Because scallops cook so quickly, they’re ideal for cold weather cooking. Try to get day boat or dry-packed scallops (scallops that haven’t been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) which causes the scallops to absorb water increasing the weight and the price of the scallop). “Enhanced” scallops won’t sear properly due to the excess liquid.
Piri Piri Oil
This interesting sauce is the Caribbean oil-based variation on the African sauce from Angola, which was transferred to the region by Portuguese immigrants working the cacao plantations in Trinidad and Guyana. Use it to spice up soups and fried fish. Pimento leaves are traditionally used in this recipe, but they are hard to find. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.
Ginger Pumpkin Bisque with Peppered Croutons
We don’t always end a holiday meal with pumpkin pie-sometimes we begin the feast with this spicy soup with its Caribbean island flavor. If you don’t want to use pumpkin, any winter squash, such as butternut, acorn or Hubbard, will do. This is an easy recipe to prepare, but if you want an even quicker version, used canned pumpkin puree or a 12-ounce package or frozen cooked winter squash as a base. This recipe is from Dave’s and my book, The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible.
Linguine con le Vongole (Linguine with Spicy Red Clam Sauce)
La Vigilia di Natale, or Christmas Eve, is the most important holiday for many Italians. The meal served is a holiday feast with deep religious roots. Traditionally it has to be “di magro” or meatless, a custom which dates back to older church doctrine that limited the eating of meat on holy days. For those who follow the custom, the meal consists of fish or seafood and a number of side dishes. Depending on the availability, meals can have seven to thirteen seafood dishes, and in landlocked areas as few as three. Whatever the number, the number has religious significance. Linguine served with chile spiced clam sauce is a popular “il primo piatto” or the first course in a meal of many courses.