Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

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In the past few years I have raved about a wonderful product made from Hungarian red bell peppers called Paprika Creme. I have also complained about not being able to find this product online. It’s typically a hit-and-miss situation on Amazon.

Then lo and behold, I experienced a Christmas miracle of the culinary kind. I was contacted in early December by a representative of Univer, the brand of paprika creme that I was originally introduced to by my Hungarian girlfriend!

His name is Gabriel Bicking, and he’s Univer’s technology director. Not only that, but he oversees a website called – For the Love of Paprika where all of the Univer products can be purchased! Univer sells much more than paprika creme.

His email to me was kind, because he knew that it had been challenging for me to find this fabulous paprika product. So not only did I discover the website thanks to him, I was sent four products.

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There is also a blog, where Mr. Bicking shared my most recent paprika creme-related post, paprika-smothered pork tenderloin, plus you can sign up to receive free recipes utilizing the Univer products.

For purchase, there’s an ebook entitled “For the Love of Paprika” by John Czingula, which is in PDF format. It’s 239 pages, and includes everything from appetizers to meat to sauces, incorporating Hungarian paprika.

I was quite intrigued by the cookbook, and decided to use paprika creme in bacon-wrapped scallops – a recipe that just jumped out at me. It sounded so delicious!
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Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Paprika Creme
based on the recipe from “For the Love of Paprika”

16 scallops
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 slices bacon, sliced in half crosswise
Univer Red Gold paprika creme, mild, about 2 tablespoons

First rinse the scallops and drain them in a colander.
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Then place them on paper towels to dry completely.
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Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat. It’s okay if the butter browns, but if it burns, turn down the heat slightly.

Add about four scallops at a time, and brown them on one side for about 3 minutes.
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The timing of course depends on the size of the scallops.

Turn them over and brown the other side.
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Remove them to a plate and continue browning the scallops.

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If the scallops are too greasy, you can always place them on paper towels to dry.

Cook the 16 slices of bacon until slightly browned, yet still pliable. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Place some paprika creme in a small bowl. I chose the “delikat,” or mild paprika creme. Use a small brush to coat one side of the scallops generously.

While the bacon is still warm, place a piece on a cutting board and place a scallop on top, with the paprika creme on the top. Cover the scallop with both ends of the bacon and use a toothpick to secure the scallop in place. You can always use two at first; once the bacon has “molded” to the scallop you can remove the second toothpick.


Continue until all 16 scallops have been wrapped.

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Serve immediately.

The combination of the bacon and paprika creme is incredible, but adding the sweet scallop to the mix puts this appetizer over the top!

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And so I continue to rave about paprika creme. And now I have a source for it! Plus, I can’t wait to try the other Univer products.

Univer suggests using paprika creme in the following:
• Add a spicy boost to stews, soups
• Glaze a sizzling steak or chop
• Mix into ground meats
• Add to marinades
• Sauté onions and vegetables
• Create wonderful dips
• Mix into salsa
• Add to ranch dressing
• Lightly brush onto hot grilled pineapple
• Add to oil or butter when sautéing any vegetable
• Glaze sizzling meats
• Create delicious dips
• Mix into ground meats
• Lightly toss with cooked pasta before dressing with sauce
• Add a little to boiling water when cooking hot dogs
• Stir into hot fluffy rice, or add to water when preparing
• Add a little to scrambled eggs

Paprika Risotto

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Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make because, like polenta, it can be made so many different ways depending what you put into it. Basically, it’s a rice dish, but made with a special starchy rice that creates a creaminess when cooked the proper way.

Today I wanted to make a risotto using a favorite ingredient of mine called paprika cream. I learned about it from a Hungarian friend and I’m addicted to it. And yes, it is a short cut, but it’s a fabulous one. This is a high-quality product that is extremely versatile. It’s available in a jar made by Univer, but I’ve also used a brand that comes in a tube.


Sure, you can roast your own red Hungarian peppers, peel them, and purée them, but why not use this pre-made product? Especially because you can use a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or much more, depending on what you’re making.

Today I’m making risotto with the paprika creme which will provide the flavor. The flavor is bigger and better by using this product than simply using a sweet or spicy Hungarian ground paprika.

You can serve grilled shrimp or scallops with it or just about any favorite protein. My husband prefers a meat-heavy meal, so for him the risotto will be more like a side dish, along with pork tenderloin.


If you need a tutorial on making risotto, I have posted on Dried Mushroom Risotto, a Zucchini Risotto, and a Thai-Inspired Risotto, all of which have more details about the risotto-making process.

Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s difficult. I’ve even taught children how to make risotto! There is a little elbow grease involved, but it’s well worth it.

The only “rule” about preparing risotto is to have all of your ingredients ready by the stove because you cannot leave the kitchen while making risotto, and you don’t want to get distracted. The whole process takes up to 40 minutes.
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Here’s what I did:

Paprika Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil, or fat of choice
2 shallots, diced
1 cup of arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
Approximately 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 heaping tablespoons of paprika creme, or to taste
Grated Parmesan, optional

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. I actually used a little fat from the pan in which I roasted the pork tenderloins. Don’t ever throw that fat away!!!
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When the oil is hot, add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes. A little caramelization is good. Then stir in the rice, and sauté the rice, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. All of the rice grains should be shiny.


Then pour in the wine. If the pan is at the right temperature, the wine should sizzle a little. If it just sits there, you need to turn up the heat. Stir the rice with the wine until the wine is almost all evaporated.

