Invite Friends and Family for an Italian Seafood Fest
At least one summer get-together should be themed around seafood. One of the keys to being a successful hostess (or host) is to consider each of the types of cuisine that your guests will appreciate when creating a menu that will be sure to please. I was never a great lover of fish, but I love to prepare it for my husband, family and guests, especially my crab with linguine recipe. So even though my first thoughts about foods that I enjoy do not begin with fish, I developed a flair for preparing it; such is the joy of cooking! A wonderful way addition to every backyard feast is a traditional clam bake, but in this case, with an Italian twist. You can prepare the meal without a lot of fuss and bother, leaving you more time to enjoy your guests. When it comes time to eat, everyone digs into this family-style feast. Just like in my backyard, the smiles around the table will let you know that your clambake is a rousing success.
Italian Seafood Clambake
2 dozen clams
1 pounds of mussels
12 deveined, but unpeeled jumbo shrimp
1 ½ pounds fingerling potatoes
1 ½ cups white wine
12 whole plum tomatoes
8 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
48 oz. chicken broth
3 sticks of butter
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp. whole black pepper
1 bunch basil
4 lemons cut in half
Ed. Note: for an extra treat, add as many lobster tails as you can afford – lol)
Scrub the clams and mussels and potatoes. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks. Place the potatoes in a layer in the bottom of a large pot with 2 cloves of garlic. Cover with a layer of clams with 2 cloves of garlic, then mussels (plus garlic) and finally the shrimp, with the remainder of the garlic. Add the tomatoes, pepper, bay leaves and basil. Pour in the white wine and enough chicken broth to fill the pot halfway. Cut 1 ½ sticks of the butter into cubes and place on top. Cover with a lid and seal tightly with aluminum foil.
Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully remove the foil and lid. Remove the seafood and potatoes from the liquid and serve on a large platter, family-style. Take the remaining sauce left in the pot and add 1 ½ sticks of butter to it. Simmer until the butter has melted and then pour over 1 lb. of linguine, or the pasta of your choice.
Colavita extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb. cod fillets
salt and pepper
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 small yellow onion, diced
12 oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
2 cups diced tomatoes with juice
3 tablespoons capers
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold the cod fillets over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers and continue cooking until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Season both sides of cod with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the flesh begins to turn golden. Turn the fillets and cook the other side for about 3 minutes, until fillets are firm and flesh is opaque. Transfer fillets to a warm, shallow serving dish. Return pan to heat and reduce heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp. of extra-virgin oil and the chopped garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and cook over a low flame until it reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley and simmer for another 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over fish and serve.
Rigatoni with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Lump Crabmeat
1 lb. paccheri (large rigatoni pasta)
2 lb. lump crab meat
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Makes 4 servings
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives (about 10 olives)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 medium scallops
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, add the tomatoes, basil, olives and olive oil. Process until finely chopped. Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper. Rub each scallop with the tomato mixture. Fold each slice of prosciutto in half lengthwise, then wrap each scallop in 1 slice of prosciutto. Place the wrapped scallops into a buttered baking dish, seam side down. Bake until scallop is cooked through, about 15 minutes. The scallops are delicious served with lemon over spinach.
Seafood pairs especially well with rosato wine from Italy. These blush pink wines, often called Rosé, have a crispness that brings out the flavor in fish, lobster, mussels, clams and shrimp. The wine is subtle and doesn’t overpower seafood recipes.
Warm Rice Pudding with Summer Fruit
1 qt. milk
1 qt. half & half
¾ cup sugar
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
In a large pot, pour in the milk, half & half, sugar and rice. Stir to mix and heat over a medium flame. Stir frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Continue to simmer and stir for roughly 40 minutes, until the rice is tender. Remove from heat. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed by this time, don’t worry about what remains, it will be soaked up by the rice. Beat together 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk and incorporate the vanilla. Pour into the rice and mix thoroughly. Pour into a serving dish and serve warm with a dash of cinnamon. Add your favorite fruit on top.
1 ½ cups fine biscotti crumbs (about 8 oz.)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter – melted
6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 lb. mascarpone cheese
Place biscotti into a food processor and grind until fine. Butter the bottom and the sides of a 9” spring-form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 layers of aluminum foil to prevent leakage. In a bowl. Mix the crumbs with the melted butter and pat the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and continue mixing until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture after each egg is added. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, then add the mascarpone and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Place the cake in a larger pan and add boiling water until it reaches halfway up the slides of the cake pan (make sure that the foil is higher than the level of the water). Bake for 1 hour, rotating the pan after 30 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When completely cooled, remove the spring pan sides and slide the cheesecake onto a plate. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled.