BACCALA (Salted Cod Fish)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Baccala (Salted Cod Fish)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

1 pound Baccala (salted cod fish fillets)

2 – 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 cup flour

Olive oil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup white wine

 

DAY BEFORE –

    Place the fish in a deep pan or container.  Rinse with

    cold water and repeat.  Cover fish with cold water to

    soak and place in refrigerator overnight.  Next morning,

    drain, rinse and fill with water again, leave till ready to

    prepare for dinner.

 

  • Drain the fish on paper towels and pat dry. Cut into smaller pieces about 2 to 3 inches long.
  • In a large size frying pan, add olive oil to cover bottom of pan and heat on a medium flame. Dredge the fish pieces in flour and saute in olive oil till brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a medium pot, parboil the potato wedges in water until al dente. When still a little hard, but cooked, drain the potatoes and leave in pot till ready to use.
  • Meanwhile, in the same pan that the fish was browned, add the garlic, pepper and onion and cook until tender.
  • Add crushed tomatoes and oregano to the pan and continue to simmer. Add the wine, blend it in and then add the fish back to the pan. Cook covered for about 10 minutes. Add potato wedges to pan, cover and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until potatoes are fork tender.
  • Serve hot. Serves 4.
  • ENJOY – You’ll keep coming back for more Baccala!

 

DSC04887

 

My memories are very vivid at times. Take for instant, the memory of my dad cooking.  We had almost a galley kitchen setup, oblong and narrow, not big at all, but lots of delicious dinners were prepared there.  The memory of him standing there at the stove cooking is very strong.  My dad made us breakfast many a Saturday morning and helped my mom cook during the holidays.  Mostly the women did the cooking, but my dad and my uncle also lent a hand in the kitchen at times.  One thing I know for sure was my dad cooked fish more than my mom did. 

The pan of water soaking the Baccala would be there for what seemed like a few days. In reality, it probably was sitting for three or four days the most.  But I can remember it clear as anything.  My mom would refresh the water a few times a day, to get rid of the salt. Wednesday and Fridays were no meat days, so they became fish or pasta dish dinner nights.  Mom and I were not big fish eaters, so we had the pasta dishes and my dad and brother ate the fish dishes.   

My husband loves all food, and is very easy to cook for. Since I am not big on fish, I rarely cook it, so he usually prepares it for himself.  Recently with Christmas Eve coming up, I decided to make a fish dish for my husband to surprise him.  My co-worker, Michael, and I are always reminiscing about our Italian family dishes growing up and what he was preparing for Christmas Eve.  We started to talk about Baccala.  That’s how it is with me and cooking.  Once that bug gets in my head I have to figure out how to make something and I won’t rest until I do.  Baccala was the dish I wanted to prepare for my husband, Tom.  I called my brother, Jim, and asked about dad’s Baccala dish.  Talking back and forth with Jim, each of us remembering different ingredients of the dish, in my head I came up with rough draft of this recipe.   

I made the Baccala and Tom is sitting at the table waiting for me to serve it. To me it felt like that old commercial where some boys are sitting around a table staring at another boy with a dish in front of him, saying, ”Let Mikey try it”.  That was me, staring at Tom with my Baccala dish.  Guess what? He liked it, he really liked it!  Tom said he loved the Baccala and the fish wasn’t too salty.  That was good enough for me to write this recipe.  Oh and the meatballs I made for me were pretty good to!

 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Advertisements

Linguine with Clam Sauce

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

DSC045503 ½ to 4 ½ dozen small little neck clams
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons margarine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 / 2 cup white wine
1/ 4 cup parsley, chopped
Oregano
Basil
Salt and pepper

1 16 ounce box of linguine

1. Scrub clams well under cold water. Place in a large pot with ½ cup water. Cover pot and simmer until clams pop open (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove opened clams from pot. Take clams from shells, place in a bowl, then discard empty shells. Strain clam broth from pot through a cloth. Reserve clam broth in a bowl, set aside. Chop clams into smaller pieces on a cutting board, then return to bowl.
2. In a large frying pan heat butter and margarine with olive oil. Add chopped garlic and onion, sauté until tender. Add oregano, parsley, basil, clam broth, white wine, salt and pepper, continue to cook. Add clams last. Continue to simmer on a low flame
3. In the meantime cook the linguine al dente.
4. In a large serving bowl, place cooked linguine. Pour clam sauce over center of pasta bowl. Toss .
5. ENJOY – Pasta with clams, seafood made at home!

