A few weeks ago, I was very fortunate to be chosen to participate in Foodbuzz’s 24X24 project. Basically, they showcase 24 featured publishers from all over the world to host and post up a meal, all within 24 hours. My theme was Red February. February is American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day is also in the month of love. Each dish would either be red or have some red to it. Foodbuzz pays for the meal, so all I had to do was come up with a menu. For our appetizers, I made a lovely radicchio salad and homemade garlic bread with paprika. Our entree was fettuccine with shrimp and lobster Fra Diablo sauce.
My boyfriend helped make the garlic bread. The red part of the bread was the paprika. I bought a loaf of Italian bread and garlic spread. Danny sliced the loaf of bread in half and spread a few tablespoons of garlic spread and a dash of paprika. Then we baked the bread in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until it got crispy. The bread came out delicious! It was garlicky and had a nice little kick to it. The bread dipped in the marinara sauce was super delicious and added a little more heat.
I also made a radicchio salad, a great nutritious salad that’s great for the winter. This salad was vibrant and colorful. It was a big hit during dinner! I couldn’t find any pomegranate, so we didn’t have it with the salad. I love nuts in my salad, so the walnuts added a great crunch. The arugula added a slight bitterness and the apple added a nice fresh sweetness to it. The radicchio and romaine lettuce added the crunch and freshness. We also added gorgonzola cheese so good! I also made the dressing and it was actually really good! I’m not a big fan of mustard but the honey balanced out the mustard. I found the recipe recipe.
Radicchio Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranates
Prep: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 head radicchio, cored and finely chopped
2 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped arugula leaves
1 Fuji apple, diced
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat Blue cheese (goat cheese may be substituted)
1. Whisk together vinegar and next 4 ingredients; set aside.
2. Combine radicchio, romaine, arugula, apples, walnuts, cranberries and pomegranate seeds in a large salad bowl. Top Blue cheese and toss with dressing.
The main dish was fettuccine with shrimp and lobster Fra Diablo sauce. This came out amazing! I bought fresh fettuccine, so that didn’t take long to cook. The sauce was made from scratch. I’ve made this sauce in the past and it’s always been a hit. There’s a little kick to it but so fresh and rich. The shrimp and lobster was cooked perfectly and went great with the pasta. Here is the original recipe.
2 packages fresh fettuccine
extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried red chiles (or equivalent in crushed red chile flakes)
1 can (28 oz) san marzano tomatoes
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup assorted pitted olives
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salst and freshly ground black pepper
salata ricotta for garnish
1. Begin with the sauce. Take a large skillet and add a 2-count of olive oil over medium heat. Once you get a shimmer, add the minced garlic and dried red chiles and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add the chopped onion, pitted olives, torn basil leaves, thyme and bay leaf then cook until translucent — about 2-3 minutes. Strain the san marzano tomatoes and hand crush into a separate bowl, than add to skillet. Bring to boil, turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. The salted water should taste like the sea. Cook the fettuccini al dente then drain and dump directly into the diablo sauce. a ladle and add some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with basil leaves and some shaved salata ricotta.
3. For the seafood, I boiled 2 pounds large shrimp and sauteed 3 lobster tails in butter. When the seafood is almost cooked all the way, throw the seafood in the sauce and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
For dessert, I made strawberry italian ice. It was a great coolant after the spicy pasta. I love fruit and frozen treats, so this was definitely in my alley. I loved how the italian ice had so many different fruit flavors (strawberry, orange, lemon, and lime). The ice was so fresh and not that sweet. My only complaint was the strawberry seeds got stuck in my teeth but I wouldn’t let that stop me from having some of it. Here is the original recipe.
Strawberry Italian Ice
Makes: 8 servings
Prep: 25 mins Freeze: 6 hours overnight Stand: 20 mins
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water, and peels. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Strain and discard peels. Stir in orange, lemon, and lime juices.
2. In a blender container or food processor bowl combine half of the juice mixture and half of the strawberries. Cover and blend or process with several on/off turns or until nearly smooth (leave some small chunks of strawberries). Transfer to a 2-quart freezer container. Repeat with remaining juice mixture and strawberries. Cover and freeze 6 hours or overnight, stirring once after freezing for 3 hours.
3. To serve, scrape across frozen mixture with a large spoon and place into individual serving dishes (if mixture is too firm, let stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes). Makes 8 servings.
Our last dessert was Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cakes. This was such a cute little dessert, more like cupcakes. I just don’t know how they decorated the cupcakes so nicely. The chocolate on my cupcakes were so messy. The cupcake itself was rich and chocolately but not very sweet. The strawberry jam added a nice fruity sweetness. The ganache was overly sweet and it was fun dipping the strawberry in leftover ganache! Here is the original recipe.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cakes
Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes
Prep: 50 mins
Bake: 15 mins
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 recipe Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
12 medium strawberries
3 ounces bittersweet and/or milk chocolate curls
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour or line with paper bake cups twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups; set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder until combined. Add egg and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, beat lightly just until combined.
3. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to chocolate mixture, beating by hand after each addition. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges; carefully remove cupcakes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
5. If cupcakes don’t have paper liners, trim a thin slice from top of each cupcake so they will sit flat. Turn bottom side up. Place cupcakes 2 inches apart on wire rack set over waxed paper. (For cupcakes in liners, peel liners down but do not remove.) Spread 1 teaspoon of the strawberry jam over each cupcake.
6. Prepare Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. (below) Spoon ganache over cupcakes, making sure to coat all sides. Place a strawberry on top of each cake. Drizzle each strawberry lightly with ganache, letting the strawberry show through. Top cupcakes with chocolate curls. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Make Ahead Tip To Bake Ahead:Prepare as directed through step 4. Place cooled cupcakes in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw cupcakes, if frozen. Continue as directed in step 5.
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
1 cup whipping cream
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the whipping cream just to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add the bittersweet chocolate, chopped (do not stir). Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until ganache is smooth.