Friday, July 18, 2014

Linguine Diva Pescatore “LDP” Cioppino Pasta

With Lana Del Rey's new album on repeat here, her song "West Coast" is my strong favorite, currently. In one section she says...

"Down on the West Coast, they got their icons

Their silver starlets, their Queens of Saigons
And you've got the music, you've got the music in you, don't you?"

When she sings it, I'm inspired. I'm like, "Yeah! I have the music in me." It's that good song feeling we all get when we are moved by the music. And we certainly do have our icons...this is true. One icon is known to the world and helped inspire this week's recipe making process...

This recipe was born after watching Diner’s, Drive In & Dives last week. Believe it or not, I’ve never watched that show but heard Gene Simmons was going to be on and, believe it or not, I once worked for Gene. Well, kind of. I worked for The Woman who worked for Gene at the Hotter Than Hell Wedding Chapel. We saw a lot of crazy sh*t.  I could write a short book about my time there, but let’s just say it was the KISS chapel…in Las Vegas…the only one in world like it. Actually, it was batsh*t crazy banana pants almost every single day. It was fun! I guess I’m weird like that -  with a fascination for all things bizarre, eccentric or outside of the “box” so to speak. Maybe being born in Vegas does that to people, I’m not really sure.  In any case, I felt that I had to watch the Gene episode for old times’ sake.

Back in the day he would stop in once in a while (which was not really stopping in, but more like bringing the circus.) On one particular occasion, it was June in Las Vegas and the air unit went down in our VIP Room, set to house Gene and his guests. The temperature was rising like an oven in there and we were scrambling to get someone out to fix it. It did eventually get fixed but in the interim, we had fans set up everywhere providing some relief. One problem, though, there were bodies I was a circus. At one point, I maneuvered through the crowd to a spot I thought was clear only to find out why that spot was clear....within a minute Mr. Simmons shouted to me ," YOUR BLOCKING THE FAN!!!"
"Oh NO!" I thought. The whole room stopped and looked at me. Silence. Faces. I quickly jumped out of the spot, heart-racing, knot-in-throat...THE DEMON had just flagged me. Oh man. Not good. Until he quipped.... "I mean, WHERE would KISS be without our FANS?!" ... the room laughed and returned to their conversations, signings and gatherings. Ahhhhh, well played Gene Simmons, well played. So, the one thing I can say about Mr. Simmons is that he IS a very powerful and intimidating man. I can see the allure. But, he’s also quite charming.

Okay, getting back to the recipe, on this episode they stop in at the Monterrey Fish House and make a divine-looking Sicilian Holiday Pasta with a base of marinara and clam broth and an amalgam of seafood. I was sitting there Oh-Mah-Gawd-ing. I’ve been thinking about that damn dish all week. I watched the scene in slow motion and wrote down the assemblage of ingredients. “I can do this,” I thought.  So, I set out to find what I was looking for.

At the local grocery, I talked to the nice gentleman behind the seafood counter about the dish I was dreaming up. Shrimp, Crab, Clams were essentials but the rest was sort of fluid. He said their swordfish was looking good…and it did, mighty fine indeed. So, I swooped that up and added salmon to the mix. You can use almost any fleshy fish in this recipe but I LOVED the swordfish and would double it but skip the salmon, next time.

Linguine Diva Pescatore "L.D.P." Cioppino Pasta

Serves 5-6


7 Tomatoes, skins removed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp  Grapeseed Oil
1 White Onion, chopped
7 Cloves Garlic, minced,
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Sprinkle of Black Pepper
1 tsp Dried Basil
½ tsp Dried Oregano
1 Cup Loose Basil Leaves, chiffonade


1 Cup Clam Juice
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Water
Shrimp Shells
Sprig of Thyme


1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 ½  lb Clams
1 lb Shrimp
½  lb Snow Crab
1 ½ lb Firm White Fish Steaks (swordfish, cod, halibut, seabass, etc..)


1 lb Linguine
Large Pot of Water
Salt for Water

In a Dutch Oven or large pot, add olive oil and grapeseed oil. Heat oil on medium heat and add garlic & onions; sprinkle black pepper over the top. Cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes (or until they turn translucent) stirring occasionally. Take care not to burn or brown for the marinara won't taste just right.

Add chopped tomatoes, skins removed. To remove the skins first, just steam them for a few minutes in a covered pot with about an inch of water in the bottom. Let them cool on a cutting board and the skins will slip right off, leaving just the tomato flesh to work with.

Chop up the tomatoes and add to onions/garlic. Add red pepper flakes, dried basil and dried oregano.

Chiffonade (see pic below for a quick how to chiffonade) half of the basil bunch; reserve the smaller delicate leaves for garnish.  

