Cagliari is a province on the island of Sardinia in Italy. An ancient city with a long history, Cagliari has been ruled several civilizations. Cagliari was the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1324 to 1848, when Turin became the formal capital of the kingdom (which in 1861 became the Kingdom of Italy). Today the area is a regional cultural, educational, political and artistic center, known for its diverse Art Nouveau architecture and several monuments.
For a spectacular view, the best way to arrive in Cagliari is by sea. According to the author, DH Lawrence upon his arrival in the 1920s, he said the Sardinian capital reminded him of Jerusalem: ‘…strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy.’ Yet, Cagliari is the most Italian of Sardinia’s cities. Tree-fringed roads and locals hanging out at cafes are typical. Sunset is prime-time viewing in the piazzas and everywhere you stroll, Cagliari’s rich history is spelled out in Roman ruins, museums, churches and galleries.
Following the unification of Italy, the area experienced a century of rapid growth. Numerous buildings combined influences from Art Nouveau together with the traditional Sardinian taste for floral decoration; an example is the white marble City Hall near the port. During the Second World War Cagliari was heavily bombed by the Allies. In order to escape from the danger of bombardments and difficult living conditions, many people were evacuated from the city into the countryside.
After the Italian armistice with the Allies in September 1943, the German Army took control of Cagliari and the island, but soon retreated peacefully in order to reinforce their positions in mainland Italy. The American Army then took control of Cagliari. Airports near the city (Elmas, Monserrato, Decimomannu, currently a NATO airbase) were used by Allied aircraft to fly to North Africa or mainland Italy and Sicily. After the war, the population of Cagliari grew again and many apartment blocks and recreational areas were erected in new residential districts, often with poor planning.
Cagliari is one of the “greenest” Italian cities and its mild climate allows the growth of numerous subtropical plants. The province has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and very mild winters. The city of Cagliari boasts a long coastline of eight miles and the Poetto, is the most popular beach.
Excellent wines can be found in the province, such as Cannonau, Nuragus, Nasco, Monica, Moscau, Girò and Malvasia, which are produced in the nearby vineyards of the Campidano plain.
Cagliari has some unique culinary traditions. Unlike the rest of the island, its cuisine is mostly based on the wide variety of locally available seafood. Although it is possible to trace culinary influences from Catalan, Sicily and Genoa, Cagliaritan food has a distinctive and unique character. Sardinians prefer barbecued fish (gilt-heads, striped bream, sea bass, red mullet, grey mullet and eels), while spiny lobsters, crayfish, small squid and clams are used in making pasta sauces and risottos.
Cagliari cuisine has numerous recipes for “pesce in carpaccio” or “pesce in burrida”. “Burrida” is fish and it is cooked in tomato sauce and vinegar or in a green sauce with walnuts. There are also numerous recipes for “gnocchetti” known as “malloreddus”, a type of passta which are different in size, color and taste because of the use of saffron and vegetables but they are all served “alla campidanese” with lots of tomato sauce, chopped sausage and grated Pecorino cheese.
Cagliari Style Lobster Salad
Lobster, which is called aragosta in Cagliari, is smaller, clawless and sweeter than New England lobster.
- 1/2 pound cooked lobster tail meat
- 10 cherry tomatoes, stemmed, washed and cut in half
- 1 tablespoon finely minced Italian parsley
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Whole arugula leaves, washed and dried, optional
Cut the lobster meat up into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Gently mix in the tomatoes, parsley and lemon zest.
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the lobster mixture and toss gently with two spoons.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, allow enough time for the lobster mixture to come to room temperature.
Line serving plates with arugula leaves, if using. Divide the lobster mixture evenly and spoon into the center of each plate.
Cagliari Style Pasta with Sardines
- 1 large fennel bulb (1 1/4 lb) and fronds, trimmed and chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 (3 3/4- to 4 3/8-ounce) cans sardines in oil, drained
- 1 pound perciatelli or spaghetti pasta
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs, toasted and tossed with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and salt to taste
Finely chop the fennel bulb and fronds.
Combine the saffron, raisins and wine in a mixing bowl.
Cook the onion, fennel bulb and seeds in oil with salt to taste in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the wine mixture and half of the sardines, breaking sardines up with a fork; simmer 1 minute.
While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta in a 6 to 8 quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander.
