Wednesday, April 28, 2010

weeknight dinner: seared scallops with grapefruit sauce

subtitle: an i-deserve-it-and-oh-by-the-way-scallops-are-on-sale-at-whole-foods dinner

i love scallops. they're one of my favorite foods and yet i don't eat them too often, which makes them extra special. so after a couple of demanding weeks and eggs for dinner one too many nights, i decided i needed to make myself a special dinner. just my luck that scallops were on sale. say no more.

my vision (who knows why) was scallops with some sort of grapefruit component. so i did a few web searches to see what i could find. the most appealing sounding method of preparation was from eating well. since little goes better with grapefruit than avocado (just try to challenge me on this one), i decide to plop these suckers onto a simple salad. voila. actually, i admit this was the very first time i have made myself scallops and it was brilliant. i was impressed by my deliciously fancy (but easy!) dish.

seared scallops with grapefruit sauce
adapted from eating well
  • 1/2-3/4 lb scallops
  • 2 small grapefruits
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • avocado
  • lettuce
  • zest part of the grapefruit, lime and lemon to yield about a tablespoon of zest; or stop whenever you get tired
  • segment the grapefruit and reserve all juice
  • add lemon and lime juice to the grapefruit juice to yield 1/2 cup of citrus juice
  • sear the scallops: first make sure they are dry by patting with a paper towel then season with salt and pepper. heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium high heat and when the oil is hot (don't jump ahead here!) add the scallops to the pan. brown on each side; this only takes a few minutes. remove from the pan and set aside.
  • add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then the shallots. cook the shallots until soft.
  • deglaze the pan: add chicken stock, wine, citrus juice and zest to the pan, and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to release the scallop bits. allow this mixture to come to a boil and then reduce for a few minutes.
  • add the mint and honey to the pan, stir, and add the scallops for a minute to warm.
  • serve scallops on a bed of lettuce with avocado and grapefruit slices.
  • serves 2

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

pad thai and a thai cooking class

this was not my first pad thai attempt. the first one involved a valiant effort that even included a visit to the thai grocery store. alas, my endeavors were for naught because the result was less than delicious. really, it wasn't even close to good. enough of that. 2 years later, thanks to an awesome thai cooking class, i was ready to try again.

let's talk about the class for a moment. this is the second class i've taken at the natural gourmet institute and i've been quite pleased, so i feel the need to share. the format of both classes i have taken (both in the ethnic & regional food category-obviously) is to be in a large professional kitchen, get a set of recipes, and be set free with a plethora of sharp knifes, prep bowls and culinary students to help at every turn. the teachers are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. if this doesn't sound awesome enough, there is a small lecture part: some basic understanding of what you're about to do. then the best part is that you just get to cook. and eat everything you make!

i'm not sure if it was the class, the concise recipe in front of me, or a generally more comfortable rapport with cooking that made my pad thai turn out as well as it did. or it could have been the supportive roomies behind me, cheering me on. nothing like some positive energy to help an outcome. the recipe is pretty straightforward and once you've chopped and prepped everything, the cooking time is minimal. even better, you can practically feel good about eating this because it won't give you that greasy local-thai-joint-feeling. don't get too stressed. the cooking process is fast and furious but i was pretty flexible with my ingredients and everything still went great.

fyi, bittman also made this today although his version is slightly different. (it's like he's in my head!!!)

pad thai
from jay weinstein and the natural gourmet institute
  • 1 lb rice noodles, 1/4-inch wide
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind puree
  • 1/2 cup thai palm sugar light brown (i just used some brown sugar)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried shrimp
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups pressed bean curd, cut into small strips
  • 2 tablespoons shredded salted radish, rinsed briefly
  • 2 cups scallion greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted peanuts
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • set up ingredients: soak the noodles in warm water for 30 minutes then drain well. whisk together the red pepper, fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar (seasoning). get everything else prepped and lined up in the order they are needed, since the stir-fry process happens so quickly.
  • stiry-fry the noodles: heat wok (or large pan) over high hear, add oil and heat until it shimmers. add shallots and cook until they begin to brown. add garlic and cook until golden brown. add more oil, if necessary, and add eggs, spreading them flat. stir in dried shrimp, carrots, bean curd, radish and soaked noodles. coat these ingredients with oil and stir-fry 30 seconds.
  • add the seasonings: stir-fry until noodles are tender, adding water as needed. fold in the seasoning sauce, scallions, most of the bean sprouts, and most of the peanuts. cook for 10 seconds to soften bean sprouts. taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • remove from heat and garnish with the additional bean sprouts, peanuts and lime.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

winter csa: april

1. the bounty

  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 6 lbs potatoes
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 bag pea shoots
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 3 dozen eggs
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect except where otherwise indicated):


  • 1 bunch spinach: $4.50 (csa estimate)
  • 6 lbs potatoes: $12 (organic)
  • 2 bunches kale: $7 (organic)
  • 1 bunch leeks: $5 (organic)
  • 1 bag pea shoots: $4.50 (csa estimate)
  • 1 bunch cilantro: $2.50 (organic)
  • 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes: $5 (organic)
  • 3 dozen eggs: $15 (farm price)
= $55.50
actual csa cost per week = $45

and just when i couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, there was spinach.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

gluten-free crepes at bar breton

a gluten-free note here. if you're looking for some legit buckwheat crepes (100% buckwheat instead of a wheat and buckwheat mix and therefore gluten-free), bar breton has them. buckwheat is a gluten free grain but if you're extremely sensitive, you have to make sure it isn't contaminated. bar breton must be certified as they have designated gluten-free items throughout their menu.

so these didn't exactly rock my world but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. i had
la guerande with a poached egg, spinach, mushroom and parmesean. the parmesean and pesto like sauce didn't hurt. and really, we've already discussed how i believe an egg with a runny yolk can solve most food problems in life.

next time i'm going for a dessert version.

bar breton
254 5th avenue
ny, ny 10001
mon-sun 11am-10:30pm