Vintners Resort

 

For breakfast, we ate at the rustic River Vine restaurant inside the resort, which is currently serving breakfast to hotel guests only. Every dish was fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented.

Breakfast at the River Vine restaurant

Breakfast at the River Vine restaurant

 

River Vine restaurant

River Vine restaurant

 

John Ash & Co. is an upscale restaurant located on the premises and offers 5-star service and emphasizes seasonal cooking. It is the first restaurant in Sonoma County to follow the farm-to-table philosophy of cooking with seasonal, local ingredients.

My husband and I enjoyed some fresh oysters paired with a local sparkling wine as an aperitif. The ambiance was serene and romantic, and Christopher, the manager, was gracious and hospitable. The waitstaff was very attentive and courteous. For dinner, we relished on some gourmet-style short ribs over polenta, and pan seared scallops and prawns. This delectable meal would not be complete without a scrumptiously decadent trio of ice cream.

Fresh oysters paired with a 2015 Russian River Valley Brut Rose Fresh Hog Island oysters and 2015 Russian River Valley Brut Rose Vintners Resort

 

Pan Seared Diver Scallops & Gulf Prawns, paired with a local Brut 2015 Sparkling Rose

Pan Seared Diver Scallops & Gulf Prawns, paired with a local Brut 2015 Sparkling Rose

 

 

Braised boneless prime rib short ribs braciole over Front Porch Farms red floriani polenta Braised boneless prime rib short ribs braciole over Front Porch Farms red floriani polenta

 

Ice Cream trio: Mexican hot cocoa, lemon bar, and peach with orange hazelnut biscotti Ice Cream trio: Mexican hot cocoa, lemon bar, and peach with orange hazelnut biscotti

 

The bar area is quaint with a cozy feel.

Relaxing at the quaint bar

Relaxing at the quaint bar

 

Mr. is enjoying the outdoor pool Mr. is enjoying the outdoor pool

 

Beautiful landscape Beautiful landscape

 

Posing with the grapes Posing with the grapes

 

Enjoying one of the stunning fountains Enjoying one of the stunning fountains

 

Pool area near the spa

Pool area near the spa

 

Vintners Resort's lobby

Vintners Resort’s lobby

 

A glorious day at Vintners Resort

A glorious day at Vintners Resort

 

Beautiful flowers

Beautiful flowers

 

The landscape is lush and meticulously maintained, and the property is surrounded by verdant vineyards offering a spectacular backdrop for wedding photography. We had fun walking through the vineyards and captured some outstanding photos. The resort has an outdoor pool and a new spa. “Vi La Vita spa” is a state-of-the-art facility designed for relaxation and pure joie de vivre! It was a fantastic way to decompress and enjoy La Dolce Far Niente (the sweetness of doing nothing).

The check-in process was contactless, and travelers should feel safe staying at this resort. The management took the highest level of precautions to ensure our safety.

The weather was glorious, and we enjoyed strolling through the property while admiring the beauty of nature. We would stay there again!

Vintners Resort

Vintners Resort

 

Visit Sonoma and stay at the charming Vintners Resort! You will thank me for this recommendation.

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 Italian Wines “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award, held in Puglia, Italy
Brand Strategist

Curry Shrimp with Rice, Don’t Forget the Riesling!

A couple of times a week, I cook for a small crowd, and I generally use a one-pot meal because it makes life so much easier. Today, I am making Curry Shrimp with Rice. Grab your apron and follow me in Gina’s Kitchen. This recipe is a Covid-19 edition, using some frozen ingredients and what’s available at the time. I think, all in all, it’s healthy and somewhat affordable. 

Curry Shrimp with Rice

Curry Shrimp with Rice


S
erves: 6-8   –  Level of difficulty: Easy to intermediate

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 pinches of garlic powder
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup mixed frozen veggies: carrots, green beans,
    corn, peas and lima beans, thawed
  • 3. 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds small frozen shrimp, already peeled and deveined,
    remove the tails, thawed.

