All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood, Poultry

Chicken Shrimp Scampi on Steroids

Are you just like me, enjoying the combination of different proteins in Chinese meals? So you don’t have to decide if you feel more like shrimp or chicken today, because you can combine the two? I had some of each at home, and realized that I can combine the two with even crazier combo – gnocchi. So this is my own Italian-inspired-twist-on-Chinese-Chicken-and-Shrimp… or my Scampi on Steroids. It doesn’t have much from either cuisines but that’s what makes it fun.

IMG_5758WChicken Shrimp Scampi on Steroids

(this recipe is for 4 portions)

  • 8 largest shrimp (I used Costco 11-15 count per 1.5lb)
  • 4-6 chicken tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup baby Portobello mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
  • 1 leek
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped into small pieces)
  • 1 turnip (peeled and chopped into small pieces)
  • 1 cup of sweet corn (fresh or from can)
  • gnocchi (yes, I took a shortcut here and used the ones already made in Italian market. They cook in 1 minute in boiling water.)
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • 2 tablespoons Pellago Pollo Vesuvio Seasoning
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup of crisp dry white wine
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • parsley

In the large pan melt tablespoon of butter in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Clean and slice leek – the light part and light green part only. Add to the pan, and saute on medium until nice and caramelized.

In the meantime,  bring 4 cups of water to boil in another pan, add salt and when boiling, add gnocchi. They are done when they float to the surface (about a minute or two). Drain the water, sprinkle little bit of olive oil, so they don’t stick together and put them aside.

IMG_5748WPeel and chop carrots, mushrooms and turnip. The trick with turnip is to cut around the hard middle part – I usually cut lengthwise from each sides, so it leaves out the hard middle part that I don’t use. Turnip adds an interesting flavors to this dish. And, when cut into small pieces, you can fool your kids into eating some veggies. Because when this becomes the sauce for the gnocchi,  accommodating that yummy chicken and shrimp, they wouldn’t even notice they eat vegetables.


IMG_5745WAdd chopped veggies to the leeks, stir, season with salt and pepper and continue sauteing on low.

IMG_5746WWhen the veggies are sauteing on low, clean the meat and cut chicken tenderloins into bite sizes about the same size as the gnocchi.

IMG_5747WDe-vain and peel the shrimp and do the same. I know – right now you are thinking – why is she wasting the large shrimp when she cuts it into pieces anyway? Well, it’s because the thickness will be about the same as the chicken, and then you get a perfect composed bite of chicken, shrimp and gnocchi. Trust me on this one.

IMG_5750WBy now the veggies are softening, so go ahead and introduce the white wine to the party. At this point I also added pinch of red pepper flakes, because I like it. It’s totally up to you, you can skip the step.

Is the other pan, you used for cooking the gnocchi, still sitting on the counter? Add olive oil to it, turn the heat back on medium hot and quickly saute chicken tenderloins cut into pieces. Season the meat with Pollo Vesuvio Seasoning directly in the pan, stirring it until the pieces are brown from all sides, and add the chicken to the veggies.

IMG_5751WUsing the same pan, add a little bit of oil if needed, and saute shrimp, stirring it so it get cooked from each side. I didn’t season the shrimp because there was still a little residue from the Pollo Vesuvio seasoning left in the pan, but you can add a little bit of salt, if preferred. As soon as the shrimp turns pink, don’t overcook it and throw it to the large pan to join the chicken and veggies.

IMG_5752WIMG_5754WPress all the garlic and mix into the dish. Now it smells amazing. You don’t have to worry to be too garlicky – it will cook out, and also, when you later mix it with gnocchi, the garlic will have much softer flavor.

Now all the veggies are nice and soft and created a sauce that will coat the gnocchi beautifully. If it’s too dry, add a little bit more white wine, and/or butter. OK, I promised it’s delicious, I didn’t promise diet food! What do you think makes all the restaurant dishes soooo delicious? You guessed it! B.U.T.T.E.R.! You need a sauce to coat the gnocchi, so the composition will be perfect.

At this point I added the sweet corn and cooked gnocchi. Stir everything together, a quick check tasting for the seasoning, and it was perfect! The crunchiness of the freshly cooked sweet shrimp, combined with the sweetness of caramelized leeks and corn, that just burst in your mouth, soft chicken and a touch of heat from peppers… and the garlic that reminds me of shrimp scampi…. but this meal is so much more. The veggies that you wouldn’t even notice at this point created this wonderful composition of flavors for the sauce and all that yumminess wrapped around your soft gnocchi like cashmere scarf.


Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and all that’s left to do is open a great bottle of white wine (I had Gruner Veltliner with it since it was already opened – remember? I used it in the sauce), and just dig in! I certainly hope you will enjoy this as much as we did. Please let me know!

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood

Seared Salmon on the bed of Sautéed Spinach and Caper Béchamel Sauce

Seared Salmon w Bechamel Sauce

I thought of this delicious way of serving salmon one day, when expected friends over for dinner. I wanted to make something fancier than my usual, simply broiled salmon, seasoned with salt and pepper. I would usually make it in my favorite kitchen appliance in the world (toaster oven), and saute some fresh spinach on olive oil with little bit of sliced garlic.

This time, with just a little touch added – I must say that the Béchamel sauce brought the dish to an entire new level. The sauce is the most difficult part of this recipe. But don’t get discouraged – it sounds more difficult than it really is. To prepare this dish took me less than half an hour.


Seared Salmon on the bed of Sautéed Spinach and Caper Béchamel Sauce


4 portions of salmon (or how many you need)

1 bag of baby spinach, washed

2 cloves of garlic

1 and ½ cup of milk

1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 table spoon unsalted butter

2 table spoons flour

2 dried cloves

1 bay leaf

2 table spoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon capers (drained)

Salt and pepper

In a small pan heat up the butter and sauté chopped onion and carrot, slightly seasoned with salt and pepper about 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add cloves, bay leaf and 1 spoon of green parsley and let sauté for another minute. Sprinkle with flour, slightly mix together and sauté  until combined. Add milk and whisk together on low heat, until thickened.

Strain the ready sauce into a small saucer, and adjust seasoning if desired. Add the rest of fine chopped fresh parsley and drained capers.  Set aside.

In a heavy pan (or in the skillet) heat olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Place seasoned salmon (really, just salt and pepper), patted dry with paper towel, skin side down on hot skillet. Cook without touching for at least 3 minutes, until crisp. Carefully turn around and finish cooking – about 2 minutes more, depends on the thickness of your fish. Or, you can put it to the the oven after you turn the fish around and let finish cooking for about 5 minutes, at 350˚F.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a deeper pan, add washed spinach and on medium low heat start turning it around until it reduces into about 1/3 of the original amount. Add salt and pepper, thinly sliced  garlic and cook few more minutes, just to soften.

Pour hot Béchamel sauce to the bottom of the plate, add a little bit of sautéed spinach over it and place the portion of salmon on top. For a nicer presentation, I put a slice of lemon on each salmon and seared a large shrimp for each plate. Never enough of yummy shrimp!

Salmon with Bechamel sauce and sauteed spinach

I have paired this dish with Adelsheim Pinot Noir and realy enjoyed the pairing. If you feel more comfortable with white wine, you can either choose crisp, un-oaked Chardonnay, that cuts through the creaminess of the sauce, or other white variety such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc…. or perhaps  Grüner Veltliner anyone?

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood

Salmon in the blanket

I have seen the end of this recipe, featured one day in “French cooking”, on the Food Channel. Unfortunately, I didn’t see most of the episode, so I had to guess the ingredients myself. It looked pretty simple, and soooo delicious that I couldn’t resist, went to the Farmers market and bough a piece of salmon to try it – the same day!

It was a simple idea and I could fill in dots myself. I am pretty sure there is even proper name for this French dish, which I didn’t catch – for the same reason (turning on the TV just about when she was wrapping it up, and putting this beauty to the oven). So forgive me, I have made up my own name and version of this superb recipe.

Oh, by the way – it was truly delicious! The pastry dough prevented the salmon from drying, so it stayed super moist, and the whole dish was such a great looking presentation – I am planning to make it for my next guests. Please let me know if you try it. I am considering wrapping individual portions for each of my guests the next time.


1-2 lb of salmon (depends on how many people you need to feed)

1 box of frozen puff pastry

1 lb of asparagus

1 small container of Mascarpone cheese

1 small container of canned artichoke hearts

1 clove of garlic

1 egg

handful of fresh parsley (or dill, if you prefer. I don’t 🙂 )

salt and pepper

Thaw the dough and roll out two similar size rectangles on floured table. Carefully spread one of the pastry rectangle on the baking sheet.

Cook asparagus in salted water to “al-dente”, drain and immediately place in bowl filled with ice water to preserve its green color. Cut off the tips of the asparagus.

Place Mascarpone cheese, asparagus tips, artichoke hearts (drained) and garlic in food processor. Add parsley to the cheese and mix together until smooth.

Clean salmon filet of skin, possible visible bones and dry it in paper towel. Season fish with salt and pepper. Place salmon in the middle of the pastry. Cover the top of the fish with cheese mixture and spread evenly with spoon.

