Peppercorn Crusted, Seared Scallops

Okay some may think it is simple, but have you ever eaten a rubbery scallop?

Not so simple to ‘just cook’ the scallop now is it?

I work with appliances for manufacturers and get to demonstrate the features and benefits. Many times I am trying to make it interesting for me because doing the same old thing gets boring. What I forget about is, I don’t cook to the same audience for every demonstration. Many times the simple things are the best to show.

Sauteing is a basic cooking technique that many do in their kitchen. Some are good at it, many don’t know that they suck at it. Too many times when you cook something you may think that you have to cook it all the way through.

Unless it is a stew, ribs or another braised or smoked item, don’t cook it all the way through.

There is always carry over cooking when you heat the internal moisture of food. The knack is learning when to stop heating your food.

Scallops are prevalent in the area ( I live in New England). This past year I have met a pair of excellent authors on the topic and please check out their book. http://scallopcookbook.com/  by Elaine & Karin Tammi.

When you buy them try to get them dry. This way you are not paying for water weight. You will want to rinse them because sand or a piece of the shell isn’t enjoyable to chew on 🙂

Cooking Scallops are easy. They are very versatile. You can broil, grill, fry, poach, steam, smoke and saute them.

Here is a recipe for Peppercorn Crusted, Seared Scallops. Searing them in a pan just like sauteing with very little oil.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Sea Scallops (I used large), rinse and dry on paper towel

3 tablespoons cracked peppercorns

Cooking oil, I used Coconut also, grape seed or canola works well

1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Kosher Salt

Lemon wedges

Method:

Place a heavy gauge saute or non stick pan over a medium high heat.

Dip one side of the scallops into the peppercorns.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and turn to coat*.

Cook the scallops in batches. Place several scallops, pepper side down, onto oiled pan. Don’t crowd them or they will sweat the moisture and no provide a good caramelization.

Let it begin to sear Without shaking the pan. Season scallops with a pinch of kosher salt.

Carefully turn the pan to allow dripping to move to one side. On the high side of the pan add a couple of cubes of butter.

As the butter melts to the bottom of the angled pan, use a spoon and baste the scallops.

After about two minutes lay pan down onto burner and use a spatula to turn them over. Allow them to sear for about a minute and remove to a plate.

Wipe pan with a paper towel and cook remaining scallops the same way.

Serve with lemon wedges or favorite dipping sauce.

Enjoy!

*I used an Induction Cook Top in these photos. As you lift the pan from the cook top it stops heating the pan so you have to baste and lay the pan to heat, then lift it and repeat. Some electric tops have pan sensors that determine when you lift a pan from the heating element. Keep this in mind as you try this recipe or additional searing on the cook top.

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Garden Fresh Potatoes

If you have been wanted to start a garden, begin with potatoes. You don’t need any special equipment or fertilizers just soil, space and a seed or starter potato.

This year I used IKEA bags and filled them with great soil that I used from my compost bin and a bit of vegetable potting soil. Last year I only used the backyard dirt with a bit of compost.

First harvest

I planted red bliss, baby bliss, baby white, Yukon and sweet.

When selecting growing potatoes,wait until a few eyes grow from your potatoes. Keep in mind that todays retail potatoes are, in many times, scarce of the seed crop. Just be patient and you will find a few. Cut them in quarters to separate the eyes and let them air dry for a day. Place into the soil about 6″ deep and water. They will sprout in a week. Keep covering the growth with more soil.

The bags that I used were originally filled about 8″ deep and then I filled them to about 3/4 the height of the bag.

Start carefully digging in the dirt when you see some flowering. Sometimes the taters just start popping out themselves. I planted in March and crop is ready.

Try to eat them fresh picked. The flavor is sweeter and creamier in my opinion.

I Steamed them for about 8 minutes and then roasted them to just brown, with a touch of lemon, butter, salt and pepper.

Try one before you season it to really get a taste of the freshness.

