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
4 dozen clams
3 lb. mussels
2 dozen deveined, but unpeeled jumbo shrimp
3 lb. fingerling potatoes
1 ½ cups white wine
2 lbs. linguine
14 whole plum tomatoes
8 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
48 oz. chicken broth
3 sticks of butter
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 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 2 pounds of linguine.
½ cup 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 tbsp. capers
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
Heat 2 ounces of olive oil over a medium flame in a sauté pan large enough to hold the cod fillets. 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 3 tablespoons of olive 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.
Linguine with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Lump Crabmeat
1 lb. linguine
2 lb. lump crab meat
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. sweet butter
1 oz. basil, chopped
8 oz. plum tomatoes
1 cup fish stock
1 oz. fresh parsley, chopped
6 oz. leeks, sliced
Set the oven to 250°F. Add the plum tomatoes to a baking pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 3 hours. Remove and place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan. Add the leeks and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the fish stock, crabmeat and oven roasted tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes and set aside.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta; cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl of roasted tomatoes. Add the basil and parsley. To serve, place the crabmeat on top of the pastas and drizzle with 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.
Shrimp with Zucchini, Cannellini Bean and Shell Fish
Makes 4 servings
16 medium-large shrimp
2 dozen mussels, cleaned
2 dozen clams
1 zucchini, diced into small cubes
1 can cannellini beans, with liquid
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup white wine
1 cup olive oil
Pinch of red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
6 basil leaves, chopped
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the sliced garlic. Cook until brown. Remove from heat and add the zucchini, clams and mussels. Cover and cook for 30 seconds, then remove the cover and add the beans and its liquid, wine, tomato sauce and red pepper. Next, add the shrimp and chopped basil. Cook for 3 minutes. Discard and clams of mussels that do not open and serve. Increase accordingly if you are having a larger get-together!
Seafood pairs especially well with white wine from Italy. White wines are crisp, which that brings out the flavor in fish, lobster, mussels, clams and shrimp. It is always important to select a wine that is subtle and doesn’t overpower seafood recipes, which makes Italian white wine ideal.
Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
3 ½ cups of heavy cream
8 oz. golden raisins
5 eggs beaten
2 loaves of Challah bread, cubed
1 cup sugar
6 oz. light rum or brandy
graham cracker crumbs
1 jar caramel sauce
2 oz. butter
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soak the raisins in hot water until softened. Cut the bread into cubes. Place in a large bowl. Combine the cream, raisins, vanilla and ½ cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, ½ cup sugar and rum. Pour the cream mixture over the bread and mix until soft. Add the caramel sauce and mix, then combine the bread with the egg mixture.
Butter a small baking pan with unsalted butter and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and bits of butter. Fill the pan with the bread mixture and top with more graham cracker crumbs. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Bread pudding is best served at room temperature. Serve with gelato, or Chantilly Sauce.
Cold Zabaione with Strawberries
4 eggs yolks
8 oz. strawberries
8 tbsp. sugar
½ cup Marsala Wine
½ cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Combine all of the ingredients, except the heavy cream in a copper, or glass bowl. Put the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until the mixture thickens. Transfer the zabaione into a cold bowl and allow it to cool. Whip the heavy cream and mix it into the zabaione. Serve with strawberries.