About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.


Fish and Shellfish Archives

August 26, 2010

Grilled Fish, Romagna Style

Okay, I really didn't want to show you this picture. But I decided to anyway. Not everything is perfect.

This recipe is for a grilled fish recipe from Romagna, on the northern Adriatic shore. The area is famous for it's fish, which is usually marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, rosemary, and bread crumbs then grilled. Marcella's recipe called for any type of whole fish, or even fish steaks. I decided to use Yellow-eye, a type of Rockfish we catch here in Alaska.

While I don't have a before picture of this exact fish I grilled, here is a photo of me holding one my husband caught the same weekend out on our boat in Prince William Sound. The fish looks the same, except the one I am holding here is larger. It didn't seem so impressive to take a photo of me holding the smaller one that I caught.

Okay, back to cooking the fish. The fish needed to be gutted and scaled. Scaling is a pain, and my husband decided that in the future, when I wanted to cook a whole fish, I could purchase one that's already been scaled. (He didn't like having to clean those scales from the boat because they stick like glue.) You wash and dry the fish, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. You then place it in a large dish, and add olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh rosemary. You coat the fish with this mixture, then add a coating of bread crumbs. After marinating for 1-2 hours, you place on the grill. Whether it was a mistake or not, I'm not sure, but I placed the fish on foil on my gas grill. The fish cooked nicely, but when it came time to turn the fish over to cook the other side, there was a problem. The fish stuck to the foil. I managed, but as you can see from the photo, the fish lost part of his skin and his tail (I tried putting that back in place. No such luck with the skin.).

Okay, the fish didn't look the best, but boy, did it taste good. The lemon and rosemary flavor really came through. Next time, I'll try the recipe using fish steaks. Should be a lot easier.

August 27, 2010

Grilled Swordfish Steaks, Sicilian Salamoriglio Style

If you love swordfish you will love this recipe. At the local fish store they said they have wild-caught swordfish from the Gulf of Mexico so that's what I got. Oil spill be damned!

The swordfish is simply grilled (you have to get the grill really hot) and sauced with a combination of salt, lemon juice, olive oil and fresh oregano. I have a ton of fresh oregano in the garden!


This is a great summer recipe--using the grill and light flavors.

August 28, 2010

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

I only have a few words for this recipe: quick and easy! Oh my! Shrimp is cleaned and dried, then tossed in a bowl of a breadcrumbs and oil mixture with a little finely chopped garlic and parsley, salt and pepper. The preparation is minimal. After 3 1/2 minutes on the grill, the result is crispy, juicy, tender shrimp! This made a great summer dinner!

Here are the shrimp before the grill:


Here they are off the skewer and on our plate:



August 29, 2010

Grilled Shrimp, Cannocchie Style

One of the nice things about this cookbook is the stories that Marcella includes along with the recipes. Cannocchie is a distinct type of shellfish that is only available in the Adriatic Sea. They are similar to shrimp, but more flat like lobster. That is why the shrimp for this recipe have a long toothpick ran down the belly section to straighten the shrimp and make it look like it’s Adriatic counterpart. The back of the shell is also split all the way down.

This is a very simple recipe and outside of the marinating time, can be prepared rather quickly. It is just olive oil, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. This is rubbed over the outside of the shells and stuffed in the slit in back. I marinated the shrimp for around an hour. The shrimp are then placed on a grill rack and grilled or broiled at high heat for around 2 minutes per side. They began to blacken some during this process, but according to Marcella that is part of the tradition of the dish.


The shrimp prepared this way were tasty, but very messy to eat. If I were to make this dish again I would probably increase the oil a little, because the breadcrumbs were a tad dry, but overall the flavor was good. A good dish to serve for friends.

August 30, 2010

Shrimp Fried in Leavened Batter


I have fried shrimp many times over the years. I tend to stick with a commercial batter since the results are consistent. My attempts to make homemade batters have always resulted in coatings that are too thick and bread like for my taste.

The hardest part of making this week's recipe was finding the small shrimp. The recipe calls for shrimp "as small as possible". Visiting the grocery stores I discovered that most small shrimp are precooked. This is something I never noticed before since I have a favorite shrimp size that I use most times. After a little searching, I was able to find 70-80 count raw shrimp.

The shrimp are dipped in a batter made of yeast, water, eggs, flour and salt before frying. Once mixed together this leavened batter has a consistency of very thin, pancake batter. I skewered a few shrimp with the optional toothpick for ease of dipping. I managed just fine without the toothpick also. Frying the shrimp was a little scary. The oil did more popping then usual due to the high water content of the batter. No worries. I used a skillet this time. Next time I will use my deep fryer.


