Retro Revival

June 26, 2011

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Sometimes all things trendy seem a little too far inside the box for me.  Does all good food have to be the latest fad from the outer reaches of the world?

Once in a while I like to go back to a good old standard, a classic.  That’s what I did here.  I went retro with bacon wrapped scallops.  They were so easy and so good, I may try that other old retro, bacon wrapped Filet Mignon for next week!

To prevent the scallops from becoming over done, I pre-cooked the bacon in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Then I wrapped the scallops and secured them with double skewers and popped them on the grill.  They took about 10 minutes total on the grill.  I rolled them over to the bacon side to make sure the bacon was nice and crispy.  They came out perfectly!  The scallop was so tender and juicy, not overdone at all.  And the bacon was crispy and delicious.  The bacon added such a gorgeous flavor to the scallops.  I’m not sure why anyone would ever prepare scallops without it.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops With Summer Squash and Pine Nuts

The bacon and scallops are fairly rich and I wanted a vegetable that was light and fresh.  I paired the scallops with a summery zucchini dish, “mixed summer squashes with toasted pine nuts”.  Super simple to make, it was surprisingly tasty.   I loved the way it looked on the platter with the scallops.

Ensalada Caprese

I went with one of my old standbys for a side salad.  I prepared ensalada caprese, family style.  It’s the classic Italian combination of fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  I chop it all up, passing dish style.  Then, drizzle with a little olive oil, splash a little rice wine vinegar and toss it with a generous amount of coarse sea salt.  Yummm!  Everyone always loves this salad.

The Menu:

 

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

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Moroccan Surf and Turf

June 23, 2011

Lamb and Shrimp Kebabs with Spicy Harissa Dipping Sauce

The inspiration for this exotic menu was the July, 2011 issue of Bon Appetit.  Bulgarian born chef, Silvena Rowe took a play on American classic, surf and turf and gave it a wonderful Moroccan twist.  She combined ground lamb with chopped shrimp to create these whimsical kebabs.  I followed her recipe exactly as written and it came out beautifully.  She includes fresh chopped cilantro, ground cumin, garlic and grated red onion for a fabulously aromatic kebab that had us all swooning when I brought them in from the grill.

I made her harissa sauce and didn’t care much for it.  Harissa is a spicy red pepper sauce or relish made with a variety of red chili peppers, vinegar and spices.  The Bon Appetit recipe had a very “raw” taste, so I cooked it for about five minutes in a saute pan.  It still tasted too harsh for me, so I added some Greek yogurt and that mellowed it out more to my liking.  I also made a different dipping sauce, altogether.  I made a creamy yogurt sauce seasoned with the Arabic spice mix Za’atar and cumin.  Everyone liked that sauce better.  However, when I served the remaining kebabs the following day as an appetizer, the harissa had mellowed out and we liked it much better on day two.

I paired the kebabs with a classic Moroccan side dish, couscous.  While shopping at Fresh Market, I found an amazing couscous.  The brand is Marrakesh Express, and the version is CousCous Grande, “creamy pearls of pasta”.  Instead of the teeny tiny little couscous granules, this was great big pearls of couscous.  I thought it complemented the kebabs perfectly.

Couscous with Fresh Oregano and Moroccan Glazed Baby Carrots

Fresh Market had beautiful baby carrots, so I decided to make my morphed version of Julia Child’s glazed carrots.  I followed her recipe except I added garam masala, an Indian spice mix that includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin and ground coriander seeds.  There are a million variations of garam masala and some people make their own.  I prefer to buy a good quality prepared version.  It is very aromatic and adds a touch of exotic to whatever you put it on.

Pound Cake with Peaches and Cream

For Dessert, I opted for a fabulous, super-easy recipe from the July, 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Magazine.  She used store bought pound cake (I know, isn’t it scandalous?!), fresh peaches and whipped cream.  When I saw that recipe, I thought, “now here’s a dessert I might be able to make”.  My regular readers know I struggle with baking.  It’s way too exacting for me.  But, store bought cake with fresh fruit?  It doesn’t get any easier.  The recipe delivered.  It was beautiful and delicious.  Of course I can never leave well enough alone, so I added a pinch of cinnamon to the peaches.  The cinnamon sort of tied it into the whole Moroccan thing.