    Preparation
    :

    1. In a large heavy-bottom pan (with a tight lid) over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Sauté onions for 1-2 minutes, add curry powder, garlic powder, stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the rice. Stir a couple of times.
    2. Add the veggies, water, salt, pepper. Stir well. Arrange the shrimp on top. Bring to a boil. Lower the flame to the lowest setting. Cover tightly and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

    There may be some rice stuck on the bottom of the pan. It’s perfectly fine and adds crunchiness to the dish. Serve it in the pot. The idea is to make cleaning easier.

    Curry Shrimp with Rice paired with Riesling

    Curry Shrimp with Rice Paired with Riesling


    Wine pairing suggestion
    :  An off-dry Riesling or any dry white wine of your choice.

    This curried shrimp dish is begging for a refreshing wine to pair with it. I choose an aromatic and delicious German Riesling from the Mosel region. Rieslings are food-friendly and pair very well with curry, seafood, spicy, and Thai dishes.

    The mineral character in this wine exhibits a great depth of flavor and is a perfect complement to this meal. This Riesling is off-dry and showing a touch of sweetness with crisp acidity; it intertwines perfectly with the intoxicating flavors of the curry.

    I hope you will try this delectable and easy dish and share your experience with me.

    Happy cooking and happy sipping!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
    Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
    Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
    Level-2 Certified Sommelier
    Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
    Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    All rights reserved.

Tignanello Amore Mio!

2017 Tignanello

2017 Tignanello

 

2017 Tignanello

2017 Tignanello

2017 Tignanello with Filet Mignon

2017 Tignanello with Filet Mignon

Zucchini with Feta cheese

Zucchini with Feta cheese

Alaskan King Crabs

Alaskan King Crabs

 

2017 Tignanello by Marchesi Antinori. Iconic, sexy, exuberant, and alluring are some of the descriptions that I find very felicitous for this Super Tuscan. It is an exquisite wine made with 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. After decanting it for 3 hours using the vSpin vase, (without the motorized apparatus- I was too lazy and busy cooking) all the aromas finally opened up. This wine is incredibly young, full-bodied, but sang to me in Italian in the most romantic way. Exotic, dark plums, sweet spices, cedar, tobacco, leather stimulate my taste buds, showing fine tannins with an extraordinary finish. This wine is meticulously well-crafted and has excellent aging potential in the cellar.

The afternoon started with some Alaskan King crabs as appetizers, and for dinner, I served a roasted filet mignon, with an (optional) gravy made with a roux (butter and flour), salt, freshly ground black pepper, beef stock, dashes of Worcestershire sauce, tarragon, and drippings from the meat. I also prepared stir-fried zucchini and added Feta cheese to elevate the dish. It’s a terrific way to enjoy your veggies! On the menu, there were also roasted potatoes and onions for the big eaters. It was a fun gathering with my family celebrating a special occasion: our wedding anniversary! All the spices in the food and that of the wine intertwined beautifully to create a symphony of memorable flavors. It was an outstanding food & wine pairing experience.

“Tenuta Tignanello estate is in the heart of Chianti Classico, in the gently rolling hillsides between the Greve and Pesa river valleys. Two of the estate’s prized vineyards are on the same hillside, Tignanello, and Solaia, on soils that originated from marine marlstone from the Pliocene period rich in limestone and schist. The vines enjoy hot temperatures during the day and cooler evenings throughout the growing season. The estate’s two signature wines, Solaia and Tignanello, are produced from these vineyards and have been defined by the international press as “among the most influential wines in the history of Italian viticulture”. According to Marchesi Antinori, Solaia and Tignanello are an ongoing challenge and a never-ending passion. The Tignanello estate has vineyards of indigenous Sangiovese grapes as well as some other untraditional varieties such as Cabernet Franc.” ~ Marchesi Antinori website.

I’ve been fortunate to have tasted the 2016 vintage as well at a lavish birthday party on a cruise ship. Celebratory wine like this one should be relished during special moments to add more meaning to the occasion.  

Some day, I hope you will get to experience a “Tig” moment. 

Happy Sipping From Gina’s Kitchen

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino Bloggers Award”
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier

To obtain a signed copy of my cookbook:

Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures


It’s also available on Amazon Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, and other countries.

