Cioppino is a rich and delightful seafood stew that originated in San Francisco. It’s usually made with the catch of the day, and the addition of Dungeness crabs is very popular in the Bay area. This Italian-American dish consists of an array of seafood, simmered in a tomato and wine broth. It’s somewhat similar to some regional Italian seafood dishes. This stew is usually served with a piece of toasted bread to sop up all the deliciousness of the broth. I consider this recipe for special occasions as it is on the pricey side. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen for my spin on this delectable meal.
Serves: 6-8 Difficulty level: Easy-medium
Time from prepping to finish 30-45 minutes at the most.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
2 medium shallots, chopped
3 slices (rings) of fresh fennel
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
½ cup of dry white wine
2 cups seafood stock
1 cup chopped tomatoes
¼ tsp. Oregano
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch of fennel seeds, optional
18 little neck or middle neck clams
½ lb. of sea scallops
½ lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. of mussels
¾ lb. cod-fish, cut up in medium size pieces
Flat leave parsley for garnish
1 loaf of Italian bread or French baguette, cut-open, toasted
olive oil or butter for the bread.
1) In a medium-sized pot, on medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Sauté shallots and fennel rings for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, cook for 1 minute. Stir. Deglaze with wine, cook 1 minute. 2) Add seafood stock, chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, crushed pepper and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, add the clams, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and place the fish on top. Cover, lower the flame to low, and simmer for 5-6 minutes, baste the fish with the broth once or twice. Cover and continue cooking for an additional 5-6 minutes, or until the clams and mussels are open. 3) 5 minutes prior to completion, drizzle some oil or spread some butter on the bread. Broil for about 2-3 minutes. Remove. 4) Place the seafood stew in a bowl, with a piece of bread to dunk, and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with fresh parsley. Wine pairing suggestions: Explore the world of Italian white wines like a delicious Vermentino, a lovely Verdicchio, or a minerally dry Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy.
Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours!
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
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.
As you know by now, I love eating pasta. It is definitely my favorite starch and one of the most versatile food to prepare. For us South Floridian, it feels like summer already but for most of you, it’s still springtime. The flowers are blooming, and some veggies are in season. It’s Pasta Primavera time, a simple pasta dish made with fresh vegetables in a cream sauce. It’s easy and delicious. You can use any pasta shape of your choice, but today I am using a small farfalle. They’re commonly known as bow-tie, and the meaning stands for butterfly in Italian.
Serves: 6-8 as a main meal Level of difficulty: Easy – It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish depending how fast you prep your ingredients.
1) In a large frying pan, on medium-high heat, heat up olive oil. Sautee onions for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, and sautee until you smell the beautiful aroma. Set aside.
2) Bring the pasta water to a boil. Add a handful of salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. About 5 minutes or so before the time is up, add the asparagus and cook in the same pot to save time. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup or so of pasta water.
3) Turn the burner back on with the onions and garlic on low, drop the pasta, season with Italian seasoning and black pepper. Add the tomatoes and asparagus. Slowly incorporate the ricotta, pasta water and basil. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Garnish with some veggies on top to make it enticing. Drizzle with olive oil. Voila! It’s that easy!
Wine pairing suggestions: Verdicchio , Gavi or a Sauvignon Blanc will work beautifully with this spring dish.
You can use a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, green or red bell peppers. The choice is endless. For a more flavorful version, roast the veggies in the oven, however, keep in mind, this recipe is meant to save you time. Put your own twist on it, and make it your signature dish.
A recipe is to be used as a barometer, if you are on a salt-restricted or low-fat diet, cut back on the salt and use a part-skim ricotta cheese.
Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,
Recipe by Foodiewinelover
Photo by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
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
Hello everyone! This is probably my longest blog post to date, because it is my favorite, and most passionate subject, Food & Wine. This explains my blog name, Foodiewinelover. I have put together a compilation of my dining and wining experience on Heavenly Cheeses, Food & Wine Pairings. Please do not forget to read the descriptions on all my photos. Cheeses are among my favorite food groups, and when I’m entertaining, I love pairing them with delicious wines. There is an abundance of cheeses, and wines from all corners of the world, but unfortunately, there aren’t enough time to mention all of them. Ideally, I love pairing cheese with the wine from the same region, or country, especially when I’m having a themed party. However, there are no set rules about it, and, you can mix and match food and wines from different countries, as you please. There are hard, soft, and semi-soft cheeses. One of my favorite cheeses is Parmigiano-Reggiano, an Italian Parmesan cheese, aged 36 months, that I brought back with me from Italy. To me it’s considered the king of Italian cheeses, and has a lovely nuttiness to it. According to Giada de Laurentiis, a famous Italian Chef, it’s best if you pick it with a knife, to get into all the nook and crannies, for optimal flavors. In general, white wine is ideal to pair with cheeses because of their higher acidity content, and boost up the layers of flavors of cheeses. However, If you are not a big fan of whites, don’t fret, red wines also make a nice pairing. Ultimately, you decide what works well with your palate. I am also sharing with you some delectable food that goes with some interesting wines. Here are a few suggestions to impress your friends at your next gathering.
If you are a salmon lover, pick a lush Pinot Noir from Oregon, or one from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma county, California. They both would make great choices. For any white fish, select a crisp white wine, if you want to get fancy, try a delightful Sancerre, (Sauvignon Blanc) from the Loire Valley. If you are on a budget, stick to a nice chilled chardonnay. Spicy food pair well with an off-dry Riesling, Viognier or Gewurztraminer. Pungent cheeses such as Gorgonzola, or Blue Cheese stand up to dessert wines, port or cognac. Sauternes, a French dessert wine, with notes of apricots, is a nice complement to Roquefort cheese and Foie Gras. Let’s not forget about Ricotta cheese which is used in savory dishes such as stuffed shells. They make a great pairing with a nice Chianti, Rosso di Montalcino, or any medium-bodied Italian reds. Ricotta cheese is also used as a scrumptious filling in cannolis, and goes well with a Moscato d’Asti, a lovely dessert wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. If you are looking for a match made in heaven, my friend, fellow-sommelier, Certified Italian Wine Specialist, Angela, from Constant Wining suggests pairing a cantuccini, an Italian biscotti, with Vin Santo. We had it at one of our Italian-themed wine party, and it was a major hit, and a fantastic way to end a superb evening with fun friends. Mascarpone, is an italian sweet cheese, and one of the main ingredients in the delectable dessert Tiramisu. It can be paired with either the Vin Santo, or the Moscato d’Asti.
I am posting links to some of the cheeses that I feature in this blogpost, so you can learn more about their process, origin, and history.
We occasionally eat at a classic, go-to Cuban restaurant called Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine . They make a delicious Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers. I love it so much that I decided to recreate it, and the result is amazing. I am excited to share my version with all of you.
2-3 bell peppers, Green & red, you can also add yellow, cut in julienne
1 medium onion, sliced
Sprinkle of smoked paprika, not pictured
1/2 cup of olive oil + more to drizzle
1.5 cup dry white wine, Chardonnay
Salt to taste, pepper flakes optional
1) In an extra-large pan, over medium-high heat, heat up 1/4 cup olive oil, saute’ onions and peppers for about 8-10 minutes, or to desired tenderness. Add the seasonings, and garlic, as soon as they release their aroma, deglaze with the wine. Let it reduce for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
2) In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil, sauté the shrimp for about 1 minute or so on each side. Place the veggies back in the pan. Let is simmer for a couple of minutes until the shrimp is no longer translucent. Do not overcook them, as they will get chewy.
Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with Bell Peppers from another night, using yellow peppers
I usually serve the shrimp over white rice like they do it at the restaurant. You certainly can use brown rice, or another grain of your choice. Drizzle with olive oil.
Tip) For a quicker version, If you don’t want to pan fry the shrimp, just add them to the peppers in the last 5 minutes or so. (There will be no need, to remove the peppers and set aside) Make sure you use all the oil from the beginning. I have tried both methods, and they work well. If this is confusing, please disregard it, and stick to the above method.
Wine pairing suggestions: Either use the same wine you used to cook, (make sure it’s drinkable) or a nice chilled white Rioja.
