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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops with Pesto


When I think back to where I first saw this recipe I draw a blank. It was literally years ago, maybe even before the food channel. Now there are many variations in the ingredients and in the cooking method, but this is the way we have always prepared it.

The actual cooking of this dish is always done by my husband. He sears the scallops for a few minutes on each side and then puts a ½ teaspoon of pesto on top to finish them off. This is a great dish, simple enough for a week night meal and elegant enough to entertain. The pesto can be store bought or handmade. In the summer I make all my pesto from scratch because of my garden. During the winter I usually buy mine ready-made, unless it’s my carrot top pesto. (Recipe for another day). The prosciutto can be substituted with thinly sliced bacon, and shrimp or even chicken could be substituted for the scallops.

This would be great as an appetizer but we serve them as a topper for pasta, risotto or a mixed green salad. I served today’s dish with a kale and Israeli couscous.

Ingredients:

8 large, fresh scallops
Freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste
4 slices thin Prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
4 teaspoons pesto, divided
Olive oil

To prepare:

Pat scallops dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Wrap 1 strip of prosciutto around each scallop. Thread the scallops onto toothpicks (or skewers), securing the prosciutto to the scallop, set aside.


On medium-high heat add olive oil, when oil is hot; add prosciutto wraps scallops. Sauté the scallop on the prosciutto sides until lightly cooked and then, place the scallops right side up in the same pan and cooks 2 to 3 minutes, turn the scallops over and cook 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. Turn back over and place a dollop of the pesto on top. Wait just about a minute to let the pesto start to melt.





Sunday, December 14, 2014

Festive Rosemary and Toasted Caraway Shortbread


I don’t know about you but if I don’t know how I accomplished my Christmas shopping before the internet. This year has definitely gotten away from me and I can’t seem to get back on track. Thank goodness for Amazon prime 2 day free shipping. Today I decided to take a breather and just enjoy the little things around me. The smell of our fresh Christmas tree, the lights, and our neighbor's outdoor home decorations. (My sister gave me a few veggie ornaments, see above.)


The recipe today is a sweet and savory shortbread. It is laced with rosemary and toasted caraway seeds and then topped with a touch of sanding sugar. The savory and sweet notes offset each other perfectly and the more crispy parts along the edges were my favorite. I think that this is a very sophisticated and festive baked treat and I will be making this again, freezing it and then baking it a few hours before guest arrive. Next time I might try fresh thyme and lemon zest, I can see so many possibilities.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 sticks chilled butter (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup regular sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (fined chopped)
1 inch sprig rosemary, leaves removed whole to sprinkle on top
1 large egg (beaten to blend)
Turbinado or sanding sugar (for sprinkling on top)

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare two-8: diameter cake pans with butter and then dust with a sprinkling of flour. Set aside.

In a small dry skillet over medium-high heat toast caraway seeds, tossing occasionally about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Using an electric or stand mixer add sugars and butter together and mix until light and fluffly. Recipes reads 7 to 10 minutes. I mixed the entire 10 minutes, stopping long enough to quickly push down the sides.


Reduce the mixer to low and add flour, caraway seeds and rosemary, mix until just combined. Dough will not look perfect. Pat dough into a oblong ball and then cut in half. Press dough into each pan using your fingers and the back of a large spoon. Brush with egg and then sprinkle with turbinado or sanding sugar and top each with the whole rosemary leaves.


Bake until shortbread is golden brown on top 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pans to wire rack. After pans have cooled, turn out gently. Cut into slices. Enjoy!


Recipe had been slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, magazine, December 2013.






Monday, December 8, 2014

Cooked Quince with Raisins


I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted quince before, but I know it is the first time I have cooked with them. At first glance I thought the basket was full of pears at the farmers market. After another look I noticed that they were all golden-yellow and a bit larger than normal. I bought one which almost weighed a pound itself and grabbed the nearby flyer with this recipe on it. After some small talk with the cashier as I was leaving she called out to me it’s always fun to try new foods.