©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com


What happened to the family dinner?

I miss Sunday family dinners. In the good old days, we’d gather for the 2:00 pm Sunday dinner because that’s what you did on Sundays with immediate or extended family. It was the norm; no questions asked. After I had my own family, I tried to continue hosting Sunday family dinners. More often than not, my mom, aunt and uncle would join us. It has been difficult to carry on the tradition as my children no longer live nearby. Most Sundays I will cook up a storm and my husband and I will have a nice dinner together, with leftovers for Monday’s dinner and maybe a lunch for work. Just the two of us at the table is too quiet for me. So, whenever I get an opportunity to have a family dinner with all of our children and grandchildren, I usually go all out.

Recently, I had the chance to have a family dinner with everyone on a Saturday night instead of on a Sunday. As I shopped for the big dinner, planning on preparing shrimp, I spied these little neck clams. These little clams inspired me to prepare something different, like linguine in clam sauce, a favorite of my husband’s. Once the main dish is established, it’s easy to put together a menu.
My daughter, Marisa, requested stuffed mushrooms and her wish was granted. Luckily, my kids eat pretty much anything; I am the fussy eater in the family.

My Saturday night menu: stuffed mushrooms, antipasto platter with Italian bread, fresh vegetables with hummus dip, chips and sour cream dip, and to my grandkids’ delight, deviled eggs as appetizers.
The main dishes were linguine in clam sauce, a tray of sausages with peppers, meatballs, a tray of stuffed shells (for anyone who doesn’t like clams) and salad.

Dessert consisted of strawberries, homemade cookies and mini cheesecakes, and donuts for the kids. I thought this was a lot of food. Apparently not, from my daughter, Marisa’s, comment, “Mom you didn’t make as much food as you usually do!” Really, come on. At the end of the day, there was very little food leftover.

Whether it is too much food or too little food, Sunday afternoon or Saturday night, at the end of the day, I am happy because we had our family dinner together. Life just doesn’t get better than that!

Sea Scallops

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3/ 4 pound sea scallops
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/ 4 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Shot of white wine, about 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper
fresh parsley

1. In a medium bowl, rinse scallops in water. Drain. Cover scallops with milk and let sit in refrigerator for 2 hours. When ready to prepare, drain the milk and place scallops on paper towels to dry completely.
2. In a medium frying pan, add olive oil and butter. Melt butter and add scallops. Sprinkle salt and pepper lightly over scallops. On a medium to high flame, cook scallops about 2 – 3 minutes, check for browning. Turn scallops and cook about 1 ½ minutes more. Do not overcook. Scallops should be light to dark brown on both sides. Remove from pan.
3. Add chopped onions and sliced garlic. Sautee garlic and onions while scrapping pan, till tender. Add white wine and continue to cook. Remove pan from flame and set aside.
4. Add scallops to sauce and serve immediately
5. Optional – Server scallops on top of risotto, garnished with fresh parsley.
6. Serves 2 persons.
7. ENJOY – Scallops made seared simply!

I gotta believe all of you have heard a certain piece of advice a million times over: pursue your passion and the money will follow. My passion just happens to be cooking, and I’ve been happily pursuing it for many decades! While the money hasn’t exactly followed, I have no regrets. My intense interests in cooking and baking have attracted new friends and experiences to my life. When I run into someone with the same passion I have about cooking, they can’t wait to share some new recipe, especially if it was a success. However, with every cooking success there are equal amounts of cooking disasters. These disasters become opportunities to learn what not to do or just opportunities to laugh over our mistakes.

Whether at a party or on line at the food store, I always seem to connect with the one person who loves cooking as much as I do. Those of us who love to cook, also love to talk about cooking and food. Now this brings me to a little something I learned about my featured Scallop recipe – years ago a friend told me if you soak scallops in milk it would remove any fishy smell. It proved to be a great little tip which made a big change in the outcome of my scallop recipes. Soaking Bay or Sea scallops in milk prior to cooking does indeed remove that fishy smell and makes them nice and tender. In addition, my sister-in-law, Donna, also advised, that I always soak in milk first, any frozen fish that I defrost before I plan on cooking it. There you have, milk, it does fish good!

A little tip from Somebody’s Mom…..chat it up with folks in front of you or behind you on line in the grocery store. You might get a tip that could change one of your recipes from great to marvelous darling! OK, if nothing else, it will make your waiting time on line a lot less frustrating!

Tilapia

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 pound tilapia
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons clam juice
2 sprigs fresh oregano
Shot of white or rose wine, about 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper.

1. In a medium to large size frying pan, add olive oil to lightly cover bottom of pan. Add minced garlic. On a low to medium flame,
while sauteing the garlic place the fish in the pan and fry at the same time.
2. Continue cooking another few minutes, turning the fish in the process, to cook both sides.
3. Slowly add clam juice to the pan. Throw in the sprigs of oregano and season the fish with salt and pepper. Then after a minute add
a shot of wine and continue cooking until fish is done.
4. After a total of 10 minutes, check fish, it should be done, if not just cook a few minutes more.
5. Optional – add a 1/2 cup of homemade marinara spaghetti sauce and serve over pasta.
6. Serves 2 – 3 persons.
7. ENJOY – “F” for fish isn’t a bad word anymore!

I don’t like to use the “F” word. FISH, that is. Got ‘ya! Sorry, am just not a big fan of fish. However, I know many loyal visitors to my website, friends, and family are fans….so, this one’s for you.

Some shrimp and scallop dishes, using both regular and bay size scallops, are the only fish recipes I will actually eat myself. Throw in a few different other fish dishes, and that’s all she wrote. My fish section in the Somebody’s Mom cookbook is pretty much limited. But my husband, Tom, cooks and eats all types of fish, mostly for entertaining and to satisfy his craving for those creatures of the sea. During a recent vacation at the Jersey Shore he ordered fish dishes every night for dinner. The man likes his fish.

Because of Tom’s love of fish and my love for him, a few weeks ago I decided to surprise him and make a fish dish. My friend, Victor, whom I work with, and who was a cook in an Italian restaurant years ago, always shares recipes with me and generously shred this Tilapia recipe with me. I tried it, but switched it up a bit to make it my own, and Tom loved it.

I now use the “F” word on occasion for entertaining and for dinner for my “T” man.

Shrimp Stuffed Shells

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and cleaned
1 16 ounce box of jumbo pasta shells
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/ 4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 / 2 cup white wine
Oregano
Basil
Parsley
Bread crumbs

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup half and half
1/ 4 to 1/ 2 cup Romano cheese, grated

1. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside on wax paper till
needed. Cut shrimp into smaller pieces.
2. In a large frying pan heat 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil. Add garlic and cook a few minutes, add shrimp.
Add oregano, parsley, basil and white wine. Cook until shrimp turns pink. Stir often. Sprinkle in bread crumbs
by the handful until mixture thickens into a nice stuffing consistency.
3. Put the still warm pasta shell in your hand and add about a tablespoonful of shrimp stuffing. Place the stuffed
shell into an oven baking dish. You should get 22 to 28 shells.
4. In the meantime, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Add the grated cheese by starting with a 1/ 4
cup of grated cheese; add more if needed to make the consistency of what you would use to make the same as a white
sauce. Add half and half slowly while continually stirring to blend. Sauce will be smooth and thin. Don’t
worry; it thickens the longer it sits.
5. Pour sauce over shells and serve immediately
6. ENJOY – White shells from the sea to your table!

Christmas Eve is the night of the fishes.

For years, on Christmas Eve, my Uncle Dom would treat our family to dinner at different Italian restaurants. It became our tradition to start dinner at 5:00 with a smattering of fish appetizers, work our way through some wonderful fish entrees, pursue lots of conversation and hand gesturing, and wrap up our night with hugs and kisses four hours later. Unfortunately, my uncle passed away in 2003 and even though my brother and I tried to continue the tradition with our families, it just wasn’t the same without Uncle Dom. However, my husband and I continued to take our family out each Christmas Eve up until this past year. As our family continued to grow, the cost of an evening out simply exceeded our budget. Not to let that stop us, we decided to begin a new tradition, starting with Christmas Eve dinner in our home.

This did not go over so well with the kids for whom this tradition was all they knew and very much enjoyed. My husband, Tom, is a good cook as I have mentioned before. We understood that replicating our traditional Christmas Eve dinner would be a major undertaking, but I knew we were up for the challenge!