Each shrimp was golden brown with a very light, extremely crisp coating. I love how the batter did not mask the taste of the shrimp. I was eating them so quickly I almost forgot I needed a few for pictures. Only one thing would make this recipe better...letting someone else cook them so I could focus all my attention on enjoying each and every one.

August 31, 2010

Fried Tidbits of Swordfish or Other Fish


In landlocked Missouri, getting good fresh seafood is a challenge. It's hard to find and is expensive. I often buy fresh frozen at Global Foods because they only carry seafood that has been wild caught and ship processed. That means that on catch day, the fish is cleaned, flash frozen, and vacuum sealed right on the ship. I believe this is often a better choice than fish that is sold as fresh, but may have had longer than optimal travel time to Missouri. When I do buy fresh, I rely on my nose to guide me. I'm not the least shy about asking the fishmonger in the market to let me smell the fish.

For this dish, I stopped first at Global Foods, but was not impressed with the look of the swordfish steaks in their freezer. I resolved to head to Whole Foods, but on a whim I stopped in at Dierberg's. Dierberg's is a regional, family owned grocery chain in the St. Louis area. They aren't the cheapest in town, but you can usually count on them for quality. The loins were beautiful, and smelled like fresh sea air. At $11.00 a pound they were expensive, but since it was only Dan and I, I saved some by cutting the recipe in half.


Soaking in the marinade of olive oil and lemon juice begins to acid-cook the fish, so the actual cooking time should be very brief.


After soaking in the marinade for about an hour, I patted the fish dry on a paper towel. When the oil was hot enough in the pan to brown rapidly, I dipped the morsels in egg then in flour.


All you want is a light golden brown crust, and you want it fast. As soon as one side browns, turn the fish and brown the other, then remove with a slotted spatula. Drain the cooked tidbits on a heated, paper towel lined platter and serve immediately.


We enjoyed ours with mixed greens and Marcella's Gratineed Cauliflower with Butter and Parmesan Cheese -- which I shall be reporting on on January 18th, 2011. Don't tell Victor, but it was perfect with a bottle of ice cold Vinho Verde from Portugal.


September 2, 2010

Sauteed Whole Fish with Mushrooms


We're still in the fish chapter (just getting started really), and this is another week for me to cook a whole fish. This recipe was named Sauteed Snapper or Other Whole Fish with Mushrooms. The recipe called for snapper or sea bass. I decided to substitute salmon, as I had just caught some salmon and didn't want to purchase a different kind of fish.

In Alaska, there are several different types of salmon available. There is Chinook (King), Sockeye (Red) and Coho (Silver). There is another variety called Pink. This is the variety that you usually find canned in your grocery store. But Alaskan's are picky about their salmon, and most people won't keep any pinks they catch. I've always heard they're not as flavorful, and the texture is mushy. So we've usually thrown them back also. But I have to admit, the few times I have eaten them, I've really enjoyed them. They're much lighter in color, a light-pink flesh. And they are more mild-tasting, more similar to trout. But at least if cooked fresh, the texture is not soft or mushy. I had cooked one out on the grill the previous week with just olive oil, salt, pepper, and tarragon sprigs and thought it was delicious.

The day I decided to cook this recipe, we had just gotten back from a weekend of fishing in Prince William Sound. While I did catch a silver salmon, it was much too large to fit into a skillet for this recipe. I thought my 3 lb or so pink would do nicely. Until I went to place him in the pan. I had to cut him in half to fit in my largest pan. Oh well, when I plated him I placed the two halves together and covered the seam with mushrooms so you wouldn't notice.

Okay, back to the recipe. This was an absolutely delicious recipe that will be added to my recipes to make many times again. I was actually very surprised that it had as much flavor as it did. Here's what you do: For the mushrooms, you basically saute button mushrooms in olive oil, garlic, parsley and salt. When done, you set aside. The fish is a whole fish with head and tail left on, but scaled and gutted. You place olive oil and chopped onion in a skillet, and cook briefly. You then add chopped carrot and cook briefly again. You then add garlic cloves and cook a little more. Add parsley, bay leaf, white wine, and an anchovy. Cook briefly. You then place the fish in the pan, cook on one side about 8 minutes, turn it over and finish cooking. You then add the mushrooms to the pan and cook about another minute and serve.

Try this one, I know you'll like it. I think that the anchovy really adds a lot of flavor to this sauce.

