Dinner For One ~ Asparagus, Egg and Truffle

When Mister is on business travel or has a late dinner meeting, I usually turn to eggs for a quick dinner. I have never been a bowl of cereal at dinner girl and enjoy my time in the kitchen too much to just pour dinner in a bowl.  Dinner for one doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming.  A few key ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator make all difference.

Eggs and asparagus are a match made in heaven, eggs and truffle are a match made in heaven and the tomato was perfect…so perfect that I went back to the kitchen for a piece of whole grain bread to get every bit of the tomato juice and truffle oil from the plate.

When you find yourself alone, indulge in this simple, elegant and truffle decadent dish for one.

I always have Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt on hand.  For me, there is nothing as wonderful as the taste and aroma of truffles and while truffle products are a bit expensive, a little goes a long way in elevating a dish from drab to divine!

Ingredients for One:

6 steamed asparagus spears
1 poached or lightly fried egg
1/2 tomato, sliced thin
Pinch of black truffle sea salt
Teaspoon of truffle oil

Preparation:

Layer asparagus and tomato on plate and drizzle with truffle oil. Place egg on top and sprinkle with truffle salt and a pinch of ground pepper.  This dish also works very well with hard-boiled eggs, sliced or chopped and sprinkled on top of the asparagus and tomato slices.

This also makes an elegant brunch or salad dish.

Truffles are wonderful in risotto and pasta as well.  I recently made a Lobster Mushroom and Truffle Risotto and there wasn’t a grain of rice left.  I owe that to the truffle!

Linked to:

Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday.

Advertisements

A Meatless Journey, New Cookbooks and Chickpea Spinach Stew

Along with giving up wine for Lent (as part of Rebecca’s Do Without Challenge at Midnight Maniac), we also made a commitment to up our meatless nights from one to at least three a week.  We are not quite a week into both and there is still time for you to “do without” and join the group. It doesn’t have to be meat or wine…any indulgence will do.

For our meatless meals last week, I shot from the hip, pulling a few recipes from online cooking resources. A very kicked-up black-eyed pea and penne salad hit all the notes for a spicy dish (which we both crave and crave often), a fruited couscous stuffed squash deliciously scented with cardamom and yesterday, a zesty citrus chickpea stew with lemongrass, yam and spinach (recipe below).

A very good start for week one!

But this is a long journey and I am not a meatless meal expert. Oh, I have made the occasional meatless meal (butternut ravioli, lobster and truffle risotto, Basque tortilla, and the most decadent Gnocchi a la Parisienne) but never on a regular basis or intentionally.

When we took the pledge, I knew one thing.  We would not eat rice and beans every night.  That was not going to keep the tummies happy. I needed inspiration to keep our meals exciting and there is nothing like holding a gloriously photographed cookbook in my hands for inspiration and motivation to stay the course.

I admit, I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks collecting dust that rarely see the light of the kitchen but none of them are vegetarian (or vegan) and none of them focused on clean eating.  Keeping to my “try before I buy” cookbook resolution (1/2011), I reserved several books on clean eating, vegetarian and vegan cooking from the library.  A few more than several…15 to be exact. Lucky for me,  Mister “volunteered” to make the 2 mile walk to the library with me and with 15 books to bag and carry, I was certainly thankful for his help.

I couldn’t wait to get home, curl up on the sofa under a comfy blanket and devour my “new” books.

An absolutely beautiful book from Linda Long is Great Chefs Cook Vegan. Thomas Keller, Jean-George Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Charlie Trotter, and many other James Beard award-winning chefs create a three or four-course vegan meal, complete with mouth-watering photographs of each recipe and much more.

And mouth-watering they are…Sweet Pea Ravioli with Pea Cream, Wheat Berries with Truffle and Mustard Emulsion, White and Green Asparagus Terrine, Yukon “Linguine” with Sorrel-Arugula Sauce and Charred Corn Ravioli with Basil Fondue. Certainly no rice and bean dinners in this book.  Who knew vegan could be so gourmet!

Another book I really like is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas, Upside Down Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Cranberry-Cherry Biryani and Red Wine & Kalamata Tempeh.  I am not sure what to try first!

Currant Sweet Bread, Blueberry and Almond Bread, Savory Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding, Pistachio-Lemon Pesto Pasta are just a few from the The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I just might have to join the virtual Moosewood cooking group.

