mediterranean pasta

Mediterranean fare is my absolute favorite. Lemons, figs, olives, almonds, eggplant, tomatoes, cheese and pomegranates–all wonderful tasty morsels and healthy food choices. Throw in lamb, seafood, pasta, a bottle of wine, and some fresh baked bread and I could live on this food forever.

If you love vegetables, you will LOVE this dish. Oven roasted eggplant, mushrooms, olives and tomatoes bring out an intense flavor for this Seduction Meal. This garlic infused vegetable medley can be served over polenta or pasta as in the recipe below.

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Mediterranean Pasta

  • 1lb of your favorite pasta, I used Gragnanese
  • 5 baby eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch slices and cut in half
  • 9 large button mushrooms, quartered
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic for the vegetables
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup of pitted Kalmata olives

________

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed for the olive oil sauce
  • red pepper flake
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • ¼ cup of fresh Parmesan cheese
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese over each dish

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fiesta latina + vida extraordinaire

Tequila and food pairings–now that is something to explore. In Mexico Tequila is typically served with food as tiny shots, similar to how Russians enjoy vodka in between bites. When pairing Tequila with food you want to serve a premium tequila that is made for sipping. I recently discovered a wonderful ultra premium tequila called Anejo VIDA Tequila–a blend for the true tequila aficionado.

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The finest tequilas are made from 100% blue agave
plant juices and are
best enjoyed slightly chilled and straight, offering a pure, clean
taste. For those who prefer mixed drinks instead of drinking neat, there are many tequila cocktails including the most recognized tequila drink– the margarita. VIDA has created a collection
of simple
to exotic recipes you can serve with your meals such as the Beso de la Manana, Vida Rojo, the
Green Tequilatini, Gourmet Vida, and their signature drink the East Coast
V.
Watch for upcoming cocktail recipes.

At the same time that I discovered VIDA tequila, I also found this GREAT new
cookbook called Fiesta Latina. I want to make every dish in this book! 

Armed with VIDA in one hand, and Fiesta Latina in the other, you
are sure to create a Seduction Meal for your significant other that will always be remembered. VIDA offers three distinct premium blends that will perfectly complement the fabulous recipes you will find in Fiesta Latina.

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Three VIDA Premium Blends and Suggested Recipes

VIDA Anejo (Extra-Aged) – Rich & Clean this is the finest of the three
styles. Vida’s Anejo Tequila is meant to be sipped. This will go well with the Lobster Chipotle Crab Cakes, or the Sirloin Steak Tiradito with Traditional Chimichurri, or one of my all time favorite dishes (not in the cookbook) but served at Mi Cocina in NYC: Chile en nogada, a poblano chili
stuffed with a pork picadillo flavored with raisins, lemon and almonds sitting on top of a walnut cream sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. What I wouldn’t do to get my hands on that recipe…

VIDA Reposado (Aged) – Sweet & Smoky this pairs well with pork and chicken dishes such as Roasted Chicken and Saffron Lobster Mashed Potatoes, or Roasted Duck Ropa Vieja Quesadillas with Spicy Guacamole, or to compliment the sweetness of the Sweet Corn Arepas Topped with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream.

VIDA Blanco (Silver) – Pure & Smooth Blanco tequila goes best with Seafood and Citrus based foods such as Fiesta Latina’s Lobster Mango Ginger and Lemongrass Ceviche or Crispy East Coast Oysters with Sweet Fufu and Saffron Aioli or Marinated Lobster Tail and Scallop Pinchos.

asparagus + lemon butter

A reputed aphrodisiac, this delicious vegetable is a Seduction Meal on its own when served to each other dripping in lemon-butter sauce for a sensual, finger-licking treat for two. Given it’s phallic shape, asparagus have been often referred to as a libido enhancer but only you can be the judge of that. This easy to prepare, yet tasty side dish complements a wide variety of main meals.

asparagus_lemon_butter_f.jpgasparagus + lemon butter

one bunch of thin asparagus
2 – 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Juice of 1 lemon
thinly shaved lemon peel
Sea Salt

Wash and trim asparagus spears by cutting off the tough bottoms (1 to 1 1/2 inches)
In a steamer add salt water to the bottom (about 3 inches deep), place asparagus spears in the top strainer and steam until tender but crisp (about 4-5 minutes). Test taste one to be sure. Do not over cook the asparagus otherwise it will be mushy. Individual spears should remain stiff when you hold it–limp asparagus is a turn-off.

