Monday, October 27, 2008

Cooking weather

Sunday's weather was, well, for me, cooking weather. Not much need to go outside due to the Fair Weather Kenny rule: If the weather sucks, don't go out in it! I sometimes will cook 2 dinners on a Sunday. One for that evening and one that gets better with age, like soup or stew, for Monday's fare. I also pretty much destroy the kitchen. Thankfully, my child bride and I have an agreement: I cook and she cleans up the dishes afterward. This has worked for over 25 years, so we'll keep that as it is. The only problem we've had is sometimes I'll have little bowls with a starch mix or liquid base that gets mistaken for dirty dishes and the cleaning lady takes them away on me! Anyway, first thing I decided to make was a dish using scallops, Diane's favorite seafood. I had purchased a pound of bay scallops at Trader Joe's last week. I went through my cook books looking for a pasta dish with scallops, but didn't find exactly what I had in mind. I was looking for something creamy, but not overly rich. One dish I found had 3 cups of heavy cream in it, that would've been good, but a ton of calories. So, I checked out the internet. Two sites I like to visit are the Food Network and Epicurious.

Rachel Ray had one promising recipe on the Food Network. Then I went to Epicurious and found something interesting. Scallops with spinach fettucini and red pepper cream sauce. What made it more interesting was that the red peppers were roasted first. Reading the reviews, several people mentioned that they used 1/2 and 1/2 instead of cream and the results were great. The recipe also included marinating the scallops for several hours which I thought was interesting. That became meal #1.

Putting grocery items into the downstairs freezer on Sunday morning, I came across a ham bone with some meat on it. It was either throw it or use it. Got out the cookbooks. One of my Cooks Illustrated cookbooks had a recipe for Brunswick Stew. That fit the bill for making something that aging 24 hours would improve and be enough to feed us Monday and Tuesday. This became meal #2. I still needed a meat dish for Sunday to go with the scallop pasta dish. Easy. I've got several packages of cut up and seasoned baby back ribs in the freezer. All I have to do is thaw and bake. Meal #3.

These are the baby backs. Seasoned with a rub that I enhanced from Cook's Illustrated. The sauce is Maple Rosemary that is made under the Lund's and Byerly's label. Very tasty! The secret for pork ribs, whether baby backs or country style for tenderness is 3 hours at 300 degrees. Trust me on that.

This is the scallops and pasta dish. I had assorted vegetable pasta radiatore that I used instead of fettucini. The roasted red pepper sauce needed a little zing. I added some red pepper flakes and also some Aleppo peppers that I buy from Penzey's. Another thing I do when I cook with seafood mixed with pasta is to add some sausage for additional flavor. I had one chorizo sausage in the freezer, so I diced it up and added it to the sauce. The recipe also called for pine nuts. I'm not crazy about pine nuts, but I was going to follow the recipe. However, when I went to buy some bulk ones at Byerly's, they were nearly $25 a pound! I decided to use raw pumpkin seeds instead. I toasted them in the oven and added the proper amount to the recipe. When all was said and done, it was great! A very different taste then normal, due to the roasted peppers and the pumpkin seeds. Very enjoyable.

Last on the list was the Brunswick Stew. Ham, chicken, potato, okra, corn, onion, garlic in a chicken stock and tomato base. Tasted good last night, it should even taste better tonight.

All in all, a very satisfying day in the kitchen! I couldn't find the Brunswick stew recipe from Cooks Illustrated online, but the link for the scallop dish is below: