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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grilled Baby Eggplant Parmesan

IMG00249-20100629-1945While tapping into my Italian roots has never been a problem, the calories that come with certain dishes are! That being said, I have discovered another way of preparing melanzane e parmigiana (eggplant parmesan) that tastes delicious while avoiding some of the saturated fat that comes with pan frying. This dish can be eaten on it’s own or served a side.
Grilled Baby Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 4
3 baby Italian eggplants
1 big ball of fresh mozzarella
olive oil
1 pint of marinara sauce (fresh or for those lazy types jarred)
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat up the bbq or grill pan (if you are using a grill pan spray it with non-stick spray). Peel the eggplant and cut them lengthwise into thin slices. Lightly brush the eggplant in olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on them. When the grill is heated up, lay the eggplant down and grill them on each side, turning them occasionally to avoid burning. When they become tender, remove them from the heat and lay them on a paper towel so that the excess water drains out from the eggplant. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Take a standard 10'” glass pie dish, spray it with non-stick spray, and coat it in a thin layer of Marinara sauce (I use homemade Marinara sauce that I freeze in pint containers and defrost as needed). You can also use whatever jarred tomato sauce you prefer from the grocery store (my grandfather is probably rolling over in his grave at this suggestion). Line the pie plate with the grilled eggplant. Top off the eggplant with another light layer of Marinara sauce. Take the fresh mozzarella and cut it into thin slices. Cover the eggplant and Marinara with the slices of mozzarella. Add another extremely thin layer of Marinara sauce on top of the mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the fresh mozzarella becomes a golden brown color as seen in the picture displayed. Remove it from the heat. If there is any excess water, tilt the pie dish holding the contents in the dish with a spatula and drain out any excess water from the pie dish. Let the dish sit for 5 minutes at room temperature so it settles a bit. Offer crushed red pepper and grated cheese with it. Buon Appetito !!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blackened Shrimp and Sea Scallops

I whipped up this savory dish for some dinner guests the other night. It's extremely tasty and on the spicy side for sure! I love spicy food, however, you can modify the amount of cajun seasoning to 1 tablespoon if you prefer it to be mild. I decided to serve the shrimp and scallops with brown rice and sautéed baby spinach with shallots and garlic in and out (sauté the garlic a bit in olive out until it begins to turn a golden brown, then remove it completely from the oil). This fabulous meal can be assembled in a measly 30 minutes.

Blackened Shrimp and Sea Scallops
Serves 4
1 lb large shrimp
1 lb sea scallops
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1-2 tbsp butter (optional)
Salt (To Taste) *Be careful because the Cajun seasoning already has salt in it. Start with 1/4 a teaspoon and take it from there.
Peel and devein the shrimp removing the tails as well. Rinse off the shrimp and scallops in cold water in a strainer and put them off to the side. Let the water drain out of them as you are preparing the Cajun paste For the Cajun paste, combine in a mixing bowl the canola oil, Cajun seasoning, white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and salt. Whisk the contents into a paste thoroughly, mixing all of the ingredients together. Take the shrimp and sea scallops and toss them in the paste until all of it is completely coated in the mixture. Take a non-stick sauté pan. Add the butter to the pan while it’s completely cold them put the pan on medium heat (for a lighter heart healthy dish, simply spray the pan with non-stick spray and do not use any butter at all). When the butter melts, completely coating the pan and it begins to turn a somewhat golden color, add the shrimp and sea scallops. Turn up the heat slightly. Let them sit on the bottom of the pan on one side for about 3-5 minutes or until they begin to brown . Then flip them over and do the same for the other side. Continue until the shrimp and scallops are completely caramelized (the caramelizing effect will occur only if you use butter). This will take anywhere from 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the heat and serve them over rice (brown or white). Serve with your vegetable of choice.