Wikipedia describes quince as being part of the apple and pear family. It depends on the variety but the type I had felt very hard and was too sour to eat raw, actually inedible. According to the article they are high in pectin and used mainly to make jams and jellies. The recipe I acquired used fresh lemon, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, crystallized ginger and raisins. The end result was delicious, I cooked the quince down until parts of the flesh almost melted and turned pink. This is a fruit that I definitely would cook with again.

Recipe is from, McClendon's Select Farmers market.

Ingredients:

4 quince
1/2 lemon, juice and peel
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
10 whole cloves
1 crystallized piece of ginger
1/2 cup raisins

To prepare:

Peel quince, cut in half and core. Cut into bite sized pieces.


*If too hard to cut through raw, place whole quince into a pot of boiling water, cover and simmer about 25 minutes.*

Place quince into a large pot with the lemon juice, lemon peel, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and raisins. Cook on low heat stirring occasionally about 20 minutes.

When quince is done cooking, they will turn a pinkish, cranberry color.




Friday, December 5, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Romaine Salad with Seeds, Raisins and Nuts


Most days I work from home. The great and not so great thing about this is having to come up with lunch every day. Sometimes it may be cheese and crackers, a salad, or even a cup of soup. But most of the time it is leftovers from the night before. Today there were not a lot of options. I was thinking salad, and on hand I had a half a head of cauliflower and some romaine. I turned to the pantry for the chickpeas, the freezer for the nuts and the fridge for the dried fruit and pomegranate seeds.

I had such great success with roasting cauliflower back in October, recipe here that I decided that I would go that route. This time I added curry, hot smoked paprika, grated orange peel and juice to the cauliflower as that is what was available. Roasted mixture for 25 minutes at 400°. The cauliflower was added to the romaine right out of the oven with the tiny bits of oil; then mixed together with a pair of tongs. The toppings were then added. There was no need for a dressing, as the roasting of the cauliflower and addition of curry and paprika bring plenty of flavor. I will definitely make this again, but being that it is so versatile it might be a little different each time.

Ingredients:

1/2 head cauliflower (cleaned and cut into small pieces)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (depends on size of cauliflower)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder (depends on size of cauliflower)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (depends on size of cauliflower)
1 cup canned garbanzo beans
4 large leaves romaine (cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch wide ribbons)
1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a medium sized bowl combine cauliflower with olive oil, curry powder and smoked paprika. Place mixture on a baking sheet and bake about 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned.


In a large salad bowl add romaine, parsley and hot cauliflower right out of the oven, mix together using a pair of tongs. Add raisins, sunflower and pomegranate seeds. Ready to serve.






Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Roasted Beets with Sesame and Oregano


The holiday season is now in full swing. I had wanted to share this salad with you before Thanksgiving but time got the best of me, so here I am now. Beets have always been one of my favorite vegetables, almost as long as I can remember. Growing up my mom had a large garden. She would can most of her veggies, but the beets she would pickle. To this day they are the most delicious I’ve ever had. This salad would be a beautiful side dish for your next holiday meal. The preparation can be done ahead of time and can be served cold or at room temperature.

This roasted beet salad with sesame seeds and fresh oregano was adapted from the November issue of Bon Appetit magazine. The prep was fairly easy. The beets were sliced and placed in a single layer, then baked until tender. Beet greens were added and wilted right before removing from the oven. The beets and greens are then arranged on a serving platter. A sauce that made up of crème fraiche and Greek yogurt is dolloped over the top and finished with a sesame salt.

Ingredients:

2 bunches red beets with greens
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 hand full fresh Oregano, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup crème fraiche
1/4 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon, plus 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Wash and peel beets, slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the hand full of Oregano, then season with salt and pepper. Roast about 15 to 20 minutes until almost tender, add beet greens and cook for another 5 minutes or so until greens are wilted. Set aside.


Next whisk the crème fraiche, yogurt and 1 teaspoon Sherry together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Prepare the sesame salt mixture by first smashing sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle, then add 2 tablespoons of Oregano and a pinch of salt. Transfer to a small bowl, add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix, then set aside.

