Seared Scallops and Herb Butter Sauce


These scallops (recipe here) were really easy and tasty. I don’t know why, though, the recipe says to use a separate saucepan to make the sauce. I would take advantage of all of the crusty caramelizing in the shallot pan and just make the sauce in there. I suppose since this sauce is kind of an ersatz beurre blanc, they were trying to keep it lightly-colored and delicate, but I would always fall on the side of incorporating more flavor (and washing less pots and pans!) The side dishes I made with this were easy (Farfalle with pesto and toasted pine nuts and sautéed zucchini), but they did make the plate look very white and green. I wish I had added some roasted red pepper strips or cherry tomato halves to the pasta or some yellow squash to the zucchini (or both) just for a little color variety.

Mustard-Roasted Fish, Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli, Dill Fingerling Potatoes


Recipes here.

I made all of the recipes out of this episode of Ina Garten’s show, except for the dessert, and they were all wonderful. I’ve always had good luck with her recipes and I really did have this on the table, start-to-finish, as Ina promised, in one hour.

Ham, Gruyere and Apple Panini and Creamy Sweet Potato Rosemary Soup

Recipes here.  Served with a little roasted cauliflower on the side.

This sandwich was insanely killer delicious and the soup was fantastic, too.  In fact, I am starving at this very moment and could go for one of these RIGHT now.  Yum!  Will definitely make this again.

Pork Loin Chops with Cinnamon Apples, Classic Potato Pancakes, Spicy Green Beans with Garlic Oil and Preserved Lemon

Pork Chops and Apples recipe here.

Potato Pancakes recipe here (we served them with sour cream and they were fantastic!)

For the green beans, I was inspired by this recipe (which I’ve made before) and another one with preserved lemon in Madhur Jaffrey’s awesome World Vegetarian cookbook and combined them and adapted them to make my own, which was quite delicious.  Ideally, the beans would be a little more browned that the ones in my photo, but these were still good.

Spicy Green Beans with with Garlic Oil and Preserved Lemon

1 pound fresh green beans, washed and cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch long pieces

2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (think Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 wedge of preserved lemon (Use the rind only; remove and discard the pulp), rinsed well and finely chopped

(If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy preserved/Moroccan lemons at a gourmet store.  They are VERY simple and inexpensive to make, but they do have to sit for a while.)

a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, to taste (start with 1/4 tsp.)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanch green beans by covering them with cold water in a medium saucepan.  When they come to a boil, drain them and soak them in ice water until they are cool.  Drain them again and set them aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is lightly golden-toasted, but not brown.  Quickly remove and discard the garlic.

Add the green beans to the pan and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the beans are slightly softened and lightly browned in spots, but not mushy.  You’ll need to watch them carefully, since they won’t brown if you stir them too much, but if you don’t toss/stir them enough, they’ll scorch or stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the beans have reached your desired doneness, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, add the chili flakes and lemon and stir to coat evenly.  Remove from heat and serve.

Adobo Grilled Chicken, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad and a Crunchy Roasted Corn repeat

YUM!  This was SUCH a delicious meal.  I had planned on only making the black bean & quinoa salad and grilled chicken, but The Boy was with me at the supermarket and saw corn on the cob and requested this corn, which he loves.  It sort “went with” the meal, so I acquiesced.

Black bean and quinoa salad recipe here.  This recipe is delicious, but makes a ton, but it also keeps in the fridge fairly well for a day or two and makes a great lunch the next day.  If you’re not a fan of leftovers and you’re not feeding a crowd, I’d recommend making a half-batch.  It was quite good and pretty simple.

The corn recipe, basically, is here, but I used Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming for the seasoning this time.  A universal hit, every time.  Have served it for company and always have people ask for the recipe.  Boy, in particular, LOVES this stuff.

The chicken is just boneless, skinless thighs sprinkled liberally with this fantastic Adobo seasoning mixture (scroll down) and then grilled.  I really love this spice blend and am planning to use it more in the future.  It’s great on chicken that you’re planning to put in any kind of Mexican dish (enchiladas, tostadas, fajitas, etc.)  Achiote/annatto can be a little bit hard to find, but try a Latin market (or the Latin aisle of a large supermarket.)  If you’re in Austin, Central Market has whole annatto seeds (in their bulk section) that can be ground in your spice-dedicated grinder.

What?  You don’t have one of those?!!?!  $20 can fix that.  You NEED one.  How else can you make garam masala?

*This meal is gluten-free, if you use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce and cornbread

from Madhur Jaffrey’s fantastic book, World Vegetarian

Recipe here, but if you have any interest in vegetarian cooking at all, you should just go ahead and buy this book.  It’s outstanding.

I topped the stew with a little bit of chopped peanuts, since I had some on hand, leftover from our last spring roll night.  The cornbread is a basic Southern cornbread recipe, but with some grated carrot added in and sesame seeds sprinkled over the top before baking.  Tasty.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala

Recipe here.*

Yum, yum, yummity yum yum yum.