September 3, 2010

Sauteed Snapper with Finocchio

I am going to just sneak this one in. I thought for a minute I was going to be told to 'pack my knives', or that I was 'chopped', at the very least that my 'show is canceled' , 'Auf Wiedersehen'...
I missed my recipe/week for Pomodori e Vino.
I don't know if it was the lumpectomy I'd had (all's well) or the excitement over planning a wedding. I just over looked it! So I'm sneaking this one in a little late.
Marcella's recipe for Sauteed Snapper with Finocchio is wonderful. Once again, showing that fresh indredients, are the key to Italian cooking. I found a beautiful wild caught red snapper at Whole Foods, luckily already filleted. (I had to look that one up... it doesn't seem like that should be the past tense of fillet)
This recipe is as simple as it can get...fresh fennel, sliced and cooked in olive oil and water. Reduce the liquid away, and then cook the snapper in the same pan.
Ciao y'all,

September 4, 2010

Porgies or Other Small Fish Pan-Roasted with Marjoram and Lemon

The way this challenge is set up you don't have complete freedom to select what you will be making. . . when your day of the week rolls around you turn to the recipe that is next in the book and have at it. Irene had to conquer her fear of eating eggs and did this with style. In this section of the book many of us are dealing with fish issues. The challenge is a blessing and a curse - it forces you to push your boundaries as a cook. Boy, does it ever.

Fish is firmly in the category of foods that caused me grief as a child. . . hell, as an adult. If it wasn't tuna from a tin or wrapped in three inches of batter from the fish and chip store I wasn't going to eat it. No dessert - fine. No TV - equally fine. It wasn't until about four years ago when I approached 300 lbs on the scales that I decided a more healthy diet was needed. This diet includes fish. In fact we cook fish every week and in some cases two or three times a week.

You know that I discovered that I really like fish. The gag reflex that I experienced as a kid has left. Having said that, I had never cooked a whole one. No, not at all.


Cooking fish now being fine, I guess the next part in my transition was cooking a whole fish. This recipe called for small, whole fish such as porgies, bass, or pompano. In fairness, the book did suggest fillets with skin but the title wasn't Fillets with Skin Pan-Roasted with Marjoram and Lemon. I wouldn't be able to look my fellow Pomodori in the eye had I whimped out now (I shall save that for the lamb kidney recipe perhaps).

I went off to the fish monger and asked for porgies. He looked at me as if I had two heads.

"I've never heard of those," he declared.

I knew immediately that he was a fraud. Fish mongers being in short supply in this area . . . I kept at it.

I had read online that bream were a type of porgy. There were some nice looking bream on ice in the display case so I asked for the smallest ones he had (Marcella suggests that they be 3/4 to 1 pound each). I asked him to gut and scale them for me.

Imagine my shocked look when he asked me if I wanted to keep the guts?

What in god's name would I want that for? Fertilizer, I suppose, but it wasn't happening - the raccoons are already bad enough this summer.

I was happy to pick up a nicely wrapped package of fish.

The cats were thrilled when I brought that fish home. In fact, it is safe to say that this has been their favourite challenge by far. Never have I seen them so enthused about something I was cooking. Clearly they were hoping that one of those fish would be flopped off of the counter and into their territory.

Never having cooked a whole fish I wasn't prepared to see it looking up at me. It didn't bother me from a 'this was once a swimming beast with a beating heart who nuzzled their young' perspective - being a carnivore I don't much care about that - there is a reason why humans have incisors folks and it ain't to gnaw on a carrot. I just didn't like staring at the meat I was due to cook and having it stare BACK!

This recipe calls for pan-roasting - a technique that is neither sautéing nor braising. It provides for more controlled heat then with oven roasting. The end result has the slow concentration of flavour that comes from roasting combined with the juiciness one gets from using a hot heat source under the pan.

The recipe is simplicity itself. Dredge the fish in flour. Place it in a hot pan with oil/butter, marjoram, and garlic. Brown. Squirt with lemon, add salt pepper, and cover until cooked. Done.

Transfer to a platter, pour the juices over it, and serve.


Oh, oh!

Now we were presented with a new dilemma. How to eat the cooked fish laying on the platter staring up at us.

Never having cooked a whole fish I didn't have a clue how to eat it. How was it de-boned? What happened to the head and tail? Did one eat the skin?

In the end I discovered that the skeletal structure came out relatively easily taking the head and tail with it. However, small bones remained. Both of us have relatives who almost died choking on a fish bone (doesn't everyone?) so we gingerly ate our fish.

Once we got past the head, the bones, and the tail we discovered that we liked it. The mild, almost sweet fish, was wonderful with the garlic, marjoram, and lemon. Indeed, we liked it a lot.

I doubt that we'll ever enjoy a whole fish in the same way that someone raised near the coast might but we enjoyed the combination of flavours; we won't be fearful of ordering a whole fish when we're next along the Mediterrean.

