A February 14th post

14 Feb

This is not a Valentine’s Day post.  Well, not really.  And it’s definitely not a bitter Valentine’s Day post.  No, let’s think of this as a post dated February 14th.

Last year I was worried about the perceived cliché that a February 14th post could give.  But I gave in and had friends over for a V-day dinner anyway.  Besides, I was a cliché last year; I didn’t have much to lose.

Valentine’s Day this year falls during a week that has been extremely long and frustrating for me at work.  And it’s only Tuesday.  So, regardless of the date on the calendar, I decided to leave work on time tonight in order to get home and make a nice dinner (and cocktail) for myself.  Oh, and to try to regain some of my sanity.  For the record, I did not have a sappy movie on in the background.  Or bad breakup music on Pandora.  There weren’t flowers I had sent myself in the living room.  I wasn’t planning to indulge in an at-home facial, or some other love-yourself-on-Valentine’s-Day-cliché afterwards.  I hadn’t elected a Sex & the City marathon.  And I definitely was not contemplating joining Match.com.  I wasn’t at risk of crying into my risotto.  Or any other cliché you can think off.

But because boycotting February 14th feels cliché in and of itself, I did go over the top with my dinner.  Let’s face it: making a cliché out of any Valentine’s Day cliché is fun for every single girl out there.  (And for the record, I was listening to Whitney Houston radio on Pandora.  But it was in tribute to everyone’s favorite diva!  And honestly, if you don’t tear up just a little to “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, you quite clearly do not have a soul.)

So first things first.  Cooking without a cocktail in your hand is pointless, especially when you’re trying a new recipe.  I really wanted to make a lychee martini but after checking three different grocery stores including my favorite, the Amish Market on 45th, I could not find lychee juice anywhere.  So I settled for a pomegranate-lychee martini (like my flat-screen TV, I’ll never regret taking the nice martini shaker from my former life!)  Heavy hand on the vodka obviously.

And then, THE MENU…

Fried Green Olives

(For the record, I cut the recipe in half!)

12 green olives, pitted and stuffed with cheese (I used goat cheese)
1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
1 tbsp water
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, grounded into fine crumb
1 cup vegetable oil

Begin by taking the olives and place them on some paper towel. Remove as much moisture from the exterior of the olive as possible. Next, get your dredging station ready. Add the water to the beaten egg, and mix for your egg wash. Add the flour to one bowl, and the breadcrumbs to another bowl.

Take a small pan and add the oil, heating it for about 5 minutes or so, or until you reach about 350 degrees.

Take a a few of the olives and toss it into the flour bowl. Shake them around to fully coat, then add into the egg wash. Make sure the olives get a nice coating of egg, then move them into the panko breadcrumbs, tossing to make sure you have a nice even coating of breadcrumbs. Add these to the hot oil, and cook for a few minutes, turning once with a spoon. Once they are golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon onto some paper towel to remove any access oil.

The results!!

AND NEXT…

Leek & Bacon (or Prosciutto) Risotto with Pan-Seared Scallops 

Risotto Ingredients

4 slices prosciutto (the original recipe called for bacon but prefer prosciutto)
1 leek, white and light green part only thinly sliced and washed
1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cup chicken stock (recipe called for homemade stock but let’s not get too crazy…)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 tbsp butter (I skipped – it didn’t seem necessary)

In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a low simmer and keep it warm.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the prosciutto/bacon over medium low heat until crisp and the fat has rendered.  Turn up the heat to medium and add the leeks and a pinch of salt.  Cook until the leeks have softened.  Add the rice and cook the rice until the rice is evenly coated in the fat and toasty.  You will be able to see an outer opaque ring around a white center on the rice grains.

Add the white wine and cook until it has absorbed.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add a half cup of the chicken stock and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  At a low simmer, cook the rice, while stirring continuously, until all of the stock has been absorbed.  Add another half cup of stock and stir continuously.  Repeat adding the stock and stirring continuously until the rice is al dente.  You may not need all of the stock, or if you find yourself running low on stock, use some hot water.  Start tasting the rice after 20 minutes of cooking.  It should be tender with a slight firm bite in the center.  When the risotto is finished cooking, take it off heat.  It will be creamy, moist, and somewhat runny but it will thicken after adding the cheese and while it cools.

Off heat, stir in the Parmesan and butter (if desired) and taste for salt.

Pan-Seared Scallops Ingredients

3 – 6 Scallops per person
Salt and Pepper
Oil

Keep the scallops in between two sheets of paper towels before you cook them. This will help absorb any moisture from the scallops. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a stainless steel or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil.

When the pan is hot, add the scallops, giving them about 1 – 2 inches of room in between each other.  Cook them undisturbed for 2 minutes then using a spatula, gently flip the scallops to the second side, cook for another 1 minute or until the second side is nicely browned also.  Take off heat and serve with your favorite side.

And survey says!!

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One Response to “A February 14th post”

  1. Colby Countryman March 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Some really choice posts on this web site , saved to bookmarks .

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