April 19, 2010

April 19 THE MONDAY MENU: Seafood Linguine with White Wine Cream Sauce

My conversation with Bill began simply as two men getting to know one another.
Bill was married, slightly older than me, and loved to cook. He asked me about my favorite cuisine, to which I shared with him my love for the flavors of the Orient and my love of fish. Curious, I inquired about his favorite food, a question to which the following answer was given.

"I love the flavors of Tuscany, Italy. When my wife and I travel we rent a farmhouse and hire a private chef to cook for us. There is nothing quite like Tuscany. The region is one of the most beautiful in the country with its olive trees, and miles of grape vines. We're going back in the summer because there is no way you can get good Italian food here in the United States. People here, of course, call it Italian, but it does not compare to real Italian cooking...."

Bill could have talked for hours about his love for Italian cooking, his many trips to Tuscany, not to mention his love for the wine. And who can blame him for being so passionate? True Italian cooking is hard to find here in the United States, which brings me to the point of this story.

Most ethnic cuisine that Americans eat today have very little resemblance to the dishes prepared in their countries of origin, especially if it comes from a restaurant chain. Because the average U.S. citizen was not raised to appreciate the different flavors of other cultures, most ethnic dishes have been "Americanized".

For example, when was the last time you made spaghetti sauce using red wine? Do you really think that the people of China sit around the buffet table eating General Tso's chicken? And is bratwurst cooked on the grill - or even cooked in beer - really good German food?

The next time you go on a trip, do your homework and do a little digging. Find that quaint out of the way mom-and-pop diner that serves food from the old country. No, it will not look like the fancy chain restaurant with all the glitz and glamor. But it won't taste like it either, because the food will be authentic, and real. In the mean time, try this Italian, slightly Americanized recipe for seafood linguine. Buon appetito!

Conversation Starter: Almost every country in the world is known for at least one dish that its people consider to be a delicacy, but to outsiders is the last thing in the world a human should eat. Raw fish, brains, animal testicles, and insects quickly come to mind. What food(s) do you consider detestable? Is there a food that you were afraid to try, but did anyway? What happened?

Seafood Linguine with White Wine Cream Sauce

5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic - grated and divided
3 Tablespoons flour
5 Tablespoons butter - divided
1 Cup chicken stock
1 Cup Cream
1 Cup dry white wine
1 pound Baby Portabella or Button Mushrooms - washed and sliced
1 pound 31-50 count shrimp - pealed and deveined
10 - 12 Sea Scallops - cleaned and connective tissue removed
1 pound linguine
1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
Fresh grated mutmeg to taste
Sea Salt
Fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Parsley for garnish

To cook the linguine, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium high heat. Cook pasta until it is almost al dente.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine two tablespoons of olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, and mushrooms and sautee for 5 minutes.Add 3 tablespoons butter and flour and mix thoroughly for about a minute. Slowly whisk in wine. The sauce will thicken quickly. Whisk in chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add cream and allow to reduce for two minutes stirring continuously. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare shrimp and scallops by sprinkling then with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, and coating them with the remaining olive oil. In a large, hot sautee pan over medium to medium high heat, sear scallops on both side for 2-3 minutes until lightly caramelized. Remove scallops and add shrimp. Cook shrimp until almost pink. Add remaining butter and garlic and return scallops to the pan. Cook for about a minute over medium high heat. Remove scallops and all but approximately 1/2 cup shrimp.

Add two cups cooked linguine and 3/4 cup sauce to the remaining shrimp. Mix well and cook for one minute (the linguine will finish cooking at this point without being overcooked). To plate, place 2-3 scallops on top of the noodles. Top with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and garnish with parsley. Repeat this step for each plate.

Serves 4

Variation: Skewer scallops and shrimp and cook on the grill over wood or charcoal.

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