Tag Archives: #foodie

Eggplant Parmigiana

This is a dish that I have not made in about thirty years. The reason for that is I was asked, thirty years ago, to make several trays of eggplant parm for my best friend’s engagement party. I was up literally all night and my kitchen was completely trashed for about a week. I think that experience gave me eggplant parm PTSD.

The only time I will ever use a jar sauce is for pizza or parm. My Sunday sauce is too rich (due to all the pork and beef that I add). The richness would take away from the flavor of the eggplant. That said, the sauce that worked for this is Michael’s of Brooklyn.

To start this dish, peel your eggplants (I leave just a few strips of peel on) then slice thinly into circles, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Then dip slices into well beaten egg, followed by breadcrumbs. I place breaded slices on a wire rack until all of my eggplant has been breaded. Then in a shallow fry pan, heat canola oil. When the oil is hot, add eggplant and fry until slightly browned on both sides (should take about 3 minutes per side). I return the fried slices to the wire rack so any excess oil drains off.

Next step is to prepare the layers in your baking pan. I start with a healthy amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of eggplant followed by as much mozzarella as you like and some fresh ricotta and top with some more sauce. Repeat layers until you are out of eggplant. Make sure top is mozzarella and sauce.

I baked mine for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. That’s it! Enjoy this delicious dish.

Back at the grill…

I always say, the freshest ingredients simply prepared is the best way to cook.

For this meal I had some amazing, colossal shrimp which I butterflied and seasoned with EVOO, pepper, and Slap ya Mama. I also had sushi grade tuna which I cubed (large cubes) and dredged in black pepper.

The shrimp, I simply grilled them for about 2 minutes (or until they turn pink, depending on how hot your grill is) and that’s that. For the tuna, I sautéed the dredged cubes in a little EVOO until just the outside is charred and the inside is still bright pink (you could also do this in a cast iron skillet on the grill). I served the tuna with a wasabi/soy slurry.

I served grilled eggplant with the shrimp. To do this, first peel the eggplant, leaving some strips of peel on the fruit. Then simply slice the eggplant in circles, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with EVOO and season with salt & pepper. Throw the eggplant on the grill about 5 minutes before the shrimp and remove when they are tender and charred. The center will be soft and very tasty.

Freshest Fish…

I know I cook a ton of seafood, but this particular dish was amazing. A friend of mine just got back from the glorious Keys and brought back her bounty of snapper (the filets were cleaned, packed, flash frozen and shipped).

I kept the recipe super simple so not to take away from any of the naturally delicious flavor of the fish. I lightly dredged the fillets in some seasoned (salt, pepper) flour and sautéed it stove top in a little EVOO. Depending on the thickness of the filets, it should not take more than about 3-4 minutes per side.

In a separate pan, I sautéed fresh spinach seasoned with crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.

I plated this gorgeous dish on top of creamy polenta – can it get any easier?

Seafood on the BBQ…

Literally nothing could be easier than cooking super fresh, simply prepared seafood on the grill. I just soak the clams to get rid of any sand they might be holding onto, scrub the mussels and toss them all right on the grill. As soon as they pop open they’re ready to eat. Hubby makes a butter dip with garlic, lemon and parsley (or cilantro) and that’s it! I also sprinkled a little Slap Ya Mama seasoning on the mussels just to spice them up a bit.

Great as an appetizer or a main dish, clams, mussels, and a side of Shishito peppers!

Orecchiette…

This simple, one pot meal is a real crowd pleaser. Cheap & easy (like some people I know) you’ll have this prepared in no time. Step one is to coarsely chop a ton of fresh garlic and a bunch of fresh broccoli rabe (if you find yellow flowers on the broccoli rabe, it’s not fresh). Bring about 5 inches of water, with one bullion cube added, to a boil, add the the broccoli rabe and cook for seven minutes. Strain and refresh with cold water (to revive that gorgeous green color). Next, in the same pot, add a little EVOO, fresh sausage meat (uncased), red pepper flakes, and garlic and cook until all redness is gone. Toss this on top of the broccoli rabe that is sitting in the strainer. Now fill, the same pot, with water seasoned with kosher salt (don’t clean it, let all those yummy flavors season the water – work smarter, not harder!) When rapidly boiling, add orecchiette and cook until al dente – depending on the brand of pasta (I use Barilla) about 9 minutes (taste it before you strain it). Before straining, reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Now strain the pasta and return to pot, add the broccoli rabe and sausage meat with a little EVOO, black pepper, 1/2 of a freshly squeezed lemon and if you want to loosen up the sauce some of the reserved pasta water. Plate and add a ton of grated cheese (no one is judging!) more red pepper flakes to taste and freshly chopped parsley. Boun appetito!

