Couscous Risotto with Scallops

56 Comments

The name of this post sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? I mean, couscous is crushed wheat, a staple in North African countries. Risotto is an Italian dish made with specific rice varieties, like Arborio.

I discovered a beautiful, tri-color couscous, and decided to turn it into a creamy risotto-of-sorts topped with seared and spicy scallops, just for fun. I assume from the size of the couscous “pearls,” that this is an Israeli couscous.

For the spiciness on the scallops, I’m using a favorite product by Penzey’s called Red and Black. It’s a mixture of black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Couscous Risotto

1 pound scallops
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black and Red Pepper
Bacon grease, or grape seed oil, about 3 tablespoons total
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 1/4 cups broth, approximately
Heavy cream, about 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh chopped parsley, optional

First rinse and dry the scallops. Season with salt and the red and black pepper; if you don’t want them spicy, use sweet paprika.

Heat bacon grease in a large, cast-iron skillet over the highest heat. You’ll have to sear the scallops in two batches.

When your grease is hot, add half of the scallops. Cook them about 2 minutes on the first side, till they’re well browned.

Turn the scallops over and reduce the heat at the same time. This will help cook the scallops through.

After another 3 minutes or so, test them with your tongs. As soon as there’s some firmness, remove them to a paper towel. Continue with the remaining scallops, first heating grease (adding more if necessary) over the highest heat.

When cooked properly, scallops should be soft and glistening.

To make the risotto, heat the grape seed oil in a medium-sized Dutch oven. Add the shallots and cook them over medium heat until they’re soft.

Pour in the couscous and stir it around until all of the pearls are glistening.


Then, just as with risotto, add some broth and stir it in well, continuing with the broth until it’s all done. This should only take about 15 minutes.

Pour in the cream and salt. Give it a stir, and cook for about 5 minutes. Then cover the pot and remove it from the heat.

Remove the lid after 10 minutes and let the couscous cool slightly.

Place the risotto in a shallow serving bowl, then add the scallops, tucking them into the risotto.

Sprinkle with parsley, if using.

I also added some cayenne pepper flakes, cause I like spicy.

The couscous risotto really came out superb. Creamy and soft, but the pearls hold their shape.


I really love my concocted dish!

And then imagine this dish with borage flowers sprinkled on top, because they were meant to be there 😬.

Spaghetti Bolognese

108 Comments

This post came about in a funny way. My virtual food blogger sister-friend Linda Duffin, of the impressive blog Mrs. Portly’s Kitchen and I were commenting back and forth one day discussing the cooking of our mothers.

Linda wrote, “And don’t get me started on her spag bol.” Now, Linda is British, and I’ve spent many months-worth of time in the UK, or whatever it’s called now, and I have always tried local specialties in the various countries, whether Cullen Skink, Bedfordshire Clanger or, my favorite – Spotted Dick. But I’d never heard of Spag Bol.

Linda, probably thinking I’m an unsophisticated daftie, explained that spag bol was simply short for Spaghetti Bolognese. Of course.

Which then got me thinking that I’ve never made spaghetti bolognese in all of my years cooking. The cookbook I immediately grabbed, was Giuliani Buglialli’s Buglialli on Pasta, published in 1988.

Buglialli is so strictly Italian, and he’s so familiar with Italy’s regional cooking, that I knew he would be the proper resource. When I call him strict, I’m not kidding. He practically yells at you from the pages of his cookbooks if you dare grab a chunk of Parmesan.

“One should not indiscriminately sprinkle Parmigiano over everything if all dishes are not to melt into an unappealing sameness.”


On his research in studying and documenting authentic Italian recipes: “Arriving at an authentic version of a recipe with a long tradition requires work. The dish as prepared at one regional restaurant or by one family from an area is not necessarily an authentic version of that region’s preparation. It is important to compare many different sources, printed and oral, especially the oldest available ones. But let us not forget that even some Italian grandmothers are poor cooks.”

I find him really entertaining, and I love his passion. And there it was, in the cookbook, Tagliatelle al Ragu alla Bolognese.

“The famous Bolognese ragu is one of several meat sauces and the most popular. Its distinctive features are the sautéing of the meat together with the aromatic chopped vegetables, the omission of garlic, the combination of snipped, chopped, or ground beef and pork, the use of white rather than red wine, and the use of heavy cream.”

