12 September 2010

Mediterranean Seafood

So much eating last week rather than cooking!  Cooking class on Wednesday night, Supper Club Thursday night and Mana Retreat for the weekend.  Seriously spoilt with some amazing food.  So hopefully some inspired dishes and recipes to follow...in the meantime a rundown of all the deliciousness starting with a last minute opportunity to attend one of the cooking classes at the Auckland Seafood School that was too tempting to resist.  On the menu Mediterranean seafood with inspiration from Spain, Greece and Italy. It is a great set up so if you like cooking and seafood you should check it out here.  A really fun night and chef teacher for the night was a character to say the least.  Started off with the simple but delicious classic Bruschetta al Pomodoro con Smicca (Tomato Bruschetta with Herbed Olive Oil).  To make it great all you need are the freshest possible ingredients and some really good olive oil.

Ingredients - Serves 4
4 vine ripened tomatoes
8 basil leaves, torn
1 tsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped - Or you could use a mixture of whatever fresh herbs you have to hand.
2 tbsp EVOO
1 garlic clove
8 slices ciabatta bread
Salt & pepper to taste

Dice the tomatoes, place in a bowl and add the herbs. Season, add the olive oil and mix.  Toast the bread and then rub with the garlic clove.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Just before serving top the bread with the tomato mixture and season with a little salt and pepper.

Next up Ravioli with Snapper, Ricotta, Chives and Pecorino.  This was the stand out dish of the evening for me.  Something new and different and it would make a really elegant entree for a dinner party.  Very easy to assemble as open ravioli and if you don't want to make fresh pasta (see previous blog for Giada's recipe - try it!) sheets of fresh pasta will do just fine.

Ingredients - Serves 4
Fresh pasta sheet
50g butter
300g snapper fillet, diced - but not too small - you want a little texture.
75ml cream
100g ricotta cheese
Bunch of chives chopped
Salt and pepper
Truffle infused olive oil
2 lemons
75g pecorino cheese
Italian parsley for garnish

Lay pasta sheets and cut in to rounds or squares, whatever you prefer.  We did squares on the night but for a more elegant display I would go for the circles.  To make the filling heat a small sauce pan with a little butter and olive oil to warm.  Add the snapper fillet and cook until just done.  Always best to take fish or seafood off the heat just before completely cooked as it will keep cooking through. Add the cream, ricotta and chives.  Season well.
Cook the pasta in boiling well salted water - it should taste like the sea  - just a few minutes will do it. Strain and pat dry if need be.
To serve place a square or circle of pasta in the centre of the plate, top with a little of the snapper mixture.  Repeat and top with a final layer of pasta.  Squeeze just a little lemon juice over the dish, I would even try a little lemon zest as I love it and hate to waste it.  Plus haven't really come across a dish that lemon zest doesn't lift. Sprinkle over chives, grate a little (or a lot!) of pecorino and drizzle with truffle oil.
This really was delicious. Chopped tomato added for artistic effect! For another version of "open" ravioli check out Giada's Crab Salad Napoleons...these are seriously moreish and perfect for Spring which as sprung here in NZ.

The final dish of the evening was Mejillones en Vino Blanco Salsa de Tomate (Mussels in White Wine and Tomato Sauce)  This was super easy and could be whipped up in no time at all, also cheap as you can get a heap of mussels for only a few dollars and as an added bonus healthy too!  Served with some crusty bread to sop up all the juices - a super speedy and tasty weeknight dinner.

Ingredients - Serves 4
250ml white wine
100ml fish stock (or if all you have is chicken or vegetable stock on hand that would be fine too.)
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
30 mussels - fresh and cleaned well - with the back of a knife bash off any barnacles and pull out the beards.
100ml tomato puree
200ml crushed tomato
Salt and pepper
Crusty bread to serve.

Place the white wine in a pot, add the fish stock and bay leaf.  Heat and bring to a boil.  Add the mussels and cook until opened.  It will only take a few moments.  Remove the mussels from the pan and set aside.  Add the tomato puree and crushed tomatoes to the pan and bring to a quick simmer. Season and return the mussels to the pan to coat well with the sauce.  Serve with fresh crusty bread.
I also think this could benefit from a little pinch of chili flakes.  The options with the tomato sauce base are endless.  Go a little spicy and a little Asian with this one from Bobby Flay here or little Italian with Mario Batali here.

Bon Appetito!


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