The ONE POT….

3 Step Clam Sauce…

Spaghetti Alle Vogole as my grandma would say, this recipe could not be easier. Here it is in 3 simple steps:

  1. In a shallow pot, add a little EVOO and a pat of butter. Sauté a little garlic (or a lot of garlic!) some red pepper flakes, parsley and black pepper (I tossed in a jalapeño just for kicks).
  2. Add 2 dozen cleaned clams (see how to clean clams here) into pot and add 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of white wine (I used chardonnay). Cook over medium heat until all clams open up (discard the ones that don’t – or give them to a guest you don’t like…haha)
  3. In a rapidly boiling pot of salted water, cook 1 pound of capellini (angel hair pasta) for about 7 minutes or until cooked al dente. Strain pasta and plate with plenty of clam sauce and clams, garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Dress it up…

Weird fact about me – I don’t like leftovers. There are only a couple of things that I will eat as a leftover. Chicken cutlets are one of those things. I had a large package of chicken cutlets in the freezer and wanted to make something simple that I could have for lunch during the week too. I simply prepared a bruschetta using what ever I had in the fridge – in this case it was cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and jalapeño – which I dressed with a salt, pepper, EVOO and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

I simply breaded and fried the cutlets, you can also season them and bake them in the oven. When fully cooked I just topped the cutlets with the bruschetta and voila!

Take this boring cutlet:

And make it fabulous by dressing it up!

Taco Tuesday…

Taco Tuesday has become sort of a tradition at our place. We have our little Tuesday night gang and the super casual, tasty, fun night is something we look forward to after a busy work day. I try to mix it up a bit every week. Some fun taco filling options I’ve recently made include tuna dredged in black pepper and simply sautéed in a little EVOO (cooked rare, you want to see red!) Blackened shrimp is a homerun every time. And of course there’s the blackened chicken. The toppings that are our go to’s are: sour cream, avocado, onion, jalapeño, tomato, shredded cheese, and tons of hot sauce! For a side dish I made some stuffed jalapeño poppers (slit the pepper in the middle, stuff with cream cheese, wrap with a piece of bacon and bake for 20 minutes at 350).

Pro-tip: If you’re following a keto or low carb diet, skip the tortilla and make a protein bowl! All the yummies with none of the carbs!

Going out to eat…

I know I cook, a lot, but I do enjoy going out to eat as well. We’re lucky to have a great Greek community not so far away. Our favorite place in Tarpon Springs is a restaurant called Mykonos. (See reviews here.) It’s a simple place that gets loud and frenetic during lunch and dinner (constant yells of “Opa!” fill the dining area when the flaming Haloumi is being brought from the open kitchen).

We basically get the same items every time we go to Mykonos. Here are our go-to’s: a trio of dips which are: 1) Skordalia (mashed potatoes flavored with garlic, crushed almonds, lemon juice, EVOO and a shit ton of garlic – NOT A FIRST DATE DISH!!), 2) Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip, much like babaganoush) and 3) my (personal favorite) Taramasalata (roe/caviar, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, onion garlic and olive oil).

We also get grilled calamari – which is amazing. No need to bread and fry truly fresh fish, throw it on the grill, splash with fresh lemon and enjoy, like they do in Greece. For a main course my hubby got grilled shrimp in a fresh tomato sauce, it was very simple and delicious. I always get a peasant salad (tomato, red onion, cucumber, feta cheese and pepperoncini-no lettuce) with a side of gyro meat. It’s ALWAYS too much, but so simple, fresh and delicious.

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend this place. Oh, and don’t let the turkey vultures in the back parking lot scare you (they terrify me).

Low carb shrimp parmigiana…

I came across this picture in my food file and remembered how delicious it was. Check it out:

To make this beauty cut a spaghetti squash in half, seed it, brush the cut side with a little EVOO, season it with salt & pepper and bake it, cut side down, for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. While that magic is happening, quickly sauté some fresh shrimp, garlic, onion, spinach and season well (I like to add some red pepper flakes or diced up jalapeño just to spice it up). Next step, when the squash has cooked and is cool enough to handle scrape it out into the wok with the shrimp sauté. Mix the squash and shrimp well so it’s all incorporated. Then turn the mixture into a baking pan that is lightly brushed with EVOO (to prevent sticking). Top this with mozzarella and bake for about 20 minutes in a 350 oven (until cheese is melted and a little brown).

This shrimp parmigiana will not knock you off keto and was delicious! Let me know if you have any questions.