Toss the hot pasta in a serving bowl with the fennel sauce, remaining sardines, fennel fronds, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste. Add the bread crumbs and toss again.
Cagliari Style Clams with Fregola
Fregola is a pebble-shaped pasta that is formed by hand and then lightly toasted until golden. Fregola comes in small, medium and large grains and is available at specialty markets. This is a very popular dish in Sardinia.
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup fregola
- 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped
- Slices of Italian bread, toasted
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil.
Stir in the fregola, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 17 minutes.
Add the clams to the skillet in a single layer. Cover the pan and cook over moderately high heat until the clams open, about 4 minutes.
Discard any clams that do not open. Season the fregola with salt and pepper.
Spoon the fregola, clams and broth into shallow serving bowls.
Sprinkle with the coarsely chopped parsley and serve with toasted Italian bread.
- 1 lb dough
- Chopped fresh tomato
- Sliced mozzarella cheese
- Grated Pecorino cheese
- Sliced Sardinian sausage
- Thinly sliced onion and artichoke hearts, optional
- Italian green and black olives and a few capers
- Oregano and fresh basil
Spread the dough in a pan.
Add a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.
Add slices of sausage, olives, capers, onion and artichokes, if using.
Sprinkle with Pecorino cheese and top with chopped tomato.
Bake in the oven at 300 degrees F until the edges are golden.
Remove the pizza from the oven and add a few leaves of fresh basil and oregano. Cut into serving pieces.
A favorite destination for Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, and many more, Key West is known for its palm lined streets, gingerbread architecture, water sports, and for “the” freshest locally caught fish. With a distinct mixture of cultures, the island is not only home to a strong seafood scene, but to a tantalizing fusion of cuisines. At night, the streets are lit with vibrant sidewalk cafes that lure in passersby’s with the delicious scents of their specialties. Live music and hopping bars are the perfect pairings to watch the sunset into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personality and attractions that make visitors feel like they are a world away. The southernmost paradise, Key West, is just miles from Cuba and is home to an enviable temperate climate and a delicious array of fresh seafood set to a beautiful sea backdrop. Bringing together a multitude of cultures that have made Key West home during its history, Key West’s food scene has delicious flavors, like African and Cuban, that are difficult to find anywhere else in the US.
As a guide to the restaurant and seafood landscape, Paul Menta can tell you all there is to know about the area. A professional chef, community advocate, and pro kite surfer, Paul is the perfect person to tell you about the best secret dining spots in Key West. The Philly native began his culinary career in Spain and France and eventually came to Key West to continue his love for competitive kite surfing. An athlete, distiller, chef, and entrepreneur, Paul has made it his mission to tap into all that Key West has to offer.
His most recent venture, Three Hands Fish, is a community supported fish market in Key West. Its members, chefs and home cooks, have access to the freshest fish, shrimp, stone crabs, oysters, and lobster that come to the docks each day. As Paul describes it,” the first hand is the hand of the fisherman, the second the market, and the third is when the fish makes it into the hands of the individual or restaurant”. Paul is proud of his market as it brings local, traceable seafood to the people with plenty of variety, thus avoiding over fishing a specific species.
Key West has seafood unlike anywhere in the world and the crucial ingredient is the water. The Gulf of Mexico mixes with the Atlantic ocean making a perfect nursery for a plethora of fish, crab, and lobster. The fishermen of the region have come together to create a sustainable plan for the future of their industry, naturally controlling over-producing populations that threaten to take over the ecosystem. “Not only are visitors able to jump on the boat for themselves and go fishing in some of the clearest waters, but they are able to sit back and relax, knowing they can find the same fresh fish in local restaurants,” says Paul.
If you are looking for a taste of the freshest seafood right on the dock, Paul suggests visiting The Stone Crab restaurant. This restaurant serves up some of the best of what Key West is known for, the stone crab, but they also do it in a stunning setting with an unbeatable view of the water. Housed in a resort built in 1956, the restaurant keeps alive the tradition of the fishermen bringing their catches straight to their dock, something that is no longer happening in other areas. And if you are looking for a place to stay, Paul recommends Ibis Bay Resort, home to The Stone Crab, which has a retro feel. Stop in for fun cocktails and great seafood that the restaurant catches themselves. Head here for stone crab, lobster, Key West shrimp, and more local fish. Be ready for a good time at The Stone Crab!
For the die-hard cooks, go for a ride on a private charter to catch the freshest fish for yourself. Paul recommends Lucky Fleet, chartered by Captain Moe, to take you on this adventure and help guide you in hooking the best seasonable seafood. Moe has been fishing the waters around Key West for over 30 years and knows his way around. Whether you are an avid deep-sea fisherman or fisher-woman or this is your first time, Captain Moe will take you on a great adventure, not just a boat ride. From sailfish to tuna to grouper, they will lead you to the right spot.
To learn how to prepare the seafood you just caught, take a class at Isle Cook where Paul himself will teach you how to cook local recipes and healthy meals with seafood. “Being a chef and commercial fisherman I can tell you there is no better teacher of how to use, care for, store, cook and eat a product than a fishermen. They have ideas and techniques that most chefs would die for….but they have to ask…..so we spread the word to them,” says Paul.
When visiting Key West, be sure to try fish you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get at home. Considered local to Key West are the Hogfish, Mangrove Snapper, and, as of late, the Lion Fish. Paul’s favorite? The Hogfish. This fish is caught by spear fishing, which is a fun challenge to try. Speared by yourself or someone else, Paul suggests serving the fish whole and he affectionately calls it the “Key West Turkey”, because it can be stuffed with lobster, onions, and herbs.
While you may have heard of Key West’s conch fritters, which is fried conch meat that is actually native to the Caribbean, Paul prefers to make grouper fritters. Fisherman of Key West are able to catch the grouper right off the coast, so this is a true local specialty. Similar to the conch fritter, the grouper is mixed with onions, carrots and a traditional Key West seafood seasoning made by the Key West Spice Company and it contains celery seed, salt, paprika, and red pepper. It is a simple preparation, but fresh grouper doesn’t need overpowering flavors. Once the batter is made, Paul fries the fish balls until golden and enjoys them in a sandwich or as an appetizer sitting by the beautiful water. You will find his recipe below:
- 1 pound grouper
- 1/2 cup onions
- 1/2 cup carrots
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Key West seafood seasoning
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons Key Lime juice
- 1/2 cup flour
- Coconut oil, for frying
Finely dice the onions and carrots and mix with the grouper.
Add the Key West seafood seasoning.
In a medium bowl mix together the egg yolk and the key lime juice.
Add the flour and mix until a batter forms.
Use a tablespoon to make balls and fry the grouper balls in coconut oil or bake them in the oven on a sheet tray until brown. Serve with your favorite dip or sauce.
To make the grouper mixture into a sandwich filling instead of an appetizer, form the mixture into larger patties or rounds and cook as described above.
Key West Inspired: Strawberry Salad with Coconut Milk Dressing
Since it is strawberry season in Florida now, I decided to make a Key West inspired strawberry salad to add to this post. I think the recipe I created is a great example of the type of local flavors, ingredients and good eating that you will find in Key West. This salad is also a great accompaniment to some wonderful grilled Key West Pink Shrimp.
- One head Butter or Bibb Lettuce
- 1 pint of fresh strawberries
- 1 ripe avocado
- Half of a large or one small cucumber, unpeeled
- Lime juice
- 3/4 cup regular coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons coconut flavored Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
To make the dressing:
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the salad.
For the salad:
Wash and dry the lettuce. Place the lettuce cups on a serving plate. Leave space on the serving plate for a small bowl that can hold the dressing.
Remove the strawberry leaves, wash the strawberries and place them on paper towels to dry.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and cut each half into one inch pieces.
Cut the peeled avocado into one inch chunks and squeeze lime juice over them to prevent browning while you make the salad.
Arrange the strawberries, cucumber pieces and avocado attractively in the lettuce cups. Pour the Coconut dressing into the bowl on the serving plate.
Guests can help themselves to a lettuce cup and drizzle some of the dressing over the salad.
Are you planning on going out for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s day this year?
You might want to reconsider. My husband and I prefer to have our special dinner at home because years ago we would go out and we were always disappointed. The restaurant charges were higher than normal and the food was not always up to expectations. The restaurant was crowded, they had lots of reservations, the staff were exhausted and we were rushed through dinner. Got to turn those tables! Some advice. Instead, stay home, cook a great meal and enjoy a romantic evening at home. Below is a special dinner you can make at home and, even with beef tenderloin and lobster on the menu, you won’t spend anything like what a restaurant meal will cost you on Valentine’s day.