Happy Gardening!

Cucumber Salad, Spicy & Cool

I needed an accompaniment to a grill chicken dish other than salsa and came up with this side.

Obviously you can slice it and garnish for a nice plate presentation but it worked for me as a topping to my marinated and grilled chicken.

Combining a little heat from the pepper, a ginger vinaigrette along with the cool cucumber it worked.

Ingredients:

2 Garden Fresh Cucumbers, peeled and diced (if thicker, scoop out the seeds)

4 Plum Tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 Sweet Onion, diced 1/2″

1 Cubanelle Pepper, seeded and small dice

1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced

Vinaigrette

1 Tablespoon minced fresh Ginger

2 Garlic cloves, minced

3 Tablespoons Cup Rice Wine Vinegar

Juice from 1 large Lime

2 Tablespoons honey or agave

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup Olive Oil

Garnish with Diced Cilantro

Method:

For the Vinaigrette, combine the first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Turn on a low setting, slowly pouring in the olive oil to combine.

Place all vegetables in a bowl and coat with a fair amount of the vinaigrette. Toss to season & adjust if necessary with more dressing or salt. Add in diced cilantro and combine.

This should keep for three days if covered and placed into refrigerator. Although too much salt can drain much of the water from the vegetables.

 

Plate and enjoy!

 

 

Boneless Pork Loin on Rotisserie

There are a few options when using your Rotisserie on your grill or in your oven.

In the oven, the heat source is generally the top broiler unit so set your temperatures on the lower side. Usually the thermostat may read between 400˚- 550˚F. The lower temperature is preferred for a larger roast so as to not burn the outside by the time the center has cooked through.

For this recipe I used an outdoor grill. Many of the grills only have one setting when it comes to Rotisserie temperature. The difference could be there are two setting for the spit rod one on high and one on low. The thickness of the roast can determine which to use so your roast doesn’t hit the grill grates as it is spinning around.

Do Not forget to set a pan beneath the roast so you have some drippings to use if you want to make a sauce or season vegetables. The pan beneath also keeps the grates from getting trashed unnecessarily.

If you want to cook ‘Low & Slow’ that may become your favorite. This method is ideal if you are going to add smoke wood chips to the grill for an amazing flavor.

If you are cooking for tonight’s dinner, there still is some planning for an optimum flavor. A marinade can provide an excellent flavor enhancement. place the roast in the marinade in the morning and when you cook it for dinner your will appreciate the results.

If you are on the fly you can use a dry rub spice for an alternative flavor.

For a boneless pork loin, you have options as to what side the roast had been cut from. The thicker side should be tied with butchers twine to keep the cut uniform for cooking and slicing.

I used the smaller end of the loin so I did not tie it (okay I was lazy)

Ingredients:

3 lb. Boneless Pork Loin

Marinade:

1/2 cup water

1 dried chili pepper

4 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Juice from 2 limes

3 tablespoons honey or agave

2 tsp Fish Sauce

1 tsp Tamarind Extract

2 tsp kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried onion

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

 

Method:

Combine marinade ingredients in a blender and pulse to a smooth mixture.

Place marinade over pork in a Plastic slip lock bag or container with a lid. Allow the magic to happen for at least 4 hours.

Remove from marinade and spear roast with spit rod. Make sure that you have the one side of tines already attached and just left of the center of the rod. Secure roast with the other set of tines and place onto grill Rotisserie attachment. Make sure to really push the tines into the roast. When it cooks it shrinks and if not secured with the tines they will fall away from and the roast and it will just stay centered not spinning around.

Turn on grill and Rotisserie motor with a pan beneath the roast. Close the lid. Allow 20 minutes per pound. Turn off the Rotisserie motor and check with a meat thermometer for an internal temperature of 160˚F

Carefully remove from spit rod and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I served it with a Pineapple Salsa. This is great sliced thin, placed into a wrap.

Enjoy!

