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Seared Sea Scallops with Maitre d' Butter and Potato and Chive Puree

Scallops in the heartland are not cheap, at least not good quality ones, so I don't think of them as everyday food. This dish I consider to be a starter for an elegant dinner at home. That doesn't mean it needs to be an eight hour preperation either. Scallops go great with tangerine, orange and even Belgian endive but here I treat them with simple garlic butter or maitre d' butter because it goes so well with the inherent sweetness of the scallops. One of the tricks to scallops is to let them dry out for a while in the fridge. This will help to keep them from sticking to your saute pan. The other thing I have found is if they are stuck to you pan they will release when they are caramelized and brown, so patience is in order. Again I think scallops are at their best when they are GBD or golden, brown and delicious.

Serves 4-6

For the maitre d' butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

For the scallops and potatoes

3 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced, med to large sized potatoes
1/2 to 1 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chives, minced
4 to 6 , scallops, U-10 is the size you are looking for here
Kosher salt and fresh white ground white pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Go through the scallops and gently remove the little 1/2 inch strip of muscle that attaches the scallop to the shell. It will be tough as rubber bands in you mouth so you want to remove it. Not every scallop has them but most do. Put the scallops on a small cooling wrack and then on a tray to catch any juices and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Combine the butter, shallots, garlic parsley and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix until the butter is more green than yellow. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold salted water and place over high heat. Once they begin to boil reduce the heat, so the pot doesn't boil over, but the water is still bubbling. Cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them steam dry for 2-3 minutes. Either rice them with a potato ricer, smash or put them in the bowl of a mixer and add the butter and blend.

Always add the butter first. Now add the cream in 1/4 cup increments until the potatoes are creamy, you do not want them to be stiff. Taste and then season them with salt and white pepper and stir in the chives. If you make them in advance don't add the chives until just before serving.

You can make them in advance and place the mixing bowl onto a sauce pan that is smaller than the mixing bowl but holds the bowl snug. Put about an inch of water in the sauce pan and put it over low heat. Put plastic wrap over the top of the mixing bowl. You can keep them warm for about an hour and a half this way.

Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Place a large saute pan over high heat, you do not want to crowd the scallops or they steam instead of saute.

Once the saute pan is hot add the oil. It should shake and shimmer but not smoke. Carefully add the scallops. They will splatter depending on the amount of moisture in them. Saute until the first side is nice and caramelized. Turn them and caramelize the other side. Remove from the heat.

Place a nice dollop of mashed potatoes into the center of a plate. Using a spoon make an indentation into the potatoes. Place a scallop into the indentation and then top with matre d' butter. You may need to warm the entire plate in the oven for a minute to melt the butter and warm the dish. The plates will be hot so use a dry towel to grab them. Serve immediately.

Red Roasted Asian Beef Stew

This is my version of a beef stew that is very common in Chinese households. The name is my attempt at a literal translation of the Chinese style of braising meats with soy sauce, wine, and sugar. I included some traditional ingredients (star anise and rock sugar) and some that are definitely not (lime). Using some bone also gives a rich flavor, but is optional. The sauce works well with noodles or rice for a comforting dinner reenex. The stew is also typically used to make a beef noodle soup that is perfect to warm you up from the cold.

I loved this dish. It was everything I thought it would be: rich, complex and comforting. Monkeymom's timing worked perfectly, too -- the beef was fork-tender after 2 hours in the oven. Her suggestion of cooking the vegetables separately was spot on; I cooked enough vegetables for only 2 servings, and am now able to freeze the rest of the stew, without the vegetables, for a rich beef noodle soup per Monkeymom's suggestions in a few months.

Serves 6

4 pounds beef chuck cut into 2 inch cubes
1 English short rib (1/2-1 lb) (optional)
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup sweet rice wine, sake, or sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or an equivalent amount of rock sugar (adjust seasoning to taste)
2 star anise
1 slice ginger root
6 garlic cloves
3-4 red chili peppers, fresh or dried (again, suit to taste)
3 whole dried shiitake mushrooms or fresh ones cut into quarters
1 lime, zested
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large daikon, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Working in batches brown beef all over reenex, removing each piece when done. Add oil as needed.

