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Spaghetti with Prawns and Arugula - photo from foodily.com

Spaghetti with Prawns and Arugula – photo from foodily.com

Before we begin, how about a brief lesson in the etymology of the word, arugula?  Lately I’ve been using a lot of arugula and although I don’t necessarily think of it as a winter green, it keeps popping up in my recipes or salads.  I think maybe it’s that in the summer and especially in The Garden State, your options for locally grown red and green leaf lettuce are there for the picking.  And there is a heartiness to this densely dark, peppery green that is so perfect for my fav winter salad of arugula, sliced oranges, sweet onion rings, a couple of cherry tomatoes and nicoise olives all drizzled with the best EV olive oil in the house.  Sprinkle some coarse salt, basil and oregano on the top and there you have a great salad perfect for these cold and gray days – think citrus!

OK now for the origin of the word:  What we refer to as Arugula is known as Rocket in England and among many Italian-Americans, ruccola.  The Calabresan word for this green leaf is arucola and since so many of Italian-Americans can trace their roots to southern Italy, it seems likely we have Americanized it into Arugula.  Across the sea, in northern Italy it’s known as ruchetta which eventually worked its way over the Alps into France and became ruquette and once it crossed the English Channel, it became rocket!

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb spaghetti

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

EV olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1-2 dried red chillis, crumbled

1 lb of peeled raw prawns

1 small wineglass of white wine

2 heaping TBS of tomato puree or 6 sun-dried tomatoes blitzed in a blender

juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 handfuls of rocket, roughly chopped

** a lug is a pour of olive oil; when the bottle makes the first glug sound, that’s a lug.

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to directions

Meanwhile heat 3 good lugs** of olive oil in a large braising pan or skillet and toss in the garlic and the chillis. As the garlic begins to color, add the prawns and sauté them for a minute.  Add the white wine and tomato purée and simmer for a couple of minutes.

When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, squeeze in the lemon juice, add half the chopped rocket, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce a bit, and correct the seasoning.  Divide between 4 plates and sprinkle with the grated lemon zest and the rest of the rocket leaves.

Recipe from Jamie Oliver.com

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Tonight  it’s snowing in New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.  It’s pouring here at the shore and has been most of the day and I thought what a perfect night for some real comfort food.  I made New England Pot Pie.  Earlier in the day, I thought about asking our friends, Dick and Jane to join us – it wouldn’t be the first time I prepared a dish that I never made before.  Thank goodness I didn’t follow through on that impulse.  NOT because the dish wasn’t good or that the recipe didn’t make enough;  No, it was definitely both, BUT it took me longer than I thought and it was totally my own doing.  

When I read the recipe two days ago or actually just skimmed through it concentrating mostly on what ingredients I would have to purchase, I didn’t realize how much prepping was needed.  A good chef knows the importance of mise en place, and I do know that very basic rule of good and efficient cooking, yet somehow just never gave it a thought.  So what happened was that I was working my way through the steps, I had to stop and prep the ingredient so I could use it.  NEXT TIME!  I think New England Pot Pie is a great dinner guest meal;  Once it’s in the oven, you are free to join you guest for a pre-dinner cocktail.

Comfort Food for a cold winter night

Comfort Food for a cold winter night

INGREDIENTS:

Olive oil for the baking dish

2 medium russet potatoes (1 lb) peeled and cut into 1/2 ” pieces

Kosher salt and pepper

6 slices of bacon cut into 1/4″ pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 8-oz bottles of clam juice

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 TBS fresh thyme leaves

1 lb. medium peeled and deveined shrimp, tails discarded, shrimp halved

1 lb. skinless white fish fillet (such as cod, hake, pollack or haddock) cut into 1 ” pieces

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3 oz pkg) thawed

1 large egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 400º.  Lightly oil 8 10 oz ramekins OR a 2 quart baking dish

Place the potatoes in salted cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes  are tender, 5-7 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in large skillet ( I should have used my braising pan-my skillet a bit small) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4-5 minutes.  Spoon off and discard all but 2 TBS of the drippings.  Add the onions, season with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Gradually stir in the wine, then the clam juice and cream.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-6 minutes.

Add the potatoes along with the peas and carrots, corn, parsley and thyme and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gently fold in the shrimp and fish.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry.  Using a 4″ round cookie cutter, cut out 8 pieces OR cut one 10 x 14 ” rectangle.  Brush the edges of the ramekins or baking dish with water.  Lay the pastry over the seafood mixture and press pastry against edge of dish to  seal.

Lightly brush pastry with egg and if making the rectangle, cut 3 diagonal slits in the middle of the pastry.  Place dish(es) on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is deep golden brown and puffed in the center, 30-40 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

recipe from Woman’s Day

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In this salad, the hot pasta will wilt the spinach and soften the squash

1/2 lb short pasta, such as fusilli

1 medium yellow squash(thinly sliced crosswise)

1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted Kalamatra or Nicoise olives

4 lightly packed cups baby spinach (3 1/4 oz)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta.  Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl, and toss with squash, olives, spinach, lemon zest and juice, and 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oil. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium high heat.  Add shrimp and cook stirring occasionally, until opaque throughout – about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top pasta with shrimp




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