Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Dinner Chez Maxine.

Thursday night, I decided to fix a
lovely Valentine's meal for my dear friend, Maxine.

My menu?
Spinach and sun-dried tomato Risotto with a Parmesan crisp, topped with seared scallops, then pesto, and caramelized onions, with a mustard emulsion and a pappereeka-infused oil
as accent flavors.

I started out by pouring boiling water ONto my sun-dried
tomato slices to soften them.

Next, I took biscuit cutters and pressed grated Parmesan cheese INto circles.

Put Parmesan rounds INto a pre-heated 400-425 degree oven.
Then, have someone like Maxine watch constantly while you're doing other things, so they don't burn.

Keep kooking until bubbly and browned and krisp.
Spatula off and set on paper towels to drain.

Next, I started my onions.
I used about 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced.
Saute the onions in about 2 tablespoons
Land-o'-Lakes unsalted buttah.

After sauteeing a bit, add in some white wine.

Keep sauteeing and adding wine to de-glaze until the onions are nicely browned and caramelized.

Next, I melted several tablespoons of butter
and threw in Arborio rice.
Saute for a few minutes.

Here, I'm adding a bit of my leftover vegetable stock.
Simmer so the grains soak up the stock.
Keep on simmering and occasionally adding in chicken stock.
This process takes about 40 minutes.
Simmer, soak up, add stock, simmer, etc.

While Maxine tends to the risotto, Rosie slices the soaked sun-dried tomatoes.

Rosie chopped 1/2 bag of spinach and
a quarter each of green, yellow, and red peppers.

Wow. The prices of peppers.
WalMart wanted $2.39 for ONE.RED.PEPPER!
And a red pepper is nothing more than a ripe green pepper.
Went to Aldi's, a discount grocery store, and found a set of green/yellow/red peppers for $1.98. YAY!
Aldi's also has Winking Owl wine (I think it's Ernest and Julio.)
for $2.99 a bottle. They increased 50 cents a bottle since last time I was there.
And I can tell you, it's quite good wine. For $2.99 a bottle!

After cooking the risotto forever and gradually adding the liquid, throw in the sun-dried tomatoes.

Add in the spinach and the peppers to the risotto.

Ahh. Look at that steam.
You can see all the flavors.

Maxine stirs the veggies INto the risotto.

You may want to add a bit more buttah, as I've done here.

Poor Maxine.
She's pissed off, and in her pissedness,
she's violently accosting my risotto.


There was a knock on the door Thursday evening and it was her asshole neighbor.
Every time I visit Maxine, this shit head comes over and wants to know if Maxine knows whose car that is parked in front of HER house. Yes. Maxine knows. "Well," Asswipe asks, "Could your friend please move it since it's blocking my access (Read: He had to walk an extra FIVE FEET!) to my walkway and I need to bring my groceries in." Last night, he told her he was leaving the next morning and had to load his "baggage" INto his car
(And I'm sure he has a lot of "baggage.").
Well, shoot, I have a lot of "baggage," too,
to load INto my Mommie's car.
All the stuff I bought for tonight's dinner
that I'm taking home with me.
And all the stuff I brought with me-
my suitcase, my camera bags, my laptop, etc.
I always refer to this guy as ThatFatFuck,
because that's what he is.
And no, I didn't move my car.
Why am I such a shit magnet?
At home and 300 miles away, they flock to me.

Never hurts to add a bit of heavy cream INto the mix.

Add in Parmesan cheese.
Or Regianno.
Or, really, whatever you have.

Hey, just add some shrimpies in.

Risotto is done.

And Rosie tackles another job.

Maxine does like I do. She makes profuse amounts of basil pesto during the summer and freezes them in ice trays.
Here are four cubes thawing out.

Stir up the pesto.

Rinse scallops and pat dry.
Season with fresh ground pepper and pappereeka.

Saute scallops in a bit of butter and oil.
Do NOT overcook.
Maybe 2 minutes on each side.

Now, what I haven't shown you is what I made in advance - my little additives to embellish my dish: my paprika oil and my mustard emulsion.
I've already blogged this, so I'll recap quickly.

Paprika Oil:
Heat paprika in a pan. Toss and do not let burn. Then add oil to it (not EVOO).
Store in fridge.

Mustard Emulsion:
4 TB Grey Poupon Dijon
4 TB vegetable broth
5-6 TB olive oil, added slowly while whisking, to make an emulsion

NOW, on to the plating.

First, add a plop of the risotto mixture.

Next, add a Parmesan crisp.

Next step:
Add the seared scallops.

Oh, by the way, I went to three places in Danville to find scallops.
First, WalMart. They had them. I asked them what I've already blogged about (what I learned at cooking class):
"Are your scallops dry or are they infused/injected?"
WalMart answer: "Ummmm. They're frozen. Here's the box. You can read it."
Next stop, Harris Teeter: "Ummm, I don't know,
but the sign there says 'fresh' but they're frozen."
Finally, a seafood market: "I have no idea what you're talking about, but if you don't like the scallops, come back and tell me tomorrow."

I bought the scallops from the seafood market.
They were fresh, not frozen.
And unpolluted.

Add the basil pesto to the top of the scallops.

Top with the caramelized onions.

Don't you like my 'skape?

Finally, accessorize with the mustard emulsion and the pappereeka oil.

Oh my. This is looking GOOD.

Maxine and I can hardly wait to dig in.

Side shot, so you can see the layers.

The money shot.

From bottom to top:
Parmesan Crisp
Caramelized Onions
Mustard Emulsion and Paprika Oil for Whimsical Embellishment

Here's Maxine savoring her Valentine meal.

Thanks Max.
I had a wonderful time!
Luv ya!


Marilyn said...

Poor Rosie. Even at your friend's house you have trouble with the neighbors. Dinner looks yummy.

CarolynA said...

Fancy, schmancy meal - looks yummy!

Do donkey neighbors who are obnoxious about car parking follow you everywhere?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

"Do donkey neighbors who are obnoxious about car parking follow you everywhere?"
Apparently so. Like I said, I'm a shit magnet.

Anonymous said...

I like Maxine's sweatshirt.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

"I like Maxine's sweatshirt."

I do too. I gave it to her for Christmas several years ago.