This is the first thing that I’ve made in a while (other than spring rolls) that the whole family has agreed upon.  Usually, I’ll make a vegetarian dish that Boy won’t enjoy because it isn’t satisfying enough for him, or I’ll make a meat dish and two hearty side dishes, hoping that Girl can make a meal out of just the sides, and then she won’t feel like she’s really eaten a “meal,” but rather just snacked on sides.

This is spicy and warm and filling enough to be satisfying for all but the most stalwart carnivores and is definitely healthy and wholesome enough to satisfy any vegetarian.  This definitely “feels” like a main course.

I, of course, made a few VERY slight modifications to the original recipe:

I used russet potatoes because I couldn’t find organic Yukon Golds and didn’t want to use “pesticide” potatoes, but I discovered that russets take a bit more time and liquid to cook than gold potatoes, so be aware of that if you decide to change up your potatoes, too.

I added another cup of chickpeas that I had leftover, just to bulk up the protein quotient for Vegetarian Girl.

I added just a bit of garam masala when I added the curry-ginger-garlic mixture, just to add a bit more flavor and some brightness (a few of the epicurious reviewers mentioned that the masala was a little bland.)

I also sauteed the onions in the pan BEFORE adding the curry-ginger-garlic mixture because I am personally not wild about onions that are not thoroughly cooked.  The only raw onions that I can tolerate are red onions or green ones; white or yellow ones must be thoroughly cooked and softened for me.

I also added a bit more water to the dosa batter, because several epicurious reviewers had mentioned that the batter, as specified, was a bit too thick.  I agree and think the extra water is crucial.  Getting the hang of making the dosas is a little bit tricky (I had to throw the first one away,) but keep experimenting (make another batch of batter, if you need to,) and you’ll get it.  I think if I hadn’t needed to throw the first one away, and if I hadn’t added extra water, then the batter probably would have made four dosas, but I ended up with 5 (made 6 and threw one away.

* This recipe is originally from November 2009 Gourmet magazine.  There is a new issue out called Gourmet Quick Kitchen that has recently reprinted it.

Classic Sole Meunière

Recipe here.

This is one of my favorite “fancy restaurant” meals, but I’ve never attempted it at home before.  I’m SO glad that I did, because it was super easy and VERY delicious.  I think that the recipe’s suggestion to buy a couple of extra fillets is a good one, because it does take a tiny bit of practice to get the knack for how long it takes to cook each fillet and for how to turn it.  The sole fillets are VERY fragile and have a tendency to fall apart when you flip them, but even if they do, they’re still delicious, and it shouldn’t take you more than two or three “practice fillets” before you’re flipping like a pro.  You definitely need to have the butter, lemon juice and parsley measured out and ready to go, because when you need each addition, you need it NOW and there’s no time to chop parsley or squeeze lemons.

We served this with some sauteed spinach and basmati rice.  We added a bit of sauteed shallot, chopped parsley and toasted, chopped pecans to the rice and finished it with a tiny bit of butter after it was cooked.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Creamed Corn and Black Beans with Poblanos

This was inspired by this recipe in May 2008 Food & Wine magazine, but I adapted things quite a bit.

First, I thought that the plain “sprinkled with salt and pepper before grilling” skirt steak could be improved upon, so we rubbed it with some coffee spice rub, instead.  The one that I used is from Williams-Sonoma, but they seem to only stock it sporadically.  If you can’t find it, I’m sure that a simple Google search would net you a serviceable recipe.

Secondly, I diced the onion in the creamed corn, because I’m not wild about long strips of onion, but just prefer the flavor of them, without being confronted with their slippery stringiness (weird?  yes, but I’m cooking, so I get to choose…)  I also upped the amount of corn in the dish (tripled, probably) and toasted/roasted it in a tiny bit of oil in a very hot skillet, so that it had a little “char” on it before adding it to the poblanos and sour cream.  I also added one can of (drained and rinsed) black beans.  I left the amount of sour cream the same (1 cup) and it was still PLENTY creamy for our taste.  In fact, if we had not added more corn and the beans, I think it would have been WAY too rich.  Until I added the beans and more corn, it looked like corny sour cream, rather than creamed corn.  With the adaptations, however, it was OUTSTANDING and was something that I will DEFINITELY make again with other Mexican meals in the future.  It would also be fantastic as a taco filling (with a little smoked chicken added, maybe?) or in an omelet.

I served this with some more of the Spicy Cilantro Slaw (I overbought and had an extra bag of the shredded cabbage in the house, so I decided to make it again.)  I probably wouldn’t do that combination again, as it was just too many creamy dishes on one plate, although it was still a great meal.  Vegetarian Girl made a meal out of the corn/beans and slaw, plus a little of the leftover lentils.

See the next post to see what I paired it with for dessert.