Furthermore: “I should like to remind once again that pasta with meat sauce is not automatically alla bolognese. Only those pastas specifically using a Bolognese meat sauce are such; the many employing such sauces from other regions would never be considered alla bolognese.”

I looked online for any recent information on Buglialli, and did find his website, called Buglialli Foods of Italy, and under his cooking courses, held at his farmhouse in Tuscany, none are listed beyond 2015. If he is still alive, it’s estimated that Buglialli is approximately 80 years old. Seems like his date of birth was always kept a secret.

Ragu Alla Bolognese
printable recipe below

1 medium-sized red onion, peeled
1 medium-sized carrot, scraped
1 large stalk celery
3 ounces pancetta, cut into cubes
6 ounces lean boneless beef, in cubes
6 ounces boneless pork, in cubes
4 tablespoons sweet butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ripe, fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup lukewarm beef broth
3/4 cup heavy cream

Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery.

Coarsely grind the pancetta, beef, and pork all together in a meat grinder. (I used my food processor.)

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy, flameproof casserole over medium heat. When the oil mixture is warm, add the chopped vegetables and ground meats, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill, using the disc wth smallest holes, into a glass bowl.

Add the wine to the casserole and let it evaporate for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.


Then add the broth. Cover the casserole and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon.

Add the cream, mix very well, lower the heat, and reduce for 20 minutes; for the last 5 minutes, remove the lid.


Remove the sauce from the heat and let rest until cool, about 1 hour.

Tagliatelle Al Ragu Alla Bolognese, from Bologna

Cook the pasta according to package directions, although Buglialli suggests fresh tagliatelle. (I used pappardelle.)

Place 4 tablespoons of sweet butter in serving bowl; add a little boiling water to melt the butter.

When ready, drain the pasta, transfer to the serving bowl, and mix well with the melted butter.

Pour the sauce all over, mix and serve immediately.

Pass freshly grated Parmigiano cheese at the table.

This ragu is fabulous. If you close your eyes, it’s like you’re eating blended lasagna!

My only regret is not making a quadruple batch of this lucious sauce.

 

Lime Ice Cream

119 Comments

This post was originally published in 2015. I don’t think the photos are terrible, which is typically why I’ll repost a recipe. I’m reposting this because it’s something I’ve not seen of any other blog in the 6 years I’ve been blogging. So here you go – a uniquely fabulous ice cream. You’re welcome!

When it comes to home cooking, I rarely make the same thing twice, let alone multiple times. It’s just how I roll, thus my motto, “so much food, so little time!” There’s just too much out there to try!

But this ice cream is one major exception. I’ve been making it for years. My kids always got mad that I wasn’t making chocolate ice cream when they were little, but instead one lime-flavored. However, they loved it, too!

Here’s the recipe I cut out of a magazine so many years ago.


One doesn’t expect lime ice cream, perhaps a sorbet instead. So it’s unique in that sense. Hope you like it as much as we do!


Lime Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup filtered water
Zest from 5 limes
Juice from 5 limes, about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
2 c superfine sugar
Pinch of salt

Pour the cream and water into a large blender jar. Add the zest and lime juice.


Add the sugar and salt, and give it a good blend.

Place the blender jar in the refrigerator and leave it there overnight. You really want to get the limey flavor dispersed into the cream.

When it’s time to make the ice cream, follow the directions for your machine.

Freeze the container until ready to serve.


I love to serve this ice cream with piroline cookies.


lime3

If you love lime, you will adore this ice cream!


It’s limey, but it’s also creamy. Fabulous!

This ice cream is perfect after a Mexican meal, or a traditional summer barbecue.

And just in case you’re still thinking this is not a creamy ice cream, take a look at this!

Coffee Butter

59 Comments

A lot of links pop up on my Facebook page that I typically don’t pay any attention to, like Food 52, Food & Wine, and Tasting Table. They’re all great publications, it’s just that I like to get my recipes the old-fashioned way – from cookbooks.

But then, something popped out at me one day that I had to look into – coffee butter – published by Tasting Table. I love coffee, and I love butter, but coffee butter?!! To say the least, I was intrigued.

The recipe is from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen, and the article is written by Kristina Preka, published on April 14, 2017.

We’ve all made compound butters. Herb and wine reduction varieties are common on steaks, plus, back when I catered I made quite a few citrus and berry butters. However, I certainly have never thought to flavor butter with coffee.

This sweetened coffee butter is a “perfect spread over breakfast pastries like scones, croissants and English muffins.”

