Baked Flounder Roll-Ups with Lemon, Butter and White Wine Sauce

April 30, 2013 Menu No Comments

The May 2013 edition of La Cucina Italiana magazine has an interesting recipe which immediately caught my eye. Braciole di pesce (sole braciole with almond biscuit crumbs), is their creative play on traditional braciole. For those of you that are not familiar with traditional braciole, it is a thin slice of meat (usually beef) that is rolled with a bread-based stuffing and is pan fried and often added to a Sunday gravy. La Cucina’s version is using fillet of sole (which is a thin-cut fillet) stuffed with crushed butter biscuits, almonds and parsley. A very interesting – although odd – combination to say the least.

This dish inspired me to try my own version, instead using flounder and a more traditional stuffing of crabmeat, fresh parsley and breadcrumbs. Now, before I go any further, you are probably wondering what the difference is between my roll-up recipe, and the classic stuffed flounder. The answer: nothing, really. The presentation may be different (the stuffing is contained in the roll-up as opposed to being stuffed in a cut pocket), but the delicious combination works the same for either version.

Just like traditional meat braciole, you can adjust the stuffing ingredients to your liking. Scallops, shrimp and spinach all work well as stuffing ingredients for fish. However, unlike traditional braciole, a fish roll-up, particularly one using a flaky fish such as flounder, is best prepared baked instead of fried. While a flaky fish can be flipped once in a frying pan, its delicate texture would make it difficult to successfully cook on all four sides without falling apart.

To add some depth and flavor, I made a quick lemon, butter and white wine sauce on the stove top and drizzled it on top of the roll-ups after they were done. It was the perfect compliment to the fish, marrying all of the flavors and tastes together with each bite.


4 pieces flounder
salt and pepper
1 6-oz can white crab meat, drained
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1tbspn fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tspn butter, plus 1 tbspn butter
1 tbspn olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350˚. Mix together the crabmeat, breadcrumbs and parsley. Lightly season the flounder fillets with salt and pepper (if the flounder pieces are large, you can cut them in half, length-wise). Lay the flounder out flat and evenly spread the crabmeat mixture on all four pieces. Roll up the fillets and secure tight with a toothpick. Lightly brush the flounder fillets with 1 tspn melted butter.

Place the fillets, seam side down, on a lightly sprayed baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes or until the fillets become flaky.

About midway through the baking time, you will start to prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add 1 tbspn butter. When butter is melted, add the chopped shallots, stir in and cook until translucent. Add the lemon juice and the wine, heat until wine starts to reduce.

When the fish is done, remove from the baking tray and place onto a serving dish. Evenly drizzle the sauce over the fillet roll-ups, then sprinkle with additional fresh chopped parsley.

This dish serves well with steamed greens and a crisp white wine.

The flounder fillets with the crabmeat filling spread evenly on each piece (top photo),
then rolled and secured with toothpicks (bottom photo).



The Food Table

April 23, 2013 Menu No Comments

When you visit an Italian household, whether you are a new friend or a close family member, conversation will at some point take place around the table, where good food will be served to you, regardless if you are hungry or not. Today I welcome a new friend to my virtual kitchen table. Tony Morinelli, a fellow South Philadelphia native who shares the same passion as I to preserve the rich Italian American culture, reached out to me last week, asking if I would like to share web links with him. His web site, The Food Table, is a wonderful collection of Italian American recipes, history, and personal memories. From classic recipes such as Panzetta (stuffed breast of veal), Osso Bucco and Caponata, to his memories of growing up as a fourth generation Italian in the mid 1950’s, Tony’s website is very inspiring and educational. Be sure to check his website, The Food Table, by clicking here. You can also find his website listed under the Recommended Website section of this blog.


Cucina Domenico is Going HOME!

April 20, 2013 Menu No Comments

I am very proud and excited to announce that two recipes from my food blog (the Baked Pepper Shooters and Kendra Thornton’s D.I.Y. Pomegranate Mojitos) will be appearing in the Spring 2013 issue of Philadelphia RowHome Magazine. Led by the dynamic duo sister team of Dorette Rota Jackson and Dawn Rhoades, Rowhome has been featuring the lifestyles and unique interests of South Philadelphia in their acclaimed magazine since 2004. I had the pleasure of working with their team in the past as a freelance graphic designer, and both Dorette and Dawn have been two of my biggest supporters and followers of this food blog since day one. Having my recipes appear in their magazine is a very exciting opportunity for me, knowing that I now have a new outlet to reach out to the families, friends and neighbors who I grew up with…the very same people who are the readers of Rowhome.

You can check out the Rowhome website, including their new Spring 2013 edition, by clicking on the links below. The link to Rowhome can also be found under the Recommended Websites section of this blog. Please be sure to drop Dorette and Dawn a message!


Click here for the Rowhome Magazine website.

Click here for the Spring 2013 issue, featuring two recipes from Cucina Domenico.


Thank you again, Dorette and Dawn, for all of your support and encouragement!


The BYOB Post: Brewing Your Own Beer!

April 19, 2013 Menu No Comments

This is not a step-by-step tutorial, but rather a recap of my first experience helping to make a batch of home brew. 