For 2 divide the finished risotto in half and serve half for dinner with the lobster. Save the other half for another dinner or some great arancini. I am not in favor of making half a recipe for risotto because I think the taste is affected.
- 1 lb frozen lobster tails (about 2 medium), thawed
- 5 cups salt-free chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the lobster tails and boil over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until the lobster meat turns white.
Drain and set aside to cool.
When cool, remove the lobster meat from the shell and chop it into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
Warm the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep it hot over low heat.
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and onion and cook, about 3 minutes.
Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.
Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, half of the lobster meat and 2 tablespoons parsley.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place in a serving dish and top with remaining lobster pieces; garnish with parsley.
Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Tomatoes
- ½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, seeded tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 beef tenderloin steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (each about 4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
In a small saucepan bring vinegar to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the tomatoes into the hot vinegar reduction. Set aside.
Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, turning once.
Allow 7 minutes for medium-rare (145 degrees F) and 9 minutes for medium (160 degrees F).
Spoon the vinegar tomato sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with thyme.
Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Shallots
- 12 oz green beans, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the shallots and cook for one minute. Add the green beans and season with salt and ground pepper.
Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until green beans are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and serve.
Chocolate Crepes with Raspberry Sauce
For the sauce:
- 4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
For the crepes:
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened dutch cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 large whole egg
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Powdered sugar
Place water and 3 1/2 cups of the raspberries in a blender; cover and process for 3 minutes until smooth. Strain the raspberry puree and discard the seeds.
Place the puree in a small saucepan along with the cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar; bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside.
In a blender, blend flour, milk, cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons sugar, eggs and oil until smooth.
Heat a small nonstick skillet on medium-low flame. When hot, spray with cooking spray to coat bottom of pan.
Pour 1/4 cup of the crepe mixture into the pan, swirling the pan slightly to make crepe thin and smooth. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the bottom of the crepe is light golden brown.
Turn the crepe over and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until light golden brown. Repeat with remaining cooking spray and crepe mixture.
This should make 12 crepes. You can freeze the extra crepes for another time.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce into the center of each crepe. Fold into quarters, top with some of the remaining sauce, a few of the remaining fresh raspberries and dust each with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
Ring in the New Year in Style
Pan-Seared Salmon with Linguine
Makes 4 servings
- Four 5 ounce pieces of fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, thawed and dried
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup finely chopped, pitted green olives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Pepperoncini peppers
- Cooked Linguine
Sprinkle salmon with salt. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add salmon. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish or until fish just flakes when tested with a fork, turning once. Transfer to a serving platter. Cover; keep warm.
For the pesto:
Add remaining oil to the skillet. Add onion and dried tomatoes; cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cherry tomatoes, olives, basil, and crushed red pepper. Stir to heat through. Season to taste with salt.
Spoon tomato mixture over salmon. Top with additional fresh basil and serve with cooked pasta and pepperoncini peppers.
Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 pound domestic duck
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 small orange, quartered
- 1 stalk celery, cut up
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup orange liqueur
- ¼ cup mild-flavor molasses
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 cups blackberries
Adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse duck body cavity; pat dry. Rub cavity with the 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place orange, celery, onion, and thyme in cavity. Skewer neck skin to back; tie legs to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Brush duck with the 2 tablespoons orange liqueur.
Place duck, breast side down, on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Add the hot water to the roasting pan. Place in lower third of oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove roasting pan from oven; drain fat.* Turn duck, breast side up. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes more or until drumsticks move easily in their sockets (165 degrees F). Juices may still appear pink.
Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan whisk together orange peel, orange juice, brown sugar, the 1/4 cup orange liqueur, the molasses, ginger, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened and syrupy. Stir in 2 cups blackberries. Use a potato masher or fork to coarsely mash berries. Cover and set aside.
Transfer duck to a cutting board; let stand for 15 minutes. Discard stuffing mixture. Using kitchen shears, cut duck in half lengthwise. Cut each half between the breast and the thigh into 2 pieces. Drain fat from roasting pan. Arrange duck quarters in pan. Pour blackberry sauce over the duck. Return to oven. Roast in the 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes.
Transfer duck pieces to a serving platter. Pour any juices in the roasting pan over the duck pieces.
Makes: 6 servings
- 3 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Garlic-herb cheese, see recipe below
- 1 ounce baby arugula or baby spinach (about 1 cup packed)
- ¾ cup jarred roasted red sweet peppers, drained well and chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup purchased or homemade pesto
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken breast halves between pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each to 1/4-inch thickness.
Season one side of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Spread each breast with the herb cheese to the edges. Top with arugula, peppers, and green onion.
Press down on toppings, then roll up tightly, starting from a short end; secure with toothpicks. Brush pesto over rolls. Transfer to an oiled 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center (170 degrees F). Let stand 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks and slice crosswise to serve.
GARLIC HERB CHEESE
Stir 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed and 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed, into 3 ounces of cream cheese.
Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter
Makes: 4 servings
- Four 8 ounce fresh or frozen lobster tails
- 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup butter, plus extra for serving
Thaw lobster tails, if frozen. Preheat broiler. Butterfly the lobster tails by cutting through the center of the hard top shells and meat. Spread the halves of tails apart. Place lobster tails, meat side up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.
In a small skillet cook garlic, orange peel, and chili powder in butter over medium heat about 30 seconds or until garlic is tender. Brush mixture over lobster meat.
Broil 4 inches from heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque. Serve with extra melted butter.
Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon), cut about 3/4 inch thick
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup dry red wine
- ½ cup reduced-sodium beef broth
- 4 tablespoons finely shallots
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream (no substitutes for this dish)
- Salt and Pepper
Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; reduce heat to medium. Cook steaks about 3 minutes per side or until medium rare (145 degrees F). Transfer steaks to a platter. Cover with foil; let stand for 5 minutes while preparing sauce.
Add wine, beef broth and shallots to the hot skillet. Using a whisk, stir and scrape up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced.. Lower heat to medium low.
Stir in cream; stir in the remaining tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until butter is melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the evenly sauce over steaks and serve immediately.
There are two types of shellfish-crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans have segmented bodies with crust-like shells. Mollusks have shells encasing their soft bodies. Crustaceans can be identified by their unsymmetrical, elongated bodies and their eyes on stalks. Examples of crustaceans are shrimp, crab and lobster. Mollusks can be identified by their shells which are either closed or partially cover their soft bodies. Oysters, scallops, mussels and clams are examples of mollusks.
Edible crabs include Alaskan King Crab, Snow Crab, Dungeness Crab and Blue Crab. After steaming, grilling, or frying the crab, you crack open the outer shell of the legs and body and eat the meat inside. Crabs are classified in a subgroup of crustaceans called Brachyura and typically live near the shore of oceans around tide pools. All crabs characteristically feature “pinchers” (claws) on their two front legs. Crabs can be cooked in numerous ways, but boiling is perhaps the most common method of preparation.
Another popular edible crustacean, lobsters feature 10 legs and often have pinchers (clawed legs). Varieties include the American Lobster (also called the Maine Lobster), the European Lobster and the Spiny Lobster (which does not have pinchers). Lobsters can be found in the ocean near the coast and can live up to 50 years in the wild. Many people choose to buy just the lobster claws or the tails, which is where the majority of the meat is. However, serving a whole, bright red lobster makes an attractive presentation for a special occasion. To cook whole lobsters, they must be bought alive as they will quickly spoil once they are dead. One of the most common and easiest ways to cook whole lobster is to steam it.
Shrimp live in freshwater and saltwater. Although more than 300 species of shrimp exist, the most common edible shrimp, include gulf shrimp and tiger shrimp. Farm raised shrimp are also increasingly common. Avoid shrimp that smells of anything other than salt water. If there is any hint of the aroma of ammonia, it’s a sign the shrimp are way past there prime. Truly fresh shrimp will have almost translucent flesh. Do not buy shrimp with black spots or rings (unless it’s black tiger shrimp) as this indicates the meat is starting to break down. Also avoid pink meat. Shrimp can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be boiled, steamed, grilled, sautéed, baked or deep-fried. They can also be cooked with or without the shell and with the vein or deveined.
