Pecan Crusted Scallops with an Anjou Pear Puree

Here is one of the most luscious tidbits you can offer family and friends. Get ready for the holiday seasons upcoming and, yes, even show off a little. Go on, you know you want to!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Anjou pear, peeled, cored and diced in cubes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 quart of oil for frying
  • 10 sea scallops, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 – 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans

In a medium sized saucepan, place 2 cups of water with the sugar on high heat and bring to a full boil. Add the diced pear and reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 10-12 minutes until very soft. With a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the pot and reserve the liquid separately. Allow both to cool down.

Put the pear cubes in the blender with 2 tbsp. of the boiling liquid and a pinch of salt. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

In a clean pot, pour in the oil and heat to a temperature of 350 degrees. Season the scallops with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in three different saucers. Dip each scallop in the flour, then the egg and now in the pecans, covering well.

Fry them in small batches for about 2 minutes, until golden. Remove to a towel lined plate and sprinkle with just a hint of salt.

Using a pastry bag with a small tip, pipe a small amount of the puree on each scallop. Arrange on your prettiest plate and serve warm. They won’t last long enough to get cold.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart

Our kids have informed us they are all coming out for our anniversary this summer and since several of the girls LOVE chocolate, this would have to be made. Also, I have a granddaughter with serious nut allergies and I would make one with and one without the nuts. (What a Grandby I am).

  • 2 sheets of frozen all-butter puff pastry
  • flour for dusting
  • 2 large eggs, divided, each one lightly beaten
  • coarse sanding sugar
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water divided
  • 1 cup whipping cream, divided
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped and toasted
  • flaky salt
  • edible gold flakes
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • Whipped cream

This is for two ‘different’ tarts; hence the reason for everything being doubled, I will start with the first one.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Unfold 1 sheet of the dough on a floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll out to a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. Transfer the sheet with the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Fold the edges to form a 1 inch border. Pierce bottom of pastry with a fork. Brush border with an egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Freeze until firm (about 15 minutes).

Repeat this procedure with the 2nd sheet of pastry and refrigerate the same way.

Bake the shells until puffed and golden. This could take 23-25 minutes. Press down the base of the shell with an offset spatula. Leave the border alone. Set of a wire rack to cool completely.

1. Dark Chocolate With Nuts

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Have a pastry brush with water handy to brush down the sides so the sugar won’t set up crystals on the sides. Let the syrup come to a boil, without stirring. You want a dark amber colour (10-11 minutes). Remove from heat.

Slowly add the cream as it will spatter. Add the butter and chocolate, stirring until completely smooth. Pour this on the cooled shell and spread to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with  pecans, salt flakes and refrigerate until this sets up.

2. Milk Chocolate With Chocolate Sprinkles and Edible Gold Flakes

Repeat the steps above up to pouring the chocolate on the shell and spreading to cover. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles and, this is an option, sprinkle with some edible gold flakes.
When ready to serve, whip some whipped cream  with a touch of icing sugar to sweeten and set out in a bowl for everyone to help themselves.

Damn, they are going to love me now. I called it ‘cupboard love’ when my daughter wad growing up.

 

 

 

 

 

Toasty Risotto Cakes With Poached Eggs And Tomato Salsa

Okay, okay, I know  but in my defence..summer is coming. Lakeside family/friends time, patio dining at its best. So with that in mind, I give you this. Go ahead…I dare you. What a wonderful way to spend a morning in the warm sun with family and/or friends at the table.

 

Risotto Cakes

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Fontina Cheese, divided
  • a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 2 whole eggs, divided
  • grape seed oil for frying or Crisco (my favourite)
  • 4 poached eggs
  • small side salad (your choice of fixings here)

Heat stock in a saucepan until warm. Cover and turn off the heat.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the rice until coated. Add stock, 1/3 cup at a time and continue stirring until absorbed. Continue to add the stock until all is absorbed and the risotto is creamy (22 minutes exactly). Remove from the heat and add 1/3 cup of the Fontina cheese. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Spread this out into a 13 x 9 inch pan you have sprayed with Pam. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.

