Saturday's Kitchen: Crab Linguine with Chili & Parsley

This week's Saturday's Kitchen recipe is a pub staple throughout the UK, but is also inspired by all the lovely fresh seafood I enjoyed on my recent trip to Florida.

It's quick, easy and something a bit different for your mid week meal.

400g linguine

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red chilli , deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
1 whole cooked crab , picked, or about 100g/4oz brown crabmeat and 200g/7oz fresh white crabmeat
small splash, about 5 tbsp, white wine
small squeeze of lemon (optional)
large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, very finely chopped

1.Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the linguine. Give it a good stir and boil for 1 min less than the pack says. Stir well occasionally so it doesn't stick.

2.While the pasta cooks, gently heat 3 tbsp of olive oil with the chilli and garlic in a pan large enough to hold all the pasta comfortably. Cook the chilli and garlic very gently until they start to sizzle, then turn up the heat and add the white wine. Simmer everything until the wine and olive oil come together. Then take off the heat and add the brown crabmeat, using a wooden spatula or spoon to mash it into the olive oil to make a thick sauce.

3.When the pasta has had its cooking time, taste a strand - it should have a very slight bite. When it's ready, turn off the heat. Place the sauce on a very low heat and use a pair of kitchen tongs to lift the pasta from the water into the sauce.

4.Off the heat, add the white crabmeat and parsley to the pasta with a sprinkling of sea salt. Stir everything together really well, adding a drop of pasta water if it's starting to get claggy. Taste for seasoning and, if it needs a slight lift, add a small squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately twirled into pasta bowls and drizzled with the remaining oil.

Cook's Note
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where fresh crab is readily available, I'm jealous; if you don't, most grocery stores sell picked crabmeat in their fish department, which is the route that I went with. Admittedly, some of the flavor is compromised by the lack of brown crabmeat - but beggers can't be choosers!

Wine Pairing
I served this with a fresh and zingy, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which most of my friends will tell you is my go to white wine variety of choice.

If you are looking for a light and fresh alternative to your oaky Chardonnay - give it a try. Kim Crawford can be found at most grocery stores and is a sure winner.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know.

Until next time,

Saturday's Kitchen: Gingery Duck with Red Onion and Orange Salad

Like most ex-pats living overseas we tried to embrace the local life. We enjoyed many a cooking show and followed along with their local food celebrities, which is how we came across Nigella Lawson. To be honest, she is everywhere in the UK - a true TV food celebrity and a bit of sex symbol as well! She's slowly trying to make her mark in the US...have you tried any of her recipes?

My experience with Nigella has not always been positive, I've tried loads of her recipes and would only remake a handful - this is one of them.
Her recipes always make for a good read as she definitely enjoys her descriptives!

Ginergy Duck with Red Onion and Orange Salad from her book, Forever Summer.

2 whole duck breasts

for the marinade:
juice and zest of one orange
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 small red onion, roughly chopped

for the salad:
2 red onions, very thinly sliced
4 naval oranges
Maldon or other sea salt
small bunch fresh parsley finely chopped

1. Slash the fat on the duck breasts in diagonals, then place in the marinade for about an hour.

2. Peel, halve and thinly slice (half moons) the red onion into a small bowl.  Cut off the top and bottom of the oranges, then, using a small knife remove the skin and pith. Segment the orange over the bowl, to ensure all the juice is retained. Stir to combine and leave at room temperature.

3. Heat a dry frying pan and put the duck in skin side down. Cook for about 15 minutes in total, turning occasionally to color both sides.

4. Leave the duck to rest as you arrange the salad on a plate. Sprinkle with salt. Slice the duck thinly on the diagonal and lay the slices over the salad. Pour over any orangey, gingery, bloody juices and sprinkle robustly with parsley.

Serves 4.

Cooks Note:
This is a nice, lighter take on the classic orange and duck pairing.
Finding fresh duck at my local market was not an easy task - I settled on a pack of frozen duck breasts by Bell and Evans.

Wine Pairing

I always enjoy Pinot Noir with duck and I recently discovered the lovely Duckhorn Decoy Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2008 from California.

On the palett you'll find notes of ripe red-fruit, such as cherry and strawberry, balanced by an exotic spice, and toasty oak.

The Decoy brand prides itself on being the "everyday wine for the well informed" and I think they are right. A great wine at a very reasonable price for a Pinot Noir.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know!

 Until next time,

Saturday's Kitchen: Tikka Masala and a wine rec!

Simple Indian food cooked at home - now that's worth sharing.

We really fell in love with Indian curry while living overseas, but most recipes are quite long and involved, which doesn't usually mesh well with the mid-week meal circuit.