Easy Chiffonade- Stack, Roll, Slice into threads

Add the chiffonade basil to the pot.

Cover and simmer low for one hour.

Peel Shrimp for use later, leaving just the tail on. You can take the tail shell off, of course; I like the look & makes for easy pick-up-and-eat shrimp.

Save the shells in a stock pot and heat on medium with a sprig of thyme. Refrigerate shrimp for later.

Add one cup of clam juice to a stockpot.  Originally I thought I’d make my own but as my son loves to say, “NOBODY’S GOT TIME FOR THAT!” so I used a promisingly labeled bottled of Bar Harbor all natural clam juice, and it was just right.

Add one cup of water and one cup of dry white wine. Bring all to a boil then lower to a simmer; cover & simmer for 45 minutes. Add a few splashes of water as the water evaporates.

Strain out solids & toss those; set the broth aside.

Prep your fish by cutting out any skin/bones/bloodlines – rinse clams, fish, shrimp, crab, etc… Pat dry. Cut fish into portions so everyone gets at least one good piece. Sprinkle fish steaks & shrimp with salt and pepper. Set aside for a few minutes while you prep the pasta –

Fill a large pot with water. Add a good dose of salt. Bring to a rolling boil and drop your pasta in. Time it for 9 minutes.

Now you’ve got a lot going on – pasta’s boiling, marinara is done, broth set aside, fish waiting to be cooked…last pan you’ll need is a big one, like a paella pan. Add marinara, clam broth and Snow Crab to pan and stir/heat together.

Now, while your pasta and sauce are working, get a grill pan searing hot with 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil. Put the fish steaks in, pretty side down and grill for 3 minutes.

Add Clams while fish cooks. Toss any that don't open up.

Flip fish and grill the other side for 30 seconds. Into the sauce they go; put them down in the sauce with the pretty side facing up and the 30 second side down under the sauce, so they can finish cooking and absorb all the deliciousness.

"Pretty" Side Up

Add Shrimp to the hot pan; grill for 45 seconds per side & into the sauce they go.

Add a ladle of pasta water – I use the salted pasta water as the salt in the dish so taste as you go, and when it has a good salty-ness, it’s good to go. I used a couple ladles.

Let the water evaporate a bit over medium heat – about 4 minutes. Turn heat off.

Finish with the remaining half of your fresh basil bunch chopped or chiffonaded & sprinkled generously over the top.

Strain the cooked pasta, but don’t rinse!

Serve family style in a large pretty dish over a bed of linguine and saucey-fish goodness over the top or in bowls with noodles and a ladle of sauce and fish over top.

YUM YUM YUM is all there is to say.

I hope you LOVE it, too!!!

Until next time….Happy Cooking! 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pretty in Pink Baja Salad feat. Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish has a bit milder sweeter flavor than the well known table radish with bright hot pink magenta flesh

I had a flowery poetic post started but for today, I'm sticking with the heat- Sriracha - Cha Cha Cha!

I give you a lyric that's been stuck in my head for days from one of my favorite Tiger Army songs, which has been on repeat today.

"It lives where love has died, this ghostfiiiii-iiii-iire!
Where poison flowers bloom
It sears from beyond sight
In the graveyard of promises
It burns right through the night

Only a lover lost burns in Ghostfire"

 ~ Tiger Army

I would argue that the Ghostfire he's feeling is actually....Sriracha.

Sriracha in a salad dressing? Why not! A little teaspoon never hurt anybody. The bright freshness from the lemon and radishes, the creamy goodness from the avocado, the crisp lettuce and then that spicy little kick comes around and flicks you in the forehead. In a good way. Hey! It wasn't a punch now, calm down. Assemble this salad in 15 minutes or less & you've got a good thing going.

Pretty in Pink Baja Salad feat. Watermelon Radish

Printable Version HERE

1 Watermelon Radish, sliced & trimmed edges
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Red Onion, sliced thin
¾ tsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Sriracha
½ Avocado, cut into large squares
1 Head of Red Lettuce, reddish ends only
Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a non-metallic bowl, toss the sliced radish, onion, red wine vinegar, lime juice, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of pepper, sugar, olive oil, cilantro and Sriracha.

Let that groove together for 10 minutes while you cut up the other goodies (lettuce and avocado.)

I made it as a “bed of lettuce” under the marinated radish dressing & avocados….so I only used the pretty red and green ends, and not the center - the lighter green part- I saved for another day.

Yes, it's just that easy~ & pretty

Until next time....Happy Cooking!!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Lawd Have Mercy

Just stopping in to drop a off my new favorite picture

It's too hot to eat & too hot to cook, so I'm scouring the internet for great kitchen pin ups instead. YW!