I was happy that I had met this challenge and not shirked my responsibility nor fallen into a huddled mass on the floor.

I may save that for my next challenge - squid.

Oh, oh!

September 5, 2010

Halibut or Other Fish Steaks Sauced with White Wine and Anchovies

Baked halibut has always been one of my favorite fish dishes. When I was in college I was a waitress at this hotel restaurant in a small town in Missouri. The highlight of the week was the Seafood Buffet that they would have on Friday nights. It was an all you can eat meal, with the choices of fried shrimp, fried clams, fried fish and hush puppies. The only non-fried food that they served was a very large slab of halibut that had been baked and topped with butter and salt. It was delicious. I could never understand why it wasn’t the first thing to disappear every night.

After working in the restaurant all night I usually smelled like the oil that they fried all of the fish in. It was a smell that you couldn’t wash out of your hair or clothes very easily. I have to say that since then I haven’t really been a fan of fried foods, except for the occasional french fry, of course! That was why I was a little disconcerted to see that this recipe was for halibut to be pan fried in olive oil.


The halibut is dredged in flour and cooked in hot oil for about 5 minutes on each side. In another pan onions are sautéed in olive oil until they turned golden brown. Then parsley, salt, dry white wine and anchovy paste were added. Once this has reduced some the sauce is added to the pan with the halibut and cooked with the fish for a few more minutes.


The sauce had a very light flavor that married well with the fish and in the future, I might make this again, but without the frying. As the other team members can tell you this challenge has broadened all of our cooking horizons, but there are some things that are just hard to get beyond. Oh well, on to my next challenge-Baked Sole! I’m loving that already.

September 6, 2010

Sautéed Swordfish Steaks with Capers and Vinegar, Stimpirata Style


This dish was quick and easy to make. My swordfish steaks were about an inch thick so I even added a few minutes to the cooking time. The final result was delicious. My husband, who only likes fried catfish and his sister Laura’s tilapia, said it was delicious. He gave me a literal thumbs up and four, “Good Job, Honey!” before he let his fork rest.

I liked how the onions and celery knocks of some the vinegar’s pungency. The flesh of the fish was tender but meaty with a mild sweetness that played well against the caper dotted sauce. We give it two thumbs up. Ha- Ha! I couldn’t resist.

September 7, 2010

Sweet and Sour Tuna Steaks, Trapani Style

In all my trips to Italy, I've never made the leap across to Sicily. But, if this Sicilian style dish is an example of what I'm missing, I've got to correct the oversight - soon.


Here is what Marcella says: "Another savory item from Sicilian cooking's remarkable seafood repertory, this sliced fresh tuna is simple to do and wonderfully appetizing, its sweet and sour flavor a luscious blend that is neither cloying nor bitingly tart." I agree.


Tuna is one of my favorite meaty fish. I found some beautiful, fresh yellowfin at the market and had it cut into 1/2 inch slices. The fishmonger removed the skin for me before wrapping it, so all I had to do when I got home was rinse and dry the slices. With only the two of us, I cut the recipe in half, from 6 servings to three.


After cooking the onions in a little olive oil and salt, I remove them from the pan and set aside. I dredge the tuna in flour and slip them into the pan. The cook for only about 2 1/2 minutes before adding sugar, vinegar, wine, and the cooked onions. Then after turning up the heat a lid goes on and they cook another couple of minutes on high.


To finish the lid comes back off, parsley is added and the tuna steaks are turned over a couple of times to coat. Transfer to a warmed platter, pour the residual cooking liquid along with the onions over the top, and serve immediately.


We enjoyed ours with a crisp green salad and a variety of fresh heirloom tomatoes on the side. The dish was well complemented by our go-to casual dinner wine, a primitivo from Puglia.


September 9, 2010

Baked Whole Fish Stuffed with Shellfish


I hope you like fish with it's head on, or you won't like this picutre. It's an Alaskan Rockfish, not a very pretty fish.

