Monday, February 1, 2010

cocktail in hand & a gruyere-laced gratin

I've been reminiscent of growing up in Austin and my usual weekend breakfast with Mom and Dad. We lived downtown amongst the funky-hardwood homes of historic Hyde Park- far from suburbia. Every lazy Sunday, we would perch atop rickety wooden bar stools at the water-stained butcher block and chat amongst ourselves in the sun-drenched, sea-foam painted kitchen.

My mouth waters thinking about:

freshly-ground Anderson coffee and tart, grapefruit juice;
toasted wheat berry toast with apple butter and sour cherry jam;
softly scrambled eggs with a dash of cream;
paper towel-patted turkey bacon;
fresh berries & creme fraiche.

I've always been a juice addict (especially for fresh, tart grapefruit) so I recently took it upon myself to splurge on a juicer to fulfill all of my fresh-squeezed needs. After seeing Chef Wylie Dufresne juicing arugula on the tube- I knew the contraption was right up my alley. I designed this recipe to make by hand (no juicer needed) for those of you who don't impulse-buy kitchen appliances like me.

Ginger, Grapefruit and Habanero Juice

Serves 1.

juice of 1 grapefruit
1 T ginger, grated on a microplane
1/8 t habanero, grated on a microplane
Combine, chill then strain if desired. Garnish with grapefruit rind.

That evening, I couldn't pass up buying some gorgeous sea scallops at Central Market for dinner. For this recipe, I was inspired by some emerald, local thyme and a brightly-hued bunch of radishes. The savory shellfish were paired with these bright peppery vegetables, the lemon-laced herb, artisan salt and whole wheat pasta for depth.

Sea Scallops and Linguine
with Thyme Pesto, Easter Egg Radish & Black Sea Salt

Although the ingredients in this dish sound complicated, the dish is very simple to make.

Three steps:

1. make pesto
2. boil pasta
3. sear scallops

and you're finished!

Thyme Almond Pesto:

1/4 c fresh thyme
1/4 c almonds, toasted
3 T parmesan
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t honey
salt to taste
1/2 c olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil and pulse in a food processor until smooth. Slowly stream in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt to taste and set aside to later combine with linguine.

Pasta with scallops:

Serves 2.

1/2 lb fresh sea scallops, cleaned
1/2 lb pasta (I used whole wheat)
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 c easter egg radishes, sliced thin
fresh thyme to garnish
black lava sea salt to garnish

Put water on to boil for pasta. Meanwhile, season scallops with fresh ground pepper and a bit of salt. When water is boiling, add pasta and heat saute pan for scallops. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan and sear scallops on both sides until golden brown, about three minutes per side depending on thickness. Drain pasta and combine with butter and thyme pesto. To plate dish, place scallops atop swirled pasta and top with radishes and a sprinkling of black sea salt. Serve immediately.

I was spoiled silly on Superbowl Sunday with a decadent meal fit for a king (errr...saint)! Amongst camaraderie, tequila shots and birthday cake at my boyfriend's family's house, they served quite the spread:

Grilled beef tenderloin;

marsala glazed cremini mushrooms;
fusilli with fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, red wine vinegar
& a zucchini gratin with bumbling panko and gruyere.

I decided to end this post with an "Ode to Fred's" after a recent Sunday evening burger rampage. For some reason, I forget how truly delicious these greasy delicacies are until I sink my teeth into a new one. I decided on the smaller, 1/4 lb Fred's burger after a few too many jalapeno cheese fries. The savory beef, just-melted cheese and hand-cut fries were perfect with my frosty brew!


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