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Finally! Frank’s Seafood

18 Jun


A random retro recipe find sent us down a rabbit hole.

We started with this:

Seattle seafood

Which looks like a good excuse for baguette. And it got us reminiscing about Frank’s place in Cochrane. The calamari and seafood in a spicy tomato broth for sopping up with said bread was incredible. Frank’s, which was officially Cucina Amore, was a taste of heaven and now I remember why: Frank Lucente operated Caffe dello Sport in Calgary for years. The hot frutta di mare dish of seafood in a garlicy, spicy, (salty) concentrated tomato broth (not red sauce) with plenty of olive oil. I remember spooning the goods onto my plate, the broth, rendered tomato and oil pooling, which I soaked up with good bread. The dish was so memorable, cravable, that I jotted down details to try to recreate.

Then today, I actually FOUND the recipe from Frank himself.


Pleased to see my earlier recollection is pretty close to the recipe itself:

“The tomato was likely canned romas broken down by heat and liquid. Can’t remember if there were onions melting into the broth but they would not be out of place (ooh or thin slices of fennel!). Calamari rings, shrimp, scallops, mussels, maybe clams. So spicy and garlicy. Wonder if there was white wine in there too. Maybe clam juice or a Walter-like clamato mix would be good to try. Would love to serve with lemon slices and freshly snipped parsley. Serve on a warmed platter.”

Behold, the real deal:


3 or 4 large squid slices

8-10 each: fresh mussels and clams, scrubbed

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (wondering about shaved garlic slices?)

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup clam juice

1/4 cup butter

pinch of crushed red chilies

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon dry parsley

black pepper and seasoning salt

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup tomato sauce (Frank combines crushed Roma tomatoes with red pepper, onion, garlic, basil and Italian parsley and simmers his sauce for 4 hours to reduce by one quarter)

Combine seafood, garlic, Italian parsley, clam juice, butter, chilies, oregano, parsley, pepper, seasoning salt and sea salt in a saucepan. Cover and place over high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add white wine and cover, cook a few minutes more. Add chicken stock and tomato sauce and simmer 2 minutes longer. Set seafood on a platter and drizzle sauce over top.

Makes one serving.

Note: we heated butter and garlic first, add herbs/spices to bloom. Add clam nectar and heat before adding seafood. After adding chicken broth and tomato sauce for a while to get bubbling, we removed the seafood with a slotted spoon and furiously boiled the sauce to reduce just a bit before returning to platter.

We doubled the recipe, but added way more seafood than the recipe called for. Still had so much sauce.

From the newspaper column Dec 31 1995:

When Frank Lucente opened his little Italian coffee shop in Calgary in 1974, he literally had the first cappuccino maker in town.

And when he expanded to serve a full Italian menu, it was some of the first ”foreign” fare meat-and-potatoes Calgarians ever saw.

His little restaurant across from Ralph Klein’s favorite watering hole, the St. Louis, drew diners in droves. Klein and his political pals would line up at Caffe Dello Sport for Lucente’s scampi and Italian sausage — even actors like Paul Newman ate at the little Italian eatery. Calgary was still beef and beans land, and Italian was exotic.

Well, times have changed. Calgary now has lots of Italian restaurants and even trendy spots have discovered the wonderful flavors of fresh basil, virgin olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes.

But Lucente and his family are still there, serving up their homemade specialties to their loyal, long-time customers.

The decor is simple — a mural of the Bay of Naples, red checkered table cloths and wood trim.

”It’s nothing fancy, but it’s good,” says Lucente of his trattoria. ”Nobody can beat my food because it’s homey.”

It’s also a little different. The veal stuffed with prawns comes in his green onion and mushroom sauce. The pasta for his lasagne and canneloni is homemade. Frank makes his own chicken stock and bakes his own bread.

Herald Food & Wine reader Dianne Mahura says she gets ”terrible cravings” for the food — both the seafood appetizer and Linguini Alla Vongole top her list. We ferreted out Lucente’s recipe for seafood in a rich tomato sauce, the perfect dish for a Christmas Eve or New Year’s meal. Serve it with lots of fresh bread for dipping, or over pasta.

And while we’re talking calamari, here is caterer Savoir Fare

Savoir Fare Cornmeal Crusted Calamari

Serves 5

2 1/4 pound calamari, sliced into 1/4-inch rings

2    cups cornmeal

2 1/2    cups bread flour

1/2    teaspoon whole thyme leaves

2    tablespoons granulated garlic

1    tablespoon salt

1    tablespoon coarse black pepper

1 1/2    cups buttermilk

1    egg

Combine cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups flour, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together.

Place remaining 1 cup of flour in a bowl. Dredge calamari rings in flour, then dip in buttermilk, then dredge in cornmeal. Place cornmeal crusted calamari on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, deep fry calamari in small batches in hot oil until just golden — no more than a minute. Serve with aioli.


5    peeled cloves of garlic

1    egg

1    egg yolk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2    teaspoon salt

1/2    teaspoon black pepper

1/2    cup olive oil

1/2    cup canola oil

Place 4 cloves of garlic in saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Place boiled cloves, fresh clove, lemon juice, egg, egg yolk and pepper in food processor. Process to combine and, with machine running, slowly drizzle in oils to form a thick, emulsified mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with hot calamari.





Glama Pajama 2014

31 Dec


Following our tradition of staying in on New Year’s Eve: 2014 adding fondue to the grilled steak tradition. Roasted mini potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, salami, pear and gherkins. Oh, and good chewy bread, of course!

:: We’ve misplaced the 2013 NYE photo of lobster risotto but that’s okay: we went to all the trouble of making seafood stock with lobster shells and stupidly added too much arborio: it was a starchy mess.

Glama Pajama 2.0

31 Dec

glama pajama dinz 2 take 2

glama pajama cocktails

glama pajama cocktails 2New Year’s Eve 2012:

NYE Glama Pa-JAM-a

30 Dec

glama pajama year 1
For the most part, we’ve been spending New Year’s in the mountains since childhood, and it’s a sublime tradition. Snow-capped Rocky mountains, fresh air and anticipation of the future — it’s hard to beat.

But this year, we are thinking of ringing in the New Year by staying home in our new digs.

Perhaps a formal pajama night: diamonds and lipstick and jimjams. Pa-JAM.

After popping some bubbles, we’re thinking of nibbling on warm cocktail nuts and chewing on some good baguette slathered in this luscious goat cheese with herbed olive oil.

For dinner, the Mister will surely love sirloin topped with shrimp and lobster butter sauce.
I read that if you steam/poach lobster tails, remove meat, and add pulverized shells in a food processor with some butter, you can scrape the coral contents into a sauce pot, and simmer with one cup of butter (total) with water and a splash of wine. Simmer for 40 minutes. Strain butter into a container and refrigerate. The orangey lobster butter fat separates from the water and you can add it to bearnaise sauce. Woot!

from Gourmet Magazine, January 1994

1 small bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
¼ tsp. coriander seeds, crushed lightly
¼ tsp. fennel seeds, crushed lightly
10 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound (250g) log of soft mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, cut into 8 pieces.

In a small saucepan simmer bay leaf, garlic, rosemary, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and peppercorns in oil for 5 minutes. Arrange goat cheese slices on a platter and spoon oil mixture over. Serve goat cheese with bread.