I was really looking forward to making this recipe. It sounded delicious. Take a whole boned fish, stuff it with clams, mussels, shrimp, onions, lemon juice, and bread crumbs and bake. I went to the seafood store knowing that they always have fresh red snapper. That day they had none. The only appropriate-sized whole fish was an Alaskan Rock fish. Something we catch all of the time. A good, but rather mild white fish. I was impressed that the fishmonger was able to bone the whole fish. But I had negleted to bring Marcella's directions with me and he boned it not from the slit in the belly, but from the back. Even though I asked him to leave the head and tail on, he cut off the tail. As you can tell from the picture, he did not cut off the head. So I brought my fish home, and began preparing the dish. Wash and scrub the clams and mussels, and briefly cook until they open their shells. Remove the meat from the shells, and place in a bowl with garlic, sliced onion, shrimp, lemon juice, and olive oil and bread crumbs. Place in the fish cavity, and wrap in parchment paper. Bake until the fish is done, 35-45 minutes. I followed all directions except that my fish was a little smaller than the one called for. I wasn't going to use all of the filling since my fish was smaller, but it fit inside the fish just fine so I used it all. Okay, now the results-my first failure out of all of the recipes I've made. I'm not sure what happened, but the bread crumbs had just turned to the texture of paste. All of the beautiful shellfish wasted. Luckily it was only a girlfriend that was over for dinner, but we couldn't eat it. I thought about tyring to place it under a broiler to see if it would cook correctly, but I didn't think that would work. The fish was cooked perfectly, it was just the filling that was wrong. Luckily, we had started with a Caprese Salad, and had two wonderful side dishes you'll read about when we get to the vegetable section-Braised Artichokes and Peas and Fresh Mushrooms with Porcini, Rosemary, and Tomatoes.

Marcella, could you shed any light on what may have gone wrong?

September 10, 2010

Baked Bluefish Fillets with Potatoes, Garlic and Olive oil, Genoese Style


I almost never bake fish so this was a great opportunity to try it. And I had a beautiful piece of halibut, sent from Alaska, to use. Marcella says you can use any firm-fleshed fish but she prefers Atlantic bluefish.
First off, the fun began by slicing the potatoes on Cecelia’s mandolin, at the 1/16th inch setting.


The potatoes are baked for about 15 minutes with a mixture of olive oil, parsley and garlic.


Here, I made a big mistake. I set the oven at 400° instead of 450° but it all came out delicious—maybe not as brown as the potatoes could have been.

After the initial 15 minutes, the fish is added with the same olive oil mixture. Because of the wrong temperature, the fish was done and the potatoes weren’t, so I took the fish out of the oven and let it rest while I, finally realizing my mistake, cranked up the oven and let the potatoes finish.

Both the fish and the potatoes had great Ligurian flavor which is to say, wonderful!

September 11, 2010

Whole Sea Bass Baked with Artichokes

Well there were several "firsts" for me on this recipe!

1. I have never purchased a whole fish (with head and tail).
2. I have never COOKED a whole fish (with head and tail).
3. I have never EATEN (or ordered in a restaurant) a whole fish!
4. I have never cleaned medium-sized artichokes in this way.

Since I live in the desert, and our closest ocean is two hours away, I was thrilled that our fish store, The Fisherman, could order me a fresh 2 pound sea bass the day before I wanted to cook it.


I forced myself to even touch the dead little guy, but looked to make sure he had been gutted, as I was NOT going to do THAT! (Why do I have no problem butchering up meat? Because the thing is not LOOKING AT ME?)

Ok, all I had to do was wash and dry the bloody fish. (It WAS bloody. That is not British slang.) On to the artichokes...

The recipe called for 4 medium sized artichokes. They are trimmed, cleaned, with chokes removed, being rubbed with freshly squeezed lemon to prevent them from turning brown. Then they were thinly sliced. I had a great sous chef: Brad. As I trimmed and broke off the upper part of the leaves, he cleaned out the chokes and sliced.


The sliced artichokes go around the fish, with some stuffed inside the fish cavity. Then you prepare a simple mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and pour it over the fish and artichokes. Add some fresh rosemary, and bake. It went into the oven like this:


It came out looking like this:


Brad filleted the fish. It was tender and moist, and the artichokes were VERY lemony. I found the fish a little bland and under-seasoned. Sorry, Marcella, but this was NOT one of my favorites. I do like sea bass, but I shall let the true chefs prepare it for me in the future, or buy a fillet if I am in the mood to cook fish!


September 12, 2010

Baked Fillet of Sole with Tomato, Oregano and Hot Pepper

This recipe is a nice tomato, oregano, and caper sauce baked with Sole. The sauce starts out with onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil. Then I added some cut up San Marzano tomatoes and let this cook down for about a half an hour. Then I added some capers, fresh oregano and crushed red pepper. This cooked for just a couple of minutes and then set aside. The sole was rinsed and then dried off with paper towels. The fish was folded in two, so that the edges met, and then placed in an oven safe dish with the tomato sauce over it. This was baked for only 5 minutes, which was perfect to cook the fish completely.


I was supposed to use two pounds of Sole for this dish, but I cut that back to one pound since it was only Michael and I. The sauce by itself tasted great, but I was worried that it would overwhelm the flavor of the fish. However, the Sole had a strong flavor so the sauce balanced it quite nicely. This is a sauce that I will definitely be making again. I may not use it on fish, but I can see it over some nice pasta.


