If you love pork chops but never had them in tomato sauce, you are in for a treat. I use the thin pork loin chops and a variety of tomatoes such as canned San Marzano whole, strained and chopped tomatoes, and a jar of my favorite meatless sauce.
Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium
Allow 2.5 hours from start to finish – This recipe can easily be divided in half but why would you want to do that when the leftovers taste even better!
4 lbs. pork loin chops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil + more if needed
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 -26.46 oz. container strained tomatoes (Pomi brand)
1 – 26.46 oz. container chopped tomatoes (Pomi brand)
1 – 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, whole, crushed by hand
1 jar of Mid’s meatless tomato sauce (32 oz) or any of your choice
Garlic powder to taste, optional
1.5 lb. spaghetti or any pasta shape of your choice
Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, grated or shaved
Flat-leave Italian parsley for garnish
1) Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large heavy- bottom pot, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Sear the pork chops about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove them. Add more oil if necessary. Do this in 2 batches. Set aside.
2) Add more oil to pot, saute’ the garlic. Add the tomato paste, stir until it’s nicely caramelized. Add all the tomatoes. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Add the pork chops to the sauce, bring to a boil. Lower the flame, and simmer on low heat for about 1.5 -2 hours covered with lid-tilted. Stir occasionally to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will become very thick and rich in flavors. This dish tastes even better the next day.
3) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
4) Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour some of the sauce over it. Mix well until every strand of pasta is covered with the sauce. Put it in a serving bowl. Arrange the pork chops on a platter. There will be plenty of sauce left for those who like extra sauce. Don’t forget the cheese and garnish with parsley. Your guests will be wowed by the richness of this dish, and will ask for seconds.
My wine pairing suggestions: I recommend a nice Chianti, Rosso or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Of course, the choice is always yours.
Cook’s notes: 1) Use whatever brand of sauce you like. If you feel the sauce is too watery, uncover it toward the end to let it reduce.
Disclosure: I did not get monetary compensation for these products. Warning: There may be small bones in the sauce. Please let your guest or loved ones know.
Recipe developed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
All rights reserved 2017
We don’t get to appreciate the beauty of autumn in South Florida, but at least, we have slightly cooler weather to make the holidays more enjoyable. Sadly for me, this is a somber time as it’s the first holiday season without my dad around. I will pretend to be in the mood and try to get in the spirit. This is a time where families and close friends gather around a bountiful table and celebrate with food and wine. Thanksgiving is literally around the corner and it’s time to show gratitude to our loved ones. For those of you who are hosting, I am sure that your menu is in place but don’t forget to add this wine selection to your list. Today, I will help you pick some delightful wines to serve with your Thanksgiving feast. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. There are many reasonably priced wines that will work wonders.
I want to keep this as simple as possible without getting technical with fancy wine terms. Wine pairing is subjective and everyone’s palate is different. Let’s not stress over which wine goes with what food. These are my wine suggestions to add a little pizzaz to your party and make it fun for your guests.
I recommend Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as basic wines for your cheese platters and appetizers, including seafood. Make sure the white wines are not overly chilled because this effect can take away from the flavor profile of the wines (herbaceous, lime, peaches, pears, oranges…) If you want to impress your guests, add other interesting whites such as Vermentino, Verdicchio or Albarino. The list is endless and the choice is yours. Keep in mind not everyone has a palate for white wine, be sure to have some light to medium bodied wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir.
White wines such as Riesling, and Gewurztraminer are lovely choices for your Thanksgiving dinner. They both add sweetness and aroma of spices, which complement the holiday theme beautifully.
Pinot Noir is an excellent red wine to pair with the turkey especially if you have mushrooms in your stuffing. It will bring out the characters of earthiness . There is a vast selection of Pinot Noir in the market. Check out some Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley region In Oregon. They tend to be more rustic with notes of cranberries and on the earthy side. They’re often compared to the wines of Burgundy. However, if you are on a budget, I recommend Josh Cellars Pinot Noir, Mark West, or Mark West Black Pinot Noir.
When in doubt, you can always rely on bubblies. They’re festive and vary in prices, from the least expensive to the most sophisticated. Sparkling wines and Prosecco are fantastic choices and won’t break the bank. If you are having a fancy affair, Champagne is always a good idea.
Dessert wines: Fortified wines are a great choice to pair with decadent desserts. Tawny Port pairs nicely with pumpkin and cherry pies, Muscat d’Asti with apple pies, Mavrodaphne with baklava, chocolate mousse cake with Brachetto d’Aqui.
This is not a wine tasting party, and it doesn’t have to be precise. Use this blogpost as a guideline to help you decide which wine to serve at Thanksgiving. The holidays are already stressful and there are far more important things to stress over. I am also featuring one of dad’s favorite wines called Quattro Mani, a Montepulciano d’Abbruzo. It’s very inexpensive and has lovely hints of vanilla.
I hope you will have some fun with these ideas and enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving with your loved ones.
Happy Thanksgiving From My Family To Yours,
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
All the featured wines have been tasted, and the photos were exclusively taken by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover.
Eggplant, also called aubergine, or melanzane (in Italian) is so versatile, and by far one of my favorite veggies. I love to make it different ways, and enjoy experimenting with them. This time, I decided to make an eggless and breadcrumb-free eggplant parm, an Italian dish believed to have originated in the Southern part of Italy. The result of this dish is surprisingly delightful. First and foremost, make sure you pick very fresh eggplants, preferably on the day you are cooking them. I realize that it’s not always possible in today’s busy lives. If that’s the case, get it a day or two before cooking it. You do not want an eggplant that’s been sitting in your veggie bin for 2 weeks. I assure you, that will make a world of difference. You want to look for an eggplant that is smooth, without any bruises, and firm to the touch. Parmigiana is a style/method of cooking, using tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
2 large eggplant cut lengthwise
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Lots of olive oil ( make sure you have a full bottle on hand)
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 basil leaves
1 container chopped tomatoes 26.46 oz. Pomi brand
1/2 jar of Mid’s sauce or (about 16 oz of your favorite meatless tomato sauce)
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Parmigiano Reggiano, Parmesan cheese to taste
Preparation: 1) Season the eggplant with salt and pepper, let them sit for 10 minutes. Place on a metal tray, drizzle them with olive oil and broil for about 7-8 minutes on each side. Do this in 2 batches. Set aside.
2) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
3) In the meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, on medium-heat, heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil. Sautee the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, basil. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Turn the burner off and set aside. Cover to keep it warm.
4) Time to start mounting the eggplant as if you are making a lasagna. Smear some sauce on the bottom of a large glass casserole (Pyrex) pan, line up the eggplant (as shown on my photo) top with sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan. Repeat once more and finish with mozzarella. Cover with foil.
5) Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Uncover, and broil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting. Use a spatula. Hope you will try this delicious version of Eggplant Parmigiana. It has no breadcrumbs and no eggs. However, it will soak up some olive oil (which is healthy, but beware of calories)
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
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
8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. salted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
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
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
This is one of the easiest and most delicious pasta dish you will come across. I assure you, even if you don’t like peas, you will enjoy them because they are bathing in the pancetta fat. I like to use a short pasta for this recipe. The last time I made this dish, I used a pasta shape called Fusilli that looks like a corkscrew. I sent my son shopping for me, and he told me he could not find the Fusilli but found Rotini instead. They are very similar in shape and look like corkscrews, except the Rotini is shorter. Recently, a Facebook friend posted this dish on his profile, and it looked delicious. I tried it for Christmas, and it was a big hit. I made it again In January for my family. Sadly, this was the last time my dad was able to eat (food) my pasta. I will not get into personal details but this recipe has a lot of emotions attached to it. I am hanging on to hope that someday, soon, he will be able to taste my pasta again. Let’s get cooking! Follow me in Gina’s Kitchen!
Level of difficulty: Easy – Serves: 4-6 as a main meal
3/4 lb. pancetta, sliced 1/2-inch thick, then chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more to drizzle
10 oz. frozen peas, thawed
15 oz. ricotta, whole milk
1 lb. Rotini or any short pasta or your choice
1/4 cup pasta water, (save after draining pasta)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese)
1) In a large stainless-steel skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, brown the pancetta, for about 10 minutes, (do not over cook, you don’t want them too crispy) add the peas, continue cooking while stirring for another 10 minutes or so, until you obtain a nice brown color like you see in the picture. At this point, turn the burner on the lowest setting.
2) Simultaneously, In a large pot, bring the pasta water to a boil. Add salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. I always cook mine al dente, meaning to the bite in Italian, (undercooked for 1-2 minutes) that is your choice, but I recommend it. Save some pasta water, and drain.
3) Add pasta to the pancetta and peas, slowly stir in the ricotta, the water, parmesan cheese, black pepper. Please note, the burner is still on the lowest setting to warm up the ricotta. Stir it just enough to incorporate all the ingredients and remove quickly. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately while it’s piping hot.
My family had a feast, and my biggest joy in life is seeing them relish my food. This is what fuels me to keep cooking. My life has been hectic, but I am hoping to find more time in the kitchen.
I hope you will try this recipe, and when you do, please share your thoughts with me.
Wine pairing: I recommend a medium to full-bodied red wine with enough acidity to cut though the fattiness of this savory dish. A Chianti, Rosso, Super Tuscan, (and the list goes on) will make a superb pairing. I am not a huge fan of white wine but occasionally, I do enjoy a crisp one with certain meals.
1) The use of butter is an option, and you can add it at the end with the ricotta. It will make the dish creamier and add richness but it is also added calories. If you are on a low-fat diet, you may want to avoid it altogether and stick to the olive oil. I did not use butter and surprisingly the taste was amazing.
2) Regular bacon can be used instead of pancetta.
This dish is inspired by Timothy Eric DeMarco
This is the ratio and method that I used in my version of the recipe.
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
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!
Degree of difficulty: Easy – Medium
You will need a brown paper bag
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Pasta1) 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.
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.
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
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....