Seared Scallops & Cauliflower Grits

With the sunshine and warmer weather, an Easter weekend tradition in our house is to celebrate our love (and the food!) of the beautiful South Carolina Low Country. I usually serve a version of the classic Low Country dish, Shrimp and Grits, but, this year tried this scallop and cauliflower grits adaptation. We absolutely loved it!

This recipe was adapted from Joel Gamoran, Sur La Table National Chef, via Sur la Table.com. I puréed the vegetables instead of juicing them for the sauce, used riced cauliflower, and doubled the garlic. Amazing.

Yield: Makes 4 Servings

For the Cauliflower Grits:

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds riced cauliflower
  • 1 to 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

For the Scallops:

  • 2 medium whole tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola or grape seed oil
  • 16 sea scallops, patted dry
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Prepare the Cauliflower Grits: In the microwave, steam the riced cauliflower for 4 minutes, or until very tender.
  2. Combine the steamed cauliflower with Parmesan, garlic, and enough cream cheese to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  4. Prepare the Scallops: Combine the tomatoes, pepper and carrot in a Vitamix, food processor, or blender. Puree.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Season scallops with salt and pepper and add to pan in one layer. Sear the scallops for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden. Remove scallops to a platter.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining oil to skillet.
  8. Add shallot and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  9. Add garlic and smoked paprika and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  10. Slowly whisk in puréed vegetables and bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. To serve: Serve scallops on top of cauliflower grits with sauce spooned on top. Garnish with scallions and extra black pepper, as desired.

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Chicken Goulash with Biscuit Dumplings

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This dish was HOT. Super spicy. I was so excited to get my hands on both sweet and hot Hungarian paprika- and then even more excited to find a dish (Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best One-Pot Dish” no less) that incorporated hot paprika. Well, I don’t know if my paprika was just too fresh…

I am a fan of spicy food, but my family had to slather this spicy gravy with sour cream in order to eat it. :/ A lot of water was consumed as well. :/ I thought that the sour cream in both the sauce and the biscuits would temper the heat- or by eating each bite along with part of a fabulously moist and tender biscuit would be enough…

BUT- after saying all of that- this dish was so wonderful it definitely deserves to be made again. Smell- AMAZING. Biscuits- AMAZING. I would modify the recipe by using 1 tablespoon of hot Hungarian paprika along with 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika next time. This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Grace Parisi.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used 10 thighs)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T hot Hungarian paprika (I would substitute 1 T sweet for half of the hot next time)
  • 3/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In a deep ovenproof skillet (I used enameled cast iron), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pulse in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Whisk 1/2 cup of the stock with 1/2 cup of the sour cream and drizzle over the dry ingredients; pulse until a dough forms.
  5. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the skillet. Stir in the paprika and caraway and cook for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of sour cream and stir until smooth. Add the thyme and bring to a boil.
  7. Scoop twelve 3-tablespoon-size mounds of biscuit dough over the chicken. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the biscuits are cooked. If biscuits are not golden, turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, until the biscuits are golden. (I omitted this step.)
  8. Serve the goulash in bowls, spooning the biscuits on top.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Vegetarian Chili with Winter Vegetables

Without knowing that I was repeating myself, I found myself saving this recipe in multiple places… a clipping from the paper, on my phone, on the computer… It was so (repeatedly) appealing to me! 🙂 I moved it to the top of my list.

This healthy chili has wonderful texture from dried pinto beans and contrasting sweet and creamy butternut squash. The use of dried beans requires extra planning but is completely worth the textural benefit in the final dish. It was mildly spicy (perfect for all palates in my house!) and tasty. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. We ate it garnished with a blend of grated Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses… mmmm…. with green salad and Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread on the side. Great!

For the Simmered Pintos:

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 pound (about 2 1/4 cups) pinto beans, washed and picked over for stones, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight in 2 quarts water
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • coarse salt, to taste (at least 1 teaspoon per quart of water used)
  1. Place pre-soaked beans and (2 quarts) of soaking water in a large, heavy pot. Add halved onion and bring to a gentle boil.
  2. Skim off any foam that rises, then add garlic and bay leaf, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Add salt and continue to simmer another 1 1/2 hours, until beans are quite soft and broth is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust salt. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove and discard onion and bay leaf.
  4. For the best flavor refrigerate overnight.

Advance preparation: The cooked beans will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and freeze well.

For the Chili:

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 recipe simmered pintos (recipe above)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut in small dice
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons mild ground chili (or to taste: use hot, or use more) (I used standard chili powder)
  • 1 tablespoon lightly toasted cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
  • 2 cups diced winter squash (about 3/4 pound) (I used butternut)
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • grated cheddar or Monterey Jack, or crumbled queso fresco for garnish, optional (I used a blend of cheddar & Monterey Jack)
  1. Heat the beans (simmered pintos) on top of the stove in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy nonstick skillet and add the onion, carrot and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to color, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, stir together until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add the ground chili and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture begins to stick to the pan.
  4. Add the tomatoes and oregano, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is beginning to stick to the pan, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste dissolved in water and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt to taste and simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fragrant.
  6. Stir the tomato mixture into the beans. Add the winter squash and bring to a simmer.
  7. Simmer, stirring often, for 30 to 45 minutes. It is important to stir often so that the chili doesn’t settle and stick to the bottom of the pot. It should be thick; if you desire you can thin out with water. Taste and adjust salt.
  8. Shortly before serving stir in the cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls. If you wish, top with grated cheeses.

Advance preparation: The simmered beans can be made 3 or 4 days ahead and the chili will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. You will probably want to thin it out with water is it will continue to thicken. It freezes well.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Roasted Vegetable Moussaka

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I was inspired to make a roasted vegetable moussaka after seeing a recipe on El Chino Latino Cocina. It sounded like such a wonderful vegetarian version and had Greek yogurt in the topping to lighten the dish. I had made a similar, but non-vegetarian, light version for mom in the past because she LOVES Greek food. 🙂 When my mom was visiting us recently, I planned to make her a special birthday dinner. I decided that birthdays deserve indulgence- and special, labor-intensive meals…. so I chose to make this “less light” vegetarian moussaka adapted from Tori Avey. 🙂

This dish was hearty and absolutely delicious. I loved the use of lentils instead of meat; I loved my choice of tiny black lentils too because they kept their shape. My mom really enjoyed it! We had carrot cake cupcakes (her favorite) for dessert as well. 🙂 Just when I thought that my mom couldn’t be more pleased, my kids outshined my efforts by buying my mom a birthday gift at our local historic General Store with their saved allowance money. So cute. Happy HAPPY Happy Birthday, Mama!! ❤

I’m bringing this dish to share with my blog friends at Fiesta Friday #42 this week at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 lbs. small eggplants
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • cooking oil spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup black lentils (about 1 1/2  to 2 cups cooked lentils)
  • 1 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers or 1 large roasted red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 3 cups diced ripe red tomatoes or 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 10 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose white flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or more to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

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  1. Place lentils in a sauce pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lightly salt, and then lower heat to a simmer; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Place racks on the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees on convection roast. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Spread out the zucchini in a single layer across the baking sheets. Brush the exposed tops of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place one baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven and the other on the lower half. Roast veggies for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and place them back in the oven, switching racks. Roast for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until veggies are tender and starting to turn golden brown (check the bottoms of the veggies for browning).
  4. Repeat this process with two additional parchment-lined baking sheets of sliced potatoes; include the garlic cloves.
  5. While potatoes and zucchini are roasting, remove the stem ends from the eggplants. Peel strips from the eggplants so that they have thin stripes of peel remaining down the sides (they will be half-peeled). Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise.
  6. When potatoes and zucchini are done roasting, remove them from the oven and set aside. Take the 3 roasted garlic cloves and chop them, reserve.
  7. Line two additional baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil. Spread eggplant slices into a single layer. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, switching the baking sheets on upper and lower thirds halfway through cooking, until the slices are tender and lightly golden (check the bottom edges of slices for browning).
  8. While eggplant is roasting, place a sauté pan or sauce pan (I used a 4 quart sauce pan) on the stovetop. Warm up 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Sauté diced onion until softened and translucent. Add roasted bell pepper slices and chopped roasted garlic, saute for another 2 minutes. Add cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, fresh dill, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp salt to the pan; stir well. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook for about 5 more minutes until warmed through. If using fresh tomatoes, let the mixture cook for 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
  9. When eggplant is done roasting, remove it from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (convection). Lightly grease your baking dish with cooking oil spray. Place a single layer of half of the roasted eggplant slices on the bottom of your dish.
  10. On top of that, place a layer of half the potatoes and half the zucchini.
  11. Spread the lentil mixture evenly in a single layer across the surface.
  12. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated pecorino or parmesan and ½ cup crumbled feta across the top of the lentil mixture.
  13. Place the rest of the potatoes and zucchini in another layer on top of the cheese.
  14. Finish with a layer of the remaining roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkle top of the moussaka with 2 tbsp more of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. (I refrigerated the pan at this point.)
  15. (Return the reserved pan to room temperature.) Place moussaka in the oven for 20 minutes to bake at 375 degrees F (convection).
  16. Meanwhile, while the moussaka is baking, make the béchamel sauce for the top of the moussaka. In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into the melted butter till dissolved and thick. Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the flour/butter mixture turns a light sandy brown color.
  17. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium.
  18. Whisk in 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Add ¾ tsp salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste. Whisk the beaten egg slowly into the sauce (drizzle the egg while whisking constantly).
  19. Remove the moussaka from the oven. Pour sauce evenly across the top of the moussaka. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.
  20. Put moussaka back in the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the moussaka is cooked through.
  21. Serve hot. Don’t expect it all to hold together neatly when served; it will slice more cleanly and pieces will hold together better after it has cooled.

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One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Clams Casino

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The first time I ever ate Clams Casino (or had ever even heard of Clams Casino) was several years ago at a special birthday dinner (for me!) at a wonderful restaurant named Maroni’s in Northport, NY. My husband and I had the chef’s tasting menu and were served all sorts of dishes- some old, some new, all delicious! We especially loved the Clams Casino and I have been thinking about making it ever since. I had never bought or cooked clams before so it made me a little bit nervous.

When Prudy of Butter, Basil, and Breadcrumbs brought this dish to Fiesta Friday at the Novice Gardener, I was excited to have a great recipe to try to make it myself. I loved that she included such precise instructions on how to clean and cook the clams. I adapted her tasty recipe; I adjusted cooking times, used Connecticut Littleneck Clams instead of Cherrystone Clams, panko instead of soft breadcrumbs, and added avocado oil. We enjoyed them with cocktails on a beautiful afternoon sitting by our outside fireplace. Great!!

  • 12-14 Littleneck Clams (buy extra just to be safe)
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 2 T reserved bacon grease
  • 4 T butter, melted, more to taste, if desired
  • avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1 sweet red pepper, finely diced in a food processor
  • 3 shallots, finely diced in a food processor
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced in a food processor
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Clam juice from broiling
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 T Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh lemon wedges, for serving, if desired

Note: The clams can be stored for a day in a bowl in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

  1. Begin by cleaning the clams. Rinse them thoroughly. Put them in a large bowl with very cold water, and stick the bowl in the refrigerator. This will give the clams the chance to spit out any sand or grit that may have gotten inside. After about 30 minutes (or up to an hour), drain the bowl of water, and refill with fresh cold water. Refrigerate. After the second soaking, scrub them with a kitchen brush.
  2. Cook the clams: Preheat the broiler to high (I set it to Broiler-Max, 500 degrees). Place the clams on a large, heavy baking sheet in a single layer. Place under the broiler, and broil for about 3 to 5, or until the clams have opened completely.
  3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and reserve the clam juice that has dripped into the pan. Strain the clam juice in a coffee filter to remove any bits of shell or grit.
  4. Remove the clam from inside the shell with a spoon. Place on a cutting board and finely chop. Gently twist the clam shell at the hinged side to separate the halves. Clean any remnants of clam from the shell with a knife. Set the shells aside.
  5. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside. Discard all but two tablespoons of the grease. Add the finely diced red pepper and shallots to the pan. Sauté until softened; about three minutes or so. Add the garlic; and sauté for another minute, or until softened.
  6. Add the wine to the shallots and garlic mixture, and simmer until it’s reduced to about half, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped clams, breadcrumbs, ½ of the bacon, the reserved clam juice, melted butter, parsley, pepper, Old Bay seasoning, cayenne, and cheese to the wine reduction. Mix thoroughly. If you think it is a little too crumbly, you can add another tablespoon or so of melted butter, avocado oil, or olive oil until desired consistency is achieved. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Spoon the clam and breadcrumb mixture onto the clam shells. Top with remaining bacon. Put under the broiler for about 1 minute or until the bacon is sizzling and the top is golden brown.
  8. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

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Chicken, Shrimp, & Clam Jambalaya

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Our family tradition is to enjoy Jambalaya followed by King Cake on Mardi Gras– is it terrible that we’ve only had the first course so far? Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year! So, the King Cake has been delayed to the weekend…. it will be well worth the wait. (My family doesn’t mind as long as I make it!) 🙂 I modified this wonderful, colorful dish to include clams- and not just clam juice. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and smoked chicken andouille sausage. This recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Hope you enjoyed your Mardi Gras celebration too!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 large sweet onion, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 medium celery rib, cut crosswise into quarters
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
  • 6 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 to 12 ounces andouille sausage (I used 12 oz smoked chicken andouille sausage), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used basmati)
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 6.5 ounces canned clams with juice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 pound large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), peeled and deveined, if desired
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley leaves, optional, as garnish
  1. In a food processor, pulse the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Do not over process; the vegetables should not be pureed.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the andouille; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chopped vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the rice, salt, thyme and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is coated with fat, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes with juice, clams with juice, broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to the pot; stir to combine.
  7. Place the chicken on the rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping the chicken on top. Replace the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken is no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife, about 10 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
  8. Scatter shrimp over the rice, cover, and continue to cook until the rice is fully tender and the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  9. While the shrimp are cooking, shred the chicken with your fingers into thin strands. When the shrimp are cooked, discard the bay leaves.
  10. Off the heat, stir in the parsley, if using, and shredded chicken; serve immediately.

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