Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gourmet Groceries and Seafood Orechiette

Clint's parents gave me a gift certificate to ArtMart for Christmas (Thank you, Kay & Alan!) and I have to share with you my experience there.

For you out-of-towners, ArtMart sounds like an art supply store, but it's not. It's a fun little locally-owned store, filled with all kinds of gourmet goodies, kitchen supplies, dishes, jewelry, toys, you name it. While I rubbed my hands with glee over my good fortune, friends advised me: Buy food! All that good cheese, chocolate, etc.

I honestly didn't think I'd have anything to do with that. I don't want to buy food, and eat up my good present!

But Diane and I sat out to scour the place on Saturday morning, and after browsing, and taking notes, and comparing prices, I ended up doing just what I thought I wouldn't: Buying gourmet foods.

I had so. much. fun. I had so much fun that Diane finally had to go find a seat in the mall while I very seriously made my selections. My criteria:

1) No buying stuff I can buy at the local grocer.
2) Trying at least one new food
3) Choose items that might revolve around pasta or pizza, so that I'd be sure to use them.

Here's what I came home with:

Bottom, L to R: Smoked Baby Clams. Will these be good in pasta? Will research new recipes.

Spanish Smoked Paprika: Lisa, at Champaign Taste raves about this stuff, and I've been seeing more and more recipes that call for it. I'm not sure what I'll use it on yet, but from the smell of it, I'm pretty sure that once I incorporate it into my cooking, I'll wonder how I ever lived without it. It smells heavenly.

Sam Marzano Tomatoes: My CookingSnob friends swear that these are The Tomatoes to use in sauces and on pizzas. The.

Feta-Stuffed Green Olives: Being the olive lover that I am (Olive you), I didn't see how I could go wrong with these. I'll try to savor them in bloody mary's or something, but it's possible they'll just go down the hatch one after the other, once I open the jar.

Orichiette Pasta: I have something up my sleeve for these little bowl-shaped pastas, pronto!

Top, L to R: Pesto Sauce: A large jar of this stuff runs $40. I was so intrigued with pesto sauce that costs that much that I bought the baby jar, just to check it out. I will compare it with my own. I'll have my very own Pesto Sauce Throw Down, in my own kitchen, and announce the winner at a later date. Will it be me or the jar?

Anchovies: I love anchovies, but the only time I ever tried them at home I got a throat full of stickers. Or needles. Or hairs. I don't know if I bought cheap ones or if there is some preparation that must be done before you pop one in your mouth, but I'll research that before I eat these. They are slated for Greek salads and a homemade pizza.

White Clam Sauce: Coming right up: Fettucine with clam sauce.

Anchovy-stuffed Olives: That's my "try something new" food. Honestly I can't imagine how these are going to taste, but if I love olives and I love anchovies, I just don't see how anything can go wrong. Still, I can see how they wouldn't be for the faint of palate. I'll save these for a day when I can find someone to eat these with me. So far, I haven't found any takers.

I've entitled my first dish from my Art Mart Booty "Seafood Orechiette with Garlic Chips." I served it with shaved brussels sprouts sauteed in olive oil and, of course, more garlic.

The Orechiette was the only item from the trip that I used for the dish. They were the perfect size and shape to soak up the light seafood sauce. The dish turned out so good that the idea for this blog was born.

Seafood Orechiette with Garlic Chips

Garlic Chips: Slice cloves of garlic as thin as you can. Fry on medium heat in a pat or two of butter until they crisp up and remove to paper towel. These will keep, to sprinkle on other italian and asian dishes.

Seafood Orichiette:

1/2 lb shrimp
1 lb bay scallops
1 to 1-1/2 c. fish stock (I used fish boullion)
olive oil
1/2 c. fresh curly parsley, minced (reserve some for garnishing)

Saute minced garlic in olive oil until it begins to brown.

Add shrimp and scallops and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add about 1 cup of the fish stock, and the parsley. Simmer until stock reduces and thickens, add extra stock as necessary. I put a teaspoon of cornstarch into the last 1/2 cup of broth, to thicken the sauce before serving.

Toss sauce over cooked orechiette pasta, and garnish with fresh parsley and garlic chips.

The brussels sprouts are sliced as thinly as possible, and sauted for a minute or so in olive oil and minced garlic. Serve them just as they warm through, so they're still crunchy & nutty, and not wilted. If you like, a splash of fresh lemon is good on these also.

