Saturday, October 17, 2009

Seared Scallops with a Smoky Orange Glaze
Curried Rice Pilaf
Baby Greens with Ginger Pear Vinaigrette

My dinner was inspired by two things; the first was Robin Miller of “Quick Fix Meals” making chicken breasts with a smoky orange glaze. The glaze immediately appealed to me, while the chicken breasts did not. I don’t like chicken breasts in any form except presented as Cordon Bleu. The second inspiration was from a dinner my husband and I had recently in Ketchikan. While there on a business trip we dined at Annabel’s, supposedly the ‘best restaurant’ in town. While it wasn’t great, or even good, the rice pilaf was spectacular. I couldn’t figure out the warm mystery spice. I asked our server and she said it was curry. Hmmmm….

Are you catching the warm fuzzies going on in my head? And my palette? Its fall, I’m bored, I feel like nesting and I had just purchased the movie, “The Proposal”. Just perfect for snuggling into the sofa with.

Okay. Orange glaze and curry, it’s working so far for me. I decided to head off to the grocery store and find the protein to happily marry with the glaze. I already knew that rice pilaf with curry was a given, but what to serve with it? I decided on sea scallops. One, they were on super sale, and two, they marry well with citrus, and three, they are just wonderful on their own.
The last part of the meal was a simple salad tossed in a bottled Ginger Pear Vinaigrette. I add sliced figs, chopped pears and a sprinkling of goat cheese. Fabulous.

I started with the glaze In case I needed to make adjustments, which I didn’t. It was simply a jar of orange marmalade, a hint of liquid smoke, and a teaspoon or so of soy sauce gently heated, with just a whisk or two to combine the flavors.

Once the scallops were rinsed and dried, I sprinkled them with kosher salt, seasoned pepper, and chopped parsley, they were ready to go into the smoking pan.

For the rice pilaf, it was just two boxes of prepared rice, instead of using the recommended water amounts; I used ¾ of the measurements in chicken stock. Chicken stock gives rice such a delightful depth of flavor. As for the curry, use your best judgment and your own personal preference. I personally love curry so I dumped a good healthy tablespoon or so in. Literally. I had a little spillage, which worked out fine. I also felt inspired to add some nearly thawed peas and carrots, I would venture I put in about a cup or so.

1 to 1 ½ lbs Sea Scallops
Rinse and pat dry scallops – dry scallops are essential to achieve a good sear.
Lightly salt with Kosher Salt and Seasoned Pepper
Chop handful of Parsley – about a ½ cup.

Get the pan and cooking fat hot — Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for a minute or so; then add the fat and let it heat up. If you’re using oil, it’s ready when a drop of liquid sizzles as it hits the hot oil. If you’re using oil and butter, wait until the butter stops foaming.

Don’t crowd the pan — There should be enough room between the scallops so that they sizzle rather than steam—that’s the only way you’ll get a good crust. If your pan isn’t big enough to hold the scallops without crowding, sear them in batches.

Scallops only need a few minutes per side to get nicely browned. They’re done when they feel barely firm to the touch, and when you cut into one, it should be faintly opalescent. Don’t overcook them or they’ll be dry and rubbery.

Smokey Orange Glaze;
10 oz. jar Orange Marmalade
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
½ teaspoon Smoke Seasoning.
1. Combine all ingredients and heat gently on low.
2. Pour glaze into shallow dish and place hot scallops on top.

Curried Rice Pilaf
2 boxes Rice Pilaf
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 ½ Cups Hot water
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Curry
½ Cup Frozen Peas and Carrots

1. Follow directions on box, when the rice and seasonings are boiling, add the peas and carrots and the Curry. You may want to adjust the amount of curry you use – more or less is fine.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Savannah’s Spinach Caesar Salad with Chicken

After a grueling physical therapy session I decided to head to the grocery store in search of something yummy, and comforting for lunch. When I stepped out of my truck I could smell that it was going to rain and that I only had a few hours to whip up some comfort food, before the downpour began. And knowing that when we, Alex, Savannah and I, ate it that it would be in the family room curled up on the sofa watching crap television, our favorite rainy day activity.

