Posts Tagged ‘Orvieto’

Best Clams Ever (Until the Next Recipe)

May 4, 2010

Clams are like butter: Everybody likes them. Best way to eat them -for me, anyway- is cooked in a pot, in a brothy, flavor driven sauce. Thousand versions out there, just check out your friendly google search engine. Today I felt like having some clams and this is how I made them. They were INCREDIBLE.

Grab 8 live manila clams and rinse well

Fine grate lemon zest, fresh ginger (1/3  teaspoonful each)

Chop 1/4 Thai red demon hot pepper (more or less, depending on your love for spicy heat)

One small shallot, chopped fine

Mix in bowl all ingredients above, except for clams.

Heat a bit of vegetable oil and melt 1/2 spoonful butter in it

Add blended ingredients and cook on medium, medium low until shallots are opaque

Add half an ounce white wine and an ounce fish stock (in lieu of it, water will do but then you need to further reduce the broth)

When broth doesn’t smell of wine any more throw in clams and increase temperature, cover

One and a half to two minutes, check that clams are open or cook another half minute

Turn heat off

Let sit for two minutes

Serve clams + broth in a bowl, sprinkle with finely chopped Italian parsley (flat, not curly) and a squirt or two of lemon juice

Have some slices of nice, fresh french baguette waiting

Dip said baguette in broth

Scoop broth, take to mouth

Grab clam, eat

Repeat process until there’s nothing left in the bowl

It shouldn’t take too long

I had it with Italian Catarrato

You could do Catarrato, Orvieto, Sauvignon-Semillon, or other white wine with moderate acidity and firm flavor, to stand up to the solid flavors and texture of the broth

This is just enough for one person

If you want to impress your friends, double, triple or quadruple the amounts

Buen Provecho!

ps. Clams are mostly sustainably harvested or farmed, they provide lots of micronutrients your body crave and their nervous system is rather limited, so their capacity to experience pain is a lot smaller than say, cows, chickens, fish or crab.

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Oysters, oysters, oysters

March 4, 2010

You love white wine? Then there is a good chance you love oysters. They go together, hand in hand. Wine is good for you, we all know that. But not everyone knows eating oysters is good for your health too. Great nutrition: Oysters are one of the best sources of a bunch of stuff that is good for you.

Besides tasting like…I was going to say heaven but actually they taste like the sea itself. Besides that, from a nutrition point of view, they are one of the best balanced of foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and fat. They also pack vitamins and essential minerals like iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus. As such they are a great snack for the elderly, the infirm, the sexually insatiable, pregnant women and kids…if you can get them to eat the slimy stuff.

As we all know, oysters are the food of love, and from time immemorial people all over the world have celebrated their aphrodisiac qualities. I have celebrated them MANY times. And they taste so good… try them mid morning after you have partied late into the night drinking lots of wine (or whatever else it is that you drink when you party) Nothing will put you back in business as a half dozen oysters on the half shell with a squeeze of lemon or your favorite hot sauce. If you are not going to work you can then pair them with some good white, like Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc. Oh yummy. What am I doing writing? Its sunny out there and I am hungry. Don’t limit your choice of wines to those frenchies. Try some Oyster Bay or Ketu Bay from New Zealand. A made in BC Ehrenfelser may also compliment them well. Gray Monk makes a killer Ehren for 16 bucks.

And remember, unlike farmed salmon, farmed oysters should be welcome. Oyster farming is an old activity, so old that even the Romans practiced it. The French have been into it since the 18th century. Oysters, like other bivalves (mussels, clams) “clean” the seawater, as they filter it in search of microalgae and plankton which constitutes their diet. A lot of wild oyster populations have been decimated in our BC coasts as well as in many other places. Farming reduces the pressure on native stocks and provides employment in remote areas without polluting the ocean waters. What are you waiting for? Go grab your wife, lover, partner or friend with benefits, shuck a dozen –or two- and down them with your favorite white. The rest…you know what to do ; )

Cheers,

IvanAlfonso

Arroz con Mariscos: The Easy Alternative to Paella

January 5, 2010

I had the fortune to eat my first real Paella in the place where it was born: Valencia, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. As a first timer, I was intrigued and also a bit weary. You never know if you are going to like a new food, especially, when everyone who told you about it seems to love it. I had had spurious versions in Vancouver’s Hispanic restaurants and I couldn’t say I was too impressed. My hosts were a nice young couple who had visited me in Vancouver years before. They fell in love with our city (how could they not?) and were more than eager to show me their town and its best expressions. I am not the kind of person who can hide his dislike of a dish or wine. So, I was a bit worried I might pull a face when tasting the Paella Valenciana they were so excited to share with me.

Before going on with the story, let’s say that Valencia claims to be the cradle of Paella. That is, the Paella Marinera (marine) that we all know. Rice, saffron, red pepper, mussels, prawns, chicken, chorizo. However, the original Paella, also originated in Valencia but further inland, is made with rabbit, chicken and rosemary as opposed to saffron. The young Spanish couple had made this for me during their visit in Vancouver and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  In the years to come I tried making Paella Marinera several times. Anyone who has attempted this knows how heartbreaking is to find, after spending good money on seafood and a lot of work and time, that the result is not what one expected. Most stoves do not have the right burner size to heat the paella pot homogeneously. Electric elements don’t respond quickly to temperature changes. It is easy to end up with overcooked rice, lumped in one sticky mass. Or even worse, to have uncooked rice on your plate. Because of that I turned to a Peruvian favorite, Arroz con Mariscos (rice and seafood) that is easier to make and is a tasty substitute to Paella.

THE RECIPE

Start by thawing a bag of seafood mix. Rinse thoroughly with cold tap water. For this amount (approx. 1 lb) chop a medium size onion and a shallot. Sautee in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add a sprinkle or two of chili flakes and a spoonful of Spanish paprika. Stir well and add the seafood mix. Chop a Roma tomato and add to mix. Pour 1/3 cup of dry white wine, ¼ cup green peas and a bay leaf. Cook in low for 7-10 min. or until seafood is tender. You will know it  is ready because it turns opaque. Remove bay leaf. Meanwhile, cook 2 cups of rice (I normally use rice cooker for convenience). Follow regular water to rice proportions. You can substitute water for fish, chicken or vegetable stock. When rice is almost ready, incorporate to cooked seafood mix and stir. Incorporate 8-12 prawn tails, shell on.  Add half a red bell pepper cut in fine strips on top, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and drops of lemon. This dish is truly enjoyed when paired with a refreshing white wine. Albarino comes to mind, but Fiano, Orvieto or a lean Chardonnay will do well.