Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Scallops And Soba Noodles.

Scallops are on the menu today.
With soba noodles.
And some other stuff.
It's going to be good.

If you're unfamiliar with soba noodles, let me enlighten you.  Soba noodles are a staple of Japanese cooking.  Unlike Italian pasta, which is generally made from durum wheat flour, soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which is a relative of rhubarb and sorrel.  And Wiki tells me that "soba" is the Japanese name for buckwheat.  Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat.  It's not a grass.  As such, buckwheat is gluten-free, in case that interests you, diet-wise.

Soba noodles, as opposed to boxed store-bought pasta, actually have a flavor.  And that flavor is not cardboard.  Soba noodles are earth and nutty and have a slightly chewy texture. 

Cook the noodles according to package directions, which will vary from brand to brand.  Since I'm adding a seasoned sauce to the noodles, I don't bother to salt the cooking water.  You want to cook the noodles al dente,  or "to the tooth," tender, but retaining their chew.  Drain the noodles, then rinse under cold water to stop further cooking and to remove the excess sticky surface starch, keeping the noodles separate and avoiding clumping.

To prepare scallops, look for the little "foot" on the side.  It's tough and rubbery and needs to be removed.  Simply pull it off and discard it.  Or you can feed it to your cat.  Your cat will thank you.

Rinse the scallops, then pat dry with paper towels.

After drying the scallops, season with a dusting of Old Bay
and a few grinds of pepper.

I'm going to give the scallops a quick sear,
add some accoutrements and a sauce, and serve.
Have everything ready to go.

handful or two of frozen peas, 
Drop peas into boiling, salted water
for a minute, then drain.
1/2 cucumber, small dice
1 scallion, sliced
1 TB toasted sesame seeds
2 TB toasted peanuts
fresh mint

 2 TB ginger juice and some of the pulp
1/4 cup lime juice
1 TB soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Combine all ingredients.

To get juice from ginger,
I find it easiest to have the ginger frozen.
When I buy fresh ginger root,
I cut it into 1-inch cubes and freeze.
When I need ginger, I take out a cube,
nuke it for about 23 seconds,
then I can squeeze it or run it through a garlic press
and get the juice.
If you're using a press,
use the first pressing of the pulp in your dressing.
The drier pulp, you can discard.

To prepare:
First I heated my skillet over medium high heat.
Then I added just a film of peanut oil.
When the peanut oil gets shimmery (say 350°-375°)
drop in a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter.
Let it melt, then add in the scallops, one by one. 
Do not try to move the scallops around.
Leave them alone!
Scallops will stick to the skillet and tear if you try and move them.
They'll release themselves once properly seared.
I cook the scallops on the first side for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes.
These are large sea scallops.
(10 to a pound.) 
Turn scallops over and cook for another minute or so.

Remove scallops from pan
and pour in dressing.
 Reduce heat and let dressing reduce and concentrate.
Swirl in a pat of butter for richness.

To plate,
mound the soba noodles and top with scallops.
Add the cooked peas, diced cucumber, toasted sesame seeds,
 toasted peanuts, and sliced scallion.
Pour the dressing over top,
sprinkle in some torn mint leaves, and serve.

Now, for the step-by-steps:
Pan is nice and hot.
With a film of oil and a pat of butter.
Drop in the scallops and resist the urge to move 'em around.
In a minute or two, they'll release themselves.

Sear both sides.

When nicely seared, remove scallops and pour in sauce.
Let simmer a bit and reduce to concentrate the flavors.
Scrape up the goodie bits on the bottom of the pan.
That's where the flavor is.
Swirl in a pat of butter for a little extra oomph.

And plate.

I have peas, diced cucumbers,
 toasted peanuts and sesame seeds.
For the peas, please don't use canned.
Use frozen and drop in boiling water for about 30 seconds then drain.
Tear up some mint and add to the mix.


Monday, September 2, 2019

Shrimp And Noodles.

For a quick and easy, flavorful, throw-together meal,
try my Shrimp and Soba Noodles.

