Category Archives: Seafood

Royal Flush Clams Casino

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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
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Baccala Mantecato, A Venetian Delicacy

img_2237 img_2236I first found out about this delicacy when I was visiting Venice in 2007 with my beautiful family. I was intrigued because I had never savored baccala that way before. Baccala is Italian for dried salted cod fish. It’s a delicious spread (dip) that originated in the region of Venice, Italy. It’s not that difficult to prepare but it can be a bit tricky. If you follow my instructions carefully, your spread will be a success just like mine. You will be using fillet (boned) code fish that’s cured in salt. It’s usually found in a plastic bag near the seafood department of your grocery store. I am certain, you can also find it in the outdoor markets without the plastic, depending what part of the world  you live in.  Fear not, it’s cured with lots of salt and it’s not easily perishable. If  you don’t properly prepare it, you will be left with a dish that is inedible due to the high sodium content. You will need a little less than two hours from start to finish to obtain the final results. Today, I am using a food processor and not my hands, which could be a daunting task. This is the perfect appetizer for an Italian-themed party, and pairs lusciously with Prosecco or any bubbly of your choice. I promise you, if your guests like seafood, they will be impressed with your culinary skills.

Serves: 8-10 as an appetizer –  Level of difficulty:  Medium

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. Salted Cod Fish boned
  • Water to boil the cod fish and potatoes
  • 2 medium gold potatoes, peeled, cut up
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish, optional
  • Garlic bread, crostini,  or polenta

    Preparation:
    1) Rinse the salt off the fish. Next, In a large plastic bowl, place the cod fish and cover it with fresh room temperature (tap)  water. Let it soak for about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat the same process for another 45 minutes. (You will be adding fresh water and let it soak a second time)  for a total of at LEAST 90 minutes. Drain again.
    2)Place in a large saucepan, cover with fresh water and boil for 5-7 minutes until it becomes a little flaky.  There will be large chunks and it will not fall apart at that point.  Drain. Set aside.
    3) In the meanwhile, boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. *
    4) It’s time to put it all together. In a food processor, put the cod, potatoes, garlic, half and half and PULSE for about 40 – 60 seconds or so, until all the ingredients come together nicely. At that point, you should see some little chunks of fish, and the mixture will appear a little dry.
    5) Slowly, add the oil and run the food processor on HIGH until you obtain a mousse-like texture as in mashed potatoes. (about 30-60 seconds). Always, check your food to make sure you do not over process it. You will run the risk of changing the texture by liquefying it too much. The spread will look creamy, with flakes or little shreds of fish. It’s done. Look at my pictures!
    6) Spread it over bread,  drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with black pepper and parsley.  You can also serve it in a bowl, and let your guest dig in. Traditionally in Venice, it’s served over polenta. Either way, you eat it, it will be delectable and very enticing to the taste buds.
    I hope you have enjoyed this delicious and healthy recipe, and plan to make it soon. Let me hear about your experience. From what I gather, people are having a difficult time obtaining the right consistency. It may take some practice.
    Cook’s notes: * You can use the same pan you used for the cod to boil the potatoes to avoid a mess in the kitchen.
    Make sure the sauce pan is large enough, if not, the water will overflow and create a mess when cooking the fish.  I have a few tricks up my sleeves, having been in the kitchen for nearly 30 years. To make the bread, drizzle with olive oil, and a dab of butter. Broil for 1-2 minutes. Voila!

    codfish2016
    Salted Cod fish

     

     

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Baccala Mantecato – Exclusive pictures by Foodiewinelover

All photos are exclusively mine except for the small picture of the bag – I wanted to show you what it looks like. If it says boned, chunks, it will work also. It’s IMPORTANT that you used the fillet (without the bones) Keep in mind, there are probably different companies depending on where you live.
This recipe was created in my kitchen and I take full credit for the measurements and method of preparation.

I hope you will try this delicious spread and share your thoughts with me. I would love to hear your feedback. I may come back to add some personal photos from our trip to Venice. I need to publish this today, as my followers on social media are patiently waiting for the recipe.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas – Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

Delicious Fresh Snapper Ceviche

Fresh Snapper for Ceviche
Fresh Snapper for Ceviche
Freshly-caught snapper
Freshly-caught snapper
Ceviche by Foodiewinelover
Ceviche by Foodiewinelover

My son PJ loves the ocean and is passionate about all sea creatures. He enjoys fishing, and once in a while, he brings home a nice catch. He recently caught a nice mutton snapper and fileted it. The first thing that came to his mind was a ceviche. This dish originated in Peru and Ecuador, South America. It is often spelled seviche or cebiche depending on the region. Ceviche consists of raw fish that’s marinated and cooked in an acidic juice instead of heat.  Lime is usually the preferred method to prepare it. The Peruvian use Aji Amarillo, an indigenous chili pepper to give it some kick. It is widely used in their traditional dishes. It’s hard to find but you can substitute for jalapeño peppers. Ceviche has quickly become a trendy and popular dish in the US.  Famous and aspiring chefs are putting their own spin on it to give it a modern touch.  Let’s get busy in the kitchen!

