Friday, June 19, 2009

Champagne Risotto with Scallops

As if risotto isn't decadent enough, substituting champagne for the usual white wine really pushes this one over the edge. So if you ever find yourself reincarnated as the chef for the Medici family in Renaissance Florence, you know what to make.

scallop risotto
2 T butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup arborio rice1 cup champagne
chicken broth (usually several cups)
1/4 lb. scallops
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan (probably more)

Put the chicken broth in a sauce pan and heat over medium/low heat. Meanwhile, saute onions in melted butter for about 3 minutes, add rice and cook in butter for about 2 minutes until opaque, add 1 c champagne and simmer rice until liquid is almost gone. Add 1 c of the hot broth to rice pan and stir rice until liquid is absorbed. Continue until the rice is chewy. Add cheese. For more detailed instructions, see this recipe for 3 cheese risotto.

Sear the scallops just before the risotto is done. The most important things to keep in mind when searing scallops are (1) use a very hot, non-stick pan, and (2) make sure the scallops are dry before searing. If the pan is not hot enough, the scallops will release water and never obtain the perfect sear. So pat your scallops dry with a paper towel while the pan heats up. Place about 1/2 a tablespoon of butter in the pan as it heats, and add the scallops when the pan is almost smoking hot. Do not crowd the pan, which is another enemy of a good sear. We usually sear bay scallops for a only 30 seconds per side (sear sea scallops about 1 minute per side). Just keep an eye on them and flip them when they have a golden brown crust. If you have to sear them in two batches, wipe down the pan with a paper towel between batches, add new butter, and start over.

Served the seared scallops over the finished risotto with a generous dusting of parmesan and chopped parsley.

Scallops 101
We used bay scallops here, but sea scallops are more common, larger, and would perhaps be easier to sear. In fact, we haven't seen any recipes for seared bay scallops, but thought we would give it a try. Sea scallops are usually about two inches long and 1.5 inches thick, whereas bay scallops are much smaller. Calico scallops are often sold as 'bay scallops,' but can be detected by their opaque appearance around the edges. Apparently, they lose their natural flavor when shucked so be careful not to get ripped off.

Other recipes you may like:
3 cheese risotto recipe
shrimp scampi recipe

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

I'm really into brunch food at the moment - why not try brunch for dinner tonight? These pancakes are light and delicious. I found the recipe on King Arthur Flour, my go-to spot for any breakfast food recipe. Use fresh or frozen blueberries.

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) melted butter or vegetable oil (1 1/4ounces)
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
3/4 cup (3 ounces) blueberries, fresh or frozen

Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla until light and foamy, about 3 minutes at high speed with a hand mixer. Stir in the melted butter or oil. The key is to use an electric mixer instead of doing it by hand! Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar, stirring just to combine, there will be a few lumps still. Set the batter aside to rest while you're heating your pan.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-low to medium heat. Spray with Pam. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water evaporates immediately on contact.

Drop the pancake batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the hot pan and sprinkle 1 tablespoon blueberries on each pancake. Cook until they’re golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip them over, and cook till the other side is golden, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

Serve the pancakes immediately or transfer them to a platter, cover, and keep warm in a 200°F oven.

Other recipes you may like:
French toast
chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies

View all breakfast recipes
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