Monday, December 23, 2019

In Praise Of Pomegranates.


I shot these pictures of pomegranates at The Underground Gardens of Baldassare Forestiere, in Fresno, California.
Click HERE to learn about our visit to the gardens.  It's quite an interesting place.

Now, back to what-to-do-with-pomegranates.

  I recently posted my pomegranate entrée -  seared scallops in a pool of reduced pomegranate sauce.  Now, I have an appetizer and a dessert, all using the beautiful crimson seeds, or arils, from the pomegranate – first as a pop of tart flavor with oysters on the half shell and then as an accent for a frozen dessert.

First, we have to get into the pomegranate to get the goods.  Slice it in half and, holding each half over a bowl, spank it with a wooden spoon, letting the arils fall into the bowl along with the juices.  Squeeze halves to dislodge any remaining seeds and to get all the juice.  Discard the rind and the fleshy membranes.

For my appetizer, I’m going with oysters on the half shell topped with a spinach mixture and accented with piquant pomegranate seeds.

Rosie’s Oysters On The Half Shell With A Pomegranate Punch
Shuck and arrange 2 dozen oysters on a baking sheet.

For the toppings:
1 TB unsalted butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 cups chopped spinach
2 TB cream
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 TB chopped red pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
Panko breadcrumbs
Pomegranate arils

In a medium skillet, melt the butter.  Add onion and cook, stirring, for a minute.  Add spinach and stir until just wilted.  Add cream and red pepper, stirring to combine.  Remove from heat.
Top each oyster with a teaspoon or so of the spinach mixture.  Add bacon, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and a sprinkling of arils.  Run under a 450° broiler for about 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and the panko is slightly browned.

Next, I have a pomegranate and cranberry frozen treat - a perfect ending for your holiday meal.
Cranberry and Pomegranate Cream
3 cups cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1- 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pomegranate seeds

Pulse cranberries in food processor until fine.
Transfer to mixing bowl and stir in sugar.
Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
Drain any accumulated juices from the cranberries.
Stir in the marshmallows and the drained pineapple.
Set aside.
Whip heavy cream in large mixing bowl until it begins to thicken.
Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form, 3-5 minutes.
Fold whipped cream into cranberry mixture, 1/3 at a time, until fully incorporated.
Transfer to 8 x 8 inch baking dish.
Before serving, garnish with pomegranate arils.  Drizzle with honey, if desired. 


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Rosie Makes Banana Muffins.

I always have bananas on hand,
but those suckers can go south
rather quickly if you're not watching.

And when they do, here's what you do -  make banana muffins with a streusel topping.

Now, while I'm at it, does anyone out there have a problem with streusel and strudel?
They're not the same thing, you know.
Streusel is a crumbly mixture made out of butter, flour, and sugar, sometimes with spices and nuts, and it's used to top numerous baked goodies - muffins, coffee cakes, and pies, for instance.
Strudel is a layered pastry with a sweet or savory filling.  And I imagine a strudel could have a streusel topping if one were so inclined.
And now you know.

Back to the muffins...
I had two bananas languishing on the counter and I had to do something.
So I made banana muffins.
Banana Muffins With Streusel

For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 bananas, smashed
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tp vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 TB unsalted butter, softened
2 TB flour
2 TB oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Combine all ingredients evenly.

Heat oven to 375°.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients - flour, cinnamon, soda, powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla, and butter.
Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  
Ladle muffin mixture evenly into 12 muffin paper-lined muffin tins.
Top with streusel mixture.
Bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.


Monday, December 9, 2019

Rosie Loves Her Scallops. And Pomegranates!

Whatcha gonna do with 'em?
 Rosie's here to tell you.

The seeds, or arils, (along with the juice) are the edible parts of the pomegranate.  To get to them, slice the pomegranate in half, hold a half over a bowl, and take a wooden spoon and spank that pomegranate, letting the seeds and juices fall into the bowl.  Discard the rind and fleshy membranes.  I'll be using the seeds as a piquant addition to my scallop dish and I'm using the juice in a vibrant reduction sauce.

My entrée is seared scallops lazing in a pomegranate pool with a side of black rice.  Toasted walnuts, orange zest, green onion spirals, and ruby red arils enhance both flavor and presentation.

Seared Scallops With Pomegranate Reduction

1 lb. large scallops (about 15)

Prepare the scallops:  Tear off that little tough “foot” muscle on the side of each scallop and discard.  Rinse scallops and pat dry.  Season with freshly ground pepper.

Prepare the pomegranate reduction:  In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar, 1 TB honey, and a sprig of rosemary.  Bring to a slow simmer and reduce to about ¼ volume.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Discard rosemary and remove from heat. 
Rosie Note:  Whenever I’m reducing a sauce, I place the saucepan inside a cast iron skillet to diffuse the heat as a precaution against burning.

Other ingredients:
Black rice, which I like for the nutty flavor
Toasted walnuts
Scallions, chopped and curled.  Chop the white bulb part, saving the green stems.  To curl scallions, cut stems into 3 inch lengths and then cut lengths into thin strips.  Submerge strips in ice water.  They’ll curl up in a few minutes.

2 TB White wine
2 TB fresh orange juice
2 TB unsalted butter
Pomegranate arils
Orange zest

Cook the scallops:
Pour a thin film of peanut oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 TB unsalted butter.  When the butter starts foaming (about 375°), add the scallops, one at a time.  Resist temptation to move them
around in the pan.  After about 2 minutes, turn scallops over and cook another 1 ½-2 minutes.  Remove from pan.  With the pan off the heat, pour in white wine. Return to heat, carefully tilting pan to ignite (The fun part!).  Scrape up the goodie bits; that’s where all the flavor is.  Pour in orange juice and stir until reduced by half.  Drop in butter, one TB at a time, stirring until melted.  Pour over scallops.

To plate:  Mound black rice on plate.  Add toasted walnuts and chopped and curled scallions.  Pour a pool of pomegranate reduction onto plate and place seared scallops in the juice.  Sprinkle with orange zest and pomegranate arils.

 Here's the pomegranate reduction sauce.  Always keep the heat on low and as an extra precaution against burning the sugars in the sauce, use a cast iron pan to diffuse the heat.  Keep the sauce at a bare simmer and use a skewer to mark the liquid level.  The more you reduce, the more you intensify the flavor.  And it's all a matter of taste.

In a heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat.  When butter is foamy, put the scallops in.

 As I said, resist the temptation to push them around in the pan.  (They'll tear.)  Just wait and they will naturally release themselves.  Turn over and sear the other side.  These are large sea scallops and it takes about 70 seconds on the first side and 60 seconds on the flip side.  Remove scallop from pan.

Off heat, add in the wine and orange juice.
Scrape the goody bits up from the bottom of the pan.
That's where the flavor is.
Add in a tablespoon or two of butter, stirring to melt,
to enrich the sauce.

Pour a pool of the pomegranate reduction on your plate and set the scallops in it.
Add some orange zest and sprinkle some arils over top.  Scallion curls are a nice touch.

I like the nutty flavor of black rice and the visual contrast to the scallops.  Just add in some toasted walnuts, more orange zest, and some sliced scallions.