Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday afternoon, Xmaskatie showed up since she was going to be house- and Dixie-sitting while Mr. Hawthorne and I went off on Saturday to visit our respective Mommies. And I fixed a special dinner Friday night for her and Glowria - sauteed scallops on a bed of risotto with parmesan crisps, pesto, and caramelized onions. I've posted about this recipe before, but it bears repeating since it's so good.
First I grated the parmesan cheese (Il Villagio is currently my preferred brand.) and made small, pressed rounds on my baking sheet.
I baked them in a preheated 425 degree oven until browned, 7-12 minutes. How's that for an envelope? 7-12? Whatever it takes. It depends on the oven heat, the type of pan you use, the alignment of the planets, the tides (since I live at the beach), your religious affiliation, your particular state of mind. Whatever. You have to watch these very carefully because you can ruin them in a heartbeat. Also, if you leave them on the sheet too long, they're hard to scrape up. (See small container of parmesan pieces at left and crumbled crisps in the mix. They won't be going to waste.) Next, I started on my risotto preparation.
I always rinse off my spinach and other bagged greens no matter what it says on the bag. I don't care if it says it's been triple-turbo hydro-jet -washed and ready-to-eat. And it does. Don't believe 'em. See here in case you doubt me, not that you would ever doubt me.
I poured boiling water over top of some sun-dried tomatoes to soften them. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.
Then I started on the risotto.
Then I started adding in the chicken consomme, maybe a quarter cup at a time, stirring, until the liquid was absorbed by the rice. I kept adding and stirring until the rice had absorbed the whole quart.
At the end, I added in some Chardonnay, which imparted a nice flavor kick to the rice. Making the risotto probably took 30-40 minutes, but it's well worth the effort.
Creamy, flavorful, colorful, risotto. I cut off the heat, covered the rice, and started on the caramelized onions.
And patted dry. For proper sauteing, your scallops must be dry. And by dry, I mean dry both literally and figuratively. Literally, I patted the rinsed scallops until they were dry. Figuratively, the scallops are what we call "dry" scallops, as opposed to "wet" scallops. Wet scallops have been injected with a solution of sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) which helps the scallops maintain their moisture, plumps them up, and gives them a longer shelf life. It adds extra weight to the scallops for which you will be paying. The worst part is the chemical gives the scallops a milky appearance and no matter how hot your pan and oil, you will never be able to brown or sear these scallops because of all the excess moisture. The STP also changes the texture of the scallops (Rubber comes to mind.) and masks the sweetness and delicacy of their flavor. I would never buy wet scallops knowingly. Now, those of you who live in the heartland of the country, please, let me know if you can even get dry scallops. You can usually tell the difference by looking at the scallops. Wet scallops will be soaking in a milky-like liquid. Dry scallop liquid is clear. If you don't know and can't tell, always ask the fishmonger. Here's info on dry vs. wet. Oh, and for heaven's sake - if you're ever going to make a ceviche, don't even think about not using dry.
The only seasoning for my scallops was salt and pepper. I heated my pan to medium-high, added about 3 TB of butter and a squirt of Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil, then placed the scallops, one at a time in the pan, not touching. The addition of the olive oil raises the smoking point of the butter. I can get my butter/oil mixture to a higher temperature than just butter. I don't use solely olive oil because I want the butter flavor. I don't use Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it has a strong flavor that I don't want to interfere with the delicacy of the scallops. And the higher temperature afforded by adding the olive oil to the butter means my scallops sear quicker and brown nicely.
Turned after about a minute, or when nicely browned and caramelized from the natural sugars. And now for the "assembly."
and formed a neat, clean shape on the plate.
Seconds anyone? I just can't describe how wonderful this is. And I hate using words like "wonderful" and "delicious" because they mean everything and they mean nothing. The risotto is a lovely creamy texture with the spinachy greenness and tomatoey fruitiness flavors working with the sweet onion and sharp parmesan flavors. And the Chardonnay is a very nice presence that just embraces the entirety. The sharp, crisp crunch of the parmesan was a nice complement to the creamy risotto. Top that with verdant pesto (Yeah, shoot me. I know verdant is one of Ray Ray's favorite words.) and sweet, caramelized onions and you have a heavenly combination of aromas, textures, tastes, and flavors. This is so simple and easy to make. And I think it makes a really impressive dish. Everyone always comes back for seconds. Because it is both WONDERFUL and DELICIOUS.