So, there's my first recipe from my Christmas Gourmet Shopping Trip.

And if you're wondering, Clint did help me prepare this meal.

Here's proof:

I guess a guy gets bored when his girl is chopping up the brussels sprouts.


  1. all was great until I saw the little condom heads, lol

  2. Fun... with orichiette!

    Looks like a great dinner and a great time at the grocery!

  3. Oh my, that all looks lovely. I would love to try the olives with you but there's that distance thing. LOL I'm thinking those anchovy olives are going to be pretty salty. I love how the large stuffed olives have their own "liquor" flavor compared to your small pimento stuffed olives. The big ones with almonds or garlic or onions, YUM-O!

    Promise you will post when you use all the stuff, K? I can't wait to see what wonderful dishes you come up with.

  4. Marinemon8:25 AM

    Somehow I don't think any of that is on my New Year's diet. Oooh but it sounds so good! Especially the olives with or without anchovies.

  5. I have every confidence that your pesto will rule.

  6. oh my...I am on a HUGE smoked paprika kick. I've been using it on lots of things but one of my favorite ways is just to sprinkle chicken pieces with it (a good bit of it), some salt and pepper (no oil needed) and roast them at 475 or 500 til a bit browned and done. It's what we're having tonight!

  7. What a haul! That's a great present to get! Your pasta dish sounds delish.

    P.S. I'll eat anchovy-stuffed olives with you. And smoked clams—yes! I would just eat those with saltines and beer (or a Bloody Mary, har har).

  8. I must know how the anchovy-stuffed olives taste. The suspense is too much. I can just imagine the salty-fishy-olivey goodness now omnomnomnomnom.

  9. It looks like he circumcised all his fingers... Cool store, though!

  10. mmm that looks good. When I left Ohio I was puzzled that all grocery stores don't have a pasta isle. They just have a portion of the isle down here. No Cavatelli :(

  11. Is Art Mart still at Lincoln Square Mall? Anything else there? Yeah, I can't imagine I'd spend my gift money on food... but who knows? I certainly love to look at it. And eat it. I just don't want to spend my special gift money on it. So it's your civic duty to let us know how you ate it up. Was it worth it?

  12. Yum, and I hope you had a great holiday. I almost want to try the anchovy stuffed olives with you, but give me a few days to think about it.

  13. Nancy: One man's condom is another man's..uh...pasta.

    MizLiz: It was a great dinner! More to come.

    Mim: We need to have an olive party! EuroMart, here in town has the greatest blue-cheese-stuffed olives. Yum!

    MarineMom: How many calories can there be in a baby clam? It's just a baby!

    Jazz: You can be a judge at my personal throw down.

    Sandwich life: Now I'm hungry. Going to get right on that chicken. Yum!

    Lisa: Bloody Marys...see you Friday!

    Sven: Wow, you make them sound better than I had dreamed. I can hardly wait to open them, now.

    BuffaloDick: Lord, I wish I could come up with a witty comeback. I'll get back to you after coffee.

    Geewits: We'll have a drink first, then 1-2-3 GO!!! No fair just popping it like an aspirin, either.

  14. Oh, Lori, I loved Art Mart and believe me, I always bought food and cooking equipment. That was where I first found those little plastic squares for scraping pans. If you don't have one, you need one. Your dinner looks scrumptious. I'm going to try the pasta recipe.

  15. MommaDee: I have those little squares! I recently lost mine (I think the cat hockeyed it under the fridge or something) and went nuts until I broke down and bought another package of them.

    I kind of want to go back to Art Mart and buy a tortilla press.

  16. Oh, what fun. And that smoked Paprika? I was in the need for some of that just last night...
    This recipe called for it: http://nofearentertaining.blogspot.com/2008/11/split-pea-soup-with-ham.html .
    All I had, though, was Hungarian Hot Paprika - which still did the trick. I added diced ham, too. It was so YUMMY - and easy to make, too. Mmmm....olives...stuffed with anything...Mmmmmm....
    I have the same idea as you when I go to Trader Joe's. I'm always finding new things to try and experiment with. Fun!

  17. If you like those San Marzano tomatoes (or if you don't think they're anything special), try the "6 in 1" brand ground tomatoes. They're outstanding and IMO much better for using straight out of the can on pasta or pizza sauce.


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