It’s all about preparation and organization. About 4 days before Christmas Eve, I prepared a big pot of sauce. The day before Christmas Eve, I made manicotti, a cheesecake, and set the table. My husband took care of purchasing more than $200 worth of fish such as mussels, scallops, tilapia, calamari, and shrimp. I also prepared a small roast beef for anyone who didn’t want fish. A platter of antipasti and chips and dip also rounded out the menu, much to the delight of our grandkids.

Years ago, I used to make my featured recipe, Shrimp Stuffed Shells. The chef, Tom, allowed me to make one fish dish this year and this was it. It became the first course and it was a huge hit. Everyone was impressed by the presentation as much as the delicious taste. Because I hate to waste anything, I decided to serve some of the leftover plain shells with some extra white sauce I had. My granddaughter, Mackenzie, really liked the unstuffed shells with the white sauce and an extra helping.

Shrimp Stuffed Shells can be served as a first or even as a main course and are great to serve any “eve”, not just Christmas Eve, when you want to impress your guests. Who needs to go out to a fancy, pricey restaurant when you can serve a very special meal at a less painful pricetag!

BAY SCALLOPS AND GRITS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Milk for soaking scallops

1 pound bay scallops

1/ 4 lb of bacon

4 scallion stalks, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped

1/ 4 cup White wine

3/ 4 cup grits

3 cups milk

1/ 2 cup heavy cream

1 1/ 2 tablespoon butter

Kosher salt

1/ 2 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped

1/ 2 teaspoon fresh basil chopped

1. Rinse bay scallops in water 4 hours before serving. Place in a bowl with milk and then refrigerate until needed. When ready to prepare dish. Drain scallops from milk bowl and set aside.

2. Cook bacon till crispy in medium frying pan. Keep the bacon grease in frying pan, but remove bacon to a paper toweled dish to dry and then crumble. Set aside.

3. Sauté chopped scallions in 2 teaspoons of the bacon grease. Set aside when thoroughly cooked and tender.

4. Meanwhile, make your grits. They take 15 to 20 minutes to cook totally.

5. Add grits, milk, butter and a dash of kosher salt to medium pot. Cook and stir continuously for about 10 to 12 minutes under a medium flame. Turn off the stove.Stir in heavy cream along with basil and parsley. Set aside till ready to serve. Just before serving, return pot to stove and cook for 8 minutes until slightly bubbling and hot.

6. Add scallops to frying pan and cook till done. Drain most of the liquid from frying pan out, and then add white wine, fresh parsley chopped along with bacon and scallions. Simmer together until everything is very hot.

7. Serve scallops immediately over creamy grits on a platter.

8. ENJOY – The combination of seafood and grits was a match made in heaven!

This recipe is from my first trip to Newport, Rhode Island over two years ago.

What would I do without my friends, MaryEllen and Mike? Probably, never visit Newport. MaryEllen and Mike invited my husband and me to their place in Newport RI for a weekend. We all arrived on a Friday evening and just settled in, when Mike took us for a spontaneous tour of Newport by car. It looked wonderful in the dark, but I was really curious to see everything in the daylight. That would have to wait for Saturday afternoon.

After a morning of catching up with our friends and rescuing them from a faulty garbage disposal we ventured off for a walk through the cobbled stoned streets of the seaside town of Newport. There were tours through Gilded Age mansions and various museums but our time was limited. So after browsing the shops and having a hearty late lunch on the docks, we settled on taking a sunset ride on a lovely old schooner through Newport harbor. It was mellow and quiet and just right for a late summer outing.

After coming ashore we walked around some more and continued exploring. While walking past an outside restaurant called, “The Pier”, we heard a loud band playing; I also noticed they had a more intimate area inside with just two musicians playing. I convinced everyone to stop in for a drink before continuing on. We sat down and our waitress, Erin, brought us some beverages.