Oysters are found all over the world’s coasts and oceans. Oyster varieties have different sizes, colors and flavors due to environmental conditions. Because oysters are filter feeders, they are sensitive to environmental pollution. They may pass these pollutants on to humans so eating oysters from reliable habitats is important. Buy oysters in winter months when the cold water in the oyster bed produces peak flavor. Look for undamaged shells that are shut tight. Ask the fishmonger to shuck fresh oysters, if possible. To do it yourself: scrub the outside and shuck them carefully with a sharp knife. Wear a heavy rubber glove to hold the oyster shell to avoid injury. Oysters are served raw, steamed, fried, poached, grilled and baked. Oyster dishes are usually accompanied by lemon juice, chili sauce or horseradish sauce. Serve raw oysters on the half-shell with cocktail sauce and crackers or baked florentine. Saute whole oysters, make oyster chowder or fry them with a light breading.
The many species of clam are found all over the world’s oceans and coasts and range in size from a four-inch sand clams to the four-foot giant clams. Soft shell and hard shell clams live in the open in deep fresh and saltwater and burrowed in the tidal sands or muddy banks of coastal areas. Buy fresh clams in the shell. Store in an open bowl in the refrigerator. Wash the clams under running water to remove any sand before preparing them. Small hardshell clams should be handled in the same manner as mussels. Cook softshell clams before eating them. Wash them thoroughly under running water, as they always contain a lot of sand and mud. Clams are served in chowder and soups and in sauces. Steam, fry, bake and grill clams.
Mussels are fresh and saltwater filter feeder mollusks that are sensitive to environmental pollutants and are considered a species that indicates water quality. Mussels have two shells bound together with a ligament and can close and open it at will. Mussels use the ligament to attach to rocks or underwater piles but some species burrow in sand or mud. Store fresh mussels in an open bowl in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Rinse fresh mussels under slow running water. Discard any heavy mussels (that are filled with mud), any broken shells or any shells that are open. Take a sharp knife and carefully scrape off the “beard” from the edge of each mussels. Mussels are usually served steamed with sauces but they can also be roasted or served in soups and pasta. Steam the mussels 8 to 10 minutes until the shells pop open. Serve with a sauce made from butter, white wine and garlic.
Sea Scallops live on the ocean floor in groups and filter feed on plankton and other small organisms. Unlike most mollusks, sea scallops are relatively fast swimmers, opening and closing their fanned shell quickly to move around. The muscle that holds the two scallop shells together, called the abductor muscle, is the most popular edible part of the scallop. Choose sea scallops or bay scallops, both of which come shucked and ready to prepare. Strip off and discard the little strip of tendon that is attached to each scallop. Buy “dry” scallops, if possible. Refuse scallops that have been soaked in phosphates, which causes them to absorb water and lose flavor. Scallops are served sauteed, seared, baked, grilled, in soups and raw. Make serviche, an appetizer made with fresh bay scallops and marinated in citrus juices. Grill, roast or saute large scallops as an entrée. Bread scallops with a mixture of bread crumbs and basil.
Shellfish — shrimp, crabs, scallops, clams, mussels, oysters or lobster — becomes tough and dry when overcooked. To cook raw shellfish, shucked or in the shell, follow these basic guidelines:
- Raw shrimp turn pink and firm. Depending on the size, it takes from 3 to 5 minutes to boil or steam 1 pound of medium size shrimp in the shell.
- Shucked shellfish (clams, mussels and oysters without shells), become plump and opaque when cooked and the edges of the oysters start to curl. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests: boiling shucked oysters for 3 minutes, frying them in oil at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or baking them for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F.
- Clams, mussels and oysters in the shell will open when cooked. The FDA suggests steaming oysters for 4 to 9 minutes or boiling them for 3 to 5 minutes after they open.
- Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm when cooked. Depending on the size, scallops take 3 to 4 minutes to cook thoroughly.
- Boiled lobster turns bright red. Allow 5 to 6 minutes cooking time after the water comes back to a full boil.
|CUT||WEIGHT ORTHICKNESS||HEAT||COOKING TIME(MINUTES PER POUND)|
|Dressed Fish||1 lb.||Medium/Direct||10 to 15|
|2-2-1/2 lbs.||Med/Indirect||20 to 30|
|Fillets or Steaks||1/4 to 1/2 in.||High/Direct||3 to 5|
|1/2 to 1 in.||High/Direct||5 to 10|
|Kabobs||1-in. cubes||Medium/Direct||8 to 12|
|Scallops, Sea||1 lb.||Medium/Direct||5 to 8|
|Shrimp, Medium||1 lb.||Medium/Direct||5 to 8|
Shrimp and Crab Boat Appetizers
- 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp, chopped
- 6 ounces) lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 24 Belgian endive leaves (3-4 heads) or small butter lettuce leaves
In a large bowl, combine shrimp, crab and celery. Add mayonnaise and mustard. Toss to coat. To serve, top each leaf with about 2 tablespoons shrimp mixture. Yield: 2 dozen.
