Monthly Archives

July 2008

The other day I had a few friends over for drinks before we had out for dinner. I wanted to make a few quick appetizers to go along with the martinis.

After a short discussion we went for:

Tuna tartare on crackers
Caprese skewers
Shrimp and prosciutto
We prepared all of them in the afternoon and finished them off in the early evening before the guests arrived. The tartare is really the only one that requires at least an hour so the tuna can marinate properly.

Let’s start with the caprese skewers.

This is really easy. Ingredients:

cherry tomatoes
byte-size mozzarella
lots of basil (one of those big bags they have at the market)
olive oil
salt and pepper
toothpicks – regular skewers are really too big!
Just cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. I used two mozzarella bytes and two cherry halves for each skewer (note I used too. In the food processor add the basil, 3-4 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. When you are ready to serve just spread some of the basil-olive oil mix on top of the skewers! Super easy, super fresh and super tasty!

Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.

This is also very easy to make. In fact, you can prepare it earlier and just cook it right before (it takes 5mins). Ingredients:

big prawn with no shells
prosciutto slices (no need to buy the most expensive one)
Wrap half slice of prosciutto around the shrimp. Done! I like to cook it over a hot non-stick pan. It almost acts like a grill and the prosciutto gets nice and crispy. The shrimp cook really fast, so you’ll need to cook each of them for couple of minutes (one minute each side).

Tuna Tartare cracker.

In this case I actually used a recipe from one of Ina Gartner’s books. You can also find it online on the Food Network website: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_28673,00.html

My take: you don’t need all the ingredients (but you have to use lemo!) or stick precisily to the quantities indicated. I made this dish, took my liberties and it always tastes good. You must use good tuna! Don’t skimp on the tuna!

A nice presentation helps!

Enjoy!!!

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Recently I had the opportunity to dine at couple of Italian restaurants in Seattle. My stand on Italian restaurants has been generally along the line “I am paying too much for below quality food”. Lately I have been a little more relaxed and I am trying to checkout some of the local restaurant to really assess where they are at.

A positive note came from Volterra. The restaurant serves a more contemporary Italian food. The menu has a good selection without going crazy with the number of dishes. The appetizer (marinated calamari) was on the overpriced side and not too good (too much citrus…could not taste the calamari). The pasta was much better, although the quality was not consistent among the 4 pastas we ordered (there 4 four of us and I ordered wild boar):

Linguine with clams sauce (Linguine alle Vongole): This was just OK. This is not a difficult dish to make and with good ingredients usually a sure hit. I found it a little plain with the pasta just a bit undercooked. I would not reccomend it.
Fettucine with Shrimp and Pesto (Fettucine alla Genovese): The sauce was good. The fettucine were definitely undercooked. I mean you could taste the flour in the middle.
Wild Mushrooms and Truffles (Tagliolini Tartufati): This was a fantastic dish and the best of the entire dinner. I would highly reccomend this one.
I did not order pasta and went for the wild boar. It’s something I don’t get to eat too often and I just love it. The dish called for a gorgonzola sauce. Unfortunately I am not a gorgonzola fan. I asked if I could have a different sauce and the chef accomodated my request and I was able to get it with the wine sauce that they use for the medallions. The sauce was on the stronger side for the wild boar, but it was pretty good overall.

Overall it was a positive experience. The price was on the higher end (I think we paid about 40USD each, but we also ordered couple of bottles of wine), the service was standard good and the food good (could be very good with a little more attention…maybe that night they were rushing it a bit).

Note: at the time of this post the appetizer is actually off the menu.

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Linguini with broccoli and anchovies. I had not cooked this dish for at least two years. The first time I had it was when I was leaving in Lisbon. My friend Michele (from Bolzano) thought me how to make it.

I do agree that this may not be ideal for all taste buds and the reaction for many may be “ugh”. I guess you gonna have to try it and see if you like it… I do!

As many of the recipe I have been posting lately the great thing about this dish is that it takes very little work and it’s done in about 20-30 mins (end-to-end…you can do other thngs in the meatime).

Anyway, let’s get down to business. Here’re the ingredients (for 2-3 people, depending on how hungry their are):

1 box of anchovies
1/2 pound of Linguine (De Cecco, Del Verde or Barilla will do it)
Couple of cloves of garlic
Chilli flakes
1 pound of broccoli (I used frozen ones)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin)
The steps:

Bring water to boil in a pot. This is the same pot you’ll use to cook the pasta as well. Before you forget you should also add salt to the water.
When the water is boiling pour the broccoli. You need to cook them for about 5 minutes, after the water starts boiling again.
Once the 5 mins are up and the broccoli cooked, take them out and save them in a bowl. If the broccoli are very big, you can just cut them quickly using a knife.
The water is already boiling and you can put the pasta in. No worries on the “soffritto” for the pasta, it will just take a few mins.
As the pasta is cooklng we start preparing the anchoviesgarlic soffritto. Warm up a deep sauce pan, add the olive oil and the fine chopped garlic. Let the garlic cook for a minute or so, until it start looking “gold”.
Add the anchovies and make sure that you stir it so that it almost create a “paste” (see pix below). Keep the heat mediumlow. This is a good time to add a few chilli flakes.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and pour it in the sauce pan. This is also the time to add back the broccoli as well.
Stir everything well together for a minute over medium heat.
You are done..just need to plate it and add some pepper and fresh virgin olive oil.
Enjoy your dish and let us know how it goes!