While looking at their menu, Erin told us, that in 25 minutes; mostly everything on the appetizer menu was going to be half price. Well, that is all the guys had to hear and we knew we were here to stay. We decided to order 4 different appetizers and share them. I ordered the Gulf Shrimp and Grits (Lightly sautéed shrimp with bacon, melted leeks and mushrooms served over creamy grits). The seafood over grits intrigued me. I had to try this. All of us loved this appetizer. I’m personally not a huge fan of shrimp; I am more of a scallop gal. I asked Erin how the grits were made and she went back to the kitchen to ask Chef Kevin M. Gaudreau. I was told just grits, butter, milk and cream. No measurements, no recipe was given by the chef, which really intrigued me even more. I knew I would have to somehow recreate this dish my own way at home. So, Bay Scallops and Grits recipe was born and I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family did when I served it recently for a family dinner.

The rest of our evening at The Pier restaurant could not have gone better if we tried to plan it. Two tables away from us, a large group of men and women came in all dressed in black and looking very professional. I didn’t think anything of it; just assumed they were coming from work, until the music started up again. They all were dancing up a storm, each equally talented. All of us sitting in the vicinity were having our own version of Dancing with the Stars performed right in front of us. Erin was so excited she called her fellow waitress over and shouted, “Look, that’s my table dancing”, like a proud mom. After watching them all evening, I went over to the table to congratulate everyone on their dancing and found out that they all were professional dance instructors. A lady having dinner at another table was brave enough to ask one of the male instructors to dance. It was like a free lesson.

When it was time for us to leave, it felt like we were leaving our long time friends. Erin hugged us. How many times has a waitress hugged you goodbye? For me – practically never. We had such a good time; we came back the next morning for Sunday brunch. Erin was there and we were happy to see each other. The breakfast was just as good as the meal the previous night.
Our time in Newport was something we want to repeat in the near future. MaryEllen and Mike please invite us back to Newport and to The Pier, I promise to make my Bay Scallops and Grits for you!

The Pier Restaurant, 10 Howards Wharf, Newport, RI 02840 Phone: (401) 847-3645

SCALLOPS SHISH KEBAB

2 pounds sea scallops
1 pound bacon slices

Optional additions to your shish kebabs –

Zucchini, peeled, rinsed and sliced into 1 / 2 inch circles
Artichoke hearts, canned, drained
Raw onion chunks

1. Soak wood skewers in water for 15 minutes.
2. Rinse scallops and drain. After completely rinsed and dried, place scallops
into a bowl and cover in milk. Let scallops sit for 30 minutes before
rinsing…
3. Slice bacon strips in half. Wrap half bacon slice around scallop and place
on skewer. Add any other choices to put on skewers or just have the
scallops with the bacon only. Prepare the shish kebabs to your taste, with
or without vegetables added.
4. Repeat until the whole skewer is filled.
5. Option 1 – brush skewers with olive oil and a little lemon or lime juice.
6. Option 2 – brush skewers with Italian dressing and a little extra olive oil
7. Grill skewers on open fire on a medium flame, turning frequently until
thoroughly cooked. About 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
8. As a dinner choice, serve scallops over cooked rice, with vegetables on the
side.
7. Enjoy – Great appetizer starter!

I am really a quirky, funny person, especially when it comes to food. I will get on a kick and cook something over and over again and then, just like that, I won’t cook it again for years. French onion soup was my kick, and I made it over and over the first couple of years I was married, and then stopped making it for twenty years. The same goes for scallops. I was making scallops for a while, then boom, I stopped. Recently, I was on vacation at the Jersey shore and out of the blue, I ordered scallops. I was hooked again. Entertaining a week after my vacation, I was making scallops. It was a huge hit with my company because no one seems to make scallops. Shrimp yes, all the time and everyone serves shrimp including us. My husband is the shrimp expert, although he doesn’t share his recipe. He skewers the shrimp and rubs on his own concoction of spices and grills the shrimp. Everyone talks about Tom’s shrimp. I know he adds Old Bay spice as one of his spice rubs. As for the other spices he adds, he never cooks and tells. It is an ego thing with him. He loves being praised for his shrimp. If he gave the recipe to anyone else, including me, then he wouldn’t be special anymore!

Grilled fish is great in the summer. The bacon on the scallops becomes crispy and adds a different flavor to it. My secret is soaking the scallops in milk. I dislike real fishy tastes, so the milk removes it a bit from the scallops. I like them better that way, but if you like a fishy taste, don’t soak the scallops in milk. Either way, you’ll love them.

Now, I wonder what my next food fad will be that I get hooked on! I’ll keep you posted!