In a large bowl combine 1/3 cup of the panko bread crumbs, remaining cheese, basil and 1 whisked egg together. Add the cooled risotto and work in with your hands until evenly mixed. Shape into 4 equal sized patties about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place remaining egg in a shallow bowl and the remaining 1 cup panko crumbs in another. Dip the cakes into the whisked egg and then the panko crumbs to thoroughly coat. Refrigerate.

 

Tomato Salsa

  • 1 cup diced red and yellow cherry and grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and very finely minced
  • 2 Autulfo mangoes, peeled, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • liquid honey to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss together to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

To serve

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a heavy bottomed oven-proof fry pan heat  2 tbsp. oil until it shimmers. Cook the cakes over medium heat until hot and golden on both sides. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and keep in the oven while you poach the eggs.

Poach the eggs until done the way you like them and remove with a slotted spoon. Place on a warm risotto cake and top with the tomato salsa. Serve with a small salad of micro greens.

The only thing missing now is a glass of cold juice and a pot of hot coffee.

 

 

 

Macaroni And Cheese With A Superb Twist

This is one dish you will  make and re-make for years to come. It is truly a yummy, comfort food to make. Let’s get started.

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 slices hearty sourdough bread, roughly torn
  • 4 tbsp. chilled butter, divided
  • 1 cup grated aged white cheddar
  • 1 3/4 cup macaroni
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (or 1 1/4 whole milk, 3/4 cup whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup Havarti cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup McLarens cheese
  • 1 cup Monteray Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • pinch of cayenne
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 oz. cooked lobster meat

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 6 individual baking dishes or a 2 qt. casserole dish and set aside. Lower oven to 350 degrees.

Toss 1 1/2 cups of the diced squash and oil together and spread out in an oven proof dish large enough to hold the cubes in a single layer. Bake for 18-22 minutes until tender but still firm.

Combine the torn bread with 2 tbsp. of diced butter in a processor and spin until coarse crumbs. Place in a bowl, stir in the aged cheddar and set aside.

Cook the macaroni until about halfway tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in a large saucepan, add the flour and whisk until well combined. slowly add the milk/cream whisking the whole time until it becomes thickened. Stir in the cheeses, mustard, cayenne and nutmeg. Fold in the macaroni, baked squash and gently heat through.

Spoon into the baking dishes and sprinkle the crumb mixture over and bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling in a 350 degree oven.

Serve with a crisp salad and a glass of, perhaps, a Chardonnay. Ummm… better yet a Pinot Gris.

 

Potato Dish For Ham Dinner

Believe it or not Easter is earlier this year and this is a nice potato dish to serve as a side with your ham. Especially if you are having family coming home it is always great to showcase a new dish.

 

  • Butter, room temperature for baking dish
  • 2 1/2-3 lbs. fingerling potatoes, cut on the bias and then 1/2 thick slices
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. bacon, chopped in 1 inch pieces,
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (Sav. Blanc.)
  • 14-15 oz. Provolone cheese cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a 2 quart casserole.

Cover the potatoes in a large saucepan of water, bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

Cook the bacon until crisp and remove to a plate. Save 1 tbsp. of the bacon fat to cook the onion in until it becomes caramelized (14-15 minutes). Add the wine and cook until reduced which should take about 2 minutes. Stir in the bacon. Remove from the heat.

Arrange one half of the potatoes in the casserole, add one half of the bacon and one half of the cheese, spreading quite evenly. Repeat with the second layer of  potatoes , adding the bacon and cheese on top.

Bake now until the cheese is bubbling (25 minutes approximately). Serve with this sliced ham, salad, rolls.

Wow! My mouth is watering already. Come on family…..it will be good.

 

Perfect Smashed Potatoes For Your Steak Dinner

This is a super alternative to the usual fries, mashed or twice baked potato to accompany that wonderful steak dinner you were planning. Yes, believed it or not Spring is around the corner and the warmer, sunny weather will be here.

