Friday, March 31, 2006

Scallop Piccata

An Improvised Dish of Celebration

I'm pleased to report that, after a month in refrigerator induced "Appliance Hell," our lives are back to normal again.

Actually, things are better than normal, because we now have a shiny new 28 cubic foot side-by-side fridge sitting where the old piece of crap old one formerly resided.

I stood by here as long as I could today waiting on the old fridge to be removed, but I had to leave to run errands late this afternoon, and when I returned it was gone.


Praise Allah

Amen Brothers & Sisters

Even though there are only two people in our household, our fridge is a VERY important part of our kitchen. I cook dinner five or six nights each week, prepare breakfast one or two days, and do a hot lunch two or three days each week.

I mean real cooking--not Hamburger Helper.

I was extremely concerned that we were going to lose $800 worth of frozen food and ingredients/condiments if we didn't get things straightened out, not to mention the added cost of eating out in the mean time.

Don’t get me wrong here—I love eating out, but the quality of MY food cooked at home generally exceeds that of all but the best restaurants here on the island.

In a restaurant, an equivalent dinner to that served at my house would cost you $15 to $20 each, without drinks, almost every single night.

Any way, it all worked out when it was all said and done.

I celebrated the arrival of our new appliance by stopping by the grocery store to buy some giant Sea Scallops and a big bag of baby Spinach, and when I got home I improvised a dish that I call Scallops Piccata. (It was based on my Chicken and Veal Piccata recipe.)

Try it out when you have the time (the quantities are for dinner for two):

Six Sea Scallops
2 tbsp lemon juice
Six strips of thick cut bacon
1 large bag of baby Spinach

8 oz (1/2 pack) Angle Hair pasta

1 cup white wine
¼ cup of Capers
1 clove of garlic, diced fine
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of Chicken stock
¼ stick of unsalted butter

First things first…

Since Scallops spend their time lying around on the bottom of the ocean in the sand, they are understandably…SANDY.

I don’t know about you, but since I don’t like gritty food, I recommend that you rinse those suckers, then rinse them again, and Again, and AGAIN, and when you’re done rinsing—toss them into a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now let your Scallops swim around in the lemon juice in the fridge for a couple of hours if you have the time, thirty minutes as a minimum.

When you’re ready to start cooking, fire up your charcoal grill. (If you are a gas grill weenie, you can wait a few minutes and save your precious propane if you want to)

Next, heat up a large, heavy skillet on the stove top and cook your bacon strips until they are at least half way done. I like my bacon crispy, so I cooked it pretty well. (Save a little juicy fat on each strip for cooking on the grill.)

After you pull your bacon strips out, let them drain and cool on some paper towels on the side. Spoon any extra grease that you don’t want to eat out of the skillet. Being a good southerner, I left my bacon grease in the skillet.

Deglaze the skillet by pouring in the white wine and chicken stock, scraping the bottom with a spatula to remove any juicy bits.

Now add your capers and lemon juice and turn things down to a slow simmer.

Take your bacon strips and wrap one around each scallop, securing it with a couple of toothpicks.

Is your grill hot now?


Well, then heat that sucker up…

then toss your bacon wrapped scallops on the grill and cook them on each side for eight or so minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Put your Angel Hair pasta in a boiler of lightly salted water with a little butter or olive oil. Be careful not to overcook it, it only needs about three or four minutes because it’s so fine.

Put your plates in the oven to warm.

Meanwhile, back at the skillet, when your scallops are almost done, open your bag of baby Spinach and dump it in on top of your sauce.

Stir, stir, stir…you want the spinach to wilt.

Now comes the fun part…plating it all up.

Put your warm plates on chargers, pile half your drained pasta on each plate, spoon out the wilted spinach on the pasta, and top with three grilled bacon wrapped scallops.

Pour your wine/caper sauce over the top of everything. Doesn't that look nice?

Well then, sit down at the table, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Try not to pass out before you push back from the table…

Enjoy Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Strawberry Key Lime Pie

Don’t Anyone Get Between Me And My Key Lime Juice

Did you know that you can make a WHOLE Key Lime Pie in less than 30 minutes?

Did you know that you can make a WHOLE Key Lime Pie for about $6.00?

Further, if you are a cheep-skate like me and you don't mind making your own pie crust, did you know that you can cut the cost down to about $4.50.

That said, does anyone but me wonder why the heck a slice of Key Lime Pie costs you $5.00 in most restaurants?

Maybe they have to send someone to fly each day down to Key West and pick their own little Key limes and escort them back to their kitchen or something. That could explain the cost.

And why are these expensive pie slices colored GREEN?

The natural color of a Key Lime Pie comes out pale yellow when I make one.

Is the green color the result of radioactivity, or possibly food coloring?

Then again, maybe the high cost is due to labor.

I know from personal experience that juicing those little suckers (key limes) requires the patience of Job. The seeds are tiny and almost impossible to pick out of the juice without a fine mesh strainer, and it takes over a dozen of the little suckers to get an entire pie’s worth of juice.

I gave up juicing little limes last year once I found out that I could drive over to the grocery store and buy a bottle of Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice.

This stuff is WONDERFUL.

One 16 fluid ounce bottle is said to contain the juice of at least 26 key limes. Based on my experience, it seems more like about 4 dozen of the tiny, tart citrus fruits.

Any way, I got bored last week and started thinking about doing something a little different with Key Lime Juice, and as usual—a trip to the grocery store was the answer.

What I found was that they are practically giving away Florida strawberries right now, so I bought two big packages of berries along with some other stuff, and a new form of Key Lime Pie resulted.

This recipe is EXTREMELY simple, so don’t blink your eyes or you’ll miss it.

All you need are these Ingrediants:

½ cup of Key Lime Juice
(1) 14 oz can Eaglebrand Sweetened Condensed Milk
(3) egg yolks
(1) cup pureed strawberries (drained well)

Sliced strawberrys and/or sliced kiwi fruit for garnish
A few leafs of fresh mint for garnish

(1) 8” or 9” pie crust (I used a Nabisco “Nilla” Pie crust)

You ready to make a pie now?

Fire up your oven and set the temperature at 350 degrees F. Stir everything together, dump it into the pie crust, and bake for 20 minutes.

How simple is that?

Chill your pie for a few hours, slice it up, put it on chilled plates, and garnish it with the sliced strawberries, kiwi, and mint sprigs. Now grab yourself a fork and EAT!

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet