Tag Archives: traditional

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fattoush Salad, A Lebanese Delight

Recently, my hubby and I were heading to Aventura mall, to celebrate his birthday. We missed the exit, made a u-turn, and ended up at  Gulfstream Park instead. We stumbled upon this Lebanese restaurant called Mijana.  We ordered an assortment of mezze, (or meze) that are small dishes, or plates in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s spelled differently, depending on the region of the world.  We had their luscious, and traditional Lebanese Fattoush salad. It is considered a peasant salad, made with fresh greens, veggies, toasted pita bread, and a lemony dressing. We could not get enough of the intense flavors, and the freshness of the salad. I knew, it wasn’t going to be long, before I attempted to make it in my kitchen. You will need a spice called Sumac, that is tart and full of flavors.

Serves: 4 as a side dish  Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 5 radishes, sliced
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced * (Do not peel)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  •  2 small pita bread, cut up in squares, broiled


Dressing:

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, + more for pita
  • 1/4 tsp. sumac + more to sprinkle
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Arrange the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, mint in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cut pita bread in small squares, place on a tray, and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for about 3 minutes. Make sure you don’t burn them. Remove them.  Place on top of the salad.
  3. Whisk  lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, salt & pepper until blended.
  4. Pour over the salad. Toss well. Sprinkle more sumac to garnish, and drizzle more olive oil, if necessary.  Serve with a piece of chicken or fish, for a delicious and nutritious meal.

Fattoush SaladI hope you will try this refreshing salad, and share your experience with us.

Lebanese food

Lebanese food at Mijana Restaurant

 

Tips: 1) English cucumbers are generally long, with fewer seeds, and the skin is tender. If you don’t have this kind, the regular cucumber will do the job.
2) Some authentic recipes call for pomegranate molasses, but I didn’t have it on hand.  Purslane, a nutritious weed, can also be used, but not easily found in my area.

Happy Tossing!

Gina, Foodiewinelover
My food, wine, & Travel Lifestyles

Recipe inspired by Mijana restaurant, made in my kitchen
Pictures by Gina for Foodiewinelover

 

 

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