What luck! Another email. My blessings continue to flow freely. Now, I just need to send them that $500,000. Where's my checkbook? My Dear Friend I AM DR JOSEPH KOFI A BRANCH MANAGER WITH THE ICB BANK OF GHANA (ICBG) I AM WRITING YOU THIS LETTER BECAUSE COOL PENNY IS BETTER THAN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. IT IS BETTER FOR ONE TO LIVE AND DIE A POOR HONEST MAN THAN A RICH DISHONEST ONE,I AND THE CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER (CSO) OF OUR BANK HAVE ARRANGED WITH AN OFFICER IN THE COMPUTER SECTION, ENGINEER JUSTIN TO BRING OUT A THE FUND /INHERITANCE/CONTRACT WE SAW IN YOUR NAMES, TOTAL CONTRACT SUM AMOUNTING TO SEVEN MILLION US DOLLARS. THE REASON WE ACTED THIS WAY, IS THAT, DUE TO THE INFORMATION GATHERED FROM THE BANKS COMPUTER NETWORK SYSTEM, YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR A LONG TIME TO RECEIVE YOUR FUND WITHOUT SUCCESS,I ALSO DISCOVERED THAT YOU HAVE MET ALL THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS OF THE ICB BANK GHANA IN RESPECT OF YOUR PAYMENT, YOUR PROBLEM IS COMING FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN YOUR PAYMENT AND THOSE PEOPLE ARE MERELY DOING PAPER WORKS WITH YOU AND THAT EXPLAINS WHY YOU RECEIVE EMAILS AND PHONE CALLS FROM DIFFERENT PEOPLE EVERYDAY. ALSO WE FOUND OUT THAT SOME OF THE OFFICIALS OF THE PARASTATALS THAT EXTORTED A LOT OF MONEY FROM YOU, WITH THE PRETEXT OF HELPING YOU. I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THIS MAY LAST FOR YEARS YET NOTHING HAPPENS IF, YOU DO NOT GO AWAY WITHTHOSE OFFICERS THAT YOU CALL YOUR PARTNERS, AND FOR SECURITY REASONS, DO NOT TELL ANYONE THAT YOU HAVE YOUR MONEY, UNTIL YOU RECEIVE CASH AT YOUR DOORSTEP. THE MONEY IS IN ONE SECURITY-FUNDPORTFOLIO YESTERDAY WE WENT FOUR COURIER COMPANIES TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS ON HOW TO SHIP THE FUNDPORTFOLIO BY COURIER TO YOU. DHL, EMS, FEDEX, ISA ALL SAID THAT THEY MUST OPEN THE BOX FOR INSPECTION WITH THE COOPERATION OF THE CUSTOMS BEFORE SHIPMENT THIS IS SOMETHING WE WANT TO AVOID BECAUSE THE BOX WERE PADDED WITH MACHINE,WE TOLD THE COURIER COMPANY THAT THE BOX CONTAINS PHOTOGRAPHIC AND FILM MATERIALS AND WHEN OPEN WILL LOOSE ITS EFICACY. WE DID NOT DECLARE MONEY BECAUSE COURIER DOES NOT CARRY MONEY. TODAY A FRIEND OF MINE WHO IS A DIPLOMAT DISCLOSED TO ME THAT THERE SOME DIPLOMATIC EXPERT THAT ALWAYS LIFT FUNDS FROM ONE COUNTRY TO ANOTHER,IT HAS DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY AND CANNOT BE INSPECTED BY ANY CUSTOMS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, I WILL MEET WITH THEM AS SOON AS I GET YOUR PERMITION. THE DIPLOMAT WILL HELP US SO WE DO NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEM, WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT YOU MUST COMPENSATE US WITH FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE YOUR MONEY. TO THIS EFFECT, YOU WILL SEND US A PROMISSORY NOTE FOR FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLAR ALONG WITH YOUR MAILING ADDRESS FOR SENDING THE BOX BY DIPLOMATIC,PLEASE I URGE YOU TO MAINTAIN TOPMOST SECRECY TO AVOID PROBLEMS,DO NOT DISCLOSE THIS TRANSACTION TO ANYONE UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR FUNDPORTFOLIO. I SHALL NEED YOUR DATA FOR EASY COMMUNICATION WITH THE DIPLOMATS 1) YOUR ACTIVE MOBILE NUMBER.... 2)PHYSICAL ADDRESS ........ 3)AGE ........... 4)OCCUPATION AND POSITION ........ ONCE I CONFIRM YOUR READINESS TOWARDS RECEIVING THE DIPLOMAT , WITHIN 24HOURS THE CONSIGNMENT WILL BE IN YOUR COUNTRY AIR PORT FOR CLEARANCE . I WANT TO HELP YOU BECAUSE SOMETHING IN ME IS TELLING ME THAT, YOU ARE AN HONEST PERSON,WE SINCERELY HOPE THAT YOU WILL FULFIL YOUR PROMISE AFTER THE CONCLUSION OF THIS TRANSACTION. WE SHALL THEN HELP YOU TO SHIP THE FINAL PART OF YOUR FUND TO YOU, GOD IS WITH US AS WE WAIT FOR YOUR REPLY THROUGH THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS YOURS FAITHFULLY, DR JOSEPH KOFI.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Mr. Hawthorne and I drove back home today and passed by this yard again. Poor little bunnies. They were all little pools of deflated plastic. Mr. Hawthorne wouldn't stop so I could get the after picture. I'm happy I got the before picture. And, Kathy, the gauntlet is down. I see your porn tubes and raise you deflated pools of bunnies.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Some of my regular readers may remember this post from the Hawthornes' December trip to Danville. On Highway 86, there's a yard which is decorated to the teeth for every season. Here it is for Christmas: Mama Hawthorne, click to enlarge to take in the full glory of the display. And yesterday,when Mr. Hawthorne and I drove by, I made him stop so I could get some pictures of their Easter display.
I wonder where this stuff is stored the rest of the year. Because these people don't miss a holiday. I'm guessing they have a lot of time on their hands. Me? I'm happy if I get the Christmas tree decorated by Christmas Eve and the front porch lights down by Easter.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Just imagine my excitement when I opened my email today and found that I have won more money and a BMW to boot! The BMW Automobile Company, Congratulate you as one of our Ten(10) Star Prize Winner. You won (750,000.00GBP) and a new BMW X6Drive Car. Contact claims director Mr. Williams Jackson with the following. Full name/Contact address/Sex/Tel/Occupation/Age/Country. Name: Mr. Williams Jackson E-mail: email@example.com Phone No:+44 7035931848 Regards, Mrs.J. M.Canon Lopez But wait. It gets better! Another email arrived soon after the first.