So when my sister-in-law sent me this recipe, I just had to try it. I wasn't sure it would stack up to some of my favorite, cook all day, classics. But I am happy to report that this recipe is quick, easy and full of flavor. 

If you're looking for something a bit different, give it a try.

Martha Stewart: Shrimp Tikka Masala

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger (from one 6-inch piece)
1 tablespoon finely grated garlic
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup water
20 large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled (tails intact) and deveined
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1.Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a stockpot over medium heat. Cook onion until golden, about 20 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, and chili powder, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

2.Add water and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Garam Masala can be found in most supermarkets or specialty food stores. If you can't find it, try a combination (equal parts) of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, all spice and ginger.

If you don't like overly spicy food, you can cut the chili powder in half.

I served mine with steamed rice and a green salad.

Wine Pairing
Truth be told, when I am enjoying any ethnic food, especially spicy food, I always go for a regional beer. It cools the pallet nicely and always pairs well with the food.

But when it comes to wine pairings for ethnic foods, I tend to recommend a Gewürztraminer or a Dry Riesling as they pair really well with spicy food.

Gewürztraminer is a white grape that originates from Germany. It lends itself toward rich wines with spicy notes and full flavors.

I recently enjoyed a Fetzer Vintage 2006, Valley Oaks California, Gewürztraminer. At about $10 a bottle, it really can't be beat.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know!

Until next time,

Saturday's Kitchen: Banoffee Pie and a Stickie!

What is it, exactly, you may ask?
Just what it sounds like - the world's best combination of banana and toffee ever!

We first ran across this dessert while living in London, but it wasn't until we returned to the US that I actually made one, or two.

Graham Cracker Crust ( I bought mine as I was short on time, but there are a million and one recipes to make your own)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 bananas
Heavy Whipping Cream or store bought whipped cream
Vanilla extract
powdered sugar
Small chocolate bar (optional)

To make toffee: remove labels from unopened sweetened condensed milk cans. Submerge in pot of water, bring to boil, boil covered for 2.5 hours. Make sure to keep the cans of milk covered with water, meaning you'll have to top up from time to time.

To assemble: slice bananas into bottom of graham cracker crust. Open sweetened condensed milk cans and stir until toffee reaches a pourable consistency. Pour over bananas. Refrigerate to set.

Before serving: Whip cream, adding sugar to desired sweetness (1 tbs.) and a 1 tsp of vanilla, or crack open store bought whipped cream. Mound on top. grate small amount of chocolate bar over top for a decorative finish, if so desired.

I've had fairly good results with this recipe, although the last time I made it, it didn't set very well - hence the less than stellar picture. Fortunately, it tastes great regardless of how well it sets!

Wine Pairing:
This is an extremely rich and decidant dessert on it's own, but if you really want to go all out, try it with a dessert wine.

Dessert wines are generally fortified wines that are sweet in nature and pair well with all sorts of desserts - from sweet to savory. There are a couple of trains of thought on pairing dessert wines, but I tend to go with the classic, sweet - sweet combination! What can I say, I have a massive sweet tooth!

I recently discovered the Canadian Ice Wine, Jackson - Triggs Proprietors' Reserve 2007 Riesling Icewine. It's honey colored and intensly sweet.

A great introduction to the wonderful world of Stickies!

As always if you try it and like it, please do let me know.

Until next time,

Saturday Kitchen: Baked Ziti with Sausage, Eggplant and Olives - Plus a Wine Recommendation!

A good friend just had her 3rd child and I recently brought this dish over on one of my visits.

I've actually had this recipe for about a year, but hadn't made it in awhile. Taking it to her house reminded me how much I really do like it. Plus, it freezes beautifully and makes a ton - a real plus for those quick mid week meals. And don't forget to check out the wine recommendation at the bottom of this post!

4 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes with juices
5 oz. ziti, cooked until al dente
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup rinsed chopped Kalamata olives
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

In a 10-inch nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and warm 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, under tender and browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Set the pan over medium heat and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the sausage, pasta, basil, olives, 2 cups of the mozzarella and the tomato sauce to the bowl with the eggplant and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta mixture to the fry pan and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover the pan and broil at 500°F for 5 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Wine Pairing
New to Saturday Kitchen, will be a wine pairing tip, which based on recently received comments is something that everyone is very interested in! (See I do read all those comments! Thanks for telling me what you want!)

In terms of wine pairing, one of the easiest tips I can tell you is to stay regional.

Baked Ziti is obviously an Italian influenced recipe, so I would recommend an Italian wine.

Getting more specific, I would go for a medium bodied wine with bright red fruits; a Sangiovese or a Valpolicella would work well.

I recently discovered the 2007 Valplicella from Villa Sonia and can highly recommend it. Although it is a little on the pricey side, around $20 a bottle, it really is worth it!

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know!