The author also suggests that an unsweetened version is good on steaks, which makes sense because coffee is often a dry rub ingredient.

So I set out to make coffee butter.

Coffee Butter
Yield: 1/2 cup

2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup ground coffee
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Cheesecloth
Flaked salt, for garnish.

In a tall airtight container, add the heavy cream and stir in the ground coffee until it’s completely mixed. Close the container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.


Strain the coffee mixture, making sure to push through as much milk fat as possible, while keeping out the sediment.

Discard the ground coffee and transfer the strained liquid to a food processor jar.

Add the sugar and kosher salt, and spin the mixture until the fat forms into butter and the liquid separates.

Transfer the mixture to a large piece of cheesecloth and wring out any excess liquid.

Transfer the butter to a small condiment bowl, garnish with flaked salt and use immediately, or store in the refrigerator, covered well, for later.

I’m not one of those “put-salt-on-everything” type of gals, but in this case it works!


And the coffee flavor is superb, even though the color of my coffee butter is lighter than what I saw online.

So if you love coffee, which is the only prerequisite for this recipe, you will love this sweet coffee butter!

Especially on toasted croissants!

Cranachan

37 Comments

The three weeks my husband and I toured the circumference of Scotland were a pure delight. I knew Scotland would be pretty, but I had no idea the vast geographic extremes that exist in this country, from the highlands to the lochs to the granitic islands off the northern coast.

This post is about a Scottish recipe, but I wanted to share a few photos from our trip. If you’re never thought about seeing Scotland, you might consider adding it to your list!

707
During our trip, we stopped in at Talisker, a distillery on the Isle of Skye, took the very interesting tour, and tasted their Scotch whisky.
IMG_2048
I am not a fan of scotch, but I had to drink it because that’s my rule. That’s why I tried banana beer in Rwanda. (never again!)

You only get about an ounce, understandably, for your whisky sample. But instead of pouring it down my throat like a shot, I probably took 100 sips of the stuff, which prolonged the pain and agony. But I finished it! It had a really smoky flavor from the peat used in the scotch making process.


So I bring up Scotland and scotch because this recipe, Cranachan, which I have no idea how to pronounce, is a Scottish recipe and it contains scotch whisky. Irish whiskey, by the way, has an “e” in it!

I picked up this little cookery pamphlet at a tourist stop, I think at Culloden, one of the famous battle sites in Scotland. Just walking around there will bring tears to your eyes. So much blood shed over the centuries.

On a brighter note, this recipe, from the smallest cookbook ever printed, at 28 pages, intrigued me because of its simplicity. The recipe is not terribly unique, since it’s whipped cream and raspberries, but there are two Scottish additions – scotch whisky and pinhead oatmeal! So I really wanted to try it. The cookbook author’s version of cranachan is pictured on the front cover of the cookbook.

clan
I should mention that the food in Scotland was superb. I mostly had seafood, some I’d heard of like salmon, and others I hadn’t ever experienced, like sea bream. All of it was fresh out of the sea, since Scotland is practically an island. And yes, I had haggis and blood pudding. I’m not scared of that kind of thing, but they were made traditionally, so they were very bland. Someone needs to make gourmet versions and they might be way more popular!

I also had to have cullen skink, which is a seafood soup, and also a clootie dumpling, which was a dense cake. How can you pass up names like that?!!!

Scottish oatmeal, or porridge as it’s often called, is a staple in Scotland. If you want it for breakfast at your hotel in the morning, you must order it the night before. I assume it’s because the oatmeal is soaked all night before cooking. Scottish oatmeal is not the light and fluffy quick-cooking stuff we get in the US. It’s not even thick-sliced oats. It’s pinhead oats, which are more like pieces of the whole oats, which require longer cooking time.

If you want Scottish oats, make sure that you see a photo on the canister or box, otherwise you may not get the correct variety of oats. Even steel-cut oats can be flakes. Here is the recipe as it appears in the cookbook.
_MG_6935
Cranachan

60 ml/4 tablespoons pinhead oatmeal
280 ml/10 fl ounce/1 1/4 cup double (heavy) cream
30 ml/2 tablespoons whisky
About 45 ml/3 tablespoons liquid honey
250 g/8 ounces raspberries

1. Put the oatmeal in a small, dry frying pan and toast it over gentle heat for 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until the oatmeal is lightly browned.