Level of difficulty: Easy  – Serves: 3-4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized mutton snapper, filleted, and diced
  • 3 lime, juiced
  • 1 handful  of cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Aji Amarillo, or jalapeño, optional
  • Avocado pieces as an accompaniment

    Preparation:
    Combine the fish, lime juice, cilantro, salt and hot pepper.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours. The fish will have an opaque color on the outside. This would be a sign that it’s done and ready to be savored. Serve the Ceviche with some avocados.

    Wine pairing suggestions: 
    A dry Riesling from Germany or Torrontés, a crisp white wine with floral notes from Argentina.  When in doubt, pair it with a fruity Prosecco or a Brut bubbly of your choice. The choice is  yours, but stay away from a wine that has too much acid as it will clash with the lime juice. A clerk at your local wine store is usually trained to help you in selecting the perfect wine to pair with your food.Happy Marinating!

    Gina – Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

    Photos taken by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover (except for the peppers) Proper credit is given.
    Recipe by Foodiewinelover

Aji Amarillo, chili pepper
Aji Amarillo, chili pepper (stock photo, image source provided)

 

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2 With a Twist

There’s nothing like having a no-fail recipe in your repertoire, because you know you can always count on the result being the same.  However, having been in the kitchen for so long, I like to challenge myself,  play around, and experiment to change things up a little. This is a spin-off to a dish that I made called Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish. The method is very similar, but I added some roasted red bell peppers. The result was equally as delicious. Follow me in My Kitchen!

Roasted bell peppers

Serves: 4-6
Degree of difficulty: Easy – Medium

You will need a brown paper bag

Ingredients:  

  • 1.5 lb. sea scallops
  • 1/2 jug of clam juice – About 5-6 ounces
  • 1/2 cup of Chardonnay wine
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted/charred (the twist) rough chopped *
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, if needed *
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (Parmesan cheese)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • Few leaves of basil, chopped in a chiffonade style
  • 1 lb. Linguine

Preparation:

1) Wash peppers, and broil them whole,  on high for about 10-15 minutes depending how close they are to the burner. Turn them occasionally, using a mitten. Once they are charred all around, remove them from the oven. Place them in a brown paper bag and close it. Let it sit in there for about 15 minutes. This step will make it easier to remove the skin. It should peel off easily. If not, use a knife to remove the skin. Set aside.

2) On Medium-high heat, drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of a 6-quart pan.  Sautee the garlic, as soon as it releases its aroma, drop the scallops and deglaze with the wine. This should take a couple of minutes.

3)   Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, clam juice and season with salt, pepper, oregano. Slowly add the heavy cream and stir.  Lower the heat and bring to a quick simmer. This does not take long as you do NOT want to overcook the scallops. They will become chewy. Remove from burner. 

4) Simultaneously,  bring water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions. I like to cook it al dente, (to the bite).  Once pasta is cooked, drain it, and reserve 1/4 cup of the water. Drop pasta  into the scallop sauce, and add pasta water if necessary.  Put the pan back on the burner, swirl in the butter for some added richness, and give it a good stir. This is all done at very low heat to warm it up. Garnish with the basil at the end so they don’t wilt.  Now, it’s time to plate. Sprinkle with cheese and voilà, the result is a lip smacking delicious pasta dish.

I hope you will try this delectable recipe that will have your loved ones begging for seconds.  Have a fantastic new week!

Wine pairing suggestions: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. For a special occasion, pair this dish with a nice Viognier, and you will wow your guests.

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2
Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish #2
Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish
Scrumptious Seafood Pasta Dish

*Cook’s tips:

1) You can grill, roast or broil the peppers. The broiler was the most convenient for me.

2) You probably won’t need the pasta water in this version. There should be plenty of sauce to coat the linguine. Use your judgment.

3) As you can see, I didn’t use all the seafood that I used in the original dish. You are more than welcome to use them, if you want.

Happy Cooking and Cheers from Gina’s Kitchen! 

logofoodiewinelover1

Healthy Tuna-Stuffed Avocado Halves

Lately, I’ve been trying to stay in shape, by incorporating more fruits and veggies in my diet. I’m discovering  many ways to eat well, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Today, I made  a quick-lunch, using a canned tuna, and an avocado. It’s super easy, healthy, and delicious. Avocados are so tasty, and packed with good fat, the one that does not clog your arteries.

Serves: 1 as a meal – 2 as a snack   Level of difficulty: Super easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 5 oz.  canned white Albacore tuna, drained *
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste + more to drizzle
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 rib of celery, diced
  •  Freshly ground pepper, optional
  • 1 Hass Avocado, split in half, remove pit
  •  Herbes de Provence, to taste

    Preparation:

    In a medium-sized bowl, mix first 5 ingredients well. Stuff the avocado halves with the tuna mixture. Garnish with Herbes de Provence. Drizzle more olive oil.

    *You may end up with some leftover tuna, depending on how much you fill the avocados.

    Voila! Bon Appetit!