Gina’s Succulent Crab Cakes

It’s the holiday season and I want to jazz things up with some festive crab cakes and Champagne. Every once in a while I make crab cakes, and I always strive to come up with the best possible recipe. I think, I finally succeeded tonight. Generally, Blue Crabs from Maryland are used and they are famous for their crab cakes. My family gave my Maryland-style crab cakes rave reviews, and I am happy to share my version with all of you. It makes a dazzling meal but it will break the bank! I’m not gonna lie, just make up for it in January!

Servings: 6 – 8 Degree of difficulty: Medium. Yield about 12 regular-sized crab cakes or 14 smaller ones. This recipe can be divided in half to serve about 3-4 people.

Ingredients:
1/2 red bell peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
Salt to taste (go easy)
1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter for frying veggies, plus more olive oil to pan fry crab cakes
2 lbs. ( 2) 16-ounce containers jumbo lump crabmeat
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. stoneground mustard
2 tsp. Creole seasoning
Sprinkle of garlic powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Crab Cakes and Champagne

 

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Bread and goat cheese

Bread and goat cheese

Beets and goat salad

Beets and goat salad

 

Preparation:

1) Over med-high heat, in a medium-sized pan, heat up olive oil and butter, add celery, onion and bell pepper, salt to taste. Sweat for about 3-4 minutes al dente to give it a crunch. Let it cool.

2) In a large bowl, combine crab meat and all the remaining ingredients. Add the veggies, and mix well with your hands (using gloves). Form crab cake patties, just like you would make a hamburger, place on a tray and chill in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes.

3) Heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large pan, on medium-high heat, (make sure the oil is hot) place at the most, 4 patties, AND LOWER HEAT TO MEDIUM, otherwise, crab cakes will come out too dark. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, then flip gently with a spatula, cook the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove promptly and place on a dish lined with a paper towel. Repeat the same process. Add more oil if necessary. You can broil them for a healthier version.

I served them with a rémoulade sauce comprising of 2 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. mayo, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, creole seasoning to taste. Mix well.

It would not be complete without a dazzling beet salad with goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Modena, along with crusty French bread. My family had fun smearing the cheese all over the bread for a fun experience. I hope, you will give this recipe a try, and I am certain your family will love you for it.

Wine suggestion: I paired it with a citrusy and toasty Champagne.

Pommery is a great Champagne House. The Brut Royal is made with the 3 main grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, with refreshing notes of lemons and toasted bread. This Champagne is not dry nor complex and is very enjoyable. It’s lively with a touch of finesse. For $34.00 dollars, it has a great QPR (quality price ratio) and is perfect to add holiday cheers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, &
Bon Appetit from Gina’s Kitchen!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Scholar Student
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
All rights reserved.

Mongolian-Style Beef to Entice the Palate

Mise-en-place for Mongolian Beef

Mise-en-place for Mongolian Beef

Mongolian-Style Beef

Mongolian-Style Beef

After vacationing in Italy for 2 weeks, it didn’t take me long to get back in “Gina’s Kitchen”. Mongolian beef is a Chinese American dish that is quick and delicious on any weeknights. Typically, I would serve it with Jasmine rice, but today, I am using sweet potatoes as a side for a healthier option. Flank steak is a lean meat and is an excellent choice for this dish.

Serves: 3-4 – Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

• 1.1/2 lbs. flank steaks, cut in strips
• 2 tablespoons corn starch
• Salt to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4-6 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided
• 1 green pepper, cut in julienne
• 1 long hot pepper, seeded and chopped, optional
• 3-4 scallions, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, chopped
• Fresh ginger cut into matchsticks (1/4 cup)
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
• 2 tablespoons low-sodium Soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preparation:

1. Make sure the meat is at room temperature to ensure even cooking. Season with salt and pepper. In a medium-sized bowl, add the corn starch and drench the steaks. Shake them one by one to remove any excess.
2. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil, place half the steaks in a single layer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes (in total) on medium-high heat, the meat should sizzle. Turn it halfway through using a set of silicone thongs. Remove the cooked meat and set aside on a dish. Add 2 tablespoons oil and cook the remaining steaks. Remove and combine it with the first batch.
3. In the same skillet, on medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil, stir fry together green pepper, hot pepper, scallions, garlic, ginger for about 1-2 minutes. Add water, Hoisin, Soy, Worcestershire sauces, and the cooked meat. Give it a couple good stirs with a wooden spoon. The sauce will thicken and stick nicely to the steaks. Voila! It’s ready to be served. Your family will ask for seconds and request that you make this meal again.

