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Image.GrilledOctopusFinal

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:
Image.OctopusIce

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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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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Nancy’s Tuna Tartare

In Appetizers / Starters, Fish & Shellfish On March 24, 2017 0 Comments

Prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer) or 2 (as a main dish)

Tuna tartare is one of my favorite appetizers to order at a restaurant. However, by preparing this delicacy at home, I can avoid paying $16.00+ for a mere 1-cup serving at each outing.

My recipe for tuna tartare is a perfect dish for Lent – bon appetit!

Ingredients:
One 8-ounce sushi grade tuna filet, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Persian cucumber, peeled & cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely-chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons organic Tamari sauce
salt, to taste (add this after Tamari sauce, as it may be too salty)
4 to 8 corn tostada shells (flat)

Directions:
1. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together except for the tostada shells.

2. Using a large spoon, gently toss so that all ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.

3. Divide tuna tartare among 2 to 4 plates. Ask guests to spoon some tuna tartare onto a tostada. Bon appetit!

White Wine Pairing: Chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio are suggested.

Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Ceviche with Carrots & Cilantro

In Appetizers / Starters, Fish & Shellfish On January 9, 2016 0 Comments

After the holidays, I’m preparing delicious, guilt-free foods.

This ceviche recipe is from Mexico. The fish is marinated in lime juice. Just add carrots, cilantro, onion, olive oil … it’s fantastic! You can serve ceviche on tostadas as a starter. Alternatively, these tostadas are perfect for a light lunch or dinner.

Active prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour (fish & lime juice marinate in refrigerator)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh cod or halibut fillets
Juice from 12 to 14 limes
1/2 cup chopped, red onion
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/3 cup finely-chopped cilantro (coriander)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh jalapeño pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
12 corn tostada shells

Directions:
1. Rinse the fish fillets under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

2. Place the fillets in a 3-quart glass or porcelain bowl.

3. Using shears, make continuous cuts into the fillets until 1/2-inch pieces have formed.

4. Pour the lime juice over the fish pieces; cover bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

5. Leave the fish and lime juice to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

6. Meanwhile, place the chopped onion in a glass or porcelain bowl and cover it with cold water; set aside.

7. After one hour, transfer the bowl with the fish to a counter near a sink.

8. Wearing cooks’ rubber or plastic gloves, grab a handful of fish and squeeze out the excess lime juice over a sink.

9. Place the squeezed fish pieces in a clean glass or porcelain bowl.

10. Continue this process until all the fish has been drained of excess lime juice.

11. Rinse the gloves and, using the same squeezing process, repeat this technique with the onion.

12. Add the squeezed onion pieces to the fish ceviche in bowl.

13. Stir in the carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, olive oil, salt and pepper.

14. Place 3 tablespoons ceviche on a corn tostada shell. Repeat this procedure on remaining tostada shells. Serve immediately.
Wine pairing: Chilled Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Fish Veracruz Style

In Fish & Shellfish On March 13, 2015 0 Comments

Prior to Easter, during a 40-day period of fasting known as Lent, believers prepare for Easter by praying, giving alms, atoning for their sins and self-denial. Lent lasts forty days, in commemoration of the forty days that Jesus fasted in the desert, right before beginning his ministry (this is according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke).

Lent is observed by Christians in the Anglican, Calvinist, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions. During this time, Roman Catholics avoid rich foods such as meat and dairy. Fish, vegetables and grains become the norm. BTW, the fasting ends on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.

This year, Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 18th. Many people have asked me to post a delicious fish recipe – something more than grilled or baked. Here’s a traditional fish recipe from Veracruz, Mexico. It’s called “pescado a la Veracruzana” or “Fish Veracruz Style”. I think you’ll love it!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and julienned (cut into thin wedges)
1 red or green bell pepper, seeds & stem discarded and flesh cut into long strips
1 large zucchini, tips cut & discarded and flesh cut into 1/2-inch thick circles
1 medium brown or white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces and seeds discarded
1/2 cup pitted green olives, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Four 8-ounce fish filets (fresh Red Snapper, cod, rockfish or haddock), rinsed under cold water & pat dry with paper towels

Directions:

1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil.

2. When oil is hot, add the carrots, bell pepper, zucchini, onion and celery.

3. Stir-fry the vegetables on medium-high setting for about 3 minutes.

4. After 3 minutes, stir in the tomato pieces, green olives and the broth or water.

5. Cook the vegetable-broth mixture for 2 to 3 minutes.

6. After 2 to 3 minutes, stir in the salt and pepper.

7. Carefully add the fish filets, one at a time by gently pushing each one down, underneath the vegetables and into the cooking liquid.

8. Cover the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the fish filets are done.

9. To check doneness of fish, using a fork, cut into the center of one filet and taste.

10. If needed, cook the fish filets for an additional 2 to 4 minutes.

11. Serve the Fish Veracruz Style with white rice as a side.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio (both are white wine varietals).
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real