Thursday, February 25, 2010

cherubs and arrows

Remember Valentine's Day?  You know, that Hallmark holiday that happened weeks ago?  Yeah, we totally made an awesome dinner.  And I am just now deciding to tell you about it.  You're welcome.


For dinner, we had Seared Scallops with Brie & Mushroom Risotto and Roasted Asparagus.  For dessert, Curry-Orange Pots de Creme.  Take THAT, no available reservations at minibar!*  And, if I do say so myself, this meal was delicious.

*For the record, we planned on cooking in the entire time.  I didn't actually try to get reservations at minibar, though I am sure it was completely booked at 11:04am on January 14th for Valentine's day.

We didn't follow a recipe for anything in this meal, other than the pots de creme.  The asparagus was your basic salt, pepper & olive oil.  The idea for the risotto came to me in a moment of genius.  I will admit, I looked off of a few recipes for correct ratios and then rolled with it.  Risotto isn't difficult, even though it sounds all impressive and fancy-restaurant.  Add rice to some oil & butter, add some chicken stock, wait until absorbed, add more stock, repeat repeat repeat ad nauseum.  Or at least until tender.  The key is to be patient, not let yourself get distracted, and keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.   

The mushrooms were sauteed first, stove-top.  I added about 6oz of some incredibly awesome, stinky, double creme brie and the mushrooms (making sure to get any excess olive oil and juices) to the cooked risotto, and voila!  Deliciousness!


So, fun fact, scallops have a tough little muscle on them that must be removed prior to consumption.  It can be pulled off just in using your fingers.  The scallops, after being seasoned with salt and pepper, were seared in butter using a non-stick pan.  Before being devoured, they were given a good spritz of lemon juice.    


Serve & Enjoy!  Preferably, along with some champagne.  
Now, for the dessert:

I love untraditional pairings with chocolate, which is why this recipe for Orange-Curry Creme de Pots caught my eye.  I couldn't be happier that chocolate with sea salt or chili pepper is becoming more mainstream!  

 To start, a combo of milk and cream are simmered with orange oil, curry powder, cloves, and cardamom pods.  Which, cardamom pods?  Not something the local grocery store carries.  It was at this point that the brilliant beau informs me of a spice store right up the road.  Best. Discovery. Ever.  Well, maybe not "ever"... but at least thus far this year!  I was quite happy with myself, though, for exercising restraint- only bought one extra spice outside this recipe!


As you can see from the scale, I erred on the side of excess when it came to measuring the chocolate.  There is NO such thing as "too chocolatey!!"  So, in transcribing this recipe, I realize just how much I drifted from the instructions... I've noted each and every instance for your amusement.

Another fun story?  No picture of the finished product. They were gobbled up as if our lives depended on it.  And they were positively amazing, if I don't say so myself.  I absolutely love orange & curry together, and both curry & chocolate and orange & chocolate are fantastic combos, so together?  Well, ya just gotta try.  Anyways, just make pretend that mine looked just as lovely as Thursday Night Smakdown's did. 

UPDATE:  Made these suckers again, and got a glamor shot.

Roasted Asparagus

Remove ends of asparagus spears.  Toss generously with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, though this depends on how crunchy vs. soft you like your asparagus (I like them to have a good bite to them.)

Pan-Seared Scallops

Remove muscle from scallops and rinse, (we bought 12 scallops for the two of us, and it was a perfect serving.)  Salt & pepper both sides and melt 1-2tbsp of butter over high heat.  Sear each side for about 2 minutes, making sure to get some good color.  Spritz or serve with a lemon wedge.

Brie & Mushroom Risotto

2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, diced
1c aborio rice
~6oz brie
1 package cremini mushrooms
~5c chicken stock

Take out brie, cut into squares and let soften/warm up to room temperature.  Heat chicken stock in a pot.

Over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add mushrooms, seasoning with salt & pepper, and sauteed until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1tbsp butter with 1tbsp olive oil.  Add garlic & shallots and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, until shallots soften.  Add rice and stir around, coating with the olive oil and garlic while allowing to toast a bit.  Then, pour in a cup of chicken broth.  Stir and let rice absorb the broth.  Add another cup and let absorb.  Keep doing this until rice is tender.  Make sure to stir continuously, to prevent the rice from sticking.

Add brie and mushrooms.  Stir, taste, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Orange-Curry Pots de Creme
Serves 3, adapted from Thursday Night Smackdown*

3/4c heavy cream
1/4c whole milk (I substituted whole milk for mostly skim, and a splash of heavy cream to amount to the 1/4c required)
3 green cardamom pods
2 cloves
1tsp curry powder
1/4tsp orange oil
3oz good dark chocolate
3 egg yolks
1 1/2tbsp sugar
pinch salt

Pre-heat your oven to 300** and heat up a tea kettle of water.

Heat the first six ingredients together over low heat, being careful not to let it come to a boil, for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the chocolate and put into a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar & salt. 
Pour cream through a strainer (to remove the cloves and cardamom) over the chocolate. Let this sit for a few minutes, then stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth.  Slowly pour the chocolate into the eggs, whisking constantly.***

Fill 3 ramekins with the chocolate.  Put ramekins in silicone baking dish,**** leaving an inch or two between each once.  Fill the pan with hot water so that it comes about halfway up the ramekins. Cover entire pan tight with tin foil.

Bake for 45 minutes- they should still be jiggly when removed. Let cool on the counter for an hour and then refrigerate for at least 3 or 4.*****  Served with very lightly, if at all, sweetened whipped cream.

*I heart Thursday Night Smackdown
**TOTALLY neglected to check the temperature here, and actually baked mine at 350.  Nothing horrible happened to them... I imagine they were just more set than supposed to be.
***So, I took the cream off the stove, set aside, and promptly forgot about it as I tended to the risotto.  Oops.  Luckily, it was still warm enough to melt the chocolate.  However, at this point, it had cooled enough that it wasn't a huge risk to ruining the eggs.  Also?  The recipe says to strain the final mixture, again, before pouring into the ramekins.  I did not.
****Instructions say to put a towel down in the baking dish, to prevent the ramekins from slipping.  I found the silicone was less slippery, so skipped the towel.  I did put the silicone dish onto a cookie sheet, to make moving it easier.
*****Umm, apparently we were supposed to serve this cold?  Definitely didn't read that far... oops.  Plopped some whipped cream on top, and engulfed still warm.  Guess I'll just have to make this again, and actually follow directions!

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