A great assortment from the simple and quick to the gourmet from acclaimed chefs.  Amazing, beyond inspirational and too tummy tempting.

What inspires you for meatless meals?  Do you have a favorite book or online resource?

Lemongrass Chickpea and Spinach Stew.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew:

Recipe notes:  I substituted a yam for the Yukon potato and added about a cup of chopped spinach about 5 minutes before serving.  The recipe calls for rice or substitute whole wheat couscous.

Yield:

6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups stew, 1/2 cup rice, and about 1 tablespoon yogurt)

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  diced yellow onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1  cup  diced carrot (about 1 large)
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups  cubed peeled Yukon gold potato, about 1 large
  • 2  teaspoons  Cambodian Lemongrass spice (see link above)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (28-ounce) can diced organic tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I prefer to use dried beans to control salt)
  • 1  (14-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 3  cups  hot cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
  • 1/2  cup  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in potato and next 7 ingredients (through broth). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Serve over rice. Top with yogurt and a chopped fresh cilantro.

Linked to: My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless MondaySumos Sweet Stuff, Something I Whipped Up, Made By You Monday, Homemaker Mondays, Your Recipe, My KitchenMeals on MondayHappy Housewife, All Things RelatedTuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday Tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOPBeauty & Bedlam Tuesday, Melt In Your Mouth

Fruit and Couscous Stuffed Winter Squash

Continuing on our journey (a short one so far) to make 2011 healthier and cleaner and a bit more meatless (well, meatless at least three days a week),  I created this sweet and savory acorn squash stuffed with couscous, fruits and nuts.

If you have visited before, you may have read Kicked Up Black-Eyed Peas and Pasta Salad, Strawberry Chipotle Chicken or even Turkey Tzatziki Muffins and know that I am trying to reverse a few bad winter habits, primarily that of too much cooking, baking, eating (of the wrong stuff) and not enough exercise.

We all crave comfort food during those cold winter months and well, it is just too cold to get out for a run.  I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.

We are now craving a return to our 2010 routine of clean eating limiting our use of “the wrong whites”, more fruits and veggies and less meat.  We are also easing back into our fitness routine.

This stuffed squash certainly fits our renewed eating goals.  Whole grain couscous, cranberries, dates, mandarin orange segments, sweet and savory notes from five spice powder, tarragon and a pinch of chives.  Not too sweet, not too savory, a pop of tart from the cranberries…perfect for a weeknight meatless meal.  It was also beautiful on the plate and we couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy.

Recipe Note:  If your not into meatless meals, adding a bit of sausage to the couscous mixture would be perfect. Earlier this year, I made a simple sausage stuffed version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn or butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 2 tablespoons  dried cranberries
  • 4 dried dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pecan, halved
  • 1 mandarin orange, zested, peeled, segments separated (I have access to beautiful Satsuma mandarins, use a small orange as a substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of tarragon
  • pinch of chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove and discard seeds from squash.  Place squash, cut sides down, in a baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2-inch. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until tender.

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous and next 6 ingredients. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Combine couscous mixture, orange segments, oil, pecans, tarragon and chives. Toss gently. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells.

Place stuffed squash in a baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

This really was filling…we did not need anything else to complete the meal.  If you feel it needs a bit more, a simple spinach salad would be a great side.

Linked to:

inked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

{Meatless Times} Kicked Up Black-Eyed Pea and Penne Salad

Well…we have decided to join the {MEATLESS} crowd.  I admit, I don’t know the first thing about going meatless and frankly, I’m more than a bit concerned about flavor and variety without meat.  I don’t want to eat pasta and rice or beans every night.

At the same time, we are trying to eat cleaner…food closer to natural state so that means cutting out the white stuff…rice, pasta, flour and sugar.  I am sure with more education, the list is going to grow.

Can we do this?  Just 1-3 days a week?

I hit the public library and many of the great real food and vegan blogs for some help.  It is amazing the wealth of information out there and I feel fairly confident that we can do both.  Move in a more meatless direction and eat cleaner.

For the first day, I made a very kicked-up black-eyed pea and pasta salad.  Heat from the HOT pepper, cool from the lime, cilantro and mint, and plenty of protein from the black-eyed peas and a serving of whole grains from the pasta.  I love arugula so in that went (as an afterthought but before serving).

