Tuesday, August 8, 2017

It's Youngest Hawthorne's Birthday.

 It was a dark and stormy morning.
It's Youngest Hawthorne's birthday!
And I'm fixing him his favorite meal - the one he requests every year for his birthday.
Actually he doesn't have to request it anymore.  I just do it.  Happily.

It's seared scallops.
The scallops are on a bed of some type of risotto (my choice for the additions) and a Parmesan crisp, and the scallops are topped with basil pesto and caramelized onions.
It's Dee-Vine!

I look forward to making this for him every year.

And this year is special.
He was born on a Monday and this year his birthday is on a Monday.
That is special, right?

 This meal involves a bit of preparation, so please indulge me.

  Since I'm making risotto, I need some vegetable stock to add in for the rice to sop up.

Instead of using a boxed or canned vegetable stock, I opted to make my own.  Much better.

 Vegetable Stock
1 onion, cut up into 6ths or 8ths and skin included
1-2 carrots, sliced diagonally (Surface area!)
1-2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally along with the leafy greens
fresh thyme sprigs
fresh parsley
sliced scallions
5-6 fresh bay leaves (2-3 dried)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TB whole peppercorns

Put all ingredients into a 2-qt. sauce pan and fill with water.
Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and let barely simmer for about an hour.
Strain liquid and save ingredients for your compost pile.
I ended up with 1 quart plus of vegetable stock.


Next, I made Parmesan crisps.
I grated Parmesan cheese - about 1 1/2 cups worth.
Then I placed 6 scant 1/4 cups worth of grated cheese on a parchment paper covered baking pan.
Lightly press the Parm into rounds.
Bake in a 350° oven for about 10 or so minutes, or until lightly browned.

Now, it's time for caramelized onions.
I peeled and sliced an onion.
Heated a skillet over medium heat with 1 TB unsalted butter and 1 tsp peanut oil.
Dropped in the onion slices along with a pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of sugar.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion slices turn a delicious light brown.
Like this.

On to the risotto.

1 TB unsalted butter
drizzle of peanut oil
1/2 cup arborio rice
Over 2 cups of hot homemade vegetable stock
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup frozen peas (If you use canned peas, I will come to your house and hurt you.)

Heat oil and butter in skillet until butter is sizzling.  Add in rice and stir until nutty and slightly toasted.
Pour in 1/4 cup of hot stock and stir until rice absorbs the liquid.
Add in another 1/4 cup of stock, stirring until absorbed.
Keep doing this for about 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender and you have a creamy consistency.
At the end, throw in the spinach and stir until wilted.
Cover and remove from heat.
Before serving, add in the thawed peas and heat through.

Everything's ready.
(Last week, I'd made a big batch of pesto, so I had individual pesto plops in the freezer and just took one out to thaw.)
I just need to do the scallops now.

To prepare scallops:

1/2 lb sea scallops
Remove that tough "foot."  That's the little side muscle of tissue.

Rinse scallops and pat dry.
Dredge scallops through a coating of:
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp cayenne flakes
2 TB sesame seeds
zest of 1 lemon
Shake off any excess.

Melt 1 TB unsalted butter and 1 TB peanut oil over medium high heat in an iron skillet to 350°.  Add in scallops, one at a time, and leave 'em.  Cook 2 minutes, then turn over, and cook 1 more minute.  They should be a lovely golden brown on each side.  Do not overcook your scallops.  Remove from heat immediately.

To plate:
Nestle a bed of risotto on the plate.
Place a Parmesan crisp over top.
Assemble seared scallops on crisp.
Top scallops with basil pesto and caramelized onions.
Sprinkle some sliced scallions over top and a zesting of lemon, if desired.

And enjoy something wonderful!


And come back for the birthday cake!
Here's a sneak preview:

It's pecan and coconut and it's some kinda good!

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