Then begin adding chicken broth, about 1/4 – 1/3 cups at a time, stir, and continue doing this. When the liquid is almost completely incorporated, the rice should almost be sticking to the pan, but it won’t, cause you’re there at the stove adding a little more liquid. 

Before you’ve used all of the broth, stir in the paprika cream until it’s well incorporated.


You’ll know when your risotto is about done because it will begin to stop absorbing the liquid, and should have a nice creamy consistency.  If the rice is still absorbing the broth, it’s okay to add a little more broth or even water as necessary, even if you’ve already used the 2 1/2 cups of broth.  The rice has to cook (see note).
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You can stir in the Parmesan, but I prefer to sprinkle it on top of the risotto.

Serve immediately.

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If you want a creamier risotto, you can substitute some of the broth with heavy cream.


note: According to the Italians, the rice grains in risotto are cooked until they are al dente – which means there is just a little bit of bite to them. Personally, I don’t mind my risotto slightly beyond that point. Hopefully my Italian ancestors aren’t rolling over in their graves because of my preference!

Now, think about all of the lovely variations of risotto you can make throughout the year…

Spring: lemon risotto with spicy grilled shrimp, or risotto with asparagus

Summer: risotto with corn and chipotle, or tomato risotto with spicy scallops and fresh basil

Fall: pumpkin risotto with feta cheese, or Brussels sprouts risotto topped with grilled sausages

Winter: cheddar risotto topped with braised short ribs, or wild mushroom risotto served with pork loin

Paprika Cream

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I wrote a post in late 2012 after I started my blog called “My New Favorite Ingredient.” I had about 4 followers then, and so I would like to re-introduce this ingredient on my blog.

The ingredient, or product, was given to me by my friend who has Hungarian parents, and I will always be indebted to her for her act of kindness. The product? Paprika Cream.

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There are a few different versions of it, all made by Univer in Hungary, but they’re very much the same product – a paste or “cream” made from red bell peppers. There is one called Goulash Creme, Sweet Paprika Mix, and Hot Paprika Mix.

The only way I can get my hands on more of this luscious stuff is to order online at Amazon.com, and they’re often out of the product. I would really love to taste a few of these varieties and see how they taste differently, but I can just be happy with one jar at a time, as they become available.

I have also gotten the Paprika Creme in a tube form.
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So today I wanted to make risotto, and I thought that the perfect way to season it would be to add some of this lovely paprika cream. It’s so much easier to add a few tablespoons of paprika cream instead of roasting your own red bell peppers and processing them into a pulp. Besides, these are the good red bell peppers – the ones from which paprika is made – so the flavor is not just about red bell peppers that are roasted, but also spicy hot paprika.

And, the color is pretty spectacular, as well. You can use this cream for just about any culinary purpose for instant flavor, but I’ve also used it simply as a coating for pork tenderloin. It was fabulous.

Anyway, if you’ve never made a risotto before – trust me – they’re very easy to make. I’ve even taught young girls how to make a risotto. Which is why it infuriates me on these cooking shows like Hell’s Kitchen when the trained chefs mess up risottos. It’s not hard, people!!!

I’m not going to give you an exact risotto recipe, because to make a risotto is about so much more than following a recipe. You really have to feel the recipe, and let your brain be your guide. A risotto is a lot about common sense.

There’s a little elbow grease involved with risotto, as it requires a lot of stirring. But that’s not hard at all. The only rule is to not leave the kitchen while you’re making it. A risotto is a very hands-on dish.

Paprika Risotto
This recipe makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice

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1/3 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, approximately
3 tablespoons paprika cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan, optional
Grilled chicken, optional

Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. There are pots made specifically for making risotto, but these aren’t necessary. A good saucepan and a wooden spoon will do.

When the butter melts, add the shallots and sauté them for a couple of minutes.

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Then pour in the rice. Stir the rice all around, so that every bit of rice gets coated in butter. Stir the rice for about half a minute.
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Then pour in the wine. Immediately begin stirring the rice as it absorbs the wine. You will notice the wine disappearing before your eyes as you stir. You must keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking.
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Once the wine is absorbed, begin adding the chicken broth, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time. Stir the rice after each addition.
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Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, you will have to make sure that you don’t wait too long before you add more liquid. Add liquid, stir. Repeat.
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Once you can tell that the rice has essentially stopped absorbing, add the paprika cream and the salt. If you’re not sure you’ll like the paprika flavor, add less and taste. But I’m sure you’ll love it.
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Once you’ve stirred in the paprika cream, you have a couple of options. Sometimes, people add cream and/or Parmesan cheese to risottos. Both of these additions are fabulous. However, today I just want the rice to show off, simply flavored with broth, shallots, and paprika.

Immediately put the hot risotto in a serving bowl.

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Today I added some left over grilled chicken, and I placed a bowl of Parmesan nearby.

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This was actually my lunch, and I got really hungry taking these photos. So I decided to go for it and I added a generous amount of Parmesan to the risotto!

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The creaminess and sharpness of the Parmesan was perfect with the chicken and the paprika-flavored rice. I will make this again.
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If you ever happen upon some version of this Univer product, make sure and grab some. You’ll find all kinds of uses for it, trust me!

note: If you notice that the rice got really yellow while I was adding the chicken broth, it’s because my powdered variety of chicken broth is very yellow.