Place beets and greens on serving plate, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and dollops of the crème fraiche mixture. Sprinkle with sesame salt. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cottage Cooking Club November Two recipes


Today's post is the seventh installment of the Cottage Cooking Club a virtual cooking group started by the talented Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. We are currently cooking our way through the River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Every month Andrea picks one recipe from each of the ten chapters. We then pick and choose which one or ones we want to blog about in a single post. For the month of November I prepared two of the recipes.


For the first recipe I prepared was the twice baked potatoes. It’s been years since I have had one and these were so good I ate the whole thing at one sitting. The recipe was easy to follow and simple to prepare. There are so many ways to dress these up, but I followed the recipe exactly as written using cheddar cheese, green onions and sour cream.


The next dish I prepared was the stuffed cabbage leaves. The preparation was quite lengthy as there are many steps. First you are instructed to make the sauce. A humble mixture of tomatoes, carrot, celery, onions and garlic. The sauce was very thick and had to be spooned over the top. Next step is to blanch the cabbage leaves and then make the filling. The filling consist of barley, onions, walnuts and herbs. This mixture was then rolled in the cabbage leaves, topped with sauce and dolloped with sour cream. I would make this again but with a thinner sauce.

*In the variation notes grape leaves, Swiss chard or kale can be substituted for the savoy cabbage. The trick is to remove the stalks and then blanch the leaves a minute or two to soften.

Recipes have been adapted from the "River Cottage Veg", cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe chapter Pantry Suppers, Twice-baked potatoes, page 226. Second recipe chapter Comfort food and feast, Stuffed cabbage leaves, page 38.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for November on the CCC website, by clicking clicking here.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rye, Kale, Mushroom, and Pumpkin Seed Dressing and a Small Fire


This year we baked our dressing outside the turkey. I had spatchcocked the "bird" so there was no way to stuff it anyway, but during this process I discovered how much better I like “dressing”. Apparently the difference between stuffing and dressing is where and how you bake it. Stuffing is stuffed into the cavity of a bird and then baked, the end result is usually very moist and a little mushy. Dressing is baked in a separate dish inside the oven until it is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.


The day before; I bought a baguette, tore it into pieces and left it to dry out overnight on a large cookie sheet. The key is to use a hearty bread, any type as long as it will go stale. The recipe that I followed was from Bon Appetit magazine and rye bread was used. Everything was going according to plan until I left the kitchen to sit down and check a few emails. A couple of minutes later my husband burst into the room and yelled what’s burning! Right away I picked up the scent of burning wood. We both ran out to the kitchen and there sitting on the stove top was my large cutting board on fire with flames shooting up the side. Apparently I had left a burner on with the cutting board right next to it. My husband turned off the burner and then smothered the fire with a lid and a towel. Afterwards I started thinking that we were real lucky as there was no real damage.

The dressing was fairly easy to put together, mushrooms are sautéed, then celery and shallots. Kale was added, eggs are whisked and then everything is mixed together. The dressing is covered with foil and then baked 30 minutes, the foil is removed, the oven temperature is raised and then baked again until golden and crispy. Even with the little mishap the dressing turned out wonderful. Happy Holidays to all!

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons divided plus 1/4 cup olive oil
10 cups coarsely torn seeded rye, dried overnight (I used sourdough)
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 pound mixed mushrooms, cut into large pieces (I used shiitake, crimini and button)
Salt and pepper
4 celery stalks (chopped)
6 medium shallots (chopped)
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed (chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh sage (coarsely chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large eggs
3 cups chicken or veggie broth

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish and one side of a sheet of foil to cover baking dish with.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper, then cook about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in skillet. Add celery and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and saute stirring often until shallots are golden brown and soft another 8 to 10 minutes. Add kale, sage and rosemary and cook until kale is wilted about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Reduce heat to medium and cook wine in skillet, scraping up any browned bits, about 2 minutes. Drizzle over bread mixture.


Whisk eggs, 2 cups of stock and 1/4 cup oil in a medium bowl and pour over bread mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add more broth 1/4 cup at a time until bread is just covered.


Cover with foil and bake at 350F about 30 to 35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450F. Uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes until top is golden and crispy. Let set 10 minutes before serving.


Recipe has been slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, November issue.