I know what you’re thinking! Is she out of her mind to do all that work. Ok, I got some “splainin” to do. When I don’t cook during the weeknight, I feel like I let my family down, because they enjoy my cooking for the most part. I had class one day, and by the time I got home, I looked at the chicken cutlets, and said to myself, what am I going to do with them? I decided, I wasn’t going to cook, and order in. That’s what we did. The next day, I still had to come up with an idea for the chicken. I wanted to dress it up, and make up for not cooking the night before. I found an eggplant in my veggie bin, had plenty of eggs, olive oil, and seasoned breadcrumbs. The lightbulb went on in my head, how about making a Chicken & Eggplant Parmigiana combo. It was crazy but I had my mind-set on it. I normally make eggplant parm or chicken parm separately, but this time, I decided to combine them. This dish was a big hit, and when I saw the smile on my family’s face, I knew I had redeemed myself. I must admit, I was happy with the result. Of course, my kitchen was a mess, but it was worth all the work. I suggest you make this on the weekend when you have some time to spare, and I promise you, your family will adore you for it.
This is a recipe that I created in My Kitchen, and I’m excited to share it with all of you.
Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult
Total time from start to finish: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Ingredients: (1st set)
1.25 – 1.5 lb. chicken cutlets (thinly sliced)
1 eggplant, sliced
3 eggs, beaten
Lots of seasoned breadcrumbs
Lots of extra virgin olive oil, or regular olive oil
1/2 lb. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Season eggplant with salt and pepper, let it sit for at least 10-minutes. Dip the eggplant in eggs, then hold it for a second to remove any excess, drench in seasoned breadcrumbs. (always shake of excess) . Do it one at a time, (eggs, +breadcrumbs) Place them on a dish. Time to pan-fry them.
2) On medium-high heat, cover the bottom of a large pan with olive oil, pan fry the eggplants in a single layer, 3 minutes on one side, and 3 minutes on the other side. Remove, and repeat the same method over. It’s ok, if oil is a little dirty, add more oil, if necessary. Set the eggplant aside. If you feel like the burner is too hot, just lower the heat a little.
Ingredients for the sauce:
1 large can of whole tomatoes, (San Marzano)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large basil leaf, torn
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 cup or so of extra virgin olive oil
1) In a medium-sized saucepan, on medium-high heat, heat up the oil, sauté the garlic for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, and crush them using a potato masher. You can also use your hands to crush them before putting them in the pot. Drop the basil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 15 minutes. While the sauce is simmering on low, you will be preparing the chicken.
2) Season chicken with salt and pepper, dip in eggs, and seasoned breadcrumbs, set aside. In the meanwhile, clean up the pan you fried the eggplant in, (just drain old oil, and wipe clean with a paper towel. Start with some fresh olive oil. You will be using the same method as the eggplant. Pan fry for 2 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on other side. Do not taste the chicken at this point, as it may not be fully cooked. It will finish cooking in the oven. Work in batches, then repeat the same process over.
3) By this time, the eggplant, the sauce and the chicken are ready to be assembled in a large casserole baking dish. Spread some sauce on the bottom of dish, arrange the chicken, (as much as you can fit) add some sauce, grated cheese, Mozzarella, layer with eggplant, and repeat. You may end up with an extra piece or two of chicken, just fit them somewhere, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You are not building a house, LOL! Finish with Mozzarella on top.
4) Bake in a 375 degree F. oven for 15 minutes and broil for 5 minutes.
Tip: Always make sure oil is hot before frying, otherwise, the eggplant will come out soggy and drenched in oil.
I hope you will try this delicious dish. If you are on a budget, you do not have to use expensive brands. Any canned tomatoes will do the job, and some regular parmesan cheese. If fresh mozzarella is too expensive, just use the packaged ones.
Pairing suggestions: A lovely Chianti, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile, or a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. You can find the last one reasonably priced. They are all Italian wines, as I like to pair the cuisine and the wines from the same country together. Sometimes, it can even be broken down by region, especially in Italian cooking, where many dishes are very regional. Ideally, you would pair the dish with a wine from the same region.
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.....