 Generally, I don't care for pasta,
unless I've made it myself.
I like to be able to actually taste the pasta,
not cardboard.
So when I want pasta, I either go with an "artisan" type brand
or soba noodles or udon noodles.

Today, I'm going with soba noodles for my shrimp dish.
They're more flavorful than regular pasta,
having a nutty, earthy flavor and a slightly chewy texture.
True soba noodles are made from buckwheat,
the seed of a flowering plant closely related
to rhubarb and sorrel.
As such, they're a good gluten-free substitute for regular noodles,
if you're so inclined.
Me? I'm a glutton for gluten and never intend to be free of it.
Some soba noodles will have wheat flour added to the buckwheat,
along with other additives,
so if you're going gluten-free, check the labels.

Shrimp and Soba Noodles

soba noodles

juice of one lime
1 TB rice vinegar
1 TB sugar
1 TB soy sauce (If you're going gluten free, use Tamari sauce.)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
pinch each kosher salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients.

1 TB slivered carrot
1 TB chopped onion
1 TB diced cucumber
handful toasted peanuts
parsley and cilantro

Cook soba noodles according to package directions.
They generally cook quicker than other pastas.
You want your noodles al dente,  meaning "to the tooth."
When descriptive of a pasta,
this means firm, sort of chewy,
 and not over-cooked to the point of mushy.

I already had cooked shrimp in the fridge, 
which I just chopped up and tossed in with the noodles and sauce
and heated it through.
If your shrimp is raw,
just sauté it briefly in hot butter or oil until just cooked.
Do NOT overcook your shrimp!

Cook the soba noodles al dente,
drain the noodles,
and toss with a little sesame oil and soy sauce.
Go gently with the sesame oil.
A little goes a long way.

Pour the prepared sauce over the noodles and toss to coat.
Add the shrimp and additional accoutrements.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Watermelon And Cucumber Stack Appetizers.

Here's a nice little appetizer for you -
watermelon, cucumber, and feta stacks.
Simple and summery.
Simply semi-peel and thinly slice the cukes,
cube the watermelon and feta,
make a vinaigrette,
and sprinkle with extra mint.
(Enough for 8 stacks.)
1 TB lime juice
zest of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp minced mint
1 TB olive oil
(I used a neutral oil - Bertolli's extra light.)
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Whisk together all ingredients.
Drizzle over stacks.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over top
and sprinkle with extra mint.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Strawberry Popsicles

I'm on a dessert streak right now, so just bear with me.
Today, it's strawberry popsicles.
And if you're vegan, you're in luck.  These are non-dairy.  I'm using coconut milk.


Here's everything you'll need for the basic pops. 
Strawberry Popsicles
1 pint strawberries, chopped, with ½ cup reserved
1 banana, sliced
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
2 TB pure maple syrup (Please use the real thing, not the artificial chemical-laden stuff.)
12 popsicle molds

Combine 1 ½ cups strawberries, banana, coconut milk, and syrup in a blender and purée.  Spoon the reserved ½ cup berries evenly into the 12 molds.  Pour in the puréed mixture and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.

For the step-by-steps:

Everything into the processor
and ...  process.

Until nice and smooth.

Spoon a little of the reserved chopped strawberries into the bottom of each mold.

Then pour in the filling.

Lick any drippings off.

Fill all the molds and freeze.

Run mold under warm water to unmold.


 Being Rosie, I had to tart 'em up a bit.

 I’m going to take my basic popsicles and make them a bit more exciting.  I’m taking creamy and sweet and adding crunchy and salty, along with chocolate to the mix.  All it takes is a chocolate coating and some crushed pretzels and you've got yourself a real treat.

Chocolate Coating With Pretzels
(Will coat 6 popsicles.)
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 TB sugar
3 TB cream
2 TB coconut oil

Crushed pretzels

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate with sugar, cream, and coconut oil, stirring until smooth.

Coat popsicles with chocolate mixture.  I use a spoon to pour the chocolate over the popsicles then use the back of a spoon to evenly spread the chocolate.  Press crushed pretzels into the chocolate coating.  Return to freezer to let everything set.