Posts Tagged white wine

Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan-Seared Sea ScallopsSeafood is something Susan and I don’t have an opportunity to enjoy nearly enough. That’s because our kids think it’s something exotic (unless we’re talking about Tuna Melts). I love most fish, but I especially love shellfish. Scallops may be expensive, but they are so versatile and so delicious that the price doesn’t seem to matter much.

Although most people don’t understand this, there’s a difference between regular sea scallops and what they call “dry” sea scallops. The dry version is much easier to sear in a skillet, although this dish can be made with either version. So, my recommendation is that you don’t shy away simply because you cannot find “dry” scallops. Just be sure to rinse the scallops and pat them dry before pan searing them.

Depending upon where you buy your scallops, you may have to remove the muscle. I usually buy mine at my local grocer, and the muscle is already removed.

This is a great dish that comfortably serves three. I’m sure you will absolutely love it.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs “dry” sea scallops

2 tbsp Canola oil

6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 tbsp fresh thyme

sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1.5 cups Basmati rice

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

Heat a skillet on medium-high. Add the 2 tbsp Canola oil. When heated, add 2 tbsp of the butter. Once melted and bubbling, add the scallops in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Sear on one side for 2-3 minutes. Turn each one and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes, or until the scallops become translucent. You can check this by looking at the sides of the scallops. Once done, remove the scallops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Place them in a warmed oven to keep warm.

While you are cooking the scallops, you should be cooking the rice. Add the 2 cups of chicken broth, one cup of water and the 1.5 cups of rice. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until the rice is done and the water is absorbed.

Once you have removed the scallops from the skillet, add the wine, the lemon juice and the thyme. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the 4 tbsp butter one tablespoon at a time. Cook until it is slightly reduced. If you feel you need more wine, please feel free to add it.

When the rice is done, divide it into three plates. Place the scallops on top of the rice, then pour the sauce on top of the scallops and rice.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough that this type of dish isn’t an exact science. The idea is to have the plain cooked rice and the scallops on top, with the sauce poured over the whole shebang. It is simply delicious.

 

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Ratatouille

ratatouille-image_1Before we begin, let’s establish that we’re not talking about the Disney movie here. There are a million variations on this particular theme. Make mine a million and one. This French concoction can be a side dish, or it can be a main dish (with rice pilaf), or it can be an appetizer. Pick your poison. Everything that is used in this recipe is roughly chopped…not too big, and not too small. Leave the skin on everything except the red (or Bermuda) onion. I use cilantro here, but you can also use parsley if you’d like. My problem is that I’m not a great lover of parsley, with the exception of specific recipes. I think cilantro (often referred to as Mexican parsley) is a much more interesting taste.

Another basic staple in my house is Balsamic Drizzle or, as some call it, Balsamic Cream. I like to drizzle some on mine but this is entirely optional.

This is a project for sure. Everything cooks in stages initially, and it comes out best if cooked slowly. Cooking it for less time will leave you bigger and more distinct pieces of vegetables. Cooking it for up to 1.5 hours will result in a more blended silky stew. The beauty of this is that it can be served warm or room temperature. And leftovers? Nothing like it. Roll it up in a piece of lavash bread or throw it in a pita pocket, melt some Italian Fontina on it, and have yourself a great lunch. It can also be frozen.

Ingredients

2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

8 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 large red (or Bermuda) onion, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped

2 cups sliced portobello mushrooms

6 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 medium-large eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes

3 zucchini, sliced and cut in half

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut in strips

10 springs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Balsamic Drizzle (for serving)

1/4 cup dry white wine (for deglazing the pan)

Directions

Prior to beginning this process, a word about deglazing the Dutch oven. During the cooking process a brown glaze will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep a 1/4 cup of dry white wine on hand for deglazing purposes. You do not want this brown glaze to burn and ruin the flavor of the dish. Add wine a little at a time as necessary and scrape off the bottom of the pan. Add the deglazing liquid to the bowl with the cooked vegetables.

The first thing you have to do is cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Eggplant traditionally retains a lot of water. Cut the eggplant first and place the pieces in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. Prior to this becoming a blended dish, the vegetables will be cooked in stages. Therefore, you want to keep the raw vegetables in separate bowls.

Place 2 tsp of olive oil in a large Dutch oven (at least 5-1/2 quart) and warm over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt, and sauté until they are just beginning to turn brown. This will take about 10 minutes. Then, add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for about another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and put this into a large, clean bowl.