If I were to be keeping a bucket list, I would have recently been able to cross off one of my top list items…and it actually involved a bucket! I spent a recent Saturday afternoon with my friend Carl, helping him brew a batch of Irish Red ale. Carl is an enthusiastic and well seasoned home brewer, and has been after me for a while to help with brewing up a batch. As you may already know, I have developed a deep appreciation over the years for well-crafted beers, so an opportunity like this is one that I just could not pass up.

Obviously, one day of assisting does not qualify me to pass along brewing wisdom, which is why I am not posting detailed steps in this post. The kits that you can purchase come with pretty specific instructions, and there are countless websites and videos that can offer you extra assistance. You can also refer to the following link for easy to follow step-by-step instructions:

So let me share with you a VERY abbreviated version of my ‘inaugural’ beer brewing day….

The process of brewing beer is a lot like brewing a big pot of tea. The first step is placing your select grains into a cheesecloth-type sack that will steep in a big pot of boiling water. This step brings out all of the colors and flavor of your selected grains. What you are starting to make at this point is called a ‘wort’, which essentially is the the beer without the alcohol.

You will then spend the next hour or so adding your selected malts and hops, while bringing the mixture up to a boil and carefully stirring to make sure that none of it boils over. There are other elements that could be added to help with clarification and protein coagulation, such as Irish moss.

Once all ingredients are added to the wort and it has reached its required boiling time, it’s time to chill down the wort to a proper temperature so that you can add the yeast (the yeast is activated by the sugar, which creates the alcohol). You pour the wort along with additional water into a sanitized 5 gallon bucket, which acts as your fermentor. Bacteria is yeast’s worst enemy, so sanitizing your equipment is crucial!

At this point, a hydrometer can be used to measure the sugars in your wort, which will give you an idea on how much alcohol will be in your beer. By doing a little basic math, you will get an idea on your alcohol volume.

Next you add your yeast to the wort, put the lid and stopper on the fermentor bucket and give it a few good shakes to kick-start the yeast into activation mode (this is where the yeast starts to eat up the sugar and create the alcohol). You add an airlock to the fermentor,  which will let you know that the yeast is doing its work, and you let it sit for a few weeks. You now have an early stage batch of beer!

By this point in the game, my assistance was no longer needed. Carl had taken over and handled the second fermentation phase a few weeks later, followed up with the racking and bottling phase. You can refer to the link mentioned above for a better description of these final phases.

When all was said and done, we each ended up with a TREMENDOUS case of Irish Red Ale ( a batch of home brew will produce two cases). This made for an enjoyable and easy drinking beer with a smooth body and a pleasant aroma, and would easily be considered a true session beer. Because this was my first attempt at home brewing, I decided to appropriately christen it ‘Inaugural Irish Red Ale’.



Because I was more of the helping hand, I spent more time photographing and taking notes than I did stirring and steeping. But I do have a few good tips to share, if you are interested in attempting to home brew…

1. Team up with a friend (preferably one who may have some experience in home brewing). There’s actually a lot of waiting around for water to boil, so having a friend to hang out with helps fill up a lot of your time. There’s also a fair amount of lab-type equipment involved. If you have a friend who already brews, this will save you the cost of buying your own equipment. It will also help you avoid making mistakes that your experienced friend will know how to avoid!

2. Be sure to get your wives/girlfriends out of the house. You will be taking over the kitchen for a good few hours, and boiling brew will make for a bready/yeasty aroma (not unlike a frat house). I personally found the smell to be comforting…but chances are the ladies will think different.

3. Prepare a good meal for the day. Before we were left to play, Chrissy (Carl’s wife) made sure that we were set with a nice pot of home-cooked chili, some crusty bread and good cheese. Take advantage of the “waiting for the pot of water to boil” down-time by enjoying a nice hearty lunch with your buddy!

4. Save those pop-top bottles. Recycling your old bottles is easy and cost-effective. You can purchase various bottle cleaning products online or at a brewing supply store. A quick soak in warm soapy water and a few minutes of scrubbing with a scouring pad will help remove the old labels.

5. Share the wealth! As I mentioned earlier, a batch of home brew will make 5 gallons, or two cases of beer, for a reasonable cost of about $30-40 depending on what kind of beer you are making. What better form of a friendly gesture is there than to share your home creation with your family and friends? And if the batch is good, the compliments and kudos will make you proud.*

 *Before I get any flack…this case went fairly quickly to those who I knew would appreciate it most. I am certain that I will be attempting another brew with Carl sometime in the near future, and I will be happy to share what I can next round!

Below are some photos that I took while Carl and I…ok, mostly Carl….were preparing our batch. 1) The ingredients; 2) the first stir of the boiling brew; 3) adding the malts; 4) the hops; 5) the big chill; 6) straining the wort into the fermentor bucket; and 7) Ava giving the wort one final stir. Just to clarify, photo #7 of our little assistant handling the stirring and mixing duties was taken prior to the yeast being added to the wort. In other words, there is NO ALCOHOL involved at any point during this portion of the process.



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