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- Part 4

All Posts By: NANCY DeLUCIA REAL

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Grilled Octopus with Red Bell Pepper Pesto

In Fish & Shellfish On June 16, 2017 0 Comments

I finally figured out how to transform the rubbery “look” of octopus into a tender delicacy. Here it is:

Prep time: 10 minutes (pesto) and 45 minutes (for boiling octopus)
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer)

First, make the Red Bell Pepper Pesto-
Ingredients for Red Bell Pepper Pesto:
2 red bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, hearts removed
3/4 cup raw, slivered almonds
3 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/3 cup cold water
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Lay the bell peppers and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Transfer the baking sheet to an oven rack positioned 6 inches away from oven top broiler element.

3. Broil the peppers and garlic until charred – about 7 minutes; turn them over and grill the other side.

4. When peppers and garlic are charred, transfer them to a cold plate; set aside to cool.

5. When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and discard skins. Remove and discard stems and seeds.

6. Transfer peppers and remaining ingredients to a food processor; process until a paste (pesto) forms.

7. Using a spoon, taste the pesto. If it is too thin, cover the food processor and add 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a thin stream. Taste again and, if needed, adjust salt & pepper levels.

8. Transfer the pesto to a glass or porcelain jar, cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, prepare the octopus:

Ingredients for the Octopus:
1 whole octopus (fresh or frozen and thawed)
2 tablespoons olive oil, to oil baking sheet
Mint leaf sprigs, as garnish

Directions:
1. In a 6-quart saucepot, bring water to a boil.

2. Add the octopus to the boiling water and boil for 45 minutes. It will look like this:
Image.OctopusinPot

3. After 45 minutes, prepare a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes.

4. Using tongs, carefully lift octopus from boiling water and immediately transfer it to the ice bath:
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5. Wait 5 minutes for the octopus to cool. After it has cooled, drain the water from the octopus. Face down, the octopus will look like this:
Image.OctopusFaceDown

6. Turn the octopus face-up. It will look like this (I know it looks kinda gross, but bear with me):
Image.OctopustoBehead

7. Cut off the head and discard it.

8. Cut all the tentacles in a vertical manner (do not discard any flesh) and place them on an oiled baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

9. Remove the fatty, purple skin (on the underside only- do not remove the suction cups) to expose the white flesh. The octopus legs will look like this:
Image.OctopustoGrill

10. Brush the octopus tentacles with olive oil; sprinkle them with salt and ground black pepper.

11. Place the baking sheet with octopus on an oven rack positioned 6 inches below top broiler element.

12. Broil/grill the octopus for 12 to 15 minutes.

13. After 12 to 15 minutes, transfer the octopus to a plate & garnish with mint leaves.

14. Serve immediately with Red Bell Pepper Pesto.

Did you bear with me? Here’s our final delicacy:
Image.GrilledOctopusFinal
Wine Pairing Suggestion: Chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
Text and Photographs ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Belcampo Butcher Shop – Santa Monica, CA.

In Nancy's Articles, Poultry On May 31, 2017 0 Comments

A few months ago, I discovered Belcampo Butcher Shop in Santa Monica. When I walked in, I could immediately sense the great welcome I was about to experience. Meet Belcampo’s manager, Charlie.
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Poor Charlie – I whined about how I missed that pure, wild chicken meat that we served at family meals in Italy. Charlie asked me to elaborate and I did. I told him that chicken used to be gamey and you literally had to “pull” the meat off the bone. So he pointed to the fresh chicken breast in the shop’s refrigerated case. Now, poultry doesn’t get any fresher than this. See the chicken stock bones in the background? That’s right – you can make a delicious broth without buying an entire chicken!
Image.BelcampoChickenBreastCase
Charlie told me that Belcampo gets poultry from farms where chickens are pasture-raised. This means the birds live on the ground, scratch soil and catch bugs. I learned that any supplemental feed (grains) given to these chickens does not contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). They are NOT treated with antibiotics or added growth hormones.

Look at this chicken. Although not plumped-up perfect, its color tells you the meat is healthy. Compare it to chicken we buy at local supermarkets where the chicken meat is yellowish-white (i.e., it’s possibly chlorinated).
Image.BelcampoChickeninCaseSkinon
After being educated on good poultry by Charlie, I asked about other food items sold at Belcampo. I was impressed by the sausages. Again, notice their bright pink hue. Yup – they’re super fresh. The eggs are deeply-colored. This is how you can tell the birds are cage-free and forage.

Belcampo.Sausages.EggsCase
On a final note, I went home with a Belcampo chicken; I stewed it. It was indeed gamey and I had to pull the meat off the bone – just like the pasture-raised chicken in Italy. I’m so impressed!

Belcampo also carries beef, pork and salumi, as well. Check it out – you’ll love all of it!
Belcampo Restaurant and Butcher Shop
1026 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA. 90401
Tel. 414.744.8008
http://belcampo.com/ask-belcampo/

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Poached Fish with Saffron Sauce

In Fish & Shellfish On May 16, 2017 0 Comments

Make this easy recipe: poach the fish filets and make the sauce in minutes. The sauce’s rich, yellow hue is derived from saffron. It’s flavor and aroma are perfectly balanced when combined with poached fish filets.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients for Saffron Sauce:
1 slice country bread (Italian or French), crust removed
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons meat or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ to 1 teaspoon saffron threads or ground saffron
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the Sauce:
1. In a skillet or a toaster, grill or toast the bread.

2. In a small saucepan or skillet, soak bread with broth.

3. When bread is very soft, mash it thoroughly, add the ginger, ½ teaspoon saffron threads and ½ teaspoon salt and dash black pepper; bring sauce to a boil.