I have never soaked my own beans but chose to buy dry and bulk…easy soak the night before and a 40 minut simmer.  Done and the difference in salt was amazing…none compared to the canned version. And a benefit?  A fraction of the cost of canned.  Who knew?

Overall, a keeper and a great first step into healthier, cleaner  and meatless eating.

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Recipe notes:  I added the penne to make this a meal not a side, substituted Thai red peppers, swapped arugula for the shredded lettuce and used lime instead of lemon.  Once I tasted the salad, it screamed for avocado so I cubed a half and added it to the salad. A healthy serving of MUFA.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces uncooked whole grain penne, cooked using package instructions omitting fat and salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded, ribs removed and finely diced (I used Thai peppers as I had them in the fridge)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (I used one whole lime, including zest)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (I used dried beans)
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 bunch mint, leaves roughly chopped (I cut this in half, I thought that was too much mint ~ at least for us it was)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 cups sliced fresh baby spinach or arugula

Directions:

Combine the garlic, pepper, red onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl.

Add the peas, tomatoes, mint, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss in the arugula and avocado.

Serve with a slice of whole grain bread if desired.

If you are still with me and you live this or will try the same, PLEASE feel free to leave me a comment on what sites, magazines or cookbooks you reference for recipes or ideas or simply for education. I am considering the magazine Vegetarian Times but open to magazine, cookbook or education ideas.

A big thanks in advance!

Linked to:

Tuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOP, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Monday Mania, My Meatless Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Beauty & Bedlam Tuesday

Smoked Salmon, Pear and Pecan Salad

This is a staple in our house.  I have made this with salmon, trout, sea bass and tilapia.  I also use whatever fruit I happen to have in the house or what is in season…apples, strawberries and blackberries.  This really is a recipe that you can experiement with and always have great results.  I serve this for brunch for my fish loving friends.  The addition of chipotle or other chili powder in the dressing gives it a nice kick and counter to the sweetness of the fruit.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Recipe Note – In the winter months, I use a Camerons Stovetop Smoker which works very well.  They have both a small and a large size and I own and use both depending on the quantity I need to smoke. The smoker is also great for chicken, meat, veggies and cheese. When I don’t feel like smoking the fish, I use a heavenly Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt from the Savory Spice Shop (they ship) and bake the fish until it flakes.

The Sea Salt is smoked over Northwest alder wood and is a true “smoked” salt. No artificial flavoring has been added and it is 100% natural. For hundreds of years alder wood has been used to smoke salmon and other meats and truly is a Northwest American tradition. {I am not compensated or affiliated with the Savory Spice Shop…I simply love the shop as they have unique spices and grind them weekly for max freshness.}


Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 cups salad, 1 fillet, and 1 1/2 teaspoons nuts)

Ingredients:

  • 2  cups  wood chips
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  teaspoon  prepared horseradish
  • 4  (6-ounce) rainbow trout fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  white wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  walnut oil or olive oil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 8  cups  mixed salad greens (I used a spinach and arugula)
  • 4 cups  thinly sliced pear
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced red onion
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped pecans, toasted
Preparation:
Soak wood chips in water 30 minutes, and drain well.

Combine lemon juice, horseradish, and fillets in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Smoking Fish:

Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to low and leaving one side with no heat. Maintain temperature at 200° to 225°.

Place wood chips on hot coals. Place a disposable aluminum foil pan on unheated side of grill. Pour 2 cups water in pan. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill. Remove fillets from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle fillets with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place fillets on grill rack over foil pan on unheated side. Close lid; cook 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, vinegar, oil, and chili powder, stirring with a whisk. Combine greens, pears and onion in a large bowl; drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss gently to coat. Remove skin from fillets; discard skin. Break fillets into pieces; serve over salad. Sprinkle with nuts.