I knew I wanted pasta, chicken, spinach and “something”, what exactly that something was I wasn’t sure until I wandered by our deli section and saw some kind of “Caesar Pasta”; and that was my deciding factor. Refusing to purchase anything from our deli (remembering Rob’s violent food poisoning episode) I knew I was on my own for a concept, which actually came together in a flash, being a recent disciple of Caesar anything (especially homemade dressing) I figured I could bust out a bottle I had on hand and proceed on with my anticipation of a rainy day feast.
I chose farfalle because I thought it would be an easy pasta shape for small toddler sized forks and fingers to pick up, and it was.

Shortly after completing the pasta Savannah awoke from her nap, the skies had opened up with a downpour of summer awe, Alex and I were ensconced on the sofa with our blankets, the T.V. was on, and the little miss joined us for our feast on the sofa. I was having a bowl of the pasta (and a lovely mid afternoon Chardonnay – like I said physical therapy was painful) and Alex was noshing on some ice cream (hormonal therapy). Being not quite two Savannah wasn’t sure which dish to gravitate to; she tried some ice cream, tried some pasta, and proceeded to snuggle up with me to share the pasta. Not one bowl, but two – she loved it that much; the amusing part of it was her of trying to spear the spinach before anything else. Between feeding Savannah and Alex bites, I convinced Alex to get her own bowl, which she did and proceeded to share that with Savannah too.

The next afternoon we shared bowls of the pasta served cold on the deck in the sun, we shared “bites”, again, with Savannah’s preference towards the spinach. I think the flavors had melded even more overnight, and was just as delicious cold as hot.

The only thing I have to advocate is that you use the absolute best parmesan cheese you can find. My particular cheese that I had on hand runs around eleven dollars a pound, but if I am in town (Anchorage) I will go to a specialty market and purchase a fabulous cheese that runs close to twenty dollars a pound. It is worth every penny. There are few things in this world as scrumptious and delightful as great parmesan.

Alex has warned me that the bowl of pasta is low and I had better whip up some more, as it is “the bomb”, and to please not run out. I love my girl.

Today, I have a pot of Cream of Spinach soup simmering, which Savannah has been taste testing frequently with many consenting nods. The soup will be served with a garlic and olive Focaccia, another winner in her book.

Savannah’s Spinach Caesar Salad with Chicken

1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta) cooked
½ pound fresh spinach, cleaned and torn
1 cup cooked chicken
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Creamy Caesar dressing
Fresh grated – good quality – parmesan cheese

· Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
· Clean and tear spinach, place at bottom of a large bowl.
· Pour hot pasta over spinach, allowing it to wilt.
· Add chicken.
· Add Caesar dressing to taste, about three tablespoons.
· Toss.
· Add grated parmesan.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Halibut Casserole

Halibut is such a diverse fish and much like chicken it's almost impossible to run out of recipes, unless, someone catches a 100 pounder or so ... goodness!! ... We ran through our usual clutch of recipes and became somewhat desperate, and the kids were getting sick to death of it... so this cheesy goodness was created.

Halibut Casserole

3 T butter
3 T flour
2 C hot milk
1/4 t each: paprika, nutmeg
1/2 t fennel
**4 steamed and flaked pieces of halibut - guessing about 6 oz each
1/2 C chopped chives
drops of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 C Monterey Jack cheese - shredded

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
Steam Halibut
Heat butter in pan, add flour to make a roux, pour in hot milk, add spices, add halibut and lemon juice, mix in 1/2 cheese,
Bake about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, set oven to broil.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture and chives.
Broil 2-3 minutes.

