Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Soooooo French!!!!

And not just in the name, but in the history of the dish! What, you say? Why Coquilles St. Jacques, of course! I really, really hope this will be one of our new year's dishes while we're in Paris.....I can't imagine scallops not being available in January! Besides, it's really a very simple dish to make! we go! The first thing that I did was to sear my scallops in a few tablespoons of olive oil (careful...scallops are horrible if you boil them in olive oil, so you only need to barely coat the pan. This is a very quick process which requires total concentration, hence the reason there isn't a picture of this stage. Most recipes I read called for simmering the scallops in wine, but I prefer my scallops with a crisp sear on them, so I did that first and set them aside in individual ramekins.(don't cook them ALL the way through....maybe 3/4 if the way. They're finished off in the oven.).
After that I added some butter and my diced shallots, along with my mushrooms....I sauteed them just to soften, then added my wine and lemon juice. Once you add the wine, lower to the heat to a steady simmer and let the wine evaporate almost completely. Then add the cream and let simmer to thicken.
Put the scallops in the baking dish, pour over the creamy mushroom sauce, top with the buttery breadcrumb, sprinkle with Gruyere cheese
and bake until they are bubbly and browned. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 lbs. scallops
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced shallots
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 lemon
1 c. dry white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. cream
3/4 c. buttered bread crumbs
3/4 to 1 c. grated Gruyere cheese
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil in heated saute' pan and sear the scallops until almost done. Set aside in individual ramekins.
Add 2 tablespoons butter into the saute' pan and cook mushrooms and shallots for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat until golden brown. Squeeze the lemon over the mushrooms and add the wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated.
Add the cream and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and pour over the scallops.
Sprinkle with buttered crumbs. Top with Gruyere. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbly and top with grated parmesan cheese.
It may seem like alot of steps, but this is truly an easy, easy dish to make....and quite impressive! I sure hope we can find beautiful scallops at the markets!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Presto!!! Pesto!!!

I love me some basil!!! It's my favorite herb, and every spring I sit on pins and needles waiting for the weather to get warm enough to plant mine....and every fall I dread the night that will be it's death. Sooooo.....since cooler weather is coming, I decided this morning to cut them back and make more pesto (I think I had about a tablespoon left...not enough to do much of anything!).

I used to make my pesto in my Cuisinart food processor....the one I begged for 6 Christmases ago and that I rarely use unless it's a holiday! Anyway, I found that my pesto ended up looking like spinach baby food. So, I started using my old (very) Sunbeam mini-food processor and found that it left my final product much more chunky, which I love! When I take a bite, I can individually taste the basil, the garlic, the parmesan cheese (!!!) and the pine nuts.....ohmigosh!

So let's get started....
The ingredients are simple.......basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts!
Since I'm using a smaller processor, I'll have to do mine in batches, which does take longer, but the end result is so worth it. Add a little of each ingredient and just blend. After they're all mixed in together, I check the final mix to make sure I have enough parmesan, garlic and pine nuts....if not, I add it all back to the processor with the ingredient(s) I need and blend again (pulse this time to make sure it doesn't get to finely chopped). Then add salt and pepper to taste and...voila.....pesto! I prefer not to use the mixture until it's had a chance to meld hour or two. So, what do I make using my lovely pesto? I love to mix a little with more olive oil and toss with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken and (more) grated parmesan! I love just a dollop on the top of freshly made tomato soup! Add a little to mayonnaise and toss with fresh tomatoes! I use it to marinate my's delicious as a sandwich spread....great on burgers....mixed with mashed scrambled eggs (with tomato..WOW!)...and on grilled shrimp! Are you making garlic bread? Spread a little pesto over the butter and garlic...awesome! Are you going to make a homemade pizza? Spread a little over the dough before you add your sauce.....dang! You can spread it, drizzle it, toss it, stuff it and mix versatile! Oh wait.....the mostest, bestest is freshly cooked pasta tossed with pesto and freshly grated parmesan cheese!!! That's it....mine has sat long enough....gotta go!!!

Tip: You may remember this tip from a previous post: "Does the paper skin on a garlic head drive you nuts! When I buy a new head of garlic, I hold it under running water and gently peel away all of the skin. It makes it so much easier to pull off a clove when you need it! And if you're making a soup or stew where you're using the whole head, you don't have to worry about garlic paper floating around in your soup!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Potluck, Part Two

The day after my potluck, Dennis had one at his office to celebrate his broker's birthday (Happy B'Day again, Tonya!)......I could have made the same thing I made for my potluck, but because I had a tough time deciding between two dishes I love to make, I made the second one for his! Now I have absolutely no idea what it's called....I had it at a potluck somewhere, but just can't remember where. Soooo.....check this out and then help me out with a name! The winner gets a gift card to the newest restaurant in Great Bridge....Chili's!!!

The Dip
1 pound of sausage
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes (don't you just love them!)

Brown the sausage in a pan, crumble, then add the cream cheese and the tomatoes and stir to blend as they warm. Pour into a crockpot, which you need to keep on low....just to keep warm. Serve with Scoops!

That's a friend of ours, Dennis West......he's my personal taster!

Soooo....what shall we name it?!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Potluck, Part One

And I especially love them when there is a very good reason to have one......the "monthly potluck luncheon" thing doesn't entice me....but when I'm invited to share in a special occasion? I'm there!

Yesterday there was a very special occasion! One of my colleagues, Janet Aslett, had the good fortune (and intelligence!) to retire from the wonderful world of mortgage banking after spending 26 years providing homebuyers and homeowners with her vast knowledge. I will miss most knowing that I can always call her and get the "right" answer to my questions!

So, what did I take to the luncheon? You know that I pondered long and hard....even waited until the last minute to say what I'd be bringing. Of course, I brought the first thing I thought of....and the one thing I always know is a hit: Vidalia Onion Dip! It's in my cookbook, but this time I put a little twist on it.....cream cheese! Everything is better with cream cheese!'s the recipe....

Twisted Vidalia Onion Dip

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened (I zapped it in the microwave)1 medium Vidalia onion, diced (I used my mini-food processor)
1 cup mayonnaise (You know I didn't measure, don't you!)
1 cup grated parmesan (I like the good Kraft!)

Mix all of this together, put into a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until it's warm and bubbly! Now how easy is that? I served it with toasted, sliced baguette (Harris Teeter - they slice, I drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees until browned).
Here's Jan sitting in her office....for the last time! Maybe someday I'll have a picture like that!
Here she is with a wonderful gift given to her by Kathy Reed, another colleague. Kathy and Jan worked together at Countrywide/Bank of America for over 15 years! Kathy is an integral part of our BofA family and, like Jan, she is knowledgeable, nice, helpful, nice, generous, nice......AND creative and nice! Isn't this the cutest thing! Jan's "new life" clock! I want one! Oh well.....someday.....

Here's the group enjoying the fruits of each other's cannot imagine how much food there was....and it was all fabulous! There was lumpia, fried chicken, caesar's salad, chicken and dumplings, braised pork, meatballs....and tons more! Oh, wait....there were these sweet potato biscuits with sliced Smithfield know, the salty kind! It turns out they were purchased elsewhere, so we didn't get a recipe with them. But you know one will coming, don't you!?

Here's Jan's farewell cake....

Next up....part two of the "potluck" saga! As I sit here working on this post, Dennis is at his office for a potluck for his broker's birthday! Happy Birthday, Tonya! For his potluck I made a killer sausage dip......with cream cheese, of course! Check back later for this one!