The menu:


Jamaican Jerk For Cousin Jane

June 12, 2011

My husband’s cousin Jane flew in from New York for a sunny break from the miserable weather up north.  She  came in with David’s sister, Mary Anne, who lives in Connecticut.  Mary Anne and Jane are like sisters.  They grew up together and get together often as adults.  My regular readers know I like to put on the Florida/Tropical/Caribbean dog when the yankees come to visit.  I like to make sure my guests know they are not in “Kansas” anymore.

Jerk Chicken On The Grill, Whole Split Chicken Plus Extra Legs

So, in that vein I came up with the following menu for Mary Anne and Jane’s visit:

I was doing my no-carb thing, so everything was made with no or very little carbs.  For the coconut rice, I used my “mock coconut rice”  recipe.  It is actually made out of fresh cauliflower that is riced in the food processor.  Most people can not tell the difference and are truly amazed when I tell them it is not rice.  Jane was no different, she was shocked!

Apparently Jane does not eat vegetables because she hates them.  I wasn’t aware of this, so I felt pretty pleased when she absolutely loved my mock rice and – shock of all shocks –  she had seconds on the creamy Jamaican greens!

Callaloo - Jamaican Greens With Smoked Turkey and Coconut Milk

I was wanting to stick as close as possible to my Jamaican theme, so I used Jamaican Callaloo, a hearty and sturdy green native to Jamaica.  You can easily substitute Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Kale or whatever you normally like.   The method is to boil the greens with a smoked turkey wing, leg or neck, whichever you can find.  The salty smoked meat imparts a fabulous flavor to the greens.  Callaloo takes a long time to get tender, so I boiled it for about an hour.  I drained it, and drizzled a little coconut milk over it and tossed in some of the turkey meat that I pulled off the bone.  It was really delicious.  Jane proved it!

Mock Coconut Rice Made With Cauliflower

The mock coconut rice is a synch to make if you have a food processor.  I put the ricing blade on and pushed the cauliflower through it to get the small, rice-like pieces.  I pulled out the bigger pieces and set aside for another use.  It cooks really fast, so I brought some chicken stock with some coconut milk to a boil and added the cauliflower.  I only cooked it for about seven minutes.  I drained it, added my secret ingredient, a couple of drops of coconut extract.  I seasoned it with salt and onion powder.  I added chopped green onion and fresh cilantro, reserving some of both for garnish.  I swear, you will fool your guests and yourself with this clever lo-carb side dish!

I found the dried hibscus flower buds at a large Jamaican market in the Fort Lauderdale area called Broward Meat And Fish Company.   It is an amazing market!  The first time I went in, I was so overwhelmed I left without buying anything.  Everything was so exotic, so foreign to me, I didn’t know where to start.  But I went back, and now I go all the time.  They have tons of specialty food items from Jamaica, Haiti, Brazil, as well as other places.

Refreshing Jamaican Cocktail

They have a huge fresh seafood counter, another huge meat counter and a fabulous prepared food counter.  You can buy goat meat or oxtails along with the usual chicken, beef or pork.  They sell fish I’ve never even heard of!  I found a package of what I thought was dried morel mushrooms.  When I got them home, I realized the package said, Dried Sorrel – oops!  It turns out dried sorrel is Jamaican hibiscus flower buds.   So, I did a little research and came up with a very refreshing cocktail made with Hibiscus/Sorrel flower tea and ginger ale.  I used Splenda to sweeten the tea and sugar-free ginger ale, but you could use sugar if you like.  I offered the cocktail “virgin” or “slutty”, as I am want to do.  The “slutty” version had a bit of Jamaican rum added – yummy!  As I recall, we were all “slutty” that evening.

Key Lime Panna Cotta

When I’m doing the no-carb thing at my house, everyone has to do the no-carb thing.  So, for dessert I made a sugar free panna cotta and flavored and colored it with key lime extract.  It was very pretty and everyone loved it.

It was great to see Jane and Mary Anne and I hope I may have inspired Jane to eat a vegetable once in a while!  Come back soon, gals!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Hot Off The Grill


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