Summer is in full swing in Seattle and it’s great time for “summer food”.

Couple of days ago I prepared a grilled pranw salad.  It takes about 5 mins and it very tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of prawns (medium size)
  • half bell pepper
  • a few slices of chopped hot chilli pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil  (3-4 tablespoons)
  • garlic
  • salt, pepper

Quick steps:

1 – In a small bowl add the olive oil, chopped garlic and chopped chilli peppers.

basics

2 – On the bbq start cooking the shrip, it really takes a few mins (couple of mins each side)

bbq  cooked

3 – Now mix the chopped tomatoes, bell pepper and olive oil mix.

almost

4 – time to serve!

prawns_plating

Enjoy!

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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!

 Caprese skewers

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).

Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp

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!

Tuna Tartare Crackers

Enjoy!!!

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I was due for a good dinner for Hellai (my girlfriend) and I finally put it together last Th.  I made couple of things: a seafood appetizer and pasta with eggplant (one of Hellai’s favorites).  I will cover the pasta with eggplant in the next post.   In this one we’ll cover the super-easy platter I put together.

Seafood Appetizer 

The platter contained:

  • Shrimp cooked with Jack Daniels
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Scallops with basil oil
  • Scallops with peppercord mustard
  • Guazzetto di cozze e vongole

The ingredients are self-explanatory from the picture above.  Make sure that you get good quality seafood…it makes the difference.

Here’re the directions:

  • For the shrimp cooked with Jack Daniels:  get a nice tiger prawn and cook it in a medium heat non-stick pan (no oil or anything else). Add a little jack daniel at the time as the shrimp is cooking.   I served the shrimp over a very simple spinach salad (with oil and lemon)
  • On a grill cook couple of scallops.  Take some peppercorn mustard and serve it next to one of the scallops.  For the other one you can easily some basil olive oil.  In the food processor put some basil (don’t be shy!) and olive oil (don’t be shy!) and blend it together.  You could add a bit of pepper.  I did not try lemon, but you could.  Just rest the scallop over some of the crushed basil and cover the scallop with the oil.
  • For the shrimp cocktail make sure you get good fresh shrimp meat.  It’a s little more expensive, but it tastes better and for the quantity it’s not overly expensive.  For the sauce you can pick the one you like the best.  I made my own.  Just some mayonese, ketchup, worchester sauce and pepper.
  • For the guazzetto you can just read my previous post: https://cucina.wordpress.com/2006/05/05/guazzetto-di-cozze-e-vongole/

One thing I forgot to mention is that this platter is really quick to make.  If you multi-task effectively you can make everything in about 15mins.

Enjoy your meal!

Spring is in the air and the summer is coming soon.  So it's about time to explore some of those light seafood dishes that are perfect for the summer dinners.

Let's start with a GREAT appetizer: guazzetto di cozze e vongole (light mussells and clams broth). This is ideal for any size gathering.

In Italy this dish is very popular in coast towns. You can either buy the goods from a local fish market or in many cases you can find them from vendors off the street.  In "theory" it's not legal to go catch mussells yourself, but in my town there are ton of them and some people do round up a few extra $$$ by diving early in the morning. I tried a few times, but quickly realized that I was better at eating them than catching them.
 
In the States you can easily find both mussells and clams. I usually prefer to buy them from specialized fish markets or higher-end supermarkets (Wholefoods or Larry's).  The reason is quite simple: you really don't want to mess up with the quality of these things. Added bonus: the price is pretty much the same.

Before moving to the recipe (very easy), couple of words on how to get the goods:
– Clams…you want them closed
– Mussells…you want them closed and intact

There is another reason to go for a specialized market. They know this stuff and they will discard the ones that are not good.  You don't want to pay for mussells that are you going to throw away…do you?

Once you get them you need to prep them.  This is what I do:

Clams: Put them on warm water with rock salt and leave them for few means (at least 15-20).  The goals is to have them open them just a bit to have the sand comeout.  You may want to go through this couple of times.  Make sure you rinse them one more time before you put them in the pot.

Mussells:  It would be great if you can get mussells already cleaned.  If your provider will not clean them for you, than you'll have to do it.  Budget for the time, it takes more than you may think (of course it depends on the quantity).  When I clean mussell I make sure I do couple of things: clean all the "things" that are stuck to the surface and make sure that I remove the little green cord that comes out of it (sorry…but I don't know how these are called!)

OK…let's move to the official ingredients:

  • One pound of clams
  • One pound of mussells
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • One tomato
  • a cup of white wine
  • a bunch of italian parsley
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • optional: some bread (the "regular" one, something like "pugliese")

Putting this together is really easy.

Take a decently sized pot.  In the pot pour the olive oil (between 1\4 and 1\2 cup), the garlic (don't over chop it, I usually just make 4-5 pieces out of each clove), clams, mussells, tomatos (I remove the "soft" part and cut it in big chunks), ground pepper, wine and some chopped parsley.

Leave it cooking at medium hit for about 10mins.  You will see the clams and the mussells opening up, after they are open just keep them for 2-3 minutes.  You don't want them to overcook and become dry. 

You are done!  Just pour such goodness in a big serving plate, sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!

Bonus.  Take the bread, slice it and toast it.  Serve the bread on the side of the serving platter…that toasted bread with the clam/mussells broth tastes really good!

Couple of reference pictures here.

I leave with a final note…PLEASE do not use cream on this dish! 🙂