Seafood Linguine With White Wine Sauce

The weather had yet to turn warm, and my immediate thought was to make a heavy, hearty dish to counteract the lingering winter chills. French food came to mind. Perhaps some Red Wine Braised Short Ribs or Boeuf Bourguignon? I could already taste the succulent pieces of meat and potatoes drenched in rich, full-bodied, wine-based sauce. Dishes cooked with wine always sound so fancy too.

Ultimately, my fattie inner thoughts lost out in the battle, and I decided to go with a dish that was lighter in flavor to complement the already fattening bacon wrapped scallops appetizer. I stayed true to the fancy “cooking with wine” idea though in designing the Seafood Linguine dish. While pasta is no friend to the carb-conscious, the white wine sauce, shrimp, squid, and clams medley were healthy sources of protein and flavor. Make sure to retain the clam juices – it adds loads of flavor to the sauce!

This was also my first time zesting a lemon. I had to use a sharp knife to peel off the yellow rind since I didn’t have a lemon zester or peeler. Be careful not to peel off any of the white spongey flesh below the thin layer of yellow skin. The white part is bitter, while the actual lemon zest provides that lemon citrus aroma.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb linguine
  • 6 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 lb squid tubes, rinsed
  • 10 oz minced clams, with juices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flake
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

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Instructions:

1) Cook linguine according to instructions on package, removing from pot and draining 1 minute before reaching al dente.

2) Heat olive oil in large pan and cook garlic and crushed red pepper until fragrant.

3) Melt the butter in the same pan and add the shrimp, squid, and minced clams. Pour the clam juices into the pan as well.

4) Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 3-5 minutes until wine reduces.

5) Season the sauce with parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

6) Add the cooked linguini to the seafood sauce. Mix well and simmer for 1-2 minutes so the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

There was actually a 3rd component to this meal. However, it seems like I’m not cut out to be a baker. =( The lemon meringue pie I made failed on the meringue. When they recommend you whip the egg whites well, they mean it……

Potato Leek Pizza

The potato leek pizza, a la Pioneer Woman, is a tribute to my favorite food group on the food pyramid (though to be fair, it’s pretty much neck-to-neck with the meats). Forget the Atkins diet, carbs make such excellent comfort food. Add some crumbled dairy on top, some thinly sliced meats aka bacon, a few strands of vegetables, and voila! You have yourself a well-balanced meal. I usually go for your standard marinara sauce pizza with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni/mushroom/sausage, so adding potatoes, leeks, and my goodness, goat cheese?? to my pizza was a fascinating new concept.

I cheated last time I made pizza from scratch, using Boboli pizza crust as a base. No shortcuts this time. I had serious concerns about the dough being too sticky, but setting the covered dough in a warm area fixed that right up. Watching the yeast work its magic on the dough as well, kinda magical!

Thin layers of sliced red potatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 recipe for Pizza Crust (see below)
6 slices thick-cut bacon, 1-in pieces
3 Leeks, rinsed well to remove grit and thinly sliced
5 small red or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced paper thin
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Spread pizza crust in baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

2) Fry the bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crisp. Set aside.

3) Leave some of the bacon fat in which to saute the leeks. Cook the leeks until soft, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

4) Use a sharp knife or mandoline to thinly slice the potatoes. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer over the crust, slightly overlapping the edges. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

5) Lay the mozzarella slices in a single layer on top of the potatoes. Place the leeks on top of the cheese, then arrange the fried bacon pieces over the leeks.

6) Sprinkle more crumbled goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and pepper on top.

7) Bake the pie for 8-11 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice and serve immediately.

How to make Pizza Crust:

Yield: 2 pizza crusts

Ingredients:

1 tsp or 1/2 packet active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

Instructions:

1) In a mixing bowl, pour the yeast over 1 1/2 cups of warm water, stirring gently.

2) Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and mix well.

3) Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, mixing until the dough forms a ball. (I used my hands)

4) Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl. Toss the dough into the bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1-2 hours. You can also cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

5) Once the dough has risen, divide it in half and stretch the dough to the desired shape, pressing it into an oiled 13×9 pan with your fingers. The thinner the better. The surface of the dough should be lumpy from finger marks so it receives and holds toppings better. The remaining dough is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days before use, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Mmhmm…Delicious pizza, fresh out of the oven. With the pizza loaded with toppings, it was actually easier eating with forks and knives. Excellent flavors with the potato, leek, bacon, goat cheese combination.…

Steamed Mussels in Garlic and White Wine

Mussels are definitely on the affordable end as well and surprisingly easy to cook! No longer are you limited to fancy French restaurants for your Moules Frites fix. Enjoy these fine modules delicacies from the comfort of your own home. And *ahem* according to Andrew, this dish is perfect for you male cooks out there looking to impress a special lady friend (sophisticated dish created with minimal effort).