I first sieved the oatmeal to remove any fine powder, then toasted it in a skillet over moderate heat, which only took about 6-7 minutes.


Then I placed the toasted oatmeal on a plate to cool.

2. Meanwhile, whip the cream until it is thick but not stiff. Add the whisky, and honey to taste.

I first mixed together the honey, which I warmed slightly, along with the whisky, then made the whipped cream. You can see me pouring the mixture into the whipped cream, before adding the raspberries.


3. Reserve a few of the best raspberries for decoration and fold the rest gently into the cream.

4. Spoon the mixture into 4 glasses and chill until you are ready to serve.

5. Just before serving, sprinkle the toasted oatmeal on top of the cream and decorate with the reserved raspberries.

verdict: I have to say, I was first skeptical about a few things. First, I wasn’t sure how well whisky and honey could be folded into whipped cream, but it does. Secondly, I thought the whisky would be off-putting, but along with the honey and the raspberries, it was truly delightful! Thirdly, I wasn’t sure what the oats would do for the dessert, but it works!!! Just a nice little crunch!

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

54 Comments

Inspired by a photo I spotted on Nigella Lawson’s blog, I decided a pasta with Brussels sprouts would be fabulous. Doesn’t that sound like a perfectly comforting combination?!!

I happen to love Brussels sprouts. My husband thinks he hates them. Until he eats them. Then he makes a comment like, “These are pretty good!” But he refuses to remember that he makes this comment after eating them. But if he refuses this pasta, there will be more for me.

bs6
So here’s what I did.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Comté

12 ounce package pasta
1 pound Brussels sprouts
4 ounces butter
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
Approximately 14 ounces Comté or Gruyère, diced

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. If your pasta is very glutinous, you might want to toss it in a little oil in a large bowl to prevent sticking while you’re working on the rest of the recipe.
bs44
This is the pasta I used. Funny packaging, huh?!! We’re not gluten free in this house, but I like to try pastas made from different grains, and this brand never fails to please. It’s actually a 16 ounce bag, but I only used 12 ounces of the pasta.
bs66
Trim the Brussels sprouts. I normally cut large ones in half, but these were all about the same size.

Typically I steam Brussels sprouts, but I decided to use the pasta water. They were cooked just until tender, then drained. Let cool.


Meanwhile, using a large shallow pot, melt the butter over medium heat. A little browning is fine.

Add the garlic and have the cream nearby. For me, garlic is perfectly sautéed just when you begin to smell the garlic. That’s within about ten seconds. But I don’t like the taste of burnt garlic; some people do.


At this point, pour in the cream and stir in the salt and white pepper.

Simmer gently for about 30 minutes or so. The sauce should reduce by about half.
bs11
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Dice up your cheese. I chose Conté, but Gruyère or Fontina would work well.
bs77
Set up your food processor to slice the Brussels sprouts. I just bought a new food processor, and I had to get the manual out to put the slicing mechanism together properly. My old one was a Viking brand and it was terrible, so hopefully this new one will do the trick for many many years.
bs12
Slice the Brussels sprouts and add them to the pasta.

When the cream sauce is ready, remove the pot from the heat source and gently stir in the pasta and sliced Brussels sprouts.
bs234
Lightly grease a deep serving dish that is oven proof. Place about half of the pasta in the dish, then cover with half of the cheese.


Add the remaining pasta and repeat with the cheese.

Place the serving dish in the oven and let the cheese melt and the pasta heat through. The pasta is done when the top is golden brown.
bs

The pasta isn’t as photogenic as I thought it would be. I thought you’d be able to see more of the Brussels sprouts’ leaves. But it is good.

It’s not overly rich, either. I considered making a bechamel to toss the pasta in, but I’m glad I made it simply with cream.

bs1

Of course ham would be delicious in this pasta, or just little bits of Prosciutto. But I like it just with the Brussels sprouts, because it can be eaten as is, or as a side dish to just about any kind of protein.

And by the way, my husband finished off this pasta.

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

64 Comments

I just came across this recipe recently, and realized that I’d completely forgotten about it. I made it once before, but for the life of me, can’t remember when. This isn’t like me, because I have a pretty good food memory. I’m assuming I made it when I had company over, because I just don’t typically make ice cream. But it was marked “wonderful” in my handwriting, so I know that I indeed made it, and definitely wanted to have it again. After all, it is summer.