Take the asparagus from the ice water and pat dry. Place the vegetables evenly on the fish (I used mix of green and white asparagus just to play with colors). Coat the uncovered  dough edges with beaten egg, so the top dough will stick better to the bottom. Cover the fish with the other rectangle and push the edges back to seal. Make few cuts into the top of the dough with sharp knife to allow the steam out, while baking. Coat the dough with egg wash before baking so it will come out nice and shiny.

Preheat oven to 425F and bake the salmon for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot or warm, with your choice of vegetables. I used the rest of the asparagus.  I believe this dish will be delicious even at the room temperature. The salmon came out fantastic, moist and delicious. Loved it!

Suggested wine pairing:

I have paired this dish with A by Acacia Pinot Noir and it work perfectly well with the richness of the salmon. Pinot Noir from French Burgundy, or other cooler region’s (like Oregon, Washington State, New Zealand) will work perfectly well too.

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood

Salmon Tartar

I just recently made this recipe for our friends, as an appetizer. I wasn’t sure if they would mind the idea of eating a raw fish. Well, it seemed that I didn’t make enough that night. Just few days ago my husband mentioned that he was craving salmon tartar. And since I just went to Whole Foods, and bought the most beautiful piece of wild organic salmon, I thought it was a great idea to let the quality fish shine on its own. So here is my recipe the way we love it at our home:

Salmon tartar

1 lbs fresh wild salmon, skinless
1 shallot, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice from 1 lime
2 tbs dry white wine (optional)
1 tbs fresh green dill (if you can’t stand dill like me, substitute for parsley, chive, whatever you like)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs chopped capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Baguette or your favorite bread

This recipe works with raw salmon so I recommend getting the freshest, highest quality fish you can. Carefully clean the meat of any bones, fat spots or skin.

Cut the salmon into tiny little cubes by hand (you can use a processor but any great chef wouldn’t approve of that when preparing tartar).
In a small bowl put the finely chopped meat, add shallot, all the spices, lime juice and mix well with the fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Brush each slice of bread or French baguette with an olive oil, spread it on the baking sheet and let’s bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until lightly brown and crispy. You can also toast the bread, but trust me, it’s not the same.

It is nice to serve tartar in the bowl or arranged on the plate, and slices of the bread on the side – to let everybody make their own plate.

Serve with dry white wine or champagne. Bon appetite!

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood, Pasta

Shrimp Scampi

I first tasted this meal when my husband (who never cooks) made it for me. You know, when we were still dating…:) I wasn’t familiar with seafood so much those days. It was a simple and soooo delicious dish. I started to make it myself and as the time goes, I was adding little more of my tweaks to it. Recently, I bought a bunch of bok choy cabbage and decided to use it in my shrimp scampi. You can leave it out if you don’t care for it, but it came out really good!

Shrimp Scampi (this time a little different)

1 bag of your favorite pasta (I like spaghetti or linguine)
1 leek cleaned, and chopped into rings
1 bok choy cabbage (optional)
3 cloves of garlic – pressed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound (about 10-12 large shrimp uncooked)
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
half a cup of white wine
salt and pepper
chopped basil and parsley for garnish

In a large frying pan melt butter with olive oil on medium heat and add red pepper flakes (if desired). Add chopped leeks, turn down the heat and let saute on low  for 5-10 minutes until translucent.  When caramelized and soft, add white wine to the pan and de-glaze it.

Let the wine reduce and add cleaned, raw shrimp. Shrimp should be in the sauce, not just on top of it, so it can cook well. Sometimes I like to cut the shrimp in half, because it’s easier to roll it on my fork with the spaghetti that way. Unfortunately, that didn’t make for the best picture. We love this dish so much that nobody can wait until the nice picture is taken 🙂

Cover the pan and cook few minutes until all the shrimp is pink. Don’t over cook the shrimp though, it only takes a short few minutes.

In the meantime, boil large pot of water, heavily salted and cook your pasta based on the instructions, drain and return to the pot. Add a splash of olive oil, stir and keep hot.

Add pressed garlic into the shrimp and stir well. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Rinse and chop bok choy cabbage. Add to the mixture and let cook for another minute. Add cooked hot pasta and toss together. Garnish with basil and parsley. Buon appetito!

Wine pairing suggestions:
I have tasted a lovely, fresh Huber Hugo Grüner Veltliner (Austria) with this dish and it was so refreshing! Another choice was my long time favorite Las Brisas from Spain. The Spanish wine added a lot of character because of the expressive Sauvignon Blanc, but Huber was a superb match with shrimp scampi in my opinion. Both great wines for spring and upcoming summer!