** When I steam halibut, I fill the water with lemons, capers, onions, garlic, and white wine.

Salmon with Maple Mustard Sauce

This is a rendition of a recipe I found in Cooking Light. The first time I made it was on a family fishing trip to Homer, AK. So with freshly caught silver salmon I made this in our tiny galley kitchen of our motorhome, naturally my family was dubious, thankfully they ended up loving it.

(6- to 7-oz) pieces salmon fillets (1 1/4 inches thick), skinned

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped scallion greens

Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk together remaining ingredients pour over salmon and marinate salmon for about 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat, then sauté salmon starting with skinned sides up and turning over once, pour remaining sauce over salmon. cook until just through, 5 to 8 minutes per serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The classic Caesar Salad - should always be made in a wooden bowl, rubbed with garlic and never washed.

1 head romaine lettuce
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tablespoon ground mustard
1 clove garlic
1 egg
1 lemon, juiced
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups garlic croutons
1 (2 ounce) can anchovy filets

Clean lettuce thoroughly and wrap in paper towels to absorb moisture.

Refrigerate until crisp, at least 1 hour or more.
In a bowl rub with garlic, combine oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, mustard, and lemon juice.

Whisk until well blended.
Coddle egg by heating 3 cups of water to boiling. Drop in egg (still in shell) and let stand for 1 minute. Remove egg from water and let cool. Once cooled crack open and whisk egg into dressing. Whisk until thoroughly blended.
Mash desired amount of anchovies and whisk them into the dressing. If desired set aside a few for garnish.
To assemble, place torn lettuce leaves in a large bowl and toss with dressing.

Add the grated cheese, garlic croutons and freshly ground pepper.

Serve immediately!

Pasta with Gorgonzola-Parmesan Sauce

Rich and decadent, this recipe pairs two of my favorite cheeses…the veiny blue Gorgonzola and the salty freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The sauce cooks in less time than it takes for you to cook the pasta, even if it is fresh pasta, making it perfect for busy nights.

This sauce is great with farfalle, fusilli, gnocci, shells, or elbow shaped pastas


1/2 pound pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/3 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper.

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cook the pasta according to the package directions

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and olive in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and sauté for three minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the cheeses and stock.
Stir until the cheeses melt and the sauce is smooth.
Drain the cooked pasta well and toss it with the hot sauce and parsley.
Season to taste with the pepper.

Serve hot with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired.

Toss with chopped walnuts.

Makes 4 servings.

Lobster Ravioli with Crab Meat Cream Sauce

Lobster isn't native to Alaska, so this is a real treat.


2 ounces unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

16 ounces cooked lobster meat

4 ounces cooked snow crabmeat

2 ounces Cognac

2 ounces ricotta

Salt Pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Crabmeat Cream Sauce:

2 ounces unsalted butter

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

4 ounces whole chunk Maryland crabmeat

2 ounces Cognac

5 ounces tomato sauce

10 ounces heavy cream


For the Lobster Ravioli:

In a large saute pan, add the butter and melt.

Add the garlic and shallots and saute until golden brown.

Add lobster, crab, and chives and saute 2 to 3 minutes.

Add Cognac and reduce for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes, until room temperature.

Chop lobster mixture into small chunks.

In a large bowl, combine lobster mixture and ricotta and mix well.

Season with salt and pepper.

Pasta dough;
Egg white, slightly beaten
I package round won ton wrappers.
Place a spoonful of mixture in center, add another wonton on top, crimp edges.
Brush with egg whites.
Gently place ravioli in boiling water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente.

For the sauce:

Using a 12-inch saute pan at medium heat, add butter, shallots, and saute until shallots are translucent.

Add the crabmeat and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the saute pan from the burner and add Cognac then place pan back on the heat to cook off the alcohol. (Please beware: the Cognac will create a large flame.)

Once the flame stops, add the tomato sauce and cream with salt and cook until it reduces half way and becomes creamy.

Add the cooked ravioli to the sauce and let cook together for about 1 minute before serving. Garnish with chives.