Wine pairing suggestions: Sauvignon Blanc, off-dry Riesling, or a Grenache.

Gina’s notes: If you plan to make rice as an accompaniment, start preparing it first, this way it will cook while you are preparing the meat. To ensure the meat is more tender, always cut it against the grain.

Happy Cooking from Gina’s Kitchen to Yours,

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award

Arabic-Style Belly Dancing Chicken

img_4871

As mentioned in the “About” section of my blog, I am of Middle Eastern descent on my mother’s side. I enjoy the richness and the intense flavors of their cuisine. I love experimenting with food in my kitchen. Recently, I created this dish, made with Middle Eastern couscous, chicken thighs and some aromatic spices indigenous to the region. It is so delectable, it makes me want to do the belly dancing. Put on your apron, grab a glass of wine (if you drink) and follow me in Gina’s kitchen.

Serves: 6-8 as a main meal – Level of difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:
12 chicken thighs skinless, bone-in
Olive oil – Follow recipe
2 tablespoons sumac + more
2 teaspoons 7 spices *
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
1 small red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups Middle Eastern couscous
32 ounces lower sodium chicken broth
½ cup chickpeas, drained
½ red bell pepper cut in julienne
Flat leave parsley for garnish
16 ounces Greek 2% yogurt, sumac, olive oil to taste

Preparation:

1) Season chicken with 3 tbsp. olive oil, sumac, 7 spices, salt and black pepper.  Let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.

2) In a large Dutch pan, on medium-high to high heat,  cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil.  Sear the chicken,3 minutes on each side.  Be careful, as there will be some splattering.  Set aside. Do a second batch, and repeat. Set aside.
3) In the same pan, saute’ the onions, 2 minutes, garlic, 1 minute, add tomato paste and stir until it caramelizes, another 2 minutes or so. Stir well.
4) Add the couscous, continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add chicken broth.  Layer all the chicken thighs on top, add chickpeas, bell peppers.
5) Bring to a boil. Lower the flame to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. It should come out nice and moist.  Garnish with parsley.
6) In a serving bowl, place the yogurt, sprinkle with sumac and olive oil to taste. Serve with the meal.

Arabic-Style Belly Dancing Chicken

Arabic-Style Belly Dancing Chicken

 

7 Spices

7 Spices

Couscous

Couscous

 

Greek yogurt, Sumac, olive oil

Greek yogurt, Sumac, olive oil

Cook’s notes:
1) The 7Spices contain, coriander, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and other spices as indicated on label.
2) The sumac and 7Spices can be found at Middle-Eastern/Arabic specialty stores.

I hope you have enjoyed this recipe, and will attempt to make this delightful dish.

Recipe developed and created by: Foodiewinelover
Photos taken by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

Gina Zarcadoolas
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
WSET-Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines

Easy Pasta Primavera

As you know by now, I love eating pasta. It is definitely my favorite starch and one of the most versatile food to prepare.  For us South Floridian, it feels like summer already but for most of you, it’s still springtime. The flowers are blooming, and some veggies are in season.  It’s Pasta Primavera time, a simple pasta dish made with fresh vegetables in a cream sauce. It’s easy and delicious.  You can use any pasta shape of your choice, but today I am using a small farfalle. They’re commonly known as bow-tie, and the meaning stands for butterfly in Italian.

Serves: 6-8 as a main meal Level of difficulty: Easy – It takes about 20  minutes from start to finish depending how fast you prep your ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. small farfalle pasta
  • 1/2 head of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 15 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, (reserved)
  • 3-4 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

    Preparation:

    1) In a large frying pan, on medium-high heat, heat up olive oil. Sautee onions for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, and sautee until you smell the beautiful aroma. Set aside.

    2) Bring the pasta water to a boil. Add a handful of salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. About 5 minutes or so before the time is up, add the asparagus and cook in the same pot to save time. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup or so of pasta water.

