Scallops, Mushrooms, and Scallions

Last weekend I was getting ready to go out to breakfast with my husband and in the background was a show on PBS that I was semi listening to.  Did you ever have one of those moments when suddenly what you aren’t paying attention to suddenly becomes your entire focal point?  Lydia Bastianich was pointing a finger at me and telling me I should pay attention because it was the dinner I had waited for.  Ok,, she didn’t really call out my name but it was a dinner I could have waited for.  I could have literally licked the TV screen.  She had put together a dish of mushrooms and scallions and scallops with a beautifully caramelized crust to them and it had my name written all over it.

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Later that morning, we were out eating breakfast and I’m telling my husband about this dish.  He had the same reaction I did.   Conveniently, the bookstore was right next to where we were  (I know it was fate) and we ran over.  On the spot we bought her new cookbook, “Lydia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking”.  Not only did it have this recipe, but several others I will try soon.  It’s a great addition to your cookbook collection.

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One thing I do want to note on this recipe is that you want dry scallops.  You have to ask for them when you go to the market.  Typically you get the scallops that have sat in some chemical brine and they are slimy and won’t caramelize well.  It’s definitely worth the extra effort and your scallops taste so much better because they haven’t absorbed that chemical brine.

I also added brown rice to this recipe as a starch base.  You don’t need it, but it did add a little substance to the meal.  I just placed a large spoonful under the mushrooms before serving.

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I will definitely make this again.  The mushroom combination hit a home run with the garlic and butter flavors hanging on discretely to every mushroom.  The crunch of the scallion was a nice sharp bite in comparison to the sweet softness of the scallop.

The next time someone yells at you from the TV to pay attention, do it.  This really hit a 4 star YUM rating on my palate.  You need to try this!

Scallops, Mushrooms, and Scallions

Course Entree
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
  • 8 cups sliced mixed mushrooms, (buttons, shitake, cremini and chanterelles)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and lightly chopped (approximately 2 cups)
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter I used 4 Tablespoons
  • 1 1/4 pounds sea scallops, foot or side muscle removed
  • good quality balsamic vinegar for optional drizzling

Instructions

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, over medium high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

  2. Add garlic.

  3. Once garlic begins to sizzle, add the mushrooms and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

  4. Cook until mushrooms begin to wilt, about 6 to 7 minutes.

  5. Add the scallions, thyme sprigs and butter and cook until the mushrooms are tender, another 3 to 4 minutes.

  6. Transfer to a serving plate and keep warm, removing thyme sprigs.

  7. Wipe out the skillet, return to medium high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

  8. Season the scallops with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes per side.

  9. Serve on mushrooms, drizzled with balsamic vinegar if desired.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

I was looking through a magazine the other day and there was a photograph of an appetizer that really interested me and I wanted to try.  It was a jar that was half filled with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon marmalade.  I’m sure there are variations of this everywhere, but I have never seen one.  My only problem was,  there was no recipe.  Thank you to the internet and cookbooks,  it wasn’t an issue.

Let me regress for just a moment.  I have to say that I think bacon should have its own food group.  Let’s face it, everything is better with bacon.  And I know,  even all you diet fanatics will agree with me.  Face it….what’s a few more miles to run when you have bacon on your plate?  You know it’s worth it.  Bacon has found its place in our world.  We have chocolate with bacon, bacon and eggs, bacon candy, bacon wrapped everything……. and now, we have bacon marmalade.  Yes, after making this, I will tell you that this is worth the extra five miles you will have to run. Pair it with pimento cheese and another five or six-mile run and we have a winner….. and you will thank me for it!

The Piquant Pimento Cheese was from my friend Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  For the past several weeks I’ve had an obsession with making pimento cheese and I’m not sure why because I’ve not been one that really ate pimento cheese.  Having made this however, I am now a huge fan and will use this in so many ways, because it is that good.

The bacon marmalade was adapted from a couple of online recipes, the stronger part coming from Lance Mayhew.  I looked more to his idea because he had bourbon in it and seriously….what could be better than that?    This turned out to be everything I imagined it would.  In this we have bacon smokiness, sweet, salty, and a little kick.  I could not only see this with the pimento cheese on a cracker but on a burger,  with the pimento as a grilled cheese sandwich, on a steak….you name it.

Try this recipe, buy Patrick’s book and definitely combine everything you make with bacon marmalade.  Bacon…the new food group.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT PIMENTO CHEESE

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

BACON MARMALADE

  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup bourbon ( I used Jack Daniels)
  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 6 dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. For the Piquant Pimento Cheese
  2. Combine the sharp cheddar, white cheddar, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, celery seed, black pepper and cayenne together in a medium bowl; then pour over the cheese mixture. Mix well and taste, adjusting mayonnaise and seasonings for texture and flavor. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. For the Bacon Marmalade
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until the bacon begins to crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the rendered bacon fat and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pot and discard the fat. Add the bacon and onion garlic mixture back to the pot with the next five ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to low, while maintaining a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 2 hours, checking the pot every 30 minutes. If the ingredients become too dry, add 1/2 cup water when needed.
  8. After 2 hours, most of the liquid should be reduced. If it is too watery, simmer for up to an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes to cool. Add hot sauce and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Transfer the contents to a food processor. Pulse the contents 5 or 6 times to incorporate all the ingredients together. Do not over blend, or you will lose the texture.
  10. To Serve
  11. Place Piquant Pimento Cheese in the bottom of a small glass cup or bowl. Top with Bacon Marmalade. Serve with crackers.

“Dishing Up Virginia”

A very dear friend of mine, Patrick Evans-Hylton recently celebrated the release of his new cookbook “DISHING UP VIRGINIA” at the Mariners’ Museum.  As a “foodie” there was nothing that would have stopped me from going.  The event was much more than I expected. It was elegant and casual at the same time, filled with his friends, fans and area chefs touting his recipes through their interpretations of yummy offerings for us to try.

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Once I had a chance to sit down and actually look through the book, I was amazed at the abundance of information and beautiful photography gracing the pages.  Not only are there recipes that are indicative of Virginia, but it is rich in history and stories and if I didn’t live here I would have enjoyed the book just as a tourist would when visiting a place of interest.

Every page I turned made me want to try the recipe or visit a place in Virginia I had not yet gone to.  The history behind each recipe was informative and entertaining at the same time.  This is a cookbook that I would actually sit down and read from cover to cover, just for the pure pleasure of reading.  The foodie side of me will want to make almost every recipe in the book, but if you aren’t into cooking don’t let that stop you from buying the book.

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If you are a Virginian, a transplant, someone who loves to cook or does not please go out and treat yourself to “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  You will fall in love with Virginia and it’s history all over again, just like I did.  And you’ll love trying the recipes too!  YUM.

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