Remove spears from the heat and let air dry for a couple of minutes. Next melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave, squeeze in 1/2 of the lemon juice and stir.

Plating the Dish
Arrange the spears on a serving dish. Pour the lemon / butter mixture over the asparagus. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the dish just before serving. Add  a pinch of sea salt. Garnish with lemon peel. This dish should be served right away.

You can also fill a tall shot glass, or similar vessel, with melted lemon-butter sauce to hand dip each asparagus before serving to each other for a more dramatic experience.

curry salmon

I learned to make this dish from my best friend–actually I begged her to give me the recipe every time she served it. We’d dine in her candle-lit NYC garden surrounded by roses, honey suckle, fresh herbs and always a group of interesting people. Everyone loved this dish! 

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Serve salmon over rice pilaf with a side of asparagus dripped in lemon butter (next post on Seduction Meals).

curry salmon

boneless salmon for two
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves of crush garlic
a pinch of cayenne pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons of curry (be sure it is fresh for the best flavor)
1 pint of light cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 box of Near East rice pilaf, original mix

Prepare the rice as per the range top directions.

Salmon: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic, stirring until soft. Add cayenne pepper and tomatoes. Stir ingredients; cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Add curry powder and cream, stir until well blended. Add two – three salmon pieces, skin down. Spoon the mixture over the salmon. There should be enough sauce to come at least 1/2 of the way up the sides of the salmon. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover tightly. Let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until salmon is cook to your liking. Test with a fork. Spoon mixture over the salmon from time to time.

Plating the Dish
Place a 1/2 cup or 1 cup of rice on each dish.  Place a piece of salmon on each plate next to the rice. Pour the sauce over the fish and the rice. Serve with a green vegetable. While this salmon dish is fast and easy to make, it is quite impressive in flavor and will have your amore whispering sighs of adoration in your ear.

fall carbonara celebration

This seasonal savory dish was posted by Debra in Utah. This Seduction Meal exudes the energy and excitement of fall. Although the Harvest Moon has already passed, next year try serving this dish under the magic spell of this Moon and wonderful things are sure to happen.

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“It’s a great dish to create on a brisk fall day to warm the tummy and delight guests… not to mention that it also helps make use of some of our Fall décor like squash and pumpkins.”

When Debra is not in the kitchen serving up seductive culinary masterpieces she is running her business Paper and Press — give her a call and/or check out her web site when you are in need of beautifully designed custom stationery, calling cards and invitations.

Ingredients

2 – 3 small size squash and/or pumpkins (vary for color interest)

reserved pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg

1 box of whole wheat penne pasta

2 cloves of garlic, whole

1 cup Pancetta (optional for vegetarians)

2 shallots, diced

1 1/2 cups skim or whole milk

1/2 stick butter

3/4 cups of white wine

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

1 egg (or the egg white equivalent)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup each of frozen peas and frozen corn (fresh is always wonderful if available)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

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lobster with chardonnay sauce

This wonderfully prepared Lobster dish was sent to Seduction Meals by Tony in Dallas…now that’s a Seduction Meal! Thank you Tony

lobster_in_chardonnay_sauce.jpg“Picture this…A while ago I decided to make a romantic dinner for two on Valentines Day; Lobster Thermador, that traditional dish of a lobster shell filled with cooked lobster meat, mushrooms, and cheese. Found a great recipe, followed it to a ‘T’, extracting all of the raw lobster meat from the shell by using a meat mallet to crush the shells, remove the meat, and cook it. Well, low and behold, who knew lobsters bleed??? There were red specs all over my white kitchen tiles! I didn’t notice this until after dinner when my partner asked, ‘what the heck did you slaughter in this kitchen?’–a little exaggeration of course, but true. With that in mind, when you remove the inner body cavity from the shell, as my recipe instructs, you may see a little red blood. Don’t panic. For the light hearted, you can always ask your butcher to kill the lobster before you take it home.”