September 13, 2010

My Father's Fish Soup


I was able to find the best looking whole fish I have ever seen at the supermarket. It’s a yellow tailed snapper. The picture does not do it justice. I was amazed at the clearness of the eyes. Yes, I know that is a sign of freshness. Living in the Missouri away from large bodies of fresh or sea water means most of fish I buy is frozen. When I do buy fresh fish it has already been cut into fillets or steaks.


Each week I approach the recipe with an open minded and acknowledgment of any “baggage” I have regarding the ingredients. With every recipe there is an opportunity to like a food I once did not or think about a favorite in a new way. In the past I have not liked clam chowder –Manhattan or New England. Because of this I have avoided other fish soups.

Rockfish, Sea Bass, Halibut, Shrimp, Clams, Mussels and Squid (not pictured)

There are several steps you must carefully execute to create this dish. In addition to the snapper, I used the seafood listed above. I felt a little sad when had to cut of my fishes head. This head and two others were cooked, meat removed, bones picked and then mashed through a food mill. Dry white wine, garlic, EVOO, parsley and tomatoes are the remaining ingredients. There are quite a few steps to this recipe. The entire recipe dish about 2 1/2 hour including prep. Marcella said it was more of a stew than soup and it was. I used a fork to eat it.


This soup has bold fish flavor. I should have guessed since it gave off a fairly strong aroma while cooking. My palette is not sophisticated enough to appreciate this soup at this time. I can’t say that I’m surprised. However, I am surprised the ingredients for this dish surpassed the cost of the Black Truffle Pasta I made in June. This is the most expense recipe I will prepare during this cooking challenge.

September 14, 2010

Halibut Over Squid Sauce

The Universe has a sense of humor. When we started this project we decided that the rotation was set in stone. No trading if you draw a recipe you don't want to do. I commented that I hoped I didn't get a squid assignment. So of course, I got not one but three. I survived the Squid and Artichoke Soup on May 18th with relish. Now that we are in the fish chapter two of my four recipes involve squid.


Technically, this recipe isn't about squid, its about halibut. But I've always thought of halibut as a forgetable fish. To my taste, it is too mild to be interesting all by itself. So, the rich savory ingredients in the squid sauce are the real star of this dish.

It starts with chopped onion, garlic, chopped parsley, and whole squid cleaned and sliced into narrow rings.


After the squid has cooked for a few minutes, wine, then tomatoes are added. When the tomatoes begin to bubble the heat is turned down as low as possible, the pan is covered and allowed to cook for very slowly for about an hour. In her comment to my post on the squid artichoke soup Marcella said: "When you are cooking squid again, remember, either cook it seconds on very hot fire, or slowly, over a gentle simmer."


When the squid feels tender to the fork, add salt and chili pepper, and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring frequently. The halibut steaks go on top of the sauce in a single layer; cooked for only about three minutes, then turned over and cooked another two minutes. Halibut is fast to cook, be careful not to leave it in too long.


This is a savory, flavorful, and delicious sauce recipe that I will definitely be making again. I think it would be good with other types of fish. I might try it with tuna next time.


September 16, 2010

All-Shellfish and Mollusks Soup


Today, my recipe is a delicous soup of squid, clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops. Marcella didn't give any explanation of this recipe. It reminds me of a cioppino, but with less tomato. There is tomato in this recipe, but it's really the shellfish you taste here. So be sure and use good shellfish, or don't bother even making it.

For this recipe, you first need to clean squid. Marcella gives good directions on this, and if you think it's going to be too difficult, think again. It really goes quickly and is easy to do. And it's very intersting to see the structure of a squid. Many people just know the squid after it's been cut into rings for frying. You then wash and scrub your clams and mussels. You don't see any mussels in my photo, because my store didn't have any live ones the day I was there. So I just used double the amount of clams. After preparing your squid and shellfish, you're ready to begin cookihg. You saute chopped garlic and onion in olive oil, then add some chopped parsley and white wine. Then chopped canned tomatoes. After cooking that for a short period of time, you add your squid rings and tentacles, and cook until tender. The recipe said about 45 minutes, but mine was very tender by 30 minutes. You then add salt, pepper, and your clams and mussels. When the shellfish begin to open, you add shrimp and scallops. When the shellfish has completely opened, you're ready to eat. Place the soup in a bowl and serve with grilled bread.

As I mentioned earlier, this soup is all about the shellfish and mollusks. The other tastes are more subtle. I loved this soup, as I think it tastes just like the sea.

