Archive for wine

Red Lentils & Red Wine Soup

Posted in Italian, soup with tags , , , , on November 7, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I love lentils.  I could seriously eat them for every meal.  Problem is Mark is not too fond of them.  But I think I have solved the problem!  This was my first time using red lentils. These are much smaller than green lentils, and I found they weren’t as overpowering.  Because of their miniature size, they are not front-and-center.  The soup really looked more like a vegetable soup, which doesn’t really help me much since Mark does not really like soup either.  I was prepared for Mark’s picky self to refuse to eat dinner, but to my surprise he ate his entire bowl, and then asked for another!  He did note, however, that these would be even better with spicy portuguese sausage.  And I agree. Even though I don’t eat meat, I think the addition of sausage would be fantastic in this soup.

What makes this lentil soup special is the addition red wine, balsamic vinegar, and yams. The balsamic and yams give the soup a slight sweetness to it, while the red pepper flakes gives it heat (the spicy sausage would also serve this purpose). Best lentil soup I have made thus far.

Lentil Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 celery stocks, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 1 sweet potato or yam, diced
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package spinach, thawed
  • 1 1/2 c. red lentils (or 1 c. green lentils)….red lentils are smaller than the green ones
  • 4 c. water
  • 3 c. chicken or veg. stock
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, oregano, italian seasoning, cumin, red pepper flakes
  • Topping: plain yogurt (or sour cream), parmesan cheese
  • (optional) spicy italian or portuguese sausage

Directions: Saute veggies for about 10 minutes in light olive oil.  Add lentils and crushed tomatoes.  Add liquid and spices. Cover and cook on med heat for about 1 hour. Serve with plain yogurt (or sour cream) and parmesan cheese.


Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Gin Marinara and Basil Fettuccine Alfredo

Posted in Italian with tags , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I used to make chicken parmesan often, being one of Mark’s favorite meals.  Since going vegetarian I have been wanting to make eggplant parmesan. I love eggplant, but Mark and I are not on the same page on this one.  After a day of hiking we were on our way home, tired and hungry.  Mark came up with the idea of making both chicken and eggplant parmesan.  He agreed to help so I gave in.  We only needed 1 onion and 1 chicken breast from the store so we made a quick stop. I ran into the store, waited in the butcher line only to find out they didn’t sell chicken. I visited the packaged chicken section for the first time in 3 months and I could not justify spending $6 for more chicken then we needed.  I left with my onion thinking that Mark could go to another store while I started cooking.  Surprisingly he said he would just eat the eggplant. I don’t think it was his changing attitude, however. I am willing to bet everything I have on pure laziness.  Anyways, this forced him to eat the eggplant.  He liked it, but he said it just didn’t taste like chicken.  Really?? Are you sure the taste wasn’t similar? I mean, they look similar, don’t they? I don’t know what he was expecting. I mean, it is “eggplant” parmesan. He did eat it though, he just wasn’t jumping with happiness.  I, on the other hand, loved it and had it again for lunch the next day. It was awesome.

The gin marinara sauce and the basil fettuccine alfredo were excellent as well, and Mark definitively agreed.  The most consuming part about this dish is waiting for the marinara sauce to reduce (about 30 minutes total). The rest of this dish is super easy. Give it a try!

Gin Marinara Sauce

Gin Marinara Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 big can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3-1/2 c. red wine
  • 1 shot gin or vodka
  • Handful chopped basil
  • 2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese


  1. In hot olive oil add onions and a bit of salt. Add garlic, black pepper, and italian seasoning.
  2. Add canned whole tomatoes, squeezing each tomato to break apart. Do not add remaining tomato juice in can.
  3. Add red wine and gin.
  4. Add chopped basil.
  5. Heat on med/low heat for about 30 minutes. Season with more salt to taste.
  6. Blend with emersion blender and add parmesan cheese.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Flour
  • Salt + Pepper + italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese


  • Pre heat oven to 425
  • Place peeled and sliced eggplant in cold water for about 20 minutes while you make marinara sauce
  • After 20 minutes, remove from water and sprinkle a bit of salt on both sides of eggplant
  • Combine flour, pepper, salt, and italian seasoning in bowl
  • In 2nd bowl combine egg and 1 tbsp water
  • In third bowl add panko bread crumbs
  • Dip parmesan in flour, then egg mixture, then panko
  • Place eggplant in greased casserole dish
  • Heat for 5-7 minutes and flip over for another 5 minutes
  • Take out of oven and add marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese
  • Heat for another 7-10 minutes

Basil Fettuccine Alfredo

Basil Fettuccine Alfredo Ingredients

  • 1/2 package fettuccine, cooked with 1 tbsp olive oil to prevent sticking together
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/3 package cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • A pinch of nutmeg


  1. Boil fettuccine in salted water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil on pasta and set aside
  2. In saucepan, place cream, milk, garlic, cream cheese, parmesan, salt + pepper and heat on low.When cheeses are melted and sauce thickens, add mozzarella and nutmeg.
  3. Combine pasta and alfredo sauce. Add basil leaves.

