Monday, March 17, 2008

A Rich Treat- Guinness Ice Cream

Nothing says St. Paddy's Day like a pint of the black stuff, Guinness. Yessiree, I'll dance a little Irish jig for you to enjoy a nice cold black brew!

Of course we were going to have Guinness with our meal on March 17th- but I wanted to do something special to cap the evening off right. After some searching, I found an interesting recipe for Guinness ice cream at This, certainly, was what I had been looking for! Too bad I had no ice cream maker at my disposal... but as you may have seen a few posts down, a quick trip to Target elminiated that issue!

So on Sunday night I made the beer flavored custard, which was a little scary for me, since custard is kind of like cooked pudding, which I have a poor track record with. Happily, I came out beautifully. Tonight I got out the frozen canister and got it churning. Oh, it was gorgeous! Thick, creamy, icy- just like ice cream from the store! My only complaint was the molasses flavor- next time I'll reduce it from 2 T, 2 tsp, to just 2 T. of molasses.

Overall, a triumph! It had such a nice bite accompanied by a nice sweetness, and the shortbread I garnished it with added a perfect crunch. Mmmmm-mmmmm!

Guiness Ice Cream

  • 1/2 Madagascar Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 C. Whole Milk
  • 1 C. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3/4 C. Guinness
  • 2 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. Molasses
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1/3 C. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

  1. (As written by The Boston Globe- my edits are in italics and green.) In a medium saucepan, scrape in the vanilla bean seeds. Add the pod, milk, and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the flavors infuse for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the stout and molasses. Bring to a boil and turn off heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk in a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture, then slowly whisk in another 1/4 cup of the cream. Add the remaining cream in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir the beer mixture into the cream mixture. Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. (It didn't really "coat" it, but when you are cooking, you'll notice the difference when it just pours right off, versus when it thickens up some.)
  5. Pour the mixture into a bowl, removing the 2 vanilla bean pod halves and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

A Touch of the Irish Stew

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Today is the day where everyone is a little Irish and green is prevalent everywhere you go. My great grandmother's family came from Ireland to Nova Scotia and I have the fair skin of a wee bonny lass, though I'm not as wee as in years past! Tonight I wanted to have a good hearty Irish meal, and not corned beef either- blech.

On a blustery day like today, stew makes for a perfect meal to warm you up from the inside. And I had planned head and purchased some lamb meat to serve as the main inspiration for my Emerald Isle stew. Carrots, potatoes, and turnips rounded things out in the pot, although I hear for this to be truly traditional, I should have had some barley in there too, but I didn't have that on hand.

After letting this simmer on the stove for a nice hour and a half though, this was perfect, especially with the Bisquick biscuits hubby whipped up.

First though we started the meal with some Guinness, of course, and a delicious Dubliner cheese- yum!

Traditional Irish Stew

  • 1/2+ lbs. Lamb, cut into small chunks
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 C. Light Beef Broth
  • 3 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 Turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Celery Stalk, sliced
  • 4 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Dash Salt

  1. In a large pot, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and saute a few minutes until slightly softened.
  2. Add in the lamb meat and brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add in broth, vegetables, and spices. Cook on a low simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring occasionally and keeping from boiling too hot.
  4. The stew is ready when the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Moroccan Fish

Faithful readers, you may notice that I am never content to stick with the same flavors or recipes for very long. I like to flex my muscles a lot in the kitchen, traveling the globe through new spices and ingredients. That's a big reason why I do this blog- both to have a good reason to try out new things and to remember what the heck I've already tried!

This recipe was a nice change of pace; I wouldn't have thought to marinate fish in OJ and spices. I chose monkfish based on the recommendations of the fish guy because it didn't have a lot of oil, which apparently is good for marinating. We weren't so into it- it was a little rubbery. The flavor was cool though, I'd try it again with a lighter, thinner fillet like haddock.