    3) Turn the burner back on with the onions and garlic on low, drop the pasta, season with Italian seasoning and black pepper. Add the tomatoes and  asparagus. Slowly incorporate the ricotta, pasta water and basil.  Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Garnish with some veggies on top to make it enticing. Drizzle with olive oil.  Voila! It’s that easy!

    Wine pairing suggestions: Verdicchio , Gavi or a Sauvignon Blanc will work beautifully with this spring dish.

    Cook’s Tips

    You can use a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, green or red bell peppers. The choice is endless.  For a more flavorful version, roast the veggies in the oven, however, keep in mind, this recipe is meant to save you time. Put your own twist on it, and make it your signature dish.

    A recipe is to be used as a barometer, if you are on a salt-restricted or low-fat diet, cut back on the salt and use a part-skim ricotta cheese.

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Easy Pasta Primavera

Recipe by Foodiewinelover
Photo by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

Follow me on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodieandWineLover/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoodieWineLover

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foodieandwinelover/

 

 

Aglio E Olio With Broccoli Rabe & Roasted Tomatoes

Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Tomatoes

Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Tomatoes

 

There are literally a thousand ways to make pasta, and I love to create dishes using different pasta shapes.  Sometimes, I plan ahead, but there are other times, I try to use whatever I have in the fridge and in the pantry. It’s a bit challenging but it can be fun.  I also get inspired while I am shopping, and I see the different ingredients. I start visualizing how I can combine them together in a dish.  Today’s recipe is a perfect example of that. I grabbed the ingredients at the grocery store and put them together very quickly.  I fed my family, and everyone was smiling while savoring the pasta.  Aglio e Olio in Italian means garlic and oil, and traditionally used with spaghetti. I developed this dish and take full credit for the recipe and the method of cooking.

Serves: 6-8 – Level of difficulty: Easy – Medium 

Time: from start to finish 35 minutes (fast paced) allow yourself 45 minutes in total. You will be juggling but you can do it, I promise you. You will have the oven and two burners going at one point. Just pay attention, and do not use your cell phone. (LOL) 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 – 16 oz pasta Gigli Flowers, (Flora’s Brand) *
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb. of pancetta, chopped *
  • 1/3 cup of garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • sea salt to taste
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli rabe, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (reserved)
  • 1/2 -3/4 Grana Padano cheese for grating *
    Preparation:

    1) Place tomatoes on a tray, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a pre-heated 425-degree F. oven for 30 -35 minutes.  Give them one good stir, at the half-way point.

    2) In the meanwhile, bring the salted pasta water to a boil.

    3) On another burner, in a very large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil, sauté the pancetta for 2 minutes, add the garlic. Once you smell the aroma, set this pan aside. (Away from the burner)

    4) The pasta should be in the boiling water by now. 5-7 minutes prior to pasta being done, drop the broccoli rabe in there to avoid using another pot.  Check for doneness and drain the pasta and broccoli rabe. Be sure to reserve some pasta water.

    5) Place the large skillet with pancetta and garlic back on the burner on very low flame, drop the rest of the olive oil, the pasta, 1/4 cup pasta water, broccoli rabe, roasted tomatoes, grated cheese. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Season with more salt if necessary. Mix well and serve at once.

    Cook’s Tips:

    1) Use any short pasta you have in your pantry
    2) you can substitute pancetta with bacon
    3) Use as much or as little cheese as you want. You can also use a different cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano, (parmesan)
    4) Always cook pasta according to package directions, unless you like it al dente. In that case, deduct 2 minutes from the cooking time.  The best way to know if the pasta is cooked to your liking is simply taste it.

    As you can see from my notes, pasta is very versatile and can be prepared according to your taste. You can use any meats, pasta shapes or veggies of your choice, and stamp your name on it!

    Wine suggestions: Vermentino, Verdicchio, or Sancerre – Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.