    Happy Eatin’! With lots of passion from

    Gina’s Kitchen

    Tuna-filled Avocados

 

 

Shrimp Lo Mein

Mise en place for Shrimp Lo Mein
This post is dedicated to a wonderful social media friend, Adrienne. She creates delicious recipes, and takes beautiful photographs of food. All her dishes are vibrant and enticing, but her Shrimp Lo Mein caught my attention on Instagram.  I immediately asked her for the recipe, and she graciously provided it to me. It didn’t take me long to try it in my kitchen, and my family  loved it. I’m excited to share this delectable Chinese dish with all of you.

Serves: 4-6 Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 package, Lo Mein Noodles, 13.5 oz.
  • 1.5 lb. of shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-off
  • 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil, + more to drizzle on noodles
  • 1 tsp. of sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp. water + more, if necessary
  • 2 tbsp. low-sodium Soy sauce, + more to drizzle
  • 1/4 cup Oyster Sauce
  •  1 small onion, chopped
  • Chinese chives, or 3 scallions * 

    Preparation:

    1) Cook the noodles according to package directions. (This one took exactly 3 minutes.) Drain and set aside. Drizzle noodles with vegetable oil to avoid them from sticking together.

    2) In a wok, or frying pan, over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil and sesame oil. Add garlic, ginger, onions, shrimp, scallions,  Soy sauce and Oyster sauce, water.  Cook until the shrimp turns pink.

    3) Add Lo Mein noodles to the shrimp and mix well.  Drizzle with more Soy sauce, to taste.  Garnish with fresh scallions.

    The recipe calls for Chinese chives, but since they were not readily available, I used scallions. Celery can also be used as a substitute.

    This recipe hits all the high notes, and will become a part of my repertoire. Thank you Adrienne for inspiring me with your culinary creations.

    Warning: Do not use any salt, as some of the ingredients are already salty. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, this dish may not be suitable for you.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina

 

Linguine alle Vongole, Clams in a Wine Broth

Mise en place for Linguine with Clams in a Wine Broth
Mise en place for Linguine with Clams in a Wine Broth
Linguine with Clams in a Wine Broth
Linguine with Clams in a Wine Broth

Clams in a wine broth

It’s been a while since I have made pasta with clams. I have a few versions of them, but I like to change things up from time to time. It was 5:20 PM when I headed to the kitchen, and I challenged myself to have dinner ready on or before 6:00 PM. I felt like I was on a cooking show, but with less pressure of course. I began prepping all the ingredients, and needed everyone out of my way.  I blasted the air, and started cooking like a mad woman. You certainly don’t have to put that kind of pressure on yourselves. To add to the madness, I was shooting pictures, and decided to do a last-minute mini video.  Here is a list of the ingredients you will need, and my method of cooking.

Serves: 4   Level of difficulty Easy-Medium
Time: From start to finish 5:20 PM – 5:59 PM

Ingredients:

  • 2 dozen little neck clams, scrubbed well. *
  • 1/2 head of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 dried Thai chiles, optional *
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine, Chardonnay
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • 4 tbsp. butter, optional, for added richness
  •  Flat-leave parsley for garnish
  •  1 lb. of Linguine
  • Water for boiling pasta, + reserve 1/2 cup for later
  • Salt for the pasta waterPreparation:
    1) Prep all your ingredients.  Set aside. Bring pasta water to a boil.

    2) In the meanwhile, in a medium-sized pan (with a lid) heat up olive oil,  add the chiles, sauté for 1-2 minutes, and REMOVE.  Add the shallots, sauté for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir until it caramelizes.  Deglaze with the wine. Lower the heat, and reduce for 1-2 minutes.

3) Add the clams,  cover with a lid and simmer on low- heat for about 10 minutes or so, or until the clams open up.

4) You will be doing some juggling. By now, the water probably started to boil, add the salt, drop pasta in the water. Cook according to package directions. (I like it al dente, to the bite).

5) Clams should be done. (If you overcook them, they will get chewy. Either keep them on very low flame,  or remove them from the burner.

6) In the midst of cooking, you will find time to prep the garlic bread and broil it. Keep your eyes, on the stove and burners at all times.

7) Drain the pasta, and add it to the clams. ( Make sure you reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water) Use your judgment about how much broth you want.  Stir in the butter, and the reserved pasta water. Mix well. Put back on low flame if necessary to warm it up.

8) Serve at once, in a pasta bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with flat-leave parsley. Voila! Done!  My dinner was served at 5:59 PM. I rose to the challenge.

Linguine alle Vongole

I served it with some homemade crostini, (garlic bread), and my family had a feast. I hope you will try this hearty and delicious dish in your kitchen for your loved ones.

Gina’s Tips:

  1. Make sure clams are all closed when you buy them. Those that stay open are dead, and not suitable for consumption.   Beware of certain allergies with shellfish.
  2. Warning: The chiles are optional, because they are very spicy. However,  if you want to add some kick to the dish, use them as per my instructions.

Wine suggestion: A nice chilled Chardonnay, or any white wine of your choice.

Bon Appetit from My Kitchen to Yours!