Where are you going for New Years eve?

New Years eve is a great night.

You get to look back on last year and hope you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Ha!

So here’s to a Happy New Year!

Okay, want to have a great new years?

Stay home. Yes I said it. Sorry restaurants but it’s amateurs night. As long as You the regular can put up with average at best service, stay away. It is generally a fiasco when it comes to serving a good prefix with a two or three seating. Most of the time the One-timers that don’t come out but once a year get in your way to a perfect dinner at your favorite eatery. They don’t know what good food or service is so they will be happy and drunk while you and yours will be wishing you were some where else.

My peers may give me the WTF but it is reality. If they were not working they wouldn’t go out to dinner on New Years Eve.

Now if you are going out, that is a different story. Perhaps go to your favorite hang for apps and rounds one or two, but move on after that. If you hang around long enough you will get too drunk, spend too much and may get pissed off by those around you having a great 1st night out.

Those of you in the city can walk to a local hang and let it all out at 12 till. Those in the suburbs, don’t get behind the wheel. Stay home enjoy pop acts on TV that you never get a chance to listen to (or may never listen to again).

Here’s to a new year!

Riesling Sorbet with Hibiscus Flower

If you have never had Hibiscus Flowers try them. Yeah I know they look like purple squid, but trust me they are not fishy.

The are packed in a simple syrup (unless you are from down unda’ and picking them fresh). Now it is time to break out that ice cream maker you have not used in ages.

Here is a simple recipe and presentation.  Serves 6-8.

2 cups Riesling wine

1/2 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

Juice from 3 limes

Hibiscus flowers, your preference, I use four per serving.

In a sauce pan combine wine, water and sugar bring to a simmer to melt the sugar. Let simmer for 3 minutes ( not boil). Remove from heat, add lime juice and cool for an hour.

Mix in an Ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place into freezer until service.

To serve, use a melon ball or small ice cream scoop. Open flowers wide and place a scoop of sorbet in each flower. Serve and enjoy!

Scallops

As I native New Englander I am amazed by how many people in this area don’t know a fresh scallop versus a frozen one. Most of the time people enjoy them fried so perhaps it doesn’t matter anyway. In markets, many frozen scallops are from Asia.

This weekend I was fortunate to meet Elaine & Karin Tammi. A mother and daughter who have written a cookbook, Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook.

Not only does this have great recipes from many of the areas top chefs, it is an informative and a great read.

To accompany their book signing, I got some local Live Cultured Bay Scallops from Taylor Bay in Fairhaven, MA.

It was great to see the reaction of people sampling something that they think they are familiar with but they are not. Most are familiar with the white meat round Scallop (adductor mussel). To see it in the shell and taste the entire mollusk is a treat. This way of preparation more popular outside the US.

I enjoy them raw, but we sauteed them in the shell with white wine and a compound butter.

If you have the chance try them don’t think that these have the texture of clams or oysters. They are mild in comparative texture and the flavor is sweet with a nice salty balance.

Since they are a live product, they would have to be consumed fresh. In other words, this isn’t something that you can ice down in the refrigerator for a few days. That is why you rarely see them on restaurant menus because they have a short life. Once they are shucked and cleaned, it is a different story (as well as a different flavor). A savvy chef will offer them as a special with light accompaniments and not full of breading with butter smothered in Marinara sauce. You want to taste the scallop not cracker crumbs.

Oven Self Cleaning

Self Cleaning does involve – yourself.

Most people never use the clean cycle in their oven. A few bad apples back in the day caused a fire in their kitchen, rumors spread and since then everyone is petrified that they need to update the Home Insurance rider.

Look at it this way, if you cooked on your outside grill and a few days later fired up the grill again, there appears to be some residual smell from the previous culinary excursion, is there not?

The same holds true when you have several spills in the oven that you leave unattended. Eventually this primordial ooze begins to smolder, emitting a fine fragrance of burnt grease that flavors your pies like apple wood in a smoker.

I suggest that every year on the morning of your birthday, after you get out of bed, set the self-cleaning cycle on your oven. Simple enough!

In every oven you have to remove the racks. I can hear your scream :                                                 “NO WAY, THE SELF CLEANING CYCLING DOESN’T CLEAN THOSE?”

No the Robotic-oven-rack-cleaning-cycle has not been invented yet. If you leave those bad boys in your oven they will warp from the extremely high heat and never slide easily again.

Treat your oven with a little water on some heavy spills or use a cleaner such as Bon Ami or Barkeeper’s Friend.

In this series of photos of my Gaggenau, I have the side Convection Fan Cover removed so I could clean some seriously burnt on residue on the sides of the oven. Once I put the cleaned cover and fan screen back on, I replaced the side rack guides and TA-DA!

Ok it wasn’t my birthday cleaning celebration, it was my post Thanksgiving cleaning requirement so that I don’t have a smoked turkey grease flavor in my chocolate souffle.