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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Visiting My Parents: Seared Scallops and Roasted Root Vegetables

Whenever I visit my parents, tasty things happen. I think this was the same day I made the amogghio/crostinis for The Husband to hang out with some guys and I decided I'd spent the rest of Saturday visiting with my parents. I always like to cook something special and in particular, when The Husband isn't around, I will pick something I don't usually eat because he doesn't like... like Indian food and such. Oh I still have to post some awesome Indian food recipes we made a while ago at my parents house, yum. Anyway, in this case, The Husband is allergic to mollusks.. or that's what we're assuming. He had a bad reaction years before we met to a seafood soup, and we'll just assume it is mollusks.. he can have crab and shrimp and fish of all types as far as we can tell, but maybe it's the clams, mussels, scallop type things that he needs to stray from... we don't feel like testing it.

I haven't had scallops in years .. never from a fancy restaurant and only small ones my mom has made in the past that always taste the same usually. I watch those Top Chef and Chopped and Hell's Kitchen and a lot of the food challenge shows and seared scallops are very common.. those big juicy scallops. The searing comes into play by cooking the scallops quickly over high heat so that they get a nice crispy crust but are just barely cooked through and juicy on the inside.

I looked up some recipes and they all seem to be the same. Put butter and oil in a pan, set over high heat (probably would be better in a stainless pan but my mom only had nonstick), right at about the point the fat is smoking -- sear dryed-off and salt and peppered scallops and sear for a few minutes, then flip and do the same on the other side. I had really large scallops and some of all sizes, no thanks to the Nino's butcher guy, so I had to cook mine longer. I had 16 scallops (some gigantic) so I used two pans to get it done all at once. After the scallops were seared, I added some leftover herbs I had - parsley, oregano, etc and a splash of cheap white rhine wine (what my mom has on hand) to the pan and made a little tasty sauce out of the yummy brown bits, butter and olive oil that was in the pan. This went on top of the scallops and they were quite delicious.

On the side we have some roasted root vegetables. I almost made these for Thanksgiving but thought it might be tricky roasting them plus the turkey and that I probably had enough already, so they got nixed. I decided to pick random root vegetables that I would normally never buy and also play a guessing game with my parents to see if they could guess which ones they were. We had fennel bulbs (a first), red and golden beets both (a first), celeriac/celery root (a first time buy for me too), rutabaga, butternut squash, garlic cloves, and turnips. I think that was it. We peeled and chopped everything and I put it on a big sheet pan and drizzled olive oil, salt, pepper and roasted them in the oven for a long while - probably 40-55 minutes at 400 degrees or so. It turned out delicious! Of everything, I think the rutabagas were my favorite.. probably most reminiscent of a potato and I am a potato lover... but the celeriac and fennel and everything else were also totally superb. It was fun to try all those different vegetables.

This was a really nice, relatively light and very filling winter meal. I am glad I got to try two things I had been meaning to try for quite a while now.. and they were tasty!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ammoghio Sauce (Sicilian Salsa) from Nino's

I know I haven't been posting on here for a few weeks, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking, baking and collecting recipes for you all. Just a little break to refresh my motivation for 2010 and now it's back to work on Kitchen Bliss!

A few weeks ago, The Husband needed an appetizer to bring over to a guy's night. So it had to be simple and not require any cooking onsite. I thought of a recent purchase at Nino Salvaggio's (local specialty italian market) - Ammoghio sauce. The container said it could be served as a bruschetta topping or like a salsa cold, or warm for dipping bread or as a pasta sauce, I think. We dipped bread into it and it was SO good. I know Nino's has recipes on their websites and lo and behold, Ammoghio sauce was one of the published recipes.

So, for the appetizers, I thought I'd make some herbed crispy crostinis - bias sliced french baguettes that that had olive oil drizzled on them plus salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian herbs sprinkled on top - baked until crispy. Then I'd make the ammoghio sauce and The Husband could take a nice platter of crispy breads and sauce to nosh on while they eat their buffalo wild wings and other boy stuff.

The ammoghio sauce was pretty good, I didn't use all the parsley it called for because it just sounds like way too much and I don't remember parsley being such a huge flavor in the one I bought from the store... I am not sure if this tasted exactly like the store-bought one, I'm guessing it is a different recipe, BUT it was still good. There was a little leftover which didn't last long in our house. So if you want a red dipping sauce or a bruschetta topper that is fast and easy, try this and it is open for tweaking! Yum!

Ammoghio (Sicilian Salsa)

 From Nino Salvaggio's online recipe collection

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 oz. chopped curly fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. minced fresh marjoram
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 oz. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste (start with a pinch)

DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients and toss. Refrigerate if desired, serve at room temperature.

SERVING INFO: Ammoghio can be used as a topping for breaded steak, pork chops, sandwiches, tortilla chips, etc. It makes a wonderful topping on Italian style bread

GREAT WITH: Drain salsa in a colander and this sauce can be used as a bruschetta topping on crusty Italian or French bread.. After draining, spread on bread.