September 17, 2010

Fried Calamari

Y'all know, I have said before that the most exciting thing about Pomodori e Vino is the challenge. This week the challenge was quite an adventure. It is my week to make Fried Calamari~ no problem! We Southerners are good at frying things!
The true challenge was to find a fresh squid in Birmingham. When Jan and I were cooking up our Bottarga in Venice... I wish we had bought some of these babies at the Rialto Fish Market and fried them up right then and there.

'Allora'~ I was on a search. My first stop was Snapper Grabber's in Vestavia~ the best place for fresh seafood in this area. (one word of advise... don't go on monday because they are closed) I ended up at Whole Foods... and paid a whole paycheck for a bag of frozen squid. The best part about these squid are that they are already cleaned!

This vision played in my mind as I was prepping my little squids for frying~ If you can't see it... it's a you tube video of the Pescheria from Venice Travel Blog. The sights and sounds are perfect~ the smells are undefinable!

The process of frying the calamari rings is very simple. Pat the rings dry, lightly coat with flour and shake off the excess. Fry in vegetable oil without crowding, drain and sprinkle with salt.

Once again, Marcella has provided us with the taste of fresh Italian cooking: one that swells with memories of the Pescheria in Venice.
Ciao y'all~

September 18, 2010

Squid with Tomatoes and Peas


Slimy . . . jiggly . . .

Squid, squid, squid.

How I loathe thee, squid. . .

Now in my life I am known for absolutes. The truth is that while I may talk as if I live in a world of black and white, the reality is that there is a HUGE amount of nuanced grey behind the scenes.

Nuances or not, there are still some wee absolutes that shall not be changed. I won't wear white pants after Labour Day. I won't vote Conservative. I won't be seen in sandals with socks. I will never sport a tattoo. I will not drink bad wine. I will not allow margarine into the household. I will not use cheap olive oil. There will NEVER be a green can of 'cheese product' in my cupboard.

I used to say I'd never cook squid until Deborah (and Marcella in a round about way) made me.

Sigh, another of my lovely absolutes that I had held near and dear to my heart tossed on the trash heap of life.

When I was making the menu for the week I offered Paul the choice of upcoming Pomodori recipes - he responded with 'let's get the damn squid over with.'

Hardly a rousing endorsement.

On Sunday, while steeling up the courage to cook my squids, I called mom to invite her over for a squid feast. When she heard the menu . . . she declined the invitation.

This is a first of historic proportions.

I reminded her of liver nights as a child and the abuse that had been inflicted upon my sister and myself by her disgusting liver recipes (which I invariably tossed to the dog under my dad's watchful and jealous eye - he wisely knew that such behaviour would never be allowed for HIM). Reminded of this horror, she grudgingly relented and came over.

You might ask 'what has the poor squid ever done to Jerry?'

The answer is nothing. Squid doesn't taste horrible - in fact, I actually enjoy the taste. I think it is the texture. Well, I didn't enjoy cleaning the things either, truth be told. I LOATH the tentacles. Those suction cups that threaten to grab and tug at my throat as they slide down. Perhaps it is just an overactive imagination and meds are in order???

Marcella points out that there are really two ways to cook squid - fast and hot as in fried calamari - which I love - yes, I really do (remember that world of grey I admit to actually residing in . . .), or long and slow - which is the technique used in this recipe.

To make this classic Tuscan dish (over dinner mom argued that Tuscany had no coastline and therefore there was nothing classic about this. We rose to Marcella's defense . . . reminding her of a wee place called Livorno - a city she insisted we had made up . . . Paul had to get our driving atlas of Italy to prove her wrong . . . see the fun we have at the DeQuetteville/Blonski dinner table? 'Tis an invitation to covet!)

Hmmm - I have meandered on a wee digression here.

Anyway. Classic Tuscan dish. Marcella = A +, Edith = sent back to Italian geography for dummies.

One cleans the squid. Eeewww - enough said. Even the cats were offended.


I lay down for an hour to recover.

Imagine what I would have needed had I even touched the things instead of making Paul do it all?

Fortified by a glass of vino and a beer, I commenced cooking. Onion and garlic is sautéed in olive oil. Parsley. Tomatoes. This cooks and forms a simple sauce.

This wasn't so bad after all.

We then dumped in the cleaned squid that had been cut into rings by Paolo (don't forget those tentacles) and cooked it over a low heat for 35 - 40 minutes. After a light sprinkle of salt and pepper we were ready for the peas. I had some fresh ones purchased at the market so I shelled 2 pounds of those beautiful pods and added them to the 'stew'.

Twenty minutes later we were ready to eat. Paul moaned that ALL of the tentacles were on his plate. Mom, having eaten a few bites said 'no leftovers for me tonight'. Paul and I cleaned off our plates and used the loaf of crusty bread to sop up all of the juices. This was tasty.

