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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Scallops with Basil Cream, Farro with Swiss Chard and Hazelnuts and Buttered Beets with Pine Nuts

I cooked for three evenings straight and had a great time being home and getting to cook.  We'd been gone so much that I'd pretty much forgotten what my kitchen looked like.  About a month ago I started prepping for the two dinner parties.  Making lists of potential recipes.  Finding out what folks liked and didn't like.  Wednesday after work Connie headed to the grocery store and I headed to the kitchen.  And, proceeded to cook for almost three hours.  It was well worth the time and effort because we now have several new recipes that we'll make again.  A couple that will be go-to's. 

Wednesday evening was scallops with basil cream sauce.  Then, I had some Swiss chard in the front bed that I knew I needed to use.  (And, you can see the gorgeous lilies too!)

I found a recipe with farro and kale and figured the chard would be a perfect substitution.  The third dish was one that sold me on the cookbook - buttered beets with pine nuts.  We gave each and every dish a five.  The scallops were quick and easy and incredible.  Actually, the same description can be applied to the other two dishes.  Just amazing.

Thursday was catfish etouffee with a kale salad.  Both were good but not standouts like the night before. 

Then, Friday evening.  That was zesty hummus for an appetizer.  That's going to be a new family favorite.  It was so easy and so flavorful and SO beautiful.  Dinner was shrimp and mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce over Texas toast.  Alongside was a roasted carrot salad that was very complex and very tasty and a cucumber/beet/radish salad.  The cucumber salad was good but probably isn't one we'll make again.  If I'm going to have cucumber salad I want Christiane's cucumber/feta/herb salad.  It's killer.  I'll work on posting these recipes another day...

So, let's dig in on some recipes here:

Scallops with Cream and Basil
(serves 4)


6 T butter
12 sea scallops
salt and pepper
1/4 c chopped shallots
1 t slivered garlic
pinch crushed red chile flakes
1/2 c dry white wine
3/4 c heavy cream
20 basil leaves, cut into ribbons


In a large skillet, melt 4T of the butter.  When it's hot, add the scallops. Salt and pepper them to taste.  Brown both sides of the scallops.  Remove them from the heat before they've cooked through.  Wipe out the pan and add the other 2T of butter.  When it's melted, add the shallots,  Saute until they're softened.  Then, add the garlic and the chile flakes.  Cook that for about a minute and don't let the garlic get too brown.  Add in the white wine and cook over relatively high heat until it's reduced by half.  Then, add the cream and cook the sauce down until it's reduced by half.  Once that's done, add the scallops and pan juices back to the pan.  Add half the basil after about a minute.  When the scallops are just firm, you're ready to serve.  Top the scallops with the remaining basil as you serve them. 

adapted from the New York Times

Farro with Kale or Swiss Chard
(serves 4-6)


1 c pearled farro
salt and pepper
1/4 lb pancetta or guanciale, chopped (I omitted this but would add it next time)
4 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch Tuscan kale or 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped (I thinly sliced the stems and sautéed them and added them in)
freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 c chopped hazelnuts, toasted


Cook the farro as per the package instructions.  Drain it and set the pan aside.  Pour the EVOO into a large skillet and add the pancetta.  Use medium heat.  Once the pancetta is lightly browned, add the shallots.  When those have softened, add the garlic.  Cook for a few minutes then add the kale or Swiss chard and let it wilt.  Stir in the chicken stock and the nutmeg, lower the heat and let it simmer until the greens are just softened.  Combine the greens, farro, lemon juice and hazelnuts to serve.

adapted from Rachael Ray

Buttered Beets w Pine Nuts
(serves 2)


1 beet
balsamic vinegar
pine nuts


Peel and grate the beet on the large holes of your grater.  Brown the pine nuts in about a tablespoon of butter.  Spoon the pine nuts out of the butter and add the grated beets.  Cook for a few minutes until they're tender.  Add a dash (about a teaspoon) of the balsamic.  Serve topped with the pine nuts.

adapted from A Fresh Taste of Italy

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