Linked to: Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Tasty TraditionsCooking Thursday, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Frugal FolliesStrut Your Stuff, Recipe Swap Thursday, Let’s Do Brunch, It’s a Keeper, Pennywise Platter, Fantastic FridayTatertots and Jello, I’m Lovin it Friday, Friday Potluck, Family Friendly Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Fun with Food Friday, Food Trip Friday, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Saturday Swap, Simply Sweet Home, Katie’s Cucina, Sweet Tooth Friday, Friday Favorites, Feature Yourself Friday, Whipperberry Friday FlairFrugal Friday, Sweet Saturday, Mouthwatering Monday, Decidedly Healthy

Lavender and Fennel Crusted Salmon

Several years ago I planted a few lavender bushes.  I had no idea that these bushes would thrive in our Denver climate and expand to take up a big portion of the garden.

I love walking through the garden, brushing up against the leaves, the scent of lavender filling the air.  I often pluck a bunch of leaves and rub them in my hands to release the scent.  I am fascinated with the honey bees that congregate on and around the bushes, sometimes so many bees the lavender is abuzz.

This abundance of fresh lavender has expanded my culinary journeys.  I’ve made polenta cake with fresh lavender and honey, lavender ice cream. lavender shortbread, lavender crumb topping on fruit (especially good with pears), lavender vinaigrette and lavender lemonade.  If you have never used lavender in the kitchen but want to, look at The Lavender Cookbook and Discover Cooking with Lavender.  Both books are good and have creative recipes using lavender.

Lavender Field by Dave Catchpole

A single honey bee on lavender…soon lavender honey!

Lavender and Honey Bee by Steve Johnson

What could be better than being this close to the indescribable smell of lavender?

Norfolk Lavender by Martin Pettitt

While I have used lavender in many dishes, they were primarily sweet.  I had never used lavender on fish and would never have thought to pair it with fennel seeds so I was intrigued by the lavender and fennel crusted salmon recipe in the Sonoma Diet Cookbook. What a great way to bring a bit of summer to my winter table.  It was a delicious combination!

Lavender and Fennel Crusted Salmon adapted from The New Sonoma Cookbook.

Ingredients:

6 6 ounce salmon filets (skinless)

2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender , crushed (if you don’t have dried lavender flowers, use Herbs de Provence which is a mixture of spices and includes lavender)

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation:

Combine the parsley, lavender, fennel, thyme, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and rub in with your fingers.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add salmon and cook 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and fish flakes easily, turning at the halfway point.

Easy and quick from prep to table.

I served the salmon with skinny mashed gold potatoes and sautéed rainbow chard.

Linked to: Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Tasty Traditions, Ultimate Recipe Swap, Cooking Thursday, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Frugal Follies, HoH, Strut Your Stuff, Recipe Swap Thursday, Let’s Do Brunch, It’s a Keeper, Pennywise Platter, Fantastic Friday

{captioned photos used under CC 3.0 Attribution}

Lobster Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

The aroma of truffles has to be on the best in the world.  Seriously, the best.

Last year, I took my 13-year-old niece to Italy for two weeks (I have been many times but this was a first for her…eyes wide open the whole time but that is another story, another post).  For our first meal after settling into the hotel and wandering San Marco, I ordered pasta with black truffles. When it arrived, she was gaga over the heavenly scent of the truffles, a few freshly shaved on top by the wonderful waiter. She took one bite and the pasta with truffles was hers….for the rest of the trip, she had truffles at least once a day (sometimes with every meal).  On eggs, in risotto, on pasta, in cheese, truffle oil on bread…..she couldn’t get enough and well, I couldn’t either so it was a happy culinary journey.

So, in honor of the truffle and wonderful memories of our trip, I layered this mushroom risotto with truffles. White and black truffles, a drizzle of La Tourangelle Infused White Truffle Oil or Black Truffle Oil and a dusting of D Dalla Terra Truffle Salt.  I get most of my spices and specialty seasonings at the Savory Spice Shop ~ they ship so check them out online (I also purchased my lobster mushrooms from Savory Spice).

We could eat this every night….the smell of truffles filled the kitchen and the layers of truffle in the dish were out of this world wonderful!

A basket of black truffles…

Black Truffles by David Loong

With so many varieties of mushrooms it was hard to decide what to use…I settled on lobster mushrooms for the wonderful flavor and the red color.

Mushrooms by Furtwangi

A risotto’s success is the right rice…carnaroli or arbario…nothing else will give you the creamy texture.

