Saturday, February 11, 2012

Linguini Pescatore and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries {A Valentines Day Menu}

I am posting this Valentine dinner idea right now so you won't miss out on going out and gathering up all the ingredients you need for it this weekend.  Although, I cannot share this dinner with my sweet soldier this year I did share it with a couple of friends in celebration of a first wedding anniversary.  We thoroughly enjoyed making it together and eating it together as well.  I hope you do too.

The Linguini Pescatore is just a fancy Italian way of saying "Seafood Pasta" (in this case prawns and scallops) and really don't let it scare you, although there are multiple steps in the process the actual cooking part is a cinch and I will walk you through it. 

Sorry I am limited on pictures but most of my meals are made and photographed in "real life time" and that includes hungry dinner guests, hungry children and a hungry, overweight Beagle so I do what I can to get the best pictures in a jiff so we can get to eating!! 

The original recipe has been made by my mother for many years, and it is a family favorite, reserved for special occasions.  Here you go...

Linguini Pescatore

1 lb Linguini
1lb of medium to large prawns (big ol' shrimps) cleaned, peeled and deveined (clean the "poop" out)
1/2 lb bay scallops
1/2 cup of flour
1 leek julienned (have no fear I will explain this to you...what's a leek?  How do you julienne one?)
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup frozen baby peas
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper

The Process:

Choose your Wine:  A nice Chardonnay is usually what I use for this recipe.  If you are not afraid to splurge on a wine that is probably the best choice for this dish, but I have used a more wallet friendly Chardonnay. "Gallo Family" Chardonnay from California is not pricey and it works nicely for the dish, but I like to spend a little bit more on a bottle if I plan on drinking some too.  After all this is a special occasion dish. 

Prep the Prawns (shrimp): Start cleaning your prawns first, you will want to purchase uncooked prawns (the ones that are grey not pink) it is up to you whether or not you want to pay extra for the market to clean than for you but they are not as expensive if you do it yourself. Pinch the tails off the prawns and pull it off, then run your thumb along the inside curve, breaking the legs off of the shell and slide the shell off, rinse and make a slight slit with a paring knife into the top side of the shrimp to remove the gritty, sandy "poop" vein from them which is actually their digestive tract. No thank you!!  Just run under cold water to rinse away or scrape with the knife to loosen it. This is just the way I peel and clean my prawns, there are many techniques and Google has a ton of links.  Once clean pat dry with paper towel.

Prep the Leek: What is a leek?  Well you know those things in the produce department that look like GIANT green onions...yep, that is a leek.  It has a mild, onion flavor and is so delicious in this recipe.  You will want to rinse them under cold water, then fill a pot with cold water, cut off the roots portion but keep the white and green whole for now. Place them in the pot of cold water dark green side down, to loosen up any sand that might be inside.  They are grown in sandy dirt and if you do not do this you will be eating it later.  Give them a good swish, swish around in there.  Leave them there for a bit while you prep some other things.  This is really just an added step I take.  Remove from the water, cut the darkest green portion off of the leek and remove the first outer layer.  You will have a light green, to yellow section and then the white part of the leek intact.  Cut that portion lengthwise, leaving two long will see all the layers, run that under cold water while keeping it in tact to be sure you have removed all sand.  Now, julienne the leek by placing the cut side down and you will slice lengthwise right with the natural lines of the leek, making thin, long slices (a julienne) you can view the process as seen in this video 

For the Scallops:  Rinse them and pat them dry with paper towel.

Dust the prawns and scallops in flour with salt and pepper.  I usually just put the flour in a 13x9 pan and coat them, keep the prawns and scallops separate as you will need to cook them at different times.  If you do not pat them dry the flour will not dust but rather get gluey. If this happens, proceed it will be fine! 

Start cooking:
Start your water for the pasta as this comes together quickly. Put on a salted pot of water to boil for your linguini.

Run a couple of drizzles of olive oil around a large skillet and allow it to warm up slightly.  Add in your leeks, peas, prawns and garlic and cook until the leeks become softer. Add your prawns to the pan until they turn pink in color, flipping them part way through.  Add the scallops.  Add wine, butter and simmer gently for about ten minutes.  Drain your pasta and toss all together.  Add in salt and pepper, as always I say to taste but you need to add salt and pepper along the steps of the cooking process, and don't forget to taste it before you serve can't fail. The hardest parts are in the prep.
Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

A line from my favorite food movie "Ratatouille" "Anyone CAN cook!!" And I know you can too.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
(and pretzels...or anything else worthy of dipping into chocolate which in my book is EVERYTHING!)

1 lb large strawberries with stems
Rinse and pat the berries dry, water will ruin your chocolate
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

Put the chocolate in a double boiler and melt almost completely, add in the shortening and stir until melted and smooth.  Do not bring your water to a boil under your double boiler.  If you do not have a double boiler than a glass Pyrex bowl or metal bowl will work over the top of a pan filled with about 1.5 inch of water on a low heat.  If you are careful and use a low setting on your microwave you can do this in the microwave too.  Just stir often. 
Place a toothpick up by the stem of the strawberry, dip into the chocolate to coat.  Lift gently and give the strawberry a swirl to gently drizzle off excess chocolate and then sprinkle them with pretty sprinkles or drizzle them later with white chocolate.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set up.  We put ours in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process.

We repeated with some square pretzels, using a fork place a pretzel on the tines of the fork. Dip, lift and tap the bottom of the fork on the edge of the pan to get off excess chocolate. Gently lay the pretzel onto a parchment lined baking sheet to set up.

You will no doubt WOW your honey, friends, guests, whomever with this Valentine Menu.  I guarantee it.  Who needs that new Olive Garden they opened up in Anchorage anyway??? Pppssttt...three hour wait time. WHATev!!  Do it yourself. I know you can!!

I brought this to the party here:

  It's a Blog Party Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays


Cassandra said...

I love this idea! I must try it! Mmmm...I can taste it already lol

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