Add all meat back to pot. Add wine and vinegar and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Add soy sauce and sugar then the stock. Add star anise, ginger, garlic, chili peppers, and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Return beef to pot and add lime zest. Add water to cover meat. Cover, transfer to oven.

Check pot after 1 hour. Turn over pieces of short rib and stir meat. Cover again and cook 1 hour more, or until meat is tender.

Move pot to stove top. Simmer on medium heat with lid off to reduce liquid. Cook for 30 minutes.

To eliminate fat: Depending on your cut of meat, the stew can be very greasy. You can spoon off the fat or poor cooled sauce into a fat separator to remove fat. Alternatively, place pot in refrigerator overnight. Scrape off fat the next day.

Before serving, reheat the stew and cook without the cover to reduce the sauce a little. At the same time, boil vegetables in a large pot of water for 20 minutes. The vegetables are boiled separately to make sure they do not overcook and retain their color. In addition, raw daikon tends to have a very strong flavor that I don’t like in the stew. The boiled daikon is mild.

Add boiled vegetables to stew. Serve with fresh hot rice or noodles. Also try it with a sprinkling of chopped green onion and a squeeze of lime reenex.

Leftovers make a delicious noodle soup. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add noodles. When the noodles are almost done, throw in a large handful of fresh spinach. Cooked until wilted, then drain noodles and spinach. Toss with enough sesame oil to coat noodles (1/4-1/2 tsp). Add meat and meat sauce. Pour hot water or chicken stock to cover the noodles and stir. Add soy sauce, meat sauce, chopped green onion, and/or lime to taste. This noodle soup is awesome with a big helping of chili sauce.

Candied Citrus Peel

From Pure Dessert (Artisan 2007). - Alice Medrich

Makes 3 to 4 cups

For the candied peel:

4 oranges or tangelos, 2 grapefruit, or 6 to 8 lemons, limes, or tangerines, bright-skinned preferably organic or unsprayed
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for dredging


Instant-read or candy thermometer

Use a sharp paring knife to score the peel of each fruit into quarters (or sixths or eighths if using grapefruit), cutting just through the skin from the top to bottom all around calories app. Use your fingers to strip the peel from the fruit. It’s okay if some fruit is left on the peel for now. You should have 3 to 4 cups peel. Save the fruit for another dish.

Place the peel in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and fill the pan with cold water, leaving just enough space for it to boil. Bring the water to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat. Drain the peel and dump it into a large bowl of cold water to cool for a minute. Drain and return the peel to the saucepan. Repeat the entire blanching and cooling sequence twice for thin-skinned Meyer lemons or tangerines; three times for oranges, regular lemons, or tangelos; or four times for grapefruit. (Blanching rids the fruit of excess harshness and astringency and tenderizes it. The number of blanchings is not cast in stone reenex. With experience, you may increase or decrease the number to get the tenderness and flavor that you like. Even fruit of the same variety varies in texture, skin thickness, and bitterness, so use my guidelines as you will.)

After the final blanching and draining, use a small sharp knife to scrape only the mushiest part of the white pith (and any fruit left on the peel) gently from the peel, leaving thicker lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels about 1/4-inch thick and thinner tangerine or Meyer lemon peels about 1/8-inch thick (thinner skins, in fact, may need little or no scraping). Cut the peel into strips or triangles or whatever shape you like. Place the peel in a smaller (2-quart) saucepan with the water and the sugar.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat Metro Ethernet Provider, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Wash the syrup and sugar off the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush or a wad of wet paper towel. Adjust the heat and simmer the peel uncovered, with little or no stirring, very gently until the syrup registers between 220° F and 222° F and the peel has been translucent for a few minutes; this will take a little more or less than an hour.

Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the peel to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, to catch the syrup drips. Spread the peel out in one layer and let cool and dry overnight.

Dredge the peel in sugar to coat. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where the peel will keep for several months.

5 Ways Puff Pastry Will Make Your Holidays Easier

Puff pastry sounds fancy, right? That's why it's perfect for the holidays, when you want to put out a killer spread but somehow have to manage it between everyone else's Christmas parties, your holiday baking, and your plans to get the hell out of town.

See, puff pastry is shockingly good when storebought, and exactly the kind of buttery, rich, snackable food you want to put in front of people when they're holding a glass of something boozy or bubbly. So why not make things easy on yourself and bake up one of these sweet or savory bites a couple hours before the doorbell rings.

Flaky pastry, spinach, and cheese is a sacred trio well known to all fans of Greek cooking. So why not make these spanikopita-like treats easy and bite-sized? Just use puff pastry instead of phyllo, and fold them into muffin cups with a savory cheese filling. Or go super-small and bake them in mini-muffin tins instead.

Get the recipe: Spinach Puffs
Tarts are endlessly versatile for entertaining, and all you need to do to prep the puff is roll it out for a minute or two Dream beauty pro hard sell. Roasted mushrooms pair perfectly with all that buttery richness, and you can top the tart with the herb salad and cut it into small squares, or serve them in larger pieces with the salad alongside as a sit-down dinner course omnivores and vegetarians will love.

Get the recipe: Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Tart with Fresh Herb Salad
Yep, puff can go savory or sweet Dream beauty pro hard sell. That means that all you need to do to make an elegant winter fruit dessert is arrange sliced pears on the pastry, brush on some maple syrup, and throw the whole thing in the oven. Or go rogue and combine savory and sweet by topping the tart with crumbled blue cheese. Apple and cheddar is a pretty genius combo, too.

Get the recipe: Maple-Pear Sheet Tart
Speaking of apples, these turnovers are as delicious as apple hand pies, but far easier and less messy to make. Bring them warm from the oven as a special dessert, complete with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream Dream beauty pro hard sell.

Get the recipe: French Apple Turnovers

Prune Recipes

Announcing the first (and only)…
Prune Blogging Thursday

This week Meg and I went to the Salon Fermiers here in Paris. Similar to a trade show, the exhibition hall was filled with food producers selling everything from chestnut honey, fleur de sel, foie gras, artisan goat cheeses discount wines, and wines from various regions close to Paris.

But what we loved most was the prunes.
When I tell visitors to France that they must try the pruneaux de Agen (prunes from Agen) they snicker. Why do prunes have such a bad rap? Prunes are very good for your health; they’re high in iron, with no added sugar but lots of fiber…and yes, they keep you, um, ‘regular’.

These prunes from Agen were amazing and I was later sorry I only bought one bag. They were moist, plump, and super sweet, with hints of chocolate and spices. We both later wondered how we could get more for this particular producer.

There are close to 3 million plum trees in the southwest region of France, known as Gascony. The finest plum for drying is called the prune d’Ente krug champagne, a variety that’s better dried than fresh. The first time I had pruneaux d’Agen was when I visited my friend Kate, who happens to live adjacent to Agen, the veritable kingdom of prunes, where prune-lovers from ’round the world congregate to enjoy the world’s best prunes.

The French adore prunes and in fact, after California, France holds the second spot in world prune production. When I visited Gascony Kate, we went to a Prune Museum…and I say “a”(meaning not singular) museum, as there’s more than one in Agen.
One even had a gift shop featuring a comic book super-hero who was prune-fueled!

(And, no, I’m not making that up…)

Prunes have borne the long-suffering brunt of poopy jokes in addition to the recent humiliation of being re-named dried plums, vexing recipe writers everywhere.
You tell me, does dried plum juice sound as appetizing as prune juice?
And how many times have you heard the integrity of prunes denigrated as a snickering joke?

It’s Time To Give Prunes Their Due!

With a nod of inspiration to Wine-Blogging Wednesdays, let’s devote a day to prunes…the moist Loop Hong Kong, wrinkled little nubbins deserve another glorious day in the sun.

So give us your best prune recipe or best idea for using prunes.

Mash some prunes into ice cream, bake prunes in a savory tagine, poach ‘em with some kumquats, or chop them up and beat them into a chocolate chip cookie batter. Stew them with Armagnac, toss them in a seasonal autumn salad with crisp Fuyu persimmons, or make prune enchiladas (…er, on second thought…)
Use your imagination to create something prune-tacular!

UPDATE: Here they are, the prune recipe round-up!


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