 

Pineapple Salsa

I didn’t go with the heat on this one. I prepared this with a spicy pork loin that I cooked on rotisserie (recipe to follow)

Ingredients:

3/4 of a whole large pineapple – peeled,cored and diced 1/2″

2 yellow bell peppers – seeded and diced 1/2″

1 Cubanelle pepper – seeded and diced 1/2″

1 medium red onion – peeled, small dice

1/8 bunch cilantro – rinsed, dried, loose chop

1 shallot – peeled, minced

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp Chili powder

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

 

Method:

Combine first five ingredients. Season with dry spices and mix. Add vinegar & oil to combine. Let it sit for at least and hour before use. Stir before serving. Salsa will keep for a few days although after a day you may want to strain it.

Enjoy!

Hibiscus Flower Cocktail

 

I have been using these for a couple of years now. If you have not heard or seen them, hibiscus flowers are a beautiful presentation to the plate.

As edible flowers go, the colors are fantastic. These are packaged in a simple syrup. The first few times that I used them, I disregarded the syrup.(dumb, yes I know;-)

Lately I have been adding it to pan reductions for beef, veal and pork sauces. The sugar balance can enhance a simple vinaigrette.

Perhaps reduce the syrup down by 25%, chill it and now you an excellent topping for dessert. Although it is a bit thick to begin with.

Fold into whipped cream to add color and flavor, or use it in frozen sorbet or popsicle.

Lately it has been getting a bit humid. Why not step up my house lemonade with some of the syrup.

Drink Recipe:

2 oz vodka

3 oz lemonade

1 tablespoon of Hibiscus Syrup

Ice

Mint and/or Hibiscus Flower

Add three or four ice cubes to class. Top with lemonade, vodka and lastly the syrup. Garnish and enjoy!

Easy, right?

Here is a lemonade recipe

2 quarts water

1/2 cup agave nectar + 1/2 cup water

1 cup lemon juice

the rind from 1 lemon.

Place agave & 1/2 cup water  in a sauce pan and heat to just a boil.

Combine into a pitcher all, of the ingredients and chill until use.

Veal Meatballs

I had a craving and did not want to stick with standard beef and pork.

Simple enough and great in a sandwich, veal meatballs freeze well or are an easy prep for an evening meal.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground veal

2 tablespoons demi glaze or steak sauce

2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion

1 tablespoon Dijon or whole grain mustard

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tablespoons high heat olive oil

Sauce:

3 ounces red wine

1/2 pack POMI crushed tomato

1/2 can tomato paste

3 cloves garlic

2 sprigs of basil, leaves cut juliene

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Set your oven to 375˚ Convection or 400˚ Bake.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients, minus the oil.

Roll into golf ball size meatballs and place on wax paper lined pan into freezer for 10 minutes.

Use a saute or skillet (that can be placed into oven). Heat pan over a medium to high heat. After 1 minute add the 2 tbls high heat olive oil. Turn pan to coat and carefully place meat balls into pan.

After 2 minutes they begin to turn grey around the base. Use a spatula to turn them as some may stick to bottom of pan.

Continue to turn them after a few minutes, then place pan into oven.

After 5 minutes, add the garlic & wine to pan. Wait a few minutes then add basil, crushed tomato and paste. Stir and let it continue to cook to reduce (about 8-10 minutes).

Remove pan from oven and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with pasta, rice, as an appetizer or in a bun with some cheese.

I couldn’t resist toasting the bun and melting cheese under the broiler.

 

Enjoy!

Is Fat a Problem, I thought that Fat was flavor?

Recent local legislation, has proposed a law prohibiting school fundraisers from using candy and fresh baked goods to combat fat.

WOW!

How do you respond to this knee jerk response?

 vs 

or is it

  vs   

Everyday a new opt-ed piece comes out about obesity and diabeties.

Can stopping kids from baking cupcakes supress obesity levels?

“But there is fat in the frosting and the batter,” you say.

What is the real problem?