Godt nytår til dig, Det er hr. Wallis Marvin Microsoft hævder agent fra Microsoft Lotteri Boardi har deponeret din vindende check af 500000,00 pund for levering siden banken og har nægtet at kontakte dig for levering, jeg har tilbage til Afrika (Nigeria) for nogle seminar, så jeg har deponeret en Confirmable Bank Udkast til 500000,00 Pounds med Fed Ex Courier Plc til levering jeg har også betales for leveringen. Jeg har ventet på dig da til at kontakte mig for Deres Confirmable Bank Draft af 500000,00 Pund, men jeg har ikke hørt fra du sincethat tid. Så jeg gik hen og deponeres udkastet med FED EX COURRIER SERVICE, Abuja, Nigeria, inden jeg rejste ud af landet for en 3 Måneder Coursein Nigeria, og jeg vil ikke vende tilbage til november 2009. Hvad du skal gøre nu er at kontakte FED EX kurertjeneste med din oplysninger nedenfor: Fulde navn: TELEFON: POSTADRESSE: CITY: TILSTAND: LAND: ERHVERV:R Så hurtigt som muligt at vide, hvornår de vil levere din pakke til dig på grund af den udløbende dato. Til din information, jeg har betalt for levere Debiter, Forsikrings-præmie og Clearance Certificate Gebyrskategori af Check viser, at det ikke er en Drug Money eller menes at sponsorere Terrorisme angreb i dit land. De eneste penge, du vil sende til FED EX kurertjeneste at levere din Udkast til direkte til din postadresse i dit land (120 Euro) eneste, der Security Keeping Gebyrskategori af Courier Company hidtil. Igen, ikke blive snydt af et organ til at betale alle andre penge undtagen (120 euro). Jeg skulle have betalt, men de sagde nej, fordi de ikke ved, hvornår youwill kontakte dem, og i tilfælde af overliggetid. Du er nødt til at kontakte FED EX Kurertjeneste nu til levering af din Udkast med denne Oplysningerne nedenfor; Owen RICHARD Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telefon: +2348077622197 Endelig skal du sørge for at bekræfte din postadresse og Direct telefonnummer til dem igen for at undgå enhver misforståelse om levering og bede dem om at give dig den tracking nummer, så du spore pakken over der og vide, hvornår det vil komme til din adresse. Lad mig gentage igen, så prøv
My excitement is palpable. I know I've won something magnificent. I just don't know what it is. (Although I am wondering about the references to "drug money" and "terrorism.")
Friday, March 27, 2009
I've been having a hankering for some time now to make my own pasta. And I finally did yesterday.
I beat the eggs and added a tablespoon of Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil to the mix. Extra Light Bertolli is my go-to olive oil. It has no over-powering flavor like an extra virgin olive oil and it doesn't taste like turpentine. It's just a behind-the-scene olive oil that lends itself to whatever I want to do. I use the butter for flavor and the olive oil to bring up the smoke temperature. It's a nice symbiotic relationship.
I mixed the two flours and the salt and made a well, into which I gradually poured the eggs and worked the flour.
I kneaded and kneaded for about 15 minutes, adding flour and water as needed until I got this lovely dough.
Folded it over and ran it through again. And again and again through the different settings, getting thinner and thinner.
Check this out. I have 7 settings on my pasta machine. I'm comfortable getting to number 5. Number 6 is tough. Never gotten to number 7.
Here's the next type of ravioli I made. Mascarpone and ricotta cheeses, blanched asparagus and FROZEN green peas.
Now here's the sweet potato filling.
Bit of squab spice.
My ingredients: blanched asparagus and peas mascarpone ricotta butter parsley parmesan Next is the topping for the asparagus and pea raviolis.
Cook, then add a bit of heavy cream. Sauce for the asparagus and pea ravioli is done. Now, the sauce for the sweet potato agnolotti.
First, I made a beurre monte. And what is beurre monte, you ask. Regular butter, in its solid state, is an emulsification of 3 components: butter fat water milk solids. When you melt butter, these 3 components separate. By boiling a tablespoon of water, then whisking in a tablespoon of butter at a time, over gentle and consistent heat, you can melt the butter and at the same time, maintain the emulsification.
I tossed a few of the sweet potato agnolotti and the asparagus/pea ravioli (What's the difference between agnolotti and ravioli?) into boiling water for about 4-5 minutes.
On the left, my asparagus/pea concoction with a tomato basil/parsley sauce. Did I forget to mention I put some chopped fresh basil in there? On the right, sweet potato agnolotti with sage cream sauce.
And on top of the sweet potato agnolotti with the sage sauce, I added fried sage leaves which sends it to a whole 'nother spectrum.
Mascarpone and ricotta cheese with blanched asparagus and green peas, with a tomato/onion/parsley/basil/cream sauce.
With a sweet potato stuffed pasta with a sage/beurre monte/cream/mustard sauce topped with fried sage leaves which are to die for.
Asparagus/pea pasta with tomato cream sauce. Now, while I was making semolina pasta, creating the stuffings, and making the sauces, Mr. Hawthorne was thawing out his crab cakes, which means, I told him where to find the crab cakes in the freezer and he left them on the counter and I went back to my work, while he hied to the sofa with the remote control and watched another stupid movie.