Moroccan Fish
Modified from

  • 1 Lb. White Fish
  • 1/2 C. Orange Juice
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
  • 2 tsp. Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. Garam Marsala
  • 1/2 tsp. Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
  • Dashes of Black Pepper, Turmeric, Cayenne Powder, and Red Chili Flakes

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients except the fish in a large, shallow bowl.
  2. Marinate the fish in the juice/ spice mixture for about 30-60 minutes. You will start to see the fish "cook" in the citrus juices like a ceviche, which was the original intent of the recipe.
  3. Cut the marinated fish into large chunks and cook in a heated saute pan over medium heat.
  4. As the fish starts to cook, add in the marinade and cover the pan to keep the moisture in. If things seem to be getting burny, add a half a cup of water to the mix to cook things off and keep some sauce.
  5. The fish is done when it flakes easily. Serve over white rice.

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Generally speaking I'm not a kitchen gadget kind of gal. I don't see the point of owning a bread maker for example, since I have a Kitchen Aid mixer to handle the kneading and the rising and baking isn't any big deal. But last week I indulged an bought an ice cream maker! And after making this recipe, tee hee, it sure is fun!

I purchased this machine for tomorrow's holiday, St. Patty's Day. I have a Guinness recipe from the Boston Globe magazine that I'm dying to try, and from what I've read, you just can't get good quality freezing trying to make ice cream by hand. So a trip to Target and $30 later, we have a non-rock salt & ice ice cream maker. It has a big canister you keep in the freezer and then the frozen gel inside creates the ice crystals in the ice cream.

Adam LOVES mint chocolate chip ice cream- it's his favorite. And lo and behold that's just the recipe on the outside of the box! We christened our new toy with a minty batch- very tasty. It wasn't as dense as I would have liked, but it was very rich and delicious. I do love that I know exactly the raw ingredients going into what I eat- no preservatives or chemicals here. Just creamy, rich ice cream...

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
From the Rival box, Makes 1 quart

  • 1 C. Whole Milk
  • 1/2 C. Sugar
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 tsp. Peppermint Extract
  • Green Food Coloring
  • 2/3 C. Chocolate Chunks

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Blend in the cream, extract, and coloring until smooth.
  3. Add into the ice cream maker's canister and start churning. You'll see the freezing along the edges right away- it is so cool!
  4. After about 15 minutes, when the ice cream is getting thick, add in the chocolate chunks.
  5. Let the maker finish churning the ice cream and then enjoy straight out of the canister! Any leftovers should be put in an air tight container in the freezer. We found it was denser the second night.

Bland with Bacon?

I had some uncooked, opened bacon in my fridge last week. Mmmmm, bacon... I wanted to make a dinner to use them, but I didn't want to just wrap the bacon around something and slap it in the oven. Sure, that's tasty, but not very creative.

We hadn't been eating much of one of my husband's favorite foods lately- pasta. Okay, so why not whip up something with bacon for some spaghetti- not a carbonara, but something delicious.

I had lots of great things to work with- bacon, sun dried tomatoes, regular tomatoes, and great spices. I combined all these lovely flavors together and ended up with... a decidedly dull meal. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad and we ate it all, but it was *nothing* to write home about. In other words, we won't be having this again.

What a waste of perfectly wonderful bacon. The picture at least came out lovely!

Sun-Dried Tomato & Bacon Pasta
Modified from

  • 1 Box Long Pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, etc.)
  • 4-5 Sliced Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 Can Diced Cooked Tomatoes
  • 1/2 C. Red Wine
  • 1/2 C. Julienne-Cut Sun-Dried Tomato
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package.
  2. Fry the bacon, allowing to cool on paper towels to drain. Will be used later in crumbled form.
  3. In a large pan, cook the onion and garlic over medium heat, using 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.
  4. When the onion is soft, add in the tomatoes, wine, bacon, and spices. Simmer over medium-high heat, allowing to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve over the hot, drained pasta with grated Parmesan or Romano. Or don't serve it at all since it was only mediocre!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shrimp Enchiladas

I had a wonderful seafood enchilada dinner planned- I was going to make a whole batch with crab and shrimp and maybe regular fillet fish. Strike one- no canned crab in the pantry. Strike two- no regular fish in the freezer. Crap!

So I went on with plans, revamping to just use shrimp. I cooked up the shrimp filling, warmed up the creamy sauce, and got out the big dish. I look in the shrimp pan and realize that I hardly have any filling! Grrr, strike three!