On a final note, before we dive into how to steam some delicious mussels, I want to invite you guys to join Lot18, a beautifully designed daily deals website that provides insider access to fine wines, specialty foods, and epicurean-themed excursions. I actually haven’t quite learned to fully appreciate a glass of full-bodied wine, so for me, I love browsing the site for deals on cookware and utensils. I recently purchased an instant pot pressure cooker. Now I just need some people over to enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb mussels
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp flour (optional, used to thicken broth)

Instructions:

1) Clean the mussels by placing them in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes until the mussels open up and disgorge any sand. Scrub the outside shells with a brush under running water, removing the “beard” from each with your fingers. Throw away any mussels whose shells are not tightly shut.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes until the onions are translucent.

3) Add the tomatoes, white wine, parsley, thyme, flour, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring everything to a boil.

4) Add the mussels, stir well, and cover the pot. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until all the mussels are open. While steaming, shake the pot once or twice to distribute the broth over the mussels and to make sure they don’t burn on the bottom.

5) Discard any mussels that do not open. Mussels that do not open were dead already before being cooked, and you don’t want to risk getting food poisoning! Pour the mussels and broth into a large bowl and serve immediately.

Don’t forget a few thick chunks of bread to soak up all that delicious broth at the bottom! I went with a freshly baked demi-baguette from Trader Joes. If you’re feeling very ambitious, fry up some fries to eat alongside your steamed mussels. Bon appetit!…

Linguine with Sea Urchin and Shrimp

I wanted to create a unique entree that really brought forth the flavors of the sea without involving any fish. Fellow food bloggers spoke highly of the Maccheroni Alla Chitarra with Sea Urchin and Crabmeat pasta dish at Esca. This was a Mario Batali specialty starring sea urchin (uni in Japanese) – I just had to make it.

Now uni isn’t for everyone. I had only tried it raw in the past served on beds of slightly warm sushi rice wrapped in nori seaweed. How to best describe this little sea creature? Sea urchins are small, round creatures with spiny shells to protect against predators. Imagine tiny round hedgehogs roaming the ocean beds. Go beyond the spiny exterior to reveal the sweet, buttery, orange tongue-like meat inside. The meat we eat is actually the sex organ harvested from these spiky sea creatures. Sounds delicious, no?

I found a great recipe on Zen Can Cook that combines pasta with sea urchin and langoustines a la Esca. For instructions on how to make the real home-made langoustine broth, check out the original recipe. I took the easy way out and used seafood broth instead. Lobster broth is also a great alternative! I also substituted shrimp for the crab meat/langoustines (couldn’t find those darn suckers anywhere in Chinatown that day!)

Ingredients:

  • 10 large shrimp
  • 1/2 lb linguine
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley (optional garnish)

For the pasta sauce:

  • 4 oz fresh sea urchin (uni)
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup seafood or lobster broth
    Salt

Instructions:

1) Wash, peel, and devein the shrimp. Season with a little salt and pepper.

2) Place the sea urchin, softened butter, and pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix this in a food processor until smooth. You can also mix by hand.

3) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook to al dente based on the instructions on the box. Drain.

4) While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook about a minute. Flip the shrimp over and cook for another minute. The meat will be opaque throughout when done.

5) Bring the half cup of broth to a boil in a large pan. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the sea urchin mixture until smooth. This results in a very creamy sauce. You can use some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the thickness as desired.

6) Plate the pasta and add the cooked shrimp. Pour the sea urchin sauce over the pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper. I sprinkled some parsley on top to add additional color to the dish. Enjoy!

The incredibly smooth, creamy uni pasta sauce with just a hint of the sea went really well with the linguine. Trust me when I say we savored every last bite of that saucy goodness. Seafood night was a success!

I tried the actual pasta dish at Esca shortly after – such fantastic flavors coming together in my mouth! The creamy, rich sauce oozes perfectly into the coarse texture of the pasta alla chitarra. Must try my home-made version with crab meat next time!…

BBQ Beef Brisket

This is a ridiculously easy way of cooking mouthwateringly tender beef brisket. Beef brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of a cow. The brisket muscles support about 60% of the cow’s body weight, resulting in a lot of connective tissue. Hence, cooking the meat for several hours until the connective tissue is properly tenderized is a must!

All you really need is barbecue sauce and soy sauce for the marinade. I added garlic and lime to give the dish some additional kick. 3 to 4 lbs of beef is a lot of food, so I definitely recommend cooking this for a larger group (this recipe will serve about 6-8 people)! I originally made this for a winter potluck with friends, and the slices of beef went fast. Now I’m proud to include the recipe as part of Gojee‘s Potluck event.

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 lbs beef brisket
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lime

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, soy sauce, water, garlic, and juice from the lime.

3) Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. This first layer of foil is to prevent potential sauce spillage from sticking to your pan and burning during the cooking process. Place the brisket on top of another large piece of aluminum foil. Spread the sauce mixture generously over the meat. Wrap the brisket in the foil and place it in the roasting pan.

4) Bake the brisket for 4-5 hours. As a general rule, bake one hour for every pound of meat. I kept mine in the oven for 5 hours to ensure maximum tenderness.

5) Remove from oven and let rest in the foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To round out the meal, I served the slices of brisket with some potatoes cooked in olive oil and salt/pepper. The brisket is also great for making sandwiches with the next day (if you even have any leftovers!)…