Pan-fried Patagonian Sea Scallops with Bacon

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I've only very recently come to know (& love) scallops. It was a crash-course in tastes, actually. I first had them in paella at a Spanish restaurant in Manchester.

Before then, I always avoided them, shoved them onto the boyfriend's plate and happily munched away on everything else.

I've always been a picky eater and I'm starting to realize that that's a bit unfortunate. I'm hoping to expand my palate and to try new things, one grimacing bite at a time. Most recently it was the scallops. I was surprised by how fishy they were, which for most picky seafood eaters is a no-go, but for me, it was a tick under the right column. I love their fishyness. I love that they're firm but not too firm. They look like they should be gooey. They look like mini orbs of panacotta. They look unappetizing. Well, I should say the looked unappetizing. Now, I'm their biggest fan.

There's this ... culinary canon of dishes people who have not been trained as a chef are always wary to try cooking. It's normally things like: cheesecake, meringue, risotto, scallops. Some conniving (and insanely smart) chef started spewing the rumor that these foods were difficult to prepare. As a result, homecooks shy away from them and we all flock to restaurants for our fill of these dishes thought best left to the pros.

I'll admit, I first felt that way when it came to tackling the scallops. But, my gusto and my memory of how divine they tasted (plus the fact that they were on sale at the supermarket this week) all combined and saw me in my kitchen, plopping these babies into a wok of warmed olive oil.

I fried them, splashed on some lemon juice and a bit of white wine and added some diced bacon. I had intended to wrap the bacon in the scallops but the scallops, as you can see were far too small. Next time I prepare them, I'll prepare them as originally intended.

Everything else went according to plan. They were served on a bed of salted, steamed savoy cabbage with a baked potato added for sustenance. It was simple, quick, flavorful and delicious. I have no complaints.

Afternoon Memory by Gary Soto

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It occurred to me the other day that I don't post enough food poems on here.
So here, you are, one of my most favorite poems about food. Click the link to hear him read.

Afternoon Memory by Gary Soto
Sometimes I'll look in the refrigerator
And decide that the mustard is vaguely familiar,
And that the jar of Spanish olives is new to me.
What's this gathering? The butter
And salsa, the two kinds of tortillas
And, in back, the fat-waisted Mrs. Butterworth.
I'll study the plate of cross-legged chicken,

And close the refrigerator and lean on the kitchen counter.
Is this old age? The faucet drips.
The linoleum blisters when you walk on it.
The magnets on the refrigerator crawl down
With the gravity of expired coupons and doctor bills.
Sometimes I'll roll my tongue in my mouth.
Is this thirst or desire? Is this pain
Or my foot going to sleep? I know the factory
Inside my stomach has gone quiet.
My hair falls as I stand. My lungs are bean plants
Of disappearing air. My body sends signals, like now:
A healthy fleck is floating across my vision.
I watch it cross. It's going to attack a virus
On the right side of my body
And, later, travel down my throat to take care of knee,
Little latch of hurt. I swallow three times.
I have to help my body parts. Fellas, sour liver
And trusty kidney, I'm full of hope.
I open the refrigerator.
I've seen this stuff before. What's this?
The blow dart of bran? Chinese ginger?
No, fellas, they're carrots. The orange, I hear,
Is good for your eyes.

Tiramisu

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tiramisu

Y'know what I love? I love that tiramisu means "pick me up" in Italian. I love that this decadent dessert is a bona fide slice of comfort food--in every sense of the word.

Before this weekend, I would flit from Italian restaurant to Italian restaurant, cafe and coffee shop to cafe and coffee shop, in desperation, seeking my pick me up.

I'd stand before the counter, ragged and run down, only capable of eeking out of the word tiramisu, before they handed over the goods. Yeah, my infatuation with this dessert has been that serious. It's a bit shocking, really, because I don't drink coffee or espresso. But ... who can make heads or tails of matters of the heart, I ask ya.

Anyway, if you want to begin a relationship with this rich and heavenly dessert, here's my own recipe of what you'll need:
(apologies for them being metric & not superior imperial)
250 milliliters ounces of hot water
110 milliliters of Chambord black raspberry liqueur divided into 60 milliliters and 50 milliliters (alternatively, use any liqueur that you like ... I personally like the sweet flavor of this fruity liqueur)
15 milliliters of instant espresso (make sure it's espresso & not coffee!)
2 eggs, separated
75 grams of sugar
1 package of lady fingers (if you can't find lady fingers, I bet vanilla wafers would work)
150 grams of mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons fromage frais
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
chocolate curls
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Here's what you do:
Add the espresso the to required amount of hot water along with 50 mls of the Chambord. Set aside to cool.
Separate the eggs into individual bowls. Whisk the whites with an electric mixer so that they are aerated and frothy but not stiff.
Pour your sugar over the egg yolks along with the remaining liqueur. Whisk using a normal, non-electric whisk until aerated. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the mascarpone followed by the fromage frais and the vanilla essence. Finally, whisk in the remaining contents of the mascarpone. Whisk until smooth and thick.
Gently fold in the egg whites.

In your serving dish, lay out a layer of lady fingers. Pour 1/2 of the espresso mixture over the lady fingers, being careful not to spill too much in the bottom of the dish. Allow to absorb. Once absorbed, spoon over half of the cream and egg mixture. Repeat this pattern of lady fingers then cream until you have used all of the ingredients, being sure to end with a cream layer.

Refrigerate for at least six hours.
Just before serving: sprinkle on the cocoa powder and chop with chocolate curls. Serve with ice cream or more mascarpone.

Galician Broth

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Galician Broth

Although I've been to Spain numerous times, I've never actually been to Galicia. This broth, as it is called (I think it's more of a soup) is divine and would be reason enough to visit the region alone! (Oh, how many voyages would I take in search of culinary delights?!)
I digress. This soup, is heavenly. Surprisingly tasty with a nice ingredient twist that I would have never considered serving as the base flavor in a soup: paprika. The recipe I used has been modified unintentionally, because I forgot an ingredient when I went shopping! I'll give you the ingredient I added in and I'll give you the ingredient that was supposed to be added in. I plan on making this again in the very near future, hopefully incorporating all of the correct ingredients!
So what you need if you're wanting to experience Galicia my way:

1lb. gammon (ham)
3 bay leaves
2 onions, sliced
6 1/4 cups cold water
1 tbsp paprika
1lb potatoes, skinned and cut into large chunks
a few handfuls of frozen peas
1 can white kidney beans
1 pork stock cube
salt and pepper

Put the ham in a large saucepan with the bay leaves and the chopped onions. Pour over the water and crumble a stock cube into the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender. Don't allow to boil over.

Remove the ham and, using kitchen scissors, cut into dices. Return the diced ham to the liquid in the pot and add the paprika and potatoes. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the beans and the peas to the pan along with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve piping hot with a nice piece of rustic, crusty bread like a baguette.

Easy peas-y and delicious!