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Blonde Cucina: February is full of fun food days

by on February 24, 2016 10:42 AM

The month of February has been full of fun food days, including Fat Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, National Drink Wine Day and National Margarita Day.

Excited by the prospects of these many delicious days, I immediately wanted to go into research-and-development mode and push my skills to the limit to see how I could transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Owning a restaurant and doing cooking on a daily basis, I find myself constantly cooking with wine, so this time I decided to try something different: a great margarita recipe, and I’m not talking about some plain old drink recipe, either.

Let’s talk about the basics of cooking with wine and alcohol.

Whether it’s wine or liquor, not all the alcohol burns off when you cook with it. There could be as much as 85 percent of the alcohol left or as little as 4 percent. But, the longer you cook items, the less alcohol remains.

Using liquor and wine adds flavor to food and helps to reduce the amount of fat you cook with. Also, for all you scientists out there, alcohol helps achieve desired chemical reactions in foods. Beer contains yeast, which leavens breads. Or, in a basic cheese-and-wine fondue, wine is used because it lowers the boiling point of the cheese, which in turn helps prevent curdling.

In honor of February's National Margarita Day, here is a great recipe that has the bright flavors of a margarita and the freshness of the sea.



Start to finish: 30 minutes or less

Servings: 6

Juice of 3 limes

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons tequila

1 tablespoon Grand Mariner

Salt and pepper for seasoning

24 jumbo shrimp

12 jumbo scallops

1 medium papaya, peeled and diced

1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon white onion, minced

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons orange juice

12 water-soaked skewers

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

Add juice of 3 limes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, tequila, Grand Mariner and salt and pepper to a large bowl and stir to combine into marinade. Add the shrimp and scallops and set aside for about 10 minutes.

In a second bowl, add papaya, pineapple, jalapeno, garlic, onion, juice of 2 lime and orange juice, mixing together to create salsa.

Take shrimp and scallops out of marinade. Begin threading 2 shrimp and 1 scallop on each skewer. Thread a shrimp first with the “U” of the shrimp facing up, then add scallop followed by second shrimp with “U” facing down.

Cook skewers 2 1/2 minutes on each side. After 5 minutes of cooking time, place finished skewers on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Each person gets 2 skewers served on a bed of spicy, sweet salsa.

Serve with plain white rice or pasta, if desired.


Ciara Semack is the owner of The Blonde Bistro in Bellefonte. She is the mother of one and a lifelong resident of Centre County. Her column appears every other week in the Gazette. Questions, suggestions and comments can be directed to [email protected]
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