Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scallops Provencal

Gerry decided on the menu tonight and used our Barefoot in Paris cookbook. The scallops were seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed with flour before going into a hot skillet with sizzling butter. They were allowed to brown lightly on both sides. Some more butter was melted in the same saucepan and shallots, garlic, and parsley were sauteed for a couple of minutes along with the scallops. Some white wine was added and allowed to cook briefly. The scallops were finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

We had these wonderful, seared scallops over a bed of rice with a side of oven roasted asparagus spears.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

To Cook or Not to Cook, That is the Question

When faced with the dilemma of whether to cook dinner when you find yourself alone or go out is a serious question for me. Tonight I decided to cook for myself and was absolutely thrilled with the results. I made Fizzy Chicken with Rice and Lemon Vinaigrette and a Vegetable Melange.

I started with the vinaigrette: fresh lemon juice, freshly chopped chives, honey, and Dijon mustard mixed together with a little vegetable oil whisked in until thoroughly combined. The vinaigrette was set aside.

A couple of chicken breasts were seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged in flour and sauteed in a skillet briefly on both sides. The pan was deglazed with Club soda and some butter and red pepper flakes were added and allowed to cooked for about 5 minutes, turning the chicken periodically.

Some cooked rice was combined with a little Parmesan cheese, heavy cream and a little butter.

The chicken was served with a side of the enriched rice and drizzled with the lemon vinaigrette.

The Vegetable Melange was a couple of carrots and a zucchini that were sliced thinly into strips on a mandoline. The vegetable strips were cooked in a skillet in a little butter with a lid for about 3 minutes. The cover was removed and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and a little salt were tossed in.

I'm really looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday Pasta

I made a simple pasta dish which is one of our favorites, Fusilli with 3 cheeses and red peppers. Some simply cooked fusilli tossed with some butter, shredded fontina cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan, tossed with sauteed red bell pepper strips. Once the pasta, cheeses and peppers are combined, it's all tossed in a casserole dish and popped under the broiler with a sprinkle of extra Parmesan and allowed to turn golden brown. As simple as this dish sounds, it is just scrumptious.

We had a simple salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, scallion, and sliced red onions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken Divan Just Short of Divine

I had some leftover cooked chicken and so this Chicken Divan Casserole made its way on to the menu this week. The sauce was made first by sauteing shallots and curry powder in butter before adding flour and cooking. Some milk and chicken broth were whisked in and simmered until thickened. The sauce was enriched and thickened with an egg yolk and then finished with fresh lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper.

Meanwhile the filling was made by sauteing mushrooms, and toasting pieces of torn rye bread. The toasted bread, cooked, chopped chicken, frozen broccoli florets and sauteed mushrooms were added to a casserole dish and topped with the sauce. Some grated cheddar cheese went over the sauce and finally 2 slices of buttered rye bread which were processed to crumbs. The casserole went into the oven for about 40 minutes until the crumbs were until golden brown.

Our side dish was a Vinaigrette Salad, which was made with red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced shallot, Dijon mustard, sugar and salt and pepper. This vinaigrette was served over Boston lettuce leaves and sliced radishes.

The casserole was a little heavy on the curry powder which may be because we used Hot Madras Curry Powder which is what we had on hand. The casserole was fine, but I'm not sure I would cook chicken just to make this again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Grilled Vegetables with Creamy Orzo

As simple as the title of this dinner sounds, it was an absolute 5 star dinner.

It started by combining white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper for a vinaigrette and setting aside.

Next the following vegetables were prepped by cutting in half for grilling: Roma tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. The asparagus spears were left in tact. The veg were tossed in oil and grilled until done, before being cut in bite sized pieces. The chopped, grilled veggies were tossed with the previously made vinaigrette and seasoned with salt.

The side dish was orzo that had been boiled according to package directions and then tossed with some heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, butter, and of course, seasoned with salt and pepper.

The creaminess of the orzo with the slightly charred flavor of the freshly grilled vegetables was the best combination ever!

We will definitely have this one again and again.

Sunday's Southwestern Tenderloin Steaks

We had our own little special dinner Sunday night with Beef Tenderloin filets that had a rub of brown sugar, salt, paprika, chili powder, and pepper. The rubbed steaks were cooked in a skillet with olive oil until done to medium rare. The steaks were kept warm while a sauce was made in the same skillet with garlic and tomato paste cooked briefly and then deglazed with port wine. The port was allowed to reduce before some beef broth and Worcestershire sauce were stirred in and simmered. The sauce was finished with some butter whisked in at the end until melted and seasoned with salt and pepper. The sauce was also set aside and kept warm.

The steak was served with sauteed spinach and tomatoes and Chipotle Potatoes. The potatoes were Yukon gold potatoes that were boiled until tender and mashed with buttermilk, chives, butter, and minced chipotle peppers.

This was a superb dinner with wonderful flavors and textures. The potates were tangy with the buttermilk and smoky, spicy with the Chipotle peppers and just delicious. The steak was cooked perfectly and complemented by the slightly sweet port wine sauce and the texture and freshness of the spinach and tomatoes was just right.

Engagement Celebration Dinner

Saturday night we had all of our family gather together for a celebration dinner. During a recent conversation with Zeb, I realized that Andrew has never been at a Crawfish Boil. I felt it was the perfect opportunity to introduce Andrew to these tasty little critters and celebrate the engagement. It was a wonderful evening of celebrating them as a couple, oohing and aahing over the ring, thinking about planning another wedding, and of course, enjoying the food.

We look forward to many more dinners with our family, knowing exactly who will be around our table and we couldn't be happier.

Friday Night Sushi

Friday night brought us some great news at the end of a very long, sad week. Tuesday was the classic bad news comes in threes day - I was sick with allergies or sinus problems (not sure which) with a sore throat and no voice and so home using a sick day. I found out through the grapevine that my job position had been eliminated for next year, so I am now out of a job. The biggest piece of bad news was the loss of a very good friend of Gerry's and mine. This is a friend we talked to on a weekly basis, who remembered our birthdays with a phone call always and was at our dinner table at Thanksgiving. It was way too soon to lose him. We had drinks on Friday evening with Curt's brothers who had flown in from Seattle and shared lots of memories both ways.

Earlier in the afternoon, Andrew had visited both Gerry and me to ask for our daughter's hand in marriage and show us the engagement ring. This was the bright spot in a rather depressing week. We are excited beyond belief about this latest addition to our family!

We ended the evening after Curt's family left, by going out for sushi at our favorite: Sushi Awaji. The absolute best sushi and rolls always! And so I now look forward to planning another wedding. Life is good!