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FAMILY FOOD FIGHT: Battle Shrimp (Sunday, 9/14) and Salute to San Gennaro (Sunday, 9/21)

September 25, 2008 by Joan Nova in Family Food Fight, Fish/Seafood, Food Challenge, Italian | 7 Comments


The Back Story
My son, granddaughter and I have been doing Family Food Fights (usually on Sundays) since way before I started this blog. The results have been recorded by my son on his photolog at foodfight. (He’s a much better photographer…and, sometimes, better cook than I am and my granddaughter is not far behind us in both categories!)

From the beginning, it has always been a serious competition to either reinvent or creatively come up with new recipes in tasting-size portions. It starts with our selecting a theme and then we generally operate autonomously. At first, it was all about the food but, as time progressed and we became increasingly interested in recording the process, the art of presentation and creating a photo-worthy dish became significant components of the “battle”.

I think this is a great family activity. It’s fun, it gets the creative juices going, and revolves around the kitchen and sharing meals. And, we genuinely get to enjoy each other’s company…that is, when we’re not vying for a position at the stove or cutting board! And, in the end, we get to eat!

Here is Jim’s process of setting up for the shoot: serious camera, tripod and other equipment (not totally visible), umbrella, foam boards, etc. My modus operandi is plate the food, point, shoot and hope for the best. But with his tutelage, I’m working on being a little more focused (literally and figuratively.)

Battle Shrimp
A week ago our “theme” was shrimp and, interestingly, we independently came up with 3 distinctly different ethnic dishes. I started with a Greek appetizer plate pictured above (recipe below), Cassie followed with a trio of Asian dishes, and Jim went Latin with mojo-marinated shrimp, grilled yuca and pineapple. Here’s my appetizer. 

and a Duo-of-Greek-Appetizers and Pita-Chips (phew!)
Shrimp: Marinate shrimp in olive oil, oregano, grated fresh garlic, and a squeeze of lemon. Grill.
Salad: Halve cucumber and hollow out center. Chop fresh tomatoes and dress with lemon, olive oil, garlic and minced parsley. Let sit for a while so flavors meld and then place in cucumber boat.
Dressing: Pulse olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and a few pitted calamata olives. Add crumbled feta cheese and mix.
Tsatsiki: I used 2% Fage Greek Yogurt with some freshly grated garlic and chopped green part of scallions. I did not add cucumber because I was serving the whole cucumber.
Hummus: Store bought :), but a good brand. Added a toasted walnut and served on pita chips.

See all photos of this battle and others at foodfight.
FAMILY FOOD FIGHT: Salute to the Feast of San Gennaro

It doesn’t matter that it’s been almost 15 years since I left New York and that I love living in FL, there are certain things that always take me back to “the city”. Comes the end of September I can’t help but think about the Feast of San Gennaro and the smells of Mulberry Street and I definitely long for New York (for a nano second). So this week our Family Food Fight was a salute to San Gennaro and the Italian food of our collective history.

Jimmy gave us a nice first dish of crispy proscuitto-wrapped fresh figs and followed with his version of sausage & peppers…3 varieties of grilled sausage, a delicious combination of tri-colored peppers & onions cooked in a tomato sauce and a hunk of ciabatta bread.

And what is an Italian street fair without zeppoles? Cassie did 3 versions: lemon-scented, orange-scented and cocoa-infused.

Once again, I’m going to send you over to foodfight for all the photos, but present my contribution here:
Rice Parm and Chicken-Spinach Meatballs a la Siciliana
Rice: Saute a little onion, add 1 cup of rice and toss with oil and onion to coat. Transfer to oven-proof dish and add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 3/4 of cup of pasta sauce. Sprinkle a handful of parmesan cheese and mix. Flatten mixture. Cover with more parmesan and a handful of shredded mozzarella. Cover dish and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
Rice Parm
Spinach Mixture: I love this technique which I do in my Magic Bullet (favorite kitchen item). Crack egg into one of the mixing cups, add handfuls of fresh spinach, a little parsley, a little basil and pack down. As it starts to break down, you can pack in additional spinach. Pulse to consistency of pesto. Add S&P, a fresh grind of nutmeg. The resulting mixture perfectly distributes the flavors and color for whatever you’re adding it to. (I came up with the technique when I was making an eggs florentine dish…talk about green eggs!)

Meatballs: Mix 1 lb. ground chicken with spinach mixture, some freshly grated garlic, parmesan and flavored breadcrumbs. For the “a la Siciliana”, I add toasted pine nuts and a handful of yellow raisins. Roll small and bake in oven for about 30 minutes. They were very delicious and fun, especially if you like green meatballs. And they’re healthier too since they contain a lot of spinach and are baked.
On the Way Into the Oven

Next Day Leftovers: Meatball with Peppers & Onions Ciabatta Sandwich

And for additional family fun, we play Foodie Fight Trivia (purchased at Barnes & Noble).
Ain’t we got fun?!
More photos on foodfight. Past battles include pizza, 4th of July Reinvented, chicken, grilling, etc.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Peter M says:

    Great competition with some fine food.

  2. Teresa Cordero Cordell says:

    Joan, you had me fooled here. I thought you meant “food fight”! I’ve had those (real slinging mashed potatoes) with my daughter and daughter in law, all in fun of course. It was great. But yours is certainly more civilized. All the dishes look superb.

  3. FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels says:

    Thanks…we really do have fun.

  4. Jeanne Menoutis says:

    I can’t wait to try your recipes. They look delicious! Great photos.
    So glad Mom (Connie) sent me your foodalogue!

  5. thelaygastronomer says:

    what a playful take on meatballs! i’ll be sure to try that one.

  6. Robin Sue says:

    What fantastic memeories you are creating! This sounds like so much fun and you all are coming up with some very creative dishes. I enjoyed this post!

  7. Robin Sue says:

    Joan I know I commented here before but I was thinking of you last night when I opened a gift from a friend. She gave me the game Food Fight just like yours. Will have to play with my foodie friends soon or with my non foodie friends so I look smart!! I will love to try your food challenge that you did with your friends in the New Year that sounded like a lot of fun! Thanks for all your fun ideas and a great blog! I love traveling with you!

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