Monday, January 12, 2009

Drum Roll Please!

I just discovered something in season in New England! Sea scallops! I was perusing the fish counter and stopped at the scallops and the fish monger said that they are best in the winter. And, you couldn't get much more local, assuming you are eating New England ones. Yum! No more braised snow balls for me!

Pan fried sea scallops. Feeds 2.

Melt 2 TBSP unsalted butter and a TBSP toasted sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Add 1 pound sea scallops to pan. Salt and pepper them. Let them cook on one side for 4 minutes or so, peaking to see if they are browning. When they have formed a caramelized crust, turn them over carefully with tongs. Salt and pepper this side. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until they start to split in the middle and the bottom side is turning brown. Remove to plates.

Add a splash or two of tabasco sauce and half a cup or so of dry white wine and deglaze, scraping the crunchy bits off the bottom of the pan until it's clean and the sauce is bubbling (a minute or 2 max). Check to see if more salt or pepper is needed. Pour over scallops. Sop up sauce with something - bread, rice, your fingers; If I were not setting a bad example, I'd lick the plate.

While not really seasonal, per se, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, especially with a 3 year old in the house. Of course, his favorite kind is from a box, but he ate this and, if my memory serves, even said it was good.

Macaroni and cheese

Cook 1 pound macaroni. When done, drain and return to pot. Drizzle with olive oil and stir in to prevent sticking. Add 2 or 3 coarsely chopped plum tomatoes.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan warm 1 cup milk and 4 or 5 large, chopped sun-dried tomatoes. When warmed, set aside.

In new pan melt 2 TBSP butter, add 2 TBSP flour and stir until browning and smells good. Slowly add 1 cup milk, stirring constantly. Add milk/tomato mixture, stirring until thickened. It should be the consistency of heavy cream, or just slightly thicker. Add 8 oz cream cheese, broken into 6 or 8 pieces. Stir until melted in. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over macaroni and add 1 cup grated mozzarella (or torn fresh mozz) and 1 cup grated cheddar cheese. Stir well and put in a large shallow pan. Liberally cover with panko bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned and the cheese bubbly.

And finally, a seasonal (and locally-grown) dessert/breakfast/quick bread/snack.

Chocolate chip cranberry bread

Mix together:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. baking soda
1 1/2 teas. baking powder

In another bowl, mix:
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teas. vanilla
2 TBSP olive oil

Add to dry mix.

Add 1 to 2 cups fresh cranberries, depending on personal taste.
Add 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips, depending on personal taste (I use Ghiradelli bittersweet chips).

Bake in a greased bread pan at 350 for approximately 1 hour, until knife or toothpick comes out clean.


Thornewood said...

New England sea scallops right now are enormous! I didn't know they came that big. And why do some people only eat bay scallops? They don't taste better to me, and they are so tiny and expensive.

Cooking the Seasons said...

After eating the cranberry chocolate chip bread at Renee's, Lucca asked to stay for dinner. When I told him no, we were having dinner at our house, he said: "but nothing at our house is as good as the food at Renee's house." You can't get a more resounding thumbs up.