Until next time...keep it cool my friends ::mists self with water bottle::


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thai-ish Beef Lettuce Wraps with Almond Ramen Crunch

This is a Thai-ish recipe, or as the sushi chef told me the other night when I was describing the dish to him, an "American" version of Thai beef. Ohhhh bam. He would have been more impressed if I’d used Thai Basil he said. "Americans can only attempt at Thai food" I believe was the statement (aka your white, don't even try Thai). At which point I was compelled to say something about our Thai sushi chef....hmmmm the irony was not lost on me. I held my tongue in kindness & I really just wished we could give each other high fives and say, "Hell yeah, good for you! You're making it happen, putting in the effort and doing a damn good job." Sometimes it seems we can be so eager to tear one another down to mask our own worries of inferiority. Oh well. My "American" version is delicious, so I'm excited to share the recipe.

The Ramen Almond topping adds that extra good crunch in these lettuce wraps and you can use it in place of croutons on almost any salad. I borrowed the recipe from my mom’s yummy Napa Cabbage Salad because I thought the crunch would go well with the softer beef. Yes, oh Yes, indeed it did. I’m not a peanut lover, per say, in foods, but adding the peanuts would give it a little extra Thai profile. Maybe the sushi chef would have been more impressed if I’d told him about the peanuts? A great recipe to keep in your back pocket because it’s EASY & versatile! I’m all about that life.

Thai-ish Beef Lettuce Wraps

2.5 lbs Cubed Beef Steak
1 tsp Oil
4 Sprigs Mint, chopped
2 Sprigs Basil, chopped
2 Large Green Onions, chopped
8 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tsp Ginger, grated
2 Tbsp Red Onion, grated
1/3 Red Jalapeno, minced
1 Lime
Sprinkle of Salt

Butter, Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce for wrapping


¼ Cup Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Water
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes + or – depending on your spicy taste buds
1 tsp Grated Ginger
½ tsp Salt

Almond Ramen Crunch

3 Oz. Bag Almonds, chopped
1 Pack Ramen Noodles, broken into pieces
2 Tbsp Butter
Peanuts (opt.)

First thing’s first, get the Ramen Almond Topping going low and slow. Add all ingredients -butter, almonds & dry crunched up ramen noodles- to a warm pan and keep your heat setting medium.

Toss the flavor packet or save it for some other use…not sure what exactly but I’m sure there’s a Pinterest post about Ramen Packets somewhere. You’ll start to smell the butter browning the almonds, that’s when you know to turn it down to the lowest setting. Let it soak in the warm butter while you cook/prep the dish.

Now onto the filling of your wrap…Thai Beef mmmmm! Brown the cubed beef steak for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. Use your spoon to break the meat up as it cooks. While the meat works, chop/mince/grate the ingredients, as listed above. You can keep everything in one bowl once chopped; you’ll add it all together later. Makes for easy clean up!

Mix up your sauce and set aside, also.

Grate the peel of the lime over the beef, then squeeze lime juice over as well. Let that jam for a few minutes.

Now that the beef is good & browned & full of citrus, add all the goodies you just chopped up- Mint, Basil, Green Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Red Onion, Red Jalapeno.

Pour sauce over meat & let the sauce work to get the little brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Errr My Gawd, this is getting good. Again, let that jam a few minutes and pull of the heat for serving.

Sauce & Ingredients added & given a good mix before serving

Serve warm with crisp lettuce “cups”, Almond Ramen Crunchies and chilled Thai Sliced Cucumbers recipe found here:

Makes for a fun dinner family style, where everyone makes their own wraps & chooses their toppings.

Served here in Coconut Cup on a Banana Leaf for decoration. Yummy!!!

On a last note, back to my exchange with the Thai Sushi chef, who was actually a pretty cool person. I am on a mission to build people up. To support & encourage whenever I can.  I catch a lot of negativity about blogging from people who maybe don't "get it" or whatever they've got going on. I understand it. Sometimes the negativity succeeds in bringing me down, being discouraged or can make me weary. But at the end of the day, I know what I love to do, and I think this goes for all of us, when you love to do something, you are good at doing it your way. Your own little finesse, your personality stamped on.

As for the negativity that can surround us and attempt to bring us down... I don't support or encourage it, and I wont give it legs. I keep doing my damn thing and will encourage and be excited for those out there doing theirs!! My hope is we can all show the love; it could change everything.

We can love and honor one another's achievements, as if they are our own & grow in strength and love together. A quote I heard last week really wrapped it up in a small package 

"Success breeds success"

So, for those of you out there doing your thang & doing it great, high fives & applauds; keep up the great work, keep going, keep striving! We'll get there, wherever there may be.

Love to you all <3 nbsp="" p="">Until next time…Happy Cooking!