The following recipe is derived from an original recipe for Lobster Thermador but redefined to create a lighter, healthier version; or so I’d like to think. Serve with your favorite side dish or salad and a fine chilled white wine.

Lobster with Chardonnay Sauce
1 ½ – 2 lb Maine Lobster
4 oz sliced mini Portobello mushrooms (cut into 2″ x 2″ semi-circle halves)
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh, coarsely chopped parsley
½ tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 oz tomato paste
2 ½ cups Chardonnay wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 T shredded Mozzarella or Emmental cheese, optional
Salt and white pepper to taste

Note: A good pair of kitchen shears will help cut the lobster shells, as opposed to a knife.

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italian luncheon james beard style

Eating out is a great inspiration for learning how to impress your loved one. Whether aroused by an exotic delicacy, captivated by a creative presentation, or enchanted by the overall mood of the experience–the lighting, music, or the decor; you can learn a lot from the masters.

The James Beard Foundation has been at the forefront of America’s culinary revolution for over 20 years. Throughout the year chefs from America’s finest restaurants and hotels cook in the kitchen of James Beard’s legendary Greenwich Village home, presenting their culinary art to Foundation members, guests and friends.The lunch events are less expensive then the dinners and are a great way to sample the goods so to speak, before becoming a member and attending lunches, dinners and other James Beard Events–all of which you will want to do.  

I attended a wonderful food and wine tasting prepared by chef Roberto Lamorte of Trattoria Dopo Teatro. Born in Pisa, Italy, Roberto’s food-loving family inspired his culinary passion. After working at two highly acclaimed NY restaurants, Le Cirque and Da Silvano, Lamorte now pays homage to the regional cuisine of Tuscany.

It was a lovely Friday afternoon and a welcomed opportunity to enjoy an outdoor cocktail reception in the James Beard Garden.

Hors d’Oeuvres

  • Chicken Liver Pâté Crostini
  • Tuna Tartare with Avocado
  • Arancini with Green Peas and Parmesan
  • Beef Carpaccio with Arugula, Parmesan, and Truffle Oil
  • Sausage, Spinach, and Gorgonzola-Filled Fried Ravioli with Tomato Sauce
  • Wine Served: Mormoraia Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2006

We moved inside for the main meal. The food served was exquisite and creatively presented, each coarse perfectly paired with select wines.

Lunch
Porcini and Ricotta-Filled Homemade Crêpes with Four-Cheese Sauce
Firriato Altavilla della Corte Grillo Bianco 2006

Stracci all’Aragosta
Homemade Pasta Ribbons with Lobster, Cherry Tomatoes, and Tuscan Pesto
H. Lun Sandbichler Pinot Noir 2004

Osso Buco alla Milanese
Braised Veal Shank with Saffron Risotto and Citrus Zest
Fontodi Chianti Classico 2001

Sfogliatina di Mele
Puff Pastry Layered with Baked Apples and Chantilly Cream, Served with Chocolate Sauce
Icardi La Rosa Selvatica Moscato d’Asti 2006

Trattoria Dopo Teatro is a unique combination of extraordinary Italian cuisine, exquisite décor and affordable prices. Appearing deceptively small from the outside, this Theater District favorite is home to one of the most beautiful interior gardens in New York City,
 
Address: 125 West 44th St. NYC (betw 6th & B’way)
(212)869-2849
Saturday Brunch 12:00-3:00pm
Pre & After Dinner Menu ushrooms

kofta kari – curry meatballs

Another great flea market cookbook find: Recipes: The Cooking of India by Time Life Books which you can find at Amazon.com. While perusing the book I landed on the page for this recipe and happily paid my two dollars. Three hours later I am in the kitchen surrounded by the wonderful aroma of curry. This dish makes a wonderful appetizer or served as a main course over rice pilaf. The recipe below serves 6 to 8. Accompanied by wine or beer, this is surely a savory Seduction Meal.