Add another 2 tsp of oil to the Dutch oven and toss in the zucchini. Add another pinch of salt. Cook the zucchini until it begins to brown. This should again be about 5-7 minutes. Remove the zucchini and add it to the other vegetables.

Rinse the eggplant under cold water, and squeeze the pieces to remove as much moisture as possible. Add 2 more teaspoons of olive oil to the pan along with the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove the eggplant and add it to the other vegetables.

Finally, add some more olive oil to the pan and sauté the garlic until it becomes slightly brown and fragrant. Then, add the tomatoes, thyme, cilantro, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Allow the tomato juice to bubble, and deglaze the pan as it does.

Add all of the cooked vegetables back into the Dutch oven. Stir to mix, and reduce the heat to low. Taste and adjust salt level, and add black pepper to taste. You can cook this for another 30 minutes or up to an hour and a half. Shorter cooking time will result in larger more distinct pieces of vegetables. Longer cooking times will result in a very nice melded stew. The choice is up to you.

Before taking the Ratatouille off the stove, remove the bay leaves and stir in the basil. Serve in bowls, adding a dash of olive oil to the top. You can also offer a drizzle of Balsamic cream as well as some finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

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Mediterranean Mussels

This is an incredible feast for very little money. Mussels are among the most economical shellfish, and they are delicious. If you pick them up at a supermarket, they are cleaned and debearded. All you need to do is rinse them in cold water prior to cooking (and be sure to discard any that are broken open). If you purchase them from a fish market, cleaning may be a bit more complicated, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

You need Fines Herbs for this recipe. You can buy them in a jar all prepared, or you can make some yourself. The recipe for them follows the main recipe.

Ingredients

2 lbs. Mussels (cleaned and/or rinsed)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 yellow onion (chopped)

1 fresh lemon (seeds removed; cut in quarters)

2 Roma tomatoes (seeds removed and chopped)

8 cups water

1 cup white wine

1 cup clam juice

3 tbsp. fines herbs

3 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)

2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped; for garnish)

Loaf of Ciabatta bread (I like rosemary and olive oil), Italian bread, or garlic bread (you choose)

Directions

Use a nice, big pasta pan for this dish. Add olive oil, garlic and onions to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. No more. The idea here is to add a bit of flavor, but not to overwhelm the flavor of the delicate mussels.

Add the water, salt, fines herbs, clam juice, tomatoes, lemons, and white wine. Heat for a bit, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cleaned mussels. I can’t give you a definitive time here. All you do is cook them until the mussels are opened. Serve in bowls with plenty of broth. That’s what the bread is for.

Great with white wine. If you’re not a white wine drinker, have some red. I’m not a believer in red for meats and red-sauce pastas; white for fish and chicken. You should be drinking what you like. The food police are not welcome on this blog, thank you very much.

I like this dish with an arugula salad. A simple arugula salad, which means just arugula and a simple Italian dressing. I’m going to give you the recipe for the Italian dressing below also.

Spoon the mussels into individual pasta dishes, throwing some chopped parsley on top for garnish. Don’t be shy with the broth. It’s delicious. That’s why there’s bread in the recipe.

Here is the recipe for Fines Herbs.

Fines Herbs

1 tbsp. chopped tarragon

1 tbsp. chopped chervil

1 tbsp. chopped chives

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tbsp. chopped marjoram

That’s it. A lot of recipes out there tell you the marjoram is optional. It isn’t in my book.

Simple Italian Dressing

This is a great dressing. I’m not a fan of heavy olive oil in my dressings. I like the light olive oils that are used for dressings and marinades. If I don’t have that on hand, I use canola oil.

McCormick  makes an awesome Tuscan Seasoning. It’s a mix of black pepper, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, red pepper, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomato, red bell pepper and salt. Trust me. You don’t need to create this yourself. I keep a bottle on hand all the time. It’s one of those must-have things.

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for dressings and marinades; not the one for cooking)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp. Tuscan Seasoning

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Shake it up. It’s ready. If you’re a cheese-o-holic like me, you can put some shaved Parmesan or Asiago on your salad. If not, it’s fine without.

By the way, I love those Good Seasons cruets for dressings. I don’t use the packets, but it’s worth buying the package just to get the cruet. Keeps well in the fridge for the next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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