  • 2 lbs. baby potatoes (all colours)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Montreal Steak spice for sprinkling
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Boil the potatoes for about 8 minutes (until fork tender). Drain and let cool slightly.

Brush a rimmed cookie sheet with 1 tbsp. oil. Lightly crush the potatoes with the palm of your hand. No smaller than 1/2 inch. Sprinkle with the Montreal Steak Spice (lightly). Brush with half the melted butter and roast until golden and crisp (about 15-20 minutes). Rotate the pan and brush again with the remaining butter.

Serve with your favourite steak. The steak spice ties in perfectly on the potatoes. Add a crisp salad and a glass of whatever tickles your fancy. I prefer a nice Pinot Noir or even a Merlot.

 

Praline Semifreddo With Fresh Peaches

Peaches are coming….so be prepared. This is a wonderful dessert for company. My sister-in-law loves this and has asked me to make when she would come to visit.

 

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups  Italian macaroons, finely ground in food processor (amaretto)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in the middle. Invert bottom of springform pan (2 inches deep) to make it easier to slide the semifreddo out. Lock in and oil pan.

Stir together the cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake until firm and a shade darker. (10 minutes). Cool completely on a rack for about half an hour. Be sure to leave the oven on.

 

Praline

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Spread out in a baking sheet and stirring one or twice, until fragrant and golden (8-9 minutes). Transfer to a bowl. Lightly oil the same baking pan. Set aside.

 

Semifreddo

  • 1  1/4 lb. firm, ripe peaches
  • 1 Vitamin C tablet, crushed finely*
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp. – divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/8 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Peel, pit and chop peaches, then puree in a food processor along with the crushed Vitamin C tablet, 1/2 cup sugar, pinch of salt. Force through a sieve set over a large bowl and discard the solids.

Stir in the egg yolks, then place bowl over the pan of barely simmering water and beat until thick and pale in colour and a thermometer has reached 140 degrees. Now, beat 3 minutes  more.

Remove bowl and set in  a bowl of ice water. Add the almond extract and continue beating for about 6 more minutes (until cold).

Beat cream with the remaining 2 tbsp. sugar in another bowl with clean beaters (of course) until they form soft peaks.

Fold one third of the cream into the peach mixture, fold in the praline mixture and remaining cream gently but thoroughly. Pour into a cooled crust, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for no less than 4 hours. Let stand in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Topping For Semifreddo

  • 1 lb. ripe, firm peaches
  • 1 Vitamin C tablet, crushed finely*
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sugar

Cut an X in the bottom of each peach and blanch in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water so it will stop cooking. Peel peaches and slice in 1/2 inch wedges.

Toss the peaches with the crushed pill and sugar and let stand, stirring once in a while until the sugar has completely dissolved (10-15 minutes). Spoon peaches over the sliced semifreddo just before serving and listen to the oohs and aahs!

 

*reason for the Vitamin C is to prevent the peaches from turning brown. Now you know!

 

Herb Crusted Haddock With Asiago Garlic Waffle Fries

Get ready for a great meal while watching hockey games (dominating the airwaves for the next couple of months). It is quick, easy and tastier than you could imagine. In a word: YUM!

  • 4 skinless, boneless Haddock fillets ( 1  1/2 – 2 lbs.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cups panko crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill weed, snipped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Cut the fish into 8 equal pieces. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine panko crumbs, dill, pinch of salt and dip the fish into the egg and then into the crumbs. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, and cook half of the fish 2-3 minutes each side or until the fish is golden brown and will flake easily . Drain on paper towels.

Keep warm in the preheated oven, while frying the remaining fish. Serve with the wonderful waffle fries. (recipe follows). Hint: Cook the fries first, then reduce temperature to 300.

 

ASIAGO Garlic Waffle Fries

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese, divided
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 glove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 20 oz. bag of waffle fries, frozen
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, 1/4 cup cheese, lemon juice and garlic until well blended.

Bake the waffle fries, according to directions and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining Asiago cheese and parsley, tossing to coat.

Serve fries immediately with the garlic dip and Haddock pieces.

Everyone in the neighborhood will be standing at the door, wanting some.

Terrific Salad For Valentine’s Dinner

This salad can be doubled if serving for company, but if only for two (one) it is delicious, easy and quick to make.

 

  • 4 cups of spring mix greens
  • 4 slices lean prosciutto, torn in small, bite size pieces
  • 1 ripe mango (peeled, pitted and sliced in wedges)
  • 1 ripe papaya (peeled, seeds removed, sliced)
  • 150 grams fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fig balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Arrange the greens, prosciutto and fruit on your prettiest salad plate or bowl. Top with the cheese, and sprinkle the pecans over the salad. You probably won’t need all the greens, but is there if this is going to be the main course, as in a luncheon.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients and drizzle over the salad, serving immediately.

Now you know why it is so special….yummmmmm

Toasted Sesame Pork Tenderloin

One of my favourite meats….easy to prepare…no fat, delicious no matter how you cook it.

 

  • 2 pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup Toasted Sesame marinade (Kikkoman is best)
  • Fresh pasta noodles (broad)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • butter
  • fresh chopped Italian parsley

Remove the silver skin from the tenderloin and butterfly lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through. Press down to flatten.

Place in a plastic food bag, pour in the marinade and press out all the air. Massage the tenderloins to coat with the marinade and set aside for 20 minutes.

Boil water in a large pot and when boiling, add the noodles, cooking according to package directions. In a large frypan, add a drizzle of olive oil, butter and the minced garlic and cook for a minute, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add the noodles, cooking for a minute or so, tossing to coat  the noodles with the butter. Remove from the heat.

Cook the tenderloins on the BBQ for about 8 minutes. Turn them over and brush with additional marinade. Cook a further 6-7 minutes until just done. Do NOT overcook.

To plate, place the noodles in the center of each plate, slice thin and and lay 4-6 slices of the pork across the top. Sprinkle with parsley. Yummmmmy!

Bacon Jam and Brie Party Bites

I love this time of year because you can entertain with great flair on a beer budget and no one will know it is not ‘champagne costs’.

These delectable morsels are probably one of my top favorites to serve (and eat) all who enter throughout the holiday season. If you are hosting a wine and cheese – this is it! If you are having an Open House – this is it and if you are now hosting your own ‘lead-in to Christmas’ dinner, this is definitely IT!

  • 1 wheel of Brie (size depends of how many guests you are having)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • small carton of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • bacon jam (recipe on this site)
  • party piks

Serve brie in small wedges, rind side down. Tear a small basil leaf (or portion of one) to fit top of cheese. Add a cherry tomato half, cut side up and spear with a party pick.

Add a small dollop of bacon jam on top and simply plate. These will disappear before you get to say “Try these”.!

Beyond anything…..sooooooo yummy!

Painted Peach Cake With Hot Tamale Centre

Gotcha! This is a perfectly delightful cake. It is quick and easy to make as you use a cake mix but it is as different to make as can be.

Each slice will look like a sun-kissed peach with a cinnamon kick.

  • 1 pkg. white cake mix
  • 2 pkg. cream cheese (not light)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced in wedges
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of red cinnamon Hot Tamale candies, frozen

In your electric mixer combine the cake mix, cream cheese and 5 large eggs. Mix until smooth (about 2 minutes). Spray a bundt cake pan with Pam really well and spoon 1/2 of the cake into the prepared pan.

Arrange the peaches all around making sure they do not touch the cake pan. You should be able to get 2 rows all around the cake without touching the pan edges.

Remove the candies from the freezer and place in a sealable plastic bag. Get out the trusty rolling pin and smash the candies almost to crumbs. Sprinkle these on top of the sliced peaches and top with the remaining cake mixture.

In a preheated oven at 350 degrees, bake the cake for 35-45 minutes until the cake tests done.

Cool on a rack completely. Drizzle with a glaze made from 1/2 sifted icing sugar and 1-2 tbsp. lime juice.