Risotto by Matthias Rhomberg

Carnaroli rice with dried black and white truffle…

White truffle oil and black truffle sea salt…

Finished dish with lobster mushrooms…

Recipe Notes:  The below is the original recipe.  I used red lobster mushrooms and added 1 tablespoon of black and white truffle and drizzled each bowl with white truffle oil and black truffle sea salt.

Recipe adapted from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible. Recipe link from Cookstr.

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water, kept simmering
  • 4 tbsp butter, diced
  • 1lb (450g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preparation:

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Gradually add the stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly, waiting until absorbed before adding more. Continue in this manner for 25 minutes or until the rice is barely tender and has a creamy consistency, adding water if the stock has run out.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned and the liquid evaporates.

4. Stir the mushrooms into the rice and turn off remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

Monica at Sweet Bites Blog hosts a weekly Gutsy Cooks Club group that gets together to create from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible.  Join us for a virtual dinner.

Also linked to Midnight Maniac, Sweet & Savory Meatless Monday,  Another Meatless Monday, Made By You Monday, Mouth-watering Monda, Eats Well with Other, Tuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home

Sea Scallop Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I will call this a meal of leftovers but it is so far from a meal of leftovers.

Really… how could sea scallops, fresh roasted tomato coulis and basil puree transformed into sweet and savory scallop ravioli be leftovers?  Nested on the coulis mixed with a bit of heavy whipping cream and chives and topped with a few more dollops of creamy coulis.  A QUICK and easy {leftover} dinner.

Working with wonton wrappers makes ravioli on a busy week night a reality!  I have used them in Butternut Squash Ravioli and Two Way Asian Shrimp Dumplings.  Super easy.

This dish also works very well with a lemon butter and chives topping.  In fact, that is how I served it night one…2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest!

Both were fantastic so pick your favorite sauce!

Scallops by Jeremy Keith

Adapted from My Gourmet Connection.

Ingredients:

1 12-ounce package wonton wrappers (48 wrappers)

1 lb sea scallops, divided

Zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, unseasoned

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preparation:

Rinse the scallops in cold water and pat dry with paper towels and place them in bowl of a food processor.

Add 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest and 1-1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the scallops in the food processor. Pulse 1 or 2 times to combine. Add the egg yolks, breadcrumbs, chopped chives, salt and 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream. Process the mixture until smooth.

Cover a flat work surface with wax paper, dust with flow and have a small bowl of water nearby to seal the ravioli.  Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, mound a half tablespoon filling in the center. Moisten the entire outer edge of the wrapper around the filling. Immediately top with another wrapper and press lightly to seal. Then, using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges all the way around and transfer the ravioli to a plate. Repeat with the remaining wrappers. Place a sheet of wax paper dusted with flour between each layer of finished ravioli. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

While the ravioli chills, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and make the Tomato Coulis.

Tomato Coulis:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds very ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
Salt and white pepper

Preparation:

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute onion until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer before adding the tomatoes. Stir well to combine, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until tomatoes have softened and most of the released liquid has evaporated.  NOTE:  I added two tablespoons of cream to the coulis for a creamy sauce.

Once the water has come to a rolling boil, reduce heat so that you have a gentle simmer (you do not want the ravioli to burst) cook 6 to 8 ravioli at a time for 3 minutes per batch.  Using a mesh scoop or slotted spoon, transfer cooked ravioli to individual plates and top with the Tomato Coulis.

Makes 4 generous servings

Linked to Food Trip Friday, Foodie Friday, Katie’s Cucina, Simply Sweet Home, Friday Potluck, Recipe Lion, Fun with Food Friday, Food on Friday

Hiyashi Soba and Tempura ~ Daring Cooks Challenge

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com. Check the group out and join us.

I was excited about my first challenge with the Daring Cooks Club.  I love Asian food, in fact, if you peek around, you will see postings on my new noodle bowl and sake set and a comforting bowl of shrimp udon, green tea noodles with salmon, my first attempt at sushi and a a post about Victoria Abbott Ricarddi’s Untangling My Chopsticks – A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto.

Using the recipes provided by Lisa, I tackled the tempura first.  Now, I am not a big fried food eater (well..unless it is duck fat fried potatoes) so I was a little nervous about deep frying at home.  But fry I did.

Sweet potatoes, green onions, sweet onions, carrots, mushrooms and shrimp.