Redirecting again... got a smaller oval dish, and filled up my 2 tortillas. There was a ton of sauce, but I poured it on anyway and baked it, figuring there wouldn't be enough for dinner. Boy was I wrong- delicious and SO filling! I mean, we're talking restaurant quality here. I suppose the butter and cream and cheese helps!

Next time I'm eager to add in the crab and fish and maybe make a few more enchiladas, but this was a super tasty dinner for a special treat now and again!

Shrimp Enchiladas
Modified from

  • 1 Lb. Shrimp, raw and chopped
  • (For next time) 1 Can Crab meat and 1/2 Lbs. Cooked White Fish, flaked
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2/3 C. Sour Cream (fat free is fine)
  • 1/4 C. Skim Milk
  • 1/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Small can Chopped Green Chilis
  • 1 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Dried Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Parsley
  • 1 1/2 C. Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded
  • Chopped Black Olives
  • Fresh Cilantro, chopped

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium saute pan, cook the onion and garlic over medium heat.
  3. Add in shrimp and cook through until good and pink.
  4. While onion and garlic are cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat.
  5. Add in the sour cream, milk, and regular cream. Be sure to keep the heat fairly low so the sour cream doesn't get funky. As the mixture heats up, add in the green chilis and spices.
  6. As the shrimp finishes cooking, add in about 1/4 C. of the enchilada sauce into the filling mixture. This keeps them good and moist while cooking.
  7. In a tortilla, put in a small handful of cheese. On top of the cheese, put in a decent amount of shrimp filling. As I said above, I only got 2 tortillas out of this, so I put in half. Roll the tortilla and place it in the dish.
  8. Repeat with as many tortillas as you can cram in!
  9. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas, and then put cheese on top of everything. Last step, sprinkle on the black olives and cilantro.
  10. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until bubbly. Serve warm while you're hungry!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet 6 - Frittata

It's Homegrown Gourmet time boys and girls!

They say that BREAKFAST is the most important meal of the day. I, um, generally don't get around to eating breakfast. Mornings are not my thing, and by the time I'm hungry at the office, it's around 10:30 or 11 AM- almost lunch. So this round of Homegrown Gourmet was a challenge.

Homegrown Gourmet challenges participants to make a dish that fits the chosen theme and incorporates local ingredients, recipes, or inspiration. Our host this round is Michelle at Culinography. When she announced we'd be working under the constraint of the first meal of the day, I was a little stumped.

I'm up here in New England, USA and honestly, breakfast 'round these parts is pretty utilitarian. We eat oatmeal, or toast, or yogurt, or cold cereal, or something equally dull. I mean, when you think of the Pilgrims, you aren't just waiting to get into the kitchen to cook up their gourmet meals. So interesting local recipes were out. So I moved on to ingredients... I've already used blueberries and lobster an didn't want to reuse them again so quickly. What to do, what to do...

Then it popped into my head, a little jingle that was prevalent in New England in the 80's from the local egg board... "Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!" The color of an egg's shell is determined by the type of chicken that lays it- I've heard it's related to the color of the chicken, but I don't know if that's true. Either way, the chickens that are hearty enough to survive and produce eggs up north here create lovely brown eggs. I'll admit it, I always buy brown eggs because of that commercial, and New England is the only place in the States where brown eggs regularly out-sell white ones.

So what to do with eggs besides just scrambling them. I wanted something special, something worthy of a great blogging event. I rattled my brain, and came up with a frittata using local brown eggs and Maine potatoes, spiced up with smoked Gouda and bacon. It was quite tasty, and could be modified to add any type of delicious meat or veggie. I will say though, I think I found the recipe for glue- it's shredded Maine potatoes and chopped onion. Dang, that was sticky stuff! I could not for the life of me get the taters crisp, which is a shame, because it would have enhanced the meal. Maybe next time I'll use baked potato shreds rather than raw potatoes. To top the whole thing off, I decorated my plate with Cape Cod dried cranberries for presentation!