Okay admittedly I have not researched those in the know who have proposed this and their facts to bring this baking injustice to light.

Should I?

Here are a few realities about our healthy and diet:

We live a fast, get it done quickly, lifestyle.

We all work too hard.

We don’t have time to sit down and make dinner and spend time with the family.

Many drink and eat from fast food establishments, habitually.

90 % of processed food contain sugar. (just look at any random label in your kitchen)

More than half of processed food contain GMO’s.

Here is a good blog for further details

http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/leaked-cable-bubble-gmo-eu/

A few posts ago I described BpA in plastics and in cans that we consume everyday. Simultaneously I reached out to our water service to inquired about Bpa in the water jug. Response: I found out that the current container is Bpa free but they were going to go back to using the containers with Bpa because they are cheaper. OH, YAH!

I reached out to a tuna manufacturer about their use of Bpa in a can of food that the food is cooked in. The can is leaching the Bpa into the edible product.

Respnse: They said that the FDA safe levels have been approved and so, status quo. DOUBLE YAH!

USA Today article

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2012-03-30/FDA-rejects-call-to-ban-BPA-from-food-packaging/53897152/1

There was a recent story on 60 minutes in which a Doctor told of our addiction to sugar and its health risks, i.e. diabeties.

Our Response: Nothing! or better yet, did a Kardashian just do something?….

I think perhaps we should think before we consume anything. But life sometimes takes over and we feel like we don’t have time to.

This a great link to a blog from butterbeanskitchen.com  in which covers processed food in our body

Processed vs. Unprocessed foods: a look into your intestines.

What is the real problem?

I’ll take fresh baked vs manufactured any day of the week.

You need a little fat in your food for flavor. Bottom line is if you over indulge in anything, it isn’t good for you. Except, perhaps, baking at home with your kids.

Dry Rub Pork Tenderloin, Maple Chipotle Sauce

The Dry Rub & Sauce recipes follow the pork tenderloin recipe.

A pork tenderloin needs very little in preparation.

Simply pull away any fat that you can by hand. There is a silver skin of fat on the top of the loin. Carefully slide a thin knife, like a paring knife, under this horizontally and just skin it off the tenderloin. This way when you cook it, the meat doesn’t curl up. Also when you bite into it, the meat doesn’t have a stringy piece that you are chewing on.

I cleaned it in three slices. Some of you hot shots out there may be able to do it in one slice

Set your oven on 375˚ convection (or 425˚ Bake).

Heat a skillet, preferably cast iron, on a medium to high heat.

Generously season the tenderloin with the dry rub.

Then oil the pork with either 1 tablespoon melted butter, oil or cooking spray.

Drop onto hot skillet.

When the sides of the meat are turning gray try to pull it from the pan. If it is still stuck leave it for another 30 seconds.

Flip the tenderloin over onto a clean side of the pan and place the pan into the oven.

After 12 minutes press down on the thickest part and see if it springs back and any juices that appear are more clear then red. Or if you have a thermometer, check it by going into the thicker part of the tenderloin, horizontally. You should get it to at least 155˚.

Remove from oven and place the tenderloin on your cutting board uncovered. Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. During this time it continues to cook up in temperature. As a result, juices will appear onto your board.

I made a simple rub including:

1 T Coriander seed

2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp dry ancho chili

1/2 tsp dry garlic powder

I toasted the coriander seeds in a pan on the stove top for a few minutes. Then let them cool to the touch and put everything in the coffee grinder and pulsed it a few times.

For the sauce I used: 

1 can tomato paste

fill that can with water and add to the mixture

2 T molasses

1 T maple syrup

1 T cider vinegar

1 T soy sauce

1 tsp gumbo file

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp dry onion

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp garam masala

1 chipotle pepper

Place all in blender or food processor and pulse then place in sauce pan and heat to cook flavors through. Hold for service.

Plate up your tenderloin and glaze with some sauce. Enjoy!