It really was.

See. Another absolute shot all to heck.

Thanks for your help with this Marcella!

September 19, 2010

Squid with Potatoes, Genoa Style

I was looking forward to this week because I knew this was going to give me an excuse to try one of Deborah’s favorite shops. She had passed the word to me that Global foods has squid cleaned and cut into rings that are flash frozen and beautiful. I had never shopped there, so I was excited to try it. I was amazed. It has food from all over the world, with fresh produce that include the traditional fruits and vegetables as well as many things that I have never heard of before. Well, some of them I had heard of, but had never expected to see fresh in St. Louis. It made me excited to find new recipes to try them in. Indian bitter melon, Peruvian purple potatoes, and Durian fruit were just a few. I found the squid in the frozen foods section. I grabbed two bags and headed to the checkout with all of the other things that I couldn’t live without.


This dish has almost the same base as the dish that Jerry posted yesterday. Garlic and parsley are sautéed in Olive oil first. The squid rings are washed, cleaned and then patted dry. They are then put into the oil and cooked until they turn a matte color. Then white wine and diced tomatoes are added. This is then cooked slowly for 45 minutes, until the squid is tender. Then the potatoes, salt and pepper are added and cooked again until the potatoes are done.


I was a little worried while I was making this dish. Even before I opened the bags of squid I noticed a fishy odor. Once I thawed the squid the odor remained, but the squid themselves didn’t seem to be bad. They had a nice firmness to them and I just had to conclude that these particular squid would just taste more fishy than usual. In the end that was the case. The recipe made a delicious broth that was reminiscent of a Manhattan clam chowder, which I love. Michael loved it too. I tended to eat around the squid, while he devoured all of it together.

September 20, 2010

Stuffed Whole Squid Braised with Tomatoes and White Wine

I cooked this in advance. I took pictures and wrote about the recipe also. I cannot find my post. I still have the pictures but the details about the way this tasted are fuzzy. This is what I do remember:

• My pointer finger is the best tool to get stuffing down into a squid sac.
• I never imagined myself using a needle and thread to stitch squid close.
• Squid are slippery.
• Tastes mild but rich at the same time.
• Texture of the cooked squid was not tough (A surprise to me, I was expecting rubbery.)
• This would make a nice appetizer too.
• I would eat this again.

I saw my friend’s husband sneak another piece when he thought no one was looking. That is the ultimate seal of approval for me. He does not consider himself a “squid person”.

Main Ingredient: squid
Stuffing Ingredients: egg, olive oil, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper
Braising Ingredients: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, white wine

slicing the squid


squid topped with braising sauce

September 21, 2010

Squid with Porcini Mushroom Stuffing

I've yet to try any dish featuring porcini that doesn't become an instant favorite for me. After the revelation that I do indeed love squid, my expectations for this recipe were high. And I wasn't disappointed.


These two star ingredients are subtly enhanced by garlic, parsley & dry white wine. The earthiness of the porcini combined with the sweetness of the squid and the fragrance of the wine --- heaven. Pure heaven.


After they are rinsed, soaked and finely chopped, the porcini are cooked in their filtered soaking liquid over medium high heat until the liquid has boiled away. This concentrates the flavor of these magnificent mushrooms and fills the entire house with one of my favorite aromas. Next they are combined with the chopped squid tentacles, pepper, salt, garlic, parsley, bread crumbs and a little olive oil to make the stuffing.


A small amount of stuffing is reserved before the rest is divided equally for stuffing the squid sacs. The stuffed sacs are, if you follow the preferred method, sewn shut with a darning needle. Because I can't darn worth a darn, I chose the alternate method and used some sturdy round toothpicks. The stuffed sacs are then placed in a very hot saute pan containing olive oil.


They are browned quickly on both sides before adding salt, pepper, wine, and the reserved stuffing mix. The sacs are turned again to coat both sides with the mixture, and then the heat is turned down to a very slow simmer. The pan is covered and the squid is allowed to cook slowly for at least 45 minutes, occasionally turning the sacs over. When the squid is done, it is transferered to a cutting board.


After a few minutes to settle, the porcini stuffed squid sacs are sliced and arranged on a platter. The cooking liquids and all the little bits of stuffing that remain in the pan have become a rich and wonderful sauce ready to be spooned over the slices.


Thanks, Marcella, for showing me that squid is so much more than that greasy, rubbery fried appetizer found on the unimaginative menus of chain restaurants.

I'm sad to leave the fish chapter behind.

I'm going to miss my new friend, the noble squid.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Pomodori e Vino in the Fish and Shellfish category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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