Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rosie Makes Her Special Cornbread, Scallops With A Twist, And Mr. Hawthorne Grills Softshells.

For dinner tonight,
I'm making my special cornbread
with toppings of jalapeno, tomato, and onion.
We've bought more softshells,
some to eat tonight, and others to freeze for later,
since the softshell season this spring
has been cut short due to climactic conditions.
I believe some strong winds blew the little critters back out.
And instead of battering and frying our softshells
as we usually do,
we're going to grill them
for a bit of a change.
I've never grilled them before,
so I'm looking forward to trying them this way.
Also, I'll be cooking some scallop and proscuitto roll-ups.
So, let's get started.
First, my cornbread.
My ingredients:
yellow cornmeal
Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses
green olives
fresh cilantro
(And I forgot to put in the baking powder,
salt, and pepper.)
Here are 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
to which I added 1 tsp. baking powder,
1 1/2tsps. salt,
and 1 tsp. pepper.
I mixed the dry ingredients, then added in 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup buttermilk, for a bit of a tang. If you don't have buttermilk, just use all milk.

I had heated my oven to 350, put 3 TB of Crisco in my 8" baking dish, melted it, then whisked the melted shortening into the cornbread batter.The texture immediately changes to an almost clumpy messy thing.

Two eggs got whisked in next.

I had an ear of corn left over from the corn porn from our meal the other day, so I cut off the kernels of the ear and added that to the cornbread batter.

If you don't have fresh corn, use a can of drained corn. Pour the cornbread batter into the baking dish.

Add sliced tomatoes to the adult side of the cornbread.

Next some sliced onions went on.

And some jalapeno slices and sliced green olives.
I sprinkled a little cumin and coriander over top.
And now the cornbread is ready for the grated cheese and the oven.
Except ...
Mr. Hawthorne had bought pork cracklin's the other day.
I think he'd seen Tyler Florence use pork cracklin's
in cornbread, so he wanted to try this.
So darn if he didn't pick up all my carefully
arranged toppings, so I could put the pork cracklin's in there.
I sprinkled the cracklin's on and Mr. Hawthorne pressed
them down in the batter.
Then he haphazardly threw my toppings back on. Sheesh.
Next, I sprinkled grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheeses
over top, along with some fresh cilantro.
The cornbread went in the 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Tip #178:
To use up leftover cornbread,
thinly slice and saute in butter until nicely browned
and serve for breakfast.
You'll never have leftover cornbread.
My children love this.
Now, on to my scallops.
What I wanted to do,
was slice my scallop into a ribbon by
slowly rolling the scallop
with my knife poised parallel to the cutting surface.
I started my slice at the base of the scallop,
making about a 1/8 inch thick slice.
I pulled the scallop back and pressed in with my knife,
trying to make a slice as evenly as I could.
I kept rolling out my scallop and slicing through ...
... until I got to the very end of the scallop
and had a nice, thin scallop ribbon.
I placed a thin slice of proscuitto over my scallop ribbon.
Then I rolled my scallop/proscuitto up.
Rolled it up all the way and secured with a toothpick.
Now, if you missed it the first time,
I'm doing it again.
And notice,
practice does make perfect.
Start with your knife parallel to the cutting surface,
1/8 - 1/16 thick,
and slowly roll the scallop back
as you press your knife into the flesh.
That's a nice scallop ribbon.
Place a slice of proscuitto over top.
And roll up.
Secure with toothpick.
And here are all my little scallop/proscuitto roll-ups.
It looks like a little scallop rose.
Here's my seasoning mixture:
1 part black sesame seeds
1 part white sesame seeds 1/2 part red chili flakes
I lightly toasted this mixture in a dry skillet.
I sprinkled the scallop rolls with the sesame/chili mixture.
The smaller scallops, I seasoned with freshly ground pepper and lemon zest.
And my scallops are ready to cook. I heated my cast iron pan, added vegetable oil with a bit of Land o' Lakes butter, heated the butter mixture to almost browning,
then added the larger scallops with the proscuitto.
I cooked the proscuitto scallops for about 3 minutes on each side.
The smaller scallops without the proscuitto, I added later and cooked for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes each side. Now on to the softshells.
As I said, we're going to grill these soft shells tonight.
I've never grilled soft shells before.
I've always fried them.
But our dear friends, Ian and Annette Bloomfield,
introduced us to this method.
(And that would be Ian with a long I.
Eye-un, not Ee-un.)
I must admit,
I was a bit apprehensive,
but I'm always up to trying something new.
Here are Mr. Hawthorne's cleaned soft shells.
He likes a bit of the mustard left on them.
I do not.
So when he wasn't watching, I rinsed all the yellow gunk out.
Now, my basting sauce for the softshells.
Here's melted butter and lemon juice with freshly ground pepper to which I added minced garlic ...
... and some Chardonnay.
I sprinkled a tiny bit of Montreal Steak Seasoning over the crabs.
And brushed them with the butter mixture.
Mr. Hawthorne placed them on the grill
and basted.
After about 4 minutes on the grill,
here are the soft shells.
Grilled softshell, seasoned scallop/proscuitto rollup with candied grapefruit zest,
and cornbread.
I must say, the grilled soft shells were very good.
I could taste the sweetness of the crab
along with the crunch of the crab,
and the flavors of the butter, garlic, wine,
and the slight spice of the Montreal seasoning.
I was very happily surprised,
so I thank you Ian and Annette
for this new way to prepare soft shells.
I will certainly grill soft shells again,
but next time I'll peel off that top layer of shell.
Ian told Mr. Hawthorne to do that,
but Mr. H. thinks he knows it all,
so he didn't do it.
A grilled layer of soft shell is like eating paper.
Not a good thing.
But the rest of the crab was wonderful
and the grilled flavor just gave it a whole different layer of goodness.
The scallops rolled with the proscuitto were lovely.
The light taste of the proscuitto gave the scallops
just a hint of saltiness and smokiness.
The seasoning with the toasted sesame seeds and pepper flakes
gave it just the right amount of boost.
The candied grapefruit rind was a perfect complement.
The cornmeal was corny and spicy with the jalapenos.
And the pork cracklin's gave it an underlying smoky, porkiness.
Not overpowering.
But another layer of flavor.
Another winning meal.


Marilyn said...

The scallop rolls look wonderful. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

But was rolling the scallops that much better than just wrapping?