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Meatballs

26 whole blanched almonds
1 tsp saffron threads
1 tbsp boiling water
2 pounds ground lamb (you can use a mix of lamb, beef or pork)
1 egg
1/3 cup of chick pea flour
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp garam marsala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold water
vegetable oil for deep frying

Preparing the meatballs

Place the almonds in a bowl of water, add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch and soak for at least 4 hours

Drop the saffron into a small bowl, pour in 1 tbsp of boiling water and soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a deep bowl combine ground meat, egg, 1/4 cup of flour, onions, cilantro, ginger, garam masala, cayenne pepper and salt.

Knead the mixture vigorously with your hands. Pour the saffron and its soaking liquid over the meat and stir together thoroughly.

Shape the Koftas, or meatballs, in the following fashion: Divide the mixture into 26 portions and pat each one in a slightly flattened round. Drain the almonds and place one in the center of each of the flattened patties. Shape the beef around the nut into a ball, enclosing the almond completely.

Make a thick, smooth batter with 4 tbsp of the flour and 3 tbsp of cold water. Mix together well. With your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the batter evenly on all sides of the meatballs. Arrange the Kofti/meatballs side by side on a sheet of wax paper.

Pour two cups of vegetable oil (oil should be about 2-3 inches deep)
into a large frying pan or wok. I used two pans to keep things moving
and used 2 cups of oil in each. Heat the oil until it is very hot,
lower heat to medium high. Place meatballs in batches of 7 or 8,
deep-fry the koftas in the oil, turning them about with a slotted spoon
for 3-4 minutes, or until they are richly brown on all sides. As they
brown transfer them to paper towels to drain.

Next: Preparing the Curry Sauce 

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traditional pasta sundays

Tradition. It stays with you your whole life. The rituals, memories, scents, tastes and sounds hopefully all conjure up feelings of love and comfort. My family tradition–every Sunday was Pasta Day. My entire family would gather at my grandfather’s house in Brooklyn to share the day and feast on a 5 course meal.

We would start with a mix of artfully prepared appetizers such as stuffed artichokes, shrimp croquettes, and stuffed mushrooms. Coarse two: Pasta. This would be accompanied by a meat platter filled with hot and sweet Italian sausage, the best meatballs, and pork so succulent it would fall apart as you tried to fork a piece. This was followed by a light green salad. And the grand finale: A mix of Italian pastries and fresh fruit served with coffee and Sambucca. You can just imagine the aromas that filled this house every Sunday.

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For my Seduction Meal of today, and in honor of my Italian heritage, I am preparing a simpler version of our Sunday Italian feasts.

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The Menu

  • Olive oil, bite-sized pieces of fresh Parmesan Cheese, and Ecci Panis European Baguette
  • Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Salad
  • Macaroni served with Mushroom Tomato Sauce and Succulent Pork
  • Cannolis, coffee and Sambuca

 The macaroni is served with slow-cooked pork that simmers in a tomato sauce for about 3 hours. At the last hour of cooking I add sauteed Portabella mushrooms. This dish is served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and served with a nice red wine like Barolo or Chianti Classico Reserve. The recipe that follows serves four hungry Italians.

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arugula salad

As part of your culinary seduction quest, you will be happy to know Arugula (also known as rocket) has a long history of being referred to as an Aphrodisiac dating back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians.

Arugula has a peppery, somewhat bitter taste. It is typically sold with its roots attached and tends to have dirt/grit on the leaves so it needs a good cleaning. When buying arugula, look for bright green leaves that are not wilting. Baby arugula leaves are preferred for salads, while mature arugula leaves are larger, darker green and spicier. The thinner the leaves the better the taste.

In this salad, the arugula is enhanced by the flavors of freshly squeezed lemon juice, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. This is a light, refreshing salad that is easy to prepare and can be serve with any meat, seafood or pasta dish; or simply eaten alone.

 
Arugula Salad with Lemon Coriander Dressing

1 small bunch of arugula, enough for two, leaves only.

juice of 1/2 lemon

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp coriander powder

4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

fresh parmesan cheese, 8-10 thinly shaved slices

salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash and dry the arugula. Place dry leaves on serving plates. Set aside.