Maine Brown Egg Frittata
  • 4 Slices Cooked Bacon
  • 2-3 Maine Potatoes, shred (I recommend cooking whole, then shredding.)
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/2 C. Sliced Fresh Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 C. Smoked Gouda, shred
  • Black Pepper to taste

  1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a skillet, cook the potato and onion in a little bit of oil, or you can use the same pain you cooked the bacon in. This is what I did, although I poured out most of the grease, so just a thin layer was left.
  3. Cook the potatoes and onions until the potatoes are crisp. Hopefully you won't end up with a ball of glue like I did!
  4. Spread potato mixture over the bottom of a pie plate and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, crack all the eggs and scramble. Stir in the mushrooms, thyme, Gouda, and pepper. Crumble in the bacon to the eggs, and stir in. Pour egg mixture over the potatoes in the pie plate.
  6. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes or until the eggs in the center is solid and set up.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cornmeal Crusted "Catfish" & Dirty Rice

Howdy y'all! Tonight I took a trip down the bayou for something to keep us warm on a raw, cold night in the Northeast. Now, I may be mixing my regions and cuisines here, as I am in fact a Yankee. And in the process, I could be offending any lovely loyal readers in the hot and steamy Southeast- if so, I'm sorry! I really did try to make you proud tonight!

I started off on the wrong foot though- I was planning on using the catfish I had in my freezer, but knowing how long it would take to defrost I stopped by the fish counter at Whole Foods to pick up a fresh catch since I was there to buy rice anyway. Well, wouldn't you know they of course had no catfish. So I had to sub in tilapia. Totally not the same flavor, but it was the right texture.

Second mistake, while at Whole Foods I forgot to pick up celery. I might be a northerner, but I know it pretty much ain't Cajun if it doesn't have celery. Shoot, strike 2!

However, I think I earn some points here because in my dirty rice, not only did I use a nice sausage with some heat, but I also bought honest-to-God chicken livers which I chopped and cooked. They were gross. And I still have half a pound in my fridge with no clue what to do with them. (Suggestions as welcomed- leave a comment with some inspiration! Hubby says we should feed them to Tyson the cat.)

Overall, the meal was a big hit! Both the rice and fish really should have been hotter. Some Tabasco would have been great on the fish, but by the time I sat I didn't want to get back up. The fillets cooked up really nice with the crust starting to come off and the rice made a ton and was delicious.

Inspired by Paula Deen and Emeril's recipes

Yankee Dirty Rice

  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Lb. Chorico Sausage, chopped into small pieces (This is a mid-heat Spanish sausage- other sausage meat could be subbed)
  • 1/2 Lb. Chicken Livers, chopped (ew!)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Chili Powder
  • Dash Cayenne (Next time I'll use 1/2+ tsp.)
  • 3 C. Cooked, Hot White Rice

  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan or medium pot over medium heat. Add in the sausage and liver, cooking until browned.
  2. Add in onion, pepper and spices. Cook until the onion and pepper are tender.
  3. Stir in cooked rice and stir to thoroughly coat.

Cornmeal Crusted "Catfish"

  • 3 Firm White Fish Fillets- preferably Catfish, but Tilapia will do
  • 1 Egg
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 C. Flour
  • 1/4 C. Cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • Vegetable Oil for light frying

  1. In a shallow bowl or dish, beat the egg with the lemon juice until you have an even consistancy as best as possible.
  2. In a separate shallow dish, blend the flour, cornmeal, and spices, again acheiving a consistant blend.
  3. Heat about 3 Tbsp. oil over medium high heat in a large, flat skillet or pan.
  4. Dredge each fillet in the cornmeal mix first, shaking off any excess. Then dip it lightly through the egg wash and coat it again in the cornmeal, making sure no fish is visible.
  5. Place each fillet in the hot pan and allow it to cook until the cornmeal batter is crispy and brown. You may experience the batter pulling away from the fish- that's ok, just be careful not to pull it off.
  6. Flip the fish once to cook and brown the other side. All the fish should be able to be cooked in one pan, but if you are working with a small dish, make sure you allow each fillet enough room, even if that means cooking in batches.
  7. When fish is cooked through, remove the fillets to a plate with papertowels to drain. Serve hot!

Crockpot Beef Bourig... um, something French

OK- I hate the French language! I admit it. Something about French really drives me up a wall. It really is a very pretty language to listen to- much better than Spanish, German, English. But it bugs me. What makes it worse is I can't pronounce anything French. Including the name of this recipe... Bourguignon.