The recipe is from this Wolfgang Puck cookbook, published in 1991.
download

The recipe calls for 4 cups of crème fraiche, which is a lot, so I began by making it myself. If you’ve never made your own crème fraiche, you should make it. For one thing, it’s so much less expensive if you make it yourself. For another thing, creme fraiche is quite versatile, from dolloping on a fruit salad, to stirring into soups. Or, in this case, turning it into ice cream. It’s nice to have on hand all of the time.

To make 1 quart of crème fraiche, place 1 quart or 4 cups of heavy cream in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of buttermilk. Let it warm to room temperature, and sit for 12 hours. I cover loosely with plastic wrap. In 12 hours, you will have a firm crème fraiche.

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream, served with Raspberry Sauce

1 quart crème fraiche
10 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar

After you’ve made the crème fraiche, chill it completely in the refrigerator. Also have your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer and ready to use.
creme66
Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk them well. Add the sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
creme55
Add the crème fraiche and whisk until smooth.
creme44
Pour some or all of the ice cream mixture into the ice cream bowl, depending how much yours holds. Turn it on and let it go until it’s ice cream. Mine took about 20 minutes.
creme33
When ice cream is ready in an electric ice cream maker, it’s very soft. If you place the bowl into the freezer to get it firmer, the outside freezes and changes the lovely texture. It also can get too hard to remove – even with a sharp scoop.

creme22

So for the purpose of the photos for this post, I “scooped” up the ice cream right away, and it’s easy to tell that it’s soft.
creme2
That’s okay with me, because I got to eat some. And that’s what this is all about. Crème fraiche ice cream? It’s like frozen (or partially frozen) cheesecake.

If you want to make a raspberry sauce like I did, here is the recipe:

1 – 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon white sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until smooth. If you don’t like seeds in your sauce (I don’t) then sieve the sauce to remove the seeds. Chill the sauce until ready to use.


The next day, I made a banana split of sorts with the crème fraiche ice cream, the raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, and bananas. To die for…

creme

Home-Made Butter

31 Comments

I was given a butter kit from Williams-Sonoma as a gift years ago, but I’ve resisted using it. Why? Because I thought I would lose the use of my right arm.

If you read the directions to make the butter, which uses purchased heavy cream, you must vigorously shake the enclosed container of cream for 35 minutes. And I can’t use my left hand for anything. If I tried to brush my teeth with my left hand I’d surely poke out my eye.

But yesterday I was determined to try out this butter project and risk injury. This is the label for the kit.

butter22

The kit includes the container plus all of this.

butter33

So I placed the room temperature cream, a whole pint of it, in the washed and dried plastic container.

butter11

And then I screwed on the lid and began shaking, with my right hand, reviewing the estimated times when things would occur inside the jar. For example, between 4 to 6 minutes the cream would thicken and you would no longer hear sloshing. Which did indeed happen.

But within minutes, I had come to the final step, which is when you can see through the plastic container and see butter. It took less than ten minutes in all, instead of the 35 or more minutes. Halelujah!

So this is what it looked like inside the container:

butter9

As according to the directions, I poured off what they referred to as “buttermilk” into a glass for another use.

butter8

Which left this in the container:

butter7

So I placed the butter inside a bowl and poured 1 cup of icy cold water over the butter blob.

butter5

Then I massaged the butter, much like kneading bread. This gets the milky water out of it.
butter4

I poured off the water, then massaged a little bit more, which helped in removing a bit more liquid.

butter3

I didn’t want to salt the butter or use the herbes de Provence, so instead I chopped up a little bit of fresh rosemary and thyme, and also included a bit of dried thyme.

Then I smushed the butter into the herbs and massaged them in.

butter2

Then I placed the butter in some plastic wrap in a log shape.

butter1

Then using the plastic wrap, I formed a smooth log of butter and wrapped it up and refrigerated it.
butter

For dinner last night I made steaks, which was a perfect opportunity to top them with a slice of the herbed fresh butter. Let me tell you, fresh butter is so different from store bought. I had no idea. I’ve since dipped artichoke leaves in this butter, topped hot quartered potatoes with it, and have many more plans.

The pint of cream makes 1/2 pound of butter, so it’s probably not economical in the long run. And I probably would never cook with it. But if you want to try out fresh butter, this is definitely worth doing. I wish I’d known how to do this when I taught cooking classes to young ladies. It would have really been fun!

I never ended up using any other parts of the kit, so I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the kit, although it makes a fun gift. And I think it would really be fun to do with children.