Monday, August 26, 2013

bacon wrapped scallops



                It's time to take advantage of the beautiful local sweet corn. Fresh corn on the cob, drenched in butter is a beautiful thing, but sweet corn can also be used in a more "fancy" setting. I use those same two ingredients, corn & butter, to make a luxurious purée that goes great with all kinds of meats and seafoods. Scallops in particular work really well with slightly sweet garnishes, so that's what I use here. 

      Bacon wrapped scallops are kinda old-school, borderline tacky, but they are a cliché for a reason - they are so good. They're great on their own, served as an hors d'oeuvre, but they also work great as an appetizer at a sit-down dinner party. Add some potatoes and sauteed veggies, and this dish easily could work as a main course. The oven dried tomatoes bring a nice tartness to the dish that compliments the sweet popcorn flavour of the purée.


Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time 30 minutes + 3hrs to dry the tomatoes Serves 4 




Ingredients:

12 large scallops
12 strips of bacon
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
6 cobs fresh sweet corn
55g (2oz) cold butter, cubed
salt & pepper

Pre-heat oven to 220F

1. Slice all the cherry tomatoes in half and lay them skin-side down on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Season with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven at 220F to let dry. Check about once an hour. Once they are dry to the touch they are done. Will take between 2 - 3 hours depending on your oven.

2. Cut all the kennels off the corn and place them in a sauce-pot, cover with water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until the kernels are very soft - about 30 minutes. Strain & reserve the cooking liquid. Puree the corn in a blender with 1 cup of the cooking water. While the corn is pureeing, add the butter one small cube at a time. Put the puree back on the stove and gently simmer until it reaches the desired thickness. It should have a texture simmer to applesauce. 

3. Season the scallops with salt & pepper and them wrap then with bacon, using toothpicks to hold the bacon in place. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan and sear the scallops on all sides, starting with the bacon side at the seam. To check when they are done, use a thin knife to cut into the center of one scallop and touch the tip of the knife to your lip. If the knife is warm to the touch, they are done. Remove the toothpicks. 

Tip: To get a proper sear on the scallops, they need to be spaced apart so that none are touching. They scallops can be fried in batches and kept warm in the oven at 220F with the cherry tomatoes

To serve: Place about 1/2 cup of corn purée on each plate, top with scallops and garnish with oven dried cherry tomatoes.  


Friday, August 9, 2013

Grilled Tofu Salad


      I love grilling all sorts of things over an open flame. This recipe, like my like post, is meant to show that there are plenty of foods besides meat that can undergo great transformations on the grill. Poor, misunderstood tofu is just the kind of ingredients that really benefits from a kiss from an open flame. 

             While this salad is somewhat similar to the typical balsamic chicken salad that is on a lot of restaurant menus, I usually don`t like to treat tofu as if it`s simply a meat replacement. Often if you just substitute tofu into a recipe that calls for beef or chicken, you can be left with some pretty bland results. The secret is to treat tofu for what it is: a blank canvass, waiting to be filled in. That`s why I include a healthy amount of sesame oil and mirin in the marinade to round out the flavour. The balsamic sesame marinade also doubles as the salad dressing that you can try out on other salads. 

       




prep time: 15 minutes + 1 hour resting time. Cooking time: 10 minutes. Serves 5. 

Ingredients:

500g medium soft tofu
500g spinach
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 english cucumber, sliced
150g sunflower seeds 

Marinade / Dressing

80 ml balsamic vinegar
60 ml mirin
60 ml sesame oil
150 ml olive oil
salt & pepper to taste


1. Whisk together all the ingredients in the marinade except for the olive oil, then slowly incorporate the oil in a slow steady stream, while whisking constantly. Set aside half the dressing for the salad and use the rest to marinate the tofu for at least one hour, or overnight.

2.  Get the grill the very hot and the grill the tofu until nicely browned on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Slice the tofu into small wedges.

3. Toss the spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes & sunflower seeds in the dressing and dived into 5 bowls. Top each salad with slices of grilled tofu. Garnish with extra sunflower seeds.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Grilled Fruit Salad


         August is here, and with barbecue season now in full swing, it's time to break out the fruit salad. Instead of that regular mid-summer classic, here I offer you a twist: grilled fruit salad! It's amazing how just a quick grill over an open flame will completely transform the flavours of any summer fruit. You don't need to add any herbs or spices to get a deep rich flavour. Because this fruit salad is meant to be served warm, it works best as an accompaniment to any BBQ'ed dish. It goes great with ribs and is awesome with grilled chicken.   

         Stone fruit, such as peaches, nectarine & mango all work really well on the grill, but feel free to experiment with other fruits. One word of advice: try to choose fruit that is still slightly under ripe because they will hold together best on the grill. Cut the fruit into large pieces that will be easy to grill and then quickly chop the fruit into smaller pieces just before serving. If you are making a big batch for a lot of people, it's easiest to grill the fruit well in advance, then let it cool before chopping it up. When it's time to serve, gently warm the fruit in a sauce pot on the stove.  

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time 8 minutes, makes about 5 servings 


Ingredients:

2 peaches
2 nectarines  
1 mango
1 bunch red grapes
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Cut the peaches & nectarines in quarters and remove the stone. Peel the mango and then slice down each side of the stone along the wider side of the fruit to make two large slices. Toss the fruit in a mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

2. Get the grill very hot and then grill the fruit on each side until nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side.  

3. Remove the grapes from the stem and put them in a mixing bowl. Chop the warm fruit and toss in the mixing bowl with the grapes plus the juice from the remaining 1/2 lemon and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve warm as an accompaniment to ribs, grilled pork or chicken.