Recipe developed by Gina over at Foodiewinelover
Photos: By Gina for Foodiewinelover

Buon Appetito From My Kitchen to Yours!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

Back To My Roots, A Delicious Greek Cookbook

Back To My Roots
Krystina Kalapothakos is a chef with a Greek soul, as she puts it. She blogs over at Kouzounas Kitchen.  Kouzouna is her grandmother’s maiden name, and not to be confused with Kouzina, which means kitchen in Greek. I met her online a little over a year ago, via a Twitter friend.  She is the founder of a wonderful group on Facebook called: Foodify.  We follow each other on social media, and share each other’s recipes with our audience.  Krystina is inspired by her yiayia, (grandma in Greek), who left her legacy, along with some traditional Greek recipes. That’s where Krystina gets her passion for cooking, and baking.  She has some delectable recipes on her blog, but recently decided to put together her first cookbook. Although, it’s been a lifelong dream of hers, it took her a little less than 3 months to put it together. I admire her commitment, determination, and love for Greek cuisine.  I got a copy of her cookbook, and was pleased with the heartwarming story she shares with us, along with some delightful, and authentic dishes. It didn’t take me long to try her Spanakorizo, Rice with Spinach. I made it in my kitchen, and it was an instant hit with my family. Today, I will share with you, this delicious Greek dish from her newly published cookbook, Back To My Roots, Sharing Recipes From The Villages Of Greece.

Spanakorizo (Spinach & Rice)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh spinach (If you are using swiss chard, you can do half swiss chard & half spinach)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh onion
  • 1 leek finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 lemon (reserve juice and zest)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Pinch ground cumin
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • Balsamic Vinegar (Reserve for the finish plate)

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat.

2) Saute onions and leeks until they become translucent. (About 5 minutes.)

3) Add garlic, and sauté for 1 minute.

4) Add lemon zest, dill, basil, mint, oregano, cumin, swiss chard, and spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted down.

5) Stir in the rice, and water. Bring to a boil.

6) Reduce the heat, and place the lid over the pan. Let the rice cook for approximately 20 minutes.

7) When the mixture has cooled, stir in the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy with some fresh Feta over the top.

I highly recommend this cookbook, and Krystina is in the process of getting it on Amazon. In the meanwhile, if you are interested in owning one, please email her, at kouzounaslive@gmail.com, write “cookbook” under subject, and she will get back to you. This would make a lovely Christmas, Hanukkah, or birthday gift.

Krystina Kalapothakos

Krystina Kalapothakos

Meet Krystina Kalapothakos, the name behind the lovely blog, Kouzounas Kitchen.

Follow her on Twitter: —–> KouzounasKitchen
Follow her on Facebook: —>KouzounasKitchen

I want to thank her for her generous contribution to the culinary world, and for featuring my shrimp Saganaki in her cookbook. I hope you will try this recipe, and get her book.

Update: 3/11/2016 – Since this blog post, Krystina has published her book on Amazon and you can obtain a copy by clicking on this link: http://www.amazon.com/Back-My-Roots-Krystina-Kalapothakos/dp/0692638679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456905437&sr=8-1&keywords=krystina+kalapothakos

Spanakorizo

Kali Orexi (Bon Appetit) in Greek

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

With today’s busy lives, people are pressed for time, and need quick and easy recipes for weeknight meals. These Chicken Lettuce Wraps take no time, and are delightful. This is my creation, and I am happy to share my passion in the kitchen with all of you.

Serves: 4   Degree of difficulty: Easy

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

  •  3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup canned water chestnut, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp. Soy sauce, low sodium
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated, + more for garnish
  • Salt, optional
  • 1 head of bib, or butter lettuce leavesPreparation:  
  1. In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, heat oil, add onions, peppers, water chestnut, garlic, ginger. Saute’ for 5 -6 minutes, stir occasionally.
  2. Add chicken, stir fry for 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, Cayenne pepper, carrots, salt, fry  while stirring for another 5-7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. (Do not attempt to taste unless you are certain chicken is cooked, and has an opaque color)
  3. Fill the lettuce with the chicken and serve with a peanut, soy or any sauce of your choice. Serve with brown or white rice on the side for a complete meal. Try this easy and delicious meal, and your family will appreciate your love for them, through your cooking.
    Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    Happy Stir Frying from My Kitchen to Yours!

    Gina 
    Super-High-Res-with-White-BG

%d bloggers like this: