Entree

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

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

 

 

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

The Ultimate Shrimp Creole

img_1943Shrimp creole is a dish that originated in  Louisiana.  It consists of shrimp, tomatoes, the Holy trinity, some spices and hot pepper sauce. It’s very easy to prepare and packed with flavors. This dinner can be put together in 20 minutes.

Serves: 6 Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

– 1.5 lb. extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
– 4 tbsp. olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 green pepper, diced
– 2 celery ribs, diced
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– 8 oz. diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
– 8 oz. tomato sauce, of your choice
-1/2 cup water
– 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
-1/2 tsp. oregano
– Salt to taste
– Louisiana hot sauce, a few dashes
– Flat leave parsley for garnish

Preparation:

1) In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Saute onions, peppers, celery for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute. Stir well.

2) Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, hot sauce.  Bring to a boil. Cover,  and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

3) Add shrimp,  cover and cook on low heat for an additional 3-4 minutes or until they become opaque.

Traditionally, this dish is served over white rice. Garnish with parsley.  I suggest you start cooking the rice. Follow the instructions on the package.  While the rice is cooking, prepare the shrimp dish.

Wine pairing suggestions: A chilled Riesling to balance the heat in this dish!

Recipe for Shrimp Creole by Foodiewinelover
Photo by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

Bon Appetit!

Gina/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

 

 

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Enjoying some short ribs

Enjoying some short ribs

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

After a long absence, I needed to get back in the kitchen and prepare some home cooked meals.  My son PJ suggested that I make Gordon Ramsey’s short ribs. It was a collaborative effort with him and the result was a Grand Slam. Of course, he thought he was Gordon Ramsey and acted like him, but, I had to take control in Gina’s Kitchen. Let’s just say, we were each other’s sous chef! I was feeding 6 hungry people and I came up with the following measurements.  This recipe can easily be divided in half for a smaller crowd.

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

Time: Allow a minimum of 3 hours from start to finish

Ingredients:

  • 8 lbs. beef short ribs
  • Olive oil as needed for searing the ribs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. of tomato paste
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in halves (unpeeled)
  • 1 bottle of red wine, Chianti, Pinot Noir or Cabernet
  • 28 oz. of beef broth low-sodium
  • Italian parsley for garnish, optionalSide dish:

    1 cup Polenta for 4 cups of water, salt to taste

    Mushrooms topping: 

  • 8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 tbsp.  olive oil

    Preparation:

    1) Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. ( I keep my house on 75 degrees F.)2)  Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees F.
    3) In a very large and deep pan, over medium-high heat on the stove top, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Sear the meat on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each side. Rotate the meat in the middle of the pan where the heat is, using a set of tongues.

    4) Place the garlic face-down randomly. Add  tomato paste and stir it in all over the bottom of the pan. Cook until it obtains a rust color. Deglaze with the wine. Cook until it reduces 3-4 minutes.

    5) Add the beef broth, and control the sodium if necessary. Bring to a quick boil. Turn stove top off.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 2.5 hours. Just forget about it, figuratively speaking.  (please do not leave oven unattended)

    6)  In a small frying pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and the oil, and pan fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown. Set aside.

    7) Prepare the polenta 20 minutes before the ribs are done. If you do it too soon, it will clump up.  Follow cooking  instructions on package.  Keep on the lowest heat until you’re ready to serve.

    8) Remove the ribs out of the oven and place them in a large platter. Take all the garlic out.  Pass them through a sieve and put the garlic paste in the sauce.  Stir well. Now it’s time to serve. Either buffet style or  you can plate it, by placing some polenta on the bottom of a platter, put the ribs on top and garnish with the mushrooms and parsley.
    Wine pairing suggestions: A bold Cab, Chianti or any red wine of your choice.It’s good to be back in the kitchen after a long absence.This blogpost is in Memory of My Beloved Dad, John.  I will always remember him in the kitchen as my potato peeler, my pot scrubber and my right hand daddy’s little girl. I will miss savoring delicious pasta dishes with him, but his legacy will live in my heart forever.

    RIP DAD- 1936-2016

    Disclosure:

    This dish is an adaptation of Gordon Ramsey’s recipe on YouTube. These measurements are mine based on 8 lbs. of ribs.
    Photographed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Happy Braising!
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe & Ricotta Salata

Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata
Here is another one of my mouth-watering pasta recipes to include in your weekly repertoire. It is a classic southern Italian dish from the Puglia region. Some people use Pecorino Romano cheese and hot Italian sausage. This my variation of  an easy-to-follow recipe and super tasty. If you like spicy food, I recommend using the hot Italian sausage to add some kick to this dish. Let’s have some fun in Gina’s Kitchen.

Serves: 6 -8 Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Orecchiette, pasta shape (little ears)
  • 3 lbs. sweet Italian sausage with fennel, cut up in pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to drizzle
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, (rapini) rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup of garlic, chopped
  •  1/2 -3/4 cup  low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. Ricotta Salata cheese, cubed

    Preparation:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, boil the sausages for about 15 minutes. Drain well. Add 1/4 cup olive oil in same pot, and sear them on each side until they obtain a nice golden brown color. You may have to this in 2 batches. Remove, cut each link  in 2-3 pieces. Set aside.
  2. In the meanwhile, in another pot, bring salted pasta water to boil, and cook according to package directions. 5 minutes prior to cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe and cook in same water. This will save you time and less cleaning.  Drain well. Drizzle with a little oil to avoid clumping. Set aside.
  3.  In an extra large skillet, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, sautee the garlic, deglaze with chicken broth,  cook for 1 minute, add the pasta with the broccoli rabe, sausages, season with salt & pepper, and finish with the cheese. Add more chicken broth if necessary. Lower the heat, stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and serve at once.

    Wine pairing suggestions: A chilled Gavi, Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, or a Riesling if you are using the hot Italian sausage. Always cook with love and your food will love you back!

    Recipe written by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for FoodiewineloverFoodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine, & Travel Lifestyles
    Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata

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 Gigi 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 and pepper to taste (pepper is optional)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli rabe, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (reserve)
  • 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, sautee 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: Any white wine of your choice. Make sure it’s nicely chilled but not overly so you can taste the aromas of the wine.

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

 

Arayes, A Delicious Middle Eastern Meat-Stuffed Pita

Prepping for Arayes

prepping for Arayes

Ground Sirloin

Ground sirloin

Arayes with side of hummus

Arayes with side of hummus

Arayes are a very popular street food in the Levant region, and a crowd pleaser. They are easy to make, and  very tasty.  The word Ara’yes in Arabic is the plural word for Arous, meaning bride.

If you are a meat lover, and looking for something quick and satisfying, look no further. I’ve got the perfect dish for you, it’s called Arayes.  It’s a meat-stuffed pita dish that can be made on a week night, if you are pressed for time.

Serves 6-8 with a side dish, based on your appetite
Level of difficulty: Easy This recipe can easily be divided in half.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb ground beef sirloin *
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • 6 garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice  *
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander *
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg *
  • 1-2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Pita Bread *
  • Lemon, juiced
    Preparation:

    1) In a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, heat up olive oil. Saute the onions for 3 minutes. Add garlic, sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add meat, salt, pepper, allspice, coriander, nutmeg.  Pan fry for about 10 minutes on high, depending on what material you’re using. Be careful not to burn the bottom, stir occasionally. It will render some liquid, but will dry up.2) Add tomato paste, and more oil if necessary. Keep stirring, add fresh parsley. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Remove.3) In the meanwhile, warm up pita bread in the broiler, but you can also grill them for a more authentic version. Stuff the pita bread with meat,  garnish with parsley, and sprinkle lemon juice on top.  Hummus.Tabbouleh, or Fattoush Salad make wonderful side dishes for this lovely meal. The choice is yours! Visit the links to get the recipes.

Cook’s notes:

1)Traditionally, lamb meat is used in this dish, but ground beef or ground turkey work well also.

2) You can substitute the coriander, nutmeg and allspice for a spice called 7 Spices. It can be  found in Middle Eastern specialty stores.

3) Buy large pita bread and cut in half or use the small ones.

Have fun in your kitchen!

Gina,  Foodiewinelover 

My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles 

 

Braciole, A Gourmet Italian meat, in Tomato Sauce

It’s the holiday season, and Christmas is literally around the corner. I am hosting Christmas Day, and need to work on a menu, and finish my shopping. This time of the year is overwhelming for me, but there is a joyous feeling in the air, that goes with the madness of the season. I recently made a dish called:  Braciole, pronounced brajole, or brashole, and is the plural for braciola. It is considered a thinly sliced of meat, stuffed with garlic, parsley, and salami or prosciutto. Most grocery stores have it pre-sliced, or you can have the butcher slice it for you. Some people use flank steak, but I always use top round.  In Italy, this dish is called involtini, and the stuffing/filling can vary depending on the region. If you are still wondering what to make for Christmas, or your holiday dinner, this is the perfect and festive dish for you. It is a bit time-consuming, but the good news is, you can make it 1 or 2 days ahead of time. Please keep in mind, some people do not consume red meat, be sure to have chicken, fish and veggies grace your holiday table.

Serves: 9-12 for a seat-down dinner or 10-15 for buffet style dinner, served with other food.  Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult  Time from start to finish: 2.5 – 3 hours, depending how fast you do all your  prepping.

Making Braciole

Making Braciole

Stuffing braciole

Stuffing braciole

Braciole by Foodiewinelover

Braciole by Foodiewinelover

Searing the braciole

Searing the braciole

Braciole in tomato sauce by Foodiewinelover

Braciole in tomato sauce by Foodiewinelover

Braciole paired magically with Barolo

Braciole paired magically with Barolo

 

Ingredients for the meat:

  • Olive oil for pan frying
  • 3 lbs. top round steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 – 6 oz  jar of peeled garlic, chopped *
  • one large bunch of flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 lb. prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper *
  • Butcher twine *

    Preparation for the meat:
     

    1) Place the meat on a butcher block, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the seasonings lightly, depending on your sodium diet, on both sides of meat. Keep in mind, the prosciutto is salty. I recommend you use less than more. You can always add more later, but if it’s over salted, the food will be ruined.  It’s hard for me to give you measurements, since I use my fingers to sprinkle the seasonings.
    2) Next, with the tip of your fingers, grab some garlic, parsley, and prosciutto, one at a time, and place at the end of the meat, as shown on the picture. Roll it, like a jelly roll, and repeat the same process. You will work an assembly line, and use the butcher twine later.
    3) Once, your meats are rolled up, it’s time to tie them up with the butcher twine, by securing both ends.  There may be some leftovers, garlic, parsley, and prosciutto. Save to use in the sauce.
    4) In a large pot, on medium high heat, heat up olive oil, Sear the meat on both sides to obtain a nice brown color, about 5-7 minutes. Do this in batches, and set aside.

    Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 container Pomi, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 container Pomi, strained tomatoes
  • 1 large jar of Mids, prepared tomato sauce, meatless*
  • 1/4 cup of water, put in jar and shake it to get all the sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar, optional

    Preparation for the sauce:

    Using the same pot, add more oil, if necessary, brown the tomato paste, add all the tomatoes, water, leftover fillings, salt & pepper, sugar, and put the meat in the sauce. Bring to a boil, simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, uncovered, until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally, to make sure the pot doesn’t burn on the bottom.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, add very little water, and continue cooking.

    Pasta
    1) 2 lbs. of Rigatoni, or any pasta shape of your choice.
    2) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil for pasta. Add salt, and cook as per package directions, or al dente, to the bite.
    3) Drain pasta, drizzle with olive and some sauce to prevent clumping. Set aside. The sauce should be done, and the meat tender by this time.
    4)Remove the braciole from the sauce, and use a pair of shears to cut the twines. (You will need some patience, while I was doing this, my guests were having their salad.)  Arrange them in a nice rectangle platter. This presentation is ideal for a seat-down dinner party like I had.  Serve with the pasta. However for a buffet-style, or for a holiday table, slice them, and arrange them on a beautiful platter. It is more decorative, and appealing.

Braciole

Cook’s notes:

1) Some people use toothpicks to secure the meat, but I prefer using the twine.

2) Freshly ground pepper goes so nicely with the meat.

3) If you don’t want to use garlic from the jar, go ahead and use fresh, just allow more time for peeling.  Nothing wrong with fresh ingredients, I actually encourage it, whenever possible.

4) Some recipes add cheese to the filling, but, I prefer grated  Parmigiano Reggiano, (parmesan cheese), on top of the pasta.

5) This recipe yields 9 meat rolls, but, some people shared one. There were leftovers, and, it was even better the next day.

6) For a small dinner gathering, I recommend you ask your guests if they consume meat or shellfish. Let’s not forget about gluten-free pasta for those who cannot have regular pasta. This may create extra work, but if you are having guests, it’s important to accommodate their diet, and ensure they enjoy their meal.

Wine pairing suggestions: My lovely aunt and  cousin were visiting from abroad, I decided to go all out. I paired this delectable dish with a Barolo, the king of Italian wines. The pairing was magical, and everyone was pleased with my culinary creation. You can also pair this dish with a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon of your choice. You want a big wine to stand up to the meat.

Buon Appetito!

Recipe by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Images by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Wine pairing suggestions by Gina for Foodiewinelover

This will probably be my last post before Christmas, therefore, I would like to wish all of you, a happy holiday season, and a Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

In closing, I would like to share this quote: “Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given–when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.”

Gina, 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

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