4. When sauce comes to a boil, add the vinegar and simmer until thickened.

5. Add salt, to taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

6. For smoother consistency, force the sauce through a strainer.

7. Set sauce aside in a bowl, covered, until ready to serve the fish.

Ingredients for the Fish:
1-3/4 pounds fresh tuna (cod, haddock, halibut or other filets can be substituted)
salt, to taste

Prepare the Fish Filets:
1. Wash the fish and pat it dry with paper towels.

2. Transfer fish to a 12-inch skillet or pan; add cold water to cover and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.

3. Bring fish to a boil, lower heat and simmer fish until done – begin checking fish after about 10 minutes.

4. If using tuna, it should be cooked but still moist.

5. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, gently lift fish filets out of water, drain and transfer them onto a serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil.

6. Meanwhile, warm sauce and pour it over fish; serve immediately.

7. Accompany this dish with boiled asparagus or string beans.
Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Pico de Gallo & Bean Tostadas (Vegan)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Holidays, Vegetables On May 1, 2017 0 Comments

Thinking of a quick, no-brainer recipe for Cinco de Mayo? Make these organic & delicious vegan tostadas. You’ll probably have to double or triple the recipe because these starters will vanish in no time!

Be sure to use Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans®. This bean product contains meat or animal fat products. Anything you make with these beans will taste wholesome and natural.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (with pulp discarded)
1/2 cup finely-chopped red onion
1 teaspoon finely-chopped Serrano chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (you may add more, to taste)
1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro leaves
One 15.4-ounce can Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans®
12 blue or yellow corn, flat tostada shells
Avocado slices (from 1 avocado), optional
1/2 cup grated, dry cheese (Cotija, Parmigiano Reggiano or other variety)

Make Pico de Gallo Salsa:
1. In a 1 to 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, onion, Serrano chile pepper, salt and cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust chile pepper & salt levels.

2. Set Pico de Gallo aside, covered.

Warm Up The Refried Beans:
1. Meanwhile, transfer the refried beans to a small saucepot.

2. On medium-high setting, warm up the beans, stirring constantly.

3. As beans warm up, if consistency is too thick or dry, add a little water.

Assemble Tostadas:
1. When beans are hot, spread about 2 tablespoons on each tostada set on a serving platter.

2. Top the beans with 2 tablespoons Pico de Gallo Salsa.

3. If desired add 1 or 2 thin slices avocado, followed by a sprinkle of grated cheese.

4. Serve with Margaritas or Tequila shots – Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

In Appetizers / Starters, Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings On April 22, 2017 0 Comments

I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed Italian breadsticks, aka grissini. Some grissini are soft, while others are drier. But no matter where you’ve had grissini, the homemade ones are best. Here’s our favorite family recipe!

Active prep time: 8 minutes (dough mixing) and 25 minutes (shaping breadsticks)
Inactive prep time: 15 minutes (yeast rising) and 40 minutes (dough rising)
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes

Ingredients:
7/8 cup warm water (110°F)
1 teaspoon Rapid Rise® Yeast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour

Prepare the Dough:
1. In a small sauce pot, heat the water.

2. While water is heating, place the yeast in a 2-cup metal or wood bowl (do not use glass or porcelain, as these cold elements will halt the rising process of the yeast).

3. When water is barely warm, pour it slowly into the bowl with yeast; gently swirl the bowl around.

4. Cover the yeast-water mixture with aluminum foil; set it aside on a wood surface or trivet; let it rise for 15 minutes. Do not set the yeast on marble, granite or tile surface, as the cold surface will halt the rising process.

5. After 15 minutes, transfer the water-yeast mixture to a 2-quart metal, wood or plastic mixing bowl (no porcelain or glass).

6. Gently stir in the olive oil, salt, black pepper and fennel seeds.

7. Gradually (a little at a time) and with a wooden spoon, add the flour until a sticky dough has formed.

8. Transfer the sticky dough onto a lightly-floured wood surface.

9. Gently knead the dough until it is uniform and soft.

10. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil.

11. Set bowl with dough aside on a wood surface (do not set it on marble, granite or tile surface) away from draft.

12. Let dough rise for 40 minutes.

Shape the Breadsticks or Grissini:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Lightly flour a flat work surface.

3. Transfer dough onto floured work surface.

4. Shape the dough by gently stretching and patting it outwards until it forms a 12 X 8-inch rectangle.

5. Using a pizza cutting wheel or a sharp knife, cut 3/4-inch wide strips (crosswise) to measure 8 inches in length.

6. Without using too much flour (the dough should grasp your fingers and not slide away), gently roll the dough into a 14 to 16-inch long piece.

7. Fold the dough in half, forming a loop at one end – place the shaped breadstick dough on a parchment-lined 18 X 12-inch baking sheet.

8. Repeat the rolling process for remaining dough strips and transfer them onto the baking sheet spaced 3/4-inch apart.
image-grissiniinbakesheet

9. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper – continue shaping and placing looped dough pieces on baking sheet.

Bake the Breadsticks:
1. Place one baking sheet on top oven rack and the other on the bottom oven rack.

2. Bake the breadsticks for 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, invert the top baking sheet with the bottom baking sheet; bake for an additional 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes, if breadsticks still look white on top, turn them over.

5. Bake the breadsticks for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

6. Serve the breadsticks warm or cold with cheese, olives and a variety of appetizers, together with your favorite wine.

TO REFRIGERATE BREADSTICKS: Place breadsticks in a food storage bag, sealed, or in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
TO FREEZE BREADSTICKS: Place breadsticks in double freezer food storage bags for up to 2 months.
At serving time, transfer breadsticks to a serving platter or basket and let thaw at room temperature for 1 hour.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real