As I've said time and time again, I generally don't make beef meals because I stink at cooking it. And my poor little husband is saddened because he really does like it, especially as a special treat now and again. So I decided to use the crockpot to see if I could make a tasty tender beef dish.

According to him, this was great. The meat was in fact very tender, it smelled wonderful, and the flavors all melded together nicely, but I didn't like it. I think I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like tomato-based flavors. I like pasta sauce, and I like raw tomatoes, but you can keep your tomato soup, your tomato chili and apparently your tomato infused beef bourguignon. Sorry hon, this one ain't comin' back. I will however use the same process to make you beef again soon.

French Beef Bourguignon
Slightly modified from

  • 1+ lbs Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 C. Carrots, sliced
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 C. Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 C Cheap Red Wine
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 C. Red Wine
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour

  1. In a pan, brown the beef on all sides.
  2. Pour cooked beef into slow cooker and add in all the remaining ingredients except the final 1/4 C. wine and flour. Give a stir to blend.
  3. Cook over Low heat for 5-7 hours.
  4. About 15 minutes before serving, blend together the remaining wine and flour to create a thick slurry. Gently stir in this mixture to the beef, raise the heat to High and allow the sauce to thicken up some. This will serve as a type of gravy.
  5. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Mom made, Cat approved. Yup, our cat Tyson coveted dinner while I photographed it on the only available surface in the house, the loveseat, thanks to my husband's architecture projects coating the dining room table and the rest of our tables being swamped in papers and junk. Ty Guy was good though- he gave it some big sniffs but stayed in his donut bed. Good boy.

Cranberry Apricot Chicken

As many of us out there are trying to do, Adam and I make a point to eat healthy most of the time. And eating healthy means chicken shows up on the menu a lot. I mean, quite a bit. And we get sick of the same flavors over and over.

My boss, Leslie, has helped me combat boring chicken with a great and easy recipe. When you are sick of creamy, spicy, tangy, limey, smokey, and savory poultry, why not give sweet a try! Generally Adam isn't a big sweet for dinner kind of guy, whereas I was raised on applesauce, corn, and cranberry sauce. (I wouldn't eat my veggies and my parents would feed me anything if it was remotely produce related!) But happily, hubby really liked this, as did I.

It is supposed to be made with fresh, raw cranberries, but sadly, it is March in Maine and fresh local fruit is hard to come by. As in I couldn't find ANY raw or frozen berries in the 2 stores I looked. I had to sub in dried, but the issue with that is they coat them in sugar. But you make do with what you've got available, right?

I think the best part of this were the toasted almonds. They added a great crunch and complimented the fruits wonderfully. Don't leave them out or I think you'll lose some of the delight of this meal. I served this with a nice side of fresh spinach and Mom's Rice Pilaf.

Cranberry Apricot Chicken
From Manager Leslie

  • 4-6 Thin Sliced Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Sage
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 14 oz. Can Apricot Halves, with syrup
  • 1/2 C. Cranberries
  • 1/2 C. Sliced Almonds, toasted

  1. Rub both sides of the chicken breasts with the sage, thyme, and S&P.
  2. Heat a few Tbsp. of olive oil in a large saute pan on the stovetop. Place the breasts in the pan and cook almost all the way through, flipping once to brown both sides. (I should have browned mine at a higher heat. They were a little pale, but I couldn't wait any longer to continue or my chicken would have been way over cooked.)
  3. Pour in the can of apricot halves and the syrup. Stir in the cranberries as well, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the syrup thickens some.
  4. Serve chicken and fruit warm with almonds sprinkled on top of the dish!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Seared Sea Scallops

Mmmmm-mmmm! We love seafood, just about any of it! We'll take it sauteed, fried, steamed, slathered in butter, lightly herb seasoned or raw in sushi. One of Adam's favorites is sea scallops. I don't get them very often though as they are getting more and more expensive.

They can be a little tricky to prepare as if you cook them too long you end up with rubber door stoppers rather than delicate fish flesh. And since I dont' cook with them often, I struggle with ways to prepare them that are tasty, interesting, and not threatening to be overcooked!

I found this great recipe on last year while out searching for something I could prepare with scallops. It is so freaking good- and beautiful to serve too! I modified it a little, served it with bread to dip in my sauce and a nice fresh salad. Yummy.