White Wine Clam Linguini

Posted in Italian, Seafood with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I saw the movie Ratatouille on TV last night. I adore that movie. I specially like when the food critic explains to Linguini his passion for food: “I don’t like food, I love it. And if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow!” I should have taken the critics advice and not swallowed this evil, bad clam.

I always wanted to make clams. They look so appetizing to me. The first time I saw this dish was in the island of Ischia, Italy on a beachfront restaurant Mark took me to. I can’t remember what I ordered that day, but I do remember what the people next to me ordered. It was a big bowl of linguini with bright red grape tomatoes, topped with clams still intact to their shells. It looked absolutely wonderful. 5 years later I still had not tasted clams…until last week when I made this recipe.

Maybe I didn’t cook the clams right, or maybe I got some bad clams, but it was a terrible experience for me. When the clams were cooked I decided to take a quick taste and picked out the smallest one out of the bunch. It was chewy, but not bad. A few minutes later I had my second one. This clam was much different, and one I will always regret eating.  I still want to gag when I think about it’s thick creamy center that was clinging to the back of my tongue, as if I had eaten a clam filled with shortening. I tried washing it away with water, to no avail. I can’t imagine people liking clams if that is truly what they taste like, which leads me to believe that maybe that was just one bad clam. Dinner time commenced was ended without Mark nor I having the strength to taste another one. It will take one extremely appetizing clam cooked by an acclaimed chef to get me to try again. Once we picked out the clams we had some fantastic spaghetti, thank god! (I know, I said it was linguini…but I lied. Spaghetti and clams just does not sound good…).

A much better seafood substitution would be shrimps. Yum! So below you will find the recipe for White Wine Shrimp Linguini (or spaghetti).

Wine Sauce Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 shallots, minced (or 1/2 onion)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1 lime + zest
  • 1/2-1 c. dry sherry or any dry white wine

Additional Ingredients:

  • Linguini or spaghetti
  • Shrimps (or clams if you are brave)
  • Kalamata olives (or a combination of green and black olives)
  • Capers (found in olive section)
  • Italian flat-leaf parsley


  1. Add about 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter to pan. Add shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add sherry or wine. Zest lime or lemon and add to the wine. Add 1/2 of lemon juice, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. (If you want to add clams, add to wine sauce and cover. In about 10 minutes they will have opened).
  2. Meanwhile, boil pasta until just under al dente (about 7 minutes…it will continue to cook in the sauce).
  3. Add shrimps to sauce once it was simmered, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.

4.  Add the pasta into the white sauce. Add the rest of the lime juice. Add the kalamata olives, the capers and the parsley.

Serve with bread…

And a side of caesar salad.

NOTE: if you want to make the clams, clean them first by placing in a bowl of cold water and a tbsp of vinegar for about an hour. This will get rid of a lot of the sand inside the clams.

Vodka Sangria–Cheers and Happy 21st Birthday to my Little Sister!

Posted in Drinks with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

After more than a month living in Seattle I finally found my neighborhood liquor store.  I was on a mission today to pick up some Bombay Gin to mail to my little sister who is turning 21 years old.  Not only did I find a big bottle of Bombay Gin, it was packaged in a gift set with a pitcher (and in a really cute box, might I add)–it was perfect!  I was so ecstatic and ready to make the purchase when Mark, the voice of all that is legal, brings to my attention that it is a federal offense to mail liquor.  Actually, he told me this in the car before I entered the liquor store but it was my intent to not listen to him.  After all, I had to buy my little sister her first drink on her 21st birthday, right?  After many awkward minutes standing in line and jumping out, I decided to listen to my ethical side, Mark.  I mean, I should uphold the law now more than ever… I guess.  Even though I was disappointed, I didn’t leave empty handed (reference to this yummy drink). Plus, Mark and I were able to come up with a better (and legal) alternative to my sister’s birthday present.  This, however, must remain a secret, so all of you (including you, little Karina) must remain in suspense.

I made this drink for Mark and I tonight, and dedicated it to my little sister.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARI! May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face, and may the wings of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars. Cheers! I wish I could be with you to buy you your very first (legal) drink, but when you come out here to Seattle, I promise to take you out and buy you many drinks 🙂

Now, for the tasty and tipsy recipe:

Spanish Sangria is traditionally made with brandy, orange juice, and red wine. Fruit is added, such as apples, oranges, pears, and lime. The Sangria is refrigerated with the fruit for several hours, which enhances the flavors while the fruit absorbs all the alcohol–which makes for a good appetizer!

My version is a little different, and can be consumed right after making it. I used Passion Fruit Vodka, but you can use your favorite alcohol. I added pineapple at the bottom, and a mixture of the vodka, orange juice, pineapple juice and a bit of lime. I cut a round piece of orange and lime and let it float. Then I topped it off with a bit of red wine and blueberries.  As you can see in the picture, the orange slice helps the blueberries stay in the top of the drink making it look super awesome.

You can use any fruit you have on hand, as well as any juice and alcohol. To keep it in the Sangria category though, you might want to stick with a bit of orange juice and red wine.  Enjoy!