The results were tender, light and crispy!  Surprisingly, they were not gloppy or greasy! I almost convinced myself that they were healthy.  Almost.

Next was the Hiyashi Soba…I knew this would be fun because there are so many different soba noodles.  I love green tea and plum soba.  Toppings are endless, literally endless (wander outside the traditional).

I chose to make pickled cucumbers (so easy with Japanese cucumber pickling spice), pickled daikon radish and serve with umeboshi, ginger, wasabi and shiso.  You can also serve with egg, ham, chicken, green onion and roasted spiced edamame.  Perfect!

Pickled plums:

Pickled cucumbers:

With roasted seaweed, ginger and pickled daikon radish.

Want to join the group and take the challenge?  Click on Miss Measure below for more information on the group!

Recipes and References (from Daring Cooks website):

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

Ingredients
2 cups (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

*Note: If you can’t find Mirin, a substitute recipe can be found HERE

Directions:

  1. Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

Ingredients
¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each

Directions:

1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:

  • Thin omelet strips
  • Ham
  • Boiled chicken breasts
  • Cucumber
  • Boiled bean sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Toasted nori (Dried Seaweed)
  • Green onions
  • Wasabi powder
  • Finely grated daikon (Japanese radish)
  • Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger)

All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.

Serving:

Traditionally soba is served on a bamboo basket tray, but if you don’t have these, you can simply serve them on a plate or in a bowl. Divide up the noodles, laying them on your serving dishes. Sprinkle each one with nori. In small side bowl or cup, place 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dipping sauce into each. In separate small side dishes, serve each person a small amount of wasabi, grated daikon, and green onions.
The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce. Feel free to slurp away! Oishii!

Tempura:

Ingredients
1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup (240 ml) iced water
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
oil, for deep frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice ie:

  • Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
  • Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
  • Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
  • Green beans, trimmed
  • Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
  • Assorted fresh mushrooms
  • Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
  • Onions sliced

Directions:

  1. Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.
  3. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.
  4. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.
  5. Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.


Sea Scallop Crostini with Tomato Coulis and Basil Puree

Monica at Sweet Bites Blog hosts a weekly Gutsy Cooks Club group that gets together to create from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible.

This weeks menu included Scallop Crostini with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato. Sweet scallops and fresh basil pesto on toasted bread.  A winning combination as it stands but I rarely make a recipe exactly as written and this was no exception.  Inspired by the original, I made a fresh roasted tomato coulis and basil puree.

I swapped the heavier ciabatta for buttery and delicate puff pastry! A sweet and savory SUCCESS!

Tomatoes and Basil for the coulis and puree…

Tomatoes & Basil by Jeremy Keith

Tomato Coulis:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds very ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
Salt and white pepper

Directions:
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute onion until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer before adding the tomatoes. Stir well to combine, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until tomatoes have softened and most of the released liquid has evaporated.

Basil Puree:

1 1/2 cups basil leaves, washed and dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree. Transfer to an airtight container and store refrigerated until ready to use, up to 1 day in advance. Bring to room temperature before serving with crostini.

Fresh Scallops…

Scallops by Jeremy Keith

Scallop Crostini (original recipe) from the The Illustrated Kitchen Bible.

Ingredients:

12 slices Italian bread, such as ciabatta, about ¾ in (2cm) thick
½ garlic clove
3 tbsp olive oil
6 sea scallops
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
12 fresh basil leaves, to garnish

Directions:
Prepare ahead

Step 1 can be done in advance.

1. Preheat the broiler and position the broiler rack about  6 inches (15cm) from the source of heat. Broil the bread slices in the broiler until toasted golden on both sides. Rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove. Brush the garlic side of each slice with about 2 tsp olive oil.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the scallops, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and tender; keep hot.

3. Spread one half of each toasted bread slice with pesto and the other half with tomato coulis.

4. Cut each scallop in half horizontally and put 1 scallop half on top of each crostini. Grind black pepper over the top. Serve hot, garnished with basil leaves.

Linked to Gutsy Cooks Club, Grocery Challenge, Monday Mania, Home Maker Monday, Hearth and Soul, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Delectable Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Beauty and Bedlam, Mess Hall to Bistro, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, MIz Helen’s Country Cottage

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 21 other followers

{Random food and photos}