Red Pepper Soup with Grilled Shellfish
For the soup:
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 4 pounds red bell peppers
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 10 leaves basil, chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the seafood:
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 8 (U 16/20-count) shrimp
- 8 (U 30-count) scallops
- 8 ounces crabmeat, leg or lump
For the soup:
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, garlic and onion and saute until translucent.
Roast the peppers on an open flame until charred; place in a plastic bag to sweat; remove skin and seeds. Puree the peppers and add to onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock and water; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add basil, thyme, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Puree the mixture with a hand immersion blender.
For the seafood:
Combine ingredients (olive oil through the chives) and mix well. Add seafood and marinate for 10 minutes prior to cooking. Cook seafood until done (about 5-6 minutes) on a grill or under the broiler. Use as a topping for the Red Pepper Soup and serve hot with crusty country bread.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pistachios and cook, stirring often, until nuts are deeply toasted, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Chop pistachios. Place in a small bowl; toss with chives, tarragon and thyme.
Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat remaining butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add scallops; sear until crusty brown, about 2 minutes per side. Roll scallops in pistachio mixture and serve immediately.
Baked Italian Oysters
- 1 1/2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
- Cooking spray
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 24 oysters on the half shell
- 8 lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place bread in a food processor and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form, (about 3/4 cup).
Heat a medium nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onions, parsley and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in fresh breadcrumbs, Italian breadcrumbs and the next 4 ingredients (Italian breadcrumbs through black pepper).
Place oysters on a jelly roll baking pan. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over oysters.
Bake the oysters for 7 minutes or until the edges of the oysters curl. Serve with lemon wedges.
Mussels Fra Diavlo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups Fra Diavlo Sauce, recipes follow
- 3 pounds medium mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Fra Diavolo Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce
- 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
- Kosher or sea salt
For the sauce:
Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan slightly over medium heat and saute the garlic and crushed red pepper until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 40 seconds. Add the Marinara Sauce, clam juice and salt to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat, about 15 minutes.
For the mussels:
Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and Fra Diavlo sauce, increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels and replace the lid. Cook over high heat 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir once gently. Continue to cook until the mussels are completely open and firmly cooked, about 4 minutes more.
Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the mussels gently from the pot to a large bowl with a wire mesh skimmer. Return the pot to the heat and increase the heat to high. Boil for a minute or two, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve immediately.
- Two 1 1/2-pound lobsters
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 small dry red chilies, crushed or 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 12 fresh basil leaves, for garnish, optional
Bring 2 large, tall pots of water to a boil. One will be for the spaghetti, one for the lobsters. It is best if the lobster pot has a lid.
Place the lobsters in the boiling water headfirst and cover tightly with the lid. (If you happen to have lobsters of different weights, put the heaviest lobster in first and wait a minute to add the others.) Boil the lobster for about 7 minutes but no longer than 8 minutes. You want it to be slightly underdone. Transfer the lobsters to a bowl and separate the heads from the tails, reserving them both in the bowl. Remove the lobster legs from the body/head and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and lobster heads in a large 14-inch saute pan. Include any juices that have collected in the bowl. Roast the lobster heads in the oil for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, crack open the claws and remove the meat. Cut open the tails to remove the tail meat. Cut all of the meat into large, 2-inch pieces.
Remove the lobster heads from the pan and discard. Add the chilies and garlic to the olive oil and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and saute until they just begin to break down.
Cook the spaghetti in the second pot of boiling water along with 2 tablespoons of salt for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the spaghetti.
Add the lobster meat, reserved lobster legs and pasta to the sauce and toss together for about a minute, adding pasta water as needed, top torn basil and serve.
- Seafood of the Week – Seafood Boil (beatcancer2010.wordpress.com)
- Let’s eat! … de la mer … (graytravelblog.wordpress.com)