Seared Sea Scallops with White Wine Sauce
Modified from

  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 tsp. Grated Parmesan
  • 12-18 Fresh Sea Scallops
  • 2-3 Tsbp. Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 C. Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • Lemon Juice

  1. In a large ziplock bag, comgine the dry ingredients and shake to mix. Add in the scallops and shake to lightly coat them.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and lemon juice over medium-high heat.
  3. Place as many scallops as you can in a single layer into the hot pan. Cook the bottoms of the scallops until nicely browned and then manually flip to brown the top. Each side should only take about 3-4 minutes and the centers should be cooked through when completed both sides- slice a big one open to check.
  4. When browned, move to a bowl to keep warm and cook any remaining scallops in the same manner. I covered my bowl with foil to keep the shellfish warm and moist.
  5. After removing all cooked scallops, make a sauce to by adding wine, butter, and additional lemon juice to your taste. Stir over med-high heat to simmer and reduce, adding all the browned bits into the mix.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Eat to the Beat: Chocolate Chile Cupcakes

New blogging event!

Elly at Elly Says Opa! has a new blogging event called Eat to the Beat that marries 2 creative arts- music and cooking. How fun! I initially wasn't going to participate due to Homegrown Gourmet 6 coming up and my complete lack of ideas. But then I realized I've got another week for HG6. And I was listening to some music at work and had a stroke of inspiration!

I baked a unique little recipe inspired by the Squirrel Nut Zipper's "Hell." It's a dark little ditty about Satan's neighborhood set to a calypso tune- very fun. You can find the video at good 'ol

As I sat there working on a powerpoint presentation I heard these lyrics through my headphones:

This is a place where eternally
Fire is applied to the body
Teeth are extruded and bones are ground
And made into cakes that are passed around!

Cakes! Evil little hell cakes! Wouldn't that be fun! I kept listening...

Well the D and the A and the M and the N
And the A and the T and the I-O-N
Lose your face, lose your name
And get fitted for a suit of flame!

Of course, the cakes shall be cupcakes that spell out damnation- how delightful! The last thing to figure out was the flavor. I considered something with marshmallows to incorporate the extruded teeth, red velvet to harken the molten colors of hell, and of course Devil's Food cake. I settled on something a little different though, inspired by the continual reference to the fire and flames- a chocolate cake infused with the heat of chiles!!!

The cake turned out great- really moist and a great hint of heat! And the decorations were fun too. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting was disappointing though- it just didn't match. The cream cheese took away from the spicy flavor of the cake. I think I would have been better off just using a little bit of buttercream for the lettering and then just powdered sugar and cinnamon to top them.

It was such a fun event though! Thanks Elly!

Chocolate Chile Cupcakes
Modified from
  • 1 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 3/4 C. Buttermilk
  • 1/2 C. Water
  • 1/3 C. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Poblano Pepper, seeded and pureed
  • 1 1/2 C. Flour
  • 3/4 C. Cocoa
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. +/- Cayenne Powder
  • 3/4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare a cupcake pan either by putting in cupcake liners or greasing/ flouring.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream the sugar, buttermilk, water, oil, eggs, vanilla, and pepper puree until smooth.
  3. Technically you're supposed to mix the dry ingredients together first and then add it to the wet stuff, but I never do that- dump in all the dry ingredients and mix well until lumps are gone. I did it on medium/ medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4 full. These cupcakes do puff up quite a bit on the top, but I was ok with a solid 2/3 full. Makes 20 cupcakes.
  5. Bake in the heated oven for about 20-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to sit in the pan for a minute or so. Remove from the pan to a wire cooling rack. Decorate with a powdered sugar/ cinnamon blend or allow to cool before frosting. I used the cream cheese cinnamon frosting from below, but I would recommend either a plain vanilla buttercream, or maybe a cinnamon or chocolate flavor.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
From Betty Crocker
  • About 6 oz. Cream Cheese or Neufatchel Cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 C. Powdered/ Confectioners Sugar

  1. In a mixer, whip together the cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in powdered sugar, starting with a cup and then adding more. Blend in on medium speed until smooth and thick.
  3. This makes enough for at least 2 dozen cupcakes.