For the dressing: Mix together the olive oil, coriander powder, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon juice. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Stir or whisk until well blended. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow the sun-dried tomatoes to absorb the dressing.  Pour the dressing over the arugula salad, add the parmesan slices, salt and pepper to taste. Pour a glass of wine, get some sexy tunes going, light the candles and dig in.

I recently discovered a very cool food blog and on it this beautifully shot and wonderful recipe for Arugula Salad with Figs. The blog is called Big City Small Kitchen. Great name and very cool blog–check it out and bookmark that recipe.  

 

 

cooking with gourmet salts

There are many varieties of gourmet salts to aid in your culinary seduction. The best salts are mined from seawater and evaporated in the sun, imparting more flavor and enhancement to your gourmet creations.

On a recent shopping excursion I discovered the beautifully designed packaging of Victoria Taylor’s Seasonings and decided to experiment with a few different salts. The three salts I carried home include: Australian Flake Salt, Celtic Sea Salt and Anglesey Sea Salt. I absolutely LOVE the Australian Flake Salt.

When I got home I ventured over to Victoria’s web site to learn some more. You can purchase sea salt and other exotic seasoning as well as sampling kits such as the Culinary Salts of the World Gift Set on her site. I recommend experimenting with salts and moving away from common table salt as soon as you dare for a more exotic cooking experience. I learned that most gourmet salts are best used as finishing salts at the end of cooking. Here is the information I found. 


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Australian Flake Salt – The brine that is the source of this salt comes from the Murray River, fed by the Australian Alps. When harvested in their natural form, the salt flakes retain trace minerals giving them a pinkish color. This salt has a delicate texture that comes from the fluffy crystals that are reminiscent of snowflakes. Use this to “finish” a recipe by crumbling the delicate crystals between your fingers to provide a finishing touch that will add a wonderful dimension to any dish.

Celtic Sea Salt – Praised by culinary professionals for its flavor and quality and by health professionals for its unrefined purity and naturally occurring minerals. Celtic Sea Salt is a product of natural crystallization of the ocean waters near Brittany, France. Use Celtic Sea Salt for finishing and baking.

Anglesey Sea Salt–The saltiest of the three, this crystallized salt from the Isle of Anglesey is a gourmet finishing salt from the cleanest ocean water off the west coast of Wales, UK. Anglesey Sea Salt has a soft, flaky texture and retains many trace minerals and elements important for good health. 

I will use these salts in upcoming recipes and hope to learn the delicate intricacies and characteristics of each. I’ve already tried the Australian Flake Salt–I poured some olive oil on plate, sprinkled some Australian Flake Salt and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes over the oil, brought out a fresh baguette to dip into the oil. There were four of us–we tore small pieces from the loaf of bread and dipped right in. Everyone loved it!

There’s nothing as special as a good friend, except perhaps a good friend with a good bottle of wine . . .
Always strive to create temptation – a glimpse of the pleasure to come – SeductionMeals.com . . .
Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex and it commands the higher price – Jean Baudrillard . . .
Age and glasses of wine should never be counted . . .
He was a bold man that first ate an oyster – Jonathan Swift . . .
A gentleman seduces his lady’s mind before he even touches her body . . .
First we eat. Then we do everything else – M.F.K Fisher . . .
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away . . .

Terry Dagrosa


Terry Dagrosa, founder and publisher of SeductionMeals.com. As President of Digital Marketing Collective and Tara del Mar Productions, she has extensive experience in sales, design, digital marketing and social media. "Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget, so we’re thrilled to introduce our very special and highly-talented contributors and friends.  They’ll share their mouth-watering recipes, cheeky anecdotes and delightfully creative perspectives with all of us. Be sure to check out their websites and follow them, too – we promise you’ll learn to love and cherish them as much as we do!" xoxo


About Seduction Meals

Seduction Meals is about Food + Romance, and everything in-between. . . a sumptuous menu, alluring presentation, sensuous music, luscious cocktails and the right ambiance. Like a precious gift, preparing a romantic meal for two is about making that certain someone feel extra special. With just the right combination of ambience and culinary delights, you too can create a memorable, delicious experience for your loved one. Seduction Meals. Everyone has one - what's YOURS?

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Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.